Category: sweet treats

I ‘Cherry’ish You Rice Krispies Treats

Published in Carolina Country Magazine ~ February 2018

I do love cherries! Any kind of cherries, but most especially, maraschino cherries.  There’s just something about those bright red sweet little nuggets that take me back to my childhood in an instant.

I suppose my cherry affection is genetic. My Daddy Hocutt and Ma Hocutt, my mama’s mama and daddy, planted cherry trees in their back yard in Zebulon when they built their house back in the early 1950’s. It was only the 6th house built in the city limits best I remember them telling me. When I was born in 1958, they planted me a tree!  My Daddy Hocutt died when I was only 8 years old… he had a massive heart attack and they went off the side of a remote mountain road near Charlottesville, VA coming back from vacation in Washington, DC. He died then and there, and Ma Hocutt was torn all to pieces and was “invalid” the rest of her life until she died at 91.

Ok… so back to the story.  Every year, when the cherry trees would blossom, Daddy Hocutt would cover them with this gauze kinda cloth to keep the birds from eating our cherries!  He would let me help him do that. And I can remember waiting impatiently for “my” cherries to ripen so we could pull that cloth back and eat cherries until I had a stomach ache.  After he died, the trees all just wearied themselves away, but I do have a few short years of those memories.

We had a place in town called the Dairy Bar. One side served the BEST cheeseburgers, hot dogs… and milkshakes!  The other little room had a jukebox and bar stools where the cool teenagers would go hang out and dance. Daddy Hocutt would sometimes take me in there for burgers and a shake. 
Cherry Milkshakes!

Ma Hocutt loved a cherry milkshake too!  And after a few years of recovery from their accident, she was able to drive again. She would ride over the the Watkins Dairy Bar, just a few blocks from her house, and toot the horn. They knew she wasn’t able to get out and walk in to order, so they’d just make a cherry milkshake… and take it out to her!  If I went with her, I’d go in and order them… “2 cherry milkshakes please!”

They were in those big old waxed cups… white, with red lines around them and best I remember, hearts around the tops. And big ass straws! 
God I loved those things!  And to this day, still my favorite of all milkshakes, but it’s near’bout impossible to find a good cherry milkshake anymore!  

Did you know that Dairy Queen… yep, the Dairy Queen, doesn’t have cherries?
How in the hell can you have a proper sundae, or banana split, without a cherry on top?  Silliest thing I’ve ever heard tell of!  Cherries are a staple of such. 

Sooooo…  when coming up with ideas for the February issue of Carolina Country, my mind immediately went to cherries!  I also associate cherries with Valentine’s Day.  And I created some really yummy chocolate cherry truffles for Our State magazine years back too. I will have to throw those here on my blog soon too.

But for now, for my maraschino cherry brothers and sisters… I encourage you to make these rice krispie treats!  They are cherrylicious… fun to eat AND share. Grab some icing in those tubes and sprinkles and let your aspiring little culinarians get creative in decorating.
Y’all have a Happy Valentine’s Day too… I love you all for being here!

Wendy

I ‘Cherry’ish You Rice Krispies Treats
This twist on the tried-and-true Rice Krispies Treats® recipe is just in time to share with those you love on Valentine’s Day. It’s an easy recipe for the next generation of aspiring little chefs, too!
Course: Dessert, Fun Food!, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American
Keyword: rice krispie treats
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 16 ounce bag mini marshmallows
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 16 ounce jar maraschino cherries, drained & chopped (save juice)
  • 8 cup Rice Krispies® cereal
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, crumbled
  • decorating icing and sprinkles
  • heart shaped cookie cutters
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a heavy pot over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, cherries and cereal.
  2. Using a buttered spatula, fold together until well combined. Pour out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread to about 1-inch thickness. Cool.
  3. Cut, decorate and dust with toasted almonds.
Recipe Notes

VARIATIONS:
Very Cherry Vanilla Treats
Make basic recipe, stirring in 2 tablespoons of red cherry gelatin powder.

 

Black Forest Treats
Make basic recipe, substituting chocolate Rice Krispies cereal. Stir 1 cup of milk chocolate chips in with cereal.

 

Cherry Juice Goodness
Wait! Don’t pour out that delicious drained cherry juice leftover from this recipe. Use in frostings, whipped cream or cake batter. A splash makes your hot chocolate into “Chocolate Covered Cherry” hot chocolate and will turn your cola drinks into fun cherry ones. Use to make lemon or limeade cherry ice cubes, too. 

