Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Fresh Strawberry Trifle

Quick, great tasting and pretty desserts are things I always try to make for special occasions. On holidays and special occasion days, when you usually don't have the time or the patience to make something nice and great tasting, I think about what I have in the house and how I can whip it in to something good.  I always have berries in the house, because the hubby loves them, and I also always have cream cheese in the fridge and frozen whipped topping in the freezer.  There are so many things you can make with these two ingredients.  I was trying to figure out a dessert for Easter, and I started thinking about what I had on hand to make something.  I could put the strawberries, cream cheese and cool whip together, but that would just be an OK, light, something fluffy thingy to eat.  Not my kind of dessert.  I wanted something a little heavier than that.  I thought cake in it would be good, and some lemon zest.  This is what I came up with and it was so good. Glad my brain kept thinking!  
Recipe Below 

In my trifle bowl and ready to eat.
 It looks pretty with toasted pound cake crumbs on top and a few scored strawberries for decoration.
Fresh Strawberry Trifle
1 store bought pound cake, cut into 1" cubes, save the crumbs
2 16 oz containers of fresh strawberries, washed, stems removed, reserve 2 w/stems for top
1/4 cup of regular sugar
3 tablespoons of water
2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 1/2 cups of confectioner's sugar
1 8 oz container of frozen whipped topping
1 whole lemon, zested

Toast the pound cake crumbs in a small frying pan, be careful not to burn them. Set aside.

Slice strawberries and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle the regular sugar over them and add the water.  Mix them up and set aside.

Beat cream cheese until no longer lumpy.  Add the confectioner's sugar and continue to beat until all is combined.  With a rubber spatula fold in the whipped topping, go easy so as not to deflate the air in the topping.  Add all but about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest (reserve for the top) to the cream cheese/topping mixture. Layer 1/3 of the cake in the bottom of the trifle bowl. Cover with 1/3 of the strawberries/juice. Cover strawberries with 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture.  Repeat layers ending with the cream cheese mixture on top.

Top the trifle with the toasted pound cake crumbs and scored reserved strawberries.  Sprinkle with lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Our Little Lumberjack Is A Wild One!

He's a year old now, the little man, I can't believe it! Time flies, don't blink because it will pass you by.  He is our Jaxson, Jax and Jaxy, handsome boy, the little man, sweet boy, cutie pie and we love being his Nonna and Pop.  His mommy and daddy planned his First Birthday with a Lumberjack themed party with lots of great food.  I was in charge of decorations, and a lot of buffalo check and wood decor was what I ordered up for his special day. It was an awesome day, and I am sure he had a great time with his first taste of birthday cake and all the festivities.

It was like he knew they were his party decorations and could not wait to open the box.
Nonna got a little crazy and made a wreath for the front door to greet party guests.
I baked his birthday cake and it was decorated by cousin Kristin. It was delicious!
He was waiting for everyone to get here, he's ready to party! Mommy bought him a party themed shirt to wear.
 And more banners.....
Wood grain and buffalo check party themed paper plates and napkins from Party City.
 I wrapped up knives and forks in the party themed napkin, put into paper bags decorated with ax stickers. Stood them up in a wooden box so they were easy to grab. I got lots of help from his Aunt GiGi.
 He's KING of the lumberjacks! High chair banner and buffalo check and fur party hat from Amazon.
 His smash cake with a campfire on top.
A special table for cards and gifts.
Party boy opening his gifts.
 Lantern string lights and rag garland were around his gift table. 
His party favors were s'mores in a cellophane bag with custom made lumberjack labels. I chose to use square graham crackers, instead of the regular size ones, so I didn't have to break them myself, they are perfectly sized to make the s'more bags.
Cardboard camp fire decorations are from Hobby Lobby and custom labels from Zazzle.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEET BOY! Nonna and Pop love you to the moon and back!💗

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs

I started to run out of ideas for dinner, I cook more and more everyday so it's getting tough.  But one thing I can always count on for dinner is a chicken dish.  You can make chicken a thousand or more different ways, it's so versatile. Supermarkets sell chicken in a variety of ways - ground chicken, whole chicken, chicken parts, cutlets, boneless, skinless, whatever you are looking for they will have or cut it for you.  I am not a fan though of chicken with bones in it, however, thighs are a good choice.  They are tender and juicy, and you can also buy them boneless if you choose or debone them yourself.  I left the bone in my chicken thighs for added flavor.
For my dinner I made Herb Roasted Chicken Thighs in a dutch oven, baked them in the oven, and the meat just fell right off the bones. There was virtually no work in preparation of the chicken and I let the oven do the rest.
This is how I made them:

I used eight thighs, they are not that big so I figured 2 for each person.
I coated the bottom of my dutch oven with a little olive oil. Sprinkle thighs with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the thighs around the pan and in the middle.  Brown on  both sides over medium high heat on top of the stove.  After they were browned I sprinkled 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary and 2 teaspoons fresh thyme over them, and added a quartered whole sweet onion to the pan.  Bake at 375 for 1 1/2 hours, or until juices run clear.  The skin was crispy, the meat was tender and the flavor was awesome. Honestly I don't think I even checked on them once while they were roasting.

And here they are! All done, ready to eat and they were fabulous.
Alongside my chicken was fresh Asparagus wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma.  Clean the asparagus, drizzle a little olive oil on a sheet pan, wrap each asparagus spear in prosciutto, line up on the sheet pan, drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 375 degrees until asparagus is slightly tender and prosciutto is crispy.
I also served mashed potatoes as another side. This meal was delicious I have to say, a comfort food for sure. Enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Simple and Delicious Chicken Dinner

It's a new year and we are trying to cut out some of the carbs we eat.  Being Italian that is really hard to do.  I was brought up on pasta, bread, potatoes and anything sweet, that is a bad habit to break.  I love all of it, anything with tons of starch.  I crave it sometimes and will eat nothing but foods loaded with it all day long. But now, I have to change, getting older is not fun and a bigger waistline is even worse.  I have a grandson now that will soon be walking and I'll have to chase him around. I have to be able to move a little faster to catch him!  

So now everyday when I wake up, I try and think of foods that are low in carbs/starch for dinner, that will taste good, and everybody will like it.  This chicken dish that I put together was a winner and it was easy to make which made it even better!

Here is my smothered Chicken, Spinach and Mushrooms Parmesan.  I served it with just a side salad, it was very filling and everybody was happy. 
Chicken, Spinach and Mushroom Parmesan
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons butter
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons course ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
4 cloves garlic minced or use 1 T jarred minced garlic
5 cups fresh spinach
3 cups sliced portobello mushrooms
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Divide the olive oil between 3 frying pans (2 tablespoons in each).  Add the chicken to one and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. On medium high heat cook chicken until juices run clear and they are nicely browned on both sides.  While chicken is cooking, add spinach and minced garlic to one pan, and mushrooms and butter to the other.  Cook both over medium heat. Cook spinach until all is wilted and mushrooms until browned.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  When chicken is done cooking, place on baking sheet.  Top chicken with mushrooms, with tongs squeeze out excess liquid from spinach and place on top of mushrooms, then top with mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Put under the broiler in your oven until cheese is somewhat brown and all is melted.   Makes 4 servings.