Aug 31, 2011

Mocha Marbled Loaf Cake

mocha marbled loaf cake 2

First – I finally updated my recipe index and the about me page – I find the recipe index to be the easiest way for me to find inspiration when I’m not sure what to make.  I am also amazed with how many recipes I’ve been able to compile in less than two years of blogging.   Speaking of inspiration – I am now officially ***obsessed*** with Pinterest – you can follow me if you are also obsessed with pinning. 

Now back to this cake – I needed something easy that I could make in advance – so I always go for something frozen.  My husbands childhood friend Tom and his wife Sue were staying with us and his birthday was the same weekend – so of course a cake was in order!   This was a perfect easy no-bake dessert – an Oreo crust and an almost-ice cream like layers of whipped cream and chocolate mocha.   Simple to make, slice and serve!  Enjoy!

mocha marbled loaf cake 1


  • 2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whipped cream, whipped
  • 2 Tbsp. instant espresso granules
  • 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • 1/2 cup chocolate syrup


1. Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with foil.  Combine cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl until moistened. Press firmly into the bottom of the lined loaf pan.

2. Beat cream cheese in a mixing bowl until light and smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk and vanilla, mixing to combine. Fold in whipped cream. Set aside half of this mixture.

3. Dissolve coffee in hot water and fold into one half of the cream cheese mixture. Fold in chocolate syrup.

4. Spoon half of chocolate/coffee mixture over the crust. Top with half of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Use a knife to swirl layers. Cover and freeze for at least 6 hours.

5. To serve, remove from freezer and lift out of pan. Remove foil and cut into slices.

Source: The Sweets Life

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Aug 29, 2011

Grilled Chicken Kebabs

kabobs 1

It would not be summer without a cookout!  And this is the perfect recipe since a lot of the prep can be done ahead of time.  For this version I marinated the chicken for an entire day ahead of time – and it worked great because the marinade was not acidic and did not cook the chicken like some marinates do.   I filled these kebabs with all of my favorite veggies – tomatoes, red pepper, eggplant, baby bella mushrooms, zucchini and onions.   Of course you can use a combination of any ingredients you wish – and I promise you that these will be your next grilling success!  Enjoy the rest of summer while it lasts!

kabobs 2



  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (any combination of chives, fresh basil, parsley, tarragon, oregano, cilantro, mint leaves, thyme or rosemary.)
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • Ground black pepper


  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 3 cups vegetables cut into 1/2 to 1 inch chunks (onions, grape tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, squash, peppers, mushrooms, etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil to coat vegetables


1. To make marinade: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. 

2. Mix marinade and chicken in gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag; seal bag and refrigerate, turning once or twice, until chicken has marinated fully, at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

3. Meanwhile, lightly coat vegetables by tossing in medium bowl with oil and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Remove chicken chunks from bag; discard marinade. Thread a portion of chicken and vegetables onto skewers.  Grill over medium heat, turning each kebab one quarter turn every 2 minutes, until chicken and vegetables are lightly browned and meat is fully cooked, about 8 minutes total for white meat. Check for doneness by cutting into one piece of chicken when it looks opaque on all sides. Remove kebabs from grill when there is no pink at the center. Serve immediately.

Source: Cooks Illustrated

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Aug 10, 2011

Grilled Caprese Skewers

grilled caprese skewers 2

Caprese salads are a summertime staple – so when I found this version – which is quickly grilled and uses sun-dried tomatoes.  I immediately knew it would be delicious.  I was a little concerned that I would put these on the grill and the cheese would just melt away between the grates – but that definitely did not happen. 

grilled caprese skewers


For 6-8 skewers (amounts are approximate based on the quantity you need – feel free to add more or less as needed)

  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into sixteen 1-inch cubes, or sixteen 1 ounce fresh mozzarella balls
  • Oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (16 separate pieces)
  • 16 fresh basil leaves
  • balsamic vinegar (optional)
On each skewer, alternately thread the sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil leaves.  Brush the cheese with some of the sundried tomato packing oil, then grill the skewers until the cheese just begins to melt, turning once. Serve immediately and drizzle with balsamic, if desired.

