Party time!!! Considering we're still in the pandemic, my intro may be a stretch... But, it was still a great day, albeit calorie-ridden!
It was all about the Hubby today! We drove to Victoria and had our first indoor meal at a restaurant together since the beginning of the pandemic. The Pumphouse Restaurant offers great food and atmosphere, and safety precautions were in place.
After lunch, we did a little furniture shopping, as hubby is in the market for a new chair, and then headed home so Gary could enjoy a birthday nap.
The dinner of his choosing consisted of a One-Pot Wonder pasta dish, homemade sourdough bread, and a fresh Strawberry Cake.
There are many recipes for a One-Pot Wonder, and this super-easy one is mine:
Italian sausage (I used hot and removed the casings)
1 package linguine
1 package mushrooms
1 zucchini (cut into chunks)
3 cups baby spinach
1 can diced tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp basil
1/2 red onion
6 cups chicken stock
salt to taste
Saute onions and sausage until fully cooked. Add garlic, basil, tomatoes, and stock. Bring to a boil. Add linguine, mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach. Cook for 10 to 11 minutes. Top with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Artisan Sourdough Bread
I don't remember where I originally found this recipe, but I've made it so many times that I've committed it to memory.
1/2 tsp Rapid Rise Yeast
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour
Mix the yeast, sugar, and water together. Let it sit for approximately 5 minutes to allow the yeast time to bloom. Add the salt and flour. Mix well. The dough will look pretty messy, but that's normal. Cover with cling wrap, and let it sit for 12 -24 hours. No kneading is required.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with the covered baking pan inside. Spray your pan or line with parchment paper. When the oven is heated, carefully remove the pan and drop in your dough. Don't burn yourself!!! Replace the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
This bread is very crusty, and I find it easier to cut with the bottom side facing up.
Homemade Strawberry Cake
I found this gem at Sally's Baking Addiction, and it's the bomb! Thanks, Sally!!! You can find Sally's original recipe here: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/strawberry-cake/
I made the strawberry puree a day ahead of the cake so it would have plenty of time to reduce on the stove and cool down.
Puree 1 pound of fresh or frozen strawberries (I used frozen).
Reduce down on the stove (this took extra time because of the moisture content in the frozen strawberries).
Let cool. I refrigerated the puree overnight.
5 large egg whites
1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used fat-free Greek yogurt)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk (I used buttermilk)
1/2 cup reduced strawberry puree
2 and 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, spray two 9" round cake pans, and line bottoms with parchment paper. Beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until creamed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the egg whites on high speed until combined (about 2 minutes). Mix in the sour cream (or yogurt) and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed until just combined. With the mixer running on low, slowly pour in the milk and mix until combined. Mix in 1/2 cup of reduced strawberry puree. Stir in food coloring, if desired. (I didn't use any.)
Pour batter evenly into cake pans, and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in pans on a wire rack.
Strawberry Buttercream Frosting
1 cup freeze-dried strawberries (I used my remaining strawberry puree instead.)
one 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1–2 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until combined. Add the confectioners’ sugar, strawberry powder (or puree), 1 Tablespoon milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy. If needed, add 1 more Tablespoon of milk to slightly thin out. (If I were feeling particularly indulgent, I think I would double the frosting recipe.)
Assemble, frost, and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. Delicious!!!
The birthday boy was quite content with his birthday meal, and his day was topped off with a win by the Astros! Game 7 is tonight! Woohoo!! (Wink, wink.)
Wishing you joy on this beautiful Saturday morning, and please remember that kindness has the power to change the world!