Nothing to Trifle With

99% of the reason I came off blogging hiatus was to share this with the world:

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That is my personal creation: Chocolate Caramel Heath Bar Trifle. And it was delicious!

 

 

I’m getting a reputation for trifle-making. I’m starting to make them for every event. Trifles are so much fun! Have you ever heard someone say, “No thanks, I don’t really like trifle…”? No, of course you haven’t. I made this Triple Chocolate Peppermint Trifle for Christmas after finding it on Pinterest. Then for Memorial Day, I made this Red, White and Blueberry Trifle from Skinnytaste. I managed to get a picture of that one before it got devoured:

When our good friends, R & K were leaving the cookout, R said, “Next time, I want a Caramel Heath Bar Trifle.” Challenge accepted. When they invited us over for dinner this past weekend, I knew just what to bring.

Here’s the thing about Caramel Trifle. If you Google a recipe, you’ll get 5 ingredients: brownies, caramel sundae topping, Heath, chocolate pudding and Cool Whip. If you ask me, Cool Whip is kind of cheating. And brownies? No. Any time the instructions say to cook or even slightly burn an ingredient, it’s the wrong ingredient. Brownies are too moist and fudgy to be covered in cream and pudding. So if I was going to do this, I was going to do it from scratch. Sort of…

I borrowed the chocolate cake recipe from the Triple Chocolate Peppermint Trifle because it’s a dry cake recipe. So that was easy. I bought Jello chocolate pudding from a box, so that was easy. (Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that you have to make pudding from scratch. It’s 2012 for goodness sake.) So the hard part was the caramel and the mousse.

I searched Google for a caramel mousse recipe but I couldn’t really find one. They all seemed really complicated and not very caramel-y. I did find this one that was fairly simple. I can’t bring myself to spend $15 on a vanilla bean, so I used a teaspoon of vanilla and some Tahitian vanilla sugar instead, which I just happened to have on hand of course. Thanks Elizabeth! Instead of the caramel syrup from the recipe, I melted some Kraft Caramel Bits and folded it into the whipped cream mixture. Caramel is sticky and doesn’t fold so well, so it was definitely a challenge to get it all blended. Honestly, I probably should have bought the caramel sundae topping instead of the caramel bits. I’m not really sure if I made mousse or flavored whipped cream. It was delicious, nonetheless. I melted the rest of the caramel with some whipping cream in the microwave to make the caramel sauce layer.

I couldn’t see making a big trifle for 4 people, but I found these mini trifle bowls at Bed Bath and Beyond for $10. (Made in the USA!) I baked the cake in a 13″x9″ rectangular cake pan instead of a round cake pan. This made the cake thinner gave me enough surface area for 8 rounds. I layered the trifle mousse, Heath, cake, caramel, pudding and repeat.

You might be asking, “But how did you transport it the 45 minutes to R & K’s house?” (Okay, you probably weren’t, but we sure were!) Luckily, I’m married to McGyver and he came up with this: a roasting pan with trifle bowl sized cutouts duct-taped to a cake taker. He’s a genius!

The trifle was everything I hoped it would be. K even said that she would be so happy if she ordered this in a restaurant. That’s probably the best compliment my baking has ever received!

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Don’t Call It a Comeback

I know, I know. It’s been 8 months since my last post. Awful. I have no excuse. My day-to-day life isn’t particularly blog-worthy, unless you want to hear about boot camp, spin class, and trips to Target. You don’t. Trust me. I honestly can’t even remember anything that happened this winter. We started to renovate the attic but didn’t get very far before the heat started and we had to put it on hold. We hosted a Memorial Day cookout, which I heard was really fun but was a complete blur for me. I ran in the JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge with 10,000 of my closest friends (and like 20 coworkers which was actually the fun part). I also ran in Fuel’s first Beach Run, which was surprisingly awesome even though I couldn’t have run it any slower. We also visited my brother and his wife in Virginia, which was really fun. Here’s proof:

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 I was in DC for the Girl Scouts Rock the Mall, where 250.000 Girl Scouts convened on the National Mall. That part was actually kind of awful. It was like 1,000,000 degrees out and the line to purchase water was 90 minutes long. The DCFD came with their fire engine and created the world’s largest Girl Scout Wet T-Shirt Contest. But, I did get to link arms with my Girl Scout friends and sing God Bless the USA, which was kind of priceless.

So that’s about it. Stay tuned…

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The Update

I’ve been asked a few times lately if I’m still blogging. Clearly I haven’t been, but I still want to. So here we are over three months since my last post. It’s not that we haven’t been busy. It’s that we haven’t done anything that I think you’d want to read about. Here’s the “short” version of what we’ve been up to…

*The House – We closed on the house in the end of October. It wasn’t fun. I managed to get through to close without punching anyone in the face, even though in that hour my religion was insulted, I got yelled at for initializing where I should have checked, and the sellers’ grandson practically cried that he didn’t want to move. The first thing we did after the close was head to Lowe’s and buy new locks. Then we went to the house and installed the locks. Then I promptly locked the keys inside the house. Somehow, Mr. Wonderful didn’t murder me.

*The Move – We moved the last weekend in October. It snowed. The first truckload had the love seat and a few other boxes. It took Mr. Wonderful and my Dad FOREVER to come back to the condo after bringing it over. “There’s bad news,” Mr. Wonderful tells me as they get back. “The love seat doesn’t fit.” It got in the house but couldn’t get passed the kitchen. We have a 26″ doorway and a 32″ love seat. They tried it every which way. Then Mr. Wonderful’s Dad came over and tried it every which way. Then his brother came over and tried it every which way. In then end, I had a love seat in my kitchen for a week. Then I had a hole in the dining room where they enlarged the doorway for about 6 weeks. We’re still painting and figuring out where everything goes. We’re also doing laundry at my Mom’s because our dryer that we ordered on November 18th isn’t in yet. Home ownership is a pain in the butt.

*Landlord City – We’re renting the condo. To a 23-year-old girl with a neck tattoo. She must be in some sort of Converse Chucks gang. First she wanted to adopt kittens. That stinks for me but I didn’t say no. Then she gave the kittens back and now she wants a dog. The latest is that she wants to become a foster parent. “I want a cat, just kidding, dog, just kidding, baby.” But she pays her rent on time, so we’re good.

*The Broken Hand – Turns out, Mr. Wonderful has a little anger management problem when it comes to heated dodgeball games and, well, when you punch a door, the door always wins. He spent all of December in a cast to his forearm. I discovered that his coworkers now call him “Rage Machine.” So at least we’re all making fun of him. One of his a-hole coworkers (who got herself fired for something else, but that’s another story) signed his fingers. As if his having a cast wasn’t bad enough. I cheered a little when they cut right through her name to get the cast off.

*Raleigh, NC – We just came back from a long weekend in Raleigh for Mr. Wonderful’s birthday. There was beer, more beer, a Bruins loss to the Hurricanes (of course), an outdoor flea market, wine and barbeque. All in all, it was a great weekend away. Between the holidays and the house, we really needed a change of scenery.

So that’s about it. It’s really been a blur. We’re so close to having an actual downstairs that we can maneuver around in. I hope things get better from there. I’ll let you know.

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This Can Only Mean One Thing…

We’re moving.

Hopefully.

We found another house that we really like. So far, we’ve made it further in the process than we had with the last house, so we’re feeling pretty good. Our good friends, R & K, just moved in to a gorgeous house and, lucky us, gave us their moving boxes. We have 25ish days to pack up our condo. I tried packing up my desk the other night and failed miserably. Apparently, I have two interview folios and one of them was stuck to the bottom of my desk cubby. Who knew that was possible? It’s going to be a long few weeks. But in the end, we’ll have double the square footage to fill up with our crap. Yippee!

In other news, I’m really behind on the blog. You missed my birthday party and the end of the Brown Bag Challenge (I did it, by the way). It’s probably not going to get better any time soon, but I’ll try.

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In the Bag

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

So far, there have been six workdays in September and I’ve brought six lunches from home. I haven’t done this in months! I certainly haven’t done this, um, ever with fresh ingredients. But here we are.

I’ve been worried about not getting enough vegetables at lunch. With the diet I’m on, I’m supposed to have two cups of veggies at both lunch and dinner. For Tuesday’s lunch, I decided to try Ronzoni’s Garden Delight pasta, as it claims to be one serving of vegetables. That’s kind of a lie because you need to eat 4 oz of pasta to get the full serving of veggies, which is twice the size of a regular serving of pasta. It’s also nearly 400 calories. I’m only allowed 1300 calories a day, so that’s pretty steep. I made the 2 oz of pasta and called it a half serving. I also added a 1/4 cup of pasta sauce, which is also a half serving of vegetables. (What’s even worse is that a serving of vegetables is pretty much considered to be a half cup, so I’m technically supposed to have 4 servings per meal. Sometimes, like today, that just seems overboard.) I added some Butterball grilled chicken and a little bit of cheese and had myself a nice little Italian lunch.

