Archive for May, 2009

TWD #21: Chipster Topped Brownies

May 26, 2009


SMS Gingerbread and TWD Chipster Brownies 017

Brownies AND Chocolate Chip Cookies in one great package?  Wow, that’s better than:

SMS Gingerbread and TWD Chipster Brownies 010


Live Bait AND Chicken Pot Pie Bites?   I’m not sure which sounds worse better.

I made this recipe over the weekend as a casual snack for the Fam.   They really enjoyed them but, I must say, this was a definite “dirty every bowl in the kitchen” experience, as you needed a bowl to melt the chocolate in and bowls for the butter mixture and flour mixture for the brownies and for the chipster topping. 

Luckily I have a teenage boy in my household that is the head of “dishwasher loading and disgruntled looks.”  

Providentially, the teenage boy is also proficient at consuming baked goods, thus, these decadent treats, suggested by Beth of Supplicious, managed to not make their butter-and-chocolate laden way to my waist.  Of course, no comment on my consumption of chicken pot pie bites.


SMS #4: Sour Cherry Pie with Pistachio Crumble

May 24, 2009

Today’s Sweet Melissa Sunday recipe is for pie.  My first pie!  It was chosen by Michelle of Flour Child and you can find the recipe on her site. 

Thursday night I put the pie crust ingredients in the freezer, including the flour.  I followed the directions for the double pie crust, as I really wanted to make two pies (to use up most of a five pound bag of cherries that I purchased).    

Friday morning I woke up early and decided to make the pie crust BEFORE going to work.   While making a Swedish Visiting Cake for my neighbor and dealing with two children who are not morning people. 

Oh, and I had a backache.

Excuses, excuses!

Anyway, I decided to assemble the pie dough in the food processor, ala Dorie’s tart dough.  I whirred the flour with the salt, a 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and a bit of lemon zest, then added the chunks of cold butter, followed by the frozen shortening and the icy water.   Unfortunately, I over-processed and ended up with a sandy texture rather than pea-sized bits.  Darn!

I divided the crust into two disks and refrigerated them.  Saturday I attempted to roll them out, but, alas, they fell apart.   I decided to start over, using Dorie’s crust recipe because hers has food processor directions and I didn’t want to mess up Melissa’s recipe again.  (I’m sure her recipe is fine, but I don’t own a pasty blender and didn’t want to fail at converting it to a food processor dough again.) 

Luckily my second set of dough worked out well and today I rolled the two disks out and assembled the cherry pies.   I baked them for 1 hour and 10 minutes and the crumble topping had turned  a light golden color, so I took the pies out of the oven and let them cool for about 45 minutes.   No longer able to resist the delicious looking pies, I cut into one.  

Cherry-colored liquid the viscosity of water gushed out of the cut!

Oh, crap.

With not much to lose, I decided to put the pies back in the oven.  I re-pre-heated it to 350 degrees and popped them back in for another 20 minutes, totally unsure of the outcome.

Luckily, the pies came out perfect.  I’ll be taking them with me to a Memorial Day party in a couple of hours. 

BTW, is it “kosher”  to say “Happy Memorial Day?”  Or is that a little like saying “Have fun at the funeral?”

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend and I’ll try to get a picture posted soon.  (The hubby is off car-washing and I’m unsure where he stashed the camera.)

TWD #20: Fresh Mango Bread

May 19, 2009

 I would eat mango bread while wearing slacks

I would eat mango bread while playing jacks

I would eat mango bread while caulking cracks

I would eat mango bread in the grass  

Mango bread

That fine poem was inspired by my husband, who took the photos of this bread by apparently setting the plate in the grass.  I wish he would have mentioned that before I ate that slice.  Oh, well, a little dirt never hurts!   

You know what’s good to have on hand when you want to make mango-chris_kattan bread?


You got it, mangoes!

Well, I did have one, one small one, which only yielded about a cup of golden mango 2 flesh.  Thus I decided to sub in some diced strawberries and a bit of coconut.  Because nothing screams mango 3  like two completely DIFFERENT ingredients.

