The Jealous Crumpet

A sweet little blog


Delectable Doggie Desserts


After a long day at the office Gus likes an evening snack of pumpkin dog treats.

A couple of months ago I wrote and photographed a story for Rocket City Pets about Homemade Pet Treats.  I don’t own a dog, but I am a dog aunt (as in my brother has a dog, not that I am secretly a dog with a niece/nephew that also writes this blog, which would be impressive).

I was surprised to learn that you need to be very careful about what to feed your pups.  Of course I knew about chocolate, but there were plenty of other foods that I may have given a dog without thinking.  Who knew grapes were bad for our canine friends.

7 Human Foods Dogs Should NEVER Eat


Caffeine-(I could never be a dog if it meant I had to give up coffee)



Macadamia Nuts



Food Styling Trick. We didn't have coffee so we had to use soy sauce. Yum.

Food Styling Trick. We didn’t have coffee so we had to use soy sauce. Yum.

Furthermore pet owners have to be careful about what store-bought treats they feed their dogs.  According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, since 2007 as many as 3600 dogs have reportedly gotten sick, and close to 600 dogs actually have died from eating contaminated chicken jerky treats imported from China.

Therefore it is much safer to use this recipe.  Gus, the dog in the photos and my dog nephew, LOVED the treats.  It was pretty hard to get a photo of him without him gobbling up the pumpkin goodies.

For Example: 1377244_10201518636999792_532342840_n


Gluten-Free Pumpkin Biscuits

1 cup puree pumpkin

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ cup water

½ cup coconut oil

4 cups brown rice flour

2 eggs

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, adding more water or flour as necessary. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. Roll dough out onto a surface sprinkled with brown rice flour. Roll or pat to ¼- inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden. Cool completely. Store covered, at room temperature.

Bon Appétit


Can I eat yet?

Dog Translation-“Bark Woof”1385947_10201518637439803_1052894854_n

For other Doggie Treats checkout this blog post.Gus6



I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Beer!


A root beer float minus the root.

This weekend I worked on a magazine article about the blossoming craft beer industry in Alabama.  It required us to visit several breweries, meet with amazing people and sample the product aka drink beer.  Hard job, but someone has to too it.beerfloatrecipeOf course all this beer sampling this left very little time for recipe development and baking, so instead I made a beer float with some ice cream and beer I had left over from the super bowl (Side Note: This year’s game was SO boring).lastfloat

I did discover that you must gently drop the ice cream into the beer or better yet put the ice cream in the glass first, then add the beer.  Instead I hurled the ice cream into a full glass of the brew.  Not one of my finest food styling moments.   I have included a picture, as well as what I was thinking as each photo was taken.BeerFailWords(beer + ice cream)stupidity =beer explosion


Clean up on aisle 2.

 The beer float has all of the childhood nostalgia of a root beer float, with the added benefit of 7.4 alcohol content.If you use common sense (which I clearly didn’t) beer floats are easy, but you can’t just pick any beer though.  Pabst Blue Ribbon is not going to mix very well with häagen dazs.  Try to stick to a sweeter beer that has vanilla, coffee, or berry flavors to compliment the ice cream and create a fun, adult dessert.

I selected a craft beer from Yellowhammer Brewing, one of the breweries we visited.beerfloat3The beer, people and ambiance of Yellowhammer are all great, so if you are in the Huntsville, Alabama area, go this weekend.  If you have plans cancel those plans and go, you won’t regret it.  I highly recommend trying a beer flight so you can sample several of the brews.

Shots from Yellowhammer Brewing in Huntsville, Alabama.

Shots from Yellowhammer Brewing in Huntsville, Alabama.

Behind the Scenes

So for those of you that wondered about my photography, I am actually a food/lifestyle photographer in Alabama.  I have shot for numerous cookbooks and magazines.


Camera: I know a lot of photographers are faithful to a brand, but I am not.  If photography was a religion (and to many people it is) I would be a Mormon with several wives.  I currently shoot with Canon, but I’ve also shot with Nikon, Pentax, Hasselblad, etc. and like different aspects of each.

