Archive for ◊ June, 2010 ◊

23 Jun 2010 Strawberry Shortcake
 |  Category: Cakes & Cupcakes, Fruits, Seasonal, Sweets  | Tags: , ,  | Leave a Comment

This is my son’s favorite dessert and since he’s home from college, we’ve had it two nights in a row. I think this rustic, coarse, only slightly sweet biscuit-type cake base saturated with sweetened sliced strawberries and lots and lots of sweetened whipped cream is just about perfect. If you like sweet, soft, cake-y strawberry shortcake, this is not the recipe for you; ALTHOUGH, if you try it, you might be converted to my way of thinking! This is my recipe. No sources. I’ve spent years developing it. Truth be told, I only figured out the right base about two years ago. Before that I used to use the recipe off the box of Bisquick. I am so glad to be done with that! The Bisquick base was really too salty and had a slightly metallic flavor to it, too. Here’s how to make Strawberry Shortcake, a truly American dessert, RIGHT!

Strawberry Shortcake

For the Shortcake Base

2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, chilled/frozen, cut into cubes/grated
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a pretty 8 or 9 inch-diameter pan with nonstick spray for baking. (You will be baking and serving the strawberry shortcake in the same pan, that’s why I specified a pretty pan (if you don’t have a pretty pan, don’t stress, just use the best you have). I use either quiche pan. If you don’t have one, a pretty pie dish will work.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add in butter (cut it in, if you know how, or just grate it in–grate the frozen butter as if it were cheese! Trust me, this works like a charm!). Using fingertips, rub butter into dry mixture until a coarse meal forms.

Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk, stirring with a fork (yes, a fork!). Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Keep using the fork until the dough clumps together. Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared (pretty) pan. Using fingertips, stretch dough to fit pan. Bake until golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool completely.
While shortcake is baking, wash slice and sweeten the strawberries.

For the filling

2 – 3 baskets strawberries (as many as you have or want, really)
sugar to sweeten berries (to taste)
1 pt. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar

Rinse, drain, stem, and then slice the berries vertically (depending on the size of the berry, you can probably get 2-5 slices from each berry). Sprinkle sliced berries with sugar, to taste. Let sit for awhile to sweeten. Stir before using.

Up to one hour before serving, whip cream, vanilla and sugar until thick and creamy. Use immediately, or refrigerate until ready to assemble.

To assemble Strawberry Shortcake

Remove shortcake from pan. Carefully split in half horizontally (if the bottom half splits, no problem, if the top half splits it’s a bit more of a challenge to cover–but don’t stress). Place bottom half of shortcake back in pan. Top with 1/2 of sliced and sweetened strawberries. Top berries with half of whipped cream, smooth out to level. Replace top half of shortcake, press slightly. Top with remaining berries (and all of the juice). Pipe remaining whipped cream decoratively around the edge of the shortcake. Serve immediately.

Leftovers don’t keep well. Shortcake can be made early in the day, and strawberries can be prepared early in the day also, but the actual assembly should be done as close to serving time as possible.

This is actually an individual shortcake, not the big one described above (and it had too much whipped cream…, even for me!). To make individual shortcakes, cut dough with round biscuit butter, and bake as above. Recipe above makes 8 rather large servings.

17 Jun 2010 Hershey Bar Cupcakes

These are good! Do you remember the depression era recipe for Chocolate Cake, or Wacky Cake as it was sometimes called? I think the base of this cupcake is based on that recipe. There’s no egg in the cake and no butter either. The surprise ingredient is white vinegar! It works. Wacky cake is good. It has a good chocolate taste, great color, not overly moist, but definitely not dry either. It’s a good cake! This cupcake recipe has two OTHER bonus points. One, filling. All great cupcakes have a filling, right? Two, a no-work, one ingredient frosting! Need I say ANY more?! Other than I should learn to take better pictures?

Hershey Bar Cupcakes

For the Filling

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 oz. HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Bars chopped into 1/4-inch pieces (use any sized bars, get whatever is cheapest at the store. You’ll need about 1 cup of chopped Hershey Chocolate for the filling)

For the Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons plain white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Frosting

2 large (4.4 oz.) bars of Hershey Chocolate (again, you can use any size bar…but I found one section of the 4.4 oz bar to be the right amount of frosting for my preference. Each bar has 12 portions, 2 bars frosts 2 dozen cupcakes)

Directions:
1. Prepare the filling. Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and salt in small bowl until smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped chocolate bar pieces. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners.

