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Aug 12 16

Layered Pudding Dessert

by KellysCravings

Layered Pudding Dessert
I love how food can have memories attached to them (remember Grandma’s Brownies). This layered pudding dessert has so many memories throughout my life. It was my dad’s favorite dessert. My mom always made this for Father’s Day and his birthday. We got this recipe from my aunt, Marcia, who got it out of an Iowa Catholic high school cookbook in the late 1970’s. Although my dad passed away five years ago (remember Nick’s), I like to “celebrate” our loved ones who have passed away on their birthday. I make one food they enjoyed to remember them. This year for my dad’s birthday, I’m going with his very favorite…with chocolate fudge pudding of course. My dad would say, “Is there any other kind?”

Why, yes, there is. The best part of this dessert is not just the different layers but that you can change the pudding flavor to your liking or to the season. Marcia said she enjoys making this with coconut cream pudding. I’ve made this with pumpkin pudding in the fall and I’ve made this at Christmas with crushed candy canes on top. Two of my aunts threw me my bridal shower where they served this dessert. One pan was made with chocolate pudding and one with butterscotch pudding. I made this for my older son’s 3rd birthday but made it with an Oreo cookie crust and sprinkled it with crushed Oreos to make it look like a dirt cake.

There is a story my mom loves to tell about this dessert. One time my mom made it and there were leftovers. My brother and I were probably in high school and we called our mom one night at work to ask if we could have some of the dessert. According to my mom, there was still half a pan left and my brother and I split it and ate the rest! Oddly enough, my brother and I don’t seem to remember this at all!

While this dessert has many different names including: Chocolate Delight, Chocolate Lasagna, Pudding Cake and many more; in my family we just called it dad’s favorite dessert.

Layered Pudding Dessert
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1st Layer
1 cup flour
1 stick butter
¾ cup pecans, finely chopped
Cut butter into the flour. Add nuts. Press into a greased 9” x 13” pan. Bake 20 minutes in a 350 oven. Cool.

2nd Layer
1 large carton (9 oz.) whipped topping
1 cup powdered sugar
1 8oz. Pkg. cream cheese
Allow cream cheese to warm up to room temperature. Measure out 1 cup of topping. Mix cream cheese, whipped topping and powdered sugar with a hand mixer. Reserve remaining topping for the 4th layer. Spread evenly over the crust.

3rd Layer
2 boxes (3.9oz each)
3 cups milk
Prepare 2 boxes of pudding mix according to the package directions except for the amount of milk. Use 3 cups instead of 4. Spread evenly over the cream cheese layer.

4th Layer
Top with remainder of whipped topping and sprinkle with chopped pecans or shaved chocolate.

Jul 6 16

Frog Eye Salad

by KellysCravings

Frog Eye Salad
Frog Eye Salad…not a great name or description for our family favorite fruit salad made with…pasta. Stay with me, this is delicious. The pasta is a very small ball shape which is how this salad gets its name. I do buy the pasta at our local Italian market because it is 1/3 the price than the grocery store. The last time we were at the market, my kids noticed they sold Frog Eye Salad just like we make it! There are several versions of this recipe. Mine is made with a scratch “pudding” from the pineapple juice; another version is made with vanilla pudding from a box. One time at a family gathering, my youngest was mentioning he wanted some Frog Eye Salad. My hubby’s cousin said they had it at a friend’s house one time. So we started comparing notes. The one she ate was made without pineapple and coconut and instead had grapes, strawberries, apples, peaches or any fresh fruit you want. This sounds so delicious to me but my family won’t let me make this any other way than the original. In this photo it may look like a lot of marshmallows, that’s because my hubby likes the whole 10 oz. bag added.

My maternal grandma got this recipe on a visit to the mid-West in the 90’s, maybe the 80’s. She raved about it and we too thought it sounded strange but it has been a family favorite ever since. It’s now my hubby and kids’ favorite too. It is usually requested for BBQ’s like the Fourth of July. It’s side dish partner is almost always another family favorite Four Bean Hot Dish aka Baked Beans.

When I first lived alone, I made this recipe…for myself. I should have halved or even quartered the recipe because I was eating this salad for lunch, snacks and dinner for a week! Lesson learned. Yes, take note, it makes 25 servings. It is the perfect dish for a large crowd or leftovers with the family.

Frog Eye Salad
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16 ounces Acini De Pepe pasta (can be called Pastina #75 at an Italian market)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¾ cup pineapple juice (reserved from pineapple cans)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 cans (11oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
2 cans (20 oz.) pineapple tidbits, drained and reserve juice
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
1 carton (8 oz.) cool whip
1 cup shredded coconut
1½ cups miniature marshmallows

Cook the Acini De Pepe pasta according to package directions. When done, rinse under cold water in strainer. Let cool.

