Sunday, July 22, 2007

I'm crazy protractor man, give me some caramel popcorn.

Caramel Popcorn, originally uploaded by mud pie gourmet.

I am obsessed with caramel popcorn. I don't know when it began. I remember eating caramel popcorn at my friend, Carrie's house and watching Adventures in Babysitting. When we lived in Charlottesville we had an Easter brunch with some friends with an Easter Egg Hunt afterwards for the kids, AND the adults. The adults wrote things on small pieces of paper that they would do for others and put them inside an egg. For example: a free dinner, free babysitting, or my personal favorite: caramel popcorn. The egg we found had a note which read "One large bowel of caramel popcorn." We had a nice laugh at the misspelling, and I ate almost all of that popcorn by myself. I eat it until I get sick. I can't stop myself.

I am a Nazi when it comes to what my kids eat, so you can imagine my brother-in-law's surprise when I made caramel popcorn for the cousins. He was also shocked that my kids had never had butter popcorn, yet they had had caramel popcorn (which has a whole stick of butter in it)! Some things are too good to be missed.

Wondering about that title? Gotta love S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y night. Especially the old school days. Everyday my daughter asks me when we are going to Pumpkinville. I tell her that it's not open until Halloween time. Who doesn't associate caramel popcorn with Halloween? Adam Sandler should have said "I'm crazy newspaper face, give me some caramel popcorn!"

Caramel Popcorn

5-6 cups cooked popcorn (I have even used microwave popcorn)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, milk and salt together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add 1/2 tsp baking soda and stir. Pour over popped popcorn and mix.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Fairyland Chocolate Cake, originally uploaded by mud pie gourmet.

We finally had a birthday party for my 4 year old (her birthday was in June). We made our house turn into fairyland and the kids were fairies and elves once they earned their wings. After games and decorating our star cookie wands (sugar cookies on a popsicle stick) we ate fairy fare.

Star Cucumbers and Baby Carrots with Red Pepper Hummus
Magic Fruit Wands
Star Pizzas
Fairy Punch with Edible Flowers
Fairy Chocolate Cake

The Fairy Chocolate Cake was made by my mother-in-law and is the recipe I chose to feature (and if you're wondering why there are 5 candles on a 4 year old's cake it is a Mud tradition to put one to grow on. It's going to get confusing in the photo albums mixed with my family's tradition of putting the number you are turning). This recipe has been used for 25 + years at the Mud household. Every birthday, this is the cake that is made (except when the only girl, Mary went through a phase where she wanted store-bought cakes because all of her friends did). I have not quite perfected this cake as Mom M. has. Everyone looks forward to sinking their teeth in this cake, always with the choice of Breyers Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream or Chocolate ice cream. of my Mud nephew's birthday is next weekend. I can't wait.

Mom Mud's Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup margerine (or shortening)
2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

3/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp soda
1/8 tsp salt

1 3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, margarine and sugar. Add vanilla and two eggs. Sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients and milk with creamed ingredients, alternating. Flour and grease two 9-inch round pans. Pour in batter. Bake for 20 minutes (until toothpick comes out clean). Wet a kitchen towel and lay out on counter. Place pans on towel to cool. Remove from pans (using a knife around the edges one at a time. Frost 1 cake, including the top, place the other round cake on top and completely frost cake.

Fudge Icing:
1 lb powdered sugar
2/3 stick butter
1/2 cup cocoa
pinch of salt
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a small saucepan melt butter, add powdered sugar, salt and milk (a little at a time, you might need more), cocoa and vanilla. Stir together and place on cake.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Give me a crusty

Coconut Chicken, originally uploaded by mud pie gourmet.

The first time I had coconut-crusted anything was in Hawaii. I went there for a dental convention, so in between classes on gum disease we toured the sites and ate good food (including coconut chicken). A must visit restaurant is Top of Waikiki. The rooftop restaurant spins as you eat so you can see the scenery.

I was in college my first and only time I went to Hawaii, and once I found out I was going to Hawaii with my boss (also my Uncle) and his "computer guy" and his wife I decided it would be to my advantage to bring along my boyfriend, S., now my husband. S. was dirt poor (his paleontology job didn't pay much), so I offered to pay for half his ticket and he was able to share a room with my uncle/boss. He consented (after I twisted his arm) and we had a memorable time that October.

Fast forward three months. I am in London. I move into this amazing row house. I hang a picture of S. and me on my bulletin board right by my bed. A new roommate sees the picture and asks why I have a picture of S. I reply, "Um, he's my boyfriend." (All the while thinking, "And YOU are?") She said, "Are you the one who paid for him to go to Hawaii with you?" I corrected her and told her that I only paid for half the ticket. Really, I wasn't buying my boyfriend, but I must have done something right because he proposed 8 months later.

Mango Raspberry Salsa

1 1/2 mangos, peeled and diced
2 scallions, white parts chopped
1/2 serrano pepper, seeds removed
5 raspberries
juice of 1 lime
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor. Process till finely chopped, but not completely pureed.

Coconut Chicken

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup coconut flakes
1 cup Panko bread crumbs (in Asian section)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Marinate chicken in coconut milk with red pepper flakes for at least 30 minutes, up to overnight. Combine coconut flakes and bread crumbs in a separate bowl. Place marinated chicken in coconut and bread crumb mixture, turning to coat. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 35-40 minutes, until cooked through.

Serve with mango salsa and rice.

Definition for Crusty: a dirty look.

This was a word some friends and I made up. We would always say, "She gave me a crusty." This is something crusty I would want unlike those dirty looks.