Sunday, June 26, 2011

Real Strawberry Cake (from scratch!)

This was good - I mean, really, really good!  You would be amazed at all the Strawberry Cake recipes out there that call for jello, or flavoring & red dye number 9. 

This is the real deal; nothing fake in this baby, and all the strawberry flavor relies on is - get this -strawberries!  I made this a few weeks ago before our local strawberries were even ready and I plan to make it again after I buy a plethora of flats from our local berry farm.   Hubby hates cake, and he actually ate quite a bit of this (albeit secretly)! 

I didn't know how this would turn out, so I made only half the recipe the first time and put some of the strawberry puree as a filling between the layer that I sliced into the cake.  Definitley do NOT leave out the puree in the  middle of the cake; it gives it a slight tangy-ness that would otherwise be a too sweet cake that leaves your teeth a bit sore, but with the puree in the middle, it was perfect!

Real Strawberry Cake|Makes 2 - 8" pans

3 cups frozen or very ripe fresh strawberries, hulled (if frozen, thawed)
1-2 tsp sugar (optional)
1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
4 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened (not melted)

If using frozen berries, thaw & remove excess liquid using a strainer.  If using fresh, hull, slice, and toss with a bit of sugar, and then cover.  Let sit for a bit until they are nice and juicy. Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree.  Reserve 3/4 cup of the puree for the cake, the rest can be used as the filling, and for flavoring the frosting.  (I really had to make sure I didn't eat it all, just as it was!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 8 inch pans.

In a small bowl, combine puree, milk, egg, and vanilla and mix with fork until well blended. In bowl of mixer, add sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine. Continue beating at slow speed and add butter. Mix until combined and resembling moist crumbs.

Add liquids and beat at medium speed for about 1 minute or until full and evenly combined.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time will vary). Let cakes rest in pan for about 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks. Let cakes cool completely (about 2 hours).

Strawberry Frosting

3 cups icing sugar
1.5 cups butter
3 tsp vanilla
Strawberry puree (and extra icing sugar if needed)

Cream butter, and slowly add icing sugar.  Combine with vanilla and slowly add desired amount of reserved strawberry puree (this will depend on how pink you want it and how "strawberry-ey" you want it!  Add extra icing sugar 1 Tbsp at a time until desired consistancy is reached.  Whip for about 5-6 minutes until light and fluffy.

Source: Cake - (Confections of a Foodie Bride), adapted from Cook's Illustrated Classic White Cake and Good Things Catered.  Frosting - BakingFetish original.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grilled (yes grilled!) Chicken Cordon Bleu

If you are already in summer mode, despite our weather, I would highly recommend making these for dinner - maybe tomorrow, which marks the first day of summer!  Growing up my mom would make Chicken Cordon Bleu every once in a while and I LOVED it!  What could be better than chicken and ham pretty much covered in a gooey, cheesy mess?!?  Although, if you know my mother, you know that nothing she does is ever a mess, so chicken cordon bleu was always a very unmessy affair in our house!  I can't say the same for these, or maybe it is just my method, but grilling them on the BBQ does mean that a little mess is par for the course.

Cooking these on the BBQ, rather than in the oven, or frying them, gives them this great flavor, and it pretty much means I will never be able to eat regular cordon bleu ever again.  Oh well, I usually drag the BBQ out during the middle of winter anyway!

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu
(to make the recipe easier to follow, I have reduced it to one portion, that way you know how many of each item to buy, rather than by weight, as in the original recipe)

1 Chicken breast
1 slice deli ham
1 slice swiss cheese (PC has a great package of sliced swiss cheese in their deli that is the perfect size)
Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper

Cut a pocket in the centre of each breast, careful not to go all the way through. 

Roll swiss cheese into a cylinder and then roll inside of ham slice.

Stuff inside the centre cut of the chicken breast.

Roll the breast around the ham and swiss, using toothpicks to ensure it stays closed. (I use a ton of toothpicks... usually about 6 to make sure it holds).

Brush with dijon and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Throw onto your preheated and oil brushed grill at high heat to sear, and then lower to grill slowly, ensuring that the chicken is cooked all the way to the centre.

For the Vinaigrette: (you may be tempted to skip this, but I beg you, please don't!)

2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp dijon
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
Minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl until combined, once chicken is done, drizzle sparingly to cover top of chicken.

You WILL enjoy this!  I have made it twice in the last 2 weeks!

