Challenge Accepted: Mini Sky High Chocolate Mousse Pies

Have you ever visited the blog Sally’s Baking Addiction?  I have been a regular reader for a few years and love all her recipes and beautiful photography.  I must admit that I have been much more of a reader than a baker but this year I decided to up my baking game by participating in Sally’s Monthly Baking Challenge.  Each month Sally provides a recipe, step by step directions and even a video to increase the baking skills and confidence of her readers.  This month’s recipe is Sky High Chocolate Mousse Pie.

3-mini-pies

 

It was a fun assignment and my only deviation from her recipe was to make 3 mini pies instead of just one pie.  The intent is that I will share the pies and Dave and I will not have to eat the whole dang pie, because I know we could do it!!  As Sally describes on her site, there are three steps to this pie:

  1. An Oreo crust.
  2. Chocolate Mousse
  3. Whipped Cream

Everything is made from scratch except for the Ores of course!  I even made a special trip to one of my favorite stores in the world, Cockrell’s Mercantile, to buy some individual fiesta ware pie plates.  Any reason to buy more fiesta ware is a good reason to me!

Step one – the Oreo crust.  I have made Oreo crust several times before and each time I do I tell myself that next time I am going to double the recipe because I never seem to have enough to take the crust up the full sides of the pie plate.  Not sure if the fact I used three mini pie plates instead of one made a difference or not.

3-crusts

 

Step two – Chocolate Mousse.  This step consisted of three parts, melting the chocolate, making and adding meringue, then making and adding whipped cream. This was definitely the richest mousse I have ever tasted, so, so good!

chocolate

meringue-step-1

meringue-step-2

adding-whipped-cream-to-mousse

Once the mousse was complete, it was spread over the Oreo crust, topped with a layer of crushed Oreos, then another layer of mousse.

layer-of-mousse-and-layer-of-oreo-crumbs

Step three – Making whipped cream.  This was definitely the easiest step, just whipping heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into a beautiful, melt in your mouth whipped cream.  Each mini pie was then topped with a generous amount and chocolate shavings were added for the final touch.

layer-of-whipped-cream

3-mini-pies

For the detailed recipe visit Sally’s Baking Addiction. Can’t wait to find out what is up for next month!  Now, who wants one of these extra mini pies?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Days of Salads

Salads and I have a funny relationship.  I love them when the weather is warm and the sun is shining, but not so much during cloudy, rainy or cold days.  On those days I just want soup.  A few weeks ago when we had several days in a row of great weather I challenged myself to make a different salad everyday for lunch.  A couple of the recipes I made were from my own recipe book while a few others were new to me.

I have always loved caprese salad  and make it often for dinner, but adding the diced avocado really put this concoction over the top.  This was definitely my favorite of the week.

avacado-caprese-salad

avacado-caprese-2

I sliced grape tomatoes in half and paired it with mozzarella pearls and diced avocado.  For the dressing I drizzled with olive oil, basil, salt and pepper.  Super easy!

For day two I made this Southwestern Chopped Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing from damndelicious.net but added some leftover grilled chicken that I had in the fridge.  So good….

Southwest-Chicken

The salad is romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, corn, black beans, avocado, fresh cilantro, toasted tortilla strips and grilled chicken.  For the dressing, 1 cup cilantro leaves, 1/2 plain yogurt, 2 cloves minced garlic, juice of 1 lime, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 T apple cider vinegar and a pinch of salt combined in the food processor.  Neither Dave or I were fans of this dressing, a little too tart for us,  but there are many versions of Cilantro Lime Dressing on the web so next time I am going to try a different one.

Day three consisted of a fruit salad inspired by the Orange Honey Rainbow Fruit Salad @ theslowroasteditalian.com, however her recipe serves twelve and with just Dave and I around much would go to waste so we cut it down and modified it a bit.

Fruit-Salad-2

I included sliced strawberries, green grapes, blackberries, bananas and kiwis for my salad and altered the sweet dressing a little since I am not a fan of mint leaves.  My dressing included 1/4 cup of orange juice, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of honey.  This was a great lunch!!

On the fourth day I made a version of the Strawberry Spinach salad with Strawberry Lime Vinaigrette as found on the blog bakingwithblondie.blogspot.com.

Spinach-Salad1

Spinach-Salad

The salad was awesome with strawberries, spinach, blue cheese, thin sliced red onion, sliced almonds and bacon crumbles.  The dressing consisted of 1/2 c chopped strawberries, 1/4 c lime juice, 1/4 c olive oil, 1 Tablespoon of honey and salt/pepper all pureed in the food processor.  Yummy!

