Thursday, June 27, 2013

American Flag Cake (White Frosting Recipe and Technique)

Ok, so I am sharing this recipe and technique with you ONLY because I want you to see, I do my share of messing up too!    I have no idea what got into me, I just had to try this.  I am no cake decorator, or baker, OBVIOUSLY, but I gave it the old college try.  Even though it looks ok, it technically is not a success.  Let me explain.

The red and white cakes should have been cut into 3 layers and since I used 9 inch pans, they weren't tall enough to do that.  I cut them in half and called it a day.  So there SHOULD be twice as many stripes if you get what I mean.

I am going to explain the technique before I give you the recipe, because the only recipe involved is for this amazing frosting.  I used box cake mixes, feel free to use a recipe from scratch.  For me, this cake was more about the method than that actual cake part.  HOWEVER, if  I make this again I will use cakes from scratch, they are just easier to move around and work with. 

You will need:
2 white cake mixes
blue food coloring
red food coloring

Mix cake according to package directions.  Spray your round 8 inch  pans(9 if that is all you have and want to only cut it in half instead of 3 layers each) and lay them with parchment paper, if you like.  I always do, but you don't have to.  Set them aside.  Divide the batter evenly into 3 bowls.  Leave one bowl white, color one bowl red and the 3rd, will be blue.  I only have 2 pans so I had to bake twice when my first cakes were cooled.  Get all 3 cakes baked.  Let come to room temperature and then I suggest freezing for 1 hour in the freezer. 

Cutting the cake:
You will cut the red layer in 3 equal parts, (or 2 if you are making it like mine).  Do the same with the white layer but DO NOT CUT THE BLUE LAYER. 

On your designated cake plate, lay down a red layer and frost it.  Now lay a white layer on top and frost the top again.  (if you did 3 layers each, you will add another red layer on top otherwise you will be done here)

Now on a separate plate, repeat the process starting with your red layer (if doing 2 layers only) or your white layer (if doing 3 layers).  Frost between each but do not frost the top. 

Now take a plate or round object that you can cut around.  It needs to be a size that will leave you approximately a 2-3 inch border when placed in the middle of one of your cakes.   I used a saucer.  Lay it on top of the second set of red and white layers, in the middle, and cut around it carefully with a knife.  You will be using the part UNDER the plate.  You are basically cutting the middle out and you will not need the outside ring that you cut off. 

Use the same plate and place on top of the blue cake.  Cut around the plate, being careful to preserve the OUTSIDE ring.  You will not need the MIDDLE of the blue cake.  Now carefully remove the outside ring of the blue cake and fit over the top of the middle red and white layer you cut.  So that you have a blue ring on the outside and red and white layers on the inside.  If one cake is higher than the other, you can carefully trim it down or leave it. 

I am not even going to try and guess why this cake looks moldy on top.  Lighting maybe, trust me, it wasn't!

Frost the entire outside of the cake.  You can decorate the top with sprinkles or whatever you choose.  By the time I got to that part, I was so stressed out, it stayed white and plain! HAHA!

Here is what I did NOT do that you SHOULD do.
FREEZE the cakes
Use an 8 inch round pan
Have a glass of wine

Here is the frosting I used.  It is my brother in law's mothers recipe.  It is fantastic!

2lbs powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup Crisco
1 cup powdered milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer or electric mixer and mix until light and fluffy.  This will perfectly frost this cake, including in-between your layers.

Your "I am NOT cut out for this kinda thing" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cheesy Roasted Broccoli Patties (Po'Man Meals)

Good Evening!

I am so excited to share this post with you.  Several months ago I met Tijuana, creator and author of the website and blog,  Po'Man Meals.  She is a fellow "eastie".  I was a former "eastie".  For those of you who aren't aware of my language, I call all my friends back on the east coast my "easties". 

