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Sugar Dish Me

"if you can read, you can cook" -my momma

Easy Basil Walnut Pesto

with 12 comments

easy pesto pasta

A Moral Dilemma.

And, no, it has nothing to do with pesto. I think basil pesto is pretty uncontroversial.

Anyway… if you drive, you’ve been on one side of this situation or the other… or both. You’ll be surprised to find that I’m actually not talking about the road rage that posesses my middle finger to have a mind of its own when people drive like snails in the left hand lane. I’m talking about parking lots. More specifically, knicking or dinging cars in parking lots.

Every car I’ve ever owned has been bumped or bonked or ever-so-slightly dented when left unattended in a parking lot. It’s a fact of driving life. I’ve never ever been one to drive in circles looking for rock star parking spaces. If I have to walk, I walk. If I have to run in the rain, then I run. I refuse to spend more time looking for a parking space than it would take me to actually walk to the entrance of wherever I’m headed. It annoys me to no end when I get stuck behind some lazy person that’s “waiting” for a space with their turn signal on while the rest of us helplessly pile up behind them, especially when I know they could have just nabbed the first available space and been halfway through their shopping list by the time they finally put their cars in park.

Sooooooooo RUDE.

People. If you are not handicapped or assisting the handicapped, just freaking walk. Okay?

I digress.

making basil pesto

The deal is, I just park my car straight IN BETWEEN THE LINES wherever I find a spot. Sometimes it’s next to the cart corral and I return to find a cart just hanging out on my front bumper. Sometimes it’s next to a sedan that clearly belongs to someone toting kids around and there’s a brand new scuff mark where their little people forgot to have spatial awareness (with {my} kids there is always that panicked warning before they open their car doors when you say, “WATCH!!! for the car over there… geez…”). I don’t guess I’ve ever owned a car nice enough to be one of those people (like my dad was) who parks reeeeeeeally far away from everything, like on the other side of the universe, so there is not a chance that anyone will ever park near your sweet sweet ride.

In all the time I’ve been driving, and with all the times my car has been binged by my parking lot neighbor, I’ve never had anyone leave me a note, or wait around to explain, or try to apologize. With regards to my personal property, I the motto is, “whoops! okay… moving on.” And I think that’s pretty standard, right? I mean, if you accidentally bump a car with your door in the parking lot of a shopping mall, are you actually gonna void out your whole day waiting for a stranger to come wandering out of Macy’s so you can properly explain that you’re the jackass that just scuffed the paint?

Who honestly does that? I wanna see a show of hands.

What’s the proper etiquette here?

Let me tell you what happened.

basil walnut pesto recipe

Chad and I made a quick grocery store run. It was dark and we were in our truck. The window tint on the truck is pretty dark, and with Chad driving and me fishing something out of my bag, I really wasn’t paying attention to where he parked, I just went to hop out. When I opened the truck door I heard a “thunk!” noise and realized that we’d parked our darkly tinted truck, in the dark, next to a very dark car— I had no idea it was there. I scootched out and walked towards the back of our vehicle where Chad was standing and he said, “You know you just hit that car, right?”

So I say, “Yeah, ummmm thanks for parking us ON TOP of that car…,” and we continued to poke fun at each other and hover while we decided what to do because I don’t think I’ve ever been the car-bumper. I’m always the car-bumpee. And then the worst thing ever happened…

The back door of the dinged car opened.

And out got this woman holding a teeny tiny baby.

I. Felt. So. Bad. So I blurted out,”I bumped your car!!! I’m so sorry!”

She said, “I know I felt something bump and saw you guys walk past…,” and her sentence just sort of dropped off as she walked toward the front of her vehicle to inspect the damage.

I had not yet inspected said damage and so I started to worry- what if I hit her car harder than I thought? Is this gonna be a really big deal? I feel so bad! This is so embarrassing! That baby is so tiny! I wonder if she’d let me hold it? STOP HEATHER. Just stop.

The woman turned with her tiny bundle and headed back our way and said, “It’s fine. It doesn’t look like much to me, but I work at the Toyota dealership, so I can just have one a the guys buff it out if it looks like more in the daylight.”

Meanwhile, I’m so embarrassed and profusely apologizing and asking her, “Are you sure? Is there anything we can do?”

She was so kind and so gracious… she just snuggled the tiny baby close, folded herself back into the comfort of the backseat, and told us to have a good night.

I really felt bad- nice girl, tiny baby, newer car- but what is the actual rule of thumb here? If she hadn’t been in the car to offer absolution and permiss our walking away, what were we supposed to do?

