Jul 18

TUNNEL OF FUDGE CAKE

My mom loved to try new things so there was always something fun in the kitchen to taste test when we got home from school. This TUNNEL OF FUDGE CAKE has been a favorite for my brother and I and now his daughter has it in her top 5 favorite treats.

This cake can be made in 15 minutes and with another 15-30 minutes in the fridge it’s ready to dive into. Use any kind of pudding to suit your tastes or the season.

Pumpkin or caramel with chopped nuts during the fall will pair nicely with a warm mug of apple cider.

Crush up some peppermint candies and mix in with the chocolate fudge pudding and serve it with a steaming mug hot cocoa topped with extra marshmallows.

In the springtime, lemon pudding and decorate the top with fresh lemon twists and a cup of tea will be a sweet treat with a good friend and an overdue chat on the front porch.

No matter what flavor profile you choose, it’s sure to be a hit.

 

TUNNEL OF FUDGE CAKE

 

 

 

 

 

1 Angel Food Cake

1 3 oz box instant pudding, your choice of flavor

1 1/2 cups milk

16 oz container Cool Whip thawed

Cut about 1″ off top of angel food cake and set aside.  Hollow out bottom portion of cake reserving the pieces you’ve removed. Slightly press inside of hollow to compress the cake a bit and to make the tunnel a little larger.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, mix the milk and pudding mix together and let stand 5 minutes to soft set. Gently stir in the pieces of cake you saved from the center of the cake.

Put filling into the tunnel and place top of cake back on. Frost cake with thawed cool whip and set in refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Decorate as desired and pull your hands away fast when you set it on table!

 

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! ”

 

 

Jul 04

FOURTH OF JULY MEMORIES

The 4th of July; parades, picnics, food, bands, speeches, food, carnivals, food….food? well of course food. When you think about it, what would any celebration be without food. Family favorites, grandma’s specialties, burgers, brats, hot dogs, chicken, ribs and brisket on the grill. Salads of every  flavor and texture,

When I was a kid, we would go to my Uncle’s cottage on Silver Lake in Wisconsin.  During the course of the day there would be Aunts and Uncles showing up with gaggles of cousins to play with. I was pretty young but I remember the men would play horseshoes, the boys would always have a ball game of some sort going on, the volleyball net was set and ready for a match and there was always a half a dozen Frisbee’s sailing through the air.

What would I be doing? Getting fished out of the lake by dad. Every single year I fell into the lake. Usually it was because I was walking along the pier looking at the fish or frogs or whatever and KERPLUNK! there I was in the lake yet again.

Once I was dried off and my clothes were changed, it was time for food, and oh the food there was. The grills were loaded with burgers, hot dogs, brats and chicken, of course the men were manning those grills making sure everything was done perfectly and each one bragging on how their technique was better than the next.

The ladies would start to bring out the Tupperware bowls of anything and everything, hot and cold, sweet and savory. We are a people of the potluck frame of mind so even in the middle of summer, hot dishes were the norm.  You could always count on there being at least 6 different variations of deviled eggs and as many or more Jello treats. Oh the Jello dishes, molds, layers, creamed, fruited, nutted even marshmallowed and of course Knox Blox ( today the kids call them Jigglers ).

Those ladies would all hover nearby watching to make sure no serving bowl ever got more than half full before dashing into the cottage to get more. You could almost see their ears swiveling to catch a comment or compliment on their contribution to the meal.

My brother and I couldn’t wait until the evening and the highly anticipated fireworks both at home and show at the fairgrounds. In our front yard we would have sparklers that we waved around and wrote our names in the air with those glittery, glowing sticks, those little black charcoal pellets that; when lit became snakes,  (and dad griped for weeks after because they left that black stain on the concrete driveway ), the all to famous Floral Fountain, which sprayed the different color sparks into the sky, cherry bomb’s, bottle rockets and so many other brightly colored, exploding surprises. Mom always managed to have several packets of firecrackers which scared the hell out of me.

Once it was dark enough, we’d get in our pajamas and pile into the car. We’d head towards the fairgrounds but never actually went there. Dad ( and lots of other smart dad’s ) always had several places that we could park and see the whole show. I always wondered why we couldn’t go to the fairgrounds and be with the other spectators, mom said it was because it was easier to stay away and not have to fight traffic. As I got older and did go see them with my friends and later boyfriend, I realized it really wasn’t as much fun because the smoke that rose from those fireworks made it difficult to enjoy.

