Easy, easy trifle

Now, I’ve watched enough Great British Baking Show to know that Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would definitely not be impressed with my trifle. I don’t make any of it from scratch! I use Cool Whip! Aaaahhh! But, it’s delicious. And is great for any holiday (I need it for New Year’s Day – family tradition). And, it’s a great leftover as the flavors all come together in one delicious pile.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the beginning and the final product of this trifle in my instastory. But, you’re in luck. Because I’m going to do a step-by-step so that you too can make a delicious and quick trifle.

(Shout out to my mom, who still makes the best trifle ever!)

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You are going to need two pound cakes. As you can see, I don’t bake them fresh. I buy my pound cakes from Mariano’s because Mariano’s makes delicious pound cakes. You can also try other flavors of cake – maybe angel food cake for a light trifle or a chocolate cake. That’s the fun part of trifle. You can mix and match the flavors to match what you have or what sounds delicious to you that day.

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Cut each pound cake in half and spread a good (thick) amount of jam or preserves – essentially you are going to make a really big sandwich.

Next, put that sandwich back together and cut into small little sandwiches. You can going to cut the whole cake lengthwise and then into smaller wedges.

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Make the pudding. I like french vanilla for my trifles but, again, you can experiment with flavors that you like and what you think will work well with the jam and berries (or other fruit) you are going to use.

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Now comes the fun part – putting the whole thing together!

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Start with a layer of the little sandwiches. I then drizzle a couple tablespoons of orange juice across the layer. Since authentic trifle has alcohol drizzled over the cake, this gives you the same added moisture and flavor soaked into the cake – but makes it family friendly because there isn’t any booze.

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Then, start the layering. Berries. (I used raspberries this time.) Then pudding. Then Cool Whip. Yes. Of course, you can make homemade pudding. Sure, you can make fresh whipped cream. But, yes, you can also make this as simple as possible and it’ll still taste delicious.

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Another layer of cake. Another sprinkling of orange juice. Berries. Pudding. Cool Whip. I mean seriously. Doesn’t that just look beautiful?! So colorful. And so easy.

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I like almonds on top for a little extra crunch since most of the texture in the bowl is a bit soft or mushy. You can even add some crunch into your layers by adding almonds in between layers.

Again, there are tons of recipes online for trifles. Seriously. Do a search right now. How many results did you get? A lot, right? Well, each of those trifles is essentially the same thing – layers of delicious served in a beautiful bowl so you can see the layers of delicious.

Use the cake flavors that you like. Use the fruit that looks good. Experiment with flavors. I promise you, it’s going to look impressive. And, it’s going to be delicious.

Has Anyone Ever Been Excited to Eat a Salad?

I am fairly certain that no one has ever been excited to eat a salad. I know for sure that I never have. Well, let me specify. The only salad I’ve ever been excited to eat was the Waldorf salad that my grandpa made. Although, it wasn’t until I was much older that I learned that it was called a Waldorf salad. We always called it apple salad. His was not a typical Waldorf salad. That salad taught me that marshmallows could and should be a salad ingredient.

But…..I have been trying to eat better. Grad school and other stresses have led to some (or a lot) of stress eating so I’ve been trying to eat more veggies and more salad. I have found a salad that I don’t mind eating. Fresh Express bag salads (specifically the chopped kits) are pretty good.  There are greens but also extra crunchy things and the included dressings are pretty good.

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But really…..the reason that I am trying to eat more salad? It’s so that I can eat more of the stuff that I want to eat. I tell myself that if I eat some veggies, then I can have some dessert.

Why do I eat salad?

So that I can eat a donut.

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Fairy Fudge – Tinkerbell Birthday

Most times, when I see recipes posted on Facebook or in my email, I’ll look at them for a few seconds and think “Hmm, I should try this one” and then I never look at it again. This was not the case when I saw the recipe for 4-Ingredient Funfetti Fudge. It helped that I was in the process of planning little girl’s birthday party. It also helped that it only took 4 ingredients and it looks super easy to do.

It came together super quickly and it really was delicious. It was a big hit at the party. Be aware: you only need a tiny piece of this fudge because it is really sweet. I originally cut it into what I thought were small pieces but then went back and cut them smaller.

