Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What To Do With Fresh Seasonal Strawberries? Strawberry Cupcakes!

It seems that my strawberry loving man cannot pass by a roadside market without stopping to buy some of the strawberries which are in season here. I have been having to find ways to use them. So, here we go!

This go round, I thought it would be a good idea to make a cake (sort of). Actually, I began with this recipe and modified it to use for cupcakes. I was searching for a recipe that would allow the mouth-watering flavor of the beautiful berries to shine like a brilliant star! If you have been searching for recipes calling for fresh strawberries you have probably noticed there are many for desserts with strawberry flavor, but not nearly as many using real fruit. Some do use real fruit but, in addition, call for using gelatin with artificial flavoring and color, as well. I certainly do use these things sometimes, but, as I have said before, when there is an abundance of fresh ingredients, why not use that?

The recipe I used was again found on All Recipes at this site and, though I made some alterations, I am giving credit to the source where I found the recipe that used real strawberries. It was my beginning inspiration and contained the same basic ingredients.

In this family, we think of cupcakes as a delightful treat. Most people would probably agree that cupcakes are easy to eat because of the individual serving size and that it is not necessary to cut a slice of cake in order to enjoy a serving. Also, cupcakes have their own handy-dandy little paper wrappers so there's no need to wash a fork! Having five grandchildren I can attest that kids love em!

Though I used the Best Ever Strawberry Cake recipe as reference for the basic list of ingredients. I did, however, make several changes in both the amount of ingredients and the type of ingredient. I also made some changes in the directions for making the batter.

I made these changes to the original recipe: Cupcakes can sometimes come out of the oven a little on the dry side, since the diameter of a cupcake is much smaller than that of a regular cake pan. Therefore, since the recipe I used was written for a regular layer cake, I added an additional one-fourth cup of  finely mashed strawberries to my cupcake batter to ensure a moist texture. In actuality, I smashed the devil out of those berries with my potato masher until they were pretty much pulverized. I also substituted whole milk, in lieu of 2% milk, because that is what I had in my fridge in the way of regular dairy milk. I thought of using fat-free, lactose free milk(which I had) or coconut milk(which I also had). But then, I figured that since I was going to use real unadulterated, whole fat cream cheese and real butter to make the frosting, I might as well go crazy with everything else too. I also used sea salt instead of the regular table salt called for in the original recipe. It worked just great.

I wrote the ingredients and directions for the frosting separately from the cake. It is easier for me to read and follow that way. As far as the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting recipe goes, I pretty much used the same ingredients. I did, however, make a few modifications to the directions. For instance: I was somewhat more specific with the directions here. I was more detailed concerning the speed of mixing the ingredients together. I was using a stand mixer for the frosting and the All Recipes recipe did not specify what type of mixer, if any, was used to "beat" the frosting. So, I thought it might be helpful to tell you what method and so forth that was used by me.

The recipe makes more than enough frosting to frost all 24 of the cupcakes. I even had a little frosting left over.

These things are wonderfully moist and tender, thanks to the extra quarter cup of pulverized strawberries. The flavor of the strawberries is very pronounced and noticeable too because of that little extra bit. They are, oh my goodness, seriously full of flavor!
Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
A cupcake's individual proportion is set, after all, so my sometimes warped sense of reasoning tells me that one of these is not overly indulgent. It is quite alright if you find the urge to laugh out loud right now! Because---- I ate two of these things before I could stop myself. I'm telling you, when I pulled them out of the oven, I straightaway slathered some of that rich, decadent frosting right over the top of one of them(well, perhaps two) while they were still warm. I scarfed them down so fast it would have made your head swim! Folks, isn't that just plain shameful?
Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

If you would like to make these cupcakes using my somewhat altered version of the recipe, this is it:

FRESH STRAWBERRY CUPCAKE RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cup well mashed fresh strawberries
1/4 cup whole milk
6 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
1 3/4 cups white sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup butter, softened

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Line cupcake pan with standard size baking cups.
  3. On medium-low speed of stand mixer mix together the pulverized strawberries, milk, eggs and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract together in bowl of stand mixer.
  4. In a separate bowl combine sifted cake flour, white sugar, baking powder and sea salt.
  5. With stand mixer on low speed slowly add in the flour mixture.
  6. Add the 3/4 cup of softened butter to mixture in mixer bowl and mix on low for about 3 minutes or until flour disappears and mixture is of a fairly smooth consistency.
  7. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix for approximately 1 minute more. Note: The batter will be somewhat thin in consistency.
  8. Divide batter evenly amongst 24 baking cups in baking pan(I used an ice cream scoop filled almost to the top to fill each cup).
  9. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until tops spring back when pressed with the finger.
Note: I happen to own a 24-cup cupcake baking pan. You may need to use two 12-cup pans or bake two separate batches.

