Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy


S’mores Pie

We were eating at one of our favorite pizza places and I saw a S’mores dessert on their menu. I made some kind of comment about how it looked good, and that I’d get it if I wanted to look like a blimp. Since I don’t, we didn’t order it.  After looking at all that was in it, however, it didn’t even really sound that great. This revelation started me on a tangent about the problem with S’mores replica desserts. It seems like every one I’ve had tastes NOTHING like a S’more. So Kev suggested we make our own S’more dessert. So we did. The result turned out great, but there are few things I will change next time I make it to really make it awesome.

First, make a graham cracker crust:

One package from a box of organic graham crackers

1/3 cup sugar

6 Tbsp butter, melted

Grind graham crackers in a food processer until the grains are a little bigger than sugar.  Dump the ground crackers in a bowl with the sugar. Then mix in melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9″ pie plate.

Graham Cracker Crust

We then placed a layer of mini marshmallows on the pie crust. Next time we will do 2 layers of marshmallows to give it more marshmallow taste. Stick the Pie plate under a low broiler until the marshmallows turn a golden brown. Remove from the oven and pour in the pie filling.


2 cups whipped cream (whip up about 2/3 of a small carton of heavy whipping cream and 2 Tbsp sugar until stiff)

1 1/2 cups chocolate ganache (1/3 cup heavy whipping cream brought to a boil and mixed with about 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips)

Half Mixed Filling

Fold the ganache into the whip cream and pour mixture into the pie plate. Cover and put in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Thaw before serving with more marshmallows sprinkled on top for decoration.

S'mores Pie

We plan to get a brulee torch and brown another layer of marshmallows on top of the pie to add even more toasty flavor.

We were happy overall with the pie, but changing the amount of marshmallows and toasting them on top would make it better. I’m also thinking about making the ganache milk chocolate to stay true to a traditional S’more.


Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

This delectable dabbling comes from a cookbook called ‘wichcraft by Tom Colicchio. Check the book out at your local library. You might even decide to buy it if you love sandwiches as much as I do. There are some really amazing looking things in this book, but being a sweets junkie I opted for the back of the book-desserts. It was a tough decision between the chocolate sandwich cookies and the peanut butter ones, but in the end chocolate won out.

Because our grocery stores are void of cocoa nibs I had to alter the recipe right off the bat. Plus, the recipe calls for 65% cocoa bittersweet chocolate and our store only sells 60%. Not a big deal, though. It will sub straight across and unless you have a palette refined for chocolate you will never know the difference. You can also sub with semisweet chocolate (maybe add 1/4 tsp of unsweetened for a richer flavor).
The cocoa nibs were harder. For starters, I had NO idea what they were. According to the book they are little pieces of roasted cacao beans. Well, I’m fresh out of those and wanting to keep with the idea of adding a bit of extra crunch, I experimented with coffee beans and chocolate. In a coffee grinder place a Tbsp of bittersweet chocolate chips and about Tbsp ground coffee (I used a dark roast). Grind it up until it is a powder.

Now, in a stand mixer or large mixing bowl place 1 and 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter (just nuke it for about 20 seconds to get it soft) and the powder you just made. Mix with 2/3 cup brown sugar (dark or light) and 2/3 cup granulated sugar until everything is well mixed.

Next, in a double boiler, if you have one, or in a small pan on very low heat, melt 6 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. Add 1 tsp vanilla to the melted chocolate and add the whole mixture to your sugar mixture.

Now for the dry ingredients: 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 cup cocoa powder. Mix these all together and then add the mixture to your wet mixture until you have a smooth dough. Chill in the freezer for about 5 minutes (I forgot this step and they turned out fine).

On your countertop spread parchment paper or wax paper to cover a fairly large area. Plop the dough down on the paper. Top the dough with another layer of paper. Now get out your rolling pin and whack the dough until you no longer feel any stress about your life. Wait! I mean, gently roll the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Cut dough into about 2.5 inch rounds and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Bake them for 12-15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Gather any leftover dough and roll it out again, cut more cookies, and bake more cookies. Place cookies on a baking rack or a paper bag to cool.

Cooling Cookies

While cookies are cooling, make your filling:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (finely chopped–seriously, the finer, the easier it is to melt)

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

Place chocolate , salt, and butter in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan, or in the microwave just until it boils. Don’t overheat it or it will scorch. Pour the cream over the chocolate and butter to melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Lay half of the cookies with the pretty side facing down. Using a spoon (or a piping bag if you have one) pour filling onto the cookies.

