Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte!

I love anything with both chocolate and peanut butter so this layered dessert was a winner for me!  It's also a cold and creamy dessert that is great for summer parties, cookouts or potlucks!  The kids and adults alike will love this one!  Here is what you will need:
2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
1 cup peanuts, finely chopped
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups whipped topping
3 cups cold milk
2 (3.4 oz.) instant chocolate pudding mix
1 milk chocolate bar, grated or about 20 Reese's mini peanut butter cups, chopped
Combine the vanilla wafer crumbs and 1/2 of the peanuts with the melted butter.  Press into an ungreased 13"x9" baking dish.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Cool.
In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, peanut butter and confectioners sugar together.  Add vanilla and fold in 2 cups of the whipped topping.  Spread over the cooled crust.
Beat the cold milk and pudding mixes.  Spread over the cream cheese layer.  Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.  
Right before serving spread the remainder of the whipped cream evenly over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the chopped peanuts and grated chocolate or the chopped Reese's peanut butter cups! 
Cut in squares and serve! Yummy!!!

The Elvis Pie!

I have found that anything with Elvis's name on it in the food world is usually pretty dang good!  Elvis was known to be a lover of southern comfort food!   He had a late night favorite he loved, fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.   This is a peanut butter and banana icebox pie, so what better name than "The Elvis Pie"!   Here is what you will need for this pie:
1  large prepared graham cracker pie crust (the extra large one with 2 extra servings)
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups heavy whipping cream divided
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 large bananas, sliced thin
additional sweetened whipped cream
additional melted chocolate or chocolate syrup
Place the chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of the whipping cream in a glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  If not melted, microwave for another minute.  This depends on the wattage of your microwave.  One minute does it in mine. 
Pour melted chocolate into the pie crust.
Place the cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar,  confectioners sugar and 1/4 cup of the cream in a mixing bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. 
In another bowl, beat the rest of the cream and the vanilla until stiff peaks form.  Fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture and lightly stir to combine.
Arrange the banana slices over the chocolate layer in the pie crust.  Evenly spread the whipped peanut butter mixture over the bananas.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 5-6 hours or even overnight!   
Drizzle each piece with additional melted chocolate or chocolate syrup!
Add a dollop of whipped cream for an extra wow! 

Spicy Southwest Slaw!

This "Southwest Slaw" is really good when you want something a bit different from a creamy more traditional coleslaw.   This is also a good alternative when you are watching calories and fat intake, because it's dressed with a dressing made with fat free ingredients without giving up flavor!   I like to serve this as a topping for tacos also!   Here is what you will need:
3 ears of fresh corn, shucked
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced fine
3 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 carrot, shredded
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin (include some of the green blades)
1 red or green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
Boil the corn on the cob until just tender.  Remove and cool.  You can also grill the corn on the grill until slightly charred, if you happen to be grilling out.     After it's cool, with a sharp knife, cut the kernels off and into a large mixing bowl.  If you don't have access to fresh corn, you can substitute a 10 oz. bag of frozen corn, cooked and cooled.  
Add the  jalapenos,cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, green onions, and cilantro.   When seeding and dicing fresh jalapenos, you might want to wear gloves and DO NOT rub your eyes. 
In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, honey, and other seasoning.  Pour over the vegetables and toss well.  Cover and refrigerate.   This is best when it sits for a couple of hours. Toss again before serving.

This is so fresh tasting and great with grilled foods or even seafood! 

Brown Sugar Bourbon Pound Cake!

