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!!

Strawberry Scones

Hello all– It’s starting to be strawberry season here!! That’s great news!  When we were married at the end of March, a hundred years ago (more or less), my Mom and I scoured the town for beautiful ripe strawberries to cascade down our wedding cake.  We finally found them jut in time in a small market couple cities over!!

But now we’ve got these sweet red berries and they are just right to be folded into buttery, crispy scones. With a smear of butter and maybe just a dot of jam.  Perfect.

STRAWBERRY SCONES
2 cups strawberries, stemmed & cut to bits
1 tab. sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
2/3 cup whole milk (or half & half)
1 egg
coarse sugar*

Stem and cut the strawberries to small bits until yo have 2 full cups.  Mix them with 1 tablespoon of sugar.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  With a pastry blender (or a food processor if you don’t mind cleaning that big thing), cut in the butter until it is cut to the size of peas in the mixture.

With a soft spatula, sit the strawberries into the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl whisk together the milk and egg.  Then stir them into the flour mixture as well until it’s all moist and combined.

Onto a counter dusted with flour, dump the dough out.  Cut it into 2 halves.  Take the first half and form it into a thick disc.  Cut it into 6 triangular pieces (like a pizza!) and set them onto a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment.  Repeat with the second half of the dough for 12 medium sized scones.

Sprinkle the coarse sugar onto the tops of the scones and pop them into a 400 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until they are golden and crispy around the edges.  Super delicious hot from the oven!!

*the recipe I worked from called for turbinado sugar.  I used some coarse sugar crystals I had from a cake decorating shop.

Strawberry Chicken Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

IMG_7190

Hi friends– I don’t know if you’ve watched the cross country weather news this week, but we are roasting here in Southern California!!  Today it was 105 degrees in our little town!  And being the frugal (cheap!) people that we are, we have our air conditioning on a plan that cuts off on super energy use days to save money on our monthly bill.  Ugh.

When dinner time rolled around, I sure did not want to spend a whole lot of time in a hot kitchen– so here’s dinner. A sweet berry salad with chicken and a chunk of sour dough bread on the side.  Just about right on a hot night.

The good news– only 90 degrees predicted for tomorrow!!!

STRAWBERRY CHICKEN SALAD WITH HONEY BALSAMIC DRESSING

salad:
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
4 cups glad greens*
8 oz. strawberries, cut into bites (about 1 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 oz. feta, crumbled

dressing:
3 tab. olive oil
1 tab. white balsamic vinegar**
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the 2 tab. olive oil in a skillet. Cut the chicken horizontally to make 2 or 3 filets.  Then drop it into the hot oil.  Salt and pepper the chicken liberally and cook about 3 minutes on each side until it’s nicely browned. Remove from the pan to cool.  Then slice into thin strips.

Layer the salad greens, strawberries, chicken on 2 dinner plates.  Then sprinkle the walnuts and feta over the top.

To make the dressing put the 3 tab. olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, honey, thyme and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it until the dressing is thoroughly blended.  When your ready to serve it up, pour the dressing over the salads and set them on the table!

*I use red leaf lettuce. Spinach would be great or any other favorite lettuce.
**Or whatever vinegar you have in the cupboard.

 

Strawberry Easter Cake

IMG_4891

Hi all– Easter’s come and gone, but I do have one more little recipe from our Easter this year.  It’s really not much of a recipe– just cake and lots of strawberries.  But the creamy filling that “glues” it all together is the secret of this sweet fruity cake.

STRAWBERRY EASTER CAKE
1 white cake mix
1/4 cup canola oil
3 eggs
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tab. instant vanilla pudding mix*
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2  16. oz. packages of beautiful strawberries (about 4 cups)

garnish: tiny flowers/mint leaves

Make the cake according to the directions on the package. My mix called for water, 1/4 cup canola oil and 3 eggs.  Spoon it into 2 standard 9″ round cake pans.  Bake it up and let it cool in the pans.  Cut each of the 2 layers in half horizontally to have 4 thin layers.

Beat the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix with an electric mixer until it is stiff.  Then cut up the cream cheese into 20 or so small bits and drop it into the whipped cream. Beat it again until the cream cheese is blended with the whipped cream.  That should make it nice and sturdy to spread on the cake.

