Halloween Strawberry Shortcake Skull Cake

Halloween Strawberry Shortcake Skull Cake

We topped elegant strawberry shortcake with a ghoulish white chocolate skull in this spectacular Halloween dessert. Pour over the hot strawberry sauce to reveal the surprise inside!

Level: Intermediate

Total: 2 hr 45 min (includes chilling and cooling times)

Active: 1 hr 10 min

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

Chocolate Skull:

4 ounces white chocolate melting wafers

1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil

4 ounces strawberries, sliced

Cake and Filling:

Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (see Cook’s Note)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

8 ounces strawberries, sliced

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

2 cups sweetened whipped cream

Strawberry White Chocolate Sauce:

8 ounces strawberries, finely chopped

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 ounces red candy melting wafers

Directions

 

1. For the chocolate skull: Add the white chocolate melting wafers and coconut oil to a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between each, until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.

2. Pour the chocolate mixture into the front and back cavities of a 2-part medium plastic skull mold (3-by-4-by-4-inch) and tilt to swirl the chocolate around until coated entirely (you can also use your finger to swirl the chocolate around). Tap out any excess and freeze until the chocolate is set, about 5 minutes.  

3. Reheat the melted chocolate, if needed, and brush the sides of the mold cavities with a second layer. Freeze until set, about 5 minutes. 

4. Carefully unmold the skull halves and fill one with the sliced strawberries. Microwave the melted chocolate again until smooth, about 30 seconds. Use the melted chocolate as glue to carefully attach the skull halves. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

5. For the cake and filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 6-inch round cake pan with 3-inch sides with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray the paper. 

6. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  

7. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat on low just to incorporate, then beat on high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and egg, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and continue to beat until creamy, about 2 minutes (the mixture will look curdled, but will come back together after everything is combined). With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. 

8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. 

9. Bake until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan, turn the cake out onto the rack, remove the parchment and cool completely.  

10. Meanwhile toss the sliced strawberries and granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the strawberries to release their juices. 

11. Cut the cake into 3 layers with a long serrated knife. Place a cake layer on a cake stand and top with half of the strawberries. Spread 3/4 cup of the whipped cream on top. Repeat with another cake layer, the remaining strawberries and 3/4 cup whipped cream. Top with the final cake layer and remaining 1/2 cup whipped cream. Position the skull in the center of the whipped cream.

12. For the strawberry white chocolate sauce: Add the strawberries and granulated sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the strawberries have broken down and thickened slightly, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and return the liquid to the saucepan (discard the solids). Add the cream and red candy melting wafers to the sauce and heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until melted and hot, 10 to 15 minutes. 

13. When ready to serve, pour the hot sauce over the center of the chocolate skull.

 

 

Cook’s Note

When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)


Halloween Strawberry Shortcake Skull Cake
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Delicious Homemade South West Egg Rolls

Delicious Homemade South West Egg Rolls

South West or Tex Mex Egg Rolls are featured appetizers at many well known restaurant chains.  It’s one of my favorites at Chili’s and Cheesecake Factory where I order them all every time we choose to dine at one of them.  I know they’re considered appetizers but most of the time I order them as my main course, that way I  get a whole plate of them to myself!

I’ve actually seen them frozen and ready to fry at several grocery stores.  They’re marketed as the “original” Chili’s or Cheesecake Factory Egg Rolls.  They also carry a hefty price tag which I’m not willing to pay for something I still have to fry!

But I can definitely make these yummy crunchy rolls of Tex Mex goodness at home.  It’s super easy!  I usually make a big batch and freeze some for later, they freeze very well.

Now there are 2 versions of this Egg Roll, one uses actual Egg Roll wrapper usually found at any Asian Market, and the other rolls the filling in flour tortillas.  The former makes for a delicate crispy egg roll as the wrapper is a thin pastry just like the egg rolls you’ll find at most Asian restaurants.  The latter has a different look and crunch as the tortilla is a much thicker wrapper.  Either way they’re delicious!

I use the frozen grilled chicken strips to make my egg rolls, but you can make your one cooked chicken to use in this recipe.  This recipe makes a large pot, whatever I don’t roll into egg rolls I make into bowls by serving it over a bowl of Mexican Rice and Refried Beans.

To freeze roll the filling in egg roll wrapper or tortillas and place in freezer bags.  Label and freeze for up to 3 months.

