Monday, March 31, 2008

My Grandma's Berry Up-side Down Cake with Cream

My Grandma is a fabulous cook and this is a recipe she's been making for her family for a long time. I remember having it as a kid and LOVING it. My Aunt JoAnn taught me a very important lesson years ago: if you're at a grocery store and they have Oregon brand canned boysenberries, buy them. Buy them out and then send a few cans to me. I cannot find them anywhere. Except and I don't need 20 cans.

I was however able to locate some Oregon brand blackberries. And those tasted fabulous. I have been craving this dessert ever since I asked my grandmother to send this recipe for the cookbook I made for my little sister's wedding present (more on that later) and last night I finally got a chance to make it. It was a rough night for me last night. Having accidentally stabbed myself in the eye with a fork, I was in need of some serious comfort food.

Here's the recipe for my grandma Carole's Berry Up-side down cake:

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup softened butter

½ cup milk

1 cup sugar (divide in half, use ½ cup in the batter, and ½ cup over the berries)

1 can of blueberries or boysenberries

Mix this together until smooth and put in greased 8" by 9" Pyrex dish.

Pour 1 can of blueberries, or boysenberries (including juice) over cake batter and sprinkle the other half cup of sugar over the top and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve warm putting whipped cream or ice cream on top. This is a quick, tasty dessert. Enjoy!

- I served mine (to myself) with fresh whipped cream as soon as it came out of the oven. The cream melted of course, which is just how I like it. Even kind of soupy. Delicious!

Easter and Lemon-Ginger Cake with Blackberry Curd

Okay, I promise pictures of the wedding are coming soon, but for now I'm catching up on some of the posts that will take less time.

I love this cake for Easter. I got the recipe from my friend Tisha a few years ago and I absolutely adore it! I ended up adding an extra cup of powdered sugar to the frosting. It was still very wet and soft- I could not decide whether to add more powdered sugar or not. I liked the way it tasted with such a soft frosting and I was afraid it would change too much with the addition of more powdered sugar. It was a little trickier to ice the cake and the presentation may have been better with a frosting that was a little more dry and stiff, but maybe the sacrifice in the texture and flavor wouldn't have been worth it. Hard to know.

Here's the recipe:

Lemon-Ginger Cake with Blackberry Curd
For cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
8 eggs
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons pure lemon extract

For curd filling:

16-ounce bag frozen blackberries (can substitute fresh blackberries)

2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons black raspberry or blackberry liqueur (optional)

For frosting:

Two 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For decoration:

1 pint basket fresh blackberries
1 cup fresh, unsprayed rose petals

To make cake:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper and spray again on top of paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and ginger. Using a mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, followed by lemon zest, lemon juice, and lemon extract. Continue mixing until smooth. Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Pour into prepared pans. Bake cakes 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen edges with a knife and remove from pans and gently remove parchment paper; continue cooling, until cakes are completely cool.

To make blackberry curd filling:

In a medium saucepan, stir together frozen berries, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, butter and salt. Cook over medium heat until thickened and beginning to bubble around the edges, about 5 minutes. Strain curd into medium bowl, pressing on solids in strainer. When strained, mix in liqueur, if desired. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

To make cream cheese frosting:

Place all ingredients in a mixer on medium speed and blend until smooth.

To assemble the cake:

Cut each cake horizontally into two layers. Place 1 layer, baked side down, on platter. Spread 1/3 of blackberry filling over. Repeat with 2 more cake layers and filling. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread icing over cake top and sides, swirling for an elegant presentation. Top with fresh blackberries and rose petals, if desired. Yield: 12 servings.

We had Easter dinner at my Uncle Wayne's and Aunt Cindy's (which was where Julia's reception was, too) and it was fun to be with the family. The food was FABULOUS and Cindy's house and yard are gorgeous. We even took a family picture- something we haven't done in a long time. Franny and Sophie had a fun time playing with their second cousins. We were able to get a few of these fun shots.

Here's my Dad in his Easter pants helping Sophie find eggs. Bobby got this cute shot of Sophie going for an egg.

Here's a few of the girls with their second cousins. They had so much fun playing with William, Jenna, Liv, Elle, and Evan!