I was surprised that the directions said to bake this bread for an hour and a half.  I’m a fan of the light golden blond in my baked goods.  (And on my head.   No, the carpet does not match the drapes!  Oddly, for a long time I thought that phrase was “Do the curtains match the drapes? Which makes NO sense, as curtains and drapes are THE SAME THING!)  Nevertheless, I really liked the way the bread formed a thick-ish crust. 

Okay, admittedly, “thick-ish crust” does not sound appealing.   But it tasted great, the edges were sort of caramelized and chewy and it’s the perfect bread for morning tea, welcoming new neighbors, or taking to work and fattening up ones co-workers.   (My theory-the bigger they look, the smaller I seem in comparison!) 

Thanks to Kelly of  Baking with the Boys for the great selection.  I’ve loved all the past weeks’ recipes, but really enjoyed making an “everyday” non-dessert recipe.

Soda Wars

May 18, 2009

I rarely buy soda.  We aren’t health nuts, as evidenced by my frequent baking, but the orthodontist recommended “no soda,” and when you’ve shelled out $10,840 for braces, it seems prudent to follow her directions.  My kids, of course, LOVE soda, and, when I bought some this Saturday, they actually had a “Soda War.” 

It was like “The War of the Roses.”  Over a carbonated, lemon-lime beverage.  


First Tay took the case of Sprite (which I only bought because it was a REALLY good deal) into his room, joking that it was “all mine!”  (Yes, that was accompanied by a chuckle of glee.)   

I think the kid needs to get out more.

At lunchtime Rea realized the soda was missing, so I told her to go ask Tay for one.   He gave her three.

Which made her quite self-righteous.  “Only three?  Three isn’t half of twenty-four!” 

Good to know her math skills are on par, but, really, how many sodas does one need with lunch?  Especially since, when soda is “in stock,” the rule is one soda per DAY.

I needed to study and reminded the kids of the another rule: “Do not interrupt me unless you are bleeding heavily or the house is in flames,” and headed to the solitude of my bedroom and my astronomy textbook.

Meanwhile, Reagan plotted a soda retrieval expedition and stealthy stole the cans from her brother and hid them in her room.   Taylor, discovering her devious ways, masterminded a counterattack, and, in the process, broke her door frame.

Reagan called her dad at work to complain about Taylor’s trespass and destruction; of course, she conveniently left out her role in the shenanigans.

Taylor sincerely apologized and attempted to fix the door.   All was good. 

Then Chris arrived home from work and, failing to consult me about subsequent developments,  read Taylor the riot act.

Then told me, “You shouldn’t buy soda.  We don’t need soda in the house.”

The soda wars were this close to turning into their floral namesake.

SMS #3: *Guinness Gingerbread

May 17, 2009

Good Morning, Ladies and Germs!

Was that lame?   Yep, and this post may be, too, as I’m writing it RIGHT NOW (no rough draft, no ruminating) while eating Katie’s of Katiecakes pick,  Guinness Gingerbread.

And, boy is it delicious.

Here’s the photo, of the piece I’m eating, RIGHT NOW:

SMS Gingerbread and TWD Chipster Brownies 011

Yesterday, walking around our little four aisle grocery store, I debated substitutes for the Guinness Beer.   I perused the tiny liquor section, but nothing seemed promising.   Natural Lite Gingerbread?   Boone’s Farm Strawberry Gingerbread?   Ick.

Then inspiration struck, Root Beer!

Not sure why I thought of root beer, but not, um, GINGER ALE.

Much like George, Jerk store I also think of my “witty” comebacks hours later.

Nevertheless, root beer was an excellent substitution.  I also added a little chopped candied ginger as I was a wee bit short of powdered.   Other than that, I followed the recipe as written.  

I ate a piece last night with lightly whipped cream, and must say this piece,  the one I just finished eating, was as good, despite not being warm.

This recipe was really easy and I would definitely recommend it, the balance of spices is just right and the cake is really moist and flavorful.  I hope everyone else is enjoying Katie’s great choice.

*Unfortunately, no Guinness was consumed in the making of this recipe or in the writing of this blog post.

May 14, 2009

I took my son Taylor to apply for a job for the first time.  On the way to the nearby grocery store, I turned to him and said “Did you brush your teeth?  Because it’s very bad to apply for a job with stinky breath.” 

Taylor: “Why?”

Me:  “Well, it’s just gross, but, more important, when you apply for a job the clerks have a secret code.”

Taylor:  “What is it?”

Me:  “Well, for example, no one wants to work with a ‘stink breath,’ so if you had halitosis, the clerk would write an ‘SB’ at the top of the app, that way the person that does the hiring wouldn’t call you for an interview.”

 “Another code is ‘SH'”

Taylor:  “What does that stand for?”

Me:  “Super Hot.   That’s usually good, but you definitely don’t want to be labeled a ‘BBT.'”

Taylor:  “Why?”

Me:  “It stands for ‘Bugs Between Teeth’ and no one wants an employee with flies and shit between his teeth.”

Taylor:   “I think you are making this up.”

Me:  “Okay, I made that last one up, but the rest is true!”

I hope he gets hired to I can clue him in on “first day of work” etiquette, which, as we all know, includes a lot of  arm flapping, foot stomping  and  frequent use of the phrase “Sir!  Yes, Sir!” without regard to the sex of the fellow employee.

TWD #19: The Tartest Lemon Tart

May 12, 2009

If it weren’t for “Tuesdays with Dorie,” I surely would not have made Babette’s of Babette’s Feast pick, the Tartest Lemon Tart.   Which would have been a shame, as this tart is EXCELLENT.

It’s also rad.  And kickass.

                   It even glows: DSC02216






   And glistens:tart                                                                                                 

And has a pointy finger, an apposable thumb, and several other phalanges.

tart 3

Creepy picture, huh?

The recipe is unusual, at least to me, in that it uses the whole lemon (and a 1/2.)   Yes, every bitexcept the kitchen sink seeds.  I was a little nervous about including all the peel and the pith and considering altering the recipe.  However, the reason I joined TWD was to push myself, to make something new each week, ESPECIALLY recipes I might not normally pick, and to gain new baking skills, so I followed the recipe as written.

Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? 

If it tasted awful, it would be easier to stick to my healthy eating goals.  If it tasted great, well, then I would have learned a new technique.  (And maybe gained a pound or two)

Thankfully, we loved it.  Even my picky son ate two slices.  Definitely a winning recipe.  The texture of this tart was wonderful, kind of “pulpy,” like OJ,  in a good way.  Plus the lemon and sugar balance was just right.   It wasn’t so tart that a sweet lover like myself wouldn’t enjoy it (especially with sweetened whipped cream on top.)

This is easily one of my favorite Dorie recipes so far; so please, please, please make it!  The recipe can be found in “Baking From My Home to Yours,” or on Babette’s blog.

Random Tuesday Thoughts

May 12, 2009


Serving breakfast to Reagan and her friends, one said “I love donuts.”  I responded, “I love college.”

But I loathe the song “Hate my Life;”  it begins:

“So sick of the hobos always begging for change
I don’t like how I gotta work and
And they just sit around and get paid”

Yes, because homeless people are living the high life.

Someone found my blog by googling “fetish fish crush.”  Which is putting all sorts of unsavory images in my head.

My husband ATE my Mother’s Day cake.  ON SATURDAY NIGHT.   We sampled it Friday and gave some to the neighbors, but I had set aside three pieces for the holiday, one for him, one for me, and one for my mom.  (Since the kids only like chocolaty desserts.)

I was understandably upset and he offered to make a replacement.  I think he thought I would say “No, thanks.”  But I said “Yes!”  Thus he was up at 7 am on Sunday making this cake.  My husband can cook, but he’s not a baker.  Not really fond of recipes, (because, you know, he’s a man, and recipes are dangerously close to DIRECTIONS) but he did a great job and his cake was perfect.