We started corresponding during a time many recipes were being stolen and re posted by others who claimed them as their own.  We started sharing information and became fast friends.  I approached her about doing a recipe swap.  I chose one of her recipes and she chose one of mine and we get to work!   Because of the aforementioned situation, I had to choose her most stolen recipe! HA!  OK, besides all that, it looked SO good.  Cheese, broccoli, more cheese, bread crumbs, I mean OBVIOUSLY I couldn't go wrong! 

This is a great side dish.  I happened to serve it the same night I had chicken fried steak.  I confess, I ate one straight out of the oven.  Glorious.  I have never eaten anything like this.  I think it is genius.  I think you MIGHT even get your broccoli haters to eat it!  Yes, I mean it!  I anticipate making these on the regular, in fact, I had 3 left over, and I am saving those for some grilled chicken tomorrow night.  I had to have my husband hide them in the fridge.  I did!  I will eat them.  Trust me, you will see what I mean. 

If you haven't visited her website or Facebook fan page Po'man Meals Facbook Fan Page please do!  Her food is amazing!  I will list her other social media at the end of this post.  Thanks Tijuana for swapping recipes with me, I can't think of a THING that would have made this more of a success, easy recipe, easy ingredients, DE-licious and quick.  Thanks my friend!

Here is what you need:

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 - 12oz bag of frozen broccoli, defrosted (pieces not whole)
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese (I might have added 3/4 but I swear it was an accident!)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
2 eggs beaten
salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  In a small skillet, add your oil, garlic and onions.  Saute until onions and garlic are tender, don't let the garlic burn!  When it is done, set aside to cool.

Pour your your broccoli into a dishtowel and squeezed until as much liquid is out as possible!  Ring that baby until it is as dry as you can get it!  Now add it to a large bowl along with the cooled onion and garlic mixture, breadcrumbs, cheeses, eggs and salt and pepper.  (1/2 tsp is what Tijuana used, I used a whole tsp, so go with your gut my friends).  I added plenty of black pepper as well because, well, I like it.  A lot. 

Combine all ingredients until mixed well.  Line your baking sheet with foil.  I sprayed mine with nonstick cooking spray as well.  Form mixture into patties.  You might think it won't work, but I promise it will just really pack them together and flatten slightly.  I made 6 larger patties, but the recipes is supposed to make 8.  The choice is yours.  They take the same amount of time to cook.  Place until prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  Flip over and bake another 15 minutes.  They will be browned and crispy!

I hope you try these.  It is obvious why this recipe is so popular on her website.  No wonder so many people steal it and claim it as theirs, I want to be responsible for this kind of goodness too!

Your "is hooked on cheesy roasted broccoli patties" Chefwannabe

Find Po'man Meals on:

Monday, June 24, 2013

As American As.........Caramel Apple Pie and Lodge Cast Iron Giveaway! (CLOSED)


You have 48 hours to email me with your contact information.


I did it.  I faced my biggest kitchen fear.  Cast iron. 

With the 4th of July coming up, I have been thinking of all food "All American".  Burgers, fries and apple pies.  OK ,so the song says Cherry but, I think APPLE.   I also think of fireworks, one of my favorite things EVER, but that has nothing to do with cooking, so I will refrain from going into how much I love them!  Let me tell you how I came to apple pies and......cast. iron. 

I was at my moms last week, and told her of my plan to do this recipe.  She ran, OK wait.  She chop, chop, chopped behind her walker to the kitchen.  I heard the clanging of pots and pans, a sound from my childhood I am still in therapy over!  As my ears were screaming for some reprieve it suddenly stopped.  I hear the wheels of her walker, and here she comes, with a cast iron skillet in hand.  "Here!  Here!  This was my moms, you can have it, and use it and make your pie in it"  Ahh, mooommmm, really?  But I am terrified of cast iron.  She looked at me as if to say, "you are far dumber than I thought".  "AFRAID?"  I said, they gross me out.  You can't wash them and I don't want remnants from last weeks dinner in tonight's dish and all that kind of gross stuff.  She said, as only she can, making my one syllable name into 3, "Caaaa-hriissss, you are ridiculous".  Oh no she didn't.  Oh, yes she did.  So I smiled, took the skillet and spend all night researching how to care for, and clean this baby. 

