Strawberry Cake

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I made this cake for my daughter’s birthday at her request.  Actually, she asked for a strawberry cake so I was unsure whether she meant a cake with strawberries or a strawberry flavored cake.  I went with the cake with strawberries.  I hunted around for a recipe and found this recipe posted by BecR on Food.com .  It is fabulous.

It’s an easy cake to make and it looks like you were working all day.  I made the cake layers from a box but you can make homemade or buy the layers in a bakery.

In the second not-very-good picture, I just wanted you to be able to see where exactly to put the strawberries. I should never be allowed to cut cakes or pies, LOL!

Strawberry Cake

2 pints fresh strawberries, sliced
3 tbsps sugar
2 (9 inch) white cake layers, already baked
6 ozs cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Make or purchase the white cake layers and allow to completely cool if baking.

Mix the strawberries with the sugar in a medium bowl and set aside at room temp for about 30 or so minutes. Put aside a few strawberries for garnish if you so desire.

Using a mixer on medium, whip the cream cheese and powdered sugar and vanilla until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the cream until it starts to thicken, then increase to high and beat until soft peaks form. Do not over mix.

To assemble the cake: Place one layer on serving plated and layer half of the sweetened strawberries over the top and press gently. Spread about 1/3 of the frosting CAREFULLY over the strawberries to within about 1/2 inch of the sides.

Place the second layer on top and press down gently. Do the same with the strawberries. Frost the sides and top of the cake.

Decorate the cake as desired.

Store in the fridge.

Makes 8 servings

Happy Cooking!

Peanut Clusters

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Peanuts covered in chocolate and butterscotch ~ what could be better?  I found this recipe on Food.com posted by mollypie and it looked great so I decided to try it for Christmas gift giving.  It is beyond EASY!!!!  Now, I am NOT that big a fan of butterscotch ~ a little goes a long way as far as I am concerned but this recipe says it’s a two for one for the chocolate/butterscotch coating so I switched it up to 2 bags of chocolate chips to one bag of butterscotch instead of the other way around and it worked great.   Of course you can make it whichever way you prefer.

Peanut Clusters

1 (12 ounce) pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 (12 ounce) pkgs butterscotch chips
2 cups of salted peanuts with no skin

Melt the chocolate/butterscotch in a microwave safe bowl at 50% power for 30 seconds at a time until completely melted. You can also melt on the stovetop in a double boiler if you prefer.

Add peanuts to the melted chips and stir until all the peanuts are coated.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper and let cool until they harden up ~ they are not rock hard but firm and are soft to bite into.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 3 dozen clusters.

Happy Cooking!

Brownie Holi-Pops ~ Land O’Lakes

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A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Land O’Lakes to see if I would let my readers know that their website had been redesigned and I jumped at the chance.  Why?  I LOVE Land O’Lakes products and use them all the time.  So I decided to make one of their recipes and blog about it instead of just telling you all that they had a new website.  Since I am such a procrastinator, it took me awhile.

I chose to make the brownie holi-pops because they are cute and I had never done anything like it before.  They are very easy to make although in my usual style ~ I did things my way.

They are DELICIOUS!

Brownie Holi-Pops from Land O’Lakes

Brownie Mixture:
3/4 cup butter, divided
3 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened baking chocolate, divided
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Coating:
16 ounces vanilla or chocolate-flavored candy coating (almond bark) ~ I used Wilton candy melts in white chocolate and light cocoa

40 lollipop sticks

Decorations:
Holiday nonpareils, jimmies and/or decorator candies

Heat oven to 350°.

Combine 1/2 cup butter and 2 ounces chocolate in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted (3 to 5 minutes). Add sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla and salt; mix well.

Spread batter evenly into greased 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for 23 to 27 minutes or until brownies just begin to pull away from sides of pan ~ mine took 25 minutes. Cool completely.

Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter and 1 ounce chocolate as above ~ I did it in the microwave.
Finely crumble cooled brownie into large bowl.

Add butter mixture and powdered sugar; mix well.

Shape mixture into 1-inch balls; place onto waxed paper-lined jelly-roll pan.

Cover with plastic food wrap; refrigerate until firm (at least 2 hours or overnight) ~ I left them in overnight.

