Monthly Archives: March 2009

Mocha Fudge Pudding

This little dessert is one of those things that you can whip up and have in the oven while you are eating dinner. By the time the dinner is eaten, the dishes are done, and the kids are in bed, you get to sit down with a warm bowl of loving chocolate. Add a dollop of ice cream and you are right smack in the middle of downtown Bliss.

My grandmother Hilda told me about this recipe first. Hilda has a sweet tooth that is unequaled. Her advice, “Don’t eat the whole thing in one day, like I did.”  Apparently, doing that can lead to issues with your innards, so I would avoid that route. Be warned, though, it will be tough.

Since I first tried this recipe, I have since seen dozens of variations (even a lemon version).

A little advice: it will look like a hot mess when you put it in the oven. Between the batter, the crumbs sprinkled over it and the hot coffee poured on top, you will believe in your heart that you have messed up the recipe or that I, vertigob, have sent you down a primrose path. Fear not, my little puppies, when you open the oven, you will find, as if by magic, a puffy cake, floating on the most amazing hot chocolate sauce you have ever eaten. So be brave and enjoy!

Mocha Fudge Pudding

1 cup flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp. cocoa

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp. melted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 cup hot, strong coffee

Blend flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Stir well.

Add milk, butter and vanilla. Mix well.

Spoon into 8 well-greased custard cups or a well-greased 8-inch square pan.

Combine brown sugar and cocoa. Sprinkle evenly over batter.

Pour 2 tablespoons of coffee over batter in each cup or 1 cup coffee over batter in pan.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

Die a little with each bite you take because this dessert is so wonderful.

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Chicken, Gravy and Biscuits

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Left to right: Grace, Alice and Hilda (my grandmother) circa 1938.

Don’t the look they The Three Graces?(thanks Wikipedia.org!)

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This recipe is one of the perennial favorites in our house.

I have very fond memories of my great aunt Alice making this when we stopped to see her one day. You could just tell she would have made this meal if we were coming or not. A hot meal at lunch time was THAT important to her. We were just stopping in for a visit, but she insisted that we stay for a meal. Well, she earned my eternal admiration when she pulled out all the stops and served up Chicken, Gravy and Biscuits.

She was a truly great lady. She did not believe in dry cleaning. She figured if you couldn’t wash it in the washer and dry on the clothes line or in a dryer, it wasn’t worth having. I loved her a great deal. She was no nonsense. She baked her biscuits on a cake pan turned upside down. Oh how I loved finding that out!

She also did the New York Times Crossword Puzzle every Sunday…in INK! I actually witnessed her, sitting and working intently until she got the whole thing done. She was so dedicated and did not even look up until she had that think licked. We all just sat around talking while she toiled away.

She was married to Jimmy who was my grandfather’s dearest friend. Jimmy was a bit of a troublemaker and a bit of a rabble rouser. He refused to use a map. He believed the compass was good enough. He called my Aunt Alice “Sally.”

They were one of those couples that you see walking, and even though they are pushing eighty, they are still holding hands. And they are holding hands because they want to, not because they need to. I love love love those couples.

I can only hope that Mr. Smith and I are lucky enough to end up that way. That is the plan, anyway.

So, here’s the deal.

Get yourself some chicken. You can start with raw chicken, if you are feeling terribly industrious. If you don’t have much time, or you hate dealing with raw chicken, go get a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. It works just fine and cuts your prep time to virtually nothing.

You can use this method to cook the chicken.

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It is so handy and can be done well in advance. Just get some heavy duty foil, put it on a cookie sheet, add some carrots, celery and onion. Peel the carrots, get a few stalks of celery and cut the onion into nice size chunks, nothing fancy. Make a “raft” in the center of the foil. Put the raw, skinless, boneless chicken breasts on top of the vegetables.

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Seal up the foil so that you have a nice packet. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. You will have some beautiful broth, some nicely steamed veggies and some cooked chicken ready to use in any number of ways.

You can go ahead and use it for Chicken a la King, which I highly recommend you try. Very nice for a large group.

Or you can just cut up the chicken, make yourself some gravy and serve it over biscuits. You can even use the herb biscuit recipe that Emeril used with the Chicken a la King.

This gravy recipe is pretty much fool proof. I have doubled it, I use it for Mr. Smith’s Turkey Pot Pie, we have it every Thanksgiving.

It is unfortunately called Zippity Doo Dah Gravy. I didn’t name it.

4 Tablespoons margarine

4 Tablespoons flour

2 cups water

2 teaspoons Chicken Better Than Buillion

Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan. Stir the flour in to make a nice roux. Wisk in the water and then add the buillion. Just keep stirring it until it thickens to the consistency that you like. Some people like thicker gravy. My father, heaven help me, likes thin gravy. Don’t ask me why.

Once you have your gravy, cut up your chicken and stir it into the gravy. Are you getting hungry yet?

Now all you need is your very favorite baking powder biscuits, baked to perfection.

Split one or two of those babies and spoon the Chicken and Gravy over them.

After you swoon and recover, eat, enjoy and wax poetic about how wonderful simple food can be.

You are welcome!

Dessert Shot Cuteness

Little Puddin' Shots

We bought these little shot glasses several months ago and put them in the cupboard that no one can reach. It got really dusty up there. I am talking DUSTY. The shelf is in the top of the cupboard in the laundry room, we are talking huge amounts of lint and I had to climb on the washer. I am vertically challenged, after all.

But they keep niggling away at me. The idea of what I wanted to do with them.

Ever since I saw the photos of the dessert shots in the King Arthur Catalog, I have been on a mission. I wanted to make some dessert shots. I wanted something with pudding, or cheesecake filling, or berries, or butterscotch, or, or, or…the possibilities are ENDLESS! You could make a dessert shot BAR! How much fun would THAT be?

Today, in honor of Mr. Smith getting his staples out, and getting poor Leftie manhandled (sorry, honey, but he is a doctor!) I decided to go where no vertigob has gone before.

The results were a huge success. And, can I just say, terminally cute? These things are ridiculously CUTE!! The cuteness just makes me want to scream, that is how damn cute they are.

So, to start I just wanted something simple. Mr. Smith is always looking for a homogenous experience (no lumps or crunchy parts, please). So I just got some Nabisco Famous Wafers, some Chocolate Instant Pudding and some Cool Whip and layered them using a long-handled ice tea spoon.

Luckily, these shot glasses can be ordered with tiny little cuter than cute spoons to eat the desserts. I would recommend them. That way, you can make sure to get EVERY tasty morsel of dessert. Life is short, make sure to get every morsel!

If you haven’t used the Famous Wafers before, they are like the outside of the Oreo cookies without that troublesome greasy “frosting.” Nuff said. They are to die for and you can use them to make all kinds of crusts (pie, dessert, etc.) or you can just eat them when you have PMS and don’t have any other chocolate in the house. Of course, I don’t know anyone that would do such a thing. I would never associate with such a person! Please…I have more self respect than to hide in the kitchen, eating chocolate wafers in the middle of the night! Or something like that. Or, dipping them in peanut butter. Or spreading them with softened ice cream. That, all those things would be wrong wrong wrong.

Okay, enough! I am sure I will be posting more about these glasses in the future. Stay tuned!

Post post: Pop Pop believes that these are far too small. It is his opinion that they need to be about four times the size and the spoons need to be larger too. Some people just miss the point completely!

Spicy Cheese Fondue

Mr. Smith goes absolutely crazy for this fondue. It is so easy and believe me, it is better than The Melting Pot has to offer (at less than half the price, thankyouverymuch).

This is our new Superbowl tradition, even though we don’t generally watch the game. We are PuppyBowl people around here. I am not proud of the fact, it is what it is. I married the only man in the world that isn’t into sports. Whoopie!

So skip the over priced restaurant that wants you to COOK YOUR OWN DINNER (thanks I can do that at home for FREE!). You don’t have to use the slow cooker, I use a sauce pan on the stove and it works just fine. Either way, go for it!

1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 pound sharp cheese, shredded

1 (12 oz.) can beer

1 clove garlic, minced

1 can (4 oz.) green chilies and/or chopped jalapeno peppers to taste

Mix flour with chili powder and toss over shredded cheeses. Pour beer into slow cooker and cover with shredded cheese mixture. Place garlic, green chilies and jalapenos, if desired, over cheese, but do not stir until cheese has begun to melt.

Serve with cubed french bread, green apples, baby carrots, broccoli, and tortilla chips.

Mr. Smith’s Perfect Chocolate Bundt Cake

Well, the news was all good. The tumor was benign! We can all celebrate the fact that Mr. Smith is well and is on the mend. He is still a little swollen, bruised and in pain, but that is temporary. Get the ticker tape parade ready!

Ok, they probably don’t have those anymore. Seeing as how they probably don’t use ticker tape machines anymore. Not in the age of the internets!

In honor of Mr. Smith’s surgery/reprieve from the governor, I am going to share his favorite cake recipe.

