Monday, July 7, 2014

Banana Nutter-Butter Trifle

I love trifle.  I find it to be one of those desserts that can be super simple, but at the same time creative and delicious.  In the past, I've only ever made one other kind of trifle (Death by Chocolate).  My sister-in-law makes it all the time, and it's a combination of chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, cool whip, and toffee bits.  I have to admit that when I've made this, I've always used whipped cream, which I like better than cool whip, but to each her own, right?

Well, I have done research in the past for other trifle recipes, but I never branched out and tried something new.  Well shame on me.  This past weekend, we celebrated the 4th of July on the 5th of July (mainly because the entire East Coast was plagued by tropical storms and we were rained out on the 4th).  We had two different parties to go to, and at the first, I tried a dessert that was absolutely DE-licious!!!

Now the dessert that was at the party was not a trifle, it was just all mixed together.  But being me, I decided that I would make it in trifle form, and no one was disappointed!!  We went to my mom's for dinner on Sunday and I brought this along, and it was an instant hit.  Combine that with the easiness factor, and I think it will become a regular summertime dessert!

Banana Nutter-Butter Trifle
Banana Nutter-Butter Trifle

3 pkgs Instant Banana Pudding
1 1/2 tubs cool whip
6 bananas
1 pkg Nutter Butter Cookies

The Method
Make the pudding according to package directions and refrigerate for the allotted amount of time.  Once completely set, add in the defrosted cool whip.  Mix well and set aside.

Crumble the Nutter Butter Cookies by putting them all in a large zip-lock bag and giving them a good whack.  I use my rolling pin and it's great for getting out any frustrations.  If you don't want to do it using this method, just crush the cookies with your hands.

Slice the bananas about 1/4" thick.

Assemble the trifle by alternating the layers of ingredients:  Pudding, Bananas, Nutter Butters, Pudding, etc.  Make sure to end the top with bananas and Nutter Butters so that everyone can see what is inside!  If so inclined, top the top with a dollop of cool whip.

And done.

Refrigerate before serving, and enjoy!!
(Note:  The recipe I am sharing is for a large trifle bowl.  If you want to make less, just cut the recipe accordingly)


Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!

July 4th has always been a favorite holiday of mine.  We get to celebrate our country, and we get to eat food.  As a kid, we always went to Auntie Regina's house and had a party, ate tons of great food, and swam in the pool.  It was an all-day event that I always loved.  Since Auntie Regina moved to a house that doesn't have a pool, we've all been creating new traditions.  For the past few years, Scott and I have always gone down to the beach and visited with his dad's family at their beach house.  It's always a fun time.  This year, we have two invitations, and we are trying to do both.  Because of the impending hurricane (tropical storm?), all parties have been moved to July 5th, but it gave me a chance to try out a new cupcake recipe!  I hope all of our friends and family love my new creation!

Happy 4th of July Cupcakes!
I love using my King Arthur Flour cookbook for baking.  I love the recipes and they have never steered me wrong.  For today's cupcake, I decided that an easy White Cake recipe would be the best.  I had never made this cake before, but I have to tell you:  It is awesome!  For the frosting, I used my go-to buttercream recipe.  

The Cake:
Elegant White Cake (from the King Arthur Flour Cookbook)

1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
5 large egg whites
2 3/4 cups flour
1 cup milk

Cream together the butter, shortening, baking powder, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat until everything is fluffy and light, about 5 minutes (From when everything first comes together, to the end of 5 minutes, the batter really transforms!)

Add in the egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and mix well.  Add 1/2 the milk, 1/3 flour, 1/2 milk, 1/3 flour.  Mix and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.

Scoop the batter into lined cupcake tins.  I made 24 cupcakes with this batter, and had just a tiny bit left over (not really enough for even 1 more cupcake).  Be very careful not to overflow the tins.  They should really only be about 2/3 full of batter.

Bake for 20 minutes in a 350* oven that has been preheated.  Remove when baked, and cool on a rack.  Once cool to the touch, transfer the cupcakes out of the tins and onto the racks to continue cooling.


The Frosting:
Easy Buttercream (From the King Arthur Flour Cookbook)

1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 tsp salt
6 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

Beat together the butter, shortening, and salt until fluffy.  Add in about 3 cups of the confectioners' sugar and beat slowly until well blended.  Add about 1/4 cup of the milk and the vanilla and beat again until fluffy.