***This recipe makes 24 standard sized cupcakes.

VANILLA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

INGREDIENTS:

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered/confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

  1. With a stand mixer on medium speed beat softened cream cheese and softened butter together until smooth and creamy.
  2.  Gradually add powdered sugar to cream cheese and butter mixture until well mixed and fluffy. You should be able to form small peaks in the frosting at this point. 
  3. With mixer on low speed add vanilla extract to the frosting mixture and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. With a spatula spread frosting on top of each cooled cupcake.
Notes: This recipe makes enough frosting to easily frost 24 cupcakes or an 8-inch two layer cake.
I store these in an airtight container in a refrigerator and set out a few minutes before serving.

Because the recipe makes24 cupcakes, I shared with my neighbor and my family. As long as they are in this house they remain on my mind and continue to call my name. 

Thanks ever so much for dropping by! If you make these cupcakes I hope you will enjoy them as much as we have!


Monday, May 25, 2015

Strawberries and Homemade Strawberry Pie






It's that time again folks! One of the things I like most when the month of May rolls around is that strawberries are in season. The farmers around here grow some of the most beautiful, juicy. sweet and delicious strawberries you could ever care to purchase. These pictures will give you some idea of how gorgeous the berries are and, believe me, they taste as succulent and sweet as they appear. Not only are they tasty, but they are also very large berries.

Fresh Strawberries Grown by Our Local Farmers


Fresh Strawberries Grown by Our Local Farmers


Of course, these beautiful berries are great as is. A couple of these big pretties makes a healthy and wholesome snack.

Of course, you all know that strawberries are also delicious when used in other ways. They are great when added to a mixed green salad or joined with other fruits in a fruit salad.

Needless to say, there are many good recipes in cookbooks and on the Internet for making cakes and pastries, cookies and other things containing strawberries. My husband loves pies and a really good strawberry pie is one of his favorite desserts, Because he does, I knew exactly what I would do with some of the fresh strawberries he brought home to me. I would make yet another strawberry pie--my third for this season! 

Admittedly, I have been known to occasionally purchase a bag of congealed strawberry flavored filling that can found in the produce section of many grocery stores. You know the kind. You just cut the bag open and pour its contents over your strawberries in a prepared pie shell. That stuff is actually not half bad and is okay to use in a pinch.

There are recipes using a gelatin dessert mix such as Jello brand and I have also tried some of those recipes. I like gelatin desserts very much and strawberry pies with that ingredient can be quite good. The kid in me loves eating gelatin dessert! 

Still, it just seems a shame to add artificial flavors and yes, red food dye, to something as naturally gorgeous, wholesome and extraordinarily delicious as these fruits. I look for good recipes which will allow these gems to shine naturally.

I found  this recipe on http://allrecipes.com/ . I really enjoy browsing the All Recipes site and have found that I can usually find a variety of really good recipes for most any dish posted on it. This recipe calls for mashed strawberries to make the filling to pour over the strawberries. Half of the strawberries in the recipe, to be more specific. The mashed berries are cooked  with sugar, cornstarch and a little water to make the filling to be added to the raw strawberries. It makes a generous amount of this fabulous, jam-like filling to pour over the strawberries. If you like strawberry jam, you will love this filling.

I used the above recipe to make my pie. I used a deep dish 9 inch purchased frozen pie crust. I added more strawberries than the recipe called for when I arranged them in the baked crust, since the deep dish crust holds a lot more than a standard crust. Since the berries were very large, I sliced most of them in quarters before arranging them in the deep-dish pie crust and stacked a second layer of berries on top of the first layer. Each slice of this pie will be chock full of the scrumptuous fruit and filling.

This is the pie I made. I know it will taste good because I have used the recipe before! Yummy!
Homemade Strawberry Pie
Just look at the beautiful natural red of the strawberries and jammy delicious filling. No red food dye in this jewel colored creation!
Homemade Strawberry Pie
This recipe also calls for whipping cream and it includes instructions for making whipped cream topping. I fudged here, however and will be using whipped cream in a can. The kind you squirt through a nozzle.

