Tag Archives: Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic

OKMHHOU: The Great Reunion

OKMHHOU - Group Snap

I love this photo! What’s most notable is not the colorful donkey piñata (whom we named Kevin), but that all seven of our OKMH (One Kitchen Many Hearts) crew are in the same place at the same time for the first time ever. That’s right. We all gathered here in Houston so that we could gaze upon each other’s faces live & in person for the first time ever. Granted, some of us have met over the past 3 1/2 years since we met via The Pioneer Woman‘s website, but never have we all been in the same place at once. Until now. But let’s start at the very beginning. In a galaxy far, far away…. no, wait. That’s another saga.

Once upon a time, about 3 1/2 years ago, several of us started reading The Pioneer Woman‘s website. And during that time, we began to reply to one another’s comments, or comment on the recipes each of us would upload to the Tasty Kitchen page. Over time, we began to write our own blogs and continued to comment and subscribe to each other’s blogs. That gradually morphed into closer friendships via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Eventually, we all joined Group Me (an instant messaging app) where we began to share even more personal aspects of our lives. Things we wouldn’t share on the Internet for everyone to see. Personal things. Things you share with your closest girlfriends. And eventually, we became more like sisters.

Before the girls arrived, I made two keepsake crafts for them – handmade monogrammed pillowcases and toast-themed coasters (aka Toasters). Pinterest – it’s where the magic begins.

OKMHHOU - Pillowcases

OKMHHOU - Toast Coasters

Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic was the first to arrive. This was actually her second visit; she came last May for a long weekend. We joke that we are Sisters From Other Misters. She came in from Michigan around noon. When she left that morning, her journey involved black ice on the highway and a night spent with family in another city to ensure she could get a plane out. Once here, it was sunny and 70F and we were dining on burgers on the patio at Good Company Taqueria. The Polar Vortex can bite it.

OKMHHOU - Kirsten @ Lunch

After lunch, we drove home to prep a Mexican fiesta banquet for the others because nothing says “Thanks for flying all day” like a fiesta and a pitcher of Mexican Martinis. This is where things got dicey. The remaining five of our group (Madelyn from La Petite Pancake, Megan from Country Cleaver, Beka from Kvetchin’ Kitchen, Allison from Decadent Philistines and Kat from Tenaciously Yours) were subjected to all kinds of drama. First, three of them were delayed in Denver due to high winds. It all worked out, though barely in Allison’s case, and they all 3 boarded the same plane from Denver to Houston. Kat came from the tundra of Minnesota where the roads were treacherous, but the airport was up and running. Let it be noted that Minnesota knows how to winter. Ice and 8′ of snow? They barely flinch. Madelyn, from the LA area, flew straight in. No sweat. Californians make everything look easy.

But wait – there’s more! After being blown away that they had scheduled all their flights to arrive within 30 minutes of each other, they gathered at baggage claim and made their way to the car rental shuttle. Our group had made a reservation for a 7-passenger Dodge Caravan minivan for the weekend. As soon as Madelyn stepped up to the counter to get the car, the entire building lost power. I’ll let the others explain what occurred since they were there in person, but let’s just say the rental company failed us. There was no car rented and the cab called by the rental company charged them $115 to drive them one-way to my house that night (which they were told would be reimbursed but still haven’t been). If ever a group of ladies deserved a pitcher of margaritas, this was it.

The next morning, Madelyn & Kat spent at least 2 hours on the phone with Customer Care only to be shifted from number to number, each time getting yet another disinterested service rep. After two hours, the bottom line was no rental van, a strong probability they would be forced to eat the cab fare, and no car to use for our planned day trip to Brenham. Finally, we resolved it by canceling the reservation from hell and calling another rental company near my home. It cost twice as much and ended up being a 10 passenger panel van, but hey… it was wheels and they were great to deal with. Thank you Walter at Avis! Of course, we took Kevin the Piñata Donkey with us everywhere.

OKMHHOU - Party Van Collage

For our first full day together, we were off to the Hill Country and Brenham, Texas where we met up with Katie from The Hill Country Cook. We had so much fun! We hit a few antique shops and bought a few blog props, then hit Must Be Heaven for lunch. It’s a family owned sandwich shop that also has an old-fashioned ice cream counter and a case full of pies. What is not to love about that? I chose the daily special consisting of a slice of quiche (I chose the bacon, cheese & mushroom) and a bowl of soup (broccoli cheese).

