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


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.



Feeding the College Kids: Bread Pudding

There is a soft place in my heart for kids in college.  The studying.  The small dorms.  The roommates.  The food.

Many moons ago when I was in college living in the dorms, I had a meal card that bought my lunch from the cafeteria five days a week.  They had salads, sandwiches, a hot plate, and burgers.  The food was always fine, but it wasn’t home food and  some experiences were always better than others.  For example,  it was in that college lunchroom that I first encountered lentils.

Shiver.  Lentils.

I can’t really remember eating in my dorm room much.  I know I did eat, but I really can’t remember what I ate, and I really don’t remember cooking anything.   I know that I had chicken salad a lot from the grocery store.  I also remember the time my then boyfriend brought me a bag of homegrown tomatoes that I sliced and ate on sandwiches.  That was pure heaven.

The tomatoes, not the boyfriend.  The tomatoes were much better than the boyfriend.

Well, now my niece is the college girl eating weird food in her dorm room.  Recently she made a meal in her dorm room and commented on it on Facebook.  A few college friends of hers posted about what she made, which was some “noodles and vegetable stuff” and a bread pudding.  Comments went back and forth about the meal, and it all ended up with me offering to feed these poor, starving college kids a homemade bread pudding.

It was fun.

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Before the Sauce

The recipe:

2 cups of milk

1 and 1/2 sticks of butter, separated

1/2 cup of sugar

4 cups of King’s Hawaiian bread, cubed

2 eggs, beaten

Dash of salt

Dash of nutmeg

1 t vanilla

2 cups of powdered sugar

In a small saucepan, warm the milk over low heat until a skin forms over the top.  To it, add the butter and the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir.  In a large bowl, pour the milk mixture over the bread and allow to soak for fifteen minutes.  This will look watery, but it will be fine.

While the bread is soaking, mix the eggs, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla together.  When the bread has soaked long enough, add the egg mixture to the bread mixture.  Bake in a well-greased square cake pan for 35 or 40 minutes.

While it bakes, make the sauce for the top by melting the stick of butter in a small saucepan.  When the butter has melted, add the powdered sugar and turn up the heat to medium.  Stir constantly and quickly until the mixture is thickened and the butter is well incorporated.

Pour the sauce over the top.  Store in the refrigerator but serve warm.

The finished bread pudding

The finished bread pudding

My family and I delivered this bread pudding and some other groceries to my niece recently on a cold winter’s night while she was working on a paper about a poem.  While we there, we got to take her out to eat, see her dorm room,  and spend some time with her.  It was so fun to see the girl who was born when I was in college taking her turn as the college girl.

That didn’t make it any easier to leave her in that lonely dorm room, though.

But hey, she’s a strong, smart chick with a great deal of confidence and a good head on her shoulders-a lot like lots of other ladies who paid their dues in college dorms with brick walls.

Not saying those are traits I have, but my dorm’s brick walls were bright Pepto pink.

A few days after our visit, on that same Facebook post that started the whole bread pudding conversation, one of the friends who first commented about that meal posted that my niece had shared a bit of my bread pudding with him.  He said it was “clutch.”

I guess that’s a good thing?

Regardless, it got the job done.  A few college students have now had a bit of home cookin’, and hopefully it made them a little happier.  And, they know all they have to do is comment on Facebook about food, and I’ll be glad to share some more of whatever they want.

Just making the food, sharing it, and thinking about the college life was plenty of fun for me.



Lonely Pie: The Pie Only I Will Eat
January 5, 2013, 4:26 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , , , , ,
Before the oven...

Before the oven…

A friend on Facebook recently posted a recipe for a pie she was going to try.  Everyone commented on her post about how good the pie looked.  It did  look amazing and sounded good too.  Everyone likes a good pie, for goodness sakes.

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Now, who wouldn’t love this pie?

I looked it up online.  The recipe sounded easy peasy, so I made it for a party at my aunt’s house where there would many good cooks with great food to match.  The pie was simple to make with not too many ingredients and easy instructions, and it turned out to be really pretty even though it looked like a balloon when it came out of the oven.

