SavoryGirl’s Strawberry Shortcake

Ok, full disclosure...I re-post this every year now...but it's so yummy and the strawberries at the Farmer's Market are so amazing at this time of year that I just can't help myself. I don't want any of you to miss out on this delicious, easy homemade summer dessert!  I also just made it for my quarterly team meeting this week and it got gobbled up by all 20+ of them so quickly that it reminded me of what a crowd pleaser it is...easy breezy for a picnic. Nothing says summer like strawberry shortcake! I grew up eating those little sponge cakes you buy at the store with cool whip but over the years I've developed a completely homemade strawberry shortcake recipe that I absolutely adore. It's super easy and well worth the tiny bit of extra effort over store brought. My recipe below makes enough for about 8 servings...and once you try it, you'll never go back to the store bought version again!

Berries: 3 baskets of fresh, ripe strawberries 2 tsp. sugar

Quarter strawberries into a medium sized bowl...if they're larger strawberries cut into sixths or eighths. Sprinkle with sugar, stir, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is called macerating...the sugar softens the berries and pulls the juices out of the berries so that you get a nice natural sauce along with your berries.  Add a bit of good balsamic vinegar and/or thinly sliced basil if you're feeling playful.
Ligurian Pesto & Pasta Making Night!

Ligurian Pesto & Pasta Night

While I haven't been cooking as much as I like to lately, when I do have time to cook I'm trying to make the most of it. There is nothing I enjoy more than opening a bottle of wine, putting on some music and making homemade pasta. And that's exactly what I did last weekend!

It makes me feel connected to my Italian roots and think back to the amazing two trips I've taken to Italy. I'm fortunate enough to have actually visited the Ligurian region of Italy and enjoy truly authentic Ligurian Pesto while there...so I'm excited to bring a taste of that amazing vacation back home with this recipe! Since heirloom tomatoes are in season right now (along with all of that basil I needed for the pesto!) I tossed some chopped tomatoes into this dish to brighten it up a bit. Sometimes pesto can feel a bit indulgent with all of that olive oil and cheese. Add a glass of Pinot Grigio and you have a happy Italian SavoryGirl!

The pesto recipe that I used can be found here.  I typically use the pasta recipe right in my Kitchen Aid manual, but this is a pretty similar recipe.  Mangia!
Homemade Pasta

Homemade Pasta

It's been years since I've bought dried pasta.  That may sound impressive, but when you try to make it yourself once and see how easy and delicious it is I promise that you'll be making your own pasta too.  The trick is that you need a pasta roller...it can be a hand roller or an attachment to a fancy kitchen aid.  In my opinion, the latter is well worth the investment.  Back to the pasta...the great thing about pasta is you pretty much always have the ingredients you need to make it in the house.  Flour, eggs and water.  That's pretty much it!  Give it a quick mix and knead and then roll it out and your ready to cook.  We often make double batches of the dough and freeze it in single serving sizes so we can quickly thaw and roll it out with even less work for future dinners.  The difference between dried pasta and fresh pasta is amazing...try it yourself, you'll see!

Mom’s Vegetarian Lasagna

Mom's Vegetarian Lasagna

This is one of the first meals that Christian's mom made that I absolutely fell in love with...so after watching her make it a couple of times I've created the recipe below.  It's healthy in terms of being vegetarian, but it is heavy on the Alfredo sauce and cheese...so not that healthy.  Hence the yumminess!

The original recipe calls for topping the lasagna with herb  feta cheese, but over the years we've decided that we like it better the traditional way so we just put lots more mozzarella on top.  We also always make our own lasagna noodles vs. buying store bought...which means no pre-cooking of the lasagna noodles required!  That was always one of the biggest pains of lasgna to me...cooking the noodles, then keeping them moist enough while you layer so they don't all get stuck together but also waiting long enough so your not burning your hands.  Issues!  So homemade noodles are the way to go in my opinion...preferably wheat.
Cocktail Animals…My Own Little Dose of Happiness
My Newest Little Cocktail Animals!

My Newest Little Cocktail Animals!

I haven't seen a cocktail animals in years...and honestly, haven't thought about them for years either.  Until the other day when I found myself at Kona Club tiki bar in Oakland with some friends and my drink came served to me with a little plastic pink elephant alongside the required paper umbrella.  Surprisingly, the sight of this cocktail animal stopped me in my tracks and immediately brought me back to childhood.  Yes childhood.  No, I wasn't an underage drunk and my parents weren't big drinkers either.  So what gives?  And then it hit me...as a child my mom had this big metal cookie tin (a red animal crackers one I believe!) just filled to the brim with every colorful cocktail animal and adornment you could imagine.  Blue monkey?  Of course!  Green lion?  Tens of them!  Red mermaid? Definitely.  Wow did I love playing with that tin of cocktail animals as a child...likely having no idea what they were really for until I got older and started hanging them from our glasses around the dinner table for fun.
Cocktail Animals in their Native Setting

Cocktail Animals in their Native Setting

So as I sat in that dark tiki bar...a lifetime removed from lying on the floor in my parents living room playing with a tin of cocktail animals it stuck me.  Sometimes the greatest joys in life are about the littlest details.  As I sipped on my tropical drink the fact that there was a yellow giraffe partially poking me in the face (ok, ok...I was on drink two and had moved on from the pink elephant) brought my intense joy.  Because it triggered such a simple, happy memory that I didn't even know I had.  So much so that I continued to play with and think about those cocktail animals for the rest of my Sunday and they continue to happily sit perched on the bar in my kitchen as I type.  Ah, the simple things.

