Dirt Pudding

I went through a period where whenever I was visiting home and my mom would ask me what I wanted to eat, I’d always respond with “Dirt Pudding”.  My mom would use this giant spoon to serve it with, then Kaysie and I would have a contest where we’d try to shove the entire spoon, of course filled with dirt pudding, in our mouths.  As time went on, that tradition became known as “The Aunt Barbie”, and now whenever the giant spoon is used, someone has to try to stuff the entire thing in their mouth.

Matt, Gray, and I visited my parents this past weekend, and the giant spoon was used to serve the corn pudding.  When I told Kaysie I thought I’d write a blog post about dirt pudding and the giant spoon, she graciously agreed to demonstrate our special skill.  She’s such a good sport.

Of all the things I’ve taught her — playing lookie with her food, being a zit, the meaning of contraband — this is the one thing I’m most proud of.

Now to the recipe.  A while back we were invited to a cookout, and of course, I was slotted to bring dessert.  When I asked for requests, my only instruction was to perhaps make two — one of the families coming had 8 kids! That’s when I thought of dirt pudding — it’s easy, and it can feed lots of people.

Dirt Pudding

  • 1 (14 ounce) bag Oreo cookies
  • 2 (3 1/2 ounce) packages French vanilla instant pudding
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 14 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 (12 ounce) container Cool Whip, thawed

 

Break up cookies, put 1/2 on bottom of casserole dish and save other 1/2 for topping.  Mix pudding and milk together, set aside.  Mix sugar, cream cheese and butter.  Add sugar mixture to pudding; fold in cool whip.  Pour onto cookies, top with remaining cookies.  Chill until ready to serve.

 

Chicken Saltimbocca

This recipe comes from my favorite cookbook and was among one of the first ‘dog’ meals I made for Matt many, many years ago.  I didn’t realize it was one of his favorites and that it’s on his ‘this is on the menu if we ever open a restaurant’ list.  I just decided to make it because we hadn’t had it in ages, and it sounded good to me.

Chicken Saltimbocca

  • 1 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 chicken cutlets, pounded to flatten evenly
  • 6 paper-thin slices prosciutto
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Squeeze the frozen spinach to remove the excess water.  In a small bowl, toss the spinach with 1 tablespoon oil to coat and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Place chicken on a work surface. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Lay 1 slice prosciutto atop each cutlet.  Arrange an even layer of spinach on top and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Beginning at the short tapered end, roll up each cutlet as for a jelly roll and secure with a toothpick.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil over a high flame.  Add the chicken rolls and cook just until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Add the broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, approximately 4 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to 6 plates and set aside.  Increase the heat to high and cook the sauce until reduced to about 2/3 cup.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Of course, no ‘dog’ meal would be complete without a gooey, disgusting dessert.  Say hello to the Oreo White Chocolate Cookie Pie.  To die for!

  • 1 unbaked 9″ deep-dish pie shell
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Oreo crumbs
  • 8 quartered Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 325° F. Beat the eggs in large mixer bowl on high speed until foamy. Add in the flour, Oreo crumbs, brown sugar, white sugar and vanilla. Beat in butter until combined. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Put mixture into pie shell and even the mixture out in the shell. Put the quartered Oreo cookies on top of the pie and push them in about halfway. Bake for 60 minutes.

Of course, it wasn’t gooey enough on its own so I topped it with ice cream (chocolate) and hot fudge.  As my dad always says, “If I’m going to eat the devil, I might as well drink his broth.”

Texas Cake

Gray’s teacher loves Pinterest, and periodically she ties some sort of project she’s found in with a lesson the class is working on.  This year, geography focused on the United States, learning states and capitals, lakes and rivers, and landmarks.  As a wrap up, she decided to put all the states in a hat and let each child pull one out and do a project on it – both a written report and some sort of visual aid.  Gray got Texas.

As we started gathering information, I asked him if he had any idea what he wanted to do with the visual portion because I too am a lover of Pinterest, and if he didn’t have an idea, I was going to take to my favorite source of all things crafty for inspiration.  But my boy did have an idea — he wanted to make a cake in the shape of Texas.  I was so proud.  Of course, we decided to run this past his teacher to make sure his visual portion could be edible, and well, she loved the idea too.

Gray is no stranger to making cakes; he makes one every year for the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Banquet.  Here was this year’s entry:

So this past Wednesday night, Gray made 2 9×13 chocolate sheet cakes.

Then Thursday night, we cut the cake and shaped it into the state of Texas.  I say we because it took all three of us cutting, placing, and gluing with frosting to get the shape just right.  Then Gray piped on the frosting, and Matt and I smoothed it out.  (We had to – trying to spread frosting on the cut sides of a cake is difficult — even for an adult!)

A remarkable likeness, I have to say.

And one kid that was extremely proud of his project!

I stopped by class after lunch on Friday to help serve the cake.  Based on the rave reviews of the students, not only in fourth grade but also those in seventh grade and the headmaster who also managed to score cake, his project definitely deserved an A.  And of course, I would completely agree.

Brunch

I promise this will be the last egg-centered recipe for a while. Most Easter weekends, we go visit my parents.  Of course, since my ‘testing retirement’ husband is obsessed with building this barn…..