Tripod: Typically food photographers love natural light and I am no exception.  When shooting in general, you want to have a low ISO on your camera.  This eliminates noise, which is static from digital enhancements by the camera on the photograph.  I very rarely go above 400 ISO, which can make it hard if you don’t have enough natural light, so I shoot with a tripod.  I would say 90% of my food photography is done on a tripod.  The beer float shots where shot at 1/4 a second and 400 ISO, which would be too slow to handhold.

Reflector: Usually natural light is from one light source (a window) so one part of your dish will be lit, but the other side will be in the dark.  You can brighten the dark side of the food with a reflector, bouncing the light from the window on the dark side.  Though I own professional reflectors I also use sheets of computer paper or aluminum foil to even the light out.

Here is a photo of my set up, as well as the shot I took with the setup.  I also like to work on the cheap, as you can tell from my paint can table.reflector


I hope I was clear.  Please comment if you have any questions.


Roasted Butternut Squash Pie: 3 Ingredient Challenge

Butternut Squash Pie

So for this week’s post I was challenged by the talent blogger, Christi, of to create a recipe using 3 seasonal ingredients.  Christi would do the same for her blog and post on the same day.   It was a bit like a small-scale version of The Iron Chef minus time constraints.

At a local farm we were able to get a variety of winter squashes, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Perfect for desserts or, in Dirt Plate’s case, healthy eating.

The 3 Ingredients: Cinnamon, Winter Squash, Nutmeg

The 3 Ingredients: Cinnamon, Winter Squash, Nutmeg

Screw Cake, Let Them Eat Pie!

Screw Cake, Let Them Eat Pie!

I’m not usually a fan of pumpkin pie, so I was not thrilled with the prospect of a squash pie, but it was AMAZING!!  I am a huge fan of this recipe.



Dirt Plate created a beautiful roasted winter squash pecan salad with goat cheese.  Yum!!  I know what I am making with my extra butternut squash.  Get the recipe at:

This was the shot right before I dropped a piece of camera equipment on the pie and ended the photography for the day.

This was the shot right before I dropped a piece of camera equipment on the pie and ended the photography for the day.


Working with sugar requires patience and when that fails lots of swearing.

Working with sugar requires patience and when that fails lots of swearing.

Confession: See the lovely ‘pie’ written is sugar, that was a complete disaster to do.  I had a plan to create an ornate pattern in sugar.  I saw it on Pinterest (damn you pinterest) and thought it looked SO easy. False!  If I dumped a cup of sugar directly on top of the pie I could not have done a worse job.  I used too much sugar, the pie was sticky, my pattern was too ornate, etc etc.  Sugar was everywhere, on the counter, on the floor, in my hair somehow.  I should have taken photos, but I was too busy swearing and cursing the day that I ever discovered Pinterest.  I managed to clean up the plague of sugar, simplify my pattern to ‘pie’ and get a half decent decoration.  

Recipe below.

This sugar spoon will NOT help you create ANYTHING!!

This sugar spoon will NOT help you create ANYTHING!!

Roasted Butternut Squash Pie

1 ½ pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed

6 tablespoons butter, melted, divided

1 ½ cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers)

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 large eggs

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup whipping cream

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Garnishes: whipped cream, nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 425F. Place squash on a baking sheet; toss with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake 15-20 minutes or until squash is tender. Let cool.

2. Reduce oven temperature to 350F. In a medium bowl, stir together graham cracker crumbs and granulated sugar. Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter, stirring until crumbs are moistened. Press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool.

3. Place squash in a food processor and process until smooth, about 60 seconds. Add eggs, brown sugar, cream, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon; process until smooth. Pour filling into crust. Bake at 350F until set, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Chill 3 hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream and a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg.

Too Late!

Too Late!

Bon appetite


Cream Puffs AKA Choux à la Crème AKA Yummy Goodness


Special shout out to my husband who let me dress him like a mime for this shoot.

Cream Puff or Choux à la Crème is a french pastry.   They are sometime called profiteroles or chouquettes, but in all cases they are delicious and if you see some you should drop what you are doing and eat them immediately.

If you believe wikipedia (and I usually do, with only a small amount of skepticism) the original reason for calling a pastry  profiteroles has been lost in the centuries since its origin, but it later came to mean a roll baked under ashes.  Which I guess makes sense.

The dough used to make a cream puff is called  pâte à choux and used in tons of decadent french pastries, such as éclairs, beignets, and crullers.  Another interesting thing is that in french the word choux is plural for cabbage.  I am guessing this is because the little buns look a bit like cabbages, but I don’t know for sure.cp4


I’d eaten cream puffs before, but the best ones I ever had were at my wedding.  My husband is french, so when we got married I begrudging agreed to have the wedding in France (just kidding, I was over the moon to get married in France).


Look at all that yummy chocolate.

My in-laws were a bit concerned about my expectations for the wedding cake, because they said the traditional french wedding cake was quite different from what we had in the states.  They explained to me that a traditional french wedding cakes is called a croquembouche and is a tower of cream puffs, garnished with candied almonds and sugar flowers, wrapped with a spun sugar.  Um, yes please.  It was as AMAZING as it sounds.  Please see the photos below as evidence.cp1Disclaimer: I wanted to have a stereotypical image of France in the photo with my french pastries, hence dressing my husband as a mime, but on the occasions that I have been to France there is a shocking lack of mimes roaming the streets.  In the states we believe there are mimes EVERYWHERE but I’ve only seen two there, and they were not so much mimes and a people dressed in gold or silver standing really still.  My husband insisted that these were mimes, but I was adamant that no, mimes wear striped shirts, a beret, and try to escape invisible boxes, anything different is not a mime.cp6

Below is a recipe so you can make your own cream puffs.  Bon appétit!

Cream Puffs/Choux à la crème/Profiterole


2 ½ cups whole milk

2/3 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 vanilla bean, split or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks

1/3 cup cornstarch

Dough/Pate A Choux:

½ cup whole milk

½ cup water

½ cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

4 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature

1 egg, lightly beaten


½ cup whipping cream

4 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped

  1. To make the filling, in a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, butter, and vanilla bean (scraping seeds and adding to the pot), if using. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and cornstarch. Bring milk mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture in a small stream into the egg yolk mixture. Slowly whisk egg mixture back into the pan. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat; discard vanilla bean if using or whisk in vanilla extract if not using vanilla bean. Pour into a bowl; place plastic wrap over top. Chill 2 hours or until cold.
  2. Heat oven to 350F. In a medium saucepan, bring milk, water, butter, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a heavy duty stand mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. On low speed, add egg a little at a time, beating until all egg is completely absorbed before adding more. Dough should be smooth and glossy and slowly fall off the mixing blade and form a point (like a bird’s beak) when it is ready. All of the beaten egg may not be needed.
  3. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a round piping tip (about ½ inch wide). Pipe 2-inch balls. Allow 2 inches of space between the dough, as it will expand when baking. Brush with beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and dry. Cool completely.
  4. Place filling in a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized round tip. Insert tip into bottom of each éclair and gently squeeze piping bag to fill cavity (do not stuff full).

Heat whipping cream on stove top or microwave on high 30-60 seconds until boiling; pour over chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth. Dip tops of éclairs into chocolate, letting excess drip off. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.cp7



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Red is a bold color, which can symbolize passion, love, and wealth, as equally well as insanity, death, and rage. Often red is used to illustrate something malevolent or toxic.

Snow White is poisoned by a deep, red apple, when it could just as easily been a green Granny Smith.  In Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts madness is exemplified by her obsession with color red.  Somehow mauve or periwinkle wouldn’t have had the same impact.  Even in Star Wars the Dark Side sports angry red light sabers, as oppose the peaceful green and blue ones that the Force prefers.


As it turns out, just as red is toxic in fiction, it can be toxic in real-life as well.   But rather than a poison apple, potentially toxic red comes in the form of a common food dye known as Red 40.

