Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oatmeal Cream Pies with Ginger Cream


Did you grow up in a Hostess home or a Little Debbie home?  We were firmly planted in the Little Debbie camp.  I don't know why......maybe they were cheaper??  I don't ever remember my mom buying Hostess brand snacks.  She would buy the Little Debbie swiss cake rolls, the nutty bars (which I liked to eat by first separating all the layers) and my favorite.....the oatmeal cream pies.  Oh my gawd, I loved those things.  


When I saw this recipe in The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, my mouth started watering from the memory of those Little Debbie cookies.  I'm sure they wouldn't be near as good to my adult self as they were to my 12-year-old self, but no matter because this version is soooo much better!  The recipe calls for toasting the oatmeal which gives them a great nutty flavor and the crystalized ginger in the cream filling is warm and spicy.  These are a grown up twist on a childhood favorite.



Here's the recipe:

Oatmeal Cream Pies with Ginger Cream
The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook

(this makes 24 cookies or 12 sandwiches)

Ingredients:

Cookies
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg

Filling:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temp.
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger

Directions:
Cookies:  Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 deg. F.  Place the oats on a baking sheet and bake on the upper rack for 10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice to prevent burning, until lightly browned and fragrant.  Remove from the oven but leave the oven on for the cookies.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and the granulated and brown sugars until light a fluffy.  Beat in the egg.  Add the flour mixture, beating until just combined  Stir in the roasted oats.

Using a 1 ounce ice cream scoop, drop the dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.  With a dampened hand, flatten each round into a 1/2-inch thickness

Bake for 12 minutes, switching the baking sheets from top to bottom and rotating them from front to back halfway through, or until lightly browned around the edges and set.  Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Filling:  In a bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth.  Beat in the ginger.  Spread the mixture on 12 of the cookies and then top with the remaining 12 cookies.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

New England Clam Chowder


I was finishing up buying some snapper at the Whole Foods fish counter yesterday and as I was leaving, passed by the end of the display where they keep the fresh shellfish on ice and I could hear hubs voice haunting me.....

"Hey, sometime do you think you could make me some clam chowder?"

So damn demanding.


 Clam chowder happens to be one of his favorite foods and I've totally failed as a wife because since it's not one of my favorite foods, that shit ain't getting made.

 I happen to love a big bowl of clams steamed in some white wine and a little garlic with a big chunk of crusty bread to sop of the juices so, of course, I've made that, like, a billion times.

Wife of the Millennium right here.

 But since I was in a giving mood and those clams were staring me in the face at WF, I decided to throw the old guy a bone and make him some clam chowder.

So I bought three dozen clams which came out to about 2.5 lbs.  It looked like a lot of clams.  Apparently NOT.  Recipe called for SEVEN POUNDS OF CLAMS!!!  So now, we're just making 1/2 a recipe.

Oh and I forgot that clam chowder had potatoes in it, so I had to send the poor dude whose wife never makes him clam chowder to Publix to get some potatoes.  Yeah, I know what you're thinking...."hey genius, while he's at Publix, have him get some more clams."  Totally didn't think about that.



It all worked out fine in the end, because Mr. B got his clam chowder and since I'm not a huge fan, I opted to also let him have the leftovers!  I got the recipe from The Best Recipe, Soups & Stews and since it's from Cook's Illustrated, I knew it would be good.  

I opted to use an applewood smoked bacon and hubs mentioned that he loved the smokiness of the soup, so SCORE.

Here's the recipe:

New England Clam Chowder
Cook's Illustrated

Ingredients:
7 pounds medium-sized hard-shell clams, such as cherrystones, washed and scrubbed clean
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large Spanish onion, chopped medium
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 large bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
salt and pepper

Directions:
Bring three cups water to a boil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven.  Add the clams and cover with a tight-fitting lid.  Cook for 5 minutes, uncover, and stir with a wooden spoon.  Quickly cover the pot and steam until the clams just open, 2 to 4 minutes.  Transfer the clams to a large bowl, cool slightly.  Open the clams with a pairing knife, holding the clams over a bowl to catch any juices.  With the knife, sever the muscle that attaches the clam belly to the shell and transfer the meat to a cutting board.  Discard the shells.  Mince the clams, set aside.  Pour the clam broth into a 2 quart measuring cup, holding back the last few tablespoons of broth in case of sediment (I strained mine through a coffee filter because there's nothing worse than gritty chowder!); set the clam north aside.  (You should have about 5 cups.  If not, add bottled clam juice or water to make this amount.)  Rinse and dry the pot then return it to the burner.