The fresh strawberries I used for this pie were grown by Gurosiks Farms. Their farms are located in the neighboring  North Augusta, South Carolina area.  Gurosiks has some six fruit and vegetable stands in the area and one is located here in Aiken, South Carolina. The stand in Aiken is where my berries were purchased and they were freshly picked.

Photographs of the actual strawberry fields where the berries as well as other crops, including flowers, are grown can be seen by visiting their site here

Do you like strawberries? Are you a fan of strawberry pie? If you are then you might just want to give this Strawberry Pie recipe a try!





Friday, April 17, 2015

April Events in Retrospect


This month has been a busy one for us. April 4th was the eighteenth birthday of our oldest grandson, Glenn. This is a picture of Glenn not long after he was born.
Glenn
He was a very sick little baby as he has a condition we would later come to know was EE or Eosinophilic Esophagitis. He went from a healthy looking newborn to being emaciated and malnutritioned. The condition is very serious. It is one in which an allergic reaction takes place inside the esophagus, causing major inflammation and deterioration in the lining of the digestive system. 

In Glenn's case, he was allergic to pretty much every thing he ate, literally. The condition was identified and named only within the last two decades or so and Glenn's case was not diagnosed properly and treated for many years. We finally found a doctor at the Medical College of Georgia(now known as Georgia Regions) who recognized what he had and, in my opinion, is responsible for the life or quality of life Glenn has today. Up until that time, he regurgitated almost everything time he ate every day of his life. He would scream because he was in such pain after being given his bottle. Today he still has some issues but we pray he has outgrown the disease, though he has not had any tests for it for several years now. If you are interested in learning more about EE, you can go this site of Mayo Clinic. I think everyone, especially parents of newborns and children, should be made aware of the condtion so that they can be educated when seeking out diagnoses of symptoms similar to reflux but much more severe and painful!
Glenn chose to celebrate at  Kobe Japanese Steak. Celebrating at Kobe is always a blast and all the staff, especially the chefs are very entertaining. They always take selfies with the party guests.

You can see from the following group picture taken at Kobe how healthy Glenn looks today. He is the fellow in the back row, wearing the light pink shirt and cap. The lady sitting in the front row, wearing eyeglasses and red and denim jacket, is Jimmy, our son-in-law's grandmother, Marine, who is 92 years old, if I remember correctly. We are grateful that Jimmy, beside her in the lime green tee-shirt, was able to make it to his son's 18th birthday celebration. It is not easy for him, but he was determined to be there, in spite of his illness.
Young Glenn's Birthday Celebration at Kobe


Last Friday was the birthday of our other grandson Stephen. He is fourteen. Here is a picture of Stephen when he was an infant:
Stephen
Here is another photo at one year old:
Stephen


This is a picture taken on his birthday at home, where he chose to celebrate with a group of youth from their church and some other friends and family. He wanted to have a birthday bonfire on their property to celebrate and so that is what we did. He is your typical clown of a teenager, birthday candles in mouth and all!
Stephen
I enjoyed some quality time with my son-in-law Jimmy this week. We had lots of good talks and shared precious moments reminiscing and enjoying each other's company.

My sweet grand dog, Champ, also seems to be happy to see me when I walk in the door. He knows he and I will be taking some walks outside. This week our walks were mostly in the rain, since it has rained every day here. Because it was so cloudy outside, he did a lot of snoozing. I tried to sneak up on him while he was sleeping, but those eyes would open every time and he would "smile" for the camera. This is our Champ:
Our Grand dog Champ
My grandson Glenn's hobby is raising a few chickens. He has been trying to hatch some chicks in an incubator and one finally cracked through its shell this past weekened. I asked Glenn what he had named the chick. Because the chick's legs are light in color, he thinks it is the chick of one of his "special" breeds. about which I know absolutely nothing. He says he hopes to sell it and that if he names it, he will become attached to it. Well, it is as cute as can be so I named it. Meet Peep:
 Peep the Chick 

Peep
A heat lamp is attached to the top of the big pot which is his/her temporary home. Peep's reflection can be seen on the inside of her pot and the little chick is interacting with it, peeping and pecking. You can see the reflection in this picture.
Peep
I made sure Peep had plenty of fresh water and chick feed every day. That little fellow is growing and changing quickly. Those darker feathers you see on its wings are now much more pronounced and there are more of them. That change took place over a span of just a couple of days!

