Archive | January 2011

Cake Batter Birthday Bark

 

I think the sign of a great dessert is when you have to tape the container shut to stop eating it. I admit it. I lived this last night, and I loved every second of it.

 

My closest friends and family know that I love everything “cake batter”. Coldstone Creamery’s “birthday cake remix“, Blue Bunny birthday cake ice-cream sandwiches, my Mom’s white cake (recipe soon!), and Funfetti cupcake mix straight from the box are a few of my favorites.

 I saw this recipe on a few other blogs, and I knew I had to recreate it immediately. The timing was perfect…one of my best friends turned 26 yesterday, and since she enjoys cake batter as much as I do, this recipe was a fit.

In five easy steps, you’ll have a decadent, delicious, delightful dessert. You’ve been warned: they’re addicting!

Cake Batter Birthday Bark
 

12 ounces dark chocolate (I used Hershey‘s)

12 ounces white chocolate (I used Nestle)

1 teaspoon yellow cake mix

Sprinkles ( the more the better!)

Directions

1)Melt dark chocolate either in the microwave or a use a double boiler on the stove.

2)Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the chocolate on it. Smooth with a spatula. Stick in the freezer for 20 minutes.

dark chocolate, layer one

3) Melt white chocolate. Whisk in cake mix, stirring well until the batter is smooth. Let it set for 3 full minutes (or at least until it slightly thickens).

4) Remove baking sheet with chocolate from the freezer and immediately pour the white chocolate on top. Sprinkle on sprinkles. Freeze for another 20 minutes.

the more sprinkles, the better!

5) Once set, break into chunks. Keep refrigerated.

a cake batter bark remix

the best birthday gift :)

love you Julia, happy birthday!

Breaking out of my winter lunch-rut

I’ve been in a lunch-rut at work. Definition of lunch rut: Eating the same thing day after day for such a long period of time that it becomes a routine!

My lunch rut: Peanut butter and jelly on some sort of bread (whole wheat, cinnamon raisin, or in a tortilla), an apple, and occasionally a spinach and romaine salad. Don’t get me wrong, I love my PB&J, but I’m tired of it. With winter here, I seem to crave soup each day. Salad ingredients just aren’t as fresh or exciting in the winter. Plus, my office is always freezing, so it’s the perfect meal to warm me up mid-day.

so long summer salads, at least for now...

I bought a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store to use for a few meals this week, and first up on my list to make was chicken chili! This is a new recipe I tried from Kristin, and it’s amazing! It was super simple to make with the edition of pre-prepared chicken, and I added my own twist with the edition of corn, a red pepper, and subbed cannellini beans for black beans. The star of this recipe is the baked beans…I’d never put baked beans in a chili until now. I won’t go without them from now on, that’s for sure!

Chicken Chili

serves 6-8

Ingredients:

 

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced

Salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup frozen corn

1 red pepper

1 29oz can tomato sauce

1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed ( or kidney, black, etc.)

1 can baked beans ( I used vegetarian)

½ rotisserie chicken, shredded

Season to taste with: Chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes

2-3 Tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

Directions:1. Sauté onions and red pepper in a large pot, in olive oil and salt and pepper for 7-10 minutes on medium low. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes.

step 1

2. Add tomato sauce, corn, cannellini beans, baked beans and shredded chicken to the pot and stir to combine. Add seasonings ( I used chili powder, garlic powder, and S&P), stir to combine, turn heat up to medium and let simmer for 15 minutes.

 
3. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Top with shredded cheddar cheese.

yummy chili enjoyed in my Vegas mug!

Along with the chili, I had a side of cornbread casserole and it was the perfect accompaniment. Next time, I’m going to crumble my cornbread on the top…I recently noticed that Panera Bread advertises their new chili with cornbread croutons on the top. Can you say heaven??

Side note: This makes A LOT of chili. I’m freezing the leftovers!

What’s your favorite chili recipe?

 

Underestimating Breakfast Benefits

There’s only one word to describe my Friday: Yikes. After attending a sales meeting from 8:00 a.m. -4:30 p.m. with minimal breaks, my brain was fried. I was up at 5:15 yesterday…which isn’t that early to me, since I typically wake up around 5:30 for my daily workouts. Waking up wasn’t the issue. Putting on a suit at 6 a.m. ON A FRIDAY…the only business casual day of the week…now THAT was my issue.

suited up

Typically, I’ll eat a piece of fruit such as an orange, clementine, or a cup of strawberries daily around 6 a.m. before I head to my work’s gym to complete my cardio workout. Today however, there was no time for a gym workout. I had to be dressed and ready by 6:45 to catch a shuttle! Since this is wayyy to early for me to eat a full breakfast, I packed it to-go. I had the utmost intentions of eating a filling breakfast…I made homemade oatmeal the night before, packed nuts and granola for toppings, and rounded it out with a yogurt and an orange for some vitamin c. Good intentions…yes. Good execution? MAJOR FAIL.

