Thursday, February 20, 2014

Don't say I didn't warn you...

I don't write on my blog much anymore, but every once in a while, I come across a recipe that is either too good not to share, or so insanely aggravating that I MUST VENT about it.  Guess which this is?

Today, I curse you forever by introducing you to what I not-so-affectionately have dubbed...

Poo Cookies from HELL

Should you be even thinking trying this recipe, I hereby absolve myself from all responsibility for the consequences...including, but not limited to: depression, heart attack, aneurysm, heartburn, nausea, knives stuck in walls, bad words learned by children, murder, or any other mayhem.

So, how on earth did I end up with a recipe that is so frustrating?  Why, school of course!  Our elementary school is a wonderful, wonderful place, and it's definitely not my kids' fault that the school, in an effort to enrich, engage, and teach our children about the world, started an annual tradition called "International Night". Also not really the kid's, or the school's fault that I volunteered to help a fellow parent out with his booth all about France.  Maybe not even really, completely his fault that the recipe he referred to as "easy" turned out to be the cookie version of my life's nemesis.

So, here's the email I received:


Can  you do the following to help with our activities, etc for the International Night?

The Cookies were a big hit last year so we will be doing them again.  The cookies are from a French Pastry shop in Paris and are *easy* to make.  I am sharing the recipe that I have scanned from my decadent book, Pastries of Paris.

Sounds simple enough, right?  So, here's the pictures he included:

I have left them how I received them...sideways.

Just so you reeeeeally understand the challenges I face.  Oh, and the size?  Also what I had to work with.  So, imagine, I'm having to turn my laptop sideways, enlarge the heck out of the pictures, copy the recipe to paper...and I still have no idea that I am going to hate and detest this recipe with all of my hate.

I did have a clue.  I generally avoid cookie recipes that include the instructions "sift" or "chill".  And yes, this one has both.

I have now added "may be crumbly" to my list of recipe phrases to avoid.  AND HOW.

Ok, ok, I'm not completely cruel.  I will type out the recipe for you.  BUT BE WARNED.  Do not attempt this recipe unless you
A) Have the patience of Job
B) Have no small children in your presence that could be harmed by...colorful language
C) are French and/or an experienced pastry chef who knows what "fleur de sel" is

If you want all the fun, French tourist background story, and the metric measurements, you'll have to print and read the page yourself, I am just typing the recipe...and a few comments...because I wouldn't be me if I didn't comment.

Korova Cookies (aka Poo Cookies from Hell)

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (or, if you are like me and you shop at Fred Meyer, not Whole Paycheck, you get Hershey's cocoa powder.)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp fleur de sel (what de what?) or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (or, you know, Morton's, cause that's what I've got!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits (HA!  Yeah, I'm going to spend an extra hour doing that!  Try 2/3 cup of mini chocolate chips instead.)

1. Sift (there's that word!!) the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together.  Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and bear on medium speed until butter is soft and creamy.  Add both sugars, the salt, and vanilla and beat for another minute or two.  Reduce mixer speed to low, add sifted (argh!) dry ingredients.  
Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated-the dough will look crumbly...
the dough will look crumbly...
the dough will look crumbly...

and that's just right.  (HA!)  For the best texture (read: MOST DIFFICULT SUBSTANCE YOU HAVE EVER WORKED WITH) you want to work the dough as little as possible.  (Ha HA HA!)
Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface AND PREPARE TO LOSE YOUR MIND...OR AT LEAST YOUR PATIENCE!  Squeeze it so it sticks together in large clumps. Gather the dough into a ball, divide it in half, and  (***This step and the next one took me AN HOUR.   I am not joking.  The walls of my kitchen are a shade bluer because of the sailor-like language I used.)  working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  

And here is where you understand the "poo" part:

Now, I could not get anywhere NEAR half of the dough to stick together.  I ended up with a half dozen little poo logs, because the MOST I could work with at one time was a handful of poo dough.  Are the "1 and a half inches in diameter"?  NO.  They are not.  They are less.  BECAUSE THAT IS ALL I COULD DO.    Rant (temporarily!) over, back to the instructions as written.  BY SADISTS.

Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill (see, SEE?  n-e-m-e-s-i-s) for at least one hour.  Wrapped air tight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for one month.  (Just remember they're in there, or you might have to explain why you are storing poo.)

Now, I walked away for a day.  Partly so I didn't end up throwing the frustrating poo logs against the wall, where they would leave some hard-to-explain brown stains...and partly because I have children, and baking cookies they are not allowed to eat in front of them is some Geneva-level torture.  So, cut to the next day, while said cookie fiends were in school.  And I have had coffee.  And a good nights sleep.  

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and keep them close at hand.  (I italicized that part because it cracks me up.  What was I going to do?  Line my baking sheets with parchment paper and put them away?  Move them to a bedroom?  Look away and they wander off?)

