Category: Food glorious food

Crack Pie

Oh, my!

I have a sweet tooth (those who know me well are laughing at that one). I also love to bake sweet treats for any gathering. When I saw the recipe for Crack Pie TM in a LA Times article syndicated in my local paper, my response bordered on Pavlovian.

Crack Pie, so named because it is so addictive, is a creation of MomoFuko, a bakery and milk bar in Manhattan. I am not anywhere near hip enough to live in Manhattan nor, am I rich enough (the pies retail for $44). and I have no idea what a milk bar is, but oh, the Crack Pie.

I made it for Easter and it was as good as promised. The crust is my kind of crust, not finicky, just hearty, a mix of oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, salt, more butter and more brown sugar. The filling, a mix of sugar, eggs, heavy cream vanilla and butter is nothing short of sinful. It is gooey and rich and *sigh*. Ahem, oh, wait, sorry, where was I? Making Crack Pie yes. I only had nine inch pie plates, so my filling was a little thicker and I think I liked it that way.

It is a very rich creation, so small slices suffice even for this sugar addict. Unlike the author of the LA Times article, I agree with the creator, Christina Tosi, Crack Pie is better cooled.

I will make this recipe again, but I think next time, I might try putting the crust in mini-cupcake tins and make little tarts. One tart might be enough to appreciate the tastes, but one will never be enough to satisfy the craving.

I intended to take pictures, but the pie disappeared before I was able to wipe the grease off my fingers to get my camera.

The First Weekend in April

BUSY! BUSY! BUSY!

Friday was Fish’s tenth birthday. So, there was some of this.

A chocolate bundt birthday cake with heart sprinkles

Grammy & Grandpa gave her a “Just Like You” doll from American Girl and we thought she was going to cry.

Fish hugging Grammy

The arrival of her new doll encouraged her brother to get his doll, named Sonic. (This is an improvement from the doll’s original name, Knuckles. Don’t ask, we don’t know).

Timmy Hugging Sonic, his Bitty Twin Boy Doll

Saturday brought gorgeous weather that just begged to be enjoyed, so after we completed a few chores, we headed for the local skate park so Mim could get back on his big bike and Fish could try her new skate board. I tried it too 😦

Mim and fish at the top of a ramp.  He on his bike her on her skateboard.  My scraped knee.

Sunday of course was Easter and the whole family gathered at Grammy’s house. There were deviled eggs, a ham, an egg hunt, a bunny cake and crack pie (a dessert that will have a blog post unto itself in the near future).

An egg dyed to look like a devil, the bunny cake, Grumpy old man smiling, dyed eggs, a hidden egg, Fish hunting eggs, Cousin Smiling, Group shot of kids counting their egg hunt loot.

We came home and while the grown ups settled into a food coma, Fish taught herself how to ollie.

St. Patty’s Day Pinwheels

A pinwheel sugar cookie where a layer of green sugar cookie dough is placed on top of a layer of regular sugar cookie dough, then rolled and sliced.
Mmmmmm Cooooookies!

I made sugar cookies today. I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com around Christmastime and the title is true, they are THE best sugar cookies ever.

Today I tinted half the dough green in honor of St. Patty’s Day. Then, I layered the green dough on top of regular dough to make pinwheel cookies.

Erin Go Bragh!

Steak Miraculous

The master at work

I was a picky eater as a kid.  In those days, if it wasn’t hot dogs, plain spaghetti with butter, bread or a sugared cereal, I wasn’t interested. Dennis, usually made it home from work before my mom so dinner duty usually fell to him. In an effort to defuse dinner time tensions between my mom and I, he would endeavor to make a big deal about dinner preparation.  When he was trying to get me to try something new, he’d call it Gourmet by Dennis.  The man couldn’t wield a screwdriver to save his life, but he was master of all things grilled. Usually.

