Cathy’s Pineapple Layer Cake

Trifle 2

We visited our friend, Cathy, last week and she made a quick, delicious, easy dessert for us to enjoy.  She calls it “Pineapple Layer Cake”.  It was a big hit and I decided to try it out for myself, with a few added ingredients.

The dessert looks like a trifle and is constructed the same way, but Cathy called it a layer cake, so that’s what I’ll call it, too.  I tried to find a recipe online that matched the ingredients so that I could give credit where due, but the ones I found were slightly different, so Cathy’s getting all the kudos for this one.

Cathy’s Pineapple Layer Cake

Basic Ingredients:

One (1) – 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple (with the juice)

One (1) – 3.4 oz. box instant vanilla pudding (dry)

One (1) – 8 oz. Cool Whip Topping (thawed)

Pound Cake – I used a store bought Sour Cream Pound Cake (loaf pan size)

My added ingredients:  Blueberries and Sliced Strawberries

Use your imagination as to adding your favorite ingredients.  I think peaches, mango, or raspberries would be delicious.

Choose a pretty serving bowl for a nice presentation.

Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, mix the pineapple (with the juice), instant vanilla pudding powder and Cool Whip together well.

Thinly slice the pound cake so there’s enough to make a couple of layers.  (Don’t worry if the pieces break, it doesn’t matter.)  Portion out to make at least 2 layers of each (cake, mixture and fruit).  If using fruit, keep some extra on the side to decorate the top.

Line the bottom of the serving bowl with a layer of cake.  Then add a layer of the pineapple/pudding/Cool Whip mixture and spread to cover.  Then sprinkle some of the blueberries and strawberry slices in a layer.  Continue layering. The top layer should be the pineapple/pudding/Cool Whip mixture spread to cover the top.

Decorate the top of dessert with some blueberries and strawberries.  I added a sprig of mint leaves in the center.

Can’t get much easier than that!

Cathy said sometimes she adds a little Amaretto to the pound cake for some extra flavor.  That sounds yummy.

Note:  In the photos, the blueberries look frosty because they were frozen.  I always freeze and keep a few containers of frozen blueberries to throw into cereal, yogurt, etc., or eat right out of the freezer.  Try it, they’re delicious frozen.

Trifle 2 (2)

Banana Chunky-Peanut Butter Bread Recipe

2014-04-041
It started with 2 over-ripe bananas.  What to do?  I found some cookie recipes that sounded interesting, but we have several bags of cookies in the house and I sure don’t need anymore to tempt me.  I could have frozen the bananas for making smoothies, but I already have a few in the freezer waiting to get used.

I finally found a banana bread recipe that combined another favorite of ours, chunky peanut butter. I was going to make the recipe as written, but then noticed some of the commenters had substituted apple sauce for the butter. Anything to cut some calories from a recipe, and it still tasting good, was worth a try.

The first change I made to the recipe was substituting a 1/2 cup of apple sauce for the 1/2 cup of butter called for in the original recipe.

The only apple sauce I had on hand was sweetened.  I was concerned that the bread would be too sweet.  My next change was to cut the 1 cup of sugar from the original recipe down to 1/2 cup of sugar.  As it turns out, I made a good decision according to this post.

Now for the sugar… 002 Friends of ours gave us a gift of homemade “vanilla sugar” just the other day.  I never heard of vanilla sugar, so this was a real treat.  It smells wonderful and does have a vanilla flavor, although subtle.  I decided to use it in this recipe.

The original recipe has 8 servings with each serving listed at 497 calories.  The few changes I made brought the calorie count down to around 349 calories per slice (based on 8 slices per loaf).  I used the SparkPeople.com recipe calculator to determine the calorie count of the modified recipe.  I also plugged the original recipe into the calorie counter and the SparkPeople calorie count came out very close to the website’s 497 count.  This made me think that the lower calorie count is pretty accurate.  I recommend you use SparkPeople.com recipe calculator to figure out the calorie count in your recipes if this is important to you.

The Verdict:

Hubby and I did a taste test and we both think this recipe turned out very good.  We could taste the peanut butter more than the banana, but neither is overwhelming.   The apple sauce kept the bread moist.

