My cousins were my first friends and the ones I call now with good or bad news. They are the people I want to celebrate holidays, weddings, and births. They are the ones that help me get through hard times. Branches from the same tree, our roots run deep. They are also the ones I turn to when I need a new recipe.
With a blog and weekly newspaper article, sometimes I struggle for a new recipe. There are weeks when every new recipe I test is horrible! Then some weeks are just crazy busy when I do not touch a pot or pan for days! That’s when my cousins come through for me and give me a recipe that I have completely forgotten about or that they have made over and over and I trust will be wonderful.
This weeks recipe is compliments of my cousin, Nancy, who got the recipe from my cousin, Lori. This Butter Pecan cake was incredibly easy and delicious. This cake begins with a cake mix and with the addition of pecan coconut frosting, and a few other ingredients, the cake is super moist. This recipe makes two loaves, and they freeze well.
Butter Pecan Cake
- 1 box Butter Pecan cake mix
- 1 container Pecan Coconut Frosting
- 4 lg. eggs
- 1 c. milk
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- ¼ c. chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease and flour two loaf pans, set aside.
- Using an electric mixer on low, combine the cake mix, frosting, egg, milk, and oil until blended. Add the pecans and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.
- Pour into prepared loaf pans and bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
I have never met a cupcake that I didn’t like! Strawberry cakes were my favorite flavor as a kid. However, now I’m not sure I could pick between strawberry and chocolate. Lemon could probably be thrown into that mix too. I love them all! Cupcakes are the perfect dessert for a crowd. I love to serve them without the worry of cutting and serving. They are always eaten too, seldom do I have extra cupcakes left. I like it like that because I do not like to take home food from dinners and get-togethers.
I know, it’s probably crazy. After all, I eat the food at the gatherings. I have this mental thing about taking it back home and eating it, though. I feel like the food that has been setting out at the gathering just isn’t very clean after multiple people have walked past it, looked over it, many may have even touched it. I generally just toss it in the trash if I have extra.
Enough about my pet peeves, though, let’s talk about these wonderful strawberries and cream cupcakes. They start with a cake mix and couldn’t be easier! The addition of pureed strawberries makes these cupcakes extra special. Topped with the creamy, luscious cream cheese frosting, your friends and family will go wild over these.
Strawberries and Cream Cupcakes
- 1 box white cake mix or French Vanilla cake mix
- 1 (3.4-oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
- ½ c. water
- ½ c. sour cream, room temperature
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- 3 lg. eggs, room temperature
- ½ tsp. strawberry extract
- 1 (15.5-oz.) container sliced strawberries in sugar, drained well, reserve juice and puree the berries in a blender
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.
- Combine cake mix, pudding mix, water, sour cream, oil, and eggs in the bowl of mixer. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add extract and pureed berries and mix just until blended.
- Scoop batter into prepared pan, filling about ¾ full.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cupcakes spring back with lightly pressed with finger. Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely. Frost with completely cooled.
Cream Cheese Frosting for Strawberry Cupcakes
- 1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. strawberry extract
- 3 to 4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
- some reserved strawberry juice, optional
- Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer for 2 minutes, until fluffy and completely blended.
- Add vanilla and strawberry extracts. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. If frosting is too thick you can add reserved strawberry juice, adding 1 tbsp. at a time, to reach spreading consistency.
- Spread or pipe onto cupcakes.
Independence day will be celebrated a little differently this year at the Melton house. Instead of the typical grilling we are planning a fish fry. Greg and Wes went deep sea fishing in Florida recently, and we have grouper, snapper, and wahoo in the freezer.
We seldom fry because I don’t like the splattering mess that it creates. However, Greg will set up the fryer outside, and we will be in business. With delicious Vidalia onions in season, I plan to cut up a few so that we can have these terrific Crispy Onion Rings too!
The coating is light, crispy, and fabulous. Savannah even said these onion rings were better than The Varsity, and I must agree! They fry up very fast and can be kept warm in a 200° F oven.
Crispy Onion Rings
- 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
- 2 to 3 large Vidalia onions, cut crosswise into ½-inch rings
- 2 tsp. kosher salt, more for sprinkling
- 3 to 4 c. club soda, chilled
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- ⅓ c. cornstarch
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the cornstarch, baking powder, and 2 tsp. kosher salt. Whisk in 3 cups club soda until the batter is smooth. Add more club soda, about 1 tbsp. at a time, until the mixture is the consistency of thin pancake batter. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil to 380°F. Dip 8 onion rings in the batter, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Fry the onion rings in the hot oil over high heat, turning occasionally, until golden and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining onion rings and batter and serve hot or warm.
While writing this article, I decided to do a little research about Memorial Day. Honestly, I am not sure I’ve ever understood the difference in Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day until now. Memorial Day is among our oldest holidays, originally conceived in the aftermath of the Civil War. It is a time to remember and honor those who have fallen in service to our country. As it turns out there is quite a bit of controversy about Memorial Day. More than I care to get into but much can be found on the internet, if you are interested. If I could make two suggestions, the first would be to read this article by a former Navy pilot http://observer.com/2015/05/its-perfectly-ok-to-say-happy-memorial-day/ and watch this video on the lone Marine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTPmcp-ZGWQ.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, many will be gathering with friends and family. Anything that can be cooked on a grill will most likely be prepared that day. Many ribs, hamburgers, and hot dogs will be cooked. Potato salad and homemade ice cream will be in abundance!
Greg is typically in charge of the grilling on big cookout days at the Melton house while I am in charge of all other food, including appetizers, sides, and desserts. Doesn’t seem quite fair does it? It’s a good thing I enjoy being in the kitchen!
I am always looking for a new dish or two to throw into the mix. This year I plan to serve this delicious Vera Stewart recipe for Confetti Pasta Salad. Made with fresh spinach and dill, grape tomatoes, and lemon juice the flavor is light and will pair great with the other dishes you will serve this Memorial Day. Considering that many dishes will have to be prepared, the ease of this recipe is also quite appealing.
Confetti Pasta Salad
- For the Salad:
- 8-oz. uncooked small to medium shell pasta
- 2 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach
- ¼ c. finely chopped onions
- 1 (4-oz.) pkg. crumbled feta cheese
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
- For the Vinaigrette:
- ¼ c. fresh lemon juice
- 1 lg. garlic clove, pressed
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
- For the vinaigrette, combine lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Slowly whisk in oil until combined.
- Toss pasta with tomatoes and remaining ingredients, including vinaigrette. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours.