Archive for the 'home' Category

So, Christmas and stuff.

This Christmas, my family changed up its plans completely – we celebrated Christmas at my aunt’s house Saturday and, instead of having another ham/stuffing/sweet potatoes Christmas dinner today, we ate tex-mex. Pictorial evidence follows.

Isn’t Chey gorgeous?

You’ll have to excuse me. I’m a proud aunt. I’m proud my sister somehow managed to make such adorable kids. Heh heh.

My present to my sister – I taped a picture of Matthew McConaughey working out on each gift I gave to each of my family members. I also used Precious Moments wrapping paper, just to push her buttons. She accused me of actually paying money for Precious Moments gift wrap. Anyway, her gift is a chocolate fondue fountain, and we would be playing with that right now but we have no chocolate chips.

She gave me a creme brulee kit with ramekins and a kitchen torch. <!!!!!!!!!!!!!!> I don’t have any butane for my kitchen torch, though, so I shall not be playing with it today.

I may play with this, though:

My parents got me this. Aren’t they awesome?

Cheyenne, however, got the coolest present of all.


Oh, and a bit more food related… We didn’t cook anything fancy. We used lots of convenience foods for Christmas this year. And we’ve been having a ridiculously excellent time together.

Nice, dark breakfast photo… Here, we have caramel sticky buns, jalapeno cheese sausage pigs in blankets, a pepperjack cheese ball, crackers, muenster, swiss and cheddar. Mm.

And for lunch… We had the ever-present rotel/velveeta dip, chili sauce, chips, mini beef chimichangas, mini chicken/cheese quesadillas, cheese taquitos, beef taquitos, tortillas, refried beans, lettuce, tomato and Stouffer’s chicken enchiladas. Yeah.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and all that jazz!


Persimmon pudding!

I think I’ve eaten persimmons once in my entire life – when I was a kid, I remember walking down the road with my dad (they live out in the boonies) and eating a persimmon straight from the tree (or from the ground, I guess, if it was ripe). I don’t remember its flavor, but last week during downtime at work I was surfing food blogs and kept seeing PERSIMMONS. I figured if the foodbloggers were using them, they must be in season, so I commissioned my dad for help.

Today we drove out to the lake and found a few persimmon trees. Either people or raccoons had already scavenged most of them, but we managed to gather enough for me to get a cup of persimmon pulp to use in a recipe I found for persimmon pudding. I’m sure it was a comical sight. I followed my dad around with a big bucket while he whacked at high branches with a stick. Eventually we gave up that mode of operation and he just started throwing sticks at the highest branches. Whatever – it worked. Great father-daughter together time!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Aren’t they wonderfully ugly? I picked out a bunch of persimmon seeds with sticky hands until I had enough pulp.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I’m not sure if this was more or less difficult than normal… seeing as how I used wild persimmons, or native persimmons, or whatever you want to call them.

I looked up this recipe for Gram’s Persimmon Pudding earlier this week. I chose this one because it focused mainly on the sweet flavor of the persimmons – I didn’t want to add raisins or walnuts or anything else that might detract from their flavor. However, when I made the pudding, I added more cinnamon than it called for, because I’m a cinnamon freak.

The result?
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Even my niece Cheyenne (pictured to the right of the pudding above) liked it – and Cheyenne normally lives on a steady diet of macaroni and cheese and “white milk” (she feels the need to specify whenever she wants a glass of milk. it’s adorable).

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This persimmon pudding is sweet, moist and wonderful. It’d be perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas, depending on when the first frost is (down here in Tejas, it took until last week for the first real freeze). The recipe suggested you bake at 300 for about an hour, but I lopped almost half an hour off the cooking time because it had already set and browned. The middle’s a little moist, and maybe it isn’t supposed to be, but I have a history of underbaking things because I like cookies and such just a mite underdone.

Last night, when I was a bit inebriated in various manners, I attempted to make a sticky toffee pudding and failed horribly. However, the results were still edible and, according to my dad, quite good.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I know exactly what I did wrong, though, and I’m going to try to make it correctly when I’m completely sober. First of all, it called for dates, but I didn’t have any. I had some frozen dried cherries, and I soaked them in hot water while I mixed up the rest of the pudding and used those instead. As an afterthought I threw in some dried cranberries. When I was preparing the pudding mixture, I didn’t whisk the brown sugar and butter together for a long enough duration. And when I was preparing the sauce, I forgot to add water at first, so the topping you see is crunchy toffee. Still yummy, even if it’s a horrible mistake!

