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My New Strawberry Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup non-fat dry milk
1 1/2 cup mashed strawberries, with their juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
3 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs

**Optional-- 1 tbsp. strawberry gelatin mix (If you want your cake to be a pretty pink color. This will add a little more strawberry flavor to the cake too. I really hate using food coloring if I can just use Jello!)

**Note-- I use powdered dry milk and regular milk, but you could also just use water in place of the regular milk. Milk is just a bit richer.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour cake pan(s); can use two 8-inch or 9-inch round pans or a sheet cake pan.
2. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes longer.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake until cakes spring back when lightly touched (sorry, have no idea how long I baked it!). Cool cake pans on wire cooling rack before inverting cakes onto another rack for further cooling.
5. Frost layers with buttercream frosting or any other frosting that you like.

Serves about 18.

Paula Deen's Tastes Like Lasagna Soup
(from Food Network via my friend Amy)

1 pound ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
1 (32-ounce) box chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups broken lasagna noodles
1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large Dutch oven, combine ground chuck, onion, bell pepper and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until beef is browned and crumbles. Drain well.

Stir in thyme, brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender.

Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into 8 to 10 ovenproof bowls. Evenly sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Broil soups, 6-inches from heat, 3 to 4 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Thin Mints Brownies
recipe from Little Brownie Bakers

½ box of crushed Thin Mints Girl Scout Cookies
1 box of brownie mix
2 eggs (3 eggs for cake-like brownies)
¼ cup of water
½ cup of vegetable oil
1. Crush Thin Mints into medium size pieces.
2. Mix all ingredients into mixing bowl. Do not use electric mixer. Batter will be stiff.
3. Spread batter evenly in greased baking pan (13 x 9 x 2 inch).
4. Bake in center of oven at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and allow to cool before cutting.

Serve with mint-flavored tea.
Yields 6 servings.

My Notes: We only had 8 cookies left, which is about 1/4 of a box, while the recipe calls for 1/2 of a box. The taste was subtly minty and would have been more minty if we had used more cookies. We also used 3 eggs instead of 2.

Melissa's Dinner Dish

I am calling it thus because the finished product, on the outside at least, looked very much like something Nigella Lawson makes called "Granny Lawson's Lunch Dish." But basically, it starts with a version of stroganoff with turkey instead of beef because that's what I had. I based the stroganoff filling recipe on one from the Land o' Lakes Treasury of Country Recipes cookbook.

Brown the ground turkey with some chopped onions and sliced mushrooms. I wish I had thrown in some sliced green onions as well for flavor and color, and I will next time. Add softened cream cheese, parsley, some thyme (I love thyme!), fresh ground pepper and garlic salt. Add some fresh bread crumbs made with the leftover slice of bread (using a food processor). The bread crumbs kind of hold the whole thing together.

Now for my magic ingredient! I threw in a non-perishable item that is quite possibly my new favorite time-saving ingredient-- Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations. Yes, it's a really weird name for one of their many tubes of dough, but I don't care what they call it, it's great! I generally don't buy tubes of biscuits or rolls very often, but I happened to buy some pie crust for another recipe a few weeks ago and discovered the Crescent Recipe Creations. It's basically a sheet of crescent roll dough that hasn't been cut into triangle shapes as usual, so you can use it as a pizza dough and such.

I unrolled the crescent dough and was able to fit half of the turkey mixture on one side of the dough. I folded the dough over and crimped with a fork. So it looked like an enormous hot pocket pie kind of thing. Since I still had a second tube of Crescent Recipe Creations (that is a totally strange name for this product!), I went ahead and made a second "dinner dish" to eat the next day, before we leave for the airport.

I baked both for about 15-17 minutes at 350 degrees in the oven, and while it was baking Thalia said "What are you cooking, Mommy? That smells really good!" Always a promising sign.

This is what it looked like out of the oven:

And here is a slice of it:

Stuffed Pepper & Zucchini
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 bag of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
  • large, long bell pepper, top trimmed and insides removed, cut in half lengthwise
  • zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and seeds scooped out
  • grated parmesan cheese
  • Italian seasoning
  • basil
  • oregano
  • garlic salt
  • black pepper
I sauteed the veggies and turkey until no longer pink and then added
half of the tomato sauce and seasonings. I didn't measure any of them, just added "to taste." Simmered for a while.

Meanwhile, I micro-steamed the bell pepper and zucchini for about 3-4 minutes.

Then added the cooked white rice to the turkey mixture. I put the 4 veggie pieces (2 bell pepper halves and 2 zucchini halves) into a lightly greased pyrex dish. I scooped 1/4 of the mixture into each half of the pepper and zucchini and poured rest of the tomato sauce over the whole thing. Sprinkled grated parmesan cheese on top of each mound. Baked for about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Lea's Famous Quiche

1 unbaked deep-dish pie shell
1/2 lb. ground beef or sausage (Lea likes the Sage sausage)
1/2 cup mayonnaise NOT Miracle Whip
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups Cheese (Cheddar and Swiss OR Cheddar and Jack, the latter Lea's and my favorite)
Dash of Pepper
1/3 cup chopped onion (Lea says optional, she doesn't usually include for breakfast quiche)
  1. Brown meat and onions. Drain grease.
  2. Blend next 4 ingredients in a bowl. Cornstarch and mayo first, then eggs and milk.
  3. Stir in meat, cheese and pepper.
  4. Turn into the pie shell. Bake 350 to 375 degrees F for 30-45 minutes, until top begins to brown.
  5. For 2 quiches, just double the recipe.
Sun-Dried Tomato Quiche

In place of the meat in Lea's Famous Quiche recipe, add:
  • 2-3 Tbsp. julienne-sliced sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
  • a couple of handfuls of chopped fresh spinach leaves
I also included the optional chopped onions. This recipe was awesome, if I do say so myself, and a nice addition to the Thanksgiving table.

Southwestern Quiche

This is a generic name for adding some spice to the recipe.
In place of the beef or sausage in Lea's Famous Quiche, add:
  • 1 small can of chopped green chilies (drained)
  • about 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • about 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers (any color)
  • cooked, diced chicken breast meat OR diced ham OR crumbled bacon (optional)
I include the optional chopped onions as well. You could also substitute jalapeno jack cheese for the milder cheddar/Swiss/jack cheeses. Serve quiche slices with salsa if desired.