31 July 2011

Summer Salad

Okay, so I know I don't post many savory recipes here. I don't know why I don't share more of them. Maybe because they don't seem as fun as sweet treats? Baking and sharing a recipe just seems so much easier to me than cooking and sharing one. Why? Because I hardly ever measure when I cook. Even when I follow recipes I approximate. I go all Rachael Ray and use my hand as a 1/4 cup measure. And normally, when I'm cooking, it's for dinner. I don't always have the time to stop and measure and write while trying to get dinner on the table (to say nothing of trying to photograph quickly before serving to a hungry husband and a hungry but I'm-not-gonna-eat-that-it's-gross kid).

BUT I have a few recipes I have to share with you. I made several "old standbys" for my husband's party and managed to photograph them (sort of). I'm hoping, as time allows, to post one of these recipes each week for the next few. (The only reason I want school to start? So I can have time to write without feeling guilty.)

The first I have to share with you is this Summer Salad, or Summer "Explosion" Salad as I've alternatively titled it. I made this for dinner last Wednesday and it was so good I couldn't stop thinking about it. In fact, I'm making it again on Monday. And my husband doesn't care; that's how good it is.

This recipe is a knockoff of one we had on our Las Vegas trip. We dined at Spiedini Ristorante on our anniversary. It's an Italian restaurant that was in our hotel and I was pleasantly surprised by it; the food was great and the service was beyond awesome. This is my version of their Signature Chopped Salad. They molded theirs all pretty, see:

(Mel and I split it.)

I tried to mold mine, but my 6" cake pans were too big. Oh well, it was great anyway and much less work unmolded! They also topped theirs with crunchy fried onions, which are still conveniently tucked in my cabinet since I forgot to add them to mine. Now I must make it again!

This salad has so many good things in it. And so many good summer veggies.

But the awesome thing about this salad is that you can really put whatever veggies you want inside. Have some tomatoes? Go ahead, add them. Don't like raw zucchini? No worries, leave it out. Add carrots or cucumber or pickled radishes, whatever you want. (Well, maybe not the pickled radishes, but who am I to judge? After all, I like eating canned frosting with a spoon.)

BUT there are two items you cannot leave out: the avocado and the bacon (unless you're a vegetarian that is, maybe find a soy alternative).

The avocado really is the star in this salad. And the bacon adds a salty crunch. I mean, who doesn't love bacon?

Is it "vinagrette" or "vinaigrette"? I saw both spellings. To be fair, I used them both.

There is one thing I changed from the original. The restaurant version had a Russian Vinaigrette (which was very good) but when trying to find a recipe I just couldn't do it. Mayonnaise and ketchup? Worcestershire? Sauerkraut? I have a thing about condiments. (I don't like them. At. All.) So I used salsa and plain yogurt and made a creamy salsa vinaigrette instead. YUM.

The crispness of the vegetables along with the spicy creaminess of the dressing mixes with the salty bacon and creamy avocado and creates one heck of a party in your mouth. I'm so serious, you haven't lived until you've tasted this salad. GO MAKE IT! (Sorry, that was really bossy. Let's try this again: GO MAKE IT, please.) You won't be sorry.


Summer Salad
(Note: there is a print option embedded in this post. Please visit the post to print.)

Romaine lettuce, chopped (about 4 cups)
Corn, from one ear (already cooked; about 1 cup)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
1 avocado
4 slices bacon, cooked, drained, and chopped
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons salsa
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste
French's Fried Onions, if desired


  1. Mix the yogurt, salsa, vinegar, oil, honey, salt, and pepper in a measuring cup or small bowl container and whisk until combined. Place your chopped lettuce in a salad bowl and toss with dressing.
  2. Layer your corn, bell pepper, zucchini, and bacon on top of the lettuce.
  3. Dice the avocado and place on top the rest of the ingredients. Garnish with the fried onions, if desired (it tasted fine without them!)
  4. Repeat every day because the salad is so good you can't get enough.
Yield: makes two main-dish portions.

Source: copied from Spiedini Ristorante

This recipe will be linked with Savory Sunday (The Sweet Details).

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28 July 2011

Brownie Batter Ice Cream

Apparently, July is National Ice Cream Month.  Many of the blogs I read have put out some super-delicious and sinful ice creams over the past few weeks. In the back of my mind I kept telling myself to make some ice cream. Because, now that I have a food blog, isn't it practically a rule that I celebrate all these food holidays? I'm sure it's written in some blogger handbook somewhere, in all sorts of legalize. It's probably a law.

