Strawberry Cream Cake

Hi there– It’s birthday season in our family.  Three birthdays together at the start of May and three more at the end.  So I’ve got birthday cakes on my mind.  This will probably show up at a birthday party or two!!

The biggest bash is for my father-in-law Stu.  He’s turning 90!  –and is so beloved by everyone who knows him.  You’ve never met a kinder more gracious man.  Family is coming from far and wide to celebrate with our “Grandpa Stu”.

Hope you have some happy family birthdays on your horizon.  And that they include cake, lots of cake.

STRAWBERRY CREAM CAKE

Cake:
1 cup strawberries, cut to small bits
1 strawberry  cake mix
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup water
3 eggs

Topping:
2 cups strawberries, cut to small bits
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 oz. package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 big pretty strawberry for garnish

To make the cake, cut the strawberries fine.  If they are still damp from cleaning, pat them dry.

Make the strawberry cake according to the directions on the box. (mine used 1/3 cup oil, 1 cup water & 3 eggs).  Pour it into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish (or a 10″ springform pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake the cake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes until it is lightly browned and comes out firm to the touch.  Let the cake cool completely before adding the topping!

To make the topping, cut the strawberries to small bits.  Set them aside.  Whip together the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix with an electric mixer until it is stiff (the whisk attachment works best for this).

Stir in the strawberries and then pile it all onto the cooled cake.  You can serve it right away, but it’s better to set the cake in the fridge for an hour or more to let the topping completely set.  Enjoy!!

Unwavering Trust

Hello friends–  Some times life seems heavy, too real.  We have three friends facing very serious medical treatments.  They don’t know how things will end, but I’m thankful they all have a tenacious hope is God’s goodness and mercy.  They are prepared.  And we are praying with them…

It reminds me of a note I received a while back from a friend in the middle of her chemotherapy–

“No one warns which days will forever change our lives.  No one wakes us that morning and says, “This day will require you to have an unwavering trust in the sovereignty of God.  This day you’ll need to be prepared with all truth.” (Chuck Swindoll)

So every day, we all must be prepared, ready knowing who God is and how we trust him.  Because we will all face unwelcome troubles. It’s our hope in God and trust in his care that will see us through.

–photo from drive across New Mexico with Laurel

Parmesan Mushroom Chicken

 

Hello to you — Here’s dinner a few nights ago.  Being of the mind that you can’t have too many chicken for dinner recipes handy, here’s a good one to add to your list.

We had it with roasted small golden potatoes chunked up, and the chicken and potatoes can can cook together in the oven, while you finish the sauce, set the table, change the laundry, make a salad, check on the kids, do that quick phone call…  As many multitasking things as you can fit into 20 minutes!!

It’s a yummy, practical, family friendly meal.  I think you’d like it!

PARMESAN MUSHROOM CHICKEN
2 tab. olive oil
4 chicken thighs, skin removed*
Garlic salt
freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. sliced brown mushrooms
1 tsp. dried basil
1 cup chicken broth
2 tab. cornstarch
1/2 cup parmesan romano
2 tab. fresh basil or marjoram, chopped**
Basil or marjoram for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet.  Liberally sprinkle the chicken thighs with garlic salt and freshly ground pepper.  Drop them in the hot oil to brown– about 3 minutes on each side.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and put them in a baking dish.  Put them in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes until they are cooked through.

While they are cooking, make the sauce.  In the same skillet, saute the sliced mushrooms and garlic in the pan juices in the skillet for just a couple minutes.  Remove them and set them aside.

Then in the skillet bring the chicken broth to a boil.  In a container with a tight fitting lid shake together the cornstarch and about 1/4 cup water until it is thoroughly blended.  Pour it into the boiling broth and stir until it thickens into a creamy sauce.  Lower the heat and stir in the parmesan and fresh chopped basil.

When the chicken is done in the oven nestle the pieces back in the skillet of sauce and leave it on a low simmer for 2 or 3 minutes to mix the flavors.

