Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Marshmallow Eggs

I have a very small sweet tooth. Usually a piece of dark chocolate makes me happy after a meal. But at Easter I am usually pretty disappointed in the candy selection. So I make these… I have a hard time sharing them. Because no one enjoys these like I do.

heaven on a plate.

heaven on a plate.

Ingredients

¾ cup salted butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (two packages)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 small container of marshmallow fluff
2 bags of dark chocolate melting wafers (found at any craft store)
and two egg shaped molds. (I use two so that while one is in the freezer ‘setting’ I can work on the other mold)

Instructions

Mix together the melted butter, powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and peanut butter in a food processor until a crumbly dough forms. Set aside in the fridge.
Follow the instructions on the chocolate wafers and melt in the microwave. BEING CAREFUL NOT TO GET ANY WATER IN THE CHOCOLATE – or the chocolate will ‘seize’ and become unusable.
Spoon a little bit of chocolate into the bottom of each egg mold and while tilting the mold in your hand, ‘paint’ the sides of the mold so that there is a thin layer of chocolate coating the mold. Put pan in freezer for 10 minutes.
Once the bottom layer of chocolate has hardened, take the mold out of the freezer and put a small spoonful of marshmallow fluff in the mold.
Then move onto the peanut butter.
Remove the mixture out of the fridge. The peanut butter mixture should be pliable, like a stiff cookie dough. Shape the PB mixture into the shape of the mold and gently press it onto the marshmallow. Continue until all cups are filled.
Cover each peanut butter cup with a top layer of chocolate (if your chocolate has gotten too hard while waiting, you can put it in the microwave for a few more seconds to melt it again). Make sure that the chocolate covers the top and meets the sides of chocolate to completely enclose the peanut butter.
Put in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes to harden. They are ready to eat immediately!

Salad with Hard-boiled Egg and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

The pool. Boy, I love our neighborhood pool. We can walk there. We can, and have, spent 7 hours a day there. Being a stay at home mom allows me this luxury… if you can call catching your child as he jumps in the pool nine thousand times a luxury. I swear some days I had bruises on my arms from him landing awkwardly. I was also stabbed in my thigh by a toenail once or twice. So fun. I also got kicked in the … um, let’s just call it the “if I was a man, I’d have probably drowned area”… twice in one day. Oh and every 45 minutes there is a break for 15 minutes. During those 15 minutes my kids eat like I haven’t fed them in days. I pack a cooler with water and snacks. You’d think some pretzels and a sip of water would be good. No… not for my family. My boy can eat everything I’ve packed for him in ONE break. Sheesh. Slow your roll, monkey. We have another break in 45 minutes! I have ONE snack for each kid for each break.

Anyhooooo… I ate during those breaks too. And I ate whatever my kids didn’t finish. You better believe a couple potato chips, two bites of a cheese stick, half a bag of Swedish Fish did NOT go in the trash can. Momma ate it.

Fast forward to September and momma is a little larger than she used to be. And I do NOT have money or the desire to go buy larger jeans for the winter. So I’m making some changes. I’m putting the kids on the bus and exercising in the mornings. And at night, when I usually eat a big fat bowl of ice cream, I am using the Wii Fit to do Step Aerobics. Last night I stepped 2700 times. (That is NOT a typo.) And I’m making changes to my diet. No more lazy days at the pool stuffing my face with pizza and soda and cheese curls!

homemade honey mustard vinaigrette drizzled over a simple salad

homemade honey mustard vinaigrette drizzled over a simple salad

“Salad!?” you ask. Yes. A simple salad. I need to make this recipe public. It’s my desire to teach those of you that drown your lettuce in ranch dressing and croutons (as I REALLY love to do) that there is a better, healthier version that’s just as tasty. And guilt-free!

