Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Swiss Marinated Mushroom Burgers

I love burgers. I especially love mushroom Swiss burgers and while preparing them for my last cookout I created a great new recipe. You see, I also like to serve these little Cara Mia Marinated Mushrooms as an appetizer and my friends and family eat them up as fast as I can put them out! So I added them to my ground beef mixture and Oh My Goodness they were awesome! Filled with rich creamy cheese and mushrooms and just the right zesty little kick that made them a huge success! 

Swiss Marinated Mushroom Burgers

1 cup Cara Mia Marinated Mushrooms, chopped
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 pound ground Chuck or Sirloin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
4 burger rolls

Add chopped mushrooms in a small bowl and add shredded Swiss cheese and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix ground chuck or sirloin with Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Divide the meat into 4 sections then roll into 8 balls and form them into thin patties. Lay 4 of the patties on a lined baking sheet, scoop 1/4 of the mushroom cheese mixture into the center of each patty, top with another patty and pinch the sides to seal the mixture inside. Make a deep depression in the center with your thumb. Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.

Grilling: Heat a gas grill to high or heat coals in a charcoal grill until they glow bright orange and ash over. Brush the burgers with a little olive oil and then grill the burgers for about 3 minutes. Flip over the burgers and grill for about 3-4 minutes on other side for medium rare. Do not flatten burgers while grilling.

Pan frying in cast iron or heavy skillet: Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to 12 inch cast iron skillet. Sear burgers over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes per side for medium rare.

NOTE: Top each burger with a slice of Swiss cheese if desired and cover with a sheet of aluminum foil to help melt the cheese before putting the burgers on buns. Then top with your favorite toppings.

Photographs are owned and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home 2014

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Saturday, July 12, 2014


I write cookbooks. I develop every recipe and test them over and over again until I get them right. I prepare the dish, design the food on the plate, and take all my own photographs for my books. I self publish in e-book format so that readers can have all the recipes to save on their computers and print out when they need them....AND on their phones and tablets to take with them to the store to buy the ingredients. I also publish beautiful full color print cook books in both soft cover and hardback for those of who collect cookbooks.

Each book takes me months to finish. I spend long hours, sometimes way into the middle of the night, getting them ready for Blurb.com and iTunes. There are many nights that I am completely exhausted from doing this work.

So why do I do it? If you are new to Welcome Home you should know......

About 12 years ago, I read this quote somewhere on the Internet. It said...

"I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter...the cast offs of human society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal and I was angry. "God," I said, "This is terrible! Why don't you do something?" God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly. "I have done something," he replied. "I created you."

It was on that very day, I walked into the local animal shelter in my county and asked if I could volunteer. I asked if there was anything I could do that day until I might be assigned something to do that might make a difference. It was a day that changed my life forever.

The woman at the desk said there was so much work to be done but if I really wanted to do something right away that would make a difference in my life and the life of another, then I needed to listen carefully. So many people volunteer and then can't handle it and walk away. She said if I needed something to give me the conviction and the strength to follow through with my commitment, then I should come with her.

I followed her back to the area where they kept the dogs. She took me to a pen that was large enough to hold 10 huge dogs and pointed to the far back corner where a little dog weighing every bit of 15 pounds was curled up in a little ball, shaking on the cold concrete floor. The little dog looked up at me and wagged her tail for a second and then laid her head back down.

The lady grabbed a folding chair and opened the cage. She said that this would be the last day that this little one would be spending time there at the shelter and it would be wonderful if she could feel some human love and comfort one last time. She had been there for 5 days and no one had come to claim her and so her time had come. I went over and picked up the little dog and held her close to me as I held back tears. The woman began to tell me stories of how people just drop off their pets and walk away. I am going to share something she said to me that day ...a view from the inside, if you will.