The great story about this cake is that Mr. Smith used to wax poetic about the chocolate bundt cake that my mother-in-law used to make. Now, my mother-in-law is not someone that could ever be described as domestic or maternal. Okay, you have all heard about those mothers in the animal kingdom that eat their young? That’s her.

Apparently, in one of her more nurturing moments she used to make this cake (or a version of it). Of course, as many of you know, we no longer have any contact with my delightful mother-in-law that doesn’t include lawyers or law enforcement. She is a real gem.

Obviously, with a family like that, we aren’t exactly having coffee together and trading recipes. Quite frankly, I would be afraid to engage in such an exchange.

So, here I was with my dear Mr. Smith. He wanted his favorite cake. He missed his favorite cake. So into the archives I dove and I came up with this one.

Another recipe from my mother’s dear friend Susan. This cake is a real heart-stopper, not much nutritional value, but it is yummy. The amazing part, Mr. Smith LOVES it. It is exactly the right recipe. I was able to recreate his beloved bundt cake and recapture his youth. The happy part!

I had done an end run around the evil mother-in-law and it pleased me to no end!

The funniest part was when my father-in-law found I out I had made the cake. He was astonished that I had the recipe. She would never give it to the likes of me!

HA! I may be delayed, but I will NOT be stopped!

So, here is the mythical cake in all its glory. Make to celebrate something and have a happy Monday!

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

Mix together:

4 eggs

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup oil

1 cup sour cream

Add: 1 small package chocolate instant pudding

Then add: 1 package yellow cake mix

Last add: 1 cup chocolate chips (or more if you are feeling sassy and Mr. Smith usually is)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour in greased floured bundt or tube pan or 2 loaf pans.

Slice and store in plastic air tight containers to avoid the cake drying out.

That Graham Cracker Thing

This dessert is one for the ages. Mr. Smith refers to it as “That Graham Cracker Thing.”

So easy, so so so so very very yummy, addictive even and sort of healthy. Okay, not exactly healthy, but as desserts go, it is more healthy than most. Also, you can dictate exactly how sinful you want to make it.

It Graham Crackers, vanilla pudding mixed with Cool Whip and topped with easily the SWEETEST chocolate frosting you will ever encounter. Just like an eclair.

This is one of those that people will beg you to make. You will find yourself pining for it. Even when you make a lowish-cal version, it tastes soooooo decadent. Mix it up a little and try a different flavor of pudding, it could work. I have even used cinnamon graham crackers a few times and it was AMAZING!

Make it to take for a pot luck dinner. Make it for dessert after Sunday dinner. Make it and eat the whole thing yourself and don’t feel guilty for a moment. Okay, maybe for a moment, but it will pass, I assure you.

I would strongly advise that you make this ahead of time. I am talking a bare minimum of 4 hours, but 6 or so is much better. Once you have tasted it, it is extremely hard to wait that long, but it is worth it.

Leave the house, take a drive, go shopping and try to forget about it. Even though you won’t, it will be a lovely thing to come home to.

I served this when my cousin Denise and her husband David were visiting one time, and to quote David, “Now, this is what I call dessert!”

You know, just writing about this is making me want it again. I will have to make it this weekend and post some photos.

Maybe I will make it as a little boo boo present for Mr. Smith after his surgery.

Awesome White Chicken Chili

I am generally not a big fan of chili. Ok, truth be told, I hate the stuff. Its all red and meaty and yucky. Sorry. Not very appetizing for a food/cooking blog.

Kidney beans freak me out. First of all, there is that name. Do I really want to eat anything with the word “kidney” in it? Nope. Not going to eat actual kidneys, can’t really stomach the kidney beans. They are big and have a pasty, grainy thing going on that I just can’t tolerate.

Also, so many chili recipes have beef in some form in them and I am just not down with the red meat in soup notion. Call me neurotic, call me a picky eater…and you would probably be right on both counts.

This chili recipe is in a word…awesome!

It is from Cooking Light, so it is pretty healthy. It is also the tastiest chili I have ever eaten. In my opinion, you just can’t go wrong with cumin, the stuff is such a great flavor. It adds such a great spicy flavor without heat that I love.

I made this when my cousin and his family were here for dinner. It is one of those recipes that is very easily doubled and you will be so glad that you did.

When I worked in an office (like about a million years ago, or maybe just four years ago) I would take this for lunch. After I warmed it in the microwave, everyone would be very jealous and asking what I was having. Pretty ringing endorsement, if you ask me!

Go ahead, try some White Chicken Chili, you know you want to!