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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ritz Crackers Mock Apple Pie

For some time I have been planning to post this recipe but it slipped my mind until now. MrG talked about on numerous occasions because he recalled seeing it on the back of the box of Ritz Crackers for years. He says, "When Chuck Yeager hit Mach One, Ritz Crackers achieved Mock Apple Pie."

It's something you just have to see to believe.

Mock Apple Pie

It looks like Apple Pie. I'll bet it even smells like Apple Pie with the addition of cinnamon. But there's no apples in Mock Apple Pie. The apples mock us in our stupidity from the produce drawer of the fridge. Yummy, tasty, juicy apples. Were apples truly that hard to come by in the 1960's that Ritz had to come up with an alternative for dessert?

Sadly, Mock Apple Pie is not Gluten-Free so I'm afraid all I can do is dream about this treat. *commence with the snickering*

Friday, November 21, 2008

Axl Gets The Doctor

If you missed Yahoo News (don't worry, I space it off most of the time too) you'll be glad Mr.G was paying attention.

This Sunday, November 23 2008, log on to Dr. Pepper's Website to receive a coupon for a free soda.

My suggestion is to log on early before the website overloads and crashes. I'll be able to get a good jump on the competition for soda since my Thanksgiving flight to Florida leaves prior to the buttcrack of dawn.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sweet Swap

Salt Caramels

When I received an invitation to join a Sweet Swap hosted by Liz at What's to Eat Baltimore I was excited.

Then I recalled the horror story conveyed to me years ago when an aquaintence told me the story of the Cookie Swap she had recently attended. She told of a party of women bickering around a table of treats when one woman didn't receive her 'fair amount' of cookies. Someone else had received more than her and she was having none of it! An exaggeration by the story-teller? Maybe, but the story did make me wonder if this Swap was going to be a good idea.

Liz was a brave brave woman to invite a bunch of relative strangers to her home and I let her know I thought so in an email. But she seemed undaunted and I think that put me a little more at ease.

I had quite a long drive to Liz's place - over an hour according to my mapped directions. I gave myself plenty of time to get there (because I always seem to get lost whenever I have to drive further than around the corner) and I didn't get lost once! Which meant I arrived early.

The drive was really lovely and it amazes me that all that countryside is just beyond Baltimore. Just prior to the turn-off, there were gorgeous cattle in the field and surrounding the house were acres of corn.

I got to meet two other area bloggers, Katie at CupcakeRN and Courtney at The Practical Gourmet, each of whom brought a friend, and a few members of Liz's family. Everyone was really great and no one fought over the treats though there was an amount of fun treat-stealing while the swap was happening. I picked up some great recipes that I may try to convert to gluten-free very soon since my Baking Jones is almost out of control now that autumn is here.

The Salt Caramels were a good choice since no one else brought candy. They are Gluten-free. I also brought the makings of Sugar Cookie Martinis, which were really wonderful (and Gluten-free, yay!), if unphotogenic (they look like milk in a martini glass... I know you can imagine that).

To make Sugar Cookie Martinis I mixed Vanilla Vodka, Rum (I used sugar cane rum), Butterscotch Schnapps,and Licor 43 with half & half in a shaker of ice. They were really delicious. I don't have amounts of each liquor to give. A friend had one at a bar, conveyed the ingredients to me and I mixed and taste-tested to get the amounts correct.

I have to say Thanks again to Liz, her family, and the other bloggers and guests at the Sweet Swap. You made the experience really wonderful and not at all scary!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good Friends

You know you have good friends when they secretly send the perfect gift... what could be a more perfect Halloween present than giant eyeball, candy slime with body parts, and stickers with hairy backs and armpits???

...just the fact that it's all Gluten-free!

Thank you THANK YOU Karan!

(I do apologize for the hack-editing job. I don't have the fancy photo editor I used to have.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Getting Over The Gluten Hump

My family doesn't know it, but I am systematically phasing out gluten from their dinners. It's going to take some time but making two separate dinners - one regular and one gluten-free - is getting old very quickly. I spent most of the summer not cooking anything for anyone. I ate a lot of cereal in front of the TV at 9PM. Everyone else fended for themselves. That got expensive and I'm trying to help them help me. Hopefully we'll all be a little healthier in the process.

In order to make the gluten-free transition a little smoother for everyone I'm trying to find foods that everyone will eat. If you didn't know it before, or are new to reading here, you should know that Mr.G is one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. If it isn't chicken or Italian, you can pretty much forget it. I can eat a lot of chicken but CheesePuff complains if we eat it more than two days in a row. So now, instead of winging it for dinner, I've made a little calendar of dinners and made everyone aware that it exists and where it can be found on the fridge. To my surprise, they actually read it! I suppose asking for their input was helpful in the success of the calendar and I included days when they can have Chef's Choice (that's: whatever you make for yourself is your dinner) and days when they each cook for the whole family. Cheesepuff graced us with a lovely Summer Salad (a variety of lettuces, sliced apple, and toasted almonds) just tonight.