She said, maybe if some of these people could see the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, they would change their mind about "dropping" their dog off at the local shelter. Maybe people might think twice about buying from a breeder or from a pet shop and adopt a dog from a shelter before it's too late. She went on to say that there is a 95% chance that a dog will never walk out of the shelter he or she was dropped off at. The most common excuses people give are: "We're moving and we can't take our dog." Or, "he got bigger than we thought he would." And then the classic: "We just don't have time for her." They usually say, “We just don't want to face the stress about finding a home for her. We know she'll get adopted - she’s a good dog. Some nice family will adopt her."

She told me the odds are against that dog ever getting adopted. She asked if I could imagine how stressful it is for a dog in a shelter until she dies? She said the dog has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment a person drops her off. Sometimes she can live a little longer if the shelter isn't full and the dog manages to stay completely healthy. If she even starts to sniffle, she will be killed sooner than 72 hours.

She will be confined to a cage and have to hear the loud noise of other barking or crying animals. She will be so frightened and lonely and depressed because the family she loves with all her heart is missing. She will have no other choice but to relieve herself where she eats and sleeps. She will cry constantly for the family that abandoned her. It doesn't matter if she is a 90 pound German Shepard or a tiny 5 pound Chihuahua, they all cry for their family.

She will stay there for those long hours and no one will talk to her because no one wants to get involved or attached before the inevitable happens. She won't get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of her pen with a high-powered hose. If she is a big black dog or any of the “bully” breeds (Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Doberman, etc) her life was pretty much over when she walked through the front door.

If she shows any signs of aggression she will be destroyed sooner. She said that even the sweetest dogs show aggression after a day or two in this place because they are so confused and frightened. If she makes it over all of the hurdles, there is still a strong chance that she will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed right away. And then she stood up and looked me in the eye and said...

"And when that horrible day comes and they open that cage, she will go willingly...all excited... with her tail wagging and her body wiggling because someone is finally coming to play with her or maybe they have brought her family back. She will then be led to her death never knowing what was about to happen."

And with that she walked away. I held that little dog and cried for a solid hour and begged God to let her live just one more day until I could find someone to love her. I prayed that God would help me by touching someone's heart before it was too late. I didn't want to let go of her and was trying to figure out a way to bring in another dog when I was only allowed one where I lived at the time. I thought of everyone I knew and decided to go call them and tell them where I was and how they had to help.

And then it happened. Someone came. He was a tall gentleman maybe in his late 30's and he wore a jacket with the words NO KILL written on the back. I looked up at him and he told me I could stop crying and let her go now and that she would be okay. He took her from my arms and wrapped her in a soft blanket and whispered in her ear that no one was going to hurt her. She looked up at him and licked his face. He then told me the story about a group that he belonged to and how they randomly come to county shelters to save the lives of dogs and cats that are killed unnecessarily while waiting for their forever home. He said she was about to go to temporary loving home until her forever family came along.

As I watched him take her that day, I knew that I had found my calling. I knew I had to do something to save these lost souls. In that cage that day, I found the strength and courage to never give up and to do whatever I could to help this wonderful group of people across the country who work so hard to save these lives.

As he drove away with that little dog that day, I closed my eyes thanked God for answering my prayer ......

"Dear God, if I could do one great thing in my life, it would be to rescue every dog that someone has left on the side of the road to starve and die.

If I could have power for one day, I would use it to make it as illegal and punishable to abandon a dog as it would be to abandon a child.

If I could have one wish, I would use it to find a home for every abandoned dog and cat in the world.

If I were rich, I would fund every animal shelter in the nation so they wouldn't have to end the lives of healthy dogs and cats.

If I could hope for anything in my lifetime, I would hope that all people can see a dog or cat as a living soul that has the ability to love unconditionally for a lifetime.

And God, if you are listening right now, I pray that you will touch the heart of someone out there right now, and motivate them to go look and find this tiny soul that needs them so badly before it is too late. And I pray that you will bring them together for a lifetime."

And that my friends is why I write books. I am dedicated to raising money to save these lives and I will never let up. Over 6 million dogs and cats are killed unnecessarily each year in this country and I know we can make a difference. We can be the voice for these precious souls that cannot speak. We can stand up for animal rights and bring change.