In a saucepan over medium high heat stir together sugar, flour and salt. Gradually stir in pineapple juice and eggs. Cook and stir constantly until mixture thickens and is smooth. Should be the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine the pasta and pudding mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Then lightly but thoroughly fold in the mandarin oranges, pineapple, coconut and cool whip. Refrigerate until serving. Just before serving add marshmallows; mix lightly.

Salad may be refrigerated for as long as a week in an airtight container. It also may be frozen, though the freezing somewhat alters the texture.

Makes 25 servings

May 17 16

Chicken Corn Chowder

by KellysCravings

Chicken Corn Chowder
Soup, stew, bisque, chowder…they are all fairly similar and slightly different from each other. Chowders are prepared with milk, cream or a roux and often made with potatoes. I love them all. Plus, it makes a complete meal all by itself, especially when you have enough “stuff” to make it hearty. I used to think of soups as a wintery type meal. You know, warm and comforting on a cool day. Then I realized it is the perfect hot day meal because you don’t have to start your oven. My mom got this recipe many years ago. It was a family favorite then and now my family loves it just as much. My favorite part of this chowder is the cream style corn and the bit of sweetness it adds to the chowder. Or is it the bacon…everything’s better with bacon!

Chicken Corn Chowder
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3 slices bacon, diced
½ lb. potatoes, unpeeled and diced
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 1” chunks
3 green onions, sliced
2 T. flour
1 chicken flavored bouillon cube
2 cups milk
1 17 oz. can cream style corn (I usually add 2)

Cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon; set aside.

Add potatoes to drippings. Cook until tender. Add chicken and green onions. Cook until chicken is no longer pink.

Sprinkle flour over chicken; stir to blend. Add bouillon, milk and corn.

Cook covered until mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with reserved bacon.

Makes 7 cups

Mar 14 16

Granola

by KellysCravings

Granola1
Happy 5th Blogoversary to me!

It is hard to believe that 5 years ago today I started this blog (2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015). My paternal grandma passed away 1 1/2 weeks ago and tomorrow is her funeral. My cousin recently asked me for some of her recipes (Biscotti, Artichokes and Neapolitan Meatballs). I’ve been making this granola recipe for several years now and while this granola recipe is not from my grandma, I hope my kids will always remember cooking in the kitchen with me and our music playing loudly.

My kids love when certain foods get made and this is one of them. My oldest wanted to help me make this batch of granola and asked if we could triple the recipe. My hubby and youngest are giving up processed carbs for breakfast and lunch during Lent. As my youngest says, “I never met a carb I didn’t like!” So his options for breakfast have been very limited. He loves eating this with milk for breakfast. My oldest will have the granola added to yogurt for an afternoon snack. What I love most about this recipe is you can start with the basic recipe and modify it by adding what you want or like in yours. I’ve added cinnamon before, or pumpkin pie spice and pepitas during the fall; you can change the nuts (as I did here) or change the dried fruit. It all turns out delicious!

Granola
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3 cups rolled oats
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cashews
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, combine maple syrup, oil, and salt. Combine both mixtures and pour onto 2 sheet pans. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from oven and transfer into a large bowl. Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

Adapted from: Alton Brown’s Good Eats

Dec 8 15

Tea by the Sea at the Getty Villa

by KellysCravings

Tea by the Sea
A few weeks ago was my annual tea outing with my mom, Debbie and Kim (see previous tea outings: Queen Mary, Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge and Millennium Biltmore Hotel). Kim found another spectacular location which was The Getty Villa, not to be confused with The Getty Center. They have a Tea by the Sea which I have to say is a little misleading. We were above the cafe on the 2nd floor with lots of windows but no view of the ocean. They have a set menu and tea and only one tea time at 1pm.

At 2:30pm, we had a culinary-inspired garden tour led by a gentleman named Robert who was very informative. He talked about the ancient Romans and how they used herbs for cooking and medicine. After our tour we were free to explore the museum on our own.
Tea by the Sea2

The Tea by the Sea is a tribute to the Villa’s past. The Villa is modeled after a first-century Roman country house and the tea menus are inspired by what would have grown in those times.

It was another fabulous tea outing spent with great company. As Kim said, “Beautiful property, beautiful view and beautiful weather!”