Salad with Hard-boiled Egg and Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

a nice pile of romaine lettuce – chopped or torn into bite size pieces

1/4 cup roasted almonds – chopped if you’d like. I eat them whole

1 hard boiled egg – chopped (tips on how to make the perfect hard boiled egg follow)

2 pieces of lunch meat – rolled up and sliced to make long slivers. I used roasted chicken today but honey ham would be delicious! And of course, if you have leftover rotisserie chicken or ham from dinner the night before, use it!! It’s a healthier option than lunch meat. I just used what I had.

1/4 cup of chopped monterrey jack cheese – I chopped up a cheese stick that I had. Momma’s gotta’ do what momma’s gotta do.

honey mustard vinaigrette – recipe follows

Directions:

place the washed and drained lettuce in a large bowl, top with almonds, cheese, lunch meat, chopped hard boiled egg and vinaigrette. Eat promptly. Lick the bowl. The end.

Hard boiled egg – the secret to a perfect hard boiled egg

Place cold water in a sauce pan. Place eggs in sauce pan so they are covered with cold water. Put a lid on it. Bring it up to a boil. Allow to boil for a minute and then turn off the heat. Leave the lid on and set the timer for 12 minutes. When the timer goes off, drain the hot water and add a huge pile of ice to the eggs in the sauce pan and fill the pan with cold water. The ice water shocks the egg shells and the egg shrinks and the shell expands. I think. I don’t know. It’s too scientific to explain. Just do it. Allow to cool as you make the dressing. Do not peel them yet!

Use local honey, spicy brown mustard, and low sodium soy sauce for salad dressing!

Use local honey, spicy brown mustard, and low sodium soy sauce for salad dressing!

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

1 T spicy brown mustard

1 T low-sodium soy sauce

1 T honey (locally grown is best!)

whisk thoroughly

This can be made in larger quantities and kept in a small jelly jar tightly closed in the fridge. The trouble with this is you might use more than you are supposed to for your salad. Trust me. The recipe as written above is enough for a nice size salad. I suppose you could just measure out two to three tablespoons per salad.

Now go back and peel and chop that egg. Place it on the salad and drizzle with dressing. Now stuff your face.

You’re welcome. A simple salad you can feel good about.

 

 

 

 

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

I hate recipes. Did you see my tagline? “…rarely follows a recipe…” This is another one of my Let’s See if This Works recipes. I had two apples that were starting to get a little wrinkly on the outside. Not really crisp enough to serve in my husband’s lunch but not soft enough to toss in the woods for a critter to enjoy. So I thought I’d try a caramel apple upside down cake. But being lazy and not wanting to follow a recipe I looked in the cupboard and had a little box of corn bread mix. Voila!

I mean... come on. SO YUMMY.

I mean… come on. SO YUMMY.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

Preheat oven to 350F and find a nice heavy 1 quart casserole dish or do like me and use your Pampered Chef 1 quart stone that you never used before and cross your fingers that it will come out.

Ingredients:

2 large apples, peeled (if you don’t like the peels), cut in half, cored and sliced semi-thinly (in other words, don’t use that apple slicer thingy that gives you 8 perfect pieces. It will not work here.)

4-6 tablespoons of light brown sugar – you’ll use one heaping tablespoon at a time.

2 tablespoons of room temperature butter, to be used to butter your dish and to dollop over the last layer of apples

lemon zest from a whole lemon

lemon juice from half a lemon

one box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffin Mix

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

Directions:

Place the apple slices, lemon zest and lemon in a bowl and toss to coat the apples

Butter the bottom of a 1 quart baking stone or casserole dish

Place 1 heaping tablespoon of brown sugar in bottom, sprinkled over top of the butter

place the apples in a pretty design (this will be the top once you remove it from the pan)

top the apples with a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar.

place another layer of apples and top with another heaping tablespoon of brown sugar. Keep doing this until you run out of apples. I think I got three or four layers of apples.

Top with brown sugar again and about one tablespoon of room temp butter, just pinched with your fingers and dolloped around the top.

