Peach Cobbler Bars

There are some foods that just taste like they were made for summer.

When I think of stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots), I think of summer. When I eat stone fruit, it’s usually summer. A large part of this is because stone fruit season is during the summer months. But I also think it just comes down to the flavors.

They’re sharp and bright and fresh. They’re sweet, juicy and refreshing–all of the tastes that you want on hot summer days.

I can never let the summer pass without making SOME kind of fruit dessert, specifically a stone fruit one. I just can’t do it.

Fortunately, I do make a pretty mean peach cobbler.  However, if I had to give ONE downside to it, I would say that cobbler’s don’t exactly ‘travel’ well. Divvying it up after that first day can also be a little bit tricky.

Today’s recipe is a twist on the original and solves both of those pesky cobbler complications without being any more difficult to make than the original.

Most peach cobblers are made with a fruit filling on the bottom, and a puffy, biscuit-like crust that gets plopped on top, then baked for about an hour. The main difference here, is that there’s crust on the top and bottom, and the texture is slightly different.

If I had to liken it to anything, I’d say the crust is like a cross between shortbread and pie crust and it comes together very easily. The easiest way will be if you have a box grater to cut the butter into the flour, but if you don’t it’s not a big deal. Just cut it into small cubes and smash it up with a fork or pastry blender. Unlike some cobblers whose crusts can get drowned in filling, this crust holds up very well for all of the juicy peach filling that gets poured on top.

I think what I love most about this dish is that all of the proportions are just right. There’s just the right amount of peach filling to crust. Neither one overwhelms the other. The flavors of the peaches are sublime and they bake to a perfect, juicy gooey consistency. This is a PERFECT dish for traveling to summer barbecues, cookouts, potlucks or the beach. Once you give it enough time to cool, the bars cut very easily, and they’re simple to place into individualized portions.

Best of all, even if you’re a beginner baker, you can pull this off. So get to it. Summer will be over before we know it.

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Peach Cobbler Bars

Recipe Adapted from Taste of the South

Ingredients

  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 8 cups peeled, pitted, and diced fresh peaches, nectarines, plums, or apricots (any stone fruit you want to use will work) (about 8 peaches)
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cold butter, (whole, or cubed)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1⁄2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1/4 cup-1/3 cup milk, if needed

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 13 x 9 baking dish with aluminum foil and spray it GENEROUSLY with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a  large bowl combine 1 cup of the brown sugar with the cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Stir in the peaches, orange zest and orange juice until the peaches are evenly coated. Set aside.

In another large bowl combine the whisk together the other 1 cup of brown sugar with the flour, oats, baking powder and salt. If you have a box grater, use it to grate the butter into the dry ingredients. If you do not, then cut the butter into cubes and use a fork or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until they are crumbly and resemble bread crumbs in texture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, sour cream, and vanilla. Make a well into the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet, using a large fork to stir together just until combined. If after stirring, it is still too dry and crumbly, you may add the milk, a little bit at a time until it does hold together into a craggy mass. (It doesn’t have to be perfect or super wet).

Press 3/4s of the flour mixture into the bottom of the lined baking dish. You can use your fingers, the bottom of a measuring cup or a spatula you’ve sprayed with cooking spray. (Don’t worry about making it perfect, just try to aim for as even a layer as you can so you get an even bottom crust.)

Pour the reserved peach filling on top of the bottom crust and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining flour-butter mixture, trying to get an even layer out of it, breaking it apart with your fingers if need be (It’s going to spread out and fill out while baking, so again, don’t stress about making it perfect).

Place the baking dish on a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven until browned, set and bubbling, about 50-60 minutes. (You may have to cover the top with foil if it browns too quickly for the middle to set up.)

Allow to cool for about 30-40 minutes before cutting into bars.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #286, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau and Laurena @ Life Diet Health.

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.

Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps

Y’all, can I half-way complain about something? Just for a few minutes. I promise I’ll make this quick.

I’m in my third year of living on the West coast now. I’m well aware by now that the weather here is much warmer, for much longer than it was in the Mitten at this time of year. I know that we don’t get to really see the seasons ‘change’. I know that corn mazes, apple orchards, and sweater weather aren’t really a ‘thing’ outchea.

I miss all of the above, but I’m still fine with going without all of that. There’s just one thing that is really starting to bug me.

I am so sick of the heat.

Seriously. I’m not just over it, I’m overBOARD it. I kinda expect those summer temperatures to carry into September, but by the time October rolls around, I’m kinda ready for them to move along on their way. And they haven’t. They haven’t gone ANYWHERE. Like I said, I’m not exactly expecting sweater weather but I’d at least be able to walk home without getting sweaty.

AND ANOTHER THING. This weather is really putting a damper on my autumn appetite.

Y’all get autumn appetites too, right?

Much like in the summer, I have a massive appetite for things like charcoal BBQ, lots of fruit and whipped cream and lemonade. But as we roll into October, my summer appetite starts to fade and my autumn appetite starts to rev its engine.

