Category Archives: Desserts

Party Like a Toddler

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His Majesty had a Halloween Party at play school yesterday, which gave me the opportunity to try out two new recipes that I pinned to my Halloween Board.

The first was a twist on our Valentine’s Day success: I call it “Monkey Munch”, but my husband, and the recipe that I used, call it “Puppy Chow”.  The other play school parents just called it “Really Good”.  The source of the recipe is a blog called Your cup of Cake, and it’s written by a college student at BYU.  She has tons of recipes for sweet treats, like this one for hot chocolate truffles.  Betcha Santa would take those over the same old chocolate chip cookies we leave him every year!

The recipe is very easy to follow.  The only thing I did differently was to mix the coated cereal and the powdered sugar in a (clean, unused) kitchen trash bag.  It’s bigger, so it’s easier to spoon the cereal into it, and there is more room to shake the cereal around and coat it evenly in the powdered sugar.  I just used one trash bag for the white chocolate mixture and one for the chocolate chip mixture.  I used about 2/3 of a big bag of Reese’s Pieces, but you could add M&Ms, candy corn, pretzels, whatever you want, to dress it up to your satisfaction.

The second recipe I tried was this pumpkin shaped cheese ball from Family Fresh Meals.  I served it with pretzels, crackers, bell pepper slices, and nacho chips.  It looked so pretty that people will think it takes you a lot of work to create it, but it doesn’t.  Not including the time it spent in the fridge overnight, it took me about 20 minutes, including time to cut up the peppers and set up the crackers on the platter.   It was a hit with the kids, and His Majesty tried to eat some of the leftovers with a spoon.

These two snacks went over very well with both adults and kids.  I still can’t get over how much toddlers eat, those little ones sat down around the table and gorged themselves to their little costumed hearts’ content.  Even so, these recipes make a lot of servings, so if you are watching your waistline, I’d definitely suggest that you have a plan for how to pawn the leftovers off on your friends generously gift the leftovers so that you aren’t tempted to overindulge.  These treats are can be dangerous!

Happy Halloween!

Getting Caught Up

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Whew, am I behind on blogging.  As life happens, sitting down to blog has taken the back burner for me.  Summer is just about over, our (home) school year is in full swing, and we have been packing our days full.  Christopher is involved in all sorts of activities, His Majesty is in play school a few mornings a weeks, and is able to tolerate being out and about for daily outings with friends, and my husband and I are enjoying the ride.  While I haven’t had time for much crafting, one thing that I have found time to do is to try a few new recipes that are worth talking about.

Pizza stuffed crescent rolls: Super easy appetizer, and a hit with kids and adults (don’t let make them ahead and then try to warm them up, they are definitely better a few minutes after they’ve come out of the oven).  Check out the recipe over at Plain Chicken.

Pretzel Chocolate Chip Cookies:  Salty and Sweet, these babies were a hit with my brother and his girlfriend when they visited us this summer.  I’d have taken a photo of them when they were finished baking, but they disappeared pretty quickly, and I didn’t get the chance!  Find out how to make them at Sugar Cooking (isn’t that such a great name for a blog?).  You know how after you drop regular chocolate chip cookie dough in rounded spoonfuls, it will kind of flatten out as it bakes?  I guess these won’t really do that, so I read the comments, and it was suggested that you flatten the dough out a little bit with your palm or a cup if you want them to have a thinner appearance.  It doesn’t really matter though.  People are going to eat in pretty much any form.

Chickpea and Tomato Basil Salad: Christopher is not a fan, but my husband, His Majesty, and I could eat our weight in it.  At least, His Majesty would eat his weight in the garbanzo beans (which is hilarious to hear him pronounce, by the way), as evidenced by this photo of him picking them out one by one and loading them onto his spoon.  The recipe is from Green Lite Bites, and it is a great summer salad, not to mention a good way to use up grape tomatoes, which, if you’ve ever grown them, you know can become an issue.

“P.F. Chang’s” Style Lettuce Wrap from Iowa Girl Eats:  Messy, and lots of prep work compared to my usual meals, plus you have to watch the skillet, which I’m definitely not used to doing, but oh boy, is it worth it.  These are incredible, and I mean incredible.

Make Ahead Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies: They are supposed to be a healthier recipe, and they don’t taste like a “real” cookie, which is why they are suggested as a breakfast cookie. I didn’t like the taste of them, personally, but His Majesty did, and they froze well, which made them very convenient to have on hand for quickie morning meals with very little effort or clean up.   You can read about how I made them at Parents Connect.

Peanut Butter Brownie Trifle from Taste of Home: This is sinfully delicious, and way too easy to make for as amazing as it is.  Chocolate brownie and peanut butter cups, how can you go wrong?  You could do them in small plastic tumblers for an easy party dessert, too!