Having the calendar also helps me to know if I have to take out meats to defrost and helps me to grocery shop less often! I already know ahead of time what I'm going to cook so I don't buy ingredients I won't need (I tended to buy a lot of pretty produce that ended up in the bottom of the crisper, forgotten). I also am learning to cook smarter - I roast a whole chicken on a weekend and save the left-overs to be used in Chicken Enchiladas another day... and I already know ahead of time which day that will be so the extra chicken doesn't go to waste before I can use it or before I remember to stick it in the freezer.

This list has been helpful on many occasions to get me through the regular grocery store when I can't make it to the Organic Market:
Gluten-Free Mainstream
It's a list of products one can typically find at a standard grocery store. If you've done any checking on the Internet for sources of gluten-free foods you'll find long, long lists of foods that are ok to safely consume. Lists are helpful but long lists make my eyes glaze over. You'll also find a lot of links for Internet ordering of gluten-free foods but who has time to grocery shop on the Internet and wait for delivery? Not this chica. This list is compiled so you can look up 'spaghetti sauce' and find brands that are tasty as well as safe. I know if I came home with a jar of spaghetti sauce that boldly stated it was Gluten-Free, Mr.G would wrinkle his nose and head for the peanut butter and Ritz crackers. However, using this list and carefully reading the ingredient list on the jar of his preferred spaghetti sauce, I realize it is indeed gluten-free and it's safe for me to eat. Of course, being spaghetti sauce, I have to cook my own
Gluten-Free pasta* or slice up some yummy Polenta to go on my plate. I tried to get them to eat Quinoa pasta, but they balked and asked to not find it on their plates again.

I've been doing a lot of reading about Celiac Disease lately and I forget where it was found, but I read that removing wheat from my diet is much like breaking an addiction and some days I really feel that. I feel I'm craving donuts, cakes, candy bars... any number of things I haven't eaten much of in a long time but now that I've told myself I can't have them at all, I want them more than ever. I did find Gluten-Free Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts by Kinnickinnc Foods at the Organic Market and they are amazingly delicious. I would never have known they were gluten-free if I found them lying on a lonely plate in the breakroom at work. I told myself this was a treat to satisfy my Gluten-Tooth (like a sweet-tooth, only different). If I tell myself a thing, it must be true, right? .

*Quinoa Spaghetti and Linguini are quite delicious, but if you followed this link, you probably saw those cute pagoda-shape pastas. I tried those and honestly, the texture and taste of them was quite different from the spaghetti. Based on my last purchase, I would probably not buy the pagodas again.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sad Realizations

Dear Friends, I'm not only sad I'm truly heart-sick.

I have lost a very VERY dear friend.

Her name is flour.

Yes, that soft, fluffy white powder that holds the butter and sugar of cakes together. For years... yes, really... years I have struggled with unusual ailments such as allergy attacks that seemed to come out of no where and abdominal pain that came on some time after breakfast every day and many times escalated to the point that I could not breathe, much less function as a normal human. I visited my doctor many times and he sent me for more tests and scans than I care to elaborate on. When all of the poking of my insides was done and there was no clear answer, he wanted to start over and do it all again.

At some point during the testing battery, I stumbled upon the Atkins Diet. I didn't feel 100% better but any improvement was like a miracle. My doctor was happy that I was complaining less and he didn't send me for more tests. But, like any diet, I got sick of the same thing every day and slid back into my old routine and back into discomfort. I asked my doctor about allergies and he told me emphatically, "No. It's not allergies. You would have a different reaction." But added, "Why don't you keep a journal of what you eat? If you find something that hurts your stomach, don't eat it."

That was it. I went home that day and started. I didn't eat much of anything at first, which is a little scary when you think of it... But, I finally came up with quite a list of foods that hurt when I ate them. And they were so random! At least that's what I thought until I began really looking at this thing called Celiac Disease. I heard about it quite frequently and even worked with a woman who said she had it and while she new she shouldn't eat bread, she sometimes still did anyway, knowing she would suffer later. Hearing about a thing and actually relating it to yourself are two very different things, I assure you.

Then I read this book.

Find it at Amazon.

