Strawberry Cake

I love strawberries and some of my favorite baked goods use them. I have shared just a few of my favorite ways to enjoy strawberries here, but this is a new one. It’s simple and perfect for any occasion – like today is Thursday…I needed cake! This smells amazing while baking, and the vanilla sugar makes a difference! The finished cake is beautifully light, fruity and floral (thanks to the vanilla sugar). The raw sugar sprinkled on top before baking, became caramelized and crunchy. I like the strawberries arranged on top, it’s simple but elegant and girly! It’s a perfect spring time treat and great for sharing if you’re feeling generous 😉 I’m sure I will make this many more times this strawberry season.

I also have a unique way of hulling strawberries to show you. I saw this technique on Good Eats, where AB uses a large star tip for cutting and extracting the hulls of strawberries. AB is not a fan of “unitaskers” and a strawberry huller is just that. I thought it was pretty clever, and thankfully I had one that worked perfectly. ( ‘scuse the camera phone pictures).

Carefully twist the leaves off the top of your strawberries.

Gently twist the star tip into the center of the stem end of the strawberry, making sure to go as deep into the berry as the tip will allow.

Gently pull out the tip and your strawberry will have a nice hole in the center where the hull used to be. See? So easy – now make this!  Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Strawberry Cake – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pie plate
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar (*I used vanilla sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 tablespoons raw or sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch pie plate. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Put butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; mix in egg, milk, and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture. Transfer batter to buttered pie plate. Arrange strawberries on top of batter, cut sides down and as close together as possible. Sprinkle raw/sanding sugar over berries.

Bake cake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, about 1 hour. Let cool in pie plate on a wire rack. Cut into wedges. Cake can be stored at room temperature, loosely covered, up to 2 days.

Advertisements

Sam’s Club/Costco Knock-Off Jumbo Muffins

You know those giant chocolate muffins with chocolate chips from the club stores? Well, these are so similar to those it’s a little scary! The only difference is that these much less dense and a whole lot cheaper to make at home. I used to make this recipe in the recommended bundt pan years ago. I haven’t thought of it until recently when my big sister told me about it. She blogged the recipe here, and I remembered where I first saw it. Years ago I used Allrecipes all the time, but now there are so many options out there, but my most recent discovery is Pinterest. It is so easy to find new recipes that I might never find via Tastespotting.com. Anyway, I don’t normally use boxed cake mixes anymore, or the instant pudding mix but this recipe makes for a super easy, moist and chocolaty cake. I’m sending M to work with several of these so I don’t eat them all!;) (Oh – I made the muffin papers from parchment squares, it’s really easy to do.) Thanks for reading, enjoy!


Chocolate Muffins –  adapted from Allrecipes.com

makes 12 jumbo muffins, or 24 regular sized muffins

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Directions –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into muffin tins (3/4 fill for jumbo, 2/3 for regular sized). Bake for 20-25 minutes for jumbo, or 15-20 minutes for regular sized muffins – or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tin for 3-5 minutes, then take them out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

Two Minutes to Chocolate Fix

Quick Post: I doubled the recipe for my chocoholic husband and I. It was quick which was what we both needed. The texture is different from other cakes or brownies I have had before, but I think that is because there is no egg added to this. The night after we tried these, I made a mug cake with eggs to see the difference – but that will be a different post! 😉 These were okay, certainly not as good as these or these, but for a quick fix it meets the requirements. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Two-Minute Mug Brownie – adapted from Babble

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp canola or other mild vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp milk, coffee or water

Directions –

In a heatproof mug or ramekin, stir together the dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Stir in the oil and milk until you have a thick paste.

Microwave on high for a minute, checking it after 30 seconds (microwaves vary) – it will be done when it’s springy on top but still a bit gooey – like the very best brownie. Eat warm.

