Strawberry Cream Cake

front-view-of-strawberry-cake.jpg

98% of the time I buy strawberries, it’s for the sole purpose of having fresh fruit on hand. The other 2% of the time is because I want to bake with them. This was one of those times. Cool, creamy, and light it’s the perfect summertime dessert. We all agreed that the whipped topping was worthy of a dessert all on its own.

Ingredients:

for the cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour, spooned & leveled
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • a few drops of red food coloring to make a light pink color, optional

for the frosting:

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 pints strawberries, stems & hulls removed

Preparation:

for the cake:

Grease 3 9″ round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease and flour the parchment paper; set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together until combined; set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add about 1/2 of the flour mixture to the bowl; mix on low speed until well combined.  Add the sour cream, vanilla, and approximately half of the milk to the bowl. Mix on low speed until just combined. Add the remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed to fully incorporate. Add the remaining milk; mix on low speed until well combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Divide the batter evenly among the 3 pans and bake for 18 -21 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake pans comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring a to a cooling rack. Cool completely before adding the frosting.

for the frosting:

In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream (longer than usual) until stiff peaks form; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese on high speed until light and fluffy, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times. Add the sugar and vanilla extract, beat on medium speed until fully combined.

Meanwhile, slice 1/3 of the strawberries into thin slices; set aside. *For uniformed slices, I used an egg slicer. Brilliant, if I do say so myself! ūüėČ Dice the remaining strawberries into smaller pieces. Add the diced strawberries to the bowl of cream cheese and mix until combined, and starts to turn a light shade of pink. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the whipped cream with a large spoon. Refrigerate frosting for an hour before assembling.

When it’s time to assemble the cake, add a cup of the frosting to each layer, spreading to just the outer edge. Line the outside edge with sliced strawberries and repeat 2 more times for each layer. Normally, I frost the whole outside of the cake, but this time I didn’t because I liked to see the layers in between.

*Adapted slightly from: spicedblog.com (Fresh Strawberry Cake)

**Confession: on the referenced recipe, I didn’t read the instructions all the way through first. I saw the picture and just went for it. The picture on the site shows a 3 layer cake, so I proceeded as such. It was only after I’d mixed together the ingredients for the cake that there’s a note explaining, he generally makes the cake in 2 layers, and that the recipe listed (as above) is for a 2 layer cake. He continued by saying if you want to make the 3 layer version, make 1.5x the recipe. Admittedly, I was a bit bummed because it yielded 3 thin layers of cake; however, in retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing. The thinner layers complemented the whipped frosting.

Side Strawberry Cake

 

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Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner

Cleaner

Let’s take a moment from food recipes and turn our attention to other kinds of recipes, shall we? My husband informed me a few years ago that I was becoming quite the granola. I’ve been known to make my¬†own body scrub, deodorant, and as pictured above, all-purpose cleaner.¬†The thing is, though, I’m not full-on crunchy granola. Sure, I may make these and have them on hand, but if you walked through my house, opened up my cabinets and looked in my drawers, you’d also find¬†a fair share amount of these items that I’ve purchased from the store. It’s a happy¬†medium, a balance that sometimes teeters more one way than the other. I’m neither¬†black or white, all or nothing, but very much a solid gray, split down the middle.

This is hands down the best cleaner for grimy showers and ovens that have had one too many spills, baked and caked on that even a chisel takes some work to get it clean, and everything in between.

I found the recipe online a few years ago, took a screenshot, and wrote it on the bottle with a Sharpie, but over time & a combination of the cleaning solution and water erased even the penned Sharpie.

Ingredients:

  • 10 oz. of water
  • 8 oz. of vinegar
  • 4 oz. of lemon juice
  • 2 oz. of¬†liquid Dawn liquid¬†soap

Preparation:

In a large spray bottle, add the water, vinegar, lemon juice, and lastly, the Dawn liquid soap.  If you start with the Dawn, you will be fighting suds as you add the water, vinegar, and lemon juice. Screw the nozzle back on give it a subtle side to side shake and get your clean on. For best results of cleaning a grimy shower and a caked & baked on oven, apply an even spray, coating the surface and allow to sit overnight. Wipe and rinse in the morning. Voila. Good as new.

 

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Neiman Marcus Cookies

Cookies

Sometimes when¬†I’m taking a breather from the day and am scrolling through Facebook, the NY Times posts a recipe and my interest is piqued. I take a few screen shots, to save for later, resume scrolling, and then a few days later am reminded of said recipe when I stumble on it again.

When I first read the article, it¬†detailed the story of the lady who was wowed by the Neiman Marcus cookies. I¬†mean, really? Who doesn’t like to be wowed by cookies.

Below are the screen shots of the recipe. I did modify the recipe a bit & those are listed after the recipes.

Recipe 1

Recipe 2

Recipe 3

As noted above, I made a few changes, mostly because I didn’t have specific ingredients on hand. For instance, I’ve seen recipes that have listed dark brown sugar, but because I generally always have light brown sugar on hand, I’m not going to run to the store to purchase the other. Maybe it truly heightens the results of the finished product, I don’t know. Also, I didn’t have a chocolate bar on hand to grate it up and add to the dough. The chocolate chips seemed more than enough. Lastly, because I knew my family would appreciate the omission of the nuts, I opted to forgo those, though I’m sure those would have added a certain depth to the cookie.