My friend Harriette and I spent a few hours just hanging out and having a late lunch at Fatz Cafe. We then headed on over to get our hair styled at the nursing home. Yep, you read that right "the nursing home!" My daughter did my hair for years but her job as a school nurse keeps her so busy during the school year so I started having the cousin of my son-in-law, Hope, do it now. She is currently operating out of a shop located in one of the homes for the elderly here in Aiken. Hope is also an instructor at one of the beauty schools in our area. Does anyone else go to a nursing home to have your hair styled?

I can honestly say it is a unique experience and there is never a lack of entertainment. One sweet lady keeps coming by saying she is on her way to Hollywood and need to have her hair "poked." She is so cute and stops by at least twice every time we are in there. Others drop by, as well--over and over, There is never a dull moment! Hey, we have to see the humor in the circumstance. Who knows, it might be us in those shoes one day! Wouldn't that be a hoot!? We have decided that if we should forget that we know each other,i we can just keep becoming best friends over and over again every time we meet again! You never can tell, we might even make a trip to Hollywood every day!






Saturday, April 11, 2015

Walt Disney World

If you read my blog you will know how important family is to my husband and I.
Family, to us, includes not just those family members who were born into the family but those who were acquired by love.

Our son-in-law, Jason, posted a photograph, taken by one of the Walt Disney World photographers, to his Facebook account this morning. It is one of my favorite and my husband and I have the same photograph on display in our home. It was taken on July 4, 2010 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. I was inspired to post about the photo and why it is so special to our family.

It brings back many sweet memories of occasions when we all got together as family unit. Also, the trip on which it was taken was the last trip when Jason's grandmother Mable (Granny to all of us) joined us on a combined family vacation. Granny is no longer able to travel.

Our other son-in-law, Jimmy, had not yet been diagnosed with kidney cancer. Jimmy was his fun-loving, healthy and exuberantly happy self at the time the photo was taken. He is pictured kneeling on far left of the front row.  Matriarch Granny is third from the right on back row. Jimmy is kneeling on the far left of front row. They are both such an important part of our family.
Our Family Trip to Walt Disney World 2010
Also appearing in the photo are our two daughters, our five grandchildren and Jason's mother Kathy (back row second from right)and Kathy's husband Berry (Jason's stepfather). Berry is the man wearing the hat and sunglassess in the back of the photo. Jason's grandfather joined us at Walt Disney World when he was still living, as well as other members of our family such as my husband's sister Janet and nephew Brian. There are a total of fourteen family members in this particular picture!

Jason's family had also visited Walt Disney World and were very big Disney fans when our daughter Stephanie and he met in middle school. They became best friends and started dating years later in high school and through college!

Taken by one of Disney's photography cast members, the photo is captioned with the words "Where dreams come true." We do spend a lot of time dreaming  and planning vacations and about the things we will do and places we will go together.

Our  talented and smart son-in-law, Jason, is pictured on the far left of the back row. He designed the great looking tee-shirts we are all wearing in the picture! To celebrate the patriotic holiday, the colors were red, white and blue and announced our family was celebrating July 4th at Walt Disney World. The graphics on the shirts included our last names (five of them). Aren't they fabulous?! Thank you, Jason!  We were very blessed when you and your family members became part of our family! We love all of you and cherish the memories we have made together over the years.

Yes, we love Walt Disney World and all things Disney. More than that, we love our family and spending as much time as we can together, wherever and wheneever that may be. Walt Disney World is one of the places where our family has made many beautiful memories together and "where dreams really do sometimes come true!"

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Linking Up to the Party with Carolyn at Home Work on the Inspiration Board

I am linking up to Creative Party 201 at Carolyn's Home Work blog. There are so many great projects being posted at the party. If you are looking for some creative ideas, this is a great place to find some inspiration!

Creative Party 201 at Home Work
Just click on the above link to drop in to check out my tutorial on making a stencil with your Cricut Machine and all the other  fabulous projects and creative ideas!

Now Sharing My Posts With Bloglovin

I am now sharing my Blogger posts with Bloglovin, since many of the blogs I follow use it to share their blog posts. I hope this will make it easier to share my posts and for me to receive updates on my favorite blogs that also use Bloglovin!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

EASTER GREETINGS




To all my blogging and Facebook friends, I am wishing you a very safe, blessed and happy Easter!

Image Compliments of The Graphics Fairy

 It is written: God loves you!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


- King James Bible "Authorized Version", Cambridge Edition