Here Comes The Bride!

Tomorrow we’ll be the proud parents of a bouncing baby girl. Fully grown! No sleepless nights! One more chance there will be somebody to feed us when we’re old and drooling!

Angela’s been part of the family for years but tomorrow it becomes official. She’s had more than enough time to figure out what she’s getting into but she’s marrying Jace anyway, and we go along with the deal. All I can say is she’s a brave girl.

The kids didn’t want traditional wedding cake. Angela is a girl after my own heart. She’s having an ice cream bar. Jace wanted his favorite strawberry swirl cheesecake with strawberry sauce. I just finished making the last two. (Insert sigh of relief) But I say there’s no such thing as too much dessert, so I made some rum cakes too. Just in case we’re feeling a mite peckish after all that dancing.

This rum cake is no family secret. It’s the old Bacardi Rum Cake recipe that’s been around forever. And yet, I’ve never seen anyone else made it. That’s really a pity because this is the most awesome go-to holiday dessert ever. It’s really moist, so it keeps for days. You can make it a day or two ahead of your holiday party, or a month ahead and just stick it in the freezer. It freezes really well. Best of all, everybody loves it.

I always make it with Bacardi rum. It’s the least I can do to pay them back for all the years of tastiness.

rum-cake

My Favorite Apple Pie!

This isn’t just my favorite apple pie in the whole world, it’s the only apple pie I’m allowed to make for the rest of my life. I’m always trying to improve on perfection, but my last attempt at making a better apple pie was my last, period.

Son Jace was soooo looking forward to apple pie because it’s one of his favorite desserts. Sadly, I was trying a new recipe. He took one bite and looked at me like I’d just ripped the ears off a kitten. He was horrified, disgusted, disappointed, all in one very expressive look I’ll never forget, and will never live down.

He wanted to know what was wrong with the pie. I told him I was trying a new recipe. He said, “Why would you do that”? Why indeed. Every time I serve apple pie now, the family teases me about the horrible apple pie debacle of 2013 and I have to relieve the horror all over again. Lesson learned. You just don’t mess with perfection.

This was not the first time apples got me in trouble with Jace by the way. It all started when he was still really little, less than two years old certainly because he was sitting in his high chair eating lunch. Apparently he had done something that displeased me, don’t remember what now. I remember I delivered what I thought was a very eloquent lecture designed to induce immediate attitude adjustment, which I concluded by saying in the time honored words handed down by my mother, “So, how do you like them apples?”. He just looked at me and said, “No, Mommy. It’s not THEM apples, it’s THOSE apples”. Sigh! It was then I knew I was in over my head, and I’m still trying to keep my parental head above water. Lesson #5,652: don’t mess with his apple pie.

So this is what perfection looks like. It tastes even better! Plus it’s EASY!!!

Apple Pie

I LOVE Stew!!!

stew

Apparently most people think stew is like tuna casserole, something you’ll only choke down if there isn’t something better. But give me a bowl of stew and some biscuits, and my stomach goes into it’s happy dance. It takes a while to make stew, but it’s a good weekend endeavor. Kind of like a food mullet. Not much business to attend to up front, big party in the rear. Yes, my mind does work in mysterious ways.

Stew’s in the pot getting delicate. Think I’ll go read a book and enjoy doing nothing for a while, since it’s back to the old grindstone tomorrow. Sigh!

When A Pie’s Too Much….

When a whole pie is just more than you want, or making a pie is just too much trouble, don’t do without, make a galette! Nothing could be faster or easier, especially if you use a ready made pie crust. (I should have stock in the Pillsbury company.)

galette done

The nectarines are getting ripe on our little tree, so Mr. Man brought some in and left them sitting on the counter. Yeah, I can take a hint. But I could not possibly put out less effort making anything than it takes to make a galette, and he’ll be a happy camper. That’s what I call a win, win.

Of course most of the time we want some nectarines, we have to resort to buying them at the store or some local fruit stand. Either way, you’re apt to be looking at fruit that was picked before it was quite ripe and put into cold storage. So I’ll pass along some advice I got from a fruit inspector. Look at the nectarine right around where the stem was attached. You’re looking for a nice warm, golden yellow color. Those will be the ones that were ripest when they were picked. OK, there are white nectarines, and I can’t help you there, but those aren’t the ones you usually see at the grocery store.

