Sunday, June 18, 2017

Strawberries and Cream Victoria Sponge Cake

Happy Father's Day! Today I'm making a banana cream pie, as requested for dessert, but wanted to post something because it's been a long time. Last month I went to a British Baking class at Sur la table. We learned to make meat pies, scones, and this cake. It's a basic yellow sponge cake with a strawberry and whipped cream filling. I made it last week for my in-laws and it was just as yummy as I remembered! What's interesting is that you use a food processor to mix the cake, which I had never done before. When I made it at home I used my KitchenAid and it worked just as well. They also had us whip the cream by hand, which I recommend for children if you have lots of bored kids at home in the summer like me. ;) I'd like to try it with a different filling like peach, or raspberry. I also love that the only decorating you have to do is sprinkle powdered sugar on the top!

Strawberries and Cream Victoria Sponge Cake
adapted from
8 ounce unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
¼ cup whole milk
½ cup strawberry jam
3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP powdered sugar, for dusting cake

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position the rack in the center. Lightly butter the bottoms and sides of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans. Dust pans with flour and shake out the excess (or use baking spray with flour).
 2. To prepare the cake: Place all the ingredients except the milk in the food processor and process into a thick batter. Add milk and pulse until the batter is smooth. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 20 minutes, or until the cakes are springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.
3. To make the filling: Place jam in a medium skillet and warm it over medium heat to loosen the consistency. Remove from heat and fold in strawberries. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment add cream and sugar; whisk on medium speed until cream holds firm shiny peaks.
4. To assemble cake:  Transfer one of the cooled cakes to a cake plate. Spread the strawberries over the top of the cake. Top the berries with the whipped cream using a spatula and starting from the center of the cake and smoothing it out towards the edges. Place the second cake on top. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the cake generously with powdered sugar and serve.

Makes 1 (9-inch) double layer cake

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lemon Marshmallow Popcorn Bars

Yellow is one of my favorite colors! It makes me think of daffodils and tulips in the spring. When we lived in Washington state, we would go to the tulip festival and see rows and ROWS of amazing flowers (see pics at the bottom of this post). Popcorn also makes me think of spring because it looks like those little white blossoms on trees. These treats are similar to the marshmallow rice cereal variety, but made with POPCORN! Skinny Pop Original Popcorn works great in this recipe (you can see their products here). I added in some lemon flavor with zest, mini lemon marshmallows, and crushed lemon candies. Yep, get your kids to pick out the yellow mini marshmallows from one of those multi colored bags. :) Once you've got the basic recipe down, you can change up the flavors too!

Lemon Marshmallow Popcorn Bars
3 TBSPs butter
1 TBSP lemon zest, packed (1 large lemon)
10 oz marshmallows
10 cups popcorn (I like Original Skinny Pop, see pic below)
2 cups yellow mini marshmallows (or whatever you can get from the bag of colored ones)
2 oz white almond bark or vanilla chips, melted
2 TBSPs crushed lemon candies (lemon drops or lemon heads)

1. In a large pot, melt butter over low heat until melted. Add lemon zest and marshmallows. Stir until marshmallows have completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in popcorn until mixed well and popcorn is covered with marshmallow mixture.
3. Add yellow mini marshmallows and stir to combine.
4. Press into greased 9x13 inch pan.
5. Drizzle melted almond bark over top and sprinkle on the lemon candy.
6. Cool and cut into squares.

Store covered at room temperature. Best served the same day.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Poppy Seed Dressing

This is such a yummy and easy dressing! I make it to use on these Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders (also from Our Best Bites). THEN I use the leftovers on salad, maybe with with strawberries and candied pecans or mandarin oranges. I have even made it with my immersion blender, which I love, because clean up is a breeze. 

Poppy Seed Dressing
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tsp salt
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp mustard
1 green onion ends removed (roots and where the green part starts to get floppy)
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp poppy seeds

In a blender, combine vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar, and mustard. While the blender is running, add the green onion. Continue running the blender and add the oil in a steady stream and is fully incorporated into the dressing. Pour the dressing into a serving or storage container and whisk in poppy seeds. Serve over leafy greens.

