Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Yesterday was the 1st Thursday of March. That means that it was Dive Club meeting. It was also National Banana Cream Pie Day. Here recently I was reading through the March 2017 Southern Living Magazine and ran across this Banana Pudding Poke Cake recipe. It looked phenomenal. I decided that Banana Pudding and Banana Cream Pie are similar enough, it counts so I decided to make the cake for Dive Club. Can I just say, I’m glad I did…. WOW!

They also had a little information about Poke Cakes which I found really interesting and want to condense down and share with you. I loved the opening 2 sentences: “Most cake names don’t include the punch line. But yes, true to its name, a poke cake is a cake that is punctured with holes–on purpose.” Hey that’s pretty cool right?

Usually once the cake is punctured, then the baker adds something sweet over the top that will seep into those holes and add to the richness of the cake. The intent is to infuse a lot of flavor into the cake to add that extra punch of flavor.

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Frozen Peanut Butter Pie {National Peanut Butter Lovers Day – March 1}

Today is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day. I have a bunch of peanut butter lovers in my life… me… well I like it on toast and I like it in a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich (I prefer grape jelly), but otherwise, it’s just kind of a hit or miss thing with me…. Of course truth be told, I’m a savory over sweet kind of person anyway….

But this recipe… this was my grandpa’s favorite recipe and it’s so simple. 4 ingredients plus a pie crust and something for a topping if you want… That’s it….

Make the filling, pour into a pie shell, stick it in the freezer for like 4 hours (if you can wait that long), and bam, you have a frozen peanut butter pie.

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Strawberry Pie {National Strawberry Day, February 27}

I really wish I knew how I started in on finding out what national day it was… I spent a whole afternoon looking up dates here recently. It’s actually kind of fun to see all the weird, interesting, National day holidays. And today happens to be:
  • National Kahlua Day
  • National Polar Bear Day
  • and
  • National Strawberry Day

And then on a fun side note, this morning when I turned on tv, Mickey Mouse was helping the giant and he had a belly ache from eating “too many strawberries.” How fitting!

Yesterday we went to Sam’s and bought some beautiful strawberries. Fun fact about Strawberries and it’s not really a fun fact about strawberries but more so about strawberries involving me… When my mom was pregnant with me, there were 3 grocery stores in town. She craved strawberries and cool whip but felt guilty going every day to buy that, so she would bounce between the three grocery stores so they didn’t look at her every day and feel sorry for the poor pregnant lady. lol. They always joked they were surprised I didn’t come up red or with strawberry hair. Instead I came out purple but that’s another story for another day…..

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Banana Bread {National Banana Bread Day}

I would like to start out this post by stating that today is National Banana Bread Day. It is also National Toast Day. So if you Toast your banana bread, does that have you celebrating both holidays? Just a thought… Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I was one of the lucky kids who grew up knowing not only my grandparents but also one set of my great grandparents. My great grandpa died in 1998, 10 days shy of his 108th birthday and my great grandma died in 2002. Both in November. Great Grandpa was the 13th and Great Grandma was the 1st. Some people make fun of me because I remember dates really well and I sometimes really wonder how I do it. But I can remember my great grandpas because of a story. In October of that year he asked my great grandma if November had a Friday the 13th. She told him no, she thought it was Saturday the 13th. Then the week before Friday November 13th, he asked her again if next Friday was the 13th. She said, yes I believe it is. His response was, That’s a good day. He passed away on Friday the 13th.

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Cheesy Bread Sticks

Here while back I told you about my debacle with the pizza dough when I made the crockpot pizza… Well I had extra pizza dough, so what do you do? You make Cheesy Bread Sticks of course! And wow, just sitting here talking about them makes me want some cheesy bread sticks!

Okay so these are super simple….. Start with your pizza dough….

Make a mixture of butter and garlic

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Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcakes

If there is one thing they tell you to do, it’s try something new. While baking cupcakes isn’t a new concept for me, I’m not so good at it. It’s really always been a bit of a challenge for me, and I’m not really sure why. So when the January/February 2017 Food Network Magazine came out and they had a whole section devoted to cupcakes for each month, I just knew I had to partake… and at least try.

As we know, I messed up the January cupcakes just a bit… but it was more icing related issues than it was cupcake related issues. And the cupcakes themselves were excellent.

When I saw the cupcakes for this month, I was quite excited. While they don’t want them to be for a special occasion but say a random Tuesday, these cupcakes scream Valentine’s Day to me. No, I didn’t make them on Valentine’s Day or even for Valentine’s Day because I was busy getting ready to attend a wedding, but I knew I was going to make them no matter what.

