Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Friday, September 03, 2021

Still Here. Honest.

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Happy September!


The suffocating heat and humidity appear to be on the way out, Halloween decorations are going up, and it's almost my birthday.


I baked these Smoked Pistachio Shortbreads for Matt last night, which he loves. 


Hope you're all doing as well as you can manage.  Can't really ask for more, can we?

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Love Hurts

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The teen suffered a break-up recently, his first. But it wasn't just the end of a relationship - he was ghosted (I'd like to have a talk with her parents about teaching children to accept responsibility for the actions). He was crushed, unsurprisingly; they'd been involved (albeit long-distance) for two and a half years.



Ciabatta, colored black to match the ache in his heart.
 

With this happening right before Valentine's, I wanted to make the day as tolerable for him as possible. I mean, Matt & I don't need a manufactured holiday to show our love. We do that daily. So I decided to make an all-black dinner.

Garlic Soup with Fideos - for un-kiss-able breath.

I got a black tablecloth, and an inexpensive set of dishes and cups, for the occasion.  You can't take a theme too far.



Homemade, black, farfalle in white pesto sauce.

There was chocolate cake, made with black cocoa, for dessert. Decadent chocolate milk to drink.  



But if all that wasn't enough to show him he was loved, we also got him this (Derrynane was very interested).


Being a teenager is hard. Dating is hard. Dating while a teenager? The worst. 

I know he'll recover.  And hope he'll find someone who deserves him. But for now, all I can do is love him and do my best to make him feel better.

 

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Thursday, February 11, 2021

Photos Don't Do Justice

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When I first heard my friend Peabody was writing a cookbook, I was delighted. She's always been a source for creative and outrageous treats, and very much my kind of person.


So naturally, I pre-ordered, and waited for the big day.




  And she did not disappoint.

 Glorious, ridiculous, and mouth-watering recipes fill the entire book.

After I read through (and I did, every single page!), I passed it first to Matt, then Alex.  They went through it with colored sticky tabs, marking everything they wanted to try. 

...It's brimming with sticky tabs, btw.

The book arrived at a busy time for me (NaNo, Christmas cookies, etc), so it took a while to finally get around to it, but when I did, I asked the guys to pick the first thing I should make. They both chose the
Cinnamon Roll Apple Pot Pies.

It's a brilliant concept: a sweet, glazed cinnamon roll plus an apple pie? I mean, why not?! 

As Peabody states in the introduction, the recipe is a bit of work, though none if it is too taxing.

You make a dough for the rolls - more biscuit-y than a traditional roll, but that works in its favor. 

There's the crust, made from ready-made dough, but ooomphed! up a bit; you treat the crust like a cinnamon roll, giving it the spiced-sugar filling treatment, and rolling it up and slicing it into smaller pieces.
Which then get rolled out flat, creating a gorgeous dough of burnished concentric circles that you use to line your (very small) baking dishes*. 

There's an apple filling, cooked quickly and simply, and smells heavenly.

That you top with one of your biscuit-like cinnamon rolls, and bake.  

Finish with a cream cheese frosting, and you have yourself one fantastic, decadent dessert. Or breakfast. Your choice. I don't judge.

And proof that Peabody knows what's she doing, that she's put in the research and testing: everything works together. The flavors and textures compliment one another. There's a balance of sweetness and spice.

More proof: From the other room, where he was gaming, Alex hollered through a mouthful, "You should definitely make this again!"

My camera died (I got a new one, but didn't have a memory card at the time), so this photo was taken with my Kindle.
In my traditionally poorly-lit house. 

But trust me when I say this recipe, this book, is a winner.

Congrats, Peabody. I'm so proud of, and happy for you.


*I discovered, too late in the game, that my dishes were an inch smaller than Peabody used. I made it work, but that's why you see less of the lovely apple filling.


 

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Friday, January 22, 2021

And NOW we can say, "Happy New Year!"

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 Christmas Day Pasta: beet & paprika- & parsley-colored doughs, tossed with a bit of butter, and served with mascarpone, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar.

What a start to the year, eh? 


I've been meaning to swing by, do a bit of updating, but (waves arms around).  


Now that sanity and decency have returned, I feel like I can talk about things like 'what I ate!'. 


Nothing too detailed, but here's a few highlights from 2020, The Garbage Year.


 Lime Petit Fours for tea.


Halloween Murder Cake.

Lovely baguettes.  I've baked So. Much. Bread.