Joking about a local destination for gay trysts (which my friend’s husband stumbled upon by accident) I found “the line.” 

That shouldn’t be crossed in humor.  Is joking about your teen son getting a part-time summer  job as an under-aged gay hooker really worse than a dead baby joke?

Speaking of my son, he made me a Mother’s Day card.  Sweet or cheap?   Definitely cheap and not really sweet, as it said:

Front cover:   “You’re the best mom…”

Inside:  “…I’ve ever had….”

Back:  “…So far.”

Then Reagan made me a card that said that I am her “third favorite parent.”   Chris thought that meant he was both her first and second fave, but I would hazard a guess that he’s fourth and numbers one and two might be the computer and the TV.

My daughter was really grumpy this morning then called me after school and acted totally normal.   When I mentioned her earlier behavior, she responded, “Well, I was tired.  I had stayed up really late last night reading.”    I think that’s a little like saying, “Sorry I forgot the lemons, but I was busy bangin’ a hooker.”

For more *hooker talk (underage or otherwise), you should visit Keely at the Un-mom

*Okay, I’m lying, I have no idea what Keely wrote about this week, but it’s bound to be entertaining, so check her out!

SMS #2: Lemon Icebox Cake with Strawberry Sauce

May 10, 2009

My pick!  Woohoo!  I chose this recipe because I had never made an icebox cake. Plus, “icebox” is a cool, old fashioned word.  Like “davenport,” “whippersnapper,” or “boob tube.”  

Thursday night I was home, bored, and decided to go ahead and make the recipe, as I was hoping to serve it on Mother’s Day and I had a busy weekend planned.

Friday night we attended a chorus concert.  When my daughter Rea told us about it, she said “We are singing theme songs from television shows, like old shows you watched growing up.  Like ‘Bonanza’ and ‘Green Acres.'”   Exactly what year does my daughter think I was born? 

I read over the recipe, then prepared the vanilla wafer crust and baked it for twelve minutes.

I’m not sure where my brain was while I was making this recipe.  I messed up, more than once.    First, separating the eggs, I got yolk in with the whites, twice, and had to dump them.   Then I used my lemon squeezer thing (I hate juicing lemons by hand) and managed to dump the seeds into the juice.

I whisked the condensed milk, lemon zest and salt with the egg yolks over simmering water.  Then I noticed my measuring cup of lemon juice on the counter and poured it in.   Seeds and all!  Crap.  Do I abandon whisking to grab a spoon and have my egg mixture become lemony, sweetened scrambled eggs?  Or try to pick them out by hand?  

I ended up with lemon-scented sticky fingers.  (Hmmm.. that sounds delicious, “Lemon Scented Sticky Fingers,” now with less seeds!)

I whisked the now (hopefully) seedless mixture for about twelve minutes.  Unfortunately, I was watching for “light and foamy” rather than “thick and fluffy,” so I fear I may have removed the concoction from the heat too soon.    

I poured the egg mixture onto crust in the springform pan.

Double crapola!

I was supposed to set aside the egg yolk mixture, beat the egg whites (with cream of tartar and sugar) and THEN combine the two and add that mixture to the pan.  

I was determined to turn my lemons into lemon icebox cake, so I proceeded with the recipe, beating the egg whites til they became meringue, gingerly adding half of it to the egg yolk mixture, attempting not to disrupt the crust.  

I did my best, then poured the rest of the meringue on the top.  Yes, “poured,” because I apparently also did not beat my egg whites for long enough and they were a little, uh, liquidy.

The pan went back in the oven for 10 minutes and the meringue came out wonderfully browned.  Setting it on a cooling rack, I went to take a Tylenol PM, as I had a headache and hadn’t slept well the night before.

OH…  that’s my excuse,  a dull brain due to lack of sleep!