I also added way more sprinkles than the recipe called for. When it says to top with extra spinkles “if you like” well, I apparently liked that a lot because I basically poured most of the remainder of the jar on top. I think that it looked festive and actually gave the fudge a little crunch.

Mmmmmmmm.....sprinkles.....

Mmmmmmmm…..sprinkles…..

Winnie-the-Pooh First Birthday

I can’t believe how quickly this year went by.  Baby girl is one year old! When beginning to plan her party, I decided to go with one of my favorite topics – Winnie-the-Pooh! I wanted to keep it simple while also making it super cute. But….yea….simple and easy to put together were the goals.

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This paper became a huge part of the party design. I found a template for pennants here. I cut out the pennant pieces and used a circle paper punch to cut out lots of circles.

Lots and lots of pennants

Lots and lots of pennants

I used the circles to make a little banner for the cake and as confetti on the table.

Cake banner

Cake banner

Finished cake banner. I attached the circles onto the ribbon with tape then used tape to attach the ribbon to sticks that are used for candy making.

Finished cake banner. I attached the circles onto the ribbon with tape then used tape to attach the ribbon to sticks that are used for candy making.

My mother-in-law noticed that the cake design was close to that of big girl’s birthday. I like that a lot of the design was the same but still different for each girl.

I hung pennants everywhere……until I ran out of pink ribbon.

On the fireplace....

On the fireplace….

On bookshelves....

On bookshelves….

After I ran out of pink ribbon, I had to improvise. (Hint – always buy too much ribbon.) I cut the top tab part off of the pennant pieces so that they were now just a triangle and taped them up as though they were a banner.

On the front door....

On the front door….

On the high chair....

On the high chair….

On the closet door....

On the closet door….

I didn’t want to go overboard with Winnie-the-Pooh so I picked accents of pink and yellow. There was also a lot of pink and yellow in the Pooh paper so it worked out well.

Pink and yellow napkins, utensils, and plates all from Target. The little yellow buckets were from the Target dollar section. Man....I love the Target dollar section.

Pink and yellow napkins, utensils, and plates all from Target. The little yellow buckets were from the Target dollar section. Man….I love the Target dollar section.

The sprinkles on the cake were also pink and yellow.

The sprinkles on the cake were also pink and yellow.

For the menu, we decided to have picnic-type foods. Sliders, brats, hot dogs. All sounds good, right? Except big girl won’t eat any of those things so I also made sure that we had the ingredients for PB&J sandwiches. I used a cute beehive cookie cutter to cut the bread. I’m guessing that the cookies would look better than the bread as the bread just looked like a weird triangle….or a letter A….

PB&J. Everyone's favorite.

PB&J. Everyone’s favorite.

After I settled on the Winnie-the-Pooh theme, I asked my mom to be on the lookout for Pooh bear stuff at yard sales or resale shops.  She found a cute vase/carafe that I added to the table decor. Unfortunately, the pic that I had of the vase refuses to be uploaded…..after four tries…..oh well.  Just know that it’s cute.

The food!

The food!

I think that the party turned out really cute. I did not spend nearly as many hours preparing this one as I did when big girl turned one but I wanted to be well-rested (or as well-rested as a mother of a 3 year-old and 1 year-old can be) for the party. Once I found the scrapbook paper I knew that the whole party would come together pretty easily.

Easy. Cute. Birthday party goals were definitely achieved.

 

A Taste of Home – Or – Things That I Miss

When you see this box, you can rest assured that it is full of yummy.

When you see this box, you can rest assured that it is full of yummy.

There are some things that I miss about living in the city: living just a quick walk away from restaurants and parks, lots of activities to do on the weekend. There are also lots of things that I don’t miss: parking, paying rent to help someone else pay their mortgage, the high cost of, well, everything. But there is one thing that I do truly miss – a great slice of raspberry marzipan torte. After a quick brunch date with a friend back in the old ‘hood, I needed a taste of nostalgia.

The cake did not last long.......

The cake did not last long…….

There are other “Chicago foods” that, of course, remind me of the city. But, I can get a darn good Chicago char dog lots of places and I live just a few blocks away from several locations where I can get an Italian beef. So, for me, the raspberry marzipan torte is my taste of Chicago. Luckily, we didn’t move that far away and a trip to the city for an adventure (or just a slice of cake) is not a big deal.

