Wordless Wednesdays

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A triumph!

A triumph! A triumph! An absolute triumph! Okay, I'll stop babbling like a complete idiot and expound upon this great triumph of mine. My triumph...chocolate peanut butter pie. Oh yes. Oh baby. After the Tale of a Most Sad Curry, I was tired of trying new things on the cooking front and decided it was time to blow my own mind with my baking skills. I must pause here for a brief moment. I love to bake. I love it so very much. Baking is a science; a sure thing in a most unsure world! In fact, I'm going to make yogurt-cinnamon muffins as soon as I finish blabbing about my peanut-butter engulfed triumph. But I digress! Yes, I would rather bake than cook almost any day, but because I do not wish to gain 50 pounds a month, I refrain (just barely) and try to bake only once a week. Sigh. Sigh again. ANYWAY...

Once upon a time, my friend Rachel was hosting a ladies' get-together at her home, and I volunteered to bring a dessert. It is not often that I get a chance to make a super-crazy-fancy-awesome dessert, because Steve doesn't care for rich baked goods. His yearly birthday request? Rice Krispie Treats. DON'T even get me started...my baking talent just withers away, year after year...so when I get an opportunity to make a dessert or an appetizer; well, you KNOW I'm going for that dessert option! SO I wrestled with my decision on what exactly to make. Pistachio layer cake? Meh. Peach tart? Maybe. AND THEN...it hit me. A cold pie. A 1950's diner style icebox pie!! YES! It's been a scorcher of a summer after all, so something nice and cool would fit the bill nicely. And so I purchased and assembled the ingredients, and experienced a most miraculous time warp in that I was able to prepare the crust BEFORE we went to church, along with making something edible in the ol' crockpot and even getting out of the door on time. Like I said, a most miraculous time warp. All I had to do was make the filling when I got home, and you know what? It was as easy as pie. (Sorry. I simply could not resist). The only part that made me want to temporarily expire was whipping the heavy cream by hand before folding it into the peanut butter filling. I always approach whipping things by hand with the greatest of gusto, and I start whipping with the utmost enthusiasm. 2 minutes into it, I began to get a little cranky. 5 minutes into it, I am wishing to temporarily expire. Then chemistry takes over, and VIOLA!! I have a gorgeous bowl of hand-whipped cream, and once again, I love my life. I proceeded to gently, oh so gently, coax the smooth, rich, toffee-colored decadence into the cooled pie crust and smooth it until it was worthy of a cover shot for Martha Stewart Living. Or so I'd like to imagine! I carefully put the pie in the freezer, and that was that! SO easy. And the flavor!! SO incredibly rich and creamy, and not at all overly sweet. It was a perfect balance of sweet and savory, and had a delicious, peanutty, slightly salty taste. But I must warn you. This pie should come with a "Parental Advisory- DO NOT OVERINDULGE" label. Because, my dear friends, that is exactly what I did, and I was not a very happy camper that night. So rich, so very rich...be careful. Be very careful. Here's the link:


Despite my slightly unhappy ending with this pie, I am already dreaming of making it and indulging in it again...just not overindulging. Moral: A change of pace is good, and yes; you CAN have too much of a good thing. :) Happy baking!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Sundays and a most sad Vegetable Curry