Sneaking Zucchini into Everything (and freezing lots of zucchini bread for winter):  Our zucchini crop peaked early this year, and then died off rather suddenly, but not before we had picked almost 100 of them.  I had to get creative with how to use it, so I took a cue from a pin of The Daily Spark and shredded it up like noodles so that I could then sneak it into pretty much every sauce I made.  This allowed me to serve my family an extra veggie serving without altering the taste of the dishes themselves.  Christopher, who doesn’t like zucchini served by itself also apparently doesn’t pay too much attention to what I do in the kitchen, or what’s on his plate, because he went most of the summer without realizing what was going on, and I never got a complaint out of him.  I just popped the “noodles” in the slow cooker about 45 minutes before we ate, stirred it into the sauce, and let it go.  This worked with cream based/alfredo sauces and red sauces.  

Another way I used up zucchini was by making a bunch of blueberry zucchini bread (see the recipe here at All Recipes).  I had to make a bunch because it is so good that we ate a whole loaf in two days, then another loaf went at a game night we hosted, and my husband wanted to take some to work and… well, you get the point.  As fast as I could make it, they ate it, which makes it a great use for extra zucchini– or any zucchini for that matter!

So, as you can see, while I’ve been absent from the blogging world, I’ve been busy in the kitchen, and in the home caring for my family, which is my true love.  As things settle, I hope to be able to pop on for more than a check in, but you know how life is, and how quickly days pass.  Before we know it, it will be Thanksgiving!

I’m sure you have been busy over the past several weeks, too.  What have you been up to?  Trips?  Books?  Lessons?  Let’s catch up!

Strawberry Pineapple Summer Salad

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This dish will get you an invite to everyone’s summer cookout!

It might sound strange at first: Strawberry Pretzel Salad.  But it is so good.  My Grandma makes a version of this that doesn’t have a cream cheese layer like this version, from Rebecca Crump at Ezra Pound Cake.  The cream cheese layer takes this dish over the top.  Does the inclusion of strawberries and pineapple qualify this dish as a side of fruit, rather than a dessert?  Hmmm…

Rebecca’s recipe uses all of the good stuff: butter, sugar, pretzels, cream cheese, cool whip, strawberry gelatin, frozen strawberries, crushed pineapple, and whipped cream.   Holy goodness.  (And speaking of Rebecca, her website has an amazing recipe index, including everything from crab dip and hot chocolate to sweet tea and couscous.  She also has easy to follow recipes for several classic cocktails.)  I modified Rebecca’s recipe to use generic Splenda, which measures 1:1 with sugar in baking recipes.

Here’s what I did to make Strawberry Pineapple Pretzel Salad (recipe from Rebecca Crumb at Ezra Pound Cake):

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish (I used real butter).

Make your crust.  Start by mixing 2 cups crushed pretzels (I added a cup at a time into a zip lock freezer bag, and pounded it with a cooking mallet to get the pieces nice and small without turning them into fine crumbs), 3/4 cups melted butter, and 3 tablespoons (generic) splenda in a bowl to coat all of the pieces evenly.  Then press the mixture into the bottom of the greased pan, and bake in preheated oven for 7 minutes.

Set your crust aside to cool.

While your crust is cooling, mix your cream cheese layer.  Combine 8 ounces of whipped cream cheese, and 3/4 cup of splenda, and whip until smooth.  Then fold in 8 ounces of Cool Whip (or, in my case, generic whipped topping).

Once the crust is cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture over your cooled crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to evenly chill. 

Combine 2- 3 ounce packages of sugar free strawberry gelatin with 2 cups of boiling water.  Stir to dissolve the gelatin, and let sit for 5 minutes to cool.  Add 2- 10 ounce packages of frozen strawberries and 8 ounces of crushed pineapple, and gently combine.  Then pour the fruit and gelatin mixture over your chilled cream cheese layer.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until serving time.

Look at this baby.  Nice and frosty and delicious.

I took Rebecca’s advice and serve it with whipped cream on top.

It was a hit with my taste tester, so I made it again for a cook out, where it was gone in a matter of minutes.  People loved this stuff.

It does take some advanced planning, since you have to chill it for a few hours, but it’s so easy that it’s worth planning ahead.

This would be a great recipe to keep on hand if you freeze fresh strawberries when you can’t eat them fast enough.  It’s fatty, and rich, and sweet and salty.  Perfect combination.

And there’s fruit.  It’s got to count as a serving of fruit…

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What’s your favorite dish to share at a cook out or summer party?

Batter Up! Another Swing at Cake Batter Dip!

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Earlier this year, I told you about how Funfetti Dip (which I learned about from Shannon at Adventures in Food, and pinned here) was a hit at a play date I hosted. Well, this past week, Christopher asked me to make some more, but I didn’t have any more funfetti mix or plain yogurt.  I did, however, have a box of yellow cake mix, and some vanilla flavored yogurt.

Cake batter is cake batter… and yogurt is yogurt… Sooo….why not change it up a bit, do a little ingredient experimentation?

I decided that there was nothing to lose by giving it a whirl with yellow cake mix and vanilla yogurt.