A few months ago I actually printed out a calendar of a bunch of the holidays. And then I promptly lost it (although I bet if I look hard enough at all of Jordan's artwork I could find it), which is why the best food holiday (hello, it's ice cream) almost passed me by. I've talked about my OCD in previous posts. Obviously it does not extend to food holidays.


I've wanted to make this ice cream for awhile, ever since I made those Brownie Batter Crispy Treats. I've had this open box of brownie mix sitting in my cabinet just calling to me every time I get my baking stuff out.  I figured if I was going to make it, it had to be this week. I needed to make it in time to celebrate National Ice Cream month, after all.

And I have no reason to hesitate about having homemade, full-fat ice cream in my freezer. My pants still totally fit me after four days of eating my way though Las Vegas.  Ahem.

I used what was left of my open box of brownie mix to make this ice cream. I made a half-batch of brownies and used the rest of the mix in the ice cream. Because what would Brownie Batter Ice Cream be without actual brownies in it?

Plus, by using the rest of the box, I will be forced to open another when I want to make some other brownie batter treat, thus starting this whole song-and-dance over again.

This ice cream is really good. Too good. I'm-going-to-have-to-give-it-away good. And since it's 100 degrees here in Sacramento, giving it away might pose a problem. Needless to say, if you come to my house sometime soon, I will figure out a way to fill you with Brownie Batter Ice Cream. Yesterday the ice cream man helped me more than I ever thought he would. Jordan had two friends over and he drove by, eliciting begging for ice cream. I just gave a wicked smile.  Three scoops down...so many to go!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Brownie Batter Ice Cream
(See below for printer-friendly button.)

For the brownies:
2 cups brownie mix (from 9x13 family size box)
1 egg
¼ cup oil
2 tablespoons water

For the ice cream:
1 cup nonfat milk*
1 cup whipping cream*
2 cups whole milk*
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 ½ cups brownie mix (the powder, not prepared)
Pinch salt

*My ice cream maker calls for 4 cups total of liquid in its recipes. You can use 4 cups of any type of milk/cream you want (some whole, some 2%, some nonfat, some cream, etc.). Just make sure to use 4 cups.

For the Brownies:
Preheat oven to 350°.  Mix all ingredients in a medium size bowl and stir until combined (about 50 strokes). Pour into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool completely.

For the ice cream:
1.       In a large Tupperware bowl, whisk together milks, vanilla, brownie mix, and pinch salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight. If your ice cream maker requires it, make sure the canister is in the freezer.
2.       Crumble some of the brownies you baked. You can use as much or as few as you like. (I used about ¾ of the loaf.) I won’t judge you for how you dispose of the rest of the batch.
3.       Set up your ice cream maker. Remove the ice cream mixture from the refrigerator and shake to stir. Pour into running ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer instructions. Add the crumbled brownies to the machine just before it is finished churning. Transfer to a Tupperware bowl and store in the freezer. The ice cream should chill for at least 2 hours before eating.

Yield: 5 cups ice cream

This recipe will be linked with:
Tuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayThis Chick Cooks.  ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls), Tasty Thursday (The How To Mommy), Turning the Table Thursday (Around My Family Table). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned Life

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25 July 2011

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Filling

We're back from Las Vegas, happy to be home but sad that vacation is over. As I write this my husband is on his way to pick up our daughter from her grandparents' house. I'm excited to see her - this is the longest we've ever left her (five whole nights!)  It will be good to get back into our routine and have a few weeks of summer relaxation before she heads back to school.

I love Las Vegas. Before Jordan was born we would go every year, sometimes more than once. We'd stay at one of the big casinos and dance and gamble and drink and stay out late. Since Jordan was born, we've only been once, and she was with us, so it wasn't exactly the same sort of experience.  And neither was this one. Maybe we're just getting old or parenthood has caught up with us, but staying up all night and waking with a hangover is not how I like vacationing anymore. We chose Vegas for one reason: in summer it's super cheap. We didn't stay on the strip; we stayed at the JW Marriott just a few minutes away. And it was wonderful. If you ever go to Las Vegas and want to experience the glitz from afar, stay there. If you go in summer, you can stay for an amazing price. We did go into "town" one day and shopped at the Venetian and at Caesar's (where I felt claustrophobic from all the people). We saw the Blue Man Group which was a great show. I know they are touring right now; if you have the chance you should go see them. It was very funny and had good music, and there was audience participation. I had no idea what to expect going in and I was very pleased with it.

