Oh My! Whoopie Pie!

I go the library a lot. I don’t usually browse, but order my books online then retrieve them at the library. The wonderful folks at the library are kind enough to cull and shelve the books for me, but have also placed a large selection of cookbooks, my personal favorite, next to the reserved pick-up area. The Whoopie Pie Book caught my eye on such a pick-up day. I snagged it and brought it home. The cover is lovely and the information inside is even better! The books author, Claire Ptak, makes the recipes straightforward and easy to follow, though the icing creation is a bit intense, it’s not difficult and well worth the effort..

There are 60 recipes for the popular cake sandwiches, which seem to have become as ubiquitous as the cupcake. Like the cupcakes, I’ve eaten a few whoopie pies, and found many of them lacking. While I appreciate the need to make them quickly, using a boxed cake mix (or worse, canned icing, which I can barely force past my lips these days) does these tender little cakes a disservice. Once I narrowed in on which recipe I wanted to try first, I quickly knew this was THE way to make these wonderful little cakes.

My baby sister had a birthday coming, so I whipped up a batch in her honor. I chose the Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies with Chocolate Marshmallow filling, which I knew she would like. Conveniently, I had the ingredients for these on hand! Sadly, she never got any of the whoopie pies, we ate them all.

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

Recipes from The Whoopie Pie Book, copyright © Claire Ptak, 2011. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold.

  • 2 c (280g) all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 9 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir in the salt. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in measuring cup and add this to the mixture, beating until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients in two batches until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for thirty minutes. Try to avoid stuffing all the batter straight into your face.
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. I use a Silpat.
  4. Using a small scoop (or two teaspoons) drop 18 large or 48 small scoops of batter about two inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 minutes (large) or 8-10 minutes (small), until the cakes are left with a slight indent when touched with a finger. Do not over bake.
  5. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Marshmallow Filling

  • 4 oz dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 T light corn syrup
  • pinch salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a tan of simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, take the bowl off and let the chocolate cool.
  2. Return the pan of water to a boil. Place remaining ingredients into the stainless steel bowl of  a standing mixer, then place the bowl over the boiling water. Whisk continuously by hand until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is frothy and slightly opaque (10-15 minutes).
  3. Remove the bowl from the heat and transfer to mixer. Whip using a whisk attachment on high speed until it is white and holds its shape. Fold in the  melted chocolate. Ice the cooled whoopie pies immediately.

Don’t be daunted by the icing preparation. I got Mr. Bundt to whip and he felt important. He is also taller and has more muscles than me, so it gave me the opportunity to stroke his ego a bit. Then I fed him these. Now he thinks I’m the best thing ever. Win/win I’d say.

The icing recipe makes plenty, so stuff your pies as full of icing as you can stand. I like just enough to wet them down a little, but you can do yours your way! These would be lots of fun to assemble with kids. Let them fill the sandwiches, then you could roll the edges in sprinkles, chopped nuts, tiny chocolate chips, whatever you like. If you’re too chicken to make the icing, how about filling them with a scoop of ice cream?

Can’t get enough whoopie pies? Check out these recipes!

The Pioneer Woman’s Oatmeal Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Whoopie Pies by bakerella

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that if you screw up, you may never be forgiven. So, to aid you in achieving the goal of a successful Mother’s Day, I’m offering a few tips. If you were tuning in for a food post today, sorry. But food is mentioned, so maybe keep reading.

Mothers are not hard people to please. I know this because they wear necklaces made of macaroni noodles as if they were of rarest gold, they exclaim over someone using the potty in the actual potty, and they will snuggle you even when you have the most fierce morning breath and have food stuck in your hair. They have an amazing capacity to make the best out of things and lift you up when you feel like you can’t possibly feel better. And yet, it seems that many mothers are let down on Mother’s Day. It need not be this way.

A small gift and a card

A small gift and a card goes a long way on Mother’s Day. No, a chocolate rose from 7-11 doesn’t count as a small gift. How do you know what Mom might like? Ask yourself, what would Mom do if she didn’t have to be Mom? Would she read a book? Garden? Go to dinner with her girlfriends? Take a walk? Go to the bathroom alone? What kind of gift can you get her that would help her pursue her pleasure? No, not toilet paper, but maybe a lock for the bathroom door and some earplugs. Fling back the shower curtain and sniff the bottles. What bottle smells most like Mom? Buy her more of that.

What she doesn’t want is something the folks on TV are pushing. If you see a commercial telling you how much Mom would love a vacuum, necklace, or deodorant, ask yourself, should I believe everything I see on TV? Unless Mom has asked specifically for the Jane Seymour Open Heart necklace, she probably doesn’t want one.

