Plainclothes Feast

A weekly peek at one dinner table, in the heart of one home, in the center of the country

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Plainclothes Hiatus

I hope Food Network didn’t come calling during the past few weeks because I’ve been away from my desk. I’ve been testing out a new cookbook. No, not my own (not yet). This one: 


And it’s a keeper (which is good, since I bought it). In general, I consider a cookbook worth owning if it contributes more than three recipes to my mental food mill. If it gives me one usable idea, then it was worth flipping through, and I’m glad my hunky husband thought to check it out from the library.  This one, though, had already given us several smash hits even before I’d cracked the spine, so I’m giving it the Plainclothes Seal of Approval. (I’m sure it will appear on the cover of the next printing!)

It’s impossible to know which recipes to share until we’ve tried them…and until I’ve tinkered with them…and streamlined them…and photographed them on a nice, bright afternoon. (Welcome, back, sunshine!)

Aren’t you happy to hear I’m so circumspect? No slapdashery here. No, ma’am!

This is what we’ve been eating:


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Easter Worms-and-Dirt

Am I really preparing to share a “recipe” that includes gummy worms, boxed pudding, artificially flavored spice drops, and Easter grass? Yes.

Seriously? Yes.

Have I been body-snatched? No. But…

I made this dessert to take to an Easter celebration that would be attended by people who don’t care much about dessert…plus a few kids, who sometimes care a little bit but never care a great deal and often don’t care at all. Therefore, I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on what I made, but I didn’t want to phone it in either (I have a reputation to uphold, after all), and this recipe is what I settled on. It’s a recipe fit for Pinterest (which, yes, is where the original idea came from). Let me be clear: If the Plainclothes version doesn’t wind up on someone’s Pinterest board somewhere, then I’ve made a tragic misstep. Get your virtual thumb tacks ready:


That said, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I couldn’t bear to follow directions and prepare the recipe in its simplest (read: trashiest) form. After all, just because you begin with a list of faux-food ingredients doesn’t mean that you can’t do your best to override them with some wholesome (I’m not sure…do heavy cream and cream cheese count as “wholesome”?) decadence.

I considered omitting the worms, too, but I knew those might be the only part of the dessert that the kids ate (which turned out to be true), so I opted for only a few probing worms in the whole carrot patch. (Two worms per cup in each of 4 cups, one for each kid.)


The other cups each got one carrot planted firmly in their centers.

This is what I did:

Easter Worms-and-Dirt

1 box Cook-and-Serve Chocolate Pudding (You could make homemade, of course, if you’re hard core.)

3 cups of milk (for the pudding)

2 cups heavy cream

8 oz. cream cheese (softened)

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 package Oreo cookies

12 clear plastic cups (12 oz.)

12 orange spice drops

a few gummy worms

a few strands of paper Easter grass

1. Prepare the pudding according to package instructions. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent the formation of “pudding skin” and pop the dish into the refrigerator to cool.

2. Pulverize the Oreos in a food processor. You will probably need to do this in two batches, unless you have an industrial sized food processor.

3. In a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whisk together the heavy cream and the cream cheese until they begin to stiffen. Then add the vanilla, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar (sifting first, if you’re fussy…I’m not) and beat until well incorporated. (The cream cheese seems to stabilize the whipped cream, so it doesn’t easily turn to butter. That said, don’t walk away from your mixer. No need to tempt fate. Turn it off when it looks like chocolate mousse.)

4. Make your “carrots”: Cut or tear your paper Easter grass into 2- or 3-inch sections. Turn each spice drop upside-down, so that the broader side is up. Then use a toothpick to poke the center of each section of Easter grass down into the middle of the spice drop, far enough for it to be trapped in the sticky interior goo.

5. Build your parfaits: Use a muffin tin to line up and hold your plastic cups in place. To each cup, add a scoop (about 1 tablespoon) of Oreo crumbs, then about 1/3-cup scoop of “mousse” (spread it to the sides of the cup with a small spatula), then another scoop of Oreo crumbs, then a 1/4-cup scoop of pudding (again, spreading it to the sides), then a scoop of Oreo crumbs. Place your carrots in the middle and decorate with gummy worms, if you want.

6. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. I found they tasted better after 48.(Not that ate these. They are way too trashy for me. And, no, that’s not pudding on my nose.)

Be warned: These taste awfully good. But if you take out the gummy worms, they don’t look too shameful. (Maybe?)


Now what are you going to do with that bag of virtually inedible spice drops (with all the orange ones missing)? You can give them to the oldest living member of your extended family, who, if they are over the age of 70, will almost certainly think they are a real prize. Alternatively, you can seal them in a ziploc bag and save them for decorating gingerbread houses at Christmas. I’m pretty sure there is nothing organic in them, so they aren’t at risk of decay!

Oh, and don’t forget to pin these photos so you can easily find them next Easter. Virtual corkboards everywhere await!