Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is that Dryers again sells its pink peppermint ice cream. All I need is a gallon of that, a jar of hot fudge sauce, a box of Lactaid and I'm good for the whole month of December.

I saw a yummy looking ice cream cake in December's Cooking Light Magazine, but I didn't want to go to the trouble of making the cake from scratch. So I copied their idea, but made my own non-low-fat ice cream cake. Fabulous! (I had a hard time sharing with my 6 year old - I just didn't think he would appreciate it sufficiently.)

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix
1 jar hot fudge sauce
3 1/2 cups Dryers Peppermint Ice Cream -softened
4 cups Cool Whip
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
1 candy cane, crushed

Prepare chocolate cake according to directions on box. Use 8-inch round pan. Bake & cool.

When cakes are cool, slice off top to flatten cake a bit. Make sure you cut it fairly level. (Be sure to eat the parts you cut off.) Wrap each cake in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours.

While cakes are freezing, line an 8-inch cake pan with plastic wrap. Spread softened ice cream into pan, making sure it's fairly level. Cover and freeze until firm (2-4 hours).

In a bowl, combine Cool Whip with peppermint extract. Stir just until combined. Place in fridge.

Time to assemble cake! Remove frozen cakes from freezer, but leave ice cream layer in freezer until it's needed. Microwave hot fudge just until it's spreadable. If it's too hot it will melt ice cream.

Place a dollop of hot fudge on the middle of your cake plate (keeps the cake from sliding as you assemble. Unwrap one cake layer and place (bottom side up) on plate

Cover with a layer of hot fudge - almost to the edge of the cake.

Remove ice cream layer from freezer and unwrap. Place on top of cake and fudge. Drizzle a layer of hot fudge on top of ice cream until it is mostly covered. (more than I did in this picture)

Top with final cake layer, bottom side up. Spread peppermint Cool Whip over top and sides of cake, covering as best you can. Sprinkle top with crushed candy cane.

Freeze until ready to serve. When ready to serve, remove cake from freezer and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes. Run your knife under hot water for 30 seconds to heat it up. Shake off excess water and slice cake - like buttah! As a serving option, you can drizzle each slice with bit more hot fudge - makes a nice presentation.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ham & Cheese Strata

I had some leftover ham that I needed to use up & a loaf of bread that needed to be eaten - so tonight for dinner we are having Ham & Cheese Strata. This is based on a recipe from the Lion House Classics cookbook. It has a breakfast-casserole feel to it, so I usually serve this with fresh fruit.

Ham & Cheese Strata
4-6 servings

8 slices (I used 9) white bread, crusts removed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 to 1 cup diced, cooked ham
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp diced onion
dash pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard

Spray the bottom of an 8x8 pan with Pam. Arrange 4 slices of bread in the bottom of dish. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of cheese and all of the diced ham. Cover with another 4 slices of bread (I used the last slice of bread to fill in the cracks and spaces). In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, onion and spices. Pour over bread, making sure to evenly coat all top slices. Cover and let sit for 1 hour (I did 45 minutes and it was fine). Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, until lightly browned and puffy. Let it stand for a few minutes & serve.

Week 36 Menu

Monday - eat out
Tuesday - Ham & Cheese Strata
Wednesday - Robyn's Roast
Thursday - Christmas party
Friday - Chicken Taco Pie
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - turkey + the works (yes, Thanksgiving all over again!)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Lessons I've learned, part 1

This is what I learned this week - NEVER send a pregnant woman into Costco unsupervised. I know, it sounds like common sense to the rest of you, right? Well all I wanted was a Costco hot dog for lunch one day. (Please don't lecture me on the nitrates and preservatives - it was DELICIOUS, ok?) I walked in, purchased and ate my hot dog. Then I thought maybe there were a few things that we needed, so I grabbed a cart and walked around for a bit.

I walked out an hour later with a cart full of things we clearly DON'T need, but at the time I thought were important. Here's the list: a dozen huge muffins (that are each the size of a small planet), 30 frozen bean burritos, a box of grapefruit cups (why did I think that grapefruit in a cup would be yummy?) and the crown jewel of my cart? A tub of cookie dough, with enough dough to make 80 cookies. And what do you think I did when I got home from the store? Yes, I tore the seal off of that tub and dug in with my spoon.

My husband took my Costco card away from me when he got home that night.

**note: This cookie dough makes dang-good cookies, and you can keep it in the fridge or freezer. Also, Gav really didn't take my Costco card, that was a joke.

The Best Tasting Ugly Soup

I have a soup recipe that I make about once a year, maybe twice. It is uuuuuugly, but it is so delicious. Every time I make it, my husband comes home, looks in the pot, wrinkles his nose and says, "what IS that?" Then he tastes it and says, "wow this is great! Why don't you make it more often?"

It's really unlike anything I've tasted before, soup-wise. It's called "Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup" and it's fairly simple. If you're brave enough to try making it, I recommend you serve it with a loaf of warm crusty bread.

Sweet & Sour Cabbage Soup

1 Qt chicken broth (or 2 cans)
1 can chicken breast chunks
1/2 head of green cabbage, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup ketchup
1/8 cup brown sugar, packed
a little less than 1/4 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed is preferable)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat chicken broth in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add tomato paste, ketchup, brown sugar and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Add all remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer gently for 1 hour. Taste and add salt and pepper. (makes 4-5 servings)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Week 35 Menu

Monday - California Vegetarian Chili
Tuesday - Sweet & Sour Soup
Wednesday - pizza
Thursday - BBQ Chicken (oven)
Friday - pancakes & scrambled eggs
Saturday - eat out
Sunday - Ham & twice-baked potatoes