For the final day I made one of my own recipes I have been making for years, Broccoli and Cauliflower salad.

Broc-Cauli-1

Broc-Cauli2

The salad is 2 cups each of raw broccoli and raw cauliflower cut into small bites, along with 1/2 cup celery, 1/2 cup red onion and 1 cup peas.  I usually just toss those ingredients with 2 cups of ranch dressing and then top with parmesan cheese.  I think this taste much better if it chills for a few hours in the fridge before eating.

This was a fun way to lighten up my lunches and try new recipes.  I still have many other salad recipes I would like to try so I might need to do this again sometime.

 

 

The Cookbook Club

Many of you followed our groups adventures in the ABC Dinner club where we ate our way through the alphabet at restaurants in Kansas City.  That club came to a close a few months ago when we finally (after 5 years) made it to the letter Z.  One of our club members had a friend who was part of a cookbook club and suggested we try that for our next adventure.

I have read about cookbook clubs in the past and there seem to be as many versions of these types of clubs as there are cookbooks themselves.  Basically it is like any other book club, you get together with friends to eat, drink and discuss the book.  The difference is that in a cookbook club each person cooks a recipe from the selected book and brings it to share with the other members.

cookbooks

Here are the guidelines for our version of the Cookbook Club:

  1. Each member of the group will have a turn selecting a cookbook.
  2. We will meet monthly to share and discuss prepared recipes.
  3. Husbands are welcome (and encouraged) to assist with the recipe selection and cooking.
  4. Each member will select a recipe from the cookbook for that month’s meeting. The monthly meeting does not need to be a meal with complimentary dishes selected.  It can just be a tasting of random recipes.
  5. We will continue making recipes out of the book until we have a good feel for it and decide we are ready to move to the next cookbook.
  6. We can change these guideline whenever the heck we want to…

The first cookbook selected is Pioneer Woman Cooks – Food From my Frontier by Ree Drummond.  Below are selections from our first meeting on April 30, 2016.

cookbook cover

 

Corn Casserole with Peppers – easy to make, would be great in summer when corn is cheap.  Discussed buying corn during the summer in bulk, cutting off the cob and freezing.  Tasted great!

Corn-Cassarole-with-Peppers

Buttered Rosemary Rolls – these rolls are excellent and easy to prepare since you start with frozen unbaked dinner rolls.  The coarse salt and fresh rosemary make all the difference in taste, the butter probably does not hurt either.

Rosemary-Rolls

Spicy Caesar Salad with Homemade Cornbread Croutons – the addition of chipotle peppers kicks this salad up a notch from a normal Caesar. For those of you that care (like me) there are raw eggs in the dressing which is also normal for Caesar dressing.  The croutons were good but if made in the future would probably just buy croutons instead of going to the trouble of making from scratch.

Spicy-Caesar-Salad

BBQ Chicken and Pineapple Quesadillas – easy to make and tasted great.  Serve with sour cream, salsa and a pineapple wedge on top.

Barbeque-Chicken-and-Pineapple-Quesidilla

Tangy Tomato Brisket – if you have six or seven hours to let this cook on a low temperature there is nothing better.  Easy to prepare and boy does it make your house smell good all day.  Turned out moist and tender which I can say is not always the case with brisket.

Tangy-Tomato-Brisket-2

Knock You Naked Brownies – delicious but very rich.  The recipe is a little more complex than simple brownies but good for a special occasion. Wish I would have taken a picture of the gooey caramel and chocolate on the inside which is the star in this dish.

Knock-you-Naked-Brownies

Let me know if you are or have ever been in a cookbook club.  I would love to hear how other’s operate.

 

 

Homemade Ice Cream with EASY, EASY Chocolate Dipped Cookies

A few weeks ago I watched an episode of Pioneer Women where she was making homemade ice cream and I was not able to stop thinking about how good that sounded.  With warm weather and the summer cookout season coming up I took the plunge and ordered a Cuisinart electric ice cream maker.

cuisinart

The day I received it Dave was out of town so I decided to fire that baby up and dig in to some homemade strawberry ice cream.  I used the recipe that came with ice cream maker and about 30 minutes later I had something that resembled strawberry ice cream and tasted really good but the texture was really icy, not at all what I had in mind.

I googled “icy homemade ice cream” and sure enough there were several articles on why homemade ice cream turns out icy.  It seems to be associated with the water content in the ice cream and if you are mixing in items with a high water content (like strawberries) the water will crystalize leaving the ice cream with an icy texture.

A few days later I decided to try again but with chocolate….cocoa does not have any water in it so I thought it would be safe.  Sure enough, it was PERFECT!!!

chocolate-ice-cream

I really wanted to try the strawberry again so this time when I purreed the strawberries, I drained them and actually patted them with a paper towel to dry them a little.  The original recipe called for adding lemon juice and I left that out also.  That was the trick……strawberry heaven in a bowl.

