Sunday, April 25, 2010

Poppity, Pop, Pop - POPTARTS!

I'm sorry, what? Huh? Another post already? Are pigs flying?

So, it is beyond me how I never before thought of homemade poptarts. You take pie crust, any manner of filling, and voila....way-better-than-from-a-box-Poptarts. My BFF made some last week so I copied her and I'm so glad I did.

Ideally, one would make homemade pie crust...but let's get serious. I bought the fold-out refrigerated pie crust. And basically, you just put a filling inside two pieces of dough - or one piece that you foldover - and crimp the edges. Then, bake like the pie crust package says. Mine was at 450 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

So, for the dough part, one could do many different things. You could trace an actual poptart onto the dough and make exact-sized ones. You could cut the pie dough into squares or rectangles and then put a blob of filling in the middle of one half and fold over the other half. You could use a round or square cookie cutter to make a bunch of cutouts and then put one on top of the other. I made two batches and, for the first one, I made random-sized squares and rectangles (using a pizza cutter, definitely the way to go when cutting pie dough) and did the foldover method. These ended up being really small, but perfectly fine. Then, for the 2nd batch I used the biggest round cookie cutter I have and made a bunch of circle cutouts.

We tried the following fillings:
  • Strawberry jam - For the first batch, I used my homemade strawberry jam, which is kinda drippy because it doesn't have pectin in it. It was really a little too thin and dripped out. For the 2nd batch, I used store-bought strawberry preserves and it worked better. Everyone liked the strawberry ones a LOT, including me.
  • Blackberry jam - this is also homemade jam that I made, but this is way thicker and spreadable. Presumably all the blackberry seeds have something to do this. I've only made blackberry jam once. Anyway, not that you asked - we're talking Poptarts, not jam. Mr. D was the biggest fan of the blackberry jam ones.
  • Nutella - sweet holy cow, these were morsels of wonderful goodness. We loved the Nutella ones.
  • Peanut butter and chocolate chips - not meaning peanut butter chips, but actual peanut butter with chocolate chips then sprinkled on the top. These were pretty good but weren't the hit I thought they'd be. We used crunchy peanut butter, so next time I'd try creamy.
  • Apple butter - these were my favorite only because they reminded me of fall. The kids really liked them too, though. The apple butter is a really good consistency for these.
Other filling ideas:
  • Just plain chocolate or a chocolate ganache.
  • Marshmallow cream and peanut butter, like a fluffer-nutter sandwich.
  • Other flavors of jams and preserves.
  • Orange marmalade for Mr. D, although the thought makes me nauseous.
  • Savory fillings, although I'm aware that's a little pot-pie and not a Poptart.
After you fill your tart and either fold over or add a top piece, crimp around the edges with a fork and really go all the way down with the tines so the two pieces of dough kind of combine and it will be less likely to pop open as it cooks. I put a little knife slit in the middle of each tart so steam could escape and the poptart wouldn't puff up too big. Also, on one batch, I brushed butter on the tops just for good measure. I liked that touch but no one else seemed to notice. Losers.

Then, bake as directed and let them cool for a while. We topped ours with glaze (1.5 cups of powdered sugar mixed with 4 tablespoons of milk...ish) and, while we didn't put a ton on them, the fillings were so sweet that they really just needed a drizzle.

My only other thought is that next time, I might roll out each dough piece a little and make it thinner. The poptarts were really good but the ratio of dough to filling was way heavy on the dough side. I think the dough might be better just a little thinner.

Okay wait, I do have another thought. These didn't even last the whole day at our house between us all trying every kind and sharing some with family, but I plan to make another batch soon and cook them until they're just barely done. Then I'll cool them and freeze them and then pull some out for school mornings and put them in the toaster to re-heat them. I'll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, here is some photographic evidence of the deliciousness:

One of the foldover versions that I filled with strawberry jam.
The pan of foldovers before they went in the oven.
After they baked, some have been iced.
The round ones after I got smart and used a cookie cutter.

Peace, Love, and Poptarts,
Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Paramour of Poptarts

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mmmmmm......Sausage Balls......

My mom made sausage balls when I was a kid and I truly love them with all my being. It's basically a biscuit mix with cooked sausage and shredded cheese mixed in. They are super-easy to make and our whole family loves them (shocking). I make them for breakfast and sometimes I make them for Sunday-who-really-cooks-a-meal-on-Sunday-night?-dinner. We eat them with grape jelly and sometimes even with apple butter, although I realize that's weird.

So, basically, you brown/crumble a package of regular breakfast sausage. Then, following the instructions for biscuits on the Bisquick box, you make them just like it says only you mix in the crumbled sausage and a good cup or cup and a half of shredded cheese.

Sausage Balls

2 cups of Bisquick
2/3 cup of milk
1 lb browned, crumbled sausage
1 - 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese

Mix it all up and then drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and cook for 8-10 mins at 450 degrees, just like the regular Bisquick biscuit recipe says.

Various Tips, which you can completely ignore and they'll still be good:

- I use a spoon to drop jagged lumps of dough on the cookie sheet because all the jagged places get good and crunchy, thereby furthering my enjoyment.

- I mix the dry Bisquick, sausage, and cheese together before adding the milk because the milk makes it all cohesive and gummy really fast. It's harder to mix the sausage and cheese in after the dough is already made.

- I always go for the high end of the shredded cheese amount becuase.....well, really, because it's fabulous, glorious cheese and makes the world (and sausage balls) better. I prefer the thicker kind of shredded cheddar.

The Finished Product

My husband's cousin makes really great sausage balls a whole different way by mixing the raw sausage and cheese together with the Bisquick (I think just a cup) - like mixing and incorporating everything together with your hands like you would a meatloaf. Then make little 1-inch rolled-up balls that you then cook in the oven until the sausage is done. It is messy (that's what disposable gloves are for) but they make the most fabulous little balls of greasy goodness. I still prefer the more biscuit-y kind, probably because it's what I grew up with, but it's also quicker and easier. But his way is extra good like on a buffet table at Christmas or something.

Peace, Love, and Dinner,


Mom of Fred and Ginger
Wife of Mr. D
Lover Extreme of Sausage Balls