Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Death By Chocolate Brownie Trifle

Remember my new trifle bowl?  Ok, so it's not actually a trifle bowl, it's just a clear glass bowl.  Well, after my Berry Trifle, I knew I had to make another trifle of some sort for our annual kids party.  I had several ideas running around but finally I looked at the menu that I had prepared for the party and realized that I was missing something essential. 


You can't have a kids party without chocolate.  30 or so kids, games and a bouncy house. But no chocolate. That wasn't going to happen. So the Brownie Trifle won. 

I loved how easy it was.  Just brownies, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and heath. I made the brownies and my daughter made the rest and put it together.  You could totally make it even more simple and use Cool Whip but I beat the whipping cream.  Actually, I made the daughter beat the whipping cream. Much easier that way. 

You'll have to forgive my pictures.  With 60 - 70 guest on their way, a hot kitchen and tons of food to make, it's a wonder I even thought to take these pictures.  Crummy picture but awesome dessert.

The beauty of this is that you can make it gluten free if you'd like.  There are plenty of good gluten free brownie mixes out there.  I chose not to make this gluten free but will next time for sure.

You can follow the recipe below but I suggest using it more as a guideline. You might have a different sized bowl and may need more or less of something.  Your brownie mix might make a different amount than mine. I used a pretty big one as I didn't want to skimp on the chocolate.  My daughter put it together, I think she put two layers of stuff, maybe three. I'm not entirely sure.  I do know that we licked the bowl clean and it was incredibly delicious!

Death by Chocolate Brownie Trifle Recipe

2 large packages of instant chocolate pudding
4 cups of milk (this will make the pudding set faster and thicker)
13 x 9 in. pan of fudge brownies (mine were thick, don't skimp on the brownie!)
1 package of Heath Toffee Bits or you can just crush a couple of Heath candy bars
16 oz. of whipped cream (I think that I made more of this, I don't really know how much I used)

Prepare pudding according to directions but only use 2 cups of milk per box.  This will make it thicker and set faster. Cut brownies into chunks, they don't have to be pretty.  Place about half of the brownie bites on the bottom of the trifle bowl in a single layer.  Evenly pour half the pudding on top of the brownies. Layer half the whipped cream, then half of the toffee bits.  Repeat layers.  Chill before serving. 

We didn't chill ours. We put it together and stuck it on a table in 90 degree heat.  Nobody cared.  It all was eaten. 

**Note - My daughter might have used three layers rather than two.  It doesn't really matter.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad

I haven't been posting too many recipes lately.  I've been kinda on a cooking hiatus for the summer.  We've been eating simple things like tacos and burgers.  Some nights we'll just have corn on the cob and watermelon for dinner. I haven't been much into menu planning lately.  I expect come fall that will change. 

I can't believe I haven't posted this potato salad yet.  It's one of my favorite salads and I've already made it twice just this summer. The ranch dressing is perfect and so delicious.  You can make it to your own tastes.  More garlic if you'd like.  Add some more cayenne if you like it spicy.  Thin it out with more buttermilk if you want to drizzle it over a salad.  It's up to you. Taste and experiment!

Bacon Ranch Potato Salad Recipe
Adaped from Simply Scratch

1 - 5 lb. bag of red potatoes, scrubbed
1 lb. bacon
5 green onions, sliced
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. parsley or cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped (I didn't have any so I thinly sliced green onions)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 - 1 cup buttermilk
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Once cooked, drain and cool. Cut into bite sized chunks.  Place in a large bowl and add the bacon, green onions.

Combine all dressing ingredients and thin out with the 1/2 cup or more of buttermilk.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add to the potato bacon mixture and mix.  Toss in the cheddar cheese and mix again.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles

I've been busy this summer with parties and gatherings. It seems there is always something to go to that requires good party food.  I've found that little chocolate desserts seem to go well. They always seem to go and I often regret not making more.

I was specifically looking for a dessert this month for The Secret Recipe Club.  I was glad that Allison from Sweet Flours had plenty to pick from.  Her Honey Peanut Butter Cups were tempting.  Her Christmas Crack Candy sounded awesome and clearly should be made for any occasion.  I was completely drooling at her Tropical Caramel Corn. That stuff looks amazing!  But in the end, I wanted to go with something that the kids could help make. Actually, these were so simple that my daughter made them herself and all the kids had fun rolling them up. 

