Icebox Cake

ice-box-cake

If you like custard or cream desserts, you will love this Icebox Cake.  This was my father’s favorite dessert.  Mom would make it for him every year for his birthday instead of a traditional cake.  There are similar desserts out there that use sweet crackers and pudding in a layered dessert, but this one is brought to the highest level.  Mom always made her own cream, never a boxed pudding, and she topped the cake off with a meringue made from the left over egg whites.  I use instead a home-made whipped cream topping because I like it better, but feel free to make the meringue.  Everyone that I have  served this to has loved it.  Give it a try…I’m sure you will like it too.

Ingredients for the cream:

5 – cups whole milk
1 – cup sugar
3 – heaping tbls. cornstarch
6 – egg yolks (well beaten)
1 1/2 – tsp. pure vanilla extract

Other ingredients:

3 – bananas 
30 – whole graham crackers (you will need more than one box)

Directions to make the pastry cream:

In a large sauce pan, add 4 cups of whole milk and 1/2 cup sugar.  Heat the mixture over a medium flame until it is dissolved.  Stir often to avoid burning the milk.

In the meantime, mix together in a bowl, the rest of the sugar, cornstarch, and the remaining cup of milk.  Mix until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved.

In another bowl, separate the yolks from the egg whites and add the vanilla to the yolks.  With a fork whisk the yolks until smooth and add them to the cold milk mixture.  Blend the yolk mixture slowly into the hot milk mixture. Drizzle a little at a time into the hot milk while stirring constantly.  Do this slowly so that the eggs do not curdle.

Cook the cream on a medium-low flame, stirring constantly until thickened about 15-20 minutes.  Toward the end of the cook time, the cream will start to form bubbles on the surface, indicating that it is starting to come to a boil.  Check the flame and lower just a little to keep it at a simmer.  The bubbles are a sign that the cream is almost ready.  The consistency of the cream is a little loose, but do not let this worry you.  It will thicken in the refrigerator.

 

Assemble the cake:

In an 8″ x 12″ glass baking pan place a layer of graham crackers. graham-cracker-layerUse a ladle to pour about one cup of cream on top of the crackers, and spread evenly. Next add a layer of thinly sliced bananas.

banana-and-cream-layer

Repeat the layers two more times then top off with a layer of graham crackers.  This pan will accommodate three layers of cream/bananas with final graham cracker top.

Now its time to make the whipped cream.

Ingredients for whipped cream:

1 – pint whipping cream
2 – tbls. powered sugar
1 1/2 – tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Pour the cold cream into a mixing bowl.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Use a mixer on high and whip the cream until it is thick enough to make peaks in the cream and remain on the beaters without falling off.  This doesn’t take long, so be careful not to over whip the cream because it will curdle.

whipped-cream

 

Spread the whipped cream over the top layer of graham crackers. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 6 hours before serving.  You can leave it overnight if you have to.

Just before serving, take on graham cracker and crumble it.  Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the cake.  Enjoy!

Servings:  12

 




Best Ever Turkey Chili

turkey-chiliGrowing up, Mom made Chili at home, and of course, it was her own creation. She used ground beef and kidney beans in a tomato based sauce. It was delicious. For many years, I made it exactly the way she did until one day your father and I were visiting the botanical gardens and we stopped for lunch in their cafeteria.  Dad ordered the Chili, which he liked very much, so I took a taste. It was slightly sweet and in addition to beans it also had corn.  I decided to recreate a hybrid recipe at home.  I started with my Mom’s recipe and added a second type of beans, corn, a little brown sugar to add the sweet element, and a little nutmeg.  Pardon my frankness, but my creation is better than the one we tasted at the botanical gardens.

I use ground turkey now since it is a healthier choice, but you can use beef. The turkey has a certain gamey taste, and this is the reason I use nutmeg. It disguises the gamey flavor. I use nutmeg in all my ground turkey recipes.

Ingredients:

1 – lb. ground turkey (97% lean)
1 – medium onion diced
2 – stalks celery (center leafy is best)
3 – cloves garlic
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 – tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 – tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 – tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 – cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 – tbls. chili powder
1 – 15 oz. can black beans
1 – 15 oz. can red kidney beans
1 – 15 oz. can sweet corn
1 – 10..5 oz can tomato soup (Campbell’s healthy request)
1 – 10.5 oz can diced tomatoes

Note:  you can substitute the beans with any kind you prefer; for example, chic peas or pinto beans.

Directions:

Add 2 tsp. Canola oil in a large heavy pot. Add the diced onion and garlic. Sauté on low heat until tender. Careful not to let the garlic burn. Push the onions aside and add the ground turkey. Break it up into small pieces. Add the salt, pepper and the rest of the spices. Cook on medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Add the tomato soup, and 12 oz. of water. (You can use chicken stock in place of water if you like). Stir, and then add the diced tomatoes, celery stalks (keep whole), corn, and beans. Drain the corn and rinse the beans before adding them. Once the chili comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 45 min. to one hour.   Remove the celery before serving.

We usually add a little cheddar cheese on top or sour cream.




Roasted Vegetables

roasted-eggplant-zucchini-butternutRoasted Eggplant, Zucchini, and Butternut Squash

Roasted vegetables are one of the easiest side dishes you can make.  What’s great about it is that with very little effort you have a delicious vegetable to serve along with your main dish.  This recipes includes eggplant, zucchini, and butternut squash, but you can use any vegetables you like.  For example, bell peppers, onion, carrots, beets, or turnips.  You can even add potatoes to really round out the dish.

Ingredients:

2 – small eggplants
2- small zucchini
1 – small butternut squash
1 – tsp. salt
1/4 – cup extra virgin olive oil
1 – tsp. Adobo seasoning
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 – tsp. garlic powder

Directions:

Wash the eggplant and zucchini and cut into approximately 1-1/2″ cubes.  Peel the butternut squash, cut in half and remove the seeds; cut into equal sized pieces as the other vegetables.  Place all the vegetables into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and mix thoroughly to coat all the vegetables (use more oil if necessary).  Add the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Adobo; mix thoroughly.

Cover a large baking pan with parchment paper and place the vegetables on top.  Spread out evenly and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top.

Bake at 400o for 50 min. to one hour until tender.