What does Strawberry Shortcake mean to you?

strawberryshortcake

I love a good strawberry shortcake. If I see one on a dessert menu it’s always a given that I will be ordering it.  Make that any fruity dessert. I know I’ve said this before but when a dessert has fruit in it I feel like it’s practically healthy. Please don’t burst my bubble, I know I’m dreaming. Back to shortcakes.

When I was a little girl it was a real treat when my mom served strawberry shortcake after dinner. She usually made hers with the little round sponge cakes that can be found in the produce aisle by the berries. She would slice the strawberries, toss in some sugar to sweeten them up a bit, and pile them on the sponge cake topped with a dollop of cool whip. I loved it! It usually signified that summer time was here. Just imagining those little treats takes me back to warm southern evenings, playing with my little sister in the yard, drinking water from the hose pipe, and watching lightning bugs flicker in the twilight sky. Now that’s some yummy nostalgia for you.

It seems that everyone has a different idea of what strawberry shortcake looks like. For many it’s that yellow sponge cake, but for others it’s a slice of angel food cake or even ladyfingers. All are delish. Somewhere along the way I discovered another version of shortcake, one I’d like to argue takes the…cake…although it’s much less cake and much more biscuit. That’s right, my favorite version of Strawberry Shortcake is made with a crumbly, buttery, slightly sweet, drop biscuit.

A drop biscuit is a biscuit that has NOT been rolled out and cut into circles, it’s simply dropped (plopped, kerplunked, spooned) onto a baking sheet and baked. It’s free form; no fuss, no muss. It’s also easy. There are tons of recipes for these shortcakes out there, but I’ve included the easiest one I’ve used here. Don’t tell anyone, but I use Bisquick for mine. Who cares if it’s fancy, it’s tasty! I also like to mix it up with my strawberries and toss them with brown sugar instead of granulated sugar. I like the subtle caramel flavor the brown sugar imparts, and to me the syrup created with brown sugar is thicker and richer in flavor than when regular granulated sugar is used. Want to take it even a step further? Add in a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to your berries. There’s your fancy!

So what’s your favorite version of Strawberry Shortcake? I’m eager to hear what you love because who knows, it might become my new favorite down the road!

Strawberry Shortcake

2 1/3 cup original Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Stir bisquick mix, milk, 3 tablespoons of sugar, and the melted butter until a soft dough forms.
  3. Drop by spoonfuls into 6 biscuits onto a greased sheet pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, combine strawberries and brown sugar. Mix and let sit 15 to 20 minutes or until a syrup forms.
  5. With an electric mixer beat heavy cream on high speed until it begins to thicken up. Add the powdered sugar and continue to whip until soft peeks form. Chill.
  6. To assemble shortcakes: Slice the biscuits in half. Top bottom half of one biscuit with some strawberries and syrup, and a dollop of whipped cream. Put top half of biscuit on top like a sandwich. Top with another dollop of whipped cream and then more berries and syrup. Serve.

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Asparagus’ Last Hurrah!

aspargus tart

I’m a big asparagus fan. I eat it year-around because I like it and because let’s face it, I can. We live in America and can get our hands on pretty much any produce any time of year, we just might pay a pretty penny for it. That’s the beauty of seasonal eating though. If you eat what’s in season it will not only taste better, it will cost less. So that’s why this dish is asparagus’ last hurrah…of the season.

I love how versatile asparagus is. It aims to please; making it easy for any cook to accomplish something wonderful with it. Grilled, roasted, battered and fried, sautéed, served raw in a salad, pureed into a soup…there is truly something for everyone. There’s not much I haven’t done with asparagus, and now I can mark even one more preparation off the list. Please marvel at this gorgeous tart with me. I mean, how yummy?!

asparagus-tart-horiz

Flaky, buttery puff pastry is the perfect vehicle to house nutty gruyere cheese, caramelized leeks and bright green asparagus. This tart is a cinch to put together, taking very little time and effort but looking like a million bucks. You could cut it up into squares and serve it as an app at your next get together or dinner party, but it would also be a nice alternative side dish to a grilled steak. Starch and veggie in one bite, throw it in the oven and tend to the grill. Done.

However you serve it, just serve it. It’s pretty to look at and even more pleasant to eat. A fun alternative to what you’ve probably been doing with Spring’s favorite veggie.

