Nutter Butter Banana Pudding Trifle

I have distinct memories of eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches growing up.  Momma would spread a thick layer of creamy (never crunchy at our house) Peter Pan peanut butter on one side of the bread and then “clean” the knife off on the other side of the bread.  Not too thin, but not too thick slices of banana were thin cut with the “clean” knife and placed in three rows on the peanut butter bread.  Top with the other half and cut.  Diagonally.

I have my Momma to thank for my love of peanut butter (or almond butter) and bananas.  It’s a staple combination around my house as a 30 year old.

When I saw a recipe for Nutter Butter Banana Pudding Trifle I immediately thought of my Momma (and my brothers and sister).  This dessert was made for her.  And while I haven’t had the chance to make it for my Momma yet, I will.  Soon.

I know that banana pudding is a staple in the South, but this twist on the traditional recipe is nuts (I crack myself up).  And I think you’ll really dig it.

puddin

The best part, this recipe is actually really simple if you follow the short-cut directions, which I did.

Start by breaking an entire package of Nutter Butter cookies (except for 5:  2 for your husband to eat and 3 for garnish) into thirds.

Then mix together 2 small packages of vanilla instant pudding mix with 3 cups of milk and a splash of vanilla extract.  Beat until thickened and then allow to stand for 5 minutes.  Stir in an 8 ounce container of sour cream (I actually forgot this step even though I had bought sour cream for this purpose and this purpose only).

Place half of the pudding mixture in the bottom of a trifle dish (I adore trifles – they are my favorite dessert to entertain with) and top with half of the banana slices and cookie pieces.

Layer on the remaining pudding mixture and top with the remaining bananas and cookies.

Finally add a layer of Cool Whip (yep, I used the pre-made stuff, y’all – no shame!).  Refrigerate until ready to serve (I recommend a couple of hours) and top with a few whole cookies before it’s time to serve.

A Southern classic just got an upgrade.

 

 

 

 

 

Caprese Mac ‘n Cheese

The newest issue of Cooking Light arrived last week and as soon as I flipped the page and saw Caprese Mac and Cheese I knew it was on the next weeks menu.  (p.s. – Check out that deep dish pizza on the front cover; seriously drooling over here.)

Mac ‘n Cheese has always been a favorite of mine (along with beef tips and rice, right Momma?) and I love to indulge when given the chance.

But if you make it from scratch and not from a box with 93 ingredients that you can’t pronounce you don’t have to feel guilty.

This meal is:

cheesy
comforting
a little spicy
curl-up-on-the-couch worthy
satisfying
creamy
decadent
bursting with flavor
herbaceous
perfect for a rainy evening

In order to make this meal gluten-free, I used a brown-rice pasta, gluten-free panko, and subbed in cornstarch for the flour.  Instead of adding the cornstarch to the hot oil, I simply whisked it into the milk before adding it to the hot saucepan.

I loved the panko topping.  Little bites here and there were full of crunchy cheesiness.  Those were my favorite bites.  And using two cheeses makes it a mega bowl of comfort.  Sharp Parmesan and luscious mozzarella ensure that every bite is cheesy perfection.

I also baked this in one large dish instead of individual ramekins.  Either works perfectly.

What’s your ultimate comfort food?

Italian Guacamole and Jerk Shrimp Tacos

When you make a batch of Grilled Pineapple Margaritas, it’s kind of necessary to make a batch of guacamole.

margs

Margaritas and guacamole go together like peanut butter and jelly.

And while I have plenty of “classic” guacamole recipes I could make, it’s always fun to try a new twist on a classic.

guac

So in this batch of guac, we left out the cilantro and added fresh basil and parsley.  Otherwise, it’s just like the traditional guacamole you love – packed with tomatoes, red onion, salt, jalapeno and garlic.

But now I kind of want all my guacamole to have basil and parsley in the mix.

closeup

 

The sweet but smokey margarita paired perfectly with the salty chips and the savory guacamole.

I wonder what a roasted strawberry margarita would taste like…or grilled peaches…

I may have created a monster.

As for the main course, shrimp were marinated in a mix of spices including thyme, allspice, cinnamon, pepper, cayenne and salt.  I love the warmth of these spices.

