No Bake Oreo Cheesecake Parfaits

It recently came to my attention that my beloved J has a “thing” for Oreos.

As in, when he saw the package of the aforementioned cookies on the counter, his reaction was, “Oooooh Oreos!” And promptly instructed the posse that they were to maintain a 10′ distance from the cookies at all times.

Ok, the second part of that sentence isn’t true, but he did inform them that they would need to get their own package if they wanted any.

And that really is true.

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No Bake Oreo Cheesecake Parfaits – adapted from live love and sugar

12 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz whipped cream)
1 cup Oreo crumbs (from about 9 Oreos)
5 Oreos, chopped, optional
additional Oreo crumbs for the top, optional
Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl until smooth and well combined. Gently fold in whipped cream). Add Oreo crumbs and chopped Oreos and gently mix until well combined. Spoon the filling into 4 parfait glasses, and top with additional Oreo crumbs, if desired. Top with a whole Oreo to serve.

 

 

Vanilla Panna Cotta

I realized something quite comical yesterday, while navigating the busy streets of Austin.

My car, which is low to ground to begin with, is practically invisible here in Texas.

Why is that, you might ask? Well, the short answer is that 90% of the population here drive trucks. And of those 90%, 85% of the aforementioned trucks are lifted.

So…. I seem to spend a lot of time staring at bumpers.

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Which makes me feel like the shortest kid in the class.

Vanilla Panna Cotta – adapted from epicurious

  • 1 cup whole milk, divided
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Pour 1/2 cup milk into a medium bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let sit until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cream, sugar, and remaining 1/2 cup milk in a large saucepan. Scrape vanilla seeds from bean into saucepan; add bean. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and let steep for 10 minutes.

Bring cream mixture back to a simmer. Add gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain. Divide among six 3/4-cup ramekins. Chill uncovered until panna cotta is set, at least 6 hours.

Using a small sharp knife, cut around edges of each panna cotta. Place a small serving plate atop each ramekin and invert, allowing panna cotta to settle onto plate. Serve with fresh fruit.

 

Chocolate Lasagna

Somehow, I don’t think the Italians had this in mind when they invented lasagna oh-so-many moons ago:

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An Oreo cookie crust, cheesecake filling, chocolate pudding, whipped cream and mini chocolate chips?

Exceptionally unorthodox.

But……… incredibly tasty.

Many thanks to my good friend Lana, who told me about this unusual concoction. And from what I can gather, it is a knock-off of the Chocolate Lasagna formerly served at Olive Garden restaurants.

Chocolate Lasagna – adapted from center cut cook

  • 1 package regular Oreo cookies – about 36 cookies
  • 6 tbs. butter, melted
  • 1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbs. cold milk
  • 1- 12 ounce tub Cool Whip, divided (I used a pint of heavy cream that I whipped by hand)
  • 2 – 3.9 ounce packages Jello Chocolate Instant Pudding.
  • 3 1/4 cups cold milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
  1. Crush the Oreo cookies into fine crumbs in the food processor.
  2. Transfer the Oreo crumbs to a large bowl. Stir in 6 tablespoons melted butter and use a fork to incorporate the butter into the cookie crumbs. When the butter is distributed, transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you work on the additional layers.
  3. Mix the cream cheese with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add in 2 tbs. of milk, and sugar, and mix well. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups Cool Whip (or whipped cream). Spread this mixture over the crust.
  4. In a bowl, combine chocolate instant pudding with 3 and 1/4 cups cold milk. Whisk for several minutes until the pudding starts to thicken. Use a spatula to spread the mixture over the previous cream cheese layer. Allow the dessert to rest for about 5 minutes so that the pudding can firm up further.
  5. Spread the remaining Cool Whip (or whipped cream) over the top. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips evenly over the top. Place in the freezer for 1 hour, or the refrigerator for 4 hours before serving.

Baked Vanilla Custards

You know, the little things in life truly make me happy, because deep down, I’m actually a very simple girl.

Although, I will confess that several times during my life, I’ve been accused (unjustly, I might add) of being high maintenance. Or, to paraphrase Billy Crystal in “When Harry met Sally”, I’m the worst kind of girl, because I’m high maintenance but I think I’m low maintenance.