These egg rolls are delicious dipped in a Creamy Avocado Sauce or topped with Pico De Gallo.  The recipe for the sauce is included at the bottom of the egg roll recipe.

South West Egg Rolls

Ingredients:

1 Tsp. Olive Oil

1 Pkg. Frozen Grilled Chicken Strips, thawed and diced

1/2 Onion, diced

2 Tbs. Minced Garlic

1 Green Bell Pepper, diced

1 Tomato, diced and patted dry with paper towel.

1 Can Black Beans, drained

1 Can Corn Kernels, drained

1 – 2 Tbs. Cumin, adjust to taste

1 – 2 Tbs. Chili Powder, adjust to taste

1 Tbs. Salt

1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 Cup Shredded Cheddar/Jack Cheese

1 Pkg. Frozen Egg Roll Wrappers or 8″ Flour Tortillas

Oil for frying

Directions:

Heat Olive Oil in large pan.

Saute onions about 1 minute or until they start to turn translucent.

Add garlic and continue to saute.

Add peppers and cook until peppers start to get a bit soft.

Add Chicken, beans, and corn.

Add in Cumin, Chili Powder, and Salt.  Mix until well combined.

Add Tomatoes and cook until any liquid in the pan starts to thicken.

Add Cilantro and cook until it starts to wilt.

Remove from heat and stir in cheese until it melts.

Set aside and prepare your wrappers.

Place a heaping tablespoon in the center of your wrapper and spread into a line across.

Roll the filling in the wrapper burrito style.

Heat about 2″ of oil in a frying pan or use a deep fryer if you have one.

Fry rolls in oil until golden brown.

Cut each roll in half diagonally and serve hot with Avocado Dipping Sauce.

Creamy Avocado Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

1 Cup Whipped Cream Cheese

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro finely chopped

1 Ripe Avocado mashed

1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder

1/4 Tsp. Chili Powder

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve.


Delicious Homemade South West Egg Rolls
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Delicious Homemade South West Egg Rolls
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Key Lime Pie Recipe

Key Lime Pie Recipe

Key Lime Pie is my favorite.  It’s sweet tartness is very refreshing, specially in the summer.

The first time I had Key Lime Pie was at a small local restaurant in Key West, Florida.  It was love at first bite!   Of course there it’s a very popular dessert; Key West has long claimed the pie originated on their tiny island using the small thin skin limes associated with the island.

You might be wondering what makes the Key Lime so special.  It’s a citrus hybrid that is smaller, rounder, and seedier than the usual larger more oval limes.  Key Lime, also known as Mexican Lime, Omani Lime, and West Indian Lime, also have a stronger aroma, more acidic, and thinner rind than its larger counterpart.

Whatever the case may be as the famed ingredient in Key Lime Pie it’s delicious!  Of course you can substitute other limes to make Key Lime Pie, but seriously it isn’t quite the same.  But in many places finding fresh Key Limes is not always easy. However you can buy Key Lime Juice in some stores and definitely on Amazon.  Living in Hawaii I rarely find fresh Key Limes and must resort to using the bottled juice.  I do garnish my pie with a slice of fresh lime, whatever type I manage to find.

There are many Key Lime Pie recipes out there, and believe me I’ve tried more than a few.  But for me easy is best.  This mean I do not like to make pie crust, it’s one chore I avoid whenever possible.  Now Key Lime Pie is usually made with a Graham Cracker crust, of course you can make your own, there are many recipes for this, or be like me and use store bought Graham Cracker Crusts.

You also need Whipped Cream, which of course you can buy spray cans of in your grocer’s dairy section.  That would be the easiest.  But although I’m always looking for the easy way, I make my own whipped cream.  I prefer homemade whipped cream simply because I love the taste of freshly whipped cream.  I like to pipe the whipped cream on top of the pie using a large star tip, or sometimes just around the outer edge and a large dollop in the middle.  But if you don’t what to make your own whipped cream the spay cans will do just fine, you won’t even need a star tip and piping bag to decorate the top of your pie.

So having said all that here’s my recipe, it includes instructions on homemade whipped cream.

Key Lime Pie

Ingredients:

1  9″ Graham Cracker Pie Crust (homemade or store bought)

1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

3/4 Cup Key Lime Juice

1 Cup Fresh Heavy Whipping Cream – cold

1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar

1 Tsp. Vanilla

Fresh Lime Slice

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

Whisk condensed milk, sour cream, and lime juice together in a medium bowl.

Whisk until smooth.