OKMHHOU - Lunch at Must Be Heaven

Then we dove into the pie case. Together, we tried the Dutch apple pie, the cherry, a lemon meringue and a slice of chess pie. Madelyn opted for an ice cream cone and although I don’t remember what it was called (something something Mexican cheesecake maybe?) I’ll never forget her face while she was eating it. When asked if it was vanilla, Mads said something like “It looks like vanilla, but it tastes like heaven in my mouth.” Ringing endorsement indeed. A cookie made it in there, too, but my focus was on the pie. I love pie.

OKMHHOU - Desserts at Must Be Heaven

After lunch, we had no choice but to walk it off with more shopping. Here in Texas, we love our state. Not just “Oh, it’s great here” but in a more rabid “Our state is the best. Long live the Republic!” way. As such, we hang lone stars and things shaped like Texas in the same way others hang family photos. Case in point – this wall hanging made from vintage Texas license plates. Because the only thing better than Texas stuff is Texas stuff layered on more Texas stuff.

OKMHHOU - License Plate State

It wasn’t all antiques and rusty metal, though. There were hats, vintage clothing, baubles & beads, sandals & flip-flops and crocheted vests galore. Also food blog props, vintage literature and a handful of Christmas ornaments were involved. We stayed so busy shop-hopping that when we finally slowed down enough for a few of the ladies to try on clothes, the rest of us hit the sofas and took advantage of a Twitter & Instagram break. As we like to say, “Snaps or it didn’t happen!”

OKMHHOU - Twitter Break

When we eventually noticed that the shops were closing and the streets were rolling up, we said a sad farewell to our buddy Katie. So happy she joined us! Top Row: Kirsten, Allison, Me & Beka. Bottom Row: Megan, Kat, Katie & Mads.

OKMHHOU - Group in Brenham

We waved goodbye and crawled back into the panel van to head home. On the way, we impulse stopped at Buc-ee’s – the greatest convenience store on earth. Why? 1) ladies’ restrooms with 30+ stalls featuring full wood doors, complete privacy, individual hand sanitizer dispensers and a full-time cleaning crew. 2) clothing department with beaver emblazoned t-shirts, cammo everything and beer koozies to match. 3) full-size BBQ grills, Lodge cast iron cookware and a cooking/cookbook area. 4) an entire aisle devoted to jerky. 5) Beaver Nuggets – both caramel corn & the nugget equivalent of Flaming Hot Cheetos. They’re seriously addictive. What’s truly hilarious is while we were in Buc-ee’s near Hempstead, Katie was simultaneously hitting Buc-ee’s on Highway 71.

One kitchen, many hearts. Many kitchens, one mind. It’s spooky, really.

OKMHHOU - Buc-ee's Stop

Back at the ranch, we feasted on TCP’s brisket, sausage, beans, slaw, and all the sauces & relish tray items you can imagine. If it could be pickled, it was probably there. We also cracked open the Shiner and assorted beers on ice. When we were filled to the brim and crying for mercy, The Complete Package broke out the homemade peach cobbler and Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. Lord, I love that man.

Sunday, we slept late and were treated to French toast waffles. The recipe isn’t on the blog yet, but it’s coming soon. After snarfing up waffles and enough bacon to make your eyes roll back in your head, we hit the road for Alvin, Texas. On the way, we stopped at Rustic Metal Works where we checked out the cute lawn art, wall hangings and assorted hardware. And since there was a taco truck right next door, we decided to stop for a snack that included one 5-piece taco plate with salsas, one lingua taco (tongue) and a chicharrón (pork rind) taco. Following the Blogger’s Rule, first we photographed and then we dug in.

OKMHHOU - Taco Truck Snacks

After passing the wet-wipes and blowing out a flip-flop, we made a quick pit stop at Walmart for replacement footwear and to take in the local color (read: topless woman in a pickup truck). From there, we hit the antique mall to shop for more blog props and household items we couldn’t live without. I found this vintage locker basket and fell in love. For $20, I couldn’t resist and now it’s on my sewing table holding fabric and ribbons. Love it!

OKMHHOU - Locker Basket for Fabric

Since Kirsten’s visit last May, we have cooed over the miniature donkeys near my house more times than I can count, so of course we had to take the others to visit. Luckily, when we arrived they were in the meadow close to the road and we even got an up-close encounter with two of them. They are beyond adorable. Keep in mind when you view the photos – these donkeys are full-grown adults. The baby we saw last May was the size of a cocker spaniel. That’s right, people – the babies are practically pocket donkeys and I adore them.

