139.4…Red Berry Trifle & Singing All Night

Bunco at my house was a success last night. All the hours of planning, cooking, and setting up paid off. I had a great time and I think everyone else did too!

Monday night I kept things easy and simple with the rest of the leftover pasta with marinara.

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I had a ton of egg whites leftover from the custard I made for the Bunco dessert so  I scrambled some of them with salsa and shredded cheddar cheese and added a cinnamon raisin bagel thin for breakfast yesterday.

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I walked again with Annette and Lisa. We do a four mile loop, complete with hills, around the neighborhood. It really is a great workout!

Then it was time to get to work and start cooking and setting up for Bunco later that night. I didn’t have a ton of time for lunch so I whipped up a quick tuna sandwich.

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All of a sudden it was time for people to start arriving for Bunco!

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Lisa and Annette came early to help me with the finishing touches.  Once the appetizers were out, we were ready to go!

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Eggplant tapenade with crackers.

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Cheese platter: Italian Truffle cheese, Colby Jack, Stilton with Apricots and Brie with Wild Mushrooms.

I also put out a veggie platter with a curry dip that didn’t make the photos. I had never tried the curry dip before and it seemed to go over well.

I rented a Karaoke machine for the evening so some people dressed up to the theme. :)

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Like my pal Lisa, the rocker chick!

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Yes, Lynne was Marilyn Monroe.

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Eventually it was time to finish cooking dinner!

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I made Indian food for dinner. I picked up a ton of frozen Trader Joe’s Naan bread because it’s the best!

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A couple minutes in the oven and it’s done. I wish the rest of my meal had been that simple. :)

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The star of the meal was my Indian Butter Chicken, also known as “The Money Pot” when it’s cooking in my big Le Creuset pot.

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Click the  link above to get the recipe. You won’t be sorry.

To go along with the Indian Butter Chicken, I made Saag Paneer (recipe to come).

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It’s basically a creamed spinach dish with Indian Cheese called Paneer (which I made myself!).

To go with it I served Cucumber Raita and Basmati Rice:

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The trick to making the white and yellow rice is to make two pots of rice. Add turmeric to one pot and voila! You have yellow rice that you mix with the white.

Last but definitely not lease was the Naan:

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Me and all the ladies:

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I saved the best for last: Dessert.

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I made Barefoot Contessa’s Red Berry Trifle. It was definitely a ton of work but it was worth it. Want to impress dinner guests? Make this.

Red Berry Trifle

Recipe Courtesy The Barefoot Contessa


  • 1 Plain Pound Cake, recipe follows
  • 1 cup good raspberry jam
  • Framboise
  • 2 half-pints fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • Cognac Cream, recipe follows
  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract


Cut the pound cake into 9 (3/4-inch) slices and spread each slice on 1 side with raspberry jam, using all the jam. Set aside.

Place a layer of cake, jam side up, in the bottom of a 2 1/2-to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit. Sprinkle with Framboise. Top with a layer of raspberries and strawberries and Cognac Cream. Repeat the layers of cake sprinkled with Framboise, raspberries, strawberries and Cognac Cream, ending with a third layer of cake jam side down and raspberries and strawberries.

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Decorate the trifle with whipped cream. The trifle can sit for a while at room temperature.

Plain Pound Cake:

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

When the cakes are done, let them cool for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pans, place them on a baking rack and allow them to cool completely. Wrap well, and store in the refrigerator.

Cognac Cream:

  • 3 cups milk
  • 10 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons sifted cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Cognac
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Heat the milk in a medium stainless-steel saucepan over medium heat and bring almost to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, sprinkle on the cornstarch. Beat on medium-low speed until combined, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture back into the pan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. (Pay attention because it will thicken and then quickly become scrambled eggs!) *NOTE: It took me almost an HOUR for it to thicken. Be patient. It will happen.

Immediately, pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

Printable Recipe

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Other desserts were brought as well: Lemon Meringue Pie, Rice Krispy Treats and Lisa’s famous brownies.

Lynne (aka Marilyn) got the Karaoke part of the evening started with “Happy Birthday Mr. President. :)

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Then the party really began. :)

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Crazy fun night.

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This morning’s breakfast was Trader Joe’s vanilla bean Greek yogurt with Coconut-Sour Cherry Granola, strawberries and raspberries.

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I went to my dentist appointment and then met Lisa, Annette and Lauren at the gym for a workout.

Lunch was leftover Indian food from last night. I could eat it forever.

When was the last time you sang Karaoke? What’s your favorite song to sing? Last night was actually my first time! I really enjoyed singing/rapping to Young MC’s “Bust A Move.” :)


  1. All I can say is, "Best.Bunco.Ever."!!!! What a TOTAL BLAST!!! I can't even describe the "Happy Dance" my tastbuds were doing when that Indian Butter Chicken dish crossed their path....HOLY LORD!!! You really outdid yourself, Animalissa...I call all rights to your upcoming reality show! Nothing but fabulous...that's you!

  2. How fun and the food looks so good!! I just had a karaoke experience, sort of, ended up on stage with the band singing mustang Sally last weekend...at a wine bar in Scottsdale. Wasn't planning on that? But it was fun!

  3. I feel like I am still recovering...what a fun night! The food was delicious! Loved the Indian Butter Chicken and the Saag Paneer was to DIE for. Yummmmmm! Everyone had such a good time, and I am especially grateful there are no video clips of the Karaoke!!!

  4. Everything looks great Melissa! Glad it was such a fun night.

    I haven't sang Karaoke in years!

  5. I can't see anything about Indian food w/o thinking of Karen and how she's not going to eat it anymore. Ha ha ha ha. Karen.

  6. @Erica
    Hahaha! That just made me laugh out loud!

  7. WHAT A LOOOONG AND DELICIOUS POST ! Superb recipe photos... being an Indian I could relate to it more and my mouth started watering. Great. Needless to ask if you had a great time! Happy Anniversary.


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