“Traditional Southern Thanksgiving Favs…with a Twist”

Twisted Southern Thanksgiving Table

Being the “throw cooker” that I am, those of you that know me know I’m gonna throw a twist into a meal or recipe, any chance I get.  Well there’s no reason Thanksgiving should be exempt from my voodoo.  My friends

Valonda and Sharon invited me back again to their show, NBC17’s My Carolina Today Show, here in the Raleigh Triangle market… those two are so cute and fun I can never say no to their invites… although being a big girl as I am, I feel like Goliath Chef beside them. I’m sure they must wear something like Size -4 or something like that… and so bubbly I just wanna pinch their cheeks… bless their hearts!  I usually take my clogs off during taping to help a little, but forgot when taping this week… the show will air tomorrow (Thursday, November 16th)… so as I post, I don’t have a link to the video yet they always throw up online… I’ll come back with that!

When Sharon asked me at my last visit to come up with ‘something’ for Thanksgiving, I didn’t have any ideas right off the bat like usual… but a couple of weeks ago, as usual, I had a vision… of one thing, and that’s all it takes to get me going.  They asked me yesterday if I just magically ‘come up with this stuff,’ and I told them, “well, actually, yes.”  My inspiration this time was collards. (And when I come up for air in-between this week’s BIG projects…. I’m going to post my “Almost Famous Collards” for you, and how I throw ’em together.)  Once I had the collard vision, everything else just flowed right out of me… and so now, I introduce to you…

My Southern Thanksgiving Table… with a twist!

As you look through these realllllly easy recipes, you’ll see all our usual stuff found on Turkey Day Tables, at least mine anyway… turkey, cranberry sauce, collards, stuffing (AKA dressing), turnips, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and pecan pie ~ just twisted out a bit.  I hope y’all enjoy these and reallllly hope you will give me some feedback down there in the ‘comments’ box, and also, PLEASE SHARE on your Facebook pages and with your friends… I really need to get more folks here and need your help!  I give you entertainment and wondermous recipes, and all I ask is that you invite a few folks to subscribe…

OK… advertisement over!

Gotta run… as Food Stylist and Recipe Developer for Our State Magazine, gotta be up realllllllllll early in the morning and in Greensboro BY 7:30…. to shoot some wayyyy outside the box special recipes I developed for February issue… been working on them for a few months!  Can’t tell ya any more than that… Top Secret, but you just run yourself on over and subscribe right now so it will come right to your mailbox in mid-January! (It’s a perfect gift that gives all year long too… for yourself or others.)  You are just not gonna believe your eyes.  Lordie Mercie, they are bringing in video folk too, to film the ‘behind the scenes’ of the assembly of these recipes and what goes on at a special photo shoot like this, so this gal needs all the ‘beauty rest’ she can get… but to tell you the truth, I’m SOOOO excited about this and feel like it’s my Christmas Eve and don’t anticipate much sleep, ‘tween that and the tornado watches going on thru the night.  I’m about to bust wide open to tell folks about this… by my lips are sealed… for a few more weeks anyway.

So… hope you enjoy these recipes… and Share Away!

FOR 1 page PRINTABLE RECIPES, click HERE! Or, click the recipe name.

Grilled Barbecued Turkey

Grilled Barbecued Twisted ‘n Kicked Turkey

We’re twist’n & kick’n up Thanksgiving this year with some new ways to cook and serve traditional oldies.  Everybody loves grilled goodies and this turkey is no exception.  This recipe features some culinary goodies made here in North Carolina but you can sub your own favorites as well.

 

Recipe By: Wendy Perry
Serving Size:  however much you cook!

Sliced Turkey breast (you can used cooked)
Turkey Legs (raw)
Tiny Town Turkey Rub     (from Savory Spice Shop Raleigh-visit one in your area or order online!)

1          cup                 NC’s Fireside Black Jack BBQ Sauce                         Visit their Web Site
½         cup                NC’s Crooked Condiments Gaelic Ale Mustard      Visit their Web Site
1          teaspoon        jalapeno powder (more or less to taste)   (also from Savory Spice Shop)

TURKEY:  To save time, you can buy cooked turkey breast.

Shake (generously) some Tiny Town Turkey Rub onto turkey.

SAUCE:  Mix BBQ sauce, mustard and jalapeno power in small bowl.

Slice (cooked turkey) and place on grill.  Baste with sauce and grill on each side until well-heated and sauce has caramelized a bit.

