15 August 2014

Is Cheese Dip my Food Identity?

I'm back!!!  Sort of.  I don't know how regularly I will be posting, but I am going to try to start posting again at least semi frequently.  I've missed posting, but don't think for even a second that I quit thinking and pondering all things food in my absence.  I just needed a little breather. 

What prompted me to post again is a question that has been nagging at me for a while now and I really haven't come up with any conclusions that I am really happy with, so I decided to bring it to the masses. 

What is my food identity?

I'm from Arkansas.  We're sort of a Southern no-man's land.  We're famous for the Clinton family, hillbilly stereotypes, and cheese dip.  Folks from around here know about more and better things that come from here, but leave Arkansas and those are pretty much the only things from here that people know about.  I'm used to us only getting a passing mention in Southern cookbooks.  There are other more famous Southern food cultures -- New Orleans, Charleston, Atlanta, etc....  There are famous food products from other places in the South -- Kentucky Bourbon, Georgia Peaches, Memphis BBQ... you get the idea.  A couple of weeks ago, though, I got a cookbook from the library about Southern hometown favorites and there is not even a mention of anyone, anything, or any place in the entire state.  It really got under my skin.  We don't even warrant a name drop?  Really?

Then I started watching season 2 of the PBS series "The Mind of a Chef".  You may remember how much I love and adored the first season of the series and my undying love of pretty much anything associated with Anthony Bourdain.  Sean Brock is the focus of the first half of the season and he is travelling around doing an in-depth exploration of Southern food.  Again, Arkansas is completely snubbed.  Now I'm reeling.

The point to all this (and sorry there's no accompanying recipe to my identity crisis), is I am now questioning my food identity as an Arkansan.  Are we just Southern with no real identity of our own?  Have we gone through history picking and choosing what we like from other communities and left ourselves with no real individuality? 

There is a pretty valid argument for pie, but I could argue that pie alone is not an identity.  We can't claim pie as our own.  I'm sure other food cultures might have something to say if we tried that.  There is an even stronger argument to be made for the fried pie.  They are definitely a staple around here.  We might be able to claim them as our own, but can you make an entire identity from a handheld pie?  I'm not sure.  There's also a very strong argument for Chocolate Gravy and Biscuits.  I am not an expert.  I've never had them.  Not even once; but I know lots of folks who grew up with them.  I'm pondering the argument.  The strongest argument of all can be made for cheese dip.  Some folks claim it was invented not too far from where I sit.  We are host to the WORLD Cheese Dip Championship.  We are the world's greatest consumers of both Velveeta and Rotel.  That fact makes me hang my head in shame..... The last argument, although it is the strongest is the one I just can't make myself accept.  I love me some good cheese dip every now and then, but I just can't accept that it is the one dish that defines me.  I just can't.

What do you think?  If you're from the South I would love your opinions.  If you're from elsewhere, what is the dish that identifies you or your culture?  I would love to hear about it.

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 my 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.

18 February 2014

ANZAC Biscuits

These cookies have turned into quite the troublesome quest.  I said at the beginning of the year that I really wanted to make these ANZAC biscuits from the Saveur 100.  They have uncovered some more of my recipe pet peeves and here they are:
1.  When the recipe isn't accurate.
2.  When the photograph is a true representation.
On the first point, I get it that a cook doesn't want to give up their secrets.  I refused to give out my recipes for years.  There are a few I still keep in my back pocket and won't hand out.  If you are giving out recipes, though.  Give us the one you actually used.  Please.  I followed the recipe from Saveur to the letter and the dough was too dry.  So dry that there was an extra cup or so of dry stuff in the bottom of the bowl that was still not incorporated.  SO, I had to had more liquid to get the dough to even hold together to make a cookie.  The recipe also said that it made about 2 dozen cookies.  I used the same size scoop and ended up with just over 5 dozen.  I know I added some more liquid, but that 1/4 cup didn't make 3 dozen cookies.  It's just not possible.
I made the first dozen of these cookies and they looked nothing like the picture from Saveur, which is the one at the top of this post.  I just couldn't figure it out.  The cookies tasted just wonderful, though, so I kept on baking and said I didn't care what they looked like.  But it just kept bugging me until I looked at the bottom of one of the cookies.  The Saveur picture is of the bottom of the stinkin' cookies.  Maybe it's not a total misrepresentation, but I still feel a little cheated.
Enough of my complaining....So, here are some things you need to know about these cookies:
1.  The name ANZAC is short for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.  These were invented as a long lasting ration during World War I.  The lack of eggs during wartime is also why they're egg-less.
2.  They're delicious.  They are buttery and loaded with coconut and oats.  The cookies are chewy, crunchy, and crispy at the same time.  The traditional cookies are made with golden syrup, which is the British version of our Southern cane syrup.  I made mine with cane syrup since I already had some on hand.  You could also use mild flavored molasses in a pinch.