And if no one’s around to see what happened, what would you do?


I promised a recipe for this easy basil walnut pesto a week or so ago – the basil in my garden is still of epic proportions & I hope yours is, too! Because this stuff is gooooooood.

It’s also pretty comforting when you are completely mortified about playing bumper cars at the grocery store.

Easy Basil Walnut Pesto

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 cloves garlic, very finely minced

1/2 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (and more if needed)

In a food processor or blender, place the basil, walnuts, garlic, and cheese. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until the pesto is your desired consistency, adding more oil if necessary.

Before serving this pesto over pasta blending in a couple tablespoons of the hot pasta water can make it easier to work with.

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Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Dinner

Tagged with , , , , ,

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cream Pies

with 14 comments

carrot cake whoopie pies

Growing up, my sisters and I had a favorite book. I’m not sure my brothers ever cared much about it, though I KNOW it lived in the giant book basket that was perched next to the hearth, and I’m sure my mom must have read it to them. My mom read us lots of books.

Anyway, our favorite book was called Fanny and May, by Jon Buller (and NO, this has nothing at all to do with the giant loan conglomerate Fannie Mae, though they should probably read it and learn a few life lessons). Pleeeeeease tell me you’ve read this book.

If you haven’t read this book, you need to find it and commit it to your everlasting mind… stat. Download it to your kindle, search it on your nook, read it on your iPhone. I don’t care if you have no small children in your life. It’s THAT crucial. I promise.

In this book, a sugar obsessed elephant named Fanny lives with her mom and her little sister, May, in a house made of CAKE.

That’s right. I said cake.

So in the story, published in 1984 because that year helps this next part make sense, Fanny and May’s mom (also an elephant… a very fit elephant) marches through the cake house in leg warmers, a leotard, and a fuzzy headband and says she is heading out to aerobics class. If I lived in a cake house I guess I’d probably have to take like 17 aerobics classes a day, but I wouldn’t be caught dead in a leotard. My mom used to rock the leotard/leg warmer/fuzzy headband look in aerobics class at the Y when I was little. That’s because she is infinitely cooler than me.

carrots for cookies

Okay, so the elephant mom is heading out to aerobics class, and the last thing she says to the girls is, “And don’t eat the house!!!!”

Ummmmm… I don’t know about you, but if I told my kids not to eat the house made of cake while I left for an unspecified amount of time, I’m pretty sure they would do exactly the opposite.

set up to bake carrot cake cream pies

When mom is away, elephant girls will play! It wasn’t long before cakey cravings got the best of Fanny and she just had to lick the house frosting.

flours and oats

May tries to tell Fanny that licking the frosting is a sliiiiiiiipery slope. Very slippery. Because only a teensy percentage of us possess the willpower to have just one tiny taste of some kick ass frosting (though I’m wondering… does house cake stay fresh? Does the frosting melt in the sun? Does it freeze like wedding cake? What kind of foundation do you build it on? So many questions…).

Of course, Fanny does not listen to May. If she did this would be a really boring story.

beat the butter and sugars

Fanny tempts fate, licks the frosting, licks some more frosting, has a bite of cake, and then CAN’T STOP EATING THE CAKE.

Before she knows what has happened, Fanny eats the whole house.

And then May is all like, “What’d you do that for, Fanny? Why can’t you be more like me and exhibit some freaking self-control? Mom is going to kill you.”

beat in the eggs

Fanny starts to worry, though thinking back, I’m not sure how she wasn’t in a sugar coma. Maybe elephants metabolize cake better than I do?

So here’s the best part of the whole story: Fanny’s like, “Whatever, May. You’re such a goody two-shoes. What kind of elephant girl doesn’t WANT to eat a house made of cake? Gah.”  And then! She jumps on her skateboard and heads to the wishing well. In case you couldn’t tell, that’s my favorite part.

dry to wet ingredients

When Fanny gets to the wishing well she waits in line for a while, hoping she can fix the problem before her mom gets done working out. There’s this creepy man in line right in front of her and when it’s his turn, he throws his coin in the wishing well and does the WORST THING EVER.

He says, “I wish for there to be no more wishing well!” Then he cracks up laughing in Fanny’s face.

I mean, who does that?! I suppose, in the real world, someone would probably commandeer a wishing well and ruin the fun for the rest of us. There is no way a wishing well could ever exist peacefully in the center of a small town. But I still think it’s a pretty crummy thing to do to a little girl on a skateboard, for crying out loud.

stir in carrots

Poor ‘ol Fanny makes her way back home, dreading the conversation she’s going to have to have with her mother.

bake.

