Caramel Apple Cheesecake Trifle

Hey y’all, remember me? I’m finally coming up for air after working the Utah State Fair for 11 days straight. It was so fun but totally exhausting! I got to meet so many Utah foodies that I’ve been following and made lots of new friends! I also got to be around SO MUCH amazing food everyday! The demonstrations and contests were lots of fun to be a part of and I loved doing my own demos. I ended up doing four cooking demonstrations and this Caramel Apple Cheesecake Trifle was one of them. I’ve been dreaming this one up for months and am more than happy with the final recipe.

Getting ready to demo my Caramel Apple Cheesecake Trifle at the Utah State Fair!

Even though I’m super excited for “pumpkin everything” season, right now I’m thinking about apples. I absolutely love anything caramel apple flavored. Add cheesecake and I’m obsessed! This trifle is similar to the Carrot Cake Trifle that I made back in April because it has the same cream cheese layer. This one uses spice cake instead of carrot but I doctored up the cake mix the same way by replacing the oil with applesauce and adding an extra egg. Doing this keeps the cake super moist but slightly more dense so that it holds up in the trifle better.

I have made this Caramel Apple Cheesecake Trifle about SIX times over the last month and I’m still not over it. It tastes like fall and I know it will make its way to your family gatherings over the next few months. It would even be amazing at Christmas!

Also, just a note, but you don’t need a fancy trifle bowl to make this. Any glass bowl will do! I was recently hired to do a cooking class for a corporate training event and needed to have a double batch of this ready beforehand. I just used a large, plastic rectangular container and it worked great! If you do want a trifle bowl like mine, I have this one.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Trifle

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

For the cake:
1 box Betty Crocker Super Moist Spice Cake Mix
1 cup water
½ cup applesauce
4 eggs

For the apple layer:
4 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored, and diced small
¼ cup butter
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the cream layer:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

1-1 ½ cups caramel sauce (I use Torani sauce in the squeeze bottle)
6-8 Biscoff cookies, crushed

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9×13 pan. Add dry cake mix to medium-sized mixing bowl. Add water, applesauce, and eggs. Beat for 2 minutes. Add batter to prepared pan and bake for 27-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool completely. Once cool, cut cake (while in the pan) into small squares.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until apples are just starting to soften. In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch with a fork or whisk. Add cornstarch to apples and stir. Add brown sugar and cinnamon then stir. Bring to a low boil, stirring often. Once thickened (about 1-2 minutes), remove from heat and cool completely.

In a small bowl, beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth. Fold whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Set in fridge until ready to use.

In a trifle bowl (or large glass bowl), layer 1/3 of the cake cubes, 1/3 of the apple filling, 1/3 of the cream, then drizzle generously with caramel sauce. Repeat two more times ending in cream. Top with crushed cookies and caramel sauce.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

*Notes:
1. Graham crackers can be used instead of Biscoff cookies if preferred.
2. If using a different brand of spice cake, water, egg and oil measurements may be different. Just make sure to use applesauce instead of oil an add an extra egg.

Funnel Cake Bites

I had a cooking segment this week representing the Utah State Fair and, of course, had to make everyone’s favorite fair food! If you’re new around here, I am the Culinary Supervisor for the Utah State Fair. Last year, they saw me on TV and asked me to do a cooking demonstration. The activities director kept in touch with me and then asked me several months ago if I would be their new supervisor. I thought it sounded like a fun opportunity so I agreed! I am in charge of organizing all of the cooking demonstrations and contests during the 11-day fair that runs from Sept 5-15. I will be doing two more TV segments at other stations over the next couple of weeks so be watching for more delicious fair food! Watch me make the Funnel Cake Bites here.

It’s always so much fun to cook with any of these beautiful ladies at Good Things Utah!

Now let’s talk about these Funnel Cake Bites! I love funnel cake but don’t order it often because it’s messy and hard to eat, especially walking around an event! I wanted to re-create it but in bite-sized form and love how they turned out. I couldn’t stop there, though. I needed something to dip these delicious fried bites in so I came up with three different dips. Strawberry topping is usually my go-to when ordering funnel cake so I came up with a delicious Strawberries & Cream. Of course, we needed a chocolate one so I created the Nutella Dip and oh my gosh it’s heaven! I thought Cinnamon Glaze sounded yummy and it ended up being the favorite among my kids. Honestly, I can’t pick a favorite because I loved them all! Each dip only has 3-4 ingredients so you can whip them up fast before you get started on frying.

Strawberries & Cream, Cinnamon Glaze, and Nutella Dip. They’re all my favorites!

If you watch my segment you’ll hear me talk about how I forgot my small scoop at home. I totally thought that a spoon would work just fine for dropping the batter into the oil. Nope! It ended up creating more small, fried strips instead of the balled pieces that I wanted. Definitely use a scoop because it drops the batter into the oil in one plop like you need it to! That might be the last time I ever fry food on live TV! Ha!

Funnel Cake Bites

  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Canola oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Directions

In a large bowl whisk together egg, oil, butter, vanilla, milk, and sugar. Gently whisk in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir until everything is combined (a few lumps is ok).
Add about 3 inches of oil to a large, deep pot and heat to 350-360 degrees.
Use a small scoop to carefully drop batter into oil. Do not crowd pan because the oil will cool down too much. Fry until golden on both sides.
Remove from oil and drain on paper towel-lined plate. Allow to cool for about 1 minute then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Cinnamon Roll Glaze Dip
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
3-4 tablespoons milk
Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine.

Strawberries and Cream Dip
½ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
3 tablespoons strawberry jam
Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine.

Nutella Dip
1 ½ cups Cool Whip
¾ cup Nutella
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine. Add more cream if needed to reach desired consistency.

One more close up of these perfect, delicious Funnel Cake Bites!

Green Chile Sausage Chowder

It’s green chile season! I was so excited to see Hatch green chilies featured in this week’s Lee’s ad. We lived in New Mexico for a few years when stationed there for the Air Force and fell in love with green chilies. Everywhere you go this time of year, there are metal cages full of green chilies roasting over an open flame. The smell is glorious! I had never seen the Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage before and it inspired me to make this chowder. I love how it turned out! The creamy broth paired with the slightly spicy green chilies is the perfect match! (Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace)

Items on sale at Lee’s August 20-26: Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage, frozen corn, cheddar cheese, flour

Green Chile Sausage Chowder

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 (19 oz) package Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage, casing removed
1 small yellow onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ stick butter
½ cup flour
2 (14.5 each) cans chicken broth
1 pint half-and-half
2 cups potatoes, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 (4 oz) can green chilies
1 ½ teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Heat a large Dutch oven or pot to medium-high. Add sausage and onion then cook until browned. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes stirring often.

Add butter and once melted, sprinkle flour over sausage mixture. Stir until flour is incorporated and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in chicken broth and half-and-half. Add salt and pepper. Increase heat, bring to a low boil and stir until thickened slightly.

Add potatoes, carrots, corn and green chilies. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.
Serve with cheese as a garnish.

*Notes: If you cannot find Johnsonville Hatch Green Chile Sausage it’s ok. Just use plain pork sausage and add another 4 oz can of green chilies.

Easy, hearty, and so good!
If you can find this in your grocery store, get it! Delicious!

Sheet Pan Greek Chicken & Green Beans

If you’re not making sheet pan dinners for your family, allow me to introduce you. I love them because there’s little clean up, they’re fast, they look pretty, they’re versatile, and they’re delicious. Convinced? My “Sheet Pan Greek Chicken & Green Beans” is the perfect busy night meal. Back-to-school is such a crazy time for both parents and teachers and this dinner will help keep your sanity! (I am both teacher and parent so trust me!) The chicken marinade is simple but big on flavor and helps keep the chicken so moist. I also love the way the tomatoes burst in the oven and mix with the green beans. The salty feta is the perfect topping! You’re going to love this easy sheet pan dinner! (Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace)

Items on sale at Lee’s August 13-19: chicken breasts, olive oil, green beans, grape tomatoes, feta cheese

Sheet Pan Greek Chicken & Green Beans

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into tenders
1 lemon, divided
1/8 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¾ lb fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
½ pint grape tomatoes
½ cup feta cheese

Directions

Place chicken in a zip top bag and add the juice of half the lemon, 1/8 cup olive oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Close bag and massage to combine ingredients. Place in fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon olive oil over a large baking sheet (to prevent sticking). Place chicken on one half in a single layer. Add green beans and tomatoes to the other half. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon more of olive oil over green beans only. Season beans with salt and pepper to taste. Slice other half of the lemon thinly then place on top of the chicken.

Bake for 20 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165. Remove from oven and sprinkle feta over the top of chicken and green beans. Serve immediately.

Tasty AND beautiful!!!

Creamy Pasta Primavera

Ahhh summer! I certainly have veggies on my mind lately as my garden starts to flourish, farmers markets are everywhere, and every time I shop at Lee’s Marketplace I find the BEST local produce. My garden is pretty small so I love knowing that I can find whatever it lacks when I shop at Lee’s! I wanted to make something this week that was full of fresh vegetables, kid-approved, and didn’t require my oven because it’s just too hot outside. My Creamy Pasta Primavera checked all those boxes and then some! Make it your own with whatever vegetables or fresh herbs you like. Check the recipe notes for ideas! From start to finish it took me only 45 minutes to make. The thing that took the longest was chopping the vegetables but that’s the fun part anyway! The creamy alfredo sauce is divine and will be your new go-to for sure. This is a super easy, delicious meal and it makes a lot! (Sponsored post for Lee’s Marketplace)

Items on sale at Lee’s this week: Penne pasta, butter, bell peppers, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese (also fresh green beans and tomatoes if you’d like to use those in the recipe!)

Creamy Pasta Primavera

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

16 oz penne pasta
4 Tablespoons butter
1 red bell pepper, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 broccoli crown, chopped into florets (about 2 cups)
1 yellow squash, sliced into half-moons
¾ cup shredded carrots
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz cream cheese
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

Directions

Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain, set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, broccoli, squash, carrots and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until crisp tender.

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cream cheese, heavy cream, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir for a few minutes until everything melts and thickens a little.

Add parsley and chicken then stir to combine. Add drained pasta and stir until pasta is coated in sauce. Garnish wish more parsley and Parmesan if desired. Serve immediately.

*Notes: Many different vegetables can be subbed or added to those used in this recipe such as green beans, zucchini, red onion, and tomatoes as well as other herbs such as rosemary or basil.

I think we need a closer look! Beautiful and delicious!

Cheesy Poblano Drop Biscuits

I know, I know it’s about time these cheesy pillows of perfection made it onto the blog! If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while, you’ve seen these already. I created them last summer on Good Things Utah and I am so proud of them! GTU asked me to make something “southern” and my mind immediately went to biscuits. I had to add a little Texas twist and my Cheesy Poblano Drop Biscuits were formed. Watch me make them here!

The “hardest” part of making these is roasting the pepper but I promise it’s so easy. Don’t let it intimidate you. Do it once and you’ll be a pro! Make sure to really char them because it will make it easier to get the skin off. Also, they are not spicy! That’s one of the reasons you see poblano peppers in many of my dishes. They are only slightly spicy with a natural smokiness. They add SO much flavor without the overwhelming spice that a jalapeno or serrano can add.

These biscuits go with just about anything! Serve them with chili, with breakfast, or a side dish at a BBQ. I made them recently and served cream sausage gravy over the top. It was next level! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to make plain biscuits and gravy after having that.

Cheesy Poblano Drop Biscuits

  • Servings: Makes 15 biscuits
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Ingredients

2 C all-purpose flour
1 TB baking powder
2 TB sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
½ C melted butter plus 2 TB melted butter, divided
1 C milk (whole milk preferred)
1 poblano pepper, roasted and finely diced
1 TB olive oil
1 small yellow or sweet onion, finely diced
1 C shredded Colby jack cheese

Directions

Roast poblano pepper by placing on a baking sheet under the broiler. Rotate the pepper every few minutes until all sides are blistered and blackened. Immediately place the pepper in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Leave for 15-20 minutes to steam. Turn off broiler and preheat oven to 450. (Can also be roasted on a hot grill or open flame)

While the pepper is steaming, add oil to a small skillet and heat to medium high. Place diced onion in skillet and cook until onions are browned then set aside.

Peel skin off of pepper by scraping with the sharp edge of a knife then remove stem and seeds. Finely dice the pepper and set aside.

Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add ½ C melted butter and milk. Stir until just moistened.

Fold in peppers, onions, and shredded cheese, being careful not to over mix.

Immediately drop by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheet (silicone baking mat preferred). Brush tops with remaining melted butter.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges turn to golden brown. Makes 15 biscuits.

*Note: These do not spread much so you should be able to fit all 15 on one large baking sheet.

With creamy sausage gravy. Game changer!