Place apples in the oven at 350F for 15 minutes to help soften them a bit. This step isn’t really necessary if you like a firmer apple. I’m feeding the Queen of Picky-land so I have to soften them a bit more than usual.

Prepare the cornbread batter by mixing the egg, milk, vanilla, cornbread mix, 2 tbsp brown sugar in a bowl.

Remove the apples from the oven and top with the cornbread muffin mix. Shake the dish a little to allow the batter to run down through the crevices.

Bake again for 30 minutes or until cake is done. (toothpick comes out clean)

caramel apple upside down cornbread cake RIGHT-SIDE UP! It's still pretty this way, too.

caramel apple upside down cornbread cake RIGHT-SIDE UP! It’s still pretty this way, too.

Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before sliding a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it. Then  flip the cake onto a serving platter. If your cake doesn’t come out cleanly just don’t serve it to your guests on the platter. Excuse yourself to the kitchen to plop big portions of it into bowls and top with whipped cream or powdered sugar or ice cream, etc. etc. No one will ever know it wasn’t perfect. Heck, I think it looks pretty right-side up or upside down! Oh and p.s. You can leave this cake on the counter for a few hours but it’s best to refrigerate leftovers.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cornbread Cake

Enjoy!

Savory Onion, Mushroom, Sausage, and Cheese Strata

I love bread. People that don’t eat bread? Sheww… I feel bad for them. French bread? Yes please. Italian bread? Sure thing. Baguettes topped with anything? Absolutely. Sliced sourdough packed with cheese and toasted on a griddle? MY FAVORITE. So when I go to the store and the bakery has discounted bread on the day-old rack, I stock up. Last week I made a bread pudding out of French bread and today I’m making a strata for dinner out of a stale baguette.

Today’s dinner uses the long, skinny, unassuming baguette. Crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside. Perfect for sucking up milk and eggs. Here you go.

Wipe the drool from your chin and read on, my friend.

Wipe the drool from your chin and read on, my friend.

Savory Onion, Mushroom, Sausage, and Cheese Strata

Ingredients:

  • one large Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
  • 16 ounce container sliced mushrooms (white mushrooms are okay, baby bellas are better)
  • 1 tsp basil (dried)
  • 1 tsp oregano (dried)
  • 1 pound fresh mild flavored sausage (breakfast sausage or mild italian sausage)
  • 1 baguette cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 16 ounce container whole milk or heavy cream
  • 6 eggs, whisked in large bowl
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 7-8 ounces gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 7-8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

Place 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in large skillet and add chopped onions.

My one large sweet onion made 4 cups of chopped onion

My one large sweet onion made 4 cups of chopped onion

Sprinkle a pinch of salt over onions. Cook on medium heat 10 minutes.

sauteed onions

sauteed onions

Add sliced mushrooms. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over mushrooms. Cook 10 more minutes.

Add mushrooms to sauteed onions

Add mushrooms to sauteed onions

Add some cracked black pepper. Place a tsp oregano in palm of your hand and crush to release oils while adding to onions and mushrooms. Place a tsp basil in palm of your hand and crush to release oils while adding to mixture.

top with basil and oregano

top with basil and oregano

Stir mixture and allow to cook 20 minutes until softened and a bit caramelized.

stir to combine herbs and onions and mushrooms

stir to combine herbs and onions and mushrooms

While that’s cooking, whisk the 6 eggs and milk/cream in large bowl.

Whisk eggs and add whole milk or heavy cream.

Whisk eggs and add whole milk or heavy cream.

Add sprinkle of nutmeg.

Add nutmeg. If it's dried powder or fresh makes no difference. Just add some.

Add nutmeg. If it’s dried powder or fresh makes no difference. Just add some.

Whisk to combine.

Now remove the mushrooms and onions to a medium sized bowl and place the sausage in the pan and cook until brown and crumbled.

Remove the mushrooms and onions and place sausage in the pan and brown.

Remove the mushrooms and onions and place sausage in the pan and brown.

Now combine the sausage, mushrooms and onions back in the pan and toss to create a delicious pan of yumminess.