On this occasion, Dennis’ cousin Paul would be joining us for dinner. The meat selection for the evening was a round steak. Dennis prepared the marinade, and allowed the steak to bathe in some wine, garlic and spices.  He wrapped the beef in heavy duty aluminum foil  and slathered it with onions, mushrooms and the marinade and put the “Steak Miraculous” on the Webber charcoal grill to cook.
Throughout the preparation, he hyped this meal as THE most amazing ever.  He assured me my taste buds were in for a treat.  My picky eater, tween self was more than skeptical, but I had learned by then to keep my food opinions to myself, lest another tussel break out about my preference to live on bread and Coco Puffs.
The table was set, the salad made and the potatoes baked (in the coals of course). The hype continued to build. Steak Miraculous would astound and amaze.  It would change the way I thought about dinner in general and steak specifically. It would be THE gold standard of dinners.
There was much pomp and ceremony surrounding the foil packet’s delicate removal from the grill.  Glory Glory Hallelujah may even have been hummed.  My mom, Paul, and I were told to be seated while the delicacy was plated and prepared for it’s debut.
It was presented, and we diners offered up the appropriate amount of oohs and ahhs for such a momentous occasion. The steak was cut, er hacked, and served.  I delicately picked away the offensive mushrooms and onions (I know, I know, remember I was a picky eater.  I’ve since become a devoted worshiper of the sacred triad that is mushrooms, onions and garlic). Carefully, I cut a small bite.  It took some effort, but I managed to break away a minute morsel and get it into my mouth. I chewed and I chewed, and I chewed.
It was what I imagined it would be like to eat corrugated cardboard. Corrugated cardboard that was marrinated in red wine and garlic. I kept chewing.  Like I said, I was a picky eater and had already engaged in my share of dinnertime tiffs over what I would and would not eat.  There was no way I was going to be the first to offer my less than stellar opinion of Steak Miraculous.  Slowly, I lifted my head to gauge the opinions of my fellow diners.  They too were still chewing.  I looked from my mom, to Paul to Dennis unable to read their expressions.  My mother broke first with a snort of laughter as she continued to chew, and chew.  Paul was next and finally Dennis.  I eventually joined the gales of laughter.   We laughed so hard we cried.
Steak Miraculous was awful.
It wasn’t just awful, Steak Miraculous was quite possibly THE most miraculous disaster in the history of Gourmet by Dennis.  It was 100% completely inedible.  It was tough and tasteless and flat out gross.  It was a meal that would live in infamy because I didn’t have to eat it.
I’ve since learned that round steak is best suited for slow cooking and thin slicing.  To this day when I see it on sale in a grocery circular, I chuckle. I also came to learn that the more Dennis hyped a dish, the less confident he was in its success.  Still, he kept trying and eventually I learned that there was more to life than bread and Coco Puffs.
Thanksgiving Perfection
Monday would have been Dennis’ sixty first birthday.  By the time he died, we’d shared many more successful Gourmet by Dennis dishes including, Potatos Anna, Bowman’s Tower Chicken and even a grilled Thanksgiving turkey. He however, was never able to convince me that turnips were a food, but that didn’t stop him from trying.
This post was inspiried by Busy Dad. Go watch his tribute to beef and learn how you could win $100 Omaha Steak gift card courtesy of the American Cattleman’s Association and The Motherhood.
I am not being compensated for my words, I’m married to a serious carnivore and I really want to win the gift card 🙂
It is worth noting that I grew up to appreciate all the glory that is a good cut of beef.  I refuse to buy beef in the super market.  Instead, we get ours from a local butcher.  The cost is a bit more per pound, but I have him package our order in appropriate portion sizes, so there is very little waste and the taste is worth it!

COOKIES! Or, why I laughed so hard I cried on New Year’s Eve


Ah Christmas Cookies. Most of my favorites aren’t very complicated to make, but it is the fact that they are only made and consumed but once a year that makes them so special. My husband likes ginger snaps (his great grandmother’s recipe). The kids like sugar cookies. My favorite kind of Christmas cookie are Kifflings, a.k.a. pecan balls, or mexican wedding cakes.

To make the perfect kiffling, you combine, confectioners sugar, softened butter, finely chopped pecans, flour and vanilla. Note, only butter and real vanilla. No posers for this nugget of glory. You roll the sand colored dough into small balls the size of marbles and bake them until just golden. Once they’ve cooled, the balls are bathed in a luxurious bath of confectioners sugar. My mother used to serve them stacked on a plate lined with a paper doily, They looked like a pyramid of pearls. *sigh*.

