Monday, June 30, 2008

Strawberry Shortcake

Well, you knew it was coming, right? A strawberry recipe! With over 4 pounds of strawberries to deal with from Friday's adventure, I actually did some in depth research trying to find the perfect recipe. But I ended up deciding on the classic strawberry shortcake. It really lets the strawberries stand out and that's what I was looking for. It's tart, sweet, and creamy all at the same time. Very satisfying!

Strawberry Shortcake

5 to 6 cups slice strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 beaten egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
1 large tub Cool Whip or two cups heavy whipped cream, whipped to stiff peaks

Slice strawberries and mix with 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Set aside. Stir remaining sugar, flour, and baking powder in a large bowl. Add butter and cut into mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make indentation in flour mixture and add egg and milk. Stir until just moist. Spread dough into greased 8x1 1/2 inch round pan or 8 inch square pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes or until center springs back when touched. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.

Remove cake from pan. Cut cake in half horizontally. Spoon half the strawberries over the bottom half of cake. Top with half the whipped cream. Place remaining cake layer on top and repeat steps. Cut and serve.

"Let me take you down, cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields."

-John Lennon

Friday, June 27, 2008

Strawberry Pickin'

Sometimes it's the small things that make your day. Getting to go strawberry picking was mine. I had lots of grocery shopping to get done this morning so I didn't think we'd get to go. But when we got done a little early, we flew down to a local farm to see if they still had pick ur own available. Today was the last day! Whew. Being that we were across town and didn't really know the area that well, I had to get directions from the farm's retail shop to the strawberry field. Well, wouldn't you know we got lost. But after asking a nice police officer for directions, we found it and started picking. Over 4 pounds and 20 minutes later, we were happy. Those strawberries smelled so good all the way home! I couldn't wait to have some so I had a plate for lunch topped with whipped cream. Oh, my. Now what to make out of the 4 pounds of strawberries....

"The strawberry: "Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did."

-Dr William Butler, 17th century English writer

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Texas Sheet Cake

While cruising around some blogs, I kept seeing recipes for Texas Sheet Cake popping up. I've heard of the cake, but that's it. Now I was curious. What's the big deal about this cake? Oh boy, did I ever find out! I decided to not use any of the recipes I came across but instead found one under Southern Food on one of my favorite sites. As I made it, I kept thinking that the recipe was too simple to be anything spectacular. But the cake that came out of my oven was out of this world good! And Texas-sized huge, too! I reserved some for my family then sent the rest with the hubby to work. Both places had no more cake by the end of the day. You gotta try this one!

Texas Sheet Cake

1 cup butter
1 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, water and cocoa in a saucepan over med. heat. Heat until butter melts. Add sugar, flour, salt, eggs, soda, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour into a 15 x 10 x 1- inch jelly roll pan (it really does fit!). Bake for 20 minutes.


1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup cocoa

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk

1 box confectioner's sugar (1 pound), sifted (4 1/4 cups, sifted)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Combine butter, cocoa and milk in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Add remaining ingredients and mix well with electric mixer. Spread over the hot sheet cake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired.

"I thought I knew Texas pretty well, but I had no notion of its size until I campaigned it."
-Ann Richards

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sloppy Joe Pizza

I have to admit, this recipe intrigued me. How on earth do you combine sloppy joes and pizza? Since both are favorites of mine, there was no chance I would pass on this one. It turned out so good! Paired with a salad, it was a perfect dinner. A new family favorite that I can't wait to make again.

Sloppy Joe Pizza

1 can (13.8 oz.) refrigerated pizza dough
1 pound lean ground beef (80 to 90% lean)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup thick chunky salsa or 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup Concord grape jelly
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large cookie sheet with vegetable spray. Unroll pizza dough on the cookie sheet and press into a rectangle. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

In a skillet, brown beef and onion over medium heat. Drain well. Stir in dry mustard, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, salsa or tomatoes, and jelly into beef mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring as needed, until slightly thickened.

Spread beef mixture oven baked crust. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 10 to 15 minutes longer, until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown. Let stand before cutting.

Note: additional toppings- 1/4 cup jalapeno peppers, diced (cook with beef and onions) and/or 1 can chopped olives.

"We live in an age when pizza gets to your home before the police."
-Jeff Marder

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Adirondack Flapjacks

When it comes to making pancakes, I've always been a straight-from-the-box sort of gal. But sometimes you just got to break out of the mold and get adventurous. After making these, I am now giving up the box. They were light and fluffy and too easy to make. Add syrup, honey or preserves to finish them off. I even gave my kids a little whipped cream on top for fun. Yum!

Adirondack Flapjacks
4 eggs, separated
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat eggs whites to firm peaks. Set aside. Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl. Add sugar, salt, milk and butter. Add vanilla. Mix well. Gradually add the flour and baking powder. Fold in egg whites.

Grease griddle with shortening and set on medium to high heat. Once griddle is hot, pour pancake batter, about 3 to 4 pancakes each time. Once the pancakes are golden brown, remove to a plate and keep warm.
Serve with butter, warm syrup or honey, or preserves.

Makes about 15 medium sized pancakes.

"The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves."
-W. C. Fields

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beginners Chocolate Cake

My oldest daughter loves to bake. I have no idea where she gets that from. But she's decided that having dear old mom in the kitchen with her to help out is a major pain. This usually results in a cringe inducing mess for me. This time, however, she kept the mess to a minimum and at the same time produced a cake none of us could stop eating. That's my girl!

