Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cake Balls...I Got 'Em

There is a little party happening at my house Saturday evening. The groom is a long time friend of Son2 and his lovely bride is one of those people you meet and feel immediately like you have known her forever. She is absolutely charming and to the groom the only thing I can say is " Well you aimed high and somehow hit the target"

You know how when you are having people in your home you finish up all the loose end projects you mean to get done but just put on the back burner? For the past few days I have been in a flurry of clean, repair, reposition, and renew. It's almost amazing what we will live with everyday, but would hate for someone else to know is our everyday life. I think I should have something at my home each month just to keep all projects in line for completion. Or am I the only one who starts something then doesn't quite finish? Or how about the ideas that you thought were really good until you tried them. When my older sons were little I thought it would be a great idea to wallpaper the walls and ceiling of the stairwell going to there playroom. Not a truly terrible idea until you understand that I thought it would be a good idea to paper it with the insert maps found in old National Geographic magazines. Still think it's not a horrible idea? The old maps were quite thin and not really intended to be used as wallpaper, but never to let a "good idea" die on the vine, I papered the walls and ceilings, then noticed some of the edges did not stick properly. Of course the ultimate solution to solve the problem was the coat the entire surface with polyurethane. No problem until about a year after I created this situation when I got sick and tired of it. We were going to have some people over so I thought it would be a good idea to take down the mess and start over with a fresher approach. I started luck. Got a scraper and started scraping...fiercely. if you don't already know let me inform you that polyurethane coated National Geographic maps put up quite a removal battle. In the end I got all the maps removed, but those suckers did not come down without a fight and they absolutely took the hide off the sheetrock. I would up having to put up a repair paper and re wallpaper the entire stairwell/ceiling with legitimate wallpaper, but first I had to put up a special correction wallpaper to cover gouges.

Fortunately I have not done anything really stupid this time, its just a boatload of small unfinished things, like bathroom vanities that have no doors, light fixtures that have not been put up, area rugs that need that foamy waffle looking under pad to keep the rug from moving on the hardwood floors and so forth. I would like to tell you that I slaved away at all those minor repairs, but it would be an out and out lie. Jerry or St. Jerry of Hardware came today to finish up all the loose ends that require nails, screws, hammers and skills. Thank's Jerry. You managed to fix all my procrastinations in a matter of hours, leaving me the time to get a small party need out of the way.

One of the food items for the party is cake balls. If you have never had them let me explain what they are like. Try to imagine a bite sized cake truffle encased in chocolate. There is no real recipe so I am just going to tell you how to form it. Make a cake according to your favorite recipe or the directions on the back of the mix box. Take the baked cooled cake and crumble it up finely. Add 1 cup of icing ( buttercream) in the flavor of your choice. Take all that good and chill for about 1 hour. Using a very small ice cream scoop or melon baller form chilled cake goo into balls. Put them on a lined cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer until they are frozen on the outside, but still unfrozen in the center. Melt some melting chocolate in a tall coffee mug ( it's the best, I promise), and insert a lollipop stick into the center of each goo ball. Holding the stick end, dip them into the melted chocolate to cover. I found sticking them into a styrofoam "brick" was the perfect place for them to dry. Pam was helping me do them
We made yellow cake with butter cream icing coated in white chocolate and devils food cake with chocolate icing and dipped in melted dark chocolate . If you try these be a little more experimental than I was with flavors. Chocolate covered strawberry cake with sour cream icing? White chocolate covered orange cake with vanilla ( dreamsicle flavored ) You are only limited by your imagination.

Pam arranged them in alternating colors stuck into a new styro cone she brought with her. We put the filled cone on top of a tiered cake plate and filled in all of the empty places with paper daisies. ( Ask me another time what you can make with coffee filters and a bright yellow high liter) The result is a really pretty dessert/ centerpiece. A picture will follow, but I had to cover it for now and had to construct some support to hold the cloth i have covering it.

So get your ducks in order, have a party and make cake balls.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men or Young Women

A young friend of mine sent me this particular link to a website. Instead of calling the formerly lovely young lady Emily, I will forever call her by my new pet name for her, Beelzebub. All you have to do is look at this page and you will understand why I can no longer like her.

Get thee behind me Satan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When in Rome...Eat Out

Ok I did not really go to Rome, but have been out of town for a while. When we finally got home I was so tired from traveling to cook so we had to eat out a few nights. That is really not true but I kinda liked sounding petty . Truth is we went to Boston and New York for a week and obviously did eat out there each meal. We had wonderful trip and were all almost glad to get home to a more normal routine. As for trying something new and different, well I have been just throwing something on the grill and adding a salad each night. Until last night, that is.