As a side note, I made an interesting grilled cheese Friday night. I used fresh Italian bread, havarti with dill, sliced tomatoes and fresh basil. Now THAT’S a grilled cheese, dammit! My roomie pulled the tomato and basil off hers, but I forgive her.

And I’d provide you with a photo of the DELICIOUS RASPBERRY OATMEAL COOKIE BARS I made last night, but I had a few friends over and, well, they gobbled them all up. I’ll take that as a compliment. I didn’t expect them to be as popular, because instead of using raspberry jam, I used the black currant jam I’ve been saving for a special occasion. I know I’ve never eaten any black currant-flavored baked goods, so I expected my friends to be a bit wary. They weren’t. It was great. Luckily, I have enough to make another batch of those yummy cookie bars. They’re uber simple, you can use any damn kind of jam you please, and apparently people LOVE THEM.

After all our father/daughter togetherness time today, my dad and I went to the grocery store to pick up the sweetened condensed milk I needed for the persimmon pudding, and he said, “Get whatever you want.” He should know better – get whatever I want in the grocery store? I’m young and don’t make a lot of money and am single, so I don’t always have as much money to spend on cooking stuff as I’d like. I did contain myself, but I ended up with some Nutella, baking chocolate, almond and butter and vanilla and lemon extracts, some almond filling, hazelnuts, powdered sugar, dark brown sugar, puff pastry and buttermilk. Oh boy!

Until next time, my friends.

– Cheese on a Stick

Do you want to know a secret?

It’s unseasonably warm here in the good old Arklatex. It’s a muggy, breezy, partially cloudy spring day. In November.

I’m dreading Thursday in a way. Apparently sometime during the day tomorrow the temperature is going to begin dropping drastically, leading to some ice and/or sleet in the evening. The online weather gurus say it won’t stick, but I really believe they just make shit up every now and then. I still don’t have the big, warm pea-coat I’ve been wanting. I don’t have gloves or a scarf. C’est la vie.

Oh, that wasn’t the secret. We’ll get to that later. And it isn’t really that great of a secret or anything. So don’t drool in anticipation.

Last night I retrieved my Extra Awesome Super Cool Donut Making Kit (I altered the name to reflect my feelings on the prodcut) from my parents’ house and decided almost immediately that I would wait to make donuts until after I can go grocery shopping and purchase tons of neat things to use in them. I had my specialty – oriental ramen with peanut butter – for dinner, watched some TV, and then the food crisis began.

My roommate wanted sweet stuff. Her boyfriend wanted sweet stuff. Hell, even I was starting to want some sweet stuff. So Jennifer and I mixed up indiscriminate amounts of flour, sugar, milk, vanilla, etc. and made an interesting batter. We baked it in the donut cups and made a “glaze” of melted chocolate chips, butter and powdered sugar, and we slathered it on the perfectly formed circles. On some we sprinkled coconut on top; on others, Heath bits. I didn’t have enough room in the regular-sized donut pan for all of the donuts, so I made two in the filled donut pan and tested out the FILLING INJECTOR! RARRR! I used the frosting to inject them. It was an experiment – what can I say?

Well, the “donut” part was interesting, and it wasn’t awful, especially considering there was not even an iota of recipe involved. The frosting was oh-so-yummy. If I had photographs, I could show you – they were prettier than they tasted. Fun times.

On to my secrets.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDuring my short stint in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I worked doggedly at the local Atlanta Bread Company to make ends meet. As you can imagine, this made school pretty hard – I attended class from 8 a.m. to about 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I worked every other day of the week, usually from 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. My afternoons were free, but what good is a free afternoon if you’re worn out and want to go to bed at 7 p.m.?

Still, my coworkers were awesome, my managers were generally pretty awesome, and eventually I moved from the bakery to the sandwich line, prep position and then the weekend opening manager position.

When I did prep, I was only slightly amazed that ABC’s “gourmet” food was damn simple. You probably already know about most of these, but here are a few sauces/salads/sandwiches we made at ABC that would be ridiculously easy to replicate at home without the price tag. I don’t have photos for these things; apologies. Use your imagination. And if at some point while I’m writing this post I find some, I’ll include them. Yes!


