Simple advice for a better life.

Barbeque-Back-RibsJello-CheesecakeSweet-and-Sour-Coleslaw-

Independence Day in the U.S. is always celebrated on July 4th.  Many businesses are closed that day in observance of this holiday.

Families and friends get together for a cook out, outdoor fun.  In the evening everyone is looking forward to an exciting display of fire works, usually prepared by a local fire department.

My contribution to this celebration will consist of links to some of my previously posted recipes, which you may wish to prepare for your guests.

Barbeque-Back-Ribs

These  Pork Ribs with Bourbon Whiskey Barbecue Sauce take little more time to complete, but are awesomely delicious, and the meat, literally, falls of the bone.

Vegetable-Platter-

For the vegetarian guests, this easy to assemble Vegetable Platter will be a hit, for sure.

Sweet-and-Sour-Coleslaw-

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw is another vegetarian choice, as well as an excellent side dish to accompany your barbecue meats.

Broccoli-Salad

Delicious and healthful Broccoli Salad.

 

Jello-Cheesecake

Your gusts will just LOVE this easy, no bake Low Fat Jello Cheesecake.

This dessert should be made a day ahead, or several hours before serving, to give it a chance to firm up.

Jello-Mold-

If you are looking for much simpler dessert recipe, nothing will take less effort than this Strawberry Cream Cheese Jello Mold.

Enjoy your Independence Day party, and stay safe!

 

strawberry meringue cake   strawberry meringue cake - serving

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry season is still here, making it easy to prepare a bunch of delicious strawberry desserts.

Today I will share an Eastern European recipe for a very simple, super moist, and very refreshing Strawberry Meringue Sheet Cake.

For best results, I recommend serving this cake the same day, or next day, at the latest.

It is very moist at room temperature, but does firm up while refrigerated.

I prefer serving it at room temperature.

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar + 3 Tbs.
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. extract (I used rum)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced in half

Cake Directions:

  1. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder on a work surface.
  2. Using a spoon, make a well in the middle of the pile of flour mixture.
  3. Mix in egg yolks and extract.  Keep the egg whites refrigerated for now.
  4. Add 3 Tbs. sugar, and cubed butter.
  5. Mix all ingredients, and knead with your hands, to from a ball of soft dough.

strawberry meringue cake - three portions of cake dough

6.  Divide the  dough into 3, gradually smaller, balls.

7.  Cover, and keep refrigerated until it firms up, or over night.

8.  Line a 9 x 13 baking sheet with parchment paper (large enough to cover bottom and sides.

 

strawberry meringue cake - dough ready for shredding

strawberry meringue cake - First layer of shredded dough

 

9.  Take the largest ball of dough, and shred it on a large eye grater, to cover the bottom of the baking pan.

strawberry meringue cake - layer of strawberry slices

10.  Spread strawberries over this layer of dough. Smooth them out to form an even layer.

strawberry meringue cake - shredded batter over strawberries

11.  Take the medium dough ball and shred it over the strawberries.

12.  In a medium bowl, mix the egg whites until frothy, then add 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until soft peaks form.

strawberry meringue cake - scoops of egg whites meringue

strawberry meringue cake - layer of whipped egg whites

 

13.  Spread the meringue over the strawberries, and smooth it out evenly.

strawberry meringue cake - last layer of shredded dough

14.  Take the last dough ball and shred it evenly over the meringue.

15.  Preheat oven to 350 degree F.

16.  Bake for 35 minutes.

17.  Remove from the oven, and rest the cake, still in the pan, on a cooling rack.

18.  Using a butter knife, loosen up the cake around the edges, and cool it completely.

19.  Cut it into serving pieces, and arrange it on a serving platter.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Dark Chocolate Ganache CakeMy daughter’s birthday was fast approaching, so I was researching many cake recipes with lots of dark chocolate (her favorite ingredient).

For the past three years I have been making her favorite Chocolate Cake with Fleur de Sel Caramel Filling, but this year I wanted to do something different.

She selected a Dark Chocolate Torte with Dark Chocolate Ganache, so I took her up on the idea, and baked the above pictured torte.

The original recipe was posted by Tarra Knight from Texas, in Taste of Home, however I tweaked it a little, and printed my version here.

It earned high marks from the birthday girl, and all the guests.

This cake freezes very well, but the fresh raspberries had to be removed before freezing, and replaced with fresh ones before serving ( we served the leftover cake  at Thanksgiving).

 Cake Ingredients:

  •  4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used Bakers chocolate for baking)
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup hot coffee (I used Dunkin Donuts Caramel flavored)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I used Gold Medal Unbleached)
  • 1 cup dark Cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup warm water ( for torte punch)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (for torte punch)

Ingredients for Ganache:

  • 14 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I use Baker’s chocolate for baking)
  • 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 cups heavy cream for whipping (1 1/2 pint)
  • 7 tsp. light corn syrup

Cake Directions:

  1. Line the bottom of 3 – 8 inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and grease it generously (I also dab a little Crisco under the paper to keep it in place).
  2. Place the chopped  chocolate in a medium bowl, pour the hot coffee over it, and stir with a whisk until all chocolate melts, and smooth mixture forms.
  3. Cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, adding sugar gradually, until creamy and light lemon color (the mixture resembles vanilla pudding).
  5. Mix in the oil and vanilla.
  6. Gradually add the chocolate mixture, continuously beating.
  7. Set aside.
  8. In another bowl mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  9. Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, alternating it with gradual addition of the buttermilk.
  10. Divide the batter equally between the three cake pans.
  11. Preheat the oven to 325 degree F.
  12. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until the toothpick test is clean.
  13. Remove from the oven, and cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  14. Remove from pans unto wire cooling racks, to cool completely.