P.S. Before I finish with storytime here, I’d like to note that the above photo is a very clear picture of What Not To Do when making these cakey little cream pies. DO NOT shape, smush, or flatten out the dough. Just let it be weird and rounded and ugly. You’ll be glad I warned you when you make these.

carrot cake oatmeal cream pies

When Fanny arrives home, her mother and sister are busy baking new bricks of cake to rebuild the house. The mom was pretty nice about it. Probably nicer than I’d be if my kids destroyed our home. Maybe she had really good insurance? At any rate, I always felt sort of bad for Fanny. We all know what it feels like to totally lose control and eat the whole house.

Moral of the story? You can’t have your house and eat it, too.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cream Pies (adapted from THIS recipe at Cookin Cowgirl)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats, divided

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cloves

2 medium carrots, peeled and grated

Pre heat the oven to 350. Butter a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Beat the butter and sugars together until they are fluffy and smooth- this takes about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, continuing to mix until they are just combined. Blend in the vanilla.

Using 3/4 cup of the oats, make oat flour. Just pulse the oats in the food processor or blender until coarse crumbs are formed.

In a large bowl whisk together the oat flour, remaining oats,  all purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and cloves. Using a sturdy wooden spoon stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Then fold in the shredded carrots.

Drop the dough by the rounded tablespoonful onto the prepared cookie sheet. Do not try to flatten or shape the sticky cookie dough – you want the cream pie sandwiches to be fluffy and this dough has a tendency to spread in a tasty but not-so-pretty way.

Bake for 10 minutes and then let the cookies cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Cream Pie Filling

The Pioneer Woman says that marshmallow fluff tastes EXACTLY like the filling in a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie. That would be a great shortcut if you have it on hand. I used vanilla buttercream because I was out of cream cheese (a sin, I know). The original recipe calls for a cream cheese filling, which I bet would be amazing, considering cream cheese and carrot cake are practically best friends. So the cream cheese option is what I’m including for you here:

8 ounces cream cheese

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups powdered sugar **Note: Again, I haven’t tried the frosting part of this recipe, but if it were me, I’d cut the sugar and the cream cheese in half.  Annnnd I’d sift the powdered sugar. If your frosting seems too thick, add heavy cream a teaspoon at a time until the consistency is where you want it. Okay. I’m done.**

Beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add in the vanilla. Then beat in the powdered sugar. Beat until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Spread a bit onto the flat side of half of the cookies. Sandwich the frosting between another cookie.

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Posted in Sugar

Tagged with , , , , , , , ,

Maple Oatmeal Breakfast Bread

with 20 comments

maple oat bread

Breakfast is easily my favorite meal of the day. Unless dessert is a meal.

I love breakfast for lots of reasons. Some of them include waffles with whipped cream. Or “Ah-lah-modey”. Other reasons have to do with coffee, eggs, breakfast potatoes. Don’t even get me started on biscuits or cinnamon rolls.

But I have to say that one of my very favorite things about breakfast is that I don’t have to talk my children into eating it (except when I make these Oat Nutty Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes – Evan doesn’t like them. Because his taste buds are deranged). So here’s the deal: I cook. Every night. I think I’m pretty decent at it… unless all of my family and friends have carefully constructed a very elaborate lie that includes all of you. Gah. That would be weird, right? One of you would tell me I hope.

Okay, so DINNER. I cook the food, I set the table, I call the family, we all sit down. I’m going to take a wild guess and say that 4 out of 7 days one or the other of my boys has to be coaxed into eating his meal. It. Drives. Me. Crazy. We’re eating good food over here!

Evan tries to pick out every shred of seasoning – today he was totally offended by cilantro. He spends mealtimes dissecting food, searching for things like green peppers and red onions. Andrew, to be fair, has gotten much better about this with age. But he still has major aversions to all beans (unless they are in chili), shrimp (unless it’s shrimp cocktail or fried), and mushrooms (unless nothing- he hates them).

making maple oat bread

Breakfast presents NONE of these problems. No matter what I put on the table at breakfast, the little boys are all about it. Maybe pickiness expands as the day wears on? Maybe they’re still asleep when I feed them at 6:15 a.m.? Whatever the rhyme or reason, in the morning I never have to tell them to finish their food 14 times. It’s such a relief.

Most days my breakfast is cereal. Or oatmeal with fruit. Lots of days I call a banana + coffee breakfast. I started making this bread last month, and it has quickly become my favorite breakfast staple. It’s great fresh from the oven. But if you don’t feel like baking for two hours before you eat the first meal of the day, it’s still great the day after, toasted, with a little bit of butter and way too much blackberry jam.