The kids had fun being creative with rolling the truffles.  The recipe called for rolling them in peanuts.  We did some in peanuts, pecans, pretzels and sprinkles. I think my favorite was the pretzels, I liked the crunch.  My kids of course loved the sprinkles even though we didn't even have pretty sprinkles.  They didn't care!

The Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles turned out wonderfully!  The only thing I would recommend is to maybe freeze them first if you are going to serve them in warm weather. They did get mushy but that didn't stop everyone from completely devouring them!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffles
Recipe from Sweet Flours

1 (12-oz.) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup finely chopped, lightly salted roasted peanuts

1. Microwave first 3 ingredients in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Let cool 10 minutes.
2. Beat chocolate mixture at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until whipped and smooth. Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm.
3. Shape chocolate mixture into 1-inch balls, using a small ice-cream scoop. Roll in chopped peanuts. (If chocolate mixture becomes too soft to shape, refrigerate until firm.) Place on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Chill 1 hour before serving. Store truffles in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Perfect Lemon Pound Cake

I knew I was going to make a berry trifle but I hadn't decided if I was going to attempt to make the trifle gluten free or not.  When I found out that several other guests at the party were gluten free, I set out to make a gluten free lemon pound cake.

The pound cake turned out well and was quite delicious. It was dense like a pound cake but still a bit crumbly.  I didn't mind so much as I was cutting it up for a pound cake.  The original recipe called for just vanilla but I wanted a bit of lemon flavor.  The 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract was perfect and it tasted delicious.

Perfect Pound Cake Recipe
Adapted from Gluten Free Easily

2 1/2 cups gluten free flour
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup light olive oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
3 large eggs
2/3 cup full fat coconut milk

Combine flour, xanthan gum, sea salt and baking powder in a bowl.  Set aside. 

Pour olive oil into a large bowl and slowly mix in sugar, orange juice, vanilla and lemon extract.

Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition.

Add milk.  Mix for about 2 minutes.  Gradually add dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing well. 

Pour batter into a 9 x 13 in. baking dish.  Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes until golden brown and done. 

**The original recipe called for 2 loaf pans, cooking for about 50 - 55 minutes.  I used a 9 x 13 in. pan as I was going to cube it for a trifle. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Berry Trifle with Orange Liqueur

I finally got a trifle bowl!  Well, actually it's just a big glass bowl but it's the first one that I've had.  My old way of making a trifle was to buy an angel food cake and use the clear plastic lid for the trifle.  It actually worked well but this time I wasn't using angel food cake. Plus, I've been wanting a trifle bowl. 

I'd seen several but just didn't want to spend so much money on something that would only use a couple of times a year. Plus, I have a small house and not a lot of room for storage.

So I was pleased to find this bowl and it was very affordable. 

I knew I wanted to make a trifle for my dad's family reunion but it took me awhile to find just the right one.  The fruit soaked in the orange liqueur was the selling point for me.  Plus I hadn't used mascarpone cheese in a long time and it sounded wonderful together with the whipped cream and fruit. 

It turned out beautifully and everyone loved it. 

I was able to make it gluten free using a gluten free lemon poundcake recipe.  The cake was a bit crumbly and did mush a bit in trifle. It didn't matter, everyone still loved it. 

Berry Trifle with Orange Liqueur Recipe

2 1/2 lbs. mixed berries - I used 1 1/2 lbs. strawberries and then 1 lb. of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup orange liqueur
Lemon pound cake (I used a gluten free one)
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Extra berries for garnish

Add the berries to a bowl.  Combine the sugar, orange juice and liqueur in a small bowl. Pour liquid into the fruit and stir gently to combine.  Set aside for at least an hour or up to 3 hours.

Cut the pound cake into 1 lb. cubes and set aside until ready to assemble the trifle. 

In a large bowl, beat together the cream, confectioners sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form, about 3 - 4 minutes. In a separate bowl, beat the mascarpone until soft.  Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped mascarpone and the lemon zest into the whipped cream until evenly blended.

In a glass trifle bowl, arrange a single layer of the cake cubes in the bottom of the bowl.  Spoon 1/3 of the macerated berries over the cake and then spread 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture over the berries.  Repeat layers twice, finishing with a layer of the mascarpone mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours to allow the flavors to marry. 