OKMHHOU - Field of Miniature Donkeys

OKMHHOU - Miniature Donkeys Coming to Visit

OKMHHOU - Allison & Beka Pet the Donkeys

Mads & Megan - Petting Donkeys

OKMHHOU - Donkey Close-Up

OKMHHOU - Megan & the Donkeys

Two out of two tiny donkeys agree: ear scratches are the best.

Monday was another late start. Over many coffees and a few chai teas, we pulled together the breakfast we’d dreamed of while planning our weekend – The Biscuit Bar. We made a big tray of buttermilk biscuits, a pan of sausage gravy, and pulled all the jams & jellies out of the fridge. Oh, and there was more bacon. Of course.

After breakfast, we broke out the packing supplies and the flat-rate boxes, and packed up everything that couldn’t or wouldn’t fit in suitcases. It was frantic. And hilarious. And Mads & I both scored a bag of Beaver Nuggets that wouldn’t pack. Hooray for Bonus Nugs!

OKMHHOU - Packing Suitcase Overruns

The only thing left was a return trip to Rustic Metal Works to rescue a flying pig. You see, Beka fell in love but talked herself out of it. Then we were distracted by street tacos, and it was decided that if she still woke up the next morning thinking of her new spirit animal, we would go back for him. Arriving to find the place locked up (closed Mondays) was like listening to air slowly released from a balloon. Luckily, if it fits it ships, so I agreed to go back later in the week and rescue a pig. Meet Al Porccino.

OKMHHOU - Al Porccino Comes Home

He’s adorable. And speaking of Beka, she had my name for our last OKMH box exchange. Check out my package. (Stop giggling.)

OKMHHOU - OKMH Box Items

That’s an assortment of hot sauces from her recent trip to Mexico, a bag of Australian Jungle Jellies, assorted bars of chocolates (not sharing), a bottle of Mexican vanilla, and a squirrel ornament from our day in Brenham. Perfect.

And so, after four days of endless chatter, late nights, very little sleep, way too much food and a few bottles of wine, beer and bubbles, our first live & in person One Kitchen Many Hearts weekend came to a close. It was fun. It was heartfelt. And it was way too short. Anyone who says friendships formed on the internet aren’t real are doing it wrong. These ladies are my friends, and I couldn’t love them more. We may be different shapes, ages and personalities, but that’s what makes us work as a group. We fill each others gaps. We support each other, both on our blogs and in our personal lives. It may have started with random comments on a website, but it has grown into so much more. I treasure these ladies, and it was really hard to watch that huge panel van drive away. If you don’t believe me, just ask Kevin.

OKMHHOU - Goodbye is Never Easy

I seriously can’t wait to do it again next year! I’ll bring Kevin.

OKMHHOU - The End

To see what the other ladies posted from our weekend, visit:
Megan at Country Cleaver
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic
Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World
Mads at La Petite Pancake
Kat at Tenaciously Yours

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Things I Love, Travel Tales

It’s Beer Week! Wait… what?!?

You heard me… Beer Week. And I’m not a beer drinker. There, I said it. It feels good to put it out there from the very beginning. My name is NanaBread and I am not a beer drinker. I never really have been, except for this one time in Fayetteville, Arkansas in the very early 80’s when I drank half-frozen slushy beer loaded with green olives. And it was delicious. If you’re not a drinker, stay with me. There’s a cake later in this post. I promise.

When Beer Week was proposed by my blogging friends and I was intimidated. But then I made beer bread and saw a few chocolate stout cakes on Pinterest, so after some research I embraced our Beer Week with open arms. In fact, I embraced it so well I ordered and drank two beer samplers on vacation in Vancouver. Here’s what I tried (for the team, of course):

The Sampler at Granville Island Brewing Co., Vancouver

Yeah. Doesn’t look like something a non-beer drinker would order, does it? For this one, The Complete Package helped out. It was a good plan – he enjoyed the boring flavors (pale ale, lager) and I enjoyed sampling the more exotic flavors (raspberry, honey, maple cream). Check this out:

The laminated Tasting Map was the best coaster ever & so informative!

What I liked best about this Granville Island Brewing sampler was that their flavored beers were gently flavored. Raspberry beer can be obnoxious, but this one was gently kissed with raspberry flavor. And it was lovely. My favorite was the maple cream ale. Second favorite was the one placed in the “Limited Release” section of the tasting mat – Ginger. Mmmm… ginger. And third place goes to the honey lager. Hard to describe, but so very easy to drink.