Aug 23 15

Chocolate Pudding

by KellysCravings

Chocolate Pudding
When my grandma passed away 10 years ago, there were very few “things” I was interested in keeping. The item I coveted most was her recipe box. There were several recipes she taught me to make (Peanut Brittle) and some I grew up with (Zucchini Bread, Brownies). Last year on Easter Sunday, Dylan’s grandma passed away. Over the years, Nonna and I loved to talk about food, recipes and cooking shows. The only thing I asked my mother-in-law Kathy for was Nonna’s recipe box.

In October, my husband’s grandpa passed away. Kathy asked if I would like some bar glasses and parfait goblets with the letter B on them. Last month, Kathy arrived with our box of “B” ware. Dylan’s grandparents had a different last name but same initial. The glasses and goblets are a great addition to our family. And this nostalgic chocolate pudding is the perfect way to put them to use.

While this chocolate pudding recipe is new to me, the blogger buys old cookbooks and recipe cards of home cooks purchased at estate sales. What a fantastic idea! I actually found this recipe in a magazine, but because I immediately pinned the recipe on Pinterest I can’t remember which magazine. When I pulled up the website for A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn, my younger son looked at the recipe card and said, “Wow, that recipe is well loved!”

Chocolate Pudding
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1 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. cocoa powder
2 c. whole milk
4 Tbs. butter
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla

In a two-quart saucepan, combine sugar, flour and cocoa. Add 1 1/2 cups milk and cook until slightly thickened, stirring almost continuously.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and add 1/2 cup milk.

When the cooked mixture has thickened, slowly add it to the egg mixture, whisking all the while. (This is tempering, i.e., bringing the eggs to temperature, so as not to have scrambled eggs in your pudding.)

Pour this back into the saucepan and cook until a bit thicker.

Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Pour through a sieve (to ensure there are no lumps) and into a bowl, ramekins or whatever and place in the refrigerator for at least four hours. If you don’t want a skin on your pudding, place plastic wrap directly on the surface.

Serve plain or with a dollop of whipped cream.

Adapted from: A Cake Bakes in Brooklyn

Apr 18 15

Spinach Pasta Salad

by KellysCravings

Spinach Pasta Salad
In my last post I talked about my office potluck. This salad was my go to dish. I have served it at home as a main dish and a side dish. I have taken it to other potluck’s and there are never leftovers. I mean what’s not to love about cheese tortellini with crispy bacon and some spinach just to make it seem healthy. The best part is the dressing which is made with chutney. Mango is the most common flavor I can find and it pairs well with the other flavors in the salad.

The street I grew up on always had a block party all day long on the 4th of July. For dinner, the BBQ’s would be wheeled into the street at the end of the cul-de-sac. Everyone would take some sort of side dish or dessert and it was just a plethora of food. Our next door neighbor, Carolyn, brought this salad one year. I’m not kidding, this salad really is a great potluck item. Carolyn got this recipe from her sister-in-law’s friend who got it out of a magazine way back in the day.

Last month my oldest son and I were attending a potluck dinner. I asked him what we should sign up for and he wanted a salad. I handed him a stack of recipe cards and told him to pick a salad he wanted to take. Guess which recipe he landed on?

Spinach Pasta Salad
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7oz. package cheese filled tortellini
6 cups fresh spinach
1 cup shredded red cabbage or torn radicchio
6 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained and crumbled
4 green onions, sliced
¼ cup chutney
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
⅓ cup canola oil

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Drain again.
In a large bowl, toss together tortellini, spinach, cabbage, bacon and green onions. Cover and chill.

For dressing, combine chutney, vinegar and oil in a jar. Cover and chill. Just before serving, shake dressing well. Toss with tortellini mixture.

Mar 14 15

Pistachio Coffee Cake

by KellysCravings

Pistachio Cake
Happy 4th Blogoversary to me!

I started this blog four years ago. As time goes on I hope this will be a way for my kids to have the recipes they grew up with. I love knowing the history of a recipe and reliving memories of years past.

While I have previously talked about St. Patrick’s Day before (2011 and 2012), I haven’t talked about this Pistachio Coffee Cake. My former boss, Linda, used to make this for every office potluck because we all requested it. I love making it close to St. Patty’s Day because of the green color in the pistachio pudding. The pudding mix helps make this cake so moist. Oh how I do love a good coffee cake!

Linda got the recipe from a PTA cookbook she helped create. Her friend submitted a recipe for a pistachio bread, but Linda tweaked it to make it more of a coffee cake. She then started giving the coffee cake as her Christmas present to her neighbors. Linda’s younger son requested she make several of these cakes for his wedding reception in addition to his wedding cake. It’s stories and memories like this I hope to pass on to my children.

