Happy Monday!

Good morning!

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!  He is Risen!!!  And because of that we have a way to eternal life with Him.  🙂  Our weekend was very special and fun…and warm (yay!)  I ate WAYYY too much, put back on a couple of pounds that were lost with hard work…but that’s ok…back to it today.  I tried a few new yummy recipes that I will share:

The first is super easy…roasted cauliflower…my kids are not big fans of cauliflower, but this was a hit!  Just cut cauliflower into large chunks.  Drizzle with olive oil (enough to toss the cauliflower in).  Lay on a tin foiled baking and sprinkle with sea salt and chili powder.  Cover with tin foil and roast for 15 minutes on 450.  After 15 minutes, uncover and continue roasting for 35 minutes.  Soooo yummy!

Another easy one…lightly oil a baking sheet and place asparagus on it.  Sprinkle asparagus with salt.  Wrap in pairs with 1 slice of bacon.  Broil for 10-15 minutes.

The last one for today is baby portobello mushrooms stuffed with crab and cheese.  That recipe can be found here:  https://www.hy-vee.com/meal-solutions/recipes/Cheesy-Crab-Stuffed-Mushrooms-R1513.aspx  This was my personal favorite!  Really, with all that cheese…how could it not be.  😉

Enjoy the rest of the week!

🙂

 

 

Christmas

The days surrounding Christmas had ups and downs this year, but one thing that NEVER changes is that Christ came down all those years ago to be born here on earth, leaving His perfect Kingdom, so that He could save our lives.  That is THE meaning of Christmas.  That is the unchanging good news.  That is why despite sadness we have joy!

Joshua’s birthday celebration:

Christmas Brunch, before eating commenced:

Some yummy recipes this year included banana cream cheese stuffed baked french toast, blueberry white chocolate coffeecake, scones, quiche and about a million other things.  😉

Here are a couple desserts after they were dug into…red velvet cheesecake and butterfinger bars:

The butterfinger bars were very good…a little difficult to cut and the recipe is surely for a small pan (I used a 9×13 and had to double and it was still a stretch!)

The red velvet cheesecake I couldn’t try, because of the red dye, so I am not sure how it turned out, but it looked good!  😉

BUTTERFINGER COOKIE DOUGH CHEESECAKE BARS

YIELD: Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips + 1/2 cup for top
  • 5 Butterfinger bars, king size

CHEESECAKE LAYER

  • 8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

PREPARATION:

Create a sling by lining the pan with foil so that there is a one inch overhang on each side. Cover foil with bake spray. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

Melt butter and let cool to warm. Add in brown sugar and mix to combine. Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.  Add in flour and fold to combine. Add in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips and fold to combine. Pour mixture into pan; set aside.

TO MAKE CHEESECAKE

Add all ingredients in a bowl and beat until blended. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Press 3/4 of cookie mixture into pan. Place Butterfinger bars side-by-side on top of cookie dough. Pour cheesecake mixture on top. Crumble remaining cookie dough sprinkle on top of cheesecake layer along with remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips all over top.
  2. Transfer pan to oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven set on wire rack to cool.

 

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE

Yield: 12 to 14 servings

Prep Time: 1 hr + cooling and chill times

Cook Time: 1 hr, 15 min

CHEESECAKE:
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

RED VELVET CAKE:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.  In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake  and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight.

2. Prepare the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray with nonstick baking spray with flour). In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

3. Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

4. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

5. Frost and decorate the cake

protein pancakes

I have seen SO MANY variations for protein pancakes.  Tried the oatmeal and egg white ones and they just didn’t do it for me.  Then I found a recipe and lo and behold did not have all the ingredients, so I used what I had increased some of certain ingredients to make up for the ones I didn’t have and voila! I found my favorite protein pancakes and they are SO SO SO EASY!

Ingredients:

1 whole banana

1 scoop whey protein powder (vanilla or chocolate)

1 egg white

2 TB almond milk

 

Mix together and cook as you would a normal pancake.  Eat plain or top with jam or sugar free syrup.  They are yummy AND healthy…go figure.

Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

SO SO SO SO GOOD!  Especially with cheddar cheese on top and a side of tortilla chips.  🙂

SLOW COOKER VEGETARIAN BLACK BEAN PUMPKIN CHILI

Ingredients

  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans, drained
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans plain diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • Assorted toppings of your choice like shredded cheddar or jack cheese, sour cream, avocado, cilantro, or our favorite topping for this chili, Tapatio sauce

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir.
  2. Cook on low for 8 – 10 hours.
  3. Serve with assorted toppings.

Fun festive Christmas treats

cake balls with skinny candy cane sticks

beginning to set up

chocolate chip walnut cups and sugar cookies

red and green tortilla chips

Christmas pound cake…inside is red and white

peppermint bark is so much fun to make!

traditional black and white cookies Christmasfied!

chocolate dipped pretzels with sprinkles

egg nog bites

preparing some more

Paula Deen quiche

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/spinach-and-bacon-quiche-recipe/index.html

Oh Christmas Party….

