Pumpkin Trifle


It's FALL and obviously time for some yummy PUMPKIN recipes! We love pumpkin at our house, and this DECADENT trifle really deepened our LOVE!

Pumpkin Trifle
1 spice cake mix
4 eggs
1/3 cup oil

1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup pumpkin
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 (3-ounce) boxes Jell-O pumpkin spice instant pudding mix
2 (8-ounce) containers Lite Cool Whip (or non-lite if you prefer)
1 bag Milk Chocolate Heath Pieces (or crush some bars)
Caramel ice cream topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round pans and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the cake mix, eggs, oil, sour cream, and pumpkin. Once combined, stir in the chocolate chips. Divide batter between prepared cake pans and then bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely and then crumble into small chunks.

Prepare the pudding according to package directions and let set. When set, gently fold in 1 container of Cool Whip. 

In a trifle bowl or glass dish, add about 1/3 of the cake crumbles. Top with a third of the pudding mixture. Add a few dollops of Cool Whip over top, sprinkle with the Heath pieces, and then drizzle with a little caramel topping. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, making sure to spread out the last layer of Cool Whip to seal the edges. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving. Serves around 12 to 16.

TIP: When I made this, I used only half the cake, pudding, and Cool Whip and did it in individual cups because I only need about 8 servings. I just cut one cake round into 8 pieces and used one piece for each cup (and I froze the other half of the cake to use again later!). And then I only used one box of pudding and one container of Cool Whip. It was perfect!


Creepy Crawly Spider Cake

I've posted this cake before, but it's so darn CUTE for this time of year, I figured it wouldn't hurt to post it again! This "SCARY" little cake is from my book, Easy Cut-Up Cakes for Kids. 

                                                                                            Photo by Zac Williams

Creepy Crawly Spider Cake
1 cake mix, any flavor
Black frosting
Purple frosting
8 pieces black licorice
1 large marshmallow

Bake cake in two 8- or 9-inch pans according to package directions. When cool, place one cake layer in the center of a plate or foil-wrapped board. Frost the top with black or purple frosting, and then place second layer on top. Frost entire cake with a thin layer of black or purple frosting.

Using a decorator's bag with a star tip, make black spider hair by slightly squeezing the bag to create each piece of hair. Squeeze pieces of hair close together all over the entire spider body, but don't worry about making them touch, as the spaces will be filled in.

Using another decorator's bag with the same star tip, fill in any open spaces with the purple frosting to give the spider some "highlights."

On each side of the spider, use a round frosting tip to create four rounded mounds of purple frosting. These will be the spider's feet. Gently press 4 pieces of black licorice into each side of the cake and place the loose ends in the frosting mounds to make his legs.

Finally, cut the marshmallow in half and place as the spiders eyes. You may need to use toothpicks to secure. Use a dot of black frosting to make the pupils.

TIP: If you don't like purple, try green or orange for you second color of frosting. Either way, just make sure you use a good homemade buttercream frosting recipe. Also, I've found that the only way for me to get a good black frosting is to use Wilton frosting coloring. It's totally awesome! You could make a gray spider instead though. :)


Tomato Bisque

This is a recipe I've posted BEFORE, but I wanted to make sure it wasn't forgotten! This is a fabulous recipe that is definitely one of my all time FAVORITES. It really is amazing and, of course, super EASY.

Tomato Bisque
3 (32-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (or stewed) and liquid
1 large sweet yellow onion, cut into chunks
3 to 4 good-sized cloves garlic, crushed 
1 to 2 packages fresh basil (or a couple handfuls)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
1 pint whipping cream

Combine the first 5 ingredients and pour into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Drizzle the olive oil over top, lengthwise, side to side . . . basically a good drizzle. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 2–3 hours (I think 3 hours is best!). After baking blend with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender until smooth. Pour into a soup pot on the stove and keep warm. Slowly stir in the whipping cream until heated through and serve. Serves around 8 people.

TIP: Serve with some sort of crostini. I like slicing a baguette, brushing it with garlic butter, and then toasting in the broiler with some fresh Parmesan cheese grated over top!