Then move the chicken to a platter, top with the mushrooms and a little sauce (serve the rest of the sauce on the side).  Garnish with basil leaves.

*You can leave the skin on if you prefer.
** I used marjoram because it grows like a weed in our side yard.

 

Blueberry Broccoli Avocado Salad with Poppyseed Ranch Dressing

Hi all– Should I apologize for the extra long title of this salad??– I just wanted you to know the yummy components and plus also the lovely dressing on top!

Took this salad along to my brother’s house for our Easter dinner.  And liked it so much we had it again last night!  It’s bright and fresh and I can say it works well with Easter ham or a slice of mushroom pizza!

BLUEBERRY BROCCOLI AVOCADO  SALAD

Salad:
5 cups of your favorite salad greens
1/2 cup broccoli, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Poppyseed Ranch Dressing:
1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. tarragon vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. poppy seeds
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Layer the salad ingredients in a pretty bowl.

Then stir together the ingredients  for the dressing until they are thoroughly blended.  It makes more dressing than we needed on our salad, so there’s more in the fridge for another day.

Simple Pasta Sauce

Hello pasta lovers– I’m with you on this– what’s more warming and homey tan a bowl of pasta with a fresh tangy sauce??

Saw this recipe in a Food & Wine magazine and realized I had all I needed on hand in the kitchen.  That’s what’s so nice about it– no fancy ingredients and ready in less than 30 minutes.  Perfect for a busy weekday dinner.

SIMPLE PASTA SAUCE
your favorite pasta
2 tab. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
salt
1 tab. butter
1 tsp. dried basil
garnish: parmesan & fresh basil or marjoram*

Heat the olive oil in a deep pot.  Add in the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until it is soft.  Add in the grated carrot and minced garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.  Simmer on low for 20 minutes, covered with a lid.

While it’s simmering, cook your favorite pasta (we did fresh tortellini).

Then stir the butter and basil into the sauce.  Serve over hot cooked pasta. Garnish with basil & parmesan.

*I used marjoram because it grows year round with no help from me, in the side yard.

Easter Hope

“Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.”
–Psalm 31:24

Love these words.  I should read them every day– but especially at Easter, the day that is the center of our hope.  Hope because Jesus rose.  Hope for a life of meaning and purpose.  Hope for eternity with our God.  So grateful.

Maple Walnut Banana Bread

 

Hello there– We have a treasure sitting in our fridge– it’s a huge jug of real maple syrup fresh from upstate New York!  Our daughter-in-law’s Dad, Alfie is a warm and wonderful guy.  Every year he taps trees around his town and in the spring is joined by family a friends at in the maple sugar shack to boil down gallons of maple syrup.  Then being the generous guys that he is, he mails big jugs to people far and wide (including lucky us!!).

So this little recipe uses a precious half cup of that lovely syrup and which accounts for it’s rich and wonderful flavor.  Plus while it’s baking in the oven, for kitchen smells like that New York maple sugar shack– maple luscious!

MAPLE WALNUT BANANA BREAD
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. maple extract (optional)*
3 tab. milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4  cup walnuts, chopped and divided
3 tab. brown sugar

In a large mixing bowl, smash the bananas to a creamy substance.  Then mix in the maple syrup, oil, egg, maple extract and milk until all blended.  Add in the flour, baking powder and salt and stir it all together.  Finally mix 3/4 cup of the walnuts.

Spoon the mixture into a 5″ by 9″ loaf pan** that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Mix together the brown sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup of walnuts and sprinkle them over the loaf of banana bread.

Bake it all up at 350 degrees for 50 -55 minutes until it’s browned and a tooth pick inserted comes out clean.  Delicious warm from the oven– or toasted the next day for breakfast  with a smear of butter!!

*maple extract is optional– it just adds a little more maple flavoring.
** I used 2 half size loaf pans and cooked it about 5 minutes less.