What's that? More pasta?  Yes.  Yes, more pasta.


I mentioned the bread, right? Naan, parathas, pita...

 Something for Matt: Carnitas Eggs Benedict with Chipotle Hollandaise


YES. MORE PASTA.  AND IT SPARKLES!



Pasta roses. Because...why not.


I still don't know how to make this configuration of blogger look decent.  Or maybe I no longer have the patience to mess with it?


It's a new year, hopefully with less AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!.  Here's to lots of tasty foods!


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Monday, September 14, 2020

All Day, Every Day

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Scone Dome


It has long been my belief that restaurants should serve breakfast foods all day.   If you cut off the eggs and pancakes at ten in the morning, points are docked.



Milk Chocolate Chip Scones - Not too sweet

 

We've gotten into the habit of doing a big breakfast for Sunday dinner. The menu changes from week to week. Pancakes, French toast, waffles, biscuits, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, omelets, hash brown, bacon (and faux bacon!); if it's breakfast, I make it. 



Agatha Christie Scones - Quaint Village Murder Optional


It's filling, it's comforting, it's carbolicious.  It's an all-day operation, but always worth it. 



Blueberry-Lemon Scones for the Ent-Child


Timing is critical. We always have tea with breakfast-dinner, but Matt (and Alex, for that matter) can't have caffeine after a certain point, or sleep going AWOL. 



Rings of Carby Goodness, AKA Bagels


So we perversely sit down at the table between five and five-thirty, digging into our mini breakfast buffet. 


Cheese Drawer Tart


This week, I went with three kinds of scone - Bakery-Style Cream Scones with Chocolate, Agatha Christie's English Scones, and Lemon-Blueberry Scones (which also happen to be vegan), bagels, and a 'Cheese Drawer Tart'; a way to clean out the cheese drawer, use up the last of the cream and those few eggs taking up space.
Sometimes, I even have pie crust dough in the freezer, begging to be used. 

Too much food, but no one ever complains. Bonus: Breakfast is set for next few days.


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Sunday, June 21, 2020

Never Been My Favorite Day

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These holidays are weird for me.

I've long since cut ties with my abusive parents, and my beloved Grandpa (the closest thing I had to a father figure) has been gone nineteen years. 

But Matt's a dad, and a pretty good one, at that.










So, today he got Carnitas Eggs Benedict with Chipotle Hollandaise for breakfast.

And tonight, he's grilling some lamb chops, and I've made tabouli and salted dulce de leche brownies



                                                                     (some prep)

I may not have a dad of my own to celebrate (and there are so many out there like me, who find these holidays triggering), but I'm happy Alex does.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Tea for Three

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I recently purchased this (old) new tea set.

It's not fancy; no bone china here. But there was something about it; I was absolutely charmed by it.

The fact that there were three cups and saucers probably helped.

Which meant it was time for another tea-for-dinner night.





A savory scone, thyme and Gruyere, to go with espresso cups of tomato bisque.

Sandwiches, of course: egg salad, turkey (or faux turkey) and white cheddar, open-faced cucumber on dill- or mint-mascarpone, and pb&j for Alex.

Cream scones and our standard tea - almond from Adagio.

And little lemon cakes, topped with crystalized violets.

Which were not happy with the humidity, as shown above.  Buttercream and steamy weather do not mix.


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Monday, May 18, 2020

Project cooking, and not bowing to pressure

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(waves)

Hey.

It's been a bit.  I'm still here! 

When I decided to return to blogging, I promised myself that I wouldn't succumb to the 'gotta post every single day!' pressure I felt back in The Old Days.

That self-imposed sense of obligation is one of the (many) reasons I backed away from Dispensing Happiness. 

Posting started to feel like a job, not an expression of who I am, or the desire to be part of a community.

So when I was seriously considering returning, I told myself it was ok if I didn't publish daily. Or weekly.
That it was ok to only show up when I really felt like I had something to say, or share.

It's not as if I wasn't cooking and baking. I just didn't feel the need to talk about it.

(But obviously that first-born, Virgo, former-Catholic guilt is in play, or I wouldn't be explaining my absence!)

ANYWAY.

Something I started doing about 20 years ago (!) was making the red mole from Rick Bayless.

It's not an everyday recipe: this baby is work.

But oh, my gosh; it is so worth it.

It's kind of a once a year or so undertaking, but fortunately, the mole freezes well.