I didn’t taste the vanilla and I’m thinking that I used the vanilla sugar too soon after being jarred.   I love the idea of vanilla sugar, so I can’t wait to use it in other recipes once the flavors mature.  The original recipe doesn’t call for it, so if you like the idea of the vanilla, maybe add a little vanilla extract to the batter.

Our favorite way to enjoy this bread is toasted with some butter.  As a matter of fact, that was our breakfast today.

The bread is not sweet.  To sweeten it some, you could add more sugar or add some dried craisins or raisins to the batter.  Chocolate chips would be good too, but probably messy in the toaster!

Scroll down for the recipe and enjoy.

DSCN9043

2014-04-04

Banana Chunky-Peanut Butter Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup apple sauce (sweetened)

3/4 cup chunky peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Instructions:

In a large bowl, cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Beat in bananas.

Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; add to creamed mixture.

Transfer to a greased 9-in. x 5-in. loaf pan.  (I just sprayed the pan with a little oil and rubbed it around.)

Bake at 350° for 70-75 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  (*see note)

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serving Size: 8

*Important Note:  

I baked it in a convection oven and that cut the baking time down to 50 minutes.  Remember to keep your eye on it whether baked in a regular oven or a convection oven.  It’s a long baking time, so you don’t want to burn it.  Several of the commenters from the original recipe complained about burning. Check for doneness occasionally with a toothpick once the baking time is almost finished.

Almond Granola with Dried Cranberries

Blog Head Photo

The original homemade granola recipe comes from the Cooks Illustrated magazine.   The only change I’ve made is that I use salted almonds.  I add this granola to Greek yogurt for a snack.  It’s a popular recipe on the internet, and if you like granola, it’s certainly one you should try.  I’m sure you can substitute whatever dried fruit you like for the dried cranberries.

I halved the recipe (as you’ll see in the photos), but you can make a full recipe and store it in the freezer.  I freeze it in an airtight container and it keeps wonderfully.

Blog  Ingredients

These directions are for a full recipe.

Almond Granola with Dried Cranberries

5 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1/3 cup pure Maple Syrup

4 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar (packed)

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil

2 cups Almonds (dry roasted & salted, chopped coarse)

2 cups dried Cranberries (sweetened craisins), chopped

NOTE:  If you don’t use “salted” almonds, add 1/2 tsp salt in step 2.

Directions:

1.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Whisk maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.  Whisk in oil.  Fold in oats and almonds until thoroughly coated.

3.  Transfer oat mixture to prepared baking sheet and spread across sheet into thin, even layer (3/8 inch thick).  Using a stiff metal spatula, compress oat mixture until very compact.  Bake until lightly browned, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan once halfway through baking.

4.  Remove granola from oven and cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour.  Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size.

5.  Stir in dried cranberries.

Notes:

Granola can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.  If you need to keep it longer, just freeze it in an airtight container.  It will stay fresh and you can scoop it out as you need it.  No need to defrost…it’s ready to eat right out of the freezer.

Recipe can be halved.

The recipe says you can break it into “desired size” pieces, but I noticed that it just breaks up.  It doesn’t stick together very well, so you’ll have “loose” granola in the end.

My favorite way to eat it (other than right out of the container because it’s addicting), is to mix it with Greek yogurt, honey and fresh fruit (usually blueberries and/or strawberries).  If you try it, let me know  how you enjoyed it.

You’ll notice (from the photos below) that, since I made half the recipe I pressed the granola into half the pan.  I was afraid that if I spread it out too thin, it would burn.  It cooked perfectly this way, so if you decide to only make half of the recipe, I recommend you do the same.

Blog Collage

D & J Devine Ribs!

Country Style Pork RibsPhoto Via:  Mike Johnson – TheBusyBrain.com

Today’s recipe is provided by a friend of our family.  It’s an original, slow cooker recipe for boneless country pork ribs.  I love my crock pot, and slow cooking meat is the best way to make it fall-off-the-bone good.  There aren’t any bones in this recipe, but the result is still tender and delicious.

The ribs are cooked up one day and served the next.  What a great idea, especially if you are having a summer cookout or get-together.  All you’ll need to do is heat the sauce and the ribs up just before serving.  How simple is that!

D & J Divine Ribs!

Ingredients

4 ½ to 5 pounds of Boneless Country Pork Ribs

Dry Vermouth (1/3  to 1/2 cup – enough to cover the ribs)

Olive Oil

1 Sweet Onion, diced

10 Cloves of Garlic, finely sliced

3/4 cup Bar-B-Q Sauce (your favorite brand)

Slow Cooker

Directions

Marinate the meat in dry vermouth overnight.

Next day…

In a separate large frying pan, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft.

Once the onion and garlic are done, add the Bar-B-Q sauce.

Add ribs and the vermouth marinade to slow cooker with ¼ of the onion/garlic/BBQ sauce mixture.

Cook on high for 2 ½ hours.

Add the rest of the onion/garlic/Bar-B-Q sauce mixture and cook on low for an hour.

Cool in the refrigerator overnight.

Next day…

Skim off extra fat before the next step.

Remove the ribs from the sauce.

Heat the sauce on the stove top or in the microwave.  Add some water if the sauce needs thinning.

Grill the ribs on high for one minute on each side to heat them up and to provide a wonderful char.

Add the ribs back into the delicious sauce.

Dinner is served!

Our friend said that if you have enough Bar-B-Q sauce left over, you can cook yellow rice with it and serve with the ribs.

Pork Chops with Mushroom Wine Sauce

Title 2 What kind of wine? Well, that’s up to you. The original recipe calls for Madeira, but I didn’t have it, so I used Marsala. If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s rare I have all the called-for ingredients for the recipes I post. There’s always some substituting going on. There are a few other things I changed, but I’ll give you the original recipe first and then tell you what I did. Blog Ingredients I found the recipe on the Food Network website. It’s courtesy of Aaron McCargo, Jr.

Approx Prep Time:  10 minutes
Approx Cook Time:  25 minutes
Servings:  2

Pork Chops with Mushroom Madeira Sauce

Ingredients

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
2 (1 1/2-inch) pork chops
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Madeira Sauce, recipe follows

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the grapeseed oil. Allow the oil to smoke slightly. Season each pork chop with salt and pepper, to taste, and add to the pan. Sear on each side for 2 minutes. Once nicely browned on each side, transfer the chops to a sheet pan with a rack and bake in the oven for an additional 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the chops from the oven to a serving platter. Reserve the pan for the Madeira Sauce.

Madeira Sauce

2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
5 to 6 cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Madeira wine
1/4 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves

In same skillet that the chops were seared, add 1 tablespoon of the butter, the shallots, garlic, and the mushrooms. Cook over medium-high heat until slightly caramelized. Add flour and mix to a paste. Add the Madeira wine and deglaze the pan. Lower the heat, add the beef broth and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the remaining butter and the fresh herbs. Once the butter has melted, pour the sauce over the pork chops and serve.

I bet you noticed (from the photo above) that I used 2 different kinds of pork chops.  One was a bone-in chop and the other a boneless chop.  It’s all I had on hand, but both tasted great with this recipe.

The recipe called for grapeseed oil.  I didn’t have grapeseed oil so I looked online for a good substitute and came up with canola oil.  That, I had.  Shallots weren’t on hand, so I used a sweet vidalia onion.  White mushrooms were substituted for the cremini mushrooms.  No fresh thyme, so I used dried.

I cooked the chops as per the recipe.  I have an old cast iron frying pan that’s been in the family for years and it browned the chops nicely.  I then finished them off in the oven for about 8 minutes.  The timing is going to depend on the thickness of your pork chops, just make sure they’re cooked through but not overdone.   Here’s a pork cooking time chart.  If you don’t have an instant read cooking thermometer, consider buying one.  It’s a good investment and many are not expensive.