The shrimp were cooked on the stovetop and then placed on a warm corn tortilla before being topped with a cantaloupe salsa.  Basically instead of your traditional tomato salsa, cantaloupe was tossed with diced red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, lime juice and salt.  Sweet and spicy!

taco

And on top of the salsa, a sprinkle of salty feta.

Gotta love Mexican night!

Weekend Review {quick trip to charlotte plus delicious eats}

Good morning, friends!  I hope your weekend was as wonderful as mine.  Here’s a quick look at what we were up to all weekend…

On Thursday, after an out-of-town training, I headed farther west to visit my parents.  It was a super quick trip but it was totally worth the extra miles.

Thursday was my grandmother’s birthday and I was so happy that I was able to join my parents to take her to dinner.  My Momma was extra thoughtful and tried to pick a place that would suit Mimi but would also please my foodie-self.  She succeeded.  Nolen Kitchen has been on my list (among many others) of places to try in Charlotte for a whole now.  Nolen Kitchen is located in a picture-perfect neighborhood and it was such a treat to visit.  To start, we shared the zucchini chips which were nothing short of amazing.  Perfectly fried but not overly oily.  And for my main dish, I went with the special:  Red Snapper with Lobster and a Gouda Alfredo Sauce served over black beans and spinach.  The sauce was decadent without being heavy and I was surprised at how perfectly it paired with the black beans.  To sip, a crisp Sauvignonn Blanc.

On Friday morning I was up bright and early to try a Pure Barre class.  I have wanted to try Pure Barre for a long, long time and I couldn’t pass up the chance.  There’s a Pure Barre studio about 10 minutes from my parents house and I am no obsessed.  Unfortunately, there’s not a barre studio anywhere close to where I live…so I’ll just have to save that class for special occasions.  It hurt so good.  I was sore until Sunday night.

Post-sweat, my Momma and I met up with my sister, brother-in-law and my cutie pie, Haines, for breakfast.  I’ve heard great things about Another Broken Egg and it was the perfect place for us to sip coffee and chow down.

Unfortunately, I had to hit the road as soon as breakfast was over.  As much as I wanted to stay and be with my family for the weekend, we had plans back at home and I was ready to see the hubs.

Friday night we had a little dinner party with two of our favorite couples.

The night started with rosé  and ended with lots of laughs.

In between, we dined on short ribs that had the most amazing sauce.  (I still need that recipe, Katie!)

Thankfully the sun was out on Saturday and I was able to finish up book #4 by the pool.

Saturday afternoon, we enjoyed cocktail hour at home with Grilled Pineapple Margaritas.  Umm…delicious.

We continued the Mexican theme but I’ll share the full menu later this week.

And I also checked one more item off the bucket list last night:  Trashy Hot Dogs!!!!

The dog was loaded down with sauteed onions (I sauteed the onions in bacon fat and added a touch of maple syrup before serving), sauteed mushrooms, crisped bacon and cheddar cheese.

I can never have a regular ole hot dog again.  These totally hit the spot and was worth the wait.  So many flavors and the bun was soft and doughy while the dog had the “snap” that I crave.

Only 5 days of work stand between me and my next weekend.

Let’s do this.

 

 

Banana Bread with Coconut Flour {gluten-free}

We made it to Friday.  Again.  Sometimes it just takes longer than usual.

But this Friday is a different kind of Friday.  I actually took a little detour yesterday afternoon and headed “home” (where my parents live) to see them and my Mimi (grandmother).  I haven’t seen Mimi in months (I’m actually ashamed at home much time has passed) and when given the opportunity to see her on her birthday, I just couldn’t pass it up.  So today is actually a vacation day for me.  I have plans to try something new bright and early and then have breakfast with my sister and Haines.  It’s going to be the most perfect Friday.

I think (I swear, I hope I don’t jinx myself) that the sun will be out ALL weekend and I am so excited.  We have a fun Friday night with friends planned along with a low-key Saturday and Sunday as we wind down summertime (boo-hiss).  I thought I would leave you with a recipe that I recently tried in my kitchen.

I have had a bag of coconut flour in my pantry for far too long that has remained unopened.  Until this past week.  I decided to whip up a batch of Banana Bread Muffins using coconut flour and only 6 additional ingredients.  I ended up only using 1 tablespoon of agave (instead of the honey) and I baked the muffins (only 8) for 25 minutes.  They are incredibly moist and not-too-sweet.  Which is exactly what I like in a (healthy) muffin.

Happy Weekend!

