Mr. Goodbar Pie

April 22nd, 2014 by Jenny

At school, I have a “work husband” named Mr. Williams.  We teach the same students, but different subjects.  He’s my partner in crime and has been an amazing mentor to me these last two years.  He’s patient with me, answers all my questions, and complements my strengths and weaknesses exactly perfectly.  He takes care of me.  So obviously, I take care of him.  But I’m not nearly as good at the whole knowing what to do in completely unpredictable situations thing.  I’m good at the cooking thing.

So I bake him muffins, cookies, brownies, whatever.  Because he deserves to be treated right.  Especially on his birthday, which was earlier this week.  And while Mr. Williams loves every kind of food (no really, I sometimes take him recipe fail rejects, and he eats them up happily), I wanted to make him something he would really enjoy.  I know that his favorite candy bar is Mr. Goodbar.  … so I set out to make a Mr. Goodbar inspired pie.

Creamy chocolate custard is layered on a crunchy peanut crust.  If you’ve never made a nut crust for a pie or cheesecake, you should really get on it.  It’s a great gluten free alternative to a graham cracker crust, and honestly, I think it’s substantially tastier.  Gluten-full folks just think you’re incredibly creative and don’t miss the gluten in the slightest.  You also don’t have to spend all that money on gluten free graham crackers.

And if you think that any recipe that requires you to separate eggs is high maintenance (I’ll admit it, I totes did until just a few years ago) and a recipe that calls for only the egg yolks OR the egg whites but not both is completely out of reach, I really want you to reconsider.  Really, it’s just an excuse to make key lime pie with the egg whites.  Who doesn’t love a good excuse to make key lime pie?  The egg whites can go into a ziploc bag and into the freezer until you’re ready.  Then you just thaw and use like you normally would.

Really and truly, this whole thing took me about half an hour to whip up, although it was in a couple different stages.  Don’t be afraid.

Mr. Goodbar Pie

Teacher birthday parties tend to happen on tables littered with math homework and pencil boxes.  Don’t mind the background of the photo.

So let’s get to this recipe.  I made two 8-inch pies, but I think it would go great into a large spring form pan instead.  Bottom line is… it makes a lot.  Feel free to half the recipe according to your needs/desires.

Mr. Goodbar Pie

For the crust:

  • one 12oz. container of roasted, unsalted peanuts (or about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, melted

In a food processor, pulse peanuts until finely chopped.  Add the sugar and pulse until combined.  Pour in the butter.  Pulse until mixture resembles wet sand.  Press into the bottom of two 8-inch greased pie pans and up the sides.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until just starting to brown on the edges.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you put together the filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (or baking chocolate roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  While that’s slowly melting, whisk the egg yolks until pale yellow.  Then mix in the sugar, vanilla, and 1 cup of the cream.  Set aside.

At this point, your chocolate is probably well on its way to getting all melty.  When it’s thoroughly melted, mix in the remaining 1 cup of cream.  Slowly pour some of the egg mixture into the chocolate cream mixture, whisking constantly.  Now pour the egg/chocolate mixture into the remainder of the egg mixture, again whisking constantly.

At this point, I like to pour the whole mixture through a fine sieve, just to ensure a thoroughly creamy texture with no chocolate chunks or eggy bits.  I suppose you could skip this step, if that’s not really a thing for you.

Pour into the prepared peanut crusts, and bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until the middle of the pie is no longer wobbly.  If you choose to bake this in something other than 8-inch pie pans, cooking time will vary.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature before topping.

For the topping:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 T. powdered sugar
  • 1 T. chopped Mr. Goodbar

Using a mixer (or a very dedicated arm), whip up the cream and powdered sugar until you reach stiff peaks.  Spread evenly over cooled pie.  Sprinkle Mr. Goodbar pieces over that.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

And then get ready… because people are gonna lurv you.

Spring Breaking

April 19th, 2014 by Jenny

There was a lot of fear among teachers that with all these snow days, we were going to lose our spring break.  Such was not the case.  And while I’m sure I’ll wish differently on June 11 when I’m still at school with 24 delightful 5th graders, I’m pretty happy about it right now.

A large portion of my spring break plans had been awhile in the making.  I purchased a popsicle mold that I was dying to put to use.  I know my crazy couponing is less than interesting to you, but you should know that I purchased said popsicle mold with an amazon gift card recieved from SavingStar.  … so… you know… that’s cool.

I knew takeamegabite had loads of good popsicle recipes, but when I started browsing through them, they seemed a bit much for my first try.  I wanted something simple, something I couldn’t mess up.  Though Smitten Kitchen is hardly the place I go looking for easy recipes, she does have a simple pink lemonade popsicle recipe that fits my lemon obsession exactly right.

photo 1 (7)


The colors from the just the preparation had me swooning.  But my first lick of the finished popsicle beat it, hands down.

photo 2 (9)

In truth, the first taste was just a bit too tart for my liking (though my husband thought it was perfect).  The second and third tastes, though, were exactly right.

I really wish I had loads of interesting recipes for you.  I promise that I’m working on a divine Mr. Goodbar Pie which I’ll share sooner or later.  But the rest of my spring break has been spent redecorating or vacationing.  More on the vacation, udis muffins, how inspiring glutenhatesme is, and an amazing gluten free restaurant in Beaufort, NC later.  For now, check out my totally rad living room project from the week.

New Couch

We bought a new couch from the Trosa yard sale.  I’m basically in love.  I don’t really put cookies on a tray on the couch like that.  Ramona would eat them.  I put them in a fancy cake plate on the table, duh.

But the new couch really got me to want to fix up the other living room furniture.  A trip to the Scrap Exchange gave me exactly what I needed.  I bought loads of cool fabric for recovering two chairs and making beautiful accent pillows.  One of the chairs and the pillows will have to wait until the summer, but this chair needed some TLC.

Chair - Before and After

Obviously, the left is the before.  The right is the after.  This chair belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  He has very fond memories of sitting in that chair, reading his grandmother’s Tarzan books (the collection is now kept in the bookshelf to the left).  So when Ramona tore apart the cushions (that’s why they aren’t pictured), he didn’t want to just throw it out.  Personally, I think it has a pretty groovy shape, so I was happy to recover it.  The results are far from perfect, but I’m more than satisfied.  And even though I eventually do want to paint and recover the other chair in the living room, just changing this and the couch have made a huge difference.

Finished Chair

I’m hoping to do a complete before and after look of the living room, but I will tell you that we’ve already rearranged a tad.  Now the chair is positioned in front of a really cool vintage reading lamp from the Habitat ReStore.  I love having tons of good local resources for purchasing cheap (gotta love that on a teacher’s salary) recycled/repurposed items for our home.  Especially since I moved into a home that my husband had already purchased when we got married, it’s fun to go shopping together to create a design that belongs to both of us.

Seriously Lemon

April 8th, 2014 by Jenny

This spring is amazing me in all sorts of ways.  I’m noticing the light in a way that I never have before, probably because this is the first spring I’ve spent in this house.

Spring Light

I’m also enjoying spring foods in a new way this year.  Our house is super close to the farmer’s market, and that really highlights seasonal foods.  I’m gardening this year.  Yay me!  And after a bajillion snow days this winter, I’m even enjoying the consistency of going to school every single day.  The spring colors have also really gotten to me.  The yellows, the greens, the bright blues.  I’m really digging them all.

Lemon seems like the most spring fruit to me.  The color fits right in with my spring wardrobe and is probably even cool enough to hang out with grass, the way its dressing this season.  After working hard on the garden (which I got complimented on by a random passer-by), lemonade is exactly what I want need.  Lemons are bright and spunky, and don’t need your permission for much of anything.

… so obviously, I made them into a doughnut.

Lemon Preparation

Sometimes, I do this thing where I want everything to be the exact same color.  It’s something I got from one of my students.  He always matches… socks, shoes, tshirt, jacket, and hat.  When I commented on this, he responded with, “Well, of course, I’m matching.  I can’t go to school looking like no rainbow!”  And while I love rainbows, some colors are just dying for you to go monochromatic.  …so maybe I did use a yellow bowl with a yellow spatula and a yellow cutting board.  I can’t be looking like no rainbow while I’m baking.

… And the theme continued into the doughnuts.  The dough was lemon zest, filled with lemon curd, and topped with lemon glaze.  And while the flavor was intense, intensity has never been a reason for me to run away from anything, but especially not doughnuts.

Lemon Whoa

While those guys were getting tan in the sunlight, these guys are chillin’ Martha Stewart style.

Martha Stewart Style

Seriously lemon doughnuts are brought to you by Baked Doughnuts for Everyone.  Words cannot express how great this cookbook is.  I don’t get paid to say that.  It’s just a seriously great cookbook.

Just like that…

March 31st, 2014 by Jenny

I woke up before my alarm on Thursday morning.  Thursday was our grade level planning day, and I always try to bring the team a little treat on these days.  I almost always end up baking my favorite double chocolate muffins.  I call them muffins so we don’t feel bad eating them for breakfast.  They’re basically cupcakes.  Cupcakes without frosting.  That makes them better, right?  While we all love these “muffins”, I was itching to make something new.

New recipe was a feeling I hadn’t had all week.  The thought of cooking dinner was just too much for me to handle last week.  So feeling inspired to make something was a pleasant surprise.  And boy howdy, America’s Test Kitchen really came through for me.  I made their simple cinnamon streusel coffee cake using “Better than cup4cup” flour from Nicole Hunn of Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

The results were spectacular.  I had gluten-loving coworkers asking for the recipe.

Simple Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

… and just like that, I was back into it.  This weekend, I was back to my normal cooking habits.  The husband and I made an absolutely divine baked pasta with italian sausage, roasted tomatoes, spinach, and (of course) a generous amount mozzarella cheese.