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Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 package egg noodles

for the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup¬†diced onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh¬†ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
  • olive oil

for the sauce:

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 32oz container beef broth
  • 2 cups¬† milk or heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsps. chopped fresh parsley, for garnish¬†(optional)

Preparation:

for the meatballs:
Mix together all ingredients for the meatballs; set aside. Using a 2 inch cookie scoop, roll out meatballs and line on a baking sheet. Once the meatballs have been made, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil over the skillet so that it’s lightly coated to prevent the meatballs from sticking. Once the oil has heated, add the meatballs & turn every couple of minutes to ensure browning on all sides. Cook for approximately 10 minutes and transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels.
for the sauce:
Reduce the heat on the skillet to medium-low heat. Melt butter and whisk in flour until it has turned golden brown. Slowly whisk in beef broth and cook until thickened, then add in milk or cream, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper. Continue to stir until well-combined. Add meatballs back into the skillet, turning to coat well.
Prepare the egg noodles according to package instruction. Drain and top with meatballs and sauce. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
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Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Peanut butter cookies with Hershey Kisses & a childhood favorite. Need I say more?

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup sugar (1/2 cup more for rolling dough balls in)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsps. baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 bag Hershey Kisses

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the sugars, shortening, butter, and peanut butter. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and incorporate dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Using a large 2 tbsp. cookie scoop, smooth out the balls and roll in sugar. Transfer to a cookie sheet and bake for 11-13 minutes.

Remove from oven and lightly press a Kiss into the center of each cookie.

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Chile Relleno Chicken Soup

Chile Relleno Chicken Soup

I don’t know what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but springtime in the Midwest is unpredictable, at best. It’s quite possible to experience all 4 seasons in a week’s time starting the week with temps in the high 80’s, prime weather conditions for tornados, to torrential downpours, and then even so much snow that there are school closures! All at the end of April and¬†in the beginning of May. Before too long it will be miserably hot and humid so I enjoy the variety.

This past weekend was wet & rainy, cloudy & gray, which I happen to love, and affirms¬†my belief that¬†I could live in the Pacific Northwest with no problems. I’m a natural introvert so spending all day alone in my kitchen was a joy. Therapy, really. And this soup? It warms and nourishes and was gone the next day. Chris¬†informed me this could go into our regular rotation.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Poblano peppers, roasted
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • ¬†1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp¬†ground cumin
  • 1 32oz container of chicken broth
  • S&P to taste
  • 3/4 of a rotisserie chicken,¬†deboned & shredded (I say 3/4 because we all snacked on it, but by all means, add as much chicken as you want!)
  • 1¬†8oz¬†pkg of¬†cream cheese, cut into tbsps.
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Preparation:

Roast the peppers until skin is charred and blistered. You can do this over the open flame on a gas stove, or by heating your broiler to high and placing poblanos within a few inches of the broiler (turning periodically to get all sides charred). Once charred, place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let cool, then rub/ peel the skin to remove as much of the blistered skin. Remove the stems, deseed, and finely chop using a food processor.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add onions and garlic and cook for five minutes. Add cumin and peppers and stir for about a minute. Pour in the broth and season with freshly ground salt & pepper to taste, increase heat to a rapid boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add cream cheese and 2 cups of cheese and whisk until melted and incorporated. Stir in the shredded chicken. Serve and top with remaining cheese.

Adapted from: https://asweetlife.org/chile-relleno-chicken-soup/

 

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Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

 

 

back slice

side slice

This year while our birthday celebrations weren’t so quiet,¬†my time in the kitchen was¬†lacking. All of our birthdays are within 3 weeks of each other, and sometimes¬†in the years passed, by the end of it all we are simply caked out. For my birthday we spent a few days in Colorado before Chris and I left the girls with my parents and headed to Vegas for a few days, but when we arrived to Colorado mom had made me the infamous carrot cake so we all had some of that. Bri turned 16 this year and her request was a marbled cake with whipped topping ordered from the bakery. Done. We spent Chris’s birthday in Kansas City for the John Mayer concert, but I did end up making a small chocolate cake for him (using my favorite recipe halved)¬†which we had on Easter. Leah rounds out all of our birthday celebrations and she¬†requested an ice cream sandwich cake so that is what she got.

Full cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Oreos
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. milk
  • 1/2 gallon Cookies & Cream ice cream, softened
  • 1 box of ice cream sandwiches
  • 1 8oz. container of Cool Whip

Preparation:

Spray the bottom and sides of a springform pan with non-stick spray. Crush the Oreos into a fine crumb, reserving 10-12 for the top of the cake. Stir 1 1/2 tbsp. of milk into the crumbs and press into the bottom and sides of the springform pan.

With the ice cream sandwiches, cut each one in half and then cut each half lengthwise for a total of 4 pieces. Line these pieces up on the sides of the pan, covering the inside perimeter. Spoon in the softened ice cream, spreading and smoothing as you go. Top with Cool Whip and garnish with Oreos. Freeze for at least an hour before serving.

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