Next up (and several days later, I promise) was the Irish sampler from Mahony & Sons at Canada Place in Vancouver. The Complete Package abandoned me and ordered his own beer, so I was on my own for this sampler. I did what any team player would do – I cracked my knuckles and rolled my head to loosen up my shoulders and dug in. “We can do this!” It’s our family motto. TCP’s beer:

He wanted something light to go with salmon. Tsk.

Compared to his, mine looks like a Party on a Plank. This one included four Irish classics – 6 ounces each of Smithwick’s, Harp, Kilkenny and Guinness.

Slainte! (SLAHN-chə) – that’s Old Irish for ‘good health’ or something like that

I started with the pale lager and worked my way up to the Guinness.

Light & refreshing, but still a lager. Meh.

Then the Kilkenny Irish Red Cream Ale.

Oooo… I liked this one a lot; so I set it aside so I could savor it later.

Third – the Smithwick’s.

Smithwick’s Irish Ale – it was just okay; sorry, Smithwick.

And lastly, the Guinness. It’s so dark it looks like iced coffee.

Gorgeous, if a beer can be called that; who can resist that foam?

And that leads us to Beer Week. I chose the Guinness and I paired it with dark chocolate, then smothered it in a Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. Sounds pretty good, don’t you think? Want a sneak peek? Here ya’ go.

Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream

Here’s how I made the dark chocolate stout cake:
(adapted from The Realistic Nutritionist‘s bundt cake)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
4 ounces applesauce
2 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup Guinness stout
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a jellyroll pan with parchment or a silpat mat, then spray with Pam for Baking or grease & flour liberally; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugars, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; whisk to combine. Add the softened butter, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and Guinness and beat with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the jellyroll pan and spread evenly to all edges and corners. Tap gently on the counter, then pop it into the oven. Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until a toothpick just comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely.

For the Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 cup thick dulce de leche caramel
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon Kahlua (or espresso, cooled)

In a saucepan, combine the whipping cream, espresso powder and caramel; arm over low heat, whisking until the caramel is melted and thoroughly combined. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool; refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I put mine in my KitchenAid mixer bowl and placed the whole thing in the fridge so the bowl & cream were both cold). Once properly chilled, place the bowl onto the mixer and whip until soft peaks start to form. Add the sugar and Kahlua and continue to beat until it begins to thicken. In my case, stiff peaks did not form and that’s okay. It’s all going to be layered with cake in a minute.

To assemble:

1. Start with the cake (this is where parchment/silpat mats come in handy).

Baking it in a jelly roll pan makes the cake layers about 1/2″ thick.

2. Use a round metal biscuit cutter to cut the cake into circles. How big should your circles be? That depends on what you’re building your layers in. Measure your jar or glass to determine which size cutter or can to use, then cut the cake into circles. One jellyroll pan yielded 30 cake circles for me.

A metal biscuit cutter makes quick work of cutting the layers.

3. To pipe the whipped cream, I like to spoon mine into a ziploc-style plastic bag. It helps to put that bag into a glass and fold the top edge of the bag over the glass. Once the bag is full, pull it out of the glass, press out the excess air and zip it shut.

My favorite piping tool – a plastic bag; makes for easy clean up, too.

4. Using a pair of scissors, snip the corner off the bag just before you start piping whipped cream. I like to keep a small but deep mixing bowl nearby so I can set the bag down without it falling over and spilling out.

Snip the corner and start piping; when you’re done, throw it away.

5. Start by placing a cake round in the bottom of your jar or glass; top with a 1/2″ layer of whipped cream, then continue to rotate cake and cream layers.

Start with cake & work your way up to within 3/4″ of the top.

6. Finish with a nice swirl of the whipped cream.

A layer of the whipped cream goes on top.

Then a nice spoonful of caramel goes on top of the cream.

Then sprinkle with cake crumbs. Nothing goes to waste.

6. If you’re using serving glasses, cover them with plastic wrap and keep them refrigerated until just before serving. If you’re using canning jars, place a lid and ring on the top and tighten gently. Then feel free to decorate any way you see fit. I went with burlap and ribbon, and I was happy with the way they turned out.

That’s burlap held with a rubber band; rustic yet decorative.

Finish with a pretty brown satin ribbon & suddenly it’s fancy.