P.S. The power just inexplicably went out … what in the world.

how to make easy oat bread

This bread is fantastic covered in peanut butter and sliced bananas. It makes THE BEST cinnamon toast. Slice it up and soak it in custardy goodness for french toast? Amazing. Mapley bacon and egg sandwiches? Yessssss. Oh! In one of those breakfast casseroles that calls for cubes of bread? I just thought of that. Just right this minute.

Do power outages boost creativity?

knead the dough

I call this “breakfast bread” because it’s a little bit cinnamony and a little bit sweet with lots of earthy whole wheat and oatmeal goodness. Not that it wouldn’t easily pair up with sliced turkey breast, a big leaf of lettuce, and a cranberry spread… wow. My mind just totally went to a Thanksgiving place…

ready to rise

But really this bread is suited for breakfast. Slice it thin. Dip it in egg.

Your kids won’t complain about a thing.

maple breakfast bread

Except maybe the egg.

breakfast bread

Maple Oatmeal Breakfast Bread (adapted from THIS recipe at King Arthur Flour)

2 cups boiling water

1 cup old fashioned oats

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon instant dry yeast

1 1/2 cups bread flour

4 cups whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, combine the boiling water, old fashioned oats, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Stir, set the bowl aside, and let the oatmeal mixture cool to lukewarm.

When the oat mix has cooled, stir in the yeast and then the flours with a sturdy wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. On a clean work surface, knead the dough for about 10 minutes, dusting the surface with bread flour occasionally if the dough gets too sticky. The dough will be smooth and a bit satiny. Form a ball and transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl (butter, cooking spray, a bit of olive oil- whatever suits), cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 1 hour.

Grease two 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 loaf pans (you can use a larger loaf pan but your bread won’t be as tall). Divide the risen dough in half, shape into two loaves, and situate the dough in the prepared loaf pans. Cover each pan loosely with GREASED plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another hour, or until it’s about an inch above the rim of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350.

When the dough has risen, uncover and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the loaves from the oven when they are golden brown. Let the bread cool slightly before turning out of the pans. Slice with a sharp serrated knife to avoid smushing your pretty bread.

This bread is best served warm, but it will keep, wrapped tightly, for up to a week (if it lasts that long).

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Cheesy BBQ Veggie Sliders

with 22 comments

easy veggie burgers
This weekend was all about amusement.

Saturday night brought the demolition derby type of amusement, complete with mullet-sporting spectators, loud cars, lots of mud, and my 9-year-old thrilled to pieces over some car with the word “renegade” spray-painted on the side.

And then on Sunday there was this: rollercoaster!

Soooooooo many rollercoasters. I am a thrill-ride junkie. I love love LOVE a rollercoaster. It’s been a few years since we’ve made it over to Paramount’s Carowinds (which is, like everything else in the civilized world, about an hour from here) because it is usually pretty pricey, the heat is unbearable, and the lines are way too long. But! Our dear friend Pat, who is too adorable to even try to put into words, really wanted the boys to do something fun this summer – her treat. We waited until the summer was hanging on by a thread and picked yesterday to indulge in all things too fast, too high, and too much fun.

Armed with a 12-pack of Coca-Cola, a pile of peanut butter sandwiches, and a box of those chocolate Hostess cupcakes with the curly-cues across the top, we made our way to the amusement park, dead-set in our rain or shine mentality. It was a torrential downpour all the way up the road… I was beginning to fear I’d have to placate the children with a movie I couldn’t bear to sit through (to give you a good idea of what I mean, Evan thinks that Air Bud makes for quality viewing material). But when we pulled into the park the downpour turned to drizzle and eventually just… stopped.

As a result of our fearless drive through the hurricane-force sheets of rain, we were able to ride every rollercoaster in the park at least TWICE without waiting in one single line all day. That was a very sweet gamble.

So it’s been a few years since I’ve been on a rollercoaster, and though I am ever unafraid, I have to admit that the Intimidator rattled me. It was the first stop of the day because we just knew that bananas long lines would happen at any minute. Rather than work our way up to the tallest, fastest, longest coaster in the southeast, we just jumped in with both feet. Eyes wide open.

There are no shoulder harnesses.                                                      YIKES.

diced red onions

But ohhhh so worth the scary.