Combine mushrooms and onions with the sausage and allow to cook for five minutes more. TASTE IT! Adjust it with salt and pepper if necessary. Keep in mind the cheese will add a ton of flavor.

Combine mushrooms and onions with the sausage and allow to cook for five minutes more.

TASTE IT. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Allow to cook together for 5 minutes and then remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit.

Cut the baguette into bite-sized pieces.

My baguette made about 6 cups

My baguette made about 6 cups

And place the baguette in the milk/cream/egg mixture and toss to coat.

While bread is soaking, prepare your pan and finish cooking sausage mixture

While bread is soaking, prepare your pan and shred the cheese

Allow to soak while you prepare the pan and shred the cheese.

Spray a large casserole dish or cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Shred your blocks of cheese.

Good cheese. That is all.

Good cheese. That is all.

I chose cheddar because it’s tasty. I added Gruyere to it because I like the melt-ability. I lucked out at the store because I found this one: APPLEWOOD SMOKED GRUYERE. Perfect with sausage.

Assembly:

Place some of the bread in the bottom of the pan.

Layer 1 - soaked bread

Layer 1 – soaked bread

Top with half of the sausage/onion/mushroom mixture.

Layer 2 - Sausage mixture. Layer 3 - Cheeses

Layer 2 – Sausage mixture. Layer 3 – Cheeses

Top with half of the cheese.

Layer the rest of the bread on top of that. And don’t waste that milk and egg that’s left in the bowl.

Layer the rest of the bread and milk/egg mixture

Layer the rest of the bread and milk/egg mixture

Place the rest of the sausage/onion/mushroom mixture on top of the bread.

Finish the whole thing with the remainder of the cheese.

Top with the rest of the sausage/onion/mushroom mixture and the rest of the cheese.

Top with the rest of the sausage/onion/mushroom mixture and the rest of the cheese.

Rip off a piece of foil and spray it with non-stick spray.

Prepare the foil with non-stick spray

Prepare the foil with non-stick spray

Place it over the strata and push down on the contents. Your goal here is to allow that custard mixture to soak into the bread cubes and the flavors to all marry together. Yum. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. I made mine midday and will eat it this evening for dinner.

When you are ready to make it, remove it from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350F. Allow to bake (foil on) for 45 minutes. Remove foil carefully

Remember when I had you spray the foil with non-stick spray? Yeah. That's why. None of the cheese gets pulled off the top of the strata. I'm pretty smart.

Remember when I had you spray the foil with non-stick spray? Yeah. That’s why. None of the cheese gets pulled off the top of the strata. I’m pretty smart.

and bake for 15 more minutes until bubbly and crusty. Allow 15 minutes or more to rest before serving.

Um what? I'm so distracted right now I forget what we're talking about.

Um what? I’m so distracted right now I forget what we’re talking about.

We had creamed corn in the freezer from last summer so that’s what we had with this hearty meal. It was nice to have something sweet and simple paired with this since it’s so rich. A nice glass of Pinot Grigio would be nice with this, too.

Enjoy!

Grilled Steak Reinvented

Made steaks at my mom’s house and brought home the leftovers. Yum.

We visit my mom often. This one particular weekend we decided to go all out and really cook. We grilled steak, made a blue cheese onion sauce, creamed corn (the real stuff – from a garden). And broccoli. My favorite veggie! Then when I was so full I couldn’t keep my pants buttoned I decided instead of making myself sick, I’d pack it up and take it home. Once at home, a few days later, I sliced the steak, added the onion sauce, a few fresh blue cheese crumbles and thinly sliced potatoes with butter and thyme, fried in a pan and then put under the broiler.

Leftovers are sometimes just as good, if not better, than the first meal. Yum. Again.

I don’t have any recipes here or anything. I just wanted to challenge you to think about using your leftovers in new ways. Oh and topping anything like this with a dippy egg (over-easy egg) makes it awesome-er. ;-)