2014 Summer Bucket List {check-in time}

My summer will unofficially end in two weeks.  It seems like the unofficially start of summer was just yesterday.  That means that I have two weeks to complete my 2014 Summer Bucket List.

This post is a check-in.  I need to know what exactly I have to accomplish before the end of August 29th.  Because once the Pirates kick-off on August 30th, my summer is over.

Use fresh herbs from the garden as much as possible, especially in cocktails.  CHECK!

I have been so good about using all the produce in the garden this year.  I have started to give away some tomatoes but I’m also eating them by the handful.  Hopefully our fall garden does well and I won’t have to say goodbye to homegrown produce just yet.  Look at my spinach growing (below) – I can’t wait to be able to make huge salads for lunch right from my backyard.

Read five books.  The One and Only by Emily Griffin is on the list.

I am almost finished with Save the Date and I know this will be finished before the weekend is over.  I’ve also read Wild, Fault in Our Stars and Ladies’ Night.  I better purchase The One and Only pretty fast since I only have two weeks left of summer.

Take a last minute weekend trip with Big Guy.  We’re not spontaneous enough in life. CHECK!

Probably the most fun item to check off the list.  I will never forget our weekend in Savannah.  In fact, it may be in the top 5 weekends ever.  It was amazing and exactly what we needed this summer.

Experiment with gin.  Because I can put cucumbers and mint in my drink with gin. CHECK!

I’ve tried a couple of recipes with gin and I’ve also ventured out and ordered a gin cocktail a few times this summer.  It’s so refreshing!

Make homemade ice cream.  Twice. CHECK!

Plan our next BIG vacation. 

This is currently in the works.  2015 is going to be amazing when it comes to us and traveling.

Enjoy cookouts gatherings with friends. CHECK!

We’ve enjoyed everything from double-dates to brunches to a girls weekend at the beach.  We even have a fun night planned with friends for tonight.  We have some of the best friends here and we always have a blast.

Make a trashy and/or gourmet hot dog and call it dinner.

This is totally happening on Sunday and I am more excited than should be allowed.

Plan a fun weekend with family at our house. CHECK!

While we never had a huge group at our house, we did manage to have my parents in town one weekend and then my sister another weekend.  We were also blessed to spend some time with family at OIB last month.

  

So here’s my to-do list for the next two weeks:

Read.

Finalize a few vacation plans for 2015.

Eat a hot dog.

That’s the most fun (and random) to-do list I’ve ever had.

Smoked Salmon Dip plus The Masters Pimiento Cheese

This past Sunday a few friends gathered for Sunday brunch.  While I’m not usually a fan of having plans on Sunday, this particular brunch made me excited to plan another Sunday brunch.  The great part about brunch is that there really are no expectations.  Sweet and savory are perfectly acceptable and the drink menu plans itself:  mimosas and bloody’s.

And yes, our other halves were there but men don’t feel the need to take a picture every single time they hang out.

The hostest with the mostest (hey, KP!) provided the main dish which was a hearty egg and hashbrown casserole.  Delicious with a heaping spoonful of salsa on top.  The other ladies all brought a little of this and a little of that.  There was chicken croissants, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh fruit and monkey bread.

I brought smoked salmon dip and The Masters Pimiento Cheese.  Both are ridiculously easy to make and I actually prepped them both on Saturday afternoon.

salmon dip

I adore salmon but Big Guy would never be interested in this appetizer.  Thankfully there were others that love salmon as much as I do.  The dip is a quick mix of cream cheese (I used the whipped version), light sour cream, lemon juice, salmon, red onion and dill.  So good!

masters pimiento cheese

Big Guy is a huge fan of the southern staple pimiento cheese.  There are quite a few varieties out there and I’ve made quite a few versions using various recipes.  The most difficult part of this recipe is shredding the cheese.  Don’t buy pre-shredded cheese.  Just don’t.  In this particular version, instead of just mayo, a mixture of cream cheese, sour cream and mayo is used for a creamy, rich spread.  Also, in addition to cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese is added for some extra sharpness.  And of course, pimientos.  You can’t leave out the pimientos.  If you make this in advance, let it come to room temperature before serving so that it spreads easier onto the crackers.

The best part about these two dips – they aren’t just for brunch.  The pimiento cheese is perfect for any fall tailgate and the salmon dip will impress your guests at a dinner party or for “appy” hour.