Friday, February 22, 2013

Fresh Strawberry Cake

I saw this fantastic looking strawberry cake on Pinterest a couple of weeks ago and it just looked absolutely amazing.  Then I read the ingredients and the directions and I have been drooling over it ever since!

Last weekend when I went grocery shopping, I made sure that I picked up all of the ingredients that I didn't already have and last night, I MADE THE CAKE!!  All I can say is WOW!  It tastes as good as it looks.  I want to thank Brandie at The Country Cook for posting this recipe on her blog in the first place.

For the Cake

  • 1 box vanilla, white or yellow cake mix
  • 1  3 oz. box strawberry gelatin mix (Jell-O)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries (or 1 cup crushed fresh strawberries)

For the Icing

  • 1/2 block (4 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Rinse the strawberries and pat dry.  Remove the stems and dice up.

Put the strawberries into a plastic Ziploc bag and start crushing them up using a rolling pin or other heavy object.  This will take a couple of minutes.

In a large bowl,combine cake mix with the strawberry gelatin powder.  Mix until combined.

Then stir in your oil, eggs and water.

Once that is combined, add in 1 cup of your crushed strawberries.  Gently stir them in by hand.

Pour the batter into the baking dish and bake for 30-33 minutes.

Oven times do vary so to make sure that the cake is done, stick a toothpick in the center.  If it comes out clean, it is good to go.

Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.

Mix together the softened butter and softened cream cheese.  It's easiest if you have an electric mixer.  Mix until smooth, creamy and lump-free.

Mix in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and milk.  Mix until smooth and creamy.

Slather the frosting onto the cooled cake.

I used slices of fresh strawberries around the edges of the top and then grated some chocolate over the top as well.

Slice and serve.  Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers.

Meatloaf - One of Those "Comfort" Foods

My husband adores home-cooked meals.  Especially home-cooked meals that he considers to be "comfort" food.  Meals like Shepherd's Pie, Macaroni & Cheese, Hot Turkey Sandwiches, Spaghetti & Meatballs and Chicken & Dumplings.  These are the kinds of foods that he considers "comfort" food.  But one of his favorite comfort foods is Meatloaf.  He just really likes my meatloaf!

My Meatloaf is something that I have been making for years.  It's one of those things that I cook without thinking twice about what I'm doing.  I found the recipe a long time ago in a Disney World cookbook that my Mom had given me.  I'm not sure if it is even the same recipe now - in fact, I'm pretty sure that it has evolved over the years.  So when you put this together, feel free to change things around to your own liking.


  • 1 lb. Hamburger
  • 1 cup Oatmeal
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 5.5 oz. can of V-8 Juice
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Set oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine hamburger, oatmeal, salt and pepper.  Add more oats if you want more consistency.

Add the egg and V-8 juice and mix well using your hands.

Transfer mixture into a loaf pan and shape leaving moats around the inside edges of the pan for the grease to collect.

Place in the oven and bake for one hour or until thoroughly browned.  Slice & Serve :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Shrimp, Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Well . . . I'm a little late for Fat Tuesday but I saw this recipe by Emily on Clever Housewife and this is the first chance that I have had to give it a try.

I added more hot sauce than the the original recipe called for, added some leftover ground Italian Sausage that I had in my fridge, left out the chopped celery since I forgot to buy it when I was grocery shopping and I used cooked shrimp rather than raw and added it at the last moment.

My husband has always been the chef in our household.  We both worked full-time and we were raising five children along with coaching all of their sports, chauffeuring them around to various friends and activities and trying to keep some semblance of a "clean" home.  But I have always enjoyed cooking and it's time that I started doing more of it!!

So back to the dish at hand.  The prep time was fairly short and easy - the smells while cooking were amazing.   The taste was spicy and savory, and very filling!

  • 2 cups enriched white rice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless white or dark meat chicken
  • 3/4 lb. Andouille sausage, casing removed and diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • Several drops hot sauce or 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 Tbsp. (a handful) all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 (14 oz) can chicken stock or broth
  • 1 Tsp. cumin
  • 1 rounded Tsp. dark chili powder
  • 1 Tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 Tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, raw, deveined and peeled
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • Chopped scallions, for garnish
  • Fresh thyme, chopped for garnish

Cook rice to package directions.

Place a large, deep skillet over medium, high heat.  Add oil and butter to the pan.  Cube chicken and dice sausage.

Place chicken in the pan and brown 3 minutes.  Add sausage and cook 2 minutes more.

Add onion, celery, pepper, bay leaf and cayenne.  Saute vegetables 5 minutes.  Sprinkle flour over the pan and cook 1-2 minutes more, until you have a kind of a roux.

Stir in tomatoes and broth and season with cumin, chili powder, poultry seasoning and Worcestershire sauce.

Bring liquids to a boil.

Add shrimp and simmer 5 minutes.

