The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It


A Mother’s Day Mess: The Pioneer Woman’s Coffee Cream Cake

Mother’s Day is all about the desserts.

On Mother’s Day, our family always eats lunch after church at a restaurant, and then we usually return to our house for dessert. Actually, we eat dessert before and after lunch. It’s our day, and the girls like dessert.

Please don’t judge.

At church on Mother’s Day, our youth hold a dessert auction to raise money for the youth fund. I always am willing to participate to help out the great cause.

Of course, I also consider it a competition. My goal is to make the cake that has the highest bid and shows the old ladies up. I haven’t done that yet, but I still keep trying.

This year, I made my strawberry cake and Trisha’s key lime cake. The key lime went for $55, and the strawberry went for $50. The highest cake went for $85, so if you take both of my cakes together, I won! Sorta.

I wasn’t brave enough to enter The Pioneer Woman’s coffee cream cake in the auction, because I had never made it before and I only wanted to enter a sure thing into the auction. Also, if I sell it, I don’t get a bite. I decided to make it and save it for before and after lunch on Mother’s Day.

The recipe was easy enough. I split the batter into two round cake pans and baked them up. While the cakes were baking, I made the creamy filling. The snag and mess occurred here. PW’s recipe called for whipping cream, which I guess makes sense. However, I only had half and half, and I didn’t realize the difference it would make. My filling was delicious, but not thick at all. It was more like gravy on top of the first layer of cake.
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When I placed the second layer on the other with the filling, it all splurted out of the sides of the cake. Luckily, my cake stand had tall sides.
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I pressed on and iced it for the big dessert day.

When we cut the cake, the flavor was so, so good even if the cake was so, so messy. It had the right mixture of coffee and sweetness and soft cake.
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The only weird thing about it was that the cake had a slight inexplicable green tint.
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Regardless of the color and the mess, it was still good. Now I know that whipping cream is the key, and the color is curious.

Maybe next year it will make it to the youth auction and bring in the big bucks.

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Blueberry Lemon Pecan Bread/Cake

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A friend of mine at work recently gave me a gallon size bag of fresh blueberries. Her dad was given some, and he passed them on to her, and then she passed some on to me. Did she give them to me because she is a good friend, or because she knew I would try to make something with them and that I would share that attempt?

I think we all know the answer to that one. A little bit of both.

I adore blueberries, and I have never seen any so fresh. We have blueberries at the grocery store here, but they are blue yet bland. These were the real deal.

Other than pancakes, which aren’t really shareable except on Saturday mornings in your pjs, I was at a loss for what to make that I could share with my friend and the rest of our staff. What to do?

Time to break out the cookbooks.

I looked at several, but other than the previously mentioned pancakes, I found nothing. Inviting my co-workers over for a slumber party was going a little over board, I thought. Luckily, my girl Trisha Yearwood had an idea. Really, her sister contributed the recipe to the book, but Trisha’s pic is on the front of the cookbook, so I give them both credit.

Anyway, I decided to tweak the original and mesh their recipe with my own. I added quite a few more pecans than the sisters did. The original only calls for 1/2 a cup, and I probably added closer to a cup. I like to have plenty of pecans in a dish so that it is clear that pecans are in there. Otherwise, it just looks as if dirt or some other unfortunate particle has entered the food. More pecans = no pecan/dirt confusion.

I also doubled the original and converted it into a bundt cake. It was very pretty that way, but the icing slid into pools on the side.

Regardless, everybody at work ate it. Like I have said before, that is not really an indication of a delicious recipe since any food left in a teacher workroom will be promptly eaten no matter its condition. The blueberries were so plump and pretty, and the cake was very moist. It lacked lemony-ness, I thought, but no one else complained.

I made the same recipe loaf style the second time I made it. I used the same method of operation, but I baked it for about ten minutes less than the recipe called for. I also doubled the glaze recipe to add more lemon to the mix.

Delish.



The Easy Bake Oven
January 9, 2013, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Random Foodie Thoughts | Tags: , , , ,

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Miss Helper got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas!

Easy Bake Ovens=Long Wait Time + Very Little Food

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Our first order of business was chocolate, of course. We made the smallest chocolate chip cookies ever served on the face of the earth. Interestingly enough, the package said the amount to be made was twelve.

We got eight.

212And, might I brag here that they were the best chocolate chip cookie ever devised on God’s green planet?

