When faced with extra pie crust dough, make tiny lazy pies!

So I totally had crust left over from that lemon pie I made a little while back. When faced with such a leftover crust, my general “hey I can use this to make something tasty!” method is to roll it out, rub some butter on it, sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar, roll up, slice into teeny pieces, and bake. This time, however, I was feeling particularly inspired.

pie crust plus swiss cake roll

For, you see, I was the proud owner of Swiss cake rolls. I started thinking of all of those random deep fried things that you can get at fairs. Quite tragically, it’s been many moons since I have attended a county or state fair, so I’ve never actually tried a deep fried twinkie or deep fried oreo or whatever deep fried things the kids are eating these days. Course, I was feeling way too lazy to actually deep fry anything, so I figured just wrapping the Swiss cake roll in dough and baking it would suffice.

baked swiss cake roll

Baked it at 350 degrees for something like 12-15 minutes. And, it was much like a hot and melty Swiss cake roll wrapped in hot buttery dough! The next time I have leftover dough as well as Swiss cake rolls, I would totally do this again.

Jello Cookies! Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Pinterest.

So Pinterest seems to be a dumping ground for anything vaguely pretty. I dunno about you, but my feed is full of wedding, decor, schmaltzy inspiration, food, tattoos, and WWII imagery (I suspect the last one is an outlier). I, of course, am primarily there for the food. Ideally, I use Pinterest as a tightly organized set of lists for things I would like to make at some point. I don’t get the habits that others have of repinning anything vaguely pretty – if I can’t put it to use at some point, I don’t want it on any of my boards. My pet peeve is pins where, if you click the link, it takes you to someplace only tangentially related to the pin at best.

Anyhow, I recently decided I should start using some of my pins. I’d come across a recipe for jello sugar cookies awhile back and, as I had an excess of jello, I decided that now was a good time to attempt said jello cookies. I was super happy with the results, so lemme tell you a bit more about the process!

Jello Cookies

So here’s the ingredients you’ll need:

1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 3oz. package of Jell-O
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
sugar for rolling
sugar sprinkles for rolling

So, you put the first four ingredients in a bowl (shortening, butter, sugar, and jello). It’ll look something like this:

Next, cream the eggs and vanilla into the mix.

jello cookie mix

After that, slowly dump in the rest of your ingredients and mix them as well. I’m a total bum and never bother to sift things, so when I get to the step in recipes where you’re supposed to sift your flour with other things (like baking soda and salt, for example), I generally ignore that. I pretend sifting doesn’t matter, and instead blend in the non-flour ingredients first super well, and then blend in the flour afterwords. In theory it’ll be well mixed?

Anyhow, your dough will be super neon bright, it’s pretty sweet. I went with cherry flavored jello, and that resulted in that awesome orangish red you see above.

So at this point, go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll want to get a bowl and pour a respectable amount of sugar into it (about 1/2 cup). Roll your dough into balls, and roll those balls in said sugar before placing on a pan.

jello cookie dough balls

Get something flat-surfaced like a jar, and use that to squish the balls down to a nice disk size. After that, grab whatever fancy sugar sprinkles you have lying around, sprinkle some onto your disks, and squash again to ensure said sprinkles don’t fall off your cookies during the baking process.

flattened jello sugar cookies

Bake these bad boys for 6-8 minutes, closer to 6 if you like’em soft and closer to 8 if you like’em crispy. And, then you have deliciousness!

Cookies with a view!

So I got all crazy and decided to sprinkle some chocolate chips into some of the batter. I figured, hey, cherry flavor + chocolate chips = amazing, right? And they were decent, but really, the jello alone was enough. Jello is some powerful stuff, and these cookies stand on their own without needing additional ingredients to spruce them up.

I was pretty happy with how these came out, and would totally make them again. These are actually a great cookie to make if you have a reason to make a bunch of cookies, like for a bake sale or for Christmas. You can use multiple different flavors of Jello, and for a bake sale just wrap one of each color together in clear cellophane or in sandwich bags with a colorful ribbon or something, and I bet their visual appeal will make them sell super well.

Or, for Christmas you can package them in ex-Pringles containers like this – yet another thing I’ve pinned on Pinterest that I have yet to try!

If you reeeally like lemons, you should totally make this lemon pie

So rumor has it that, when a lot of people make recipes, they write up a grocery list full of the ingredients they need for the recipe and go and buy them. Well, I’m pretty bad at that technique. I mean, sometimes one or two ingredients for an actual planned recipe will make it on the list, but in general, I’m more of a “hey, this is cheap and tasty!” kind of person when making my list and grocery shopping. My recipe method is often more of a “Hey look, I have random ingredients! What can I make?”

