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Monthly Archives: February 2010

My Favorite Birthday “Cake”

I have no idea when my mom made the first Pistachio Pudding Cake.  I’m guessing she doesn’t rightly remember either!  It just always has been.  Since the beginning of time.  Or at least the beginning of Jell-o pudding.  It is the ultimate no-bake dessert.  Easy to put together (though not necessarily quick) and the result is a major people-pleaser.  I have been requesting this “cake” for my birthday since I was a little kid, and it almost always is reserved solely for birthdays, or other special occasions.   While it is certainly easy enough to whip up on any given Tuesday, it is made very rarely, and reverently in our household.

Our friend Jim made it for my birthday this year, and after experiencing the awesomeness that is PPC, he questioned why the recipe isn’t dusted off more often.  “It’s special,”  I replied, “that’s just the way it is.”  But later I thought, more accurately, “I don’t want to weigh 400 pounds.”  Because this is one of those desserts that a couple of people can sit down and polish off the whole pan.  Make it for your next special birthday, and you’ll understand in an instant!

Pistachio Pudding Cake

1 package Oreo Cookies, crushed (double bag in ziplocs and smash with a rolling pin, or pulse in a food processor), reserve 1/4 Cup crumbs
1 stick (4 oz) butter, melted
— Combine cookie crumbs and butter.  Pat into a 9″X13″ pan.  Set aside.

1 Qt (1/2 of a 1/2 gallon) Vanilla Ice Cream, softened
2 – 4 serving packages Pistachio Pudding mix
2 Cups Milk
— Combine ice cream, pudding mixes, and milk until smoothly.  Gently pour over the crust.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or until set.

1 – 12 oz. tub Cool Whip
1/4 Cup Reserved Cookie Crumbs
— Carefully spread Cool Whip over top of pistachio layer.  Sprinkle reserved cookie crumbs over Cool Whip.
Refrigerate for an additional 2 hours before serving (can be served directly from refrigerator, no need to “soften”).

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2010 in Baking, Friends, Julie

 

Kitchen Update!

The cabinets and counter tops are in.  And I love them.  I mean, really love them.  And I know I shouldn’t love as much as I do, but they’re gorgeous, and just what I wanted, and what we’ve waited and waited for.  Best birthday present ever!  Justin did such a great job putting everything together.  If building IKEA furniture was an Olympic sport, Justin would certainly be a gold medal favorite.  He rocks my face off.

I have to say though, I am a little overwhelmed now.  I finally have cabinets in place and beautiful counter tops, and I can’t even begin to think how I am going to organize everything!  The organization of a kitchen is no simple task.  What is the BEST location for my flour, sugar, and baking soda?  Do I want my spatulas in a drawer, or in a crock on the counter, or hanging on the wall?  Should my knife rail go on the right or left side of the oven?  Is it okay if the microwave goes right next to the sink?  Plus we still have 7 more drawers coming to fill in a few base cabinets!  And Justin will hang the shelves on the wall this weekend!  More space!  We have ingredients, food supplies, bowls, plates, utensils, pans and pots strewn all over our living space, and I NEED to get it put away.  Quality of life will greatly improve when everything is put away.

Did I mention how much I love this kitchen?  I do.  I love it a lot.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2010 in Building, Julie

 

Happy Happy Happy

Let me tell you.  I have never been more happy to do such a mundane chore.  Washing the dishes.  In a fully operational kitchen sink.  With a whole load of stored-up dirty dishes getting washed automatically by the fully operational dishwasher.  I have never really considered a kitchen sink a luxury item before now, but after trying to wash a stockpot in a bathroom sink (which is possible), I’ll no longer take it for granted!

Justin is working at assembling the last base cabinet, and then we’ll line them all into place.  Tomorrow the last two counter tops are attached.  Then shelves on the walls.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  So exciting!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Building, Julie

 

For Maggie.

We’re going as fast as we can! 🙂

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Building, Julie

 

Kitchen in a box… Ready to Assemble.

After several months of waiting and making do with temporary shelving, our kitchen cabinets are officially here!  As I type this Justin is hammering the back of another cabinet into place.

We drove over to Ikea in Minneapolis for the day on Saturday.  We had the kitchen all planned out, so after only a couple small changes, we put our order in.  The vast majority of what we needed was in stock and ready for us, though we will have to go back in a couple of weeks to pick up a few drawers when they arrive.  As the base cabinets and counter tops were in stock, we are able to proceed to the Install Kitchen step of our renovation plan.

We were very thankful for Justin’s parents’ minivan and had it stuffed to the gills with boxes.

Upon our arrival home and following the tedious process of unpacking, Justin immediately grabbed one of the corner base cabinets to start working on.  This one turned out to be the most complicated one to do, but it has made subsequent cabinets a breeze!

The corner cabinets came with swiveling and extending shelves, to reach the far reaches of the corners.  Great use of space, though a bit more detailed to put together.  Add the extra complications to the notoriously vague instructions from Ikea and the result can be some headaches, but he barreled through and really has the process down.

Already he has three cabinets constructed (plus a bookshelf).  I’ve oiled and sealed the first butcher block counter top, which we’ll measure out and cut and lay down tomorrow in order to put in the sink.  This week is going to fly by!

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2010 in Building, Julie

 

A Momentous Day!

Yesterday was a big day for my Mom and Stepdad, Paul.  Not only was February 19, 2010 my Mom’s birthday, it was also their last day of work.  Retirement!

Mom has worked in the Engineering Department for the City of Wausau and Paul has worked as a carrier with the USPS.  They have both put in many many years in these positions, have saved and planned through the years, and now they have the rest of their years to enjoy traveling and relaxing, forevermore Saturdays.

Several of Mom’s coworker’s planned a very nice retirement reception, complete with cake, ice cream, and cookies, and many people that have worked with Mom over the years stopped by to say good bye and congratulations.

She even received a few gifts and cards, and a number of beautiful flower bouquets.

After some last minute training with Laurie, the lady that is taking over Mom’s position, she was officially free to go.

Dressing alike - completely unplanned!

I also took some time in the morning to find Paul on his last day delivering mail.  He has had the same route through Rib Mountain for the past fifteen years or so, so many people were out wishing him well, and he also received numerous cards and gifts.  The weather certainly cooperated as well, as it was a beautiful sunny day.  Mom warned him that I might come try to find him with the camera, and he quite willingly submitted to a “last day of work” photograph.

They already have some great travel plans, with a short trip to Florida next week, and then a whole month of exploring the area around St. George, Utah.  They have definitely earned this time of rest and fun!

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2010 in Family, Julie

 

Supreme Shortbread

I definitely have a weakness for shortbread cookies.  The simplicity of a good shortbread, butter, sugar, flour, salt, definitely shines with high quality ingredients.  And so I had a hankering for shortbread cookies the other day.  But the butter in my fridge was the cheap kind, that probably would only shine slightly brighter than a burnt out bulb.  So the dilema presented itself.  How do you make a satisfying shortbread with lackluster ingredients?  Cover it up with dulce de leche or peanut butter, and coat it with amazing milk chocolate!  Ta Daa!  I found two separate recipes that were pretty much the same concept, just with different fillings.  The first is prepared with dulce de leche between the shortbread crust and the chocolate, and the other is spread simply with peanut butter, than coated in chocolate.  I followed the Martha Stewart recipe for the shortbread base, and divided the dough between two 8 inch round cake pans.

The recipe yielded the perfect amount of dough to do this.  The recipe calls for brown sugar, which results in a dough with a great flavor, though I have decided I am partial to granulated sugar-based shortbreads, just a bit more basic.

While the milk chocolate wafers were melting, Justin and I each claimed one of the shortbread crusts.  He generously spread his with Peanut Butter, while I layered dulce de leche over mine.  We then proceeded to pour the chocolate over this middle layer, and gently spread it into a smooth layer.

The results looked remarkably similar, and they were both home runs.  We are slightly partial to the “Millionaire’s Shortbread” with the dulce de leche, as the sweet caramel blends really well with brown sugar shortbread crust.  But the milk chocolate and peanut butter are always a winning combination in my book.  Both of these shortbread variations will be made again, though I’ll make the crust with white sugar next time.  Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2010 in Baking, Julie