And that is my version of Dark Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel & Kahlua Whipped Cream. My favorite thing about this dessert is… everything. I love how they look layered in jars. I love that the jars make them portable. I love that these were even better the next day, which means you can make them in advance and have more free time to entertain. It also means the leftovers (if any) will keep getting better and better until they’re gone.

Oh, yeah…there’s the money shot. Someone pass me a spoon.

Trust me, these go fast and they go down smooth – even if you’re not a beer drinker. If you are, then these are just the thing, lassie. Cures what ales ya’.

Now who’s ready for another round?
Visit these Beer Week bloggers throughout the week to see what they’re up to:

Monday:
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic – introduces us to a local Michigan home brewer turning passion into a business in her “Welcome to Beer Week” intro

Tuesday:
Madeline at Munching in the Mitten – shares her thoughts on Beer Week as well as a recipe for Pumpkin Beer Bread – just in time for fall
and
Kat at Tenaciously Yours – shares an overview of Gasthof’s Oktoberfest where young & old come together to celebrate what else but BEER!

Wednesday:
Anne at From My Sweet Heart – turns beer into Pumpkin Ale Pretzel Caramels; what sweet magic is this?
and
Lauren at Climbing Grier Mountain – tries to steal The Complete Package from me with her Pale Ale Shrimp Po’Boy; it’s one of his all-time favorites

Thursday:
Megan at Country Cleaver – celebrates her heritage and Octoberfest in style with one of my favorites – Schnitzel & Dumplings
and
Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen – joins in the fun with her review of the Outlander Brewery.

Friday:
Mads at La Petite Pancake – creates a fiesta for your mouth with her luscious Beer Battered Shrimp Tacos
and
Allison at Decadent Philistines – takes Four Peaks Brewery Kilt Lifter Scottish Ale to new levels with a spicy German mustard, ale-soaked sweet potato oven fries and Maple-Ale Ice Cream; some people are just overachievers.

Saturday:
Katie The Hill Country Cook – visits the Double Horn Brewery outside Marble Falls, Texas to take in $2 pints & Happy Hour Apps
and
Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic – is back with Black & Tan Brownies
and
Carrie at Bakeaholic Mama – thinks outside the box with hard cider and a fabulous Woodchuck Sweet Potato Bisque; this is why I love fall.

I’ll be your mouth is watering now, isn’t it? I’ll be updating the links above throughout the week, so stay tuned. Beer Week may just prove to be our greatest endeavor to date. Cheers!

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Food & Recipes, Travel Tales

Pie Week: If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for Bananas Foster Fried Pies

Bananas Foster Fried Pies. No fooling. It's Bananas Foster. In a Fried Pie.


What do you get when you combine six gregarious bloggers with one fabulous pie dough recipe? Pie Week, of course! Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic inspired us when she posted a recipe for fabulous “no excuses” pie dough made in a food processor in mere minutes. Needless to say, I had to give it a shot. My last few attempts at pie dough failed miserably. Too dry. Too wet. Too flavorless. Too pathetic. Father, forgive me for I had sinned; Pillsbury pie dough from the dairy aisle had become my ‘go to’ for all things pie. But not anymore. Using Kirsten’s pie dough as our common denominator, the following bloggers decided to unite and shout our love of pie from the rooftops.

Want to know who’s participating?
MondayKirsten from Comfortably Domestic
Tuesday – Jeanne from Inside NanaBread’s Head (hey, that’s me!)
WednesdayKat from Tenaciously Yours
ThursdayMads from La Petite Pancake
FridayMegan from Wanna Be A Country Clever
SaturdayAllison from Decadent Philistines Save the World

Each of us will be posting our own pie selection using Kirsten’s amazing pie dough recipe as the common thread. My contribution came to me when I was contemplating what to do with a bowl of rapidly ripening bananas. A few minutes later, I was rummaging through my pantry and accidentally ran into a bottle of Bacardi. What? Like you’ve never done that before. But hey… this isn’t about me and my burgeoning booze stash. It’s about PIE, so let’s get to it!

The cast of characters - all laid out and ready to roll. Ha! I kill me.

NanaBread’s Bananas Foster Fried Pies:
Kirsten’s pie dough (link above; I doubled it)
3 tablespoons of your favorite rum (or more, to your taste)
24 individually wrapped Kraft caramels
1/2 cup of evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 ripe banana (ripe but still firm works best)
1 egg plus 2 tablespoons of water (for egg wash)
Oil for frying, approximately 24 ounces
powdered sugar for dusting

Start by placing a small skillet on the stove; add the rum, then turn heat on to medium. Once it starts to bubble lightly, use a long kitchen match or long-neck butane lighter to flame the rum and burn off the alcohol. Please be careful here. I don’t want anyone to get burned. Allow the rum to flame until it goes out on its own; reduce to 1 tablespoon. Pour the rum into a heatproof bowl and set it aside.

