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Friday, October 30, 2015

Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle

Do you like chocolate?  Do you like peanut butter?  Do you like chocolate and peanut butter together?  If you answered "yes" to all three questions, this is the dessert for you!  This is one of those super-easy-crowd-pleasing desserts that gets licked up at potlucks and family gatherings, where people will ask you for the recipe and think you are a pastry chef par excellence!  You don't have to let them in on the secret but sharing is so nice, I'm sure you'll capitulate to their pleadings and give them the recipe or at least direct them to this web site.  

I've been making this Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle for a few years and as I stated above everyone likes it quite well.  I didn't have a recipe for this as I just threw a few ingredients together and this is what turned out.  I'm sure others have stumbled across something similar but for me it's an original.  I first made this using a chocolate cake mix but it can be very successfully made using a homemade chocolate cake like my Cocoa Fudge Cake or Fabulous Fudge Cake.  Use whatever you want.  

Get ready to scoop up a serving as fast as you can because there may not be any left if you wait.  

I'm giving the recipe in two amounts.  One for a family and one for a large gathering.  The directions are the same except the smaller trifle will fill an 8-10 cup trifle bowl.  The larger trifle will need a punch bowl or very large salad bowl to hold the contents. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle

For a family sized trifle--about 8-10 servings:
1  9-inch layer of a two layer chocolate cake (homemade or cake mix)
⅓ cup smooth peanut butter
1¾ cups milk
1 four-serving size package instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 cups whipped topping or whipped cream, divided
Chocolate shavings or crushed Crispy Crunch or Skor Bar for garnish

For a potluck sized trifle--about 16-20 servings:
2  9-inch layers of chocolate cake (homemade or cake mix)
⅔ cup smooth peanut butter
3½ cups milk
2 four-serving size packages instant butterscotch pudding mix
4 cups whipped topping or whipped cream, divided
Chocolate shavings or crushed Crispy Crunch or Skor Bar for garnish

Make, bake and cool your favourite chocolate cake.  You will need only one layer for the small trifle and two layers for the large.   Cut the cake into approximately 2-inch squares or 1-inch slices.  Lay aside.

Slowly mix the milk into the peanut butter. You want the mixture to come together in a smooth, sauce-like mixture.  You can do this by hand or with your mixer.  Add the dry instant butterscotch pudding to the peanut butter milk stirring and mixing for about 2 minutes until everything is well combined and the pudding is starting to thicken.  Fold one-third of the whipped topping/cream into the pudding mix.  It can be streaky.  You don't need to fully incorporate the cream into the pudding. 

Take the appropriate sized bowl and place a layer of cake squares on the bottom.  Cover with about one-third of the pudding mix.  Repeat layers two more times for three layers of cake and pudding.  Cover the last layer with the remaining whipped topping or cream.  Garnish with chocolate shavings or a crushed Crispy Crunch or Skor bar.  

Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.  

Once you have the cake baked and cooled it only takes a few minutes to put this tasty dessert together.  Combine the milk with the peanut butter, add the dry butterscotch pudding and when thickened add one-third of the whipped topping or cream.

Today I made the large trifle using a full cake (2 layers).  This requires quite a large bowl and a punch bowl "takes the cake".   Make three layers of cake and pudding starting with cake and ending with pudding.

Cover the last layer with the remaining whipped topping or cream.  I garnished the top with chocolate shavings.  A Crispy Crunch or Skor bar is also a good garnish.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

Then dig in!  

Yum, yum!

 A dessert to share with your friends.  Get your spoons ready.

 Layers of gooey pudding, chocolate cake and cream.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Eggs & Potatoes with Sour Cream

Today is election day in Canada.  I voted early and came home wondering what I'd do now that I was out of my nightgown so early.  Ha, ha.  I started to look for election foods.  In the United States they have an election cake, which is a type of fruit cake, but Canada has no such creation.  I searched the internet and the only election foods I came up with were from the US.  Not to be undaunted I decided to just try out another recipe for my blog.  So these Eggs & Potatoes in Sour Cream be my official election day meal.  

