Archive for June, 2011

June 29, 2011

Strawberry Cake

I went strawberry picking (twice) last week. I knew it was late in the season so I wanted to get as much out of it as possible.

basket of berriesOn Saturday we picked about 8 pounds: about 3 pounds went into refrigerator jam, I froze about a pound for smoothies (gone already) and I’m not really sure where the rest went – I guess we ate a lot! So just four days later on Wednesday I dragged Mom out to the fields and brought home about 5 more pounds. I had found this Buttermilk Strawberry Cake and knew that I wanted to make it so made sure to put some berries aside. Besides this cake, we ate (and drank in smoothies) a lot more berries again the rest of the week.

basket full of red berry goodnessI’m telling you – you just can’t beat the taste of fresh-picked berries. Strawberries from the store have a super strong yummy taste but the fresh berries are super sweet and have a more subtle and natural flavor! This year the strawberries in our area were very tiny because of the super wet spring. The smallness of the berries made it a little harder to pick and prepare: but did nothing, in my opinion, to the tastiness of the berries!

I decided to make this cake for my parents who were babysitting the pups while we were away with friends/family for the weekend. While I had all the ingredients out and the oven heated up, I decided to whip up another cake to bring to the beach with us to go along with the other breakfast goodies.

My dad said this cake was awesome warmed back up with some of the strawberry jam I had given them over top (and just for good measure – he put some vanilla ice cream between the layer of strawberry cake and strawberry jam).

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dog damage

Dad was not the only one who enjoyed this cake.

I had the cake (and Snickerdoodle Muffins AND Banana Carrot Whole Wheat Muffins) all cooling on the table. Upon walking toward the kitchen I heard some “slurping” and walked in to see Donner (our Flat Coat Retriever) with his head tilted in a perfect angle to get his tongue to the side of the cake….

He immediately stopped when I screamed at him (and I guess we should be happy that at least all 4 legs were on the ground and he wasn’t hopping up on the table)! The cake which we brought south with us ended up arriving with a slab cut off the side in order to protect everyone from dog slobber (except for Rich who decided it is his dog and the cake was too good to let some slobber ruin it).

SO, this cake is: dog, father, boyfriend, & friend approved – enjoy!

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

  • 1 cup cake flour (AP flour is fine, too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter berries evenly over top (I think next time it would work even better to just cut them in half if you have smaller berried like these and just push them in farther) and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

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And I leave you with this classic Beatles Quote: “Let me take you down, ‘cos I’m going to Strawberry Fields. Nothing is real and nothing to get hung-about. Strawberry Fields forever.”

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June 27, 2011

Snickerdoodle Muffins

This past weekend we were away with friends to celebrate Rich’s sister’s & future brother-in-law’s bachelorette/bachelor weekend. I volunteered (was volunteered?) to make some breakfast goodies for everyone who were staying at the condos (yay for friends with beach houses). I already had found these Snickerdoodle Muffins and had them bookmarked from Melissa Bakes – so I knew exactly what to make!

It turned out that the bachelor’s favorite cookie ARE snickerdoodle so I could not have chosen a more perfect breakfast muffin for him. Now I warn you – these are not the “get you going & healthy” type of muffin (I made those too, more on that another day). These are more of a “I love to have something sweet and naughty for breakfast” kind of muffin!

I almost had to beat Rich & his future brother-in-law in order to keep them away from the muffins to allow everyone to get them. (Which I later found out not everyone did even get one. Thats ok – I have had requests to make them next month for pre-wedding breakfast at that beach condo with the same awesome group of people). Actually: come to think of it, there may have been some smacking of hands as the boys tried to sneak these the night before and I yelled at them that they had to play fair & that they were for breakfast. I guess that just goes to show how yummy these are!

I know that these are a sweet muffin based on a cookie, but I wish that there was a way to make them healthier… what do you think about subbing out one stick of butter for applesauce!?

Snickerdoodle Muffins

Yields: approx. 18 – 24 muffins (can also be made as mini-muffins)

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¼ cups buttermilk
  • ⅔ cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners & set pan aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the butter and sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.

In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.

Use an ice cream scooper and plop a scoop of batter into the bowl with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently roll the batter in the sugar and cinnamon. Place the ball into the paper liner. When you have completed all of the muffins, sprinkle the leftover cinnamon sugar onto the tops of all of the muffins.

Bake the muffins at 350ºF for about 16-18 minutes (I had to err on the longer side) or until they are golden on top and just baked through.

And I leave you with this question to ponder: If you could pick a classic treat & maybe alter it slightly so you could eat it as a part of one of your meals every day – what would that food be?

June 22, 2011

Blue’s Clues BLUE VELVET CUPCAKES

“We just finished up Blue’s Clues – We just finished up Blue’s Clues – We just finished up Blue’s Clues – because its a really fun show!” 

The local theater group that I’m part of (Black Sheep Productions at the Sherman Theater) just finished our production of BLUE’S CLUES LIVE – BLUE’S BIRTHDAY PARTY!!!

