2016 Summer Recipe #5 Strawberry Shortcake

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The “short” in shortcake really rings true in this recipe! Wow, I had no idea shortcake was so quick and easy to make! This is going to be my go-to recipe for summer parties from now on. Quick, easy, and only a few ingredients. Read on to make your own shortcake, and enjoy the photos at the bottom! Thanks to Amanda C. for the recipe, which originally came from Food Network.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. strawberries, stemmed and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (original recipe said 5 Tb. but then only used 3 for the first step; it seemed confusing to me so I went with 3)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Whipped cream *Food Network included a recipe for homemade, but I just used Ready whip this time.*

    Directions

    1. Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar and refrigerate while juices develop, 30 min or more. 
    2. Preheat oven to 400 F. 
    3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl. *I wish I had something to use to sift with!! Oh well.*
    4. Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. At this point, my mixture was really bumpy and barely stayed together. If yours is the same, it’s okay! Mine turned out fine after baking. Place mixture in ungreased (very important!) 8×8 non-stick pan and bake for 18-20 minutes.
    5. Remove after baking and place shortcake on a cooling rack. It was extremely easy to cut into slices after it cools for a bit. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream.

       
       

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      2016 Summer Recipe #4: Banana Cake

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      Do you have an overly ripe banana in your kitchen right now? I bet the answer is yes! Here is an amazing recipe in which you can use those older bananas. They are the best kind for making banana bread and similar recipes. This recipe is a banana cake, a twist on banana bread, with cream cheese icing. It is so moist and delicious, you will make it again and again. I got so many compliments on it when I baked it a few weeks ago! This recipe came from Craving Comfort’s blog.

        

       Ingredients:

      For cake:

      • 1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe (I used one whole banana)
      • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
      • 3 cups flour
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 3/4 cup butter, softened
      • 3 large eggs
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla
      • 1 1/2 cups butter milk

      For frosting:

      • 1/2 cup butter, softened
      • 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla
      • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

      This frosting recipe made a lot of extra frosting for me, so I may pare it down a bit next time.

       

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 275 F. (Seemed like a low temperature to me, but this totally works!)
      2. Grease and flour a pan for your cake. I chose a bundt cake and it turned out beautifully.
      3. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with lemon juice.
      4. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
      5. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla.
      6. Next, add the flour mixture (from step 4) to the large bowl and beat ingredients, but be sure to alternate it with the buttermilk.
      7. Add banana mixture (from step 3) to the large bowl, stirring it (not beating).
      8. Pour batter into your prepared pan and bake at 275 F until a toothpick comes out clean. This could take around an hour; for the bundt cake I made I set it for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
      9. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. *Trust me, this really works! Makes the cake super moist.*
      10. While the cake is in the freezer – by the way, try to use a freezer with as little food in it as possible, as putting something warm into a freezer can affect the other foods in it – make the frosting. Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
      11. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high until frosting is smooth.
      12. Spread on cooled cake and enjoy!

        
      I love using the iPad holder for reading recipes as I am cooking!

      2016 Summer Recipe #3: Mini Egg Omelets

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      I adapted this recipe from a post I saw on Facebook. I will include the original recipe if you’d like to follow it. I decided not to use egg whites because I was using the entire egg. Egg whites would make it healthier though, so please adapt it to your liking! If you end up making these, please post a pic in the comments. These mini egg omelets are great for reheating in the microwave on a busy morning, for a quick hot breakfast when you’re rushing around. I plan to make a batch a couple times a month on the weekends to keep in the fridge for our busy mornings once school starts!

       

      Ingredients:

      • 9 eggs
      • Sriracha hot sauce (amount is up to you, or omit it completely)
      • shredded cheese (your choice)
      • variety of mix-ins: choices could be baby spinach, chopped onion, red pepper, chopped jalapeño, chopped ham or bacon, chopped mushrooms, etc. For this batch, I decided to use what I had on hand – frozen sausage, an onion, and a red pepper.

       

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
      2. Choose your ingredients and chop/prepare. For me, this meant having the sausage thawed from the freezer, and then I cooked it in a pan and chopped it once it was cool. I also diced the onion and the red pepper had been chopped the day before.
      3. Spray a muffin tin and then add chopped ingredients to each cup in the tin.
      4. Gently beat 9 eggs and hot sauce in a bowl, then pour into each cup.
      5. Bake for 30 minutes.
      6. Immediately remove each mini egg omelet (I use a tiny spatula which is awesome) and let it cool on a cooling rack. Once they are cool, you can store them in the fridge sealed in a ziploc bag. To reheat later, just microwave for 1 minute.