I usually make a batch or six for Christmas, but since I’m the only one in my family who eats them, I passed this year. It was a feeble attempt at fitting in my jeans come January 1, 2010. Still, I was jonesin’ for a fix.

The little cookie with the powdered sugar coating can be deceiving. One must be careful when eating other’s Kifflings for sometimes, they aren’t Kifflings at all. Sometimes, evil bakers corrupt the purity of the kiffling by removing the nuts and including nasty additives such as anise or other spices.

Such was my conundrum on New Year’s Eve. My dear friend C had invited our family to spend the night with her family. C’s sister L was also there and the pair are known for baking a ton of Christmas cookies. I spied their efforts early on in the evening. There tucked away in the corner of the dining room was a large silver platter laden down with a multitude of confectionary treats. Nestled in with the sugar cookies, the bird’s nests, the fruit bars and peppermint bark, sat several pearly white balls.

Oh, my mouth watered. Were my needs about to be met? My desires quenched? I was giddy with the anticipation, I restrained myself until we had finished the appetizers and the main course, but after the table had been cleared, I could wait no more. I had to know.

Standing the kitchen, I quizzed my hostess. Nodding my head toward the dining room I inquired, “Are those kifflings or anise balls?”

C looked quizzical.

L looked a tad taken aback. It is probably worth noting that although L and I had heard many stories about the other via C, this evening was the first time we’d ever met in person.

I was puzzled at their lack of response to what I thought was a simple question. Had I committed a faux Paz? Was it considered rude to enquire as to the nature of the cookies? Did I rush dessert? I hadn’t had THAT much rum. Did I slur my words?

C asked, “Did you say cotton balls?”

Now, in the wrong hands, kifflings can taste like cotton balls, but I knew that C was a more than capable baker. I never meant to imply incompetence with my question. Maybe this year the baking hadn’t gone as she planned. Perhaps L had made the kifflings and C was not happy with the results? That would explain the look on L’s face. Oh my. Well, it seemed the best path was to barrel through with the truth and move on.

“No, are those kifflings or anise balls?”

L’s face broke in to a wide grin and she started to giggle. “Oh, I thought you said a$$ balls.”

I’m really not sure what happened next as the whole room (fortunately all grown-ups) broke out in uproarious laughter.

Eventually, I found out that the cookie I was eyeing was a German cookie who’s name sounded more like a sneeze than a delicacy (pfeffersnoozen or something of the like).

Not only did I NOT get my kiffling fix, I lost all my mascara and made my stomach hurt with all the laughing over a$$ balls.

Oh well, there’s always next year.

Pecan Ball Recipe
This recipe includes nutmeg, but that’s because it is from McCormick Spices and they just want you to use lots of spices in everything :). http://www.mccormick.com/Recipes/Desserts/Pecan-Cookie-Balls.aspx By all means use their vanilla, but skip the nutmeg. It is unnecessary.

Image courtesy of McCormick Spices. http://www.mccormick.com/
I have no affiliation with McCormick Spices other than being a loyal consumer of their pure vanilla extract.

The Waffle Crisis

Trouble, oh we got trouble in River City folks.

Due to problems at two different bakeries, Kellogg is fighting a waffle shortage. This could have dire repercussions in our house. My kids are horrible creatures of habit. *looking askance* I have NO idea where they get this from */end looking askance*.

Breakfast in our house for the kids is Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Maple and Brown Sugar Flavor, 2 Eggo Waffles and a beverage. (milk for my son and orange juice for my daughter). EVERY DAY.

On rare occasions, my son will substitute Life Cereal for oatmeal, but Eggo Waffles are a constant. Eggo, no other brand of store bought waffle will do. For that matter no other flavor of Quaker Instant Oatmeal will do either. I can’t event MAKE homemade maple and brown sugar oatmeal. Trust me, I’ve tried (I thought it tasted the same).

On occasion, we have pancakes for dinner. In this case we make a lot of extras and the kids eat them for breakfast, but there is no way I could make pancakes for breakfast on school mornings. For one thing it would screw up the routine and for another, it would, well it would screw up the routine!

