Strawberry Pie

super-fresh-strawberry-pieIt is such a beautiful day outside, and the weather is supposed to stay like this for a while.  I love spring time.  It makes me feel like we will be at the beach in no time at all- which of course is a wonderful and horrifying thought all at the same time.  Everything is so fresh and bright, and a strawberry pie pretty much describes my mood and this weather exactly.  Here is a favorite easy recipe that will put you in a good mood even if winter is trying to hang on in your area!

Strawberry Pie


1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Arrange half of strawberries in baked pastry shell. Mash remaining berries and combine with sugar in a medium saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over berries in pastry shell. Chill for several hours before serving. In a small bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Serve each slice of pie with a dollop of whipped cream.

Butter Streusel Coffee Cake

butter streusel coffee cakeWe have spent the most wonderful couple of days up in the mountains.  We have been hiking, relaxing by the fire, watching movies and eating lots and lots.  Growing up, my mother would always serve Sara Lee’s Butter Streusel Coffee Cake as a side for breakfast when we had a house party up here.  She would warm it up a little bit, and it was so so delicious.  We never got it at home until- only in the mountains, and it seemed like such a special treat.  When I lived in New York for a long time, they did not carry the Sara Lee Butter Streusel Coffee Cake in the grocery stores for some reason- a real tragedy.  While I do think the Sara Lee version is pretty fantastic and obviously very easy, here is a great recipe from for a Butter Streusel Coffee Cake that is really great. (Photo courtesy of

Butter Streusel Coffee Cake


For the cake
1/3 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 teaspoons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) good-quality unsalted butter, softened (try Plugra or Kerrygold)
1 whole egg plus 2 yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cubed


Sprinkle sugar and yeast over the warm water and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater blade, combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and butter. Mix until the ingredients are completely combined (almost creamed). Add the eggs and vanilla, followed by the salt and dissolved yeast. Continue mixing until the ingredients are just-combined. (Dough should be wet and sticky, like a very thick cake batter.)

Transfer the dough to a well-greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and chill overnight.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes to one hour. In the meantime, prepare the streusel topping (recipe below).

Preheat the oven to 350°. Thoroughly coat a tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Press the dough (it will be very sticky) evenly into the pan. Top the dough with the streusel mixture. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the streusel is golden and the cake is cooked through. Allow to cool for five minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the tube pan (slip a knife around the edges of the cake and beneath it). Serve warm, with coffee.

To reheat, wrap cake or cake slices in aluminum foil and cook in a 300° oven until warmed through.

To make the streusel topping, pulse the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt in a small food processor. Add the butter and continue to pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use. (This can also be done with your hands or a pastry cutter; just as if you were making a pie crust.)

St. Patrick’s Day Cookies

st. patricks dayHappy St. Patrick’s Day!!  We had a debate this morning at work whether or not you had to be Irish to participate in St. Patrick’s day.  Clearly, only the people who were not wearing green thought that their non Irish lineage made them exempt which was ignored completely.  And, despite the rain and cold and it being a Monday, there was a rousing parade down King Street.  Here is a great shamrock cookie recipe that is sure to make any day especially St. Patrick’s day a good one!

Shamrock Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies


1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese,
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour until well blended. Chill the dough for 8 hours, or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/3 at a time to 1/8 inch thickness, refrigerating remaining dough until ready to use. Cut into desired shapes (shamrocks in this case) with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Leave cookies plain for frosting, or brush with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with candy sprinkles or colored sugar.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until light and golden brown. Cool cookies completely before frosting.

chocolate cakeWhen it is someone’s birthday at the Library Society where I work, we all sign a card and pretend that it is not their birthday until about 12:30 when we assemble for cake and then finally say happy birthday to said person.  It is kind of funny since there are only about 8 of us who work here, so we all know what is going on.  But despite our quirky birthday traditions, we are all excited because we get cake.  It is Susan’s birthday today, and we had chocolate cake.  It was just a regular store bought small birthday cake, but maybe because I have been fighting a cold, or maybe because it is Wednesday, it was just delicious.  Sometimes  you just need chocolate.  Here is a great recipe for a very decadent chocolate cake that will satisfy all of your chocolate needs!

Extreme Chocolate Cake


2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
 3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.
Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.

all 7 for dinnerWe are on day 6 with the 5 kids, and I can’t believe how smoothly it is going.  Don’t get me wrong, I am exhausted, but so far, they are all alive, do not seem sleep deprived or malnourished and in general are pretty happy.  I could totally handle this every day- no, no I could not.  Last night, because of everyone’s crazy schedule, was the first night that the seven of us all had dinner together at the same time.  Spaghetti and meatballs was definitely the easiest thing to feed that many mouths, and I made cheesy garlic bread and green beans to go along with it.  The garlic bread was a hit.  I got to “take and bake” loaves of french bread from the grocery store, mashed up some garlic, added some butter and mozzarella cheese and they devoured it.  I felt like the best cook in the world.  Cheese makes everything better!