Asparagus Tart with Gruyere and Leeks

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted
8 oz. Gruyere cheese, freshly grated
1½ pounds medium asparagus, trimmed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 leek, trimmed, cleaned, sliced lengthwise and chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prep a parchment lined baking sheet and place the two puff pastry sheets on the baking sheet, overlapping them about an inch to connect them. Using a sharp knife, lightly score the pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges all around to mark a rectangle for the outer crust. Then, using a fork, pierce the dough all around in the center, not the edges. Bake the pastry dough until golden, about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until caramelized, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Remove the pastry shell from the oven, sprinkle with Gruyere cheese and caramelized leeks.
  4. Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer over the Gruyere cheese, alternating ends and tips. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
  5. Slice and serve. Enjoy! 🙂

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Easy ways to save HUNDREDS on your grocery bills…

Saving money is pretty awesome, especially when you’re saving money on things you have no choice but to buy. Groceries are one of those things. You have to buy them, so why not make each trip to the store a little less painful on your wallet?

Becoming a Menu Therapy subscriber is guaranteed to save you money each week. How? The meal plans you’ll be shopping for are always seasonal, meaning ingredients will be at their best price as well as at their peak flavor. Also, going to the store with a list in hand helps you stay on track and saves you from making impulse purchases on foods you won’t use or don’t need. Another major plus! Click here to find out how to become a subscriber.

As summer approaches and you have more fun and exciting things to spend your hard earned money on, check out these other 33 tips from POPSUGAR Smart Living to help you save BIG on your groceries.

For the quinoa haters…

SouthwestFarroSalad

My husband and I are on a healthy eating kick. I bet you’re thinking that’s ironic since my last post was about cake, but trust me, we’re all salads, smoothies and lean proteins around here. Sure we cheat…enter hummingbird cake…but we’re really trying to get ourselves ready for summer.

The problem I run into when trying to prepare healthy dinners for BJ and myself is that we don’t really see eye-to-eye on what those dinners should look like. BJ would like grilled chicken or steamed fish and I would rather eat an old shoe than live off of that kind of sustenance. I prefer salads made with tons of fresh veggies,  interesting vinaigrettes and meatless proteins like quinoa. Herein lies the problem…BJ hates quinoa. He says it tastes like plastic and absolutely despises it. No matter how I dress it up, he’s not a fan. Bummer. It’s so easy to make and always satisfies my carb craving while being super high in fiber and protein. I hope your husband likes it. If so, please cook it for me!

This recipe was birthed from BJ’s quinoa strike. Tired of grilled chicken and lettuce, I really wanted to make a salad that would trick me into thinking I was eating a plate of pasta, or at least give me the mouthfeel of it. Having always wanted to try farro, I picked up a pack at Trader Joe’s and decided it would replace the quinoa in my Southwest “Quinoa” Salad. One cup of farro contains a whopping 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. You’ll be feeling full for a long time after eating which is exactly what we’re trying to accomplish!

I made this salad while my mom was still here helping with Kellan and Allie. She really liked it and we both gobbled up our helpings. I have a feeling BJ is still on the fence. More grilled chicken and fish for him this week while I help myself to these leftovers. Happy eating!

Southwest Farro Salad with Honey-Cilantro Vinaigrette

1 cup farro
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 avocado, chopped into ½ inch pieces
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
zest of ½ lime
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Honey-Cilantro Dressing:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons honey

  1. Prepare farro according to package directions.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients for the cilantro dressing in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine beans, corn, avocado and tomatoes and gently toss with dressing.
  4. Toss cooked farro with the dressed avocado and tomato mixture.
  5. Serve.

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Let us eat cake!

hummingbird-cake-whole

I am so excited to be back in the kitchen!! Actually, I’m so excited to be anywhere other than the couch. Baby Allie has made her debut and all is slowly getting back to normal in the Purvis house.

After a brief stint in the NICU which resulted in one extra day at the hospital for us both, we came home on a sunny Monday afternoon. It was a really wonderful wheelchair ride through the hospital with my baby in my arms. When Kellan was born I was wheeled out in tears as I was forced to leave him behind in the NICU. I literally went home, showered, and immediately returned to the hospital to be with my baby. It was depressing. This time I was wheeled out in tears again, but they were tears of joy that my prayers had been answered and we were all heading home together. To God be the glory!