Continue mixing the remaining sugar and milk until they are fully incorporated and the frosting is light and fluffy.  Note:  I did not use all of the milk.  I just kept adding the remaining 1/4 cup a little at a time until it was the desired consistency.


For today's cupcakes, I needed 3 colors of frosting.  

Split the frosting as evenly as possible into 3 bowls.  Color the frostings to your choosing (clearly, for the 4th of July, I used red, white, and blue).  I used 30 drops each of red and blue food coloring.  NOTE:  The liquid food coloring, which I used, can make the frosting a lot less stiff.  So keep that in mind and add in a little extra confectioners' sugar if necessary).

Put the three colors of frosting into 3 separate piping bags (I used the clear disposable kind).  Don't fill them up all the way, as they will make a big mess.  Snip the tip of the bags, about 1/2".  Put the 3 bags together into one large piping bag (I used a 16" piping bag), already fit with a star tip.  Evenly squeeze the frosting down to the tip of the piping bag and use either paper towel or wax paper to pipe a design and make sure the three colors come out evenly.

About halfway through, I did need to refill the bag.  If this also happens to you, just fold down the big piping bag, and open the smaller bags to refill with frosting.  Squeeze down to the tip, and repeat the frosting process!!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

BBQ Chicken Nachos

There are very few people (that I know, at least) who don't like nachos. I LOVE nachos.  There is a restaurant near us, Chardonnay's, and while most of their food is quasi-mediocre, they have great sangria and great BBQ Chicken Nachos.

I never thought to make the BBQ Chicken nachos myself.  However, the other day, I saw a blog post by Baked Bree where she made them, and she cooked the chicken in the SLOW COOKER!!!  So naturally, I needed to try them!  And they were not only a hit, but they were delicious!!

BBQ Chicken Nachos!
In the slow cooker, I put 3 chicken breasts.  The breasts were huge, so I sliced the in half (so I essentially had 6 thinner breasts), and I seasoned the breasts (top and bottom) with seasoning salt.  Whatever you have is fine.  So -- In the slow cooker, I put the 6 breasts, on low for 4 hours.  A lot of water generated from the cooking (you can discard the water when they're done shredding, and you don't need to flip the breasts during the cook time), and when they're done, they absolutely fall apart.  Just take tongs and a fork and shred them up!

3 massive chicken breasts, sliced thin to make 6 pieces total, all cooked up in the crock pot

Shred that chicken!  After 4 hours on low, the chicken just falls apart!
If you're ambitious, you can make your own BBQ Sauce.  While I AM ambitious, I was too busy today to make my own, so I fell back on Sweet Baby Rays.  I actually used their Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce, and it was delicious!

For toppings on the Nachos, I used the following:

  • Chopped Scallions
  • Chopped Cilantro
  • Chopped Tomato
  • Onions & Peppers - chopped and sautéed so they're soft, but still with a little bite to them (I'm not a huge fan of raw onions)
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I bought a block of cheese and shredded it myself - it makes a huge difference than when you buy pre-shredded cheese!)
All of these, plus some chips, and the chicken, and you've got yourself some absolutely deliciousness!

Shredded cheese, chopped scallions, cilantro, and tomato, shredded BBQ Chicken, and sautéed onions & peppers
When you're ready, assemble!!!

  • Corn Chips
  • Shredded Chicken
  • Onions, Peppers, Tomatoes, Scallions, and Cilantro
  • Shredded Cheese
Repeat for as many layers as you want!!
I layered my nachos (2 layers) on a baking sheet lined with Aluminum Foil.  Once assembled, I stuck the sheet under the broiler for about 5-8 minutes, until everything was heated through and the cheese was melted.

Serve with Sour Cream and Guacamole!  And Sangria!!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Homemade Chipotle Burrito Bowls

One of my favorite "fast food" places to go to is Chipotle.  This follows the theory that I might be part-Mexican (not really, but I really do love Tex-Mex food), or it may just be because Chipotle food is quick and easy, and also somewhat healthy.

