Strawberry Filled Cupcakes

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      My sister recently brought me a big flat of strawberries when she came to visit from California. She lives where they grow some of the sweetest strawberries in the world.

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       We enjoyed most of them within the first couple of days, and while I could have frozen the few remaining ones, I decided to make sure I
  1. had a few in my breakfast smoothie
  2. made a dessert from the rest

 

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Here’s what I came up with for dessert:

 

 

Strawberry Filled Cupcakes

 

Ingredients

2 3/4
cups  all-purpose flour
3
teaspoons baking powder
1/2
teaspoon salt
3/4
cup shortening
1 2/3
cups sugar
5
egg whites
2 1/2
teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4
cups milk

Directions For the cakes:

  • 1 Heat oven to 350°F. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  • 2 In large bowl, beat shortening with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/3 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl occasionally. Beat 2 minutes longer. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, alternately add flour mixture, about one-third at a time, and milk, about half at a time, beating just until blended.
  • 3 Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each with about 3 tablespoons batter or until about two-thirds full.
  • 4 Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans; place on cooling racks. Cool completely, about 30 minutes

 

For strawberry filling:

Put 1 pint of fresh or frozen strawberries in a blender Add 1/8 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar. Puree. Add another teaspoon or so of water if needed to get a smooth, but still slightly chunky consistency.

 

How to fill cupcakes:

With a small knife cut a small hole in the center of the cupcake being careful to not cut all the way to the bottom. Scoop out the cake. With a small spoon fill the hole with strawberry filling.

 

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When ready to serve you can frost liberally with your favorite whipped cream topping. They honestly taste like a little strawberry shortcake in your hand. Enjoy!

 

 

Today I’m linking with:

Foodie Friday and Everything Else

21 Rosemary Lane

Home and Garden Thursday

Home Sweet Home

Simple an Sweet Fridays

Friendship Friday 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Fancy Up Your Chinese Takeout Meal

Who doesn’t love Chinese takeout? We certainly do at our house. It’s a delicious answer to “What’s for dinner tonight?”  Now there are times when I actually get adventurous and make a  Chinese meal from scratch……and my husband puts together a great Pork Fried Rice and an Egg Drop soup which always make my attempts look pretty good. Still, most of the time it is takeout from our favorite restaurant. While I admit that there are plenty of times that we plop down in the family room to watch a movie, food cartons in hand, there are other times when it is nice to sit down at a nicely set table with a little Asian ambiance! This table setting is so simple that it can be set up in just minutes, making even takeout seem a little bit special.

 

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            We’ve been trying to learn to use chopsticks, so I have no other flatware on the table ………..of course there are always the more familiar standbys close at hand.

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           The large black ironstone dinner plates are originally from Target. I say originally because I stumbled upon them while out thirfting one day. I find myself using them in many combinations. The smaller plates are part of my Wedding china, Coventry, pattern Laurent.  The small oval dish came from Crate and Barrel many years ago. They’re perfect used here for sweet and sour dipping sauce. Colorful and reuseable chopsticks round out the setting.

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         Aren’t these glass etched bamboo cups and teapot adorable?  Since we always have hot tea with these meals, they work perfectly………from Target also.

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          I finished the table off with a small centerpiece from the clearance aisle at, of all places, Jo-Ann Fabric. Finally, my  bamboo place mats and black napkins are from Bed Bath and Beyond. All of these are things I’ve had on hand for quite a while now.  I use these place mats so often I feel like they are staples in my kitchen. So you don’t need lots of special dishes. You just need to be a little creative with what you have. Obviously most of the time it’s not feasible to set a complete table for something as humble as a Chinese takeout meal, but I think it’s fun to change things up a bit sometime, don’t you?

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I’m linking with:

Tablescape Thursday

 The Scoop

The Perfect Kind of Peace

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       The Word has an amazingly simple solution for anxiety: trust in God, and find our anxiety replaced by a spiritual peace beyond anything we’ve ever experienced, or can even understand.

                          Think about this. Worry is actually prayer in reverse.
In Luke 12:6-7 it says to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God: and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your minds and hearts through Christ Jesus.”

       So next time we’re tempted to worry and to be anxious about anything in our lives let’s take a look at a rose, such as this lovely Sun Flare rose from my garden, and remember this:
27″Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”  28″And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”  Matthew 6:27-29
                                                                                                                                                                          Or any one of us can just look out our back door, catch a glimpse of a sparrow anytime of the day and be reminded of this:
6 “Are not five sparrow sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God.  7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  Luke 12:6 & 7 Amp.
Blessings for a “worry free” week,
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Linking with:
Spiritual Sundays                    Still Saturday
Today’s Flowers                       Sunday Stillness
Give Me Grace                        Scripture and a Snapshot

The Last of the Oranges

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       During the winter months here in the desert we are blessed with an abundance of fresh backyard oranges.  Which means, naturally, that we are able to have fresh squeezed orange juice almost daily. In my book, there’s nothing better!  We have, however, just used the last ones, so I found myself scouring the ads this afternoon looking for deals from the grocers…..something I have not had to do for a while.

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       Right before Christmas we bought and planted yet another citrus for the yard. It’s a Trovita Orange, a juicing orange, and is supposed to be a particularly sweet orange in our climate.  Evidently in this case the warmer the climate the sweeter the orange. It’s supposed to make a very good patio tree and can be brought into the house to overwinter in colder climates. It’s a late producer too, so in the coming years we won’t run out until later into the Spring.  Which will be a very good thing.

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       Obviously we will have no oranges on this tree this year, but the last week or so it has began to burst forth with dozens of the most heavenly smelling orange blossoms!  Since it is planted right behind our backyard swing, it is making for the most delightful of afternoons.  My family sometimes finds it amusing that I like to take a nap outdoors. But to my way of thinking, “who wouldn’t? “…….not with this kind of stuff going on out there!  Right?
                                              Hope you’re enjoying your Spring!
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Lemon Basil Pasta

Since we’ve been so busy around our home this week I’ve tried to keep things as simple as possible in the meals department.  Right now I have plenty of basil and Italian parsley in the garden, along with a few lemons still left from our Meyer Lemon tree, so I couldn’t resist trying this. It turned out to be very quick and easy. My son especially loved it, and my husband gave it a thumbs up  ( but also added that he thinks an Italian sausage would be great on it…..of course he would say that). I’ve added the equivalent substitutions in dry herbs in case you want to use those instead of fresh. Serve this with garlic toast or breadsticks and a big green salad and you’re set to go…….. Oh and maybe an Italian sausage or two for the gentlemen in your life. 🙂

 

Best

Lemon Basil Pasta

Ingredients:
16 fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
(or 1 1/2 tsps. dried basil)
2 tsps. Italian parsley, finely chopped
(or 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 Tbps butter, preferably unsalted
2 1/2 Tbps extra virgin olive oil
1 tsps salt
8 oz. Angel Hair pasta
Coarse ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese
Black olives for garnish
Italian parsley for garnish (optional)
To Make:
In a large bowl put basil, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. Prepare angel hair pasta as on package. In the meantime melt butter and add to other ingredients in bowl. Mix well. When pasta is ready, drain in colander then add to bowl. Take tongs and repeatedly lift the pasta to coat evenly. Serve immediately adding salt and pepper to taste and top with Parmesan cheese, parsley, and black olives.
Enjoy!

 

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Linking to:

Foodie Friday

Tablescape Thursday

Friendship Friday

Inspire Me Monday

Spring Tablescape

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     I love the different seasons of the year, and I love to decorate when the seasons change. That being said, I do live in the desert southwest where we do not have a distinct four season year. Winters are mild and when Spring comes it very quickly slides into our hot summers. Setting a colorful, spring-like table is one of the ways I capture this short season.

     My pretty blue chevron tablecloth came from a lovely company I ran across this past Christmas called Linen Tablecloth. On their site they have dozens of tablecloths in a variety of materials and sizes. They seem to cater especially to those planning wedding and other large events, but an order can be as small as one item. I would find it hard to buy just one thing because not only do they sell tablecloths but also place mats, chair clovers, and table accessories among other things. I’m not being compensated in any way from this company, I just happen to love their products and their very reasonable prices. Be sure to check them out.

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     I wanted to keep it simple because for this particular dinner I wanted to serve family style with all the food placed on the table. I thought these small blue mason jars containing beautiful yellow tulips were perfect. There is a myriad of tutorials on the internet that show how to dye mason jars, and you can find several on my DIY  Pinterest board here.