OR throw everything into a bowl (minus poppyseeds). Blend with immersion blender until smooth. Stir in poppyseeds.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders

I've tried a few different versions of these sliders and this is my favorite one. I especially like it with the Our Best Bites Poppyseed Dressing spread over the rolls, but you can use any kind that you like. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of the dressing to be spread evenly over both sides of the rolls, but I find that the bottom of my rolls ends up too soggy if I spread a 1/4 cup of dressing over them. I prefer to use a little less and only spread a little on the bottom and the rest of it on the top. We eat these up fast, so it might be a good idea to make 2 pans. ;)

Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Sliders
adapted from
1 dozen Hawaiian Rolls
1/3 cup Our Best Bites Poppyseed Dressing (or any poppyseed dressing)
6 slices Swiss or provolone cheese, cut into quarters
18 thin slices honey or brown sugar ham
2 TBSPs butter
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1 tsp dehydrated onion
1 tsp Creole or other mild coarse-ground mustard

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a 9x13" baking dish with aluminum foil. Set aside.
2. Slice the rolls in half. Don't separate them.
3. Spread a small amount of dressing on the bottom rolls, just to barely cover them (we don't want them to be soggy). Spread the remainder of the dressing on the top half.
4. Place a cheese quarter on each roll
5. Place 1 1/2 slices of ham on each roll.
6. Place another cheese quarter on top of ham on each roll.
7. Carefully turn top half of rolls over onto the bottom half and place the entire thing into the prepared baking dish.
8. In a small bowl, melt the butter and whisk in the poppyseeds, dehydrated onion, and mustard. Spread it evenly over the tops of the rolls.
9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pecan Pie Bars

Happy Pi day! These are so good! Pecan pie is my absolute favorite pie and these bars are very similar. They don't have the gooeyness of the pie, but still have all the flavor. The crust is kind of like a cross between a shortbread cookie and a pie crust. I like them better the 2nd or even 3rd day. I also like to freeze them wrapped individually. My kids pull them from the freezer to take them in their school lunch, and they are thawed by the time they eat. Now go make some pie!

Pecan Pie Bars
adapted from
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
6 TBSPs sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsps vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 TBSPs heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 pound pecans, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. For the crust, beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes.
3. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined.
 5. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan, making an edge about 1 inch up the sides like you would a pie crust . It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.
6. For the topping, combine the butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
7. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
8. Stir in the heavy cream, pinch of salt, and pecans.
9. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
10. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.
These freeze really well!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ground Beef Scalloped Potatoes

I don't have time for too many more of these nice wintry comfort food meals. It's been in the 80s here already and it's only February! I adapted this from a recipe I found on pinterest (taking out all signs of mushrooms). My family loved it! It is a bit of prep work, bit was totally worth it for the responses I got. If you have a mandoline, I recommend using that to slice your potatoes because it's fast and makes them all uniform in thickness. I have a CHEAP one (like $5, see pic at bottom) that works just fine and I cut my potatoes on the thinnest setting which looks like 1/8 of an inch. Might be good with bacon...just saying.

Ground Beef Scalloped Potatoes
adapted from 
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups thinly sliced potatoes
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1 cup beef broth (or water and bouillon)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 8 x 12in. baking dish.
 2. In medium skillet, cook the onions and ground meat, seasoned with salt and pepper. Once meat is browned, mix in 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp paprika. Drain the grease, remove meat mixture from pan and set aside.
3. In the same pan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly add milk and beef broth, blending well and bring to a boil, whisking the entire time. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. Once the mixture comes to a boil again, whisk just until thickened--anywhere from 2-5 minutes
 4. Layer into the baking dish 1/3 of the potatoes, then spread 1/3 of the soup mixture over the potatoes. Sprinkle on 1/3 of the meat mixture, and top with 1/2 cup of cheese. Repeat layers with another 1/3 of the potatoes, soup, meat and then the cheese. Finish with one more set of layers in same order.
5. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover baking dish, spray side down. Bake for 45 min, then remove the foil and bake for 15 more. Stick a fork in to see if the potatoes are soft, if not add 5 more minutes.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Instant Pot Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta

I bought an Instant Pot a few months ago and have been collecting dinner recipes. Here's my first one! This can be a side or you can add chicken to make it a one pot meal. When I add chicken, I cook the a couple of frozen chicken breasts on high pressure with 2 cups of water for 15 min. Then I remove them and use the pot for the pasta. You can even measure out the leftover water that the chicken cooked in, and use that too. Makes a lot! Feeds my family of 6 with leftovers.