Ladle jambalaya into shallow bowls.  Place a scoop of rice on to the center of each bowl of jambalaya.  Sprinkle dishes with salt, pepper, chopped scallions and thyme leaves.  Add more hot sauce if more spice is desired.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baked Tilapia with Shrimp Stuffing

I was looking for something to cook for dinner this evening and found some frozen Tilapia in my freezer and a bag of large, uncooked shrimp.  I Googled these two ingredients (it's amazing how you can Google just about anything these days!) and found a recipe for Baked Tilapia with Shrimp Stuffing that I thought sounded good.  I didn't have all of the required ingredients but knew that I had other things I could substitute instead.

I found the recipe on Spark Recipes and this particular recipe is from a member named APPLECRUMBLES.


  • 1.5 fluid oz. Lemon Juice (or use juice of 1/2 a lemon)
  • 10 Large Shrimp, cooked (chopped small)
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Scallions (green onion), raw, chopped
  • 2 c. Fresh Spinach, chopped
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese, grated
  • 4 Pieces ( 4 oz. each) Tilapia filets
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
  • Panko Bread Crumbs (I added this ingredient)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Squeeze/Sprinkle lemon juice over Tilapia and set aside.

Peel the shrimp and chop into small pieces.

Heat the Olive Oil in a saute pan over medium, high heat.  Add the chopped green onion, garlic and spinach.  Add sea salt & pepper to taste.  Toss until spinach begins to wilt . . . about 1-2 min.

In a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray or coated with olive oil, place 2 pieces of the tilapia side by side. Sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning.

Mix the chopped shrimp into the cooked spinach mixture.  Add Panko bread crumbs to the mixture to taste.  Divide the mixture in 1/2 - spreading evenly on the top of each piece of fish in the baking dish.

Place the other 2 pieces of tilapia on top of the mixture and sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp. Parmesan Cheese on top of each fish assembly.

I had mixture left over so added this to the baking dish as well and garnished each fish assembly with one shrimp.

Bake 20 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Joined Bloglovin

I have just joined Bloglovin!  Now there are even more ways to follow Notes From A New England Nana daily :)
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Quicky Supper Tonight: bite-sized BLTs

Our day begins with the alarm going off at 4:50 am and then an almost 2 hr. commute into Boston to go to work.  By the time our work day ends and my husband and I drive another almost 2 hrs. to get back home again, neither one of us feels like cooking anything for dinner. Many weeknights, we eat leftovers or throw something quick and pre-made into the microwave or the toaster oven.  Not always the best tasting or the best for us . . . but it works.

Well tonight was one of those nights.  But I had pinned this recipe for bite-sized BLTs that I found on Pinterest a few weeks ago that I have really been wanting to try and it seemed like tonight was the perfect night to give it a go!  The recipe is originally from Our Ohio by Marilou Suszko.

I love photography but food photography is pretty new to me so bear with me on the pictures!!  Plus, I wasn't sure I was going to post this so forgot to take pictures during most of my prep.


  • 24 slices soft white sandwich bread
  • 1/4 head iceberg lettuce, finely shredded (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 lb. ripe tomatoes, seeded, juiced & drained
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, cooked, drained & crumbled
  • 2-3 tbsp. good quality mayonnaise
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
        Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

        Flatten each slice of bread with a rolling pin.  Using a 2 1/2" cookie cutter, cut 1 round from each slice 
        of bread.  Tuck the rounds into mini muffin pans and bake until lightly toasted, about 6 minutes.  Cool
        for a few minutes then invert onto a baking rack and cool completely.  (These can be made up to two
        days ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.)

        In a medium bowl, combine the lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, and the mayo (enough only to bind but not
        so much that the mixture is soggy).  Season with salt and pepper.

        Fill each toasted bread cup with the mixture and serve immediately.

They really were yummy and pretty refreshing.  We actually had mixture left over so toasted up some english muffins and spread the remainder on those.  Next time, I may sprinkle some shredded cheddar on the top and pop quickly under the broiler before eating.  We'll see :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Cheesy Bake Dip: Great Super Bowl Food!

Tonight is the Super Bowl and we had hoped to be able to watch it with friends but ended up just the two of us staying at home watching it.  So making all of the yummy things that I had planned on making just didn't happen.  I did buy a nice loaf of bread to make a cheesy dip in so rather than the bread going to waste, I decided that I would make this.  This recipe for Cheesy Bake Dip is a recipe that I had found on Pinterest quite a while ago.  It originally came from Jasmine Heiler at Tried and Tasty.  Now, I'm glad that I chose that one to make because it was really good :)

Ingredients Needed:
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 16 oz. grated cheddar cheese (mild or sharp)
  • 4 oz. chopped green chilies
  • Diced green onion (to taste)
  • 1 c. chopped ham
  • 1/2 lb. chopped bacon
  • 1 round bread loaf

        Mix first seven ingredients together:

Hollow out your bread - I couldn't find a nice fresh, round loaf today so I bought a long loaf - reserving the pieces that you remove for dipping later:

Fill the hollowed out bread with the mixture:

Bake at 350 degrees uncovered for one hour:

Serve with the leftover bread or chips.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Spur of the Moment Dinner: Stuffed Pork Chops

I took inventory of what I had on hand for dinner tonight and then went searching through my Pinterest recipes - which, by the way, I have HUNDREDS of!!  I settled on a recipe for Stuffed Pork Chops which originally came from .  I was missing several of the ingredients that the recipe called for but figured that I could make substitutions that would work.  And WOW did they work!!  Dinner came out awesome.

