Thursday, June 26, 2014

Okay, I am hoping to win back some of the people I lost yesterday when I posted that less than appealing picture of quinoa.  Surely, this will do it.  This cake is heaven on a plate!  Just look at it...doesn't it make you want to stuff the whole thing in your mouth....or is that just me completely out of control!
I made this for the first time at Easter.  I think that is when I gained 5 pounds in one day!  This cake is just perfectly moist and the fresh strawberries in both the batter and the icing just put it over the top on the yummy scale!
Here are a couple of tips that I have found helpful when baking a cake.  First, make sure all of your ingredients are room temperature.  If you don't have time to allow your eggs to come to room temperature, you can place them in a cup of warm water to take the chill off.  Second, when it comes to baking, always follow the instructions.  Baking is more like a science, while cooking can be tweaked here and there.  Third, use cake flour instead of just all purpose flour.  It has a finer texture than all-purpose flour and gives your cake a fluffier texture.  Lastly, check your oven often to make sure it is heating at the correct temperature.  I have an oven that skips all over the place.  I will put the cake in a 350 degrees and 10 minutes later, my oven will shoot up to 360 then down to 330.  So, count your blessings if you have an accurate oven.  If you have one like mine, just do your best to keep it at an even temperature.
Southern Living had this cake in one of their recent magazines.  They always have the best recipes and I love getting my monthly magazine and see what kind of goodies they share.  This cake is going up to the church tonight for the Vacation Bible School workers.  I hope they enjoy it.  I am so thankful for their willingness to teach and help our little ones come to know the Lord and learn about what a wonderful God we serve. 

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
1 cup Butter, softened
2 cups Sugar
2 large Eggs
2 teaspoons fresh Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2-1/2 cups Cake Flour
2 tablespoons Strawberry-Flavored Gelatin
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Table Salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
1 cup Buttermilk
2/3 cup chopped Fresh Strawberries
Strawberry Frosting (recipe below) 
Beat 1 cups of butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 2 cups sugar, beating 4-5 minutes or until light and fluffy. 

Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.

Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Stir together 2-1/2 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons strawberry jello, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon table salt (omit if you are using salted butter).  Add 1/3 of the mixture alternately with the 1 cup of buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Beat at low speed until blended.

Stir in 2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries.

Pour into a greased, floured 13 X 9 inch pan.  I use Baker's Joy.  Spread batter in pan and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Now Southern Living says to cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes.  I let mine cool for about 10 minutes and then flipped it out onto a wire cooling rack until completely cool....about 1 hour.  Spread Strawberry Frosting on top and on sides of cake.

1 - 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2/3 cup chopped fresh Strawberries
1 drop pink food coloring gel (I didn't use this)
1-1/2 cups Heavy Cream
3 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
Place a stainless steel bowl and the beaters in the freezer and leave them there until you are ready to use.
1.  Beat 1 - 8 ounce cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer until smooth, add 2/3 cups chopped strawberries and food coloring (if desired); beat until blended.

2.  Beat 1-1/2 cups heavy cream and 3 tablespoons lemon juice at medium speed until foamy increase speed to medium-high, and slowly add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold half of cream mixture into cheese mixture, fold in remaining cream mixture.  Use immediately.

NOTE:  Stiff peaks mean that the cream mixture will hold firmly onto the beaters.  Do not overbeat or you will end up with butter.



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I am really disappointed that I do not have a more appetizing photo to go with this post because One...this is hands-down my new favorite side dish, is healthy and it tastes amazing....and looks so much better than this in real life (said in a whiny voice).  I have got to work harder on my food photography skills!
It is for times like these that I wish you could reach through the computer and take a big bite.  The quinoa is cooked but the rest of the ingredients, like the lemon juice and basil, are added fresh.  I seriously love this warm but I equally love it cold, as well. 
If you are like me, I did not grow up eating quinoa...I had never heard of it until recently.  In fact, I had to look up what quinoa was...grain...seed...pasta?  I had no idea! First of all, quinoa is pronounced KEEN-WAH.  It is a grain and it is gluten-free.  It is also a good source of protein, iron and fiber.  It is super-easy and fast to cook.  Doesn't it sound like the perfect, healthy food?  These things drew me in and made me want to try it and hope that I would like it.  I so need more healthy items in my diet.
Well...success!  I am absolutely in love with this dish (have I said that before?) but, I am not sure that I would love all quinoa dishes.  Quinoa has a distinct flavor, which I feel like this recipe kind of masks.  But I am giving it the benefit of the far, so good!  Oh, and I need to give credit to Giada's new cookbook from which I got this recipe from...."Giada's Feel Good Food"!  It is more than just a cookbook, although it IS filled with great recipes, it also has a ton of beneficial health and nutrition tips.

Okay, enough is the recipe!  Hope you try it and like it...let me know : )


2 cups Chicken Broth (I use Campbell's)
1-1/2 cups Quinoa
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons grated Lemon Zest
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh Basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf Parsley leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth and quinoa to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat so that the broth simmers, cover the pan, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed 12 to 15 minutes (it may take longer...just eye it).  Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl.

In the meantime, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all of the ingredients are coated.

NOTE: Giada's recipe calls for 2 (4 ounce) cans of boneless, skinless salmon, drained and flaked tossed with the quinoa and dressing.





Monday, June 23, 2014


1 - Large Mango, diced
1 tbsp. fresh Jalapeno, finely chopped
1/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup Red Onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Cilantro, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh Lime Juice
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small, glass bowl.  Chill and serve.

Okay, literally I am not joking, this recipe you will want to eat straight out of the bowl.  It is just that freaking good!  I put in on top of grilled fish or chicken and if there is any leftover (and that's a big "if"), I eat it as a side with scrambled eggs and bacon.  Yumm!!  But, I have to say, I heap loads of this salsa on top of my fish or chicken so the chances of any being left over are pretty slim.  

Now, when you select a mango, choose one that is slightly soft, that gives when a little pressure is applied.  I didn't know if I could explain adequately how to cut a mango, so I added this link that tells in detail and with photos. I am a visual learner, so I thought this would be a great tutorial.  I

One tip I have learned over the years is....if you are going to cut a pepper, like a jalapeno, you need to keep the juices from touching your fingers.  When the juices get on your fingers it takes a longggggg time for the burn to go away.  I have used gloves and when I didn't have gloves, I just used the bag from the grocery store that the peppers were put in.  It's not great but I tell you it is so much better than suffering for the next hour. Another thing you can do is rub oil on your fingers...only the ones that touch the pepper not the ones that hold the knife.  Usually, what I will do is put a little bit of oil on a plate and then dip my fingers in and rub them together.  The oil acts as a barrier and soap and water will wash it all off your fingers.

This recipe is so fresh and so colorful but mostly it has a phenomenal blend of flavors.  I hope you will try it soon.  I think it will become a regular in your kitchen line-up.

Grilled fish with Mango Salsa, Herbed Quinoa and steamed brocolli