Aunt B arrived yesterday with her two boys. Sewing Sister arrives tomorrow with her girls. I will have a full house for the next few weeks. Since I live near the beach, we have houseguests during the summer fairly regularly. I have systems and procedures for everything much to the frustration of TheRoomDad. In order to get ready for any friends and family who may be visiting, there are a few houseguest preparatory measures I follow.
I collect hotel shampoos and lotions throughout the year, travel toothpastes from dentist visits, and Christmas toothbrushes and keep them in a special “guest” drawer in our bathroom that people can use when they visit. Guests are welcome to use any of the toiletries. I also keep an extra hair dryer in the bathroom for guests.
I have a secret addiction to junky magazines like Us and In Touch. After reading an issue, I will keep a stack in our spare room. Guests are welcome to read them when they visit. I keep a stack of paperback beach reads in the room too.
I stock the refrigerator with “group food”, so people can serve themselves a little bite at any time. Some of my favorite items to have on hand are DILL DIP and BLACK BEAN SALSA DIP. I thrive on party food and love to make it. I am not sure why it is so different from the day to day monotony of preparing family meals (which I dread), but it is. I find that food preparation and kitchen maintenance are the hardest pieces to manage when guests are in town.
For this particular family visit, I baked a pound cake, which is one of Aunt B’s favorites. I think this is kind of a traditional version of pound cake because if you Google “cream cheese pound cake” you get many results with the exact recipe that I use. I have been having problems with my Bundt pan, but I finally just threw the thing away and bought a new cake pan. Success! The pound cake turned out perfectly.
Most recent baking attempt with the old Bundt pan. This should have been a glazed lemon cake.
3 sticks butter, softened (1 1/2 cups)
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
3 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
3 c. flour, sifted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Blend butter and cream cheese.
Add sugar until well mixed.
Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla.
Add sifted flour slowly.
Put mixture in greased and floured Bundt or tube pan.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let sit for ~5 minutes.
After the cake rests for a few minutes, hold a cake plate on top of the Bundt pan and turn over, so the cake will drop into the middle of the cake plate. Let the Bundt pan stay on the top of the cake until you can see that the cake has dropped onto the cake plate.
To grease and flour a Bundt pan, cover the inside of the pan completely with Crisco. Scoop about 1/4 c. flour into the bottom of the pan. Holding the pan over a sink, roll (and tap) the pan around on its side letting the flour stick to all parts of the Crisco.
Make sure that you turn the cake out of the pan while it is warm. This will help make the layer that sits on the cake plate squish down a little and be crispy and moist at the same time. That bottom portion of each slice is TheRoomMom family’s favorite bite of cake.
What strategies do you have for overnight guests, or do you just book a hotel room?
A friend once told me that all good southern desserts should have a crushed up candy bar added to them. Check and check. I brought this “Chocolate Bomb” (TheRoomDad’s official name for the dessert) with Heath bar sprinkles to the Memorial Day picnic we attended yesterday. I actually have a hard time eating very much of this brownie trifle because it is sooo chocolate-y, but no one else seemed to have a problem with it.
Trifles are a layered dessert with some type of cake pieces, pudding/cream filling, and another item like fruit (or candy) pieces in a footed glass dish. They are easy to assemble and must be made ahead of time, so the flavors and ingredients will meld. I think they make a great recipe choice for large groups.
2 boxes brownie mix (I use Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix)
16 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
3 (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mixes
4 c. milk
6 (1.4 oz.) Heath candy bars, frozen
trifle dish (or other glass serving dish with tall sides)
Bake brownies according to the directions on the box for a double recipe. The Betty Crocker double batch bakes in a 15″ x 10″ pan. After the brownies cool completely, cut or break apart into large pieces. You will crumble the large pieces into bite size pieces as you layer into the trifle dish.
Pour the dry pudding mixes in a large bowl and add 4 c. milk (this is less milk than what the recipe on the box will indicate). Using a whisk, mix the pudding until smooth.
While the Heath bars are still in their wrapper, hit them on the counter to break apart. If they are frozen, they break apart more easily. After the candy bars are crumbled, open the wrapper.
In the trifle dish, create a bottom layer of bite sized brownie pieces. You can break the brownie into small pieces using your hands or cut into little pieces with a knife.
Spread a layer of chocolate pudding on the brownie pieces.
Spread a layer of Cool Whip on the pudding layer.
Sprinkle Heath bar pieces on the Cool Whip.
Repeat the layers ending with Heath bar sprinkles.
Cover and refrigerate for 2+ hours before serving.
One box of brownie mix is not quite enough, but you will have extra brownie pieces using a double batch. I usually have a little leftover pudding and Cool Whip too.
This recipe is not exactly swimsuit friendly, but I couldn’t resist. Do you eat delicious party food to kick off the summer, or do you lean towards “healthier” options?
We tried to have an adult dinner with another couple at a restaurant Saturday night, but I struck out with babysitters. We moved to Plan B, which was to meet at our house and park Mr. Star Wars and Miss Priss in front of a movie upstairs. Our friends offered to bring salad, and Mrs. Friend showed up with Parmesan Salad Bowls. Holy Pinterest! According to Mrs. Friend, they are pretty simple to make. She did say it took one or two tries to get the hang of the thickness of the cheese.
2 c. freshly grated Parmesan (1/4 c. per bowl)
large non-stick skillet
small bowl the desired size of the final cheese bowl (about a 6-inch diameter)
Spread 1/4 cup cheese thinly and evenly over the bottom of the skillet to form a (roughly) 7-inch circle.
Put the pan over medium heat and cook until the cheese is bubbling and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat.
Put the bowl upside down on a cutting board. When the cheese stops bubbling, lift the cheese pancake out with a metal spatula and drape over the bottom of the bowl. With the spatula, gently mold the cheese around the bowl.
Carefully remove from the top of the bowl. Can be stored in an airtight container. Do not fill with salad until ready to serve.
You can also scoop 1 T. piles of Parmesan on a cookie sheet with a silicon baking mat and bake until browned and bubbly (350 degrees about 6 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool. Serve these little cheese crackers as a tasty appetizer bite.
My dessert was not nearly as fancy as the salad bowls. I served Banana Peanut Ice Cream Sundaes. I think my mom created this combination years ago when she was craving a banana split. The salty/sweet is perfect. It is always enjoyed, easy to make, and requires little prep. If you put it in a wine goblet, you can give the impression of fancy!