I am happy to report, I have used it 2 times.  I just looks at me sometimes, as if it knows how intimidating it is, and how much I am on the fence about my relationship with it.  It knows how it took care of my pie, how unbelieveably amazing it was, and it taunts me with that fact.  And if you wondered, yes, I HAVE had my meds today. HA!

2 pie crusts (I cheated and bought mine rolled in the fridge section)
5-6 large apples (peeled and sliced) apple variety is up to you, I used Gala
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup caramel sauce
9-12 inch cast iron skillet
1 egg (beaten with a splash of water for the top of the pie)
Sprinkles or Sugar (optional)

If your skillet is well seasoned there is no need to grease it or use butter, if it isn't, rub it with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

I used a 9 inch skillet, but if yours is a bit bigger simply use your rolling pin and on a flour surface roll your crust out a little thinner, no biggie at all.  When you have it to the proper size, place it in your cast iron skillet.  Making sure it goes up the sides as well.  Dont' stretch it, just place it down into the skillet carefully and get it all the way to the bottom edges!! 

In a large bowl mix together apples, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and caramel sauce.  Mix until the apples are coated and it is mixed well.  Carefully pour into your bottom crust, it will seem like to much but trust me, it will be fine!  Even out the filling and prepare your top crust. (rolling out to make bigger if needed)  You will also need to use a small cookie cutter to cut out any shapes if you want at this time instead of cutting vents.  If you want to just slit some vents on top that is fine as well.  I used a star cookie butter to cut out a star.   I did cut a few vents as well.  Now place on top of the pie and careful "fold" the top crust under trying to catch the bottom crust to be able to pinch them together a little bit.  This isn't the end of the world if you just fold the top crust under either.  Trust me, nobody is gonna care when they dig into this dream!! 

Brush the crust lightly with eggs wash and sprinkle on some granulated sugar or sprinkles or both!  Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  If you think the edges are getting to brown, simple cover the edges with strips of foil! 

I let mine cool 1 hour before serving.  Heavenly!  I think it is so cool to have a family pot.  It is the first kitchen thing I have gotten that was passed down.  So cool, thanks Ma!
NOW...........(tongue drum roll please)

Since I faced my cast iron fear, I wanted to share with you all!  The kind folks at Lodge Cast Iron Company are giving one of you a 10.5 inch cast iron Chefs Skillet!  ACCKK!!!  It is true! 

The form to enter is pretty self exclamatory.  You have a bazillion ways to enter.  You MUST follow Lodge Cast Iron and FoodThoughtsOfaChefWannabe on Facebook or here on my blog directly.  You have other entry options but those are mandatory!  Good luck and make sure to get entered and share with your friends!  You can make this pie in yours even!

DISCLAIMER: You WILL need to email me with your address AND phone number if you win.  This will not be shared with anyone but Lodge Cast Iron so they can ship your prize.  Just in case that makes you uncomfortable I wanted to let you know.  This is open to the lower 48 states only. 

Your "no longer intimidated by cast iron" Chefwannabe

Friday, June 21, 2013

Egg Cream (Cold Drink)

Happy Summer!  Are all of your kids out of school?  I can remember the days.  It usually took less than 72 hours for Cody to be "boooorreed".  Oy!  We always had fun summers.  Fishing, crabbing, beach days, kites on the beach, Phillies games....... 
Anyway, I was thinking about all of you poor parents who are finding things to entertain these little chickens and thought I should write a nice stiff alcoholic drink recipe.  And then it occurred to me, "What about the CHILDREN" I thought to myself.  I have a couple alcoholic drinks on FTOACW already, I mean, who can have ENOUGH?  But, I have nothing you know, for the little wee ones!  By the way when I typed "what about the children", I was saying it all dramatic in my head.  Surprising?  Didn't think so.