Between me and you, I’m low maintenance.

riiiiiiight.

As I was saying, it doesn’t take much to make me happy, and a new baking book really hits the mark. I was very excited to purchase not one but TWO new baking books last week – it’s been way too long since I’ve done that, and I promptly read each one cover to cover while the posse was away.

Because nothing invites conversation more than a mother sitting down quietly with a book….which is why I waited until they were gone.

And if you have kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Anyway, inspiration struck when Mom and Dad came over for dinner last week, and I decided to try these simple baked custards first.

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Although I overbaked them a bit, this really is basic comfort food at its finest – suitable for dressing up or down, with either a bruleed sugar crust, fresh fruit, whipped cream, or powdered sugar.

And I just realized, I have the last one of these in the fridge.

Perfect.

Oh, and I highly recommend serving them warm…..

Baked Vanilla Custards – adapted from Back In The Day Bakery

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and have six custard cups or ramekins ready.

Mix together the eggs, sugar, milk, nutmeg and vanilla. Strain the mixture into a large Pyrex measuring cup. Divide the mixture evenly among the cups, and place the cups into a large baking dish. Add enough hot water to the baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the custards are just set. Remove from the oven and serve warm or chilled with fresh fruit, powdered sugar, or whipped cream.

Chocolate Tapioca Pudding

Good morning and Happy Sunday!

I want to get this delicious tapioca posted before I head out on a bike ride…. the air temp is 75 degrees right now and I want to take advantage of it before it heats up.

Well, that and it’s useless to spend my time cleaning up the backyard since there is another thunderstorm moving in later this afternoon….

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Chocolate Tapioca Pudding – adapted from serious eats

5 cups whole milk
7 tbs. small pearl tapioca (see note)
2 tbs. plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Whipped cream for garnish
Bring milk, tapioca, and sugar to simmer in large heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, gently stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring, until mixture thickens and pearls become soft and translucent, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

In small bowl slowly whisk about 1/2 cup hot tapioca mixture into egg yolks. Return yolk mixture to pot and stir to combine.

Stir in vanilla and chocolate until chocolate is completely melted. Transfer to bowl, cover, and chill until set, about 3 hours. Stir gently before serving to soften pudding. Serve with whipped cream on the side.

Simple Vanilla Pudding

Life can be chaotic sometimes …..

P1000110Dessert doesn’t need to be.

One Year Ago: Zucchini Cornbread

Simple Vanilla (or Chocolate) Pudding – adapted from everyday food

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (if making chocolate pudding)
2 1/2 cups milk
4 large egg yolks
2 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. If making chocolate pudding, add cocoa powder. Gradually whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.
Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters. Reduce heat to low; still whisking, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Stir butter and vanilla into hot pudding.
Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding (to prevent skin from forming); chill at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Before serving, gently whisk pudding until smooth; divide among four serving dishes.

Coconut Mango Tapioca Pudding

Do you remember eating tapioca pudding when you were a youngster? I sure do – we always had the ubiquitous red box of Minute Brand tapioca in the pantry – it was (and still is) one of my dad’s favorite desserts.

However, for this particular recipe, I branched out of my familiarity zone and purchased small pearl tapioca – which to me, looked like the pellets from Alexander’s Airsoft gun.

** side note: Alexander had a field day vacuuming his room yesterday –  all I could hear downstairs was the sound of the pellets being sucked into the vacuum  – and then him laughing his head off watching them go into the vacuum’s spiral tunnel **

The simplest things are so amusing sometimes…….

Anyway, the pearl tapioca had a much better consistency than the Minute Brand – it reminded me of Japanese Bubble Tea, the drink with the enormous straw to slurp the bubbles through – because as I learned, those bubbles are really large pearl tapioca.

Where was I going with all this? I don’t know – but I do know that we all really enjoyed this and I am definitely going to make it again.