The celebrations changed as I got older and the fun went away with the disappearance of the carnivals and charcoal snakes at home. The family picnic was replaced by standing around a beer tent listening to eclectic folk music being plinked out.

The food, while it started coming  from food trucks sold a variety of tasty morsels from the basic burgers to egg rolls, and the always desired deep fried cheese curds and French fries. You could get the elephant ears, corn dogs, candy apples, caramel apples, cotton candy, and the rest of the fair fare. But local business’ were entering the scene with pizza, sandwiches, the afore mentioned egg rolls.

Yes, times changed, but one thing always remains the same, the food and while it may alter during the changing times, it is still a prominent part of celebrations. So go to the picnic, take something from your childhood and while you are chatting with old Aunt Margaret and Uncle Buster, make them smile with a memory of a 4th of July of past. Make sure she knows that her 3 bean salad and Uncle Buster’s hamburgers were better than anyone else’s and you would love to have a taste of them once again.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! ”

Happy 4th of July my foodie friends!!!!!

 

Jun 18

RHUBARB CUSTARD CAKE

Spring and early summer bring a variety of seasonal fruits and one of my favorites is RHUBARB.  This tart, stalk fruit has the texture of celery and can  be turned into amazing deserts from pies to cakes to sauce for ice cream or bread pudding.

Is RHUBARB a fruit? Technically it is a vegetable because it does not have seeds to reproduce which is what differentiates fruit from vegetable, in the 1940’s it was reclassified as a fruit as it prepared as a sweet instead of a savory food.

Do you peel RHUBARB? That question is a conundrum, some people do not peel, I myself prefer it peeled. If you choose to peel, it’s very simple and lickety split, it’s done, the “strings” pull off just like celery and the bottom or flat part will generally come off in one thin sheet.

Freezing RHUBARB takes no special work. Just dice it up in 1/4″ pieces, place on a tray and freeze. Once frozen transfer to  freezer bags or seal in your food saver bags. I freeze in 2 and 4 cup portions.

My favorite ways for RHUBARB is cooked into a sauce for over ice cream or RHUBARB CUSTARD CAKE. This cake is so simple your family will think you slaved all day over it…..Let them think that, only you and I will know the truth.

Serve this cake warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream with a sprinkle of cinnamon and that’s all you need.

 

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! ”

 

 

 

 

RHUBARB CUSTARD CAKE

 

1 boxed yellow cake mix
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups fresh rhubarb cut in 1/2″ cubes or 5 cups frozen and thawed rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 tbl cinnamon
1 pint heavy whipping cream
Whipped cream or ice cream for topping
Preheat oven to 350.
Prepare cake according to directions adding the 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla.
Spread rhubarb over cake mix.
Mix 1 cup sugar with 2 tbl cinnamon and sprinkle over rhubarb.
Pour the heavy cream over entire cake.
Bake at 350 for 60 minutes or until done.
Let cool a few minutes before cutting to allow custard to set up a bit.
Serve with whipped Cream or ice cream.

May 30

LEMON PEPPER TUNA PASTA SALAD

It’s summertime and whether we want lo-cal, quick and easy or little to no cooking, you can’t go wrong with a pasta salad.  This LEMON PEPPER TUNA PASTA SALAD will cover it all. You’ve spent the day at the beach or pool or doing that dreaded yardwork or even a long day at the office; your family is hungry and they want to eat now, tell them to go take a shower and you can whip this up in no time.

Make some extra so you can take some to work for lunch the next day. You can switch it up for another meal by adding cooked, diced or shredded chicken and just add some lemon pepper seasoning.

This is so versatile, it’s a side dish for BBQ ribs or chicken or a meal in itself. If you want a bit more texture, add some broccoli or cauliflower.

So let the kids swim a little longer, work in your garden till dark and still know you will have a delicious dinner on the table in no time.

LEMON PEPPER TUNA PASTA SALAD

 

 

2 cups shell pasta
2 2.6 oz packages LEMON PEPPER TUNA
1/4-1/2 cup Hellmans
2 ribs celery, chopped
3/4 cup frozen peas
6 oz Cheddar or Colby cheese, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 tsp Accent
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Cook pasta until al dente’ and drain well. DO NOT RINSE, dressing will cling better if not rinsed. Meanwhile in a small kettle of boiling water cook peas for 2-3 minutes and immediately rinse or plunge in cold water to stop the cooking.
Gently combine all ingredients, taking care not mush the peas.
Refrigerate 2-4 hours to allow flavors to meld.
Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! “

 

May 27

CREAMY LIME RAVIOLI PASTA SALAD

I was wandering around the salad dressing isle trying to get a new idea for a pasta salad when I saw Kraft had a new dressing out, Zesty Lime Vinaigrette and inspiration struck me hard and fast. I didn’t really want to do a vinaigrette dressing base, and the  ho-hum sour cream or mayo dressing wasn’t doing it for me either, but…..why not combine it with Ranch dressing?

I decide to experiment with several different varieties of pasta and found that the 3 cheese ravioli or tortellini provided the texture and slightly salty flavor that blended well with the dressing.

From that point on, it was simply, anything goes, whatever was in the pantry and fridge seemed fair game, by the time it was done, I had a pasta salad that continues to be the requested dish to any potluck or picnic I go to.

Add some cooked, diced ham, or bacon for an added flavor boost, just adjust  seasonings according to taste.

I did find that avocado does not work well, it is so delicate, that when you mix it in, it tends to mush up and doesn’t really lend any benefit to adding it.

Don’t use bottled Ranch dressing, the powdered mix combined with the buttermilk has a much better flavor and you need the mixture to be quite thin as the pasta will soak it up. If you make it to thick, you will end up with a pasty texture.

Take this to your next gathering along with a few recipe cards with the directions and the souptravelers.com website on it and you too will getting asked to bring this CREAMY LIME RAVIOLI PASTA SALAD.

 

CREAMY LIME RAVIOLI PASTA SALAD

 

 

1/4 cup Kraft Lime Vinaigrette salad dressing

1 1/4 c Hellman’s

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix or 3 tablespoons if you have the bulk container

1 c buttermilk

1 8 oz small  dry cheese ravioli pasta or any filled pasta of your choice

2 small tomatoes, cut in 1/2″ chunks

1/4 c onion, finely diced

1 14 oz can black olives, drained

1 c small cauliflower flowerettes

1 c small broccoli flowerettes

1 14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half lengthwise

1 tsp accent

salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water. Drain well and cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine Lime Vinaigrette dressing, Ranch dressing mix, Hellman’s and buttermilk. Mixture will be thin, don’t make it thicker as the pasta is going to soak up the excess.

Gently mix in remaining ingredients and room temperature pasta. Season to taste and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Go Ahead….” Just Try It ”

May 16

REFRESHING LEMON ICE CREAM

I am an ice cream addict, but I’m also an ice cream purist. I hate junk in my ice cream and unfortunately 90% of it in the grocery stores has more stuff in it than that sweet, luscious frozen treat.

Being that we live in an RV because of my husbands work, space is limited. Even though I have a full size refrigerator/freezer, one of those big ice cream makers that you have to keep the container frozen, takes up a lot of space.

I found this amazing product…..Mr Freeze Thermal ICE CREAM MAKER. This little gem makes 1 1/2 pints of any kind of ice cream or sorbet in about 45 minutes.   It freezes as it churns so it does not need to be kept in the freezer. You can add anything you want from chips, cookie pieces, nuts and candy. You also have the option of soft serve, which is my preference or hard frozen.

CLICK ON THE AMAZON LINK IN THE RIGHT MARGIN TO GO DIRECTLY TO AMAZON TO ORDER.

Mr. Freeze EIM-700 Maxi-Matic 1.5 Pint Thermoelectric Ice Cream Maker, White


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  • 1.5 pint capacity and thermoelectric cooling system allows for no need of a compressor, CFC, or Freon
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I love to use different flavors, I never know what kind of mood I’m in so I keep a huge variety of flavors on hand.  I get my extracts at OliveNation.com   https://www.olivenation.com/  and I have not found a single flavor I don’t like.

They offer free shipping on orders over $50 and they also have several different free samples that you can choose from to try out.