This is an easy drink, made with things you probably already have on hand.  It is just a fizzy, refreshing, fun drink I think kids and adults alike will enjoy.  These are an old time fountain drink originating in Brooklyn.  They are so easy, I think even your kids could make them, themselves!   I am giving you a "recipe" for the size of glass I make, but, you can make any size and adjust.  I have never measured these ingredients before if that tells you how loose the recipe is.  You could use strawberry syrup or vanilla syrup in this as well!  OH you Rhode Islanders have this coffee syrup, I bet that would be SO good!

All measurements are approximate.  You can eyeball this easily and it will make no difference!  I used a 2 cup, jar glass for this.  You want lots of foam on top so keep that in mind!  (more than mine in my photo! It went down a bit in my "photographic" process LOL)  You need a LONG handle spoon like an iced tea spoon!  The goal is a chocolate bottom and white foam on top.  You don't want the foam to get brown from the chocolate!  Ready?!?!!

1 cup milk- COLD
3/4 cup seltzer water- CHILLED
2 tbsp chocolate syrup

Pour your milk in the glass first.  Then top with seltzer.  It should create a lot of foam on top.  Now carefully place 2 tbsp (approx.) chocolate syrup in the side and let it fall to the bottom.  Take your long handled spoon and place it all the way in the cup and then stir briskly but carefully as to not disturb the foam!  OH the stress!!!

Pop in a straw and enjoy this refreshing, old timey fountain drink on a hot summer day!

Your "don't disturb the head" Chefwannabe

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Italian Pasta Salad


Yea, I said it.  Don't act like it is a bad word.  Many of us have one.   It isn't a bad word unless they invite someone for dinner and don't tell you until 15 minutes before they are due to arrive.  I had just decided to settle down with a peanut butter and honey sandwich and bam, he drops it on me. 

Ever been there?  Yea, me too.  I had a similar (though not with hubby) situation recently.  I needed a small salad of some sort to throw on the table and jumped head first into the pantry to see what I could concoct.  I put away my peanut butter and honey sandwich dreams and was thrown right into reality.   I had a little of this and a little of that.  I found a few things I thought would warrant an Italian style pasta salad.  Why Italian?  Well, because.  That's why.

Now, before you look at this dressing and you say, "OMGOSH, that isn't the correct ratio for an oil and vinegar dressing" just chill for a second. while I explain my dang self.  The pour spot come off of my vinegar, which I was pouring into the bowl, that had the last of my olive oil in it.  So, I ......  Worked.  It.  Out.  Because that is how perfect 10 rolls!  Besides, what REAL cook would ever run out of olive oil?  (hanging my head in shame)

This is a small batch.  OK, well to someone who grew up in a family of 12, this is a small batch, it might be normal for someone who was raised in a regular house with a regular amount of people.  And before you ask, the answer is yes, you can use black olives instead of green, or cherry tomatoes instead of cutting up your own.  Remember I was working on a deadline, with what I already had!
Don't mess with the pasta though.  OK, you could use bow ties, but that is it.  In my head, certain pasta goes with certain dishes and we can't just change that, it is far to deep seeded to just change. 

You will need:

2 - 2 1/2 cups dry elbow macaroni
1 medium tomato, diced
1/2 cup green olives, halved or sliced
1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup roasted bell pepper, finely diced.  (you could use just raw, fresh bell pepper as well)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare pasta as directed.  Make sure to use PLENTY of water, pasta needs room to shake its groove thing, so use plenty!  Drain pasta.  In a large bowl combine, tomato, olives, onion, peppers and pasta.  Set aside. 