Choco Chip Banana Muffins with Coconut Streusel

All I'm gonna say is that these sweet muffins are to DIE for! I hope you can handle them. :)

Choco Chip Banana Muffins with Coconut Streusel
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons coconut, chopped
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cold butter

1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Mix together the streusel ingredients using a fork or pastry blender and set aside.

To make the muffins, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and the salt. Add the egg, oil, sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in the bananas and chocolate chips. Spoon into muffin cups and top with a spoonful of the streusel mix. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool for about 5 minutes in pan and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

TIP: Use milk or semisweet chips, though these are really sweet, so I suggest going semi. Also, if you want a little more uuuumph to your streusel, add a tablespoon of chopped pecans or walnuts!


Baked Chicken Lasagna Rolls

This is a YUMMY recipe my mom made for us on one of our recent VISITS. It is very tasty and actually a very PRETTY dish. Perfect to serve any company you might have!

Baked Chicken Lasagna Rolls
2 cups part skim ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cups grated mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded chicken
9 cooked lasagna noodles
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together the first eight ingredients, reserving 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese; set aside.
Lay a large piece of plastic wrap on counter top. Lay the cooked noodles flat on the plastic wrap and then top each noodle with a layer of ricotta mixture and 1/4 cup chicken. Starting at one end, roll one noodle at a time.
Mix the tomato sauce with Italian seasoning and pour 1/2 cup in the bottom of a baking dish. Lay rolls seam side down, cover with remaining tomato sauce, and sprinkle with reserved mozzarella. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes and then serve!

TIP: Some other great additions would be chopped or sliced black olives, or some sliced mushrooms. 


Creamy Banana Brownie Cake

After having the twins, a super SWEET neighbor brought us this yummy dessert and we fell in LOVE with it. I hope there are still some FRESH strawberries at your grocer that you can make this with. If so, I would do it TONIGHT!

Creamy Banana Brownie Cake
1 box "chewy" brownie mix, prepared in a 8 x 8-inch pan and cooled completely
1 small box instant vanilla pudding, prepared
1 small container Cool Whip
1 or 2 bananas, sliced
Strawberries, sliced
1 Heath bar

After baking and cooling the brownie, prepare the pudding mix with milk according to directions and let set. Stir in desired amount of Cool Whip; set aside. (I probably used about half of the container, if not a little more. Just do it to your taste!) Place the banana slices over the cooled brownie to completely cover and then top with the pudding mixture. Lay strawberries over top and then shave the Heath bar over all. Let set in the refrigerator at least 4 hours before serving.

TIP: I like the brownie to be thick, so for a 9 x 13-inch pan I used 1 1/2 boxes of brownie mix even though it said it was for the larger size pan. I'm sure you could double it for some extra goodness! Also, the combinations are endless for this recipe. If you love banana, try using banana pudding for a really strong banana flavor (though when you serve it with the vanilla, everyone will think it's banana pudding already). You could also do chocolate pudding and it would delish!


I'm Back! Now How About Minestrone Soup?

In trying to prepare some MEALS to freeze before my cute little twins arrived, I found this recipe in a "freezer meals" type COOKBOOK written by Jenny Stanger. It was DELICIOUS and I'm so glad we were able to try it. Thanks Jenny!

Easy Minestrone Soup
8 cups water
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomato (I pureed both cans to eliminate chunks for my fam)
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans
1 (15-ounce) can green beans
1 (15-ounce) can corn (I used about 1 cup frozen)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, thinly sliced (I used about 1 cup of baby carrots, sliced)
4 ounces polish sausage, sliced
2 tablespoons parsley
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 ounces large egg noodles

Pour all ingredients except noodles into a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Boil for 14 minutes. To serve immediately, add the noodles and cook for another 10 minutes (or until noodles are done). To freeze, let cool and put in plastic zip-lock bags (I split mine in two gallon-sized bags). To serve after freezing, let defrost and then cook 10 minutes or until heated through.

TIP: If freezing this recipe, I would hold off on adding the noodles until after you thaw it and reheat. This way you avoid getting mushy noodles. Also, don't forget to label if you are putting this meal in the freezer. Just write on the baggy what it is and how to heat it up. It works like a charm having dinner already done!