Working with a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick.  (and here's where I went right back to Frustration City, despite the next line where it reads...)  Don't be upset if the rounds break ("If" they say... HA!), just squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.  (Again, I say HA!  Just squeeze it on, never mind that the dough is like magnetized mercury THAT WILL NOT STAY TOGETHER.)  
That is basically what every single slice did.  Oh, except for the ones that pretty much crumbled to brown dust.  I should probably mention at this point, it was very tasty dust.  As much as I detested making these mockery-of-all-things-good-and-cookie...they do taste really, really good.  Darn it.

One side note: if you cut the slices on the plastic wrap, you can gather the tiniest crumbly bits in the plastic wrap, and squeeze the heck out of them, like so:

It gives you a, well, poo nugget.  That is, of course, if you have not eaten all of the crumbs.  Tasty, tasty crumbs...

Ok, let's finish this b!%@#.

Place the "cookies" on the parchment lined sheets (if you haven't misplaced them), leaving about one inch spread space between them.  (Lies!  These suckers didn't spread a bit.)

5. Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time.  (whyyyyy?) Bake each sheet for 12 minutes.  The cookies will not look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be.  Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies stand.  (Or sit.  Or lay there like the poo slices of chocolatey evil they are.)

And here they are:

Those kids who visit our France booth better like them.  Or, they may be the recipient of a baked poo nugget to the back of the head.

So, will I be making these again?


Not on your life.  Not even if the President asked me to.  Not even if the President landed his big ass helicopter in my cul de sac, knocked on my door and said, "Molly, we need you to make the French Poo cookies.  One. More. Time.  The freedom of our nation and life as we know it on Earth depends on it."


Well, ok, maybe then.  But, only, Mr President, if you help.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bill's Carrot Cake

Hello from the future! Ok, not really...but since it's been a year and a half since I posted, I figured, what better reason than time travel? It's the year 2014, my children have grown ridiculously tall, and are still very picky. I'm cooking even less than I used to, and due to #2's allergies, my vegetarian diet, and the aforementioned pickiness, most nights we're cooking 2-3 different meals...blogging about which would be horribly boring for you. So, why the new post? I have something special to share with you. It's a recipe, and a story. Our family lost one of our uncles. His name was Bill, and he died quite suddenly right before Christmas. He was a friendly, funny, sweet man, and he will be missed. At the celebration of Bill's life, (which was attended by over 200 people, including family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and Bill's Patriot Guard Riders chapter) one of the desserts was a fantastic carrot cake. Bill's daughter, Trish, shared that Bill's neighbor had made the cake from carrot she picked from Bill's garden, days before his service, including one humongous carrot, pictured below! So, feel free to share this recipe. Pin it, tweet it, email it, post it to Facebook...all I ask is that you please keep the name, Bill's Carrot Cake, and that you tell everyone you share it with that Bill was a funny, sweet guy, and we miss him. Thank you, and, enjoy!

Bill’s Carrot Cake
3 eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups Bill’s carrots, shredded (more is okay!)
1 8oz can crushed pineapple
1 cup organic raisins
Giant carrot grown by Bill Johnson; harvested Jan 2014

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Quick tip: flaxseed meal

Sneaky moustache disguise
(and pattern!) found here
Shhhh!  Be very, very quiet...we're spiking the littles food with nutritions!

If you're feeling like your tots are missing some Omega-3s, fiber, protein...and other good stuff that is in the whole wheat bread they turn their little noses up at, try this trick:

Add flaxseed meal to their favorite foods!

It has very little flavor, and just adds a slightly nutty flavor and a little bit of texture, but so far, neither of my extra picky kiddos (3 and 5 this month...where did the time go??) have noticed.  Cinnamon is especially good at hiding flaxseed.

Try it:

1 tbsp in a cup of applesauce + cinnamon/sugar
Sprinkle on toast w/ cinnamon/sugar
Sprinkle on buttered bread with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and parmesean, then toast for extra healthy garlic bread.
Add a tbsp to your next batch of cookies.
And anything else you can think of!

Here's my current favorite brand:

If you keep it in the freezer, a big bag will stay fresh and healthy for a long time!

A fond farewell to Mexican pizza

Happy pizza found here
This is an old favorite of mine...and sometimes my kids will eat it too. 

This time, I tried it a little differently, with pureed yellow squash in the beans...shhhh, don't tell my 15 year old!  She hates it when I hide veg in things where veg doesn't normally exist. 

The good news:  the squash was not noticeable, and it made the beans easier to spread.

The better news:  I rolled the crust out thinner than usual, and it came out much better.  I used to just press the crust into a ceramic pie pan, this time I rolled it out on a cookie sheet.

The bad news:  days after I served this recipe to all four kids, we found out #2 has developed a dairy allergy!  (And that's on top of the peanuts, tree nuts, almond, coconut, pistachio, and a patridge in a...)  So, this was the last time I could make this recipe for everyone.