Pour into prepared crust.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on counter for about 30 minutes.

Chill pie in refrigerator at least 3 hours.

Before serving make whipped cream:

Using the whipping attachment to your standup mixer or the beaters of a hand held mixer beat cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.

Beat in vanilla.

Pipe on top of chilled pie.

Garnish with a slice of lime if desired.

 


Key Lime Pie Recipe
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Key Lime Pie Recipe
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Best-Ever Pumpkin Cheesecake

Best-Ever Pumpkin Cheesecake

Sure, classic cheesecake is delicious. But PUMPKIN cheesecake? Now that’s a dessert worthy of your Thanksgiving table. The gingersnap and graham cracker crust are actually genius, and that shimmering layer of caramel is the literal icing on the [cheese]cake. It’s one of our all time favorite pumpkin desserts—and that’s saying something, considering we have over 80 recipes.

 

INGREDIENTS

3/4 c. graham crackers, crushed

3/4 c. gingersnaps, crushed

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

2 tbsp. granulated sugar kosher salt

3 (8-oz.) bars cream cheese, softened

1 c. packed light brown sugar

1 c. pumpkin puree

1/4 c. sour cream, at room temperature

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin spice, plus more for garnish

Warm caramel, for garnish

whipped cream, for garnish

Chopped, toasted pecans, for garnish

 

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 325° with a rack in the middle position. Grease an 8” springform pan with cooking spray.
2. Make crust: In a large bowl, add cookie and graham cracker crumbs. Stir in butter, granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt and mix until well combined. Press crust into bottom of pan.

3. Meanwhile, make cheesecake batter: In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in pumpkin puree, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Add eggs, 1 at a time, until well combined, then beat in flour, pumpkin spice, and ¼ tsp. salt. Pour cheesecake mixture over crust.

4. Double-wrap outside of pan in aluminum foil, making sure to cover the bottom. Place pan in a large baking dish, place the baking dish in the oven, and pour in enough boiling water to reach halfway up the pan. Bake until only slightly jiggly in center, 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes.

5. With oven door propped open, turn oven off and let cool 1 hour in the oven. Remove from water bath and discard foil, then refrigerate cheesecake until cooled completely, at least 3 hours or overnight.

6. Garnish with a layer of caramel and a few dollops of whipped cream around the edge of the cheesecake. Sprinkle all over with pecans and more pumpkin pie spice.

Best-Ever Pumpkin Cheesecake
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Best-Ever Pumpkin Cheesecake
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Chicken Chimichanga

Chicken Chimichanga

Last week I used my big bottle of Lawry’s Carne Asada Seasoning to make a delicious chicken casserole that my family loved.  Well I need more than casseroles to use up all that chicken chimichangaseasoning I picked up at Costco so this week I’m sharing my Chicken Chimichanga.

 

Chimichangas are my all time favorite Mexican dishes.  I love the crunchy fried burrito filled with tasty meat then topped with cheese, salsa, and sour cream.  I mean seriously what’s not to love?  I usually make it with shredded beef, but I still had a big bag of chicken thighs so I figured why not make chicken chimichangas.  I’m so glad I did!  Everyone loved them, including my 4 year old grandson who’s always a very picky eater!

These chicken chimichangas were a delicious way to use up more of that bottle of Carne Asada Seasoning!

I serve this with refried beans and Mexican rice for a filling meal.  I try to make enough for leftovers because everyone loves them, but that’s not always easy.  They’re eaten up in one meal!  My son even comes over to take a bunch of chicken chimichangas home for his family’s dinner!

You can top or garnish it with anything you want like shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and salsa, hot or mild.  We love the hot!

chicken chimichanga
Chicken Chimichanga
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chicken chimichanga
Chicken Chimichanga
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Mix seasoning, vinegar, garlic powder, and olive oil together and place in a ziplock bag.
  2. Add chicken thighs to marinade and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
  3. Add about 2 tbs. oil into a frying pan and fry chicken until cooked or grill chicken until cooked.
  4. Shred cooked chicken.
  5. Divide shredded chicken into 10 equal parts, do the same with the cilantro
  6. Place 1 portion of chicken and cilantro into the middle of a tortilla, sprinkle with about a tbs of shredded cheese.
  7. Roll into a burrito.
  8. Heat 1 - 1 1/2" of oil in frying pan.
  9. Fry each burrito until all sides are golden brown.
  10. Drain on paper towels.
  11. Serve and garnish which your choice of toppings.
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