Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

It’s funny how soon I forget what good strawberries really taste like. The season is so short here in Ohio that it’s easy to get used to the giant ostrich egg-sized berries that occupy the produce section for the majority of the year. But, oh, my friends- there are few things more scrumptious than Ohio strawberries. Small and mighty, these beautiful rubies pack a flavorful sweetness. Unfortunately, they don’t have a long shelf life and it’s easy to get overzealous and buy 10 pints  at a time without a real game plan in mind. It’s hoarding at it’s finest (I swear I get it from my mom).

The good news is that these strawberries freeze well and they are delicious in pies, jams, crisps, and this cake. I seem to be drawn to buttermilk cakes. And I have an even greater fondness for simple cakes with simple ingredients. A bit of rustic elegance, if you will. I heard that phrase once and it seemed to stick- I’m not even sure what it really means; but it sounds like a good way to describe this cake. ;)

If you are looking for some ways to use up your excess berry supply, look no further.

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned and hulled

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour a 9 inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, soda, powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until pale yellow- about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla and egg and mix until combined.

4. With the mixer on low, carefully add in the flour mixture and buttermilk in an alternating fashion- beginning and ending with the flour.

5. Pour the batter in the 9 inch pan. Evenly place the berries on top and then sprinkle with remaining sugar.

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Serve with freshly whipped cream, if desired.

Source: Barely adapted from Gourmet

Jonah and Kate

This past weekend our friends from college, Jonah and Kate, were united in marriage in a beautiful ceremony. Their reception took place in a gorgeous screened in pavilion. The flowers, the table setting, the decorations, the food- it was all positively fabulous. Kate’s attention to detail resulted in a beautiful rustic and elegant party that is at the top of my list for the best wedding we have ever attended.

She, along with her bridesmaids and family, made these beautiful banners that labeled various parts of the reception…

She used the window of an old door as the seating chart…

The table settings and favors (herbs and honey) belonged in Martha Stewart magazine…

Another adorable feature is the pot of sparklers they had that we lit up at the end of the party to send the bride and groom away on their honeymoon…

Without a doubt, though, my favorite part of the reception was the dessert table. It was a glorious spread of cake and cupcakes and Kate and Jonah’s favorite treats. Kate asked me to make the chocolate orange cookies I made this past Christmas. I was thrilled to help!

Congratulations, Kate and Jonah! May you have love that never ends.

Spice-rubbed Grilled Pork Chops

I love summer. I love the feel of my bare feet on the freshly cut grass. I love the sound of our neighbor kids, out of school for the summer, laughing and riding their bikes around the neighborhood. I love seeing the lightning bugs shine after the sun goes down. And I love using the grill for as many meals as possible.

For the past few weeks our friends, Jess and Greg, have been living in our basement as they await gaining possession of their new house. We and our roomies (as we have affectionately deemed them) have developed a cooking routine in which each couple cooks two meals a week. It has worked out really well so far and I love coming home to dinner already in progress or on the table.

Jess made this particular grilled pork recipe last week and it was delicious. The rub is very simple and packs just the right amount of spice. She served it will grilled zucchini and squash and it was a perfect fast and easy summer meal.

Spice-rubbed Grilled Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops
  • 1 tablespoon oil, plus more for grilling

Directions

1. Place coriander, brown sugar, cumin, salt and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Add in the oil and the pork chops and shake to coat evenly. Place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.

2. Warm up a gas grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grill once it is hot. Add the pork chops and cover. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side, or until the center is 145 degrees.

3. Remove from the grill and place in a bowl. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before eating.

Source: Everyday Food

Chocolate Cream Puffs

Oh hey- just felt like posting mysterious pictures of cream puffs with no explanations last week. I had self-inflicted technical issues, but now I’m back. My mom made these beautiful puffs of delight for our Memorial Day party we had a few weeks ago. She happened to make them again this weekend and people always go crazy for them

While I love all things made from scratch, I have to admit the filling for these puffs are made with *gasp* boxed vanilla pudding. It saves some steps and it still is delicious; perhaps we’ll have to re-do this recipe sometime to experiment what impact a truly homemade filling would have on these babies.

We topped these particular cream puffs with my favorite fudge sauce and it really put the finishing touch on the tasty treat.

In other news, Robert and I got a whole flat of Ohio strawberries over the weekend and I am thinking up and researching different ways to use them. My mom suggested strawberry rhubarb jam, Robert wants his beloved strawberry shortcake, and I am on the hunt for some good savory ways to use these flavorful berry.

Any suggestions for savory (or any) strawberry recipes?

Chocolate Cream Puffs

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs

Filling:

  • 2-1/2 cups cold milk
  • 1 package (5.1 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping:

Homemade fudge sauce

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degreess. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with a silicone mat. Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan, combine butter and water. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring until the butter melts. Reduce heat to low; add flour and salt. Stir vigorously until mixture leaves the sides of the pan and forms a stiff ball. Remove from the heat.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix until the mixture is combined and smooth and shiny.

4. With a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip (or with a tablespoon), pipe 2 inch rounds of dough onto the cookie sheet.

5. To make the filling,  whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until somewhat set. In another large bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar and vanilla; fold into pudding. Pipe the filling into the cooled cream puff shells.

6. Spread the fudge sauce on top of the puffs and refrigerate until ready to use.

Source: Filling and pastry from Taste of Home

Life Lately

Whew! I can’t believe it’s already the middle of June. This summer is speeding by at record pace and it seems like there hasn’t been a lot of time for blogging. Don’t get me wrong- it’s been a good kind of busy. Full of cookouts, parties, and reuniting with some long lost friends. I’ve just gotten so caught up in the fun of things, I haven’t had much time to dedicate to cooking or baking.

Here’s what’s been going on in our neck of the woods lately:

My friend, Chelsea, is getting married next month. We celebrated her last few weeks as a bachelorette with a night out on the town. It was so much fun.

We ran the Warrior Dash. It’s a three and a half muddy obstacle course and more fun than I could have ever imagined. We will definitely be doing it again next year.

We have roommates! Our friends, Jess and Greg, recently bought a house, but can’t take possession until the end of June. So they’re living in our basement. :)

There’s a new addition on Robert’s side of the family. Baby Noah joined us last week. Congratulations to Robert’s cousin, Kerri, and her husband, David.

Our good friend from high school, Ryan, graduated medical school. Congrats, Ryan! His parents threw him a party and it just so happens they live in my childhood home. It was great to see Ryan and to take a trip down memory lane.

June has been a crazy month so far and I hope to be back to a more regular blogging schedule soon

Happy Monday, everyone!

Butterscoth Pie

Butterscotch Pie

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crusts, prepared, baked and cooled
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 350°.

2. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir brown sugar and butter until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Cook 2-3 minutes longer on low-medium heat. Remove from heat.

3. Beat egg yolks in a separate small bowl.

4. In separate large bowl, mix flour with 1/2 of milk, until smooth. Carefully add beaten egg yolks and salt. Mix well. Blend remaining milk with this mixture.

5. Add flour mixture to saucepan with sugar/butter mixture and cook on medium-low heat until thickened (ranges from 30-45 minutes), stirring constantly.

6. Remove from heat and blend in vanilla extract. Stir constantly until well blended and slightly warm and then pour into a prepared (baked) 9″ pie crust. Allow to cool

7. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar. Spread over pie and refrigerate. Top with hazelnuts and drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.

Source: My mom, adapted from Food.com

Jalapeno Lime Grilled Chicken

It looks like the warm weather is here to stay in Ohio and that means grilling season is well under way. Robert and I have been taking full advantage of our trusty gas grill and have been using it for anything and everything we can- burgers, pizza, vegetables, and this jalapeno lime grilled chicken.

This marinade comes from a recipe for chicken fajitas, which is absolutely scrumptious; but this sauce so tasty on it’s own that it works for just a simple grilled chicken. The ingredients are simple and it it comes together faster than you can say, “the jalapeno juice is burning my eye.”

Welcome June, and welcome summer. Lots more grilling recipes coming your way!

Lime Jalapeno Grilled Chicken

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, excess fat trimmed

Directions

1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the lime juice, vegetable oil, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, jalapeno, salt and pepper.

2. Place the chicken in a plastic resealable bag. Pour the marinade over the chicken. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

3. When ready to make the chicken, heat the grill over medium high heat. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until juices just run clear and a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Remove from the grill. Cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes and then serve.

Source: Marinade from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, originally from Cooks Illustrated