So next time you're having a party or even just feeling festive (or the opposite and need some cheering up!), try adding a few cocktail animals to your drink and enjoy your own little dose of happiness. Tropical tiki drinks entirely optional.

Now to go pester my mom to see if she still has that tin of cocktail animals...I need to grow my budding happiness collection!
Chicken & Chickpea Stew

I love chickpeas, soups and pretty much anything spicy...so seeing that this dish has all three going on it's really no surprise that it's one of my favorite winter dishes. It's one of those rustic dishes that kind of tastes like home, no matter where you're from.  Super simple ingredients, relatively easy preparation and delicious. One thing to note though...I would consider this more of a soup than a stew because the broth is thin, but since it's served over bread I've stuck with calling it stew.

The original recipe, shown below, is from the Bon Appétit February 2012 issue and I've pretty much been making it consistently since then. Usually when I share recipes here I like to share my own adaptions that I think make them even better, but to be honest this one is so good in it's original form that it's pretty much identical to what you'll find here on the Bon Appétit website.

Two changes I do usually make though;  I double the recipe below since it only makes about 4 servings and I roast my own peppers instead of buying pre-roasted peppers. Roasting your own peppers is so easy, cheap and makes your house smell so good that I strongly recommend it. As long as you have a gas stove you can follow my tutorial for how to do it included in this recipe...and then I promise, you'll never pay a premium for roasted red peppers again!

Clafouti

We just made about our 5th clafouti of the summer when I suddenly realized that I haven’t yet shared this favorite with all of you!  If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating a clafouti it’s kind of a cross between a custard and a cake and is simply delicious.

There are two reasons we love the clafouti so much in our house (besides how fun it is to say!)...the first is because it is one of the fastest and easiest desserts you can possibly make and you often have all of the ingredients in the house, meaning you can even whip it up on a weeknight or if guests surprise you!  The second reason we love it is because the mild vanilla, cinnamon and lemon flavors are so versatile that it works with almost any fruit you have on hand...especially summer fruit like berries, Italian plums, figs or cherries (the traditional fruit of choice).  Versatile, easy and beautiful to serve, what more could you ask for?  Gotta love those French bakers!
Roasted Rapini & Tomatoes

This is our absolutely favorite side veggie dish and if you've been following my menus at all you probably already know that!  You've seen roasted rapini and tomatoes  on my weekly menus a lot so I thought it was about time that I tell you how I make it. It's super simple and once you try it I bet it will end up as a part of your regular rotation as well. 1 large head of Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rabe) 1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes (or large tomatoes cut into small chunks) 1-2 TBS olive oil 1 tsp garlic powder salt & pepper to taste Preheat the oven to 400°F
Candy-Stripe Beet & Carrot Slaw

 

This is a Bon Appétit recipe that we discovered last summer and totally forgot about until recently. It's so simple and delicious that now that we've rediscovered it it will become a regular part of our summer rotation so I thought I would share it here for others to enjoy.

The most labor intensive part of the recipe is julienning the beets and carrots, but if you're like me and you find chopping kind of soothing and relaxing you won't mind it. If you're not like me and even if you're not super handy with a knife it only takes 20 minutes max. Oh, and if that's the case, a quick definition -  julienne means to cut into small match-stick shaped pieces.
SavoryGirl’s Strawberry Shortcake

Ok, full disclosure...I am committing a major blogger faux pas here.  I'm re-posting something from last August...but it's so yummy and the strawberries at the Farmer's Market are so amazing right now that I just couldn't help myself. I don't want any of you to miss out on this delicious, easy homemade summer dessert. Nothing says summer like strawberry shortcake! I grew up eating those little sponge cakes you buy at the store with cool whip but over the years I've developed a completely homemade strawberry shortcake recipe that I absolutely adore. It's super easy and well worth the tiny bit of extra effort over store brought. My recipe below makes enough for about 8 servings...and once you try it, you'll never go back to the store bought version again!

Berries: 3 baskets of fresh, ripe strawberries 2 tsp. sugar

Quarter strawberries into a medium sized bowl...if they're larger strawberries cut into sixths or eighths. Sprinkle with sugar, stir, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for a minimum of 30 minutes. This is called macerating...the sugar softens the berries and pulls the juices out of the berries so that you get a nice natural sauce along with your berries.