Thursday, April 24

Berry Cake with Ginger Crumble

It is most definitely berry season, and I am excited to say this time next year, we'll be living in Florida - aka Berry Mecca! We are moving to Tampa the first of June; Not too far from the state's renowned Strawberry Festival, YUM!

As time is flying by, and I am just trying my best to take in all the wonderful things here in Arkansas while I can. Not everyone can say this, but I am proud to admit I LOVE my job. The elementary school where I have worked the past three years is top-notch to say the least. There I have found the most lovely people who, each and everyday, mold and shape me in the most positive ways. For their presence in my life, forever I will be grateful!

In case you didn't already know it's the office ladies at any school that make-or-break its atmosphere. We have been more than blessed with an amazing office staff at our school, and I am totally going to cry shamelessly when it comes to saying my good-byes to these girls. They have truly made my work place feel like a family. This week we had the opportunity to celebrate their dedication and show our appreciation as part of administrative assistants' day! (Just for the record, the term "administrative assistant"does not do their job duties justice).

I didn't have much time after school to bake for our potluck, but I knew this recipe would fit well into the quick, easy, weeknight theme I've taken to cooking this month. Although, it certainly wasn't as big a hit as Mrs. Capps famous brownies (NEVER have I EVER eaten brownies as good as hers), or Mrs. Nash's incredible peach cobbler (her dish was scraped so clean I wondered if crack was her secret ingredient), I do believe it held its own among these two potluck queens and their incredible desserts. 

The recipe is from a cookbook I've been enjoying the past year called Vintage Cakes (available at Anthropologie) by Julie Richardson. Her baking tips and frosting pointers are some of the best I've ever read! The cookbook starts out with super simple cakes and works it's way up to more complicated ones. This particular cake is in the section titled "hasty cakes" with another one of my favorites, the Ozark Pudding Skillet Cake. Others I have made with fabulous success include the Kentucky Bourbon Bundt cake and Texas Sheet Cake; Both delicious and incredibly easy. 

For me, the ginger crumble elevates this cake from Betty Crocker's berry sheet cake (circa 1945), while still retaining its traditional feel. However, if you prefer, I am sure the cake would be just as delicious even if you can't get your hands on any candied ginger at the moment.


1lb (about 6 cups) berries (left whole if small, otherwise sliced)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs vanilla

For the topping:

1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup diced candied ginger
4 tbs unsalted butter cut into small cubes

For the cake: 

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into small cubes
2 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk

Start by centering your oven rack, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss together your berries of choice (I used raspberries and blackberries, but adding blueberries would be great, too) with the sugar and vanilla. Set them aside at room temperature while you prepare the cake.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour, and candied ginger in a small bowl. Blend the butter into the dry ingredients, using either your fingers or a fork, until the mixture forms crumbs. Then, put the topping int he freezer while you mix the cake batter. 


To make the cake, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt in a large bowl or using your stand mixer.  Add the butter cubes a few at a time, whisking as you go, until completely incorporated into the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together your eggs and milk, then stir them into the dry ingredients until just combined. 


Spread the batter into your buttered pan (2 1/2 quart dish or 9 inch square cake pan). Evenly distribute the sugared berries (and juice) on top of the batter. Then, scatter the chilled ginger crumble topping over the berries. 

Place the dish in the center of your oven, and bake until the berries bubble and the cake is firm, about 40-45 minutes. Some places where the crumble topping has melted may still look buttery, but that's just fine.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for 30 minutes and serve warm. 

This cake will keep for 2 days or so. If serving the next day, I recommend placing a cookie sheet over the dish after it's cooled for at least 2 hours to avoid moisture collecting and making the topping mushy. Only after the cake has cooled completely (overnight or for 5-6 hours) will you want to wrap with plastic or foil.

Monday, April 14


Sukiyaki originates from the Japanese words Suki, meaning "to slice thinly", and Yaki, "to fry, boil, sear." The word itself describes the process that takes place when making this delicious hot pot. I could be wrong, but to me hot pots are to Japan what chicken noodle soup is to Americans. You may find slight variations in methods and ingredients, but all-in-all they seem to be one of the most beloved comfort foods of the nation. Of course, this may in part be due to how easy and affordable they are to make, and did I mention it's a one-pot dish? Simple, straightforward, and great for a weeknight meal.

I first fell in love with the idea of making hot pots when I read the fantastic poem, Sukiyaki by Linda Parsons Marion. Her poem was featured in the Knoxville Writer's Guild anthology, A Tapestry of Voices in 2010. They way she used food to describe her experience with marriage and divorce certainly struck a cord with me personally that year. 