ANZAC Biscuits
makes about 5 dozen cookies
2 1/4 cups rolled oats
2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
10 Tbsp butter
7 Tbsp cane syrup or golden syrup
Preheat oven to 350°.  Whisk together the oats, coconut, flour, and sugar.  Stir together water and baking soda in a separate small bowl.  Melt the butter and syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat; add the baking soda mixture.  Stir the syrup mixture into the flour mixture to make a very thick dough.  Using a 1 oz scoop or 2 tablespoons, drop cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet 2" apart.  Bake until golden brown, 12-16 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.

12 February 2014

Valentines Chocolate Pretzel Bars

I cheated on this dessert.  Totally and completely.  I am still really proud of myself, though.  Usually I'm posting the day after the holiday, telling you what I made in the past tense.  I'm actually ahead of the game this time.  Look!  It's a Valentine's Day recipe one day before the day itself.  I'm gonna keep working on moving it up a little more for the next big holiday.  I cheated on this dessert because I have made it before.  I made this back in August and my hubby loved it.  It may have been his favorite dessert I've ever made.  He had a birthday a couple of days ago and I made these bars again for his birthday.  I added some little chocolate hearts to the top.  That's the only difference.  Maybe with all the hearts there's some more love in there, too.
the finely ground pretzels are the secret ingredient to the awesomeness.
this stuff's thick like cookie dough.  don't sweat it.  it'll all be okay.
see -- when you smoosh it down, it's lovely.
press the chocolates into the top straight out of the oven so they get all melty.
get a glass of milk and dig in while they're still warm.  enjoy the chock-full, overloaded goodness.
Valentine's Chocolate Pretzel Bars
makes one 8x8" pan

1 1/4 cups salted pretzels
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cup flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup salted smoked almonds, chopped
16 heart shaped chocolates

 Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line an 8" square baking pan with foil and spray the foil with nonstick spray; set aside.

Process the pretzels in a food processor or blender until they are fine crumbs; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.  Stir in the pretzel crumbs, flour, salt, and baking powder.  Stir until just combined.  Gently stir in the chocolate chips and chopped almonds.

Spread the dough into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and just set in the middle.  Press the chocolates into the top of the bars as soon as you remove them from the oven.  Allow to cool 30 minutes before cutting into bars and serving.

04 February 2014

Warm Lemon Cheesecake Cake

It's cold. Like, totally, mind-numbing, toe-numbing, icy, arctic cold.  Cold like we never get here in Arkansas for more than a couple of days a year.  It's been cold like this for a month with the exception of a couple of days.  The weather calls for warm, soothing desserts.  It calls for soup, hot chocolate, and fuzzy socks. 

I made this cake for our Super Bowl party, which got cancelled because of icy roads.  The weather is really bumming me out since I missed out on all that good food.  The good food included my stepdad's award-winning ribs.  They're heavenly and one of the best foods in the entire world.

I very, barely adapted this recipe from the Warm Winter Lemon cake on the Kraft Recipes website.  I was drawn to it because it's warm (totally obvious) and lemon always makes me think of warm weather.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not a fan of the summer.  It's too darn hot.  I just want to not have to feel chilled to the bone all the time.  This cake did the trick.  I only made some minor changes and it was a real success.  It's light, fluffy, ooey, gooey, lemony, creamy, warm, luscious and just plain delicious.  You should go make one.  If you live anywhere near me you should have time since we're supposed to get iced in again tomorrow.

