Eclair Dessert

Seriously delicious.  At a recent get together,  MJ knocked it out of the ballpark with a sinful dessert.  Anything that remotely resembles an eclair….I’m in. I feel confident that it was made with full strength fat and sugar, although a low-calorie version might be worth a try.  Layered desserts can be fun.  It involves no baking and relatively simple.  This would be a great recipe to make with your children.  Close your eyes and dream about a Parisian bakery without the travel.  Enjoy.

Crust
8-10 whole graham crackers

Cream
2-4 oz packages of French vanilla instant pudding (I used one regular vanilla and one French)
3 cups milk
9 oz Cool Whip

Frosting
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
3 T. margarine
5 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1 ½ cup powdered sugar

Line 9×13″ pan with graham crackers until completely covered with one layer of crackers.

Combine pudding and milk.  Beat on low-speed for 3 minutes. Fold Cool Whip into pudding mixture.

Spread ½ of the creamy mixture over the graham crackers. Place as second layer of graham crackers over the cream. Use the rest of the cream over this layer of graham crackers. Place a third layer of graham crackers over cream.

Make frosting: Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Gently add milk and vanilla.  Add powdered sugar, whisking until well  blended and smooth.   Cool for 5 minutes. Pour frosting over 3rd layer of graham crackers.

Cool 8 hours.

Healthy Breakfast Muffins

I would put these muffins in the category of “too healthy to be good.” But they are good! They are easy too, and made with things that are usually on hand. I make them quite often, even for company! (PS For the ultimate in convenience, you can even find pre-shredded carrots near the baby carrots in the grocery store!)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or 3/4 cup all-purpose and 1/2 cup wheat)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins*
1/4 cup chopped dates*
1/4 cup cranberries* (or any dried fruit works!)
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup skim milk
4 medium carrots, shredded
1 medium ripe banana, mashed

*if the raisins, dates or cranberries are tough, soak them in water for 10 minutes or so to soften.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt until there are no lumps. Stir in oats, raisins, dates, and cranberries. Add oil, egg, milk, carrots and banana and stir until just blended.

Fill each muffin cup with one ice cream scoop of batter; it will be thick. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. To store, freeze or keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Best BBQ Burger

I can’t believe I haven’t posted this recipe before. I made it about 10 times last summer. Everyone loves them and can’t figure out why. But I know the secret ingredient – a delicious, sweet barbecue sauce you mix in with the hamburger. You can make the sauce and even mix up the patties beforehand, and just throw them on the grill when you’re ready to eat. Because my family believes in living life to the fullest, we make them as sliders and serve them on delicious, sweet Hawaiian rolls. Enjoy!

SAUCE:
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/8 teaspoon pepper

BURGERS:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 teaspoon onion salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
6 hamburger buns, split
Toppings of your choice

In a small saucepan, combine the first 10 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Set aside 1 cup barbecue sauce to serve with burgers.

In a large bowl, combine the egg, oats, 1/4 cup of the remaining barbecue sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, pepper and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into six patties.

Grill, covered, over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 160°, basting with 1/2 cup barbecue sauce during the last 5 minutes. Serve on buns with toppings of your choice and reserved barbecue sauce. Yield: 6 servings.

Blender Salsa

This is a great recipe from our good friends Jeremy and Shelly, a salsa with a secret ingredient of Chili Pequin. It is so delicious, quick and perfect for any gathering (or a weekend at the beach)!

8-10 (or more if you like it hot!) dried Chili Pequin (sometimes called Chili Pepin; these come in cello pack of a handful. They are small like peas.)
One bunch green onions, chopped
One bunch cilantro
1 T. minced garlic
2 cans stewed tomatoes
Salt/pepper to taste 

Place chilis in the blender, and whir them up so there aren’t any big chunks. You may have to give it a shake to get them up into the blades.

Add all the items, starting with green of the green onions, cilantro, minced garlic, then both cans of stewed tomatoes. Blend for about 10 seconds, and it will look like a delicious salsa margarita.