I had my book club over for our monthly meeting. This month we read the book Cleopatra A Life by Stacy Schiff. I would love to post with great delight the varied reactions to the book, however, not one of us finished it. That might say something about the quality of the book, but I think it speaks more to the things going on in our lives right now. Everyone is busy with grandchildren, jobs, house construction, travel, animals and the general duties of daily life. My Beloved Sister claims that March is just a contrary month and nothing goes as it is supposed to. Since she hates March so badly, I feel it is my moral obligation to call her each March 15, pitch my voice as low as I can get it and say slowly "Beware the Ides of March". I have been doing it for decades and it still makes us laugh. I guess it eases some of the tensions associated with the month. And speaking of the easing of tensions... my new recipes for the day are all about erasing the cares and worries of the day.

While in NYC we went to a really nice show/birthday party at Birdland. The show part was intention and the birthday party was serendipitous. We were going to listen to a Louis Armstrong cover band and Louis' record producer was celebrating his 92nd birthday in the club. It seems he goes there every year for his party and invites a number of guests. He extends the invitation to those like us who just want to hear some really good music. The show was a 5 pm show and we had just eaten a late lunch at a Chilean restaurant a few blocks over. Even though there is a cover charge they expect you to order something, so we opted for liquid refreshments. They had a drink that is their house speciality so I thought "Why not?". I did ask what was in it, but was only halfway listening so this is my finished concoction. I am sure it is not exactly how they make it, but the taste is very close. Also I don't remember what they named theirs so to keep it simple I am just going to call this :

Key Lime Cocktail

3 cups Lime Aid
2 Tablespoons Nellie and Joe's Key Lime Juice
4 jiggers banana schnapps
4 jiggers Triple Sec
4 jiggers vanilla vodka
4 jiggers coconut vodka
1/4 lime

Stir together all the liquid ingredients in a pitcher. Pour in prepared glasses ( see below)

Lime the rims of your glasses and sugar them. Add ice , pour and enjoy.

This was enough for 5 of us to have 2 average size drinks each.
( This is made and measured for a crowd. If you want to make it for one, well you do the math)

The verdict from the crowd was more than favorable, with the exception of my Beloved Sister who declared it "OK".

The second part of my NY experience was my attempt to make Momofuko's famous Crack Pie. What is Crack Pie you might wonder. When Momofuko's opened the Milk Bar ( Pastries and flavored milks) they had a pie on the menu known as Milk Pie. After a few days their customers came in and started calling it Crack Pie because once you had eaten it it was like Crack and you wanted more and more.

We made a destination trip to 56th street just to get the pie. Milk (annex store to the original restaurant and pastry shop) is located inside the Chamber's hotel right across the street from the Argentinean embassy just in case you need to make a quick stop there first. ( We didn't but you never know when it might become vital to go there and if you have to be in the embassy, stop by Milk and have some Pie) The Hotel is one of those small boutique places with huge art books in the lobby. I suppose if you are staying there it is required to stroll to the lobby and browse through the books. ( Maybe people just lift them for exercise) You wander through the lobby and follow the sounds of nothing to reach Milk. After spending 8 dollars for a slice of pie you look around and notice there is no where to eat said pie, so you have to go up to the hotel mezzanine to enjoy it or go out and have your snack on the sidewalk. We chose the mezzanine and sat in extremely LOW cushy chairs that tried to devour us. The $8 slice o' pie is in a little folded pie box and comes with no utensil, so we slid it out of its cardboard coffin and held pie perfection in our hands. The entire slice = about 4 bites. The Hub and I shared one piece and declared it to be one of the best things we had ever put in our mouths. I would have liked to have bought an entire pie, but the $44 price seemed a little excessive, so I did the next best thing, I attempted to duplicate it at home.