This morning I had a few minutes so I went into the kitchen, gathered up all the ingredients and went about my way making Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes.

One of the ingredients it called for was instant espresso powder. Well, I didn’t have any and didn’t have much luck finding any at the store either, so I used instant coffee instead. Really other than the fact that it isn’t quite as strong of a flavor, they are easily swap-able with each other.

Other than that one swap, I followed the recipe to a T.

This month I was able to measure out the batter into 12 cupcakes compared to last month when I somehow only wound up with 11 cupcakes. So I’m making progress.

The cupcakes called for a glaze over the warm cupcakes of strawberry jam or jelly mixed with lemon juice. I used jelly. I have to point out that between the nice chocolate flavor with the flavor of the icing, I didn’t really taste the strawberry layer. I took my Mother-in-law over a cupcake this morning when I went to check on cows and she too didn’t really taste that strawberry jelly layer.

Unfortunately this isn’t the “right” time of year for strawberries. While I liked them, hubby thought they were a little under-ripe.

When I was making my frosting, or icing if you prefer, my white icing tasted great. The white chocolate melted up nicely, then mixed with the powdered sugar, butter, milk, and vanilla, it turned out to be a very good tasting icing. Not to sweet, but it was sweet enough, and I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate.

Sadly, my chocolate icing on the other hand, when added to the butter, then mixing in the powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk, something happened and it got chunky. I’m not exactly sure what I did incorrectly, but there were those chocolate chunks in my chocolate icing. Whoops. Why does it seem like I keep messing up the icing in these cupcakes?

Then… piping the icing on…. <sigh>. So I prepared my piping bag, it said to use a large circle tip. Well from my years in cake decorating classes, the teacher said to fit with a coupler and just use that. That’s what I proceeded to do… I placed my white icing in one side of the bag and the chocolate in the other just as the directions suggested. That’s when things went down hill fast. I started squeezing out to get both colors. Well this makes just enough icing for all 12 cupcakes.

In the end I was short icing so I had to spread it on with a spatula. So while they weren’t real pretty, they tasted pretty darn good, but hubby didn’t really agree. He wasn’t crazy about the different flavors together… but my mother-in-law on the other hand agreed with me. I’m not sure there needed to be the strawberry layer because it didn’t really shine through, but otherwise, the cupcakes were pretty good. I like the icing too, so I assume this might make a good cake some day…. never know….

Chocolate-Strawberry Cupcakes (via Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2017, pg 59)
Ingredients:

  • For the Cupcakes
    • 1 c flour
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp instant espresso powder
    • 3/4 c whole milk
    • 1 c sugar
    • 3/4 c vegetable oil
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 c strawberry jam/jelly
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • For the Strawberries & Icing:
    • 6 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 12 medium strawberries
    • 2 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temp
    • 2 pinches salt, separated
    • 2 tsp vanilla, separated
    • 2 tbsp whole milk, separated

Directions:
For the cupcake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.
  2. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.
  3. Combine the cocoa powder and espresso powder in a large bowl
  4. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until hot but not simmering; pour over the cocoa powder mixture and whisk until smooth.
  5. Let cool a few minutes, then add the granulated sugar and whisk until dissolved.
  6. Whisk in the vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla, then whisk in the flour mixture until combined.
  7. Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.
  8. Bake 20 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when gently pressed.
  9. While the cupcakes are baking, mix together the strawberry jam/jelly with the lemon juice and brush on the warm cupcakes.
  10. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Chocolate covered strawberries

  1. Microwave 4oz semisweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, stirring, until melted.
  2. Dip the strawberries in the chocolate; place on wax paper.
  3. Let set, 20-30 minutes.

For the Icing:

  1. Microwave the white chocolate and the remaining 2 oz semisweet chocolate in separate bowls, stirring each, until melted.
  2. Let cool.
  3. Beat 6 tbsp butter and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth.
  4. Beat in the melted white chocolate.
  5. Add 1 c confectioners sugar; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes, then beat in 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tbsp milk
  6. Set aside the white chocolate icing
  7. Repeat steps 3-6 with the semisweet chocolate to make semisweet chocolate icing.
  8. Spoon the white chocolate icing onto one side of a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Spoon the semisweet chocolate icing next to the white chocolate icing so the two flavors are side by side; pip swirled icing onto the cupcakes.
  9. Top each with a chocolate-dipped strawberry.
  10. Enjoy, especially on a random Tuesday.
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Red Velvet Cake Recipe + Ganache Recipe

So let’s step back in time to last month when we had our cake decorating day. Why on earth would we go back in time? Well I held off on sharing a recipe with you because I knew we’d be using it again! So my goal was to wait and share it this month.