All my sudden allergy attacks and digestive ailments started to make sense for once. I began reading the ingredients list of foods I had in my cupboards and refrigerator and threw out or set aside to donate any containing wheat, rye, barley, malt... anything that was likely to cause a problem for me. Luckily, there were a few items I still had around or I think I would have simply gone crazy because I'll be honest, some of my favorite foods contain hidden wheat and I have to cut out every one of them all at once!

So now what?

I have been living Gluten-Free for one week, except when we went out to dinner. I tried to be good. I didn't think a steak and baked potato would have some wheat secreted in there, but I knew it by the time I got home from the restaurant.

I can tell you, even if Doc refuses to diagnose me with Celiac Disease, I can't go back to eating wheat.

That is going to be a big problem for me, and I don't have an answer yet.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Halloween at Michael's

Michael's Craft Store is one of my favorite places to browse at Halloween. They have an extensive collection of animated mini-village scenes in stores that are really cool. Apparently you can't buy them on the Michael's website.

This year Michael's has a nice variety of Martha Stewart craft products. If you have been unable to muddle through the copying of her stencils in the Martha Stewart craft magazines or website, Michael's now makes them for you.

A few treasures made it into my shopping basket including some Martha Stewart Baking Cups. Because one can never have too many cute papers for cupcakes.

The four styles you see on the right come in one pack of the Martha Baking Cups. There are two more packs of Baking Cups on the lower left that are Wilton. Only one of these styles was available when I checked the Michael's website and none were available on the Wilton website.

I found a couple of fun candies that I hadn't seen at Michael's before. Slithering Snake Suckers from Bee International were surprisingly affordable. The 12-inch snake (stop snickering, fools) was under $1.50. The flavor key on the package reverse says the candy snake can be found in

Green = Apple
Red & White = Strawberry
Black & Orange = Grape
Orange & Yellow = Orange

On my trip, there were only two snake flavors available so I'll keep an eye out for other varieties (more shopping? Why, it's research for my blog... really Dear!).

I also found Halloween Gummy Tape Worms from Kandy Kastle. Two tasty gummy worms in one pack. I didn't see varieties of this pack but inside my pack were an orange worm that tasted like orange and a green worm that tasted like lime. Each flavor worm can be pulled independently of the other so you could just eat your favorite or share with a friend (or fiend).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ch- Ch- Ch- Changes

You know how sometimes you get a really great idea about something in the middle of the night or during a dream and you don't take the time to write it down thinking, "This is so amazing I could never forget something like this." Then the next time you're thinking about that particular thing it seems so much less amazing and you wish like crazy you could recall your exact original idea? Well that's where I'm. Full of all kinds of great dreams and ideas and no time to stop and write them all down.

Over the summer I decided to leave the bakery and go back to working full time in a factory. Prior to my Pastry and Cake work I was a Quality Inspector for various types of factory-made products. Currently, it's electronic circuit boards.

My decision to leave the bakery was not an easy one. I still very much love the hustle of the kitchen environment. Thankfully, one of my Bakery Managers has enough heart to keep me and allows me come in and play around with the cakes on occasion. It's tough cutting back though. I still have that itch to bake and create. I guess my new co-workers and my blog readers will be the beneficiaries of my creative outlet.

I have been getting back up to speed with my fellow bloggers (because losing my old computer with all the great blog links really stunk) and I see some of them are going through changes as well. Change can be a good thing. How boring would we be if we we never changed, eh? A long time ago, a really smart man I knew had a plaque on his wall that read, "Do what you've always done and you'll get what you've always got." I try to remind myself of this when something changes that I'm not yet prepared to face.

With all this said, I hope you're assured this goofy blog will continue on, until that changes too. Baking, cooking, a little gardening sometimes, and lots of silly, crazy, edible stuff I find around the Internet or in my local dollar store will continue to trickle in here. Oh, and don't forget, Halloween is right around the corner. I hope to share some of that with you too.

Thanks for reading here. I'll try to keep it up.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Halloween Stinks

Get in the mood early.

Halloween fragrance by Jesus Del Pozo at

Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Shower Gel at Bath & Body Works

Halloween Bath Set from Colorful

A message to the Googler from Antioch, California...
Gummy Fetus candy? I like your thinnin' Baba Louie but it doesn't seem to have been invented yet. Why? Cuz it's really sick to want to eat a fetus. Even a candy one.
Other baby-theme candies to try:
Baby Bottle Pop
Sugar Babies
Lollipops in the shape of baby feet
Cry Baby gumballs
Gummy Sea Babies
Licorice Babies
Chocolate Babies (sic)
Baby Stick Climbers
and a product I'm not familiar with: Baby Lucas Candy from Mexico in flavors of Mango, Spicy Orange and Chamoy (Isn't that what I dry my car with after a wash?)