We were greeted at the driveway by both grandmothers and Kellan jumping up and down and cheering for us. There were balloons and flowers; quite the little celebration, and boy was I ready to celebrate! I knew friends and family would be coming to the house to see our new bundle and I wanted it to be a party…and no party is complete without cake.

So yes, 5 days post cesarean section and 1 day post hospital discharge, I baked a cake. It was awesome. The cake and the actual baking process, that is. If you’ve never had Hummingbird cake you need to remedy that as soon as possible. It is perfect for this time of year, overflowing with banana, pineapple, pecans and decadent cream cheese frosting. I can see it on the dessert table at Easter and Mother’s Day, or even at your Memorial Day festivities.

For me, it was the perfect cake to celebrate our sweet little girl’s arrival. It’s delicate in flavor, but makes a strong impact. Delicate and strong, just like a hummingbird and just like our little one.

Enjoy!

hummingbird-cake-slice

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE

For the cake:

3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup fresh pineapple, crushed (see below)
2 cups very ripe bananas, mashed (approximately 4 large or 6 medium-small)
1 cup chopped pecans

For the frosting:

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, chilled
3, 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, chilled
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel bananas, place in a small mixing bowl and mash. Set aside. Leave the oven heated to 350 degrees.
  3. Butter and flour 3-9 inch round baking pans. Trace the bottom of the pan (for all three pans) onto parchment paper, cut out circle and place in the bottom of each pan.
  4. In a sifter over a large mixing bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Sift into the bowl. Set aside.
  5. In a second large mixing bowl combine the granulated and brown sugar; stir to combine. Add the eggs and stir briskly by hand to combine all ingredients into a smooth mixture.
  6. Whisk the oil and vanilla into the sugar/egg mixture until combined and smooth.
  7. Add the flour mixture all at once and hand stir (do not beat) to combine the mixture fully.To crush the pineapple: Place 1 cup of finely diced fresh pineapple in a medium mixing bowl and using a potato masher, crush the pineapple. Add the fruit and juice to the batter. Also add the mashed banana and the pecans. Stir just until combined; do not over stir.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Tap the pans on the countertop to release any air bubbles and place in the 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until cake bounces back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
  9. Allow to cool in pans on racks for 5 minutes then turn out onto cooling racks to fully cool before frosting. Be sure to peel off and discard the parchment paper.
Instructions for Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. Cut sticks of chilled butter into 1 inch pieces and place in the bowl of a standing mixer (can use a hand held mixer if needed). Beat on low speed, gradually increasing speed to medium until the butter is still cool but has softened together (about 3 minutes).
  2. Cut the cream cheese into 1 inch strips and add to the butter. Mix at medium speed until fully combined, and smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and slowly add the sifted powdered sugar. Beat until well blended, increasing speed to beat on medium-high for 3 minutes or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy.
  4. Fold in pecans by hand.
Instructions for Cake Assembly:
  1. Place the first layer of cake upside down (the bottom of the cake will be frosted) on the serving plate. Cover with 2/3 cup of frosting. This will be a thin covering.
  2. Place the second layer of cake right side up (flat cake bottom onto the frosting) and frost the top of this layer with 2/3 cup again
  3. Place the last cake layer with cake right side up and use the remaining frosting to cover top of cake and the sides.
  4. Allow cake to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving and store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator. Cake best when made the day prior to serving!

Adapted from Boulder Locavore

 

Introducing Allie Paige Purvis…

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BJ and I welcomed Allie Paige Purvis to the world on April 16th at 5:36am. After worrying and worrying that I wouldn’t know when I was actually in labor since I had been having regular contractions since January, my water broke at 1:30 in the morning and sent us scrambling to the hospital. It was a very exciting morning followed by a few stressful days of our baby girl spending some time in the NICU with breathing difficulties. We are very grateful for the excellent care she was given by the doctors and nurses at Hoag Memorial Presbyterian hospital and are thrilled that she was released to go home with me when I was discharged a few days later. Huge answer to prayer!!

We are over the moon with this beautiful new addition to our family. Kellan absolutely adores his little sister and we feel our family circle is perfectly complete. In addition, I am so happy to be off the couch that I can hardly stand it. C-Section recovery is a piece of cake compared to how miserable I felt over the past few months. I literally came home from the hospital and organized the house and baked a cake…blog to follow!

I’m excited to get back in the kitchen and hope you’ll join me as I try out and share new recipes!