Strawberry Pound Cake

In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel like I should give this post a theme. Let’s call it “When Things Don’t Turn Out The Way You Want Them To, But It’s Okay.”

This cake didn’t turn out the way that I wanted it to. But it’s okay. So, I’m sharing it anyway.

A Poke Cake is a dessert where a baked, still warm cake gets holes poked through it while it’s still in the pan, then a warm liquid (usually a custard or curd) gets poured into the holes. Once it’s given time to set up, the liquid in the poked holes forms a pretty streaky filling in the cake.

That’s how it’s supposed to work.

But, as y’all can see: there is no streaky filling in my cake.

Those of you who are bakers know how this story goes. You try out a new recipe and hope for the best…and sometimes the best just doesn’t happen. It’s not the worst–but it’s not best either.

Had everything with this cake gone exactly according to my plan, then you guys would currently be able to see pretty strawberry streaks running up and down, all the way through it. Y’know, the way a Poke Cake is supposed to look. But unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. The cake itself baked up beautifully. The strawberry filling came together easily. But when it came time to poke the cake full of holes and pour the filling over the top so that it could seep inside, for some reason it just didn’t budge.

Bummer.

Some of you may be wondering, if the Strawberry Poke Cake didn’t work out, then why are you still posting the recipe, Jess?

Well first, it was still an absolutely delicious pound cake.  Second, although it may not qualify as a Poke Cake,  there was still a delicious strawberry filling on one side, and an equally delicious strawberry icing on the other. In light of that, I saw no reason why it couldn’t qualify as a Strawberry Pound Cake.

Third, I thought that maybe I’d go ahead and post the recipe anyway to see if one of you wanted to try it and might have better success than I did. Then maybe, you’ll come back here and post a comment to let me know how it turned out, and I can try to gauge where the heck I went wrong 😉

Regardless, this one of those”When Things Don’t Turn Out The Way You Want Them To, But It’s Okay.” recipes, and I hope that it’s enjoyed.

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Strawberry Pound Cake

Recipe Adapted from MyRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a Bundt pan or tube cake pan (at least 10 cup capacity).

Combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt together in a medium size bowl and set aside.

Cream together the butter and 3 cups of the sugar together in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed (or use a handheld mixer and a large bowl).

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed just until combined. Add the extracts.

Add to butter mixture alternately with half-and-half, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat on low speed just until combined after each addition.

Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Pound cake is done at an inner temp of 195 degrees Fahrenheit)

Meanwhile, during last 20 minutes of the cake’s baking, pulse strawberries and remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor until smooth, about 45 seconds. Use a spatula to press the mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Set aside 1/2 cup strawberry mixture.

Whisk together water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Combine cornstarch mixture and remaining strawberry mixture in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-high, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, whisking constantly, just until mixture begins to thicken, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes. Using a long wooden skewer, poke holes about 1/2 inch apart into bottom of cake, wiggling skewer slightly to make holes about 1/8 inch wide. (Do not poke skewer all the way through top of cake.) Pour warm strawberry syrup over cake. Let stand until syrup is absorbed and pan is still warm but cool enough to handle, about 45 minutes.

Lay a piece of aluminum foil on top of a wire rack and lightly spray with cooking spray. Invert cake onto rack, and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Whisk together powdered sugar and reserved 1/2 cup strawberry mixture in a medium bowl until smooth. Use a fork to drizzle evenly over cooled cake. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes to allow the icing to harden.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #277, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Chimichurri Meatballs

As the Spring winds down and we get geared up for summer, I start getting craving for certain flavors that I associate with summer. The flavor of fresh herbs reminds me of summer.

A few months back, I made chimichurri for the first time. I absolutely loved it.

It’s bright. It’s fresh. It’s sharp. It’s one of those condiments that I just want to put on everything.

So y’all know me: I’m definitely going to try.

My first chimichurri had a basil base. This one has a parsley and cilantro one. I know some people have a real hate-hate relationship with cilantro, so I actually think that you can use whichever combination of those herbs that you want and it’ll still turn out fine. But I do have to insist on the herbs being fresh, especially since they’re going in both the chimichurri and the meat itself.