Chad, my little brother, and I spent a good chunk of the day convincing the children to get on rides they had dubbed “too high” or “too scary”. Evan quickly established that his comfort zone involves lap belts and hills, but absolutely no loops. He actually buried his face in his hands on his first go of the Goldrusher, a train ride I very affectionately remember riding with my parents when I was very super small. Five I think.

making veggie burgers

Andrew totally resisted his status as son of a thrill-seeker until …he didn’t.  When he finally got it, he was all-in. You have never seen a kid more excited or more fueled by pure happy adrenaline than mine after his third trip round on the scariest rollercoaster I’ve ever ridden.

Heart-warmingly adorable.

chick peas, black beans, BBQ, sliders

The only thing we didn’t do yesterday is eat greasy amusement park food. We by-passed every steak ‘n’ hoagie, every single cheeseburger. We did not eat even one giant soft pretzel. There were no $7 Dippin Dots or $9 soft drinks in fancy souvenir cups. Halfway through the day we marched out to the parking lot, ate our picnic lunch, and marched right back in. That’s not to say I wasn’t totally enticed by the smells of Cinnabon wafting past, but I’m the mom that brings a purse full of candy to the movie theater. And I’m okay with that.

veggie-ful

I did, however, bring thoughts of fair-like food home with me. So I indulged today, but I healthed it up a pretty good bit.

These Cheesy BBQ Veggie Sliders are HANDS-DOWN the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had. What’s better is that they’re itty bitty, so you can have two.

Cleverly smashed into these lovely little sliders are chick peas, black beans, carrots, spinach, caramelized onions, cheese, and BBQ sauce. Ohhhhhh yeah.

Topping these with more cheese was an important decision. In my opinion, there is no such thing as too much cheese.

More veggies on top of the unreasonable amount of cheese.

veggie burger sliders

If they had sold these tiny veggie burgers at Carowinds, I might have been tempted to splurge. But I think I’m glad I waited to gorge myself on park-ish food today, in the comfort of my own home, where Chad is the only person that might point and laugh if I smear BBQ sauce on my face.

Cheesy BBQ Veggie Sliders (modified from THIS recipe at How Sweet It Is)

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil

just a dab of butter

a pinch of kosher salt

15-16 ounces of cooked, drained, and rinsed garbanzo beans, black beans, or a combination of both (see note at the bottom)

1 medium carrot, grated

1/2 cup cooked greens — spinach or kale both work well, OR you can use thawed frozen spinach- just be sure to squeeze allll the water out

1/2 cup grated colby jack cheese (or whatever your preference)

2 tablespoons BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Spicy)

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

a dash of onion powder

3 tablespoons whole wheat flour

More cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and BBQ sauce for topping the finished sliders

8 whole wheat dinner rolls

Place the red onion, olive oil, butter, and kosher salt in a small saute pan over medium heat. Caramelize the onion, stirring it around in the butter and oil occasionally. This should only take a few minutes.

Meanwhile, put the beans in a large bowl and start smashing them with the back of a fork. You could use a food processor to pulvarize the beans, but I like this rustic sort of texture, PLUS the chunks of beans seem to help the patties stay together. Add the grated carrots, greens, and cheese. When the onions are good and caramelly dump them in. Continue smashing everything together with the fork. Mix in the BBQ sauce, honey, pepper, paprika, and onion powder. Keep using the fork to combine all the ingredients evenly. Then mix in the flour.

Using about 3 heaping tablespoons at a time, form the mixture into 8 equal-sized patties. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes (this just makes them easier to handle- it’s not completely necessary).

Heat a large skillet on medium high. Coat with just a dab of oil or non-stick cooking spray and add the patties just a few at a time so you have room to flip them (they will be a little bit soft; I like to cook 3 at a time so that there is room for my spatula in the skillet). Cook them for about 3 minutes on each side – you’re just browning them and trying to heat them through.

Slice the whole wheat dinner rolls in half, burger-bun-style. Drizzle a little more BBQ sauce onto the bottom half of each mini bun, Place the cooked veggie sliders on top of the BBQ sauce. Then top them with cheese while they’re still HOT! so it will melt. Stach each slider with lettuce, tomato, and red onion slices, finishing with the top half of the bun. You can hold them together using frill picks if you’d like.

**Note: To make 8 regular sized burgers or 16 sliders, use 1 (15 ounce) can of garbanzo beans (chick peas) and 1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, and then double the rest of the ingredients. You could use all of one kind or the other, but the combination of the two beans was great for flavor AND color. If you aren’t doubling the recipe, you could certainly still use half of each can and save the rest of the beans for another dish OR you could do like I do (if you either plan ahead or have a bit of extra time) and soak & prepare dried beans — I just measure them by scooping them out of the big pot with my liquid measuring cup. All beans do need to be drained and rinsed, of course. Even those you cook yourself.**

veggie burgers

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Gratitude

with 25 comments

One year ago today I started Sugar Dish Me.

