Quick and Easy | Strawberry |Shortcake

strawberry shortcake

Stock-Image-Separator-GraphicsFairy21Strawberry Shortcakes is one of those iconic desserts that make a person dream of a beautiful shining day. Images of endearing garden parties, and lazy summer afternoons, family barbecues, and cute little girls with heads of curls are procured when the words “Strawberry Shortcake” comes to mind. However, there is an ideal for the romantic ideal of this scrumptious treat that is hard to reach and often intimidates those lovely dreamers who yearn for their most perfect summer time delicacy.

The recipe I have to share with you today, is simple and satisfies the desires of one so enthralled with the romance of this sweet but tart cake. But purists be forewarned. This recipe is not for those who believe a boxed cake mix is the end of quality times and that a certain brand of vegetable shortening starting with a “C” and ending with a “-risco” is a sure fire way to illness. This treat is definitely on the side of boxed mixes and commercial shortenings. However, it is just as wonderfully delicious (and in all honesty much healthier) than a store bought cake. There really is something to a good homemade cake and some splendid fresh fruit that just isn’t in cake that comes in a package.

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy recipe!

Quick and Easy Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients:

Cake:

1 box yellow cake mix and the ingredients listed on the back to make the cake

Frosting:

I used the butter cream frosting recipe as in my lemon-berry cupcakes post minus the fruit juice flavoring

1/2 c LIGHTLY salted butter

1/2 c vegetable shortening of your choice (I prefer the one in the blue packaging with a giant “C” in the name)

4 c confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

Topping:

1/2 lb of fresh strawberries sliced thin

Instructions:

Make the cake per instructions on the back of the box mix.

Following the baking directions for the 9×13″ pan

While the cake is baking…

Cream together the shortening, butter, and vanilla.

Add 1c of powdered sugar at a time until it is all thoroughly mixed in

Mix until desired consistency and chill until ready to frost

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ONCE the cake is cooled frost and layer the strawberries evenly on top.

Serve fresh or cover in the refrigerator and let is sit overnight.

I like it better served chilled overnight but fresh is just as scrumptious!

strawberry shortcake 1  Stock-Image-Separator-GraphicsFairy21

“Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?” 

– Samwise Gamgee, The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkein

 

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The (once) Lost Art of Food Preservation

Ah Fall.
Some of the traditions that are popular this time of year include trips to family farms, pumpkin carving, leaf pile jumping, book reading, cooking, football watching, friendship building, the list goes on. However, for me, one of the most iconic pictures of late summer and fall is the expansive amount of food preservation- canning, dehydrating, freezing, etc. I love the smell of cooked jam or smoked fish wafting through the house and through the windows. Especially in this season when the air is brisk, the trees are losing their golden leaves, the constant sound of rain, and comfort is found in the soft light and the warm smell of hot food in the ever busy kitchen.

The wonderful thing about home preserved food is that if it is done correctly, there is no flavor to match it. Nothing beats the taste of home canned peaches, tomatoes, and green beans- home dried mushrooms, peppers, and sweet potato fries- or home smoked pork, salmon, and brisket.

There was once a time in this country when people were encouraged to grow and store their own foods. They were encouraged to learn how to cook and preserve produce and how to be prosperous by their own means. And before the times of the mid 1900s, most people lived off of food that they procured themselves. It has only been in the last century that people have lost almost complete contact with their food sources.

But that hasn’t changed the way a child feels when they open up a jar of mom’s or grandma’s strawberry jam and put it on a nice warm piece of toast. The jam makes the toast automatically better, yes. But it’s knowing that the jam was made for them, by someone they love, that it is all the more sweeter.

Food preservation isn’t just about saving food- it’s about saving the heart of what makes people feel good. You can’t explain to someone the sound of opening a jar of homemade pickles. The lid on that jar has such a different one than the lid from the one you buy at the store. And if you get the right recipe, there is nothing that tastes better.

The best resource for beginning to advanced canning recipes is the Ball website: freshpreserving.com

If you go to the website and are completely overwhelmed by all the high tech canning supplies, take a deep breath. It’s not as scary as it looks, and you don’t need all the gadgetry to be effective in your purpose. Quality is important. But it also doesn’t need to be shiny and digital to serve its function.

For those of you who are starting out, start with easy recipes such as peaches, salsa, pears, cooked jams, etc. Then progress to the more advanced levels such as pressure canning or fermented pickles or non-pectin jellies.