I used the same ratio as the Funfetti Dip:

3/4 cup dry yellow cake mix

1/2 cup vanilla flavored yogurt

1/4 cool whip

And I mixed it for about a minute on medium speed.  It was pretty thick.

I served it with animal crackers and pretzel crackers.

I let Christopher taste test it, and the results were favorable.  But really, who doesn’t like cake batter?

His Majesty certainly does.

I’m pretty sure that you can use any dry cake mix and come up with a dessert style dip.  You can mess around with different yogurts and give it your own flair.  Strawberry pound cake mix, strawberry yogurt and cool whip perhaps?  Or butter pecan mix, vanilla yogurt, and cool whip?  There are so many flavors of yogurt and cake, you could really make it interesting.

Have you made any new recipes, lately?  Or put your own twist on an old one?

Quick and Easy Dump Cake

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I first heard about Dump Cake from a woman named Lilly that rode in a vanpool with me, back when I was still collecting a pay check in my name.  She told me that all you need is some dry cake mix, and a few cans of fruit, be it peaches, blueberries, cherries, apple pie filling, whatever, and then you dump it all in a pan, add some butter, and bake it.  She said she brought it to family reunions, pot lucks, housewarming parties, wherever, and always received compliments on it.

Now, I know enough about baking to know that I’m getting a gift of a recipe if someone tells me about it and can’t give me exact measurements.  You know– “a little bit of this” and “a few handfuls of that”.  Those are the keepers.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have wished I had paid more attention to my paternal grandfather as he stood in the kitchen and effortlessly made flour tortillas from scratch over a gas stove.  No measuring, he just knew when the dough was perfect.  I have never had a tortilla as delicious as the ones that he made for me in his kitchen, and how he got them to be perfectly round is an art that I never took the time to study.  Having said that, do yourself a favor and call your mother, grandmother, father, aunt, cousin, whomever makes something they are “famous” in their circle for, and ask them to teach you how to make it.  You know what recipe I’m talking about, that famous french onion soup of your father’s, or grandma’s lasagna, or your cousin’s perfect buttercream icing.  If you don’t, that recipe might one day die with them, just like the recipe for my Papa’s tortillas, and that my friends, is tragedy that can easily be prevented.

Anyway, back to Dump Cake.  Lilly told me about it a few years ago, and I don’t have the benefit of standing in her kitchen and watching her add a little of this and a little of that.   So, I googled it.

What what should return but Pioneer Woman’s version of Pineapple Cherry Dump Cake.

You know Pioneer Woman.  Author, bloggess, homeschool mom, star of her own TV show, THAT Pioneer Woman.  She is the master of all things, and I LOVE reading her blog.  And SHE has a version of Dump Cake.

I did a happy dance, and I said to myself “Self, PW has a Dump Cake recipe.  It. Is. ON!”

So I made one.

And my whole family, and some of my friends, are glad that I did.

You only need four things.  A box of dry cake mix (I used yellow), 2 large cans of fruit (I used cherry and crushed pineapple, like PW did, but remember, Lilly said you can use any fruit you want.  I want to try it with cherries and peaches next) and 1.5 sticks of butter.  (Yes, as in one-and-a-half sticks of butter.  PW says you can make it with a stick of margarine and a half stick of butter if you want, since that’s what she did, but I don’t have margarine, and it turned out fine using only butter.)

Start by preheating your oven to 350, and then go ahead and dump both cans of fruit, juice and all, into a 9×13 baking dish.

Mix the fruit together to make it uniform.

Then cover the fruit with the entire box of dry cake mix, and pat it down to break up any big lumps.

Here’s a side view:

Chop your butter into slices and place them all over the top of the cake mix.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour, until it’s browned on top, and the filling is bubbly.  I checked it through the oven door every 5 minutes after the 45 minute mark and took it out after 55 minutes.

I let it cool for little while, and then I scooped it out and topped it with whipped cream– the kind you spray out of the can.  My kids were pretty stoked about it, they pretty much think spray whipped cream is a dessert all on its own.  Poor deprived kids.  But I think I made up for the fact that I don’t make whipped cream from scratch by simply serving up this awesome concoction.  Christopher was pretty pleased.

We served it when we had friends over for company, and everyone had more than one serving.  People can’t believe how easy this is to prepare.  If you didn’t tell them, they’ll think you slaved in the kitchen to make this, it is just that good.   Then we made it again a few days later so that my husband could take it to work for a pot luck luncheon, where it was also a big hit.

His Majesty got a taste, too. Look how he’s hawking the bowl.  If you want him to like you, give him food.

I only gave him a bite if he answered the trivia questions correctly.

“Who loves you the most, baby?”

“MOMMY!”

That’s my boy.

This recipe is one to hang on to, but then again, EVERYTHING I’ve tried that is PW inspired has been a surefire hit.

What about you?  Do you make something that you are a legend among your friends and family for?  Is there something someone you know makes that you keep meaning to get the recipe for?  Do you have a favorite Pioneer Woman recipe?