      What I found online from a friend.

      “Before” pic.


      “After” pic.

      2016 Summer Recipe #2: Stuffed Zucchini

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      The perfect summer vegetable to cook with is zucchini! Here is a delicious recipe that incorporates zucchini (or you could use squash) and also tastes great.

       

      Ingredients:

      • 2 large zucchini or yellow squash, about 12 inches long
      • olive oil (to pour in pan, amount will vary)
      • 1/2 cup chopped onion
      • 1 green pepper, chopped
      • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic (I used dried garlic in the pantry, use the guidelines on the container for the exact amount when not using fresh)
      • 1 lb. ground beef *Another option is to use ground turkey or a combination of the two meats.*
      • Seasoning, for the beef or turkey. Season to your liking with your favorite spices!
      • 1 jar (on the smaller size) tomato spaghetti sauce. I used Classico.
      • 2 cups mozzarella shredded cheese (I used half a bag that I had leftover in the fridge)

       

      As you can see, this recipe can be made with whatever you have on hand! I usually substitute dried spices instead of fresh (I’m too lazy to go to the store, I just use what’s on hand), and if I don’t have the correct vegetables to go in this recipe, I just change them or omit them. This time, I did not have enough cheese but I had too much spaghetti sauce in it. So each time is a learning experience! I made this recipe about 4 or 5 years ago when we lived in our apartment and had not made it since, so I thought it was time for Stuffed Zucchini last week. Here are the directions, and I included photos at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

       

      Directions:

      1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Chop vegetables. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan, then sauce vegetables for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 1 more minute. Remove all from pan and transfer to a bowl.
      2. Add more olive oil to the pan. Crumble in the ground beef (or whatever meat you’re using). Season with your blend of seasonings if you choose to. Drain fat from the meat once it has been browned.
      3. Add meat back to the pan, along with cooked vegetables from earlier. Add tomato spaghetti sauce to the pan, along with about half of the mozzarella cheese, and simmer until mixture has thickened (about 10 minutes), then turn off heat.
      4. *This step can be prepared ahead of time or while the meat is cooking.* Wash the zucchini and slice into large rounds. See my photos below, or the blog link below has more good pictures from another food blogger. Make sure you are not slicing lengthwise — you want these to resemble a cut tree trunk, short and stout.
      5. Use a spoon to hollow out the zucchini, being careful not to hollow it all the way through. You still want to have a “bottom” to the zucchini round so that nothing falls out of the bottom. I made 6 rounds out of two large zucchini. Arrange rounds on a cooking sheet – I used special baking paper on top of my cooking sheet to keep it clean, this recipe does get messy!
      6. Once the meat mixture is ready, scoop the mixture evenly into each zucchini round. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 F.
      7. Remove from oven, add remaining mozzarella cheese to the tops of the zucchini rounds. Bake again for 10-15 min. *Tip: I baked mine on the second to bottom rack of the oven, being sure to take out any racks above it (the rounds were taller than expected and they do bubble over while cooking). Serve with brown rice and enjoy!

       

      This recipe was adapted from KaylinsKitchen blog.
         
          
       

      Spice Cupboard Cleanout!

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      There comes a day when you look in the kitchen cupboard that is dedicated to spices and realize it is getting out of control! At least for me since I am an organized crazy person. I love to cook and try new recipes, and luckily I have had many spices on hand for dishes that need specific spices. However, there were just so many canisters crowding my cupboard that I knew I needed to weed out the ones I didn’t use anymore (or have never used). I also had a lot of them stored on our kitchen island rolling cart, but those did not make the  photo cut for the before and after pics.

       
      Many of the spices we’ve accumulated have moved with us over the six years my husband and I have lived together, and I’d say a quarter of them were his from his bachelor days. Some of the spices I found hidden in the back (a.k.a. the never-used section) had expiration dates from almost 10 years ago! This got me thinking, have the spices really gone bad? Or can I still use them? I found a few articles that were very helpful in determining the shelf life of each type of spice. The main gist of my reading was that yes, you can still use them, but they’re not going to be nearly as potent or effective in your cooking if they’re well past the expiration date.