For those of you who are getting into pressure canning, remember to breathe. It is extremely important that your equipment is in working order, and that you have the ability to meticulously monitor the pressure. If the pressure is too low, your food isn’t safe, if it is too high, everything in moderate proximity isn’t safe.
Make sure that your gauges are checked by those who know what they are doing- a great resource is your county Extension office. Search: “your county here 4H” online, call their office, and ask if they will check the gauge on your pressure-canner. Many Extension offices will do this for free and they will be more than willing to answer any questions you may have.

It is more important that you ask a question if you have ANY doubt, than it is to assume you have the answer. Remember that when you are preserving food, yes it is fun, but it is also something than can have adverse effects if done incorrectly or unsafely.

Note: There are many options when canning. But it is very important that unless you are beyond expert level in this delicate art, that you stick to the tried and true Ball Blue Book recipes and do not alter them. When you do not take every precaution, altering recipes alters pH levels and can lead to spoilage, botulism, and other issues creating food that is EXTREMELY unsafe to consume.

HOWEVER. Do not let these concerns stop you from learning this valuable skill. Canning is incredibly fun and something that the entire family gets to enjoy! So long as you follow the rules and play it safe, then the benefit from this activity is superb. Once you get the hang of it, preserving food becomes a fun tradition that kids never forget!
And who doesn’t like the taste of their favorite home canned fruit?

As always, comment below if you have any questions or would like more information on this topic.

Spinach Smoothies

One of the staple foods my family is spinach- we eat it fresh from the garden, cooked on the side, in casseroles, with tortellini, cooked into Fettuccine Alfredo,  cooked with chicken. It is one of the most delicious greens. It is also a great source of vitamins and minerals.
As odd as it sounds, spinach is one of my favorite ingredients in smoothies. I was introduced to this idea a couple of years ago and have since made some alterations to the recipe I was given to fit what foods I usually have in the kitchen. I’ve made these yummy smoothies before, but never for my family. So when we were working on school, I pulled out the blender and started adding ingredients. My little sisters were a bit reactionary to the ordeal. The older one was confused as to why I would put a leafy green into a drink, but the younger one was eager to try the green concoction. When all of their favorite things were put in the mix, they started getting excited. After they tried it, I was enthusiastically informed that Younger Sister had never had a better smoothie in her life- shakes are still her favorite, but if she ever wanted a smoothie, this is the one she wants. So with the seal of approval, from two little girls, below is my guesstimated recipe for Spinach Smoothies.

To make a single blender-full of this yummy treat:

2c ice
2c orange juice
1 banana
6oz vanilla yogurt
a couple handfuls of spinach leaves

**these are guesstimate amounts so alter it to fit your tastes or the room in your blender**

Put all ingredients in the blender with the ice on the bottom. Put the lid on and puree until smooth.
It is best if served fresh, but if you want to save some for later, put it in the refrigerator to chill.

I hope you enjoy!

"Every Heart Beats True ‘Neath the Red, White, and Blue" -berry Cobbler that is…

What says “Americana-Summer” more than a blueberry cobbler? It is yummy fresh out of the oven, or room temperature the day after. A cobbler consists of a thick crust and fruit filling. This specific recipe does not use the traditional biscuit-like crust. It does however, layer the fruit between a flour based, butter crust which still allows it to be considered a cobbler.  During the time of its invention, the Pilgrims that came to America would  alter the traditional family recipes to fit their new environment. If ingredients in the recipes weren’t available, they would improvise. This led to the diversity of the many different recipes.  Similarly, the lack of consistent ingredient availability made way for other delicious culinary creations. A single recipe could have been used for cobblers, crumbles, pan-dowdies, crisps, Betties, buckles, crumbles, grunts, slumps, sonkers, and many other cobbler-like dishes.
I hope that you enjoy this recipe!
Blueberry Cobbler- Leinbach Family Recipe

Crust:                                                 Filling:
1 c. Hazelnuts                                     ½ c. granulated sugar
2 c. All- purpose flour                         1 ½ TB cornstarch

½ c. granulated sugar                          1quart of canned Blueberries
¾ c. chilled butter cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 450F. In a food processor, process nuts until finely ground. In a large bowl, mix nuts, flour, sugar, and cut in butter until the mixture crumbles. In a separate bowl, mix the berries, sugar and cornstarch until the berries are evenly coated. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Evenly spread the filling over the crust and sprinkle the second layer of crust over the top. Bake until the top is golden (Approx 30min).

Let cool and serve warm.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This yummy traditional favorite is easy to make and even easier to eat!

Ingredients:

1/2c butter
1 1/3c packed brown sugar
32oz sliced (or chunked pineapple)-drained
1c Maraschino Cherries- drained

1French Vanilla box mix

Preheat oven to 350F

Melt butter in a 9×13 pan in the oven. After it is melted, sprinkle all of the brown sugar over the bottom of the pan. Arrange pineapple slices flat on the bottom and put one cherry in the center of each slice. Make the cake batter according to the packaged instructions and pour over pineapples.

Bake for 35 min or until the cake is fully cooked and golden brown.

Serve warm.

(If you prepare it the day before you serve it, cover the pan and put it in the fridge. It will have a richer flavor when reheated the next day.)

From the Kitchen of Linda Inman

Stuffing or Dressing?

Is if Stuffing or Dressing?
There is much confusion about this breaded side dish that is a staple of holiday menus.
If they both have the same ingredients, then what’s diffference?
The difference in the name is only a matter of where is cooked.
Put simply, stuffing goes in the bird, dressing goes beside it.
The recipe being shared today is an easy and delicious comfort food.
(we are going to cook it dressing style)

 Ingredients:

16oz Bread Crumbs
1c celery        1c onion
1c pecan        1c apple
1c mushroom 1c carrot
 
8TB butter          2 1/2c broth
1 1/2 TB sage  1/2 tsp marjoram
1tsp thyme        3TB parsley
1tsp basil
salt and pepper
 
*the recipe calls for 1c of each veggie/ fruit…
we did a bit more than that to feed a family of six, plus leftovers…
 

in a large pot, over medium heat, start melting the butter. Add the celery, carrots, apples, mushrooms, spices and broth. stir until butter is melted and everything is well mixed. Add the bread crumbs and pecans and mix until the bread crumbs are well saturated and all is evenly incorporated.

disperse the dressing in a glass baking pan and bake at 350F until the top has a golden crust
(around 45min- 1hr)
 serve hot
 
From the kitchen of: Kimberly Leinbach

Pumpkin Cake

Today’s recipe is from the kitchen of Eliza Jeanfreau!

She is an amazing baker and wanted to share this yummy seasonal favorite.

Pumpkin Cake 

Super tasty! Like pumpkin pie, but with a yummy topping.

Mix together:

1 box yellow cake mix

½ C. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
Save one cup of this mixture and press the ret in bottom of buttered cake pan ( 9X13 or 10X15)

Filling:
1-29 oz. Can pumpkin
1 ½ cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 can evaporated milk

Mix and pour over crust.

Topping:

1 cup of the saved crust mixture
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup soft butter

 

Mix topping and sprinkle on top.  (Mine usually isn’t crumbly, so I make little pancakes of the topping and drop it on top.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until knife test proves done.
 
Enjoy!
 
 

Lemon-Berry Cupcakes

Lemon Cupcakes:

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325° degrees.
2. Line cupcake pan with baking cups

3. In a large bowl cream 
butter and sugar, with an electric mixer, until pale and fluffy-about 4-5 minutes.

4. Add eggs, one at a time until mixture becomes creamy,
5. In a separate bowl whisk to combine flour, baking soda and salt.
6. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to butter mixture, in 3-4 batches. Mix each addition just until ingredients incorporate—do not over mix.
7. Add lemon zest and lemon juice. Mix batter for an additional minute. Batter should be light and fluffy.

8. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cake tester/toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Place pan on wire rack and cool completely before removing from pan.
Once cooled, frost cupcakes.
Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup shortening

1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened


     

 1.Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla.

 2. Gradually add sugar,
1 cup at a time. Blend well.

Blackberry Buttercream Frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup blackberry puree (or as much as needed to add minimal flavor)

1. Cream butter and shortening with electric mixer. Add vanilla.
2. Gradually add sugar, 1 cup at a time. Blend well.
3. Add Blackberry puree and beat until light and fluffy.
 (if frosting is dry, add 1 TB milk)

These cupcakes were served as dessert at a Church function. We brought about three dozen, and within the about 45min, there were six left.

Have a blessed day!