Cook raw turkey legs, turning frequently, until at 165° by thermometer.  Once done and before removing from grill, baste generously with sauce and turn a few
times to allow sauce to glaze and caramelize.

Use this to also to baste Bacon Wrapped Collard Rolls with Stuffing.

Recipe Copyright© Wendy L. Perry, Inc.
May be shared with credit cited and link back to this blog

Cranberry BBQ SauSal

Cranberry BBQ “SauSal

Throw your guests a twist at Thanksgiving or any time you serve turkey or chicken with this SauSal… (a little Sauce with a hint of Salsa)
You can throw this together in about 10 minutes with a bag of cranberries and some goodies you probably have on hand!

 

Recipe By: Wendy Perry
Serving Size: 8+

1          bag                 fresh cranberries
¼         cup               favorite BBQ sauce
1           cup                sugar
½         cup               brown sugar
¾         cup               your favorite salsachopped cilantro
1                                  jalapeno, seeded and diced

Throw everything but cilantro and jalapeno into heavy saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until berries have popped and sauce has thickened.

Pour into serving bowl and chill.  At serving time, sprinkle with cilantro and jalapeno.  Serve with BBQ Turkey and Bacon Wrapped Cabbage Rolls and Stuffing.

This is also good on leftover turkey (and ham) sandwiches and wraps.

Recipe Copyright© Wendy L. Perry, Inc.        May be shared with credit cited and link back to this blog

Bacon Wrapped Collard Rolls with Stuffing

Bacon Wrapped Collard Rolls with Stuffing

Collards….
the quintessential southern green, and no traditional Thanksgiving table in these parts would be complete without ‘em.  But this year, throw together some of these and throw on the grill along with your turkey for a real surprising twist… and your dressing, or stuffing, whichever you call it, is tucked inside!  Like most of this meal, these can be made ahead and just throw on the grill when you cook your turkey.

 

 

Recipe By: Wendy Perry
Serving Size: 8

8                                 collard leaves, torn into large pieces
8       slices               bacon
4       cups                 your favorite stuffing
toothpicks

BBQ Turkey Sauce (see that recipe up above)

In deep skillet or pot, heat water 2 inches deep.  Once boiling, throw collard leaves into water (stacked on top of each other).  Blanche several minutes until tender.  Remove and drain in colander being careful not to tear leaves.

Cook bacon in layers of paper towels in microwave (or skillet) several minutes until almost done, but still soft and pliable.

Lay collard leaf onto flat surface.  Spoon ½ cup of stuffing horizontally and roll up.  Wrap a slice of bacon around the roll and secure with toothpick.  Continue until all rolls are completed.

Throw on hot grill and baste with the Turkey BBQ Sauce, turning to glaze while sauce lightly caramelizes and bacon finishes cooking.  Serve with grilled turkey.

 

Recipe Copyright© Wendy L. Perry, Inc.
May be shared with credit cited and link back to this blog

Rosemary Skewered Fall Veggie Kabobs

Rosemary Skewered Fall Veggie Kabobs

These are really easy to throw together for a new twist on traditional Thanksgiving vegetables.  You can also make these ahead of time to throw on the grill with the rest of your Grilled Turkey Day meal.

 

Recipe By: Wendy Perry
Serving Size: 8

8                                   stems of fresh rosemary
8          (or more)     fresh Brussels Sprouts
16       1” chunks      fresh turnips
16       1” chunks      fresh butternut squash
1          large               red onion, cut into 1” square slices
1          stick                butter, melted
Few     sprigs            fresh sage
salt and freshly ground pepper

Strip leaves from rosemary stems, leaving about 2” of leaves on tip end.  Set aside.

Steam Brussels Sprouts in microwave until tender but not mushy, about 3-4 minutes.  (Time will vary depending on wattage of your microwave.)

Steam turnip and squash chunks in microwave until crisp tender being careful not to overcook;  if too done, they will break apart when sliding onto skewers.

Thread onto skewers… squash, turnip, onion, sprout, squash, turnip, onion (or whatever pattern you choose)… I use 1 Brussels Sprout in center but you can add more if you like.

Throw onto grill making sure tips with leaves are over unheated area so they won’t burn off.  Use sage stem with leaves to baste with melted butter while cooking.  Grill, turning gently with tongs, until slightly charred on all sides.  Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper or seasoning of choice.