Melt candy coating according to package directions; keep warm ~ I only used about 1/3 of each pkg. if that. Remove 1/3 of balls from refrigerator; insert lollipop sticks ~ I took them all out at th esame time and they didn’t soften up too much since I worked quickly to keep the chocolate from firming up. Dip balls into melted coating, swirling or tapping off excess; press coated balls into desired decorations. Push lollipop stick into craft foam or place coated balls onto waxed paper. Repeat with remaining balls. Let stand until coating is set.

I am freezing them until I am ready to give as gifts.

Makes 40 pops but I made around 30 since I made them a little bit bigger.

Don’t forget to visit Land O’Lakes and check out all their great recipes !!!!!!

Happy Cooking!

Christmas Candy

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What is is about Christmas and candy?  Why do I never make candy other times of the year?

Here are a couple of things I always make for the holidays:

English Toffee

 

Famous Fudge (scroll down)

And a couple of new favorites:

Chocolate Dipped Cherries

 

Smoked Almond Turtles

Happy Cooking!

 

 

Christmas Cookies

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I thought I would take this post and tomorrow’s to repost recipes for cookies and candy that I use at the holidays.  This year my daughter is making the cookies so I think I will make some new candies instead.

Christmas Cornflake Wreaths

 

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

 

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

 

Peanut Blossoms

 

Eggnog Snickerdoodles

 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

 

Libby’s Super Super Easy Sugar Cookies

 

Spicy Molasses Cookies

 

Cinnamon Snowballs

 

Chocolate Drop Cookies

 

Dog Biscuits for Your Furbabies!

 

Looking for more?  If you click on “Categories” over on the right, then scroll down you can click on Cookies and find 34 recipes already here.  I’m sure I’ll try a few new ones in the next week, LOL!

Happy Cooking!

 

 

Smoked Almond Turtles

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I saw Giada deLaurentiis make this recipe on her Halloween show and really hadn’t had a chance to make it so I decided to give it a try for our party.  It’s not hard but takes a little time and patience.

Giada makes hers in a regular size muffin pan so I did the same but I cut them in fourths for the party because they are really too big of a piece of candy for one person.  Next time I will use mini muffin pans or maybe even those flexible pans.

These are really, really good and well worth making.  They would be great for a gift.

Smoked Almond Turtles (Giada DiLaurentiis)

Vegetable oil cooking spray
1 cup (5 ounces) coarsely chopped smoked almonds ~ I left mine whole but I would chop them next time

Caramel:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick (4 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

3/4 cup bittersweet (use Ghirardelli)) chocolate chips

Spray a 12-count muffin pan, very well, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Put the almonds in the bottom of each muffin cup and set aside.

For the caramel: In a 3-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the cream, butter, sugar, and water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture is smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240º, about 5 to 7 minutes. Let the mixture cool for 30 seconds. Using a long-handled, metal spoon, carefully spoon the caramel over the nuts. Allow the caramel to harden, at room temperature, for 1 hour.

Put the chocolate chips in a medium glass bowl and melt int he microwave according to the directions on the back of the package of chocolate chips. Spoon the chocolate over the caramel and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using a thin-bladed spatula, remove the turtles from the pan (caramel will be hard). This will take a little bit of effort.

Let the turtles stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour (to allow the caramel to soften) before serving. I cut into quarters before serving.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes 12 candies.

VIEW PRINTABLE RECIPE HERE!

Happy Cooking!

“Everything but the Kitchen Sink” Chocolate Chip Cookies

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You have GOT to try these cookies!   They are so good and have such yummy ingredients.  They take the plain old chocolate chip to a new level!

I made mine a little bigger than called for in the recipe.  I used a large ice cream scoop so it was probably about 1/2 cup instead of the 1/4 cup called for.  I ended up having to bake about 5 minutes longer and I also let them cool on the cookie sheet before removing them to a rack so they wouldn’t break up.

If you can find those little airplane sized liquor bottles, it will save you from having to buy regular size bottles of something you might not use much of.

“Everything but the Kitchen Sink” Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur)
1 tbsp Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 ounces milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup macadamia nuts

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, Frangelico, and Kahlua until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix well.

Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix well. Stir in the chips and nuts by hand.

Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325º for 16 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 3 dozen ~ the bigger size made 18 cookies.

Happy Cooking!

Chocolate Dipped Cherries

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This very simple treat was a big hit at our Christmas party this past weekend.  They are so simple to make but really taste like it took some work ~ which is my favorite kind of recipe.

The cherries would be excellent for a gift but they may not be the best choice for young kids…you’ll see what I mean!

Chocolate Dipped Cherries

1 cup maraschino cherries, WITH stems
1 cup brandy
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, Ghiradelli’s is best

Put the cherries in a smallish bowl and cover with the brandy. Let the bowl sit on your counter for 8-10 hours ~ I did about 8. Drain the cherries and place on a parchment (or wax paper) lined cookie sheet and freeze. I let mine go overnight.

Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or double boiler being very careful not to let it burn. Wipe each frozen cherry of excess moisture. Dip in the chocolate and place back on the lined cookie sheet and let them stand until the choclate firms up. If it doesn’t seem to be firming up, stick in the fridge for a bit. Mine worked just sitting on the counter.

I did have extra melted chocolate so I could have probably gotten about 2 cups of cherries dipped.

Store cherries in the refrigerator.

Makes about 18-20 cherries.

Happy Cooking!

Cranberry Eggnog Streusel Muffins

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I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Mr. Meat Eater and I went to Richmond to have Thanksgiving with our daughter and her boyfriend.  My daughter cooked her first Thanksgiving dinner and it was FANTASTIC!!!   I am happy to pass the torch!  We missed having our son with us to enjoy the meal but he had dinner at Disney World so we were all jealous.

Here are some pictures:

And this is how we felt when our turkey comas set in:

On to the recipe…this muffin recipe is fantastic!  I found it in the December issue of the Food Network magazine and it’s a keeper.

Now, I would do a few things differently when I make them again.  First of all, this recipe makes way too much streusel.  I like streusel as much as the next person but really I could have gotten away with about 1/4 to 1/3 of the amount of streusel.  I hate wasted ingredients and that’s what I felt about this streusel.  I think I could get away with using less butter in the streusel, too.  I made the full recipe and 1  1/2 sticks are just too much.  Butter is too expensive to waste it.  The rest of the recipe worked OK and the outcome is delish!

Cranberry Eggnog Streusel Muffins

Muffins:
1 cup dried cranberries, rough chop
1/2 cup rum
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 cups eggnog
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla

Streusel (Full recipe so cut it down if you want):
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375º. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan, mix the rum and the chopped cranberries. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar and salt.

In another medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, eggnog, eggs and vanilla. Fold dry ingredient mixture into wet mixture. Batter will be lumpy. Do not overmix. Fold in the cranberries.

Scoop batter evenly into prepared pan ~ I use an ice cream scoop.

For the streusel, mix all ingredients together until it looks like lumpy, wet sand. Sprinkle with fingers over the tops of the muffins.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Test with a toothpick before removing from oven. Cool in pan for a few minutes then carefully remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

Happy Cooking!

Cranberry Pecan Coffee Cake

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Wow ~ this coffee cake is wonderful!  A must make and  perfect for the upcoming holidays or anytime you need a special coffee cake.

It looks more complicated than it is ~ it’s really easy and best of all it looks like you have spent hours in the kitchen.

Cranberry Pecan Coffee Cake

Topping:
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cup whole fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Cake:
1/2 cup butter at room temp
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sour cream (I used less fat sour cream)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350º. Wrap the outside of a 9-inch springform pan with aluminum to prevent any leaking (I did have a little leaking but the foil caught it).

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and set aside (I just whisk it all together since I don’t own a sifter).

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and 1/3 cup butter and bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil, pour it in the bottom of the ungreased springform pan. Sprinkle the cranberries (whole) and pecans over the top of the butter/brown sugar mixture. Make sure that they spread out over the entire pan.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until it is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream. Spoon this cake mixture over the the top of the cranberry mixture already in the pan.

Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes then invert onto serving platter and carefully remove pan.

Makes 8 -10 servings.

Happy Cooking!