Sunday, July 24, 2011

Strawberry Country Cake

Have I really not shared this yet? It's our favorite version of shortcake (with exception to Ivanhoe's!)

Strawberry Country Cake (with my adjustments)
* Sometimes I make as muffins and everyone has individual strawberry shortcake – just adjust cooking time as necessary.
                12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
                2 cups sugar (I do rounded cups to give it a touch extra sugar)
                4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
                3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature (I sometimes use light sour cream with fine results)
                1/2 teaspoon grated fresh lemon zest (optional)
                1/2 teaspoon grated fresh orange zest (optional)
                1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
                2 cups all-purpose flour
                1/4 cup cornstarch
                1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
                1 teaspoon baking soda
                extra sugar to sprinkle on top after baking (optional)

**I sometimes use canned whipped cream or cool whip instead of the following
For the filling for each cake:
                1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream, chilled
                3 tablespoons sugar
                1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

                1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom of two 8-inch cake pans. Then line them with parchment paper and butter and flour the lined pans. Important to flour them well.
Cream the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the sour cream, zests, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine just until smooth.
Pour the batter evenly into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle just a bit of sugar on top (optional). Let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then remove to wire racks and let cool to room temperature. If using 1 cake, wrap the second well and freeze.
To make the filling for one cake, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until firm. Slice one of the cakes in half with a long, sharp knife. Place the bottom slice of the cake on a serving platter, spread with 1/2 the whipped cream and scatter with sliced strawberries. Cover with the top slice of the cake and spread with the remaining cream. Decorate with strawberries.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fresh Basil Pesto

One of my favorite things about my garden is the abundance of basil it has produced.  We have been making tons of pesto, using a recipe from one of my favorite food blogs, Our Best Bites.  Due to the OUTRAGEOUS cost of pine nuts from the grocery store ($43/lb), we ended up buying some pine nuts in bulk from Amazon ($16/lb) and are storing them in the freezer. 

2 1/2 – 3 C basil leaves, gently packed
3/4 C fresh Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 C pinenuts, toasted
1/2-3/4C extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
a few cracks pepper

Place everything but olive oil in a food processor. (For the salt, start with 1/4 t and add the rest at the end. The final amount really depends on the saltiness of your cheese, so give it a taste first.) Give it a few pulses until things are chopped up.

Slowly pour in olive oil while processor is running until you reach the consistency you want. It’s gorgeous and green and perfectly wonderful! Eat it right away or store in the fridge or freezer.

I also highly recommend their Cheesy Garlic-Herb bread recipe.  I made two loaves of my artisan bread - one for eating with fresh pesto right away and the other to store and make the herb bread the following night. YUMMY!

Peach Salsa

We had some fabulous peaches this year. I had the bright idea to use some jalapenos and cilantro from our garden and make peach salsa. This recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod was just the ticket.

4 large peaches diced, pitted and skinned removed
1/2 of 1 red onion, diced (* I used a sweet onion)
1-2 jalapenos, diced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 large lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, add the peaches, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and fresh lime juice. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.


Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

This is my favorite recipe for chicken enchiladas.  I found it on allrecipes, one of many variations they have listed. It's a no-fail, comfort food that we've enjoyed for years.

1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon margarine
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers, drained
8 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • In a small bowl mix the soup and sour cream; set aside.
  • Melt margarine in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and chili powder, and saute until tender. Stir in the chicken, chile peppers, and 2 tablespoons of the soup mixture. Cook and stir until heated through.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of the soup mixture in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas, and place, seam-side-down, in the baking dish. Spoon remaining soup mixture on top, and sprinkle with cheese.
  • Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until bubbly and lightly browned.
Serves: 8

Monday, July 04, 2011

Blue Cheese Salad Dressing

Not for the dieter but you can try to use yogurt and/or lite mayo/sour cream to bring the calorie count down:

3/4 c. sour cream (or try with yogurt)
1 1/3 c. mayo
1 t. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 t. dry mustard
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
4 ounces blue cheese, crumled

Mix all together, chill then serve.