Garlic Bread Pizza

Quick Post: I found this on Pinterest the other day and knew that this would be on the menu this week! We finished the whole pizza 🙂 Next time I will have to double the recipe to make sure there are leftovers. I love the texture of the crust because the butter made it slightly toasty and pleasantly crisp. I will make this again, but I will plan ahead next time to let this dough age in the fridge for a few hours to give the dried herbs and garlic powder time to meld and flavor the dough. Thanks for reading, enjoy!


Garlic Bread Pizza Crust – adapted from How Sweet Eats

  • 1 1/8 cups warm water (100-105 degrees)
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or very finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, garlic powder and dried basil, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but it still sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work the additional 1/2 cup flour (you don’t need to use all if it is not needed) in to the dough, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes. Rub the same bowl with olive oil then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.

Once the dough has finished rising, roll it out and finish with your favorite pizza toppings. I used pepperoni, fresh mozzarella, Pecorino Romano and parmesan cheese.  Spoon the garlic butter over the edges of the dough. I baked the pizza off in a 475 degree oven for 10 minutes on top of my pizza stone.

Tri-Tip Tacos

Yum! This was my first experience preparing and eating tri-tip, and I’m happy to report that it was excellent.  I was inspired by this recipe, but created my own seasonings for this. I’m just guessing on the amounts, but that’s what’s so great about this kind of meal, just throw in what seasonings you prefer and make it as mild or spicy as you like. The flavor was pretty good, but next time I would marinade the meat overnight in the seasonings or just add more seasonings to the meat in the first place if I didn’t plan ahead. We used the leftover meat for bean and beef burritos (but that’s another post). Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Shredded Tri-Tip Tacos – 
  • 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. tri-tip roast
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (4 oz.) mild green chilies
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • corn or flour tortillas
  • optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, diced fresh tomatoes, avocado slices, salsa, lime wedges

Directions

In a small mixing bowl, make taco seasoning rub by combining the kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, ground ginger and cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Rub tri-tip with dry spice rub and place in  crock pot. Cover roast with diced tomatoes,  chillies, onion, and garlic. Place the lid on the crock pot on and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Remove from oven and place tri-tip on cutting board. Discard the smashed garlic. Leave remaining juices, tomatoes, chillies and onion in pot.

Using two forks, shred the tri-tip by holding one fork steady with one hand and slowly scraping the other fork, prongs faced backwards, with your other hand away from the other fork. Transfer the shredded tri-tip to a large bowl and add the reserved cooked vegetables and juices from the Dutch oven. Stir to combine. Serve in warmed tortillas with all your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Orange Chicken

I don’t like take-out orange chicken because it has that fake, candy orange flavor – ick! I did however love this homemade version. The sauce is easy to make and doesn’t require lots of exotic ingredients, it’s fresh and the orange flavor is far superior to typical take-out versions. My family really enjoyed this too – my husband who is a fan of take-out orange chicken may never go back to that again 😉 I ruin things for him in really good ways! Same with cinnamon rolls, because he’ll never want the canned stuff again.

I would recommend making another half batch (or double if you like lots of sauce) of the marinade/sauce mixture. It is perfect mixed into the white rice. Next time I will add veggies to this like sugar snap peas or steamed broccoli to make up for the lack of fiber in this dish. Also, I used a combination of peanut oil and vegetable oil (it’s all I had) because I didn’t have enough peanut oil – that stuff is expensive! I’m sure you could fry this all in canola or vegetable oil though. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Orange Chicken – adapted from Annie’s Eats

For the marinade and sauce:

  • ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1½ tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 6 tbsp. white vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. cold water
  • 8 thin strips orange peel (optional)

For the coating and frying:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups peanut or canola oil (I like a combination)

To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well.  Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag.  Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well.  Refrigerate and let marinate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.  Place the saucepan with the remaining mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add the mixture to the saucepan with the sauce.  Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the strips of orange peel, if using.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate and whisk until frothy.  In a second pie plate combine the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend.  Drain the chicken of the marinade in a colander or large strainer; pat dry with paper towels.  Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat.  Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a 11- or 12-inch round Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350˚ F.  Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.  Return the oil to 350˚ F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces.  Serve over rice, if desired.