No-Bake S’mores Bars

It feels like the last time we bought cereal was in 2009.  Seriously though, we don’t eat cereal here except for the odd box of Kashi that gets used for yogurt parfaits once in a while.  Buuuut, when I starting seeing Golden Grahams used in place of Rice Krispies for these s’mores bars on Pinterest, I just couldn’t resist tossing a box into my cart.

And honestly, it wasn’t done without a inkling of shame because I certainly realize the amount of sugar a box of the Grahams contains…and then, oh lawdie, I’d be only adding a ton more sugar to them in order to complete the dessert.  And to cut to the chase, I made these bars twice in the matter of 10 days because I wasn’t 100% happy with how they turned out the first time.  The large surface area of the cereal must have sucked up extra marshmallow because the bars just weren’t holding together as I would have liked.  So the second time I made them, I added more sugar.  ::headdesk::

That made them perfect though.  Don’t get me wrong, these bars are super sweet and rich but they are definitely worth having just one.  The Hershey’s Drops that I used were beyond the best idea I’ve had in ages because really, what is a s’more without Hershey’s?  Forget using semi-sweet chocolate chips – it just won’t be the same.  Luckily, we were able to give away some of each batch that I made because they are definitely dangerous to have around!  So now you’ve got a dessert to bring to the next rainy-day BBQ where real s’mores won’t be in the cards or to make with the kids for a movie day…or frankly, for any other reason at all.  You’re welcome. 🙂

[Disclaimer: No compensation or products were given for writing this post.  This is not a review post of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Drops.  I simply love them enough to share my excitement about them with you.]

Red Velvet and Strawberry Trifles with Cheesecake Filling

Red Velvet and Strawberry Trifles with Cheesecake Filling

For the most part, Kyle and I agree on pretty much everything that comes out of our kitchen.  It makes for pretty easy living in this house and loads of fun when I menu plan and decide on what kind of sweets to bake.  The only recent exception to this lovely mutually agreeable relationship is cream cheese frosting.  While I can eat the tangy frosting with a spoon, Kyle can take it or leave it.  And yet I keep making it not because I forget how he feels about it, but because I think I can change his mind with different recipes.  It never works.

Red Velvet and Strawberry Trifles with Cheesecake Filling

So when I made red velvet cupcakes last weekend, I ended up with a few extra frosted cupcakes and a moment of panic about what to do with them since I knew Kyle wasn’t about to bring Valentine’s cupcakes to his construction site at work.  It took me all of about .2 seconds to decide what needed to be done: repurpose them!  I scraped off the frosting (did you really just question what happened to it?), cubed up the cupcakes, sliced some fresh strawberries, and pulled together a no-bake cheesecake filling for some Valentine’s Day trifles.  And when I tell you that we both swooned with the first bite, I’m not kidding.  The silky filling has a touch of lemon that blends perfectly with the strawberries and soaks into the cake layers after a day-long refrigeration, resulting in a decadent and brightly-flavored dessert that would make the perfect ending to any sort of Valentine’s Day celebration.  We were hoping to celebrate this year in our new home but after another delay (?!*$), these trifles will be the perfect way to be celebrate how happy we are together, regardless of the situation.

Black & White Cranberry Tarts

As I sit here on this snowy morning (the first non-icy snow of the season), I’m so excited to share this dessert with you.  For this week’s Project Pastry Queen recipe, my pal Josie chose these Black & White Cranberry Tarts.  And while I was a little skeptical (whole fresh cranberries scare me a little), I dove in head first to making this no-bake holiday dessert.  I do love white chocolate and Oreos so I figured that I could overlook the cranberries.  As it turns out, it wasn’t the white chocolate or the Oreos that were the stars of this dessert, but  the cranberries, and I really couldn’t imagine making it with any other fruit.  They are suspended within a gorgeous white chocolate ganache and when even just slightly warmed and chilled, they burst with flavor and juice when you bite into them.  Even Kyle, who isn’t a fan of white chocolate or cranberries loved these tarts just as much as I did.