Beginner's Chocolate Cake

2 rounded Tablespoons cocoa
4 Tablespoons hot water
1 cup soft margarine
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 3/4 cups self rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

8 oz. semi sweet baking chocolate or chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter

Grease and flour two 8 inch round cake pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, add hot water to cocoa. Stir until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat margarine, sugar, eggs, flour, and baking powder. Add cocoa mixture and stir. Pour even amount of batter into each cake pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until they rise. Cool on wire rack.

For the frosting, melt chocolate in a bowl that is over a pan of hot water. Cut up butter and place in bowl with chocolate. Mix until blended. Remove from hot water.

Remove one cake from pan. Place on plate and frost the top. Add the other cake and frost top and sides of cake. Decorate as desired.

Adapted from Usborne Cooking School Cakes & Cookies for Beginners

"A daughter is a mother's gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self."
-Author Unknown

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sparkling Punch

With the heat last week, punch sounded so good and refreshing. So for Father's Day, along with the Root Beer my husband loves, I made this punch. I didn't expect it to be fantastic with so few ingredients, so I was surprised when it was delicious. The flavors blended so well and the soda added the right amount of kick. And this is so easy to make ahead. Just add the soda right before serving.

Sparkling Punch

2 cans (12 oz sizes) frozen pink lemonade concentrate, thawed
8 cups white cranberry juice cocktail
4 cups club soda
4 cups ginger ale

Mix pink lemonade and white cranberry juices together well in a large pitcher. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Stir in sodas just before serving.
Garnish with Mint sprigs, if desired

Adapted from Southern Living

"Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each."
-Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

"It is a wise father that knows his own child."
- William Shakespeare

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Garden Pasta Salad

I can't remember for the life of me where I first saw this recipe. But I'm so glad I decided to try it. It's one of the only things I can make from memory. It helps a lot that the ingredients are easily adapted to taste. I usually serve it as a main course and add a bread or potatoes type of side dish to the dinner. It's quick, easy, and filling. And it makes enough for a party or plenty of leftovers to snack on. Enjoy!

Garden Pasta Salad

1 16 oz box of garden spiral pasta
1 8 oz package cubed cheese
1 can black olives, chopped
1 16 oz bottle three cheese salad dressing, light or regular
1/2 head broccoli, crowns only, cut small
1 cucumber, cut into quarters
chopped tomatoes, if desired

Heat water in a large pot, add pasta and cook until done. Drain pasta and rinse with cold water until at least lukewarm. Put pasta in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, reserving about 1/4 cup of the dressing. Chill salad until ready to serve. Add additional dressing as needed.

"Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it."
-Russel Baker

"Weather means more when you have a garden. There's nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans."
-Marcelene Cox

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Perfect Potato Salad

Since this heat wave started here in the Northeast, I've been looking for dinners that would keep us cool. Potato Salad is a definite classic. But since I don't like eggs in mine, I wanted a recipe that would taste great without them. I altered this one, and it was delicious!

Perfect Potato Salad

2 1/2 pounds red or Idaho potatoes
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish or chopped sweet pickles
2 large hard-cooked eggs, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped or 2 green onions, chopped
1 1/4 cup Miracle Whip or regular mayo
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard

Cook potatoes with skins on in boiling water for 25-30 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and cool slightly. Peel and cube potatoes.

Combine all ingredients except potatoes. Mix well. Add potatoes and mix until potatoes are coated all over. Chill then serve.

“It is easy to halve the potato where there is love."
-Irish Sayings

Friday, June 6, 2008

My Own Music Station

My sister sent me a link to one of the coolest sites I've seen in a while. The site lets you create your own music stations based on your favorite songs. And you can create different radio stations based on the different types of music you like. I haven't created any stations yet, but my sister says it's lots of fun. And it's free. Who can beat that?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Easy Summer Fruit Dip

It's supposed to get into the 90's here starting tomorrow. Whew! That is too hot for June. When the temp gets that high, I can't eat anything hot. It just doesn't appeal to me. So when I tried this recipe for fruit dip, I thought it was perfect. Nice and cool, creamy and sweet. We used fresh pinapple, red grapes, watermelon, and apples. Add sandwiches and a salad and you've got a wonderful summer dinner.

Easy Fruit Dip

4 oz. cream cheese, regular or light
1 cup Marshmallow Creme

Mix until blended. Serve with favorite fruits cut into bite size.
Makes enough for 6 servings.

"Patience is bitter, but it bears sweet fruit."
-Turkish Proverb

Monday, June 2, 2008

Finding A Job

Those of you who've read my blog for a while now have heard me drone on about my frequent homesickness. Growing up in Virginia has spoiled me but good! I dream of moving back home and raising my children there. My hubby and I have looked at many towns in the south to move to, but our thoughts keep going back to Roanoke.

We made a visit to Roanoke last spring and enjoyed it a lot. But finding a job has been very hard. My husband works now in Pittsburgh as a manager in the health services/aging field. He also teaches psychology part time at the local colleges. His third job is working for a national seminar company doing mental health seminars around the country. But besides finding a part time teaching job at a college in Roanoke, we haven't been able to find anything even remotely close to a full time job to apply for.

Does anyone have any idea how we could get in touch with someone who could assist us in finding full time employment? I figured blogging might be a good way to network so I'm hoping for a lead. Thanks ahead of time if you can help!

"In any moment of decision,
the best thing you can do is the right thing,
the next best thing is the wrong thing,
and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
-Theodore Roosevelt

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."
- Milton Berle