Half Way Done

Complete the sandwich with the other half of the cookies. Voila! You just made sandwich cookies. They look store bought and super fancy! If you don’t plan to eat them right away store them in the fridge, or some other cool place.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies


Cake Balls

Now don’t go getting your mind in the gutter. This is not like something you would find in Voodoo Donuts. But they are still totally amazing in my completely unbiased opinion.

The recipe is so simple unless you decide to make it harder (and better):

1 cake from a cake mix

1 can prepared frosting

almond bark or dipping chocolate to cover the balls

Bake the cake according to the directions on the box and let it cool. Once it is cool dump it into a large bowl (don’t skimp on the bowl or you’ll be sorry) and crumble it up. Now dump in the frosting and stir the two together until you have a workable “batter”. Using a melon baller or something similar scoop the batter out of the bowl, form it into a ball and place it on a cookie sheet or wax paper. After you have rolled all the balls I like to refrigerate them for at least an hour so the stiffen up and are easier to dip. Melt your dipping chocolate and dip the balls into the chocolate using a toothpick, or if you are more talented than I, use a fork. After you have dipped all the balls use the remaining chocolate to fill in the hole on top, caused by the toothpick and drizzle some on top for decoration if you like. That’s it! Told you it was easy.

Now, if you want everything to be totally homemade here are the recipes I used for amazing raspberry chocolate balls. 

Chocolate cake (from an old Hershey’s cookbook):

3/4 cup butter (softened)

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 2/3 cups water

Cream butter and sugar in large mixing bowl. Add eggs and vanilla; beat 1 minute at medium speed (3 on a stand mixer). Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; add alternately with water to creamed mixture. Pour batter into greased pans. You can use two 8 or 9 inch layer pans or one 12×9 pan (I used the bigger pan).  Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool before dumping into a bowl and adding frosting.

Raspberry cream cheese frosting: see original recipe here

8 oz (1 package) cream cheese

1 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup raspberry preserves

2 tsp raspberry flavoring or 2 Tbsp Raspberry Chambord liquor

2 lbs powdered sugar, or enough to get your desired consistency

Beat cream cheese and butter and light and airy. Mix in preserves and flavoring until evenly blended. Add sugar until you reach the desired consistency and taste.

Dipping chocolate:

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/8 lb paraffin wax (Gulf Wax, Parowax or some other kind of wax from the baking isle)

Melt the chocolate and wax on low heat until it is very runny. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting just to keep the chocolate hot, but so it won’t burn. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking or burning.

This isn’t a really great picture, but you get the idea. You can see pictures where people have really spent lots of time decorating them by googling “cake balls”.

Cake Balls

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Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Worth a try, but not my personal favorite. Kev and I both prefer a lighter pound cake. This one literally weighs a pound. It is very dense and should not be consumed after a very large dinner. Seriously.

It was really tasty with strawberries and a chocolate ganache, though. Of course, anything would be good with strawberries and a chocolate ganache…

Here’s the recipe:

Not a lot of different ingredients, but huge amounts of the ones used. This is the first time I have ever used 6 eggs in a dessert! The unique aspect of the recipe is its use of cream cheese. It really does make a difference in the denseness of the cake. Anyway, here’s how it’s done:

If you have one, pull out your kitchenaid mixer now. Otherwise get the hurkinest (so a word) bowl you own and an equally hurky (okay, that might be pushing it) mixing spoon. Dump in 3 sticks of softened unsalted butter and an 8 oz. package of cream cheese. Mix it until they are creamy. Then add 3 cups of white sugar and the 6 eggs (2 at a time) and mix well. Add 3 cups of all-purpose flour and 1 tsp vanilla and mix even better. 

The recipe says to pour it into a tube pan. I’d say more like “spread”. The batter is really thick so I really had to squish it into my bundt pan and even after trying my darndest to get it all even one side ended up with more batter than the other so my cake was lopsided. 😦 Anyway, after you get the stuff in the pan put it in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Check it to see if it’s done. If not, stick in there for another 10-20 minutes.

Drizzle chocolate ganache (1 cup boiling heavy cream poured over 8 oz. choc. chips) over it and serve with strawberries or raspberries, or just sprinkle on some powdered sugar and enjoy!

That’s it! Easy as pie. Or pound cake.

P.S. Maine trip blog on its way…stay tuned.

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Chocolate Cookies-first made up recipe!

