Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

Many of us have a certain food or foods that conjures up fond memories. Something that just by it’s taste or smell can transport you back to your childhood. Recently, my husband and his family have been reminiscing about Grandma Flynn’s icebox cake. So when his milestone birthday came up, I decided to recreate the old fashioned treat with a few modern tweaks. This striped “cake” is a perfect dessert for summertime because it doesn’t require any baking or using the oven. Give it a try and see if it creates any special memories for your family!

Double chocolate icebox cake is a perfect dessert for summertime!

Double chocolate icebox cake is a perfect dessert for summertime!

 

Double Chocolate Icebox Cake

2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream

12 oz. cold mascarpone cheese

1/3 c sugar

3 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla

1/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

2, 9-ounce packages Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers cookies can be found in the grocery store.

Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers cookies can be found in the grocery store.

You will need a large bowl to make the whipped cream. I use the bowl from my electric stand mixer. Before starting, place the bowl in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. This will ensure everything stays cold during the mixing process. To assemble the cake, you will need an 8” spring form pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Use the whisk attachment for your mixer (either stand or hand version). In the bowl, combine the cold heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Mix on low speed for a few seconds to combine the ingredients. Once combined, slowly raise the speed and continue mixing until the whipped cream forms into firm peaks.

To build the cake, arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan. Cover the bottom as much as possible, breaking some cookies to fill in the spaces.

Arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan.  Cover the bottom as much as possible.

Arrange the chocolate cookies flat in the bottom of the pan. Cover the bottom as much as possible.

Using an offset icing spatula, spread about a fifth of the chocolate whipped cream evenly over the cookies. The cream should be about half an inch thick. Place another layer of cookies on top, followed by another fifth of the whipped cream. Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer. Smooth the top. Garnish it with chocolate chips, or if you want to get fancy you can top the cake with shaved chocolate.

Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer.

Continue layering the cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, making sure to end with a cream layer.

Cover the cake (still in the spring form pan) with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for 6-8 hours. The cookies will absorb the cream and soften slightly.

When ready to serve, remove from the refrigerator. Run a sharp knife around the outside of the cake. Unlatch the side ring and remove it from the pan.

Double chocolate icebox cake is perfect for a summer birthday.

Double chocolate icebox cake is perfect for a summer birthday.

Cut in wedges and serve cold. Yields 8-10 servings.

From start to finish, double chocolate icebox cake is an easy summer dessert!

From start to finish, double chocolate icebox cake is an easy summer dessert!

 

 

Have you ever made an icebox cake?

Do you have a favorite food that takes you on a trip down memory lane?

Golden Girl Granola

Golden Girl Granola

Golden Girl Granola is a family granola business based in Shirley, MA. They sell their handcrafted granola in stores throughout the Northeast. Their mission is to provide a naturally healthful and deliciously crunchy product of the highest quality to customers.

Golden Girl Granola

Golden Girl Granola

Golden Girl Granola is whole-grain, locally produced and uses all-natural and locally sourced ingredients, whenever possible. This granola is wheat-free and gluten-free. It is handcrafted in small, artisan batches with the utmost care. There are seven flavors: Forest maple, creative cranberry, bluesberry, chocolate decadence, original, home sweet honey, and truly tropical. Each bag comes in a zip top packet so it is fresh and easy for storage and reuse.

I was offered the opportunity to compete in Golden Girl Granola’s blogger recipe challenge. Each participant received one packet of granola of his or her choice to cook with for free. Each participant must develop an original entrée recipe, using the granola. Recipes will be judged.

I chose the chocolate decadence flavor, which is made with maple syrup and baked with chocolate chips, sliced almonds and coconut flakes. With my granola, I developed a recipe for strawberry balsamic salad with chicken, feta and the chocolate granola. The flavor combination of the strawberries, chocolate, coconut and balsamic together with chicken and lettuce was bomb! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

Strawberry balsamic salad with chicken, feta and chocolate granola

1 head butter lettuce, washed and tear the leaves into pieces

1 radish very thinly sliced

1 english cucumber, peeled and chopped into chunks

12 oz feta cheese (you can use fat free) crumbled

Balsamic salad dressing

Breast of a rotisserie chicken, de-boned and chopped into chunks

1 quart of strawberries, washed and sliced

½ c Golden Girl chocolate decadence granola

All of the ingredients for the Strawberry balsamic salad have been prepped and ready for assembly!