If you were to move away from home, what would be the one food that you would miss?

Chocolate and Bananas

Mmmmmm....cake.....

Mmmmmm….cake…..

Bananas are a hot commodity in our house. I almost always take one to work for my breakfast. Big girl likes to also have one for her breakfast. So, I tend to buy a large amount of bananas. If I only buy one bunch of bananas then we tend to be out of bananas by the mid-week. However, if I buy a lot, there are usually 4 or 5 that get way too ripe before we can eat them. So, I am always on the lookout for a recipe that will use up those overripe ones. If you follow this blog, you know that I’ve found a favorite banana bread recipe that is super easy to make. I recently found a recipe for a cake that uses bananas, chocolate, and applesauce. You can find it here.  The pictures made the cake look delicious (and we eat with our eyes first!) so I thought that I would give it a try.

Don’t assume that just because there are bananas and applesauce in this cake that it’s a, um, healthy cake. There are a lot of chocolate chips in this cake in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. But, I wasn’t looking for a healthy cake. In fact, I don’t think that one should eat “healthy” cakes. The point of eating a cake is that it is a treat and it should taste like a treat.

Yay! Cake!

Yay! Cake!

This is a much more banana-y cake than what I was expecting and it isn’t nearly as chocolate-y as I would’ve thought since it smelled so strongly of chocolate as it was baking.  But, it was a nice and super moist cake.  Will definitely be making this one again.

 

 

Easy Dessert – Macerated Strawberries

After I made the summer trifle, I had some leftovers to take care of.  I had a leftover angel food cake and many strawberries.  Now, in this house, we go through a lot of berries but strawberries tend to hang around too long….and then you’re stuck with a box of moldy strawberries.  Ick.  An easy way to solve this problem is by macerating the strawberries.  If you do an internet search, you are likely to find some very involved recipes for macerated strawberries using salt, pepper, wine, and who-knows-what-else.  I have found, however, that the only thing that you need sugar.

Step 1: Prep your strawberries.  You want them to be close to the same size.

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Step 2: Cover the strawberry slices with sugar.

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Step 3: Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple hours.  Overnight is even better.

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Step 4: The sugar and the juices from the strawberries combine to make a delicious sauce to drizzle over the angel food cake.  Yum!

Macerated strawberries + angel food cake = super easy dessert

Macerated strawberries + angel food cake = super easy dessert

Summer Trifle

Trifle is one of the best dishes that you can make for dessert because it can be whatever you want it to be.  You can change the flavors to match whatever you like.  Switch up the cake.  Change the pudding flavor.

For the 4th of July, I decided to make a summer trifle.  I made a super easy version.  You could, of course, bake a cake, make whipped cream, and make a homemade pudding.  But, that’s another reason why trifles are so great.  You can put in as much or as little effort as you want and you will still get a great produce.

Here’s how I made it:

 

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients.  I've got store bought angel food cake, vanilla pudding, orange juice, strawberry jam, and Cool Whip

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients. I’ve got store bought angel food cake, vanilla pudding, orange juice, strawberry jam, and Cool Whip

Step 2: Prepare your fruit.  I'm using strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Step 2: Prepare your fruit. I’m using strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

Step 3: Cut the angel food cake in half and cover with strawberry jam.

Step 3: Cut the angel food cake in half and cover with strawberry jam. (This picture looks like a bagel with jam….but trust me….it’s really a cake.)

Step 4: Put the top piece back on the angel food cake and cut the cake into little pieces.  It's sort of like a yummy angel food cake sandwich.

Step 4: Put the top piece back on the angel food cake and cut the cake into little pieces. It’s sort of like a yummy angel food cake sandwich.

Step 5: Make a layer of angel food cake sandwiches in the bottom of your bowl and sprinkle some orange juice on top of each piece.  You don't want to soak the cake but the juice is important as it will soak into the cake and make it even more flavorful.

Step 5: Make a layer of angel food cake sandwiches in the bottom of your bowl and sprinkle some orange juice on top of each piece. You don’t want to drench the cake but the juice is important as it will soak into the cake and make it even more flavorful.

Step 6: Cover the first layer of cake with pudding.  This doesn't have to look pretty but you do want to cover each piece.

