Welcome to my food blog! I am your average home cook and I want to share my love of food with the world. I'll divulge my recipes as often as possible. Feel free to comment or to email me at nodessertpodcast@gmail.com! Don' forget to come by often for new posts... I love having you visit me!

November 27, 2011

Cake Bites and Duncan Hines

In the last 10 months or so, I became aware of a delightful dessert known as cake balls (also sometimes turned in to cake pops).  I first had them back in March at a party, loved them, and the girl who made them told me how easy they were to make.  Plus, once I became interested in the food truck scene here in Orlando, I discovered a great food truck that makes cake pops.  I had been meaning to try to make my own, however, I hadn't gotten around to it yet.
But behold!  As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received coupons for free Duncan Hines products, including Comstock who makes delightful fruit and other pie fillings.  This provided me with the oppurtunity to make my very own cake balls, which I am calling Cake Bites. 
As you aware, the title of this blog is No Room For Dessert.  As I've mentioned in previous posts, this does not mean I'll never have dessert recipes.  So today, we've made room for dessert!
Below I am going to list out the recipe, as well as the tools you will need to make these cake balls.  The Duncan Hines cake mix (I used the Dark Chocolate Fudge variety) was so delicious and moist, a great product to work with.  The Comstock filling I used had great quality cherries and made a nice surprise within the Cake Bites.  The filling did not take over the flavor of the cake, rather it gave the Cake Bites a wonderful surprise cherry in each.  And I used the Duncan Hines Whipped Cream Cheese frosting to make the cake into balls.  I love cream cheese frosting, and I thought it would compliment the fudge cake and cherry filling (and it did!)
Duncan Hines was also kind enough to provide me with more free coupons that I was able to give away to my friends, family, and blog readers.  I gave a few of the coupons away to some family and friends at Thanksgiving, and I saved a coupon to give to one of my readers!  All you have to do is email me at nodessertpodcast@gmail.com, and you will be entered to win the coupon for a free Duncan Hines product!  Put Coupon Contest as the subject and put your name in the body of the email.  I will do a drawing on December 15th and will email the winner, as well as announce them in a post on this site that day.  Make sure you enter!!!
Now for the recipe!

Fudgey Cherry Surprise Cake Bites

  • 1 box of cake mix (18.25oz), preferably Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • cooking spray (to grease baking dish)
  • 10 oz of cherry fruit filling, preferably Comstock More Fruit Cherry (comes in a 21 oz can, I used half)
  • 8 oz - 12oz of frosting, preferably Duncan Hines Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting (1/2 - 3/4 a can)
  • Chocolate almond bark (24 oz package) (or other candy coating - you can also use chocolate chips melted with a tablespoon or two of vegetable shortening)
  • Red sugar crystals (for decoration)

  • 13 x 9 baking dish (I used a glass pan)
  • large mixing bowl
  • hand mixer
  • measuring cups
  • glass bowl
  • large saucepan
  • baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper

Making the Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake batter

Mixing the cake batter

Adding the Comstock cherry filling

Cake batter in the greased baking dish

Finished cake, cooling

Crumbled cake

Adding the frosting in to cake crumbles

Finished cake bite mixture

Cake bites after they're formed

Melted chocolate for dipping

Cake bites after dipping and decoration

Cake bites after chocolate dipping has set

Inside of cake bites

Preheat your oven (according to temperature on cake mix box).
The first step is to prepare the cake batter according to the directions on the box.  This involves mixing together the eggs, water, oil, and cake mix.  Then add 1/2 the can of cherry pie filling and fold in to cake batter.  Pour batter in to your greased 13 x 9 baking dish and bake as directed. 
Take cake out to cool (I put mine on a cooling rack).  You can start making the balls while the cake is still warm, but NOT hot. 
Crumble the cake into a large mixing bowl.  Use a fork and your hands to crumble up the cake.  Mix in 1/2 the can of the cream cheese frosting, adding more if necessary (I did not need to use more than 1/2 the can).
Refrigerate the mixture for 15 minutes. 
Take cake mixture out and begin rolling into balls, slightly smaller than golf balls.  Continue until all the cake mix is formed into balls. 
Melt your almond bark according to package directions.  I used the double boiler method, where you simmer water in a sauce pan, then put the chocolate in the glass bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure the water does not touch the bowl.  The steam will melt the chocolate. 
Dip each ball in to the chocolate, completely coating the ball.  Place on the baking sheet, and immediately sprinkle with sugar crystals.  Repeat with every ball.
Let coating set in refrigerator for at least an hour.
This recipe makes between 40 and 50 cake bites. 