I didn’t make any changes to the recipe, though I cut it by 3/4 and still got 3 little tarts.  I did have some trouble getting the tarts out of the tart pans (no removable bottoms) because the crust wasn’t baked and I think to get the full effect of the chocolate cookie crust, they would need to be removed.  As Josie suggests, I might consider blind baking the crusts for a few minutes the next time I make them.  Speaking of the next time, a full-size (10-inch) tart likely will make an appearance on my parent’s Christmas dinner dessert table in a few weeks.  Many thanks again to Josie for choosing this amazing dessert and for forcing my hand at trying these tarts which I wouldn’t have otherwise ever made!

Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits

Welcome to Project Food Blog Challenge #7! Back in August, when the challenges were announced and I saw that a video was one of them, I literally lol’d because I was happy that I’d never have do this challenge.  I truly didn’t think I’d get to this challenge.  I’m floored that I’m still in this competition and I thank each and every one of you for voting and supporting me.  I also want to thank you for the support you’ve been showing the other bloggers in Project Food Blog.  Our readers have been the driving force behind this competition and personally speaking, you have instilled in me a level of confidence about blogging that I never would have achieved had it not been for these challenges.  I’ve pushed myself further than I ever dreamed I would as a blogger and this video is a testament to that.

For the Video 411 challenge, the peeps at FoodBuzz asked us to: “Channel your inner Julia Child and put one of your favorite recipes on film.” The original challenge said to choose a favorite from our blog’s archive but it was later changed to allow us to choose a new recipe…and that’s what I did.  For the past few years, I’ve been dying to make Ina Garten’s Pumpkin Mousse Parfaits and I took this opportunity to make them for the first time on camera for all of you to see.

This video isn’t fancy.  It isn’t flashy.  But it’s me.  It’s true to who I am and how I work in the kitchen. And it’s recipe-driven, just as Smells Like Home is.  Kyle and I aren’t filmmakers and in fact, this was the first time we had used the video function on my camera.  The editing was done by two college undergrads, one of whom edited the reality-TV-style videos for the research project I coordinate at work.  They worked on it between classes and their part-time jobs.  I’m proud to say this is my video and I’m thrilled with how it turned out, considering the butterflies that swarmed my stomach before Kyle and I started filming.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do…

As I mentioned in the video, this is the perfect recipe for your Thanksgiving dessert if you’re looking to get away from regular ol’ pumpkin pie.  The longer the mousse blends with the gingersnaps (they can refrigerated for up to 3 days before serving!), the more the cookies take on a cake-like texture so you actually feel like you’re eating gingerbread cake between the pumpkin mousse layers.  This no-cook dessert screams fall and the holidays and if I had any say about what kind of pumpkin dessert would be served at my Thanksgiving dinner this year (which I don’t because my mother-in-law always makes a pumpkin pie which I’m not allowed to compete with), these parfaits would be on my menu.  I think you should put them on yours!

S’mores Pops

If you’re looking for a quick and easy treat that will be a big hit, you’ve come to the right spot.  These s’mores pops are to.die.for (and who doesn’t love food on a stick??) and seriously take less than 10 minutes to put together.  I was about to spend too much money on specialty truffles at Whole Foods last weekend for Kyle’s Valentine’s Day treat but since I’m always concerned about allergens in the foods he eats, I opted to make a few things of my own, including these s’mores and some chocolate-covered Oreos.  There’s not much I can say here about technique because they really are so easy so my only advice to you is to use the best chocolate you can afford. I used Callebaut milk chocolate which I always have on hand.  Callebaut is a Belgium chocolate and while some people turn up their noses at milk chocolate this is seriously some of the best I’ve ever tried.  It reminds me so much of the fantastic chocolate available in France (and other parts of Europe of course) and makes for a satisfying chocolate fix all by itself.   As far as the marshmallows go, you could make your own but I didn’t have the time last weekend so I picked up a package from the Whole Foods bakery and they were definitely more fresh than bagged marshmallows.

It’s possible that I saw these posted on another blog and filed the idea away in the recesses of my brain but I honestly can’t remember where I may have seen them.