In a small bowl or large measuring cup combine oil, vinegar, oregano, sugar and salt and pepper.  Whisk until the mixture is combined and smooth.  Pour over pasta and mix until combined.  Chill at LEAST 2-3 hours.  The longer it sits, the better it gets!

I should mention, you could ALWAYS just use a cup of your favorite Italian salad dressing if you don't want to make the dressing I made!!

Enjoy this easy, and yummy salad, great for picnics (no mayo), bbq's or unexpected dinner company!!

Your "don't sweat it" Chefwannabe

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fresh Peaches and Cream Tart

This post if for my sister...........

My sister Karen loves peaches more than anything.  We tease her constantly about putting peaches in EVERYTHING.  I mean, the woman is batcrap crazy with these things!  Peach pie, peach cobbler, peach anything she can think up!  Her birthday is coming so I did one better, I surprised her with a tart.  I knew she hadn't ever made it, attempted to make, or eaten it so, what does good old "perfect 10" do?  Uh huh, she makes food wishes for Karen come true! HA!  By the way, I am the youngest of 10 children, I recently decided it took my parents 9 children before they got a perfect 10, so I have made it my new nickname.  Like it? HA!

By the way, my sister Peg, puts peas in everything.  Gah!

Seriously though, she does love peaches.  This tart is so simple.  It isn't overly sweet, but it is a dream.  I used a couple of my old tried and true recipes and just smacked them together.  They blended beautifully and Karen got her birthday dessert a few days early, and the world is just as it should be!

I am happy to share this with you.  You could trade the peaches out for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, I mean, you could even do pears or kiwi or a mix of your favorite, GOD BLESS AMERICA the options are endless!!!

It has a few steps but none are hard.  So don't freak out..........k?  My tart pan is rectangular but you will use any tart pan you have.  This crust could work for a bazillion tarts.  Let your creativity run wild!  Not like running naked through the jungle wild, but wild in a clothed kinda way.  Ya know?

Crust (shortbread)
2 1/2 cups flour (all purpose)
6 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup butter

Preheat oven to 325 F.  In a bowl mix flour and sugar.  Using a pastry cutter, blend in softened butter.  Combine until mixed and you can squeeze it together and it stays in a clump.  Spray tart pan with nonstick cooking spray just as insurance and press down into a crust.  Make sure it goes up the sides as well and make it as even as possible.  Bake for 15-18 minutes or until slightly golden brown.  You will know when it is done, trust me.  Remove and sit aside to cool while you make the pastry cream!

Pastry Cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half
1 tsp vanilla

Beat your egg yolks in a bowl and set aside. 
In a heavy saucepan mix together sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Slowly add in half and half, mix completely.  Cook over medium heat until bubbly and it starts to thicken, and then cook it one minute.  Keep stirring it will burn SO easy!  Now, SLOWLY drizzle some of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, add in about 1 cup in total to temper the eggs and they won't scramble.  When you have add approx. 1 cup of the liquid, it will heat the eggs up slowly and you can now pour them into the pot with the rest of the hot mixture.  Whisk until combined and bring to a boil, cook for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, add vanilla and combine.  Now, to cool it fast, set the saucepan into a heat safe bowl full of ice and stir occasionally.  It will help it cool faster.

4-5 peaches, peeled and sliced

The answer is, "yes", you need to peel them.  Nobody wants hairy peaches on top of their dessert, right?

Add cooled pastry cream to the tart and spread out evenly.  Add sliced peaches in whatever design you desire. 

OPTION:  Just before serving, I sprinkled the top of mine with sugar and used my torch to brulee the sugar on top! 

There you go an easy tart you can change up 1,000 different ways!  Enjoy being creative, just keep your clothes on!!

Your "anything is possible" Chefwannabe

Friday, June 14, 2013


You know, I posted on my Facebook page that I thought I saw J.J. Evans the other day at the grocery store.  Ironically,  I am now writing a post about a sandwich called a DYNAMITE!  Or as J.J. would say, "dynOMITE".  Am I dating myself?  I used to watch Good Times everyday after school.  It seemed so foreign to me, being a girl from small town rural America.  I can remember thinking that one day I was going to visit a BIG city! HA!