We got to watch Julia and Grant open their presents! They got some great stuff! Here I am with Kristy, Chrissy, and Vanessa ooh-ing and ahh-ing from the side. Bobby, Richard and Matt were watching the kids near the pool. Thomas, Alex, Annie, and Skyler (Grant's little bro) hanging out on the world's most comfortable couch. And the last picture is of my youngest cousin and in my opinion the best hiding spot in the whole Easter egg hunt.

Then we celebrated my brother Richard's birthday. He and his beautiful wife Kristy have been married for a year now! Happy anniversary yesterday! I love you Richard.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cocks in the hen house

We took a weekend trip down to see Bobby's family in Pittsburg. His sister Molly just had a new baby boy. His name is Max and he is perfect and very sweet and darn him- he makes me want a new baby!

We love to go down there and spend time with family. Franny loves to see her cousins and Sophie loves to see the dogs. All the dogs. All the time. That kid is a dog-lover and it stresses me out a bit because I am not. I can tolerate dogs and admire them from afar, but I really don't want them to lick me or have to touch them. Not to mention, I'm totally allergic to them.

Well, one afternoon Franny fell asleep and Bobby stayed inside my father-in-law's house with her. Larry lives on 50 acres out there and there is a lot to do on his land. Sophie and I started walking out the back door when something caught my eye to the left and I looked and did a double-take. Here's what I saw:
I was flummoxed. What the heck did I do to offend these cows? There were about eleven plus a miniature horse (who thinks he's a cow too by the way), staring us down with their beady eyes. I thought it was totally bizarre so I took like 50 pictures. The picture above doesn't adequately portray how intimidating the bovine dirty look really is. I took a few of them giving "the look" to Sophie, too.

So then we veered right and we encountered a real live cock fight. I'm not even kidding. In fact, I took video. (By the way, my father-in-law told me it's illegal to make bets on a cock fight.)

After the cock fight, much to Sophie's delight, we found Larry's new black lab puppies. So cute! Even I couldn't resist these sweet and playful little puppies.

Max is such a beautiful baby. I'm glad we could be there for his blessing. Here are some pictures. Franny was quite taken with him.

Here's a few more pics from the trip. Sophie giving Max a kiss; the miniature horse who thinks he's a cow; Bobby and Franny at our favorite breakfast joint in town: Bob's Grill; and Sophie and Franny coloring with two of Molly's kids, Zoe and Jakob.

Monday, March 24, 2008


I have a few stories I've been saving up with all the craziness of the wedding and no time to blog. I thought it would be fun to list some of our shenanigans here together.

The other day I was on the phone with Jayne and changed one of Sophie's stinky diapers. We have a Schleich brachiosaurus. (I've mentioned before our family obsession with Schleich animals.) This brachiasaurus is 18 inches tall! Half as tall as Sophie. Anyway, a few minutes later (still on the phone), I look over at Sophie and she has pulled two wipes from the container and she's wiping the underside of the dinosaur and saying, "stinky, stinky!"

We flew in last Tuesday. (We're still here.) I was kind of nervous about traveling alone with both kids, but thankfully my sister-in-law was willing to drive us to the airport instead of parking, leaving our car, and hauling all our luggage onto the shuttle and into the terminal. (Our airline doesn't have a skycab.) Everything was going swimmingly. Franny was being a doll and I was spending most of my time entertaining Miss Sophie. I was just settling in to listen to some XM radio when Franny said, "Mommy, I hurt" and pointed to her tummy. She's never said anything like that before so I thought maybe she might have scratched herself or something. Then her eyes kind of glazed over and she got that look and I knew what was coming. I was completely frozen however and it didn't even occur to me to find that little barf bag in front of me. I just sat and watched it all in utter horror. All over her pants, her seat, her shirt, a little on her new Ariel and Jasmine dolls and even a little on her DVD player! There was a VERY kind lady who I'm sure I'll never forget who helped me clean Franny's seat while I cleaned Franny. I was prepared for a toileting accident so I had a spare pair of pants and panties, but no extra shirt, so I took Sophie's tiny little hoodie and had Franny wear that. She proceeded to throw up four or five more times after that and then she woke up fine the next morning. This was fortunate for Franny because as I told Bobby, my kids have already used up all their sick days.