Cheesy Garlic Bread


French bread

4-5 cloves of garlic minced


1 cup grated mozzarella cheese


Slice the French bread length wise and unfold like a book.  Butter both sides and spread the minced garlic.  Add mozzarella cheese on top and bake at 350 until cheese is melted.

ham-sandwich-rs-1131877-lTomorrow morning our good friends and neighbors are heading out of town for 11 days.  Last week their babysitter had to cancel, so we are going to take their 4 children while they are gone.  I love these kids- ages 3,5,9 and 11 (and of course add Walker in who is 10).  They are exceptionally well behaved and the older two boys are completely independent and Walker’s best friends- so Walker is beyond excited.  The girls- ages 3 and 5 are super adorable and sweet.  All that being said, I am slightly nervous about all of a sudden having 5 children to feed and well, let’s be honest, keep alive.  Corby is just a touch more than a little nervous and is currently wondering what we were thinking when we offered.  Fortunately, my neighbor has cooked up a storm and left menus and lunches and snacks and pretty much everything we could need, so I really think this will be a lot of fun and quite an adventure for us.  I am most nervous about doing the girl’s hair- especially for ballet.  In researching things that could be fun for all of us to do and fun for all of us to eat, I came across this recipe for Grilled Ham and Cheese Waffle Sandwiches- or breakfast for dinner.  It looks great and will be a fun treat for the kiddos.  I will keep you posted of how it all goes!

Grilled Ham and Cheese Waffle Sandwiches


8 frozen toaster waffles
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1/2 pound sliced deli ham
1/4 pound Cheddar, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter


Place 4 of the waffles on a work surface. Spread one side of each with the mustard (if using). Top with the ham, cheese, and the remaining waffles. Spread the top of each sandwich with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Melt the remaining butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the skillet, buttered-side up. Cook, pressing occasionally with the back of a spatula, until the cheese melts and the waffles are golden, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

Poofy German Pancake

german pancakeOne of the easiest and best breakfasts is to make a German pancake.  First they are delicious, second they poof which is fun to watch at any age, but especially for kids (I am talking really poofy if you are lucky), and third you can serve it with anything- fruit, syrup, powdered sugar, nutella etc.  We did try to make one once when we were up in the mountains, and the altitude was a problem and the pancake did not poof which was rather disappointing.  However- if you are not way up in the mountains, this is a fun tasty breakfast idea.

German Pancake


1/4 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Melt butter in a medium baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix flour, milk, eggs and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish- try to pour slowly so that the batter goes on top of the butter and not underneath (this will help the pancake poof better). Bake on center rack in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.

Chocolate fudge squaresFor some reason this year, I don’t feel like Valentine’s Day has been hyped or celebrated (at least in my family) at all.  Maybe it is because of yet another fake snow storm that closed schools and bridges Wednesday and Thursday.  Maybe it is because Corby’s birthday is this weekend, and I am focused more on that.  Really, I think it is because Walker’s class did not have a Valentine’s Day party, and so we did not make Valentine’s for his classmates.  He did insist on wearing a pink tie to dancing school on Wednesday night though which was pretty cute.  Anyway, it doesn’t really feel like Valentine’s Day to me especially since we are celebrating Corby’s birthday with my parents tonight with take out and the new season of House of Cards (so ridiculously excited to watch it).  So, to get in the Valentine’s Day mood, I thought I would try making some chocolate fudge this afternoon as a little Valentine’s Day treat (granted it won’t actually be eaten on Valentine’s Day as the recipe calls for it to sit overnight, but better late than never).  This recipe looks delicious,and I can’t wait to try it!

Chocolate Fudge


4 ½ cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter
1 – 12 oz. milk chocolate chips
2 bars German chocolate
1 cup marshmallow crème
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)


Butter a 10 x 15 pan and set aside.

Put the sugar, evaporated milk, and butter in a heavy sauce pan. Over medium heat, bring these ingredients to a boil for 5 ½ minutes stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips, German chocolate bars, marshmallow crème and vanilla – stir until melted and well incorporated. If you choose to add the pecans, add them now and stir.


Pour the mixture into the prepared 10 x 15 pan – let the fudge set on the counter overnight, then cut it into squares.

gluten free recipesI feel very fortunate to be able to eat wheat or flour or whatever it is that causes people Celiac disease, and  I have not had much experience with eating or cooking gluten free.  However, after spending some time with friends who suffer from Celiac disease, I thought I should add some gluten free recipes to the repertoire.  I got this fantastic on-line cookbook for my Kindle, and it is perfect for when I need a sweet treat that I know is delicious and everyone can eat!  The almond butter cookies are my favorite.  Here is the to get it for yourself- definitely a great addition to your cookbook library-

strawberry shotsAs this is a baking blog, I am not sure if I have mentioned my preferences in alcohol.  I like beer.  Light beer.  Ultra light beer.  That’s about it.  I will occasionally drink red wine and perhaps a glass of champagne, but I have never enjoyed liquor.  I, of course, tried shots of liquor in college when that seemed like a fun thing to do, but now on the very rare occasion that I am offered a shot of something, I generally turn it down because I do not like the taste of liquor at all.  This little strawberry recipe however, I can get involved with, and it is a really cute idea for a Valentine’s Day cocktail party treat.

Strawberry Shooters


1 bottle amaretto liquor

1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and cored

Reddi-whip, Coolwhip, fresh whip cream (your choice)


Pour amaretto liqueur into each strawberry and top with whipped cream. Eat strawberry whole to avoid mess and enjoy!!

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