Sunday, April 22, 2012

Family First

This weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with family members that I haven’t seen for a very long time.  In fact, I think that it’s been 4 years since we’d all been in the same room together last.  In honor of this landmark event, I made a new dessert of my own creation: Strawberry White Chocolate Tea Cakes.
Basically, I was just looking for a creative way to use a box of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Strawberry Supreme Cake Mix.  I was inspired by a few posts I’d seen on Pinterest (one for tea cakes and one for candied strawberries), and I thought I would add my own personal twist.


*1 box strawberry cake mix and ingredients listed on box
*White chocolate chips or Hershey Bliss White Chocolate Meltaways
*Cupcake wrappers

*3 ½ cups powdered sugar
*1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
*4 tbsp. sweetened condensed milk
*1 tbsp. vanilla

*¼ light cup corn syrup
*2 cups sugar
*1 cup water
*Straw­ber­ries (about 12)
*Wax paper

Combine the ingredients for the cupcakes and either mix in ½ bag of white chocolate chips or stick 1 white chocolate meltaway in the center vertically.  Either way, only fill the cupcakes approximately – ¾ full.  Bake at 325° for 25 minutes.  An alternative to the strawberry cake mix would be using a white (not angel food) cake mix with 1 can of strawberry soda and 3 egg whites).
Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar, butter, condensed milk, and vanilla for the frosting. 
While the frosting is softening, rinse and dry the strawberries thoroughly.  Cut berries in half lengthwise.  Bring corn syrup, sugar, and water to boil over medium-high heat.  Have a cooking thermometer on hand that reads up to 300°.  Stir the mixture only until ingredients are dissolved (this will happen by the time you reach 100°).  Then, resist the urge to stir any more no matter how much it boils to avoid crystallization.  My stove only allowed me to bring the temperature up to 225°, but the optimal temperature is 295°.  When the mixture reaches your target heat, remove the pot from the burner immediately and begin dipping the strawberries individually with the skewers.  Lay out to cool on wax paper.  See for the original recipe.
When your cupcakes have cooled completely, apply the frosting with a piping bag or use an all purpose spreader.  Place a candied strawberry half on top and secure with a toothpick if needed.
You may refrigerate prior to serving, but this is not necessary.  If the finished product looks like this, you can pat yourself on the back.
Since we went out to eat on Friday and my parents hosted dinner Saturday, I had to save the cooking at home for Sunday.  We opted for another meal with planned leftovers because it’s going to be a very busy week for us… Well, at least for me.  I decided to make Chicken & Rice Casserole.  This is another hybrid meal featuring a little of my mom and the mom-in-law.


*1 ½ lbs. chicken tenders or breasts
*1 can cream of chicken soup
*1 can cream of celery soup
*2 cups milk
*1 pkg. Lipton onion soup mix
*Salt and pepper to taste
*2 cups instant rice

Combine the canned soups, milk, salt and pepper.  You can choose to either use ½ of the dry soup packet, or you can sift the powdered portion into your sauce and discard the large pieces.  I prefer to use the powder for seasoning because the larger pieces don’t tend to get very tender with this method.
Place chicken in the bottom of a greased 9x13” casserole dish.  Spread sauce mixture over the top.  Bake covered at 350°for 45 minutes. 
When this time has elapsed, remove the chicken and add 2 cups of rice to the sauce.  I used 1 cup of each white and brown rice to try to be a little healthier.  Combine thoroughly as not to leave any dry rice.  Place the chicken back on top of the rice mixture and bake covered for 15 more minutes.
You should wind up with something like this.
An unfortunate result of having most of my extended family live almost 600 miles away is that their visits are few and far between.  I’ll gladly take any time I can get with them though, and I hope that we can rectify that issue in the near future.  It’s been entirely too long since I’ve gotten to see all of the people I love in the same place at the same time. 
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other highlight of our weekend.  Our Blues clinched the series against the Sharks!  I can’t begin to tell you how excited we are to see our other favorite St. Louis team earn their way to post season victory this year!  LET’S GO BLUUUES!!!
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