This is a really simple pound cake with a Kentucky influence (the 1/2 cup of, but it makes a very elegant presentation.   This pound cake is good served by itself or with a scoop of ice cream or some nice sweetened fresh fruit!   Here is what you will need for this cake: 
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
5 large eggs
1 (5 oz.) can evaporated milk
1/2 cup good bourbon
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar (for topping)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
Beat the butter and shortening with an electric mixer.  A heavy duty stand mixer works best for this cake.  Gradually add the brown sugar and white sugar and beat until it's creamy.  Add eggs one at a time and beating after each addition.
In a separate bowl stir together the evaporated milk and bourbon.   In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. 
Add the flour mixture and the milk/bourbon mixture a little at a time to the butter and egg mixture, alternating between the two and ending with the flour.  Add in the vanilla and beat on low just until it is all blended.   Do not over mix this cake or for too long. 
Spray a 12 cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray that has flour in it.  I prefer Baker's Joy.   You can also grease it with shortening and then flour it.   I just have the best results with the Baker's Joy and it's much easier.    Pour the batter in the pan and place on the center rack in a 325 degree oven.  Bake for 65 to 70 minutes or until a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes. 
 Turn out onto a cake plate and when it's completely cool sprinkle the top lightly with confectioners sugar.
Serve plain or...
Or with fruit or a scoop of your favorite ice cream!

Blueberry Cream Pretzel Pie!

I love this pie, mainly because I love anything with blueberries, but also because it's that combination of sweet and salty that is so good!  The pretzel crust  and the creamy blueberry filling is just perfect together!    Here is what you will need for this yummy pie:
1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
2 cups crushed pretzels
1 cup finely chopped pecans
3 Tbs. of sugar
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs. light corn syrup
2 tsp. cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1  1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a deep pie plate with nonstick spray.  Combine the crushed pretzels, butter, pecans, and 3 Tablespoons sugar.  Press into and up the sides of the pie plate to form a crust.  Bake for 10 minutes.   Remove and allow to cool completely.
In a sauce pan over medium heat combine the blueberries, water, sugar, corn syrup, corn starch, salt and lemon zest.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook and stir just until thickened and the berries are starting to burst.  This takes about 5 minutes.   Remove from heat and pour into a glass bowl.   Cover loosely and refrigerate until chilled. 
In a mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until fluffy.  Beat in the confectioner's sugar.  Beat in the whipping cream and vanilla, and beat on high until it forms stiff peaks.   Gently fold in the blueberry mixture.   Do Not Stir! 
 Just fold in and leave it sort of swirled looking. 
Pour into the pretzel crust! Cover and freeze for 3-4 hours!  Remove from freezer about 20 minutes before serving!
Serve with additional whipped cream!  

Strawberry Fruit Pizza!

Not long ago I worked in long term care for a couple of years.  Each month we would have a big birthday party celebration to honor all of the residents who had birthdays that month.  My mother and my Aunt Mary, were so kind to bake and donate all sorts of sweets...cakes, cookies, cupcakes and this fruit pizza, to serve at these parties.  Needless to say, the residents looked forward to these days and didn't fuss over their lunches too much on that day, because they were saving room for their sweet treats.  Anyone who has ever worked with the elderly knows if they won't eat anything else, you can usually get them to eat something sweet.   The staff looked forward to it about as much as they did also.  I have had several staff members say to me lately that they are dying for a piece of my mama's fruit pizza.  So I am posting this recipe for them! 

Here is what you'll need:

1 roll refrigerated sugar cookies
1 8oz cream cheese (softened)
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup refrigerated whipped topping
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
1 (15 oz.) can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 (3 oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
3-4 bananas
approximately 4 cups large strawberries, sliced
1 pkg. strawberry glaze

Leave the roll of cookies out of the refrigerator to soften a bit.  Spray a pizza pan with baking spray, then pat the roll of cookie dough on the pan to the edges.  Bake as directed on the package minus just a few minutes of cooking time...just until the cookies are starting to brown.  Remove from oven and cool completely. 

With an electric mixer beat the cream cheese and confectioners sugar together, beat in the whipped topping, then add the vanilla and mix.  Spread this mixture over the cookie crust to the edges.

Next mix the pineapple (don't drain) with the instant pudding until well blended then spread over the cream cheese layer.  Slice the bananas and place in a single layer over the pineapple.  If you are making this ahead of time, you might want to squirt some lemon juice over the bananas to keep them from turning dark.  If you are serving  within a few hours, this isn't really necessary though.