One of the things I like most about this is how easy it is to put together. I even feel fairly confident about putting it in the “You Can’t Mess This Up. No, Seriously” categories on the blog. If that and the yummy pictures doesn’t give you enough incentive to try this out, I don’t know what will.

The base for the chimichurri actually doubles as as a seasoning for the meatballs themselves, which  means that you’re going to get double the chimichurri flavor in one bite. The herbs get blitzed together with some garlic in a blender, then half gets set aside, while half goes into the ground meat. (I’ve made this with both beef and turkey and it’s turned out great either way, so don’t worry about swapping out one for the other if you’re not a red meat person).

I prefer to bake my meatballs in the oven for a more even cook. To minimize the mess, I usually line a sheet pan with aluminum foil, then place a baking rack on top of that, sprayed with PAM. It makes for a pretty easy clean up. However, these can be cooked in a skillet. They probably won’t be as round by the end, but that definitely won’t affect the taste.

I actually made a double batch of the chimichurri sauce to have on the side with these. It’s just that good. The bright, fresh and zesty flavors lend themselves so well to the seasoning of the meat, and when it’s added as a condiment I wanted to have a bit of it with every bite. It tasted like summer and I couldn’t wait to share it here. Enjoy.

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Chimichurri Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh parsley
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 pound ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably fresh)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and pepper
  • onion powder
  • 1/3 cup olive or vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Puree the parsley and cilantro with the garlic cloves in a blender.

In a large bowl, combine half of the garlic-herb mix with the ground beef. Season generously with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Add the beaten egg. Add the breadcrumbs. (Try to stir with your hands as quickly as possible, the more you stir, the tougher the meatballs can be)

Shape into meatballs (about 2 tablespoonfuls each). Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a lightly greased rack on an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until browned.

Pulse the remaining herb mix in a blender with the olive or vegetable oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve with the meatballs.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #276, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats & Greens.

Summer Berry Shortcake

So a couple weeks ago after dinner, I got this crazy hankering for shortcake. I really, really, REALLY wanted it.

I know that when a lot of ‘y’all think of shortcake you think of those spongy pre-made mini ‘dessert shells’ with the indent that you can find in the produce section of the grocery store near the strawberries. Y’know the dessert shells that should really just get called by their true name: sponge cake. I’ve seen some that are just straight up angel food cakes. Not that I have a problem with them per se. There’s no judgment here; depending on the company, those can actually be pretty tasty.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

In the first place, sponge cake isn’t shortcake. It’s light and airy and spongy. It’s…sponge cake.

All of the above adjectives contradict shortcake by it’s very definition. Shortcakes are actually very similar to an American-style biscuit, both in texture and the baking method. In a sponge cake, egg whites are beaten until they’re stiff to make the crumb as light as possible. The point of a ‘short’cake, is actually to make a ‘shorter’, denser crumb.

If you’ve tried any of my biscuit recipes on the blog already, then this ,method will look very familiar to you. The frozen butter (and we’ve already established why it’s important that it is frozen) is grated directly into the dry ingredients. I used cake flour to give it the best texture, then in addition to the sugar, flavored the dough with vanilla, ground ginger and cardamom. The spices aren’t overpowering–they’re just going to give the shortcakes a little something extra flavor-wise. You’re going to like it, promise.

The result is a shortcake that has just the right texture. It is slightly dense, but it’s also buttery and tender, with enough height to split it in two and sandwich with the good stuff. Now what that ‘good stuff’ is, I’m going to leave entirely up to you. This is summertime, which means there are plenty of delicious fruits that are in season that are perfect for shortcake; strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots. All are excellent choices. I went with the strawberries and blackberries, but it’s your shortcake so go with what you like best. And of course y’all know to make/use a ton of good whipped cream to cram inside and dollop on top.  It’s the summer–get downright nasty with it.

Linking this up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #230, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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Summer Berry Shortcake

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Shortcake

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, frozen
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed

For Berries

  • 2 quarts of your choice of berries (I used a mix of strawberries & blackberries)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

For Berries: combine the sugar and lemon juice together with the berries and allow to sit for one hour.