Unwrap your caramels and place them in a microwaveable bowl; add the evaporated milk. Heat in 30 second intervals, stirring or whisking each time, until the caramels are melted and incorporated into the milk. Add the rum and vanilla; whisk until smooth. Set it aside and let it cool until it’s the consistency of creamy peanut butter. If you need to speed up the process, put it in the refrigerator. Just check it every 5 minutes to make sure it doesn’t get too firm.

While your caramel is cooling, flour your work surface and roll your pie crust thin (approximately 1/8th to 1/16th of an inch). You don’t want it too thick or it won’t fry properly and nothing is worse than a gummy fried pie. While we’re talking about rolling pie dough, I have to say that Kirsten’s version rolls beautifully. No jagged edges. No tearing. I could roll it thin and still pick it up to move it around without it tearing. So far, it’s a solid A+.

Look how smooth and perfect Kirsten's pie dough turns out.

Using a bench scraper (or a knife), cut the pie dough into 5″ squares. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water for your egg wash. Working with four squares at a time, use a pasty brush or your fingers if you’re not fussy like me and brush each square with egg wash to help seal your edges.

Which came first - the caramel or the banana?

Place one tablespoon of caramel into the center of each square. Slice your banana on a bias to make longer, uniform pieces approximately 1/2″ thick. Place one slice of banana on top of the caramel on each square. Fold into a triangle and gently press the edges to seal. I like to let mine sit for a few minutes to give the egg wash time to do its thing. Using a fork, dip the ends of the tines in flour and gently crimp your fried pies. Set the crimped pies onto parchment or waxed paper and allow them to rest while you assemble the rest of the pies.

Make sure your oil is at 300F before you start frying.

In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat 1″ of oil to 300F. I use canola oil, but you can use whatever you prefer. Once your oil is hot, fry the pies one at a time until they are golden brown on each side. I like to use a flat frying ladle and spoon hot oil over the top as they’re frying. This helps create those gorgeous bubbles in the dough. Check it out. (PS – I love the morning light at my kitchen window.)

Now that, my friends, is a perfectly fried Fried Pie.

Drain the fried pies on paper towels to absorb the oil and allow them to cool. To serve, dust lightly with powdered sugar and drizzle lightly with the remaining caramel sauce. If it’s too thick to drizzle, microwave it for 15-30 seconds, or until it softens enough to drizzle easily. Or you could skip the powdered sugar, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and drizzle caramel over that. Or you could skip the powdered sugar and the extra caramel and just eat these plain or with whipped cream. Trust me; these are plenty sweet on their own. Must be all those buttery sweet caramels. Mmmmm… caramel.

Crispy, chewy, sugary, gooey. It doesn't get any better than this.

If there are any pies left over {go ahead…I’ll wait until you stop laughing} wrap them in parchment or waxed paper and slip them into freezer bags. Store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, unwrap the pies and place them on a baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes, or until they are warmed through. Could you microwave them instead? Sure, but baking will help restore that crispy crust to the outside. And I’m all about crispy, flaky pie crust.

Thank you, Kirsten, for sharing your recipe with the world and for inspiring our pie shenanigans this week. See what you started? And speaking of – be sure to check in with Kat, Mads, Megan and Allison as Pie Week continues. There’s no telling what those ladies are up to, but it’s sure to be delicious!

Pie Week, Day 1 – click here to see Kirsten’s Monday entry – Apple Tart with a Cheddar Streusel Topping It’s sure to be an All-American family favorite.

Up Next: Kat at Tenaciously Yours tackles her first pie…EVER! Can’t wait for Wednesday to see it. Let’s just say they don’t call her ‘tenacious’ for nothing.

*UPDATE* November 16th is “Love the Pie” Party Day at www.TidyMom.net. Come join Love the Pie with TidyMom sponsored by Cherokee USA, Le Creuset, Wilton, Bags by Bloom and Harvard Common Press and browse the pie links bloggers are sharing. If you love pie like I love pie, you will not want to miss it!

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Filed under Food & Recipes

Lost in a jam session & can’t stop. Please send help…and toast or biscuits!