Top with additional berries as garnish when ready to serve.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chobani Yogurt Parfaits

One of the perks of having a food blog is that companies will often ask you to review their product and send samples.  I love getting samples.  I've been introduced to some awesome products that I'd never tried but now are favorites because of the free samples. 

Chobani offered me some samples and while I had eaten (and loved) Chobani yogurt before, I was more than happy to accept and do a review.

As it was obviously a cooled product so I knew when it was coming. We saw the UPS truck pull up and pull out a box.  Then another. Then another.  Then yet another. These were not small boxes.  The UPS dude was chuckling as he wheeled the Chobani yogurt up to the door. 

"Are you going on a yogurt diet or something?", he asked.

I brought them into the living room and just kinda stared at them for about 30 minutes saying, "Holy cow that is a LOT of yogurt!"

I opened a box to find 3 boxes of 12 yogurts.  That's 36 yogurts per box.  With the 4 boxes that is 144 tubs of yogurt. 

 I had 144 Chobani yogurts in my living room.

I knew that it wouldn't all fit in my refrigerator, I made a plan to give a bunch to some friends.  I did manage to get more in the refrigerator than I thought.  I ended up giving 5 of the 12 boxes away.  That left me with 84 yogurts in my refrigerator.  Good thing we love Chobani!

The flavors of Chobani were were given were Blood Orange, Black Cherry, Pomegranate, Strawberry Banana, Blueberry, Lemon, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Apple Cinnamon, Mango and Peach.

We kinda went a little crazy with breakfast parfaits.  We made several different kinds and they were all so, so good.  The possibilities are endless.

My favorite was the Apple Cinnamon Chobani yogurt with apple chunks and Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.

My son loved the Black Cherry Chobani yogurt, fresh cherries and corn flakes.

I made a bunch of the parfaits with Honey Nut Chex cereal as it is gluten free!

The only one that we didn't care for was Passion Fruit.  Not bad but just not our favorite.  We turned those into smoothies!  I make them super thick so the kids can eat them like ice cream!

I hadn't tried the pineapple Chobani yogurt and found that just for eating plain, that was my favorite!  Thanks Chobani for all the yogurt and for introducing me to a whole bunch of delicious flavors!

Apple Cinnamon Parfait

Apple Cinnamon Chobani Yogurt
1 whole apple, diced
Cinnamon toast crunch cereal


Pineapple Almond Parfait

Pineapple Chobani Yogurt
Honey Bunches of Oat with Almonds
Fresh pineapple, diced


Honey Strawberry Parfait

Strawberry or Strawberry Banana Chobani Yogurt
Honey Nut Cheerios
Fresh strawberries, sliced


Lemon Blueberry Parfait (not pictured, we ate it too fast!)

Lemon Chobani Yogurt
Honey Nut Chex Cereal
Fresh blueberries


Passion Fruit Smoothie

Passion Fruit Chobani Yogurt
Fresh or frozen fruit, we used strawberries, frozen pineapple core and a blueberry raspberry mix

Mix yogurt, fruit and a bit of milk and process in a food processor.  Add milk until desired consistency.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Honey Chipotle Peanuts and Cashews

I was on Veronica's blog looking for desserts to make for my family reunion party. She always has good things to make!  While I did find a dessert or two, I also found these nuts on there and knowing how much my dad loves cashews, I just had to make them. 

They turned out wonderful!  I recipe was for peanuts and I forgot that there isn't as much surface area in cashews so there was some extra chipotle honey goo in there.  This made them a bit spicier but not too bad.  The amount of chipotle powder is perfect.  They leave a very slight zing in your mouth without actually being spicy.  We all loved them!

Chipotle Honey Roasted Peanuts Recipe
Adated from Veronica's Cornucopia

1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound skinless peanuts (use a bit more if using a larger nut like a cashew)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Stir together the sugar, chipotle powder, chili powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl; set aside.
Stir together the butter, honey, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat until the butter has melted, and the mixture is bubbly. Stir in the peanuts until well coated, then pour out into a 9×13 inch baking dish.
Bake in preheated oven until the nuts are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Stir the mixture 2 or 3 times to ensure even cooking. Once done, scrape the peanuts into a large metal bowl, and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Toss the peanuts to evenly coat with the spice mixture. Allow the peanuts to cool to room temperature, tossing every few minutes so the nuts do not stick together.