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.