Apple Slab Pie

Image of the close up of a slice of Apple Slab Pie with whipped creamEnd of an Era
Yesterday my two sons played their last baseball game. Well, let’s just say it’s their last competitive baseball game. My guess is they will find their way to an intramural team or maybe an adult league somewhere at some point. But, the days of practice every day after school and watching the league standings to see if they make the NCS playoffs are over.

The two of them started playing thirteen years ago with t-ball. Along the way, we have experienced the highest of highs and some pretty low lows. Playing that long requires a lot of effort as well as a lot of time. There were vacation plans that had to be changed due to tournaments and plenty of split-duty weekends when plans just couldn’t be changed. Along the way, we made lifelong friends with the families of other players. The Cooperstown tournament, when they were twelve, will be an experience that the boys will never forget. And, they will be able to bore their kids with the telling of it well into their 80s. It was an experience my husband and I will also never forget—mostly because of the people involved with that team.

Six of the twelve players from that team continued playing together right up until the final out last night. This is no small feat considering how competitive it is to make the varsity team at their high school. We were all emotional, including the boys, but we did manage to get those six together for a picture.

Now the boys aren’t sure what they are going to do with this newfound free time. Our response was to get a job. So far one has managed that task. We’re crossing our fingers the other gets something soon.

It will be an adjustment for my husband and me as well. Suddenly our Tuesday and Thursday evenings have opened up. Guess we’ll just have to deal the old-fashioned way…Baseball (on TV), hot dogs, and apple pie…luckily, this recipe for Apple Slab Pie could feed the whole team!

Apple Slab Pie Recipe
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yields 12 to 18 servings

This Apple Slab Pie has a higher proportion of crust-to-filling than your standard 9-inch round double-crusted pie. And, the crusts of slab pies tend to puff into gorgeous flakes far more readily than standard pie crusts do. So, this recipe is perfect if you’re into crusts! Read more…

Chili con Queso

Image of a bowl of Chili con Queso with tortilla chipsSay Cheese
My sister is a foodie just like me. Weekends are planned around baking schedules. Excuses to have a get-together are whipped up so that a certain cookbook can be taken for a test drive. Entire international vacation itineraries revolve around restaurants and the foods of far-off lands. We love good food. It is because of this love of all things culinary that she gets a rather large dose of ridicule for her love of queso.

You can call it queso, cheese sauce, or even cheese dip. But, no matter what you call it if there is a tray of semi-fresh tortilla chips with bright orange cheese sauce you bet my sister is all over them. The more bright orange and weird the queso, the better. So, it should come as no surprise that at a recent get-together there was a small, gently bubbling crockpot of queso.

The good news is that this wasn’t the queso that you pump onto chips at the ballpark. This was a different animal. This was queso that she made. And, fresh queso is a totally different experience. Yes, you might have to get past the fact that it is indeed still made with Velveeta—a product my mother only bought to put in our emergency earthquake kit. But, the results are worth it.

Real queso does not have that plasticky sheen and/or texture. Real queso is actually quite good and I will bet anyone that the loudest naysayers will be the same people who park themselves by the bowl and can’t stop eating it. (Guilty)

This is the recipe she made and it comes adapted from my favorite cookbook and restaurant Tacolicious. It’s one of their most popular items on the menu. Give it a try for Cinco de Mayo and see what you think…

Chili con Queso
Yields 12 servings
Recipe adapted from Tacolicious by Sara Deseran Read more…

Beef Birria Tacos

Photo of Beef Birria Tacos with broth for dippingThe Humble Taco
Life is good at keeping you humble in big and small ways. My latest karmic reminder that I’m not as cool and all-knowing as I thought I was, came in the form of a taco.

I think I have made it obvious over the many years that I have been writing these posts that I am a big fan of Mexican cuisine. So much so that I felt confident that I had a better than average knowledge of regions, techniques, and any number of popular recipes. Imagine my surprise a few months back when I was introduced to Birria Tacos.

For something that is as ubiquitous and widely revered as Birria Tacos, you would think that someone for whom Mexican food is life would have come across it early on in the love affair. You would be wrong. And, since my introduction, I see them everywhere.

In case you are also one of those souls who is ignorant of the beauty of a Birria taco, they are essentially the taco version of a French dip. You start by making a rich and flavorful stew that you can eat as is. Or you can take the meat out, chop it up, fry up some tortillas, fill them with the chopped meat and some cheese, then grill them. To eat you dip the taco in the consume which is simply the broth from the stew and enjoy.

If you are wanting to try them yourself, I would first recommend doing a search for a local taqueria that makes them. Making your own is a bit of a process (as you might imagine) since they have to cook slow and low for a number of hours. Also, most recipes, like ours listed below, make enough for at least 8 people. If you are cool freezing some of it, then you are set. But, this might be better saved for a weekend get-together. The traditional meat used for this dish is goat. But, beef is just as popular. And, you can make Birria Tacos with lamb or pork if you want to be a rebel.

No matter which method you choose, I strongly encourage you to give these a try. Your mouth will be very happy you did…

Beef Birria Tacos
Recipe adapted from House of Yumm
Yields 8 servings Read more…

The World’s Greatest Cookie

World's Greatest CookieCategorically Correct
Describing myself as a foodie can be problematic—mainly because I am not sure what that means exactly beyond the fact that I love everything about food. I am not the person who will take pictures of my food at a restaurant (though I have done it on occasion). I am not the person who has to go to the latest “it” restaurant (though I am always down for a tasty night on the town).

I guess you could say I am the contradictory foodie. I have line in the sand standards and can be psychotically obsessive about an ingredient, technique, or authenticity. And, yet can be very cavalier about, say, Cool Whip and/or American cheese. (Though, as you can tell, I still have a healthy food snob side.) Adding to my quirks? Rules about certain edible items.

Case in point: I had a recent conversation about what constitutes a Christmas or special occasion cookie versus an everyday cookie. And, I, true to form, had some line in the sand opinions. A chocolate chip cookie is an everyday cookie. You will never convince me otherwise. Mexican wedding cakes are a Christmas cookie. You just don’t make them all the time. They are special. The problem is that, in my true contradictory/quirky foodie way, I have discovered a grey area. A good example is this cookie recipe my grandmother made, rather presumptuously named The World’s Greatest Cookie.

I love this cookie. It is without question one of my favorites…but, I hardly ever make it. Growing up, the only time I had them was when I went over to Gam’s house. My mother almost never made them. My theory as to why this was the case is that they are made with so-called pantry staples that were not staples in our pantry, things like coconut and corn flakes. These are not obscure ingredients. But, for whatever reason, we just never had on hand. So, to make these cookies would have required forethought and planning—which doesn’t quite qualify them for everyday status.

Fast forward to my own kitchen where corn flakes and coconut are pantry staples. And yet, I still don’t make these very often. So, you would assume that these cookies would fall into my Christmas/special occasion category based solely on taste and planning. But, no.

These cookies are buttery and flakey and are so darn good that they should go in the myriad of cookie tins that we make up every holiday season. But, they don’t for the same reason that they don’t fall into the everyday, pack ‘em in a lunch category. These cookies don’t travel well. These cookies break. They are delicate and unless you pack your lunch with utmost care, by recess you have crumbs instead of The World’s Greatest Cookie. They are tasty crumbs, but still…

So, I have placed these cookies in their own category that I have recently named Because I want to. The only reason needed to make these lovely bites is because you want to.

There are a number of versions of this cookie available on the interwebs. This is the recipe for The World’s Greatest Cookie that my grandmother used.

The World’s Greatest Cookie
Makes approximately 5 dozen (depending on your definition of walnut-sized) Read more…