Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Iced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - Sausage & Shrimp Jambalaya - Strawberry Not-So-Short-Cake

I've been cooking and baking alot lately... so much in fact that I haven't even had time to take pictures and blog on all the recipes! Not to mention working nonstop, getting my alcohol certification so I can bartend AT work, celebrating birthdays and holidays aka making sure I still have a social life in between everything else... etc. But I had a little extra time today in between planning appetizers, side dishes, and my dessert to make for tonight's special dinner. It's my stepdad's birthday and he loves just about all food. He's not picky which I found makes it more difficult than easy to pick things out for this dinner....

I settled on simple Cucumber Sandwiches for my appetizer because I have been slaving over the oven all day making the birthday cake and wanted to take the easy way out.. I won't lie. My side dish is Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary which will go along side the Cajun BBQ Shrimp that my brother's agreed to make along with Crab Rangoon and a giant salad... which will, of course, be up to me the Salad Queen.

But I did make a favorite recipe of mine for the second time in about 2 weeks the other day. This actually came from over at Two Peas and Their Pod which Maria made. The second I saw them I was determined to have them and they were an A+ cookie let me tell ya. If you love Oatmeal Raisin cookies and you especially love chewy cookies with a little icing drizzle over the top, this is the best one you can choose.

So delicious and only uses 4 tbsp. of butter! Can't beat that! Plus a REAL maple syrup glaze to drizzle over the top... it's the perfect Fall treat. I brought these to my boyfriend's house for his Dad's birthday and the whole family was obsessed with them.... they even had some for breakfast with coffee! Smart idea. :)

Last night's dinner choice was spur of the moment while at the grocery store... I wanted something filling, warm, and was craving rice rather than pasta for a nice carb-y meal. Jambalaya is a great combination of all different textures and tastes.. We added chicken sausage and shrimp to give it some protein (which were amazing choices) substituted brown rice for the regular white long-grain rice, and ended up using canned & peeled whole tomatoes just to make life a little easier. I'm not a big fan of peeling fresh tomatoes.

The end result was just what we were looking for. I can't do spicey things and this recipe calls for 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper... that's it! But you could still feel the heat when you took your first bite. The recipe can be found here... I followed it to a "T" minus the chicken; instead I boiled 1 lb. of chicken sausage for about 10 minutes and then sliced the links into 1/2" rounds and threw them in when I added the shrimp. Mmmmm-mmmmm!

Moving onto today, my stepdad's birthday... Dessert was finally decided a few hours ago and I began getting right down to it... The recipe is from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Show and it's original name "Country Strawberry Cake" didn't seem as fitting as Not-so-short Strawberry Shortcake.... Rather than using one 8"x 8" pan and slicing the cake in half, I used both pans and kept them whole forming a much higher and beautiful looking cake. It has all the tastes you crave from a good homemade shortcake. The cake has a hint of citrus flavor from the lemon & orange zest and you still get a tiny hit of the sour cream when you take a bite. The whipped topping is simple minus ONE little problem.

I don't do gelatin. Never have before today... and I may try again because I don't give up but when I thought the gelatin had dissolved, I was sorely mistaken and ended up with little, almost pale yellow chunks of solidified gelatin in my whipped topping! Not too pretty on a perfectly white cake... It makes alot of topping and even after loading on about 1" to each layer, I had half a mixing bowl leftover so I kept it refridgerated (always good to put on top of a cookie last minute) but the end result was gorgeous... Now to wait and hear the results of the taste test!

UPDATE: Absolutely delicious!! Tasted just like the freshest strawberry shortcake... definitely a keeper in my book.

The middle layer is filled with strawberries side to side but who doesn't like a few extra on top?

In order to stack the cake evenly and make it look more even, I shaved the top of both cake layers with a serated knife... takes 2 seconds and the best part is you can sample the scraps to see how well you did P.S. I did this and could barely stop picking.... forcing me to throw out the rest of the scraps before it got ugly.

A very fluffy layer of whipped topping on the first layer....

Cover the first layer with as many strawberries as you like... I was running low on them so I decided to do one thin layer with just enough that you'd get strawberry in every bite.

And ready for tasting!!

Strawberry Not-So-Short Cake:
-1-1/2 sticks butter at room temp.
-2 c. sugar
-4 large eggs at room temp.
-3/4 c. sour cream at room temp.
-1/2 tsp. lemon zest
-1/2 tsp. orange zest
-1/2 tsp. vanilla
-2 c. flour
-1/4 c. cornstarch
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. baking soda

Whipped Cream Frosting:
-2 tsp. gelatin
-4 c. heavy cream
-1 c. confectioners sugar
- 4 tsp. vanilla
  • Turn oven on to 350 degrees and butter bottom of two 8" x 8" pans; line with parchment paper, butter again, and flour the pans.
  • Cream butter & sugar on high speed.
  • Add eggs, 1 at a time, then sour cream, zests, & vanilla.
  • Sift together flour, cornstarch, salt & baking soda.
  • Slowly add flour to the butter mixture.
  • Pour evenly into 2 pans, smooth the tops & bake 40-45 mins (this is according to Ina's recipe - I cooked them for exactly 30 minutes and they came out just right - may want to check after 30 to prevent overbaking)
  • Let cook in pans 30 mins then remove to wire rack and let cool to room temp.

Make the Whipped Topping:

  • In a medium bowl, mix gelatin and 1/4 c. of the heavy cream
  • Let rest for 5 mins. to soften; then place the bowl over barely simmering water until gelatin has dissolved (takes longer than you think!)
  • Remove from heat and let cool.
  • In a mixing bowl, whip the cream until slightly thickened.
  • Add confectioners sugar and vanilla and whip to consistency of shaving cream.
  • Fold 1/2 c. of the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture, then fold in the rest.
  • Assemble the cake by leveling one cake layer, frosting generously, topping with sliced strawberries, then top with the 2nd cake layer (leveled) and frost the top and sides of the cake.
  • Decorate with additional strawberries on top.

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