I barely had time to scarf down my yogurt and half of my orange before the meeting began! You might be able to guess what this resulted in. By 9:00 (one hour into the meeting, mind you), I had a grumbling tummy and a major headache. A quick search in my purse lead to a Clifbar saving the day, or I guess just saving the hour. I was hungry again by 10, and honestly, no matter what I consumed for the rest of the day, I felt continuously hungry. I hate that feeling!!! Plus, it almost always ends up with me snacking mindlessly.

my dad, mindless snacking :) i take after him!

I wanted to address this because this hasn’t happened to me in almost a year. I don’t let it happen by making sure I consume protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates at breakfast. I start with my pre-workout piece of fruit, have a post-work out fruit bowl, yogurt for calcium, and usually, at least during the work-week, homemade oatmeal with nuts for healthy fats, a handful of cereal or granola for additional toppings, and some syrup for sweetness.

cinnamon apple oats

Since beginning to read food blogs last year, I’ve gotten a zillion and one oatmeal recipes, so it never gets boring! To me, a filling, well-rounded breakfast gives me more energy, increases my productivity, and gets my day going.

favorite breakfast, favorite view!

What do you attribute your energy to each day? What’s your favorite oatmeal recipe (excluding bananas!)?

Quick Cornbread Casserole

Comfort food. What’s not to love? And what’s better than the smell of freshly baked
cornbread? Lucky for me, I had the task of baking (and smelling) cornbread everyday from
the months of May thru September for 5 glorious summers of my life. A random fact,
but it’s the truth. I worked as an assistant manager/ice-cream scooper at Shaws Ridge
Farm,
a homemade ice-cream shop and barbeque barn restaurant located in Southern
Maine. It’s my favorite job to I’ve had to date. Of course it helps when your co-workers
are your sister and your best friends!

I loved baking the cornbread, but I didn’t particularly enjoy the lengthy baking time or the amount of butter I consumed while making/eating it! A few months ago, I stumbled upon a recipe in my Cooking Light cook book for “Easy Corn Casserole”. It caught my eye immediately. Lately, due to the freezing temperatures, I’ve been cooking this every few weeks. It’s a great addition to any meat dish (such as chili), an excellent side for a salad, or great for a snack. Truthfully, I’ve even eaten it for breakfast. The best part: it provides leftovers, and it’s so easy to freeze, thaw out, and then reheat in the oven.
This recipe is sure to please your taste buds and your tummy!

Ingredients:
¼ cup egg beaters
¼ cup butter, melted
1 (8 ¾ ounce) can no-salt-added whole-kernel corn, drained
1 (8 ¾ ounce) can no-salt-added cream-style corn
1 package (8 ½ ounce) corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy)
1 (8-ounce) carton plain fat-free yogurt ( I used Dannon Vanilla!)
Cooking spray

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine first six ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well.

yummy dough

3. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake for 45 minutes or until slightly browned.

baking away

browned and beautiful

cornbread bites!

Have a Merry meal :)

Fabulous French Toast

Guess who volunteered to cook Christmas brunch? This girl did! I told my Mom in advance “French Toast Casserole is where it’s at!” Although she rolled her eyes, I know she was excited. What I like most about this recipe is the flexibility it offers. You can choose any type of bread (although I‘ve found thick loaves bake and taste better), add various spices (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.). Although this is a fairly healthy recipe to start with, you can health-ify the recipe further by replacing butter with margarine, egg substitute in place of eggs, and skim milk instead of whole.

On Christmas Eve, I prepared the casserole using a whole wheat semolina loaf…anyone else like this bread? It’s delicious! Dense, yet surprisingly light. Overall, it took no longer than 5 minutes to prepare this dish. Then I simply popped it in the fridge to sit overnight. On Christmas morning, all I had to do was place it in the oven. We enjoyed it along side of ham and swiss egg casserole, with fresh fruit…a perfect combination. If you’re looking for a stand-out brunch recipe, look no further.

Overnight French Toast Casserole
½ cup light margarine
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. Cinnamon
12 slices bread of your choice
1 ¼ cup eggbeaters or 1 egg and 8 egg whites
1 ½ cup skim milk

Directions
-Melt margarine in a 9 by 13’’glass pan.
-Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon.
-Place 6 slices of bread on top of the mixture.

-Top the slices with 6 more pieces of bread.
-Beat the eggs with the milk.
-Pour this mixture over the bread.
-Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
-Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
-Turn each piece over and bake another 20 minutes or until each slice puffs up.

Serve with maple syrup, and enjoy!

soaking the bread

Toastin' in the oven

on the plate!

New year, new start

Hi, welcome to What Merry (Meredith) Makes. Over a year ago, I was introduced to the food blog world by my friend Lauren. I started a blog shortly thereafter, but my timing wasn’t right. I had just applied (and was hired) for a new job, started a weekend job, made my 3rd move in three years…well, you get the picture. I was busy! So here I go again…but this time, the timing is right. A new year, a new start, a new blog. I’m excited to share what I make and bake with all of you.