Taste, and add salt as needed, re-blending until it is all blended and tastes just right.

Egg Bake

We just got back from a wonderful few days at Seabrook and have to share two of the recipes that our good friends Jeremy and Shelly brought. This one is an egg bake. It’s got a few steps, but it’s pretty simple to throw together… and worth it! The ultimate one-dish breakfast casserole! It’s excellent left over, and you could even get saucy and put it in a tortilla!

1 package round tater tots
10 eggs
2-3 tablespoons milk
1 package Jimmy Dean sausage (optional, or substitute ham)
1 package sausage or country gravy mix (Durkee is good)
1-1.5 cups cheddar cheese

Put frozen tater tots into a 13 X 9 greased pan. Mix eggs and milk, and pour over tots.

If using sausage, cook it and sprinkle it over the eggs.

Make one packet of gravy. The trick is not to let it get too thick, so it pours easily. Pour over the tots and eggs (and meat if added).

Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top (use 1-1.5 cups) and then cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes.Remove the foil and bake another 15-20 minutes to get it golden brown.

Dutch Baby Pancakes

dutch baby

Need a special treat for a weekend breakfast?  Get out your favorite seasoned iron skillet or purchase one and start a whole new world of cooking.   I felt super special recently when a friend made these for my son (age 12) and I.  Chris served these pancakes (cooked in the oven, but more like thicker version of crepes) with blueberry syrup, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and a wedge of lemon.   A side of sausage and bacon was the perfect touch.  Hospitality at its best. Thanks Chris and Darci, you know how to make your house guests feel extra special.

3 T. butter, room temp
3 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a medium cast iron skillet or oven proof nonstick skillet, Melt 2 T. of butter over medium heat.

In a blender, combine eggs, milk, flour, salt, vanilla, and 1/4 c. sugar.  Blend until foamy, about 1 minute.  Pour batter into skillet, bake until puffed and lightly browned, about 20 minutes,

Dot pancake with a tablespoon of butter, powdered sugar, and a small amount of lemon juice.  Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Serve with fruit and your favorite breakfast meat.

Rosemary Lemonade

tea

During my recent travels, I met interesting people and along the way found that they have memorable recipes. Nothing says Summertime like a good old fashioned lemonade.  Nothing says spruced up and unforgettable lemonade like Rosemary Lemonade.  Heather treated us to this delightful beverage at a recent porch illumination over the 4th of July in the Pacific Northwest. Americana at its best!  We had our choice of a snow cone, Coke float, or lemonade.  My taste buds led me to the refreshing recipe that I couldn’t wait to share.  Thank you, Heather, for your warm hospitality and new found love for lemonade.

12 cups of water, divided

1 cup of sugar

12 sprigs of rosemary

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the sugar and stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat and add 12 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Cover and steep for 30 minutes.  Remove rosemary, let cool, then add 1`cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice and 8 cups of water.  Chill and allow flavors to blend for several hours before serving.  If possible, make this the day before, as the taste will be smoother.  Enjoy!

3 Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells

cheese shells

There is something about stuffed pasta shells that sounds fancy and hard. There is something about making them that is easy and fun.  It’s economical and great made ahead.  My first love is taking something to friends that maybe they don’t make themselves.  It’s hard, as most of my friends are excellent cooks.  I have made this several times over the past few weeks and everyone gives it two thumbs up.  Add a salad and a loaf of French bread and call it dinner!

1 package of jumbo pasta shells
1 (15 oz) container of ricotta cheese
2 cups of mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, divided
1 egg
1/2 t. salt
1/4  t. pepper
1 (26 oz) jar of your favorite pasta sauce  (I have used traditional, four cheese, Newman’s Marinara, etc.)
10 basil leaves (optional)
8 oz of sliced mushrooms (optional)
spinach (optional)
sausage, browned and crumbled (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook pasta shells according to the package, about 9 minutes.  Drain and rinse in cold water.

In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella, egg, salt, pepper, and basil (optional).  Spread 3/4 of the spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the 13×9″ inch baking dish.  If you like meat/mushrooms/spinach in your spaghetti sauce, you may brown your sausage and add the sauce into the meat.