….he wanted to have Friday and Saturday to work on it.  Whenever we do stay at home for Easter, I make a nice brunch after church.  I mentioned a number of frittata recipes, and Matt just couldn’t get excited about them.  “What I could get excited about,” he says to me, “is Eggs Benedict.”  Ugh.  The thing is, I’m a bit intimidated by poached eggs.  I’ve never made them.  I’ve watched chefs do it on television, and they always make it look so easy.  But there’s something about dumping an egg in a pot of swirling, simmering water that seems hard to me.

My grandmother made poached eggs every morning by using this metal apparatus that she set down in a pan over some simmering water, and they always turned out beautifully.  I went searching and found this:

Now his wish was my command.  Eggs Benedict, asparagus, fresh fruit, AND a delicious Candy Bar Cake made up the brunch menu Easter Sunday.  Here are links to the recipes:  Eggs Benedict……Candy Bar Cake.

I do need to add that while my Candy Bar Cake tasted delicious, it looked less like a candy bar and more like the thing floating in the pool in the Caddyshack movie.

 

Peanut Butter Eggs

I’ve decided to continue on with the egg theme, and as much as I like farm fresh eggs — I like these kind of eggs even better!  I’ve always had an obsession with Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs; in fact, when I was in college I would buy several packages at a time and then hide them in a shoe box in the back of my closet so that my roommate wouldn’t find them.  Please don’t judge me; I have issues.

The first recipe, which I have since thrown away so I can’t even share it with you, called for brown sugar, vanilla, and flour in the peanut butter mixture.  The photos were beautiful, so I decided to make them.  Disappointing.  All you could taste was the brown sugar, plus the texture was off.  Looking back, I should have known not to use that one.  My mom and I make buckeyes every Christmas, and we simply used melted butter, peanut butter, and confectioners sugar, so I just applied that logic to this.  The best part of making them into the egg shape is that they are much larger!  My philosophy is that I’m only going to eat one, so it better be the biggest and best one that there is!

Peanut Butter Eggs

  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips
  • Vegetable oil

Frittata

Lately we’ve absolutely been inundated with fresh eggs, and I’m not at all complaining.  There’s a girl in Gray’s class that supplies everyone in the class, including the teacher, with a full carton of eggs every single time you return an empty carton.  Plus the folks up the road have chickens, they just went out-of-town, and she gave me a dozen plus everyday we’re collecting 4 eggs while they are gone.  Until last night, I had three dozen in the refrigerator.

Probably every other week, especially on a night when I bake fresh bread, we have a frittata.  I discovered this recipe years ago when I purchased my favorite cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tomato, seeded, diced
  • Salt
  • 3 ounces Fontina, diced

Directions

Preheat the broiler. Whisk the eggs, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Set aside. Heat the oil and butter in a 9 1/2-inch-diameter nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus and saute until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and saute 2 minutes longer. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus mixture and cook for a few minutes until the eggs start to set. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the frittata is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes. Place the skillet under the broiler. Broil until the top is set and golden brown on top, about 5 minutes. Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from skillet and slide the frittata onto a plate.

 

I quickly learned two things about frittatas — first, you really don’t need a recipe and second, you can put anything in one.  Really, ANYTHING.  Some of our favorite combinations are spinach, mushroom and Swiss; Brussels sprouts, bacon, and Fontina; roasted vegetables and Parmesan; ham, broccoli, and cheddar; even leftover chicken and rice!  You can also adjust the number of eggs you need based on the amount of stuff you have and the size of the pan you are using.  Most important, I start it on the stove just to get the edges set and then finish it in the oven on 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Sadly, these photos don’t at all do justice to how tasty this thing was — fluffy, rich, and flavorful.  If you’ve not gotten on the frittata bandwagon, then it’s high time you do…..especially if you have farm fresh eggs close at hand.

Grandma’s Caramel Popcorn

It’s been a long time since my last post.  It’s not that I haven’t been cooking and taking photos; it’s just that I haven’t been making the time to sit down and write about it. I write blogs and do social media for four companies, and I get paid to do that.  I don’t get paid to do this blog, so the other stuff tends to take priority.  By the time I’m finished with the other stuff, I’m usually all written out.  But Wednesday my mom and I made something that reminded me of my childhood, and I simply had to share it.

Gray is on spring break both this week and next week.  We talked about going somewhere, but Matt is ‘testing out retirement’ and enjoying it a bit too much.  He’d been planning for some time to tear down his old shop and build a bigger, better barn, and now that dream is finally becoming a reality.

He’s so focused on working on building that I cannot seem to tear him away for even a few days, so Gray and I decided to visit my parents.  There we were, our last day before heading back to Tennessee, and I started working on my mom.  It was clear that I wanted something, so she finally just said, “Spit it out.  What do you want?”  “Will you make me some caramel corn?” I asked.  And so the adventure began.

Grandma Butler’s Caramel Popcorn

  • 3 quarts popped corn (the good stuff made on the stove)

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup karo syrup
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook the above ingredients to crackle or hardball stage, and it spins a thread.  Remove from the heat and add:

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Pour over the popped corn and mix well.

And as we made it, we reminisced about how my grandma did it, never using a thermometer (of course, we did)…..testing for it to spin like thread, and always knowing when it was perfectly done.  The funniest part was that Gray had never had popcorn cooked on the stove with oil.  He liked that better than the actual caramel corn, which by the way, I ate my weight in.

As always, I could not leave well enough alone.  I had to put some on a cookie sheet and drizzle it with melted milk and white chocolate.  I’m pretty sure my grandma wouldn’t mind.

And Matt Mitchell, your half is not at the bottom of the container.