Ganache directions:

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
  2. Place a medium saucepan on the stove, pour in the heavy cream and corn syrup, and bring to boil.
  3. Pour the boiling cream over chopped  chocolate, and stir with a whisk until smooth and creamy.
  4. Set aside for at least 30 minutes, to cool it off slightly, stirring occasionally.

Assembling the torte:

  1. Slice off the “hump” from each cake top, to create even and flat top cake rounds.
  2. Cut two rectangular pieces of waxed or parchment paper, about 6 inches wide.
  3. Place these two pieces slightly overlapping, on a cake platter.
  4. Place the first cake round on top of the waxed paper.
  5. Prepare the torte punch by mixing the warm water with the vanilla extract.
  6. Dip a pastry brush into the torte punch, and brush the  cake top with it to moisten it.  Use 1/3 of the torte punch on each layer.
  7. Spread 1/2 cup of ganache on top of the cake.
  8. Place the second cake layer on top of the ganache.
  9. Sprinkle the cake top with the torte punch, as previously.
  10. Spread 1/2 cup of ganache over this cake layer as well.
  11. Place the third cake layer on top of the ganache, with the trimmed off top down.
  12. Spread the rest of the ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Decorate the top with candy, or fruit.
  14. Keep it refrigerated for couple of hours, or overnight, to firm up the ganache.

Enjoy this yummy torte, which is very “chocolaty” rich, yet semi-sweet at the same time.

 

Exotic Banana Bread Bananas are such a staple food in our house (great source of Potassium to prevent muscle cramps), so we hardly ever run out of them, but at times there are few very ripe ones left over, hence perfect time to whip up some banana bread.

This week was one of those times with several very ripe bananas, which contributed to this newly concocted recipe for an Exotic Banana Bread.

It is a light recipe, since it has less sugar and fat, than my other recipe for Decadent Chocolate Banana Bread, posted earlier.

This banana bread is very light and airy.  The coconut and cinnamon flavors add to its exotic aroma.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use Gold Medal all-purpose unbleached flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I use kosher salt)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 2 large bananas, mashed (nicely ripe…even if they begin to get little brown spots all over its peel)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (you also may use coconut oil, I did not have any on hand)
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate morsels (or you use raisins, craisins, nuts, or other dry fruits)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Incorporate all ingredients with a whisk, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with brown sugar and white sugar, until very light and creamy, resembling cake batter.
  3. Mix in coconut extract, oil and bananas.
  4. Gradually add in flour, and mix well to incorporate.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  7. Generously grease and flour a loaf pan.
  8. Pour the batter into the greased pan, and bake 60-70 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven, and cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then remove onto a cooling rack to cool completely, before slicing into serving pieces.

Exotic Banana  Bread

Enjoy!

Barn style Birthday Cake with a bunch of farm animals cupcakesFarm Animal cupcakes - sheeps, pigs, chicksFarmer McAidan's Barn Birthdy Cake

My two-year old grandson’s favorite song is “Old McDonald had a farm”.  He also enjoys books about farm animals, and just loves riding with his dad on a tractor, while mowing their lawn.

His mom knew exactly what theme he will select for his second birthday party, so it turned out to be “McAidan’s” Farm theme.

Today I will share some pictures of decorations and creative party foods, from that happy event.

stash of stuffed farm animals to decorate the party room

The fireplace mantel held all the “near and dear” stuffed farm animals, which my grandson loves to snuggle up with.

Barn Door and farm animals - wall decoration                                 Barn and farm animals - toy and table centerpiece

 

The 7 foot high barn door wall decoration was creatively constructed by his mom, out of red wrapping paper, and white strapping tape, accessorized with cow print balloons, as well as few oversize cow and pig balloons.

His toy barn filled with farm animals, served as a center piece on the main food table.

Cowboys or farmers attire for party attendees  Hats and bandanas

All his friends were offered a cowboy hat and a bandana, to wear at the party, and to keep.

His daddy’s cowboy boots came in handy, and served well as an appropriate sign holder.

Party favors

In addition to the hats and bandanas, the little cowboys/farmers left the party with a personalized bag filled with all sorts of goodies.

Lemonade - as pond full of ducksThe swimming duckies - close up view

A large vessel with a convenient spigot, was filled with delicious lemonade, representing a pond full of swimming yellow duckies.   What a great idea!

Party food - deviled eggsFarmer McAidan's Veggie snacksFruit Patch - fun party food

Part of the snack menu were Deviled Farm Fresh Eggs, as well as a variety of berries and veggies from the McAdan’s Berry and Veggie Patches.

Trail Mix - as Chicken FeedPretzel Sticks - Hay

 

Other munchies included Chicken Feed (trail mix), and a bucket of Hay (pretzel sticks), as well as

Rice Krispies snacks - as Hay BalesOreo cookies taste better as tractor tires

Hay Bales (Rice Krispies Treats), and Tractor Tires (Oreo cookies).

The main menu had an abundance of barbecue foods, salads, other desserts and beverages.

Water slide into a water poolTractor rides

It was a beautiful day, so the very energetic two-year-olds, and some of their older and younger siblings, enjoyed many outdoor activities, including age appropriate sports, tractor rides, and most of all, an inflated water slide with a pool.

I had so much fun creating this post, and hopefully you enjoyed reading it, as well as getting fresh party ideas for that special little one in your family.

Please share your ideas with all of us.  Thank you.

Farmer McAidan's Barn Birthdy Cake

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