I got this recipe from what was called a Jewish cookbook.  The title and book are long gone and I don't know how authentic the book really was, although it did contain lots of delicious American Jewish recipes.  The little vignettes that went with the recipes, although amusing, seemed a bit contrived.  But who knows?  This was one of the recipes that caught my attention as I liked every ingredient in the recipe.  I've revamped it some to make it a little more convenient and I've cut way back on the salt.  There was supposed to be 2 teaspoons of salt in the dish but it was hard to eat, being so salty.  Don't worry about using freshly boiled potatoes and eggs.  Boil a few extra a day or two before you want to make this dish or slice the potatoes before boiling.  

This makes a good side or even a main dish because of the eggs. 

Eggs and Potatoes in Sour Cream       
4-6 potatoes, peeled, boiled, and sliced (you should have enough potatoes for 4-6 servings)
6 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
1 cup sour cream        
¼ cup milk or cream                   
4 tablespoons butter, melted                          
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon pepper or to taste                          
½ teaspoon paprika or to taste                          
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter or pan spray a 2-litre (quart) baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, milk and melted butter together.   Layer half the potatoes, eggs and the sour cream mix in the casserole dish. Sprinkle with half the salt, pepper and paprika (or to taste).  Repeat using the remainder of the ingredients.  Make sure you have the egg slices covered with the sour cream mixture.  The eggs tend to get rubbery if they aren't protected by the cream. 

Bake at 350 degrees F. for 35 minutes or until golden.     Makes 4-6 servings.

Boil the potatoes and eggs.  They can be boiled a day or two before you want to use them in the recipe.

Mix the sour cream, melted butter and milk together.  Layer the sliced potatoes and eggs in buttered casserole dish.

Spread half the sour cream mixture over the eggs and potatoes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I use what I think will be enough for our taste.  Also sprinkle with paprika.

Repeat the layers. This is ready for the oven.  Make sure you have the egg slices covered with the sour cream mixture.  Eggs will rubbery when baked if they aren't covered with the cream.

Bake 35 minutes until hot and bubbling and a light golden colour.   

Serve the Eggs & Potatoes with Sour Cream with a green salad and a vegetable for a delicious and filling meal.

Satisfying and Tasty!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cashew or Coconut Rice Milk

Thanksgiving, with its artery clogging desserts, is over and my body is crying out for something healthy to fuel my daily activities.  That can be hard for me because I have a knack of turning anything healthy into a cream smothered, fat filled or sugar laden treat.  You know what the old advertisement used to say about lettuce: without the dressing it's just rabbit food...sigh....

Perusing through my recipes today I ran across this one for a plant-based milk.  I'm not vegan by anybody's standards but sometimes we eat vegan by default.  But this vegan (use the agave syrup) recipe for Cashew or Coconut Rice Milk is by plan and not default.  And I feel so healthy when drinking it (almost smug).

I've shared my Cashew Coconut Cream or Milk recipe, which is a rich and creamy beverage or cream substitute.  But, sometimes that's not what you want in a milk so here's a recipe for a rice based milk.  The Cashew or Coconut Rice Milk is not as rich as the other.  It makes a great pouring milk for cereal and tastes good by itself as a beverage.  And as a bonus it's gluten free.  After soaking the cashew nuts for three hours, it only takes a couple of minutes to make a litre or so of this delicious plant-based milk.  If you choose the coconut variety, there is no waiting as long as you have some cooked rice hanging around in your fridge.  Just dump everything in the blender and whiz away.

I like the coconut variety strained because I don't like the gritty little coconut particles in the milk.  I use several thicknesses of cheesecloth or a jelly bag (found near the canning supplies in any large store like Walmart or Canadian Tire, etc.).  Pour in the milk and let it drip.  I hasten the process by squeezing the bag as much as I can.  Any pulp left over can be used in muffins or pancakes or in cooked cereal.  But you can certainly skip the straining process especially if you are using the milk on cereal.  

Cashew or Coconut Rice Milk
1 cup cooked brown rice (left-over plain cooked rice is good) 

1 cup raw cashews, soaked 3 hours  OR 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
½ teaspoon salt                            
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla, optional
5 cups water

Place all ingredients, except water, in blender container. Add enough water to blend.  Blend for 1 minute.  While blending, add remaining water to thin to a milk-like consistency.  You may strain the milk if you wish.  Chill thoroughly and shake or stir before serving. 