3. Prepare the cupcake batter. With an electric mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt to combine. Add in water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Fill each cupcake pan 1/3 of the way with batter. Spoon 1 level tablespoon of the reserved filling into the center of each cupcake. Top with more cake batter until cupcake pans are full. (I had some excess batter, but not excess filling or chocolate…so I also made 6 plain cupcakes.)

4. Bake the cupcakes. 18-20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in cake portion comes out clean. Remove from oven to wire rack.

5. Frost the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with one section of the large sized Hershey bar. Let chocolate melt (5-8 minutes) and then spread with spatula to ice the top of the cupcake. (How easy is that?!)

5. Let cupcakes cool completely. Chocolate will harden (You may need to put cupcakes in RF for an hour or so to finish the hardening process).

Yummy! Wonderful cake, creamy filling, and a hard chocolate frosting. One of the best cupcakes in the I’ve ever tasted, actually. My poor daughter (the one on Weight Watchers) is usually very good about ignoring the baked goods I often have hanging out on the counter…but she’s having a very hard time with these….

The original recipe was found at Hersheys.com.

Thanks for visiting my kitchen today!

16 Jun 2010 Blackberry Sorbet

I’ve been having so much fun with my ice cream makers. I hope you’ve bought one. Remember that double freezer one I told you about at Costco? SUCH a deal! Get one now so you can make stuff like this blackberry sorbet, which tastes even better than fresh blackberries. It’s so RICH, sooo fruity…, icy, refreshing, delicious…, fabulous!! I am eating the photo shoot sorbet as I type this…! You just can’t buy food like this; the stabilizers, preservatives, thickeners, gums, artificial colors, and so o,,n dull the pure, honest, wonderful taste of real food.

It’s easy to make, too, just be sure you have enough time to chill everything completely before putting it in the ice cream machine.

Blackberry Sorbet

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 lbs fresh blackberries (3-4 baskets)
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice from one lemon)

Bring sugar and water to a boil. Stir until sugar dissolves, then boil syrup for an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool (about 3 hours). Puree blackberries and cooled syrup in blender until smooth. Strain into a 4 cup measuring jug or bowl. Discard the seeds and pulp. Stir lemon juice into the sugar-water-juice mixture. Chill until cold. Process cold mixture in an ice cream maker until very thick and slushy, about 20 minutes. Remove to a covered freezer container. Freeze until firm. This can be made one week ahead. Keep frozen until ready to serve.

15 Jun 2010 Lemon Chicken Pasta

The cooking lessons with my 19 year old son continue…, and he’s enjoying it more than I (and he) ever thought possible. We are having great success with one-dish pasta recipes. Here’s the latest, pasta with chicken in a light lemony-cream sauce. I was a bit unsure of the flavor appealing to 19 year old boys, but the three 19 year old male taste testers loved it. They had half for lunch–in between a gym workout and a pool workout–then came back and finished off the other half (washing it down with the leftover Blueberry Lemonade, which they also enjoyed). One friend asked me to send the recipe to his Mom. I’m not going to, but I will show him how to make this for her. Wouldn’t that be great for her to come home and find her son had made her a creamy chicken pasta dish for dinner? Maybe with some two-ingredient biscuits on the side? Awwww…

I’ve been making this for about 3 years now…, and I really have no recollection of where I got the recipe.

Lemon Chicken Pasta

For this recipe use leftover cooked chicken, or saute approx. 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (good for a college students budget) or chicken tenders in a bit of olive oil and butter (about 1 T. of each) for a few minutes on each side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (and any other favorite herbs), cool for about 5 minutes, and then coarsely chop into cubes. Use as directed below.

1 lb. Penne Pasta (or any kind of pasta)
1/3 cup whipping cream
4 strips of peel from one lemon, plus the juice from the one lemon (2-3 T)
1 cup chicken broth (OR 1/3 cup white wine plus 2/3 cup reserved pasta water)
1 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 to 2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta in salted, boiling water according to package directions. MEANWHILE, saute chicken as directed above. Let cool, then chop into bite-sized pieces. In another small pan, heat 1/3 cup whipping cream with the four pieces of long lemon peel. Simmer for about 1 minute, then remove and discard the lemon peel. Set the lemon infused cream aside. In the pan used to cook the chicken (or in a fresh, clean frying pan if you are using leftover cooked chicken) combine the chicken broth (or wine and pasta water), lemon juice, peas, and cooked chicken. Simmer for two minutes then stir in drained/cooked pasta, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve.

Makes 4 generous servings.
A small salad on the side would be a nice touch.