I had a reader request a recipe for a "Dynamite".  I had no idea what it was, but I looked it up, looked around and did some reading.  I found it, shared it with her and she said it was awesome.  I was thrilled.  I feared this might be a lot like a sloppy joe, which I loathe.  It is, but it isn't.  It is in the sense that is ground beef with a tomato based sauce.  But it isn't your typical sloppy joe-ish kind of flavor it is SO MUCH BETTER!

You might want to adjust the red pepper to your desired heat level.  I can tell you with 1 1/2 tsp that I added made it PRETTTTTTY hot!!  Go with what you think you will like, you can always add!  This is a perfect recipe for a crowd, or game day parties or anytime!!!

You can prepare this and put in your crock pot to simmer all day!  I only let mine simmer 2 hours and it was amazeballs!

2 lbs ground beef
1 lg yellow bell pepper (approx. 1 cup), diced
1 lg green pepper (approx. 1 cup), diced
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (adjust to your desired heat level, this was fairly hot!)
2- 8oz cans of tomato paste
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups water

In a large pot, brown hamburger.  If you have a lot of grease in the bottom drain and return to pot, otherwise don't worry about it. When it is completely browned add in the bell peppers and onions.  Saute and let cook with the hamburger for 5 minutes.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir well.  Turn to low and simmer at least 2 hours.  You can put this in your crock pot and let it simmer up to 8 hours!  The longer it simmers the better it is!

Serve on crusty rolls!!

Your "hates sloppy joe's  but loves dynamites" Chefwannabe

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fiesta Taco Dip

Hola!  Again, I have to stop there.  It is the limit of my Spanish writing abilities.  Does this recipe even qualify as Spanish?  I doubt it. 

I am a fan of Mexican food in general.  I like authentic Mexican food but I got to tell ya, and I am not ashamed, I am a bigger lover of Americanized Mexican food.  Does that make sense?  Does it make me a horrible person?   Like I said, I love authenticity in food, especially Italian food, I DEMAND it, usually.  Mexican food, not so much.  However, give me a good dip, a fat burrito, maybe even some loaded nachos and  a sombrero, and I can rock it! 

Wait, did I actually forget to say a corona with lime?!?  I am!

Regardless, this recipe is awesome, and it is a recipe from my bestie, Mel.  She used to bring this to my house for parties, or make it on long nights when we would stay up talkin' girl stuff and devour a boatload of this stuff!   This is an easy dip, no bake, no fuss, just a few ingredients and it will please a crowd for sure! Grab a back of tortilla chips and you are out the door!  Here is the recipe..

1 8oz pkg softened cream cheese
1 8oz jar of taco SAUCE 
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (fine shred)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 4oz can of green chili's
1/2 cup black olives (optional)
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced (optional)

In a bowl combine cream cheese and taco sauce with your hand mixer.  Mix until creamy and light.  Spread mixture into approximately a 9x9 baking dish or casserole.  I used a round, you can use round or square.  Now cover the top with your grated cheese and refrigerate 30 minutes.  Sprinkle the rest of your toppings on top.  I like to put the green chili's on the outside in a ring to just make it prettier.  I did not use olives and green peppers on mine but those toppings are optional.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

I would not make this WAY ahead or you risk the tomatoes going mushy in the refrigerator.  I loathe mushy tomatoes!!  OR, as I did tonight, just put the cheese on top and save the rest of the toppings until just before you serve.  I need one for Tuesday so that is what I did as well. 

Enjoy this easy, yummy dip!!

Your "I love pickys" Chefwannabe

Monday, June 10, 2013

Pineapple Cheesecake Popsicles!