I was in the mood for a 'project', and my last batch was nearly gone. so it was sauce-making time.

This year, I made a double-batch, figuring if I'm putting in the effort, I'm going to make it worth my time.

Lots of chilies. Lots of other ingredients. 

Lots of frying. 

Everything gets blitzed (I ran them first through the food processor, then the food mill).




That gets cooked down (first, the chile paste, then the everything else paste gets added in), then stock and Mexican chocolate are mixed in.

                                            (not a great photo - the light is directly above)

But, after much prep, and even more cooking, you're rewarded with an amazing sauce.

(Just try not to think about all the clean up after!)

If you're interested in giving this a try, the recipe can be found in Rick Bayless Mexican Kitchen.


And as a head's up: :I've got another Blog Party in the works, so stay tuned!

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Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Tied in Knots

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I've had my eye on these Glazed Cinnamon-Cardamom Buns* for some time.

They showed up in a newsletter again, which Matt saw, and there was a lot of, "Oh, my".

But like so many recipes, the dough wants a nice, long rest in the fridge (as well a nap later, after being rolled out), and if you're anything thing me...

WHO HAS SPACE IN THEIR REFRIGERATOR???!!?!?


Ehem.

Stuff was moved, temporarily taken out, and I got down to business.


I love doughs like this.  They're just so satisfying to work with.

And making these twists was fun!


The twists became knots (I am historically awful at braiding, so am always a bit apprehensive when it comes to these sorts of things, but it worked out rather nicely).






Which were baked, then brushed with a syrup made from water and brown sugar.

They guys love them, and my gosh; how pretty are they??!

Easy recipe; just needs a bit of time, and room in your fridge (HA!).


*I ran out of cinnamon (gasp!), so one third of the filling is ginger.

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Sunday, April 05, 2020

Blog Party #44: Pantry Raid! The Round-Up

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Welcome to Blog Party!  We're starting a little late, as one of our guests was delayed.

We have a small group, which, considering how long it's been since we've gathered, is still pretty wonderful. 

I've put up some pretty purple lights around the house.





I've set our bandana-themed napkins, which double as masks!



And I've got a nice music mix going, including Stevie Nicks (Stand Back), Dua Lipa (Don't Start), Men at Work (Who Can it Be Now?), Billy Idol (Dancing with Myself), and Celine Dion (All By Myself).

Keeping things simple as we ease back into Blog Party-ing, so let's take a look at our guest's contributions!

First up is Jasmine, who brought Eritrean Tsebhi Birsen and pita chips.



Using up some canned tomatoes she had on hand, spices, and my favorite, galic-chilli paste! Yum. 
And according to her, it can be turned into a soup - talk about double-duty!

Thanks, Jasmine!

Next,  Breadchick arrived with Left Over Cold Veggie Peanut Soba Noodles - looks tasty!



" a handful of soba noodles, little this and that from the past week’s roasted vegs, about an 1/8th cup of chopped peanuts, and some pho broth"

Way to use it all up!


And of course I've set out a few bites for everyone.  First up, Smoked Chicken Salad Bites.






We'd smoked some chicken (and for the vegetarians in the house, Delight Soy 'chicken') last week, which was turned into a simple chicken salad for tea sandwiches. 

There was plenty left, so dollops of the smoky stuff is served on some pecan crackers that were taking up some valuable space. 

DIVINE. 


Next, Paneer Tikka Naan Pizza Bites.






I'd made naan earlier in the week, and had some kicking around the fridge.  There was a partial block of paneer in the freezer, and oh, hey, a jar of Tikka Masala sauce in the cupboard (yes, sometimes we cheat).  A quick blast of heat, and some finely chopped mint (that needed to be used up) to finish.  

Simple, tasty, and filling mini pizza slices for all. 

And finally, Non-alcoholic Citrus Sunrises



Another case of using up what's already on hand. 

We'd purchased a 2 liter of Sprite for something, and never actually used it! And as I'm loathe to toss anything that could be used, there it sat. 


So, mix Sprite with some orange Crush from a bottle left over from the holidays, and some grapefruit seltzer (a favorite of Matt's), and a little bit of grenadine for color. 

Decorate with a grapefruit wedge, and enjoy!

This is where I'd usually invite everyone to hang around and visit, but this time I'm saying: Stay Home.  

Thanks for stopping by, take care of yourself and your loved ones, and I hope to see you - from a distance!- back next month.

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