Enjoy!!!! And don't forget to email us so that you can be entered to win a free Duncan Hines product!!!

November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Pictures

Dad carving the turkey

Side dishes being prepped

Shot of half of the table before turkey

Shot of the other half of the table

Shot of half the table with turkey

My plate, all filled up!


Thanksgiving Table at my Parents
Oh Thanksgiving!  A holiday meant to be shared with loved ones, so that people can reflect on what they are thankful for.  Some people say friends, family, health, money, jobs, pets, etc.  But really, you can be thankful for any and all of those things, plus much more. 
In America, Thanksgiving has evolved to be a day of of food, family, football, and parades.  Originally, the intent of Thanksgiving was to celebrate the meeting and sharing between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans.  Some people do still reflect on that concept, especially in schools, namely elementary schools were children make hand turkeys and put on pageants, etc.
To me, Thanksgiving should be a day to reflect on all that you are grateful for.  It is also a holiday that revolves around eating for me, and my family.
I have NEVER made my own Thanksgiving.  Heck, I've never even cooked a whole turkey!  I would like to.  It's a project I'm thinking about embarking on.
From as far as I can remember, my mother is the one who does the majority of the cooking on Thanksgiving.  My aunt contributes by bringing certain items.  But my mom does a majority of the work.  And is really good at it!  She is an excellent cook, who always provides a terrific meal.
My mom cooks a whole bird.  Now I have been watching a lot of food television about how to cook a turkey and it seems there are a million ways!  But my mom has a fairly basic approach.  And I have to tell you, this year I think the turkey was the best one yet.  It was moist and tender, properly cooked and properly seasoned.  She does not brine her turkey, or fry it, like some people do.  She roasts it in the oven, for approximately 15 minutes a pound.  She is partial to the Butterball brand.  There is a controversy about whether to actually put stuffing in the turkey, but that's the way my mom has always done it, including this year.  I personally like the "stuffing" that is baked separately because I like the crunchier bits.  But I can attest from this year's bird that stuffing the turkey did not dry it out.
We have a bunch of side dishes that include the traditional gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce (and yes, I ADORE the canned stuff - this year we only had canned, but in previous years we have also had fresh cranberry sauce in addition to the canned variety).  Our vegetable varies, this year was green beans.  We also had rolls, mashed sweet potatoes with a delightful topping made of brown sugar, nuts, and some other things.  We also always have pickles, olives, and cream cheese filled celery sticks.  And my aunt makes this fantastic dish that consists of broccoli, cheddar, and ritz crackers. 
For dessert we usually have three pies.  Apple, Pumpkin, and Pecan.  Everyone has their favorite so we have to have all three. We usually have a choice of Cool Whip or ice cream to top them.  Pumpkin is my favorite, and I always top it with cool whip.
The boys watch football (as would be the stereotype, the girls don't care about the games and are busy cooking, cleaning, and setting up).  It's a great day for everyone to catch up.  Usually it's mostly family, although we will have one or two people who are friends or boyfriends/girlfriends.  I have brought two different boyfriends home (at different times of course!) and a couple of friends.
This Thanksgiving the meal was phenomenal.  I really do think it was the best to date.  Although this was a very rough year for me, getting to see my family and getting to eat my mom's cooking was a bright spot.  I hope everyone else had a great Turkey Day! (More pictures in the next post)

November 23, 2011

Picture View - Salmon Cakes

Ingredients for Salmon Cakes

Finished mixture

Dredging in bread crumbs

Ready to refrigerate


Salmon Cakes - Home Cooked Recipe 21

When I was growing up, my mom would use canned salmon occasionally to make us salmon cakes for dinner.  I always liked them, in fact, they remind me of crabcakes (although these have a salmon flavor of course), something I also love.  Recently I decided that I would make them as an easy dinner.  Here is the recipe I used.

Salmon Cakes

2 cans salmon
10 saltines, crushed into crumbs
1/2 small onion, grated finely
1 tsp Old Bay Garlic & Herb seasoning
black pepper to taste
dash of hot sauce (I like Louisiana Crystal)
1-2 tbs mayonnaise (I always use Helman's)
breadcrumbs for dredging
oil for frying

Flake canned salmon into mixing bowl.  Grate in onion, add in Old Bay, black pepper, and hot sauce.  Mix well.  Add in crackers and at least 1 tbs mayo.  Mix until well combine, adding another tbs of mayo if necessary.  Form into four patties.  Dredge in bread crumbs.  Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes (you can place them in an airtight container and leave refrigerated for 24 hours if you want to make them ahead). 
Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a skillet at medium heat.  Fry patties until golden brown on one side, flip over, and cook on other side til golden brown as well.  Should take about 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

November 21, 2011

PF Chang's - Restaurant Review 2

My agenda for this blog for this week was to post about a restaurant, a recipe, and then include a special Thanksgiving post.  Today I'm going to start with the restaurant review.
My last review was for a stand-alone restaurant, and this review is for a chain.
This past weekend, I went to P.F. Chang's with a companion.  Previously, I have only been there twice, and I haven't been there in at least three years.  I think the food there is delicious, but is expensive (at least I think so) and I am on a budget.
Hot And Sour Soup
The decor in the restaurant is very nice.  It is warm, and I can only describe it as modern Asian, with lots of browns and clean lines.  The service was very good, except for the hostess, who we found to be kind of clueless.  Normally when two people walk up to the hostess stand during lunchtime the host or hostess will say "two for lunch?".  This particular hostess just stared at us blankly until we spoke up.  Our waiter was good though, quite attentive without being overbearing.    The person who brought out our entrees looked like a manager and was also very thoughtful.
Luckily because we did go for lunch, they had some lunch-priced items that were more apt for my budget.  I was able to order the Pepper Steak, which is served with your choice of white or brown rice, and also comes with a bowl of soup (your choice of Hot and Sour or Egg-drop) for approximately $10.  My companion also ordered a lunch item, the Beef and Broccoli, which also came with a choice of rice and a choice of soup.
I have never had Hot and Sour soup before.
Pepper Steak
Beef And Broccoli
I LOVED it!  I don't know if is just P.F. Chang's version that was so delicious, but now I am determined to try it at other Asian restaurants, and to make it at home.  It was served with a side of crispy noodles (which I also adore) that added a great crunch when mixed in with the soup.
My entree, the Pepper Steak, was also very good.  But I have to say, it was a bit spicier than I expected.  Normally when I order Pepper Steak it is flavorful, but not spicy.  I was ok with it having a kick to it, but had it been any spicier I wouldn't have been able to eat it.  I have a mild to medium spiciness tolerance.  There were lots of bell peppers, both red and green, and ample amounts of onion as well.  The beef was tender and there was a lot of it.  I ate my entree over two meals.  I enjoy white rice more than brown, so I chose to have the white with my meal.
My companion also chose the Hot and Sour soup for his meal, and white rice instead of brown.  The beef in his Beef and Broccoli was also tender.  The dish was well-flavored and did not have spiciness to it.  There was plenty of broccoli.  He was also able to stretch his entree over two meals.
I will definitely visit P.F. Chang's again, even if it's only for the soup.  I would probably choose to go at lunch again, when the prices are a little more reasonable.

November 14, 2011

Picture View - Shrimp Newburg

Shrimp Newburg - Home Cooked Recipe 20

I am ALWAYS looking for new shrimp recipes.  We adore shellfish in our household, especially shrimp.  I feel like I'm in Forrest Gump when I start to describe all the different shrimp dishes I enjoy.  Recently I had been looking for a more decadent dish that involved shrimp.  I've made it scampi-style, and in alfredo sauces, but I was looking for something that I had never had before.  I stumbled across a recipe for Shrimp Newburg, and it sounded exactly like what I was looking for.  A rich, creamy dish that I haven't had before that includes shrimp. 
I have to make the disclaimer that this dish is very full-bodied and heavy.  You do not want to eat this before you are doing something that requires you to be very active.  But, it is extremely delicious and if you are in the mood for a creamy shrimp dish, this is what you want to make.

Shrimp Newburg

4 tbs butter
2.5 tbs flour
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
dash of nutmeg
dash of cayenne
dash of smoked paprika
salt and pepper
3 tbs sherry
2 cups cream (or half-n-half)
1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined)
***I also recommend having a lemon on hand, cut in to wedges, because it can help cut the richness of the dish -  completely optional

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and salt, pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, and paprika.  Cook for at least 1 minute so the flour taste cooks out.  Whisk in sherry, then slowly whisk in cream.  Cooke for approximately 10 minutes, until the sauce is smooth and thick.  Pour a third of the sauce in to the egg yolks, constantly stirring. Then add yolk mixture in to sauce still in pan. (This is called tempering, and we do it so that the eggs don't scramble and your sauce stays smooth.)  Add the shrimp in to the sauce and heat through. 
You can serve this over rice or pasta, or even puff pastry shells.  I served mine over rice.  As mentioned earlier, I also think lemon wedges are a great addition.  Enjoy!