At least I think it was one year ago today. What had happened was… Sugar Dish actually started out on another host site. I hated it. So I managed to wrap my technologically challenged brain around migrating my material here. But when I got here, sugardish.com was not an available URL. Figures. In my opinion, naming a blog is completely difficult. Like naming a book before you write it. Or naming your car before you drive it. Or naming your puppy before it ever licks your face. But naming your blog is the very freaking first thing you’re asked to do. So I was sitting there in front of my dinosaur desktop computer (velociraptor to be exact, complete with a very annoying high-pitched, consistent whining noise and a tendency to sneak attack), the one that my children have long since sent up in a puff of Minecraft smoke, with all of my recipes and poor attempts at writing in total LIMBO, while I tried to rename my blog.

I am sooooo creative that I added “Me” onto the end of “Sugar Dish”, and whaddoyaknow, that URL was available! Probably because it sucks.

At the time I really wasn’t very worried about it because I honestly didn’t think very many people would be inclined to see what I have to say, or read what I have to write besides, you know, my mom and my sisters and the ever-faithful Shasta-Cola. But here I am one year later with 180-some loyal followers and more daily traffic than I ever expected.

I know that by “professional blog standards”, 180 readers might not be much. But MY 180 readers are AWESOME.

This post is to express my deepest gratitude to those of you that left thoughtful comments on crappy photos I took with my cell phone camera. Heartfelt thanks to all of you that read my rambling nonsense thrice weekly and decide not to judge me when I freak out at the grocery store. Hugs to those of you that did judge me and then kept it to yourselves. Because sometimes I’m a loose cannon.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you that consistently visit and comment and interact and lend me your eyeballs day after day.

Thank you for giving me recipes.

And thanks for making mine.

I reeeeeally like it when your likes and comments are numbered in my notifications as soon as I log in to Facebook. If you would like to stay updated on goodies that don’t make it to my blog, or see photos of my tiny kitty with her head stuffed in my water glass, you can follow me on Instagram. It’s super fun. So if you follow me here and there, then thanks for that, too.

Thanks for tolerating my nonsensical blog name… because I’m already this far in. No going back now.

One year ago today I would not have ever guessed that I would make so many friends. Friends that send happy birthday wishes. Friends that sympathize when my kids have a bad day or get on my nerves. Friends that appreciate my neverending sarcasm and sour sort of humor. Friends that encourage and share and say just the most exactly right things. I love you all – I really, really do.

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Posted in About

Tagged with , , , , ,

“Cake” Party

with 11 comments

icebox cake with sprinkles
Sooooo… this cake feels like an end of summer party.

I think it’s because of the sprinkles. And the freezing.

I actually made it way way way back in August for my brother-in-law’s birthday. My family is slightly obsessed with funfetti.

I was going to save this post for the weekend. Because this weekend we are aiming for a day filled with rollercoasters, parking lot peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, and $9 frozen lemonade. THAT feels like a reason to share this cake party more than any plain old Thursday I can think of (except Thanksgiving… which might be the best Thursday ever).

Today was supposed to be all about basil walnut pesto. But I was going through things today, making some changes on my page (P.S. you can follow on Instagram and Pinterest now… I managed to get the buttons to the right over there to work! I am admittedly the last blogger on earth to figure out how to make all that happen, and when I finally did it was because Chad knew which buttons to push. Techno-loser alert.) and I noticed that this past month, really this past week has been overrun by basil. It’s because I have too much! The basil is out of control!! But my basil is not your problem.

graham cracker cake

My executive decision was to share NOT more basil, but an obscene amount of sprinkles.

This week has been reeeeeeeeally long. Did it feel like it went on forever for you? Despite the amazing weather we’ve been having, I mean crazy gorgeous let’s-have-a-picnic-all-day-everyday weather, this week feels like it’s been one great big forever task. It was all full of trips to tax offices and lines at the DMV. This week was busy lunchtime errands, mailing packages at the post office, and annoying phone calls (though I may have made those calls from the sunshiney front porch with my feet up on the rail). All of this felt like more reasons for sprinkles to me.

sprinkles on whipped cream

All these sprinkles that are all over everything are part of something called an icebox cake. You know about those, right? Layers of pudding and graham crackers and sweet whippy cream are stacked together and frozen. The pudding softens the graham crackers and they take on a cakey kind of persona. It’s freezer science. I should mention that “icebox” is a totally retro romantic way to refer to your refrigerator.