       
      Check out this short article from Still Tasty, this comprehensive list which was very helpful, and this article from Huffington Post. While I don’t agree with the article from Huffington Post (it stated spices should be replaced every 6-12 months… I’d go broke), I used the other article and the list as guides. If I found something with an expiration date a few months, or even a year, past the amount of years listed online and it still smelled okay, I kept it. In the end, I still threw away 16 out of 36 types of spices! I felt bad throwing them out but I did recycle the containers. (And Kris helped!)

       
      Learning about spices’ shelf lives showed me that I should buy my spcies in as small as containers as possible. Only buy in bulk if it’s something you use regularly and you know you’ll go through a lot of it! Also, one of the sites stated that salt will not go bad, so that was reassuring. And of course, a kitchen spice overhaul wouldn’t be complete without before and after pictures. See below! I used two small racks in the cupboard and lined them up so one was in the back and one in the front. You could put the lesser used items in the back and more popular items up front, where you’ll see them. We purchased the small racks from Ikea this past spring. I think they’re meant to hang on a wall or inside of a pantry or something, but I prefer just sitting them back to back on a shelf for now.  You can purchase them for only $3.99 each here.


        
       This last picture shows the spice graveyard that didn’t make it. Haha.

       
      Hope you’re having a great summer!

      2016 Summer Recipe #1 – Sweet Hot Coriander Chicken

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      This year let’s do something other than Recipe Week! I am going to post the 7 (hopefully 7 if I am really focused this summer) recipes as I make them, not necessarily in the same week. It seems like we are so busy this summer that I may not be able to post 7 times in a row! We are traveling to see our families, attending concerts with friends, and I am also a nanny for the three awesome boys that I look after in the summer. Hope you are having a great summer as well! I was finished teaching on May 26 and have been enjoying some lazy summer days ever since.

       

      I have high hopes of posting pictures from my year in 4th grade on the blog so that it will help fellow 4th grade teachers spark some ideas for their classroom! This fall, I will be back in 3rd grade so I am very excited about blogging about my third grade adventures again. (There are a few posts from the one year I taught third grade on my blog already, from the 2013-2014 year.)

       

      Here is my first recipe for the summer. It is from Better Homes and Gardens magazine, July 2015 edition.

      Sweet Hot Coriander Chicken

      The only change I made was I decided to put all ingredients in the crock pot for 6 hours on low because I was going to be out of the house that day and didn’t have time to cook! The non-crock pot original recipe is below, and I look forward to trying it that way sometime soon, too.

      Ingredients:

      • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
      • 2 tsp. packed dark brown sugar
      • 2 tsp. Sriracha sauce
      • 1 tsp. ground coriander
      • 1 tsp. chili powder
      • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, flattened to 1/2-inch thickness *I did not flatten them.*
      • 1/3 cup orange juice

       

      Directions:

      1. For marinade, in a small bowl stir together oil, sugar, Sriracha sauce, coriander, and chili powder. Place chicken n in a shallow dish. Spoon marinade over chicken; turn to coat. Let stand 15 min.
      2. Heat a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 10 minutes or until done (165 degrees F), turning once halfway through. Transfer to a plate. Cover to keep warm.
      3. Add orange juice to pan; cook 2 minutes or until reduced to about 2 Tbsp., stirring to scrape up browned bits. Spoon sauce over chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with cilantro. Makes 4 servings.

       

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      Back to School…

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      Well today I ran out of the “Endless Summer” fragrance soap from B&BWorks in my bathroom at home, and it was very fitting since the summer is coming to an end! It is not really endless, like us teachers wish! 😄

      This will be my last (almost) free full week before I have to set the alarm come Monday to go to work. We have two teacher meeting days and open house next week, and kids come on the 17th! Wow. I miss summer already. It is exciting to get to reorganize my classroom, label the nametags, and put the chapter books on the shelves… And I have visited my room four times this week… But I am going to savor these last few days and this GORGEOUS Ohio weather and relax a bit more at home.

      Just wanted to update with a quick decorating picture – I am so happy with our new furniture and the pillows I found at Kohls this summer! I had been watching two pillows that said Love and Home on them, and they were finally on sale. Score! Here they are in our living room:

         
         

      Look for a post next week about what I do in my Back to School routine in my classroom!