Grown-Up Dirt Cake Cups

adult dirt cake cups My Mom is a gourmet cook, and used to spend hours (sometimes even days) preparing fancy birthday cakes for family members. There was of course the multi-step Black Forest Cake for my dad. Then there was the snake cake, per my sister’s request….green fondant dyed different shades of green to look like the skin, a red fondant “tongue”, and even black eyes. I have no idea why a little girl would want a cake shaped like a big green snake for their 5th birthday (or however old she was), but nonetheless my Mom made it. And then there was me. Me, who could have any fancy cake in the world, and what do I ask for? Dirt cake! Don’t get me wrong, dirt cake is delicious, and I could eat buckets of it (which I’m sure I probably did), but looking back now I wonder what I was thinking choosing dirt cake….

It’s been years since I had my last birthday dirt cake, but for some reason, when I was making sugared flowers last week, memories of crushed Oreos and layers of fluffy, creamy pudding came to my mind. Except this time, it was sans worms, with a dash of alcohol mixed in, and topped with pretty edible flowers.

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Grown-Up Dirt Cake Cups
Serves 4
A grown-up version of the childhood favorite dirt cake
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
  2. 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  3. 1/2 cup mascarpone
  4. 2 tablespoons of vanilla
  5. 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  7. Edible flowers, for garnish
Instructions
  1. If you haven't already, start by pureeing the chocolate wafers in a Cuisinart until they turn into fine crumbs. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Dust any extra cookie crumbs out of your Cuisinart, then add in the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugars and vanilla. Blend for a few seconds, until creamy.
  3. In small glass cups or jars (or mini flower pots, if you want to be really authentic), begin layering the cookie crumbs and the cream mixture. I did one heaping tablespoon of cookie crumbs, then one heaping tablespoon of cream mixture, then repeated that, ending with the cream mixture on top. Finish the top off with a light dusting of cookie crumbs and an edible flower.
  4. These can either be served immediately or stored in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 24 hours (although keep in mind, the cookie layer won't be quite as crunchy after several hours).
Notes
  1. To make these really grown-up, simply replace the vanilla with the alcohol of your choice. My favorites are: Baileys, Kahlua, Amaretto, or Grand Marnier.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Grown-Up BLT

Grown-Up BLT Sometimes something is so gosh darn good that the only thing that comes to mind is “YUM!”. This is one such case. I mean not to brag or anything, but do you see this BLT?! Do you see it?! The amount of deliciousness piled onto that fluffy bread is something that I can’t even comprehend. 

BLTs bring back memories of summer picnics in the park and simple summer suppers on my Grandmother’s back porch. They’ve always been a favorite of mine. While nothing will ever beat a classic, I couldn’t resist the chance to fancy up this childhood favorite with swiss chard in place of lettuce, sun-dried tomatoes in place of regular tomatoes, and bacon…in place of bacon (because obviously bacon is something that should never be replaced). So here’s to you “new-adult BLT”, you are welcome in my kitchen and on my plate anytime you want!

BLT BLT with egg and avocado swiss chard Fancy BLT Jazzed up BLT

Grown-Up BLT
An adult version of the classic BLT
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. Bread
  2. Avocado (very ripe)
  3. Goat Cheese (slightly softened)
  4. Sun-dried Tomatoes
  5. Bacon, cooked until crispy
  6. Swiss Chard
  7. Eggs (cooked over-easy)
Instructions
  1. Spread one half of an avocado onto a piece of bread. Next spread on the goat cheese (I used about 1 tablespoon). Top that with about 2 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes. After that layer on a piece of swiss chard and a couple of slices of bacon. Finish of your BLT with an egg. Serve immediately.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Fancy Ramen

Fancy Ramen // Runway Chef You know what ramen means. Late nights, too many shots, early morning classes….oh wait, that’s college ramen (or so I’ve heard). No, today we’re talking fancy, after-college, grown-up ramen. You know, the one that’s responsible and is served at 6pm instead of 2am, the one that shows how healthy it is by including some green stuff, the classy one that is seasoned with things like pork belly and sriracha, the one that is civilized and served in a bowl with an actual spoon (as opposed to in a pan and being eaten with your hands, although this ramen is completely acceptable to eat with your hands). Ah, ramen, you grew up so fast…

Ok, enough with the college reminiscing. Be an adult, grab a package of those cheap noodles, make this dish (or make this), because judging by the amount of restaurants adding ramen nights to their menu (at least in our neighborhood), it looks like ramen may not be such a ‘Van Wilder’ after all…

Quick weeknight meals Asian noodle recipes asian noodles things to make with ramen