I think we may have a baker on our hands. The girl’s got talent.



Adventures with Duck
November 10, 2012, 12:59 pm
Filed under: Food I Make, Random Foodie Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , ,

It is almost duck season.  Even though we live in the throws of Redneck Nation and we have some prime duck hunting land almost within sight of our home, we are not big hunters.  My daddy didn’t hunt, and neither did my grandaddy.  We had cows, and my grandaddy had pigs which we ate, but that was about as close to hunting as we got when I was growing up.

Well, that and the occasional road kill-which we never ate.  We’re not that redneck.

Regardless of our lack of hunting lineage, last year Mr. Opinionated got invited to go on a duck hunt with some friends.  He had a weapon and just enough camo so as not to embarrass himself, so he went.  When he came home, he had four of the most beautiful creatures you have ever seen.  They were these beautiful, colorful ducks that had been previously flying through the clear blue sky, but they were now in the back of the truck waiting on me to cook them.  Great.

Now, I have eaten every kind of wild animal-duck, raccoon, deer, all kinds of birds, even barbecued goat.  However, the wildest things I had ever cooked were mushrooms and wild rice.  Let me tell you, they put up quite a fight too.

Luckily, a friend or two had some wise duck cooking advice.  I was to soak the duck for at least a day in Italian dressing.  Then, I was to drain the duck and then do with it as I pleased.

I guess I could have tried to be really fancy with the duck, but this opportunity to cook duck may not ever occur again.

The plan was to stuff the duck breast with cream cheese and a jalapeno and then wrap that in bacon.  It was a little cool outside, or we would have tried the duck on the grill.  Instead, we baked some and pan-fried some.

The problem was that the stuffing of the duck didn’t work out too well.  I got tired of butterflying the duck because it was a huge mess.  Some of the duck got bacon one top rather than wrapped around since the bacon didn’t hold and the cream cheese was runny well before the duck was done.  I think a better idea would have been to cut the duck into small pieces and then go from there with the cream cheese and such then the bacon wrapped around that.

It was a hot mess.

Mr. Opinionated like the duck anyway.  The best tasting of the ways we prepared it was the pan-fried.  He liked them all much better than I did.

I thought it was a little too thick tasting, if that makes any sense.  The dark meat was a turn off for me, I guess.  It probably did not work out for me very well since I had just seen these pretty birds with their beautiful feathers in my yard just a few days before.  I really don’t like the idea of meeting my food face to face.  Ignorance is bliss there.  Besides, it definitely did not taste like chicken.

I guess eating duck, hunting duck, and duck cooking are an acquired taste.



Trying New Things: My Attempt at Chile Bola
June 20, 2012, 4:30 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , ,

My family and I love Mexican food. It is one type of food (in addition to pizza) all four of us can eat, and we will all walk away full and happy.

We like it, but most of us aren’t very adventurous about it.

Mr. Opinionated gets the same chicken dish every time.  Miss Helper gets a taco every time.  Mr. Picky gets a bowl of cheese dip every time.

And they eat the whole thing. I am not complaining at all.  I like that they all have a go-to. I, however, don’t.

I am never disappointed, but I don’t have that same ole thing I get every time. It makes me feel like a Mexican food outcast.

I go through cycles of favorites. I eat the carne asada tacos a lot. I also like the fish, salads, and the nachos. I adore the pico and the guacamole. Maybe my problem is that I like too much.

Lately, my dish of choice is the chile bola.  I have no idea what Chile Bola means, but I know I like it.

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I decided to try to make it at home. I washed, topped, and cut out the seeds and ribs of four green peppers. Then, I browned a pound of ground beef that I seasoned with taco seasoning and a whole chopped onion.

I stuffed the peppers with the meat, placed them in a square casserole dish, and baked them for thirty-five minutes.  I took them out of the oven, and I topped that with store-bought white Mexican cheese dip-that stuff has sustained Mr. Picky for all these years.   In my own twist, I also topped all that with crushed tortilla chips.  On top of all that went a handful of shredded Cheddar and pepper jack cheese.

The peppers and stuff went back in the oven for ten more minutes.

When the peppers were done, I topped them with fresh tomatoes and slices of avocado.

I loved it, and I was quite pleased with myself.  My favorite part was the chips which stayed crunchy and made a nice scooper for the rest of the good stuff.

Unfortunately, no one else in my family really wanted to branch out and try it.  They don’t see the need to try new things like this when they already have favorites.

