Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strawberries and Biscuits

Our summer vacation just started at the end of last week.  Friday was our first full day of summer vacation.  I wanted to do something big with the kids.  My husband had taken the day off.  My youngest daughter had other plans.  She decided that staying up to about ten o clock the night before was more important than her day with the family doing a fun summer outing (usual bed time being 8 during the school months).  This has only happened umpteen times.  We have tried everything to get her to sleep.  Extra activities to tire her out, a positive reward calendar, a negative reward system, sleeping with her sister, going to bed even earlier the next night ...  On and on it goes.  Finally, I said to my husband that we really had to put our foot down.  She had been told that if she did not to sleep, she would lose out on the activities.  And she did.  I made it as boring as possible for her and I at home, while my other daughter and husband went out and enjoyed the day.  Dang, I was sad.  I really was looking forward to the family having an outing together.  She is doing better but there is still room for improvement.

One of the things we had hoped to do was some more strawberry picking but that just did not work out.  Lucky for us we had a lot of strawberries the first time we went out picking.  We made this simple, lovely dessert.

Strawberries and Biscuits
Biscuit recipe from Epicurious

3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Using fingertips, using a pastry blender or a fork 3/4 cup chilled butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir until evenly moistened. Using 1/4 cup dough for each biscuit, drop biscuits onto baking sheet, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

My Strawberry Mixture

Slice 4 cups strawberries and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Scrape a vanilla pod and add the seeds to the strawberries.  If you want to spice things up a bit more, add a tablespoon or two of Grand Marnier. Let sit at least 15 minutes to marry.

I dolloped the top with a bit of vanilla yogurt.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ice Cream Sandwiches

I had been wanting to make ice cream sandwiches but was a bit ambivalent about it because I really wanted a soft cookie.  All the recipes I had tried in the past were a crisp cookie.  The bad part about eating an ice cream sandwich with a crisp cookie is that when you bite it, it kind of oozes out all over.  I had heard that adding more sugar to a recipe will make it softer.  That was how I approached these cookies.  Certainly if you want it crispy I recommend not adding the extra sugar (take away a 1/4 of a cup). 

Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder ( I will add more next time)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Line a 10 x 15 baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray with non stick cooking spray.

Whisk together the melted butter and sugar.  Whisk in egg and vanilla extract.  Combine dry ingredients: flour, cocoa, and salt.  Add to butter mixture.   Whisk until incorporated.  Spread evenly over parchment paper.

Remove from oven after about 10 to 12 minutes.  Score immediately.  I used a pizza cutter which worked very well.  Let cool.  Remove from parchment and place the squared up ice cream on top of cookies.

I used a store bought ice cream.  I have way too much quilting/creating to do to make ice cream at this moment.  Yes, notice there is a scoop missing.  It still worked.  I made about half the sandwiches and had to slip the ice cream back in the freezer because it was softening rapidly.  If you have two people helping and have the sandwich halves all lined up and ready you should be fine.
There were more but they were eaten up pretty quickly.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Graham Cracker Frozen Treats

This is a crazy easy one.  Of course you can get all kind of creative with this one- 1000's of options and combinations.  No recipe really.  Easy Peasy 1-2-3.  Mix a 1/2 bag of mini marshmallows with a 1/2 of a container of cool whip- or even better whipped cream (with some kind of stabilizer in it). I say half because you will end up with a ton of these sandwiches if you do the whole bag and container. Next you fold in some mini chocolate chips.  Sandwich the mixture between two layers of graham crackers.  Freeze and eat!  Ungodly sweet to eat before freezing I must say.  Something about the freezing action makes it a bit less sweet. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Frozen Treats: Jello Pops

Hard to snap a good picture of a waving hand. She was so wanting to eat it instead of photographing it.
These pops are like, wow, easy and fun and very lip slurping delicious.  Very versatile too.  So many diffferent flavor combinations and things you can do with them.  I love that you can control the sugar in these.  You can even make them sugar free if you like. 

I have two more frozen treats that I want to share with you over the next couple days.  Stay tuned...

