I think I’m in love
No, I’m not talking about that wonderful Eddie Money song (though it most certainly is playing my head right now). I’m talking about Crumbl Cookies! If you don’t know Crumbl Cookies, then you should really check them out. My sister, who I still contend makes the best cookies on the planet, introduced me to this very close runner-up in the cookie making world. I thought she was talking about a local place, meaning something local to her. But when I checked out their website, I saw that they are in almost every state across the country, including my own!
Each store offers chocolate chip cookies plus a rotation of other flavors that change with each week. All the store have the same offering each week, which is great for me to compare notes with my sister. And these are BIG cookies, about 4" or so in diameter. And they’re so good, which is why I feel fortunate NOT to live close to one. My first visit was a few months ago, and then a couple of days ago I made my second visit. All I can say is WOW. Actually, I have few more words than that.
Lemon Poppy Seed
I’m not one for lemon cookies, unless they come from Crumbl! Of course, their website (first picture) makes it look better than what it actually is. I didn’t see much of that lemon creme center in my cookie, but it still tasted outstanding!
This one was just heavenly, although there didn’t seem to be much frosting on top of the graham cracker cookie I got. The raspberry puree also slide off the cookie during the drive home. That’s a not a huge deal, but I have made a note for the future.
French Silk Pie
This cookie is aptly named. It truly is like eating a miniature French Silk pie. Of the three cookies I purchased, this one most closely matched what the website showed.
Now, let’s have one item clearly understood. I never eat an entire cookie all in one setting. They’re totally that good, but I don’t need all those extra calories, especially when they’re from sugar. So I usually cut off a quarter or sometimes less — just enough to give me a little taste of sweet goodness. Plus it makes the cookie last longer.
That said, I noticed something on the website that made me do a double take. The Lemon Poppy Seed cookie has only 120 cal? Raspberry Cheesecake 170 cal? French Silk Pie 150 cal? There’s no way! Looking further on the site I found this quote: “Calorie counts are per serving. Serving size varies based on product.” Hmmm . . . what might that mean?
I little more digging, and it all made sense. One serving is 1/4 cookie, at least for the three that I bought. That makes a lot more sense, and it redoubles my dedication to eat only a quarter of a cookie at a time. It’ll be some time before I go back, how much I couldn’t say. I’ll be checking out their website every week to get keyed on the new rotation for the week. Barring the appearance of something that looks so good I just have to get it, it’ll probably be towards the end of the year when I go back. Talk about de-railing a diet! As I said, I’m glad I don’t live close to Crumbl. But when I go, there’s no way I’m getting just one cookie. They’re just too good!
Ham and broccoli quiche
This weekend I wanted quiche. The only question was “What kind?” Looking at what I had on hand, I opted for the ham and broccoli recipe I developed some years ago. The recipe is simple to make. You mix the eggs, stir in the remaining ingredients, add to a partially baked pie crust the same you would making any other quiche (450F for 4 minutes), and bake.
Here’s the list of ingredients:
2 cups ham, chopped
1 cup broccoli, chopped
2 cups swiss cheese, grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup mozzarella, grated
1/8 cup minced onion
dash of chives
1 tsp nutmeg
1/8 cup parsley
1 tsp black pepper
The quiche bakes at 325F for 45 minutes. When it came out, it tasted so good to me, I ate half of it in one setting. It’s been said that real men eat quiche. But in my view, real men not only eat quiche, they make it!
Crazy about Cauliflower Stalks
One of my favorite quotes from the movie America’s Sweethearts is from the director Hal Weidmann, who is played brilliantly by Christopher Walken. “I wasn’t looking for it. It came to me like a bus in the street . . . or the woman who changes the flowers at our desert house.” I’m not sure about that woman, but I am sure that this quote describes how I came upon From the ground up Cauliflower Stalks. They were arranged neatly there on the grocery store shelf, perfectly poised to catch my eye.
Again, I wasn’t looking for them, but I picked up a bag to examine it. The nutrition label didn’t have any red flags (at least none that were obvious to me), and the price seemed fine, given the size of the bag and likely volume of contents. I’m not a huge fan of cauliflower; it’s a particular bland vegetable. But what convinced me to give it a try was that magical word on the front of the bag — cheddar. I love cheese. I can’t get enough of cheese. In fact, if heaven doesn’t have cheese, I’m pretty sure I’m going to hell. I just gotta have cheese in my life.
But what amazed me even more than my love of cheese amazes some was how good these cauliflower-based snacks are. I’m talking addictive levels of good! I couldn’t keep my hand out of the bag. And there was no sense in pouring just a small bowl to “limit my serving size” because, as soon as my small bowl was empty (which took something like 30 seconds), I was off to the kitchen to grab the bag. The only thing holding me back from consuming the entire bag in one sitting was the thought that I could have some tomorrow if I stop now. This is the only reason the bag lasted three days.
For me, cauliflower has always been one of those vegetables low on the pecking order — until now! If you’re looking for a new “healthy” snack to try, put your money here. You won’t be disappointed. And if you are, just give me the rest of your bag.
What is a deal breaker is the quality of pancake it produced. You don’t need an egg, although you are free to add one. All you really need is water. After mixing, you’re supposed to let it set for 5 minutes before pouring onto the griddle. The pancakes cooked up fine, but the finished product is much more like a mutated crepe than a pancake. Pancakes should be fluffy, not spongy. The flavor is okay, but the texture just overrides the okay flavor to provide a disappointing taste experience.
I tried different variations — using milk instead of water both with and without egg — all to no avail. I have a mind to try using a little oil, no egg, and water. But I’m not very hopeful. My experience thus far has certainly been far below expectations. I’m still sold on King Arthur flour, as I continue to experience great baking with it. But their pancake mix? No thanks. I’ll pass and stick with my Krusteaz, a wonderful product from Seattle that has never disappointed me. If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it.
Pi Day 2022
I settled upon something I haven’t done in years. I went to Micky D’s for an apple pie. The whole trip took roughly a quarter hour, and the pie actually tasted better than that fried thing I remember having the last time I got a pie there. I don’t think I’ll be doing it again anytime soon. But it did save the day for me.
And I got a better idea afterwards that I’ll use in the future. Next time I’ll visit a diner for a real piece of pie. Plus I can deviate away from apple if I so desire. I think I will desire!
Recently I had a hankering for no-bake cookies. I haven’t had any in I don’t know how long, but the craving was definitely there. Or maybe the craving was just for chocolate. At any rate, I decided to make no-bake cookies to scratch that itch.
I had never actually made no-bake cookies before, but it didn’t seem that hard, and in fact it wasn’t. Recipes vary, but they’re all pretty much the same. Still, I decided to modify my first ever batch. I just couldn’t help but experiment. I’m too curious. Plus I wanted to reduce my sugar intake. So half the sugar was gone. Boom. Just like that.
Then I decided to add in a couple of twists. First, I added in dried cherries, which I thought would complement the dark cocoa I was using. I always prefer dark chocolate to any other variety, so I always reach first for it over any other variety. It’s supposedly healthier for you, and even if it’s not, I just love the flavor. Adding dried cherries provided a very good complement to the dark chocolate flavor, although it added some sugar back into the batch. For a recipe calling for 2 cups sugar, I used 1 cup sugar and then added ½ cup dried cherries. I’m going to have to experiment with lowering the sugar content even more in future.
My second modification was to make cookie bars instead of individual cookies. I don’t have the space in my place t put out all the wax paper sheets I would need for even half a batch of individual cookies. Plus bars are always easier to deal with than individual cookies. What I didn’t expect (but should have, being a metallurgist) is the hardened slab that resulted once the batch had finally cooled in the pan. I needed a serious knife to cut off individual bars.
Still, my experiment was a huge success. The cookies taste wonderful. The dark chocolate and cherries go really good together. And best of all, my craving for no-bake cookies is totally gone!
I was shopping for groceries the other day and saw a stand at the end of an aisle offering English muffins on sale. It was then that an idea hit me. Why not use an English muffin to make French toast? It sounded intriguing, so I decided to purchase some English muffins and conduct a small experiment in my kitchen.
I started by mixing together the following ingredients:
1 Tbl vanilla
1 tsp sugar
½ cup milk
In retrospect, I should have used only 1/4 cup milk, because it gave me way more egg mixture than I needed, and it was a diluted mixture at that.
Once my skillet got up to heat, I dipped halves of English muffin into the egg mixture, holding it down with a fork for a few seconds to let all the nooks and crannies absorb more egg mixture.
As you can see, my skillet was large enough to cook four pieces, which is all I wanted for an experiment. I tried pouring additional egg mixture on the individual pieces in the skillet, but I just ended up dumping egg mixture in the skillet, which I separated from the French toast pieces with my spatula.
After flipping the pieces, I tried spooning extra egg mixture into individual pieces, but that didn’t get me very far. Again, I should have used only 1/4 cup milk.
In the end I served my finished experiment with butter and maple syrup along with a side of hash browns and sausage links. Again, I think using half the milk would make it better, but as it was, it turned out pretty good! I might be making this again in the future, but with winter just around the corner, I have some other experiments I want to try as well as some tried-and-true baking standards to fill my kitchen time. I’ll be sure to post on what glories come forth from my kitchen.
Overnight blueberry French toast
Traditionally, my mother spearheads the effort to make breakfast on Christmas morning. This year, since she's lost some of her zest for the kitchen, I thought I would take over and make breakfast for her. She loves blueberries, so I thought this gem might just do the trick. It turned out far better than I could have imagined. And best of all, it's extremely easy to make.
I made some hash browns as well, but I won't go into their preparation. After all, if you don't know how to make hash browns, then . . . well, you should probably look into it.
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