Friday, May 3, 2013
I'm almost six months along.
So far for me...
Pregnancy is realizing half the nighttime TV you watch is terrible now that you're not drinking anymore. Smash.
Pregnancy is spending the first 3 mos praying for proof in the form of a bump. And on 3 mos and 1 day, wondering why the hell you were so eager to get fat.
Pregnancy is that glorious time when, high on hormones and parenting books and lack of hands-on experience, you are the best parent who has ever walked the freaking earth who should be publishing your own line of books on rearing children because you're that adept at it.
Pregnancy is finding you suddenly hate the people you love most after happy hour's kicked in and all you've had is cranberry juice.
Pregnancy is seeing your nipples in the mirror and swearing someone has swapped them out for the cover of National Geographic. Where did my 15 year old girl nipples go? Damn it.
Pregnancy is wondering how the hell babies were ever born in the 70's when deli meat was not only a household staple but probably even served at baby showers. With vodka martinis.
Pregnancy is being such a raging hormonal b*tch that you not only scare your mother in law out of your home while visiting but across the state line. Sincerest apologies Charlotte. I'm better now.
Pregnancy is being able to turn down whatever you don't feel like doing 'for your health' and in the same breath demanding a double bacon cheeseburger, chili cheese fries and hot fudge sundae without irony.
Pregnancy is seeing someone drinking a glass of wine and wanting to punch them in the face (and take the wine and run.)
Pregnancy is buying every book on pregnancy ever printed but only reading the first couple chapters before getting bored and switching back to your trashy mystery novel.
Pregnancy is waking up in the morning and realizing your fetus child is literally standing up inside your body, poking his head through the top of your belly button and thinking to yourself 'holy crap - didn't know they could do that.'
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Every night when I go to make dinner, my cat Lily appears out of nowhere to watch me. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember despite the fact she’s never been given scraps or human food. No matter where she is in the house or how inconspicuous the trigger sound is - the slide of a skillet being pulled from a drawer or the soft click of a burner turning on – she materializes out of nowhere. It’s been her ritual for as long as I can remember.
That ritual ended two weeks ago. For the first time in almost 17 years, Lily was no longer there to watch me.
Lily’s health had been in a slow decline for the last couple of years. In the last year alone she’d gone blind from high blood pressure. She’d even had a mysterious episode a month ago where she lost use of one of her back legs and I thought for sure she was a goner. But she pulled through it and weirdly just a few days later had full range of motion in the leg again like it had never happened.
But Monday before last my husband woke up to find her on the kitchen floor lying down. Both her back legs had gone limp and she couldn’t get up. We were rushing to the OBG for my 5 month prenatal checkup so I put water by her and set her on her favorite blanket hoping that like the month before her legs would magically ‘snap to’ by the time we got home.
Two hours later she was in the exact same place. Not good. Even weirder, unlike the last time this had happened when she had yelled and refused to stop trying to move, she just laid there purring like it was the best thing ever. I didn’t bother putting her in a carrier - this was my first baby after all – but instead scooped her up into my arms to go to the vet hoping against hope we’d all three be returning home later.
I got Lily my freshman year at UT – the first week if memory serves. I’d had a thing for furry fluff ball Persians ever since my sister brought an orange Persian home when she was in high school (without permission) and my sweet boyfriend at the time was going to get me one.
We went cat shopping and that experience alone is worth a collection of short stories but to keep this under novel-length I’ll skip it and go straight to Lily. We found Lily at a Himalayan show breeder’s place in Round Rock. The guy had her mom, dad, and brother who he showed us first. Her brother was what they call ‘show quality’ with a dreamy fur coat and the flattest face you’ve ever seen. He was pricey which wasn’t a problem because after holding him for 2 seconds he’d gnawed half way through my thumb. I politely handed him back, hiding my thumb under my palm as for some reason I was embarrassed he had bitten me.
Next he brought out a white fluff ball that could fit in the palm of your hand with the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen. He said she wasn’t ‘show quality’ but you could have fooled me. She looked like a stuffed animal. The breeder explained she was a blue-cream point which meant white with smoky blue ‘points’ (feet, tail, ears, nose) and that she had an imperfection in the coloring on her nose that was half blue gray and half peach. What he called imperfection I called true love.
Lily was in the car on the way back to Austin in 10 minutes. Weeks later she attended her first TX-OU game in Dallas where she stayed in her first hotel (okay motel…but still.) It was a good thing she learned to get comfortable travelling at a young age as it would be a reoccurring theme in her life. In total she would go on to live in five different cities, 13 different houses and stay in at least as many hotels in her lifetime thanks to my career in advertising.
And she was totally down for it – super curious and inquisitive by nature she always loved exploring a new place. One of my favorite memories is from our last night in NYC before moving back to Austin. We were staying at the Maritime Hotel in the Meatpacking District and the cats were enjoying exploring the room as I drank Champagne and watched True Blood (my poor husband was passed out from exhaustion.) I was dying laughing to myself wondering how many cats (if any) had crashed the swanky hotel before.
As it turns out we got her back home to Austin just in time. Our first year back she and her adopted cat sister Madison lived the LIFE in our rental in Westlake Hills. The entire back of this sixties pad was glass so they could look out at squirrels, deer, possums, bunnies, raccoons and even fox.
Then we got our dog (a half Chihuahua half Terrier) from the pound and coincidentally Lily’s health started to slide. She began having seizures triggered by the strangest things. The sound of my flip-flops as I walked across the Spanish tile, the jingle of the dog collar, anything loud and rhythmic.
The first time it happened it scared the living tar out of me. I thought she was done for. But she survived and would survive a few more. It was around this time I noticed she’d also developed a mild head tremor. Neither of our vets had a clue what was going on with her but told me her blood pressure was high so we started her on pills.
Six months later we moved into our new house and she went blind which my vet warned me was a death sentence for cats. Luckily for her it wasn’t. She’d gotten a lay of the land just in time and was doing pretty well all things considered. She kept up her usual routine, laid in the same favorite spots, and of course still came to watch me make dinner every night without fail even though at this point she wasn’t ‘watching’ anything.
Then in December I discovered I was expecting. It was the best news of my life but came with extreme exhaustion and the meanest case of bitch syndrome you’ve ever seen. My husband says this isn’t true but that’s just because a) he loves me b) he’s going to be the father of my child and doesn’t want to admit to impregnating a psychopath and c) I hid a lot of it from him, including the fact that for two weeks straight the thought of having to muster the energy to make dinner conversation with him (or anyone) was enough to send me into the fetal position on the floor. I was just so. Damn. Tired.
Then of course there were the poor animals. At this point Lily was regularly peeing outside of her pee pad (believe it or not the cat used a pee pad after she went blind as she didn’t want to navigate climbing into her litter box anymore.) And between my general state of exhaustion and having to listen to my husband complain about cleaning up the pee (as well as cleaning it up myself) I couldn’t deny it was getting super hard to deal with my old kitty. Not to mention that because of her being blind we had to be super careful walking around the house or we’d accidentally punt her across the room. Sadly this was a major danger to her and myself when I made dinner because she would try and ‘find’ me by sound and inevitably end up under my feet practically killing both of us in the process.
On top of all this, giving the cats their nightly treat (a can of Fancy Feast wet food) had become something I absolutely dreaded. If you judge me for this I understand. But I beg you to give me some credit for pregnancy hormones. They’re evil and they drain your soul. To give me a little more credit (do I sound defensive?) it wasn’t as easy as cracking open a can of Fancy Feast and calling it a day.
Both cats had to be separated from the dog (or else the dog would eat it all) and because Madison eats like a linebacker, Lily had to be separated from her or else she’d literally get nothing. So all in all it was an intricate half hour process not to mention cleaning up.
But believe me, no one is harder on me for complaining about this than myself. In fact I thank my lucky stars that Sunday night, the night before my husband found her on the floor, I did indeed give her her most favorite treat. If I hadn’t I guarantee I’d be in a mental ward somewhere.
So now that we’re nearing the end and there are a few details I have to mention. First of all, if you can measure one’s love for an animal in the number of nicknames given to them, then I loved Lily about a billion percent.
Here are just a few of her nicknames: Lou, Mimi, Leelee, Lou, Monica Lou-ensky, Midgie Cakes, Deejay Midgerton, Deejay Midgiestein, The Miginator, Kate Midgerton (after the duchess), Mar-Jane, Jane-Ann. I could keep going but I’ll spare you.
Another thing. This cat could play fetch. Throw her a little ball or a furry toy and she would get it and bring it back to you. I discovered this when she was a kitten and it was something she would do up until she went blind.