The ingredients called for were:

  • 4 pork loin rib chops, cut 1 1/4" thick
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 tbsp. margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 tbsp. chopped pecans
  • 1/4 tsp. dried sage leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 20 Keebler Town House Original crackers
  • 1/3 cup apricot spreadable fruit
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

I only had two chops, and they were a bit thinner than 1 1/4" - but, they would work.  I didn't have dried apricots - but I did have Sun-maid Fruit Bits. The only pecans that I had were left over from Christmas and were glazed.  I didn't have any Sage but had some fresh Rosemary.  And I didn't have any apricot spreadable fruit - but I had some locally made Apple Butter.

So I started out by trimming the fat from my chops and cutting a pocket in each.

Next, I finely chopped the onion and the celery - then cooked in a medium saucepan with the butter until tender.

I chopped the fruit bits and pecans.

I chopped up the fresh Rosemary and added it to the pecans along with the pepper.

I removed my onion mixture from the heat and stirred in the fruit, pecans, Rosemary and pepper. The crackers came next.  I put approx. 20 crackers into a zip-lock bag and crushed them coarsely.  The crackers were then mixed into the onion mixture too.  Ummmm - the smell at this point was wonderful!

I stuffed the pocket of each of my chops with the onion mixture and secured with toothpicks. The chops were then placed on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and baked, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.

While the chops were baking, I mixed 1/3 cup of Apple Butter and a teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce.

When the chops were just about done, I spooned this mixture over the top of the chops and continued to cook for another five minutes.

I served the chops with some of the remaining stuffing on the side.  My husband loved it :)


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Valentine's Day . . . From Third Century to Present Day

Fun, Facts & Food to Celebrate the Day!!

Valentine’s Day - the Feast of Saint Valentine - such a light-hearted and good-spirited holiday.

Valentine’s Day began as a church celebration of a third century Roman saint by the name of Valentinus who died on an ancient Roman road over the Apennine Mountains.  History isn’t even sure if there is only one St. Valentine or two of the same name.  Legend has it that St. Valentine was imprisoned for “performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire”.  It is said that while in prison, St. Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer and that before he was executed, he wrote, “from your Valentine” as a farewell.  St. Valentine was buried on February 14th – the day that we now know as Valentine’s Day.

Not until the High Middle Ages and into the 15th Century did this celebration become associated with “romance” . . . which originates with the “medieval ideal of chivalry.”  The romantic writings of Chaucer inspired the whole idea of Valentine’s Day being a holiday symbolized by love, hearts, doves and Cupid.

Medieval Period, English Renaissance, Modern Times – all brought more and more symbols and traditions of our present Valentine’s Day.  Discover all of the fascinating details by going to Wikipedia at's_Day to learn more.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, this post will accent the many traditions that have developed over the years and provide fun things to see, do or make – all relating to Valentine’s Day.

Bursting with L♥VE: Felt Heart M&M's Holder - from Lolly Jane

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve - from Country Living

Valentine's Crispy Treats - from Cookies & Cups

Cinnamon Swirl Cream Cheese Mints - from Barbara Bakes

Blowing Kisses Valentine Treat Bags - from Polkadots and Puppies

Valentine's Day Word Fun - found on Pinterest board by Church House Collection

Strawberry 2 Ingredient Fudge - from Cookies and Cups

Valentine Throw Pillow - from Diary of a Quilter

Valentine's Day Sensory Sink - from My Nearest And Dearest

Valentine 5-Layer Finger Jello - from The Food Librarian

DE-LISH Neopolitan Cupcakes - from i{heart}2stamp via

I Dig You Valentines - from Fry Family

Valentine's Day Countdown - from Curbly

Valentine Bingo - from Makoodle

Valentine Cupid Foot from Gallamore West

Strawberry Heart Oreos - from Thirty Handmade Days

Top Romantic Movies for Valentine's - from Better Homes and Gardens

Devil's Food Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies - from Sally's Baking Addiction

Valentine Pencil Tops - from at Second street

So enjoy the fun of Valentine's Day.  And remember, Valentine's Day is not just about falling in love with someone and being romantic, it is also love of yourself, love of the people around you, love of the Earth that we live on, love of being alive.  I read where someone said that February 14th should be thought of as "Appreciation of Love" day.  I like that idea.

"We should appreciate the love that surrounds us; we should share the love that lies within us and we should treasure the love that is given to us. The hearts I have broken in the past taught me to never settle for less and always go for what you want in life. The people who broke my heart taught me how to mend one.  Most importantly, Valentine’s Day should be a day where we are grateful for the people who taught us how to love."  -  by Jermel-Lynn Quillopo / Special to the Star-Advertiser