By now you're thinking...um, what does this have to do with these cake pictures? The short answer: nothing. But since I had your rapt attention at "Chocolate" and "Peanut Butter" I thought I'd go on and on about my trip. (Insert witch cackle here.)

So back to the matter at hand...Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Filling. This was the cake we served at my husbands' birthday party. Two moist, super-delicious chocolate cake layers (using my favorite chocolate cake recipe) filled with a peanut butter cream cheese filling and chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Oh yes, I chopped them up and put them right in the center.

This cake is a meal. Serve with a side of milk and vanilla ice cream and you can be done until tomorrow, I promise.  I topped it with vanilla buttercream because I knew the inside would be plenty of heavy and sweet. It really was the perfect combination. (Serving note: the cake was room temperature when we served it at the party and it tasted way better that way than when I ate more the next day from the fridge.)

So, in case you're interested, here's what I did on the top:
*The birth announcement (top left) is made from a white Air-Head candy, written on with food writers.
*I used plastic football and baseball key chains on top of a little blue frosting to represent my husband's youth sports days (baseball, football, and swimming).
*The RHHS and CND graduation hats and diplomas were made with a mold found at Party City and done with melted chocolate.
*The Matterhorn, SD baseball cap (back row), and cactus were made out of cake ball material and covered in chocolate. (The Matterhorn depicts his European trip after high school, the San Diego hat for the time he lived there and loved the Padres, and the cactus is for when we lived in Arizona.)
*The Golden Gate Bridge is a magnet (representing his time in San Francisco), the wedding cake is a candle, the baby carriage and Eiffel Tower are cake toppers (we spent our 2nd anniversary in Paris) and the moving truck is a toy I found at Party City and represents our drive back to where we live now, outside Sacramento.

I loved putting this cake together. I was very happy with the outcome and most people at the party could understand the story behind it. Eating the edible toppers was a bonus too!

So go make this cake. You need to make it. I'm serious. If you love peanut butter and chocolate as much as I do your life is not complete without it!


Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Filling
(See below for my new print icon.)

Chocolate Cake (from a box or your favorite recipe)
Your favorite vanilla buttercream or canned icing
30 mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, chopped (more or less depending on the size of your cake)
Peanut Butter Filling (recipe below)

Bake and cool cakes. (If you are using one 9x13 cake, cut it in half, or tort, it lengthwise.) Fill with the peanut butter filling and chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Frost with the vanilla buttercream. (I like to do a "crumb coat" which is a very light coating of the buttercream that you let dry before doing a final coat.) Serve room temperature.

*My cake had two 9x13 layers (three times the cake recipe), one recipe of peanut butter filling, and four times the recipe for the buttercream. For one 9x13 cake or two 9" rounds, I would use half the filling recipe and twice the buttercream.*

Peanut Butter Filling
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter (I use Skippy Naturals)
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the butter, peanut butter, and cream cheese with a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) until light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar (about a cup at a time) and mix until incorporated. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. Mix until combined, adding more milk if needed for desired consistency.

Yield: will frost the top and sides of one 9x13 cake

This recipe will be linked with:
MondayMingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Joy of DessertsTuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart), This Chick Cooks.  ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned LifeSavory Sunday (The Sweet Details)

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19 July 2011

Anniversary Cheesecake (with Macadamia Nut Shortbread Crust)

On Friday my husband and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. I can't believe it. It seems like it was yesterday that we started our lives together. Since we got married we've moved to a new state, moved again, had a kid, moved back to the home state. He changed jobs, I changed jobs, I stopped working to stay home with our daughter. We got a cat and a dog. We've had great times and hard times.  And he's still my best friend, unconditionally.

I still think about my wedding day - the beautiful sun, the music, the people, the dancing. Have you ever watched back your wedding video? It's a fun experience. The first time Jordan saw it she was about two and freaked out because she couldn't understand why I was on the TV and next to her in the room.

I don't remember the food we had at our wedding. I mean, it was good food. I didn't have any complaints. But it was just basic catering food; a buffet filled with chicken and pasta and salad. But you know what part of the meal I do remember?