My favorite dish there is the Burrito Bowl, with brown rice, black beans, chicken, fresh tomato salsa, and guacamole.  Ideally, I really love it with cheese and sour cream, as well, however I reserve those for special days.  I love their burritos, as well, but I find the burrito bowl a less easier to eat, and a lot less messy.

Last night, for dinner, I decided that I wanted Chipotle for dinner, at home.  We live in Seekonk, MA, and while that is pretty much a central location for just about everything, the closest Chipotles are in Providence (on Thayer St, where you can never get a decent parking spot), Cranston RI (in Garden City, which is an easy enough location, but 25 minutes away and the food will be cold by the time I get home), and Raynham MA (which is right down the street from work, but will once again be cold by the time I get home).  Therefore, I decided to put together my own Chipotle at home!

The Layers of Camille's Chipotle Burrito Bowl:

  • Brown Rice (just follow the package directions)
  • Black Beans (open a can, dump it into a pan, and heat them up)
  • Avocado (I smashed up a couple avocado with some lime juice)
  • Tomatoes (I cut up a few plum tomatoes, and dressed them with salt and pepper)
  • Chicken and Vegetables
    • In a large frying pan, I sautéed 1 medium chopped onion, 1 red bell pepper, and 1 green bell pepper.  I let the vegetables get really soft, but not over-browned.
    • From the market, I cleaned a small All-Natural Rotisserie Chicken of all the white breast meat, and as much of the leg and wing meat as possible.  I chopped the meat into cube that only a little bit bigger than the size of the onion and peppers.
    • I added the meat to the onion/pepper mixture, then I added 1 cup of water, and 1 package of low sodium taco seasoning, and mixed until it all came together.
Then, get layering!!

A scoop of rice, black beans, chicken and vegetables, tomatoes, and avocado!

Delicious, nutritious, and under 600 calories!


Home-made "Burrito Bowl" from Chipotle - Brown Rice, Black Beans, Chicken with Onions & Peppers, Tomatoes, and Avocado

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Nutella Bread Pudding

I'm obsessed with Nutella.  When people say they don't like Nutella, I always look at them like they have 3 heads.  I mean, how is that really possible?  Nutella is the best thing since sliced bread!  (And even better ON sliced bread!)

My friend Victoria featured Nutella Bread Pudding on her blog a while back.  I was traveling for work in Florida, and we were invited to a colleague's house for dinner.  Knowing that I like to bake, she requested that I make dessert.  Since I was going to be making it at her house, I wanted something that would be quick and easy, and when I asked Victoria for suggestions and she mentioned this, I knew it would go over really well!

While the bread that I bought was super fresh (and it needs to be stale), I cubed it, and toasted it prior to putting it together with the custard.  (On a note, if you don't fully submerge all of the bread into the custard, it won't get soaked through....It will just toast in the oven.  So when the recipe says submerge, it means it!)

This is the first bread pudding that I've ever made, and it definitely won't be the last!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Back to Blogging

It's been a long time since my last blog post.  An embarrassingly long time.  And I'm sorry about that.

I always enjoyed blogging.  Whether it be about food, or the progress on our house, or my lack of ambition for eating healthy and exercising, I enjoyed writing about it.  And as I look at my blogger account, I see that my last post is from October.  And the post before that is from July.  And I have 6 unfinished entries all in draft mode between those dates.  Shameful.  Absolutely shameful.

So instead of trying to finish up those posts and submit them to the reading world as if nothing happened in between, I decided to write up a post, and eventually get back to those other posts.

So what has happened in the last six-ish months?

On the house front:

  • Scott and I went through the MASS Save program and had our house insulated.  We've seen an improvement in the cost of heating, and once we get around to replacing our original 1970's Single Pane Windows, the improvement will be even better.
  • We invested in a Snow Blower last year, and it's proved it's weight in gold so far.  I'm so glad we got it. 
  • We finally got new garage door openers.  I can't tell you how awesome it is to be able to park in the garage.  Especially when it's snowing!  The fact that I haven't had to clean my car off once this winter season is absolutely awesome!
  • My brother in law relocated out to the east coast, and it forced us to finally get some things done around the house....
    • In light of his return, and the fact that he would be staying at our house, we figured that having a guest bedroom would be helpful.  And having a bed in that room would be even better.  So we moved our set into that room, and treated ourselves to a new bed.  A king-sized bed.  It's fabulous.  I love everything about it.  Although, I do need to purchase a step stool to adequately climb into it.  
    • We finally have light fixtures.  It took long enough, right?!?  We finally have beautiful light fixtures in the hallway, and all bedrooms.  We also purchased fixtures for the bathrooms, but until we actually re-do the twice done work in the bathrooms that still needs to be redone, we won't be installing the new fixtures.  
  • I finally picked out, purchased, and hung curtains in the living room and dining room.  Well, I picked them out and purchased them.  I just supervised the actually hanging.  It's safe to say that I love the curtains.  :-)
  • We partially cleaned out the "office."  By partially cleaned out, I mean I can see the desk, and the piles of boxes are a little bit more organized.  This is on our list of things to do, and will hopefully get done within the next month.
On the cooking and baking front:

  • Scott and I started writing a menu on Sundays.  And on the weeks that we write the menu, we always have good dinners.  I try to mix things up, and make things that are easy, but somewhat healthy and quick to make.  We need to make sure that we continue this practice.
    • I've made different dishes, like my go-to meals like tacos/burritos, meatloaf, chicken, and shepherds pie.  And then I've tried new things like Beef and Broccoli and Fettuccine Alfredo
  • I recently had some work people over for a "team dinner" and successfully made Baked Macaroni.  I had about 20 lbs of macaroni in the pantry (I have an obsession with buying Barilla when it's on sale, and refuse to buy anything else), and thought that would be the perfect dish.  I was extremely happy with the results.
  • Scott and I hosted Christmas Even this year, and we had about 17 people here.  We featured an all fish dinner, and it went over really well.  I also made delicious Christmas Cookies, and made the traditional Coffee Cake, which has become tradition for Christmas morning.  I love a good family tradition with family recipes.
On the work front:

  • Work has been crazy.  Crazy with a Capitol C.  I've been working on a project for the last year and a half and it just went live on Monday March 3.  It has been very gratifying to see the results of all my hard work play out, and while it's required lots of extra hours, it'll be worth it in the long run.
  • I hate talking about work outside of work, so that's all I'll say about that.
On the Personal Front:

  • A friend and I have recently become involved (is that the right word?) in reading smutty romance novels.  It's been a very entertaining experience.  I suppose it all started with Fifty Shades of Grey, and just went on from there.  We read the books, compare notes, analyze them, and then find new books and repeat the process.  We try to meet up every couple of weeks for dinner and a movie (or something of the sort) and compare notes.  (We obviously compare notes on the spot while reading via text message, but then also try to meet up in person to compare notes as well).  We met up last night, and since it was the first time in a few weeks that we met, we had a lot to talk about.  And we talked about it all while Scott was in the other room.  At one point, he came out to the dining room where we were eating pizza and comparing notes, and very casually said, "It sounds like you're having a conversation about real people in here, and not characters from smutty novels."  That just about sums it up.  
  • I finally took the plunge and bought a MacBook.  I've been looking at trying to buy a MacBook for a long time, and I am so excited that I finally took the plunge.  I decided to buy it for myself with some of the money I earned from my last Performance Bonus at work.  I've heard horror stories about the Apple Store in Providence Place Mall, but was pleasantly surprised with my ability to get helped in a quick amount of time.  Perhaps it was because it was a beautiful day and everyone was outside?  In any case, I'm excited to learn more about the operating system, and the ins and outs of the Mac world.
  • Back around Thanksgiving, Scott's niece and nephews came out from California and stayed out here for the week.  It was a great week, and we got to do lots of fun things with them, including cutting down a fresh Christmas tree.  We got a very short, very fat tree that took up an entire corner of our living room.  
  • Oh yea.  And in September, I turned 30.

I think that's a pretty good synopsis of my life for the last six-ish months.  I'm excited, and hopeful, that I will be a good little blogger and keep up what I started.  Hopefully you'll join me!

Our beautiful new bed, and the new light fixture, too!

Our super fat tree, which my mom nicknamed, "Wide-bottom"

Christmas Morning Coffee Cake!

Scott dutifully snowplowing out the driveway

The new dining room curtains!!

My organized pantry, with an array of different types of Macaroni.

The finished product of the delicious Baked Macaroni