Let’s make this a trend.

making icebox cake

The last icebox cake I made was chocolate, reminiscent of a chocolate eclair.

It was suuuper fancy and fantastic. I’ll share that with you one day.

But on this day, as I gear up for a weekend full of extreme amusement and maybe even another demolition derby, it is definitely all about the sprinkles. And pudding made out of cake batter.

frozen funfetti

Friday’s mission: put sprinkles on something.

Because there are no holidays on the horizon. Because this week went on for an eternity. Because even if you don’t feel like cooking pudding from scratch or making a Funfetti Icebox Cake, you deserve some kind of cake party. A colorful one at that.

final frosting

 

Cake Batter Pudding (from THIS recipe at How Sweet It Is)

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup box yellow cake mix

a pinch of salt

3 cups cold WHOLE milk

1 tablespoon vanilla

**Note: I made this with 2% milk and the pudding layers in the finished icebox cake were too “freezy”. I wanted an ice-creamy texture and what I got was ice, which was kind of disappointing because this pudding straight out of the fridge was AWESOME. I wanted the frozen pudding to be needed a creamier, so I called for whole milk here. That is my preference for texture. BUT! The original recipe actually called for vanilla almond milk, so go with whatever strikes your pudding fancy. Just thought you should know.**

Make a large-ish double boiler. I used two medium-sized saucepans, the bottom pan filled 1/4 of the way up with water. Bring the water to a rolling simmer. In the top pan or heat-safe bowl whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, cake mix, salt, and milk. Mix until it’s combined and place it over the simmering water. Cook for 30-35 minutes until the pudding is thickened, stirring occasionally. Check to make sure your water doesn’t simmer away. When the pudding is ready it will coat the back of a spoon and drizzle ribbons (thanks for the tip, Jessica!). Let the pudding cool completely.

Refrigerate until you’re ready to use. **You can make this stuff ahead of time**

Funfetti Icebox Cake (also from How Sweet It Is, recipe linked above)

1 quart heavy cream, cold!

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla ** let’s pretend you don’t feel like making whipped cream from scratch… use Cool Whip in place of the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla listed here**

1 (14 ounce) box of graham crackers (I bought 2 boxes “just in case”; I needed a few extra grahams because I actually had enough pudding & whipped cream to make Two loaf-pan cakes)

3/4 cup sprinkles!!!!!

1 recipe cake batter pudding (above) OR 1 batch of prepared instant vanilla pudding (saves time! still awesome!)

Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap running in both directions and up over the sides. This will help you get your finished frozen cake on outta there.

Make whipped cream. Pour the heavy cream in a large bowl an beat on low using whisk attachments until stiff peaks form. Be patient. Add in the powdered sugar and vanilla, beating until they are just combined. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the whipped cream and put it in a smaller bowl. This will be for “frosting” your finished cake. Refrigerate both bowls until you’re ready to use them.

Using the large bowl of whipped cream, “frost” the bottom and sides of the prepared loaf pan. This layer should be about 1/2 an inch thick. Place graham crackers across the bottom of the pan; I had good luck breaking the grahams at the “seams” to fit. Spread more whipped cream over the top of the graham crackers. Cover with sprinkles. Then another layer of graham crackers. Then a layer of cake batter pudding. Keep layering all the way up to the top of the pan, making sure to spread and push the pudding and whipped cream down the open sides. End at the top with a layer of whipped cream. Pull the plastic wrap that’s hanging over the sides loosely across the top of the cake and freeze for 4-6 hours, or overnight.

Two hours before serving turn the cake out of the pan and onto a serving platter. Using the small bowl of whipped cream you set aside, “frost” the top and sides of the cake so you have a pretty finished product. COVER IT with sprinkles. Freeze for at least two hours, slice, and serve.

easy icebox cake

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 13, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Posted in Sugar

Tagged with , , , , , ,

My Son Hates 7th Grade

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no-bake oatmeal cookies
My oldest son is in the 7th grade. That sounds really strange to me when I say it out loud. Because I can remember the 7th grade, and it doesn’t seem far enough away for me to have a kid that’s 12. But anyway.

Andrew, my biggest little boy, is right smack in the center of what I totally remember as being the most awkward, emotional, and unfriendly years of life… Middle School. Errgh. He’s lucky because he’s super-dee-duper cute. I had snaggleteeth. He wears pretty cool clothes (which I think must be easier for boys except for those unfortunate few that are shoved into too-tight Wranglers and velcro sneakers). I’m pretty sure I dressed like a loser… my sisters were too little back then to tell me what on earth to wear. He’s got a sense of humor, and a handful of friends, so in comparison to MY middle school world Andrew is doing pretty doggone good.