Mother’s Day doesn’t end at the small gift and card

This is where the wheels fall off the wagon. Picture it: Mom is awakened with breakfast made in her honor. She smiles, cuddles everyone, chokes down the coffee and over-done toast. But then what? Does she walk downstairs to find dishes, coffee grounds, and eggshells everywhere? Let’s hope not. What will make YOUR Mom’s day is this phrase, pay attention, this is the key: YOU DO IT. What?? I do it? What does this mean??? Here’s a decoder chart you can use.

  • At the first noise from kids, cat, or dog, YOU get up and handle it. Soothe the kid, feed the cat, let the dog out. DO NOT WAIT for Mom to roll over and give you the look or the elbow. Just LEAP out of bed at the first moment you notice something’s up.
  • Meals are your gig today too, all three of them! Maybe you can’t cook an extravagant (or even mediocre) meal. Do you have fingers? Can you order a pizza? Can you pick up a bucket of chicken? YES! You CAN! So do it.
  • YOU do the dishes. Yep, we don’t care if it’s paper plates every meal. Just don’t expect Mom to get up and do dishes on Mother’s Day.
  • Let Mom shower in peace while YOU referee a fight between kids, choose Sunday clothes for church, and put Suzie’s hair up. YOU do it. And while you’re at it, no one under four feet tall should be banging on the bathroom door. YOU stop them.
  • Is there vomit or poop between the bedroom and the coffee pot? Don’t step over it as if you don’t see it. YOU clean it up!
  • Suggest Mom go take a nap or read a book in the afternoon. Then YOU play with the kids. No, not while watching the hockey game. YOU go out with them, YOU find the bubbles, YOU keep them from killing themselves on the swing set. And under NO circumstances should someone go and get Mom unless the house is on fire.
  • Kill the Honey-Do list. Remember all the little tasks she’s mentioned? Knock them out. Likely as not, she does your laundry, cooks your meals, cleans your house, totes kids and pets, buys groceries, pays bills, and fights with the cable company on a daily basis. It won’t kill you to clean up the dog poop, fix a squeaky door, or put some windshield washer fluid in her car. Really it won’t.
  • Yes, you MUST get your wife something for Mother’s Day even though she’s not your Mother. She gave birth to your children and hasn’t eaten them yet. She deserves a gift.

A note about single moms

I have spent my fair share of Mother’s Days as a single mother. And sometimes it’s one of the most painful days of the year. I can recall sitting in church listening to other Mom’s tell all about the fun things they were going to do with their families, while all I had to look forward to was a long day alone with a toddler. Many single Moms may have families of their own to visit. But some of them don’t. Some of them would LOVE to be invited to your cookout, or get a card or some flowers when her child is too young to be able to provide something for her. It’s not about the gift, it’s about her being equal to a Mom who has a spouse. Often, single Moms are treated like second-class citizens, as if they are contagious. Remember, it could happen to you in the blink of an eye. Most of us don’t set out to be single with kids. It’s not that it’s twice as hard, it’s exponentially more difficult to do it alone.

Don’t forget other mothers, too

Maybe you’ve got your Mom and Grandma covered, that’s great! Don’t forget that there may be other Mothers that are alone or lonely on Mother’s Day. Daughters who have lost their own Mother may be sad, older Mothers whose kids live far away may be alone. Please make a point to reach out and include these ladies. It could make their day! There may also be other women who mother your child in your absence. A daycare provider, a step-mother, the mother of your child’s friend. You are not in competition with these women. You will always be Mom. But don’t overlook the significance they have in your child’s life. They provide an important influence when you’re not around. Make sure they know how much you appreciate them. No child ever suffered from being loved too much by too many people.

I hope all the Moms out there have a great Mother’s Day. And if all else fails, they’ll go back to school and work Monday, you can go to the bathroom alone then. Happy Mother’s Day!

Spinach & Feta Tartlets

By the time Friday evening rolls around, the last thing I feel like doing is cooking another meal. Usually I’m tired, lately it’s been hot, and half of the time the little Bundlet is at her dad’s. Mr. Bundt rolls in around 8pm (if he’s early) and around 10pm (if he’s late). So I often end up eating alone and heating up his dinner when he gets home. Usually I have a frozen casserole or one-dish-dinner of some sort I can pop in the oven while I catch up on the news or take a quick nap. But I’ve had these tartlets on my radar for some time now and thought it would be a great, easy Friday night dinner. Of course, you could have them for lunch, they’d be great with a little salad. I would even eat them for a savory breakfast.