Last night I got really brave. I was going to use that bravery to cut my hair off, but no salons in Vancouver had openings. So, I decided to create my own cookie recipe instead. It seems like all the chocolate cookie recipes I try turn out too soft and caky for my tastes. I want a nice, crisp chocolate cookie. After I mixed my batter and it tasted good I did a test bake. They came out a little flat, although if I had made them smaller they would have been perfect for biscuit-like cookies. So I added a little more flour and tried again. Success!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie


3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup butter, softened

1 egg

Mix these ingredients in a mixer or a bowl with a wooden spoon.


1/4 cup baking cocoa

1 1/3 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

Mix until all dry ingredients are completely incorporated. If you want plain chocolate cookies you can drop spoonfuls on a cookie sheet now. You can also add chocolate chips, or anything else you like and then put them on the cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375.

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Cherry Pie

It has been a really long time since I’ve made a pie. I used to be pretty good at it in my early teens, but after a bout of failed crusts I walked away in search of easier things to make. This weekend I faced my fears and made a crust. The problem with making a pie crust is that shortening has trans fat in it unless you can find some in the refrigerated section. We don’t have room in our fridge for anything else so I opted to make a butter crust. It was super easy and I’m not really sure why I was so scared to begin with!

Basically you only need 3 ingredients: flour (all-purpose), salt, and butter. You need water too, but hopefully that isn’t something you have to go to the store for. I searched my recipe box for a butter crust recipe from my grandma or Aunt Lu, but all the recipes I found had shortening in them. So off to Allrecipes I went:

Put the 1 1/4 cups flour in a bowl and mix with the 1/4 tsp salt. Drop in 1/2 cup diced, chilled butter. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. I didn’t have all-purpose flour so I used self-rising and the same amounts of everything else and it worked fine. Add the 1/4 cup of ice water one Tbsp at a time, mixing after each Tbsp is added. Continue adding water until dry ingredients are moistened. I ended up adding about 1 Tbsp more water than the recipe called for.  After the water is added, ball up the dough in the bowl (you may have to knead one or two times to get all dry bits incorporated) and place the ball in saran wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

After refrigerating the crust, split it into two parts. Roll out one part on a well floured surface (the dough will get sticky because of the butter so flouring your hands and counter is important) for the bottom crust and press into the bottom of a 9″ pie pan.  Pour filling into the bottom pie crust. Roll out the top crust and place on top of the filling. Pinch the edges of the top and bottom crusts together to bind them.

For the filling I used dark sweet cherries from the frozen section at the grocery store since cherries are not in season. Other than that I followed the directions exactly and it turned out wonderfully!

Fresh Cherry Pie

Flaky Crust

Must Have Ice Cream

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S’mores Bars

This is a super easy, very rich, but very delicious dessert. Not as nice as sitting around a campfire making s’mores, but if you are city bound like we are, this is the next best thing. It’s so easy kids will love making it, too.

S'mores Bars

Here’s the recipe.

Here is the basic run down:

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Butter a 13×9 baking dish. Make a graham crackers crust using 1 cup melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar, about 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (2 of the packages of graham crackers inside a box-grind ’em up in a food processor). Press half the graham cracker crust into the pan. On top of this pour a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you could do a layer of milk chocolate bars or chips). On top of the chips pour 3 cups of marshmallows, or more if you really like them. Sprinkle the rest of the graham cracker crust on top of the marshmallows and press down with a spatula. Stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the marshmallows are melted. If you want to eat it hot you will have to use a spoon as it is really messy. You can let it cool completely in order to eat it as a bar, but personally I think the mess is half the fun!

Told you it was easy. 🙂

On another note, we cleaned out our guest room last night. More than twice Kevin looked at me and said “Kendra. You have a problem.” And he was usually looking at a random box of random craft stuff, some of it dating back to the early nineties. There were more bags of yarn than any one woman should probably have, in addition to five or six bags and boxes of gift wrap, gift bags, tissue paper, and ribbon. It looks like I’m going to have to start crafting. Maybe I’ll blog on that too…


Crepes, Crepes, and More Crepes!

Yep, that’s right. We ate crepes three times (actually I ate them four times!) the last two days. On Sunday morning we went to breakfast with some friends from Seattle and I had super delicious apple crepes. As soon as we got home I knew crepes would be the challenge for this weekend. Since we ate them at a cafe in Santa Monica I have been dreaming of crepes filled with ham and cheese followed by one filled with chocolate and strawberries. First, though, I had to learn how to make the actual crepes. Luckily crepes don’t require any strange ingredients so we didn’t have to go to the store first.

