Potluck dessert

Looking for a delicious dessert to bring to the Easter potluck this weekend?

How about S’more Cream Dessert with No-Bake Graham Cracker Crust?

I created this dish from three different recipes for an event this past summer, and it delivered on a promise to look like a show-stopper and taste as good as it looks.

Enjoy!

pan of S'mores

S’mores Cream Dessert with No-Bake Graham Crust

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Cream Cheese Layer

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups Cool Whip

Pudding Layer

  • 2 boxes (3.9-ounce size) chocolate fudge instant pudding & pie filling
  • 4 cups cold whole milk

Topping

  • 8 ounces Cool Whip
  • 1 7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
  • 3 Special Dark Hershey’s chocolate candy bars, chopped up
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup graham cracker chunks

Directions:

  1. Crush the graham crackers with a rolling pin. Melt stick of butter in a bowl in the microwave (on high about 15 seconds at a time). Add crushed crackers and granulated sugar to the bowl and mix. Press into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan.
  2. With a hand mixer or strong arm, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar. When smooth, use a rubber spatula to fold in Cool Whip. Spread mixture onto graham cracker crust.
  3. In large bowl, whisk pudding with milk for two minutes. Let it sit for three minutes to thicken, then spread evenly over cream cheese layer.
  4. Gently stir together Cool Whip and marshmallow cream. Spread evenly over pudding layer. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Just before serving (so graham crackers don’t get soggy), top with chopped candy bars, marshmallows and graham cracker chunks. Serves 15.

dessert close up

 

 

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Pine boughs whispering

So, this happened.

Snow on April 14

At breakfast, I could see the dirt with tiny spears of green grass that is our lawn. About 11ish, it started snowing. Snowing! On April 14. Not unheard of but also not welcome. And then it didn’t stop for hours.

Pretty soon, the snowplow went by.

My Beloved drained the snowblower of gasoline a couple of weeks ago, so even if the streets were clear, our sidewalks weren’t going to be. I just watched the white stuff come down, my jaw on my chest, unbelieving.

pine tree

So then I wondered what it was like this time of year last year. I figured this snow must be a fluke.

2018 april 14

This picture was taken exactly a year ago. That’s our camper in the back yard of our rental house. For some reason, we backed the pickup up to the front door. Maybe we were loading luggage, trying to get away.

My point is that snow in mid-April in southern Wisconsin is not all that unusual, so I better believe it.

Fortunately, the forecast calls for highs in the 60s midweek, so this terrible reminder that winter is not a three-month season but a five-month one will disappear in the spring sunshine and be forgotten soon enough.

So there’s that.

For when you need four gallons of soup

Four gallons of soup.

Four gallons.

Gallons.

How many cups are in a gallon again? Sixteen?

That’s 64 cups of soup.

Uff-da.

I agreed to make four gallons of soup for one of the Lenten Lunches hosted by the church in town I now attend (no, not the church I live in, the one with actual congregants and services).

Last year, when we were working on the church, my Beloved and I frequented the springtime Wednesday noon meals because the food was good (homemade, and the meal always offered cookies for dessert), the location was convenient (one block from our worksite) and the clean-up was easy (none).

And we discovered how nice it was to interact in the community and meet people who knew of our project and expressed interest in our endeavors. We had liked our new tradition.

This year, I figured I needed to contribute more than a freewill offering, so I volunteered to make the soup last week.

I immediately fretted about how to transport four gallons of liquid from my kitchen to the church. Even a distance of one block set up the potential for splashy disaster.

I inquired as to how others passed this hurdle, and the pastor suggested I make the soup at the church–their church. Great idea! I packed up my groceries, and I found the enormous kitchen there outfitted with just about every kitchen gadget known to woman to be the perfect place to make four gallons of soup.

Four gallons is a lot of Carrot Ginger Soup to make from scratch.

As I was unpacking 10 pounds of carrots, another woman in the basement making sandwiches for the luncheon asked, “Are you going to peel all those carrots?”

