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Friday, September 25, 2015

Life by Vanilla

We found this to be a yummy option aside Death by Chocolate at Ashley's summer wedding.  This trifle was prepared in individual (9oz. "crystal" cups) and guests were welcome to take either or income cases both.

2 large boxes instant vanilla pudding

4 C half'n'half

1-2 loaves pound cake, diced

1-2 - 8oz. tubs of Cool Whip, defrosted

Prepare the pudding with the half'n'half (both boxes all the cream, and no extra milk.

Cut the cakes.

Using a trifle bowl or other clear glass, straight-sided bowl cover the
bottom with a generous layer of cake.  Spread half of the pudding
mixture over the cake.  Cover with cool whip.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.

At the wedding we also added a layer of strawberries.

My original recipe called for 1-2 tsp. almond flavoring in the pudding mixture.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dressing-Up Some Brownie Bites

There are times when you just don't have time for homemade everything, but you can put a personal touch on something store-bought and make it very special.  Take those little, round Brownie Bites which I find at Costco.  A swirl of frosting can make them look spectacular.

Mormor's Magic Mix aka Peanut Butter Frosting

1 C smooth Peanut Butter
1 lb. C&H powdered sugar
1/2 C milk

Mix the peanut butter and powdered sugar together and slowly add milk until you reach a spreadable consistency.

Put into a pastry bag with a #27 tip and swirl onto the tops of the brownies. 
Other suggestions are vanilla frosting with sprinkles or even cream cheese frosting.

"Simple Sweet Scones"

This recipe hales from the book Biscuits and Scones Coffee and Teatime Treats on pages 76-77.  It is my go-to recipe anytime I am serving scones.  I find it to be delicious and reliable as very easy.

2 1/2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 T or one stick of COLD butter, cut up
1/3 C sugar
2/3 C milk

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the flour, powder and salt in to a bowl and mix well.
Add the butter and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender until crumbly.
Add the sugar and toss well.
Pour in the milk and mix until a soft dough forms.  Shape it into a ball.  Put it on a lightly floured surface and knead 10-12 times.  Cut in half.
Take one half and shape into a circle.  Use a rolling pin to even it out.  Cut into eighths.  Place wedges onto an ungreased cookie sheet slightly apart.
Bake for 12 minutes or just until lightly browned.
Put scones on a cloth covered wire rack and cover with cloth while cooling.
serve with Devonshire (Clotted) Cream and Lemon Curd or your favorite jams.

Devonshire Cream for Homemade Scones

I love Devonshire cream but have difficulty finding it locally without trips to specialty stores.  It was named for the clotted cream that rose to the top of the milk from cows in Devon, England.  So how can a So. Cal girl get any?  This is a great substitute.

1 C sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-4 T powdered sugar (varies by sweetness desired)

Mix all ingredients together and let chill before serving.  Overnight is best in my experience.
The Devonshire Cream is in the white bowl to the  right of the scones.

My Favorite Lemonade for a Hot, Hot Day

This recipe originally came from my sister-in-law and I've tweaked it just a bit to work easily with my measuring cups and serving needs.

Family-sized recipe (1 gallon and little bit)
4 C sugar
3 C water

3 C lemon juice
12 C water
Serve over ice.

Party-size (about 2 1/2 gallons)
8 C sugar
6 C water

1 - 48oz. bottle lemon juice
24 C water

For a change of flavor, add some pureed strawberries or fresh raspberries.

Creme Brulee

My favorite Crème Brulee recipe came right off the box of the tool kit containing four ramekins and a kitchen torch.  Follow the instructions  carefully for perfect Crème Brulee.  The straining is the most important step and will guarantee a smooth, creamy result.

1 C heavy cream (use the good stuff!)
2 T sugar and an additional 1/3 C for later
2 extra large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Prepare some boiling water.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and 2 T sugar.  Cook this, stirring occasionally until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan.  This may take 5-6 minutes.  Set it aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks and vanilla until smooth and light.  Pour the hot cream mixture into the yolks a little at a time beating continuously until well blended.  Pour through a fine strainer into another bowl.  Divide this mixture among 4 - 4oz. ramekins.

Arrange the ramekins in a baking pan and place on the middle shelf of the oven.  Pour the boiling water around the ramekins to about halfway up the sides of each.  Loosely cover the entire pan with aluminum foil.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until set.  Chill for 2-3 hours.

Sprinkle remaining sugar evenly over the top of the cooled custards.  Use the kitchen torch to melt the sugar moving quickly over the tops until the sugar is golden brown.  Serve immediately.