Step 6: Cover the first layer of cake with pudding. This doesn’t have to look pretty but you do want to cover each piece.

Step 7: Cover with Cool Whip.  Use a spoon to smooth the Cool Whip and ensure that it completely covers the layers.  Don't be stingy.  I used almost an entire tub of Cool Whip on this layer alone.

Step 7: Cover with Cool Whip. Use a spoon to smooth the Cool Whip and ensure that it completely covers the layers. Don’t be stingy. I used almost an entire tub of Cool Whip on this layer alone.

Step 8: Fruit!

Step 8: Fruit!

Step 9: Repeat with another layer of cake sandwiches, orange juice, pudding, Cool Whip, and fruit.

Step 9: Repeat with another layer of cake sandwiches, orange juice, pudding, Cool Whip, and fruit.

Step 10: Enjoy!

Step 10: Enjoy!

 

Although it isn’t really a necessity, trifle should really be made in a clear bowl so that you can see all of the beautiful layers.  I have a beautiful glass trifle bowl that I usually use but I didn’t want to worry about transporting it.  This particular trifle was made in a plastic bowl purchased for just a couple dollars.  Remember, you eat with your eyes before you actually taste the food.  It will still taste delicious if you don’t use a clear bowl….but it’ll be a showstopper if you can admire how it looks, too.  🙂

Super Easy Lemon Poke Cake

I love all things lemon.  Lemon meringue is my favorite pie.  Lemon is my favorite Starburst and my favorite Skittles flavor.  I have a board on Pinterest just of lemon recipes.  So, when I saw this recipe, I knew that I had to give it a shot.  Now, when you read through the recipe you will probably think, “Wow, that does look easy.”  Well, I looked at it and thought, “Wow, that looks easy but I’m going to be even more lazy when I make it.”  So, instead of making a lemon curd, I used a store bought one.  I know.  I know.  I could’ve easily made a homemade curd, and I very well might do that the next time I make this one to ensure that it’s super lemony.  But, when you plan on making something for an occasion like Easter, I feel like it’s perfectly fine to take some shortcuts if it means less stress and less work.

The best part of this recipe?  I mean, besides just how easy it is?  This is something that little girl could easily help me out with.  She had the job of poking the holes into the cake.  And then she had the job of eating a spoonful of Cool Whip.

The verdict?  Will definitely make this one again since it was so incredibly easy but if I use store bought curd again, I think that I’ll heat it up before adding to the cooled cake so that it really seeps down into the cake.  I think ensuring that the curd is pourable will also make it a little more lemony in each bite.  But, all in all, a nice little cake recipe.  It makes me want to play around with other poke cake recipes.

mmmmmmm.....cake

mmmmmmm…..cake

A Birthday Cake for the Birthday Girl

So, in order to save money, I decided that I would make the cake for baby girl’s birthday party instead of ordering one.  And to make it easier on myself, I decided that the cake would come from a box.  I would make the frosting homemade but the cake would be as easy as possible.

This plan was mostly fine.  The back half of the cake completely caved in and had to be “glued” back into place with frosting.  The garland that I made to go on the cake had to be redone.  But other than those issues, it wasn’t too bad.

The banner started off pretty easy.  Simply cut out a bunch of circles in whatever color(s) you like.

Circles.  Lots of circles.

Circles. Lots of circles.

Then, figure out how you are going to attach your circles.

Originally, I thought it would be easiest if I simply glue to the circles onto the ribbon.  However, the glue made it top heavy and instead of hanging  like a banner, the top part kept falling over.

Originally, I thought it would be easiest if I simply glue to the circles onto the ribbon. However, the glue made it top heavy and instead of hanging like a banner, the top part kept falling over.

After I scrapped the idea of gluing the garland pieces on, I grabbed a needle and some thread and simply strung the circles onto the thread.  I think that this actually worked better than the gluing idea because you can barely see the tape holding the thread onto the white sticks.  I would’ve had to figure out what to do with the ends of the ribbon once I had them attached.  The thread was easily cut and then ends were easily hidden.  (I used sticks that are used in candy making).

Cake!  And you can hardly see where the cake is caving in on the back.

Cake! And you can hardly see where the cake is caving in on the back.