It wasn’t until that very moment I thought to myself, “That’s a lot of carrots to peel.”

I volunteered my flavor of soup to make so having to peel 10 pounds of carrots was all on me.

Fortunately, my stepdaughter gifted me with a new peeler for Christmas, and I had brought it with me.

Peeling the carrots wasn’t the hardest part of making four gallons of soup. Heating four gallons of carrots and broth was the hardest part. After waiting a good half an hour to bring my delicious ingredients to a boil, I wised up and separated the contents of my cauldron into two pots, and then things went quickly. I used my immersion blender (one of the gadgets missing from the church’s cupboards), and the finished result was smooth and tasty (even folks skeptical of a soup with “ginger” in the name said nice things about it).

If ever you need a recipe for four gallons of Carrot Ginger Soup, here’s mine.

Carrot Ginger Soup

P.S. I only used two sticks of butter. And I used turmeric instead of “curry powder.” By ginger, I mean fresh, minced ginger, not a cup of ginger spice, oh, no!

Enjoy!

Throwback Thursday: Old lady poetry

I wrote and shared this poem nearly nine years ago, and I stand by the sentiment a decade later: I don’t want to be an old lady. But I’m an old lady who wants what she wants. Given the alternative—not getting the chance to get older—I’ll claim the space an old lady has earned.

# # #

I don’t want to be an old lady

I don’t want to be an old lady,
but I want to wear fashionably functional shoes
not fashionably painful ones.

I don’t want to be an old lady,
but I want to wear flashy bras under my girly blouses
not flash my girls.

I don’t want to be an old lady
but I want to drink wine out of a glass
not wopatui out of a paper cup.

I don’t want to be an old lady,
but I wish a buffalo chicken salad with dressing on the side
was as easy on my hips as a buffalo chicken sandwich with a side of fries.

I don’t want to be an old lady,
but I want to carry a cute black bag
not wear them under my eyes.

I don’t want to be an old lady,
but I want to listen to lyrical music sung by singers who make me wanna scream
not unintelligible music screamed by singers that make me wanna wear ear plugs.

I don’t want to be an old lady,
but I want my man of maturity to listen to my hopes and dreams
not immaturely hope and dream I’ll shut up and listen.

I don’t want to be an old lady,
but since I can’t keep a wrinkle-free face and youthful body,
I want to keep a carefree and youthful attitude.

Can I get it in a cute pink jar with collagen-building vitamins?

My dream job would be product development in the Reese’s Peanut Butter department

Did! You! See this?!

Peanut Butter Lovers

The Hershey Company, as it is known formally, has come out with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for Peanut Butter LOVERS. All caps! “Extra layer of smoother, sweet peanut butter creme.”

OMG.

I paid a springtime-inspired visit to the nearby ice cream store yesterday, salivating for a Zanzibar chocolate ice cream sundae smothered in peanut butter sauce. Zanzibar chocolate, for the uninitiated is made by Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream with three, count ’em, three kinds of cocoa “for a rich, fudge brownie taste.” See what I was craving there? A Reese’s Peanut Butter-inspired ice cream sundae.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” the ice cream scooper apologized, “we don’t carry peanut butter sauce anymore.”

My ears could not believe their eyes. My eyes fell out of my head. My chin dropped to my chest. My chest began heaving in deep shuddering sobs.

Oh, it wasn’t that bad.

But I was a little disappointed.

A lot disappointed.

The scooper kid offered me extra whipped cream and a cherry.

I accepted.

I love peanut butter. Deeply adore peanut butter. Currently own three kinds of nut butters and have been known to eat creamy Jif a quarter cup at a time.

Don’t judge.

When the dessert cart comes around at the end of a decadent dinner and the waiter describes the house-made carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, I’m like “meh.” Warm and oozy molten chocolate cake? You have my attention, but … . Peanut butter pie topped with peanut butter whip? Sold!

So when Hershey’s announces Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for Peanut Butter LOVERS, I’m trying to figure out how to be the first in line.

