A Quickie for the Summer

Know what I love about summer? Everything.  Everything except turning on the oven for any length of time to make dinner. But one can only live on BLTs for so long, right? Wrong.  But, if you’re out of bacon, then this quickie recipe will help you avoid a hot kitchen and help you get food on the table before you starve (ok, one more thing I don’t like about summer–it’s really, really late when I’m ready to come inside for the day so that means dinner will be really, really late).  This recipe is so quick, there was only time to take one photo before I ate it all up.  Enjoy it while it lasts:

Image

Ta-da! We’ll be making the tomatoes, not the creamed chard (but if you really love Swiss Chard, go for it.  My creamed chard was an experiment that went horribly, horribly wrong.  Mostly because I don’t like chard). 

These are quinoa and tuna stuffed tomatoes.  They’re great.  You’ll need:

1/4 c. quinoa (dry)

1/2 c. water

1 can chunk tuna in water

A little sprinkle of mozzarella cheese

Fresh parsley, if you wish

Tomatoes–duh. 

Put the quinoa and water in a pan and cook it according to the package instructions.  While that’s going, hollow out tomatoes–but only as many as you’re going to use that day.  I filled two tomatoes and still had enough for one quinoa-tuna quesadilla (surprisingly good!) the next day, so I imagine this recipe makes about three tomatoes. 

Back to the task at hand.  Hollow out the tomatoes and then eat the guts like a little appetizer, lest you become delirious from hunger.  Once the quinoa is done, drain the water from the tuna and add it to the pan and mix up.  Add a pinch of cheese if you want, and then spoon the hot mixture into the raw tomatoes.  Sprinkle a bit more cheese on top and add some fresh parsley for flavoring and the pretty factor and eat.  Bam.  Done. 

Bow Chica Bow-wow Cherry Trifle

The whole time I was making this trifle, the ‘bow chica bow-wow’ sound effect kept going through my head.  I thought, “This is so awesome I need to post it right now.” But then I ran out of time before my trip to Phoenix.  At breakfast one morning, someone referred to the hotel we were staying at as the “Twin Palms Bow Chica Bow-wow Hotel.”

It was fate.  Now I had to name it that.

Ready for a peek?

Image

Oh yeah.  That’s right.

I love trifles.  They’re pretty, they’re easy to make, and they are delicious AND can feed you and 50 of your closest friends.  The best part about this trifle is that it can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it.  For instance, I made my cakes from scratch.  Not necessary.  I flavored my whipped cream (because I thought it would be awesome to have chocolate whipped cream instead of plain after I got back from the store).  The general gist of what you need is here:

2 chocolate cakes (if you bake them, bake them in 9-inch rounds)

1 tub Cool Whip (I’ll tell you how to flavor it if you don’t want to buy the chocolate kind)

1 large box chocolate fudge pudding, prepared
Cherries.  Lots of cherries.  I used 5 quarts of cherries.  It would work just fine with 3 quarts of cherries.  I really like cherries.  *If you don’t have lots and lots of canned cherries, you can use canned cherry pie filling if you want.  I bet it would taste good.*

Sliced almonds (optional)

First, unwrap or make your cakes.  I found this really, really good recipe for chocolate cake in a cookbook.  It’s moist, rich, and dark-chocolatey.  It’s perfect.  Here’s what you will need for that:

2 c. boiling water

1 c. baking cocoa1 c. butter, softened

2.5 c. sugar

4 eggs

1.5 tsp vanilla

2.75 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. baking soda

First, put the cocoa powder in a bowl and add the water.  Whisk until it’s all mixed together nicely.  Then, cream the butter and sugar.  Know how I know this cake was going to be good (besides the obscene amounts of cocoa powder, butter, and eggs)? Look at that cream action:

Image

Yummmmmmm.

So then, add an egg one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add the vanilla.  Mix all your dry ingredients.  Then, gradually add both the chocolate water and flour mixture, alternating additions.  Mix up really well and then pour into two greased and floured 9-inch pans.  Here’s a note about greasing flouring pans (see figure 1):

Image

Now I think Pam is the bee’s knees, but it’s got no place in a grease-and-flour situation.  Use Crisco.  Or a really cheap off-brand (again, figure 1).  Grease it liberally, but not gobs and gobs of it.  Then lightly dust it with flour and shake out the excess flour.  Then you’re good to go.

Put the cake in a 350degree oven, lick the bowl, and wait patiently for the cakes to be done, about 35-40 minutes.

These cakes need to be completely cool before assembling your trifle.  You have two options: make the cakes the night before and let them cool all the way, or wait until the cakes are bearable to touch and crumble them as soon as you can to speed up cooling.  If you choose the first option, the likelihood of you burning your fingers drops significantly.

Image

We’re almost ready to begin assembling.  I wanted this dessert to have so much chocolate it would satisfy even my love of the stuff.  So I though flavoring my whipped cream chocolate would be even better than regular chocolate.  So I experimented a bit.

Image

A dash of cocoa powder here, a pinch of sugar there, mix it up with other stuff…sweet success! If you want to flavor your own Cool Whip, here’s the conversions for one tub:

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. chocolate syrup

If you buy the cheap cocoa powder, run it through the food processor first.  You will have less powder chunks.  GENTLY fold the ingredients in until incorporated.

Now we’re ready to start! If you’ve never made a trifle, it’s easy.  Just alternate layering the ingredients.  Try to put even amounts in each layer.  I did chocolate cake, then the pudding, then the whipped cream, then the cherries. I had a total of three layers.  Just cover each layer with each component, it doesn’t have to be super fancy (although I did make sure to cover every inch of every layer with cherries…which is why I used 5 whole quarts).  On the final layer, spread the remaining Cool Whip just around the edges–I used a cake decorating tip, but the cocoa powder kept gumming it up.  Add cherries and sliced almonds if you wish, and then try to be patient enough for the entire neighborhood to come over before you dig in!

Image