Peach Shortcake Cake

Peach "Shortcake"

Yeah, it’s kind of redundant. This cake really isn’t shortcake but it tastes like it. I was searching for a sheet cake my son might like and came across this one (on pinterest of course). It looked delish. Sadly, there was not a single strawberry at store where I go for weekly supplies (yes, I’m a Wal-Mart shopper–there, I said it.) But they did have some decent looking peaches and I had peach jam on hand from last summer’s canning.

So here’s my take on it:

Cake

  • Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup peach schnapps
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons peach jam

Bake as directed. Spread 1/4 cup peach jam on hot cake.

Topping

  • 8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces frozen whipped topping

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Beat in whipped topping until fluffy. Spread on cooled cake and refrigerate for at least one hour. Top with fresh sliced peaches just before serving.

Peach "Shortcake"

Peach "Shortcake"

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Blogger Probs (AKA French Macaroons)

Otherwise known as, “I didn’t know the difference between a macaron and a macaroon until recently.”

First things first. I blog for my own sanity. Because I never make the same thing the same way twice. Like EVER. My best cooking is done in the first iteration of a recipe. I am excellent at following recipes. I’m pretty fearless. And lucky. And insane. However, endless improv, a short attention span and my overall spastic nature all equal potential culinary disaster if I’m not careful. I’m a spur-of-the-moment cook, making substitutions, creating shortcuts.

My notes are illegible…recipes scattered all over the house…thus, the blog. At least here I force myself to record successful recipes. (You didn’t really think I’d put FAILURES on here, did you?) I have to plan nearly every aspect of my life and cooking is my creative outlet. When the muse strikes, I create.

But sometimes I obsess. Like now. I’m completely obsessed with French macaroons (or macarons). The pretty kind. Not the coconut kind. You know, the gorgeous little multicolored sandwich cookies that are everywhere! I haven’t actually eaten one, but they look so perfectly perfect, I MUST MAKE THEM! I even took a picture of a magazine featuring them. (Please forgive me Foodnetwork.) But I’m NOT a recipe thief, it’s here. Online. Look at those, just look! Lavendar-honey, pineapple, BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE. They are adorable and delicious-sounding. And I’ve been thinking about them ever since. But to combine those flavors with coconut? I love coconut, but that just seems, well, wrong.

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Then, I googled “macaroons.” Guess what! There are two kinds and one isn’t made out of coconut. Mind. Blown. The French version is made from ground almonds. And temperamental meringue. Ugg. I’m a little nervous, but I’m on a macaroon quest. I’m doing my research and planning ahead. A friend shared this video with me and my local market stocks almond meal. I’m optimistic, but if you never see an actual macaroon post here, you know things went south. But there’s always cupcakes. I’ve TOTALLY got this.

Have you tried macaroons? Post words of encouragement or warning! Please!

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Red Velvet Brownies

Yes, you read that right. Red. Velvet. Brownies. Shut the front door. I am not a regular blogger and mostly blog to keep track of what and how I cook something. I’m endlessly improvising with what I have on hand when inspiration strikes. Like it did last night. I was so flattered that foodlikecake liked my Sunday Brunch Waffle post that of course I went to her blog and saw her Memorial Day Red Velvet Brownie post. Mind. Blown. I couldn’t stop thinking about them. So I gave them a try. Warning: the cream cheese frosting will change your life. Proceed with caution.

Improvisations: salted butter and just a dash of salt for the unsalted and white vinegar instead of cider. I used approximately 1 teaspoon of red food coloring. These brownies are as beautiful and as they are delicious. I flipped them out of the pan before I frosted them. Chill completely before slicing and use a knife dipped in hot water. The frosting is almost cheesecake like. Store them in a container with a lid because they will stick to plastic wrap.

Bon Appetite!

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Sunday Brunch Waffles

I’m not a huge fan of breakfast, give me coffee and a few bites of pastry and I’m good until lunch. But when it’s brunch or breakfast for dinner, I’m in. And I LOVE a crispy waffle topped with berries and plenty of butter and maple syrup to fill each and every little square. And crispy bacon. Bacon makes everything better.

I made these for my son’s sleepover and I was lucky to get half a waffle and a few bacon crumbs. They were a hit.

This recipe is based on one from my go-to cookbook…Betty Crocker circa 1978. I have the 1981 edition. It’s falling apart and covered with notes and stains from countless uses. If I ever lose it, I’ll be heartbroken. Betty sure knows how to cook.

I make my waffle batter in a blender, they get lighter that way and the fruit gets nice and pureed AND it’s easier to pour. Use a food processor, mixer or do it the old-fashioned way by hand. A note about the butter, it seems like a lot, but you won’t be sorry! If you use unsalted butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt instead of just a dash. The batter can be made ahead the night before and stored in the refrigerator.

Crisp Strawberry Waffles
Serves 4
3/4 cup of sliced strawberries (or substitute frozen)
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
dash of cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
dash of salt

Blend eggs, milk, vanilla and berries until smooth. Blend in melted butter, cinnamon, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the flour one cup at a time, blending just until smooth, don’t overmix or the gluten in the flour will develop and the waffles will not be as fluffy. Bake in a waffle iron per manufacturer’s directions. Serve them hot off the waffle iron topped with berries and a dusting of powdered sugar with a side of softened butter and warm maple syrup. Waffles lose their crispy texture in a hurry, so if you need to hold them, put them in a warm oven right on the racks, not on a plate. There’s nothing worse than butter than bits of cold butter or syrup that turns your hot fluffy waffle into a cold soggy one, so I always heat the syrup in the microwave and keep my butter in a butter bell on the counter.

Note on equipment: I’ve had expensive waffle irons and blenders and you really can’t beat the cheapo brands. You don’t have to break the bank for these items.

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Berry Strawberry Cupcakes

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I love spring. Fresh strawberries are available year these days, but I remember when their appearance in my garden and the local market was a big deal. It meant winter was over and warmer weather was on the way. When I lived in the Midwest, I had an amazing berry patch. The appearance of those first few red beauties was the highlight of the growing season. And the smell of them ripening on the vine? Heaven. There’s no way to describe it. Picking until your fingers were stained (and your mouth too). We’d gorge ourselves on strawberry shortcake, hot biscuits with homemade jam, strawberry pie. My granny made a homemade angel food cake with buttercream, topped with strawberries that would make you die from delight. You name it, if I could add berries, I probably tried it. Even strawberry margaritas. Yum. AND I just found this post on Epicurious! I must try ALL of these: 9 Gorgeous Strawberry Desserts to Try This Summer.

I can’t seem to grow berries on the south plains, so I have to settle for buying them from the grocery or in bulk from a grower in Oregon. Even with the store-bought kind, these berry-flavored cupcakes satisfied my cravings. They smell divine, perfuming the air with strawberry. Like a berry patch in my Lubbock kitchen. Enjoy!

Berry Strawberry Cupcakes
Berry Strawberry Cupcakes
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Berry Strawberry Cupcakes

Yields 2 dozen

  • 3/4 tub of blueberry flavored cream cheese (I used lowfat from Einstein Brothers)
  • 1 5.3 ounces container of Blueberry Yoplait Blended Greek Yogurt
  • 1 large container of ripe strawberries (preferably small with stem on). Wash and dry. Use 1/3 cup chopped strawberries for the cake batter, reserve remainder for frosting and decoration)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Duncan Hines Strawberry Supreme Cake mix
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil

Beat yogurt, cream cheese and strawberries until smooth, add flour, sugar and cake mix. Pulse mixer just until blended. Add remaining ingredients, mix on low for 3 minutes, then beat on high for 1 minute. Don’t worry, the batter will be lumpy. The domes were prettier when cups were filled 3/4 full and baked in a lighter pan. They will fall slightly after baking because they are moist.


Strawberry Frosting

  • 1 cup butter (softened)
  • 16 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup mashed strawberries with the juice (choose the ripest you can find and mash them with a fork)
  • Whip butter and cream cheese at high speed until very fluffy. Add the extract and strawberries with their juice. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until smooth and of desired consistency. Add more berry juice to thin.

    Pipe frosting on cupcakes and top with each with a petite fraise (small strawberry…it just sounds fancier in French). Chill until ready to serve.

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Steakhouse Spinach Salad

Remember when we exchanged recipes after church suppers and pot lucks? Some of my all time faves were discovered that way. I don’t remember where I got this recipe, but I’ll never forget how it changed my view of spinach forever. Up until that point, I thought spinach was a mushy, stinky, disgustingly vile vegetable. I didn’t understand how anyone would eat it willingly. This salad was a revelation. Sweet and smoky, tangy and delicious. I’ve probably made it a thousand times.

As the recipe says, the more crispy bacon, the better and extra egg makes it a main dish on a hot summer day. I’ve never tried adding the sprouts, but I’ll bet fresh sprouts would be a delicious and nutritious addition. Dressed salad won’t keep, so only toss what you plan to serve. Bacon loses it’s crispness when chilled, but it’s still tasty enough for lunch the next day. The recipe makes twice as much dressing as you need, but it keeps well. It’s on the sweet side, but divine and a beautiful pale pink. The dressing calls for a lot of sugar. I typically only use a heaping 1/2 cup and I have used sugar substitutes for part of the sugar content with success.

I love to serve this salad with a perfectly grilled Filet Mignon, New York Strip or a nice salmon filet. Add a crispy baguette and dinner is served. No reservation needed.

Follow the recipe below and toss just before serving. Throw in some croutons or feta for extra pizazz. Enjoy!

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Nutty Irishman Cupcakes

I’m a web nerd who knows just enough html to be dangerous and when an intern showed me the retail website for Crumbs bakery, I nearly flipped for the cupcake-shaped pop-up. Go on, you know you want to: www.crumbs.com It’s AWESOME. Such a perfect call to action. Then I noticed the gorgeous cupcakes. I swear, one of these days I’m going on a cross-country cupcake tour and try all the ones I drool over. But for now, I’m merely inspired to copycat. A drunken version of this little beauty for St. Patrick’s Day? Yes please. It combines the flavors of the Nutty Irishman coffee cocktail I enjoyed in Santa Fe: coffee, Frangelico and Irish Cream. Yum. As the luck of the Irish would have it, JoAnn’s had the perfect sprinkles and little candied clovers for the decorations. These were simple to prepare, but took a while to decorate. But worth the effort. Luck maith and bon appetite! I used different colored sprinkles and even tried some Andes baking chips! Delicious.

Nutty Irishman Cupcakes

Yield: 3 dozen

  • Duncan Hines Swiss Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 2/3 cup flour and powdered sugar
  • 1 package of Via instant coffee
  • Frangelico liquor, Irish cream whiskey and chocolate syrup to make one cup
  • 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup water


Frosting

LeCake House Buttercream (1 cup butter, 8 ounces cream cheese, 2 pounds powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla) spiked with Frangelico. Add the liquor a tablespoon at a time until the frosting is creamy and thin enough to pipe.

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