Jello Pops
I used cherry flavored jello with strawberry flavored kool aid for a berry pop.  So many flavor combinations and so easy on the pocket book.

1 (3 oz.) pkg. Jello, any flavor
1 (.14 oz.) pkg. unsweetened Kool-Aid
1/2 to 3/4 c. sugar
2 c. boiling water
2 c. cold water

Dissolve Jello, Kool-Aid, and sugar in boiling water. Add cold water. Pour into ice cube trays or popsicles molds. Insert sticks. You can wait until mixture is partially frozen to insert sticks. Freeze until firm, about 2-3 hours. Makes 20-24 pops.

I stored the extra juice in the fridge until the popsicle containers were empty.  Yup that didnt take too long. It did become a little gelatinous but it still froze well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pork Souvlaki

One of my most favorite things to order at our local Mediterranean restaurant, souvlaki.  Chicken or pork, doesn't matter, so delicious.  I really never thought I could replicate it at home.  Thanks to Peter of Kalofogas, I was able to replicate it.  AMAZING taste! I am so making this in the near future.  Great grill food!

I am so flippin' mad at Blogger right now.  In the past few days I have been working on getting all of recipes catalogued.  I went through nearly all of a year.  I have been so bad about doing it.  I worked very hard.  Went to save it and POOF, it was gone.  Gloom, despair and agony on me, deep dark depression excessive misery... oops sorry, I always end up singing that song at times likes these.  For those of you that do not get my reference... Hee Haw was the show and this was the skit.  Crack me up. I love You Tube so I can reminisce. 

Anyway, here is what I did.  Check out Kalofogas if you have not.  He is amazing.  Lots of good food and the man has a good sense of style.

Pork Souvlaki
Largely adapted from Peter's recipe at Kalofogas

2 1/2 pounds pork butt, trimmed and cubed into uniform pieces.
1 onion roughly chopped
1 tablespoon oregano
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 generous teaspoon salt
1 generous teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup canola oil

Combine all into a stainless steel or glass bowl and mix well.  Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Next day skewer the meat.  I used metal skewers but if you are using wood, make sure you adequately soak the wood before applying the meat to prevent major burning.

Trust me, I will know when you try this recipe because I will hear you saying, "hmmmm, oooh, ahhhh" and whatever other expletives you may care to say.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Strawberry picking just opened on Friday at our local farm.  My children were especially jazzed about strawberries this year.  I did not buy a single pack of strawberries from Florida or California this year.  I had heard that those two states still use a pesticide that is banned in NY state.  My youngest daughter would come home from class talking about how so and so got to eat strawberries and how come his Mom bought him the strawberries.  I replied that I am sure she did not know otherwise she would not have bought them.  Doesn't that suck!  I am sure there is lots of stuff I don't know that I am inadvertently giving to my kids. There are just so many ways to screw up as a parent- how can you avoid it?

The day we picked these I froze some, made some jam and left some for chowing on.  Talk about fresh!

If you use lite pectin you dont have to add as much sugar and of course you can add Splenda if you want to go that route- I don't.  I also like to do freezer jams when it comes to strawberries.  Although this Margarita Strawberry Preserves is an exception to the rule.

Lite Strawberry Freezer Jam

2 cups water
1 – 1.75 oz. box of No or Low Sugar pectin
Sugar or non-sugar sweetener (to your taste preference)

Clean strawberries. Crush strawberries. Measure out 2 cups strawberries, 1 cup water and add up to 1 to 3 cups of sugar or a non-sugar sweetener (to your taste), if desired. Mix thoroughly and let stand 10 minutes. In a saucepan gradually stir in 1 package of No or Low Sugar pectin into 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Boil 1 minute, at a full rolling boil, over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Pour the hot pectin mixture into the strawberries. Stir for 3 minutes. Ladle jam into jelly jars or some type of freezeable container, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Screw or place lids on tightly. Let jam stand in refrigerator until set, about 24 hours. Store in freezer.

If you use regular pectin you need to do something like this. 

Strawberry Freezer Jam

2 cups crushed strawberries
1 – 1.75 oz. box of No or Low Sugar pectin
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 cups sugar

Clean strawberries. Crush strawberries. Measure out 2 cups strawberries and add sugar and lemon juice.  Mix thoroughly and let stand 10 minutes. In a saucepan gradually stir in 1 package of  dry pectin into 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Boil 1 minute, at a full rolling boil, over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Pour the hot pectin mixture into the strawberries. Stir for 3 minutes. Ladle jam into jelly jars or some type of freezeable container, leaving ½ inch of headspace. Screw or place lids on tightly. Let jam stand in refrigerator until set, about 24 hours. Store in freezer.

If you go no pectin than you will have to use a ton more sugar and have to cook it for long periods of time. 

Anyway you decide, you will be rewarded with some summer goodness in the middle of winter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coconut Snowballs

Some more pink.  Hey, what can I say,  I have female children.

Such a busy time of year, the end of school.  Plays, concerts, tours, celebrations, picnics, not to mention graduations and Father's Day.  Its fun stuff but its busy.  My young daughters concert was yesterday.  A Too Te Tah, a too te tah, ah to tee tah tah (click to see what I am talking about if you are not familiar) is completely etched into the far reaches of my brain.  I simply cant stop singing that song.  Its driving me coo coo.  I will say it was utterly fantastic to see my husband and mother, who are completely serious type people being all goofy holding their tongue with their eyes closed singing 'to te tah'!  Absolutely priceless people! SO wish I had a camera.  And me, my friend, my daughter's teacher had me pouring lemonade while the whole auditorium was acting all goofy!  I love her!

Snowball in June?  Yup. catch!

Coconut Snowballs

4 egg whites (1/2 cup)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut oil
zest of one lemon
2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup milk


2 egg whites
6 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form but not dry.  Set aside in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a mixer or large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Let run five minutes.  Add vanilla, coconut oil and lemon zest.

In a medium bowl combine sifted flour and baking powder. Add a third of the flour mixture.  Then add half the milk.  Add another third of the flour mixture and then the other half of the milk.  Finally add the remainder of the flour.  Fold in egg whites to the mixture.

Spoon into greased and floured muffin pan or dome pan.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

In a stainless steel bowl combine egg whites, cold water, cream of tartar and sugar.  Beat until combined.  Place bowl over a saucepan with boiling water or in a bain marie.  COntinue beating for about ten to fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla.  Let cool.

Once cupcake sand frosting are cool, dip in frosting and then in coconut.  You can color the coconut with food coloring if you like.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Edamame and Rice Salad

Love this kind of meal in the summer.  Minimal heat, maximum flavor, low fuss.  The only problem is that my kids don't get into this kind of meal.  All those colors mixed together- how could I?   

I used some fresh tarragon in this dish.  I have to say that its really what made this dish more flavorful.  In the past if I saw this recipe I might have skipped the tarragon.  Don't skip it.  If you cant find it fresh, you could use tarragon vinegar as a substitute. If you have never tried tarragon, it has a slight anise flavor.  My husband and I really enjoyed it. I definitely want to make it again when I can really load it up with fresh basil and parsley.  No, I didn't have basil in the recipe but it would make a great addition, along with some cherry tomatoes. 

So I have to share what happened the other day.  First I must warn you: Never put your kids in the dryer!
I'll explain why she is in the dryer.  Really, I had a perfectly good reason.  You see my daughter decided to leave a green crayon in her shorts pocket.  It was a washable crayon.  Let me tell you, washable does not mean that it comes off easy from dryer walls after it has melted.  Green - all over my dryer... and my clothes. We cleaned what we could reach.  She helped a lot so she could maybe remember not to stick crayons in her pocket.  I couldn't see the upper wall on the inside.  I had her climb in and wipe there.  I told her that under no uncertain circumstances was she, or her sister, to ever climb in the dryer again. For that time she had a blast, feeling all mischievous for being in there at all. And for your information, Magic Erasers worked perfectly- as soap and water did not.

