Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake Frosting (aka. Berry Cake Part DEUX!!!!)

Okay- here is possibly the best frosting EVER!!!!!!!!
...if you like cheesecake.....

You will need :
2 8oz. pkgs cream cheese
1/2 c. soft butter
2-3 c. sifted powdered sugar
3 large strawberries whirled in a blender with 1 heaping T. sugar
1 t. vanilla

please ignore the fingerprint in the butter...they were CLEAN fingers testing to make sure everybody was soft and ready to become something wonderful!!!!!!
 Sift in your powdered sugar....lumpy cheesecake frosting WILL NOT DO!!!!!
Mix it slowly to prevent a sudden "snowstorm" in your kitchen!!!!!!
It'll look pretty thick.....but it'll be just right.....
note: this frosting is not overly sweet- it is really much more of a cheesecake flavor than your typical cream cheese frosting, but FEEL FREE to add more powdered sugar to suit your preferences!
So far, it is still a free country!

and that's what you want because next, you are going to add.......

then your fruitiful frosting will look like this!!!!!!!

Retrieve the berry cake you made late last night and slice each 9" cake in half....spread cheesecake frosting between each layer......don't worry about perfection...the taste will wow you enough!!!!!!
Get a nice layer all over the outside of the cake.......
 MMmmmmm- and you could easily leave it right there and be oh so happy, but we are going over the top here...HOLD ON!!!!!!! Graham cracker crumbs to the table please.......
Coat only the sides...and leave the top for your beautiful succulent berries!!!!!!!

You will probably have enough cake to share with your friends coming over to dinner.....and maybe even spare a piece for someone who just happens to stop in for a quick "Hello!"
Either way, you are sure to find lots of occasions this Strawberry season to enjoy this taste sensation!!!!!
See you in the morrow!!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Berry Fresh Cake!!!!!(Part 1)

Proverbs 13:12
"....a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."
I hate to leave you longing, but for undisclosed reasons I am going to do this recipe in two parts....
Okay some of the reasons are grading tests, doing laundry and making dinner, but I believe the anticipation will only increase your appetite!!!
Now, get ready for a taste sensation- this berry cake is so good, one will ever think it when they taste this, but it is something of a "cheater" cake.....I used a White cake mix....shhhhh- don't tell anyone!!!!!!
Here's what you'll need:

1 box of white cake mix (shhh- use this stealthily)
1 small pkg. strawberry gelatin
1 c. flour
3/4 t. salt

1 c. fresh or, here frozen fruit + enough water to make a full cup
1/3 c. water
2 T. oil
1 c. melted butter
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla

First whisk together all your dry ingredients like so-
Then blend your fruit/water mixture in your food processor, blender or Magic Bullet that your sweet sis-in-law got you....until it looks like a mini smoothie as above!
Combine your wet and dry ingredients and mix on Medium for 2 minutes- you could use your paddle attachment, but mine is broken!!!!!
...but the whisk will do just fine!
Try to restrain yourself from eating ALL THE BATTER...and evenly distribute it into 2 9" pans...
ignore the little bitty loaf pan- I used it as a taster because it was an experiment and we were having company - yes you can expect to be experimented on if you come to my house!!!!(it was successful , BTW!)

bake these  at 350 ° for 33-38 minutes- you want to be careful not to overbake these beauties just so they don't jiggle in the center, but they will continue to bake after you pull them so WATCH CLOSELY!


they should look like this!!!!

Tune in tomorrow for the next exciting episode when I will show you how to make the Cheesecake frosting!!!! You will not want to miss it!!!!!
See you then!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cold days are perfect for making Jam!!!!!!

Apricot Jam
 Proverbs 31:27-28
"She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her"
I think all women would like to be like the Proverbs 31 woman, but she does so many things so tirelessly that it often seems impossible. Well, two things I can do..... I can speak well of my husband (it's pretty hard on most days NOT to- He is a man of integrity and wisdom who makes me feel loved and protected, an excellent father, and a man after God's heart) and, I can choose not to "eat the bread of idleness"....other breads are apparently acceptable, so I'm good with that!!!!!! Really, I think in our society REST is more of an issue, but if you want something  fun and easy that will  earn the praises of your family.....TRY THIS!!!

Let me begin by saying that every PB&J we have around here is put together with homemade jam.....all other forms are simply unacceptable.....so it is NOT DIFFICULT!!!!!!!
Growing up, my aunt always made homemade jam for my family- she lived in Utah and we would come home with several large jars full of the most wonderful apricot....and RRRrrrrrrraspberry jam (which is my personal favorite!!!!!!). However, until I met my husband, jam creation was a magical mystery to me (not to be confused with the Magical Mystery Tour).....but my Mama-in-law is a wonderful jam maker....she still supplies us with her homegrown, homemade blackberry jam.....which is my other FAVORITE!!!!
She let me watch as she made jam and showed me how truly undaunting the task is!!!
Now, you are going to say that the process of making the jam may be easy, but what about the CANNING?!?!??!
Well, I will let you in on a little secret.....if you start with freshly cleaned jars and lids.......they actually SEAL THEMSELVES....I know, that sounds crazy, but if you fill them with extremely hot jam (no one said there wasn't any danger in jam-making!!!!) the jars begin to seal with a POP as they sit on the counter...I am serious!!!!!
But you have to use real canning jars!!!
My Mama-in-law likes to give jam in beautiful old pieces of Early American pressed glass and she seals her jam with a paraffin wax seal which you can do if you want to be clever and creative, but that is farrrrr too much work for today, so you'll have to settle for my fill and seal method for today!!!!
So, here goes:
Buy a package of fruit pectin....I like Ball brand the best...Follow the instructions for the fruit, juice and sugar requirements in this case, 5 cups o frozen apricots from our tree last year......
thaw it out in warm water if you're in a hurry....and who isn't????