The cake.

That's not fondant or real flowers...it's chocolate!

Oh, the cake. When Mel and I first met we used to hike along the ocean. Afterwards we would drive to this little not-quite-a-storefront cake shop. When he had worked for FedEx he used to deliver and pick-up there. He had become friends with the owner and she'd give him leftovers of the cakes she was making. But she didn't make just any old cake, my friends. No, it wasn't regular cake that would draw us to her shop over and over.

She made cheesecakes. As wedding cake. Cheesecake with the best crust you've ever eaten. A macadamia nut shortbread crust. Oh. My. Goodness.

When it came up on our tenth anniversary, I thought, hey, why don't I order us a little cake? She ships them all over. And then I saw the prices. She's become popular over the years (once she was one of the choices on the Today Show wedding series) and now her tiny serves two serves 10 cakes are over $70.

So I decided to make my own.

Now, this isn't her recipe. It's not a $70 cheesecake. But it is darn good.

I used Lorna Doone cookies in the crust. And macadamia nuts. And, because a San Andreas Fault sized crack opened in the top I like chocolate, I drizzled the top with it. And added more nuts. The filling? Is a recipe for the Cheesecake Factory cheesecake I found here. And it's so good. I've never added sour cream to a cheesecake before and boy, have I been missing out. It makes it so creamy!

So, Happy Anniversary to my husband. I love you and am looking forward to the next 10 years together!

And now, to celebrate, we are off to Las Vegas. Alone. Just the two of us. For three whole nights! *Happy Dance*

Have a great week, everyone!

Anniversary Cheesecake (aka Creamy Cheesecake with a Macadamia Nut Shortbread Crust)
Print Friendly and PDF

For the Crust:
1 cup macadamia nuts (plus more for garnish)
5 oz/1 sleeve Lorna Doone cookies (from a 10 ounce package, about 19 cookies)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter

For the Filling:
3 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese (1 ½ pounds), at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
16 ounces sour cream, at room temperature
¼ cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Hot fudge and macadamia nuts, for garnish (if desired)

1.       Preheat oven to 325°.
2.       Finely chop macadamia nuts in a food processor. Add to a medium bowl. Finely chop the cookies in the food processor and add to the nuts. Mix in sugar and melted butter and stir until combined. Press in the bottom of a 9” springform pan. Set aside.
3.       Beat cream cheese on low speed until fluffy using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the sugar and mix on low until creamy. Add one egg at a time, mixing in between each addition.  Add the flour, lemon juice, and vanilla and mix until combined. Add the sour cream and beat well.
4.       Pour the mixture on top of the prepared crust. Bake for one hour and 15 minutes.  Turn off the oven and prop open the oven door. Let the cheesecake sit for one hour. Remove from oven and cool completely. Chill 24 hours before serving.
5.       Before serving, melt ¼ cup of hot fudge and pour over cheesecake. Top with more chopped macadamia nuts.

Source: Cheesecake (Crust adapted) from www.Momswhothink.com.

This recipe will be linked with:
MondayMingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Joy of DessertsTuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart), This Chick Cooks.  ThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned LifeSavory Sunday (The Sweet Details)


17 July 2011

The Party

So, yesterday was my husbands' birthday. What, you didn't know? (Just kidding.)  I thought, since I've bored you to tears talked about this party an annoying amount a lot in the past few weeks, that I'd share it with you. Everything happened exactly as I had hoped. My husband was so happy all day. He got to go golfing in the morning and see a lot of friends that he hasn't seen in years. One came from as far away as Arizona (we are outside of Sacramento) to help him celebrate. As I write this I am still recovering. A full week of getting ready and a full day of entertaining and staying up late and several cocktails makes for a tired Dorothy.

There were lots of fun decorations. I am big into pictures so I bugged family members and dug through my old boxes of photos and plastered the house with them. Mel loves Tapatio hot sauce (he puts it on everything) so that was one of the take-away goodies. I couldn't just give away plain bottles, so I spruced them up a bit.

I think the dessert table was my favorite thing to put together. I have no idea why. (Wink, wink.) I had originally wanted to buy a pennant banner to hang but couldn't find one I liked. I'm glad I didn't spend the money - it was super easy to make. I will be posting recipes for the cake and pops soon! And see those huge containers of M&Ms and Reese's? NONE of the Reese's got eaten. I think I'm going to try this recipe with the leftovers. And make ice cream. And gorge myself sick on them.