The next thing is my most favorite part about her. Lily had the most amazing smell ever. She literally smelled like a stuffed animal that came from a fancy department store. That’s the best way I can describe it. For example for a brief time when I was little my mom worked nights at Joske’s Department store in Houston and when she came home she smelled like cashmere and Clinique. This is what Lily smelled like.
And finally an important detail that will come back into play in a minute. My husband and I called Lily ‘The Sheriff’ (yet another nickname) because she was so inquisitive. If you dropped a sock from the laundry basket on the way to the washing machine, she would go and sit by it as if pointing out ‘this sock doesn’t belong here.’ She liked order and anything she considered out of order she would ‘flag.’
Even after she went blind, she was always the first one up (before the dog!) when she’d hear us unlocking the door. In fact the very day before I watched her hop up off her little blanket when she heard my feet crunching the gravel on the way to the back door. She was always the first to greet you or notice what was new or amiss even blind and half senile.
And now back to that crappy Monday. What will forever stand out in my mind is how she acted on the way to the vet. Lily is not a ‘down with the vet’ kinda gal. She’s actually notorious at our vet and famously bit one of the vet techs causing her to be quarantined because I hadn’t kept up with her rabies shot (she was an indoor cat her whole life so I never saw the point. Until she bit someone:)
This time though as I held her in the car, she just purred and purred as happy as a lamb. She purred even as we went into the clinic and sat waiting for the vet (we didn’t have an appointment) and then even as he examined her. Or at least until he tapped on her legs to see if they had feeling.
They did and ironically this made the diagnoses really complicated. If it had been a clot – the usual reason for the back legs to become paralyzed – she wouldn’t have had blood flow to them. Or if it had been the other main culprit – a slipped disc – she wouldn’t have had feeling in the legs. She clearly did have feeling in them. She just couldn’t move them.
This meant something deeply complicated. Something that even a visit to the neurology specialist in Round Rock might have not been able to pinpoint. And given the fact it had happened to one of her back legs a month ago and she’d gotten herself up within the hour it looked pretty bad.
My amazingly understanding and sympathetic vet (Dr. Benaryeh at Spicewood Springs Animal Hospital) gave me my options, none of which were great. I could take her to Round Rock where she’d endure a series of complicated tests that might not tell us anything (or even if they did probably not good news) or put her on a steroid and take her home for 24 hours to see if she miraculously regained use of her legs. Or put her to sleep.
Of course a part of me was hoping against hope that another miracle would happen and the 24 hour thing would work. But another part of me felt cruel and selfish doing that. Putting her back on the floor unable to move or get herself to her pee pad, food or water seemed abusive for an animal that prides itself on cleanliness and vanity.
And then there was the damn purring. Something was really, really, REALLY weird that she was so damn relaxed and outright happy at the vet’s office – her own private purgatory!
I took her back to the car where my husband and I debated what to do for two hours, her purring in my arms the whole time and occasionally falling asleep.
‘What’s your gut say?’ he kept asking me. The truth was I had no idea what my gut was saying. Which in itself was pretty telling. Here was a blind, ancient cat whose back legs were paralyzed, who hadn’t shown interest in water in or in trying to move or in anything in almost 6 hours, and I was having a hard time listening to what my gut was telling me. Hmm.
Luckily there was one thing I couldn’t ignore. The fact that she was SO DAMN RELAXED, almost like she was drugged. If I took her home and forced her to lay on the floor for another 24 hours (while soiling herself) and THEN ended up having to drag her back here what were the odds she’d still be that happy and relaxed? Certainly by then she’d be distressed, pissed off, and embarrassed to say the least.
It was the thought of having to bring her back there knowing full well she wouldn’t be happy about it the second time around that gave me my answer. Plus I noticed she kept falling asleep as we talked, her head kept sliding down my arm.
Again this is not the cat that I know. Lily has always been sweet to me and happy to have me hold her but she’s never EVER been a ‘I’m cool hanging in the parking lot of the vet’s office while the dump truck unloads concrete behind the building next door so I’m just going to fall asleep in the meantime’ kind of cat. Not even in her twilight years. ‘The Sheriff’ was no longer on duty.
Something was wrong. I had to believe – to accept – that Lily was telling me she was ready. I’d already been crying all morning but now the floodgates were really open.
Because here’s the thing about putting your pet to sleep – it still feels like murder even when it’s clearly hands down the right thing to do. Truth be told I really wished it had been a clearer cut decision I.E. she’s in the last phases of cancer or her heart had given out. The problem for me was I could still sit there and say to myself ‘but she has okay kidneys! What cat has okay kidneys at 17?’ or ‘but she gets around the house pretty well blind.’ Ridiculously I could still rationalize her health even as I knew full well her back legs didn’t work and more than likely never would again.
This is how much we love our pets. All I could think of were the reasons not to. The reasons why she was still a viably functioning cat – basically because she was still breathing.
But then another thought occurred to me. What did I want? For her to be worse off than this before I had to make the decision? For her to have lost all of her pride and sass (and she still had sass – she snapped out of her purrathon just long enough to go after the vet as he tapped her back legs) and be a total empty shell of herself?
No. That would be awful. Lily was happy at the vet’s office. If there was a sign bigger than that I don’t know what is.
I can barely write about the rest. Honestly. It’s the most gutting, horrific and yet precious thing you can ever go though aside from being there for a human loved one which I literally can’t fathom. For those out there who have gone through that, God love you. You are made of steel and Jesus parts.
But again this is so selfish of me to sit here whining about putting my cat down when truthfully I am so, so lucky. If she had died when I was out of town (and I travel for work a lot) without me or anyone by her side I’d have felt so awful I couldn’t stand it. And here I was able to be with her, to hold her, to tell her what she meant to me until her very last breath.
The bottom line is you will never feel great about putting down a member of your family. It’s human nature to look for the good, the miracle, the reason why not. Lily had been in decline for years and while I thought this would make letting go easier, the end still felt ridiculously sudden and fast. No matter what you’re never ready for it.
But I didn’t write this to make you sad. I wrote this to hopefully help anyone who has gone through this or who will one day know the pain of having to make the most awful decision imaginable. And to suggest that maybe – just maybe - it isn’t the most awful decision ever. Maybe it’s a gift to be there for your friend and to help them let go. To give them that peace.
And for those who don’t have a pet, I sincerely hope that one day you’ll know the love that those of us as pet lovers have known. It truly is the great untold love story.
We buried Lily right outside my kitchen door under a sprawling Live Oak. And every night when I go to pull out a pan or turn on a burner or open my spice drawer, I think about the stuffed animal with a heartbeat who could play fetch and smelled like cashmere and Clinique who was there by my side as I cooked for all those years.
The girl was never late for dinner.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
I had a wicked urge to bake on Saturday. It wasn't even a case of pregnancy munchies. I'd been having visions of brightly colored M&M cookies from my childhood (pregnancy has made me weirdly nostalgic for foods from when I was little) so I did a quick Google search and was on my way.
I had no way of knowing how badly I would need these cookies two days later when we woke up to find my 16 year old cat Lily on the floor, her back legs paralyzed. It wasn't going to be a good day.
But back to the cookies. These are my favorite kind of cookies to make. They're one-bowlers and as long as you've set the butter out a good couple hours ahead of time to soften you can whip them up in less than thirty minutes. No need to refrigerate the dough before baking either. And while they no doubt satisfy that nostalgic cookie craving, the addition of lemon zest adds enough complexity to offset all that sugar for grown up taste buds.
I see these cookies becoming one of my go to recipes and I can't wait to make them during different times of the year when M&Ms get all festive and seasonal (Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc.) Ooh all the pretty colors! I'm such a girl. I might even try adding lemon extract to them next time as I love the lemon/chocolate combo.
Anyway if you need a little pick me up these will set you straight. Especially when wine isn't an option;)
Makes 16 large bakery-sized cookies.
* Adapted from All Recipes - "Robbi's M&M Cookies"
Ingredients:1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup shortening, room temp
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temp
2 eggs, room temp
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest from 1 medium or large lemon (I like more!)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups candy coated milk chocolate pieces, plus 1/4 cup
Preheat oven to 350 (convection bake if you have it.)
In a large bowl, mix sugar, butter and shortening together until everything is really well combined and smooth. Stir in the eggs, vanilla and lemon zest. Finally pour the flour, baking soda and salt over the wet mixture and stir until just well combined. Gently stir in the 1 1/2 cups of chocolate candies.
Use a large ice scream scoop to scoop them onto an ungreased pan giving at least 2 inches between cookies. Carefully press in any extra M&Ms you can fit on the tops. Bake for 10-11 minutes, just until the tops are beginning to turn golden in places as well as the edges. Remove and let set up on the sheet for another 60 seconds. Carefully transfer with a spatula to a cooling rack. Can be stored at room temp in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
My friend Claire made this over the summer and I loved it to pieces. I tried making it at home...and failed. Last night I made it again and used less lemon juice and oil than the recipe called for and fell in love all over again. I served it with Giada's Lemon Cumin Chicken (in the post below this one) and the flavors played off of each other beautifully. That sounded dirty. And possibly utilized incorrect grammar. But you know what I mean (meant?) I'm going to bed now.
Lemon Scented Quinoa with Feta, Basil and Pine Nuts
Serves 5-6 as a side dish or 4 as a meatless meal with a salad.
1 generous tablespoon olive oil, or enough to lightly coat the bottom of a medium saucepan
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeds and veins removed and chopped
3/4 cup quick cooking quinoa
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/8 teaspoon (or a little more) garlic powder
Zest of 1 large lemon, reserve lemon
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2-3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Juice from large lemon you zested
Salt as needed
Add the oil to a medium saucepan with a lid. Put over medium heat and let heat through one minute. Add the shallots and chopped red pepper and just a tiny pinch of salt (don't over salt it because you're about to add chicken stock in a minute.) Sauté stirring occasionally for 8 minutes or until shallot is translucent and soft.
Stir in the quinoa, chicken stock, garlic powder and lemon zest and raise the heat to high. Bring to a rolling boil, stir again then turn the heat to low and put the lid on for ten minutes. After ten minutes check to see if the quinoa has 'popped' (its little tail comes out in a teeny tiny curly q) and all of the liquid should be absorbed by it. If not put the lid back on and give it a few more minutes until this happens.
Remove the quinoa from the burner and let sit for 5 minutes with the lid on then gently scrape with a fork to fluff as you would couscous. Stir in the chopped herbs, feta, pine nuts and lemon juice. Taste for salt and add any if needed.
Serve with chicken or fish or on its own as a meatless meal if desired.
Monday, April 1, 2013
This is the simplest yet tastiest marinade I've tried in a long time. I plan to use it on steak. And salmon. And pretty much anything but horse. Seriously what gives Oklahoma? Lifting the horse slaughter ban? WTH??
Speaking of horses mine's name is Layla and she's the color of a rainstorm. I wish I could pack her in my suitcase when I go out of town along with my dog and DVR player.
But back to the marinade. I haven't been this excited about grilled chicken since I became pregnant. It is SO good. It made me think I was eating something sexy like a bacon double cheeseburger or chili cheese fries instead of lean 'ol boneless skinless chicken breasts.
So there you have it. Magical, transformative, bringing-chicken's-sexy-back marinade.
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Four 4- to 6-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 packed cups fresh mint leaves (about 1 large bunch)
1 packed cup baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Cook's Note)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 a large lemon)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil cooking spray
For the marinade: In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper flakes until smooth. Add the chicken and toss until coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. (Can also be made in a resealable plastic bag.)
For the pesto: In a food processor, blend the mint, spinach, cheese, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper until chunky. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until smooth.
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Spray the grill lightly with vegetable oil cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Grill the chicken until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Place on a platter and serve with the pesto.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Well looky there. You would think my four month, two week old baby bump would have a little something to do with two pie recipes in a row wouldn't you? Oh wait - I haven't told you I'm having a baby? How rude of me. I'm having a baby!
This little bundle of joy and purveyor of sleepless nights arrives in early September and I couldn't be more excited. Though I do miss my wine. There I said it.
Anyway I've been a little busy between gestating and my day job and SXSW (which I am SO glad is over. Who knew how much a little vino could help you survive that two week shit storm of culture, music, technology and lack of cabs?)
But back to the pie. This chocolatey-nutty-salty-gooey-marshmallowy delight was actually no fault of my little fetus. It was my hubby's birthday this past Monday and he requested a rocky road pie. I had never made a rocky road pie so I did a quick google search thinking I'd be golden. Not so simple. The recipes with the best ratings were rocky road ice cream pies which basically consisted of - you guessed it - pouring softened rocky road ice cream into a graham crust and freezing it. I have nothing against easy recipes but I felt compelled to put forth a little effort. After all the poor guy's birthday was already on the worst day of the week (Monday) and with me being knocked up and all I was too tired to do anything more festive than an early dinner with friends. I owed the man a decent pie.
Suddenly a pie from my past came to me in a vision (since getting pregnant I have these really vivid food memories that hit me out of nowhere like a ton of bricks.) This time it was a pie my mom made often growing up which was hands down the most divine, ridiculously addictive pie I've ever tasted. I hadn't thought of it in years. When I tell you the recipe you're going to laugh: one store bought chocolate graham cracker pie crust + 1 tub of Cool Whip mixed with a giant almond hershey bar that's been melted. Freeze and serve. That's it. I'm telling you though - it is the devil himself.
I knew immediately I'd be swapping out my childhood Hershey bars for my husband's favorite (XOXO Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt and Almond) and since I didn't have any Cool Whip on hand I improvised the rest. What came out was a ludicrously decadent, slightly more sophisticated homage to my mom's recipe.
The husband was happy, the baby bump was happy and despite the lack of cocktails and the fact that we were in bed by 10 it wasn't such a bad birthday after all. Happy Happy Belated Birthday my sweet husband! Next year I promise to paint the town red with you. Or at least to handle diaper duty...
Rocky Road Pie with Chocolate Wafer Crust and Marshmallow Creme Topping
1 store bought Oreo or chocolate graham crust
2 (3.2 oz) bars of XOXO Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt and Almond
1/2 cup of semi sweet chips, plus extra for garnish
2 pinches sea salt or kosher salt
Splash of coffee or vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds (can up this if you want more almond to filling ratio)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 heaping cup confectioner sugar
splash of vanilla extract
1 (7 oz) tub Kraft marshmallow creme
Break up the bars into small chunks and put in a medium microwave safe bowl. Add in 1/2 cups semi sweet chips and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until the chocolate is just melted and smooth. Stir in the salt, coffee or vanilla, sliced almonds and set aside.
Add the heavy cream into a standing mixing bowl and mix on high until stiff peaks form. Pour in confectioner sugar and vanilla extract and blend until incorporated. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture just until well mixed but don't go overboard as you don't want to deflate the whipped cream too much.
Pour into the prepared graham shell, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours. Before serving, carefully pour the marshmallow creme out evenly over the top of the pie (using clean fingers is the best tool for distributing it evenly - it tends not to play well with utensils.) Decorate with semi sweet chips and serve. Pie will keep up to five days in the refrigerator if well covered.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
This pie is perfect for St. Patrick's Day, the holidays or during those times when only pie will do. I'm curious - are you a cake or pie type of person? My husband is strictly pie. He'll eat cake but only if it's drowning in ice cream or even better when it's in an ice cream cake.
I'm not so picky. For me cake satisfies that nostalgic 'I want to relive my fifth birthday' craving while pie is more immediately gratifying and sinful - just a good 'ole down and dirty sugar fix. And the older I get the more types of pie I like which is GREAT news for my figure as I begin the downward spiral called the mid thirties. Take that, metabolism!
But of all the pies out there, this may be the most lethal kind. It is so light and fluffy and cool, disappearing like a snowflake on the tongue, that you might trick yourself into thinking it's just a bunch of calorie-free air. Well just go on and think that sweetheart. I for one won't spoil the fantasy.
By the way I had my reservations about using marshmallow fluff. I worried that it would make the pie taste 'fake' or sickly sweet. I've never been happier to be wrong. I also have to add that this was a 'cover my bases' pie I made for Christmas - an extra dessert just in case we blew through the rest. I even used one of those pre-made graham crusts so my expectations were fairly low. And OH the irony - it was the favorite dessert of the night even over the fancy desserts I actually slaved over.
This pie is so easy you could make it in your sleep. The other great thing about this pie is you can play artist when adding the green food coloring. Add a little as I did for that classic mint green or go whole hog and make it wake-me-up-before-you-go-go-green.
1 chocolate graham crust (store bought is fine)
1 jar 'jet puffed' marshmallow creme (7 oz)
1/4 cup creme de cacao blanc
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
few drops green food coloring, to color preference
silver dragees or colored sprinkles for decorating, optional
In a medium/large bowl, mix together the marshmallow creme, creme de cacao, and mint extract. Set aside while you whip the heavy cream in a standing mixer or in another bowl with a hand held mixer until the cream holds soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the marshmallow mixture then add a couple drops of food coloring and gently stir to mix. Pour into the prepared pie crust and refrigerate at least 4 hours until firm. Decorate with dragees or sprinkles if desired before serving.
You can also freeze the pie if you like more of a frozen texture or for just a few minutes if it needs firming up before slicing but I personally like it straight from the fridge with that soft as air texture that the fridge gives it.