Aug 19, 2013

Chunky Hunky Peanut-Buttery Happy Chow


Ok not the best photo here, BUT geeze I must have tried to photograph this 50 different ways and it just kept coming out slightly blurry and looking, well…hmm healthy.  Not a look I go for on this blog.  Heath nuts keep clicking…you’re not going to like what you see here.
Anyway, this is yet another take on the famous ‘Puppy Chow’ drowning the boards on Pinterest.  But there is a reason this ‘God take it away from me I can’t stop picking’ snack is so popular, it’s insanely good, and equally easy to make.  Not gonna lie, I pretty much cleaned out my pantry to put this one together.  Really anything works with Puppy Chow (ick I hate calling that, if you didn’t know better you’d seriously think I’m whippin’ up dog food).  
Here’s my all-star lineup for the recipe:
Chow mein noodles
Kri-Kri (peanuts covered in a cracker coating, made by most Lebanese nut manufacturers)
Mini marshmallows
Mini chocolate digestive biscuits
The best part about making a batch of Puppy Chow (::sigh:: let’s just call it Happy Chow instead, okay?) is you can substitute any of the additions.  Swap out the biscuits for cereal, marshmallow for M&M’s, peanuts for pretzels…get where I’m going here?  Anything is possible; add whatever you love (or in my case, whatever is hangin’ around)

Chunky Hunky Peanut-Buttery Happy Chow
printable version
3 cups chow mein noodles (the snacking kind, not ones that need to be pre-cooked)
1 ½ cups salted peanuts (I used Lebanese Kri Kri)
3 cups mini marshmallows
3 cups mini chocolate digestive biscuits (or mini Oreo’s/cereal/anything you’ve got on hand)
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup Skippy Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter (or regular or Nutella will work too)
¼ cup butter
¼ cup shortening
2 cups powdered sugar


In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter. 

Microwave for 1 minute and then stir.  Add the shortening and microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again. 

*If the mixture has remaining lumps, continue microwaving for 10 second intervals, stirring afterwards, until smooth and melted.

Combine the chow mein noodles, peanuts, marshmallows, and biscuits in a large bowl and gently toss with your hands to combine.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the dry mix.  Use a large spoon to gently combine.  Be careful not to break the noodles and biscuits.

Add powdered sugar to a large zip bag. Spoon in the chocolate mixture. Close bag and toss until fully coated.

Pour mixture onto baking sheets lined with wax paper. 

*If you find some of your mix has clumped up, dust with additional powdered sugar and break apart with your fingers.

Allow to set up on waxed paper until chocolate is no longer melted and hardened slightly.  Store in air-tight container.

recipe adapted from Inside BruCrew Life

Aug 14, 2013

Crockpot Chocolate Marshmallow Bomb

Crock pots.  They're not just for Stroganoff anymore.

Desperate times call for desperate measures; hence a crock pot cake.  I didn’t even know this was possible until yesterday.  Usually I only pull the crock pot out when I am too lazy to stir/saute/chop.  I love the dump and forget-it mentality of crock pot cooking.  And everything and I mean everything always turns out fan-f’ing-tastic in a crock pot.  Except for that one time I tried to make over-night oatmeal…I woke up with a cardboard pillow in there.  Oh it was horrid.

We recently bought a new house and since we are the first ones to ever live here, there are lots of little quarks to fix.  Like the contractor never thought to set up writing for an oven.  Nope, he just left space for one and assumed, ‘they’ll figure something out’.  So here we are a month into the new place and still no oven.  If you live in Dubai you know what I’m talking about.  Things take ages to get done.  Anything.  Everything.  A G E S.

And since the blog must go on, I figured let’s experiment.  Besides the crock pot has been my only friend and means of cooking in the kitchen these last few weeks so I wanted to see what she was capable of.  Any oh boy did she deliver (because aren’t all crock pots female?  Otherwise they’d be called cock pots, no?)

If you love Molten Cake (also known as Lava Cake or Fondant) you will adore this recipe.  It’s simply one giant portion of Molten Cake.  Say you're having a dinner party/BBQ, I would prep the cake and turn on the crock pot as soon as your friends arrive.  It takes about 2 hours to cook and best served hot and bubbling.  I had a serving for breakfast today and it was still great and gooey, but nothing compared to how melty and chocolaty it tasted served hot straight from the pot. 
Lastly let me mention, this is one of THE easiest cakes to throw together.  I bet it’s even husband proof…or wife proof, depending on who is reading this post…


Non stick cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons salt
½ cup chocolate or regular milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (I used half semi and half milk chocolate but either is fine)
½ cup salted peanuts, chopped
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cup boiling water
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (instant coffee is okay too, just combine with the boiling water to dissolve the crystals)
2 cups mini marshmallows
½ cup chocolate chips 


Lightly spray inside of crock pot with non-stick spray.  Be sure to get up the sides as well. 

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.


Whisk to combine.


Add milk, oil, and vanilla.  Stir until just combined and moistened.


Add the chocolate chips and peanuts.  Mix to combine.


Transfer mixture (it will be very thick) into prepared crock pot and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish.