 

Recipe Copyright© Wendy L. Perry, Inc.
May be shared with credit cited with link back to this blog

BUTTERscoth PECAN Skillet Pie

BUTTERscoth PECAN Skillet Pie

Yummmm….
cooking and serving pie from a skillet just seems to make ‘em taste better!  This pie just says ‘fall’… with the toasty pecans and richness of the butterscotch.  Top with Sweet ‘Tater & Molasses Ice Cream and get ready for accolades all around for your DEElicious DEEssert.

Recipe By: Wendy Perry
Serving Size: 8

1 1/2      cups               pecan pieces
2          tablespoons   flour
3              large             eggs – beaten with whisk till slightly frothy
1      11 ounce bag     butterscotch morsels
1/2          cup               brown sugar
1              stick              butter — melted, cooled
1          teaspoon        vanilla
1                                     unbaked pie shell, (I use Pillsbury from dairy section, not frozen)
Sweet ‘Tater & Molasses Ice Cream
Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray 10″-12’ cast iron skillet; place crust into prepared pan.  It will naturally ‘ruffle’ as shown in picture.

In medium bowl, mix pecan pieces with flour. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour into pie shell and bake 350* for about 40-45 minutes.

Let pie cool before slicing as it is easier to cut at room temperature.

Serve with dollop of Sweet ‘Tater & Molasses Ice Cream and pinch of sea salt.

Recipe Copyright© Wendy L. Perry, Inc.
May be shared with credit cited with link back to this blog

NC Sweet ‘Tater * Molasses Ice Cream

North Carolina Sweet ‘Tater & Molasses Ice Cream

Lordie Mercie.
You just don’t get much easier than this when it comes to Throw Cooking.  This is a fun and easy recipe for little ones to throw together with you in the kitchen.  Eat as is, or plop some on top of a slice of BUTTERscoth PECAN Skillet Pie.

 

Recipe By: Wendy Perry
Serving Size: 8

1          ½ gallon         vanilla ice cream, softened
2          large                 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1          tablespoons  apple pie spice
½         cup                  molasses
sea salt

Put softened ice cream into mixing bowl.  Throw in sweet potatoes and spice.  Drizzle with molasses and swirl into ice cream mixture.  Refreeze.

Serve as is or over pie with a pinch of sea salt on top!

Sweet potatoes can be cooked in microwave on high power, about 10 minutes.  Cook until soft when squeezed with a towel.  Be sure they are well cooled before adding into ice cream.

Recipe Copyright© Wendy L. Perry, Inc.
May be shared with credit cited with link back to this blog

That’s all for now folks!

…”butter” late than never!

It’s been a crazeee bizzeeee week for this old gal as I’ve embarked on yet another new adventure (more about that soon) so this post is draggin’ butter a few days.  I’m really excited about it though, because it features my blog’s very first guest post!

A few days ago was “National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day” (although I’m not sure who proclaims some of the ‘national days’ I’ll be blogging about).  Teresa Williford, my baker bud and friend from down the road in Elm City quickly jumped at my invite to create something reallll good to celebrate the day.  She recently created another fun recipe featuring Lizard Lick Towing Company’s (and TV Show) new BBQ Sauce, but since we’ll be publishing that soon in a magazine along with a few I stirred up myself, we’ll save that surprise… but what she came up with for that was simply unbelievable!  Stay tuned for that…

So back to PB&J Day…. Teresa sent me several yummy recipes and it was hard deciding on which one(s) to share… so I narrowed down to my two favs.  I surely hope y’all will try one or both of these and also, please give Teresa some feedback below in the comments section… and if you like the looks of either (or both), be sure to click that little Facebook button to share on your FB page.  If you are in this neck of the woods and need an outside-the-box OR traditional baked goods, contact Teresa at twilliford7@nc.rr.com!

THANK YOU Teresa!  I’m sure everbody else will join me in welcoming you and will be looking forward to more wondermous recipes from you too…

PB&J Fudge

1 lb of confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup jelly or jam
3/4 stick of butter, cubed

Sift the confectioners’ sugar and salt together in a microwavable bowl. Add milk, vanilla, peanut butter and jelly and butter cubes. Blend until mixed together. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stir. *Microwave an additional minute and stir until smooth. Pour into wax paper lined 8 inch square dish. Refrigerate until cool and solid. Best if it sits overnight.

*  Watch carefully and adjust time based on wattage of your microwave.
** If you want to make it chocolate, sift 1/2 cup of cocoa in with the sugar and salt.