Here’s the story. So as I mentioned earlier we had a cake decorating day. That day when I showed up I already had my chocolate cake made, Deb chose a Red Velvet Cake, Kristi chose a butter cake, and Tracy went with a chocolate cake as well. Deb and I went to work on her cake when I showed up… and I use me loosely because I more so stood and watched. She had this Red Velvet Cake she absolutely loved so I took a picture of the recipe and sat and watched her make it. I believe it was out of the newspaper from years ago.

She didn’t make the icing that is included in the recipe though. Instead, she made a cream cheese icing that Tracy found for her. I’m not really sure of the icing recipe they used truthfully. Oh and the funny thing about this picture… Deb stained her hand, a t-shirt and her house shoe red…. whoops.

Then it was a matter of what to do over the icing to make it prettier. They added a ganache recipe over the top and topped with chocolate covered strawberries. This is when the whole idea of this post was born.

Kristi and Justin’s wedding was on Valentine’s Day. From what I heard, they originally weren’t going to have a wedding cake (don’t quote me on that though!). When Kristi saw Deb’s cake and better yet, when she tasted it, she asked if we could recreate this cake for her wedding. Hmmm… let’s think about that for a minute…. YOU BETCHA! It didn’t take a minute to come up with that answer.

Deb, Tracy, and I discussed it and we came up with the option to make a layer cake. Kristi found a cake stand (similar to what’s in the picture) and her bride groom said he could make that for her easily. Perfect!

The colors of the wedding were predominantly turquoise so we decided to make the ganache turquoise with a chocolate ganache for some color contrast. Then we decided to top it off with chocolate covered strawberries.

Chocolate covered strawberries are the perfect thing for Valentine’s Day! They (I was off watering cows before I could come over to help) made a quart (I think, let’s go a bunch) of chocolate and white chocolate covered strawberries for the cake. Then what was left over, we placed out for friends to eat. Let’s just say the cake was excellent and the chocolate covered strawberries were G-O-N-E gone.

On a side note… did you know that Ebay apparently has recipes? That’s where our ganache recipe came from.

Chocolate Ganache Recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (or white chocolate if you want to dye another color)
  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • Food coloring if dying white chocolate ganache

Directions:

  1.  Combine semi-sweet chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Heat roughly 1 minute, stopping every 20 seconds to stir until smooth.
  3. Stir in light corn syrup (and food coloring if using) and let cool slightly until just barely warm.

Note: Placing bowl in the fridge helps speed this along if you’re in a hurry.

Now that you have the Ganache, this is how to get the “drippy” look

  1. Chill your frosted cake.
    • Chilling the frosted cake helps slow the drip of the ganache down the side of the cake.
    • this step also helps keep the icing from melting against the heat of the ganache.
    • It is suggested to chill your cake for a couple hours to overnight.
  2. The perfect consistency of ganache is for the ganache to be pourable, but thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
    • Too thin? Melt some more chocolate chips and add.
    • Too thick? add a bit more light corn syrup
  3. Pour the ganache in the very center of the cake, then using an offset spatula, spread evenly to the very edge of the cake, allowing the ganache to run off the edges of the cake.
    • If you notice a bare spot, give the ganache a gentle push off the edge with the spatula so it will drip.
  4. Chill the finished cake until the ganache is firm.
    • If planning on topping the cake with fruit, candies, a cake topper, etc… wait until ganache is firm.

 

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Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits (Weight Watchers approved!!)

I really planned on posting these earlier in the week… I mean how can you keep something oh so good a secret? Except this thing called the Plague, or technically a flu or cold bug took my house over and bam, we were all sick. I didn’t even get out of bed on Tuesday. It was that bad.

Years ago my grandma gave me a recipe out of a magazine for Red Lobster Garlic Biscuits. She said that the magazine claimed they were the real thing and by golly, they’re pretty darn good whether they are the real thing or not. And that in my book is a good thing!

So here a couple weeks ago I was perusing the interwebs and found a recipe for Weight Watchers Approved Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Wait, what? Weight Watchers approved? That means they are better for you, right? That’s absolutely what that has to mean 😚.