In another medium bowl, sift in the cocoa powder and espresso powder.  Add sugar and whisk to combine.


Slowly whisk in boiling water.


Carefully pour liquid over the batter in the crock pot.  *The liquid should be floating on top.  Do not stir into the batter.

sorry about the green reflection, that's my window sill
Cover and cook on high for 1 ½ hours.

Remove lid and evenly sprinkle on the marshmallows and ½ cup chocolate chips. 

Replace lid, turn down to low and cook for about 20-30 minutes until marshmallows are completely melted and gooey. 


Turn off crock pot, remove ceramic liner and place on wire rack to cool.

Let the pot sit for about 10-15 minutes to cool down and serve immediately. 
recipe adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Aug 11, 2013

Hummingbird Cake & Vanilla Cream Cheese Pudding Trifle

If you've never heard of Hummingbird Cake, don't worry I hadn't either.  The best way to describe one is a fusion between a banana and carrot cake (minus the carrots).   Hummingbird cake is almost always frosted with cream cheese icing and flavored with pineapple bits, cinnamon/nutmeg, bananas, and pecans.  Win-win all around.  Add 4 eggs and we're talkin' flavor city.

This trifle was prepared especially for my Dad's birthday.  This was the first time I had been home in nearly 6 years to celebrate the occasion, so something massive was in order.  And since trifle's and I are BFF's these days, I figured my Dad would probably love them too. 

Just a bit about trifle's if you've never made one.  First, a trifle is almost always fool-proof.  Anyone can make a trifle look good, even if you are a hot mess in the kitchen.  Just pick a base (a cake or brownie), pick a filling (pudding, cool whip, frosting, whipped cream) and then layer in between a crunchy texture (candy, nuts, cookies).  As long as your layers are somewhat even, your trifle will be just dandy, promise.

And since frosting a cake is my least favorite task, I tend to make trifles instead whenever I can.  In my opinion trifles pack WAY more flavor and texture than any ole' ho-hum cake.  You can literally layer-in any cookie, candy, fruit, chopped nut, ANYTHING!  Seriously the combinations are endless.  It's a great way to get creative during the holidays too...for example, you can use my Oh-Ho-Ho Now that's a Christmas Trifle recipe for ANY holiday, just use different food colorings and candy combinations depending on the holiday - genius, I know.

Hummingbird Cake & Vanilla Cream Cheese Pudding Trifle
printable version


For the Cake:
3 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

For the Pudding:
1 and a half tubs (8 ounce each) Cool Whip - 12 ounces total
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups milk
1 (4 to 5 ounce) box instant vanilla pudding (very important to buy instant only!)

1/4 cup Malibu Rum
10-15 Keebler's brand Sandies Pecan Shortbread Cookies, crumbled
1 bag Hershey's HEATH Milk Chocolate English Toffee Bits

Remaining half tub of cool whip (left over from pudding), for garnish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 9x13 inch cake pan.  I use a sandwich baggie as a glove to make this step easy:

Dust with flour and knock out excess.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Whisk to combine.

I typically use a potato masher for my bananas:

In a large bowl combine the bananas, sugar, oil, pineapple, beaten eggs, and vanilla. 

Gradually fold in the dry ingredients in 3 additions.

Just before the dry ingredients are fully incorporated, fold in the pecans to combine.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top springs back when gently pressed with your finger tips.
Allow cake to fully cool on a wire rack.

*Note: Although I didn't do this step with my trifle, I would HIGHLY recommend to brush the cake with the Malibu Rum once it's cool.  I found the finished cake needed a kick and I think the rum would have done the trick.  Just be sure to poke the cake all over with a fork before brushing on the rum.  This step ensures the alcohol will be fully absorbed into the cake.  Also, do not remove cake from pan as it helps to keep the moisture in.  Place cake in the fridge for at least 2 hours prior to assembling the trifle to allow the rum to penetrate.
Once the cake has cooled (and marinated if using the rum), prepare the pudding.  In a medium bowl whisk together the milk and pudding mix.  Be sure to beat well to dissolve the powder.

In a large bowl, beat together the sweetened condensed milk and cream cheese with a hand mixer until smooth and no lumps remain (it's important to use room temperature cream cheese to avoid any lumps). 
Fold in the Cool Whip.

Fold in the pudding mixture (which should be slightly thickened by now).  Combine until no streaks remain.  Do not over-mix.

To assemble the trifle, place a layer of crumbled cake in the bottom of your trifle dish (crumble with your hands).  *Note: I cut off the edges of the cake as they were a bit tougher than the center, thus making it more difficult to crumble.  

Crumble about 4-5 cookies on top of the cake layer:

Sprinkle approx. 1/4 cup of the HEATH Toffee Bits over the cookies:

Spread HALF of the pudding mixture over the toffee.  Use the back of a spoon to smooth it out.

Follow with another layer of cake, cookies, toffee, and remaining pudding.

Top with the remaining Cool Whip (I leave a small border so the pudding shows under the Cool Whip) and top with the remaining toffee bits and a full cookie as garnish.

cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
pudding recipe adapted from Paula Deen