Instant Pot Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta
adapted from
16oz pasta (I like penne, rotini, or farfalle)
4 cups water
1 16oz bag frozen broccoli
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup milk OR half and half
1 tsp of salt
Pepper to taste

1. Place pasta and 4 cups of water in Instant Pot. Dump bag of frozen broccoli on top of pasta. Do not stir.
2. Turn pot on manual HIGH pressure for 4 minutes. After it has finished, do a quick release.
3. Turn pot to saute. Add in milk, cheese, salt and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted.

Add chopped cooked chicken if desired.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

It's going to be in the 80's here today, but it's WINTER, so I'm posting a soup recipe! This soup reminds me of chicken pot pie filling, but with rice of course. The rice is baked in the oven, so while it's doing it's thing, you can cook your chicken and chop up all your veggies. I like to cook my chicken in my Instant Pot, and then use the leftover broth in the soup. 

Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup
1 7 oz. box of Long Grain and Wild Rice Mix (like Zatarain's pic below)
2 cups water
1 tsp chicken bouillon granuals OR 1 cube
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup sliced carrots
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 TBSPs chopped fresh parsley
3 cups diced cooked chicken
1 cup whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine rice, water, and bouillon in a 3 quart or 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. Set aside.
2. Melt butter in skillet over med-high heat. Saute onion, celery and carrots in butter until soft. Stir in flour and cook until bubbly.
3. Add broth and parsley. Cook and stir until thickened.
4. Add baked rice and chicken; mix well. Add cream and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until heated through.

Makes 6 servings

Thursday, January 19, 2017

BBQ Smoked Sausage French Bread

When I look at these pictures I think, PARTY FOOD! This would be a great super bowl party snack. It has all the major food groups, bread, cheese, meat, and BBQ sauce! ;) The recipe only uses half of the loaf of French bread, but you can definitely double it to feed a crowd. It would also be amazing to substitute chicken, and even throw some bacon in there, which I will try soon. I used beef smoked sausage and cheddar cheese, but you can use your favorites of either one. And no reason why you can't make this for dinner!

Barbecue Smoked Sausage French Bread
1 loaf French bread, sliced in half lengthwise (you only need 1 half)
1 TBSP butter
1 small onion, sliced
12oz  package of smoked sausages, chopped
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
3/4 cup shredded cheese

1. Place french bread half on a baking sheet. Toast under broiler just until it starts to brown. Remove from broiler.
2. Melt butter in skillet over med-high heat. Add onion slices and cook stirring occasionally until onions are soft.
3. Add chopped sausages and continue stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, until cooked through.
4. Add barbecue sauce and cook for a few minutes until mixture is heated through.
5. When sausage mixture is hot, scoop it onto the french bread and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle with cheese.
6. Place back under broiler to melt cheese. Keep your eye on it so it doesn't burn.
7. Slice into strips and serve.

I couldn't say no when he asked to be in the picture. Haha

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bacon and Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits

I had a biscuit like this at the Magnolia Market Silo Bakery. I couldn't stop thinking about it, so I thought why not add bacon, cheese, and chives to my own biscuits, and here they are! They are fluffy and buttery with the extra goodness of bacon and cheese! Make a double batch, because you'll want more.

Bacon and Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups flour
3 tsps baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
5 TBSPs cold butter, cut into cubes (or use a cheese grater)
2 TBSPs cold shortening
1 cup cold buttermilk, plus an extra 3 TBSP in case you need it
3 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 TBSP fresh chives, chopped
1 TBSP melted butter for brushing on top

1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper, silpat, or aluminum foil, dull side up.
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together until combined. With a fork or pastry blender, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until each piece is coated and the size of small peas.
3. Add bacon, cheese, and chives and mix until combined.
4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in one cup of the buttermilk. Gently mix it around until it's combined. If the dough doesn't look wet, add in the extra 3 TBSPs of buttermilk to moisten it. You don't want it runny, just visibly moist.
5. Flour your surface and gently place your dough on top. Dust the top of the wet dough with a little more flour ensuring that your fingers don't stick into the dough. Bring the dough together with your hands, gently, for about 10 seconds. Flatten into a 1-1 ½ inch thick circle. Cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter (I used a 2½ inch). Do not twist cutter when cutting; this crimps the edges of the biscuit and hinders rising.
6. Place each biscuit on the lined baking sheet, so that the sides are barely touching. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter.
Makes 6 large biscuits