Thursday, May 26, 2011

Strawberry Summer Cake

"Do you want a bite of this?"  I offered  a towering forkful of this strawberry cake to Sweetie-Pi.  "Nah, I don't think so.  I don't feel like anything sweet."  I shrugged, a little disappointed.  "Well, maybe a little bite," he said. He took a little nibble. "Yummm, this is good,"  he said.   "It's really good!"  He wedged the remainder of the cake and whipped cream into his mouth and gave me back an empty fork. Ole Sweetie-Pi showed more self-restraint than I; I ate two pieces and called it dinner.

If you like strawberry shortcake, or strawberry trifles, or just about strawberry anything, I believe you'll really like this. This is going into my keeper file and will be seen on the family groaning board when we are together next.  I can't wait to share it with them.

Reportedly, this is a good keeper, will stay fresh about two days, if properly covered, either at room temperature or refrigerated.  Let me know if this delicious cake last that long in your house, smiles.

Strawberry Cake
(originally at Martha Stewart)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more to grease the pie pan
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound strawberries, rinsed, dried, hulled, cut in half
2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Generously grease a ten-inch pie plate.**

In a small bowl  whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Then add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix until just combined.

Add the flour mixture and mix until blended.  Transfer batter to buttered pie plate.  Batter is thick, so you may have to level it a bit with a knife or an offset spatula.

Add the strawberries, cut side down, in a single layer, as closely as possible on top of the batter.  Sprinkle the two tablespoons of sugar over the strawberries.

Bake the cake for 10 minutes at the 350*F temperature.  Then reduce the oven to 325*F about 50 to 60 minutes.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out free of batter, though it will likely have a bit of strawberry clinging to it.  

Let cool in pan on wire rack. Cut in wedges and top with your favorite whipped topping, if desired. 

**I used a deep dish 9-inch, Pyrex pie plate and it worked very well, I thought.  My cake was done at 50 minutes.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bourbon Chicken

This chicken falls into the finger-lickin'-good category! I made this on Mother's Day using chicken wings (which is what the original recipe called for), and there were happy sounds all around the table. No leftovers! We liked this so much we couldn't wait to make it again;  Ole Sweetie-Pi does not care for meat on the bone so this time I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs and it was so good! 

I think if one cooked down the marinade til it was nice and syrupy, it would be super good to brush on chicken on the grill of if you wanted to cook the chicken in the oven.  Cooked as directed, there is some remaining sauce which I poured over the chicken after plating it, but the sauce would be good on rice or perhaps some grilled vegetables.  The caramelized sauce can leave a bit of a mess in your pan, but as it's sugar based, a little soaking in hot water will make the job a whole lot easier and virtually becomes no effort at all.

**The original recipe says that wings will cook in 16 minutes, (and other reviewers said the same thing) but I found  the time to be grossly understated.  I think I must have cooked the wings a good 30 minutes or more, first because I wanted the marinade to reduce to a syrup and turn to a desirable caramel color and consistency and secondly and more importantly, the chicken did not test done when I pierced it with a tined fork.  The thighs took about the same amount of time, so I would recommend using your best judgment in timing the cooking of this.  Of course, this could be due in whole to my method of cooking, smiles, as I did not cover the chicken while it cooked.  I brought the sauce to a bubble, saw that the chicken was going to simmer in the marinade, and became trepidacious of boiling/steaming the chicken.

Bourbon Chicken
(adapted from

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
oil for the skillet

1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown, but light brown would also be good)
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 cup bourbon (I used Jim Beam, but only because that's what we have)
2 tablespoons ketchup

Give a couple of good swirls of oil in a skillet large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer.  (I place the chicken so that all the top/outer sides are facing me, so when it comes time to turn them I be able to tell that they have all been turned  over.)

In a separate, smallish bowl combine the remaining ingredients and then pour over the chicken.

**Cover and cook over medium heat, about 20 minutes, or until chicken is done, turning frequently to prevent chicken from sticking.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hashbrown Casserole

Yum-oooooh-yum-yum-yum do we love this!  Hashbrown casserole has been a family favorite since a co-worker back in my insurance days raved about a new potato dish she had at a function.  I made this for my family, and it was a hit and became part of my niece Hilliary's birthday dinner request, smiles. 

I brought this to a small Mother Day's gathering and this simple casserole won new devotees for its cheesy, crispy, potato goodness.  I mixed all the ingredients together ahead of time, sans cornflakes which I added just before baking, so it was a timesaver.  Serves 8-12 people, depending on appetites.

Hashbrown Casserole

2 pounds frozen hashbrown potatoes (the diced potato kind, not the shredded)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint of sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (other cheeses also work well)

1 cup (or more!) crushed corn flakes
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Generously butter a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.  Combine the first four ingredients together (can use the casserole dish to save a dish).  Top with the crushed corn flakes and butter.

Bake for 60-90 minutes.  Serve hot.  Rewarms well but the cornflakes loose some of their crunch.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Green Bean and Pork Chop Casserole

This recipe is a spinoff of the perenially popular green bean casserole.  For not a lot of money you can feed a family a meal that is filling and delicious.  I can't tell you how many times my own mother made this when the pantry was getting a little lean and the wallet a little thin. We thought we were dining like rich folk. 

Essentially, I just threw together ingredients for a green bean casserole, added sliced potatoes, and a couple of chops, a small can of mushrooms (fresh is so much better if you have them!), some sour cream, and baked.  For the two of us, I used only two chopsyou can easily add more chops. This made a generous amount of casserole, which we enjoyed as a leftover. 

Green Bean and Pork Chop Casserole

2 medium potatoes, washed, thinly sliced, skins left intact if desired
1 can cream of mushroom soup, plus one half can of water
1 small can sliced mushrooms, drained
a good-sized gob of sour cream, probably about 1/2 cup
2 cans green beans (also known as haricot verts)
2 thin boneless pork chops, browned
salt and pepper to taste
generous handful of French fried onions

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Generously butter an 11 inch by 7 inch baking dish (or a 9 inch by 13 inch baking dish if using more than 2 chops).

Wash and peel your potatoes, and then slice to about 1/8 inch thick.  To prevent browning,  put them in a bowl of fresh cold water. Set aside.  (Dry them off with a paper towel before using.)

In a separate bowl, combine the mushroom soup, water, mushrooms, and sour cream.  Add the green beans and mix to combine. Set aside.

Lightly salt and pepper the pork chops + and brown in a fry pan, about three minutes each side.

In your baking dish, layer the sliced potatoes.  Top with one half of the green bean mixture.  Add the browned pork chops, and top with the remaining green bean mixture.

Cover with tin foil and bake at 350*F for about 50 minutes.  Remove from oven, peel back aluminum foil and insert the tip of a knife to the bottom of the casserole, testing that the potatoes pierce easily and are done. If not, cover and return to the oven and bake until done, probably another 10 minutes or so. When potatoes are done, completely remove the foil and sprinkle with the French fried onions and return the casserole to the oven.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes to brown the onions or until the onions are a deep golden color.

Remove casserole from oven.  Let rest a couple of minutes, serve hot.