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Growing up, I was not part of the “Blue’s Generation” but still had seen enough Blue’s Clues to be excited – especially since we know I am really just a kid at heart!.

I was Magenta (who only showed up at the end of Blue’s party). Although at first I was bummed to not have Magenta be a larger part of the show – showing up 2/3 of the way through had its good side: it gave me less time in that costume! These costumes were awesome, but hot and big and they took a lot outta me!

In order to celebrate Blue’s Clues I made BLUE VELVET CUPCAKES! Warning: these take a lot of food coloring and unlike Red Velvet: these are made with vanilla cake. I did cheat a little on these and used a box of Betty Crocker Mix (but I did make my own frosting since I’m not a fan of can frosting at all – that is why I thought I hated frosting growing up actually).

the cupcakes are a lot more 'blue' in person

Since this just used vanilla cake mix – I bet that you could take this recipe with your Wilton food colorings and make whatever color cakes/cupcakes you wanted – that would be very very cool for a kid’s party (or graduation party or the possibilities are endless). Get your Velvet Cake groove-on!

Blue Velvet Cupcake

  • 1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® white cake mix
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons royal blue paste food color
  • 1 toothpickful violet paste food color
Follow the directions on the back of your box of cake mix for cupcakes (in my oven, it always takes the shorter amount of time with cupcakes). Make sure to add your food coloring after the rest of the ingredients have been incorporated & remember that the color will change a bit as it bakes – so it might look a little too ‘green’ before baking – but it turns out a nice blue!

Icing

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 block cream cheese
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1T + milk
  • 1 t vanilla (I made this an almond flavored – do whatever you feel)
  • blue food coloring to desired shade (add a drop or two of red to richen it as well
Whip your butter & cream cheese until light and airy in your mixer. Then add your powdered sugar. Once incorporated add some milk to get desired consistency (you can always add, but can not take out). Then add your flavoring and start mixing colors!!
I always like to pipe the icing onto my cupcakes (I actually find it easier than using an offset spatula & I can always get a more consistent look). Feel free to ice these however you want and add some sugar sprinkles on top for even more fun!

And I leave you with this, a quote from another classic show: the Wizard of Oz and L. Frank Baum, “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”

June 20, 2011

Garlic Scape Pesto

I love me some pesto!

AND

I love me some garlic!

When we did our 1st CSA pick-up we had some garlic scapes (basically a white, more mild garlic – and the scapes are the top, kinds curly). Heidi (our farmer) told us to make a garlic pesto with it. So I found Skinny Taste’s version and got to it. The next week we got more scapes (which I didn’t use) and then this week we got even more – so I knew what to do… get out the food processor and make LOTS of pesto to freeze and enjoy whenever we want that fresh garlic taste!!

garlic scapes

Garlic Scape Basil Pesto

  • 1/2 cup (about 6) garlic scapes, flowers and tough ends removed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt, fresh pepper to taste

Cut the garlic scapes into small pieces. In a food processor or mini blender pulsescapes, basil, parmigiano, salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while pulsing. Store in an air-tight jar for up to two weeks OR freeze in snack baggies for the perfect serving for 2 whenever you want.

Remember – this is a pesto, so feel free to play however you want to get the flavors you want! I actually used a little less basil (I didn’t measure), but basically because our basil is still small and I didn’t want to pick it clean!

And I leave you with this… a quote by  Louis Diat (French chef who was the first chef at the Ritz in NYC) –  “Without garlic I simply would not care to live.”

June 17, 2011

Mom’s Meatloaf

I grew up not liking meatloaf.

ooey gooey meatloaf

I also grew up hearing stories of my father riding his bike to some diner for the best meatloaf ever. This diner was called “Yankee Tower Diner” and they released their meatloaf recipe when they closed. Mom followed their recipe and all of a sudden meatloaf was something that I fell in love with!

Warning: this is not low-calorie and there is nothing you can do to make it low-calorie, so run a few extra laps, go take a hike, hop on a bike – whatever you have to do to make and enjoy this meatloaf!!

Yankee Tower Meatloaf

  • 2 lbs ground beef (or mix of your favorite meatloaf meats)
  • 4 oz cubed swiss cheese
  • 4 oz cubed american (or cheddar) cheese (or use more different kinds of cheeses and just use slightly less of each one!!)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz milk
  • 6 oz breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tb beef bullion
  • salt/pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season & make into a loaf. Bake at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes (internal temp of 160 degrees). Slice & Enjoy!

This meatloaf is SO good you don’t even need to put anything on your meatloaf (which my parents remind me every time I make/eat it – even though I always have some ketchup on this stuff. Also – be sure to enjoy the burnt fat/cheese that bubble out from this meatloaf (growing up, and still today, I fight over the black charred yummy fat with my parents)! REMEMBER–  I told you that you need to enjoy this and not worry about the health content here on this one!

And I leave you with this…”Red meat is not bad for you. Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!” (Tommy Smothers)

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