(L)Oven Monday – Strawberry Shortcakes & Menu Inspiration

recipes 1

Happy Monday, friends!  I had a great time Friday night sitting out on my back porch with a stack of food magazines and iced coffee.  Most of the periodicals had been given to me by others who had looked through them, then passed them along.  How sweet!  Why do I flip through food magazines?  Or why do I sit with one of my cookbooks and put page markers in the pages? Not just to “Oooo” or “Ahhh” over the pictures (though I do that!). I do it for three reasons:

  1. I get tired of eating the same things
  2. I like to try stirring new things up in my kitchen!
  3. I like to surprise my husband with special recipes I’ve made for him!

I sat there for about a half an hour and ripped out recipes I want to try.

recipes 2

How about you = are you in a menu rut?  Spaghetti, frozen pizza, chicken tenders from the freezer section, steamed veggies in a bag…it just gets old.  I would challenge you to pull out either the magazines that have been delivered to your mailbox or one of your favorite cookbooks.  You can even go to the library and check out a cookbook from there to get some fresh ideas.  The point is, flip through and find recipes of menu items that you maybe already have most of the ingredients for.  If you know you purchased chicken breasts and they’re in the freezer waiting to be cooked, look for a recipe for chicken!  You might only try one new recipe this week, but add something to change up your normal routine.

Here are some of the recipes I found:

  • A supper Entree’ – Chicken breasts with Strawberry Salsa and Feta cheese – I have all the ingredients!
  • A fish recipe – Salt and Vinegar Baked Fish – You use the Salt and Vinegar chips as the coating!  That’s brilliant! Similar to this
  • A weekend breakfast – Sausage and Egg Flatbreads – I’m going to make my own .
  • flatbreads for this.
  • A dessert – Strawberry Icebox Cake – This will be great for company this summer! Similar to this one.

I won’t make all these this week, but I will try at least one!  It’s amazing how much money and time is saved when you make a menu.  It is so helpful to me to know what’s for supper, so I can plan and work ahead.

So, if you’re not in the habit of making a menu, plan at least few nights for starters.  If you’ve been making a menu, but you’re in a rut, go find some new, yummy sounding recipes to add!

Now let me share a recipe that I love.  This is a quick and delicious Strawberry Shortcake, made a little lighter.  These sweet biscuits are so much better than the store bought sponge cakes!  The addition of the orange juice and vanilla to the fresh berries makes it SO good!

strawberrry shortcake1

Lite Strawberry Shortcakes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups halved strawberries, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chilled stick margarine or butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed
  • Whole strawberries (optional)
    1. Combine 1 cup strawberry halves, 1/3 cup sugar, orange juice, vanilla, and lemon juice in a bowl, and mash with a potato masher. Stir in 2 1/2 cups strawberry halves. Cover and chill.

    2. Preheat oven to 425°.

      Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; cut in margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist (dough will be sticky).

    3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. Pat dough into a 6 x 4-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 6 squares. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

      Split shortcakes in half horizontally using a serrated knife; place each bottom half on a dessert plate. Spoon 1/4 cup strawberry mixture over each bottom half. Top with shortcake tops; spoon 1/4 cup strawberry mixture over each top. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped topping; garnish with whole strawberries, if desired.

      strawberry shortcake 2
      This dessert is as delicious as it is pretty!  

I hope you’ll add this to your menu and also find some other great recipes to freshen up mealtime at your house this week!

Refresh your menu!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Summer Fun Series (Day Two)

Here we go – another list of fun things for children to enjoy during summer months:

front porch2a

This clever treasure box, which is organized around the principle that anything goes, has ample room for plastic bags of beach sand, seed packets, subway tokens, maps, sea glass, photos, finger paintings, invitations or even a tiny book of best friends’ autographs.

box

Start with a sturdy cardboard box (one with a lid), which your child can label with his name and the date. As he amasses odds and ends, he can tuck them inside or, if he prefers, glue some onto the outside of the box. To give the box a durable finish, brush on a coat of white glue thinned with water or cover with Con-Tact paper.

Make Homemade balls:

balls
CRAFT MATERIALS:
9 (11-inch) balloons (for 3 balls)
Funnel
2 1/4 cups of dried lentils
Scissors
Time needed: Under 1 Hour
1. Stretch the first balloon by inflating it halfway, holding it closed for about 30 seconds, and deflating it. 2. Place a funnel in the balloon’s neck and gradually pour in 3/4 cup of lentils, pushing them in as you go. The balloon should be firm but squeezable. 3. Snip off the balloon’s thick rubber lip. Cut the neck off a second balloon and gently stretch the opening. 4. Ease the second balloon over the filled balloon, tucking in the neck as you go. 5. Cut the neck off the third balloon, stretch the opening, and ease it over the other two. Repeat this process to make a set of three balls, or however many you’d like.
How about making some cute cupcakes on the day your grass gets cut? What a yummy reward!  Or make these for a great Father’s Day treat! This idea was on Family Fun web site.

lawn mower cupcake
RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
Chocolate-frosted cupcakes
Coconut, flaked
Green food coloring
Hershey’s Nuggets
M&M’s
Frosting
Black licorice laces
1. For each cupcake, mix a handful of flaked coconut with a few drops of green food coloring. Press a chocolate-frosted cupcake into the coconut to cover. 2. The mower is made with a dark chocolate Hershey’s Nuggets body, brown M&M’s wheels, and a red M&M’s engine, held in place with dabs of frosting. 3. Shape the handle from a piece of black licorice lace, then insert the ends into the cupcake.

Make a simple version of homemade ice cream –

What you’ll need:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
Ice cubes

How to make it:
Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag.
Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it.
Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
Shake until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes.
Wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy!

Tips:
A 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don’t increase the proportions more that that — a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.

Don’t forget some of the good ol‘ standby summer fun things, such as:

  • Hopscotch on the driveway
  • Hula hoops
  • Sprinkler or water hose jump rope
  • Cardboard boxes – find a refrigerator box and let the kids make a playhouse or puppet stage
  • Make Popsicles
  • Play hide and seek just as it’s getting dark. Use flashlights to tag!
  • Don’t forget the library. There are so many fun things to do there!

Enjoy…summer’s going to be gone before we know it and we’ll be pulling out the sweaters!

Denise Signature 200 px

(L)Oven Monday – Summer Menu Family Favorites

Hello friends!  I trust you had a great weekend.  We sure did!  On top of the wonderful church service on Sunday (I’m so thankful for my church!), getting to go hear Chonda Pierce Friday night (hilarious!), and a fun day on Saturday, my cup was just running over!

We had a delicious Sunday dinner at home. I know, it was Mother’s Day, and mom’s aren’t supposed to cook, but I was glad to help. My husband did steaks on the grill for us and I happily contributed all the other parts of the menu.  Everything on the menu is literally a family favorite for summertime cuisine!  This menu is perfect in every way in our house!  I’ve shared them all in times past, but let me tell you about it –

mother's day 1

I usually always make a Teriyaki Marinade for our steaks because it makes them THE BEST EVER!  Spinach Salad has a crunchy element of Water Chestnuts, some boiled eggs, bacon pieces and is then topped with a dressing that is a cross between Catalina and French dressing.  Yum. Every now and then we step into the unhealthy realm and make our family’s favorite Golden Onion Rings.  Again, they’re just the most delicious recipe ever, yet very easy to make.  Lastly, dessert consisted of another family favorite – Fresh Strawberry Pie.  In case you haven’t made any of these, or if you haven’t made these recipes in a while, let me share the links so you can put them on your menu soon!!

Teriyaki Marinated Steaks
Golden Onion Rings
Spinach Salad
Fresh Strawberry Pie

I was too involved with the guests to get good pictures of the food,
but here’s a little peek…

mother's day 1a

Dessert’s grand appearance was the Pie!

mother's day 2

My “centerpiece” may seem a little odd to you, but let me explain – I wanted all three of my girls represented on the table.  The Yankee Candle has a label on it with my oldest and youngest daughters pictures on it!  A sweet friend gave that to me for a Mother’s Day gift and it touched my heart so much!  Not only did it represent the girls, it gave a pretty ambiance to the table and it smells wonderful!  Then the little pink rose in the bud vase and the porcelain baby shoes were to represent our second daughter, Ashley.  She’s rejoicing in heaven, and we’ll join her before long!!

mother's day 3

Our youngest daughter and her husband were here with us for supper, and I got to talk to my oldest daughter and my mom on the phone, so that was wonderful!  Even though we had some of our favorite foods, the people we got to be with were the best part of the meal!

What was the best part of your weekend?

With love,

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – Super-Fast Drop Sugar Cookies

sugar cookies 2

Not all sugar cookies are created equal.  Many recipes call for an hour of refrigeration before you can roll out the dough.  But what if you need a dessert in a hurry and decide that sugar cookies would be the perfect ending for your  meal for guests that’s just 45 minutes away?!

That’s exactly the predicament I was in a week ago!  I decided last minute to add cookies to the menu.  So what did I do? I made Drop Sugar Cookies!  This soft dough is whipped up in the mixer, then spooned onto baking sheets for a quick bake.  These make a delicious dessert!  Because I was in a real hurry, I only baked up one sheet (a dozen), which was all I needed, then after my guests left, I baked the remaining dough and froze the extras.  Yay for cookies in the freezer!!  This recipe was found on Pinterest and is a family recipe from The Mom Who.

sugar cookies 3

Drop Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • ¾ cup Milk
  • ¾ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • ½ cup Crisco
  • 1 Egg
  • 2½ cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • Sugar Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and baking powder.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and Crisco.
  5. Then add the egg to your mixture.
  6. Next add the milk and vanilla extract to your wet mixture.
  7. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet mixture that’s in the large bowl. Mix until incorporated. Don’t over mix!
  8. Scoop dough into 2 tablespoon sized scoops and drop them on your sheet.
  9. Bake for 6- 7 minutes and then carefully add sprinkles to the tops of the cookies. Continue baking for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  11. Enjoy!
  12. *Note- You can add the sprinkles to the cookies before baking, but the sprinkles sink down into the cookies. You decide on when to place the sprinkles- Before, During, or After baking.

Is there a recipe you pull up if you need a fast dessert?  I’d love to hear what it is!

Happy Baking!

Denise Signature 150 px

Angel Food Cake Video Tutorial

I LOVE watching the British Bake-Off on Netflix!  Recently the technical challenge was…Angel Food Cake!  I smiled as I watched some of them grease their pans, wonder how stiff to beat the egg whites, and what to do with the dry ingredients.  I only knew because I’d recently made one!  But it’s really not difficult at all!

I’d love to show you my technique!  So here’s a speedy video of making an angel food cake.  You can pause the video at any time if you need to see something a little more closely!  I hope this helps and encourages you to make an Angel Food really soon!

I don’t know what Paul or Mary would think of my finished product, but we enjoyed it!!

Happy baking!

Denise Signature 150 px

(L)Oven Monday – A Healthy, Yummy Dessert

Angel Food.jpg

Cooking Light has great recipes for Angel Food Cakes.  These cakes have no fat, making them a healthier dessert than most.  The nice thing about baking your own Angel Food cake is:

  1. They taste better
  2. You can add flavorings
  3. They cost pennies
  4. You can make it ahead of time and freeze it

This recipe  – Cafe’ au Lait Angel food has a coffee flavor and we love that!  Cafe’ au Lait means coffee with milk.  This recipe also has a custard-like sauce to serve with it,which gives the coffee flavor it’s “milk addition.  It takes regular old Angel Food to the next level, and certainly makes it company worthy!  Here’s the recipe:

Cafe’ au Lait Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

  • Cake:
  • 1 cup sifted cake flour – Don’t have any?  Try this – Take one level cup of AP flour, remove two tablespoons, and then add two tablespoons of cornstarch back in. Be sure to sift the flour to distribute the cornstarch well before using it in your cake batter.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso granules or 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 12 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Sauce:
  • 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut-flavored liqueur) –  I didn’t use this or substitute
  • Remaining ingredient:
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. To prepare cake, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and cinnamon, stirring with a whisk, and set aside. Combine espresso and hot water, stirring until espresso dissolves; set aside.

  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon salt; beat until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

  4. Beat in espresso mixture and vanilla extract. Sift 1/4 cup flour mixture over egg white mixture; fold in. Repeat procedure with remaining flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.

  5. Spoon batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto plate.

    I had to work just  a little to loosen my cake from the pan, but it did come out whole after a few little “tugs” with my metal spatula.

    I saw that eggs are on sale at Kroger this week for .79, so it’s a good time to make one of these cakes!  I’m going to attempt to upload a video  this Wednesday of how to make this cake.  You can see just how simple it really is!  It’s really fun to venture out a little a make something a little challenging.  I hope you’ll give this a try!  Plus it’s just fun to say – Cafe’ au Lait!

    Happy baking!

    With love from my country kitchen,

    Denise Signature 150 px

    Friday Favorites- Countdown To Christmas

    In this week before Christmas, I was blessed to do some things that I LOVE.  Let’s start with the pictures in the left column below:

    161222_214702_collage-1.jpg

    1.  My husband and I got to go to Abington, VA to the Barter Theatre to see A Christmas Carol.  Before the play, we went to a favorite restaurant, Rain.  We shared a bowl of their fabulous Butternut Squash Soup, and their Grilled Chicken Sandwich.  Outstanding.
    2. We picked up our tickets and made our way to the play. Abington is a charming town!
    3. This fountain is across the street from the theatre.  What a fun date this was!  My husband, who isn’t a book or movie fan, really wasn’t sure he’d ever read or seen the story we were about to see, so he saw it all through new eyes.  One of the young actors is a member of our church, so it was especially fun to see him on stage!  He did a wonderful job!
    4. Having a daughter who lives in my town and goes to my church is a blessing!  Sometimes our lives are so busy that we don’t get to spend a great deal of time together.  We made a lunch date this week in our little town and caught up on one another’s lives.  She makes me laugh.  She encourages my heart, and she always picks the best desserts for us to share!
      Now the pictures on the right side:
    5.  Liza cuddled up on my lap one morning this week while I was having my Bible study.  That’s a special treat from a normally not-so-cuddly kitty!
    6.  I had a baking day that included making these Cream Cheese Danishes.  The recipe makes four at a time, plenty for us and for sharing.  The dough is soft and sweet and the filling makes them irresistible.  I like to also add a little bit of fruit preserves to the cream cheese filling.  Mmmm, these will be good for breakfast this Christmas weekend!  You could ask my husband who already enjoyed a couple slices when they were warm from the oven.  He washes most all of my baking dishes, so I’m happy to give him a taste of anything I’ve baked!
    7. We went caroling Wednesday night.  It’s a blessing to sing the songs of Christ’s birth and wish the folks at the door a Merry Christmas.  We are singing the Gospel and it doesn’t get any better than that!

    1221161129.jpg

    The last picture above is a weekly event at my house- Bible Club.  What a blessing to pull out my flannel graph (yes, it’s an antiquated teaching tool, but the kids love it!) and remind the children of the reason for Christmas, starting with the fall of man.  They had fun adding the flannel graph pieces as I told the story.  My heart is full as I pour into my young pupils each week the Truth of God’s Word.  They are like sponges, listening, asking questions and responding with tender hearts.  I thank the Lord for this rich privilege!

    Now here we are at the end of the week, just days away from Christmas.  Our whole family will be together, and I’m excited to celebrate with my girls and their husbands! There will be worship together, lots of good food, laughter, more laughter and probably some music!

    I pray that your Christmas will be simple, special, and full of talking about and worshiping the Savior.  He came to die for each of us, and that makes every day worth celebrating!

    John 1:29 Behold the Lamb of God,

    which taketh away the sin of the world.

    Merry Christmas!

    Denise Signature 150 px