31 January 2014

Butterscotch Meringue Pie

This is one of those pies that just sort of speaks for itself.  It really does.  My pictures (unfortunately) don't really do it justice since I took them with my ipod instead of my real camera.  My husband had claimed the camera for his web project, so I had to make things work with what I had.  You can tell, however that the ladies at work enjoyed it.  This pie got destroyed.

This pie is my take on a Southern classic.  Pretty much anything covered in meringue is a classic around these parts.  To make this pie work there are a few things you have to remember.  First, don't give up on the filling.  It will thicken.  I promise.  Just keep stirring (or whisking).  As soon as you are ready to throw in the towel and walk away from the whole disaster, that's when it will thicken.  Second, you can use a regular pie crust, just bake it beforehand.  I happen to like the graham cracker crust with the butterscotch filling, but my opinion isn't the one that matters when you're making this.  Third, you don't have to make this into a pie at all.  You can just eat the filling straight.  It's just butterscotch pudding.  No one will know you didn't put it in a pie.  Fourth, you need to make this pie filling whether it goes into pie form or not.  Most folk have only had artificially flavored (a.k.a. fake) butterscotch.  The real stuff will blow your mind.  You may never go back.  This stuff is pure brown sugar, nutty, sweet, buttery heaven.  Seriously.  I think I'm in love.

Be sure all your stuff is ready for the custard so nothing burns or scalds. 

 The brown sugar meringue is just plain pretty.  You don't have to get all fancy to make it look all professional-like.

 Yummy, creamy goodness is your reward.  Oh my.

Butterscotch Meringue Pie
makes one 9" pie

for the pie:
1 cup dark brown sugar 
1/2  tsp salt
2 Tbsp water
2 cup cold milk
4 Tbsp cornstarch
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
One graham cracker pie crust
for the meringue:
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp dark brown sugar

Combine the brown sugar, salt, and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over moderate heat to a thick syrup (about 5 minutes).  Mix 1/4 cup milk and cornstarch to make a smooth thin paste. Add 1 3/4 cups milk; then combine with hot brown sugar mixture; cook over low heat until thick and smooth,  stirring or whisking constantly. Stir a small amount of the hot brown sugar mixture into the beaten egg yolks, return to double boiler, and cook a few minutes longer. Add butter and almond extract, stirring until the butter is completely melted.  Cool completely.  Once cooled, pour the custard into
the pie shell. 

Preheat the oven to 350°.

To make the meringue, beat the egg whites on high speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar, and salt.  Continue beating until soft peaks form.  Add the vanilla, then gradually add the brown sugar.  Continue beating until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form. 

Spread the meringue over the butterscotch custard.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown.  Let cool completely before slicing.  Store, refrigerated, in a covered container up to 3 days.

27 January 2014

Texas Star Pecan Pie

My life has become remarkably pie-centric the last few days.  I've been reading the book "Arkansas Pie" by Kat Robinson.  Guess what it's about?  It makes me want to simultaneously hop in the car and go all over the state eating pie until I burst and at the same time go in the kitchen and cook pie after pie.  I'm not quite sure how I would do both of those at the same time, but that's what I wanna do nonetheless. 

To top off all the pie-ness, last Friday was National Pie Day.  I realized it too late to get up a pie post in honor of the holiday, but I did spend the evening digging through old recipes looking for some gem that I may have missed.  I happened upon this recipe in my countless piles I inherited from my grandmother.  The name gives nothing away.  This is a lot like a soda cracker pie, basically a meringue pie filling.  That pie is one of my husband's favorites and also one of the first recipes I posted on the blog.  There are some big differences, though.  First (and most obvious) is the lack of soda crackers.  They are swapped out for a graham cracker crust.  There's no crust in a soda cracker pie.  There's brown sugar in addition to white sugar.  It adds a nice little caramel-y flavor to the filling.  There's chocolate in this pie, too.  There's no chocolate in soda cracker pie.  I figure some chocolate's never a bad thing.

I did leave two things out from the original recipe -- the caramel sauce and ice cream on top for serving.  This pie is sweet enough to make my dentist have pain just hearing about it.  I love caramel sauce as much as the next guy, but the last thing this pie needs is some more sugar.  I also put a little dollop of barely sweetened whipped cream on top in place of the ice cream.  The creaminess is a nice complement.