When Tuesday night rolled around, I had absolutely no idea what to make for Wednesday’s lunch, so I had a repeat performance of the pasta and chicken. Fail. Right around this time, @healthyeats was retweeting what my fellow challengers were bringing for their lunches. These people are not messing around. It seemed like every post was more creative than the next. Also? I couldn’t believe the amount of people who had CSA veggies on hand. Is this something I need to look into next season? There’s no way I’m winning any awards for my lunches! But, that’s not what this is about anyway.

Wednesday was a cold and rainy day here in the Bay State. Something about the remnants of Hurricane Lee. I had a pound of grass-fed ground beef from Whole Foods sitting in the fridge, waiting to get cooked up. I bought it because it was on sale last week, not because I really had a plan for it. I was going to make meatballs, but then we got invited to my in-laws’ house for meatballs and sauce and that plan kind of went out the window. I thought about Shepard’s Pie, but that meal is kind of light on veggies. At the last minute, I found this recipe for Spinach & Meatball Soup. Score! When it came down to it, I barely used the recipe. I fresh spinach, a carton of beef stock, celery, garlic, Italian seasoning, cut spaghetti noodles and meatballs. Some of the complaints in the reviews were that the soup itself is kind of bland, so I wanted to spice it up. Mission accomplished. The soup was nice and filling, but it was really fatty. I don’t know if it’s the stock I used or what, but I was kind of grossed out by the oil slick on the top of the bowl. Nonetheless, there was enough left over for Mr. Wonderful and I to each bring some to work the next day.

While I was shopping for soup stuff Wednesday night, I did the smart thing and picked up sandwich meat. I also bought Thomas’s mini pitas. I’m only allowed two 80-calorie servings of grains/starches a day, so I have to be careful picking up bread. One slice alone is usually 80 calories. I got excited about the mini pitas because they’re only 70 calories. One thing I didn’t foresee? They’re freakin’ small! Two ounces of roast beef and some swiss cheese later and I had a blowout. The “pita” didn’t make it out of the kitchen in tact! It did, however, make for a delicious sandwich. I steamed some broccoli in the microwave at work so I could at least have some vegetables. I’m sure I didn’t have enough, but better than nothing.

I’m not sure if I can really quantify it, but I probably saved about $30 last week. It’s been difficult coming up with options that fit into my diet, but I’m learning. I did miss going out to lunch on Friday, but hey, it’s only a month, right?

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Brown Bag Challenge: Week 1 Recap

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

As part of the Brown Bag Challenge, Healthy Eats is rounding up all the blog posts related to the challenge in one convenient post. Looking at the other posts, I’m clearly out of my league!

http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/2011/09/06/brown-bag-challenge-week-one-round-up/

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Brown Baggin’ It

Source: Food Network

Brown Bag ChallengeWe’re teaming up with fellow food bloggers to host a Brown-Bag Challenge, a month-long initiative to eat consciously and save money by packing a lunch each weekday instead of eating out. Join us here and share what you’re eating on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #brownbag.

Ever since I started my new job, I’ve been going out for lunch almost every day. In my past life, I used to bring my lunch almost every day, but I was sick of ending up with things looking like this. A girl can only eat so many reheated sodium nuggets. When I changed jobs, I started eating lunch at the local restaurants. I even found an awesome salad bar, which has quickly become my go-to lunch choice. Salads have been easy because I need to eat two cups of veggies at lunch anyway, but it’s been wearing on me. When I saw Healthy Eats’ Brown Bag Challenge advertised on Twitter, I knew that was my chance to break the cycle. The challenge is to not go out to eat during the workweek throughout the month of September. For me, this means coming up with healthy balanced lunches for the duration of the month.

September 1st was easy. I just brought my leftover steak from Wednesday night’s dinner at Crave. Since all I brought home was the steak, I threw in some broccoli florets and called it a lunch. I shocked my boss when he came into the kitchen and saw me standing at the microwave, since I never bring my lunch. A few minutes in the microwave and I was good to go. I was also hungry in about 45 minutes, but that’s neither here nor there. On Friday, I brought spinach pie from the grocery store, bought specifically for this occasion.

The hard part about Friday was not actually bringing my lunch. The hard part was resisting the peer pressure to go out to lunch. I’m always the one trying to convince people to go out to lunch on Fridays. It just seems like the right thing to do. You go out, get a delicious lunch and coast through the afternoon. One of my coworkers always tries to resist. So this Friday, when both my boss and my coworker are standing at my cube, they were floored to find that I stuck to my guns about my resolution to bring my lunch. There was about a minute where I thought I was going to cave. They took the opportunity to go to a restaurant I don’t particularly care for, which made me feel better about the whole thing.

Right now, I’ve got Garden Delight pasta and grilled chicken waiting for me in the fridge. I figured that’s probably a serving of veggies with the pasta and sauce. I just need to remember to bring it with me!

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