And suddenly, all I want is comfort, stick-to-your-ribs food: stew, chili, pot roast, cornbread, apple cider, cinnamon sugary stuff. All of the things that warm you up from the inside out and make you want to take a nap.

But guess what? I’m not really in the mood for food that warms me up on the inside when I’m already too hot from the weather outside. That’s my half-complaint. It’s autumn and I’m not in the mood for autumn food because it still feels like the dead of summer where I’m at. ‘Kay, that’s it. Now onto the food.

Since it’s still too hot outside for autumn food where I’m at, I figured that I could just make something that catered more to the summer weather. Lettuce wraps are right up there so far as I’m concerned. They’re light, they’re refreshing, they’re lower in carbs than tacos. (I don’t really care about that last part, but whatever, they’re still yummy and summery).

Hoisin sauce is like an Asian style ketchup–except in my opinion, it’s much tastier. Hoisin, soy sauce, minced ginger and chili sauce forms the base of the sauce that the pork in this dish is braised in. All together it makes for a sauce that’s salty-sweet, and given a punch of spiciness from the ginger and garlic. Make sure you get lettuce that’s going to hold it’s shape when you place the meat and toppings inside–Boston Bibb or butter works best. I drizzled Sriracha on top of mine to make it extra spicy. It may not be summer anymore, but if you’ve got summer weather where you’re at, maybe you’d like to try this yourself.

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Hoisin Pork Lettuce Wraps

Recipe Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lbs of boneless pork shoulder, cut into chunks
  • Pepper, Onion powder and garlic powder
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion, cut into chunks.
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Sesame seeds
  • Butter or romaine lettuce leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Season the meat all over liberally with the pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

Heat about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over high heat. Sear the meat until browned, about 3-5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Add the onion to the pot and stir to coat the onion in the browned bits. Allow to saute until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic and allow to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.

Add the soy sauce, hoisin, brown sugar, fresh ginger, chili sauce, five spice and chicken broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, the reduce heat to a low simmer. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add the pork back to the pot and stir to combine.

Cover tightly with lid or alumnum foil. Bake in the oven until the pork is softened and easily pulled with a fork, 1 1/2-2 hours. Serve the pork with the lettuce leaves, shredded carrots and sesame seeds.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #245, co-hosted by Liz @ spadesspatulasandspoons.com and Deb @ Pantry Portfolio.

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

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes1

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.

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes2

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.)

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes3

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.

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes5

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

Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes6

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.

Summer Pasta Salad

Summer Pasta Salad1

What do hot, hot, HOT summer days make you think of? For me, it’s a number of things.

Growing up and eating MASSIVE amounts of watermelon with my grandpa.

Being on summer vacation from school and getting to wake up whenever the heck I want. (I’m an ‘adult’ with a regular ‘job’ now, so this doesn’t happen anymore.)

The song “Summer Nights” from Grease.

Summer Pasta Salad3

The sound of the ice cream truck music playing in my grandmother’s neighborhood.

Spike Lee’s movie, “Do the Right Thing”.

The handful of summer camps/programs that my Mom signed me up for…neither of which I ever liked.

Cedar Point trips.

Beautiful, cool(er) sunsets.

Summer Pasta Salad2

Now how about food? I know that for me, I have “Summer Memories”, and then apart from that, I have “Summer Food Memories.”

Watermelon. Eating watermelon wedge after watermelon wedge until I start burping- that’s how I know when to stop.

Ice cream. One of the only things that I like about extreme summer heat is that it gives me an excuse to eat ice cream. It’s not like I ever NEED an excuse. I definitely eat ice cream in the dead of winter as well, but…still.

Popsicles. Not the watery kind in the plastic wrappers; REAL popsicles with chunks of fruit that are so thick and creamy, you can chew them.

Barbecue. Nothing replaces  the flavor that a charcoal grill can inject into a piece of meat. Nothing.

Summer Pasta Salad4

Finally, there’s pasta salad.

Pasta salad has gotta be one of the most quintessential summer foods there is. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like pasta salad.

I don’t know if I even WANT to know anyone who doesn’t like pasta salad.

I’ve tried lots of different kinds of pasta salads in the past that experimented with different flavors, including this VERY delicious Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad. However, this recipe sticks to the ‘basics’ of pasta salad, resulting in a dish that is pretty much guaranteed to please everybody.

I’ve included all of the ingredients that I personally prefer in my pasta salad, but should you try this out, feel free to add or swap out stuff that you or your family prefers, like cheese, olives, or meat.

I think it’ll make for a pretty cool summer memory 😉

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Summer Pasta Salad


Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Penne pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 green , yellow or orange bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped and undrained
  • 1 cup yellow canned corn, drained
  • 3 mini salad cucumbers, thinly sliced

Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced

 

Directions

Combine all of the salad dressing ingredients together in a glass measuring cup with a whisk.. Taste and adjust for seasoning if need be.

In a large bowl, toss all of the salad ingredients together, then drizzle in your desired amount of the dressing.

Refrigerate pasta salad for at least an hour to allow flavors to meld, but preferably overnight. Serve chilled.