Makes about 6 cups milk before straining.  

Place all ingredients, except water, in blender container.  The Coconut Rice Milk is on the left and the Cashew Rice Milk is on the right.  

Add enough water to blend the ingredients together for 1 minute.  Then continue blending while adding the remainder of the water.  Your "milk" will have a good pouring consistency.

You will get about 5 or 6 cups of "milk" from the recipe.  Chill and stir before serving.

The Cashew or Coconut Rice Milk is perfect for cereal or as a beverage.

It's your choice: Cashew Rice Milk or Coconut Rice Milk.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake

Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake is a recipe I clipped from a magazine years and years ago.  I can't remember for sure but it may have been from "Woman's Day" or some such magazine.  I've had the recipe all these years and haven't ever made it once until now! 

Thanksgiving was fast approaching when I happened to mention to my daughter-in-law I was going to make a Snickers Cheesecake in the near future.  "For Thanksgiving?" she eagerly asked.  "That's my favourite chocolate bar!"  What could I say but, I'd make it for Thanksgiving.  

Thanksgiving is now over in Canada as it's celebrated on the second Monday of October.  I'm in recovery mode this morning and picking my way through the piles of food left over from our Thanksgiving dinner.  As I type, there's a pot of soup bubbling away on the stove made from some of the leftover vegetables and peas pudding and I have a bowlful of Potato Cake mixture ready to fry to go with the soup but there is no Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake left and the only reminder is the spring form pan waiting to be put away.  

Not all the Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake got eaten at our dinner because there was also Pumpkin Pie, Blueberry Peach Pie, a purple plum pie and Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares to be devoured.  (I know, I went overboard on the desserts.)  But all the Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake is gone from the house.  Anne wanted a chunk to take home and so did Vicki and yesterday Don and I ate the last two pieces to say farewell to the rich and decadent dessert.  

I had help making the cheesecake.  Every grandma needs a helper in the kitchen but I was blessed with three little helpers all wanting to contribute their culinary skills to the Thanksgiving dessert.  Between the supervision of the helpers and me trying to take pictures of the various stages of the mixing, baking and presenting, the cheesecake kind of got lost in the process.  And to top everything off there were fourteen people in the house!!!  But despite the entertaining, the supervision and picture taking, the cheesecake did get made--not perfectly, but a reasonable facsimile of the original picture in the magazine was attained.  

My three little helpers.  I wouldn't trade even one of them in for an Iron Chef.  They can help me in the kitchen any day. 

We didn't have a caramel sauce to go along with the cheesecake but it would be a delicious addition to the dessert.  And because this is so rich, you only need a small piece. (Just my humble opinion.  Go ahead and slice as much as you want.) 

Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake
1 cup chocolate chips
24 chocolate wafer cookies, crushed, about 1 ½ cups
¼ cup melted butter
2 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts, chopped
1 tablespoon + 3/4 cup sugar, divided
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, very soft at room temp.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sour cream, divided
6 Snickers Bars, 2 oz. (60 g) each, cut into ¼ inch thick slices, divided
Sweetened whipped cream for garnish, about 1 cup whipped (or more if you like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat 9-inch spring form pan with cooking spray or grease well with butter or shortening.  Wrap outside of pan with foil.  I used heavy duty foil and had no tearing.

In bowl set over pot of hot water melt the chocolate chips.  Keep warm and lay aside.

Combine the crushed cookies, melted butter and chopped peanuts with 1 tablespoon sugar.  Press into bottom and ½-inch up sides of the prepared pan. Refrigerate 10 minutes to set then bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  Beside pre-baking the crust, this will set the crumbs so they won't come loose when spreading the cheesecake mixture.

Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees.

In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat the soft cream cheese until fluffy.  Beat in flour and remaining sugar until combined.  Beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. This scraping may not seem necessary but it will help your batter to remain lump free so don't skip the scraping. (Just ask me how I know.)  Do not overbeat when adding the eggs.  You don't want too much air in the finished batter. 

