Monday, August 27, 2012


   We've been having some technical issues for the last few weeks. We've been without a phone and internet, and our mail has been disappearing from the box, so we aren't getting our bills. I'll try to update with a recipe as soon as I can. For now, I only have limited connectivity, so no major post.
   Please forgive the inconvenience!
   Also, I was attacked by an earwig last night, and I need to let everyone who cares, I'm STILL having nightmares every time I try to sleep. If we ever end up meeting, internets, please don't bring your pet earwigs. I will literally have a coronary.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A wedding post, which is also recipe #4.

   My Brandon and I are getting married. We're not sure when. We've been engaged since January and just haven't been able to afford to get married yet. We were hoping for this summer, but I'm not sure if it's going down. I just know I want it to be warm. Maybe a weekend in early September? We could go camping or something. I hope so. I love my boys and I want to have the same last name as my son. It seems silly to a lot of people, but that matters a lot to me. I've had a couple last names over the course of my life, and I want my forever name. Oh, by the way, my names changed due to parents getting married or divorced, not because I've been married. I've never been married and I'm only going to do it once.
   We don't really need to set a serious date for various reasons. There are only a very small handful of people that we are having at our wedding. I don't have a relationship with my father or Brandon's parents, so they are not invited. If they want to make an effort to be involved in some way, I'm going to let them figure it out. I'm including parts of my family by letting them throw us a reception after the fact, that way they can be part of the celebration, but we can have the ceremony the way we want it without excluding anyone from sharing our happiness.
   Now, I'm sure everyone is sick to death about hearing about our wedding, but I like to talk about it, so I'm going to talk about it here too. We've been refining our wedding plans the last few months, and I'm really excited. We are really non-traditional people, and I really think our ideal wedding, which is also extremely budget friendly, is a representation of who we are as a family. It's awesome.
   Of course, there will be food. So much food. Delicious, once-on-the-lips-forever-on-the-hips comfort food that is going to require a week of cardio to burn off. Unless you're like me, and you revel in having curves. I'm super petite, and I have a fast metabolism, so I am one of those lucky people that can eat and eat and eat and it all goes perfectly to my butt and chest. I get to indulge without having to work it off. It's kind of a blessing and a curse, because when I have always wanted to be a chubby, jolly old woman when I have grand kids. Hopefully my metabolism slows down. I don't want to be unhealthy or fat, but the pudgy old grandmother that makes the best turkey noodle soup and makes blue jello filled with red Swedish fish every time the grandbabies come over.
   Anyway, we went through a lot of discussion and thought about what food we'd be serving, and we FINALLY completely agreed on all of it. We jumped back and forth a lot. Fried chicken? Pulled pork? Barbecue? Salad? Corn? Cole slaw? Potatoes? Veggie skewers? Watermelon? Strawberries? The list was vast. It just keeps going from there.
   Of course, the most important discussion was the cake. We discussed just buying a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake, and making one from a recipe I found that incorporated the flavors we agreed on. We discussed having actual cake, cupcakes and cookies. Still, none of it was quite right. Until I thought about Brandon.
   My Brandon loves brownies. He doesn't like chocolate or sweets, but he LOVES chewy, fudgy, dense brownies. The kind with the crackly top. He adores them. He will eat an entire pan by himself before I have time to cut myself one. He's not a huge fan of cake or anything with frosting, or ice cream, but that man can eat brownies for days.
   I happen to be a mint fanatic. I love peppermint, winter-mint, spearmint... it is easily my favorite flavor of all time. And let's face it, people, chocolate and mint belong together. They are lovers. They have a beautiful relationship where they compliment each other and love one another and my mouth. Cooper loves mint as much as I do, and in fact mint chocolates are the ONLY food EVER that he outright refuses to share. So we have to add mint to the brownies. Since Brandon doesn't like frosting, I'm thinking we need a mousse or a fluffy pie filling that will hold it's shape. The original cake I wanted to make had mint white chocolate mousse as a filling. I've made white chocolate mousse before, and the recipe I wanted to use just doesn't have the punch of mint to hold up against the intense chocolate brownies. So instead of making a traditional mousse I'm going to top it with an easier version. Let's cut out some of the work and bump up that minty flavor.
   Of course I'll be serving these from my truck, because mint brownies are just too amazing not to share. Traditional wedding cakes cost so much and just aren't as pretty or as tasty as I want them to be, and they are so stuffy and formal. So here is the recipe for our wedding dessert:
Grasshopper brownies
  1. 1 cup unsalted butter
  2. 12 ounces very dark chocolate, though I wouldn't suggest unsweetened, chopped or in chips
  3. 1/2 T instant espresso
  4. 2 cups sugar
  5. 1 cup brown sugar
  6. 1 T vanilla
  7. 4 eggs
  8. 2 cups flour
  9. 1 1/2 t salt
  10. 1/2 t baking powder
  11. 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  12. 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and be lazy like me and coat a 9x13 pan with Pam for baking. Greasing and flouring is too much work on my wedding day. Just saying.

Over low heat melt chocolate, butter and espresso, mixing until well blended and completely melted. Then move it to a mixing bowl and mix in the sugars and vanilla until mixed in with no lumps, the batter will be gritty and that's good.

Add eggs and mix in really well.

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to chocolate mixture until just combined, and then fold in the nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 25-35 minutes. When a toothpick is inserted, it should come out not quite clean. And the sides of the brownies will have that edge that's a different texture and pull slightly from the pan.

Let cool and top with minty goodness.