So a coworker had contributed several lemons to the break room at work, and, one lonely Friday afternoon, I decided the yellow bastards were coming home with me. I knew I lacked the ability to eat enough salmon to use up that many lemons, so I required a stealthier plan. A dessertlike plan that was round, delicious, and relatively easy to make. Which is how I came to choose the Shaker lemon pie.

It only calls for four ingredients:

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • A crust

The intrigue, of course, is that it uses whole lemons, rind and all. The pain in the ass part is that the lemons have to be sliced incredibly thin for you to not be painfully aware that it indeed is lemon rind in your pie.

lemon slices

Woefully, that paring knife was not up to the challenge. But I soldiered on. The recipe called for these lemon slices to be mixed with the sugar, and to sit for at least 4 hours. To compensate for my lack of ability to slice anywhere near thin, I went ahead and let the mixture soak overnight.

soaking slices in sugar

Yeah, I totally kept tasting the mixture – it was like super sugary condensed lemonade. I could see taking this mixture (minus the rind, mind you), dumping it in a blender with some ice and the alcohol of your choice, and having pretty much the best blended beverage ever. And, speaking of blender, that’s what I did. Multiple people in the comments recommended blending everything up if you couldn’t get your lemons thin, so I dumped this bowl o’ sugary goodness in the blender, added the four eggs, and blended until nice and smooth.

pie mix

I’m a total bum, and bought my pie crust. Sure, the ingredients to make a crust are super cheap, but my wrist muscles would have none of that. And, as it turns out, it’s still pretty cheap to just buy a freaking pie crust. Or even a two-pack of pie crusts, as this one was! Which turned out to be a good thing, as apparently I needed that additional crust to cover the top of the pie.

lemon pie covered

The recipe said to brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle powdered sugar on top. I managed to do the first one, but apparently bummed out and/or forgot about the second one. Oops! I did use a toothpick to poke holes in the top of the crust. Mostly because every pie I’ve ever made with a top crust usually says to give it some breathing air or something. I’d normally do a few slices with a knife, but that filling was doing it’s best to leak out the sides as it was, so I decided not to give it any more opportunities than it already had.

So, at some point during all of this you should have preheated your oven to 450 degrees. The pie bakes for 15 minutes at 450, then you reduce the temperature to 375 and bake for another 20-25 minutes.

lemon pie

Yeah, this pie was amazing. Well, if you’re into lemons. I think I’m mostly used to eating either meringues or creamy lemon desserts, so to have something a littler chunkier and tart like this was different in a very good way. I seriously want to make this for everyone I know that eats lemons. Who isn’t diabetic. Or five years old. Cause two cups of sugar is pretty intense.

lemon pie slice

Delightful Grease from Swifts

So my company works next to a place called Swifts. Or rather, my company recently moved to a larger building, and now is across the street from a place called Swifts. And sometimes, when I am driven for whatever reason to drink on a weeknight, I am very glad that my work is located so close to Swifts.

Good diner good really hits the spot, hangover or no, and Swifts definitely has good diner food. At diner food prices, too! Their grilled cheese & fries is delightful, and last I went, cost just under $4.00. I’m also a fan of their cheeseburger & fries, along with their cheesesteak sandwich & fries, as pictured here:

cheesesteak sandwich & fries

Swifts is really more of a breakfast place, so in an ideal world I’d talk more about their breakfast items. However, I’ve always considered myself a big lunch person, so if a place offers lunch food, that’s generally what I’m getting. That, and the whole “aversion to eggs” thing.

Not lunch, but here’s a picture of some chili dogs from Swifts that, though I didn’t try myself, I was assured tasted quite delightful:

chili dogs from Swifts

As you might note, Swifts is also an excellent place to visit if you are looking to ingest a large amount of calories and gain weight. Woohoo! In any case, the next time you have a godawful hangover and are craving some very satisfying grease, I recommend giving Swifts a whirl.

How to kinda make provolone

So I took a cheese-making class many moons ago. And by “moons” I mean “months.” I’ve got some cheddar sitting in a “cheese cave” (and by “cheese cave” I mean “mini-fridge”) from that escapade which I’ll crack open in a month or two. Takes for-freaking-ever to make cheddar, but there are some faster cheeses. I’d found evidence that provolone could be made within a reasonable amount of time, so I decided to give it a whirl.

The guy who’s class I took has a great big PDF book of cheesemaking that you can grab for free. Has a bunch of recipes for cheese, other dairy products, how to make a press, and a bunch of related useful info. So there was the provolone recipe in that one, but there were a bunch of other slightly different ones all around the web, such as this one. Many of these called for aging, which I was feeling entirely too lazy to do.