23 January 2014

My Super Smoothie

This is the post I never, ever, ever in a million years thought I would be writing.  I'm not a big smoothie drinker.  I've always preferred eating my fruit and/or yogurt to drinking them.  Plus so many smoothies are just filled with so much that's just horrible for you, packed with all sorts of sugar and calories, and leave you hungry after and hour or two.  Not cool.  Not cool at all.

This smoothie is the opposite of all that stuff and I'm completely obsessed.  This is now my almost-daily breakfast.  It's actually good for me.  I can carry it with me while I tote the kids to their schools and go to work.  I'm a slow digester in the morning, so prolonging the breakfast consumption totally works for me.  It keeps me full until lunchtime.  Another awesome thing.  It also gives me as much get up and go as numerous cups of coffee.  Totally bonkers awesome.

I get what you're thinking.  I was thinking it, too.  At least I was until I made one of these bad boys.  Green juice?  Ugh.  That's my first thought.  Do I really wanna drink spinach?  Second thought.  I must not be a smoothies kinda girl.  Third thought.  I don't know what made me do it, but then I decided to bust out the blender.  I couldn't have been more pleasantly surprised.  The green stuff's subtle.  You mainly taste the banana.  Banana does have that magical power about it. 

There is a trick to the blending order.  You must abide by the order or you might end up with stringy chunks of kale and spinach.  That's not appetizing.  I found out the hard way, so trust me on this one.  Blend the spinach and kale with the liquid first.  Blend it for a couple of minutes.  Blend until you don't see distinct dark green specks.

My Super Smoothie
makes 2  small or 1 large smoothie

Print me, Please!!!

1 cup baby spinach leaves, packed
1 cup chopped kale, packed
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 cup ice
1 medium banana
1/2 cup fat free vanilla greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Blend the spinach, kale, and almond milk for 2-3 minutes, or until completely smooth and there are not distinctive pieces of leaves in the mixture.  Add the peaches and ice.  Blend until combined.  Add the banana, yogurt, and cinnamon.  Blend until combined and completely smooth.  Serve immediately.

20 January 2014

Honey Roasted Peanut Brownies

You're going to have to use your imagination on these.  This picture is the only one I was able to get.  Clearly they were all gone.  Okay, so here's what they looked like -- super-dark, gooey chocolate brownies.  Got that?  Okay.  Check.  The entire top covered with dry roast honey roasted peanuts.  Got it?  Okay.  Check on that one, too.  Now picture my husband, unmoving next to the plate eating square after square and saying "oh my gaaaawwwwd...."  That's these brownies in a nutshell.
Needless to say, these turned out really good and we were fans.  I know that's a captain obvious statement.  The brownies are bittersweet chocolate with some semisweet chocolate chips mixed in.  That makes for a not too bitter, not too sweet combo.  I'm a big fan of that.  Plus, how can you argue with double the chocolate?  I'm pretty sure you can't.  The batter also has a secret ingredient -- sour cream.  The sour cream works wonders in brownies.  It makes them super, crazy moist.  It also adds a little tang that counteracts all that sweet for some miraculous balance.  It's totally amazing.  You should try it.  I covered the top with a ton (almost literally) of dry roast honey roasted peanuts.  Of course you know already that I'm about the world's biggest fan of anything salty/sweet and these are one of my greatest weaknesses.  They're made even better by that extra toasty roasting time in the oven.  Oh my.
Outside of the nearly life-affirming brownies, we had a really big week around my house last week.  On Friday, Sam competed in the school-wide spelling bee.  He won the first grade spelling bee a few weeks ago and moved on the go up against the winners for every class in school.  He came in third
place for the entire school, even though he was the youngest kid in the competition.  He beat out two 5th graders, a 4th grader, two 3rd graders, two 2nd graders and another 1st grader.  Needless to say Eric and I are super proud of the guy.  Oh, and he turned 7 on Saturday, so that's totally awesome, too.

Honey Roasted Peanut Brownies
makes about 24 brownies

Print me, Please!!!

10 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
10 Tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups dry roast honey roasted peanuts

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Line a 11x7" baking dish with foil; set aside.