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Coconut Mango Tapioca Pudding – adapted from Food and Wine

  • 1/2 cup small pearl tapioca
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • One 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups peeled and diced mango
  • 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • Shredded coconut, toasted, for garnish

In a large saucepan, combine the tapioca and whole milk. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and cook, whisking occasionally, until the tapioca is translucent and tender, about 20 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla and coconut milk.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Gradually whisk in half of the warm tapioca in a steady stream. Continue whisking and pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Cook the pudding over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pudding to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, combine the mango, lime zest and juice. Transfer half to a food processor and puree until smooth. Stir the puree into the diced mango. Divide half of the fruit into 4 glasses, top with the tapioca pudding, then top with the remaining fruit and toasted coconut. Cover the puddings and refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until chilled, before serving.

No-Cook Honey Lemon Custard

I’ve got a scorching news flash for you……. summer, as we know it, has arrived in Las Vegas. The high temperature, by Saturday, will be 110 degrees.

That’s hot.

What this means to me, is that aside from mass quantities of pool/mango daiquiri/barbecue/hammock time, my usual baking routine will be acutely restrained to the early morning hours. Gone, for now at least, are the late afternoon impetuous ideas of  “Oh, this is a fabulous time to fire up the oven and bake that new quick bread recipe you’ve had bookmarked forever” ….

It is, however, a splendid season to explore the realm of no-cook, no bake desserts. Like this one.

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And ice cream. Lots of ice cream. 

Honey Lemon Custards – adapted from bon appetit

2 cups heavy cream
4 tbs. honey, divided
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 tbs. fresh lemon juice, divided
1/4 cup light rum
1 cup berries or sliced mango

Place 8 ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Heat cream, 2 tablespoons honey, and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until just beginning to simmer. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean and remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes (cream should register about 160°F on an instant-read thermometer). Remove vanilla bean and peel. Gently stir in 5 tablespoons lemon juice.
Divide custard among ramekins and chill to let set for at least 1 hour or, covered, up to 1 day.
Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon lemon juice with rum in a small bowl. Stir in fruit; let sit until juicy, about 1 hour. Serve with custard.

Creme Brulee

Question of the day:

Is it possible to “blow-up” a blow torch?

Do not be alarmed….. but Megan + ignitable kitchen tools = ending result may or may not require a visit from the local fire department……

Let’s cut to the bottom line here –  the short end of a long story is that in order to successfully make creme brulee, I needed to replace my blow torch – which necessitated a trip to Sur La Table…..and not Williams Sonoma, because I have a long-standing rift with them over a slow cooker and a set of Bentley tires.

Unless you were there the day it happened, it’s probably within your best interest not to ask……

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Crème Brûlée – adapted from from Dorie Greenspan
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
About 6 tbs. granulated sugar for topping
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 200F. Put the baking dishes on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.  In a 1-2 quart glass measuring cup or in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until well blended but not airy. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter or the hot liquid – this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the cream and milk. Give the bowl a good rap against the counter to de-bubble the custard, then strain it into the baking dishes.
Bake the custards for 50-60 minutes, or until the custards are set – tap the sides of the dishes, and the custards should hold firm. Lift the dishes onto a cooling rack and let the custards cool until they reach room temperature.
Cover each custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. (The custards can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.) For the sugar to be successfully caramelized, the custards need to be thoroughly chilled.
To caramelize the sugar topping with a blowtorch, work on one dish at a time. Sprinkle the top of each custard evenly with sugar – about 1 tablespoon for each dish – then brown the sugar, cooking until it bubbles and colors. Wait until the bubbles subside before serving the crèmes.

Vanilla Rice Pudding

I have had this abhorrent, abominable and downright excruciating migraine headache for two days now.

I’m starting to get cranky….

Yesterday, I struggled throughout the entire day – alternating waves of blinding pain and stomach wrenching nausea.  Today, the nausea has mostly subsided, however the pain is persistent  — and quite frankly I’m ready to hand it an eviction notice.

After I pick up the posse from school this afternoon, my plan is to enjoy another bowl of rice pudding, curl up on my bed, and tell them to fend for themselves…

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Well, I might do that anyway…..I simply won’t tell them that my headache is gone….

Vanilla Rice Pudding – adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup short-grain Italian rice, such as Arborio
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1 cup heavy cream

Put rice, water, milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat. Cover, and simmer until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed, 16 to 17 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; let cool. Discard vanilla bean.

Beat cream until very soft peaks form. Fold into rice mixture. Divide pudding among serving dishes; top with cinnamon.