Raspberry and red plum and blackberry...oh my!

Last month, fellow blogger Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic posted several stories about the jam she was canning. Strawberry, to be exact. Since then, I’ve had jelly on my brain (figuratively, of course). I used to can things every summer but that was years ago when we still lived in Owasso, Oklahoma. Summers there were not as unbearable as they are here. Once we moved to Houston, the heat and humidity killed my desire to can anything, since it required hours spent over a hot stove. Then I saw Kirsten’s strawberry jam, and became a woman obsessed. She planted a seed; a crazy demon jelly seed. Suddenly, I couldn’t walk past fruit without imagining it cooked into jelly or jam and packed into cute little Mason jars. Heaven help me; I do love a Mason jar.

Enter the $1.00 raspberry sale at my local grocery store. As we walked into the produce department, I was slapped in the face by a poster board sign that read “Raspberries – $1.00 a box!” Yeah, you bet your sweet ass it deserved an explanation point, Mr. Produce Stocker Man. Those little boxes have been going for $4.00 all summer. Naturally, I grabbed 10 boxes and thought about grabbing 10 more. Thanks to a spontaneous intervention from The Complete Package, I stuck with the original 10. But as soon as we got home, I broke out the sugar, pectin and jars and got to work. As I said, I was a little jelly obsessed.

Sweet little jars of fruity goodness; labels are print-your-own stickers

This past weekend, TCP and I stopped in at my favorite fruit stand – Froberg Farms in Manvel, Texas. I love this place more than I love chicken-fried steak. Someday I’ll take my camera out there and share it with you. Where else can you walk out with an entire brown paper bag packed full of freshly picked produce for around $20? It’s incredible. We love to stroll slowly through all the gorgeous produce, dried beans, canned fruits and vegetables. They also sell little fried pies, whole pies, farm eggs and fresh milk. AND they have a little trailer outside that sells all kinds of fabulous, smoky meats. This place is crazy wonderful.

Clockwise: Grandma, Mom, Big Sis & NanaBread

When I saw fresh red plums, I immediately grabbed a big bag full, and again we raced home to make jam. Red plum jam. I don’t know why, but it reminds me of Grandma Montgomery, who died when we were young. She had the most magical root cellar stocked with jars of homemade jams, jellies, pickles and canned veggies. Oh, how I loved the smell of that root cellar. Here’s a photo of her sitting with Mom as we all ate berries and ice cream. I love this old photo of us on Grandma’s porch. I’ve often wondered what Big Sis was thinking at that precise moment. She looks stunned & I look happy. I probably stole her last strawberry. Sorry, Sis. If it’s any consolation, I’m the one with the embarrassing ice cream beard. But I digress; back to jelly!

Old-fashioned red plum jam - it's seriously good stuff!

There’s no real recipe for jelly or jam. It’s just fruit, the right amount of sugar, and some fruit pectin. In fact, pectin manufacturers have made it so easy, they’ve printed a how-to which includes the proper fruit-to-sugar ratios inside the pectin box. How easy is that? The real key is in preserving it. I went old-school and used sterilized canning jars and a boiling hot water bath. If done correctly, jars of jam processed this way can have a shelf life of years instead of months. If you don’t want to process your jars in a water bath and preserve them for all eternity, Ball now makes plastic containers with screw-top lids. You can’t store this jam in your pantry, but you can certainly keep it in your fridge or freezer. Kirsten posted a great freezer jam recipe on her blog with a full-color photo tutorial. Please check it out. So now that my raspberry and plum jams are packed away, I’m eyeing a recipe for peach marmalade I got from a friend a few years ago. Peaches, oranges and maraschino cherries all cooked into a gorgeous, sticky marmalade. Oh, my. I may just have to do it. I should do it. I must do it!

Speaking of my canning bender… do you know what else I used to can years ago? Spicy sweet pickles. And do you know what’s brewing in my kitchen right now? Homemade spicy sweet pickles. It’s been at least 20 years since I’ve made them, but when we found some beautiful pickling cucumbers at Froberg’s last week, I decided to make them again. They’re from an old family recipe that has been passed down through TCP’s family for at least 3 generations. How good are they? Good enough that every time we eat another brand, we look at each other and say, “they’re good, but they’re not Aunt Teenie’s sweet pickles.” Which brings us to a recipe card mystery, a little family controversy, and my next post – Aunt Teenie’s Sweet Pickles: are they or aren’t they? Stay tuned!