Will you help me? My books are on sale this weekend for only $9.99 per ebook and there is a 15% off sale on print books when you use the discount code PRINTBOOKS15% .... You can preview each book on the right side of the margin here at Welcome Home and purchase from there as well.
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Capers over Tagliatelle Pasta

I created  this recipe  a few days ago and it turned out even better than I imagined.  I wanted to create a new dish using fresh shrimp and pasta but it needed too be and not  so heavy and rich with cream sauce as most are. I wanted a light dish with all the fresh flavors of summer.  So I added lime and cilantro and it was good! But it needed something...some  oomph...some pizzazz...something that would add some sharpness too my new savory dish.  I decided to add some capers and that was the  perfect touch!.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp with Capers over Tagliatelle Pasta

1 pound medium-size (30 count) raw shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
1 tablespoon STAR Fine Foods Butter Flavored Olive Oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon or a pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice from one line
2 teaspoons Star Fine Food Capers
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 16 oz package of Tagliatelle or Linguine style pasta

Prepare pasta as directed. Drain well and toss with a tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Saute the shrimp in hot oil until just pink and add salt and pepper. Do not overcook.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Reduce the heat slightly and add the minced garlic to the same skillet. Cook the garlic for about 30 seconds until transparent and then add the lime juice. Add red pepper flakes if using and cook for about a minute. Remove skillet from heat.

Next add the cilantro and butter to the skillet and stir until it’s melted. Add the shrimp back into the skillet with the capers and toss to coat.  Add pasta and toss well. Serve warm or  chilled.

Photographs are owned and copyrighted by ©Welcome Home.

Star Fine Food Capers can be purchased at the following locations:  

Costco, Stater Brothers Markets, Smart & Final, Bashas, Albertsons (So. Cal) and 

online at: http://bit.ly/STARcapers.

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Monday, July 07, 2014

Tortellini with Grilled Chicken and Artichoke Hearts

I use a lot of  Star Fine Food products when it comes to making pasta salads.  Why? Because it makes an otherwise complicated recipe so much easier and the flavors are just perfect.  Like this recent pasta salad I made using Cara Mia grilled Artichoke hearts....already chopped and grilled and no work at all!  You'll love the smokey grilled flavors from the chicken too! 

Tortellini with Grilled Chicken and Artichoke Hearts


3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


1 16 ounce package of fresh refrigerated Cheese Tortellini 
1 tablespoon of sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped 
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated (and more to taste)

Light the grill. Coat the chicken with olive oil and season with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Grill or broil until just done, 4-5 minutes per side. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes and then cut into bite sized pieces and set aside.  

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the tortellini for about 6 minutes and then drain and rinse with cool water. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Make sure to coat all the pasta thoroughly, so it won't stick together.  Add the chicken, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, another 1/4 cup of olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and the Parmesan to pasta and toss well.  Serve chilled or warm.

Cara Mia Artichoke Hearts can be found atWalmart stores, Stater Bros. and online at http://bit.ly/grilledartichokes.

Photography is copyrighted and the property of ©Welcome Home 2014

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

♥ Grilled Chicken with Rotini Pasta Salad

I felt like pasta salad today for lunch. So I put together some ingredients I had on hand and came up with a good one!  Tender strips of moist chicken on a bed of wonderful pasta drizzled with a tasty buttermilk ranch dressing.  This was a great combo. 

Grilled Chicken with Rotini Pasta Salad 

1 package of Rotini Pasta 
1/2 cup of Mayonnaise 
1/2 cup buttermilk 
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives 
1/4 cup julienne carrots or thinly sliced 
salt and pepper 
1/2 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes 
1 cup Tyson Grilled Chicken Strips, cut into pieces 

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the label says), Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water; shake off the excess and set aside. 

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the label says), Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water; shake off the excess and set aside. 

Whisk the mayonnaise, buttermilk, 1/4 cup chives, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Toss in the pasta and mix well. Toss in the grilled chicken, carrots and tomatoes and season with salt to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon chives and cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving. 