Fancy Ramen
Serves 1
Jazzing up ordinary ramen with extraordinary toppings
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
3 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 package of ramen (I prefer the chicken or beef flavors)
Toppings
  1. Egg
  2. Cilantro
  3. Peanuts or cashews
  4. Sautéed onions and garlic
  5. Shredded cabbage
  6. Shredded carrots
  7. Broccoli
  8. Crispy bacon or pork belly
  9. Tofu
  10. Lime slices
  11. Sesame oil
  12. Sesame seeds
  13. Soy sauce
  14. Sriracha
Instructions
  1. Prepare ramen as you normally would. Add on the toppings of your choice and enjoy hot.
  2. For the ramen pictured, I used beef ramen, topped with a sautéed egg, crispy bacon pieces, onions and garlic, a sprinkling of cilantro and peanuts, a squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of sriracha.
Notes
  1. Eat immediately as soon as this is prepared as this does not save well.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/

Roasted Vegetable Dip

roasted eggplant dip This is just so typical of me. One week I’m shoving cupcakes down your throat and the next I’m giving you a bowl of roasted vegetable dip. Shocker! Speaking of unhealthy foods, I tried a cragel this weekend. You know that crazy thing that is half croissant, half bagel. It basically rocked my world. Oh, and we also tried a french toast bagel…with cannoli cream cheese. Yes, cannoli cream cheese. Like the amazing filling inside those delicious cookies. Mixed into cream cheese. Slathered on my bagel. OOOO.EMMM.GEEEE! Forget rocking my world, that combo took my taste buds beyond the stratosphere! Once I snapped back to reality, I realized my body was screaming “Houston, we have a problem,” and I desperately needed some vegetables in my life. The veggies in the veggie cream cheese just simply wouldn’t cut it, so I whipped up a batch of roasted vegetable dip. Because it’s easy, it’s delicious, it’s low-fat, it’s gluten-free, it tastes good plain, on sandwiches, with pita or veggies and it has almost no calories in it. Basically, it wipes out my trip to the bagel shop and ensures that my heart will continue beating after all that cannoli and bagel goodness.

P.S. I made a similar version of this for a Super Bowl party a couple of years ago and it was a big hit! Be sure to add this to your Super Bowl menu, it will cancel out all the wings and chips you eat and your guests will love you for providing the one dish that people won’t feel guilty eating. 

vegetables

roast vegetables eggplant dip Roasted Vegetable Spread Roasted Vegetable Dip

Roasted Vegetable Dip
A yummy and nutritious low-calorie, low-fat, gluten free dip that's perfect for snacks, appetizers, parties or even as a sandwich spread
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Total Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 medium size onion, chopped into thick slices
  2. 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  3. 1/2 a large eggplant (or one small eggplant), chopped into thick slices
  4. 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped into thick slices
  5. 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  6. 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  7. A large handful of parsley
  8. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet with aluminum foil, then spread the veggies on top. Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle on a generous amount of salt and pepper (I probably used about a 1/2 teaspoon of each for my veggies). Give the veggies a slight toss to coat, then roast them in the oven for 35 minutes or until brown. Let them cool for about 10-15 minutes, then transfer them to a food processor. Add in the parsley and pulse to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl or store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Serve with crackers, pita bread, or veggies.
Notes
  1. I have also made this with zucchini in place of the parsnips along with a head of fennel and a handful of basil and the results were just as tasty. Don't be afraid to play around and substitute different vegetables.
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
Recipe Necessities

Rum Balls

Rum Balls

If my middle school chocolate loving self and my college rum loving self were to have created a cookie, these rum balls very well could have been the result. I mean, can it get any better than eating your alcohol disguised as a cookie made from chocolate? I’m going to go with probably not. And since I know you agree with me, here is the recipe (as promised in today’s morning post).

P.S. These are one of the easiest Christmas cookies to make and they also work really well as a last-minute Christmas gift…if you have any left ;)

Rum Balls Christmas Cookie

Rum Balls

1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate wafers (about 30 cookies)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup corn syrup
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
Powdered sugar for dusting

 

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Use your hands to thoroughly mix all ingredients (you’re going to be getting down and dirty in this step!) until the ingredients are sticking together (and probably sticking to your fingers). Roll the dough into 1″ balls, then roll them in powdered sugar. Store in an air tight container.

Notes:

  • For the chocolate wafers, I use the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, which can usually be found in the ice-cream section of your grocery store. They are somewhat difficult to track down so I’ve substituted with other chocolate wafers or other wafer flavors such as Anna’s Orange Thins.
  • To grind both the crackers and the nuts, I have found a cuisinart to work best.

A family recipe