Sigh.



Hits, Misses, and Houseguests: My Adventurous Culinary Weekend
September 26, 2011, 1:41 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , , , ,

It was a hit and miss weekend. 

First was a hit that was almost a miss but that depends on who you ask-cookies.  It all started with the announcement that we would be having houseguests over the weekend.  They called Thursday to let us know they were coming on Friday.  Yikes.  

I decided to make cookies even though our houseguests don’t eat sweets or anything fun.   They only drink water and eat no red meat, fried foods, pasta, sugar, or bread.  They will eat salads and plain grilled or baked chicken breasts.  Like I said, they don’t eat anything fun. 

I prepared a batch of chocolate chip for Mr. Picky who loves, loves, loves chocolate chip cookies.  While the cookies were in the oven, I took the remaining chocolate chip batter and kicked it up by adding toasted walnuts, peanut butter, and extra chocolate chips.  The dinger on the oven dinged, but the chocolate chip cookies came out looking sad, flat, and too wet in the middle.  What to do?

Improvise.

I mashed up the flat cookies and stirred them back into the cookie with walnut/peanut butter/chocolate chip batter.  I reshaped them and baked them again. 

 

Wal-lah! Mr. Picky wouldn’t eat them, and neither would the no-fun houseguests, but everyone else liked them. 

Hit/Miss #2 was breakfast on Saturday.  I made breakfast burritos for the houseguests and the regular folks too. I browned a pound of sausage with an onion.  Then, I microwaved two potatoes for seven minutes.   I let them cool, cut them up, tossed them with flour and salt, and deep fried them until they were crispy.  I then wisked five eggs with milk, pepper, and salt and added that to the sausage and onion mixture.  I cooked that until the eggs were done.  In six warm flour tortillas, I layered the potatoes, Cheddar cheese, and the egg/sausage/onions.  I folded the tortillas and wrapped the burritos in aluminum foil.  

It was supposed to be an informal breakfast-grab a burrito, a cup of coffee, and find a place to relax and enjoy.  Awkwardly, no one understood how to do that, so we sat at the table.

Mr. Houseguest, who does not get to eat whatever he wants, loved them!  He could not say enough about the crunchy potatoes, the warm cheese, or the meaty sausage.   “Boy, this is really good!” he said over and over as he devoured his burrito and drank his coffee.

Mrs. Houseguest was not amused.  She barely managed to choke down any of hers but did drink a full glass of tap water. 

Saturday night, while the houseguests visited with the kids, I put together a squash casserole for Sunday lunch.  The squash came from some plants that my momma grew in her flower bed, for some reason.  My sister’s mother-in-law makes the best ever squash casserole, and I thought I had a copy.  However, I couldn’t find it, so I made do with another recipe.  I boiled the squash, and then combined it with an onion, can of mushroom soup, cheese, butter, and panko bread crumbs on the top. After church on Sunday, I baked it for thirty minutes at 350.

It was gross.  The onions did not cook well, and the breadcrumbs were soggy.  Bleh. It was a miss. 

Finally, on the hit and miss weekend, I made a pumpkin pie.  Pumpkin pie is one of my husband’s favorites, and they just set out the special seasonal cooking section at the grocery store featuring pumpkin in a can.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  

If you tried to describe my pumpkin pie in one word, it would be plain.  We like it as plain as possible.  The plainer the pumpkin pie, the better we always say.  I combined ¾ of a cup of sugar with a dash of salt and a teaspoon of cinnamon, and that’s it for seasonings.  No nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cloves, pie spice, tobasco-nothing.  I only use salt, sugar, and cinnamon.    

To that, I added the can of pumpkin, two eggs, and a can of evaporated milk.  I poured it to the very top of a regular pie shell.  Deep dish would have been better because I had some left over, but it still worked.  I put the unbaked pie on a cookie sheet and then poured water around the pie plate to create a water bath.

I don’t know why, but I bake everything these days in a water bath.  I think things just turn out better and more custardy.  I like it. 

Anyway, I oh so carefully slid it into the oven.  I remembered to shut the door, but I forgot to set the timer.  After goofing off online and watching part of an episode of Victorious, I walked into the kitchen and remembered.  Luckily, the pie wasn’t in too bad of a shape.  Luckily.

It turned out okay.  A hit!

After a weekend like this, I think it is definitely time for me to go back to work on Monday morning.  I need the rest.




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