But he still hates 7th grade.

Everyday he comes home and tells me so.

It started with our open house/school supply disaster.

making no-bake chocoate peanut butter cookies

We went to the open house. The teachers actually gave us the time of day (which is more than I can say for any of them last year). We were feeling pretty good. I asked each teacher the same question: “Is there anything specific he will need for your class?” The overwhelming response was, “Nah. Not really. Just a binder. Some dividers. Pencils and paper– standard stuff.” We were super prepared for allll a that thanks to my sister, aunt AND elementary school teacher extraordinaire, who went crazy on school supplies and bought every single thing on every single list the schools had provided on their websites.

So Andrew headed off for his first day of 7th grade armed with an awesome 3-inch 3-ring binder, enough dividers for each of his 8 classes, pencils, paper, and a brand new book bag. He returned home with a list of demands from nearly every single teacher, all wanting their OWN binder, 42,000 dividers, pencil pouches, etc. I was so completely overjoyed to have to traipse around Wal-Mart on the first day of school with every other parent in our town trying to find supplies that sold out weeks before. I mean, what mom wouldn’t be?

Let’s not forget the part about the currently unavailable and previously unrequested school supplies being a test grade.

I wrote a very nice email letting the teachers know that we know they wouldn’t make these requests lightly and that we were trying to accomodate, but that I can’t be the only parent running up against this wall, blah, blah, blah. It was super carefully crafted; eggshell-worded. Because Lord knows I do not want my kid to get off on the wrong foot with his teachers. Buuuut my plan backfired. Because the only two teachers that responded were snarky beotches. Also Andrew overheard these same two ladies gossiping about us. Rude.

The principal was nice. She gets a gold star.

making no bake oatmeal cookies

Of course I drove in circles until I found every last school supply listed. Because I want my cutie boy to do well. It took me 3 whole days.

In the meantime Andrew discovered that none of his friends from last year are in any of his classes. He has the worst (and latest) lunch. He isn’t allowed to take his book bag to class and since we now have like 79 small binders instead of just one big one he has to try to go to his locker in between each block (there is no such thing as “1st period” or “5th period” anymore; now they are called “blocks”. lame.).

He has the bottom locker.
The bottom locker sucks.

This whole process has made him tardy 3 times in a week. Three tardies = Silent lunch.

chocolatey no bake cookies

In 6th grade there wasn’t much homework. My little one, who was in 3rd grade last year, always had more homework than Andrew did. I warned him that a light workload wasn’t doing him any favors… not that he could have done anything about it. And now he is paying the price. It’s sort of stressing him out.

So every day Andrew comes home from school and tells me that 7th grade sucks. I hate that. But I just keep reminding him that we are gonna get through it. HE is gonna get through it.

When your kids start to get big there’s really only so much you can do without making it worse. I’m trying so hard to help. And even though it’s sort of considered the un-cool thing to do, my help involves trying to pack Andrew’s lunch.

Late, friendless, silent lunch needs cookies. And if you smash all the good kinds of cookies into one, single, bake-free bar, you get these.

Today when Andrew came home he told me he still hates 7th grade. BUT! He got 104 on his spelling test last week. And he’s got a good grip on his math and science classes. And he made a few friends on the school bus.

So maybe it’s not all bad. And as long as there are cookies something is good.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip No-Bake Cookie Bars (from THIS recipe at Brown Eyed Baker)

Ingredients

3 cups old fashioned oats

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, or mini chocolate chips

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

To Make

Line a 9 X 13 pan baking dish with parchment paper or foil.

In a large bowl, stir together the old fashioned oats, 1 cup of the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and vanilla. Stirring peanut butter into oats is a good workout. Set the oat mixture aside.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine the sugar, milk, butter, and salt. Stir frequently and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes.

Pour the hot sugary butter mixture over the oatmeal mixture and stir until the oats are moistened completely. The chocolate will melt. Dump the whole sticky wonderful mess into the prepared baking dish and press it out evenly with the back of a wooden spoon.

Press in the remaining chocolate chips.

Let it cool completely. It needs to set up for at least an hour before slicing.

I cut these into 1 X 2 bars and wrapped them individually. We stored them in the fridge and had them in lunches and for snack all week!

chocolate chip & peanut butter cookies

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm

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