All of the ingredients for the Strawberry balsamic salad have been prepped and ready for assembly!

Mix together all ingredients together, except the strawberries. Add the strawberries before serving and top with the salad dressing. Makes 4 – 6 servings.

Strawberry balsamic salad with chicken, feta and chocolate granola

Strawberry balsamic salad with chicken, feta and chocolate granola

Golden Girl Granola can be found in specialty markets and farmers’ markets throughout the Northeast, as well as you can buy it online. Here in Connecticut you can find it at Dog Lane Café in Storrs, Hall’s Market in West Hartford and Whole Foods Supermarket in Glastonbury. The 14-oz package retails for $7.50.

GGranola IMG_2439

 

 

Have you ever tried Golden Girl Granola?

Have you ever made an entrée recipe/dish using granola?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Golden Girl Granola, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience.

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

As the summer heat starts to sizzle and you’re being asked to “bring a dessert” to the next gathering, you will be looking for something simple and that features the season’s flavors. Lemon blueberry pudding cookies are a great solution.

Lemon Blueberry pudding cookies

Lemon Blueberry pudding cookies

The recipe starts with a cake mix, which cuts down on several prep steps. Then it adds a box of pudding, making the cookies stay soft and chewy for days. Finally, nothing beats the sharp tang of lemon for a refreshing summer dessert and pairing it with seasonal blueberries makes for the perfect combination!

 

Lemon Blueberry Pudding Cookies

1 package of yellow or butter cake mix (any brand)

2 eggs (you can also use egg substitutes, which I did)

1 package of dry instant lemon pudding (sugar-free is okay to use)

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

1/3 c vegetable oil

½ c fresh blueberries, washed and dried

1/3 c powdered sugar

 

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, dry pudding, lemon juice, lemon zest and vegetable oil. If you have a stand mixer, use it and make it even easier on yourself. Scrap down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing until all the ingredients are incorporated. The batter will be smooth, but stiff.

Gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Be careful not to break open the blueberries or it will turn the batter green.

Scoop the cookies out in tablespoon-sized dollops. Place the powdered sugar in a small shallow bowl. Dip the tops of the cookie dough dollops into the powdered sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. They don’t spread much while baking.

The cookies are ready to be baked in the oven.

The cookies are ready to be baked in the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes. Before removing from the oven, check the bottom of the cookies to see if they are a light brown. If not, continue baking until that point.

Remove the cookies from the oven and keep them on the warm baking sheet for 1 minute.

Lemon blueberry pudding cookies ares a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

Lemon blueberry pudding cookies ares a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

Remove the cookies from the baking sheet to a cooling rack and allow cooling completely.  Store in an airtight container. Yields 18-24 cookies.

The cookies have a glazed, glossy top from the powdered sugar melting during baking. The inside of the cookie will be soft and chewy from the dry pudding in the batter. It’s a perfect finger dessert for spring or summer and transports well for picnics and cookouts.

 

Have you ever made cookies that use a cake mix and dry pudding?

What’s your favorite “finger dessert” to bring to picnics or cookouts?

Max’s Chef to Farm Dinner

Max’s Chef to Farm Dinner

In late June, I attended the Max’s Chef to Farm Berries & Blossoms dinner at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards in Simsbury, CT.

Max's Chef to Farm Berries & Blossoms dinner at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards in Simsbury, CT.

Max’s Chef to Farm Berries & Blossoms dinner at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards in Simsbury, CT.

Rosedale is a fifth-generation family farm that offers fresh vegetables, fruits, wines and flowers.   The four-acre vineyard is an official stop on the Connecticut Wine Trail. On Saturdays and Sundays in the summer and fall, you can drop by the wine bar for a sampling of the vintages.

Rosedale Farm is a fifth-generation family farm that offers fresh vegetables, fruits, wines and flowers.

Rosedale Farm is a fifth-generation family farm that offers fresh vegetables, fruits, wines and flowers.

In 2009, Scott Miller, Executive Chef & Managing Partner at Max Restaurants, started the Chef to Farm dinner series program. Now in it’s seventh year, the series provides guests with an opportunity to enjoy the freshest foods and produce in the awe-inspiring beauty of Connecticut’s Farms.

The Max's Chef to Farm dinner series program, now in it’s seventh year, provides guests with an opportunity to enjoy the freshest foods and produce in the awe-inspiring beauty of Connecticut’s Farms.

