Friday, March 30, 2012

Rocky Road Chocolate Cake

This is not a picture of the cake I made.  It does look a lot like it, however.  I have no picture because (1) I forgot to take my camera to our Sunday school cookout where it was originally served, and (2) I ate all of the leftovers when we returned home from the cookout.  I could have taken a picture back at home but I was too ravenous that it honestly never crossed my mind.  That's life these days--a starving stomach, followed by inhaling food "just to get something in", then suffering the consequences afterwards for eating too fast.  Oh, the joys of pregnancy!  Anyway, back to the cake, it was easy as pie (or cake) and cooks in a slow cooker.  It can easily be transported if you are taking elsewhere.  Also, it has a cobbler-like consistency; therefore, it's best served with vanilla ice cream.  Yummy stuff.  You've got to try it.

Rocky Road Chocolate Cake
Southern Living, October 2008

1 (18.25-oz.) package German chocolate cake mix
1 (3.9-oz.) package chocolate instant pudding mix
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour  cream
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups milk, divided
1 (3.4-oz.) package chocolate cook-and-serve pudding mix
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

  1. Beat cake mix, next 5 ingredients, and 1 1/4 cups milk at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Pour batter into a lightly greased 4-qt. slow cooker.
  2. Cook remaining 2 cups milk in a heavy nonaluminum saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes or just until bubbles appear (do not boil); remove from heat.
  3. Sprinkle cook-and-serve pudding mix over batter. Slowly pour hot milk over pudding. Cover and cook on LOW 3 1/2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, heat pecans in a small nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, stirring often, 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant.
  5. Turn off slow cooker. Sprinkle cake with pecans, marshmallows, and chocolate morsels. Let stand 15 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly melted. Spoon into dessert dishes, and serve with ice cream, if desired.
This cake will look like it needs to cook just a little longer, but by the time the topping is set, it's ready to serve.



Thursday, March 22, 2012

My Own Rotisserie Chicken Salad

I am finally feeling like my old self again.  I have just arrived at 15 weeks and am amazed at the abundance of energy that has suddenly returned.  I have not taken a lunch-break nap in over a week!  The nausea occasionally creeps in at night but it's only when I stuff my face at supper.  I am enjoying eating everything so unfortunately over-consumption is a nightly occurance.  I really need to exercise some self-control...

During the first trimester, Mama had to take over the blog as cooking and reading recipes literally made me gag.  At one point, I felt guilty that we were eating out every night and decided I would try to prepare an Asian dish.  My throat is tightening as I type.  I cannot speak any more of it but will admit that I am not sure I'll be able to eat Chinese or anything Asian for that matter for a very long time!  And it was weeks of take-out until I was able to move past it.

This week I had my first craving for chicken salad and weirdly enough, I wanted my own chicken salad.  I thought that was too strange how I was craving one of the few recipes I actually "created" on my own.  Nothing would do on Tuesday evening except go to Publix and buy groceries for "Marie's Rotisserie Chicken Salad."  I stayed up late making it and enjoyed the best late-night snack I've had in a while.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Marie's Rotisserie Chicken Salad
  • 2 lb Rotisserie chicken, original or savory flavor
  • 1 cup red grapes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup + 1-2 heaping Tbsp mayonnaise*
Remove skin from chicken and pull all meat from bone (I use both white and dark meat.).  Use food processor to chop chicken to a fine consistency.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and combine.  (Add more mayonnaise if you prefer a moister salad.)  Serve on sweet Hawaiian rolls or use Wheat Thins for dipping.  Serves approx 8.
*I often use reduced-fat mayonnaise to make the salad a little lighter.  Also, if you're from the South, you know Duke's mayo is the best :)


Friday, March 16, 2012

Miracle Baby and Anything Tomatoes

Jasper says, "Yay, I'm going to be a big brother! But enough with the shirt, Mom."

If you don't know by now, B and I are expecting a baby in mid-September.  He/She is our miracle baby and certainly a blessing from above.  I won't get into all of the details from the past year when we first decided we were ready to take on the journey of parenthood but I will sum it up by saying that things have not been normal with this ole (young) gal since that time.  We were basically told that our chances of becoming pregnant on our own were slim to none.  I will conclude by telling you that things still weren't normal when our baby was conceived but our loving and gracious God intervened without us having to resort to medications or infertility treatments.  My prayer since February of last year was that God would allow me to one day become a mother and if it wasn't going to happen on my timeline, I asked that he would grant me an understanding and peace.  And most of all I prayed that I would stand strong in my faith, trusting in him always (that's tough sometimes, you know?).  A year later, God graciously fulfilled my desire; however, my prayer has not changed.  I realize now more than ever that all I can do is rely on my faith in our God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and loves me more than anyone. 