Today is one of those days when I feel as though everything is going in fast motion, and I am just a sad little jumble of atoms and molecules, hanging on for dear life, and screaming, "WHOA, THERE!!! HANG ON A SECOND, PEOPLE!!!" Why I feel this way; I really can't say. I'm going to chalk it up to the fact that it's Sunday, and Sunday has this magical way of flying away from me at an incredibly high rate of speed. Sundays used to be a most wonderful day for me. Wake up, get ready for church, have a leisurely breakfast with my Steve-O, which almost always consisted of scrambled eggs with the teensiest amount of cheddar cheese snuck in (Steve hates cheese in his eggs, but I can't eat scrambled eggs without it- THANKS, DAD.), brew myself a cup of tea, most likely Plantation Mint or Constant Comment (Hey- I get adventurous with my tea in the afternoon, so no rude comments about my uninspired choices for my morning fix. I need stability in the morning, not some fly-by-night troubadour who's going to leave me barefoot and pregnant- hypothetically speaking, of course), toast (dry for Steve, cream cheese and raspberry jam for me), and just enjoy some major quality time in our sweet little haven of an apartment, and later on, our lovely home. Ahhh. Yes. Those were the days. We'd stroll out to the car, never in a hurry or rushed in the slightest. We'd drive to church and arrive with at least ten minutes to spare. We'd sit in the pew and look the through the bulletin together, and comment to each other on various things we thought were worth commenting on. Hymns, sermon, then BOOM, off to our weekly Sunday lunch of Chipotle. Let me just stop here for a moment. I miss those weekly Sunday lunches at Chipotle more than I could even begin to express. We were so very spoiled back then. Then we'd drive home, all full of chatter. AND THEN...The Weekly Sunday Afternoon Nap. Hmm. Wait a minute. I'm not so sure now whether I miss the weekly Chipotle more or the Nap. Oh, well. So, yes; my Sundays used to be the highlight of my week. AND THEN...*fully diminished seventh chord ensues* something happened. Something miraculous. Something wonderful. Something terrifying. Something glorious. Something stressful. Something life-changing. Yep. You guessed it. We became PARENTS!! Yes. We have the great privilege of being parents to three marvelous and delightful boys, and it has been a learning experience, to say the VERY least. Although I loved being a new mommy, and I was (and still am) madly in love with my first-born son, the shift in the Sunday Dynamic was almost more than I could bear for a while. First, there was no sleeping in. EVER. I now have completely embraced this fact of my life as a mother; this cold, hard, fact that I will not sleep in for the next 25 years, and the world will somehow magically not end because Mary Johnson didn't catch a few extra zzzz's. 'I'll sleep when I'm dead' has become my motto, but it hasn't always been this way for me. Besides the sleep factor, there was the whole "packing for baby" issue. How on earth could one tiny being encompass such a extraordinary need for such a ridiculous amount of...of...STUFF????? Even if I packed the diaper bag the night before, I still seemed to have to throw in about 34 extra things before we could leave for church. Or anywhere, for that matter. And another thing...why is a diaper bag called a "diaper bag" when diapers take up the smallest percentage of space in said diaper bag?? This is something I will most likely never understand. SO...by the time I nursed David at 6:00 am, played with him for a little while, laid him down for his early morning nap at 7:00, made a sad attempt at beautifying myself for the day, made ANOTHER sad attempt at making something in the crockpot that wouldn't taste like a giant orb of nothingness, nursed David at 9:00, left for church at 10:00 (if we were lucky), got ourselves situated in our usual pew, left the service halfway through to nurse again, stumble back into the service in time to sing the final hymn, gather all of our artillery and head back to the van, drove home with scant conversation, stumbled into the house for a stodgy glob of what were hoping was sustenance of some sort *pant pant pant* , I was exhausted. Beyond exhausted. SO exhausted. I would sometimes lay on the couch and marvel at how exhausted I was- I didn't know it was possible to be so exhausted and not die from it!! So naturally, my Sunday experience began to sour, and pretty quickly, I might add. I began...to loathe Sundays. Yes. I know. How horrible is that? Nevertheless, Sundays were no longer the idyllic island of relaxation that they used to be, and I had some massive adjusting to do. So adjust I did. The days of weekly visits to Chipotle were over, for financial and practical reasons. Okay. Fine. So what?? That's what a crockpot is for, right? And while we're talking about crockpots, let me just say this: I am quite sure Crockpots were invented for Sundays. For lunch after church, to be precise. Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, back to Sundays. Thus began a long couple of years of experimenting with my crockpot to make a lunch that didn't taste like a giant orb of nothingness. It was NOT easy, my friends. But eventually, after much trial and error (mostly error), I garnered a small handful of what we now refer to as "Regulars"; crockpot dishes that my crew and myself have deemed worthy to be consumed on a once-a-month basis. And our top favorite "Regular" is a little something called "Lean Cowboy Beans", or, as I tell the boys, "Sweet Beans". "Sweet Beans" are a triumph each and every time. Super-comfort food, whether you need to be comforted or not!! And even if you don't think you need comforting, once you taste these yummy little beanies, you will realize how desperately you are in need of comfort, and you'll tuck those bad boys in like there's no tomorrow. Perhaps I exaggerate slightly. Perhaps not! At any rate, here's the recipe and my usual useless comments to go along with it:

Lean Cowboy Beans adapted from "Fix it And Forget It Lightly"

1 lb. ground turkey
16 oz. can baked beans, undrained
16 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. ketchup
2 tblsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cider vinegar

1) Brown meat.
2) Combine all ingredients in a crockpot sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
3) Cover; cook on high for 1-2 hours.


Now isn't that easy?? I'm usually not much of a "can of this, can of that" gal, but this is indispensible to our Sunday survival, and it certainly couldn't hurt to give this a try. I have made a few changes from the original recipe, which I found to be a bit too sweet. SO I simply added a bit less sugar and cider vinegar (shhhhh...don't tell Steve!!!). So there you have it. A tried-and-true crockpot recipe that's actually healthy and doesn't taste like a giant orb of nothingness. If this won't save your Sundays, well, then nothing will. And now...


I shall now commence with a tale of a Most Sad Curry. As I mentioned on my previous post, I was going to attempt a Vegetable and Chickpea curry in my crockpot. So I did. I will cut to the chase. IT WAS AWFUL. I won't bother devoting a great deal of space to this sad tale, since it really was terrible, but yes. It was the epitome of a giant orb of nothingness, and after a few bites, we told the boys to stop eating, and then Steve went out and got a pizza. It was quite strange taking a bite of food, and yet not really tasting anything except a starchy aftertaste. YUCK. The only positive thing I can say about it is that is was a delightful little jumble of colorful veggies BEFORE it started cooking down. And then it crashed. And burned. And that's all I have to say about that.

What is the point of this massive rambling of Sundays, crockpots, exhaustion, and Sad Currys?? I'm actually not quite sure, other than this: Life is full of massive adjustments. Embrace them as you would an adventure, and don't be afraid to acquire new skills. Like making some WICKED good beans in your most-likely-majorly-underused-and-darkhorse-of-a crockpot!! Go forth... and give the darkhorse a try. :)