You can make a galette with nectarines, peaches, plums, apples, whatever you have on hand. I’m ashamed to admit that it’s not really a problem for two of us to polish off a whole galette of an evening. But, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it makes a nice and rather elegant dessert for four.

Summer’s here and fruit’s ripe. Now’s the perfect time for a galette!

All I Know About Asparagus

All I’ve been doing for weeks is working. No time to cook anything really fun, let alone post any recipes. But, I have a little time today so let’s talk about asparagus.

First, what do you look for when you’re trying to get the best asparagus?  Well, it depends on who you ask. Some say it doesn’t matter what size the stalks are, it’s all good. Just pick whatever size works best for what you’re going to use it for.

On the other hand, I’ve heard that asparagus spears have X number of fibrous strands running through them, no matter how thin or how thick. So the thin spears are mostly fiber, while the thick spears have more “meat” and actually cook up more tender. Personally, that’s been my experience. The last time I cooked skinny little asparagus it was like trying to eat twigs, so I’ve sworn off skinny asparagus for good.

On the other hand, when the bottoms of the spears get really thick and old, and turn white, does that mean they’re tough? That’s been my experience too but again, to each his own. I figure it’s like men. You don’t want the scrawny wiry little dude, you want the nice beefy guy, until he turns old and grey, then he’s not so good anymore. And you want spears that are firm, and not limp or wrinkled, with a tight and purplish tip. Yes, we’re still talking about asparagus.

To store asparagus, you can cut an inch off of the bottom of the spears, drop them into a jar with about an inch of water in the bottom, and put a plastic bag over the top. Or you can wrap them in a damp paper towel and put them in a plastic bag.

When it’s cooking time, most people line their asparagus up and cut off a little bit of the bottoms, so the spears are all the same size. I just snap off the tough part & don’t worry about uniformity. I hold the spear in the middle with one hand, hold the fat end in the other, and bend the spear until it snaps. In theory it will snap off where the stem is starting to get tough. That’s my plan anyway, and I’m sticking with it. It does waste more asparagus, which is expensive, so do whatever you want.

Types of asparagus? Well, there’s green, white, and purple. White asparagus is the geek version of green asparagus. It’s the same thing, tastes the same, it just never sees the light of day so it’s all white and pasty. Purple asparagus is a different variety, supposedly sweeter and more tender, but never having eaten any myself, I can’t confirm that.

Anyway, that’s all I know on the subject of asparagus. I make roasted/broiled asparagus pretty often, so you can check out my recipe if you have nothing better to do.

Crescent Roll Beerocks

I love beerocks. What’s not to love? But most often you get a wad of too much bread, with some too wet filling inside, that isn’t all that tasty. And then if you want to make them at home, you have to make bread, or at least get some frozen bread, and wait for it to thaw, and rise, and make the beerocks. And you have to make way too many, just to make it worthwhile, because you have all that bread. And now you have a whole afternoon invested and you’re still starving. Or maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, years ago I found this recipe that I think was from one of those Pillsbury bake-off contests, where you get some crappy prize for making something edible with one of their products. But this one’s a winner! OK, they’re definitely not on anyone’s healthy diet plan, and certainly not cheap to make, but they’re fast and easy and delicious. I mean, they’re made with crescent rolls, what could be better? Don’t they look yummy? You want some. You know you do. Listen to your bad self and make some crescent roll beerocks.

beerock dinner

Apparently Mom’s Not Cooking!

Welcome to life. Summertime is appraiser Hell on Earth. I’m lucky to have clean clothes to wear these days, let alone fix something great for dinner. But Mr. Man isn’t complaining. He’s busy fixing up the house and spending money faster than I can make it, so he’s more than willing to have me with my nose to the grindstone instead of in some cookbook. Besides, we’re both so fat we can afford to miss a few good meals.

These days he’s been cooking on occasion, for which I’m so grateful I don’t care what he fixes. Whatever it is, I’ll swear it’s the best thing ever even if I have to massage it down my throat. OK, seriously, he’s a pretty good cook as long as you like things grilled, or fried, preferably with gravy.

