Monday, April 30, 2012

Strawberry Coffee Cake

I recently made a marvelous discovery.  Thanks to ITunes I accidentally found a podcast called Joy the Baker.  Joy is a thirty year old single gal, living by the beach in Los Angles.  She's a self taught baker who has just come out with her first cookbook - Joy the Baker Cookbook.  Joy's blog has quickly turned into one of my favorite daily visits.  

Each week Joy and her friend Tracy (of spend one hour podcasting about cooking, blogging, reality TV, fashion, parenting (Tracy has one son, just like me : ), working, and just about every other girl topic imaginable.  I'm hooked.  Joy and Tracy are hilarious and not only that, their blogs are bubbling over with recipes and inspiration galore!  I hit the jackpot!

As I was browsing through Joy's recipes I had a hard time deciding which one I wanted to try first.  This Strawberry Coffee Cake really caught my eye.  I'll admit, I was in the mood for something chocolate, but since I love everything strawberry this cake seemed to be a perfect choice for spring.  Plus strawberries were on sale this week - 2 for $5.  You can't go wrong.   
Here's how to make it...

Strawberry Filling:
Combine 1 cup of heaping sliced strawberries, 1/3 cup sugar, 2 tbs cornstarch, and 2 tsp of water in a small saucepan. 

Cook over low heat for 5 - 7 minutes, stirring constantly until the sauce is thick and bubbly.  Set aside to cool. 

Crumb topping:
Combine 3 tbs cold unsalted butter (cut into small cubes), 1/2 cup flour, and 3 1/2 tbs sugar in a bowl.  Rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.  Set aside.

To make the cake you will need:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
a few drops of almond extract (optional but I highly recommend it : )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla and almond extract. 

Sift dry ingredients together.

Add dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture alternating with the sour cream.  Beat until just combined.

Spoon 2/3 of the batter into a greased 10x10 inch baking dish.  Spread the cooled strawberry mixture over the batter. 

Spoon the remaining batter over the strawberries and spread evenly. 

Top with crumb topping.  I also added a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, because I think everything tastes better with cinnamon on in - especially a crumb topping.  Am I wrong?

Place baking dish in the upper third of the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let it cool a bit before you cut into it.  I know, the anticipation is unbearable...... 

Joy! Joy! Joy!  Thank you Joy the Baker, you have made me So Happy!!!!

I served this for desert with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, but it would also be perfect with your morning coffee (or afternoon tea).  OK, it's good anytime.  You get the idea.  I love this cake.

One of the best things about my little home here on the Internet is finding other places that I love and want to share with my friends.  If you have time please check out Joy and Tracy's blogs.  I guarantee you'll leave hungry.

I hope you are all having a wonderful week.  Monday is over (sigh of relief) and we are off to a good start. I have a few things planned for you this week, including another favorite TV kitchen, so stay tuned.... : - )

Danielle xo

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sweet Onion Pinwheels

Hello Girls!  I hope you all had a wonderful Easter!  (Here's a peek at my Mother's Easter tree.  She did one too...xoxo). 

We colored 4 dozen eggs and had a big egg hunt on Sunday. 

With ten of us looking (and only 1 of the ten is a child : ) we still managed to miss 4 eggs.  We have yet to have a year when all were found.  Only the Easter Bunny (a.k.a my Dad) knows the secret hiding spots. It's a fun tradition and something we will never grow tired of. 

Easter night while my family was fast asleep in their chocolate coma's I curled up with my tea and watched Mary Poppins.  Another tradition I will never grow tired of.  I've watched it every Easter since I can remember.  This was a big deal before the days of cable TV and DVDs,  when you had to actually wait to see a movie on TV once a year.  Hard to imagine, isn't it?

Oh, how I love that Julie Andrews!  Magical Disney movies are what my childhood dreams were made of.  "Spit-Spot!" Puts me in good mind-set to start the week. 

Lately,  I've begun to put our decorations away and have finished off the last of the stale peeps and jelly beans.  Everyday there are more and more signs of life outside and Spring in New England is a pretty nice place to be. 

This morning I was even able to eat my oatmeal outside on the porch.  I'll enjoy this before it gets too hot to do anything outside, let alone eat.  I hope Spring sticks around for a while. 

My kitchen counter has never been so happy : ) I picked up these hyacinths at the market yesterday. The aroma was just too good. I had the bring them home! I also bought a blue one that is in my bedroom. I can smell it at night while I'm lying in bed.....heavenly.....

So what's cooking?

Here's and idea for an easy appetizer.  I got this recipe right off the website.  It's loaded with ideas that are very easy and  usually only require a few ingredients. 

I made these sweet onion pinwheels on Easter and everyone loved them.  The fresh chives made all the difference.

All you need is...

1/2 cup chopped sweet onions
1/4 cup shredded Italian Cheese blend
2 tbs cream cheese, softened
1 tbs mayonnaise
1 can Pillsbury refrigerated crescent rolls
2 tsp chopped fresh chives

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix onions, cheeses, and mayo until well blended and soft. 

Unroll dough on work surface, but do not separate.  Firmly press perforations to seal. 

Spread cheese mixture over dough.

Carefully roll up rectangle. 

Cut roll into 16 slices (about 3/4 inch wide).  Place cut side down on greased cookie sheet. 

Sprinkle with chives.