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     Recently I purchased Kingsquare 10 inch white china plates. The guys in my house were very impressed with plates that “are big enough”. I’m really loving them too. My flatware is Glenridge by Waterford and I do believe it is just about the best flatware I’ve ever had. It is so sturdy and it just never seems to lose its shine. The napkins, rings, and placemats were purchased from Bed Bath and Beyond several years ago, and I often use these particular napkins for setting my breakfast table no matter what time of year it is. They just say “bright, sunny morning” to me.

     This was such a fun tablescape to create, and  since I had several blooms left from the two bunches of flowers that I bought, I spread them  all around the house. When I posted a pic of my table on my Facebook page, someone commented that it looked as if “Spring had sprung” at my home…….which was exactly what I was going for. Doesn’t Spring just make you happy?

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Linking today at:

Tablescape Thursday

Share Your Style

Foodie Friday

Friendship Friday

Bacon Quiche Tarts

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      Here’s a scrumptious little recipe that I got from my cousin Debbie. They’re little quiches made in a muffin tin…..and as an added bonus they can be made ahead of time, reheated, and they taste as if you just made them! I think they’re particularly good for holiday breakfasts or brunch buffets. That’s why ever since I got this from her I’ve been making them for our Easter morning breakfast. Just serve with a quick fruit salad or a pretty little dish of melon cubes. Be sure to bake plenty because, believe me…… no one is going to be satisfied with just one.

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     I don’t think there’s anything more refreshing on a warm Spring or Summer morning than to serve glasses of iced water with lemon and orange wedges!

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     Speckled eggs on the table, all ready for hiding later in the afternoon. If you’d like to know how to make these you can find the directions here in this post.

Debbie’s Bacon Quiche Tarts

 

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Ingredients
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
5 tsp milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of shredded cheese
2 Tbsp chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp chopped onion
2 tubes refrigerated crescent rolls
(there are 8 in each tube, you will have 4 left over for other purposes)
6 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled and divided evenly into two parts
Prepare
 Beat cream cheese and milk until smooth. Add eggs, cheese, green pepper, onion and mix well. Separate dough and mold into greased muffin cups. Sprinkle half of bacon crumbles evenly into each cup then pour egg mixture over the bacon. Top with remaining bacon. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Serve warm. Makes 1 dozen.
* Filling and bacon crumbles can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated overnight…..then in the morning all you have to do is mold the dough into the muffin cups, fill, and bake.

 

Enjoy!

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Linking to:

Masterpiece Monday                    Treasure Box Tuesday         Full Plate Thursday

Mouthwatering Monday                 The Scoop                        Tablescape Thursday

Inspiration Monday                       Wow Me Wednesday          Foodie Friday 

Inspire Me Tuesday                      Centerpiece Wednesday

How to Make Speckled Eggs

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     For some reason I found these charming speckled eggs so satisfying to make. There was no special dye kit to purchase…..just a few things I already had in the kitchen, along with a small amount of brown craft paint and an old toothbrush.

For the tea-stained eggs,I added 3 tea bags to a glass of hot water and allowed it to steep. Then I lowered an egg into the water for several minutes until I got the color I desired. Then I set it aside to dry.

For blue eggs,I combined 1 drop of blue food coloring with 1 drop of green food coloring in a small glass of water. Feel free to play with different amounts of food coloring to adjust the color.I then lowered an egg into the water. When I got the shade of blue I wanted I set it aside to dry.

For baby pink eggs, I used 2 drops of red food coloring in a small glass of water. Once again feel free to play with the amounts of coloring and/or water to get the look you want.

To speckle the eggs,I made sure each egg was thoroughly dry then I used one bottle of brown craft paint and a toothbrush.I dipped the brush into the paint and pulling my index finger across the top of the brush,I lightly splattered around the egg to achieve a random, dotted pattern.Honestly I was so pleased with the results.

 

      I especially love the soft natural look of the eggs and can envision them in beautiful little birds nests as part of an elegant Easter dinner table. These particular eggs, however, were  placed in a plain kitchen bowl and graced our Breakfast table instead. Simple. Lovely. Charming.

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Today I am linking with

Inspire Me Monday                            Treasure Box Tuesday

Masterpiece Monday                           The Scoop

Make it Pretty Monday                        Wow Me Wednesday

Metamorphisis Monday                       Centerpiece Wednesday

Tablescape Thursday

Retro Bunny Cake

   Retro Bunny Cake
  Isn’t this just the most adorable Easter Bunny cake ever? I call it a Retro Bunny cake because the recipe comes from a 1966 Betty Crocker cookbook I happened across in a thrift store. That was back in the 80’s and I’ve been making it ever since.