Coming soon: spicy sweet pickles from an old family recipe

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Tart Cherry Dark Chocolate Bark


Remember this box of cherry goodness I got from my friend Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic? She held a giveaway to highlight local Michigan cherries from one of her favorite companies, The Cherry Republic. I thank my lucky stars every day that her brilliant son pulled my name from that hat. It has truly been a gift that keeps on giving. I started on the bag of dark chocolate-covered cherries first, since I could not resist them. Oy vey! They were spectacular. So much so, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them.

Next up? The bag of mixed nuts and dried cherries. The nuts were raw, and I like mine roasted, so I simply separated out the cherries, threw the nuts into a dry skillet, and toasted them until they smelled heavenly. Once they cooled, I mixed the cherries back in and stored them in a jar to keep them fresh. These are great for snacks or as an oatmeal topper. But I still couldn’t stop thinking about dark chocolate-covered cherries. So what does a girl do when she has a jar full of toasted nuts and dried cherries, but chocolate on the brain? That’s right, you clever little minxes. She smothers them in dark chocolate. So, without further ado… I give you Tart Cherry Chocolate Bark. Shazam!

What you’ll need:
One bag of good quality dark chocolate chips (I love Guittard)
Two cups of dried cherries & mixed roasted nuts

Start by lining an 8″ square pan with parchment paper. It’s easiest if you cut two strips and lay them in opposite directions. Did you know that cellophane tape will not stick to parchment paper? Neither did I. Lesson learned.

Using a double boiler or a metal or glass mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water, melt your chocolate then whisk until smooth. Be careful not to burn yourself, either on the hot mixing bowl or the steam. Once your chocolate is creamy and smooth, remove the bowl and set it on a kitchen towel. Next up, grab your cherry and nut mix. The Cherry Republic version is awesome. Notice those gorgeous tart cherries and those giant nut halves? No little bits or pieces here.

Add your cherry & nut mix to the melted chocolate and stir until well combined. Pour it into your prepared pan and flatten it with a spatula until it’s about 3/4″ thick. Put it into the refrigerator to set up for about an hour.

Once it’s set, remove it from the pan and cut it into squares with a sharp kitchen knife. Store in an airtight container. I like to keep mine in the refrigerator since it’s so dang hot in Houston. And that’s it! The only thing left to accomplish is a little self-restraint. Can’t help you there, but I wish you luck! Lots of luck.

Stay tuned. The last item from the gift box is a jar of cherry chipotle salsa, and there’s no telling what’s going to happen with that! Thanks again, Kirsten. Your taste in cherries is impeccable.

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A Box of Love from the Cherry Republic

Cherry goodness from Comfortably Domestic Blog and http://www.cherryrepublic.com

Michigan is the Cherry Republic. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t know cherries were grown in Michigan. Don’t boo and hiss, Michiganders (Michiganians?). I’m deeply rooted in southern Texas. We grow tropical fruits and pecans down here. That’s puh-CAHNS. I love cherries, I just wasn’t really aware of where they’re grown. I once saw a cherry tree in northern Montana, and I was awe-struck. But then my blogging friend Kirsten over at Comfortably Domestic mentioned Michigan cherries and I was intrigued. When she held a giveaway contest featuring a box of goodies from The Cherry Republic, I took my chances and entered. When I actually won and received a box of organic cherry chipotle salsa, a bag of dried cherries with mixed nuts, and a bag of dark chocolate covered dried cherries, my mind was totally blown. Not only am I now aware of Michigan’s glorious cherries, but I am a fan. A big fan. Huge. Fan. These are by far the best chocolate covered cherries I’ve ever eaten, and you guys know how I love dark chocolate. I can’t stop eating them, and I can’t thank Kirsten and the good folks at Cherry Republic enough for this fabulous gift box, but I can share their websites and encourage you to visit. I’m not sure about Mother’s Day shipping, but you can certainly check it out. What mom wouldn’t love a gift of Michigan cherries? And then there’s Memorial Day. And the Fourth of July. And Labor Day. And Halloween. Or Thanksgiving. Cherries at Christmas would be divine. Are cherries considered “lucky” on New Year’s? Don’t forget birthdays! I’m pretty sure the gift for a 29th wedding anniversary is Michigan cherries. Honey? Did you hear me?

You can buy fabulous cherry products at: http://www.cherryrepublic.com/

You can visit the lovely Kirsten’s blog at: http://comfortablydomestic.com/

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