Photograph is copyrighted and the property of  ©Welcome Home. 
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Monday, June 30, 2014

Orecchiette Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

This was lunch today....how could something so easy to make be so delicious! If you enjoy pasta, you'll love this recipe. I use orecchiette pasta with roasted vegetables...then mix it with a basil infused olive oil that brings it all together. You get a robust flavor that you will enjoy even more the next day! This is a keeper my friends!

Orecchiette Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Asparagus

16 ounce box of orecchiette pasta
a handful grape or cherry tomatoes
one bunch of fresh asparagus
1/4 cup STAR Fine Foods Italian Cuisine Cooking Oil, divided

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pasta as directed to al dente. Drain well and set aside. 

Toss the tomatoes lightly with the cooking oil on a sheet pan. Spread them out into one layer and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and place them on a baking sheet, drizzle with the cooking olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 20 minutes, until tender but still crisp.

Toss the roasted tomatoes and asparagus with the pasta and drizzle with additional cooking oil. Sprinkle with fresh basil and parsley if desired.

Note: You can buy this oil at:    Albertsons (So. Cal), select Safeway and Vons stores and online at:  http://bit.ly/ItalianCuisineCookingOil

Photo and recipe are copyrighted and owned by Welcome Home ©2014.

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Butter Rum Muffins with Cinnamon Chips

Butter Rum Muffins with Cinnamon Chips

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs
1 teaspoon butter flavoring extract
1 1/2 teaspoons rum flavoring extract
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup whole milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz. bag Cinnamon chips
2-3 tablespoons coarse sugar for topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place paper liners in muffin pans and lightly spray with butter flavored non-stick cooking spray.

With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the rum and butter extracts, sour cream, and milk.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the butterscotch chips with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans (using an ice cream or cookie scoop works well), filling each cup about 3/4 full. Then sprinkle with generous amount of coarse sugar and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm right out of the oven!

NOTE: If you use regular muffin tins, this will make about 2 dozen small (not mini) muffins. But if you want big fluffy more impressive muffins like mine, go with the jumbo muffin tins as I did and you'll get a dozen from this recipe.

Star Fine Foods Butter Flavored Olive Oil can be found at  Raley’s, Walmart, Stater Bros., Food Maxx and online at http://bit.ly/ButterFlavoredOliveOil.

Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Sunday the weather was just delightful and I had family and friends over to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday. Wow! It doesn't even sound right to say he is 80 years old. He just doesn't seem that age to me. He is still the same Dad I've know since he came into my life when I was 8 years old. It was at a time when I was still suffering a broken heart and serious trauma from seeing a drunk driver hit and kill my biological Dad as he crossed the street.

Back then, a loss so significant and so traumatic in a child's life was handled only with time and patience. There was no money for psychologists or therapy. They just hoped time would heal and I would grow out of the problems with reading and learning at school. They thought time would make me stop clinging to my Mother and never wanting to leave her side. Time would heal the horrific nightmares every night, my refusing to eat, crying everyday and night and asking when he was coming home. My Mother was left with nothing and had to go to work to save our home and feed her two kids. That left more feelings of abandonment and fear.

But 18 months later, God chose the very man who would come into our lives and make us all who we are today. I like to say that my Dad was hand picked by God to come into my Mother's life. She had lived such a hard life and God wanted her to live out the rest of her life with someone who truly loved her with all his heart and would always take care of her. He was younger than her and at only 25 years old, he had no plans of becoming an instant father to two kids who were both a psychologically challenged by the events that had taken place less than two years earlier.

I can remember asking my Mom if I had to call him Daddy and before she could answer, he stepped in and picked me up and told me he would never take the place of my Daddy but he would love me just as much. He told me to call him whatever I wanted to call him. I decided to call him Gene because I didn't want to ever call anyone Dad again for the rest of my life. That was then....that was the very first day he become my new step-father.

He stole my heart soon after that. He became the Dad that I was supposed to have and spend the rest of my life with. There's no doubt in my mind that God intended it that way. He became my hero and I wanted to follow him everywhere! He became the teacher in my life who said I was so special and could do anything I chose to do in life. He believed in me and soon called me "Baby Girl" and I called him Dad.

Yesterday was his 80th birthday. He is a young and active 80 years old...still playing 18 holes of golf three times a week. He is so funny and witty and makes me laugh all the time. He hugs me when I need a hug and seems to have all the right words to say when I am sad. He prays for me every single day and there's no place I would rather be than in those prayers and in his heart. He is so active in his church and loves to read his bible and teach anyone who wants to learn God's word. He sings all the time. He enjoys music and leads the choir in his church. He has an intense love for God and doesn't hesitate to let anyone who will listen know how much.

Happy Birthday Dad....thank you for giving me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, you believed in me. You've never told me how to live; you lived and let me watch you do it. You are one of the most knowledgeable men I've ever known and your wisdom and knowledge has guided me through life. You taught me the value of education. You taught me the value of hard work and dedication to my goals. Through your example, you taught me the value of honesty and integrity.

Most importantly, you taught me that God loves me and hears my prayers. You taught me to trust that he will always be there to help me overcome any hardship. You are, and always will be, the best and most enduring teacher and mentor in my life. I love you more than words can say and I thank you for coming into my life when you did. Thank you for the profound love you had for Mom while she lived with us here on earth and while she waits for us at her new home in Heaven. 
Happy Birthday Dad.  From your Baby Girl.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Classic French Napoleons

I love using Pepperidge Farm puffed pastry for so many of my recipes. Not sure what I'd do without it!  Making your own puffed pastry can take so much time.  Here is one of my favorite recipes to make with puffed pastry dough.  So pretty and so easy to make!

Classic French Napoleons

Vanilla pastry cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, cubed


1 package (2 sheets) Pepperridge Farm puff pastry
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3-4 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Continue to add the milk mixture until it has been fully blended. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it has thickened, about 2 minutes longer.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter. Continue to whisk vigorously until the butter has melted, and the mixture has cooled slightly. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream so that you do not develop a skin. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Next, stack the two separate sheets of thawed puff pastry, and with a rolling pin, roll them out into one 12 x 12 inch square using parchment paper so they do not stick. Cut the square into three 12 x 4 inch strips and transfer the dough and parchment to a large baking sheet. Prick the dough all over with a fork and cover with plastic wrap. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven. Bake the pastry for 10 minutes, until golden around the edges. Set another baking sheet directly on top of the pastry strips and continue baking for 6 minutes more. Carefully remove the top baking sheet and bake until the pastry is baked through and golden brown, 6 minutes more. Cool completely.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, butter, and enough milk to reach a consistency that is pourable but still thick. Transfer a quarter of the glaze to a small bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder. Transfer the chocolate glaze to a piping bad fitted with a 1/8-inch tip. If you do not have a piping bag, fill a Ziploc bag and snip the bottom corner.

Pour the white glaze onto one of the pastry strips, spreading it evenly. Next pipe lines of the chocolate glaze across the white glaze, about 1/2-inch apart. Drag the tip of a toothpick down the length of the glazed strip in alternating directions to create a pattern.

Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch round tip and fill it with half of the pastry cream. Pipe an even layer of the pastry cream onto one of the remaining pastry strips. Top with the remaining pastry strip, pressing gently to adhere. Fill the bag with the remaining pastry cream and pipe evenly onto the strip. Place the glazed pastry on top. Slice with a sharp knife and serve.

Photography is owned by and copyrighted to Welcome Home 2014

Recipe adapted from Peanut Butter and Julie
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Thursday, June 05, 2014

Strawberry Bread with Vanilla Icing

This bread is wonderful warm or cold, for breakfast or as a dessert. A 

definite family favorite! If you are a strawberry lover, this 

one is for you!

Strawberry Bread with Vanilla Icing

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened...
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

2 cups strawberries, rinse, dried and chopped. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. With electric mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend flour mixture with butter mixture just until blended. Add buttermilk and only stir until just combined; do not over mix.

Carefully fold in strawberries. Dough mixture will be thick. Bake in a 350 degrees oven for 50 to 60 minutes.              

For the Glaze:     

4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, and butter. Slowly add milk, stirring until smooth. Extra milk can be added to thin if desired...I like mine nice and thick.

NOTE: I have used raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and even peaches for this bread recipe.

Photograhy is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home
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Wednesday, June 04, 2014

♥ Chocolate Meringue Pie

My Mom could make incredible meringue pies. She made lemon meringue pies, chocolate meringue and coconut custard meringue pies to die for. I learned very young how to make a meringue that stood firm and tall on any kind of pie and now I will share those tips with you at the end of this recipe. This one is a keeper my friends!

My Mom's Chocolate Meringue Pie

Pie Shell:

1 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled, cut in small cubes or slices
1/4 cup Shortening (I use Crisco)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons ice water


3 eggs
3 cups milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla


1/2 cup water
1 cup super fine sugar
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter, lard and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the ice water and toss with a fork to blend. Gather the dough into a ball. If excess flour remains, add a few drops more ice water. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for 1 hour in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pastry into a 12 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch pie pan and fold edge under. Then line the pastry shell with a sheet of foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Set pie pan on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake another 5 minutes until bottom firm and light golden, Cool on a rack. I usually brush my unbaked crust with an egg white and a little water before I put it in the oven to keep it from getting soggy.

Filling: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring 2-1/2 cups of the milk almost to simmering but make sure you watch it so that your milk doesn't boil. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, with a 12-inch or larger whisk, stir remaining 1/2 cup milk into the 3 egg yolks. In a second bowl combine 1 cup sugar, the flour, cocoa powder, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; whisk in egg yolk mixture until smooth. Gradually whisk in hot milk; return the mixture to saucepan.

Over medium-high heat cook and stir mixture until it comes to a full boil. Boil for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate and butter until melted and smooth. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Strain mixture through a sieve, pushing it through with a spatula as needed. Pour in baked cooled pie shell and cover just the filling with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before adding meringue.

Meringue: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to vigorous boil over medium-high heat. Once syrup comes to rolling boil, cook 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside.

With electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl at medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add salt and cream of tartar and beat, gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites. Add vanilla and beat until meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 5 to 9 minutes.

Using rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling, making sure meringue touches edges of crust. That's an important step so that meringue does not begin to shrink and pull away from crust, leaving a gap. 

Use spatula to create peaks all over meringue. Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes or until peaks turn golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. YUM!

♥♥ Tips for making the perfect tall meringue

Always make sure your bowl and beaters are free of any grease or oil. The tiniest speck of oil causes great volume loss.

Always use eggs that are a few days old and make sure they are at room temperature before you use them. If you have to start with cold eggs, put them in a bowl of warm water to bring their temperature.

Don’t use your hands to separate the egg yolk from the whites. I know its the most convenient way for most of us, but oil can wreck a good meringue too! Just use the shells, transferring the yolk back and forth between the two and letting the whites fall into one bowl and the yolks into another.

Use glass or metal bowls and keep your hands out of the bowls and away from any surface that would touch the egg whites. You want no oil whatsoever. Plastic bowls often retain oils from foods and the slightest oil from your hands will not help your meringue.

Add the sugar after the whites have reached the soft peak stage when they're fluffy and when you lift the beater the peaks fold over the beater edge). Superfine sugar works the best when making meringues. (Don’t worry if you don't have this in the pantry because you can make your own using your food processor or blender by pulsing your sugar a few times to break the crystals up into smaller ones).

Your meringue is done when you lift the beater out and the whites stand at attention! Don't stop and take a break during the beating process, start it and work it through and you'll have the perfect mile high meringue for your pies!

By the way, don't put a meringue pie in the refrigerator. Store at room temp under a glass or metal bowl. If you store in the fridge, you'll have leaky, weepy meringue. Enjoy!

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