Fry the bacon in the empty pot over medium low heat until the fat renders and the bacon crisps, 5 to 7 minutes.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour and stir until lightly colored, about 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in the reserved clam broth.  Add the potatoes, bay leaf, and thyme and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the clams, cream, parsley, and salt (if necessary) and ground pepper to taste; bring to a simmer.  Remove from the heat, discard the bay leaf, and serve immediately.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Before and Afters.......and Prom!



Last week was full of messes and painters and their paint fumes but about five o'clock on Saturday afternoon it was finished.  And I no longer have painters in my house!  Wheee!!

We couldn't be happier with the results and maybe this is just the push this ole place needed to entice a buyer!!  It's brighter, cheerier and that dated faux painting is GONE!!

Here are the before and afters...



BEFORE......all we did in here was paint the walls.  My pictures don't really do the change justice!  It's a subtle but welcome change.  After we painted the tv room, the faux painting in here just made the walls look dirty.  Not any more!!





AFTER




BEFORE.....the sun room


AFTER....dark wood work gone along with the heavy couch and ottoman.  I went shopping in one of the upstairs bedrooms for the two chairs!  I love them.





BEFORE....tv room....dark, heavy, blah!





AFTER....much better.  New couch and chair, same ottoman, and again.....I went shopping upstairs for the two leather club chairs (one is out of the shot)



My favorite thing might be the repurposing of my  bar cart.  I don't know why it had never crossed my mind to use it for its original intent, but.....







++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Saturday night was also Prom night for several of the areas high schools and my BFF's son asked if he could bring his friends up to the pool house for their pictures.  Mother nature cooperated and provided a beautiful day.



Whalen with Mom and Dad



I know!  Such a beautiful couple.




Boys!!  I've gotta wonder if Whalen's placing a bet??







Great kids and it was fun having them here.  



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Avacado Pie with Tequila Whipped Cream


This falls squarely in the "don't knock it until you've tried it" category.  Because this will most assuredly become your go-to party pie!  And everyone needs a go-to party pie.  I know I'll be making this a lot this summer.  It's easy, quick, refreshing and just really good.


First you're going to have to get past the color.  I took a piece of this to my trainer (because he should have to do cardio too!) and his first question was, "What is it?"  
Me, "Not gonna tell you.  Just try it." 
Sissy skeptical trainer, "Why's it green?"
Me, "Because it is.  TRY it."
Skeptical trainer, "Is it key lime pie?"
Me, "Yep.  Sure is."
Less skeptical trainer, "Ohhh....this is really good.  Doesn't taste like key lime pie."
Me, "It's not.  It's avocado.  So it's healthy."
Happy trainer, "I love it.  Will you make it for our member party?"
Me, "If you promise to tell them it's key lime so they'll eat it."


While the filling of this is soooo good (creamy, citrusy and sweet) the crust (graham crackers and coconut) is the best part.  


Oh wait.  That might not be true.  The TEQUILA WHIPPED CREAM is the best part.  When my friend, Allyson (yes the same one from the Courtesan au Chocolate) insisted I try this recipe from HER friend, I told her she had me at TEQUILA WHIPPED CREAM!!!

I have a minor love affair with really good tequila, and after reading this amazing article about new studies that find tequila aids in weight loss, well logic dictates that TEQUILA WHIPPED CREAM is diet food.  BOOM!


So I did make this for our gym's member party last night and Blake (the trainer) reported that it was a big hit even though I left the tequila out of the whipped cream.  He didn't want anyone drunk flying off the back of a treadmill.  

Thanks to Allyson and her friend, beautyfrosting.com for this fab pie!  Click on the link for the recipe.

A few of my own notes...

1.  I have a commercial Vitamix blender which is pretty damn powerful and it struggled a tad mixing up this filling.  If you don't have a good blender you may want to use a food processor.  That being said, a blender gets this silky smooth.

2.  I left off the toasted coconut topping only because if my audience.  A little bit of coconut goes a long way with them but I'm sure the topping is amazing.