Preheat oven to 425°. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. In a small bowl combine the egg with the buttermilk and vanilla extract, set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cardamom and sugar—stir with a fork until combined. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg-buttermilk mixture and stir to combine with a fork. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the shortcakes to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut shortcakes, pressing scraps together to make more no more than two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place shortcakes slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving. Just before serving, split open the shortcakes, spoon half the berries and whipped cream on the bottom half, top with remaining shortcake halves, and spoon on the remaining berries and cream.

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

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Back in the late 90’s early 2000s the Wrigley/Lifesavers candy company came out with this line of candy that they called Creame Savers.

You guys (at least those of you in the U.S.) remember those?

For those that don’t know about/or remember them, the Creme Saver was similar to a Life Saver in that it was a fruit based hard candy except that the fruit flavor was combined with a cream that gave it a distinctive, rich/thicker texture when you sucked/bit on it. The first flavor that they put out was Strawberries and Creame, but it didn’t take very long before they became HUGELY popular, resulting in a rapid succession of other flavors: Oranges & Creame, Raspberries & Creame, even Chocolate & Creame. There was Creame Savers hard candy, Creame Savers soft chew candy, Creame Savers jello, and even Creame Savers flavored yogurt.

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For a while, it seemed like Cream Savers were just everywhere.

Then all of a sudden…they weren’t anymore. From what I understand Wrigly has recently started selling the Strawberry flavor in a new limited release in certain locations, but the Creme Saver craze has definitely died down from what it used to be. I’m not a huge candy fan, but I did like Creme Savers. When I was making today’s recipe, I thought about them and how much the combination of strawberries and cream is just always so much win.

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It’s one that was just made for summer. In summers like this when me and my sisters were younger we used to get cans of Reddi Whip whipped cream along with a carton of strawberries from the grocery store. We would wash/hull the berries, get out forks and take turns passing around the can of whipped cream, filling the berry cavities with whipped cream and eating them raw, just like that.

(I maaaaay or may not *still* do this myself sometimes. Maybe. I couldn’t possibly confirm at this time.)

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I may have lost my taste for Strawberries  and Creame candy, but I’ll never lose my love for strawberries and cream in shortcake or just all on their own.

Also, strawberries and cream in cupcakes. I will probably nevereverever lose my taste for cupcakes.

And if I ever do, somebody give me two tight slaps and ask me if I’ve lost my mind; the answer in that case would probably be a most definite “yes”. If there are some of you who may unfortunately think you’ve lost or never really had a taste for cupcakes, then don’t worry. I’m not going to give you two tight slaps and ask if you’ve lost your minds; I mean, I could. But I think a much better, more effective solution would be to just present you with these: Strawberries and Cream cupcakes.

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These cupcakes are very simple, no-frills and little fuss… but then, good things in life oftentimes are.

I will say one thing about this recipe though, and that I found that it made slightly more batter than I think is suitable for a 12 muffin cup pan. I tried containing it to just 12 cupcakes and what ended up happening was that before baking, the liners were fuller than what I was comfortable with. As a result, I had some spillage which is why the finished cupcakes settled a little flat rather than having domed tops. While that definitely didn’t affect the taste, it is a detail I think is worth pointing out. I think maybe just using 2 or 3 extra more muffin cups would produce the best results

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So, as I said before, this a very simple recipe. You can make these from start to finish in the space of about 1.5 hours. However, don’t let you think that that means the taste is simple.

It’s not.

The secret weapon in this recipe is the use of the fresh strawberry puree. It adds that tart strawberry flavor to the vanilla based-batter while also balancing the sweetness of the frosting beautifully, somehow managing to make it taste light and airy–the texture is actually very similar to whipped cream. Plus, doesn’t it make them look so pretty-in-pink?

I’ll be at the Fiesta Friday #130 party this week with these cupcakes. You should come out and get one while I’ve still got ’em.

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Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine

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Ingredients

For Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup strawberries, hulled
  • 1/2 cup milk

For Frosting

  • 1 1/2 sticks softened butter
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup Strawberry puree (see recipe)
  • About 6-8 Whole strawberries, sliced into quarters, optional
  • Strawberry rock candy (or sprinkles), optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium size bowl with a whisk or a fork and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a standing mixer on medium high speed. Add the eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla.