Place the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl.  Heat in microwave 30 seconds at a time until the butter and chocolate are melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

Beat the chocolate mixture with the sugar, eggs, vanilla and sour cream until smooth.  Add the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir until just barely combined.  Fold in the semisweet chocolate chips.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan.  Cover the top of the batter with the peanuts, pressing the peanuts slightly into the batter.

Bake 30-35 minutes, or until barely set in the center.  Cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars.  Store in a covered container up to 1 week.

15 January 2014

The Saveur 100 -- Inspiration Galore

Want some inspiration?  Need a new dinner idea?  Wanna just look at some great food photos and writing for about 4 hours?  Go straight to the Saveur 100.  Seriously.  It's amazing.  I love Saveur anyway, but seeing all this awesome stuff in one place is a little bit mind blowing.  The world of food and cooking is so crazy creative and beautiful right now.  It truly is a sight to behold.  Now if we could only get the food teleported through the DSL lines....I'd be happy as a pig in mud.

Here's some of my favorites and/or things I would like to try:
I gotta get me some of this.  This would make my turkey sandwich super classy.


I'm not going to give away what this is.  Go read it.  It totally blows my mind.

I am making Anzac biscuits this year.  These are right up my alley.


I used to love Sassy.  This makes me miss high school.


This range is too pretty to cook on.


Lazy Woman's Pie?  This is calling my name.

You can also go and look at last year's top 100.  Or the year before that.  They're amazing, too.


12 January 2014

Malt Caramel Pretzel Blondies

I can't stop looking at Pinterest.  It's just straight up food porn.  Anyone who has spent any time on Pinterest knows that it is physically impossible to look for just a second.  You can't look away; you might miss something.  Of course since the beginning of the year, most of the recipes have been about being healthier, eating clean, cleansing, etc....  There have been smoothies in pretty much every color in the rainbow, healthier casseroles, lots of dips, and a handful of guilt-free snacks.   These blondies are pretty much the opposite of everything I just talked about.  They're also pretty much the opposite of how I have been eating myself.

I, much like all the folks on Pinterest, have been drinking smoothies, eating way healthier, etc....  I am quite literally counting calories.  Now for confession time.....  I constantly struggle with my weight and I mostly lose the battle.  Two years ago I got fed up and lost 75 pounds in eight months.  Last year I gained back about half of it.  And, no, I am not blaming writing a blog that is mainly about desserts on that weight gain.  I eat for comfort and I eat more when I'm stressing out.  Although, I didn't write about most of what was going on, this last year was really stress-filled.  I ate.  I ate a lot to deal.  All the eating didn't help, but I'm working on getting past that hurdle, too.

My husband is not on a diet, though, so I made him these blondies.  He loves anything with salt.  He's a salt junkie.  His favorite food is green olives, which are total salt bombs.  I like them, too, but only in small doses.  He could eat a whole jar in one sitting.  So these blondies have salty pretzels for him.  They also have chocolate and malted milk powder.  Those are two of his other favorite things.  Oh, and there's caramel.  Caramel makes everything better, right?  The ladies at work really dug these, too.  I literally had to hide the last piece so that I could take these pictures. 


08 January 2014

Lemon Meringue Cake

I wanted to start the year on the right note.  No.  Not quite.  I've been working on so many good things I couldn't decide what to post first.  Nope.  I've been too lazy to post anything.  No, well, maybe a little.  I've been too busy watching football to cook anything new on my day off.  That's probably the biggest culprit for the lack of posting lately.  Sorry.  Well, this week is sort of the saddest week of the year for me in a way.  The Packers were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, so now I can start cooking again.  That's the good news.  The sadness is the fact that there's no more football until the fall.  Okay, enough of the no football pity party.

In my football fixation, I have actually gotten a little behind in posting.  I made this cake back in November and just haven't gotten around to posting it.  I really did think it would be a nice way to start the new year, too.  It's crazy tart and lemony.  It's all shortcuts, which I usually don't go for, but in this case they're okay and they totally work.  You get to use a blowtorch!  Yea!  That's my favorite part.  I don't get nearly enough chances to use my little kitchen torch.


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