Archive | May, 2012

Slightly Stolen Simple Sweets

27 May

The restaurant I work at has a very popular dessert they call “Banana Cream Pie.”

I always tell my tables, “it’s sort of like a banana cream mound, it’s really good though – you’ll like it!” And they always do.

Last week my grandparents were staying with us and one day we baked bread and made sauce and had my aunt, uncle & cousin over for dinner so I figured I should make something for dessert, since I would be embarrassed to have a meal here with nothing sweet at the end.

The night before at work I was watching the dessert prep chef put together the mound and I thought to myself, “this is so ridiculously easy, it’s funny how good people think it is, I mean it is really yummy, but so so easy.” That thought and the important factor that Tuesday was National Vanilla Pudding Day, led me to my slightly stolen simple sweet. My version, which I will call, Vanilla Banana Cream Mound.

Step 1: Crush graham crackers to your liking. I basically cracked one sheet per dessert plate so they were chunks not crumbs.

Step 2: Make or buy vanilla pudding. I used fat-free/sugar-free instant pudding and skim milk (we just ate bread, sauce, pork and noodles, people, this was a lite dessert). Top the crackers with the pudding. (By the way at work we use banana pudding).

Step 3: Divide one 8-oz container of cool whip amongst your plates. Again, lite cool whip, I didn’t measure just glopped. We don’t use cool whip at work, just whipped cream but I liked the idea of mixing the two.

Step 4: Slice bananas and surround your mound with the slices.  As many slices per plate as you’d like.

Step 5: Top the cool whip with whipped cream, fat-free Reddi Whip, one can for 8 plates.

Step 6: Sprinkle silvered almonds a top your creation

Step 7: Finish with a caramel drizzle. You’re done! Enjoy!

What I love about desserts like this is that they’re quick and yummy but also so versatile. You don’t like bananas? ok, use a different fruit. Almond allergy? Get rid of them. Prefer chocolate pudding and crushed Oreos? Yum, invite me over. Just use your imagination and create something fun for your friends and family, isn’t that the whole reason for dessert anyway?

Birthday Bakes

24 May

My nieces share the birthday month of May and so my sister decided to throw them a joint birthday party last weekend and as always I got to attempt to make Madeline’s cake dreams come true!

This year Madeline wanted a Rapunzel cake, which makes me think of blonde hair swirling across a frosted castle. Of course, real or even fake hair would be pretty gross across the cake, so I opted to use some yellow frosting. Also, my castle dreams turned into one ice cream cone tower.

For the actual cake I made a from-scratch funfetti cake. I had a feeling that surprise sprinkles in the batter would be fun for a 5-year-old. I baked up one giant 12×12 cake layer and  two 6 inch rounds, one for Madeline’s tower base and one for the cutest little smash cake for Ava. Adorable.

After I baked the cakes I realized I wanted another layer for my base and turned to my mainstay – boxed brownies. You just can’t beat them. And voila! My cake was ready to be frosted.

The tower was really easy! I used two cake cones with opposite sides touching and glued them together with frosting. I added a sugar cone on top to make the tower. So simple, but I wish I hadn’t run out of purple frosting, I would’ve liked to frost the cones.

I used my favorite Food Network vanilla buttercream, added melted dark chocolate chips for Ava’s cake and for the filling of Madeline’s and a LOT of food coloring for the castle tower.

Make a wish!

Mother’s Day Breakfast and Dessert

14 May

I hope all of the mothers out there had a great Sunday filled with relaxing family events and yummy eats! We tried to make all of that happen for my mom yesterday and I think we did a pretty good job. She got to enjoy a day full of planting and gardening with Michael’s help and thanks to Tommy & Jaime and Marilee & Jay’s Home Depot gift cards.

From me, my mom got breakfast, and Starbucks. I’m on a budget, but I think she enjoyed her gifts.

I started the breakfast the day before by pre-cooking bacon, much like I did on Easter. Baking bacon is the smartest, cleanest way to get to deliciousness. I used the bacon for breakfast pizza.

The first pizza featured a sautéed combo of 8 eggs, spinach, mushrooms and bacon. Basically you just scramble your eggs mixed with toppings and once they’re done top them on the crust, cover with cheese (mozzarella on this one) and pop in the oven for 5ish minutes. Honestly I wasn’t happy with the crust. I bought whole wheat just to make it healthier, but I think in the future I would either make my own crust or go with something a little thicker. This was cracker-y and we ended up buttering the ends to make it better, which kind of defeats the whole wheat.

I topped the other with an easy mix of bacon, eggs and cheddar cheese. Both combos were pretty yummy and it was great to be able to mix the tops and then 5 minutes before breakfast heat them up.

An impromptu addition (which turned out to be a huge hit) were pineapple yogurt mini muffins. I decided to make these at about 8:45 yesterday morning and decided we needed a side dish. I found this recipe but made a few changes. I used one Chobani 2% Pineapple single serve container, one 6 oz Dannon Light & Fit Pina Colada container and a few spoonfuls of Fage 0% Greek Yogurt. I used about a cup of drained canned pineapple as the fruit mix-in and I left the topping out. These muffins were so moist and delicious.

Perfect for a certain 1-year-old that loved them and definitely a healthier recipe. Yum.

I plated the muffins, with some breakfast sausage, perfectly sweet pineapple chunks and huge strawberries.

For dessert last night I made what I’ll call a 5-minute choose your flavor cheesecake in a store-bought graham cracker crust. I like homemade crusts but didn’t really have time so I opted to buy one, either way the pie was so quick and easy! I used the remaining cup of pineapple chunks from breakfast and tossed them in the mixer followed by one 8oz brick of cream cheese and one tub of cool whip (you decide the fat content for both items), then I added two chopped and peeled kiwi and a few splashes of pineapple juice. I mixed everything, poured it in the crust and let it sit in the fridge for 8 hours.

It was the perfect creamy pie to end the beautiful day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

No Mixer Required

3 May

Tuesday I took a trip downtown to visit WCIU, the station I interned at, you know, to show my face, bring my new resume and demo and remind them I’m looking for a job. And bring cookies of course.

I kept seeing this recipe on Twitter, Facebook and I think on AOL news, clicked on it, read it and realized it was worth bookmarking. Aside from the thought-provoking recipe title, the fact that the entire cookie is made in a saucepan intrigued me. Ok, it also excited me since I’m still waiting for my moving truck to bring me all my things – mixer and cookie scoops included.

The only tweak I made was to use dark chocolate chips as my chip of choice. These cookies were seriously delicious. Like the recipe mentions, melting the sugars in the melted butter creates a toasty flavor. One of the WCIU producers thought there might be coconut inside, I got a hint of caramel when I tasted (ok, ate 4 of) the cookies. I’m already planning to re-create this for my mom’s quilting lunch in a few weeks. You know me, since I had a success, I’ll most likely change up the mix-ins or add a new flavor, check back in with Sweet Talk then to see the results — and make these!

Oh yeah, I made these on National Oatmeal Cookie Day too! I love participating in food holidays!

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