Since we were having a cookout over memorial day weekend I decided to serve some of this frozen perfection but I wanted a little something else to go with it so I remembered what I had watched this week on Ina Garten (I know, I watch Food Network way too much!)  Ina had served some homemade ice cream along side chocolate dipped shortbread cookies.  Of course Ina made her own shortbread cookies but as far as I am concerned, Lorna Doone’s are amazing so I decided to just buy some of those but dip them in chocolate myself.

Lorna-Doone

I wrote a post a while back about tempering chocolate for dipping items like fruit.  It is a complex process using multiple pans, water baths and thermometers.  You can read that post here.  Leave it to Ina to come up with a quick process that produces the same results.  If you have ever melted chocolate for dipping you might have seen how the chocolate turns a dusty gray color when it dries, this is called “blooming.” Tempered chocolate dries glossy.

Ina’s method is to melt half of the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second sessions, stirring between each session, until the chocolate is melted.  Remove the chocolate from the microwave.  Break up the second half of the chocolate and stir it in to the hot chocolate mix.  The more you stir the glossier the chocolate will be.  Within just a minute or so all the chocolate will melt and will be ready for dipping your cookies or fruit or whatever you want to dip.  SO EASY!

Choc-dipped-shortbread

Happy Weekend!

 

Small Gatherings|May 2015|Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders

For this month’s small gathering we hosted family and friends for some good ‘ole Kansas City Bar-B-Que, smoked pork sliders and ribs.  Dave is the official griller/smoker in this house but on this particular day he had an obligation away from the house for several hours.  If you have ever smoked meat you understand that it is an all-day process and according to the hubby depending on the quality of your smoker can require a large amount of attention/intervention.  Much to Dave’s unhappiness our smoker is on the low end of the spectrum which means we have to babysit the charcoal fire every hour, all day long.

The night before smoking day, Dave applied his go-to rub (recipe below) to the pork, covered it in foil and refrigerated it for about 12 hours.  The next morning before he left, he started the pork in the smoker and tutored me in the process.

First, I had to make sure this fire did not go out which meant I had to continually add charcoal.   I also had to throw on a few pecan and cherry wood chips every so often.  According to Dave’s smoking bible, “The Art of Smokology” by Chef Richard McPeake, wood chips add a taste dimension to your finished product.  So far not too hard, but very messy!

Charcoal-Fire

Next I had to slather this hunk of pork with the mop (a basting sauce used to add moisture during the cooking process)every so often and monitor the internal temperature.  We were shooting for an internal temp of 165 degrees before we wrapped the pork in foil with additional mop and continued cooking.

Smoked-Pork

Fortunately for me Dave came home before we had to wrap this beast in foil because I was not quite sure how I was going to do that by myself.  This was a LARGE (and very hot) piece of meat.  We cooked the meat for an additional four hours, about 12 hours in total before it was taken off to cool.  Once it was cooled, the pork was hand pulled and the “finishing flavors” were added.  The next day, about an hour before we served it, the pork was put back on the smoker to add the final touch of smoke.

The process is lengthy but if you enjoy pulled pork it is worth it.

Pulled-Pork

Here is the rub Dave likes to use:

Pulled Pork Rub

“The Art of Smokology” by Chef Richard McPeake

½ cup Chili Powder

¼ cup Paprika

1 TB Kosher Salt

1 TB Ground Cumin

1 TB Ground Poultry Seasoning

1 TB Superfine Sugar

1 TB Garlic Powder

Combine all ingredients and blend well.  Liberally cover all sides of the pork, wrap the pork in foil and refrigerate for 12 hours.

In the next post I will share the fun dessert we had!

Chicken and Orzo Soup|Best Snickerdoodle Cookies

It is no secret that I love soup.  I have shared several soup recipes with you before including Black Bean, Cheddar Ale and Chicken Noodle Soup.   I especially like soup in the fall and winter but I eat it all year long. Last week while in Omaha I ate lunch at our company cafeteria and had a bowl of chicken and rice soup.   Although the taste was not bad, it was more chicken broth with just a hint of rice, chicken and vegetables. I like thick soup, almost stew like.   I knew I could do a better job.    I started by sauteing onion, celery, garlic and carrots in olive oil until the vegetables were soft.  I added chicken broth, a diced chicken breast and some orzo.  Now this is what I am talking about!  YUM!

Chicken-and-Orzo-finished

I have included the recipe at the end of this post.  This past week I also came across an updated recipe for snickerdoodle cookies that were soft and so, so good.  If you like snickerdoodle cookies, do yourself a favor and make these cookies.

snickerdoodle2

This recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I have made several of her recipes and have never been disappointed.  Click here for the best Soft & Thick Snickerdoodles Cookies you will ever eat!

Chicken and Orzo Soup

2 T olive oil
1/2 cup carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 clove minced garlic
48 oz chicken broth
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
1/2 cup orzo
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Saute the carrots, celery, onion and garlic in the olive oil until the vegetables are soft.
  2. Add the chicken broth, chicken and orzo.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the orzo is soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sharing with Rattlebridge Farm Food Friday

 

Small Gatherings|June|Light Dinner Al Fresco

After work last night I had several errands to run and Dave needed to do some work in the yard.  We decided to get those things done then have a late dinner.  By the time we both had completed, it was close to 7:00 pm and still pushing 90 degrees.  The last thing I felt like doing was making a big dinner.  I started thinking about what I could pull together and then it dawned on me that I had picked up some of Sargento’s new tasting cheese at the store and that coupled with some sausage would be a perfect light, no-cook dinner.

dinner

I am pretty much in love with Sargento brand of cheese, it started with the low-fat cheese sticks and I was totally won over when they started making the Ultrathin Cheese slices.  These two items are always in my fridge.  This is not a sponsored post by the way, I just love cheese! When I heard that Sargento had come up with some new block cheese I knew I had to try it.  There are eight different varieties but I just picked up three, Brushetta Jack, New Zealander and Aged Wisconsin Cheddar.  You can see all the varieties here.  They are the perfect size for tasting and trying new items.

Sargento-tastings

They did not disappoint.  I paired them with some summer sausage, grapes, cherries, nuts, baguette slices, pretzel thins, and hummus.

light-dinner

Of course I threw in a few bottles of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

SummerShantyon-ice

We enjoyed this light dinner outside (aka AL Fresco) on the patio and it was delightful.  A perfect ending to a hot, busy day.

dinner3

I am thinking this menu, with a few variations depending on what is in the fridge, will be making a weekly appearance in the summer rotation.  I have already thought of other easy items to add such as hard boiled eggs, roasted garbanzo beans, sliced red and green peppers, cherry tomatoes, marinated mozzarella.  The list is endless!

Have a great weekend friends!

Sharing at Foodie Fridays@ Rattlebridge Farm

Small Gatherings|May|Breakfast on the Patio

Sunday morning we are packing up our youngest daughter and moving her to Denver.  She will finish her last internship rotation this summer and take the Registered Dietitian’s exam this fall.  If we are all lucky, that will result in a paying job soon thereafter!!!!  Such a bittersweet time, I am so excited for her to start this new phase of her life, yet sad because she will be so far away.  For her last Saturday at home, I thought we would make the day special by starting our morning with breakfast on the patio.

scones-tray-sfw

One of my favorite items to make for breakfast are scones, I LOVE,LOVE,LOVE them.  My go-to recipe comes from a workshop I took with Jenny Steffens Hobick at Everyday Occasions.  She makes several versions of these, cranberry, vanilla bean and cinnamon swirl to name a few, but my favorite are the jalepeno cheddar.  Click here for the link to that recipe.  For this mornings scones, I left out the jalepenos.

scones-sfw

Another quick breakfast recipe I love are frittatas, first because I like my eggs cooked well done and that is easy to accomplish in this recipe and also because frittata’s are great for throwing in leftover veggies.

frittata1-sfw

I have included this recipe at the end of the post.  Did you happen to notice the wooden butter knife in the scone picture above and the wooden cutting board in this frittata picture.  These are handmade items by my brother-in-law Steve.  I have talked about his craftsmanship several times on the blog including here, here and here.  I should just start a page about all the items he makes, better yet, I should start a shop to start selling his items.  Hmmmm…

Here is another picture of the frittata where you can see a better view of the inlaid cutting board.  This board is actually a pizza peel.  It has a very thin edge perfect for scooping up a pizza out of the oven.  We use it all the time, I love it!

frittata2-sfw

I got off track a little there, back to our breakfast!  I kept the table-setting very simple with a tablecloth over our bistro set and a few individual flowers in vases.

table-sfw

I did spend a couple of minutes making fun bowtie napkins!

bowtienapkin-sfw

Below is the Veggie Frittata recipe…..enjoy your weekend!