Pick out 6 or 7 of the prettiest strawberries and set the aside to decorate the top of the cake.  Cut the other berries into slices, removing the leaves.

Then set one layer of the cake onto a plate and spread 1/4 of the whipped cream mixture over it.  Cover with a layer of  sliced berries.  Do the same for the 2nd and 3rd layers.  On the 4 layer, mound up all the remaining whipped cream and put it all into the fridge until dessert time.

Just before serving, decorate the top of the cake with the reserved strawberries, flowers, mint.  Dig in!

*The instant pudding mix is a favorite trick I learned from my Sis– use it every time I whip cream to stabilize it and to give a whisper of vanilla.

IMG_4894

And the best part of after Easter lunch– hunting eggs with those grand-girls!!
IMG_4966

Strawberry Ice Cream Shortcake

 

IMG_4679
Hi all– Had the grand-girls down a couple weekends ago and if you ask them what they want for dessert, it’s sure to be something Pink!  So this fit the requirement. They thought it was just fine.   And besides how can you not like a dessert than is layered with crispy biscuits, ice cream, berries and whipping cream??

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM SHORTCAKE

Basic Shortcake:
1  1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp. vanilla

And on top:
Strawberries
a sprinkle of sugar
strawberry ice cream
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla instant pudding mix**

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or in a food processor).  Then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Drop the sticky batter by big spoonfuls onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. (makes about 8)  Set them at least 4″ apart because they will spread as they bake.  Pop them into a 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes until they are prettily browned and cooked through.

While they are cooking, whip the cream with an electric mixer, throwing in the powdered sugar and pudding mix.  Set aside.

Let them cool a bit and then slice the shortcakes horizontally.  Mix the cut strawberries with the sugar.  Fill the shortcakes  with the strawberries and ice cream and top with a generous dollop of whipped cream.  Viola!

*If you don’t have buttermilk on hand (like me), then just put a tablespoon of cider vinegar in the cup and add milk to make to cups.  Let it sit several minutes until it thickens like buttermilk.
**The pudding mix thickens the cream just slightly and acts as a stabilizer so it won’t wilt.  Makes it work to whip the cream ahead of time and just store it in the fridge til after dinner…

IMG_4671

 

Strawberry Watermelon Slushie

IMG_2840Hi all– well, last week around here the temperature was in the high 90’s!  Real summer easing into September.  And I had the remnants of a watermelon from when our melon eating grand-girls were here.  So it seemed like the right idea to, but to whirl up this fresh cold drink.

I got the recipe from one of the most beautiful blogs I read every week.  Serena in Italy is an artist with her food photography and she posted this yummy recipe.  You can find her at http://foodfulife.com  . I think you’ll love her work.

STRAWBERY WATERMELON SLUSHIE
IMG_28384 cups watermelon, cut in small chunks
3 cups strawberries, stems removed and cut in half
2 or 3 mint leaves

Cut up the watermelon and pop it into the freezer for 3 to 4 hours.

When the watermelon is frozen, then drop the strawberries, frozen watermelon and mint leaves into a blender and whirr it into a bright frozen slushie.  Makes two servings.

Pour it into a glass and drink it right on the spot!  So fresh and bright!

IMG_2853

Simple Strawberry Cake

IMG_1315 Hello all– Found this quick little cake and made it for the Monday night friends coming in last week.  It’s into the oven in 10 minutes and after it bakes, comes out tender and fresh and just sweet enough.  The little spots of berry are so bright and inviting and with a splash of whipped cream, it’s just about perfect– going to be my backpocket, go-to dessert this summer.

SIMPLE STRAWBERRY CAKE
2 cups strawberries, chopped to bits
1  1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1  1/2 tsp. vanilla or amaretto*
1 egg
3/4 cup canola oil
Powdered sugar

IMG_1277Rinse the berries (& pat them dry). Then cut them in nice polite little bits.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the amaretto, egg, and oil.  The batter will be stiff.  Fold in the berries.

Spoon the whole mixture into a 9″ springform pan (or a cake pan) and put it into the oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes– until it’s firm to the touch and nice browned on top.

When the cake is cool, sift on powdered sugar through a sieve.  Beautiful.

IMG_1325