Source: Cook’s Illustrated

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Aug 8, 2011

Strawberry Brownie Ice Cream Cups

strawberry brownie ice cream cups 1

In the midst of this excruciatingly hot summer – this dessert is absolutely the perfect relief.  A brownie base – that tastes great still frozen – topped with homemade strawberry ice cream (or any flavor of your choice really!) and topped with a dollop of chocolate ganache.   It’s almost like your own individual mini ice cream cake.   You don’t even need a reason to celebrate to enjoy these – just reward yourself for getting through another hot day. 

strawberry brownie ice cream cups 2


For the brownies

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the ice cream

  • 2 cups fresh ripe strawberries, stemmed and sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the ganache

  • 3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream


1. To make the ice cream: Combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of sugar; stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours.  In another bowl, use a hand mixer to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in the heavy cream, the vanilla and strawberries and their juices.  When ready to use – churn according to your manufactures instructions.  Freeze until ready to fill ice cream brownie cups.

2. To make the brownie bottoms: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with foil liners.  Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; stir together and set aside. 

3. In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water combine the butter and chocolate.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth.  In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla extract.  Whisk to blend.  Stir in the warm chocolate mixture, and then the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.

4. Scoop 1 tablespoon of batter into cupcake liner.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 6-8 minutes.  Leaving the brownies in the cupcake pans, cool on a wire rack to room temperature.  Freeze for at least 30 minutes.  Top with strawberry ice cream until the cupcake liner is full.  (If the ice cream is freshly made, it is just the right consistency for filling the cupcake liners.) Return the cupcake pans to the freezer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

5. To make the ganache: Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Pour the cream evenly over the chocolate, let stand for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth with a rubber spatula and let sit until firm enough to spread.  Once the ganache is at the correct temperature, scoop it by the teaspoonful on top of the ice cream cupcakes and spread over the tops. 

Source: Annie’s Eats 

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Aug 3, 2011

Lemon Pesto Tuna Salad

pesto tuna salad 4

This is one of my husbands all-time favorite side dishes.  I found the recipe years ago when I got Rachael Ray magazine (I only got the first year and then stopped getting it) – it was pegged as a recipe that children could make and enjoy.  Good thing my husband is really like a big child (at heart) – since he just loves this dish.  

I made it easy on myself and bought some already prepared pesto – but you can definitely make your own if you have an abundance of basil.  This really is a great summertime dish – you can use lots of fresh, in season ingredients and it keeps well since there is not mayo or anything that may spoil easily in it.   Everyone who tried this loved it (just not as much as my husband) – I hope you love it too!  Enjoy!

pesto tuna salad 3


  • 1 cup pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 (6-oz.) cans of water-packed tuna, drained
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 jarred roasted red pepper, cut into small strips
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound medium sized shaped pasta, cooked al dente and drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste


1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions, drain and set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl combine the pesto and lemon juice. 

3. Add in the tuna and flake with a fork to break up pieces.

4. Add the scallions, red pepper, tomatoes and pasta.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Source: Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine June/July 2006

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Aug 1, 2011

Chocolate peanut butter crunch brownies

choco peanut butter crunch bars 2

If you are looking for an easy to whip-up and super delectable and delicious brownies – here you have have them.  Gooey brownie base, covered with chopped peanuts, peanut butter cups and if that is not enough all of that is topped with a peanut butter rice krispy layer. 

It is no wonder that these are affectionately known as ‘better-than-crack’ brownies across the blogosphere.  I decided to go by chocolate peanut butter crunch brownies since I have no idea if they are better than crack and I have no intentions of finding out!  

But believe me – the people you make these for will be eternally grateful to you for making their life sweeter.  Enjoy!   

choco peanut butter crunch bars


  • 1 batch brownies for a 9×13-inch pan (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 8 Reese’s peanut butter cups, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies cereal


1. Prepare the brownies according to the directions and bake for about 5 minutes less than the recipe states. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the top with the peanuts and chopped peanut butter cups. Return to the oven and bake for 5 additional minutes.

2. Melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in the cereal to evenly coat.

3. Remove the brownies from the oven and evenly pour the chocolate and peanut butter mixture over top. Spread to cover evenly.

4. Refrigerate for 2 hours before cutting and serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Source: Brown-eyed Baker

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