Place 1-2 Tablespoons of the cheese mixture into the cooked pasta shells and place into the baking dish, seam side up.  Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and a smidge of Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Uncover the last 5-10 minutes.

This is a great meal that can be made the night before.   It is also perfect for a potluck, dinner for a neighbor, and also easy to make to accommodate picky eaters by instructing them to “dip shallow” and only get the shells (without the veggies and meat).

Chocolate Fudge Marshmallow Goodness

The weather must warm up!  Spring is around the corner and I need to get out of the kitchen soon.  The downside is my backside,  The upside is that I have tested some of the best recipes that are now some of my favorites.  I have been blessed to share them with friends going through tough times.  Good weather is coming and so are better times for so many.  My heart is full, tummies are full, and love has been shown.  I stumbled upon this recipe and had every ingredient except the marshmallows.  We have enjoyed the leftover marshmallows in hot cocoa.  🙂  Is there such a thing as too much chocolate?

chocolate
3/4 cup flour
1 cup of regular sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder,sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 ounces butter, melted
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)
2 handfuls of mini marshmallows or enough to almost cover the top

For the frosting:
2 ounces butter, melted (1/4 cup)
1 ounce cocoa powder, sifted (1/4 cup)
2 ounces evaporated milk (1/4 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (8 ounces)

Preheat  oven to 350 degrees. Use a 9 x 9 square baking pan and line with parchment paper (sprayed with Pam). Parchment paper is my new best friend.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Beat together the butter, eggs and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Stir in the toasted nuts. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake on a middle shelf of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Mine cooked in about 20 minutes.  Immediately sprinkle the marshmallows on top and return to the oven for a few minutes (3-4) to melt the marshmallows. Remove from the oven and carefully spread the chocolate frosting over top.

To make the chocolate frosting mix all ingredients together in a bowl, beating with an electric whisk until smooth and thick. Spread on the hot marshmallows. Let cool completely. Cut into wedges to serve after removing from spring form pan.

Note:  One shortcut is to use Milk Chocolate canned frosting. (gasp)   I heated it in the microwave for 30-40 seconds and poured half the can on top of the marshmallows.  I then used a knife to “swirl” the chocolate and marshmallows together.  I put in the the fridge for 30 minutes, cut,  and  stored in Tupperware at room temperature.

Strawberry Brownies

Cooking for friends this week, I searched for something outside of my box.  I love desserts that stand alone and also good with a good cup of morning joe. This is a different version of Strawberry Cake.  First, it’s dense.  Second, it’s easy with minimal ingredients. There are two ways you can make this.  I made both and like both.  The brownies with the glaze can be frozen.  The cream cheese frosted ones are rich and yummy!

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix (I use Duncan Hines)pic cake
  • 
2 eggs
  • 
1/3 cup oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 8″ square baking pan with parchment (and spray with Pam).  Mix strawberry cake mix, eggs, and oil with hand mixer until well combined.  Spread batter evenly into pan.  Batter will be thicker than normal cake batter and may need to be pressed in.   Bake for 15 minutes or until just set; be careful not to overcook.  Allow brownies to cool for 10 minutes.  Lift carefully from pan using ends of parchment to lift.

Choose between a glaze or cream cheese frosting.

Glaze

1 cup of powdered sugar  (I sift mine)

2 T of milk

Mix powdered sugar and water until smooth.

Pour glaze over brownies, spreading to edges so that glaze will drip down sides.

Allow brownies to cool and glaze to set before cutting into squares. Use a plastic knife to cut brownies.  These freeze well.

OR

Cream Cheese Frosting

1(8- oz) cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup butter (softened)

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese & butter until smooth.  Add powdered sugar & vanilla.  Mix until smooth and creamy.  Spread over cooled brownies.

If icing  these brownies rather than glazing them, you’ll want to wait until brownies cool~at least half an hour .  The easiest way to ice the brownies is prior to cutting into squares.  Use plastic knife when cutting.  (great little tip)