15 Jun 2010 Smoked Chicken Almond Sandwiches
 |  Category: Poultry, Sandwiches  | Tags: , ,  | 6 Comments

My daughter, Abby, loves this sandwich. She longs for it. Dreams of it. She gets really excited and happy when I make it. I love that about her! Now I am putting it in her cookbook so she can make it for herself in her apartment.

The sandwich is has bold, hearty flavors from chopped smokehouse almonds. I use really good bread from a really good bakery for this sandwich. Don’t marry a from scratch, great quality filling to some cheap, tasteless bread. I suppose you could dress this sandwich up a bit with crisp lettuce and sliced tomatoes, which would probably be delicious, but we’ve never had time. Once we have the filling made, we want to eat a sandwich!

This recipe includes instructions for poaching the chicken, but if you have already cooked chicken, use that. If I am BBQ-ing chicken I always make extra to use in this recipe. The BBQ-ed flavor in the chicken makes the sandwich even better.

The original recipe came from Epicurious.com, but I fixed it! The Epicurious.com recipe is for tea sandwiches, cut with a circle cutter, and then rolled in chopped almonds. NAH! Too fussy. Enjoy it my way!

Smoked Chicken Almond Sandwiches

3 cups chicken broth or water plus 1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts

OR 2 cups chopped cooked chicken (BBQ-ed is especially good)

1/2 cup mayonnaise (original recipe called for 1 cup, but I thought that was too much. Add more mayo if you’d like…)
1/3 cup minced shallot (if you don’t have a shallot use minced green onion OR minced red onion soaked in ice water for 10 minutes and drained before adding to the chicken mixture)
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt and pepper, to taste (and you will need some)
1/2 cup finely chopped smokehouse almonds (about half of a 6 oz can–chop the nuts, then measure 1/2 cup)

If you need to cook the chicken, in a large skillet bring the water or the chicken broth to a boil. Add the chicken breasts in one layer. Reduce heat and poach chicken at a mere simmer for about 7 minutes. Turn the chicken over halfway through the cooking time. Remove pan from heat and let chicken cool in the broth for 20 minutes. Drain the chicken from the stock. (SAVE the stock-refrigerate or freeze it-to use in another recipe). Discard any skin, and dice the chicken.

In a medium bowl stir together the cooled and diced chicken, mayonnaise, shallot OR onion, tarragon, and diced almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread onto that good bread you just picked up from the bakery. Leftover filling can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

Makes four to six sandwiches (depending on the size of the bread and how much filling you put in each).

15 Jun 2010 Homemade Frostings for Cynthia
 |  Category: Cakes & Cupcakes, Sweets  | Tags:  | Leave a Comment

I received a request for some homemade frostings for a little girls birthday cake. Here are a few…, Vanilla Bean Butter Cream, Vanilla Cream Cheese, Peanut Butter, Creamy Mint and Maple. Hope one of them pleases the princess (and her Mama) on her (their) special day!

Vanilla Bean Butter Cream Frosting

1 lb. box powdered sugar
1/2 cup to 1 cup butter (taste preference. I always use 1/2 cup–but sometimes I make a cream cheese frosting by using 1/2 cup butter PLUS 8oz. Cream Cheese)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod (optional–if you have them, use them…but they can be expensive to buy)
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream (might need up to 4 T…, just keep adding 1 T. at a time until you get the spreading consistency you need)

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Peanut Butter Frosting

¾ cup peanut butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 lb box powdered sugar
8 – 10 tablespoons milk

In a large mixing bowl, mix peanut butter with vanilla. Then add in 1/3 of powdered sugar, then ½ milk, then 1/3 powdered sugar, then ½ milk, then remaining powdered sugar until you have a smooth spreadable frosting.

Creamy Minty Frosting

1 1/2 1-lb. boxes powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. peppermint extract (not mint extract, peppermint extract)
1/4 c. milk or cream, approximately
1 box Andes Mints, unwrapped and chopped

Combine powdered sugar, butter, extract, and milk/cream in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, adding more milk or cream, 1 tsp. at a time, if needed to bring mixture to spreading consistency. Spread the frosting on the cake and then sprinkle with chopped Andes mints.

Maple Frosting

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, softened
3 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon imitation maple flavor
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

In small bowl, combine all frosting ingredients except powdered sugar and walnuts; beat at low speed until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until mixture is of spreading consistency. Frost cooled cupcakes. Immediately sprinkle with 1/4 cup walnuts. Store in refrigerator.