PB&J Pop tarts

For pastry:

1 Box of Puff Pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten
6 TBS jam (I used grape jam)
6 TBS peanut butter

Vanilla Glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBS milk or water
Rainbow sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Take pastry out of freezer and let it sit on counter for about 30 minutes or until pliable. Roll both sheets out on lightly floured counter, enough to get about 6 card size rectangles. Brush one sheet with the beaten egg. Score the egg washed sheet into 6 rectangles.  Spoon 1 TBS of peanut butter and 1 TBS of jam in each rectangle. Put the other sheet over the egg washed one and press down to make the 6 rectangles. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut out the rectangles and press around edges to seal. Place the rectangles, spaced, on a baking sheet. Put in freezer for 10 minutes.

Take out of freezer and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the tops of the pastries are golden brown. Let

cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes and remove to a wire rack to cool for about 30 minutes.

When the pastries are cooled for 30 minutes, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and enough of the milk or water to make a smooth, pourable glaze. Pour or brush the tops with the glaze, then sprinkle with the rainbow sprinkles. Let them stand for 15 minutes so the glaze will set.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

…and for you more advanced bakers out there ~

Note from Teresa… This Pâte Brisée recipe is from The Professional Pastry Chef. I bake by weight not measure, and have included both. Pâte Brisée is French for “short dough.”  This means it has a high fat to flour ratio making it nice and crumbly, flakey and rich!  It is said that if you only learn and make one pastry, this should be ‘it.’

Pâte Brisée

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) unbleached all purpose flour
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks/228 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 egg yolks
3 TBS cold milk

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar and salt for 15 seconds. Scatter the butter over the top and mix on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and the lumps of butter are visible throughout.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 20 seconds, or until the dough just barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.

Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface and gather it together into a tight mound. Do not knead! Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface, until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough until the mound comes together and you have a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.

Gather up the dough; wrap tightly in plastic wrap and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Before using, take out of refrigerator and let rest on counter for 10 minutes. Proceed to roll.

Appropriate side dish for any of the above…

got MILK?

…a “Date with Cherry!”

Goodness gracious, February has evaporated!  My grandmas surely were right about that “time flying” thing when you’re “seasoned.”  (I strive to abstain from using the word old, older or any derivative of it.)  I surely don’t wish my life away, BUT, I cannot tell a lie (doesn’t that have some sort of relationship with cherry trees?)… I’m mighty glad to be seeing winter quickly moving into the rear view mirror.

I’m a Spring Chick!  The R A I N BO W spring brings makes me giddy.  I love looking upward to see GREEN buds on a palate of BLUE sky… and gazing down to see YELLOW buttercups already making their debut in my yard… I start looking forward to cute little roadside signs, often hand-painted, letting me know it’s time for RED strawberries…  and grin when I see Lavender chive blossoms burst open for my salads (although I mostly enjoy chomping on them right out there in the yard).  But there is one color I dread come spring… the glaring WHITE on my winterized legs!  Now I’ve never been a sun worshiper (boring!) and I do make sure to use sun protection, but I must admit that I do feel a little better with a tad of color when debuting shorts, skirts and skorts come Spring.

Soooo, back to saying buh-bye to February.  Being that it’s National Cherry Month AND being that cherries in any shape, form or fashion are about my FAV fruit, I couldn’t “march’ forward without some sort of cherry treat.  My foodie friends know I’m the quintessential NON-baker, so as I looked about for inspirations, “no bake” recipes screamed w.e.n.d.y.! I’m also not one of those folks who cannot exist without sweet stuff, so this concoction realllly got me out of the proverbial ‘box.’   But when I started digging to see what I had on hand to create a new masterpiece, a “no bake sweet treat” is what emerged.  I hope you enjoy making these FAST goodies as much as I did…
(“fast” + “EZ” + “no bake” = My Kind ‘o Throw Together Goodie)!


“A Date With Cherry”
…cherry chocolate chip date nut balls

…a recipe by Wendy Perry
Yield:  1 dozen
Prep Time:  less than 10 minutes

1      c.               asst. nuts/pieces* (salted or unsalted)
pinch of salt    (if your nuts are unsalted)
1/2  c.              dried cherries, unsweetened
3/4  c.              dates (whole or pieces)
1/4  t.               almond extract (Watkins)
1/4  t.               vanilla extract (Watkins)
2      T.              water (or if for adults, Amaretto, vanilla or cherry rum or chocolate liquer)
1/2  c.               mini chocolate chips
1/2  c.               flaked coconut (half toasted)**

* This is a great recipe to use up those tidbits of nuts because a mixture is a ‘good thing’ in this recipe.
For recipe creation, I used pecans, walnuts and some macadamia nut pieces (previously toasted for another recipe).