We had our annual Christmas party today…I will post some recipes later on this week.  I tried making a new quiche recipe, a new mac n cheese recipe and peppermint bark this year.  Then I had some old standbys…chocolate chip walnut cups, sweet potato casserole and about a gazillion kinds of sweets (really a lot).  We had a fun time.  I ate about triple of what I planned.  Between that and getting back into my lifting routine next week (hopefully) it will be interesting to see if I can keep my progress going in my weekly updates.  Here’s hoping!

fruity pebbles ice cream cones

  • Prep/Total Time: 15 min.
  • Yield: 12 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 12 ice cream cones
  • Colored sprinkles

Directions

  • In a microwave or large saucepan, melt the marshmallows and butter. Remove from the heat and stir in cereal.
  • Using greased hands, shape the mixture into 12 balls; pack each ball into an ice cream cone. Dip the tops in colored sprinkles. Yield: 12 servings.

Ice Cream Cone Treats Recipe

4 and 40

We celebrated the Fourth of July with friends and then again with family.  On the day of our family celebration we also celebrated my parents’ FORTIETH wedding anniversary (a little bit early, but it was a surprise).  🙂  Here are some festive treats we had in honor of both occasions.

My kids refer to this as the donut cake.  Version 1 above, version 2 below

Version 1 is white cake made in a bundt pan and covered with icing and sprinkles, while version 2 is a traditional pound cake with bolder color icing.  The best part is you divide the batter in 2 sections and layer them so that when you cut the cake the inside is red, white and blue.

 

 

 

4 and 40 cookies

This cake was a 2 layer red velvet cake made with buttermilk…I think anything baked with buttermilk is fantastic!  my first try at red velvet and I loved it!  It was fortunate the batter made it to the oven.

Red White Blueberry Trifle

Assembly:

Layer of pound cake or angel food cake

Layer of pudding mixture

Layer of berries

Layer of whipped cream

Repeat

Top layer of whipped cream top with cherries

Pound cake recipe:

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter or margarine softened

3 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/4 cups milk

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 egg yolks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 10-inch Bundt pan or two 9″ by 5″ loaf pans.
    2. In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat sugar and butter or margarine just until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add flour and remaining ingredients; beat until well mixed, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl.
    3. Spoon batter into pan. Bake in Bundt pan 1 hour or in loaf pans 45 to 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan; cool completely on rack.

Pudding layer:

8 ounces cream cheese
I packet lemon instant pudding mix

1/3 cup powdered sugar
16 ounces Cool Whip or homemade whipped cream

Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Fold in half the Cool Whip. . Refrigerate.

Berries: sprinkle with sugar and let sit at least 2 hours in refrigerator before adding to trifle

 

 

 

Grilling

I look forward to summer every year because I love the sun, the warm, evenings outside.  I also love the grill!  And while you can grill in the rain and the snow…there is nothing quite as yummy as sitting on the deck on a warm summer’s evening awaiting the lovely smells coming from the grill.  Yesterday I tried grilled butternut squash for the first time and it was delicious!  I will post the recipe, but I did not follow it completely…it took longer than suggested for tenderness and when it comes to seasonings like that, I don’t measure them out…just do a little of this and a little of that.  Here it is:

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper & garlic powder

Directions:
1. Peel squash and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.

2. Mix oil, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl, then pour over squash. Toss to coat, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the fridge and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat for about 10 minutes. Place the squash slices on the grill with tongs, being careful to save some of the marinade. Grill 5 minutes per side until the squash has some nice charred bits and is tender.

Another summer hit is grilled pizza.  This is especially good for my family of lactose intolerant people.  I can control what I put in the dough and sprinkle the top with lactose free cheese.  It is still yummy!  There are so many grilled pizza recipes on the internet, I encourage you to go check them out.

And for an end to the evening, s’mores on the grill are scrumptious!  Build your s’more, stick it on the grill and wait for the marshmallow to ooze a little…enjoy!  Putting some foil underneath helps keep the mess down.

When summertime hits, anything and everything I can put on the grill goes on, whether it is pineapple, corn on the cob, kabobs, ribs…the grill just makes everything taste a bit better.  🙂

Desserts

My grandma’s birthday is this week and her party is today.  For the event I made New York style cheesecake and a Minnie Mouse cake.  Cheesecake isn’t my favorite dessert, but it is still pretty good.  I often make gooey cheesecake with lots of additions like chocolate or caramel or some other yummy item.  But in terms of plain cheesecake…this recipe is superb!  My photo really does not do it justice….

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter

Filling:

  • 24 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (recommended: Meyer lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Topping:

  • 12 ounces creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and butter together in a mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into the springform pan and using a mixing cup press the crumbs into the base. Using your fingers gently press crumbs into the sides of the pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Let cool.

Filling:

In a food processor, cream the cream cheese and the sugar together. Add the zest and vanilla, Blend until smooth. Add 5 egg yolks and heavy cream, pulse until smooth. Pour into a large clean bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until a soft froth forms. Add 2 tablespoons sugar slowly to the egg whites and continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Fold into cream cheese, a little bit at a time until fully integrated. Pour into the prepared springform pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until firm. Let cool for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Topping:

Mix the creme fraiche and sugar together and gently spread over the top of the cooled cheesecake. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool until the topping is set or chill overnight and serve. Best served at room temperature.

I used a mold for Minnie (it was actually a Mickey mold) and had a lot of fun with it!