3.  If you're tequila averse (shame on you!) this is great with plain sweetened whipped cream.

4.  Plan ahead......it needs to firm up in the fridge for about 3 hours.







Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday Faves


Favorite Room Update

Disclaimer:  If today's post makes no sense, I'm blaming the paint fumes!

This room is what southerners call the "keeping room".  Whatever the hell that means.  Yankees call it the TV room or den.  It's the room right off of our kitchen that we spend the most time in and I've been wanting to lighten it up for a while now but since the house was on the market and we actually THOUGHT IT WOULD SELL, have been putting it off.  Well apparently, it's not going to sell and I might as well do what I want!  I'm tired of the stained wood work and faux finished walls so I called my painter and put him to work.  I was ecstatic even with just primer so I can't wait for this to get finished.  Probably by the end of next week.


And since our furniture was a dark leather and the couch is uncomfortable, I sweet talked hubs into letting me get a new couch and chair.  Score!


I wanted something that I could get quickly, so I went with Restoration Hardware Belgian Classic Roll Arm Sofa in their standard Sand Linen
http://www.restorationhardware.com/catalog/product/product.jsp?productId=prod520008&categoryId=cat50002#

And the Lorraine Chair in the standard Burnt Oakfinish with Sand Linen
http://www.restorationhardware.com/catalog/product/product.jsp?productId=prod1679279&categoryId=cat2390335
I'll post before and after pics when it's all finished.  

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Favorite Drink

I'm jumping on the Moscow Mule train.  I can see this becoming my summer pool drink and since winter is on my last nerve, I'm starting summer this weekend!

You need to start with the requisite copper mug.  I ordered this antiqued version from One Kings Lane
https://www.onekingslane.com/product/34280/1251511

Of course, no one that I could find sells ginger beer in Birmingham so I ordered this one from Amazon.  It won the Bon Appetit taste taste.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002NVZDR4/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
Oprah's Moscow Mule

1 ounce vodka
1 tsp simple syrup (depending on the sweetness of your ginger beer, you may not need this)
squeeze of fresh lime juice
1/2 cup ginger beer
garnish with a sprig of fresh ming and a slice of lime

In a copper mug, pour vodka over ice.  Add simple syrup and lime juice.  Top with ginger beer and stir.  Garnish with mint and lime.



I've also seen a variation on the original that just might be more to my liking, however, called the 

Mexican Mule

1 ounce Repasado or Anejo Tequila
1 tsp simple syrup
fresh lime juice
1/2 cup ginger beer
garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, lime wheel and a jalapeƱo slice

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Favorite Viewing:

How is everyone's bracket holding up?  As of this morning, I'm leading my groups March Madness  challenge!  Whoop Whoop!!



Group Results

RANKBRACKET, OWNERR64R32S16E8F4NCGCHAMPIONPPRTOTALPCT
1 250240120000Michigan St108061099.6
2 25024080000Michigan St104057094.6
3 240200120000Duke48056091.3
4 230160120000Arizona108051062.6
5* 220160120000Florida112050056.3
5* 240140120000Michigan St96050056.3
7 25016080000Ohio State48049049.9
8* 24016080000Michigan St72048043.8
8* 2602200000Oklahoma48048043.8
10* 190160120000Florida112047038.0
10* 21018080000Wichita State52047038.0
12 21016080000Florida108045027.9
13 24016040000Florida92044023.7
14 19016040000Duke1603909.8
15 2201600000Duke3603808.2
16 19012040000Gonzaga1603504.9
* - Denotes tiebreaker used




Did you happen to see Charles Barkley's reaction to a Shaq tweet during CBS coverage last night?  My dad loves Charles and Kenny, so this one's for him!




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Favorite Product


My poor dog has had quite the year so far.  He had to have a large cyst removed from his heinie and because of the location, it's been impossible to get it to heal.  He's had to endure the diaper of shame and now he has a giant donut sewn onto his ass.  

He's humiliated.


  

He just turned 10 a few weeks ago, and like a lot of big dogs, he's developed a touch of arthritis in his hips which makes getting up and down more of a challenge.  The ass donut isn't helping.

What has made things a little easier are these beds we got for him last fall.  They're from Orvis and have a memory foam mattress in them that is soft enough to sleep on but firm enough that he can get up and down.  He LOVES them.  I got him the extra large ones because I like to spoil him and maybe sometimes I like to lay in there with him!

The covers are removable and washable.

http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=5X7T


Enjoy your weekend!

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