09 August 2017

Upside Down Cherry Pudding

I could very easily begin this post with a couple of well-worn phrases -- "life goes on" or "time flies" -- and I just did.  There's a reason those phrases are so well worn.  They are often applicable to how we feel.  My life does go and time certainly does seem to fly by.  My life is also a crazy, mind-wrenching roller coaster of mental illness.  One thing I tried desperately to do when I started this blog is seem normal.  Or at least as close to some version of normal as I could be.  It wore me out over time. 

Making food makes me happy.  It is my little haven from the chaos around me.  I am pretty sure I mentioned a few times before that my husband has a mental illness.  More specifically he is bipolar, a.k.a. manic depressive.  He was misdiagnosed for 12 years.  Part of his treatment before he was correctly diagnosed was ECT, or Electro Convulsive Therapy (better known as Electro Shock Therapy).  Most folks know it from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest".  It's nothing like that anymore and can work wonders.  Less than 1% of patients have permanent memory damage and again another 1% see no lasting benefit from the treatment.  My husband is lucky enough to fall into the 1% of both of those categories.  He was leaps and bounds better for a month or so after the treatments.  Then he started going downhill.  He got so bad that I had to force him to sign himself into a hospital to keep him from harming himself while I was working.  That was the turning point where we found a doctor that finally gave him a proper diagnosis.  The proper diagnosis doesn't make things perfect.  Some days he's down and wants to sleep all day.  Some days he's manic.  Manic means he'll stay awake for a couple of days, talk your ear off, and start lots of new projects.  The swings are unpredictable, but better than always down. 

The hardest side effect of the treatment is his permanent, um, well, brain damage (for lack of a better term).  He lost about 3 years of his life.  He doesn't remember Isaac, our youngest, as a baby or toddler.  The everyday side effect is the permanent damage to his short term memory.  He can remember every fact he has read about the cars in the new Mad Max movie (which is totally amazing), but can't tell you what he did today.  He can do complex Trigonometry or Calculus, but can't add the tip at a restaurant.  He loses words.  In the middle of a conversation, he will lose the name of whatever he is talking about even though he just used it 20 times in the last few minutes.

These changes have made life a lot more challenging since the last time I really posted anything.  I just needed to drop everything I did for me and only do for Eric and my boys for a while.  They need me. That's still a present tense need, so I'm not going to be posting 3 times a week, like I did before.  I'm shooting for once a week. 

I've been wanting to start a little project for a while and I think making a fresh start on the blog is the right time to start.  I inherited a manila envelope and a couple of folders of my NeeNaw's recipes.  I can't describe how immaculate her house was, so I know if she liked a recipe enough to save it, then it has to be amazing.  This recipe isn't from her collection, but it is from an old newspaper clipping and just like the kind of thing she would have saved.  I was intrigued, so I put it on top of the envelope and made it an honorary member of NeeNaw's collection.  I made only a teeny-tiny change to the original by adding some almond extract in addition to the vanilla.  Cherries and almonds love each other and it makes the whole thing smell amazing, so it's a no-brainer.  It's just the kind of thing she would have loved.  I think she would have tucked this into the envelope, too.


Upside Down Cherry Pudding

Print me, Please!!!
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar, divided
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 cups pitted sour cherries (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1 cup hot water
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Cream the butter and 1 cup sugar on medium until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, vanilla, and almond extract until completely combined.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and beat until just combined.   Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9x9" baking pan.  Sprinkle the cherries over the batter; sprinkle the remaining sugar over the cherries.  Pour the water over the top.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and the pudding starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.


18 July 2015

Heavenly Hash Cake

My grandmother was my best friend.  This isn't typical, especially for a twenty-something to say her grandmother is her best friend.  I never went more than a few days without talking to her on the phone until she was put into a nursing home because of dementia.  She very quickly, practically overnight as a matter of fact, lost the ability to carry on a conversation.  She also lost most of herself over the course of those few days.  Looking back on it now, it was really like losing her twice -- once when she was taken over by dementia and again when she actually died.
My grandmother and I couldn't have been more different.  Her favorite color was pink.  She favored pearls or small pieces of gold as her jewelry of choice.  She woke up quite early every morning and sat at her dressing table, carefully setting her hair and doing her makeup.  She always had her fingernails painted.  She always wore lipstick and perfume.  She almost never cursed (at least until the dementia took hold).  Her "expletive" of choice was "Oh shoot-a-boot!".  I share none of these traits with her.  I don't wear makeup.  My hair is much too short to style or set in any real way.  The only gold and pearls I own were hers.  I can't remember the last time I put on makeup of any kind.  I only wake up early when forced.  I curse much more than I care to admit.  I can't keep fingernail polish on because my job is much to hands-on.
Nevertheless, she was my best friend.  I could tell her anything and we could talk for hours about the most mundane things.  She gave me lots of things over the years -- a great appreciation for family; consistent politeness and courtesy for others; a love of good and simple food; the pricelessness of sitting next to a quiet lake and enjoying the peace; the value of laughs, hugs, and smiles from those you care about; the luxury of sleeping on a satin pillowcase every now and again; and the glamour of some really, really fabulous costume jewelry.