  • Dill sauce – Use a whisk to combine equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream. Add dill to taste. I loved this condiment when I first started at ABC – it was featured on the California Avocado sandwich, and I’d put it on everything I ate. Unfortunately, stirring a bus tub of mayo and sour cream together to create this sauce kind of ruined it for me.
  • Pesto sauce – This is an obvious one. Take mayonnaise. Add pesto and stir. If it isn’t green enough for your taste, add more pesto. Keep going until it’s perfect. I still like this one on almost any sandwich. There’s nothing better than asiago cheese foccaccia, pesto sauce, turkey and veggies.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

  • Greek salad – No brainer. Chopped romaine + tomato wedges + red onions + pepperoncinis + feta cheese + kalamata olives. And, of course, “greek dressing.” Pictured!
  • Chicken or tuna salad – It made me so angry when I heard people marveling over how wonderful our chicken salad and tuna salad are. Uh, all we did was take cubed chicken (or huge cans of tuna) and add some arbitrary amount of mayo, then we added a packet of spices. Voila. Ugh.


  • California Avocado – Sundried tomato foccaccia + dill sauce + lettuce/tomato/onions + as much sliced (or smushed) avocado as you damn well please + provolone cheese
  • Chicken Pesto Panini – Split panini bread and put 1.5 slices Havarti cheddar on each side. Put 2 tomato slices on one side. Stir however much pesto sauce into fajita-style chicken strips, and put chicken on the other side. Put sides together. Grill. Yum.

I’ve revealed enough trade secrets for now, and unfortunately I’m starting to crave one of the creations I used to make for myself. I liked the turkey/pesto/Asiago creation, and I also loved making a sandwich with rye bread, hummus, spicy mustard, ham, cheddar and provolone. Oh lordy.

Ever been to an ABC? Want to know how anything’s made? Ask away.

And now for something completely different…

I have so so so so so so so so so got to try this recipe. It sounds so interesting yet wonderful. By the way, the link goes to Lex Culinaria’s Cheddar and Cranberry Cookies. Do yourself a favor and take a look.


I love Thanksgiving. It involves eating tons of food and then sprawling about, moaning and feeling absolutely massive – beautiful. This Thanksgiving I decided to make a chai cake. I simply dumped chai drink mix into a boxed white cake mix until I thought it tasted strong enough. I also bought a can of frosting, which I heated and subsequently flavored with more chai powder. I baked the cake in my new bundt pan, envisioning drizzling the frosting in a lovely manner… but it was too hot, too thin. It tasted great, but it was ugly as sin.

Anyway, I didn’t want to give up, so I cut the cake into chunks, threw it into a baking dish, poured a mixture of milk, eggs and brown sugar on top, made a brown sugar topping, and baked it into a chai cake pudding. There was also some oatmeal involved, though I can’t remember
exactly where.

It kind of looked like excrement:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

However, I assure you it did not taste like excrement. It was wonderful and eggy and cinnamony and chai-ey and crunchy brown sugary. I had plenty to take home, and my roommate helped me get rid of it.

Disaster almost struck when my mother’s rolls didn’t turn out quite right. She always makes the softest, most delicious rolls for holidays, and after a good bit of time in the bread machine the dough was still looking ridiculously soft. My mum wanted to give up, but me and my sister volunteered to fix them. We poured the wet dough into a baking sheet lined with foil, spread it out and sprinkled garlic powder, parmesan and dill (I had to fight Randi – my sis – for the dill. She thought it was horribly inappropriate).

What we ended up making looked a bit like a foccaccia. We cut it into strips, like so. They were definitely yummy.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

One thing that’s great about my family’s Thanksgiving is that we all bring tons of dessert. Actually, that’s not so great when I really think about it… This is but a portion of the dessert selection.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

My sister’s dog Bella, a Yorkie, is in heat. We had a diapered Yorkie under our feet while we were creating things in the kitchen.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And – this is exciting – we found a pie my mom had forgotten to take once we got home. It’s a peanut butter freezer pie thing – one of those involving some mixture of cream cheese, whipped cream and various flavors, then frozen. It was yummy, though.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

It was a lovely day.