Now for the wine sauce.   Like I said, I didn’t have Madeira and wasn’t sure what wine could be substituted for it.  I’m always searching the web for good rated recipes to try (this one had 59 ratings and 5 stars) and I read the comments.    Many times you get good ideas and information from the people who actually tried the recipe.  Of course, almost everybody commenting has their own little twist to the recipe, and this one was no exception.  I found someone who said they used Marsala wine and it worked out well.  That solved my wine problem.

The sauce cooked beautifully, with no lumps.  Remember to remove the sauce from the burner before you add the butter and the herbs.

I really don’t know what Madeira wine tastes like, so I can’t compare it to the Marsala, but I have to say the recipe came out delicious.  Hubby especially enjoyed it.  If you like Veal or Chicken Marsala, then you’ll like this recipe using the Marsala wine.  Let me know if you try it and whether or not you used Marsala or Madeira.

Collage

Crunchy Baked Fish

Crunchy Baked Fish

Are you short on time tonight and need a quick fix dinner? Well, I’m finding myself in that situation more often than not lately. Here’s a terrific recipe I found a year or so ago that fits the bill.

The original recipe is called, Crunchy Baked Flounder, and I found it at myrecipes.com.  I’ve used three different types of fish to make this recipe and all three have worked great.  As a matter of fact, the last time I made it I only had one piece of fish and 2 people to feed, so I used some shrimp in the recipe, too.

Ingredients

Here’s the original recipe, then I’ll tell you what other types of fish I’ve used:

Crunchy Baked Flounder

Via:   myrecipes.com

4 Servings
Cook Time:  15 minutes
Prep Time:  5 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 flounder filtes (1 1/2 lb)

Salt & Pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mist bottom of a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Combine panko, Parmesan and butter in a small bowl and stir mixture well.

Sprinkle both sides of flounder generously with salt and pepper. Arrange fish in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle panko-Parmesan mixture over fish. Bake until fish is cooked through and crumbs are golden, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Now, you can’t get any easier or faster than that.

Here’s a little tip.  You can make the mixture of Panko, Parmesan and butter ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator.  When you’re ready to use it,  take it out of the refrigerator and let it get to room temperature.  I’ve done it when I made too much and didn’t want to toss it.  So I kept the leftover mix for another time and it worked out fine.  Of course, you could half the recipe and voila, no leftovers in the first place.

Mix

I’ve used flounder, tilapia and barramundi. What…you’ve never heard of barramundi? Well, neither had I until last year when I found it in a freezer at a BJ’s store.  It’s delicious.  Read about it here and get more barramundi recipes here.  The recipe I made for this post is made with barramundi.

If you decide to make shrimp this way, they only take a few minutes.  As soon as they brown up, they’re done, so don’t overdo them.  I removed the shrimp and kept them warm while the fish finished cooking.

I’ve served this recipe to dinner guests.  I love that it’s so simple and quick, which leaves you more time to mingle.   Enjoy, and let me know if you try it.

collage

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini plated

I made this recipe when I was short on time with no intention of posting about it.  I took 2 photos, one while cooking and one after plating.  Now I wish I had taken a few more shots because the recipe was delicious and I decided to share it with you after all.

This is a Tyler Florence recipe that I found on the Food Network website.  It’s a quick, simple recipe that I think you’ll enjoy.  If you go to the website, there is a preparation video you can watch.

Shrimp Scampi with Linguini

Estimated Prep Time:  15 min

Estimated Cook Time:  25 min

This recipe is for 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:

1 pound linguini
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 shallots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

Directions:

For the pasta, put a large pot of water on the stove to boil. When it has come to the boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and the linguini. Stir to make sure the pasta separates; cover. When the water returns to a boil, cook for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the pasta is not quite done. Drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.

Saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes (if using) until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper; add them to the pan and cook until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan; set aside and keep warm.

Add wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the parsley and cooked pasta.

Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over a bit more olive oil and serve immediately.

I followed the recipe exactly except for the shallots.  I didn’t have any on hand, so I used some sweet vidalia onion.

Shrimp Scampi with Linguinicooking

I always write the date I make a recipe, any changes I made and how good it was on the recipe sheet.  I wrote a big DELICIOUS on this one.