I was excited.  This pie was something new!  The pie made it to the party, it was set on the dessert buffet by the other delicious desserts,  but no one ate it.  I was shocked.  I was bummed and my self-esteem was shaken.  I was ruined! Was my pie not good enough for those people?

Apparently not.

I had a piece when I brought it home, and it was so good.  I thought that it would be too sweet with all that caramel sauce in the pie, but it was nice and evenly sweet with a nice crunch from the pecans.  I liked it a lot, but I had to throw away most of it.

There were just to many other yummy options at the party, I decided.

So, I made it again for New Year’s Day.  Same pie, same easy recipe, same balloon effect out of the oven.  I set it out beside my bread pudding.

Same results.

Bummer again.

I don’t get it.  It really was good and pretty and easy.  Oh well.

Will I make it again? Will the third time be the charm? Maybe.  It just all depends on whether or not I want to eat another pie alone.



I Can’t Believe This Actually Worked: Pumpkin Pie
November 5, 2012, 12:18 am
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yay! It is pumpkin pie season again! My husband is a big pumpkin pie fan as I have mentioned here before.  The way to his heart is through his stomach, and so pumpkin pie he shall have.   I like it too.  I usually like to keep my pumpkin pie simple.

Yesterday, though, I had no choice put to keep my pie simple.  I decided to make a pumpkin pie since I made a chicken pot pie and had an extra crust.  In a large bowl, I poured a can of pumpkin.  Then, I started looking for the other usual ingredients like evaporated milk and eggs.

I found none.

I love it when I do this to myself, and I do it often.  I will think I have everything I need, and then when I look for my ingredients, I have half of what my recipe calls for.  It is just sooo much fun to sabotage myself by not preparing ahead of time.

I’m kidding, of course.

There was no going back yesterday; the pumpkin was in the bowl, so to speak.  To it, I added one can of sweetened condensed milk, half a cup of sugar, a smidge of cinnamon, and a smidge of salt.  I had no eggs, milk, or cream to add, so it was anyone’s guess as to how this was going to turn out.

I baked it at 350 for one hour.

Believe it or not, the pie was actually very good.  The pie looked fine even though it was a little sticky since it was full of sugar.  It had a nice thick consistency, a pretty shiny color, and it baked through nicely.  I sliced a piece and topped it with some whipped cream.   When we tasted it, it was very, very sweet, but it was a caramelly type of sweet not a sugary type of sweet.  I believe with a nice caramel decoration on top, this could pass as a caramel pumpkin pie and be believable as a recipe done on purpose.

I can not believe this actually worked.  Of course, next time I try to make it, I won’t have all the ingredients.  Sigh….



The Tiramisu Cupcake for the Cupcake
September 12, 2012, 11:09 pm
Filed under: Food I Make, Random Foodie Thoughts | Tags: , , , ,

Miss Helper was born wearing a pink tiara and a glittery apron. Or, at least that’s the way it seems sometimes. From the moment she was born, she has been wrapped in pink.  So much pink, as  a matter of fact, her aunt nicknamed her “Cupcake.”

Miss Helper is a girly girl who loves to “help” me in the kitchen-as long as she is not busy trying on clothes and shoes or looking at catalogs of clothes and shoes.

A while back, someone gave her a cookbook of cupcake recipes. She studied that cookbook like it was full of clothes and shoes.

For the longest time, Miss Helper had one recipe picked out. She looked at it so much that the book has a dent in its spine at that page. It is a simple enough recipe for a tiramisu cupcake. Like mother like daughter-I love tiramisu. However, it took a while for me to finally get all the ingredients for this cupcake idea together, but when I did, she was ready to “help” me make this fancy cupcake.

The tiramisu cupcake recipe seemed simple enough. We were to make the cupcake, the coffee, the marscapone cheese filling, and then the whipped cream topping. The recipe called for a Texas muffin pan to make six cupcakes. I had no idea what that was, and so I just used a standard square muffin pan, and I made eight square cupcakes.