So, I got my gallon of whole milk, dumped it in a pot, put a thermometer in it, and slowly heated it to 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

milk in pot
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Breadmaking for Lazy People

I’ve actually wanted to get into bread making for a long time. I’m a total sucker for delightful breads of the sort that you have to pay entirely too much for at the grocery store. I mean, they’re mostly flour, right? So, $4 a loaf? I figure it’s the “frou-frou tax.” So, in order to get into bread making, I realized the best method of doing so was to find a bread recipe with a fairly minimal amount of effort involved.

So I came across this recipe for artisan bread which required no kneading at all and I’m all like, “Wooo lazy bread!” I ended up halving the recipe as I didn’t want a huge ingredient commitment in case it came out all crappy.

So, you need a packet o’ yeast, some coarse salt (I used sea salt), white flour, and your faucet.

pot o ingredients
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Delightful French Toast and more at The Three Lions on Colfax

There’s nothing quite like hanging out at a bar at 6:00 am on a Saturday morning. The Three Lions (located on Colfax, east of downtown Denver) is one of the few places in the Denver area where you can see English football (AKA soccer) at strange hours. And thus, in the semi-recent past, I found myself sucking down hot tea and watching some Crystal Palace when a menu magically appeared in front of me. And by “magically” I mean “the bartender laid it down in front of me.” However, given the level of consciousness I had considering the time on a Saturday I was awake, it might as well have been magic. So I went with the French Toast, and woo boy was it delightful.

french toast
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Bacon Honey Biscuits!

When I first slapped these together, I was all, “Hey, I’m being super innovative! Bacon…and honey…on bread!” And then as I was typing this up, I had the stunning thought of “Oh wait, honey is kinda like maple syrup, and no one’s ever thought to stick bacon and maple syrup on a biscuit.” Oops!

Bacon honey rolls

Anyhow, if you really want the breakfast of champions, and drank all of your maple syrup during your last crazy binger, then I highly recommend honey. The biscuits I used were actually ones I made myself. However, the yeast was rather past it’s due date, thus leading to rather flat biscuits, thus causing me to become disillusioned about photographing and writing about said biscuits. Oops again. Luckily, bacon saves the day. Hooray!

On a mildly unrelated note, I don’t like to have too many “Hey look I ate out at a restaurant and took pictures” posts in a row. However, I’ve got a glut of restaurant photos and a dearth of “oh hey, I made something” photos as everything that I’ve made lately was either a.) something I’ve made and written about already or b.) boring and gross (mostly the former rather than the latter, luckily). In any case, what this means for the two of you that actually read this far is that a.) I might be writing more about restaurants in the near future and b.) I need to get off my fanny and make more interesting food!

And on a final note, hope you had a great Memorial Day!

Lunch at iSushi on Santa Fe

So first off, let me get this out of the way: Holy Cow there’s a sushi place a block from my work! This is something I immensely approve of, and anticipate heavily urging that any and all future happy hours take place there. So yeah, I’m pretty stoked about iSushi. I do wish their signage was better, though. It’s just a blank white sign with “iSushi” in rather generic font, not too inspiring. Apparently, so uninspiring that I never bothered to take a picture of said generic sign. And so sad, considering their actual logo on their website has much more personality!

iSushi logo

So anyhow, I went there along with my boss Brett for lunch fairly recently, and as the weather was nice we dined on their patio. Nice ambience, with large wooden tables. Despite their extensive menu and roll selection, we both went with lunch specials.

miso soup and salad

Standard miso soup and salad with miso dressing to start. Holy cow that soup tasted like every other miso soup starter! And, uh, I liked the dressing on the salad. It was creamier than other miso dressings I’ve generally had. This I approve of. Need to figure out how to make a decent miso dressing. Or I need to go to the Pacific Mercantile market and buy myself some delicious miso dressing. This is ideal for a lazy bastard such as myself.

sushi lunch

I went with the “Sushi Delight” for lunch, spicy tuna roll with a selection of sushi. Plate presentation was nice (I liked the bonus flower), but nothing too fancy. But then, lunch. I’d definitely be curious to go back for dinner to see how they do dinner plate presentation. The rolls as well as the nigiri were quite tasty, though the rice might have been slightly drier than I generally like. This is because at some point I got anal retentive about sushi. Maybe it’s from too long of making my own rice or something. Or, the rice just happened to be slightly drier than it could have been. Not so dry that I didn’t totally enjoy my rolls, mind you, but still, the dryness was there.

sushi rolls!

While I did not get to sample any of Brett’s rolls, I did force him to sit there and not eat any of said rolls while I photographed them in all of their roll-like glory. And looking at them now is making me hungry again. This is why I should not write these stupid posts several hours before dinner – with my luck I’ll get all ravenous from writing about food and then stuff my face right before bed and have horrific nightmares about being chased by giant tunas with machetes or something. Food + sleep are not good times for me.

Anyhow, heck yes a sushi place near my work! It all comes back to that, really. I’m looking forward to returning to iSushi at some point in the near future and digesting the rest of their offerings.