Cheese Puffs and Moth Balls

Chocolate Extravaganza!

Chocolate Extravaganza! (Photo credit: Rachel Ford James)

The Daily prompt by Krista was too good to ignore today. She wants us to “Tell us about the favourite dish or food that you simply cannot turn down.”

I love a challenge–

1. Chocolate – but not all forms. Has to be just the right chocolate. I love a deep milk chocolate especially in combination with caramel and nuts—so I am crazy about O Henry bars. I love my Hostess cupcakes with that white filling that doubles as death by sugar; and chocolate covered almonds are to die for. But I am not crazy about chocolate chip muffins, or chocolate whip cream, or chocolate pudding.  And though dark chocolate is supposed to be good for you, it is a little bitter for my palate unless accompanied by my favourite winery’s rose.

cheese puffs, the soft kind

cheese puffs without moth balls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Cheese puffs – I do not indulge in these often as they are a useless snack of lost calories—but they bring back wonderful memories of childhood—but also one disturbing one: one of my grandmas always had these on hand for a snack but she kept them in the same cupboard with her mothballs. I was always so disappointed when she brought them out because I could not eat them as they seemed to taste like what I think mothballs would taste like.

3. Shrimp. Ice cold and dipped in slightly tangy shrimp sauce—I have to try to be demure at parties when these are served so as not to eat more than my fair share. I fail at this, as whenever someone asks a host where I am at a party—the answer is always “she is by the shrimp”.

4. Pineapple – I just love chunks of fresh pineapple.

5. Chili and pizza – no explanation needed.

7. Bread – it would kill me to find out that I am whatever that is that makes you eat gluten free.

8. Coca Cola – I so try to give it up. I poured it on an ivy plant once when I was in university and the plant rusted. Seriously, I did that. And then still drank it. I now have it only on occasion.

Français : Une cannette de Coca-Cola italienne...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9. In no particular order: steak, prime rib, roasted potatoes, cheesecake, cherry pie, lamb, tomatoes out of the garden, corn on the cob dripping with butter and lightly salted, lemon chicken, scallops, stuffing, gravy, cashews, honey crisp apples, butter (shades of Paula Deen), onions, mustard, …..

10. Okay my favourite food is food except for lima beans, those cute little cabbage things—brussel sprouts, canned peas, and bad pastry that does not resemble pastry.

So, do you have a favourite food, or are you like me and just basically love food of any and (mostly) all types?

Blissfully Uninspired

shelled and unshelled pecans

shelled and unshelled pecans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a bit uninspired this week for my “It is Saturday, So It Must Be Recipe Day” so I am going to propose that we have an interactive post today. You are always great at this, so I know we are going to have fun and maybe learn a few things in the process. (Well, that sounds boring, but wait….)

My sister gave me the following recipe when I told her that I had volunteered to take the dessert to a potluck. First of all: WHAT WAS I THINKING? I usually volunteer to bring the salad, or a side dish, or bread (which is what I am bringing to a dinner tonight). But no, I got a little brave, and was buoyed by Robert Allen’s somewhat goading but inspiring quote: “Everything you want is just outside of your comfort zone.”

Yay, dump cake! :)

dump cake!  (Photo credit: Ameel Khan)

So I volunteered to make dessert. Then I panicked. Of course I make desserts for my family on occasion, and have been known to make a mean birthday cake decorated with all manner of candies, but baking for people outside my family is definitely not something even close to my comfort zone. So I asked my sister Peggy for a suggestion, and she emailed me this recipe, saying it was easy and really tasted good.

It has a rather indelicate name, and should I ever actually make it I may rename it Nutty Super Wonderful Cherry and Pineapple Cake, but for today, I will stick with the name that came with the recipe:

DUMP CAKE

1 – 20 oz. can crushed pineapple with juice, undrained

1 can (21 oz.) cherry pie filling

1 pkg. classic yellow cake mix

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

½ cup (I stick) of butter or margarine

i} Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 13 x 9 inch pan

ii} Dump pineapple with juice into pan. Spread evenly.  Dump in pie filling. Sprinkle cake mix evenly over cherry layer. Sprinkle pecans or walnuts over cake mix. Dot with butter.

iii} Bake 50 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 12 – 16

Now, if you did not get the subtlety of this recipe—the word to take note of is “dump”—do not pour the ingredients into the pan, because then it would be called “Pour Cake” and that just has no personality.

No, I did not end up making this cake, but I think that I will for my husband’s birthday on March 21st as he loves cherries. The night of the potluck, I went out and bought a fancy dancey fudge chocolate bar cake decorated with chocolate curls. It was good—but I really wish I had made the dump cake.

Now here is the interactive part: this recipe probably has other renditions—if you know one, provide it for all of us interested in expanding our repertoires.

Are you familiar with this recipe or one that is blissfully similar?

~Potlucks are not for the faint of heart~

Potlucks. I love them. I was reminded of the impending holiday season yesterday at my Writers’ Group meeting, where we planned our Christmas potluck for December 14th. I am returning to my comfort zone for my contribution to potlucks and bringing a salad. After reading this post from last year, you will understand:

Fruit and berries in a grocery store, Paris, F...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cookbooks are kind of a hobby for me. I love to read about food, about exotic ingredients combined in unusual ways to create magnificence, all the while stirring 1% milk into my macaroni and cheese and warming up meatballs from the frozen section of the grocery store.

I have long made fun of my skills as a cook. I have a friend who calls me on it, saying that she thinks I use my “phantom lack of skills” to ward off any criticism of my cooking. And she is right. I am not a bad cook—my family is not starving, and I can be creative in my own right—but I am not a particularly confident cook. I attended a small get together on Saturday night—a casual dinner party, and having volunteered to bring dessert, I had visions of all kinds of delectables I could make and offer lovingly to my friends. I usually volunteer to make the salad, but in my new quest to “take risks” I offered to bring the grande finale to the dinner instead.

I told my sister of this unusual offer to make dessert and she promptly emailed me an easy and foolproof recipe fora dessert that she was sure would be a hit. She is aware of my skills, so sent something that had very few ingredients, and even fewer steps. I think that part of my problem is that I am a languid (synonym for lazy) cook, as well as a little unsure when it comes to feeding anyone outside my family.

I was determined to try the recipe. I made a list of the ingredients and was all set to buy them and “compose” a homemade dessert. Then I got cold feet. I perused the bakery section of a local grocery store and found a sinful dessert that would be sure to please. I considered putting the caramel chocolate mousse cake {with artistic chocolate curls} on a plate from home to “make it seem” as if I had baked it. But I decided instead to be honest, knowing they would see through my ruse anyway. I presented the cake unapologetically in its original packaging. These were good friends—they would understand. And they did. But they did not know the angst that went into “buying” dessert.

I never judge when people bring “prepared” food to a potluck, as I understand their trepidation. I suffer from it too. To those of you out there who either do not care what people think about your cooking (good for you) or are such good cooks that you have great confidence from years of success, I honour your commitment to “homemade” and enjoy it immensely. There is also a faction out there who is unabashedly unapologetic—as they should be. They bring offerings that may not be “from their hands but from their hearts” and I honour you too. We are all talented in different ways and being made to feel guilty because you do not make your offerings from scratch is just not hospitable.

So, this holiday season, as we all venture out to our potlucks, go with what makes your season bright and not stressful. If “homemade” is not your forte, that is what grocery stores and specialty shops are for.

Salad with Thousand Island Dressing

Salad with Thousand Island Dressing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A note: my salads are not of the iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing thrown over them ilk (though this is good and has its place). I go all out with fancy greens, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, cheese, and even, on occasion, have been known to make my own dressing. I take my commitment to bring the salad very seriously.

What do you bring to potlucks? Are you brave–or do you have tried and true recipes?

Potlucks are not for the faint of heart

Recipes

Recipes (Photo credit: pirate johnny)

Hey, if you are going to be snobbish about it, forget adding me to your list of fans. Daniel Humm, executive chef of Eleven Madison Park in New York says that people who do not have a certain “level of skill” should relegate his new cookbook to the coffee table rather than near their cook top. According to a short article in the National Post, he says that the recipes in his book require (besides skill) a “significant time commitment, a reasonably equipped kitchen, and a healthy dose of persistence”. So I assume making a meal in fifteen minutes is not a significant time commitment, and the attention span of a baby rabbit and the skill set of an impatient “get in on the table so we can chow down kind of cook” are not the proper credentials needed to cook from “Eleven Madison Park:  The Cookbook”.

Well, Monsieur Humm, methinks your cookbook is not for me. Actually, that is not altogether true—as I treat reading cook books as kind of a hobby. I love to read about food, about exotic ingredients combined in unusual ways to create magnificence, all the while stirring 1% milk into my macaroni and cheese and warming up meatballs from the frozen section of the grocery store.

I have long made fun of my skills as a cook, and I have a friend who calls me on it, saying that she thinks I use my “phantom lack of skills” to ward off any criticism of my cooking. And she is right. I am not a bad cook—my family is not starving, and I can be creative in my own right—but I am not a particularly confident cook. I attended a small get together on Saturday night—a casual dinner party, and having volunteered to bring dessert, I had visions of all kinds of delectables I could make and offer to my friends. I usually volunteer to make the salad, but in my new quest to “take risks” I offered to bring the finale to the dinner instead.

I told my sister of this unusual offer to make dessert and she promptly emailed me an easy and foolproof recipe for dessert that she was sure would be a hit. She is aware of my skills, so sent something that had very few ingredients, and even fewer steps. I think that part of my problem is that I am a languid (synonym for lazy) cook, as well as a little unsure when it comes to feeding anyone outside my family (which includes my siblings and nieces and nephews, who are kind about my efforts).

I was determined to try the recipe. I made a list of the ingredients and was all set to buy them and “compose” a homemade dessert. Then I got cold feet. I perused the bakery section of a local grocery store and found a sinful dessert that would be sure to please. I considered buying the caramel chocolate mousse cake and putting it on a plate from home to “make it seem” as if I had baked it. But then, I decided on two things: I should practice baking before I tried the recipe on my friends, even though I knew my sister would not steer me wrong; and, to be honest. I presented the cake unapologetically in its original packaging. These were good friends—they would understand. And they did. But they did not know the angst that went into “buying” dessert.

Desserts from JusQytly

Desserts from JusQytly (Photo credit: laRuth)

I never judge when people bring “prepared” food to a potluck, as I understand their trepidation. I suffer from it too. To those of you out there who either do not care what people think about your cooking (good for you) or are such good cooks that you have great confidence from years of success, I honour your commitment to “homemade” and enjoy it immensely. There is also a faction out there who is unabashedly unapologetic—as they should be. They bring offerings that may not be “from their hands but still from their hearts” and I honour you too. We are all talented in different ways and being made to feel guilty because you do not make your offerings from scratch is just not hospitable.

So, this holiday season, as we all venture out to our potlucks, go with what makes your season bright and not stressful. If “homemade” is not your forte, that is what grocery stores and specialty shops are for. Some of us will reject Chef Humm’s cookbook except as a form of light reading, and others will relish it as an instruction manual that will garner rewards, which the Chef says is possible, if you follow the recipes “exactly”. By the way, I am going to try my sister’s recipe and report back—just not under the pressure of producing a grand ending to a great meal.

Published in: on November 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm  Comments (8)  
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