Bake 12 - 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

Immediately remove from cookie sheet.  Serve warm. has many variations for these pinwheels.  I saw one that had cheddar cheese and bacon as a filling!  I might have to give that one a try next time : )


Here's a new feature I'm starting on my blog called My Favorite TV Kitchen.  I got this idea while watching TV the other night.  I'm always admiring the kitchens of my favorite TV families and I realized that most of my decorating likes and dislikes have been shaped by the images I've seen on TV.  Who doesn't remember the Brady Bunch's wall oven? It seemed so cool at the time.  Or the swinging kitchen door on Three's Company?  I've always wished I had one. 

Each week I'll showcase a TV kitchen from the past and see if you love it as much as I do.

Can you guess this kitchen?

If you guessed Mary Richard's from the Mary Tyler Moore Show you are correct!  I was always enchanted by this little kitchen.  I love the stained glass peek-a-boo window.  When Mary wanted privacy all she had to do was slide it down.  She has a tiny fridge and her stove only has two burners.  But wow - look at all that cabinet space... ; - ) 

Even though this kitchen is small I love it!  Mary cooked for many dinner parties out of this space and so could I.  This kitchen is proof that bigger doesn't always mean it's better.  Coziness counts ~

Check back next week to see what my next kitchen will be....

Have a wonderful Sunday! 

Danielle xo

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Lemon Custard Pie

It's always a beautiful surprise to me to find that after a cold, frosty, winter my little plants have survived.  This is the time of year when I start my daily walks through the yard in hopes to see new blooms every day.  The brown, dreariness of winter is finally gone and as sunbeams cast their rays down on us, I find little bursts of color in every corner.  This morning I took my coffee outside for a quick peek.  It's still a bit too chilly in the morning to "linger", but I was happy with what I saw. 

It's almost time!  She'll be open soon.  The bees are buzzing all around like crazy and I just filled 3 bird feeders with seed. Last Saturday I bought a new hummingbird feeder to hang on my porch, which I will do this weekend.  I've had hummingbirds in my yard for years now, but I've never fed them.  Won't they be surprised!  I sit and have my tea at the window and watch them as they hover over the hanging geraniums.  They are like little magic fairies.  I'm fascinated by them. 

I love this time if year.  It's a time of renewal and new beginnings. Spring cleaning and organization.  It's also when nature comes alive.  That's my favorite part. 

There is a sweetness to the air that tells us the seasons are changing.  The hydrangeas and azaleas have buds on them and my neighbor's pear trees are in full bloom.  They are heavenly to look at : )
It's days like this that really make me appreciate the beauty of nature.  Weather it be a tree on my little street or an English Garden somewhere on the countryside - it's beauty nonetheless and I'm grateful for it. 

With Easter less than a week away we had some getting ready to do, starting with decorating our egg tree.  This is so the Easter Bunny will know where to find us......

I've assured my son that he won't get lost : - )

I went Easter basket shopping the other day.  One of the things I wanted for his basket were some books.  This display at Barns & Noble brought me back to when I was little.  I loved Peter Rabbit and The Golden Egg Book.  Seeing these made me feel happy inside.  Books have that power.  We think we forget, but the stories stay inside us.  I bought him three books that I hope he will like.  I'm sure he'll like the candy more, but hey - I try.... 

Remember my Easter village from last year? 

A gift from my Mom a few years ago.  She has the same one at her house.  The cottages light up just like a Christmas village.  Inside the windows are little bunny families.  It's so cute! 

My springtime apron (another gift from my Mom : )  She made this for me last year.  I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before but I have an apron obsession.  Someday I'll show you my extensive apron collection.  I like the vintage ones that make me feel very "June Cleaver" and this is one of them.  It's hanging in my kitchen because I love the colors and patterns.  It even says "Springtime" right on it! Perfect for an Easter kitchen. 

So now that the flowers are blooming, baskets filled, and the house is decorated it's time to do some baking.  I want to share with you my recipe for Lemon Custard Pie..I was thinking that it would be perfect for Easter because it's so light and refreshing.  You'll need that after all the chocolate and jelly beans...wink, wink....

Here's how to make it.  First the crust.  You will need:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

In a medium bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in the melted butter until blended. 

Press firmly into a  9 " pie plate.  Make sure to bring the crust all the way up the sides evenly to the rim.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8 minutes. 

While the crust is baking you can make the filling.  You will need:

1 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter
2 eggs - separated
1 cup Half & Half 
1 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup lemon juice (about the juice of 2 lemons)
2 tsp lemon zest

Beat together sugar and butter.  Add egg yolks, beating in one at a time. 

Add Half & Half, flour, and salt. Mix until smooth. 

Stir in lemon juice and zest. 

In a separate bowl beat egg whites until fluffy.  Fold into mixture. 

 Pour into baked crust. 

Lower your oven to 325 degrees and bake for 1 hour (make sure a knife inserted in center comes out clean).

Put in the fridge and chill for at least 2 hrs before serving.  Garnish with powdered sugar if desired. 

This pie is better the longer it chills, so it was even more lemony the next day.  I don't know what it is about lemons and Spring, but they seem to go together fabulously, don't you think?! 

(((another favorite of mine )))

I hope your holiday preparation's are going well and you are all enjoying these early days of Spring!

Be back soon~

Danielle xo