To date, I have not personally experienced any shortages with the waffles. We buy our waffles in bulk from Sam’s Club. There are 60 waffles in a box and we go through a box on average every 10 to 14 days. I have had trouble finding the box of ONLY Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal at Sam’s recently, but my fall back has been to buy the smaller boxes at the grocery store (with coupons when I can find them). I don’t know what I’ll do if we start having trouble finding the Eggos too. I mean, we might have to do something radical like CHANGE THE ROUTINE and cook things in a frying pan over an open flame when I haven’t even had my tea yet. Oh, the HUMANITY!!!

I sincerely hope we can avoid such drastic actions. My husband is under strict instructions to stock up the next time he goes to Sam’s. Thank goodness for our extra freezer. I’m not taking ANY chances.

Grilled Pizza

Yes, you read that correctly. GRILLED pizza. Over the summer I read this recipe, I thought it was a little odd, but worth giving a try. Pizza is a popular meal in our house.

My first shot out of the gate, I used store-bought, pre-made dough and was less than impressed. This time, I asked for dough recipe recommendations on Twitter and got this recipe. I substituted 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour for 1 cup of the white flour and I added 4 teaspoons of Wheat Gluten to add protein and make the dough more flexible. I used this recipe for pizza sauce. I thought the sauce would be too watery, but it tasted great. Overall the meal was a huge success with 3 out of 4 diners giving it a thumbs up. The fourth diner only has eyes for the pizza from our local shop; so I knew he’d be a hard sell from the get go.

The dough recipe made enough for 3 pizzas (the size of a rectangular cookie sheet). The three of us devoured one and half last night and finished the rest off for lunch today (before I could even snap pictures).

We grill all year round, so I’ll definitely be cycling this one through my dinner menus on a regular basis. I just need a few new ideas for pizza toppings. Suggestions welcome.

Quick Dinner Recipe for Leftover Roast Beef

We had a fabulous sirloin beef roast last week. Despite our best efforts, we had a ton of leftovers. A-Man and I enjoyed the remains for lunch and in a few sandwiches, and still there was enough left for a second meal.

I had planned to make beef stroganoff, but realized I didn’t have any noodles. You might be able to eat your beef stroganoff over rice, but I need noodles.

I pondered a few alternatives, but ultimately decided to create my own recipe. Introducing, Beef Stroganoff Pie!

Ingredients
1 Package prepared pie crust for a two crust pie.
1 Onion, chopped
Garlic Cloves chopped (I used 4, use more or less to your taste).
2-3 sm. cans of mushrooms (an equal amount of fresh mushrooms sliced if you have them).
1-1.5 C Leftover roast beef
1 can Cream of mushroom soup
1 can Beef broth
2 tsp Celery flakes
1 tsp Beef bouillon (you can eliminate this if salt is a concern)
2 tsp Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bring the pie crusts to room temperature according to directions on the box and drape one crust in a pie plate.

In a 2 quart pan, saute the onions and garlic in your fat of choice (I used a little butter, but olive oil would work just as well) until the onions are transparent.

Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked.

Add the beef and saute for a minute or two (see the first note below).

Add the soup, beef broth and spices and bring to a simmer stirring occasionally. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes until the mixture thickens (you may need to add a little flour).

Pour the mixture into the bottom pie crust.

Top with second crust and poke holes in the top to release steam.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until top crust is lightly browned.

I served it with a salad. A-Man and I both liked it. The kids didn’t, but they don’t like beef stroganoff (thus why I need the noodles), so this doesn’t surprise me.

Notes:

The cut of beef you use will impact the cooking time on the stove top. If you have a tougher cut, you will want to let it simmer longer to tenderize. In this case, the cut was already tender, so I kept cooking time to a minimum to avoid over cooking it.

I meant to add a splash of red wine (1/4 cup or so and I use Merlot) to add depth, I definitely want to remember this for next time.

Next time I’d probably add some sliced carrots to the pie and serve with a loaf of cheesey garlic bread or crusty french bread.

If you can let the pie filling sit for awhile the flavors will blend nicely.

Try it and let me know how it worked for you. Did you add/delete anything? What did your family think?