When the eggs have been incorporated, pour half of mixture into another bowl and lay aside.  With mixer on medium speed beat ¼ cup sour cream and reserved melted chocolate into the batter remaining in the bowl.  

Beat remaining ¾ cup sour cream into the batter you reserved.  

Pour white batter onto crust. Arrange ⅔ (4 bars) of Snickers slices over top.  Pour chocolate batter over the Snickers layer.  Place a larger baking pan on oven rack fill.  Place the foil wrapped cheesecake in the larger pan and pour in hot water about half way up the cake pan.    Bake 1 hour.  Turn oven off and let stand in oven 1 additional hour.  Remove from water; remove foil.  Run a knife around the outside of the cake. Cool on rack 30 minutes and then cool completely in refrigerator 3 hours or overnight.

Garnish with dollops or swirls of sweetened whipped cream and top with remaining slices of Snickers bar.  A caramel sauce can be served with the cheesecake if desired.  

Makes about 16 servings. 

Chop the Snickers bars into ¼-inch slices before you begin making the cheesecake.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water.  Lay aside but keep it warm.

Mix together the crushed chocolate cookie wafers, butter, sugar and chopped peanuts.  Press the mixture in a 9-inch spring form pan and bake 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.  You also need to wrap the pan in foil for the hot water bath.  

Beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in the flour, sugar and vanilla.  Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating only enough to incorporate.  You don't want to over beat and add too much air at this stage of mixing.  Scrap the sides of the bowl in between each egg to keep the batter smooth and lump free.

Divide the batter in half.  To one half add ¼ cup sour cream and reserved melted chocolate.  Beat remaining ¾ cup sour cream into the other half of the batter.  You will now have a chocolate batter and a vanilla batter.

Spread the white vanilla batter over the chocolate crumb crust.

Spread the sliced Snickers bars over the vanilla cheesecake batter.

 Spread the chocolate cheesecake batter over the sliced bar layer.

The foil wrapped cake is baked in a water bath.  This provides a gentle heat for the cheese and egg rich cheesecake batter.  Bake for 1 hour, turn the heat off and keep the cake in the oven for an additional hour.  Cool and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight is better.

The cake looks a little rough around the edges but it tasted wonderful.

If you look carefully, you can see the top of the cheesecake is cracked.  The hot water bath is supposed to prevent cracking....well, that didn't work.

A little strategic decorating takes care of any cracks on the top of a cheesecake.  The Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake is decorated with swirls of sweetened whipped cream and the remaining Snickers bars.

Chocolate Snickers Cheesecake
A rich and decadent dessert to end a celebration meal.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares

I was on the lookout for something new with pumpkin when I thought about combining pumpkin with pecans.  I thought a cookie square would be delightful with those two ingredients.  How original, I thought.  But, alas, I wasn't the first to think of it as I found out when I made a search of the internet.  No matter, it's still an original thought in my brain, and as far as desserts go that's good enough for me. 

You can find the original pie recipe here.  I took the idea and changed it into a square.  You can serve them as a cookie if you cut them small or as a dessert when cut into larger pieces.  These are delicious and are a nice variation on the ordinary pumpkin or pecan pie type of dessert

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  You will need a 9x13-inch baking pan or dish, lightly greased, especially on the sides.

1½ cups flour
½ cup + 2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons icing (powdered) sugar

Mix together until crumbly and press in a 8½x11-inch pan. You can use a 9x9-inch square pan but the layers will be thicker.  Bake 10 minutes in 350 degree oven.  Cool.

Pumpkin Layer:
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
⅓ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Mix together and spread over cooled crust.  Make Pecan Layer.
Pecan Layer:
⅔ cup corn syrup
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecan halves

Mix together all ingredients except pecans.  Add the pecans and carefully spread over pumpkin layer. 

Bake 50 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven.   If squares seem to be bubbling or burning, turn oven down to 325 degrees.  Cool completely before cutting.  Refrigerate uneaten portions. 

For a plated dessert, serve with sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes 15-24 squares.

Blend the softened butter into the flour and sugar until you have a crumbly mixture.  Pack into the baking pan and bake 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking mix the pumpkin with the sugar, egg and spices.  Spread the mixture over the hot crust.