Red 40/Allura Red/Food Red 17 is usually derived from from petroleum.  That’s right, dead dinosaurs, the same stuff we use to make gasoline for our cars.

According the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Red 40, which is found numerous foods throughout the US, has been linked to allergic reactions, hyper-activity in children and even cancer in lab research.  In fact, the European Union and British government have taken actions to ban most chemical food dyes from their food, but in the United States we consume the dye in everything from cookies to butter to cough medicine.


So what’s the culinary to do when faced with a recipe that requires an ENTIRE bottle of red food dye?  Sure you can opt for the natural plant based dyes, utilizing beets or tomatoes for coloring, but I have a more exotic suggestion: Carmine dye.

Carmine (Natural Red 4) is made from the female cochineal beetle which is indigenous to Mexico and South America.  Many of us, myself included, are squeamish at the prospect of eating insects.  And entomophagy (eating insects for food) is certainly is not a prominent part of western culture, but it other parts of the world insects are readily consumed and even enjoyed.  Below are 3 reasons to eat insects.


3 Reasons You Should Eat a Bug:

1. You’re already eating insects regularly and just don’t realize it.  Carmine, the above-mentioned dye, is actually an ingredient in a lot of the foods, including juice yogurt and candy.  The insect dye might be called carmine, carmine acid, natural red 4 or under FDA standards it may just be labeled as natural coloring. If this is upsetting to you then you will be very distraught to learn that the FDA also allows a certain number of “unavoidable defects in foods” which often comes in the form on insect body parts.

  •  Frozen broccoli allows an average of 60 or more insects per 100 grams
  • Chocolate allows an average of 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams
  • Canned Mushrooms allow an average of over 20 or more maggots (yes, you read that right maggots) of any size per 100 grams

2. They are better for the environment than other meats.  Greenhouse gas effects are great concern for the environmentally conscientious.  Livestock is large contributor to the increased greenhouse gases, but ‘mini livestock’ (bugs) produce far less pollution and are still rich in protein.

3. Once you get past the idea that you are eating an insect, they are pretty tasty.  I ate a sour cream and onion-flavored cricket and honestly it tasted just like a potato chip, granted a cricket-shaped potato chip, but seriously it wasn’t bad.  Sure finding an antenna in my teeth later that day was a bit off-putting, but I’m sure I would get past that as some point.

The United Nations recommend insect food sources and potential solution to ending world hunger.  In order to embrace insects as a food supply, I garnished my Red Velvet cake with mealworms.  Yum!


Click for this AMAZING Red Velvet Cake Recipe by Lily Plauché.


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A Christmas Story: Star of Vengeance

star1   This is my favorite Christmas ornament, but rather than symbolize peace and goodwill (as it should) it symbolizes vengeance and spite.

I was working at a furniture store after Christmas and all of our ornaments were reduced to 75% off. This little star was .50 cents. A terrible woman (dressed to the nines and driving a Lexus, so pretty well off) came into the store and wanted 4 star ornaments, but wanted to only pay .25 cents a piece. As we weren’t at a yard sale I said no and she started arguing with me, becoming increasingly rude and belligerent.

After not bullying me into caving she said “Fine! My friend works at the other store in Huntsville and she told me that all the ornaments will be 90% off tomorrow, so I’ll just come back in the morning.

“I can’t guarantee they’ll still be here,” I said.

And the jerk said, “There are 12 stars in the store and I only want 4, so I’ll get what I want.  Prepare to feel stupid tomorrow.”

So in an anti-grinch moment my heart shrank 3 sizes and I bought all 12 of the star ornaments. I then called the other Huntsville store and bought ALL their ornaments. And just to be extra spiteful I bought all the star ornaments in Decatur and Florence. It was the most vengeful $30 I ever spent.

The next morning she was at the store as soon as we had opened. I had the pleasure of telling her that ALL of the star ornaments in North Alabama had been sold to one customer.

For years I gave the ornaments to friends and family, but I saved just one for myself.
12 years later, I still smile when I hang it on my tree.star3