I have answered a question about storing Confectioner's Sugar at Ask a Pastry Chef

Friday, August 15, 2008

Rey Mysterio Jr. Cherry Jalapeno Cup Cake

Rey Mysterio Jr. is a spicy little cupcake doing the famous 619 move. I’ve made a spicy cup cake in his honor.

In order to fulfill my personal tall order of creating a dessert or cupcake to meet the requirements of two very different contests, I had to do some fancy thinkin’. The Bake-off hosted by Bake & Destroy had a very tight deadline. In trying to break my blogger’s block I probably needed the tight deadline to keep myself on track and not procrastinate as I’m prone to do [ahem] once in a while.

So here are the rules I needed to follow:
Slush, the creator of the contest Cupcake Hero says,” While I am still on Cupcake Hero hiatus, we have 2 very cool hosts for the month. Rachel of Tangerine Tart and Teri of the 90/10 rule. I am always super excited to see what other people will chose as the theme. To say that I raised an eyebrow when I read the email with their choice would be completely accurate. I seriously thought, huh?? However, the Hero isnt meant to be easy. I give you the theme ingredient for August…Jalapeno
So here’s the deal–
*You must incorporate jalapeños in your entry.
*You may use jalapeños in any form.
*Sweet cupcakes only, no savory. (sorry, Bacon-Cheddar-Jalapeño-Salsa-Cornbread variations) “
Bake & Destroy’s Sugar Slam! The sweetest wrestling-themed bake-off on the entire Internet. Yeah. In your face, other baking contests! Create a wrestling-themed dessert that entertains me and you win.
Um, that’s all. I don’t really like rules. If it’s sugary and wrestling-themed it’s eligible.

I hope that Rachel and Teri don’t think it’s cheating to use a box cake mix. I’m normally really a stickler for making everything from scratch but I have never tried to convert the list of dry ingredients in my vanilla cake into a box-mix format. Perhaps that can be for another blog. I also hope they don’t realize that what I have made is Dump Cake in a cup. SHHhhhhh

The Recipe

Cherry Jalapeno Cup Cake

2 Pounds Bing cherries, pitted & chopped
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 Cup water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Bring to a boil over medium heat then continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by half, about 40 minutes.

Then add
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ Cup Jalapeno jam*

Remove from heat and stir in
¼ Cup Kirsch or other cherry brandy

Divide the cherry mixture among 4 large café cups.

1 stick salted butter, melted
1 box yellow cake mix
Sprinkle over the top of the cherry mixture then sprinkle
¾ Cup slivered almonds, if desired

Place the filled cups in a water bath and bake at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until the topping becomes golden brown.

Ceramic cups are typically not oven safe however, placing the cups in a water bath protects them from heating too quickly which can cause cracking or shattering. Place the filled cups in a baking pan then place the whole works on the oven shelf then fill the baking pan with hot water then carefully slide it to the middle of the oven. I’ve seen this done before but was still quite nervous about it. You can see the cups fared just fine.

Be very careful when taking the pan out of the oven after baking. Not much water evaporates during baking and 350 degree water is really hot, if you didn’t already figure that out.

*I used only ¼ cup of the Jalapeno jam in my filling because I wanted a little heat but if you’re really into hot stuff, add whatever amount suits your taste. I bought the jam at my local Amish Farmer’s market and the ingredients are: Red peppers, sugar, corn syrup, Jalapeno peppers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, pectin, citric acid. Straight out of the jar it is spicy but still a bit sweet.

The cherries and spices of this dish marry surprisingly well with the Jalapeno. When you’re looking for a summer dessert to bring to the neighborhood Mexican-themed block party, double the filling and place it in a 9x13 cake pan. Sprinkle on the cake mix, drizzle with melted butter, almonds and bake for 25 minutes. Arriba!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Grommie Returns

Mwahaha... [creepy music]

Rather than bore you with a lot of blather about where I've been and why all two of my adoring fans should continue reading here I'll tantalize you the promise of a new recipe in the next couple of days.
I'm trying to make it under the dead (get it? dead) line for a couple of interesting baking competitions I found.
One from Cupcake Hero (I've entered Slush's contests before).
One from Bake & Destroy.

Check them out and see if you can imagine how I will work those contests into one big tasty concoction. Then come back to see what I actually came up with.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Funky Kraut

Whew! This space is beyond funky with that sauerkraut hanging around for months on end.
Watch for updates coming very soon! Promise.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sauerkraut Website

This website has lots of tasty sauerkaut recipes... including desserts!
Got a sauerkraut recipe to share? Send it to them and they may publish your recipe.

I've been working hard testing chocolate icing recipes and I'll be getting those results up soon at: Ask a Pastry Chef

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