Monday, July 1, 2013

Strawberry Delight {No Bake!}

I'm so excited about the fourth of July this year.  We are going to Ohio to visit my husband's family for the long weekend and it will be three days of jam-packed visiting!  And so much food.  It's always a whirlwind but I enjoy it.  

I love Ohio.  I love the people, the corn fields, the country... it's just awesome.  And what a nice break from the daily grind in Boston.  People in Ohio say hello.  There are no car horns beeping unless someone is in the middle of a legit emergency.  People there understand what personal space means - it's weird in Ohio to stand so close to someone in line that you're touching the stranger in front of you.  

Oh, Ohio.  I do appreciate you.

One thing I have to remember:  It's dang hot in Ohio.  No one wants to turn the oven on when it's 95 degrees outside. That's why everyone should have some yummy no-bake recipes up their sleeve.  They are almost always made up of just a few easy to find ingredients.  They can usually be prepared in advance.  They are almost always cold.  Perfect.

Now, you'll notice there are a few strawberry recipes on my site.  The truth is, I can't get enough of them.  They are one of my favorite things!  And when they're cheap and in season, I'm totally using them all the time and in this case, they star in Strawberry Delight.

I know I sound like a broken record here but honestly, this is just so easy.  And you will not have leftovers.  This is always gone in minutes.  Perfect for the fourth of July or any hot day!

Shall we begin?

You'll notice in the picture I have two containers of Cool-Whip.  The recipe only calls for 12 oz. but these containers were buy one, get one at my grocery store so that's what I got.  I just used one whole one, and a half of the second one.

Now, the first thing you want to do is slice your strawberries and sprinkle them with sugar.  Then park them in the fridge while you make the filling so they can get nice and juicy.

Next, whisk together your pudding mix and milk until completely smooth.

In a larger separate bowl, combine your cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk and beat with an electric mixer until nice and smooth.


Throw your Cool-Whip on top of the cream cheese condensed milk mixture and with a spatula, fold it in gently.

It's like a beautiful, delicious cloud.  But it gets better.

Add your pudding mixture and fold it in gently until everything is combined.

And that, my friends is the filling.  You're 95% done!

Now line a 9x13 inch pan with shortbread cookies.  I personally love Lorna Doone Cookies.  I ended up using about 2 sleeves (1 box) for this part.

Grab your strawberries from the fridge and layer them on top.  If they got too juicy or watery while they were chilling, just use a slotted spoon to get rid of the excess liquid.

Pour on the filling and smooth it out on top of the strawberries and cookies.

Now beat up the remaining shortbread cookies.  Not too fine, some larger chunks are good.

Sprinkle them evenly on top of the filling and refrigerate this for at least 4 hours before serving.  You can serve it up to 30 minutes after it's done but I recommend waiting if you can.  The flavors meld and more of the magic happens after several hours in the fridge.  Also, you can cut it like cake once it's completely set up but I won't judge you if you want to scoop some of this out in a half hour and enjoy a bowl.  Trust me, I get it.

I wanted to show you how nicely this filling sets up after several hours in the refrigerator.  Rich, creamy, perfect.

Strawberry Delight
Adapted from Paula Deen

1 pound fresh strawberries, sliced
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 5 oz box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups whole or 2% milk
1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. container of Cool-Whip
2 Boxes Lorna Doone shortbread cookies, divided*

*note - you can use vanilla wafers or any cookie you want.  Just make sure you have plenty!

Sprinkle the sugar over your sliced strawberries and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.  In a medium bowl, whisk together milk and pudding mix until completely smooth.  Set aside.  

In another large bowl, beat together softened cream cheese and condensed milk with an electric mixer until smooth.  Fold in the Cool-Whip by hand with a spatula until completely combined.  Add the pudding mixture to this bowl and fold that in until completely incorporated.  Filling should be a cream color and very thick.

Line the bottom a 9x13 pan with shortbread cookies (about 2 sleeves of the Lorna Doone cookies).  I like to use a more "square" shaped 9x13 for this instead of my glass pan, which has more of a curve to the sides.  Place your strawberries evenly on top of the shortbread cookies.  Pour the filling over everything and smooth out evenly.

Crush a sleeve of the shortbread cookies in a plastic bag until you have coarse crumbs (about a cup or so, more or less does not hurt!).  Sprinkle the crumbs on top of the filling evenly.  Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Cut with a spatula and serve in squares.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Naughty Bars

It hit me earlier this week that I needed a sinful dessert.  Like right then and there.  Do you have those moments? Maybe I'm weird.

Some people reach for the chips, I reach for the sugar.  It's kind of a problem.  I really wanted to make those Knock You Naked Brownies but I didn't have the ingredients.  Laziness and dessert cravings cause me to do strange things.  So I improvised.

Enter Naughty Bars.  Sure to quell any sweet craving in .0457485 seconds flat.
I timed it.  

These are definitely not dainty little dessert bars.  More like super rich stand over the kitchen sink and make a mess bars.  But they are so worth it.  There's like an inch of creamy caramel and peanut butter in the middle.  See? Naughty. And they're made from a cake mix.  Come on.

6 ingredients and you don't even have to let the butter soften.  Love it.  Pour the melted butter over your cake mix.