In 2013 Linda's poem won first place in a contest on a blog I've grown to love, Eat This Poem. It wasn't until then that I sat down and decided to learn more about this lovely dish. With the help from this post by White on Rice Couple, I've been making hot pots to sooth our soul during the cold months and treat our seasonal allergies through spring ever since.

Saturday night I was able to share my love of hot pots with my perfect mother who we had over for dinner. The recipe is so simple that I started it 10 minutes before she arrived, and we were sitting down to eat less than 30 minutes later. Although we don't include the mushrooms that are traditionally in hot pots, the results are always delicious.  


1 lb. beef steak (we prefer well marbled Ribeye or Sirloin)
6 Shallots (thinly sliced)
1/2 lb. Napa cabbage (sliced at an angle)
4-6 green onions (chopped)
2 cups sake (cooking sherry can be substituted if it's Sunday and you live in the South)
1/2 cup soy sauce 
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable broth (optional)
1 cup of arugula


I start by slicing my shallots and cabbage, then set them to the side to use later. Then I trim any fat off my beef, and proceed with slicing the beef thinly into 1/4 - 1/2 inch even strips. Heat your dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot on medium heat, and toss in your fat trimmings to render some grease. Remove the trimmings, then place beef slices uniformly in the bottom of your pot flipping them until cooked evenly on both sides. 


Once your beef has browned move it to one side of your pot. Add your sliced shallots, cabbage, and chopped onions followed by the sake, soy sauce, sugar, and vegetable broth. Cover your pot for about 10 minutes then stir ingredients together. You may chose to let them cook 5-10 more minutes for flavors to incorporate well. Toss in your arugula 1-2 minutes before you remove from the heat. 

Sukiyaki is served in the pot your prepared it in. Traditionally eggs are beaten and ingredients are enjoyed after being dipped in the egg, however we simply ladle ours over rice. 


You can read the poem, Sukiyaki on the Eat This Poem blog, but I truly suggest treating yourself to a copy of A Tapestry of Voices. It's available on kindle and kindle apps for only $2.99 through Amazon.

Until next time, Enjoy!

Saturday, April 12

Shrimp and Artichoke Linguine

Hello again! I know it's been a few weeks since my last post, but let me tell you... life is certainly rocking and rolling around here. Living in the fast lane at work and at home has meant I've had little time to capture what's been going on in the kitchen. Anddd what's been going on hasn't been too blog worthy. Think cheese, bread, pasta, rice, and sandwiches - basics I try to keep around for quick bites on the run. 

One upsetting thing about how busy I've been this spring is all the great produce I am missing out on - artichokes for starters. I had even bought some with big plans to steam and then fry the hearts, but alas I ended up having to throw them out (which I hate admitting). With fresh Mediterranean food on my mind, I threw together this quick pasta inspired by a recipe my mom made for me growing up. Sam has requested it more than once since then, and really it's quite light and springy even for pasta.

Last night was our first night at home in over a week. As I was running to the store for more parmesan and some fresh shrimp, I thought to myself.... just do it, go ahead and blog it. As much as I love an all day affair in the kitchen, I am going to try to start featuring a few more of my favorite quick and easy, anytime meals over the next couple months.

Pantry staples are really what quick and easy boils down too. Most of these ingredients you probably keep around the kitchen on a regular basis, but jars of artichoke hearts are something I start picking up in march and wane when fall hits. Whether it's a dip you want to throw together or a simple pasta, artichokes from a jar really aren't that bad. I do avoid the canned variety though, as I have found even the higher quality, more expensive varieties tend to have a slight metallic taste.  

This recipe makes two large servings and will take you about 30 minutes, shrimp peeling and all! 


1lb Fresh Shrimp (we like the big ones, but any size will do just adjust cooking time)
8oz of linguine noodles
1/4 cup of olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
1-2 teaspoons of red pepper
1/4 cup of white wine (or just enough to keep things from sticking)
12oz Jar of quartered, marinated Artichoke Hearts (drained)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
Plenty of parmesan


Start by getting your pasta water boiling, then peeling your shrimp. Once your shrimp is peeled, heat the olive oil in your saute pan, add garlic, shrimp, salt, and red pepper. Cook on medium to high heat until your garlic starts to brown and the shrimp is warm throughout, about five minutes. While the shrimp is cooking add your pasta to your salted, boiling water. 

Then, pour in your white wine to the shrimp and garlic, stirring well to coat and to keep them from sticking (1/4 cup may be more than you'll really need). Next, you'll toss in the drained artichokes. I use the end of whatever utensil I am using to stir to try and separate the artichoke hearts because we don't like them in huge chunks. Keep stirring until shrimp and artichokes are well incorporated. Remove from heat, and squeeze over the juice from one lemon then add parmesan. 

Simple as that!