Edamame and Rice Salad

1 1/2 cups frozen edamame, thawed
2 cups long-grain rice, cooked
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup chives, minced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon tarragon, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, finely diced

Combine all.  Its delicious as soon as it comes together and equally delicious the next day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pink Floyd, Strawberry Cake

I went to pick my daughter up from school and as usual was gabbing with her teachers.  My daughter started singing," Bye Bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the Levy".  My daughter's one teacher says she was a teen when that song was released.  My daughter continued to proudly sing, the lines, "and good old boys were drinking whisky and rye, singing this will be the day that I die." They balked at the fact that she knew those lines.  Okay, so sometimes I influence my children in a not so perfect way. You see it goes back a generation.

I had two older brothers, 7 and 9 years my senior, when I was a kid who indoctrinated me into the world of rock and roll.  They taught me about Emerson Lake and Palmer, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Pink Floyd... and on and on it goes.  Frankly I loved it, I thought I was cool.  I still love all those groups.  Sometimes when I listen, I remember sitting on the couch with the music blaring, staring at album covers.

This is a kids cake, 100 percent all the way- color, flavor, sweetness.  My kids loved this cake.  Other adults didn't complain, they ate it.  Me, on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 5.  But I'd make it again because its a kid cake all the way!

Another boxed cake recipe...

Double Decker Strawberry Cake
Adapted from the The Cake Mix Doctor

1 package plain white cake mix
1 package strawberry gelatin
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup chopped strawberries with juice

Preheat the oven to 350F. 

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat for about a minute.  Scrape down the sides and beat again for two minutes.  Pour into two greased and floured 10 inch pans or 3- 9 inch pans.  Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes.  The sides will begin to pull away from the pan.

I frosted it with cream cheese and butter frosting with some strawberries mixed in.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sock It To Me Cake

This is an easy cake to prepare.  It tastes wonderful.  I am currently on a boxed cake kick.  Having fun with different recipes.  Its not usually my thing but hey I thought I would give some of these recipes a try. This one is a wonderful coffee cake when you have guests and want something quick to prepare.

Recipe largely adapted from Duncan Hines.

Streusel Filling:

1 pkg Duncan Hines® Moist Deluxe® Butter Golden Cake Mix
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped pecans


4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan or bundt.

For streusel filling, combine 2 tablespoons cake mix, brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl. Stir in pecans. Set aside.

For cake, combine remaining cake mix, eggs, sour cream, oil, water and granulated sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer 4 minutes. Pour two-thirds of batter into pan. Sprinkle with streusel filling.  Carefully spoon remaining batter evenly over filling.

Bake at 375°F for 45 to 55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 25 minutes. Flip onto serving dish and let cool completely.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thai Green Mango Salad

We have been out of town due to a death in the family. It was a strange sort of turn of events that we are trying to recover from at the moment.  It is strange the way a death can bring unresolved issues into the forefront.  Suffice to say that I am so glad to be home.  There is no place like home.

If you have never had green mango, I urge you to give it a try.  It has nice flavor, bordering on sour but in a pleasant way.

Green Mango Salad*

2 green mangoes, julienned
3/4 cup mung bean sprouts
1 purple onion or vidalia, sliced
1 carrot, julienned
1/4 cup cilantro
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon palm sugar, grated
1/4 cup peanuts

Combine all ingredients and chill.


FYI- Green mango is unripened mango.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Butter Buns

These buns are excellent.  Tender, buttery and delicious.

Not much to say here today.  It seems when the weather gets nice there ten thousand things to do.  Garden, school stuff to wrap up, places to go, yard work- you know how it goes.

Butter Buns
Recipe adapted from this recipe at Cooks.

1 pkg.or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 c. water
1 c. warm milk
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. melted butter

Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar and let stand a few minutes. In a large bowl or a mixer combine 2 cups flour, milk, butter, salt, sugar and yeast mixture. Beat eggs  and add to mixture.  Add 2 more cups flour and beat very well. Kneading or mixing for about five minutes.  Place in an oiled bowl and cover.  Let rise until about doubled (about one hour). Shape into rolls and let rise again, 30 more minutes. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.