Or, sometime I throw something together that takes as little effort as possible. Survival Cooking 101. Yesterday it was roast in a crock pot. I’ve fixed roast every way you can think of, but I’m down to the absolute laziest way imaginable and frankly, they all taste about the same. So I figure, why work any harder than I have to?

Somebody asked me if I have any crock pot recipes the other day. So, here’s how I fix crock pot roast when cooking just isn’t a priority.

 

Cheesecake

basic cheesecake

Last night’s dinner was a success. Our guests went home porked to the gills and we didn’t have to order pizza. Merl’s brisket was fork tender. I tried suggesting some manly big time outdoor grilling become a Sunday ritual, but he’s not buying what I’m selling. It was worth a shot.

The cheesecake I made for dessert came out just like it’s supposed to, no gaping wound. So, I’ll get that recipe posted this morning before I begin another boring and stressful work day which could stretch through the entire week. I just never know.

But first, here’s a nice basic cheesecake for Danelle and whoever else needs it. Enjoy!

 

Company’s Coming!

Guests for dinner tonight. Merl had a hankerin’ to smoke some brisket and I’m not going to stand in his way. He patted it down with our favorite rub, and plans to cook it for ten hours, low & slow. If it’s not great, it’ll be a tragedy and we’ll be ordering pizza for our guests. You never know, could happen.

I’m making some pilaf and roasted asparagus to go with that, plus a salad and some french bread broiled with butter, garlic, and Parmesan cheese on top. Can’t go wrong with that….I hope!

And then there’s dessert. I’ve had a request for a cheesecake recipe. I make several different types of cheesecake because like ice cream, it’s all good in my book. But tonight I have a cheesecake purist coming for dinner. He likes his straight up, no frills, no toppings, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I also have a family member that can’t eat gluten. So I figure I’ll start with this basic cheesecake recipe that has a gluten free filling. (Most of my recipes call for a small amount of flour.) I use regular graham crackers for the crust, but you can buy gluten free graham cracker crumbs if gluten is your kryptonite.

So, cheesecake’s in the oven. Brisket is on the grill. The yard smells like a forest fire. And the dog is looking hopeful. If all goes well, I’ll post asparagus and cheesecake recipes tomorrow. If not I’ll post a photo of an empty pizza box!

 

The Big Birthday Dinner

I did it. Bit the bullet and cooked “The Big Birthday Dinner” for Merl’s big day. Well, birthdays really aren’t all that exciting when you get past a certain point. I don’t remember where that point is, because we passed it soooo long ago. But, we try and drum up a little enthusiasm anyway because having another birthday is better than the alternative, and if nothing else it’s an excuse to pig out.

You always have to consider your audience, so I made this dinner heavy on the meat and starch. The only thing that would have made him happier would have been gravy, but I couldn’t figure out how to work it in there. There’s always next year.

Merl loves him some pork ribs, so I we had some of those. Future daughter-in-law doesn’t like pork, so I cooked a couple game hens in the old Showtime Rotisserie oven. That way Merl didn’t have to spend much time at the grill, and both my ovens were otherwise occupied, and I was already at my multi-tasking limit.

He loves baked beans, so we had those. Others would rather have potatoes, so we also had some hasselback potatoes too. Thought I had green beans but didn’t, so we had corn on the cob and some broccoli, just so there would be an actual veggie in there somewhere. We did have salad with creamy cilantro dressing, which is kind of like a Pollo Loco salad. AND, I made some Parmesan rolls from scratch. Then we topped that all off with some chocolate waffles for dessert. Whew! I don’t think I should have to cook for at least a week after all that. I may never get the kitchen clean again.

I’ve already posted my rib recipe and the recipe for my favorite dry rub, which I used on the game hens. Corn I just boil for ten minutes, then brush the ears with butter and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Broccoli gets steamed, then topped with butter and seasoned salt. No magic there. But I’ll give you recipes for baked beans, hasselback potatoes, parmesan loaves, creamy cilantro dressing, and chocolate waffles.

Enjoy! I’m taking a nap!!!