Here’s how to do it:

In a large bowl whisk together: 4 eggs, 1 1/3 cup milk, 2 Tbsp melted butter, 1 cup flour, 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp salt.  Whisk until smooth. If you are having a hard time getting rid of lumps you can transfer the batter to a blender and mix it that way. Or, just mix the whole thing in the blender to start with!

Heat a medium sized skillet (one with low edges) or a crepe pan, lightly greased with a little butter, over medium heat.  Spoon a small amount (about 4 Tbsp) of batter into the skillet. Tilt the pan so the batter spreads out across the bottom of the pan. You have to do this fairly quickly because the batter starts to cook pretty fast. Cook the crepes until they are light golden brown on each side, about 1 minute on each side.

Cooking Crepe

Monday morning we ended up spreading raspberry jam on them with a little sprinkling of powdered sugar. It was really tasty! After dinner (delicious flank steak from Trader Joe’s) I made a chocolate ganache (1/2 cup milk brought to a boil in the microwave and them poured over half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and whisked until smooth) and chopped up some strawberries.  Then I cooked up some more crepes and filled them with chocolate and strawberries. When I say they tasted like heaven, I’m not exaggerating. So yummy I dreamt of them last night.

Ganache and Strawberries


Inside of the Crepe

Finished Dessert Crepes

Before I made the chocolate and strawberry crepes I made miniature Key Lime Pies. Isn’t this one cute!?

Mini Key Lime Pie

I still had some crepe batter left over so I covered it with saran wrap and stuck it in the fridge (you can keep it like this for about 2 days). This morning I heated some smoked ham from the deli and grated some monterey cheese to fill the remaining crepes. Oh so good!

Ham and Cheese Crepe

If you are ever in need of a quick, easy meal I can highly recommend whipping up some crepes and filling them with whatever kind of yummy stuff you have around. You won’t be disappointed!

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Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes

Due to a lack of time and energy this weekend I made breakfast instead of a big dinner. Hopefully my energy will be back next weekend because my goal is to make a pie since I haven’t done so for about 10 years.

This morning I made homemade ricotta pancakes with fresh blueberries. They were pretty easy and really yummy. We didn’t think the ricotta made a super huge difference, but they were a lot more moist than my pancakes in the past.  The recipe is from Food and Wine. My only advice: half the recipe. It make a lot of pancake so unless you have a big family, or a small one with a really big appetite, you are going to want to half it or third it (it calls for 3 eggs so thirding might be easier). Recipe here.

It was a really nice breakfast and we look forward to leftovers all week long!


Great End to a Great Day: Raspberry Brownies

Sometimes we are lucky enough to have an amazingly beautiful weekend to enjoy and actually be productive with it. After breakfast and about an hour at the dog park we headed to David’s Bridal to try on some bridesmaid dresses. I did the trying and Kevin helped snap me up, although it might have been more fun the other way around. 😉 After dresses we headed home to meet the auto glass guys who put in a new window in what must be some kind of record-10 minutes!? At about 3 we headed to the greenhouse for a rhodie, azalea and cool tree whose name I forget right now. But it has berries and is super gorgeous. We proceeded home to plant them in a strip of our front yard where we ripped up grass yesterday. Well, our friend ripped up the grass in about 1/4 of the time it would have taken us, but that’s another story. Anyway, in a strip about 3 feet wide and 15 feet long we now have beautiful shrubbery (slightly layered, etc. and we didn’t even have to say Ni! to get it!) with nice wood chunks covering bare ground. I’ll put some flowers in later.

Anyway, following all this hard work we were a little tired and hungry. Luckily, Sunday night I made these:

Raspberry Brownies

Here’s the recipe: Decadent Raspberry Brownies
Basically it’s an excellent brownie recipe which you spread raspberry jam on followed by a kind of rich chocolate frosting (semi-sweet chocolate and heavy cream). What really makes ours special, in my opinion, is the jam which comes from a farm across the park. If you live in Vancouver or happen to be in the East Minnehaha area, stop by and say hello to the nice lady and dog at Kunze Farms. Their produce is to die for and at a great price. And the only raspberry jam I’ve ever tasted that was better than theirs is my great grandmas.
For those of you who may see this before heading to the library…these brownies will be there and if you ask nicely…