We have a little pastry shop in town that has stuffed croissants, one of my favorites is spinach and feta (my other favorite is chocolate stuffed, sooo good) and these are similar to those, also simpler than making your own croissants which could literally take days.

Spinach & Feta Tartlets

adapted from a recipe from Sweet Paul

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the oil in a pan.

Fry the shallots until soft. I used the mandolin to get thin slices. If you have one, great, use it and watch your fingers. If not, a sharp knife will work just fine.

Add the spinach a little at a time, letting it wilt, stirring the wilted spinach to the top and moving the firm leaves toward the heat.

This is what the wilted spinach and shallots will look like when they’re done.

Mix the feta, eggs, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

Then add the wilted spinach mixture. Mix well.

I have little tart pans (Wilton brand, from Walmart). I’m sure you could make one large tart if you have a regular tart pan. You could probably also make these pouches sans pans too. Just make sure to wrap them up well so the tops don’t pop open and leak.

Brush four small tart pans with butter and layer them with phyllo. Brush phyllo with butter between each layer, use 4-5 layers. Make sure you keep the phyllo covered with a wet towel while you’re working. It will be a hot mess if you don’t. Also, if it tears, don’t sweat it. By the time you finish piling the extra dough on top no one will ever know. I swear. And if you’re thinking about making your own phyllo, may the force be with you, you’ve obviously got a sadistic streak. Even I wouldn’t touch that job with a ten-foot-spatula.

Here’s something I learned after my first tart. I was working with giganto sized phyllo sheets. For the first tart I ended up with a lot more phyllo than I thought would taste good. For the three ensuing tarts, I folded each phyllo sheet in half, brushed with butter and it worked wonderfully.

Spoon 1/4 of the spinach and egg mixture in to each of the tarts.

Fold the edges of the phyllo over the filling.

See? Cute! Repeat with the remaining tarts. Make sure to brush the tops with butter.

See the giganto tart? I told Mr. Bundt I made that one for him, special. Men will believe anything. Really.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the phyllo is crispy and golden brown.

Sorry for the lowlight [food] porn looking photos. It was late, I was tired. See paragraph one.

These are so quick and easy! I think they’d be perfect with a nice piece of salmon and a small salad. They would also be beautiful for a shower or luncheon!

The filling is no nice! The salty feta with the earthy spinach is a wonderful combination. I hope you’ll give it a try!

What do you like to cook on a lazy night? Do you have any go-to simple dinners?

Chickpea Salad

I’m not on a vegetarian kick, I swear. If you read Monday’s post, you’ll recall this tasty pita. It’s soooo good. This salad, it’s also soooo good. I love salad, I really do. But slimy gross lettuce with mealy, cardboardy tomatoes (yes, cardboardy, I said it) makes me kind of want to gag. No one wants to open up their little lunch container to look at that. Blerg.

This salad isn’t like that. All the ingredients are sturdy, easy-to-transport, tasty items that you’ll love for lunch. My only caution on this one, it has some rather pungent ingredients, so if you have co-workers you like, you might want to bring your toothbrush for after lunch. But you should keep one in your desk anyway, you never know. For those of you who work alone, tear it up, no toothbrush needed.

Chickpea Salad 

Recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray

Ingredients

There’s no cooking here friends, just dumping ingredients into a bowl. You can totally do this. You can even buy pre-chopped ingredients if you need to.

Rinse your beans. You should ALWAYS rinse canned beans. It helps decrease the sodium by like 50% or something, maybe more. Plus, that bean juice can be kind of gross. Get it off.

Add the onion, red pepper, and celery. Use the leafy green parts of the celery if you have them. They’re good for you.

Add the rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes. It’s not going to be hot, just has a little kick. But if you’re sending this with your kiddo for lunch, you can omit it if you like. Just make sure to adjust the black pepper accordingly.

I use a garlic press to smash my garlic. You can chop it, mash it with a fork, whatever. Just get it into small bits and then grind it with a little salt. Mash it up into a paste and blend it with the oil and red wine vinegar. Pour this over the mixture.

Use a spatula to mix well. Make sure everything gets coated with the red wine vinegar mixture. At this point Mr. Bundt came into the kitchen and said it smelled good and could he have it for breakfast. Um, no. And here’s why. This is one of those salads that needs to sit in the fridge, at least for a few hours. Let it meld. It’s worth the wait, I promise.

It’s soooo good! The creamy chickpeas with the crunchy vegetables is a great combination. A little feta on top might be nice too. Don’t mix it into the whole salad though, crumble a few pieces over your serving before you eat it.

If you love this kind of salad, check out this great quinoa salad here.

What kind of salad do you like? Do you take it for lunch at work or eat it at home?