Online I scrolled through 85 different kinds of chocolate and peanut butter combinations–milk chocolate, white chocolate, dark chocolate, miniature cups, snack size cups, regular cups, big cups, king-sized cups, chips, pieces, crunchers, crunchy cookies, sticks and in this pastel time of year, eggs in every size until I finally come to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for Peanut Butter LOVERS.

There’s no “Buy Now” button.

Where can I get my hands on those things?

Sometimes the experiment fails

My Beloved asked me today if I’d still cook if we win the lottery tonight (yes, we have our ticket for a chance to win three-quarters of a billion dollars in tonight’s Powerball lottery, do you?).

I said yes.

He scoffed.

We’d already discussed hiring a chef. And a butler. And a full-time masseuse. This is what one dreams of when one holds a $2 lottery ticket that has not yet proven worthless.

“I like to cook,” I said. “At least somebody else would clean up the kitchen.”

I am an experimental cook. Just like Mom. We like to tinker with recipes. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Comme ci comme ça.

A few weeks ago, I worked up what I thought was a great idea: Ham & Cheese Manicotti.

Back story: My mother-in-law likes ham and cheese. A lot. I’ve actually seen her eat ham and cheese something-or-other (omelet, sandwich, casserole) three times in one day. For some people, it’s chocolate. For her, it’s ham and cheese. Then not long ago, when I was crawling around in her pantry looking for a box of Zip-locks, I noticed she had not one, not two but three boxes of manicotti hidden in there. So, she likes manicotti a lot, too! What if I created a recipe that married her favorites: Ham & Cheese Manicotti? I’d win her undying affection! I’d be her golden daughter-in-law! (True confession: She’s already quite fond of me. And I, of her. I thought she’d appreciate Ham & Cheese Manicotti; it would be a way to show my love.)

ham and cheese manicotti

Ham & Cheese Manicotti. Experiment with your own recipe.

So I worked up a recipe that included canned ham (no, not deviled ham–canned ham, like canned tuna), swiss and ricotta cheeses, and bottled alfredo sauce. I whipped it up and tested it out on my Beloved, hoping for a good report so I could make it sometime when I entertained my mother-in-law.

My Beloved hated it. Especially the canned ham. He vowed never to eat it again, even if I changed up the recipe to use regular ham, chopped.

Ever hear of the maxim that eternity is defined by a ham and two people? Well, it’s also defined by seven leftover ham & cheese manicotti and one person. I don’t even like pasta all that much. I ate that stuff for a week, and I still threw away two manicotti. (It wasn’t that bad, for the record. Just too much of a good thing. Or, at least, too much of a so-so thing.)

So here’s to experimental cooking. Sometimes it works, and you have dinner. And sometimes it doesn’t, and you have a story.

Here’s hoping I do better with tonight’s lottery numbers. Cheers!

 

 

Spring, nothing beats it

spring tulips

If ever there was a symbol of spring, it’s tulips.

Welcome, First Day of Spring. We’ve been longing for you.

Depending on how you slice it, today is the first day of spring. The vernal equinox occurred at 4:58 p.m. yesterday, so yesterday might qualify but only as the first evening of spring. Today, oh, we have a full day!

Spring is my favorite season.

I love how it sounds and smells and feels.

Birds are chirping, and frogs are gallooping.

The air smells fresh and watery. My nose hairs aren’t crispy cold, and I no longer have to smell exhaust fumes while my car warms up.

Spring feels spongy like a melting bog — the earth is forgiving again.

And spring is colorful! The sky is blue, not gray! Well, today is gray, but even the clouds are not so imposing–I see sunlight burning through. The ground is green, not white! There are birds with orange breasts (!), and golden sunrises begin each day.

The snow here in Southern Wisconsin isn’t quite gone, but the melting ice drifts are few and far between. I’m not quite ready for sandals, but I put away my down coat and mittens. Even more bold, screaming children in T-shirts are tearing around the playground across the street.

Welcome, Spring. How I have missed thee.