You bet your bottom dollar I made sure I had everything to make them… and then I made them. Oh wow! I think my life is complete… like seriously! Complete! That’s all. Now that I’ve shared this bit of information with you, run to the store, get the ingredients, make them, claim they are bad, and eat them all for yourself. I didn’t run the points checker, but I found where one website with the exact same recipe claimed 1 point a piece. If that’s the case, just make room for 12 points in your daily point count and you’re set. You can thank me later. (although I’d definitely run the point checker first! Just saying).

Weight Watchers Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits
  • 2 cups reduced fat Bisquick
  • 3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons diet margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley

1. Combine the baking mix, milk, and cheddar cheese in a medium bowl.

2. Mix with your hands until completely combined.

3. Form into balls about three tablespoons in size. There is enough for 12 biscuits.

4. Place them a few inches apart on parchment paper or a lightly sprayed baking sheet.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown.

6. While they are in the oven, melt the margarine and mix with garlic powder.

7. Right when the biscuits come out of the oven brush them with melted margarine mixture and then sprinkle the crushed parsley on top. Serve hot.

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Crockpot Pizza

The other day I got it in my head I wanted pizza. I’ve seen multiple times where you could make pizza in a Crockpot and the skeptical part of me wasn’t sure I believed it, so I obviously had to try for myself. I read through a couple different recipes to see if I had all the ingredients. Once I found out I did, away I went….

Except… I realized I didn’t have everything I needed for the particular pizza dough I chose. I had already got my yeast to rising, so I ran to my trusty Pioneer Woman cookbook and decided to make her pizza dough… except it didn’t totally work that way either. Remember, I already had my yeast rising so I just adapted from PW’s recipe.

Then I started digging through the cabinets again and realized I didn’t have any pizza sauce. At this point I should have just given up, but I wasn’t ready to call it quits yet. I found spaghetti sauce. Looking back, it might have been a little thin, but at the last minute, does that even matter?

I did have pepperoni, I knew that and I also had hamburger. So a Hamburger Pepperoni pizza it was. Turns out if I’d have paid a little more attention I could have had black olives and or mushrooms to add to that mix… but I didn’t.

For Christmas I got Mark this really cool crockpot. It had never been used and I really wanted to use it. I decided a rectangle Crockpot would be better for pizza than an oval one anyway.

Trying this… I wound up baking it a little long. I set the timer for 6 hours. I wound up pulling it around 5 and a half hours. I really should have pulled it closer to 4 and a half or 5. It was fabulous, just the crust was a smidge dry.

Lastly I would have/should have put parchment paper down before placing my pizza crust in. It would have made it much easier to get out of the Crockpot. And that my friends is the story/tale of my crockpot pizza.

Ingredients:
Crockpot
Pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Pizza toppings
Cheese

If using raw pizza toppings such as hamburger or sausage, brown the meat first.
Place parchment paper in the crockpot followed by a thin layer of Extra Virgin Olive Oil or cooking spray.
Stretch the pizza dough out to cover the bottom of the crockpot.
Place pizza sauce followed by toppings and lastly cheese. (you can reverse this order to anything that pleases your tastes)
Cover crockpot and place on low for 4-6 hours.
Once pizza is cooked, cut, serve, and Enjoy!

This would be the perfect dinner for summer when you want pizza but don’t want to heat up your house! Plus put it in in the morning and it’ll be ready by the time you get home from work.

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Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I’ve been in the mood to make cookies. We’re talking 4 days of wanting to make cookies. I look at the oatmeal and think, I want oatmeal cookies. In fact, to be more specific I wanted the Buncha Crunch Oatmeal Cookies but I didn’t have a bag of Buncha Crunch.

So for a couple days I went back to the drawing board… trying to decide what I could use in place of those… for that light airy feel. Well… sadly I never came up with an option. So then I grabbed my Better Homes and Garden’s book. It had some oatmeal cookies that had chocolate chips in them. I thought, boy those could be good. But then I wanted the mini chocolate chips if I did that.

I went and dug in the freezer for mini chocolate chips and didn’t find any. Bummer again.

Then I grabbed a cookbook I put together with all kinds of recipes in it like 15 years ago or something. Maybe not quite that many… more like in college, so 10 years ago…. And there in all it’s glowing glory, Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies. Now I’ll share the recipe with you after all this hype.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1 1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 c butter
  • 1/2 c sifted cocoa
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c skim milk
  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c quick-cooking oats

Preheat oven 350˚F.
In a large mixing bowl, cream brown sugar and butter together. Add cocoa, vanilla, and milk. Mix well. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend into butter mixture. Stir in oats.
Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 7-9 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

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