Source: Pink Parsley, from Cuisine Grilling

My project for this week: Homemade Oreos! (The only good thing about the lousy weather: we can still turn on the oven!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Best Pancakes

In honor of Father's Day next weekend, why not whip up a batch of light and fluffy pancakes for the Dad in your life?  Of course, because we always have strawberries in the house, I love to top mine with a whole bunch of them, but choose whatever he likes; these fluffy babies will taste great with any topping!  Throw in a dash of cinnamon, or a bit of almond extract, maybe some melted chocolate after you pour the batter in the pan and swirl it through - these pancakes are a favorite here and they are my go-to when it has been a long day and I don't have time or energy to make dinner!

Fluffy pancakes|(yield 5-6 med/large pancakes)
1 cup flour (you can use white, whole wheat or a combination)
1 Tbsp sugar
1 heaping Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Whisk together the dry ingredients, create a well in the centre & add wet.  Stir until combined and let sit for a few minutes before scooping onto grill or frying pan; this give the baking powder time to do its "fluffening" magic!

Source: Nicole original, adapted from

Thursday, June 9, 2011

So many recipes, so little time...

Two posts in one week!  I must be bored!  Actually, hubby is away and I have to admit, I am kind of lonely when baby girl goes to bed.  What to do, what to do, but sit at the computer with all my good friends; foodie blogs! 

It has kind of felt a bit like summer here in our little corner of the west coast for the last few days and that has got me thinking about what I am now referring to as my Summer Foodie Bucket List.  Most of it revolves around strawberries, as I am pretty convinced that fresh, local strawberries are probably God's greatest foodie gift!  I have so many recipes stockpiled already that I need to blog about, but I control myself because I know if I do them all at once, a) they won't get read or used because there will be too many and b) I won't have anything left to recommend in a few short months as I am convinced that after baby number 2 arrives, I probably won't be doing any crazy kitchen experiments for some time!  (Unless of course, this child arrives with a brand new kitchenaid mixer in his or her hand.)

I just stumbled upon a "From Scratch Strawberry Cake" recipe that has amazing reviews, which I shall attempt and then blog about my success or failure, but I am hoping for the former.  I am also thinking Strawberry Margaritas, Strawberry Cream Cheese Tart, Strawberry Margarita Popsicles, Strawberry Scones, and the list goes on.  However, if you are not a strawberry fanatic like me, I will also attempt to woo you with Tropical Fruit Sorbet (which will require an ice cream maker, which I hope to get for my summer birthday, hint hint hubby), Grilled Chicken Fajitas (which I hope to make tomorrow night), along with homemade Pina Coladas, a Blueberry Boy Bait Cake with family grown blueberries, Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu (which I have already made and will post about soon because you will think you have died and gone to heaven when you take that first bite!), and finally a homemade Teriyaki sauce to use on a grilled meat of your choice to which I recommend Smashed New Potatos!  I promise to post all these recipes during the summer months so that you can enjoy them too.

Anything on your Summer Foodie Bucket List?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Grilled Bruschetta

So now that it looks like summer weather might be upon us (fingers crossed!) I have been looking for simple, lighter recipes for the warmer weather.  I happened upon this little gem at one of my favorite sites, the Pink Parsley blog.  This recipe is from Ina Garten, who I am big fan of because she is big on cooking in season and using fresh, simple ingredients that mean big flavor!  This recipe really couldn't get easier and it was so yummy; even hubby, who has a hate-hate relationship with carbs, gobbled these up. (He then promptly asked me not to make them again because he would eat too many!)

I served these babies with a spinach salad and it was the perfect warm weather meal; you even prepare them on the barbecue, so there is no oven to turn on and sweat over, and it means your house won't have to be hotter than hades after making a meal! Yay!  So, without further ado, here is Pink Parsley's adaption of Ina's Grilled Bruschetta with Prosciutto & Mozzarella (from The Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?)

Grilled Bruschetta with Prosciutto & Mozzarella

6-8 slices French Baguette (sliced about 3/4" thick)
1 garlic clove, cut in half
Olive Oil
60 grams sliced Prosciutto
Grated Mozzarella
Fresh herbs: I sprinkled these with basil & parsley
Pepper to taste

Make sure barbecue grates are clean, brush with oil and bring to medium-high heat.
Brush one side of each bread slice with olive oil and grill, oil side down, until toasted.
Remove from grill and when decently cool rub the grilled side with the cut garlic. (The more you rub, the more bite it will have.)
Place torn prosciutto and mozzarella on top.
Return to grill (if you have a top rack, this is best) and cook until cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with fresh herbs and pepper.