Baked Pasta

Sunday morning, I was inspired by half a block of cream cheese sitting in my fridge and Marlow of Gluten Hates Me to make cream cheese stuffed french toast.  Since I didn’t have bananas or syrup, I created a mixed berry syrup.  the combo was… like… whoa.

Stuffed French Toast

And then there were the sloppy joe’s.  You remember them from before, I’m sure.  I combined the sandwiches with roasted potato wedges sprinkled generously with ranch seasoning.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

And then I finished them off with some gluten free peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (full explanation/recipe/whatever to come).

… but after all of that (and especially all of the eating out last week), I’m in need of a serious detox, or, at the very least, vegetables.  Hello green smoothies and salads!  And the weather is just right for them this week, too.

More on Meal Planning

March 25th, 2014 by Jenny

This week has hit me like a mack truck.  This past weekend was great, but full of activity.  The husband and I got out in the yard on Saturday and created a walkway to the driveway which I am super proud of.  We hauled 1 truckload of topsoil in our yard and 2 truckloads of stones.  We did a ton of heavy lifting, and I was worn out by the end of it.

Work Gloves

I had a plan for dinner, but after all that work, I just couldn’t bring myself to do more.  We needed a hearty dinner out, and Red Robin was calling my name.  It pretty much maxed out our restaurant budget for the month, but it was worth it.  This bacon cheeseburger hit the spot.

Red Robin

Sunday, I woke up sore.  My legs and back were very angry at me for all the lifting the day before.  I was generally pretty lazy, but I still managed to spend the afternoon with my husband, sister, and mother.  We had lunch together, then decided to go see Divergent (which is super great, if you’re wondering).

I also did my regular Sunday meal planning thing.  I made a list.  I went shopping.  I couponed like whoa and managed to save over 50% off my groceries.  That’s always my goal, but it can be hard without feeling like you can’t buy the stuff you want.  This time, I got everything I wanted, and still saved tons of money.  I had a plan.  It was healthy and tasty and affordable.

… and then Monday happened.  I’m trying to find the words to communicate this.  It’s not even a full moon, but I’m telling you what… these kids are something else.  Amidst all of the drama/terror/whatever that was happening in my classroom that day, one of my students decided to write b**** on the walls of my bathroom.  Twice.  He was pretty upset with me.

I came home, exhausted.  Snuggled into bed with Netflix, but was a little distressed by the static noise I heard in my bedroom.  Was it coming from the wall?  The floor?  What was that?  Google “static noise from crawlspace”, and you might discover that apparently snakes can make this noise when they’re under your house.  That was certainly less than reassuring.  After much hunting, however, my husband and I were able to discover it was some sort of water leak beneath the house.  And we’ve had the water on minimally since then.  The plumber should be here tomorrow.  Yay homeownership!

And then today, the kid did it again.  Twice.  I don’t really understand… because he got caught, and he had to have known that he would.  I did, afterall, enlist the help of a “bathroom monitor” today, who checked the bathroom after every person used it (certainly a less than glamorous duty).  And this is the stuff about my job that people don’t get.  And if that were the only stuff I dealt with, I could probably deal with it with substantially more grace than I showed today.  But then there was the plagiarism… the three different girls in tears for three different (and completely unrelated) reasons… the boy drama (oh god, how I hate it)… the talking back… the whispering to a friend during a lesson and the screaming “I didn’t even do anything!” when caught.  Grace was something I surely didn’t possess today.

And somewhere in there, the plan went out the window.  I know that it’s especially important for me to eat healthy on days like this, but when your only goal on a “day like this” is to not cry in front of your students (because crying when they go to P.E. is pretty much inevitable), concessions must be made.  At least, that’s what I tell myself.  Because sometimes, the plan becomes stress inducing, and I’m dealing with enough stress outside of it.  … so we’ll see what meals happen this week… and what meals get replaced by canned soup and gluten free chicken nuggets from Costco… and what meals get pushed to next week.  All I know is that food is supposed to enable me to live life to its fullest, never detracting from it.

Sometimes, it seems like there’s a war between “regular working folks” and “people who cook all the time”.  Their lifestyles don’t seem to mesh.  Phrases like “I just can’t do all that” get thrown around, and it bothers me, because most days, I feel like I get to be both.  And I really think other people can/should be both, as well.  But right now, I’m feeling more like a regular working person, and less like a person who cooks all the time.  And I think I’m just going to be ok with that.

Because sometimes you don’t get a snow day when you really need it… because you’ve got water leaking into the crawlspace under your bedroom (which totally doesn’t even make any sense because there is zero plumbing on this side of the house)… because sometimes the things you love most about your job also require more emotional energy than you can really muster… because sometimes people you care a lot about call you a b****… and sometimes, you don’t even have a reason… it’s just because.  And that’s ok too.