Rea arrived home from the neighbor’s house and we watched the new “Not-Project-Runway” fashion design show on Bravo with me barely staying awake.   Luckily I remembered my cooling cake in the kitchen and went and wrapped it up.   The bottom of the pan still felt a tad bit warm, but  I just couldn’t stay up any longer.

When I arrived home from work on Friday I couldn’t wait to taste the cake.  Lemon icebox cake with strawberry sauceDespite my flubs it was fantastic!  So fantastic there’s only about a third of it left for our Mother’s Day dinner!

I will definitely make this recipe again.  The flubs were all me, not the recipe, which is really well written and really not difficult (see below.)   It could also be pretty easily adapted; I can imagine making it a margarita cake for Memorial Day, using pretzels instead of the vanilla wafers in the crust and subbing lime for the lemon and adding a touch of rum extract.

Lemon Ice Box Cake p. 208 of the “Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Makes one 9-inch cake.


3 tbs melted unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups vanilla wafer crumbs (about 40 cookies)

6 large eggs, separated

One 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 cup sugar

1 recipe Fresh Strawberry Sauce (recipe follows)

Before you start:

Position a rack in the center of your oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly butter the sides and base of a 9-inch spring form pan.  Line the bottom with a 9″ round of parchment paper.

1.  In a small bowl, pour the melted butter over the wafer crumbs and stir to combine.

2.  Gently press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan.  Do not pack in too tight.   Bake for twelve minutes.  Remove to a wire rack to cool.

3.  Increase the oven temp to 425 degrees F.

4.  In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, condensed milk, salt, lemon juice, and the zest.

5.  Set the mixture over a  pot of simmering, not boiling, water.   Cook, whisking continuously until thick and fluffy, 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

6.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.   In a slow, steady stream, add the sugar, beating until the whites are stiff and glossy peaks of meringue.

7.   Gently fold half the meringue into the lemon mixture.  Pour the mixture into the baked crust.  Spread the remaining meringue evenly over the lemon mixture, not letting it touch the sides of the pan.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the meringue is nicely browned.  Remove to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.  Do not remove or loosen the spring form pan.  When cool, freeze, uncovered in its pan for at least 4 hours or overnight.

8.  Slide a hot knife around the edges of the cake to loosen.  Remove the springform reing to unmold the cake.  To release the bottom invert the cake onto a flat plate and remove the bottom and the parchment round.  Turn right side up onto a serving plate.  Serve frozen with the fresh strawberry sauce.  The cake keeps frozen lightly wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 2 weeks.

Fresh Strawberry Sauce, p. 210

Makes about 1 cup sauce


1 dry pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled

2 tbs sugar

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbs cold water

1.  In a food processor or blender, puree the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and water until smooth.

2.  Strain the berry mixture into a clean bowl and discard the seeds.  Stir in additional sugar, if needed.

3.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

I hope everyone really enjoyed this recipe, and most of all, that everyone is having a lovely Mother’s Day.

If you don’t want to know the answer, then don’t ask the question.

May 7, 2009

My son often (jokingly, of course) refers to me as his “2nd favorite” (parent.)

Lovely, since he only has two.

I asked him why his dad is his favorite and he said, “because he’s a dude.”   The obvious question arose, “Why are ‘dudes’ better?”  

“They’re just easier.”  

My mature response?  “So maybe you should MARRY a dude!”

Yesterday Taylor and I made plans to drive and to go to his favorite Mexican restaurant, Vallerta’s.  He was thrilled and said “I love you….  

2nd favorite.”

I was all,  “Whoa, which parent is taking you to Vallarta’s?  Let’s start over!”  

“Tay, I love you.”   “I love you, too, favorite.”

Good job!

Glancing at the TV and totally pressing my luck, I asked, “Now, who’s prettier, me or Lorelei?”  (Gilmore, played by the lovely Lauren Graham)lorelei-gilmore1

Without a thought he responded, “Lorelei.”

“Um.. who is it you wanted to take you to Vallarta’s?”