Throw your nuts and salt into a food processor and whiz until fine crumbs.  Throw cherries, dates, extracts and water (or alcohol) in and pulse until you have an ooey gooey paste.  With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.

Pinch mixture and make 1″ balls.  Roll in coconut and place into freezer to firm up for about an hour.  Keep chilled.

**Toast coconut in non-stick pan until some is toasted and some isn’t so you have a half-n-half mix.  Bu doing this, you’ll get a nice “chew” with the bits that haven’t toasted, yet a nice toasty crunch with the flakes that are toasted.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

…dig’n dirt!

After spending a little time in the yard yesterday to start spring cleaning it (before snakes may slither in!!!), I once again, as realized about this time each year,  confirm that I DETEST yard work, period.  I so want to be one of those folks who look forward to piddling in the yard, fluttering about pulling weeds here, planting flowers there… “becoming one with nature!”  Just ain’t me…. and I was nowhere in sight when God was handing out those genes.  I’m the one with good intentions, going to the annual Wake Forest HerbFest where I roll around one of the cute little Radio Flyer wagons and get all giddy filling it with tender young herbs and unusual tomato plants.  Usually, in 2-3 weeks time, the thrill is gone,  and I’ve grown the nicest pots of DRIED HERBS you’ve ever seen.  Thank goodness a few of my favs, like chive, don’t need a lot of attention and thrive on their own.

Last year, I dabbled in hay bale gardening where I planted a lot of varieties of maters, but forgot about those after a bit too… yet a LOT of maters actually came to be.  I haven’t yet decided if I’ll try that again this year or not… more about that later!

Back to yesterday… (because with every small movement, this muscle or that one takes me back there), I concluded that the main reason I don’t like yard word is D.I.R.T.!!!  (I don’t even care for all that sand at the beach, which is a problem when you love the beach!).  Dirt gets everywhere... under my fingernails (even when wearing gloves?!?), inside my socks… hair… mouth, even in my bra!  I just get too dirty out there in the dirt, period.  So when I came in yesterday at dusk, I pondered the whole dirt thing, and came to this conclusion.  I hate dirt.  Yet, I love dirt CAKE!  So here’s to dirt and those that “dig” dirt (with the highest admiration!)… whether under your fingernails from outside, or licking off your finger with my kind o’ dirt from the kitchen!

Wendy’s Dirt Cake… quick and EZ

…a fun cake to serve a crowd any time of year, but especially nice in the springtime!

Serves 12ish

1      large pkg.         Chocolate Creme-Filled Cookies*
2      8 oz.                  whipping cream (make fresh or use 2 packaged)
2      8 oz.                  cream cheese, softened
2      large                 instant pudding mix
4      cups                  milk
food coloring, opt.
flower pot safe for food, about 5 qt. size
garden trowel for serving
flowers, gummy worms/bugs for garnish

DIRT:
*You can save money by using “no name brand” cookies from dollar or discount store.
Save 1 (or more whole cookies) to plug hole in bottom of flower pot.

Place cookies in processor and pulse until consistency of dirt!  (If you don’t have a processor, this can be done in a zippered bag by rolling into crumbs with some sort of bottle or jar.)  I like to keep a few cookies out and break into pieces to have a ‘crunch’ in the dirt crumbs.

FILLING:
Mix pudding but using a little less milk than you would for usual pudding so it will be a bit firmer in the cake.  With mixer, blend in the cream cheese; whirl in the whipped cream, or you can do them (pudding/cream cheese and whipped cream) as 2 separate layers in the cake.

Start by covering hole with whole cookie(s) and a layer of dirt in bottom of pot.  Alternate 2-3 layers (number of layers will depend on size/shape of your pot.  End by topping with ‘dirt.’

GARNISH:  throw in some silk flowers (or real as in picture if in jar or bottle of water)… hang a gummy worm or two around too.

CONTAINER: Some clay pots have been chemically treated so best to use a cleaned plastic or ceramic type flower pot.   If using a clay pot, it should first be washed well/sterilized through a cycle in the dishwasher.

SERVING SPOON:  It’s fun to keep the “theme” going by using a garden trowel which you can find at a dollar store.

PUDDING:  These is where you can get creative and have fun… make chocolate, vanilla or anything that goes good with the chocolate cookies.  In both these pictures, I used mint…wished I had taken a good picture of the INside!  I like to do this at St. Patty’s Day and make sure I add a little green food coloring to get a nice bold green layer in my cake! 

“DIG” In!