Do you remember summers when you were kid?  Didn't it seem a lot longer, a lot hotter, and a lot more carefree?  I mean, obviously when you are a kid you don't have adult responsibilities but it seemed like even my parents life was more carefree in the summer. 

My typical summer as a kid, was getting up early, going to the "little" baseball field 2 blocks away and playing morning league baseball with every other kid in town.  I would go home, play, have lunch, usually a trip or two through the sprinkler, help my mom in the garden or with canning, have lunch and then off to the swimming pool.  We would swim from when the doors opened until they closed.  Sometimes, my dad would give us a quarter to walk during one of the "breaks"  to the Ord Drive In, to get an ice cream cone.  Barefoot and carefree, with my ice cream, and living in my swimsuit.  Now THAT was my idea of a great summer. 

When I think of summer food, I think about burgers, sliced tomatoes, hot dogs, bologna sandwiches which thanks to a childhood full of bologna, I can no longer tolerate the sight or smell of!  Mostly I remember my mom making popsicles.  She had these Tupperware popsicle molds.  Do you remember those?  Sometimes we would use a plain ice cube tray and stick the "washed" popsicle sticks in.  Yes, we did that, we would eat a store bought popsicle, which we didn't get very often actually and SAVE the sticks, they would get washed and had a place in the silverware drawer for making our own!!  ACK!  Sometimes we got those long frozen ones in the plastic.  You know the ones, the ones that you eat and then with great determination try to suck the juice left at the bottom out of?!  I loved green.  I loved red too. 

Well, since summer is so near, and since I have my fill of frozen kool aid popsicles, I wanted to make something fancier.  Who can have to many popsicle variations?  They are like cupcakes that way....NOT possible.  You see variations of this recipe everywhere I am sure.  But I want to share with you that BEST version, well, in my opinion anyway!  You could trade this fruit choice out for anything but let me assure you, the combination of pineapple and cheesecake is one, you should NOT tamper with willingly.  Ok let me reiterate, when I tell you these are AMAZING, I mean, like......the day they invented electricity, kind of amazing.  Got it?

I bought these molds at Family Dollar.  You can buy them nearly anywhere.  Mine were 1.50 for the 4 popsicle molds.  I bought 3.  This recipe will make anywhere from 9-12 depending on the size of your molds and how full you fill them.  Ready?

1 8oz. pkg Philadelphia cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk  (NOT evaporated)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple WITH juice.  (don't drain!)
1/2 cup milk

Combine cream cheese and condensed milk until creamy.  Add in milk and blend with your hand mixer until combined.  Add in pineapple last so that you keep a few of the chunkier pieces. 
Fill your popsicle molds not quite to the top.  Put the tops on.  If you are using wooden sticks, place foil over the molds and poke the sticks through the middle of each popsicle so that foil will hold them upright.

Freeze at LEAST 8 hours.  Because these have cream cheese in them they won't freeze rock hard like a regular all liquid popsicle.  They will be the consistency of say, a, pudding pop.  Run the mold under warm water until it will lift out easily.  This make take a few seconds, be patient!  My husband kept pulling the sticks out when he would remove one, I never had the problem at all.  Likely because I have patience.  (just a guess). 

These are creamy, rich, and refreshing all at the same time.   Don't worry, I have more summer treats coming your way!  ENJOY!!

Your "lick fast" chefwannabe

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Stuffed Cupcakes

Hello to my favorite people!  It is so good to be back, in the kitchen, writing, creating, and sharing!  Wow, that sounded like a PBS television show.  I affectionately call it the coma channel, between the Victory Garden, Bob Ross, and the quilting lady, who needs sleeping pills?

I am BACK!  Done with sickness and back, better than ever!  Well, that might be a bit of an assumption but  I am hoping it will be true.  I think besides having double ear infection and a sinus infection, my MIND needed a break too.  I feel so refreshed.  Of course part of my excitement could be simply that I can breath again.  I can take 3 steps without hacking up a lung!  Oh, if I had a dollar for each time I said, "God, if you just make me feel better I swear I will never EVER say I am not feeling well to get out of anything again" I would be a rich woman.  By the way, the jury is still out on if this is a legit agreement. 