I got pulled over the other night. I had just left a big SAA meeting where I served four white chocolate strawberry mousse tarts I had made that day. I held the wheel with my left hand and used my right hand to secure my treasured cake pedestals sitting on the floor of the van behind the driver's seat. Every time I had to slow down for a stop sign, those beautiful cake plates would clank together in a most distressing sound, so I stopped using my brake altogether. At one point I was approaching a stop sign and no one was around, so I just coasted right through it. I didn't even pause. I realized how brazen I was to not even scan the area for a policeman and decided to check my rear view mirror and what I found is very similar to the picture above, only it was dark outside. How did he get his lights on so fast? So obediently I pulled over and what seemed like five minutes later (what takes them so long? Mike, can you tell me?), an officer was standing next to my window. He said, "I caught you speeding. You were going 33 back there in a 20. It took me this long to catch up to you-" and I'm just hanging there, waiting for him to say, "and then I saw you drive right through a stop sign. Breathe into this, please." But he didn't. He didn't even mention the stop sign! Then I realized he didn't see me break the law the second time because he was just about to crest a hill when I sailed right through the stop sign! I'm sorry, but I think that's hilarious! I wish my husband had the same sense of humor about my sloppy driving. He still doesn't know about the stop sign! Don't tell him, okay? ;)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

behold. . .

... the reason I have been such a crappy blogger lately. I had a blast putting it together. I burned the DVD today and it's really fun to have a DVD that I put together with chapters and titles and everything!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Surprise your family this year on St. Patrick's Day with a traditional corned beef brisket! Serve it with a horseradish cream. (Whip some heavy whipping cream and fold in a tablespoon or two of horseradish.) I love this dish. My Mom made it for us almost every year on St. Patrick's Day. She would serve it with cabbage, boiled potatoes, and sometimes even Irish soda bread. (Incidentally I never really cared for Irish soda bread. I always serve rolls.)


  • 1 (5 1/2 pound) corned beef brisket
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 1 large orange, sliced in rounds
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 6 tablespoons margarine, divided (except I used butter. I hate margarine. YUCK!)
  • 1 large head cabbage, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup Golden Delicious apples, cored and quartered with peel
  • 1/4 cup cold water


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Line a 9x13 inch roasting pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough extra extending over the sides to cover and seal in the roast.
  2. Rinse the brisket, and pat dry. Rub with pickling spice, and place in the prepared roasting pan. Arrange celery, orange and onion slices on and around the roast. Pour in 1/2 cup of water, and wrap aluminum foil up over the roast tightly, making sure the ends are sealed.
  3. Bake for about 4 hours in the preheated oven, or until meat is tender.
  4. About 45 minutes before the roasts time is up, heat 3 tablespoons of margarine and 1/4 cup of water in a large pot. Add cabbage and apples, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. Occasionally shake the pot so that nothing sticks to the bottom. Serve with remaining margarine and sliced corned beef.
I was in the mood for something way more naughty that boiled potatoes, so we had Ina's parmesan smashed potatoes instead:

3 pounds red new potatoes, unpeeled
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus 2 teaspoons
1 cup half and half
1/4 pound unsalted unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Place the potatoes and 1 tablespoon of salt in a 4-quart saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer covered for 30 to 45 minutes, until completely tender. Drain.

In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, mix the potatoes for a few seconds to break them up. In a small saucepan, heat the half-and-half and butter. Add them slowly to the potatoes, mixing on the lowest speed. The last quarter of the cream should be folded in by hand. Fold in the sour cream, Parmesan, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper and serve immediately.

I always love to serve a dessert that to me is the epitome of comfort food. Desserts that fall into this category for me are as follows: rice pudding (Lion House recipe), bread pudding with vanilla sauce, and Magleby's buttermilk pie. I am such a dessert tease. You suckers are going to have to be satisfied just looking at this pie because I can't give out the recipe! I got it from a member of the Magleby family and I don't feel like it's mine to give out. It's delicious. A homemade pie crust filled with a cake-like buttermilk filling, topped with a lot of raspberries and whipped cream.

Salsa Verde Carnitas

I've been craving Mexican for a long time and I found this recipe on Simply Recipes. It was delicious! I used bottled salsa verde and thought it tasted great. I didn't bother with the cabbage because I didn't feel like making another trip to the store. We were able to make three meals out of this. The first night I ate alone because Bobby had an impromptu dinner with his classmates. Two carnitas tacos and a diet coke really hit the spot!

  • 3 1/2 pounds pork butt (pork shoulder)
  • 2 cups salsa verde, bottled, canned, or homemade
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano (or 1 teas dried)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt
  • 12 to 16 corn tortillas, heated and softened
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, very thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar (if you only have unseasoned, add 1/4 teaspoon of sugar to it)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija Mexican farmer's cheese, or some grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • Crema fresca, crema Mexican, or sour cream
  • Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

1 Trim the excess fat from the roast. Put the meat in a large casserole or Dutch oven with salsa verde, onion, stock, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and oregano. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced, about 3 hours.

2 Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove meat from liquid in pot and put the meat into a roasting pan. With 2 forks, tear meat into large shreds. Roast meat for 15 to 20 minutes until parts are brown and crispy.

3. While the meat is roasting, skim and discard fat from liquid in the casserole pan. Boil juices, stirring, until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, 8 to 10 minutes.

4 Return the meat to the Dutch oven. Stir in chopped cilantro. Season with salt.

Hazard of the Trade

It's Spring Break! Woohoo! We made the trip out with Jayne and Rebecca to Bonkers and it was a blast. What a fun place for kids and adults alike! We had just a few things go wrong, and they ended up making me laugh so I thought I'd post about them.

Thing 1: I left the bag I packed with diapers and a change of clothes for Franny at home. Franny had a toileting accident while playing and while I was able to find a spare pair of underwear in the car, there were no spare pants of any kind. So I fashioned Franny's sweater into a skirt.

"I have misplaced my pants"

Thing 2: I left the charger for the portable DVD player at home, too. The battery ran out as soon as we turned it on for the drive home and Franny-- let's just say she was not happy. I only had to endure that semi-panicked feeling for a few minutes however, because I checked my rear view mirror before we even hit the highway and here's what I saw:

Sophie and Franny have really been acting more like sisters lately. Here they are playing dress-up this morning.

Are you kidding me?

I fell asleep early last night watching TV and left two pounds of Gluten-free Casein-free chicken nuggets out on the counter. I didn't find them until 4:00 AM, when I finally woke up to wash my face and brush my teeth, about seven hours after I cooked them. No chance of saving them after that much time left at room temperature. So my question is, why can't I ever forgive myself for wasting time/food? This has happened before, and I'm absolutely certain it will happen again, considering my borderline narcoleptic condition. I was so frustrated with myself for wasting that food and time that I couldn't sleep, so here I sit, blogging at 4:30 AM. Simultaneously thawing another two pounds of chicken as we speak.

I wanted these chicken nuggets to serve some purpose before they make their way to the garbage, so I thought I'd post the recipe for anyone who might be looking for GFCF recipes. These are pretty decent. Bobby and I even like them.

Chicken Nuggets

1 lb chicken breast, cut into chunks

1 egg

3 1/2 Tbsp oil

1 tsp salt and sugar

1/2 tsp poultry seasoning

1/4 tsp black pepper and garlic powder

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup corn or rice starch

1/2 tsp baking soda

Wash cut chicken in cold water. Mix together egg, oil, salt, sugar, poultry seasoning, pepper, and garlic powder in a large plastic freezer bag. Place chicken into bag and shake, coating each piece.

Place bag into freezer for about 30 minutes. Remove from freezer and pour the water into bag; shake again.

Ina bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda. Pour into the bag with the chicken. Shake again to coat.

In a hot frying pan with 1 inch of oil, place a few nuggets at a time and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining nuggets. Serve with dipping sauce.

To store, let nuggets cool to room temperature. Can be frozen up to 3 weeks. To heat frozen nuggets, place in oven at 350 for 10 minutes.
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