And speaking of timing, Baby Berryhill is due two weeks before B and I were to leave for the Cinque Terre, one of Italy's finest treasures.  This twelve-day trip was being planned as B and I decided that if a baby was not in our future then an extravagant trip should be and we had big plans to see the world.  Wow!  We look back and laugh, realizing that traveling would have been fantastic but how much more rewarding the journey of parenthood will be (and saved me from splurging on a Louis Vuitton backpack:) ). 

So what do tomatoes have to do with all of this?  Everything!  They've been the most pronounced craving thus far and I can't seem to eat enough.  I remember a distinct hormonal moment early on--I cried when I finished my Subway sandwich because the tomatoes were gone and I knew I couldn't get another one until the next day.  Pitiful.  I have already consumed enough salsa to fill a gallon jug.  When the tortilla chips are gone, I have been caught eating the remaining salsa by spoonfuls straight from the container.  Any salsa will do but Publix brand is by far the best.

Last night we had our dear friends, the Hayes', over for dinner.  They are expecting their second baby any day now and we really enjoyed a relaxing evening together, sharing a meal and catching up before life gets hectic again.  I prepared a chicken and grits dish, which included tomatoes, of course, and it seemed to be a big hit.  I made it several times last year but remembered how delicious it was as I stumbled upon it this week in my recipe binder.  It's so simple, all ingredients go into a slow-cooker and all you need to add is a green side dish and bread and you have a meal.  The recipe calls for boneless-skinless chicken thighs and although that's all I've ever used, I feel certain that breast meat will work just as well.  For our readers in Jefferson County, watch for sales at Ingles and IGA as they often have boneless/skinless thighs on sale.  They are usually more expensive than breasts if you pay full price.

Southern Slow Cooker Chicken and Grits
Adapted from Weight Watchers

1 3/4 cup chicken broth
6 Tbsp uncooked corn grits
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp jarred minced garlic
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp jalapeno peppers, canned (can use less or more depending on desired heat)
1 medium sweet red pepper or yellow pepper, chopped
1 - 14.5 oz can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
1/4 tsp ground cumin seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks

Place broth in a 3- to 5-quart slow cooker.  Slowly add grits, stirring constantly, to avoid lumps; set slow cooker aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, jalapeno and red/yellow pepper; saute, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.  Add vegetables to slow cooker. Place tomatoes, cumin, salt and black pepper in slow cooker; stir to mix.  Add chicken thighs; cover and cook at medium setting for 5 to 6 hours. Yields approx. 4 servings.



Friday, March 9, 2012

Preachin' and Joe Pundt's Banana Puddin'

In our family owned pharmacy all customers are appreciated. However, we particularly enjoy the ones who hang around to talk and joke with us after their business is done. One such "character" is Mr. Joe Pundt or "Joe Punch" as hubby calls him. We especially appreciated Mr. Joe the day he walked in with a large pan of banana pudding. We dove into that pudding faster than ducks take to water!
Mr. Joe never forgets anything so we know better than to let him "get anything on us" or we will be mercilessly teased about it. One such time was right after we took in a homeless puppy. By no stretch of the imagination was Prissy a cute puppy. We don't know how it happened but she had lost one of her eyes and would have died but for the Good Samaritan who rescued her. Despite her looks, we quickly came to love her.
Mr. Joe knew about Prissy and mentioned that he was looking for a pet. Thinking I would tease him a little I said I knew he really wanted Prissy but he couldn't have her. Without batting an eye, Mr. Joe responded that he wanted a dog with TWO eyes! I had no comeback for that and I still don't when he occasionally reminds me of it.
What does this have to do with preachin'? Our church had a guest speaker last Sunday,and to be hospitable, we planned to have a covered dish meal after the service. Have you ever been to a church dinner and not had banana pudding? I mean, some things are just understood. This time I was the bearer of the banana puddin'!
While I am a fan of the traditional banana pudding, I am not averse to variations on a theme. This recipe is quick, easy, and totally satisfying when you have a craving flung on you. You can trim off calories by using sugar-free pudding, and reduced fat sour cream, condensed milk, whipped topping, and vanilla wafers.
Joe Pundt's Banana Pudding
1 5oz pkg. instant vanilla pudding
2 cups milk
1 8oz. sour cream
1 14oz condensed milk
2 8oz whipped topping, thawed
6 to 7 bananas, sliced
Vanilla wafers
In a large bowl, mix sour cream and condensed milk. Add the 2 cups milk and pudding, beating well with an electric mixer or whisk until mixture is blended and is thickened. Fold in 1 of the 8oz. whipped toppings, a small amount at a time until incorporated. Spread a thin layer of pudding mixture in the bottom of a 13x9 dish. Top with a layer of vanilla wafers then a layer of bananas. On top of bananas, evenly spread half of the remaining pudding. Repeat with another layer of vanilla wafers, bananas and finishing with rest of pudding. Refrigerate until set. Top with remaining whipped topping before serving. Serve with a mischievous smile and a twinkle in your eye the way Mr. Joe would do it!
Happy cooking!