A blog about all the things we love, regardless of how uncool they are.

Cream Puffs: The taste of a Wisconsin summer

Posted: June 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Food, Recipes | Tags: | Comments: Dork out with us! »

Every summer, it is tradition for Wisconsinites to flock to the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee to get their hands on the famous cream puffs. Folks wait in line for nearly an hour to taste the softball-sized whipped cream sandwiches, and when it’s all over, wait another year before they can have another delicious cream puff.

When our CSA basket arrived last week with a beautiful carton of fresh strawberries, I immediately thought: strawberry shortcake. I searched through stacks of cookbooks for the perfect cake to accompany my new berries. Angel food cake: who has 14 eggs lying around? Pound cake: too heavy. Scones: too messy. Imagine my surprise and delight when I came across this recipe for cream puffs in the old faithful Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. Turns out, they’re super easy to make and only require a few basic ingredients. I made all 12, gave 6 to a friend, and froze the 4 that were left for another day. Delicious!

(taken directly from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, Meredith Publishing Group, 1996. )

1 c water
1/2 c butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
4 eggs
whipping cream, pudding, or ice cream
Powdered sugar (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan combine water, butter, and salt. Bring to boiling. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.

2. Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven until golden and firm. Transfer cream puffs to a wire rack and let cool.

3. Cut tops from puffs; remove soft dough from inside. Fill with whipped cream, pudding, or ice cream. Replace tops. If desired, sift powdered sugar over tops.

Makes 12 cream puffs

A spicy holiday treat

Posted: December 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments: 1 Other Dork »

Oranges at Christmastime always remind me of being a child, and finding a beautiful, fresh orange in the toe of my stocking on the morning of “Saint Nick” Day, so I think oranges are only fitting for holiday desserts. I made this particular cake for a dinner with friends last week, and I thought it would make the perfect dessert for a holiday party. I got the recipe from Martha Stewart (her recipes never disappoint!), but I used two 9″ cake pans instead of three 6″ pans. I did use the seven-minute frosting, but I opted out of the white-chocolate poinsettia flowers on top. The cake came out beautifully, and the flavor has a nice spicy, citrus taste and the frosting is a light and fluffy meringue. Delish!

We’re Here!

Posted: September 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Crafts, Knitting | Comments: 1 Other Dork »

We have officially moved in! (We actually moved in about a month ago, but sometimes things just get too hectic and you can’t keep up with writing blog posts — can you believe it’s almost October!) I am loving every minute of my new life, studying for my MM at Carnegie Mellon University. Practicing hard, studying not as much as I should be, and finding my way around this new city. Also finding lots of releases here. Dancing at Dance Alloy once or twice a week, trying to find a yoga teaching job, and soon, very soon, I will be sewing some wonderful laptop sleeves and computer covers and ipod cases and things.

The other day I picked up the knitting needles, after putting them down for a long, long time. Started to knit a hat, then started over, then started over again, and again, and again. And now I’ve finished the crown, and I think I’m going to have to start over again, because my stitches are somehow off, somehow (it could have been the George Clooney movie I was watching while knitting, I don’t know…). Maybe lace was a bit ambitious for this return to knitting, but I will overcome! And maybe, even if weeks from now, I will have a lovely hat to get me through beautiful Fall in Pittsburgh.

(note: You know how it is, when you move, and you can’t find things that you need. Well, that’s how it is with my camera right now, so I apologize if this one isn’t up to stuff with the talents of my lovely boyfriend. He’s out of town right now, and I had to get creative. I got this shot with my web cam, by holding my computer at a very awkward angle.)

Best. Labor. Day. Ever.

Posted: September 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Food, Life, Pittsburgh | Tags: | Comments: 1 Other Dork »

Soooooo…… I actually did quite a bit of labor this past Labor Day, but honestly I would be perfectly happy working that much every day of my life if I was always able to take an afternoon break to head over to RIB FEST!

It all started when we were having dinner with our friends, Chris and Lauren, on Saturday evening. At some point in the conversation, Lauren casually mentions that there was “some rib fest” going on over at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers. I couldn’t tell you what Lauren said after that, as I temporarily lost consciousness while envisioning myself with a face covered in barbecue sauce and a pile of rib bones in front of me. If there’s one thing that my father and my Texas roots imparted on me, it is a deep appreciation for meat cooked low and slow and slathered in barbecue sauce. As soon as I came back around, I asked Lauren to tell me everything she knew about this “rib fest” event, and we soon made a plan to attend on Labor Day afternoon. For the next 2 days, all I really thought about was ribs.

As the big event grew closer, I started getting really scared that I was going to be massively disappointed by Rib Fest. What if the food was terrible? What if it was just some run-of-the-mill carnival vendors masquerading as rib experts? What if there were only a few vendors to choose from? However, as we walked in to the stadium grounds, all of those fears were immediately quelled. What we saw were about a dozen rib vendors from all over the country with larger-than-life displays showcasing their trophies and awards from all of the competitions they had participated in and won. And all of them were grilling off ribs 8 racks at a time. It was truly a thing of beauty.

You can see all of the different ribs that we tried above – from 8 vendors in all, with my personal favorites being from a group out of North Carolina. It was also a special treat to get to eat some sausage from a group out of Fort Worth, Texas. However, the wait for those particular ribs and sausage was well over the 90 minute mark – the only bad thing about Rib Fest. The lines were definitely a huge drag, but we made the best of it and would usually split into groups of two and conquer two lines at a time, buying enough for everyone to try. Prices were pretty reasonable – about  $12 for a half rack. All of the ribs we tried we delicious and surprisingly different from each other. Add some baked beans, potato salad, corn bread, and cheese fries and we were all in hog heaven!

We had an absolutely fantastic time at Rib Fest. I’ve always wanted to go to some sort of cookoff like this – be it chili, pies, or barbecue. You better believe that this won’t be our last!

Things we’ll miss about Milwaukee #4 – Sprecher Sodas

Posted: September 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Food, Milwaukee, Uncategorized | Tags: | Comments: 1 Other Dork »

Over the past several years I’ve really grown to love root beer. Being that I don’t drink beer beer, it’s nice to have this drink that people still put some effort in to adding their own personal touch to. It’s always fun to go to a different city or different bar and have the opportunity to try their root beer offering.

That being said, Milwaukee’s Sprecher Brewery has the best root beer I’ve ever tasted, hands down. I won’t go in to any adjective-riddled descriptions of its taste, but just know that it is incredibly delicious. And if you live in Milwaukee, you can pick it up at almost every grocery store and most restaurants. The Sprecher line also includes Cream Soda, Puma Cola (two of my other favorites), Lo-Cal Root Beer (Emma’s fave), Orange Dream, Ravin’ Red, Ginger Ale, and Cherry Cola.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I will really miss my daily Sprecher – so much so that I have tried to postpone the inevitable withdrawal by bringing a total of 12 4-packs of Sprecher soda with me to Pittsburgh. Sprecher Brewery does offer shipping of their sodas anywhere, but it’s a little cost prohibitive. However, if anyone cares to send me a house-warming package here in Pittsburgh, I will certainly not turn the delivery man away!

The only thing that I can say negatively about these sodas is that I really can’t stand their packaging. I always thought it would be a fun project to redesign their packaging, as I think they could do a much better job of conveying how fantastic their product is through the packaging. It’s on my list of projects I would love to tackle some day, so who knows – maybe I’ll work it out one day and sell it for a lifetime supply of root beer!