In addition to her manila folder of loose recipes, she passed on this completely amazing little folder of recipes.  I'm not sure where it came from, but it is truly, truly, truly amazing (cue the Jem theme song).  That amazing little black folder is where the recipe for this Heavenly Hash Cake comes from.  I need to give fair warning -- this cake is dangerously sweet.  Seriously, tooth-achingly, mind-numbingly sweet.  It's also amazing.  Cake may not be right for this cake.  It's more like a brownie.  It's like a brownie covered with marshmallows and chocolate frosting.  You should run to the kitchen and make it immediately.  I did find out that the cooking time was not nearly long enough.  You keep it in the oven for 35 minutes or so, rather than the 20 to 25 in the recipe.

Heavenly Hash Cake
makes one 9"x13" cake

Print me, Please!!!

for the cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup chopped nuts

miniature marshmallows

for the icing:
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 box powdered sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
5 Tbsp evaporated milk

Preheat the oven to 350°; grease a 9x13" baking pan and set aside.

Beat together the butter, cocoa, powder and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Stir in the flour and nuts until just combined.  Spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes, or until the middle is just barely set.

Spread mini marshmallows over the top of the cake and return the pan to the oven.  Bake about 5 minutes longer, or until the marshmallows are melted and a just barely toasted.

While the cake is baking, prepare the icing.  Mix all the icing ingredients well,  Pour the icing over the marshmallows and warm cake.  Allow the cake to cool to room temperature before slicing.

06 July 2015

Ruby's Pineapple Pie

I know I said once a week.... I got a little sidetracked, but for a very good reason, though.  Last weekend the boys and I went on a little mini vacation to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  We spent 3 days with my best friend, Traci, and her daughter, Annie.  Annie is six months older than my youngest, Isaac, and is best friends with both of the boys.  We had an absolute blast going to the hotel pool, a gigantic neighborhood park, eating delicious food, getting to see my friends David and Kris, and going to the OKAquarium.  The aquarium in Tulsa has some of the largest bull sharks in captivity.  It is totally amazing.  Sam wants to study sharks when he grows up, so we could almost say the trip was necessary for educational purposes.  It was definitely needed for my own sanity.

Today is also my 10th wedding anniversary.  I am grateful almost everyday that my husband is willing to put up with my surliness, near complete lack of conversation, and incessant watching of crime/mystery shows on television.  Hopefully he feels the same way about my tolerating his quirks most days, too.  I love him dearly and am so glad to have him in my life.

I also needed to make sure that I got this one right.  This is the first of my Neenaw's recipes and has always been the one I wanted to tackle first.  This had to be the first one because it's got a typed date on it.  The typed date is the year I was born.  Maybe she made it to celebrate when I was born, or more likely when I came home from the hospital, since I was in NICU for a week.  It would be a great pie for celebrating.  It's delicious.  Granted, I'm biased, since I am a total nut job when it comes to anything pineapple. 

Here's one thing to know about me.  I can't make a proper pie crust.  I just don't have "the touch".  I have made them before.  I have made good ones before, but it's not consistent.  Because I can't get them right all the time, I use store bought crusts.  I'm pretty sure my Neenaw would be okay with that, though, because she did, too.  It's probably because all the flour on the countertops was just too darn messy.  If she didn't have a mess to clean up, then all the better.

There's also a name next to the title of the recipe on this card, but I'm a little unsure who it is.  My grandmother's first name was Rubye, so similar, but not the same.  She liked to trade recipes with the other ladies that worked at the Department of Education with her, so maybe it's from one of them.  She also never, ever went by her first name, but by her middle name instead.  I'm not sure why she preferred Oleta, but she did.

Pineapple Pie

makes 1 pie
1 unbaked pie crust
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 T all purpose flour
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350°.  Put the pie crust into an ungreased pie plate.  Set in the refrigerator to rest while you prepare the filling (This will keep it from shrinking when you bake the pie).  Combine the butter and sugar and stir for a minute until well combined.  Add the eggs, flour, pineapple, and pecans; stir until well combined.  Pour the filing into the prepared crust.  Bake 30-45 minutes, or until the filling is set and the crust is golden brown.  Let cool to room temperature before slicing.


10 March 2014

Cheddar Ranch Biscuits

I'm totally going to brag on myself.  Red Lobster's biscuits ain't got nothing on these.  The cheese biscuits at Red Lobster are like crack.  Well, these are like the really good new crack on the streets that's so much better than the old stuff.  That's officially as far as I can go with the crack analogy since the only things I know about it, I learned from Law and Order.

These are everything a good biscuit should be -- light, fluffy, buttery, crumbly, and totally addictive.  There's also the super cheesy-ness and the ranch-ness.  They add layer after layer of flavor.  I can't say enough about 'em.  These are my new love affair and I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna get over it anytime soon.

Cheddar Ranch Biscuits
makes about 20 biscuits
1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
3 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
One 1oz pkg ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup cold butter
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400°.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside.  In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and dressing mix.  Cut in the butter, using a pastry blender or fork, until the mixture forms coarse crumbs.

Place the green onions in a small microwavable bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, leaving a small place unsealed to vent; microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Cool for about 2 minutes.

Add cheese to flour mixture and toss until well combined.  Stir in the yeast mixture, onions, and buttermilk all at once until a soft dough forms.  Drop by 1/2 cupfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 2 to 3" between the biscuits.

Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until puffed and light golden brown.  Serve warm.

28 February 2014

What!? Peanut Butter, Jelly and Potato Chip Bars

Sorry.  I didn't mean to disappear.  Really.  I didn't mean it.  I guess I just needed some me-time.  I've actually been dealing almost non-stop with an issue with my oldest kiddo's school.  It's a problem most parents would love to have -- he's just too smart.  The local school district doesn't have the tools for dealing with it, though.  They have programs for under-performers, but not over-performers, at least not until they're older.  So, I have spent the last ten days working to get Sam in a different school where they might have some flexibility with his advancedness (I just made that word up.) and be able to work with the fact that he's doing math and reading on a much higher level than the other first graders.  I got him into a new school for next year that looks really promising.  So (fingers crossed) that issue is gonna work out and I can get my brain back into the kitchen again.
I've been wanting to make these bars from the website Spoon Fork Bacon for a while now.  I started going through my really ridiculously large pile of recipes I would like to try eventually.  I have to add that I will probably never make 99% from them, so I go through about once a year and get rid of half that have built up that I know will never make the cut.  This recipe, though, keeps ending up at the top of the pile, so I finally broke down and made it this week as a little stress reliever.

They didn't end up quite as spectacular as I had envisioned, but they are pretty darn good.  Somehow, although they are pretty much packed with peanut butter, I don't think they ended up quite peanut butter-y enough.  I think I might just up the peanut butter quotient and make these again.  Other than that I was pretty darn thrilled and these absolutely filled my comfort food, stress relief quota for the week.  I'm definitely keeping the recipe in the pile.  You never know when a new version might come swimming out of my brain.

I did use all the peanut butter I had left.  That's always a good thing since you always pull out some extra peanut butter to lick off your fingers on the way out of the jar (just wash you hands after said finger lickin' goes down.)
Peanut Putter, Jelly, and Potato Chip Bars
makes one 9x13" pan
adapted ever so slightly from Spoon Fork Bacon

Print me, Please!!!

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups strawberry preserves
3/4 cup crushed potato chips (I used Wavy Lays)
2/3 cup peanut butter chips
1/3 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9x13" glass baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.  In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the egg and continue to beat until blended.  Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat well until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and mix until a smooth dough comes together.

Press 2/3rds of the peanut butter dough into the prepared pan in an even layer.  Spread the preserves over the dough and crumble the remaining dough over the top.  Sprinkle the potato chips, peanut butter chips, and peanuts over the top.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let the bars cool in the dish for at least 1 hour.  Cut into bars and serve.  Store in a covered container at room temperature up to 3 days.


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