Pistachio Coffee Cake
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Crumb Filling:
¼ cup of each:
brown sugar
cinnamon-sugar mixture
pecans, chopped
flour
4 T. butter, cold
1 T. amaretto or almond extract (optional)

Cake Mixture:
3 ½ oz. pkg. pistachio pudding
1 box of white or yellow cake mix
4 eggs
¼ cup oil
½ cup water or amaretto
8 oz. sour cream or plain yogurt

Icing Glaze:
1 cup sugar
¼ cup milk, amaretto or water
2 T. butter, melted

Grease bundt or tube pan and sprinkle the sides with cinnamon sugar. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix crumb filling together, adding cold butter; cutting it in. Mixture will be coarse and easy to sprinkle. If you add the extract to this, cover it while you prepare the cake mixture to intensify the flavors.

Mix all cake ingredients together until well blended.

Pour ⅓ of the cake mix into the prepared pan. Sprinkle ½ of the crumb filling over the cake batter; continue alternation cake and mixture, topping off with the cake mix. Once all the ingredients are in the pan; lift up the cake pan and tap around the bottom of the pan to release any air bubbles that may have formed.

Bake for about 50 minutes in the middle rack of your oven.

Once the cake has finished baking and has been cooled, invert onto a cake plate. Pour icing mixture over the cake; sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar, if desired.

Icing Directions
Mix ingredients together until smooth and creamy. It should drip off the spoon slowly, but not be runny. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to use or the icing will harden.

Cook’s notes:
•I always add the almond extract to the crumb filling.
•I only use water for the cake mix. (I don’t ever have amaretto in the house!)
•I never do the icing because I feel too guilty at breakfast!

Feb 14 15

Cherry Chocolate Cake

by KellysCravings

Cherry Chocolate Cake
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I previously posted about Valentine’s Day 2012 and 2013 but I have yet to talk about our family famous Cherry Chocolate Cake. My mom can’t remember where she got this recipe but has had it for a very long time. I was in grade school, maybe around 10 years old, when my dad asked if I wanted to help make my mom a birthday cake. Let me preface by saying at this point, I wasn’t in the kitchen very often. There are only four ingredients and the directions say to mix by hand. I looked at my dad and said, “EW, I’m not going to mix this with my hand!” My dad had to explain to me “by hand” means no stand mixer or hand mixer, just stirring with a spoon. The reason is so you don’t crush the cherries. Afterwards, this cake got renamed in our family as the Stir by Hand Cake.

It’s one of my favorites not only because it’s so easy, but the pie filling makes this cake super moist. I’ve seen many versions of this recipe online but nothing beats the simplicity of this one. Plus, I love the addition of the almond extract instead of vanilla, it really boosts the cherry flavor. You can spread your favorite frosting on top, but I love it just the way it is. Since my kids were little, I’ve served this every Valentine’s day for dessert. Remember my last post about my youngest not liking cake too much? Nothing gets him more excited for Valentine’s day than this cake. And he will always ask for seconds…and thirds!

Cherry Chocolate Cake
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1 Chocolate cake mix (no pudding kind)
1 tsp. almond extract
2 large eggs, beaten
1 21-oz. cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix all of the above ingredients by hand. Pour into a greased and floured 9” x 13” pan.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Jan 26 15

Grandma’s Brownies

by KellysCravings

Brownies
Can it really be the start of a New Year? That means my birthday is just around the corner. But before my birthday, it is my youngest child’s birthday. Since he was a little boy he has never been a cake person. On occasion he may take one bite of a cupcake or cake, but he will usually pass on these treats. When it’s his birthday, he will always request brownies. Nothing really beats my grandma’s brownie recipe. My mom says this is the recipe my grandma always made. We aren’t sure where the recipe originated, but it is unusual because it doesn’t have a leavening agent. This recipe is so simple to make and so decadent. It just melts in your mouth…I’m guessing it’s all that butter!
Besides our love of brownies, my son, my grandma and I are all Aquarians. This year would have marked my grandma’s 100th birthday! Unfortunately, she passed weeks before my son was born. When my son and I make his birthday brownies from my grandma’s recipe, we are all together in a way. I read a quote once, “A recipe is a magic trick: It makes the past live.”

Grandma’s Brownies
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1 ½ cups shortening or butter or combination of both
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
¾ cup cocoa
⅓ cup milk
2 cups flour
nuts – optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9” x 13” pan.
Mix in the order given alternating with milk and flour.
Pour into pan.
Bake 30 minutes. Cut into bars.