I have had this idea swimming in my head for awhile and decided it would be my "out of sickness" post.  I knew it wasn't going to be difficult because I used ALL box products.  Except the butter cream.  Yes, I did, and if you choose to be a better person than I, you can make your cake from scratch and the cookie dough as well.  This is a great recipe for little hands to help with.  It is fun, and when you bite in and you get cookie dough, well, come on now, that is the bomb diggity in, and of itself!

Please enjoy these!  I am on a cupcake kick, be expecting some cool stuff!!!  I will post the cupcake recipe first, and then beneath will be the chocolate butter cream recipe.  This amount of butter cream is the perfect, exact, on the dot, amount of frosting for 24 cupcakes! 

1 devils food cake or just plain chocolate cake mix
1 roll of refrigerated cookie dough (or make your own)

Prepare cake mix as directed on the back of the box.  Set bowl aside.  Line cupcake tins with liners.  Add 1 tsp cake batter to the bottom of each. 

Take the cookie dough and divide into 28 slices.  OK, that was my original intention.  I wanted enough balls for the cupcakes and a few leftover to bake plain to crumble on top.  You will get about 3-4 balls from 2 slices.  I trust you will do fine with this.  If you don't care about crumbling any on top, then by all means, just divide into 24 balls. 

Now put a ball of dough in the center of each cupcake liner.  It makes no difference if they aren't EXACTLY the same size.  Don't fret.  Just go with the flow! 

Now divide the batter among all of the cupcakes.  Just get the dough balls covered.  Make sure to press them down a bit into the batter at the bottom too. 

Now, bake according to the direction on the box.  Mine was 350 F, for 18-23 minutes.  Mine took 20 exactly.  When they are done, let them sit and cool. 

Chocolate Butter cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter + 3 tbsp 
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Mix all ingredients until smooth and creamy.  Pipe or spread with a knife on top of cooled cupcakes.  YUMMO!

Your "Eat More Cupcakes" Chefwannabe

Monday, June 3, 2013

Garlic Parmesan Croutons

Salad, glorious salad!  Regardless of if you prefer, iceberg, bib, romaine, dandelion, spinach, or wild greens, it is the season for a refreshing, crispy salad!  And every great salad deserves a great crouton as its crowning glory!

How many of you buy croutons?  Are you the same ones who throw out stale old bread?  Well, your day has arrived.  You paid for that bread, now USE it!  Why buy store bought croutons when you have all the making for the best croutons you have ever eaten at home?  Personally I am a fan of the crouton, some people are not.  I think it is like eating the best piece of garlic bread, crusty and crunchy  with your salad, only you don't have to put one down to eat the other, you can do it at once! I love little else better than a salad full of fresh veggies, and some boiled eggs.  Add a little grilled chicken and I am over the moon!

These croutons are easy and delicious.  DO NOT feel like you have to go buy french bread.  I used plain bread kids, stale bread that would have otherwise become breadcrumbs in the freezer.  French bread gives you a fabulous result but, heck, so do hamburger buns.  Use whatever bread you have on hand!  They will go rather quickly, so make sure to keep on eye on them and even give them a flip or toss if you like halfway through cooking. 

3-4 slices of french bread, 1 inch thick and cut into cubes
5 tbsp butter
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
½ tsp onion powder
2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Get out a cookie sheet and set aside. Put cubed bread into a large bowl. In a microwave safe bowl, melt your butter, add seasonings, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and onion powder. Stir to combine. Pour over the bread cubes and toss until all the cubes are coated well. Spread onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and sprinkle over your Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes. Check often to make sure they aren't burning!! Let cool completely and serve!
Your "no green rings around my hardboiled eggs yolks please"chefwannabe