Sloppy Joes

Perhaps this is another “doesn’t everyone know how to make this?” post, but up until a couple years ago, I actually didn’t know how to make this. The recipe below is adapted from my The Joy of Cooking cookbook and is my personal favorite. The majority of the kids like it too, so that’s a bonus.


Sloppy Joes (Yield: serves 6-8)

1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons worcestershire sauce
a few dashes of hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and stir for another minute or so. Transfer to a bowl or plate and set aside.

2) Add beef to the skillet and break it up, cooking until it’s just browned. Return the onion mixture to the pan and add the ketchup, water, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.

3) Partially cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens.

Serve over your toasted bread of choice.

Oatmeal Cookies

One of the Dearliest’s favorites.


Oatmeal Cookies (Yield: About 4 dozen)

1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
(to use honey instead, see below)

2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup nuts or raisins
1 cup chocolate chips
3 cups old fashioned oats

1) Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
2) In a large bowl cream together butter and sugars.
2) Beat in eggs one at a time.
3) In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
4) Gradually mix dry mixture into wet.
5) Stir in nuts/ raisins/ oats.
6) Drop large spoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheet, then bake 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden.
7) Remove to cooling rack.

For times when I want a slightly healthier cookie (for me, this means no refined sugar), I have successfully adapted this recipe to honey. The texture is not quite the same, but it’s still a nice, chewy oatmeal cookie.

Instead of brown and white sugar, substitute:

3/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon molasses

To compensate for the extra moisture, add 1/4 cup to the flour (making 2 cups total).

Sometimes I use half wheat flour, as it adds a little nutty flavor.

Deviled Eggs

Today’s Craving: Deviled Eggs


Yes, this is a paper plate. I make no apologies for it.

I went off this recipe only I didn’t really measure, did everything to personal taste, and cooked way more than 6 eggs (not pictured).

1) Boil some eggs. I like the Alton Brown method of: submerge eggs in cold water, bring to rolling boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Then plunge into ice bath, or run through cold water, or whatever your preference is for stopping the cooking process. I never end up with green edges on the yolk with this method.

2) Slice in half lengthwise, spoon yolks into small bowl, and mash away. Mix in:

  • mayonnaise
  • mustard (I like about a 2:1 ratio of mayo:mustard)
  • a few splashes of worcestershire sauce
  • a couple drips of Frank’s buffalo sauce (next time I will actually try adding more…I was surprised how much I liked this addition)
  • salt and pepper to taste

3) Fill your eggs. Piping is great for a neat, uniform presentation, but I was hungry. Spoon plopping works just as well.

4) Dust with paprika. Or cayenne for more kick!

A Dinosaur Tiramisu

I’m partial to a dusting of cocoa powder on top of my otherwise chocolate-less Tiramisu, but it makes it hard to decorate with party themes. A few years ago I came up with a solution:

Paper stencils!

1) Make your Tiramisu. This year Arc asked if I could make orange dinosaurs. I figured whipped cream is white, it’s as good a food coloring canvas as any, right?

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2) Find line art online of whatever it is you want to put on your Tiramisu. Or draw your own, if you like. I managed numbers my first go at this whole method. Details are not your friend, so keep it simple (I tried to keep the dinosaurs’ teeth. It didn’t work.). Also, measure. My triceratops ended up being 1/8″ too long to fit!


3) Cut out your art. If you want to try some 3-D effects on your 2-D surface (like I attempted on last year’s train), be aware that it doubles or triples the time investment between cutting and arranging.


4) Arrange your cut stencils on the whipped cream. Don’t press down any more than you have to.

5) Dust with cocoa powder.

6) Remove stencils carefully with a toothpick or knife. Use a toothpick to smooth out any areas that need it. (On hindsight, making the T-rex stencil into two parts would have made getting it up easier.)


This post is brought to you by Arc, who wanted Tiramisu two birthdays in a row. Strawberry roses just don’t cut it for him. 😛


Cuisinart Blade Recall

Anyone who uses a Cuisinart food processor may want to look into the blade recall.

I filled out the form weeks ago even though my blade was undamaged and am still waiting for my replacement. Just in the last week, my blade developed small cracks around two rivets, and I don’t feel I can safely use it anymore.

I receive the occasional update from Cuisinart assuring me they haven’t forgotten me and my new blade is coming soon. Until then I’m back to processing by hand!

The Best Pie Crust Ever

tmp_11750-img_20170104_153922-1096831416Slightly adapted from The Joy of Cooking.

(Makes a 9″ double crust.)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cubed
3 Tablespoons vegetable shortening (I use this one.)
6 Tablespoons cold water

1) Sift together flour and salt.

2) Cut in half the butter/ shortening until mixture resembles cornmeal. Cut in remaining half until dough is pea-sized.

3) Gradually work in water until it just holds together (another teaspoon or so may be required). Divide dough in half, shape into discs, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Note: To speed things up, I toss the flour, salt, butter, and shortening into a food processor and blitz until the desired consistency. Then I drizzle in the water and blitz some more until the dough starts to come together.
– – – –

Back in December I made a spontaneous cherry pie and used this crust on a whim. It was a total experiment, having never made cherry pie or the crust before, but word came back positive. Also, word came back that this crust was the best ever and the recipient just wanted to keep eating it.

Curious, I made more dough and tried it on a quiche, and yeah. It was really good. I love how simple it is, too. It really is a stroll back to basics.

Sometimes basics is best.

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza

IMG_2511_resizeToday I’m going to share with you the weirdly addicting thing known as loaded baked potato pizza. When I first heard of this, I shook my head. ‘The locals will put potatoes on anything here,’ I thought. Generally, I love potatoes. I can’t get enough of them, honestly. But on a pizza?

I squinted at it sideways for months. <_<

When I finally tried my first piece, I was extremely surprised at how well I liked it. I liked it so much, in fact, that I took note of all the components and set about backwards engineering it.

I started with my go-to pizza crust recipe. It yields consistent flavor and texture. I’ve never had a bad run with it.

The “sauce” is a ranch type sauce. This is where the garlic and sour cream elements of a baked potato come in, so I took my ranch dressing recipe (see below), upped the ratio of sour cream, and added extra garlic.

Both of the local pizza joints used red russets on their pizzas, so that’s what I used too. They are precooked before going on the pizza. I’ve tried precooking via microwave and baking in the oven; both work equally well.

What are other classic elements of a loaded baked potato? Cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon (I used turkey bacon), and green onions. (One of these days I will also add olives, because I love olives on baked potatoes, and on a pizza it’s as natural as marshmallows in rice krispie treats to begin with!)

In the end, this is one of the simpler “more involved” pizzas I’ve made!

Loaded Baked Potato Pizza

  • 1 batch pizza dough (or whatever you prefer for your crust)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups ranch dressing
  • 6 red russet potatoes, cooked and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (more or less to taste)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 °F.
  2. Spread sauce evenly over prepared pizza dough.
  3. Layer potatoes, cheese, bacon, and green onions evenly over the sauce.
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown.


Fogwood’s House Ranch Dressing

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise (reduce to 2/3 cup for pizza sauce)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (increase to 2/3 cup for pizza sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (increase to 1/2 teaspoon for pizza sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon dry parsley flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • milk to thin (omit for pizza sauce)
  1. Combine all ingredients in small bowl.
  2. Thin with milk to desired consistency.
  3. For best flavor, allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour.