Monday, August 22, 2022

Bourbon and Cigar Birthday Cookies & Bourbon Rice Krispies

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These are the final platter

 Boy, time sure does slip by....I never stop cooking and baking, but I seem to have stopped writing.  Let's change that.  Now that summer is slowly creeping toward fall, I love the idea of a fire, some bourbon, a cigar (to smell, not smoke), a night without tv, a night outside.  It's such a misnomer about summertime in the South, sitting outside at night is not pleasant.  I love my screened in porch every month of the year except June, July and August.  So. Damn. Hot. Here is a little Bourbon love.  The cookies have no bourbon in them, just painted to look like it!  The Rice Krispie Treat however....these are seriously addicting!  First the cookies.  I made them first for my Nic, I needed a practice run with the painting.  He had no issues being my guinea pig.   

I love to paint on cookies, it's a relatively new skill I am working on.  It all started with these amazing Christmas cookies.  Then I found this gorgeous Chinese brush pot.  It is intended for calligraphy tools I believe, but I had to have it.  I have searched the web and have never found a match, but there are gorgeous brush pots out there! And, if you know me, you know I love birds!

So these 2 photos are the first attempt for Nic.  We were pretty happy with them, but felt maybe the color was too intense.  They were a bit of a rush job, so I knew the cookies the following week would be an improvement!

I was thrilled with them and my friend said her husband thought they were perfect.  Can't ask for more than that! Then the call came for my friend's retirement party, and his drink of choice is an Old Fashioned.  So I painted a cherry in the bourbon!  Worked out well!

An Old Fashioned on the lake sound delightful!

So after all the cookies, I was headed to visit kids, and was thinking of some sweet treat to make while I was there.  
I found this recipe on Food52 and in true form I tweaked it based on the reviews. I am a browned butter fan from way back, so there was nothing new there.  And I tend to add way more rice cereal than a treat recipe calls for and I have been known to use up all the marshmallow bags that have been hiding. There is no chemistry here, just sticky mallows and rice cereal.  Add as much as you like.  If you use Dandy Marshmallows, people complain they don't melt well. I disagree. They are vegan, but honestly the best mallow I have ever had, they make great treats, and if I ever find the maple ones I will let you know!  I figured I better add more bourbon too, my son had this smoked maple bourbon....some chocolate wouldn't be terrible...

Browned Butter Bourbon Rice Krispie Treats 

2 sticks salted butter
3 bags mini marshmallows (12oz bags)
1/2 cup bourbon (twice as much as they call for :)
1 T vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
12oz box Rice Krispies

In your biggest pasta pot, melt the butter gently until the color turns light golden brown.  The butter should take on a nutty aroma.  Don't rush this, if the butter burns you have to start over.  Add your marshmallows, I just dump them all in. Stir and stir and stir until the mallows are melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and add vanilla, cereal and salt.  I add enough cereal so the treats aren't gooey, but crunchy.  It was suggested to not press them too firmly into the pan, and I think that's great advice.  Keep the cereal crispy!  Top with flaked sea salt if desired, and if there was a layer of dark chocolate, sea salt would be just what they need!  
Now yes, there is bourbon in here.  Will a kid get drunk?  Doubt it.  Will they taste it?  If you use a half cup, yep.  Alcohol does evaporate over time, so I would suspect they'd lose their alcohol potency but not the flavor.  I am not an authority on this, so serve them to your adult friends and make the kids some Scotcharoos.  You don't know what those are?  Just wait.  I'll be back soon!  
What are you waiting for?  Get in there and cook!

Too squished.  Delicious, but maybe a bit too compact!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Happy Joe's Taco Pizza Returns

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2022.  I tiptoe into this new year.  The last 2 Januarys have been harbingers of rough years.  Without detail, trust me, things really can go only get better.  I've been rethinking the blog, and wondering do I stick solely to cookies?  But no.  I faithfully post them all on my Instagram, go there! I am so much more than sugar cookies.  I love everything about making them, love selling them, love being a part of so many celebrations.  But oh do I love to cook.  So cook we will.  Let's continue this journey.  But I promise, there'll be no scrolling past multiple ads and senseless writing.  Recipes and stories, that's my life. I am happy to continue to share.  Let's start with a family favorite.

A few years back I wrote about my favorite pizza of all time, Happy Joe's Taco Pizza.  It turns out there are a LOT of you who feel the same way!  I have an old friend associated with the Happy Joe's Pizza of my childhood and he went to that blog post and admitted....I'm pretty close.  So I decided since I found some throwback Taco Doritos we may tweak this recipe.  

Hot out of the oven!

First a little history.  My first trip to Happy Joe's was in Clinton, Iowa.  It was my birthday, and I know that because we never really ate out in a restaurant unless we were traveling or a special occasion, and everyone said you had to go to Happy Joe's on your birthday.  After our pizza they brought me a sundae with a candle on it and they honked this big brass horn,  "May I have everyone's attention, we are celebrating a special birthday tonight at Happy Joe's, Susie is 12 years old today!"  I assume they all sang happy birthday as well.  The waitresses in their iconic short red dresses with crinoline fluff underneath and the red and white saddle shoes.  The guys wore red and white stripe shirts.  For the 70's it was vintage and nostalgic.  For 2021, it seems even more nostalgic.  

The costumes of course are gone, probably replaced by polyester polo shirts and baseball caps.  There's been times when the menu offered oddities like sit down dining with onion rings and burger fare, a frozen yogurt bar, and their new breakfast pizza (which I am not opposed to).  I miss the charming ice cream shop feel up front, barrels of penny candy and hand scooped ice cream, sundaes with whipped cream and cherries, and a model train running the rails around the ceiling, and lets not forget the horn and the singing.  But all things change, no wait staff anymore, order at the counter, fill your own drink, no trains, no horns, no ice cream parlor feel.  I miss the old ways, honestly.  But the pizza hasn't changed.  I still order an extra taco pizza and freeze it for the trip home.  I still ask for extra taco sauce because it's delicious and I can never have enough.  

My Happy Joe's friend is coming to visit, so I thought we'd brush up on the pizza before I made it for him.  Here's how this version went. Note that the Publix dough is one of my favorites, and the last time we had it was on a pizza oven outdoors on a Camp Chef Grill.  It was amazing.  We discovered this dough is not good for high heat oven cooking.  Its so fluffy it was impossible to get a thin crust, and it was a little doughy inside.  I need to just bite the bullet and make it from scratch.  However, Because of the nature of this pizza, a premade crust would not be terrible, a thin and crispy type crust is what it needs.  This crust was yummy, but very airy, big bubbles (which are the best with traditional sauce) but we ate all of it.  Every bite.  And we declared it the best version yet.


1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Taco seasoning for the beef

2 pizza dough balls from Publix

cornmeal for dusting

1 can traditional refried beans

1 jar pizza sauce

1 bag shredded mozzarella

1 bag shredded cheddar 

shredded iceberg lettuce

chopped tomatoes

Taco Doritos

Happy Joe's Taco Seasoning

Brown the ground beef in a little olive oil and add the taco seasoning to it.  I am not opposed to a packet, but homemade is easy and delicious. Set the cooked and seasoned meat aside.

Take your room temperature crust and stretch and shape to desired size. We tossed and spread out the crust to about 12-14" so it would fit the pizza stone preheating at 500ยบ in my oven. We did it on a pizza peel with a dusting of corn meal. A pre bake would have been a great idea here...but we didn't.

Mix the refried beans and the pizza sauce together.  The last time I added the Happy Joes Pizza Sauce, and I think it has no place here.  It is a topping and not an ingredient! Cover the crust with the sauce mixture.  I had about 1/3 of a cup left over, we ate it with some chips while the pizza cooked. 

Cover each pizza with the ground beef, then both cheeses.  Gently slide onto a preheated stone and bake, carefully watching.  I found with the fat crust baking for about 8 minutes and then cranking the heat down to 300 and continue to bake worked the best.  The dough was not totally raw, but it will be better with thinner dough and a fast bake.  

Remove the pizza and top with shredded lettuce and tomatoes and crunched up Taco Doritos. Serve with the one and only Happy Joe's Taco Sauce. 

As a footnote, we used Trader Joe's dough and the above recipe and cooked it on our Ooni.  The thinner dough is much better, but that Ooni is making me nuts.  We need some practice on it!  What are you waiting for?  Get in there and cook!