Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monster Trucks and Pop Tarts

On a whim last week, we decided to buy tickets for M. and Finn to go to a Monster Jam show this past weekend at the Verizon Center. M. saw a commercial on TV, we checked out ticket prices, and boom! Purchase and plans were made. We kept it a secret from Finn until the day of the show (event?), because he is a Monster Truck fanatic (he remembers practically nothing from our trip to the Outer Banks a year and a half ago, EXCEPT that we passed by Grave Digger's house twice; he owns a metric ton of toy Monster Trucks; etc), and we wanted to be able to rise at a decent hour on Saturday morning. Anticipation + kid = 5 am wake up time typically, which was NOT part of the plan. So we waited patiently to spring this surprise on Finn until he woke us up at the (not unreasonable) hour of 7:35 Saturday morning. The event (we'll go with event, sounds more manly) was set for 2 pm that afternoon, and since Metro is "doing repairs" (whatevs), M. and Finn braved a drive in to the city and parked at M.'s work. Finn got a chance to see the White House ("Obama's House," as he likes to call it), eat lunch in M.'s office, and use facilities far nicer than those at the Verizon Center (I assume). A quick walk to the stadium, and it was show time!

Ready, set...

Go! (Batmobile!)

Crushing cars!!

Grave Digger

Monster Mutt

A very happy boy - see how the trucks look pretty small/toy-like in the pictures above, but you can tell from this picture (and the way they really fill the floor of the Verizon Center) that they are actually HUGE. And loud. Earplugs were worn.

Finn and his precious souvenir, a Grave Digger novelty cup full of blue Snow Cone goodness.

Lucy and I whiled away the time swimming at the local pool and watching a Tinker Bell movie - fun, indeed, but much quieter, I'm sure.

Sunday marked another foray into the realm of baked goods for me, when I tried my hand at homemade pop tarts. I used this recipe from Confessions of a Foodie Bride. Here is the recipe as written on that website, along with the blog author's notes on how she altered/executed the recipe:

Homemade Pop Tarts

2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (cold)
4 Tbsp ice water
12-14 Tbsp good quality peach preserves/jam (or other favorite fruit)
2 cups chopped peaches
1 egg + 1 Tbsp water

1. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.
2. Add butter and mix with fingers until it resembles coarse meal.
3. Add ice water and mix lightly and form into a ball.
4. Or, shred the cold sticks of butter with your food processor. Remove the grater attachment and place the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes. Add the the dry ingredients to the bowl fitted with the dough blade and pulse a few times to mix. While running, add ice-cold water by the Tablespoon just until the dough mostly forms a ball. (You might need a little more water.)
5. Divide in half; shape each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour.
6. Roll 1 disk at a time on a floured surface to about 13x11 inches. Trim to 12x10 and cut into 5x3-inch rectangles.
7. Place 4 rectangles on each baking sheet. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of preserves onto the center and top with chopped peaches.
8. Cover with second dough rectangle and gently press the edges to seal.
9. Crimp edges with a floured fork and poke a few holes on top.
10. Cover tarts and freeze for 2 hours or up to 1 week (I froze overnight and then baked the next morning).
11. Whisk egg and water and brush over tarts right before baking.
12. Bake frozen tarts at 375 for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
13. Sift powdered sugar over tarts or frost with powdered sugar icing.
I bake the entire batch at once. I supposed you could bake them fresh every morning but it's hot. I keep the oven use to a minimum. Plus, they keep really well in a covered cake plate on the counter for 4 days. 2 people + 8 pop tarts = 4 days.

Just to be clear, the "I" in the recipe is not me, it is the author of Confessions of a Foodie Bride, and the italicized notes are her own. Now that you have the recipe, here are my notes. And I must be honest, there were many, many points at which I was positive the outcome was going to be at best inedible, and at worst disastrous.

First, you should know that while I have a food processor, I rarely use it. It is kept in one of the cabinets in our kitchen that is so high up, I need to stand on my tip toes on the highest stool we have just to reach it. Plus, I don't really know how to use any of the attachments except the basic blade/"completely pulverize" thingy. So instead of taking the blog author's suggestion of using the food processor to make the dough, I cut my cold butter up into small pieces and used my fingers to crumble it up in the flour. It took a long time, and I started worrying that the butter was getting too warm, so I stopped crumbling and started adding water. It's possible that my butter/flour mixture did NOT resemble course meal at this point, but since I'm not so sure what "course meal" should look like... eh. I rounded the dough up as best I could into two balls, wrapped them in plastic wrap, and stuck them in the fridge for a few hours (because I had things to do, of course - who can sit around for an hour and wait for dough to chill?).

When I got back to the recipe, I took the first ball of dough out of the fridge, plopped it down on the floured counter top, gently pressed on it with my rolling pin, and... watched it completely fall apart. And stick to my nonstick, floured rolling pin. And basically do everything except look like a nice, thin, cohesive sheet of pastry.

How to rescue, how to rescue... Well, I ended up just adding more water, using my hands to "doughify" things, and kept on moving. Yeah, the end results weren't pretty. Yeah, things stuck to the countertop A LOT. Yeah, I had to reroll the scraps of dough several times because I couldn't get my dough to make a nice rectangular shape.

But in the end, I had an even number of somewhat matching, rectangularish pieces of pastry. I spread half of them with some strawberry preserves and diced fresh strawberries, covered them with the other half of the pastry pieces, and crimped everything together with a fork. And then I prayed.

Just kidding, I don't pray. Then I stuck them in the freezer for the recommended minimum of two hours.

Finally, when I had grown old and gray, I put the pop tarts from the freezer, directly in to the oven, and cooked them for about 25 minutes. I would have cooked them a bit longer, but finally had to take them out when my pans looked like this:

Not so much like the picture on the original blog, right?

Things started to look better once I got the tarts off the pans and out of the lagoon of melted fruit:

And then I frosted them, which helped even more (confectioner's sugar thinned with milk):

And once you get up close, they actually start to look appetizing:

The Verdict:

Smiling faces and empty plates.

Monday morning I was able to get both of the kids to eat another one (well, Lucy had half, but finished the other half today) before school, which is already miles ahead of my last attempt to bake a healthy (ish? Healthier?) breakfast snack. However, since then, Finn has informed me that he likes the boxed pop tarts better, and he probably won't be eating any more of the ones his poor mother slaved over.

Lucy said she will keep eating them. She is my favorite.


  1. You really turned lemons into lemonade! Those pop tarts looked great at the end.

  2. We wanted to bring Joel Andrew to monster trucks but I thought he was too young - Finn went a few years ago? We should try it - looks fun for the men. I am totally with you about having quiet girl time and missing it!

  3. Drew, we didn't bring Finn when he was younger, we just drove past Grave Digger's "Headquarters" - they are located on the road out to the Outer Banks. I wasn't sure Finn would be able to handle going to a Monster Truck event before now. You might want to wait another year with Joel Andrew, but then again, I know someone who brought her not-even-two-year-old, so I think it just depends more on temperment and ability to sit still.