Sisterly Advice

Happy National Monte Cristo AND Apple Dumpling Day!

Leading up to today, I asked my sister-in-law Alyse for some advice on making Apple Dumplings.  I’m not even really sure what an apple dumpling is (she wasn’t sure either), but through the magic of Pinterest we were able to get a general idea of what to expect.  And some of these apple dumplings are insane!  Take this recipe from Bunny’s Warm Oven for instance, it looks amazing!  But what real human being is making super intense, apple shaped dumplings with intricately cut dough leaves?! Who even OWNS an intricate leaf cutter?!  While simultaneously Pinterest searching, Alyse asked a very important question: Are you allowed to use crescent rolls?

I hadn’t considered this!  We both kept seeing recipes for “easy apple dumplings” using crescent rolls instead of dough made from scratch.  This seemed like a WAY better option for someone who is baking challenged…

My response to this question?  I made up the project so I think I get to do whatever I want!

I’m really just winging this whole thing and hoping for the best.  As long as the recipe I’m using (or generally disregarding) tells me that the food I’m about to make is in fact the food item for the holiday – I’ll use it!

I opted for a recipe from Sugar Apron that uses crescent rolls instead of dough!  After some comparison I found that other than making the dough from scratch, the recipes contain essentially the same ingredients: some sort of dough or crescent roll, granny smith apples, butter, cinnamon, brown sugar and a liquid.  I felt a little bit better about taking the easy way out after making that discovery!

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I enlisted the help of Maggie in peeling and dicing the apples – she immediately put on her baking leg warmers and got to work!  Fashion is definitely more important than cooking skills in our house…

After peeling, she “diced” the apples using a butter knife.  Briefly I tried giving her a small pairing knife, but while demonstrating how to use it I cut my own finger and decided that we should both stay away from knives for awhile.  Before assembling the dumplings, I asked Maggie to help clean up the apple peels… which she took to mean “eat the peels when Mom isn’t looking”…. so magically all the peels disappeared!

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Next we assembled the dumplings and popped them in the oven.  It called for pouring Sprite or 7Up into the spaces between the dumplings, but (surprise, surprise) I forgot to buy some at the store… so I used lemon La Croix instead.  I’m not really sure what the soda is supposed to do for the recipe so I assumed that anything lemony and carbonated would probably work….

There are two things I really enjoyed about this recipe:

  1. It was so simple that Maggie was able to complete most of the recipe herself.  She really only needed me to put them in the oven and make sure everyone’s fingers stayed intact.  By everyone I mean me.
  2. It only required the dirtying of one pan.  Ryan’s only beef with the increase in baking and desserts that has happened is that now I’m using almost every pan and bowl in the house every night!  We don’t have a dishwasher, and I’m not very good at washing dishes, so this usually leads to a sink full of dishes for a few days while we passive aggressively wait for the other person to wash them…

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35 minutes later, they looked great!  I’m SO glad Alyse thought of using the crescent rolls! There’s no way any attempt at pastry dough on my part would have turned out this good!

For dinner, I used The Chunky Chef’s recipe for classic Monte Cristo sandwiches.  I honestly thought a Monte Cristo was just a grilled cheese with some meat thrown in but, once again, I was wrong.  It’s like a magical deep fried meat and cheese sandwich!  How have a gone my entire life without enjoying this creation?! When I mentioned this fact to my friend Katharine later in the night she knew exactly what a Monte Cristo was AND had enjoyed one at a Bennigans!  What the fuck is a Bennigans and where can I find one?!

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Everything about this seemed amazing – until I began to question how to actually fry this sandwich without it falling apart…

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Like this… I went to put the sandwich in the pan with the oil and basically exploded the ingredients…

The recipe suggested using toothpicks to keep it together so I gave that I shot and had more success.

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By toothpicks I mean weird little cupid arrows made of wood because that’s what we have in our house…

During all of this, Ryan came down and gave a glowing review of my frying skills!  He was so impressed by the “golden brown coloring” of the sandwiches, I couldn’t believe it!  He loved it so much that he hung out at the table for a little while to talk at me about the rising cost of Kraft singles…

Ryan: You’re putting a lot of cheese on those…

Me: One slice didn’t fit the bread so I used two

Ryan: Yeah, you gotta use one and a half.  Singles are fucking expensive.  That’s like $5.00 worth of cheese that you just used.

Me…..

Ryan: Did you use all the singles?

Me: No.  They’re the Target brand and they cost $3 for a whole package. I used 6 slices.

There was some back and forth about the cost of singles which led to consulting the receipt.  They cost $3.17 for a 24 pack of singles.

Ryan: That’s still a lot.  They should be like 25 cents.  They’re not even real cheese.  They’re so good though.

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This was my face during this time.

*fun fact: Almond cheese and I reunited for the making of my Monte Cristo.  It was good, just like old times.

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