When you do a google search for Crack Pie make sure you type the name correctly. My first search led me to instructions for making crack pipes. Though I found the construction of said items interesting it is not something I need or will ever use. A new search led me to several recipes printed online, plus a couple of videos of the actual making process. One was a Martha Stewart show and I forget what the other was ( Today maybe?) I watched them both then compared the recipes I found online. The recipe I am posting the link to seemed to fit what they were doing on the videos best. This is the link and I am not going to type out the actual recipe. It would take me too much time plus you can obviously use a computer or you wouldn't be reading this, so just copy and paste the link. ( If you want to google it make sure you click on the LA times recipe)

The flavor is almost exactly what I remember, but the consistency is a little different. The original crack pie is gooey but not the least bit runny, in fact it is a very dense goo. I am not sure how they get it that way, but it does not happen baking for 15 minutes at 350 then lowering to 325 for 10. Also the real pie is so smooth. Baking as the recipe called for did not completely liquify all of the sugar. I think they must heat the cream and add the sugars to get total saturation, then cool it before adding the melted butter and the eggs. Not positive though. Also, the cookie crumbs in the original version are very, very fine. I would recommend crumbing it in the food processor to a consistency of graham cracker crumbs, or you can do what I did last night. I just bought 2 Keebler shortbread crusts. Yes it might be blasphemy, but it worked and saved me time I did not have to dedicate to pie making.

The pie is very sweet and rich so small slices are suggested. After all the recipe makes 2 pies so you can always go back for more.

The verdict was more than favorable, with the exception of my Beloved Sister who said it was fine but she didn't know what the big whooey is all about. Keep in mind this is the same person who said the play "Wicked" is allright.

I will do both recipes again, but I won't do the pie in the new future. I figure there are about 4 zillion calories per bite!

And in answer to my young friend Anna, " Yes it is delicious and No you do not have to walk around dark and scary corners to get this particular crack."


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Ole?

Today I was looking at the food ads then looked at a refrigerator that was literally overflowing. Why on earth would I make a beeline to the store when I had so much to eat already. A few days ago I had cooked some chicken breasts with some Mexican spices. It was tasty the first time around, but I had it for lunch for the past 3 days and I was tired of it. The chicken needed to be eaten today so I kept thinking about what to make. I found nearly an entire pan of corn muffins that were part of a meal I bought at a charity event. I know they were wonderful when I got them, but we forgot to eat them with the meal so they have dried out a tad. So now I had chicken and cornbread. Looking further I found a can of cream of chicken soup I had opened accidentally and stuck in some tupperware. Add soup to the equation! What was I going to do now. I found a half pack of frozen peas and carrots and about a fourth cup of frozen corn niblets... Of course! Chicken Pot Cornbread Pie with a hint of Mexico.

Totally Created from leftovers Chicken Pot Pie Ole?

About 2 cups leftover chicken breast chunks
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup water ( if I had a bottle of dry white wine open I would have used it instead)
1/2 onion in julienne strips
leftover frozen mixed veggies, steamed ( I had about a cup)
leftover frozen corn ( I had about 1/4 cup)
thyme to taste
parsley about 1 teaspoon dried
chili powder about 1/2 teaspoon
black pepper ( 2 shakes)

Cornmeal muffins, crumbed (about 2 cups crumbs)
2 tablespoons squirt margarine
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
about 2 tablespoons water

I lightly steamed the frozen vegetables, but also added one half of an onion sliced in julienne strips. I chopped the leftover chicken in smaller than bite size pieces and put them in a boiler with the cream of chicken soup. I added about 1/4 cup of water, dried thyme, parsley and a little chili powder. While it was heating I crumbled the corn muffins into fine crumbs. I noticed the water made the mixture too thin, so I put about 2 tablespoons of the corn meal crumbs into the pot to thicken the mixture. Smart move on my part. I added the veggies to the pot and let everything get equally warm. it fit into a 9x9 foil pan (the same one the muffins came in). The remaining bread crumbs still felt a little too dry, so I put 2 big squeezes of fake squeeze butter (I can't believe it's not butter) about 1/4 c. Parmesan and tablespoon of water into the crumbs and stirred it well. It made a cornbread dry paste like mix which I dropped all over the top of the chicken mixture. It was not a smooth topping, but it was somewhat even. It baked (350) for about 20 minutes. The result was a delicious topping on a very creamy slightly seasoned pot pie filling. I realize calling this a pot pie is a misnomer but I don't have anything else to call it. The crust was light and crunchy, but had a nice cheese flavor that did not overpower the cornbread taste. This is something I will do again if I have chicken and cornbread leftover again at the same time. And yes I know I could have made some chicken and dressing but I was not in the mood for it at all. When I do it again I think rather than thyme and parsley I might use cilantro and a hint of ground coriander, along with a dash of cumin. It would probably be really good with a green bean, pinto bean mix also. Keeping the corn, onions and adding a little diced chili would be nice also. To bad those weren't leftover or I would have used them. Now I only have one problem. What am I going to do with tonight's leftovers?