There was lots of food.

I have a few good recipes I want to share in the coming weeks. The photos aren't great, unfortunately. Have you ever tried to line up great professional-looking photos at a party where hungry guests are waiting? Not. Easy.

There was dart playing.

And kid playing. I think they had fun. I don't know, I wasn't allowed in their lair.

There was cake.

It was chocolate. And peanut butter. Recipe soon. I promise. I have a bunch left over. (Thank God.)

By far, my favorite thing at the party was the photo booth I set up for the guests. I totally stole this idea from Katie at Loves of Life. She did it for her daughters' birthday party and as SOON as I saw it on her blog I knew I had to do it. I set up a tripod with an old camera on it. I set it for timer and made sure to adjust the settings so it wouldn't power down automatically (thus erasing the timer setting). I made an instruction sign so everyone would know what to push.  And we made a paper Mel for a prop.

What is a paper Mel? Have a look:

We traced my husband using a roll of paper. We painted his clothes and printed out a photo of his face and stapled him to the fence. I had a really fun time over the past few weeks talking about paper Mel. He's still out there. I kind of don't want to take him down.

It was such a great party. My husband had a great time. Thanks for indulging me. Recipes to come soon, I promise.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! What did you do?

(I'm linking up this post with Kim today. She has an awesome blog. If you don't read her, you're missing out. Check her out!)


13 July 2011

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles

I just realized that this is the second post in a row that I will be doing about peanut butter and chocolate. This one was planned and the other just sort of happened. Oops. Although, from my trips around the blogosphere, I've come to realize peanut butter and chocolate is a popular combination in other homes besides my own, so I hope you don't mind my obsession.

Saturday is my husbands' 50th birthday. I may have mentioned we're having a party. Ha! I'm slightly obsessed. (If you read "slightly" as "obsessively obsessed.") I've been planning this party for months. First it was all in my head. Then I started making lists. And more lists. And excel spreadsheets.

Yes, I'm that kind of person.

I make lists for my lists. I color code. I make to-do lists by day and store. I organize my shopping lists by area of where I'm shopping. Hearing about all this, you probably think I am an uber-organized person who only uses wooden hangers and can eat off the tile floor. But you're wrong. I'm only this organized when I'm planning something: a party, a trip, a blog.

I love to plan. I can assure you that, as soon as this party is over, my mind will wander to Jordan's next birthday (which is not until February). I will tell my mind to stop; that it's crazy to think about something so far in the future. But it'll do it anyway. It's like I have no control over where it goes.

Anyhoo...now that you know I'm all shades of crazy, let's get back to the matter at hand, shall we?

Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles. It pretty much says it all right there, doesn't it? Maybe I should have named them "Bites of Goodness" or "Better Than...Truffles." Because they are. That. Good.

I'm not serving these at the party this weekend, but they would be perfect for it. If you've been reading for awhile, you'll know my husband isn't really a die-hard sweets guy, like I am. He's more of a "that's okay, I'll have my Skinny Cow Cup, you can eat that pie" kind of guy.  But he loves peanut butter and chocolate. Peanut Butter Cups will abound this weekend. We will be swimming in them.

I used the recipe for the easiest and best peanut butter cookies ever for the center of these truffles. But, instead of using egg (because I didn't want to kill those on the receiving end) I used milk instead.

This recipe is super easy. And SO worth it. What's better than raw cookie dough? Dipped in melted chocolate? And if the cookie dough is peanut butter?


You know what's really hard about having a ton of Reese's Peanut Butter cups stacked in my dining room while I write this post?

The fact that I can't eat them and these pictures make me want them so bad.

Trust me. You have all of the ingredients in your pantry. You know you do. Go make some!


Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles
Printer-Friendly Recipe

1 cup peanut butter (I use Skippy Naturals)
¾ cup sugar (if you are using regular peanut butter, start with ½ cup and taste after)
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups chocolate melts (such as Wilton), almond bark, or chocolate chips
Sprinkles and/or chopped peanuts for decoration

1.       Stir together the peanut butter, sugar, vanilla, and milk in a medium bowl. The mixture will be thick. Drop by tablespoonfulls onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. (I use a 1-inch cookie scoop for this step.) Freeze for at least 30 minutes.
2.       Melt your chocolate in the microwave safe bowl according to the package directions. I like to do mine at 50% power for 1 minute, stir, then additional increments of 30 seconds (also on 50% power) stirring in between, until it is melted.  Dip the peanut butter cookie dough balls in the chocolate and place on the cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
3.       Top with sprinkles or chopped nuts. Chill until firm.

Tips for dipping:
·         I like to heat my electric griddle on very low heat (200°) and cover it with two kitchen towels. I then set my bowl of melted chocolate on the griddle so the chocolate stays liquid. Stir it every once in a while to make sure the sides don’t harden.
·         Add your peanut butter ball to the chocolate and (using a spoon) cover it with chocolate. I then use a toothpick to pick it up and set it on the cookie sheet, first dabbing off the excess chocolate with the spoon. Sometimes the toothpick will slide out easily; other times I will use a second toothpick to gently ease the first one out of the truffle. If the hole is large, use the spoon to cover with a little chocolate. It doesn’t need to look perfect; that’s what the sprinkles are for!
·         I chill my truffles in the refrigerator for about an hour before packaging or stacking.

Yield: about 24 truffles

This recipe will be linked with:
MondayMingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Joy of DessertsTuesday2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking). WednesdayCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart),, This Chick CooksThursdaySweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls). FridaySweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son). SaturdaySweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies). SundayA Well-Seasoned LifeSavory Sunday (The Sweet Details)

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08 July 2011

S'mores. With Peanut Butter Chocolate.

Oh yes, I did.

But hold on, let me give you the background first.

I've been on vacation for the past few days in "OMG there was no fog this trip" San Francisco. Well, more of a "staycation" than a vacation. My parents go to Oregon every summer and so, in the interest of saving money, getting away from the inferno that is Sacramento, and playing tourist in the city I grew up in, we headed to their house to stay. No hotel costs = semi-free vacation.

The problem with visiting where you grew up is that there is well...visiting to do. Whenever we visit there we hardly ever do more than head to the park. So we packed it all in this trip: BART, Union Square, Chinatown, the Zoo, Half Moon Bay and the beach. We had a great trip.

There is a famous chocolate shop in San Francisco. Maybe you've heard of it? Ghirardelli. Oh, yum. They make little squares of goodness. Chocolate squares and chocolate mint squares and chocolate caramel squares.

And, for the love of all things PB&C...Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares. My husband saw them first. We snatched them up faster than you can say "I'm gonna gain five pounds but it is SO worth it."

I wish I could claim this recipe idea as my own. But I can't. My daughter came up with it.


We were roasting marshmallows over the front burner of the gas stove in my parents' kitchen when she thought of it. I think she just wanted to try one of the squares. She had chosen marshmallows over a Ghirardelli square for dessert and wanted to come up with a way to have both.

She's a genius. Do they have dessert Mensa? 'Cuz she's so totally in.

Roast a marshmallow. I like mine burnt on the outside, smooshy and melty on the inside.

Grab two graham cracker squares. And squish the toasty fire-burnt goodness together with a peanut butter Girardelli square. (Or a Reese's, whichever you have.)

Watch the chocolate and peanut butter ooze out from beneath the graham squares. Catch the ooze in your mouth. Or lick the counter. Whatever, I won't tell.

Pure genius.  Peanut Butter Chocolate S'mores. The scary thing about this recipe? I almost always have the ingredients on hand.  Good for me. Bad for me.

So...we're back from our trip. Sad. But we have a lot to look forward to, first of which is my husband's 50th birthday next weekend. Which I'm hosting. At my house. And cooking and baking for. So, if I'm a bit absent over the next week or so, you'll know why.

But? There will be peanut butter and chocolate at the party (his favorite combo). So at least I'll have this recipe (and all the ingredients) for Peanut Butter Chocolate S'mores to dissolve my stress.

See? Silver lining, people. Silver lining.