 

Vintage Betty Crocker

      If you keep your eyes open an occasional copy can still be found. Such a fun cookbook! However, until you’re fortunate enough  to find your own vintage copy, let me share instructions for making it yourself.

Retro Bunny Cake

Bake a two layer cake mix (or a two layer recipe of your own) in two round layer cake pans as directed. Allow to cool. Cut one layer in half. Put both sides together using a white frosting. Stand cake upright on cut edge.

 

Retro Bunny Cake instructions

With a sharp knife cut a notch about a third of the way around the semicircle, forming the rabbit’s head. Save cutout piece for the tail.Secure in place with a wooden pick. Frost the entire rabbit with remaining frosting. Sprinkle generously with shredded coconut.
Make ears of white paper; color inside pink with a crayon or colored pencil. Use pink jelly beans or gumdrops for eyes and nose. Form an attractive nest around the bunny with tinted green coconut ( see instructions below) and place a few Easter Eggs (jelly beans) around him.
Freeze the other layer for later use, or make another bunny…….color the inside of his ears blue and you’ll have a ” Mr. and Mrs.” for your Easter dinner table.

Tinted Coconut

Place one cup of coconut in a a jar or plastic bag. Mix 1 or 2 drops of food coloring with 1 teaspoon of water. Add to coconut. Screw on lid or fold close bag and shake until coconut is uniformly colored.

 

 

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Linking today with:

Make it Pretty Monday                  Treasure Box Tuesday

Masterpiece Monday                     Wow Me Wednesday

Inspire Me Monday                       Centerpiece Wednesday  

Metamorphisis Monday

The Scoop

Inspire Me Tuesday

Amaze Me Monday

Full Plate Thursday

Foodie Friday

Sew Many Ways Linky Party

Autumn Combo Cookie

     I took the time late this afternoon to make these cookies just because I felt like it….and wouldn’t you agree that  nothing  makes a home smell better than cookies in the oven?   Like most good cookie recipes these take very little time….don’t you love that about cookies? This is a conglomeration of recipes I’ve seen over the years that I’ve tweaked to just the way I like it…..but it’s very forgiving and can be played with even more. Gotta warn you though, this version is pretty darn good! Make a batch or two and see if you don’t get some instant love going on at your house.

 

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M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

 

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs 

1 tsp vanilla 

1 1/2 cups M&Ms (divided)

 

 

Step #1: Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the baking soda, baking powder, and salt with the flour…….sifting it all together is a great way to do this……in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Combine the next ingredients in the mixing bowl of your stand mixer, or in the bowl you use for mixing with your hand-held mixer.

Step #2: Using your electric mixer (or it can be done by hand) beat the butter, shortening, and the peanut butter until nice and smooth. Add white sugar and brown sugar and beat until well blended.

Step #3: Add the eggs one at a time….mix a little between each addition….then mix in vanilla.

Step #4: Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time mixing each time until well blended.

Step #5: Fold 3/4 cup of the M&M’s into the batter, distributing it as evenly as possible.

Step #6: For really big cookies, scoop out dough using a heaping Tablespoon measure and drop balls onto a cookie sheet. Or actually use a bigger measure to make gigantic ones if you like. Be aware that if you use the  rounded heaping Tablespoon measure you should only bake 6 or 8 cookies at a time so they will not run into each other…..even fewer if making the super large ones. If you use a teaspoon measure you can bake a dozen at a time as in most recipes. With a fork dipped in granulated sugar, flatten each ball slightly making a criss-cross pattern on each.

Step #7: Top each batch of unbaked cookies with remaining M&Ms. Bake in the oven about 9-10 minutes for chewy cookies or 11-12 minutes for crispy. After letting them sit for a minute or two remove the cookies from the baking pan with a spatula. Let cool on rack.

 

HINT: As with all cookies it’s best to  take them out of the oven right before they look done to you. They will continue to bake for a short time after they are removed! Experiment with each cookie recipe you bake to get them just the way you and your family likes them. Enjoy!

 

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I’m linking to:

Inspire Me Tuesday

Foodie Friday

Full Plate Thursday

Saturday Sparks

What’s Cooking Wednesday

Fabulous Fall Linky Party

Favorite Things Thursday  @ http://katherinescorner.com/2014/10/08/thursday-favorite-things-blog-hop-160/

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