My eight cupcakes were so flat. Except for one, they were all about an inch tall.

Problem. I was supposed to slice and divide the cupcakes for the layers of filling, and they were flat as fritters except for one.

Solution-I made one cupcake out of the one good cupcake for Miss Cupcake.

She was happy. It was very pretty and was close enough to the picture that she had been studying so hard.

The rest of us? We enjoyed a “casserole” of cupcake. I just layered what was left the best I could and enjoyed the tiramisu that way.

The casserole really wasn’t that bad, but I don’t want to try fancy cupcakes again anytime soon.  Even though it was fun, and she was happy, I hope Miss Helper dosn’t pick out a new cupcake recipe for just a little while.



Me and Trisha Have a Good Thing Going: Strawberry Cake

So, I thought I had something special.

Sigh.

About three years ago, a book club friend of mine made a strawberry cake that my daddy just loved. She was nice enough to share the recipe with me.

As I have told you before, I don’t share my best recipes. I am a recipe snob.

Luckily, she is a nicer person that I am, and I have made her strawberry cake many times since. Once, I even won “Best Tasting Cake” at a dessert contest at church.Not to brag, but it was a shining moment for me. I hope that someday that victory will be listed in my obituary.

Seriously.

I have also made it several times for work where colleagues have asked for a copy of the recipe.

Um. No.

This strawberry cake recipe was one to save and not share. I can almost make it from memory. It is easy and yummy.

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The last strawberry cake I made (other than the one I burned the other day)  for Mother’s Day 2012.

So imagine my surprise when I was looking through my brand new cookbook by one of my new favorites, Trisha Yearwood, and I came across her strawberry cake which is almost exactly like my/my friend’s strawberry cake.

Drats.

Oh, well. I guess the moral of the story is that I can’t hoard all the recipes.  I must learn to share.

However, I am a slow learner.

Trisha’s cake is called “Lizzie’s Strawberry Cake.”   Mine is called “I Stole This Recipe and Thought It Was Unique.”

I will tell you this: in the recipe I use, the cake has a whole cup of oil instead of 2/3 of a cup. The best strawberries, in my opinion, are the frozen and sliced kind instead of fresh.  The frozen strawberries are so much sweeter, and a small container of them will make two cakes.   Also, this cake is better when made the day before it will be served and stored in the refrigerator overnight.  It is best as a sheet cake so the icing doesn’t run, but I have layered it plenty of times and it has been fine.



Mr. Opinionated’s Birthday Cake
May 30, 2012, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Food I Make | Tags: , , , , , ,

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So, the hubby had a birthday recently. The actual day was on a busy Sunday, so on the following Monday, Miss Helper and I decided to make him a special meal. While he was out of the house for a while, we whipped up a meal to remember that included this cake.

The recipe was inspired by a salted caramel milkshake that I had that was very good. This cake was good too, but it could use some improving.

To make this birthday cake, I made a Duncan Hines Butter Golden Recipe cake to the package directions. While it was still warm, I poked holes in it and poured a whole jar of caramel sauce from the ice cream section all over the top. I then set it aside to soak all that caramel goodness up.

Meanwhile, I melted two tablespoons of butter. To that, I added one cup of peanuts. I tossed the butter with the peanuts and salted them with kosher salt very generously. I roasted the peanuts in the oven for five minutes.

When the peanuts we ready, I poured them over the cake and added a sprinkling of salt over the top.

Getting ahead of ourselves, we then decided to put the candles in so the cake would be ready when he walked in the door. Unfortunately, the cake was still quite warm. The candles drooped on the cake and looked quite sad. He was still surprised, though.

It’s the thought that counts, right?

The cake was moist and salty but sweet. The peanuts were a good crunch. I think it could be improved with a layer of whipped cream or maybe some ice cream on the side.

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Maybe we can try that for the next birthday.




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