Puree the strawberries until smooth. Add all EXCEPT 1/4 cup to the cupcake batter. Set aside the 1/4 cup in small bowl.

Carefully add the flour mixture to  the batter in medium increments until fully incorporated, alternating with the 1/2 cup of milk. (It’s best to start and end with the flour) Don’t over-mix.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until tops spring back, 20-25 minutes. Transfer to baking rack and let cool 5 minutes in the pan before removing the cupcakes and letting them cool completely.

Beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar and salt with a mixer on medium speed  until just combined. Add the vanilla and beat on medium high until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the milk and 1/4 cup of strawberry puree beat for about 1 minute more until fluffy.

Spread frosting on top of cooled cupcakes. Top with sliced strawberries and strawberry rock candy/sprinkles if desired.

Squash Casserole

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When I was putting this post together, I couldn’t stop thinking about this game that me and my twin sister Jas would play when we were little kids.

We grew up in the 90’s, where there were still such things as boom boxes, walkmans and cassette tapes around. I’m sure most of you still remember those, but for the ‘youngins’ that don’t, it’s cool- just google it. Anyway, my mom kept a large number of blank cassette tapes around that she used to make copies of music albums or church sermons. Eventually it got to the point where we had too many lying around that really weren’t serving any particular purpose.

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Jas and I has this weird quality of being able to make a game out of just about anything. Blank cassette tapes were no different, and one summer day we came up with the idea of using the cassette tapes, as well as two double deck boom boxes we had to record ourselves in a game. We would pretend that we were DJs on our very own imaginary radio station. I played the radio station’s primary ‘Host’, and Jas played the primary ‘Sponsor’- (why the sponsor would be on the actual broadcast of the radio show, I don’t know but we always just stuck with that title).

We even gave it a name and slogan: “WSFJ-Where Jesus Is the Way.” We gathered together all of our music cassette tapes and assembled a playlist of mixed Christian contemporary music that we recorded onto the tapes using the double deck. In the true style of actual radio stations, we had commercial breaks in between the songs where Jas as the ‘Sponsor’ would give product endorsements, ads and recommendations. We had a Book Club segment where we shared our favorite books and read off our favorite excerpts. Then there was even a Debate & Discussion segment where the two of us would discuss and debate various topics on the air, taking ‘questions’ from imaginary ‘callers’.

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 It may sound silly to you all now, but for us, it was a real blast. I think we accumulated over seven double sided cassette tapes from our imaginary little ‘radio station’.My mom insisted we keep them even after we grew up, saying that we would like listening to them later.  And it’s nothing if not entertaining  to listen a period in my life when I was young, silly and just having a lot of fun with something seemingly ordinary that me and Jas were able to turn into something we made a lot of fun.

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 What does that have to do with this post? Well, zucchini is one of those things that people tend to have a whole lot of around this time of year as they harvest their gardens, then try to find as many uses of it as possible just to not let it go to waste. When they run out of ideas, they usually start handing it out to other people to see if they can find something to do with it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a personal garden to grow my own zucchini, but fortunately I know a few people that do. And when they unload some of their surplus zucchini on me, I like finding other uses for it other than just zucchini bread (not that zucchini bread isn’t awesome enough on its own.)

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This recipe is one of the easiest, but tastiest ones I’ve ever tried when cooking with zucchini. Once you get our zucchini all chopped up, it all literally comes together in minutes and bakes in less than thirty. I serve it as a side dish, but it’s certainly good enough to eat all on it’s own. I used regular butter Ritz crackers to top it, but I can also see using some other flavored crackers to give it a twist, like ones flavored with garlic or herbs.

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Squash Casserole

Recipe Courtesy of Paula Deen

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 6 cups large diced yellow squash and zucchini
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon your favorite seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash or Emeril’s Essence)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup crushed butter crackers (recommended: Ritz)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Saute the squash in a little vegetable oil over medium-low heat until it has completely broken down, about 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Line a colander with a clean tea towel. Place the cooked squash in the lined colander. Squeeze excess moisture from the squash. Set aside.

4. In a medium size skillet, saute the onion in butter for 5 minutes. Remove from pan and mix all ingredients together except cracker crumbs.

5. Pour mixture into a buttered casserole dish and top with cracker crumbs. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve.