Olivenation

There are many different recipes for your ice cream base, and believe me I experimented, hey, I have to make sure that I am passing along as perfect a combination of ingredients as possible to you.  If I’m not going to eat it, why would you.

I found if you use heavy cream, there is too much butter fat and you wind up with an unpleasant coating in your mouth. I also discovered that if you use milk, it crystalizes and you get a grainy texture. The perfect mixture, to me, is one part whipping cream ( not the heavy ) and one part half and half.  This freezes well at either the soft serve or the hard stage.

If you want to make it sugar free, just substitute Splenda for the sugar.  I make Butter Pecan for Bobbie like this and he loves it.

This is one of  my favorites and I make it often. It’s refreshing and if you’d like you can add some white chips or some vanilla sandwich cookie pieces to it.

LEMON ICE CREAM:

 

1 cup whipping cream ( not heavy )

1 cup half and half

1/3 cup sugar ( more if desired )

1 tsp lemon extract

1 tsp lemon zest

Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pout into ice cream maker and set to desired hardness.

Serve with a lemon slice on top for a fresh, cool treat.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! ”

Apr 12

BUTTERNUT SQUASH w/HAM SOUP

Typically BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP is pureed and has some type of cream  Sour, cream cheese, whipping cream and the like in it. My family likes a hearty chunky soup as opposed to a cream based one so that’s what I give them.

There’s no need to follow my ingredients, clean out the fridge, freezer and put in what your family likes. Use chicken or beef if you like. Prepare this differently each and every time you make it. Find out which ones are preferred and put those in your own personal recipe collection.

This particular version is perfect for the diabetic or for Lent, add potatoes or pasta for and even heartier meal. A sandwich or crusty bread on the side and dinner is served.

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH w/HAM SOUP

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into 3/4″ sized bites

1 medium onion, rough chopped

3 ribs celery, rough chopped

1 clove garlic smashed and minced

1 16 ounce package oriental stir fry vegetables

3/4 – 1 pound thick sliced ham, cut into 1/2″ cubes

2 tsp Accent

2 tsp vegetable bouillon base

2 bay leaves

3-4 kubabba’s ( whole allspice )

6-8 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot combine squash, onion, celery, garlic, bouillon, Accent, bay leaves, kubabba and water.

Bring to a boil and simmer until vegetables are tender.

Add ham and stir fry veggies and simmer until tender and heated through. Season to taste.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! ”

 

 

Apr 11

Apple Cobbler w/French Vanilla Ice Cream

We all have that fruit bowl sitting on the counter that has the apples that look a little lifeless. There is always one or two different kinds, Gala, Delicious, Jazz and the ever loved Granny Smith. Not enough of one to make anything with right? WRONG, who said you have to have one flavor of apple in a pie, crumble or cobbler.

You can take all of those apples and wonderful aroma of apples and cinnamon will permeate your kitchen in very short time. Top that warm, succulent apple mixture topped with the crunchy COBBLER topping with some homemade FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM and you will find yourself buying extra apples next time you buy fruit.

I use VANILLA SUGAR in this topping and the ice cream, you can find the recipe on the November 16, 2016 post for how to make this tasty variation. If you don’t have any, regular sugar works perfectly fine.

I get all my extracts, flavorings and baking supplies at Olivenation.com . Check them out for value and quality.

APPLE COBBLER W/FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM:

 

5-6 apples, any mixture of variety, peeled cored and rough sliced

3/4 cup vanilla sugar, plain sugar works just as well.

1 cup flour

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray an 8×8 baking dish with cooking spray.

Place sliced apples in the baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, sugar, flour and cinnamon and mix until it resembles a coarse crumble.

Sprinkle on top of apples and pour the melted butter all over the top.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serve with FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM

FRENCH VANILLA ICE CREAM

1 pint half & half

1 pint whipping cream (not heavy)

1/2 cup vanilla sugar

1 tsp FRENCH VANILLA extract.

Combine all ingredients until combined. If using an ice cream maker, follow manufacturer’s directions for freezing.