Slice strawberries in half and arrange over the bananas with the large ones in the center and fanning out to the smaller ones on the outer edges.   Cut the end off of the strawberry glaze just enough to drizzles it over the whole thing starting in the middle and working your way out to the edges.  If you have a squeeze bottle, you can put the glaze in it and use it to squirt it on the pizza. Works beautifully!

Voila...strawberry fruit pizza! 

Creamy Dreamy Orange Salad!

This "Creamy Dreamy Orange Salad" is the perfect summer gelatin salad!  It's cool and creamy and has a refreshing citrusy orange taste!   It also is really simple to make!  Here is what you will need for this salad:
1 pkg. (6 oz.) orange flavored gelatin
2 cups boiling water
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 (8 oz.) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
Orange slices, whipped cream and maraschino cherries for garnish
Dissolve the gelatin in boiling water.  In a separate bowl beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Gradually blend in the hot gelatin mixture and beat on low speed until smooth.   Stir in the milk and then fold in the whipped topping. 
Pour into a glass serving bowl and chill for 4 hours or until firm.  Garnish as desired!
Or garnish each serving with whipped cream!  This is so good to be so simple! 

Sharon's Summer Squash Bake!

I know many of you, like me,  look for different ways to use all of that garden yellow squash during the summer and this is a wonderful way to use some of it!   I love this squash recipe.   It's simple, but the taste is just amazing!  It was given to us, by a friend of ours, Sharon, who was my parent's neighbor for years.  She is also a really good southern cook and loves to experiment with different recipes!  Here is what you will need for this recipe:
6 medium size yellow squash, cut in 1/4 inch slices and then in half moons or a large dice
1 medium sweet onion, diced (Vidalia works well)
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (can use seasoned salt)
black pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 sleeve butter crackers, crushed (like Ritz)
4 Tbs. butter melted
In a skillet over medium heat saute the onion and squash in the olive oil just until crisp tender.   Sprinkle with the Cajun seasoning (we use Tony Cachere's) or seasoned salt and a sprinkling of black pepper.   Add the Parmesan cheese, Cheddar cheese,  and the sour cream and stir together.   Place in a shallow casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. 
Mix the crushed cracker crumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the top! 
Place in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until it is just browning and bubbly.
This is so good served with fresh tomato slices and maybe some Southern Green Beans with New Potatoes and Bacon!

Cherry Banana Pound Cake!

This old fashioned "Cherry Banana Pound Cake" is so moist and delicious!  It just gets better when it sits a day or two also.  I love a good banana cake and the addition of the cherries and pineapple make this one extra special.  Here is what you will need for this cake;
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1  1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 (8 oz.) can of crushed pineapple, undrained
2 cups bananas, diced
1 (10 oz.) jar of maraschino cherries, drained
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
confectioner's sugar for the top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients.   In another bowl combine the eggs, oil and vanilla.   Beat this mixture into the dry ingredients, just until combined.   Stir in the pineapple,  bananas, cherries, and nuts. 
 Spray a 10 inch tube pan or a large Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray (the kind with flour).  I prefer Baker's Joy for this.  Pour the batter in the pan.   Bake for 60 to 75 minutes.  It's done when a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.   If it starts to brown too much, loosely lay a piece of foil on top. 
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes in the pan, before turning out onto a cake plate or stand!  
When it's completely cool, dust the top with confectioner's sugar.
Slice and serve! 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake!

I love zucchini because of the versatility of it!  You can use it in so many recipes, both savory and sweet.  It's particularly good in baked goods, because of the high water content, which makes whatever you bake it in very moist and the fact that it picks up and melds with whatever flavors you add to it.  This recipe for chocolate cake is somewhat healthier than some recipes.  Some of the fat is replaced with applesauce and zucchini.   However, you would never miss it in the flavor.  Here is what you will need for this cake: 
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil ( we used canola)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and oil with an electric mixer for 1 minute.  Add the eggs, applesauce and vanilla.  Beat just until mixed.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Add to the sugar mixture alternating with the buttermilk.   Beat just until blended.   Fold in the zucchini.
Pour into a 9"x13"  baking pan that has been sprayed well with nonstick baking spray.  Bake for 20 minutes.  