The Max’s Chef to Farm dinner series program, now in it’s seventh year, provides guests with an opportunity to enjoy the freshest foods and produce in the awe-inspiring beauty of Connecticut’s Farms.

Each dinner is cooked from scratch and showcases the day’s best produce, sourced from local farmers, ranchers and fisherman.

Chef Scott Miller and his team prepare the meal onsite.

Chef Scott Miller and his team prepare the meal onsite.

Our evening began with a wine and beer tasting reception featuring Rosedale wine and New Park brewery. This small-batch craft brewery is in the process of opening in West Hartford, CT. We enjoyed both the Rosedale wines (both red and white) and the beer.

Throughout the evening there were plenty of beverage selections, including Rosedale wines, New Park Brewery's beer and an organic coffee sampling from Shearwater Coffee.

Throughout the evening there were plenty of beverage selections, including Rosedale wines, New Park Brewery’s beer and an organic coffee sampling from Shearwater Coffee.

Throughout the evening there were plenty of beverage selections, including an organic coffee sampling from Shearwater Coffee.

While guests settled in, there was live music provided by Glenn Roth.

While guests settled in, there was live music provided by Glenn Roth.

While guests settled in, there was live music provided by Glenn Roth.

Some guests then opted to head out for a farm tour. We chose to skip it because there were several delicious appetizers that we couldn’t bare to break away from!

There was a beautiful self-service appetizer buffet, which showcased Connecticut oysters in the center,

There was a beautiful self-service appetizer buffet, which showcased Connecticut oysters in the center,

In addition to the self-service buffet, which showcased Connecticut oysters in the center, there were several delicious passed appetizers too. They included: squash blossoms fritto, chicken liver mouse, fava bean and English pea tartelettes and Berkshire pork meatballs.

There were several delicious passed appetizers too, including squash blossoms fritto, chicken liver mouse, fava bean and English pea tartelettes and Berkshire pork meatballs.

There were several delicious passed appetizers too, including squash blossoms fritto, chicken liver mouse, fava bean and English pea tartelettes and Berkshire pork meatballs.

Each appetizer was so distinct that it’s tough to pick a favorite, but if forced I would go with the meatball, which had a slight spiciness in the sauce and I loved that they were served in mini-crock style bowls.

Then, our hosts invited us to be seated in the tented area. While the tables were dressed in white linen and candlelight, they retained their rustic ambiance with burlap runners, milk bottle vases and wild flowers.

While the tables were dressed in white linen and candlelight, they retained their rustic ambiance with burlap runners, milk bottle vases and wild flowers.

While the tables were dressed in white linen and candlelight, they retained their rustic ambiance with burlap runners, milk bottle vases and wild flowers.

The dinner’s menu consisted of several courses of the “day’s harvest” food cooked fresh that day by Chef Scott Miller and his team.

The dinner’s menu consisted of several courses of the “day’s harvest” food cooked fresh that day by Chef Scott Miller and his team.

The dinner’s menu consisted of several courses of the “day’s harvest” food cooked fresh that day by Chef Scott Miller and his team.

We started the meal with Foosh Pa, a single, bite-sized hors d’oevre, that was accompanied by a complementary berry cocktail. This item was a fluke crudo with pickled green strawberries, chicharron, and basil flower. This mini bite is often served to prepare the guests for the meal and offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to cooking.

We started the meal with Foosh Pa.

We started the meal with Foosh Pa.

Fresh berry cocktail

Fresh berry cocktail

As our first course, we were served burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) with fresh berries, juniper berry cured ham, fennel blossom and a dollop of whole-grain mustard. This plate was “every bite delicious.” They could have served me nothing else and I would have been satisfied. That’s how good it was!

Our first course was  burrata with fresh berries, juniper berry cured ham, fennel blossom and a dollop of whole-grain mustard.

Our first course was burrata with fresh berries, juniper berry cured ham, fennel blossom and a dollop of whole-grain mustard.

But I’m glad we moved forward as the meal’s entrees were also delicious. They included a land and sea course:

  • Black bass with wheat berries, mussles, wild garlic and allium blossoms; and
  • Coffee braised bison short rib with ancho-blackberry syrup and mashed parsnip

To accompany the entrees, there were two side dishes that were served family style:

  • Savannah green beans with anchovy and caper remoulade; and
  • Chilled cucumbers with Spring onion confit
Our main entrees had so many amazing components to it.

Our main entrees had so many amazing components to it.

While I enjoyed every aspect of the entrée portion, I would say that my favorite was the short rib. I loved every bite on that plate and so did all the guests we were seated with! All that was left were plates with bones remaining – ha!

Dessert was a summer berry trifle served in a deconstructed fashion. In addition to the fresh berries, it contained lemon yogurt and toasted sponge cake. I loved the combination of sweet, syrupy berries and the crunchiness of the crusted cake.

Dessert was summer berry trifle.

Dessert was summer berry trifle.

As a final touch to an already amazing meal, each couple was sent home with a take home treat that contained Max’s homemade granola with dried berries. What a great way to extend the memories of this wonderful meal.

Our take home treat contained Max’s homemade granola with dried berries.

Our take home treat contained Max’s homemade granola with dried berries.

Overall the entire event was an incredible dining experience with the most local, fresh and flavorful foods cooked by a local chef rock star and his remarkable team. The ambiance was charming. We were seated with several delightful couples that also share a passion for top-rated food and dining in the state so we had great conversation sharing experiences.

Kudos to the chef - Scott Miller on an all-around wonderful evening!

Kudos to the chef – Scott Miller on an all-around wonderful evening!

I look forward to attending another event lead by the Max Restaurants and Rosedale Farm!

 

Have you ever been to a Max Chef to Farm Dinner?

What’s your favorite Max restaurant?

Do you have a favorite “fresh from the farm” recipe/ dish?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to the Max’s Chef to Farm Dinner at Rosedale Farm, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.

Pappardelle’s Pasta

Pappardelle’s Pasta

Pasta used to be very plain and ordinary – red sauce with white noodles. In the 1980’s, chefs began experimenting with old-school handcrafted Italian techniques and making their own artisan pastas. This evolved to corresponding pasta dishes inspired by regional ingredients. This lineage progressed and what once was viewed as “gourmet pasta dishes” moved into mainstream dining.

Around that same timeline, David Bowel and Bill Curtis founded Pappardelle’s Pasta Company. Their vision was to create exquisite pasta in an array of flavors never experienced before by Americans.

Pappardelle's Pasta

Pappardelle’s Pasta

The Denver-based gourmet food company specializes in handcrafted, flavor-infused pastas (fresh and dried), sauces and pestos. All of Pappardelle’s Pasta products are made in small batches using traditional Italian methods. Currently the product line includes over 150 varieties of gourmet gluten-based and gluten-free dried (flat cut, shapes, orzo and lasagna) and fresh (ravioli, tortellini and gnocchi) pastas, pesto and sauces.

The Denver-based gourmet food company specializes in handcrafted, flavor-infused pastas (fresh and dried), sauces and pestos.

The Denver-based gourmet food company specializes in handcrafted, flavor-infused pastas (fresh and dried), sauces and pestos.

We had the opportunity to try a few of the Pappardelle’s pasta flavors. Included in my shipment were: Garlic chive, sweet potato and plain (no egg) pappardelle noodles (very broad flat noodles); and Tuscan herb penne, lemon parsley mafaldine (ribbon-shaped pasta), and spring medley orzo.

Included in my shipment were: Garlic chive, sweet potato and plain (no egg) pappardelle noodles (very broad flat noodles); and Tuscan herb penne, lemon parsley mafaldine (ribbon-shaped pasta), and spring medley orzo.

Included in my shipment were: Garlic chive, sweet potato and plain (no egg) pappardelle noodles (very broad flat noodles); and Tuscan herb penne, lemon parsley mafaldine (ribbon-shaped pasta), and spring medley orzo.

Here’s what we’ve made (recipes are available at the links within the copy below):

Greek Orzo Salad – with the spring medley orzo. This salad has amazing flavors from the Dijon mustard and fresh dill vinaigrette. I first made this salad in our Bobby Flay cookbook club meeting. It continues to be a regular in the side salad rotation. You will find it often at my summer cookouts and picnics.

Greek Orzo Salad using the spring medley orzo.

Greek Orzo Salad using the spring medley orzo.

Pappardelle with sage and honey brown butter sauce. This is something new that I recently developed. I was looking to create a light, flavorful sauce that would compliment the garlic chive flavored pasta without overpowering it.

Garlic chive pappardelle pasta with sage and honey brown butter sauce

Garlic chive pappardelle pasta with sage and honey brown butter sauce

I’ve also topped some of the other pastas with my sausage, tomato and cream sauce. It’s a great, hearty dish for the plainer flavored pastas.

Sausage, tomato and cream sauce.

Sausage, tomato and cream sauce.

Pappardelle’s pasta products can be found at select specialty stores and farmers markets. To see if there is a seller in your area, you can use the online product locator. In Connecticut, you can find the product at the O’Live a Little store in South Windsor and Bella Gusta in West Hartford.

 

What’s your favorite cut of dried pasta?

Have you tried any of the handmade, artisan pastas?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was provided with a complimentary sample of Pappardelle’s pastas, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experiences.

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce

According to the National Pasta Association, 75% of Americans eat pasta on a weekly basis. That percentage increases to 84% if you live in the Northeast. With this consistent consumption, you may find that you’re becoming bored with the weekly red sauce with noodles. Brown butter sauce is a great option to mix things up. It’s so simple you barely need a recipe. With the addition of a few more ingredients, this sauce becomes something truly amazing. It is the perfect compliment to stuffed (e.g., ravioli and tortellini), gnocchi and flavored pastas.

Here’s my recipe for Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce:

Pappardelle pasta with sage and honey brown butter sauce

Pappardelle pasta with sage and honey brown butter sauce

 

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce

1 stick unsalted butter

15 fresh sage leaves

2 tbsp. honey

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. pasta

Directions:

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat until hot. Add in the butter. Cook for 2-3 minutes. It will start to melt, sizzle and eventually foam up. The butter will begin to brown. Be careful it doesn’t burn. Lower the heat if you need to. Add the sage leaves and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. The leaves will become crispy.

Add the sage leaves and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. The leaves will become crispy.

Add the sage leaves and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. The leaves will become crispy.

Take the sage out and set aside on a paper towel-lined plate. You can use these as a garnish later.

Turn down the heat to low. Stir in the honey, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the package directions. I chose garlic, chive pappardelle noodles.

Garlic chive pappardelle noodles

Garlic chive pappardelle noodles

Once the pasta is cooked, transfer it to the pan containing the brown butter sauce. Toss the pasta with the sauce to coat evenly.

Transfer the pasta to the pan containing the brown butter sauce and toss together.

Transfer the pasta to the pan containing the brown butter sauce and toss together.

Garnish with the reserved sage leaves and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve it hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Garnish with the reserved sage leaves.  Serve the pasta hot.

Garnish with the reserved sage leaves. Serve the pasta hot.

The brown butter sauce’s flavor is rich and nutty. It’s very versatile because the star ingredient – butter – pairs well with so many other things.

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce -- from ingredients to finished plate.

Sage and Honey Brown Butter Sauce — from ingredients to finished plate.

 

 

What’s your favorite sauce for pasta?

Have you made a brown butter sauce for pasta?

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Summer means long days filled with carefree adventures around every corner. It doesn’t have to mean long, complicated meals filled with recipes that heat up the kitchen. This simple salad requires no cooking – perfect for summer. This dish’s inspiration came from the three pickling cucumbers I received in this week’s CSA farm share and trying to find a special recipe for them.

Differences between Pickling and Salad Cucumbers:

  • Pickling cucumbers typically have thinner skin, which allows the vinegar, brine or pickling liquid to better penetrate the skin and flavor the vegetable.
  • Pickling cucumbers are typically short and squat, instead of long and lean.
  • Usually, pickling cucumbers have “warts” or little bumps on the skin, while salad cucumbers have smoother skin.
  • Pickling cucumbers have fewer seeds than salad cucumbers.

 

Here’s my recipe for Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad:

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

Mason Jar Cucumber-Dill Salad

3 pickling cucumbers, sliced with skin on

1 medium-sized, shallot very thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1-2 tbsp. fresh chopped dill

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the cucumbers and shallots. It may seem like not enough liquid for the amount of cucumbers. Trust me it’s enough. You want your cucumbers coated, but not swimming in liquid.

Add the cucumbers and shallots in the bowl and toss to combine.

Toss the cucumbers and shallots with the liquid to coat

Toss the cucumbers and shallots with the liquid to coat

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars. Allow it to sit for at least 1 hour prior to serving. The salad will keep crisp in the jars for 3-4 days.

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars.

Load the salad into the cleaned mason jars.

I paired this salad with southwest ground chicken burgers and hand-cut baked fries. It’s perfect for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

It’s a perfect side for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

It’s a perfect side for a picnic and can be easily packed in your basket.

 

Did you know the difference between pickling and salad cucumbers?

Have you ever made a mason-jar salad?