If not using a machine. Place in a freezer container and stir every 15 minutes until a bit more than soft serve texture. Serve as soft serve or continue in freezer until frozen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 09

Raspberry Pretzel Torte

Our family always had Easter breakfast after church. Grandma would have ham, fresh rolls, polish sausage and of course the eggs that we kids had so eloquently designed and dyed. It was a very simple meal and the polish sausage was my favorite part of it. It was unfortunately also my cousin Andrea’s favorite as well. That kid could eat sausage until she burst. To this day I still tease her about leaving some for everyone else. Not that anyone ever missed out on any, but it wouldn’t be Easter if I didn’t give her a polish sausage jab or two.

Grandma also had sweets on the table, Danish, doughnuts, cookies and her RASPBERRY PRETZEL TORTE. This has always been one of my favorite deserts. The sweet Jell-O and salty pretzels create a unique flavor combination and texture.

It’s by no means a difficult dish to make, most of the “work” is being done during the chill time in the fridge. You can make this while the little ones are dying the eggs and making up the table decorations of Peep’s, jelly beans and chocolate covered marshmallow eggs.

RASPBERRY PRETZEL TORTE:

2- 3 ounce boxes raspberry Jell-O

2 cups boiling water

1- 12 ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed but NOT drained

1 cup pretzels broken into pieces

 

TOPPING:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

 

PRETZEL TOPPING:

1 stick butter

2 tablespoons sugar, plus more for final sprinkle

1 cup crushed pretzels.

Spray an 8 x 12 baking dish with Pam, combine Jell-O and boiling water in a large bowl, stirring until Jell-O is dissolved. Add thawed raspberries ( with juice ) and broken pretzel pieces and pour into prepared dish.

Refrigerate until set.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and fluffy. Fold in thawed whipped topping. Spread over Jell-O layer and refrigerate 2 hours.

Melt 1 stick butter and stir in 3 tablespoons sugar.  Add crushed pretzels and stir well. Spread on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes stirring half way through. Remove from oven and give an additional sprinkle of sugar.  Let Cool and sprinkle on top of torte when ready to serve.

Grandma’s recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar in the cream cheese and whipped topping layer, I find that a bit sweet, so I cut the sugar to 1/4 cup and it was just perfect. If you like it a little sweeter, make it your own and go as sweet as you like.

I can almost bet this will become a holiday favorite on your table and will be the dish you are asked to bring to pass at a pot luck.

Go Ahead…. ” Just Try It! “

Apr 07

PEACH CREPES WITH BLACKBERRY SAUCE & BRANDY ICE CREAM

Here come’s Peter Cotton Tail, Hoppin’ down the Bunny trail, Hippity, Hoppity EASTER’S on it’s way!

Easter time, spring is in the air, little girls will have their bright, frilly yellow dresses and new bonnets, white anklets with the lace on them and patent leather shoes, white gloves and a smart pocketbook.  Little boys will have those adorable slacks with matching vests and bow ties and their hair will combed just perfect.

Then 10 minutes after church, the shoes will be scuffed, a glove will be missing, and knees will be grass stained while they crawl around hunting for eggs.

This sweet treat will look fresh and so pretty on your Easter table and it can all be made ahead of time. All you will have to do is a quick assemble.

PEACH CREPES W/BLACKBERRY SAUCE & BRANDY ICE CREAM:

1 10 ct package crepes

2 6 oz containers peach cream cheese

powdered sugar to taste

In a mixing bowl, beat peach cream cheese until light and fluffy, adding powdered sugar ( if desired ) to taste. Set aside.

BLACKBERRY SAUCE:

2 pints fresh blackberries

2-3 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 tablespoon water

In a medium saucepan, combine blackberries, water and 1 tablespoon sugar. Bring to a simmer and slowly cook until berries give up their juice and start to thicken. Add additional sugar if desired to taste. Set aside to cool.

BRANDY ICE CREAM:

1 pint whipping cream ( not heavy )

1 pint half and half

1/2 cup vanilla sugar

1 tsp brandy extract

In a large measuring pitcher, combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. If using an ice cream machine, fill the freezer bowl, taking care to not overfill. Depending on the size of machine, several  batches may need to be done. Follow directions for freezing.

If not using a machine, pour mixture into a freezer container and place in freezer, stirring every 15 minutes until ice cream is at a soft serve texture, then let freeze completely.

ASSEMBLY:

On each crepe, spread 2-3 tablespoons of cream cheese and loosely roll. Top with blackberry sauce and Brandy ice cream. Serve with fresh slices of peaches and/or blackberries.

 

 

 

 

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