Mint and white chocolate grasshopper topping:
  1. 1 13 ounce jar of Jet-Puffed
  2. 1/2 cup half and half
  3. 3 T creme de menthe (more if you're like me and want to be kicked in the face with mint, I just add it to taste, not gonna lie.)
  4. 2 T creme de cacao
  5. 1 cup heavy cream
  6. 6 ounces white chocolate
  7. few drops of green food coloring
Melt marshmallow fluff and white chocolate into half and half over low heat. Once totally melted and mixed, remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cooled, add the two cremes and mix in completely.

Whisk the heavy cream to stiff peaks with food coloring and fold into the marshmallow mixture until totally incorporated, but be sure to do it gently so it stays fluffy.

Pour and spread on top of brownies and chill for a few hours to set up. Meanwhile get all pretty and prepared to be married! 

   I don't think I can stress enough how much I love food texture, and while the walnuts in the brownies add a nice crunch, I want something really crisp on top that is also chocolaty and delicious... if there is any advise out there, let me know. I'll probably top these with dollops of whipped cream, as well.
   It occurs to me that this is my second post in a row that involves booze. We're not lushes here, I promise. These flavors are just undeniable. Trust me when I say, you want to eat these if you like chocolate and brownies.
   My best friend will be attending the wedding and she HATES mint. So my next post will be about the dessert I'll be making for just for her for the wedding: a personal rainbow chip cake. That one will be on the truck to, just to represent my sister from another mister. Wow. I just said that. How lame am I? Ha.
   Anyway, I'm off to procrastinate doing dishes. I'm so sick of doing dishes.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Recipe #3: Mini banana cream pies. Oh yeah, and I got a job and stuff.

   That's right. I got a job. I'm excited. Because I'm awesome. The job is at my school book store, so I don't have to worry about travelling to get to work. I go in before and after class and call it cool. I can ride the bus. It's just a generally good thing. I start next week.
   Brandon is pretty stoked too, because he can call off the job hunt now that I have one. The deal was, whoever got one first would work and the other would take care of Cooper. Daycare is just WAY too expensive. He's also happy because now that I'm working I can get us back on some assistance. We're sick to death of going hungry so Cooper can eat, and that happens all to frequently. Now I know we don't have to worry about making that awful, edge of our seat stretch at the end of every school cycle when financial aid isn't coming in.
   I think we're going to need to celebrate. Sadly, Brandon doesn't like sweets much. I secretly think he's not really human. What type of person likes whole raw onions, I mean nasty yellow onions, not the green ones that are awesome in food, but that I STILL wouldn't eat by themselves, better than cupcakes? Apparently my love, and now also my son. They sit on the couch happy as clams dipping slices of whole onion in Caesar dressing the same way normal people eat apples and caramel. It's disturbing.
   Thankfully there are a few desserts that both of my boys love, that I can certainly support having in the house. For my boys, it's anything banana. Brandon loves cinnamon eclaires with whipped banana pudding in the middle and dark chocolate ganache. Cooper just loves bananas. Side note, writing bananas this much, I've noticed I simply can't spell the word bananas without quoting in my head the lyrics to a certain Gwen Stefani song from years back. Before the song I could, but now it's weaseled into my brain and I always have to spell bananas using that song. Weird.
   My Brandon LOVES banana cream pie. Every time we have it he runs around dramatically shouting, "One banana cream pie!" My Brandon also loves old Bugs Bunny cartoons, so that reference happens with such frequency that for a while I actually avoided buying or making banana cream pie so I wouldn't hear it 50 times over 2 days. It's ridiculous. But I suppose it's part of why I love my funny man.
   I get so sick of vanilla pudding with banana bits mixed in being called banana cream pie. It just doesn't seem right. Banana should be THE focus of the pie. Vanilla is great, but for heaven's sake, the dessert is called BANANA cream pie, not hint-of-banana cream pie. I want to be punched in the face with banana deliciousness. That said, here is MY idea of perfect banana cream pie. It requires a little more work than whipping up a Nilla wafer crust and mixing some bananas into vanilla instant pudding, and for that, I'm sorry. Trust me though, like everything else I've posted, it's WORTH IT.
Mini Banana Cream Pies
  1. 2 large, very ripe bananas
  2. 2 T butter
  3. 2 T brown sugar
  4. 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  5. 3/4 cup sour cream
  6. 2 beaten eggs combined with 1 T cornstarch
  7. 3/4 cup sugar
  8. 1 vanilla bean
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare mini tart pans with butter crust recipe of choice. Set in fridge to chill.

Heat a skillet or pan and add butter. The pan is hot enough when the butter foams and sizzles. Thinly slice the bananas and place slices in a single layer on the pan along with brown sugar. Cook on each side until deep golden caramel color, with a sweet, smooth syrup. Separate syrup from bananas and set aside to cool.

Scrape the vanilla bean and add seeds and pulp to the cream, sour cream, eggs and sugar in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on low until sugar in incorporated, and then add the bananas, mixing until creamy, with the bananas broken down into very small pieces.

Pour into prepared butter pie crusts and bake for 25-30 minutes, until set and slightly jiggly. Then chill for a couple of hours. This stuff is no good hot.

Top with rum whipped cream and drizzle with the banana syrup.

Rum whipped cream
  1. 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  2. 5 T sugar
  3. 1 T dark rum
  4. 2 t vanilla or half a vanilla bean, scraped
Whip cream until fluffy, then add sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Add rum and vanilla and whip to stiff peaks.

   If you're worried about the rum, don't put it in the whipped cream. I like to booze up my desserts from time to time. It adds a nice flavor that balances out the banana. These are slightly reminiscent of Brandon's favorite flavor, bananas foster. I've had to translate that to cake, cheesecake, eclairs... he asks for it all the time. Also, sometimes I add toasted sliced almonds to the top. I like the crunch. Texture is the magic that makes for superb food, rather than good.
   That's it for this post. I was a day late, but I think it was worth the wait. Enjoy it!