Mix the pecans and remaining ingredients together.  Carefully spread this over the pumpkin.  Pop everything back into the oven for an additional 50 minutes.

The baked squares cooling by a sunny window.

Cut into small squares, these Pumpkin Pecan Pie Squares make a tasty treat any time of the day.

A larger square makes a great dessert.
This needs a scoop of ice cream, don't you think?

Soft pumpkin and crunchy pecans.  What could be better?

Ready for the Thanksgiving table 
or any time you want a special dessert.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Applesauce Custard Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue

I have a lot of applesauce I made when my mother-in-law's tree gave a bumper crop and I've been trying to use it up in different ways.  We eat it with yogurt and with cereal.  I've made applesauce cakes, bars and cookies and I've even added it to the strawberry rhubarb jam I make, but still I have applesauce.  One day I got to thinking and decided I'd use it in pie but it was so runny it didn't really make a good pie (although it tasted good).  So I googled applesauce pie and found there are recipes using the applesauce as you would pumpkin using eggs to make a soft custard pie.  I made a couple of them and found they made an acceptable pie but not a great pie.  I filed the recipe away and didn't think of it again until I ran across the scribbled recipe in my box.

I didn't want to remake the same recipe as it wasn't that great so I fiddled with the ingredients for a firmer pie and adjusted the spices for flavour.  I decided it would make a nice meringue pie but not any meringue pie--a brown sugar meringue pie.  It would be most fitting, complementing the apple custard with a crown of butterscotchy, caramelly meringue.  By the time I finished with the recipe it was entirely new and different and didn't remotely resemble any of the recipes I had made before.  

If, for some reason, you don't want to make a meringue, whipped cream is a very good topping as well. 

Applesauce  Custard Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue
½ cup sugar (use ⅓ cup sugar if applesauce is sweetened)
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon nutmeg 
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tbsp. butter, softened
2 or 3 drops of red food colouring, optional
9-inch pie crust, fully baked
Brown sugar meringue, recipe below

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the sugar, spices, salt and cornstarch in a medium sized saucepan.  Blend in the applesauce and cook over a medium heat until thickened.  Add the lemon juice.  Add a little of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks and return the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook an additional one minute to cook the egg.  Add the butter and red food colouring, if using, and mix well.  Pour the hot mixture into the baked pie crust.  

Make the Brown Sugar Meringue and pile on top of hot pie, swirling to the edge to seal meringue to the crust.  Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven or until a golden brown. 

Cool pie away from draft.  Refrigerate any uneaten pie. 

Makes 6-8 servings.

Brown Sugar Meringue
3 egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar, optional
6 tablespoons brown sugar, lump-free, firmly packed

In bowl of mixer beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until they start to get foamy and soft peaks form.  Continue beating while adding the brown sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Increase speed to high and beat until egg whites are glossy and hold a stiff peak.

While the pie crust is baking make the Applesauce Custard filling.  Measure and stir together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and spices.  Add the applesauce and stir to combine.  Cook over medium heat until thickened.

Add the lemon juice to the thickened applesauce mixture. Always add lemon juice to cooked cornstarch mixtures.  Lemon juice can prevent the cornstarch from thickening if added before it is cooked.

When the applesauce has thickened add the beaten egg yolks.  You must temper the eggs with the hot mixture before adding them.  You don't want scrambled egg applesauce!  While stirring the egg yolks, add some of the hot mixture.  You can add up to half of the hot mixture.  Pour back the eggy mixture into the hot pot and bring back to a slow boil, stirring constantly.  Cook an additional 1 minute.

Stir in the butter and food colouring, if using.

Pour the hot applesauce filling into the baked pie crust.  

Make the brown sugar meringue by beating the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Add the brown sugar one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat until the meringue is glossy and firm with stiff peaks.  Pile the meringue onto the hot pie filling.  Seal the meringue to the edge of the pie and bake in the preheated 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Swirl the meringue into peaks for a pretty presentation.

Doesn't that look appetizing? Perfectly baked meringue.

Cool the pie away from drafts.  
To make a clean cut into meringue, dip your knife in hot water for each cut. 

Have a delicious taste of autumn with a slice of Applesauce Custard Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue.