Lime Pudding Cups

The best desserts in the summer are of course no-bakes ones. No one wants to turn on their oven when it’s 90+ degrees outside, but, sometimes you can make a slight exception and light up your stove for a quick delicious treat like these Lime Pudding Cups. These came up on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago and I knew instantly that I wanted to make them – partially because it meant using up the last of some heavy whipping cream I had in my refrigerator that was expiring soon and more importantly because they reminded me of one of my favorite desserts… Key Lime Pie.

The prep and cooking time for these is less than an hour. That includes juicing and zesting the limes, cooking the pudding on the stove and then letting it cool before straining and dividing it. (Okay, maybe it’s more like less than 45 minutes). Once all that is done you place them in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours so the pudding can set. While they are in the refrigerator you whip up some homemade whipped cream to top them and refrigerate it until they are ready.

Once the pudding has set top each one with a dollop of whipped cream, crushed graham crackers (to crush, I placed 1 graham cracker in a Ziploc bag and then rolled with a rolling pin) and lime zest.

And as simple as that you have a refreshing summer dessert that’s sweet and citrusy!

Lime Pudding Cups

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon grated lime zest, plus more for topping

Pinch of kosher salt

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from 4 medium-sized limes)

Crushed graham crackers, for topping

Sweetened whipped cream, for topping (use store-bought or follow recipe below to make your own)

 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan combine the heavy cream, sugar, lime zest and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir the mixture often until it is reduced to 2 cups. About 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the lime juice. Let cool for 20 minutes and then strain the mixture through a sieve into a measuring cup, discarding the solids. Divide evenly (about 1/3 cup in each) among 6 ramekins. Place in the refrigerator until set, at least 2 hours.

To make the whipped cream: Combine 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a chilled bowl. Beat on low speed until the mixture thickens and then beat on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Once the pudding is set, top each one with a dollop of whipped cream, some of the crushed graham cracker and lime zest.

Recipe from Martha Stewart

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cannoli Cheesecake

So, you want something sweet, but, you don’t feel like turning on your oven in the dead of summer to bake something. I hear ya’. On those hot days when I must bake or cook something I usually try to make a couple of things at once so that turning on my oven isn’t too futile. Every year I hope it’s the year I can get central air conditioning but, it hasn’t been yet. I finally did get an air conditioning unit to put in my living room window and that does help, but, on a recent day when the feel like temps were over 100 degrees and I waited until the early afternoon to turn it on it really didn’t do much in cooling down the house. My dog positioned himself perfectly on the floor though and enjoyed it. Maybe I should have curled up next to him. The solution to those sweet tooth cravings in the summer are no bake desserts. Now, I have made a few ice box cakes during the summer months to avoid the oven – S’mores, Mocha Chocolate & Chocolate Hazelnut – but, I have never made a no-bake cheesecake. Not really sure why. Maybe I had my doubts that it would be as good as a baked one or hold together as well. Well, I finally decided to try making one after coming across a recipe for a No-Bake Chocolate-Chip Cannoli Cheesecake. Cannoli are one of my favorite desserts so if I can have anything reminiscent of the filling I am trying it.

I made some tweaks to the original recipe I found. Instead of using a combination of crushed cannoli shells and graham cracker crumbs for the crust I decided to go an easier (and less driving around route) and use a store bought graham cracker crust. And since I didn’t have rum extract at home but did have rum, I opted to use the pure rum instead. I’ll admit the cheesecake did have more of an alcohol taste due to this, but, no one was complaining. It was delicious nonetheless and perfectly chilled for a refreshing dessert after hot summer day’s dinner.

 

No-Bake Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Ingredients:

1 9-inch graham cracker pie crust

2 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon light rum*

1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Chopped pistachios for topping, optional

 

*The original recipe called for a 1/2 teaspoon rum extract

 

Directions:

Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, orange zest and cinnamon on medium speed until well combined. Add in the ricotta cheese, vanilla and rum and continue beating until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and then transfer the mixture to the graham cracker crust.

Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours until the filling is set. Top with chopped pistachios before serving.

Recipe modified from Taste of Home

S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy National S’mores Day! This year to commemorate the day I decided to make S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies. Now quite a few years ago I made a S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie – this was before I was aware of this celebratory day for this campfire staple – and it was exactly as the name suggests, an actual s’more (marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker) baked into the center of a chocolate chip cookie. For these cookies today the ingredients for a s’more are incorporated into the cookie. The graham crackers are crushed and whisked together with the flour and cocoa powder while the marshmallows and milk chocolate chips are folded into the cookie dough once all of the other ingredients have been mixed and combined.

The resulting cookie is one that’s perfectly chocolatey, a little gooey thanks to the marshmallows and has a hint of graham cracker.

S'mores Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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Ingredients:

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup flour

1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

 

Directions:

Prep baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

The night before you make the cookies place the marshmallows in a bowl and leave on the counter uncovered. This will “age” the marshmallows and help them keep their shape while baking.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy.

Slowly add the flour mixtures, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Once the ingredients are full incorporate stop mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips and the marshmallows.

Using a cookie scoop form the dough into balls and place on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving room for spreading. Chill the dough on the cookie sheets in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and baking the cookies for 12-15 minutes. The cookies will be set on the outside and soft in the middle.

Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe modified from Food52

Crocheted Keyhole Scarf

Earlier this year I got a request to make a keyhole scarf (it can also be referred to as an Ascot scarf). It’s a short scarf that sits at the upper chest. As opposed to other scarves this style stays put because one end is inserted into the keyhole of the other. Since I truly had no clue how to make one I started looking for patterns online similar to the picture of the one requested. Once I found a pattern I set it aside figuring I would have time to make it by the deadline of September. Eventually I picked up the pattern to give it a good read over and instantly got worried. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to actually make it. The words leaf, keyhole and neck in the pattern through me for a bit of a loop. I decided though that I would practice on some extra yarn that I have stored away – I have a bin of yarn in my basement with remnants from past projects. I clean it out every now and then because I realized you don’t really need a few yards of random shades of yarn.

So, I picked a yarn that was similar in weight to the yarn I planned on using for the actual scarf. And I must say actually working on something with your hands as opposed to reading and imagining how to do it are so opposite. Once I had the yarn and crochet needle in my hand the pattern made sense and the scarf was a cinch to crochet. I decided to work thru the pattern from the first leaf, to making the keyhole and then a bit of the neck (all those words that through me for a loop at the beginning.) Once I got to a decent point I showed the sample to the recipient of the final product and they were happy with it. I then went and purchased the actual yarn.

And started working on it…

It took me less than a week (probably the quickest I’ve ever gotten a yarn project done – well, except for some ruffle scarves I made a few years ago. I was cranking out two a day after someone requested like 10 of them) and the scarf was done. This is a pic of the scarf just completed but before washing and blocking it.

After washing and blocking the scarf it laid flat.

Here’s a pic of the keyhole…

What the scarf looks like without one end being inserted into the other…

And a not so great shot of me wearing the scarf, but, it gives you an idea of how the scarf fits.

Most importantly, the intended recipient was delighted with it and is planning on wearing it on her upcoming Alaskan cruise!

Unfortunately I cannot share the pattern I used to make the scarf, but, if you would like to make it yourself the pattern I used was the Rita Ascot Scarf by Emily Johannes.

 

Bourbon Bread Pudding

With the summer in full swing you might have enjoyed a hamburger or hot dog by now. And with those summer BBQ staples comes one dilemma I’m sure most have you have faced… left-over hamburger and hot dog buns. If you haven’t, you’re lucky. I was facing this very dilemma after my July 4th BBQ. I bought extra buns just in case, and while most of it went I still had some left that I just wouldn’t be able to finish on my own. So, I started thinking what I could make with them. A Bourbon Bread Pudding sounded like a good option.

To start, I soaked a cup of raisins in a quarter cup of Jim Beam Bourbon. I let them sit for about 2 hours until most of the bourbon had been soaked up by the raisins. You can actually do this step a day or two before you plan on making your bread pudding.

Since the hot dog buns were still fresh, I had to make them “stale” so that they wouldn’t fall apart too much when I added the liquid. To do so I toasted the bread. I began by slicing 8 hot dogs buns into cubes. Without splitting the buns in half, I sliced them in half lengthwise and then sliced them again into cubes. I placed them on a baking sheet and toasted them a 350 F preheated oven for about 15 minutes. Until the cubes were toasted, but not burnt.

Once the bread had cooled I transferred it to a large bowl and added in a quart of whole milk. Using my hands I pressed the bread into the milk until all of it was absorbed.

In a medium bowl I whisked together eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, allspice and cinnamon.

Once the egg mixture was well combined I poured it over the bread mixture and then gently folded everything together. Finally I folded in the bourbon soaked raisins, adding in any bourbon that hadn’t been soaked up by the raisins as well.

I poured the mixture into 9×13 baking dish that I brushed with melted butter and baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes.

When done, the edges of the bread pudding were brown and pulling away from the baking dish. And while the center was still a little wet, I knew that it would firm up as it cooled.

And while it cooled I made a bourbon sauce to drizzle over the bread pudding. In a medium saucepan I melted a stick of unsalted butter over low heat. I then added in sugar and an egg and whisked everything to combine. As the mixture continued to cook over low heat I constantly stirred it until it began to thicken. At this point I removed it from the heat and whisked in bourbon.

The sauce was the perfect topping to a slice of the bread pudding, all that was missing was a scoop of vanilla ice cream!

 

Bourbon Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

Bread Pudding:

1 cup raisins

1/4 cup whiskey bourbon

8 hot dog buns, cut into cubes

1 quart whole milk

3 large eggs

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

 

Bourbon Sauce:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup bourbon whiskey

 

Directions:

In a small bowl combine the raisins and 1/4 cup of bourbon whiskey, cover and let sit until the raisins soak up most of the liquid. At least one to two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place the cubes of bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until crispy, about 12 – 15 minutes. If you find the bread still soft on the bottom, flip and bake for a few more minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a large bowl. Add the milk and using your hands press the bread into the milk until it’s absorbed.

In a medium bowl whisk the eggs together and then whisk in the sugar, vanilla extract, allspice and cinnamon. Pour this over the bread mixture.

Fold the two mixtures together until well incorporated and then gently stir in the bourbon soaked raisins, adding in any bourbon that wasn’t soaked up by the raisins.

Pour the melted butter into the bottom of 9×13 baking dish and using a pastry brush (or napkin) coat the bottom and sides of the dish with the butter. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the dish and bake in the oven for 40 – 50 minutes.

The bread pudding is ready when the edges begin to brown and pull away from the sides of the baking dish.

Remove from the oven and let cool.

While the bread pudding is cooling you can make the bourbon sauce.

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the sugar and egg and whisk to blend it. Continue cooking the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture has thickened. It should be able to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the bourbon.

Serve the bread pudding with the bourbon sauce drizzled over it.

Recipe modified from Simply Recipies

Sheet Pan Cauliflower Gnocchi & Roasted Vegetables

It’s safe to say that I may be hooked on sheet pan dinners after successfully making three of them. I finally made the gnocchi one I mentioned in the teriyaki chicken post from a few months ago and it was just as good as that one and as the rice and beans one. While the other two I made on a Sunday afternoon for lunch/dinner for the week, this one I made in under an hour after getting home from work one day. Being able to make dinner during the week that quick is always a good thing!

On a large sheet pan covered with aluminum foil and coated with non-stick cooking spray I combined a bag of Trader Joe’s frozen Cauliflower Gnocchi (I broke apart any large clumps and removed any ice and/or freezer burn from the gnocchi), a chopped red and orange pepper, chopped onion, and a pint of grape tomatoes. I then drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it garlic powder, dried oregano, dried basil, crushed red pepper, salt and fresh pepper. While the recipe had specific amounts of each spice I opted to sprinkle everything evenly with each and then gave it a good toss and placed the pan it in a 425 F preheated oven.

And after about 30 minutes dinner was ready.

I am not going to lie, I was shocked by how good this tasted. I had my doubts about the frozen gnocchi but all of that faded after the first bite. And the caramelized peppers added just the right amount of sweetness to the dish as well. All of the spices and ingredients worked so well together. This is one recipe that will be on repeat.

 

Sheet Pan Cauliflower Gnocchi & Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:

1 12oz. bag of Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi*

1 pint grape tomatoes

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 orange pepper, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder**

1/2 teaspoon salt**

1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper**

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano**

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 pinch crushed red pepper

 

*Instead of frozen cauliflower gnocchi you could also use a 16oz. package of uncooked potato gnocchi. If using unfrozen gnocchi, roasting time is reduced to 20 to 25 minutes. If using frozen gnocchi, there is no need to thaw it before using. Just make sure the gnocchi is not clumped together and remove any large pieces of ice and/or freezer burn.

**As I mentioned, I didn’t measure out my spices, I sprinkled the gnocchi and vegetables evenly with each.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.

Spread the gnocchi, tomatoes, peppers and onions on the sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the seasonings over everything and toss together.

Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are bursting and the peppers are soft and caramelized.

Serve immediately.

Recipe slightly modified from How Sweet Eats

Slow Cooker Sunday: Baked Beans

I usually don’t pull my slow cooker out during the summer months. Which is kind of backwards if you think about it. Summer would be the perfect time to use it since it would mean I don’t have to turn my oven or stove on and inevitably add more heat to my already warm (or sometimes hot) house. I think my avoidance has to do with the type of meals I think of when it comes to slow-cooking… Hearty ones perfect for colder months. But, I decided to use it earlier this month to make Baked Beans. I attempted to make them last summer, but, even after soaking my beans overnight and cooking them in my slow cooker for nearly 10 hours my beans didn’t soften. This year I tried a new recipe and a short-cut to soaking my beans and the finished product was one just as delicious as some of the famous canned ones available at your local supermarket.

To save time, I diced the bacon and onion needed for the recipe the night before. To easily dice the bacon I placed it in the freezer for about an hour so it could firm up.

While most slow-cooker recipes for baked beans call for you to soften your beans by soaking them in water for 10 to 12 hours prior to cooking, I opted to take a short-cut. Instead, I rinsed them and placed them in a covered pot with water and brought them to a boil over medium-high heat. After letting the beans boil for 15 minutes, I removed the pot from the heat and let the beans soak in the water for about an hour. After an hour I drained the beans.

Once the beans were ready I layered the ingredients in the slow cooker. I spread the bacon on the bottom of my slow cooker, I then placed the beans over the bacon and finally I sprinkled the onions over the beans. I turned my slow cooker on to the low setting and covered it while I made the sauce.

To make the sauce, I whisked together water, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard in a large bowl until smooth. I poured the sauce over my ingredients in the slow cooker and covered it again and let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You do not need to stir your ingredients together for this recipe. As the beans cook the flavors will develop and once the beans are ready you will give everything a good stir then.

At the 6 hour point I tasted the beans to check on the flavor and the doneness. I thought the flavor and tenderness of the beans was perfect. Unfortunately since I made these for my 4th of July BBQ I was crazed with getting things ready so I completely forgot to take a picture of the beans when they were done. But, trust me, they looked and tasted delicious!

 

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Ingredients:

1 pound dried navy, pinto or great northern beans*

1 pound thick-cut bacon, diced

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 cups water

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

 

*I used pinto beans

 

Directions:

Go through the beans and pick out any debris or broken beans. Transfer the remaining beans to a colander and rinse with cool water. Transfer the beans to a pot and fill with water (a few inches above the beans) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let the beans boil for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let them sit covered for an hour and then drain.

Spread the diced bacon in a single layer in the insert of a slow cooker. Add the drained beans on top of the bacon and then the onions on top of the beans. Cover the slow cooker and set it to low. Do not stir the ingredients.

In a medium bowl combine the water, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard and whisk together until smooth. Pour the sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

At the 6 hour mark check the beans for flavor and doneness. If need be add salt and pepper to taste.

Beans are ready when they are creamy and tender.

Once ready stir all of the ingredients together and enjoy!

Recipe slightly modified from The Kitchn