Sprinkle the top with the mini chocolate chips and the chopped pecans.  Return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until a pick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cut into squares to serve!

Strawberry Croissant French Toast Bake!

I love breakfast casseroles that you can prep the night before and then just pop in the oven the next morning.  I especially like these for holiday breakfasts or brunches or when you have company to prepare breakfast for.   You see, I am not really a morning person.  It takes several cups of coffee and some time for me to come alive first thing in the morning, so cooking breakfast works best for me when most of the thinking is done the night before!   Here is what you will need for this recipe:
6 large croissants (slightly stale works fine)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half cream
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbs. butter
Strawberry syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond flavoring
1 Tbs. butter
Slice the croissants in half and place the bottoms in a 9"x 13" baking dish that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.   Beat the cream cheese with the confectioner's sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla.   Spread each croissant bottom with the cream cheese mixture, dividing equally among the six.   Sprinkle the two cups of sliced strawberries evenly over the croissant halves.
Top each croissant with the other half.   Whisk the eggs and half and half cream in a bowl until well combined.  Pour over the croissants.  Press each croissant down slightly to get them down in the cream mixture. 
Top each croissant evenly with the butter cut in thin pats.   Cover the baking dish with foil and refrigerate overnight. 
The next morning, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Place in a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes, covered with the foil.  Uncover and bake for 30 more minutes.   After baked for a total of 1 hour, remove from the oven and serve immediately. 
If you are serving with the Strawberry Syrup, while the casserole bakes, place the sugar, water and cornstarch in a saucepan on medium heat.  Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the strawberries and bring just to a boil.  Turn the heat down and heat until slightly thickened.  Don't over cook this.  The strawberries shouldn't be cooked down too much.   Remove from heat and add the vanilla, almond flavoring and butter.   Stir until the butter melts. 
Serve each croissant with the Strawberry Syrup and whipped cream or maple syrup and whipped cream is also very good!

Banana Split Cheesecake!

I have found that any time I post a recipe that has the words "banana split" in it, it's an instant hit and I hope this one is also!   I am pretty sure it will be, because it's the perfect cool and creamy dessert for a hot summer day, it's easy to make, and it's delicious!   This recipe can easily be 'lightened up' also by using sugar free and lower fat or light versions of the pudding mix, whipped topping and cream cheese.   Here is what you will need for this:
1 (9 inch) graham cracker crust
1 (8 oz.) can of crushed pineapple, drained and juice reserved
2 medium bananas, sliced
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (can use light or fat free)
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 (1 oz.)  pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix (can use sugar free)
1 cup milk
1 (8 oz.) container of frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided (can use the light version)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup maraschino cherries chopped
chocolate syrup
caramel syrup
whipped topping
1 whole maraschino cherry
Drain the crushed pineapple and reserve the juice.  Combine 2 Tbs. of the pineapple juice with the banana slices.  
Beat the cream cheese and 2 Tbs. of pineapple juice together.  Beat in the cup of confectioner's sugar. Spread in the bottom of the graham cracker crust.  
Drain the banana slices and then place over the cream cheese layer.
Reserve 1/3 cup of the pineapple for the top and then spread the rest of the crushed pineapple over the banana slices.
Beat the instant pudding mix with the 1 cup milk.  Fold in 4 ounces of the whipped topping.  Spread that over the bananas and pineapple.
Frost the top with the remainder of the whipped topping.   Chill for 3 to 4 hours or overnight is even better. 
Right before serving sprinkle the top with the reserved pineapple, chopped pecans, and chopped maraschino cherries.   Drizzle with chocolate sauce and caramel sauce.   Place a dollop of whipped cream (the aerosol type works best) in the center and top with a whole maraschino cherry like a banana split!  Slice and serve!