Peanut Butter Chocolate S'mores
Printer-Friendly Recipe

Peanut Butter Cups or Squares (Reese's or Ghirardelli or whatever you have)
Graham cracker squares, twice the number of your marshmallows and cups

Roast your marshmallow over a flame. Top one graham square with a peanut butter cup and place the roasted marshmallow on top. Top with another graham square. Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

This recipe will be linked with:

Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls), Sweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son), Sweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies), A Well-Seasoned LifeSavory Sunday (The Sweet Details), Simply Delish (KB and Whitesnakes Home)

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05 July 2011

Chocolate Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

Birthdays are a big deal in my house. From the special breakfast made for the birthday girl or boy to the birthday cake, it's a day of celebration. I know a lot of parents that don't do huge birthday parties for their kids, but for me? The bigger the better. I like the planning, the decorating, the cooking and baking. I start thinking about them months ahead of time. My husbands' 50th birthday is in 11 days and I started planning it shortly after my daughters' birthday in February.

You might say I'm obsessed. And you're not wrong.

Towards the end of the school year, there were lots of birthdays happening in my daughters' Kindergarten class. It seems like every day they celebrated someone's birthday. "Cupcakes" became part of the school day. A lot of the kids in her class have summer birthdays, so May was the "Un-Birthday" month.  All the celebrations got me to thinking. Everyone in her class had a special day to be sung too and have a treat in their honor. Everyone, that is, except her teacher. It turns out Mrs. D's birthday is also in summer so no one knew to celebrate it.

That just didn't seem fair to me. I mean, all year long Mrs. D cranked out birthday crowns with glitter and sparkles and led the kids in "Happy Birthday cha-cha-chocolate." I doubt that "birthday crown maker" is really part of her job description. She deserved a birthday too. So, we decided to surprise her. I made a cake and another mom collected money for a pedicure gift certificate. Jordan made her a crown. Someone brought a balloon. And we sang to her. And she was surprised and she loved it. She works so hard; she deserved a little pampering. I was happy to help give it to her.

I added chocolate chips in between the layers.
I decided to make this cake because I've never made one with coffee in it (and almost every chocolate cake recipe you come across has some coffee in the recipe). You can't taste the coffee; it just gives the cake a richer taste. This cake is very moist and delicious and comes from one of my favorite cake cookbooks.  The frosting is made with marshmallow creme. The minute I saw the recipe on Baked Bree I knew I had to try it. It's sweet and delicious and a nice change from regular buttercream.

I piped the words using melted pink candy melts (Wilton).
A few notes about the recipe:
*I made one 6"x3" round cake and about 8 cupcakes. The recipe is written to make one 9" cake.
*The frosting I made covered the (split in half) 6" round cake but there was not enough frosting left for all of the cupcakes. (Well, at least the way I frost!) If you are making a 9" cake and leaving it one layer you should have enough, but if you are cutting it in half to make a layer cake you may need a double batch of frosting.

I hope you enjoy! I didn't get any inside shots of the cake because it was a gift. But I tasted the cupcakes - delicious!


Chocolate Cake
From The Cake Book
Keywords: chocolate cake
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup natural (unsweetened) cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1/3 cup whole milk (at room temperature)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and flour the bottom of two 6x3” pans or one 9x3” pan (a springform pan works also but be sure to wrap the bottom with foil to prevent leakage).
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar and, using the paddle attachment, mix at low speed until blended. Add the vegetable oil and mix a few seconds, until the dry ingredients are crumbly.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and until blended. Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract until blended. With the mixer at low speed, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix until blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Gradually add the boiling water and mix just until blended and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Invert the cake onto the wire rack or cutting board and cool completely.
  5. Frost the cake with Marhsmallow Frosting, recipe below.  Frost the bottom layer of the cake and top with ½ cup of mini chocolate chips. Add the top layer and finish frosting the cake. Add the remaining ½ cup of mini chocolate chips as decoration on top or on the sides.
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Marshmallow Frosting
Keywords: marshmallow frosting
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow crème
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream the butter until it is light and fluffy. Add the marshmallow crème and beat for about two minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat for an additional two minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  2. Note: This makes enough to frost a 6" layer cake. Double the recipe if you are doing a 9" cake or more than a dozen cupcakes.
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This recipe will be linked with:
Mingle Monday (Add a Pinch), Joy of DessertsCast Party WednesdayMade It On Monday (Lark's Country Heart), 2 Maids a Baking (2 Maids a Milking), This Chick Cooks, Sweet Treats Thursday (Something Swanky), Chic-and-Crafty (Frugal Girls), Sweet Tooth Friday (Alli-n-son), Sweets for a Saturday (Sweet as Sugar Cookies), A Well-Seasoned LifeSavory Sunday (The Sweet Details), Simply Delish (KB and Whitesnakes Home)

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