Orange and a Little Bit of Red

I was in the mood for orange.  Orange is one of my favorite colors.  Right up there with the colors red and pink.  And since I haven’t spent a lot of time with my camera lately (and felt a little guilty about it) I decided to spend some quality time with it.

These sweet little Mandarin oranges (and a few strawberries) assisted me in this photography adventure.  They make life so much brighter.

 

I would love it if you’d share your favorite photo on Pinterest.  Happy Orange (and a little bit of red) Day!

Blogging Fame and Glazed Strawberry Crumb Muffins

Do you ever wonder what life would to be like if you were suddenly catapulted into the category of one of the world’s top bloggers? 

What if it was your blog that landed you a  spot in a popular magazine?  Or brought you good fortunes like your own television show, the opportunity to contract with a well known book publisher, or promote brand name products? 

Would you graciously accept the fame and publicity, or would you run  from it as fast as your little feet would carry you? 

What do you think makes certain bloggers or their blogs popular? Is it the blog or bloggers personality?  Does hard work have a lot to do with it?  Is it as simple as pure luck?  How about the quantity or quality of posts?  

What do you think?

Now, hold onto your socks because I’m about to knock them off with this recipe for Glazed Strawberry Crumb Muffins I’ve come up with.

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Glazed Strawberry Crumb Muffins

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1/4 c. butter, melted

1 c. sour milk

1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped strawberries

Crumb Topping

2 tbsp. butter, softened

1/4 c. brown sugar

3/4 c. quick cook oatmeal

Using a fork, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.

Glaze Topping

1/2 c. confectioners sugar

One to two drops of milk

Mix until sugar is dissolved; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, add oil, butter, sugar, and eggs; mix thoroughly by hand.  Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir until completely blended.  Add sour milk and flour by alternating; mix until all ingredients are combined.  Fold in berries.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown, or toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Leave oven on, and immediately sprinkle crumb topping over muffin tops.  Return to oven for 2 minutes.  

Remove coated muffins from oven and cool completely.  Once cool, drizzle glaze topping over crumb topping. 

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Strawberry Bliss Ice Cream

I finally made it to the strawberry patch and I am in complete strawberry bliss.  So what’s that mean to you?  Strawberry recipes and photo’s of course!

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Let’s start  this strawberry recipe extravaganza out with my favorite recipe for homemade strawberry ice cream.

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This recipe does not call for eggs, nor does it require cooking.  I have yet to make a custard ice cream because I love the simplicity and taste of this recipe.  Not to mention, it has fewer calories because there are no egg yolks and calls for skim milk.

*I use my small, inexpensive ice cream maker when making homemade ice cream.  I have to say it’s been one of the best purchases I’ve made as far as small kitchen appliances go.  I wouldn’t be without one now.

Strawberry Bliss Ice Cream Recipe

2 c. heavy cream

1 c. skim milk

3/4 c. granulated sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 c. whole strawberries

1 tbsp. granulated sugar

Rinse, hull and chop strawberries into small pieces.  Place in a bowl and cover with 1 tbsp. of sugar.  Set aside while preparing your ice cream base.

In a large bowl, add heavy cream, skim milk, sugar, and vanilla extract.  Mix thoroughly until sugar is dissolved; set aside.

Puree the berries you previously set aside and add to the heavy cream mixture.  Stir until blended.

Transfer into your ice cream maker bowl and finish according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.  Freeze until ready to serve.

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The thing that I like most about making my own ice cream is knowing exactly what fresh ingredients go into it. 

In the near future I’m going to make a custard ice cream.  The kind you cook, and the kind you use egg yolks in.  I’ll be sure to share that recipe when I’m done experimenting, and I’ll let you know my preference; eggs or no eggs.

This ice cream would make a perfect finish to your Fourth of July celebration!

What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? And how are you going to celebrate the Fourth? 

 

French Vanilla Cake with Strawberry Crème Frosting

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I am counting the days until we have fresh strawberries to pick here in New York.  Typically, the strawberry plants start bearing bright red, juicy berries that are ready to pick by mid June. 

With a little more than a month of waiting left I decided I couldn’t wait another day, so I bought some strawberries from the supermarket. 

Although the berries shipped from afar and sold in the supermarket are never as good as those grown locally, they help quench my craving for them – especially when they are made into a sinful dessert.

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This dessert is simple and refreshing.

Here is what you will need to make this recipe. 

Cake:

1 Betty Crocker French vanilla cake mix, and ingredients to make the cake mix

Frosting:

1 package of Jell-O sugar-free instant white chocolate pudding

1/2 tsp. strawberry  Jell-O

1 8 oz. tub of whipped topping

1 small package of fresh strawberries

1 c. skim milk

1/4 c. powdered sugar

Prepare the cake mix according to the package.  Bake and allow the cake to cool completely.

*I baked my cake in two 6” round pans for a layer cake.

Dice strawberries into small pieces; set aside.

In a large bowl, add whipped topping, strawberry Jell-O, white chocolate pudding mix, milk, and powdered sugar; mix thoroughly.  Fold in diced strawberries.

Frost cake; serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Confession of the week:  I decided to take pictures of this cake mid afternoon – long before dessert time.  The cake looked and smelled so good that I took one bite while photographing it.  One bite turned into another, and before I knew it the piece of cake was gone and the plate was empty!

There are hazards to blogging about food, and this is one of them. 

What is your favorite cake combo?

I’m sharing my cake over at Mike and Molly’s House.  Check out all the other great shares there too!

 

Bring on the berries

A few years ago I planted a couple of strawberry plants in the corner of our garden.  I loved the idea of having fresh berries at my fingertips. The berries seemed to like it there because they have multiplied significantly, and last year I got tons of berries to eat fresh, freeze, and make into jam.