1 package of pectin
measure out 7 cups of sugar
Note: sugar makes me smile!!!!
1/4 cup of lemon juice....this is close enough.....

and what recipe would be complete without butter???
1 t. butter (not much, but it cuts down on foam...- you'll see)
Start by adding your fruit and lemon juice to a large pan and sprinkle the pectin over it as above....
Allow it to come to a full rolling boil...as below...
stir in a little "pat" of butter (not sure why it should be called a "pat")......

then add your sugar all at once- it will seem like a lot.......
but it will quickly disappear...
but you will have to stir constantly till it comes to a full rolling boil.......

Boil like this for 60 seconds...set your timer- it is important- otherwise the jam is too runny- and if you boil too long it is too thick...it's a fine line!!!!!!
Then take your measuring cup that has no visible measurements and CAREFULLY scoop out hot jam

fill jars immediately...screw lids on working quickly....
Enjoy the FRUITS of your labor on some lovely toast!!!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Killer Shrimp!!!!!!!!

KILLER SHRIMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When  I first started dating my astoundingly handsome, sexy husband (who RARELY reads this blog), one of the first places he took me was a little "alternative-ish" restaurant on Ventura Blvd called Killer Shrimp. All they served was this broth and your choice of bread, rice, or pasta with it. The bread was the BEST!!!!They brought it out HOT and FRESH!!!!!! Such great memories.....and, since then, this is my best replication of that old memory and  has become a quick, yummy,(did I already say yummy?), spicy meal....and has become an absolute STAPLE in out house....for ease and especially flavor!!!!!!one of my family's favorites!
You will need these.....
and these spices.......
First, melt the butter and add 2 cloves crushed garlic 2 T. Old Bay seasoning, some fresh ground black pepper, 1 T. ground Italian seasoning, and 1/4 t. cayenne (or to your taste- we like it spicy!!!)
then, stir in a small can of tomato paste.....let those flavors get married and produce savory offspring......and just enjoy the mouthwatering smell of butter and garlic-
then add 32 oz. of chicken stock.....bring to a boil, cover and cook for as long as you like, but at least 1 hour- then add this "secret ingredient"......

( I even snuck it in sideways!!!) that's right! it's Miller Beer!!!!! Whatever your feelings on Miller as a drinking beer, it has a really nice flavor in this particular dish......simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
Just before serving, thaw out 1 lb. of frozen, uncooked, peeled, deveined shrimp in very cold salted water. Once thawed, (about 10 minutes) carefully add to boiling broth- cook 2-3 minutes till tails are curled and shrimpees are PINK!
Sop up this spicy, rich, delicious broth with a crusty french loaf...and extra butter , if you MUST...and I MUST!!!!Try this on a night when you are short on time and large on hunger!!!!!!!! iT IS SOOOOO YUMALICIOUS!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lemon-Rosemary Chicken !!!!!!

Look at this chicken...it is so moist and tender....juicy and delicious, but we will get to that in a minute- First I want to talk to you about something controversial....SALT! As far as cooking goes, food without salt is pretty flavorless. I use it even in dessert- it is an indispensable asset to all cooking endeavors!

Back in Bible times,  the Dead Sea was the source of most of their salt. It was more than just a flavoring - it was a means of preserving food back then. But because of how they got their salt, it didn't take long for the salt to go bad and have to be discarded.

Matthew 5:13
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."

If we are following Christ, we are called the "salt of the earth".
The surest way to fulfill that calling is a daily intake of the source of our salt- Christ Himself. We'll talk more about salt, but for now, just agree with me that is it a necessity in cooking!!!!
This chicken, for instance is crusted with salt and filled with other good things - you will love how easy and delicious it is to make this....IF you have salt!!!!!!
First preheat your oven to 350° .
Here's what else you'll need:
3lb. whole chicken
1 stick of butter
2 lemons
a couple sprigs of rosemary
sea salt
I like to line my pan with foil just so I don't have to scrub browned bits of chicken from it later...it saves time, and time is something I seem to lose..or misplace...or something- so this is some small way of saving some....I think.
Now, just look at this rosemary....
Smells so good- freshly plucked from our wonderfully generous neighbor's yard. I actually consider it an extension of our own yard since we continually pick their fruit and vegetables and I sit poolside all Summer long watching my kidlets play in their pool....have I ever mentioned how nice my neighbors are???
I have the best!!!! YES!     Anyhoo-you will need to find some beautifully green rosemary on your own.....
And, here are the gory details-
Pull the innards from the chicken (I will say no more!!!!) Then rinse it inside and out and pat it dry.Season inside with salt and pepper.
Cut your lemons in half and squeeze the juice on the inside and outside and then stuff them inside the breast cavity. Make pockets under the skin for the rosemary sprigs and put 1 T. butter under each side as well.This really sounds gross, but it only takes a second and you can focus your full attention on your kidlet who is telling you a very detailed story about her trampoline experience or hum a tune, or whatever occupies your thoughts best, and the next thing you know, the chicken is stuffed and ready for it's bath of warm butter.....
Mmmmmm butter!!!!!!
Drizzle 1/2 cup melted butter over the entire chicken...this is why it is MOIST and DELICIOUS!!!! and then sprinkle generously with sea salt.....
Put the chicken in the oven for 1 1/2 hr. until golden brown. Remove, cover with foil and let the chicken sit for 15 minutes to allow the juices to recede and finish cooking. The juices should run clear when you cut into it- if not, return it to the oven for a few more minutes until they do, but don't leave it too long!!! This is what we are looking for....

Hope you enjoy the rest of this lovely cloud-filled afternoon and try this sometime soon!!!!