Hushpuppies

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Guys, guess what?

I just got a new computer. After four years, my old Acer finally had to buy the farm. See what had happened was, the power cord jack has been increasingly wearing out to the point where the cord couldn’t stay inside of it by itself.Because new laptops are expensive (and because I’m cheap) I put up with it for a while, just not plugging it in until I needed to, then being sure not to move the laptop too much (or so much as a inch at times). It was super annoying, but I still roughed it out.

But last week, I had myself a little scare. I needed to charge my laptop, so I plugged it in….and nothing happened. It didn’t pick up the signal from the wall charger. And my battery was running low.

Did I mention that all of my photos, documents, programs from the last five years are stored on my Acer laptop? No? They definitely are.

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So yeah, that resulted in a mini freak out on my part where I frantically plugged, unplugged, re-plugged, and re-unplugged my laptop- all while softly muttering prayers to Jesus that if he let my computer charge just one more time, I would promise  to finally stop being such a cheap skate and just get another one. I also may have swore to go serve in a leper colony somewhere for the rest of my life.

(Yes, I know that even if the computer had went dead, I’d be able to take it somewhere to recover the files off my hard drive. I’m not a complete idiot- I was just having a complete melt down and wasn’t thinking straight. Plus, weren’t you listening? I’m a cheapskate. Paying for a new computer AND paying someone to recover the files off my old laptop to transfer to the new one? Ain’t nobody got for that.)

Well, I don’t know which one those promises to Jesus did the trick, but the signal finally did connect between my old Acer and the charger. Crisis averted-temporarily anyway. Now I had to keep  my promise and buy a new laptop. (I’m choosing to assume that He knows my promise about the lepers was just Jessica being His usual, crazy, overeaacting Jessica. He knows I’d be useless in a leper colony, anyway)

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 I got my new laptop a couple of days later, and it’s pretty awesome. All my other laptops have been ‘economic’ purchases, where I bought something that would suit my purposes, but wasn’t the ‘one’ I wanted.

This HP ENVY x360- 15 Touch laptop, is definitely what I want. It’s not only beautiful, it also came with as much space as I could get on a laptop without being a desktop computer. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a new laptop… and isn’t a Mac fan. Because I’m not. #TeamPC til the day I die.

Anyway, moving onto the food. I decided to put a real Southern meal on my family’s table and this was one of the things I made to go on the side with the rest of the food (other recipes from that meal to follow).

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Why are these things called hushpuppies? Do we have something against just calling them what they are (cornmeal fritters)? I was curious, so I did some research (meaning I just googled it) and found out that they get their name from the Civil War Era, where they were thrown to hunting dogs to keep them from scaring prey away, or at picnics/cookouts to make them  ‘hush’. True? Maybe, maybe not- but all I know is that just bout everyone seems to love them.

Hushpuppies are a staple of classic Southern food- they’ve got to be done right, and these don’t disappoint. The exterior is perfectly browned and crisp, with the inside soft and tender. I eat mine several different ways: doused in Frank’s Red Hot, crumbled over my greens, or even dipped in ketchup (it’s good, trust me).

These are an excellent side dish- or you could just eat them all on their own. I wouldn’t judge you.

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Hushpuppies

Recipe Courtesy of Pat and Gina Neely

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup self rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 small Vidalia onion, finely grated
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, optional

Directions

1. Preheat 2 inches peanut oil in a deep-fryer or Dutch oven to 375. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, 1 teaspoon salt, the sugar, cayenne and paprika in a large bowl to get rid of the lumps.

2. Mix in the remaining ingredients, stirring well to combine.

3. Dip 2 spoons into a mug of water (this allows the batter to come clean off). Scoop up about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the batter and carefully slide it into the hot oil, working in batches. Fry the scoops of batter 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked all the way through (test the first one for doneness).

4. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet, seasoning with salt as they come out of the fryer.

Banana Yogurt Popsicles

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Whenever summer comes around, I get really nostalgic for my childhood. I know I’m probably not the only one to feel this way, but I feel like summer time was just so much more awesome when I was younger.

Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that it was at a time when I was still in elementary school (and thus on summer vacation), and also was too young to have a job (that has no summer vacation). Still, childhood summertime nostalgia is the best. Here are just a few memories that I have:

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Back when Will Smith was still rapping (and also The Fresh Prince of Bel Air), he came out with a song called “Summertime”. Yes, I still listen to it now every summer. It’s a classic. It never gets old.

Please tell me there’s someone out there that remembers when this commercial used to come on The Disney Channel. It was  back when The Disney Channel was actually good to watch.

I remember when Nick at Nite used to come on after Nickeldeon shows were over late at night. During the summer, there was this special marathon of shows that came on called the Nick at Nite Block Party Summer. Each night featured a different show; the Munsters were on Mondays, I Love Lucy was on Tuesdays, Bewitched was on Wednesdays, I Dream of Jeannie was on Thursdays (I didn’t watch Bewitched or I Dream of Jeannie, but I still remember them), and Friday was for The Brady Bunch. It may have seemed weird for a 9 year old to like watching shows that old, but for some reason I was just addicted to the Nick at Nite Block Party Summer.

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Summertime meant that my grandpa would go and buy watermelons from the grocery store at least once a week that we could all eat. I can’t even think of how much watermelon I used to eat. It was a lot, suffice to say.

I remember playing outside when it was hot. Me and my sisters would turn our frisbees upside down and fill them up with grass, weeds, dandelions and other yard waste. We chopped them up together and pretended we were cooking some kind of food dish (no, we didn’t eat it). Then when the sun set and it became cool, we caught fireflies and ate popsicles.

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The popsicles I ate when I was younger were mostly the red, white, and blue Turbo Rocket ones that were mostly just made of sugar and water and turned your tongue and lips different colors. Now that I’m older, I find that my popsicle palate (if that’s even a real thing) has become somewhat more ‘refined’…or just pickier. I still get cravings for popsicles- I just want them to be a little more complex than the ones I was glad to settle for when I was younger.

I’d been meaning to buy popsicle molds for a while now, but they’re just one of those things that you continually walk past in the store telling yourself, “One of these days, I’ll getcha.”

And then you never do. Except this time, I did, if for nothing else, than to make me come up with recipes to use them for this summer. Today’s post is the first of what I hope will be a nice, delicious collection of popsicle recipes.

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This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite recipes: Southern Banana Pudding. I hope to God you guys have had at least one good Southern Banana Pudding in your life. If you haven’t, then you’re really missing out  and I really do feel sorry for you- cause it is that serious. Rest assured, I will be sharing my grandma’s banana pudding recipe on the blog, but for now let’s just stick with these popsicles.

I think that the one thing that turns me off about most standard issue popsicles today is just that they’re either really, really, really, sweet or just really, really, really watered down and bland. I wanted to alleviate both of these problems in my popsicles, especially given that they’re inspired by banana pudding, which shouldn’t be too sweet or watery in and of itself. The yogurt base really gives these a smooth, but robust and creamy taste that’s further enhanced by the mashed bananas. I added the vanilla wafers to the recipe to give them even more texture to compliment the smoothness of the yogurt base and to add to the banana pudding inspiration.

There is one way that this recipe differs from both regular popsicles and Southern Banana Pudding, and that’s that these popsicles are actually healthy so far as ingredients go. They make for a really light, cold and satisfying snack or dessert for the hot summer days that are upon most of us nowadays. They’e also my contribution to this week’s Fiesta Friday #22 hosted by  Prudy@Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs and Elaine@foodbod. Enjoy , guys 🙂

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Banana Yogurt Popsicles

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Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp banana extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup finely crushed vanilla wafers, plus 3 tbsp, divided

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients except for 3 tbsp of crushed vanilla wafers in a bowl.

2. Sprinkle 2 tsp of crushed wafers into the bottom of your popsicle molds.

3. Pour in yogurt and banana mix, leaving a little bit of space in the top of the molds. Sprinkle the remainder of the crushed wafers over the top of the molds. Insert popsicle sticks and cover each mold with aluminum foil.

4. Place in freezer until hardened, a few hours. Remove and enjoy!

(Tip to remove popsicles from plastic molds: run molds underneath hot water or place molds into a bowl of hot water for about a minute. Gently tug on popsicles sticks, the popsicles should come out.)