Now pour in some of the evaporated milk and mix until combined.  It will be like a cookie dough.

Put have the dough mixture in a well-greased 8x8 or 9x9 plan and pat it down.  I used an 8x8 pan but I think next time I will use a 9x9.  The filling would probably be a little less messy.  I don't mind messy though. 

Bake your layer of dough for about 10 minutes until set and barely golden brown.

While your dough is baking you can start feverishly unwrapping 60 caramels.  If you're like me and this exercise becomes very similar to Lucile Ball's famous chocolate scene, you may want to give yourself more time and do this beforehand. Once you have the caramels unwrapped, pour the remaining evaporated milk over them and microwave at 50% power for a minute at a time until smooth and creamy.

Pour this over your bottom layer.

Grab your peanut butter chips.  A whole cup of them.  

Sprinkle them on top of the caramel mixture.

Now comes the interesting part.  In the original brownie recipe I saw, it said to form the remaining half of the dough into a square on your work surface and using a spatula, somehow peel this off and lay it on top.  Um, that didn't really happen for me. I don't know if it's because I used a different cake mix or what.  So I ended up laying this on top in sections.  You could also just press pieces of dough between your fingers to flatten them out and just lay them on top. It really will turn out great.  You're going to dust the whole thing in powdered sugar anyway!

Once you have the top layer on, return this to the oven for about 25 minutes or until golden brown and done.  See? 
Not the perfectly flat surface but it turned out great.  Next, once this cools off on the counter you want to refrigerate this for a few hours or overnight to let all that filling set up.  I didn't wait that long, more like 2 hours on the counter because I wanted sinful molten filling.  Which is why I am ashamed to say I don't have a shot like this with the powdered sugar on because I had already taken out a big spoon and helped myself to some.  Oops.

This is what the filling looks like after just a few hours.  There is nothing wrong with eating these now but they are a little harder to cut and the filling is more oozy.  Naughty.

They look more like this if you let them chill for longer, and they would be even easier to cut and more firm if you let them chill overnight.  Either way, these are really over the top and delicious.  They certainly live up to their name.

Naughty Bars
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/3 plus 1/2 cup evaporated milk
60 caramels, unwrapped
1 cup peanut butter chips
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, melted butter, and 1/3 cup evaporated milk until completely incorporated - the mixture will be similar to cookie dough.

Divide the dough in half and press one half into the bottom of a well-greased 8x8 or 9x9 inch square pan.  Bake this for about 10 minutes until set and barely starting to turn golden brown.

In a large microwave-safe bowl, place the caramels and 1/2 cup evaporated milk together and heat on 50% power 1 minute at a time (take out the bowl and give it a stir after each minute in the microwave) until totally combined and creamy.

Pour this mixture over the bottom layer of dough and top with the peanut butter chips.

Take the other half of the dough and either press peices of the dough between your fingers and arrange on top of the peanut butter chips and caramel, or try to roll the dough out (I ended up doing a combination of both - I had a bit of a challenge getting this off my work surface but it all worked out in the end.) in a rough square the size of your baking pan and using a large spatula, place it on top.

Bake this for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let cool on your counter for a few hours to get to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to chill overnight.  Before serving, dust heavily with powdered sugar.  Use a nice sharp knife to cut these and use care when removing them from the pan.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

{Easy!} Homemade Hot Dog Chili

Who else is a hot dog chili snob?
The canned stuff?  You have to be kidding.

I also approach hot dog chili from a utilitarian standpoint as well.  It must be thick.  It needs to stay on the dog and in the bun.  This is a must when you're standing around at a cookout.  If the chili is too thin, you could be unknowingly auditioning for a summer laundry detergent commercial.

And one final hot dog chili must:  it has to be sweet.  Like sloppy joes.  So if you're into the thinner, more savory hot dog chili, this is not your recipe.  Don't say I didn't warn you! But if you like sweet and thick with a bit of spice, come on down.  

T-minus 10 minutes to enough chili for like 10 hot dogs.  Ready?

Here's what you need.  Notice the chipotle.  It's optional but I love it!  It adds a little bit of a smoky taste and doesn't make this spicy since we're only adding 1/4 tsp.  Also notice the dehydrated onion.  You can use a whole yellow onion if you have one on hand.  I didn't have one and I didn't want to use a red onion for this (I like red onion raw on top of my hot dog).  It's good either way.

You basically cook the hamburger and add all this stuff to it to make hot dog chili.  Yes, that's it. I use about 2 tablespoons for each dog.  The chili is super thick and sweet so you don't need too much. 

Homemade Hot Dog Chili
adapted from Tyler Florence

1 pound ground beef
1 regular yellow onion or dehydrated onion equivalent (about 1/4 cup)
2 cups ketchup*
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground chipotle pepper (optional)

Cook ground beef thoroughly in a large skillet and drain. Return the hamburger to the pan and add the ketchup.  Stir until combined.  Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until incorporated.  Let simmer for a few minutes to thicken up. Serve 2 tablespoons or so for each hot dog - or to your taste. Makes enough chili for about 8-10 hot dogs.

*If you're worried about the sweetness, you could try subbing half the ketchup with plain tomato sauce.