Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread


I'm not going to lie to you.  I eat batter.  Lots of it.  I don't care if it has raw eggs and could poison me.  If I'm making chocolate chip cookies and take the time to mix it all together, I guarantee a little bit is going into some Tupperware for me to eat later when the kids go to bed.

This recipe - strawberry cream cheese bread - was one of many pins I pinned this summer.  I know someone who makes strawberry bread that I like but now that I think about it, I don't believe there are any actual strawberries in it.  I think it is just flavored and tinted pink.  I like that this recipe uses fresh berries.  But to be honest, now that I've made it, there is something else about it that I like even more:  the batter.  Holy goodness, this batter is amazing.  It's kind of like cake batter but thicker and more intense.  You need to make this just to taste the batter.

I was worried that the actual bread wouldn't be as good as the batter because I've had that happen in recipes before but this recipe did not disappoint.  I doubled the recipe and made eight mini loaves to give away as gifts and they turned out great.  My almost seven year old son said that we should just keep making this bread but try out different berries in it to see what happens.  Henry, I'm with you on that one!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 pckg. cream cheese, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt or fine sea salt, whatever you have
1 cup buttermilk
3 cups strawberries, rinsed, dried and chopped (about one pckg from the store)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray your baking pan with Pam for Baking or grease and flour it.   Cream the butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy (I would recommend using a mixer). Add the eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla. On low speed, add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until just blended.  Add buttermilk and mix until just combined.  Carefully fold in strawberries by hand.  Bake the miniloaves for approximately 40 minutes and the full size loaf for 50-60 minutes. 

*Note – This recipe reflects the fact that I doubled the original one from this website: http://www.thebakerupstairs.com/2013/01/strawberry-cream-cheese-bread.html

I wanted to make sure that I had enough bread to give away as gifts.   Also, I don’t use buttermilk for much so I wanted to use up as much of the carton as I could.  The recipe as written above makes eight mini loaves or two 9x5 loaves.

**Recipe slightly adapted from thebakerupstairs.com

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Lemon Rice Soup

Where I live in Northwest Indiana, any big event you go to at a banquet hall kicks off the meal with lemon rice soup.  This is the part of the meal you look forward to the most.  The chicken might be all gooey on top and weird looking, the potatoes cold, and the bar line long, but a hot bowl of soup with homemade rolls and butter, mmmm.  Somehow, the dining halls get it right.  My husband and I joke that starting in February, we enter “banquet season.”  We have multiple work events a few weeks apart all at the same location.  The very same location with the best soup.  No problem.  Except that about two years ago, event planners started picking the buffet option.  No more lemon rice soup.  Oh, no!

Enter my friend and coworker, Joanie.  She makes homemade soup for lunch all the time and I am forever quizzing her on what she brings.  One day, she walks in with her version of lemon rice soup.  I couldn’t believe how simple it was to throw together.  I also couldn’t believe that I had never thought to make it myself before, especially during banquet “off-season.” 

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  There is a lot of to your taste kind of direction in this recipe depending on how thick you like it or how lemony you like it.  I’ll give you my ratios and you can adjust from there.

Lemon Rice Soup

2 big cans cream of chicken soup

1 carton or big can of chicken broth – you will decide how much to use

2 cups prepared rice

Chicken (optional)

2 lemons, juiced

Open the cans of cream of chicken soup and spoon into a big pot (pasta sized, not huge).  Start adding chicken broth and stir to incorporate it. Turn the heat on so that you are heating the soup up as you are mixing it.   I add a cup and then just keep pouring it in until I get it to almost the consistency that I like.  When it is still a little bit too thick still, I add the lemon juice and stir it.  I then decide if I want to add more broth or not.  You can’t mess this up.  It’s really just a personal preference.  At this point, my soup is thinner than I like it at the end.   I add a lot of rice to mine so the rice thickens the soup.  I taste the soup as I’m making it and decide whether or not I need to add more lemon juice or more broth.  I used to add chicken to it as well but we have found that we like it better without it.  If you prefer more meat, add it in.  Once the soup is heated through, it is ready to eat.

This soup stores very well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.  I usually make a double batch of it and we eat it for a meal one night and for lunches for the next week or so.
Source: Slightly adapted from Joanie