(L)Oven Monday – Strawberry Shortcakes & Menu Inspiration

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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.

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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!

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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.

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      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

 

 

(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 –

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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…

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Dessert’s grand appearance was the Pie!

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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!!

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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 – Entertain with Appetizers

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Last week I had a group of women over for a night of fellowship and I wanted to serve refreshments that were tasty, but not too heavy.  So I dug into my recipes (some I’ve share here on the blog) and pulled out three appetizer dips!  I had a couple that were sweet and one that was savory.  Appetizers are fun because you can make a little meal with them.  The ladies enjoyed them and it was fun to watch them go back for more.  Here are the ones I chose for our party.

Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

S’mores Dip

bean dip

This Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip is great as an appetizer or served with a meal of Mexican foods!  It’s super good and really fast to put together!  You can make this ahead and pop it into the oven or microwave to warm up.

Tex-Mex Black Bean Dip
Ingredients
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained – I always use Bush’s Beans
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/3 cup mild picante sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Preparation

Place beans in a bowl; partially mash until chunky. Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add beans, tomato, picante sauce, cumin, and chili powder; cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add cheese, cilantro, and lime juice, stirring well. Serve warm or at room temperature with fat-free corn or flour tortilla chips.

*If you want to make this extra decadent, put softened cream cheese in the bottom of the dish and spread to cover, then pour the bean dip over top of it.  Yum!

 

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Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

If you want to do this ahead of time, mix up your fruit, but wait to add the sweet things into it right before your party.

Ingredients:

  • Variety of fruits, diced – Strawberries, blueberries, fresh pineapple, etc.
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (more or less to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor (I used strawberry)
  • 10 (10 inch) flour tortillas (or use Stacy’s cinnamon chips or cinnamon graham crackers)
  • melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray
Cinnamon sugar:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes. This is best made the same day and not too far ahead of time so your apples don’t start browning and the fruit gives off so too much juice and it gets runny.. This salsa can also be serve with cinnamon graham Crackers. Best when made and eaten the same day.

For the Cinnamon Chips:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat one side of each flour tortilla with melted butter or butter flavored cooking spray. Sprinkle tortillas with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Spray again with cooking spray (not necessary if using melted butter).
  3. Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.

 

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This dip is heavenly!  It literally takes less than ten minutes to make and have ready to serve!  It’s always a winner!!  And if you don’t leave the party with marshmallow or chocolate somewhere on your face, you did NOT have a good time!  Ha!!  I think it’s impossible to eat this dip and not wear it!!

S’mores Dip

Instructions:

  1.  In a cast iron skillet place two cups of chocolate chips.  Place in 400 degree oven for a couple of minutes, until chocolate begins to melt.  Smooth out chocolate with spatula.
  2. Cover completely with marshmallows.  Place back in oven and watch carefully until marshmallows turn a light golden brown.
  3. Serve dip immediately with Graham cracker squares.

All these dips are simple and so good!  A party like this would be great this summer!  You could even do your S’more dip on the fire pit!  I hope you’ll try these soon!

What is your favorite food to serve or to enjoy at a girl’s gathering?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

(L)Oven Monday – Easter Dinner 2017 Recap

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If you’ve been reading my blog more than a week, you know how I treasure Sunday dinner.  It makes my heart sooo happy! But how does Sunday dinner get even better?  It’s when Sunday dinner is Easter Sunday dinner.  On top of good food, there’s the blessing of remembering Christ’s resurrection from the dead and celebrating that truth that He lives!

So, yesterday, we did indeed have a big Sunday meal, but we started with a wonderful church service where Christ was exalted! We sang of His resurrection and heard God’s truth about how to be sure you can have eternal life!  Then we came home for dinner and included our daughter and son-in-law and a couple of other special people.  We also incorporated a few family traditions, which brings memories and makes memories.  It was a great day!

Here’s the menu:

 Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Ruth’s Chris’ Sweet Potato Casserole
Tarragon Asparagus – New recipe
Deviled Eggs
Caesar Salad in Parmesan Bowls
Bunny-Shaped Breadsticks – New recipe
Coconut Cake with Lemon Filling

Let me roll the pictures so you can have a peek into our day and see that I also incorporated all the principles I’ve recently shared about Sunday dinner!

I worked early in the week and got the Coconut Cake baked and layers put in the freezer.  Then at the end of the week, I made the lemon curd and the icing.  It simplifies the process so much!  By Saturday night here’s what was already prepped:

The cake, the rolls, the Sweet potato Casserole, Deviled eggs, and the salad ingredients were totally ready. The table was all set, too.  I also had the roasting pan for the ham set out and ready to bake the main entree.

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When I got home from church it only required to put the finishing touches on everything and bake the casserole.

Here’s how things turned out on Sunday~

Caesar Salad in Parmesan Cups –

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Sweet Potato Casserole – The best in my book!

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Terragon Asparagus – This was new, and it was pretty good.  My asparagus wasn’t as fresh as I’ve ever gotten, so I’m going to try this again before giving it a final verdict!

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Bunny Breadsticks – Another new recipe.  These were fantastic on Saturday when I made them, but they don’t really do well the next day.  Sooo, I won’t make these for Sunday any more, but I sure will use this recipe for other days when I have time to make them for that day.  They were delicious right out of the oven!!  And how cute are they???? They can be baked into regular bread sticks if you want to make them other times of the year!

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Coconut Cake

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One tradition that we’ve had for years is Easter sunrise service outside at home.  That was a challenge (and very cold) when we lived in Indiana, but we would don our coats and head to the tree house where we would have our own Sunrise service!  Then we would come inside and have Cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs.  Now that it’s just my husband and me, we simply eat breakfast on the patio and read Scripture together.  It’s usually warm enough that we don’t shiver, thank the Lord!  Here’s what we had yesterday:

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We had Fresh farm eggs, Prosciutto, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, Fresh fruit and Coffee.
It was a great way to start Easter Sunday!  This is a reminder that traditions aren’t just for when your kids are at home.  Keep those traditions going even when they’re gone.  It will continue to build strong home ties, and will also give your grown kids the security of knowing that you’re still making the most of your marriage!

So, another Easter dinner is in the (memory) books, and I’ll have to say, it’s a memorable chapter!  I thank the Lord for the blessing of celebrating our Savior’s life and getting to do it at church AND at home around the Sunday dinner table.

Did you have Easter dinner?  Did you cook?  What made it special for your family?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

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

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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.

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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

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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