 

Veggie Frittata

6 Eggs

2T butter

½ onion, diced

2 cups chopped broccoli

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/3 c diced green pepper

1/3 c diced red pepper

2 t minced garlic

Red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste

 

In a heavy, oven-proof skillet, melt the butter. Sauté the onions, broccoli, peppers and mushrooms until soft. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and seasonings together. Pour the eggs over the veggies until the sides are set. Set the oven to broil and put the skillet in the oven until the top of the frittata is set and browned. Slide from the pan and slice.

 

Linking to

Amaze Me Monday

Inspiration Monday

Foodie Friday @ Rattlebridge Farm

Tablescape Thursdays

Hymns and Verses Find your Voice Friday #1

Neapolitan Krispie Treats

Last week while cruising Pinterest I came across these amazing Neapolitan Krispie Treats from Bakingdom.com.  Do they not look amazing?

Strawberry-Nutella-Krispies-Treats-from-Bakingdom

Since my family and I all love rice krispie treats I thought this would be a good thing to try for our memorial day cookout.  One of these days I will learn to follow a recipe as written instead of thinking I know what I am doing.  First of all, this recipe called for nutella along with plain rice krispies to make the chocolate layer.  I did not have any nutella, but I had cocoa krispies to substitute.  That layer actually turned out just fine.  Where I really got into trouble was with the strawberry layer.  Her recipe called for strawberry jam and freeze-dried strawberries.  I had the strawberry jam but no dried strawberries.  I decided to substitute some real strawberries I had by throwing them in the food processor.  The result was less than perfect.  The strawberry layer was too moist and not nearly pink enough.

Neopolitan-Rice-Krispies

I must say though that they tasted just great and we had no issues emptying this platter.  The next time I am at the store I am going to get some freeze dried strawberries and try this again until I get it right.  Fortunately the smoked ribs and the grilled salmon turned out perfect thanks to the hubby.

RIbs-and-Salmon

On a post-surgery recovery note, I am pretty close to losing the cane but still having issues with range of motion, meaning I can not get my knee to bend more than 95-100 degrees.  Optimal for post TKR is 125 degrees.  My physical therapist tells me the issue for me is that I still have a significant amount of swelling in the joint and until that is reduced my knee will just not bend any farther.  I need to spend more time laying on my back with my knee iced and elevated above my heart.  Still looking for a way to do that and keep working my day job.  Maybe my IT guy can rig up something that will project my computer screen to the ceiling.  Any ideas?

 

March | Lunch for Friends

I have a group of former co-workers whom I have known for about twenty years.  Although we no longer work together, we often meet to catch up on family, friends and discuss the “good old days!”   These girls know me well and I just love getting together with them.  In keeping with my goal this year of entertaining once per month, I decided to invite them over for a Saturday lunch.

table1

I kept the menu simple because for me the best part of entertaining is about connecting and conversing.   Sure, I also enjoy planning and making the meal a little special but it is the relationship building that means more to me than the fussy details.  I have often heard there is a rule in entertaining that you should not serve a recipe that you have not made before.  Most of the time I break that rule.  I enjoy trying new recipes as much as I like cooking for others so it is natural for me to marry those two interest.  Sometimes it works out, other times it does not.  Fortunately those relationships I am building over the meal are usually strong enough to overcome any culinary fiascoes.

Our lunch started with store bought Black Olive Hummus and Pita Bread.  I have not tried making my own hummus yet but have thought about it.  I am a huge lover of hummus!

hummus

For the main entree, I chose Caramelized Onion Quiche and a side pasta salad since they would be easy to make ahead.  I thought the quiche sounded great since it was full of caramelized onions and Gruyere cheese, what not to love.  However, the dish ended up being a little greasy which I had never experienced before with other quiche I have made.  I assume it came from the oil used to caramelize the onions.  The taste was ok but paled in comparison to my quiche standard, which is my mom’s hash brown crust quiche.

quiche

The Caesar Pasta Salad was another new recipe that I found in Good Housekeeping magazine.  This one was a keeper. It was full of fresh veggies, basil and a vegetarian caesar dressing.  Of course I forgot to take a picture of mine, but it looked pretty similar to the Good Housekeeping picture below.

caesar-pasta-salad-recipe-good-housekeeping

The final new recipe I used was for Mini Key Lime Pies.  These were really good and I think the hubby would agree since I came in the kitchen and caught him scarfing a few of these down when the luncheon was over.  I would definitely recommend making these simple, easy tarts if you are a fan of Key Lime pie.

mini-key-lime

The food was good but the conversation was great.  One item that came up in conversation was a story about a little boy who believes he is a reincarnated WWII pilot.  Maybe you saw the story about this on ABC’s Primetime, if not, watch this uTube video, it is fascinating!  I cannot say I have ever been a believer in reincarnation, but how in the world would this 3 year old  little boy know these things???

Talk with you later friends…….