I use to think the biggest problem with raising strawberries was the weeds associated with them, but this year the biggest problem turned out to be our beloved chickens.  It seems as if the chickens have as much love for those bright red, sweet berries as I do.

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Initially, it started out as a race to the garden, with me always coming in second place.  Shoeing the chickens away didn’t work because they always found their way back to it the minute I turned my attention to something else.  Dried out stems, along with green and half-eaten berries were the only proof that big, fat berries once flourished there.  Tired of the constant aggravation of patrolling the garden and always coming in second place, I threw in the white flag.  And let me tell you defeat is bitter, especially when our dog doesn’t even seem to care.

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A trip to our local berry patch helped ease the pain (a little), but the thought of having to pay for berries didn’t set that well.   I guess we sacrificed my berries for their fresh eggs – I’m not sure I like that deal.  Next year I will be ready for the berry invaders – you can count on that!

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If there is one thing I can’t live without, it’s homemade jams and jellies.  Honestly, there is nothing like them.  Sure, store-bought jams and jellies are okay, but they aren’t as tasty as those you make yourself.  For those of you intimidated by making jams and jellies don’t be.  They really aren’t that hard. 

I prefer to make strawberry freezer jam because it takes less time to prepare than cooked jams and jellies.  It also sets a bit softer, and the fruit flavor is amazing since it’s not cooked out of it. First, I start out by stocking up on two key ingredients.  Sugar and Sure-Jell fruit pectin. 

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Of course, you can use any brand of sugar and fruit pectin but I prefer to stick with brand names when making jams and jellies. 

You will also need clean containers and lids for your jam.  I have always used jars (even for the freezer) but you can use plastic containers if you’re leery about putting glass jars in your freezer.

The recipe for a single batch is as follows:

2 pints of fresh, ripe berries

4 cups of granulated sugar

1 box of Sure-Jell fruit pectin

3/4 cup of water

Wash and dry berries; remove stems, and place berries into a large bowl.  This recipe calls for two full cups of crushed berries.  Add sugar to berries and let stand for 10 minutes.   In a saucepan, add water and pectin.  Bring to full boil, and continue to boil for one minute – stirring constantly. Add pectin to berry and sugar mixture.  Stir for about 3 minutes, or until sugar is completely dissolved.  Immediately pour into containers.  Leave about a 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar for expansion in the freezer.  Leave out for 24 hours and then freeze.

* Tip – when making jam or jellies make sure your measurements are exact.

What is your favorite flavor of jam or jelly? 

 

JELL-O

Who couldn’t resist the headline (no bake) on this box of Jell-O brand cheesecake?   On a hot, extremely busy Memorial Day weekend with lots of other fun things to be doing, I for one couldn’t.

I do however, have a couple confessions to make.  I always try to make my baked goods from scratch.  Sometimes on a rare occasion I cheat a wee bit and buy a box mix, or a store-bought item.  Sure I know, and can tell the difference, but there are times it’s warranted (in my mind). 

The second part of my confession is that I have never made a homemade cheesecake.  It’s not that I don’t want to.  For one,  I don’t own a springform pan, and secondly, I know homemade cheesecake recipes make enough to feed an army, and I don’t have an army to feed. 

As it stands now, I give at least half of the baked goods I make away to friends and neighbors.   In many cases the extra goodies end up in our freezer for a day that I don’t feel like baking.  Right now there’s only a loaf of lemon-blueberry bread in our spare freezer.  Probably due to the fact that our Frigidaire side by side that I used for freezing my goods has broken down for the 2nd time this year. (Did I mention it’s only four years old? And of course there is no warranty left on it.) My last call to the company ended in frustration when I was transferred to a young woman who I could tell was very proficient in Spanish, and not so much in English.  She also had me on hold more time than she spent conversing with me, and could offer very little to remedy the problem.    Okay, enough about Frigidare…

Any who… I’ve made cute little mini cheesecakes before with Nilla Wafers and a real cream cheese mixture.  They are yummy little devils.   I’ve made this cheesecake from the box before too.  The one thing that stood out when I made this today was how little time, effort, and ingredients it took to throw this together.  Even the most apprehensive person in the kitchen could handle this recipe.   A little melted margarine, some sugar, and milk, and a topping of your choice (I’m opting for fresh strawberries from our garden)  – it’s just that simple.    

Now, I’m not advocating boxed foods – but sometimes a girl just has to do, what a girl has to do….  And, one of these days when I’m expecting an army of people  I’ll buy that springform pan and make a real homemade cheesecake.

Berry Happy

 

     

My homegrown strawberries

 

As I picked  fresh strawberries from our garden I couldn’t help but be reminded it’s the little things in life (like homegrown strawberries) that make me happy.     

I guess I can’t deny I’m a simple girl.  We spent the day yard sale hopping.   $5.25 later, I came home excited  at the prospect of being able to use the treasures I found. I got a heavy-duty enameled pan ( I intend to use for the homemade brownies/and a strawberry-basil Italian ice that A Spicy Perspective posted and  I’m going to make), a pair of porcelain candlesticks made in Bavaria, West Germany ( I plan on using on our deck for candlelight dinners on summer evenings),   Ball jelly jars ( that will come in handy when I make homemade jams, jellies, and corn relish this season), and a gardening book (loaded with tons of information, and will hopefully help me keep my fruits, veggies and flowers healthy).      

I guess the old saying is true  “One man’s junk, is another man’s treasure”)  Or in this case, one berry happy woman’s… 

Brownie/Strawberry Basil Italian Ice Pan

  

West German Candle Sticks

  

Ball Jelly Jars

  

Gardening Book