Quick Cinnamon Rolls

In which I give you a shortcut.

I have a backlog of recipes.  You probably are thinking about what you are going to make for breakfast tomorrow.  Or maybe you are getting ready for a sweet snack. DSCN3284As a special treat, you get a special Saturday recipe.  This is one of those recipes that is ridiculously easy, but the results are spectacular.

Quick Cinnamon Rolls
Follow recipe for Baking Powder biscuits, patting the mixture into oblong shape. Spread lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle with ½ cup of sugar into 1 tsp cinnamon has been mixed. Roll up, cut in cross-wise slices like a jelly roll and bake in oven.

DSCN3285To make these even quicker, you can use canned biscuits or Bisquik.

To fancy them up, melt butter, brown sugar, and nuts in the bottom of a pie plate before adding the rolls.  Or put some cream cheese frosting on top.

Champion Apple Pie

In which I have a very sweet helper.

Champion Apple Pie is as American as Rocky…

We are the Champions…of Apple Pie.

Since I have already admitted my struggles with pie crust, I could brag about the champion I am for successfully recreating this apple pie, but I won’t.  Because truthfully, the pie crust was nearly the undoing of me.  You may notice that this pie crust is exactly the same pie crust as the pie crust I used for the Cherry Meringue Pie, with one exception.  It uses lard instead of butter.  I don’t know why this made everything so flippin’ difficult.  Maybe it was because I made it on a different day, maybe my cup of lard was a little short.  Maybe one of the tablespoons of milk wasn’t completely full.  (I sort of feel like I’m reciting my own personal “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”) For whatever reason, my pie crust was dry.  When I tried to roll it out, it crumbled.  The edges cracked and split.  I knew how to troubleshoot, of course, but I still got mad.  I added a bit of extra water and it ended up smooth.  It’s not that I don’t know what to do to fix it, it’s that I just can’t seem to get to the point where I can enjoy the process. DSCN3243I think I compare myself to my mom.  She always makes beautiful pie crusts.

Despite my irritation at the pie crust, I remember that when I was young, my mom used to let me crimp the pie crust.  She showed me multiple ways to make a beautiful decorative edge by pinching, by spreading my fingers and poking another finger between them, by using a fork to create a criss-cross pattern.  But the most important part was that she actually let me help.  So I got over myself and when my darling little daughter came over and wanted to help, I spread my fingers out on the edge of the pie crust and helped guide her little finger in between mine to create a fluted edge.  DSCN3246It’s that moment that made this more of a champion apple pie than the fact that I was able to solve my pie crust issues.

Speaking of cheese…I did take a slice of cheddar and melt it over a leftover slab of this pie.  Delicious.DSCN3241Atypically, this pie does not call for any pie spices.  Not a drop of cinnamon in the whole thing.  It is still delicious.  Maybe it’s because I picked the apples myself and froze them.  Maybe because the recipe won some award or other.  But I’m guessing it has a lot to do with those sweet little fingers poking through mine to create the gorgeous crust.Champion Apple Pie


Whiskey Slush

In which I stop toying with you and get straight to it.

Because I have hinted at it twice now (Cherry Meringue Pie and Hot Chicken Salad) I figured it was maybe time to stop teasing and get down to business.

Last Christmas, we did a progressive dinner with friends.  We gathered at each other’s houses for food and drinks and admiring of each other’s Christmas decorations.  During the salad course we were offered brandy slush.  This was maybe the third time I’d had brandy slush in my life.  I think one time was in college and another time was at a ladies’ night at a friend’s house where we ate snacks and sang Karaoke.  (I should think about hosting that sort of event.)  It’s one of those things where if you are offered it, you should think about accepting.  (Assuming you are of legal drinking age and all that.)DSCN3293While brandy slush is good, I think this version is even better.  It seems a little mellower and a little less acidy.  The Southern Comfort adds a bit of extra fruitiness that isn’t captured with the more traditional recipe.  It’s sweet, but not too sweet. It’s cold. It’s delicious.  It doesn’t give you the same sort of cold headache as a frozen margarita will.  Best of all, this recipe is super easy.  It has green tea in it, so just think of all the antioxidants.  DSCN3297A truly authentic slush experience involves first purchasing one of those 5 quarts pails of ice cream.  When the ice cream is gone, the void in your freezer can either be filled with another 5 quarts of ice cream or the same pail refilled with slush.  I mean, it’s up to you to do what you think is best, but I have found that pints of really good ice cream are much easier to find room for.

I served this at both our game night and at Thanksgiving dinner.  But it’s good for football games, rough days at work, basketball, relaxing on the porch in the summer…you know, pretty much any time.

Whiskey Slush

Whiskey Slush

You can do the recipe the way it reads above, but I sort of cheated and boiled 9 cups of water with 2 cups of sugar and 4 decaf green tea bags.  I figured it didn’t really matter that much.  Green tea bags only need to steep a couple of minutes.  To that, I added a can of lemonade concentrate and a can of orange juice concentrate and 2 1/2 cups of Southern Comfort.  Pour the whole thing into your ice cream pail and put it in the freezer overnight.  To serve, take one (or maybe a bit more) ice cream scoop of the slush and put it into an old fashioned sized glass.  Top with 7-Up (or ginger ale, or whatever sort of fizzy beverage sounds appealing to you).

Caramel Corn

In which I am “pop”arazzi.

Sometimes I make recipes and they sit in my backlog languishing there.  Sometimes it’s because the photos aren’t great.  Sometimes it’s because the recipe wasn’t that great.  Sometimes it’s because it’s so similar to something else that I feel like we all might need a little space.  Sometimes I’m just not inspired, or feel like I should remake it.  Then there are other times where I make a recipe and immediately want to share it because it was so amazing…or in this case because I downloaded the pictures from my camera and realized that my photos are WAY better than the recipe.DSCN3186.JPGThe table runner was one of my Grandma’s.  It seems seasonally appropriate and it makes me smile.DSCN3191.JPGWe air-popped rainbow colored popcorn for the popcorn.DSCN3188.JPGThe teacup is an amazing piece of Wedgwood that I found at Goodwill with 2 saucers for less than $3.  They matched another saucer I found at a different thrift shop for 60 cents.

The caramel color of this is so light because it uses white sugar and light corn syrup.  Despite getting up to temperature, nothing caramelized enough to get to that point of golden we normally see in caramel corn. This recipe was fine.  It was what it was, but seriously, check out those photos.

Caramel Corn

Caramel Corn

1/2 cup corn syrup
1 cup white sugar
1 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
1 tsp soda

Boil the first 5 ingredients together until 290 degrees.  Add baking soda and mix well.  Pour over popped corn and stir until well coated.

Cherry Meringue Pie

In which I prove why George Washington would NOT have cut down a cherry tree.

After teasing my family and friends with tantalizing photos of pie for Thanksgiving and because I am in a generous mood, I decided I would share my pie recipes this week.  Some of you will have seen this picture:  Thanksgiving PiesThe cherry meringue pie is the one on the top.  It is one of the best pies I’ve ever put into my mouth.  I feel like there should be some sort of fanfare before I give you the recipe for this fantastic thing.

The first thing you need to do to make this pie is really get in the right frame of mind.  I do this by waking myself up at 2 AM on Tuesday in a panic realizing that if I want pie for Thursday afternoon, I better get to the grocery store when I get home from work and spend Tuesday evening making pie crusts because I need to spend Wednesday evening and Thursday morning making pies if I want to serve pie for dessert on Thanksgiving.

I have a love/hate relationship with making pie crust.  I discussed my flaws in pastry crust with a friend of mine that used to be be a pastry chef.  She suggested that perhaps my issue was that I was trying to roll the dough when it was too cold.  I let it warm up a bit this time and had pretty good luck rolling things out this time.  The edges still cracked more than I liked and I had to do some repair work, but overall, once I talked myself into actually making the pies, the crust turned out beautifully.Pie Crust (2)I just made this pie crust in my food processor.  I didn’t feel like getting my hands in it.  Not that it really mattered because by the time I got everything kneaded and in the fridge, my hands were covered in dough anyway.

For the record, you really can make this pie in one day.  You can even make it in a couple of hours if you use a pre-made crust and your cherries aren’t frozen in a block of 8 cups.  I just do things the hard way. DSCN3345.JPG

I had some issues getting decent pictures of the finished product on a plate.  There were hungry mouths and whiskey slush involved.

Use tart cherries for this.  It provides a nice contrast to the meringue.  The meringue is cooked all the way through.  Think schaumtorte instead of lemon meringue.  It has a slightly sweet delicate crispness.

We ended up having some leftovers, but only because there were 2 other pies and a cake to choose from for dessert.  The boys opted to eat leftover pumpkin pie for breakfast, so when my friends came over after Black Friday shopping, there was still enough for them to try it.  My neighbor also got a small piece.

The pie is so good, it’s totally worth all the self-created drama it took to make it.  Actually, the filling and the meringue are totally simple to make.  If it wasn’t for my pie crust paralysis, I might make this until all my cherries are gone.  Maybe my relationship with pie crust will improve and it will seem like less effort to create this little bit of perfection.

Cherry Meringue Pie

1 cup cherries
1 cup sugar
1 cup juice
1 TB cornstarch

Make meringue with whites of 2 eggs, ½ cup sugar.  Put on top to bake with pie.  Bake in a slow oven one hour. (A slow oven is between 300 and 325, I used 325 for the first 45 minutes or so and turned it down to 300 because I didn’t want to give my crust too much color.)

Syrian Coffee Cake

In which I try to get official commentary about the heritage of this recipe, but fail.

Happy Thanksgiving!  On this very busy morning, I thought it might be nice to put something warm in your belly to prep you for the upcoming feast.  Besides, on the days you don’t have to go to work, when you are going to be in the kitchen anyway, how hard is it really to whip up a coffeecake while you sip your coffee?  We turn our heat down at night, so it’s really nice to have the oven on and hot coffee while the house is waking up. DSCN2695I have no idea what makes this coffeecake Syrian as opposed to any other nationality.  I keep meaning to ask my colleague, but never have the recipe with me at work.  I expect it’s got something to do with the cinnamon.  Or perhaps is just called Syrian because someone thought it sounded fancy.  DSCN2699I love this coffeecake. It’s cinnamony and nutty with a sort of firm crust underneath the cake.  The pecans add such a beautiful crunch to it.  It’s simple and basic, but completely wonderful.DSCN2704

I wish I had some sort of great story that went along with this cake.  I think I just made it on an ordinary day when I had time.  It did make that day a little more special.  Syrian Coffee Cake

Syrian Coffee Cake

Blend 2 cups of brown sugar, 2 cups of flour, and 1/2 cup or margarine together until it resembles coarse crumbs.

Put half of the crumbs into a 9″ square pan.

Stir 1 egg, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1 cup sour cream and 1 tsp baking soda into the remaining crumbs and pour into pan.  Sprinkle on 1/2 cup of nuts.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Food media

I was listening to the Milk Street Radio Podcast about Thanksgiving where Christopher Kimball was discussing Food media with Dan Pashman of The Sporkful. Dan says as a member of the food media he feels pressured to constantly come up with new and innovative ideas in food. I had a couple of revelations:

  • If I felt like being pretentious, I could claim that I am now a member of the food media (a very insignificant member of the global scale of food media, but…)
  • I currently have no pressure to do anything new, except in the case of everything old is new again.
  • Sheryl of A Hundred Years Ago is on my wavelength as far as this goes.

So what’s my point? Eat what you want. Try new things. Just be you and don’t worry about it.