For all of you lucky folks with no dairy, wheat, bean, squash, corn, lettuce, salsa or water allergies, here is the recipe:

Bisquick: makes it awesome

1 1/2 cups bisquick
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup water

Combine until soft dough forms. Roll or smoosh into a rough circle, about 1/2" thick.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 mins.

Combine the following:
about 1 cup refried beans
about 3/4 cup yellow squash

Spread bean mixture on crust, and sprinkle with a good size handful of shredded cheese.
Bake an additional 10 mins, or until the cheese is good and melty.

Top with your choice of the following:

greek yogurt
chopped lettuce (romaine, green leafy, spinach, NOT ICEBERG)

4 thumbs up, #3 even liked the salsa and "sour cream"!

*sorry no more pictures!  If I ever find them, I will come back and post them...

Almond butter

Adorable peanut (and pattern!) found here
See that peanut? 

Cute, isn't it?

NOT IF YOU ARE AN EIGHT YEAR OLD WITH A PEANUT ALLERGY!  To #2, not only are actual peanuts bad, anything that looks like, or even has a picture of a peanut is VERY BAD.
I've seen her burst into (fake) tears when confronted with a toy (also fake) jar of peanut butter, and freak out when she sees a picture of nuts in the newspaper.

Oh, yeah, lucky kid is also allergic to tree nuts.  Yaaaaay.

To that end, I was experimenting with making my own almond butter (the one nut she is not allergic to!), mostly because the soy butter she's been using is FREAKING EXPENSIVE.  Seriously, $4 for a 15 oz jar is...well, nuts!

So, here is my recipe for almond butter:

1/2 cups raw almonds
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp-ish honey

blend the bejeebus out of it

Mine totally looked this good...I swear.

*I had pictures, but they seem to have been lost in the latest laptop I "borrowed" this one so you could see what it's supposed to look like.

**Edited to add:  #2 has just gone through another round of allergy testing, guess what she's allergic to now? ALMONDS.  Sigh.  Looks like I'll be eating most of a jar of almond butter.  At least it's tasty!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let them eat bread

Bug-eyed squash chicks (and pattern) found here
 Today's recipe is super-simple, and a variation on something I've done before, so I'll get to it in a minute.

First, an extended comment on today's featured amigurumi picture:

You may be asking, "Why chickens?"  Well, I could say that it is because I served today's recipe as a side dish for chicken.  Or, it could be because the chicks resemble the squash I used in the recipe.  And, both of those are true...but...the real reason that those chickens are there is because THEY ARE SO STINKIN' CUTE!  What is it?  Is it the buggy eyes?  The tipped over "pecking" one?  The odd one out facing the wrong way that could actually be a squash??  I just don't know, but for whatever reason, I was compelled to include these wacky, and yet totally adorable chickens in this post.  Much props to cheezombie, the amazing creator of these odd, chicks.  If you are into needlework, she sells the patterns!

Anyway, back to the food.  This is one of those recipes inspired by the fact that #3 is on a nothing-but-bread food strike lately.  Even her pizza has to have the cheese removed.  (I swear if I had not actually seen her come out of me, the anti-melted cheese weirdness would be enough to convince me we are NOT related!!!)
So, what to do?  I know!  Put veg, egg and cheese IN THE BREAD!

Slightly cheesy Bisquick balls with Squash:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (plus extra for kneading, rolling, un-sticky-ing of hands)
1 1/2 cups bisquick
1 egg, beaten
1 cup pureed yellow squash
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Mix, knead 5-10 times, roll into balls, place on cookie sheet
Bake at 400 for 8 mins
Brush with marg or butter

Sadly, the picture I took of the finished project has mysteriously disappeared off of our family camera, so you'll have to make it yourself to see what it looked like, but the good news is, #3 ate FOUR of them for dinner!

The rest of the verdict: 4 thumbs way up!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Not everything has to be healthy

Happy Cupcake (and pattern!) found here

Most of the time, I am trying to force encourage my kids to eat healthy, but there are certainly occasions when healthy goes out the window, and it is time for TASTY and PRETTY to take center stage.

Case in point:  Birthdays!

This is the birthday cake I made for my grandmother's 90th birthday:

 She's a Pisces, so the theme of the party was FISH!  Her favorite colors are yellow and orange...which just happen to be great fish colors.  For the First Time Ever, I used fondant!  The fish tails are made of pre-colored fondant (thank you Wilton's!), and for a first effort,  didn't turn out too bad.  Note:  don't eat fondant.  Technically it is edible, but it tastes terrible.

Next up: Easter!

Easter is a big holiday for our family.  We get together with lots of aunts, uncles and cousins at my in-laws house, and have a huge, multi-generational egg hunt followed by FOOD.

This is the cake I made this year:

I found the design in a magazine (in the waiting room at the doctor's office, natch), and had to make one!  So cute, and super easy.  Bake, frost, squish Peeps into frosting, add chocolate chips.  Voila!  One gorgeous sunflower cake...that the kids (and some of the uncles!) could not resist picking the Peeps off of all day.

Next post:  Back to the healthy!  (Probably...)