What The Strawberry Blondes Cooked this Week 🍓

I have been traveling for work so much lately that I have had limited time to cook at home. Jon has been fending for himself in the meal department for the last few weeks and I think he was happy to have me home too. And of course Tobes loves when I am puttering around in the kitchen because inevitably something will fall on the floor for him to vacuum up!

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This week I baked a vanilla cake with mocha buttercream frosting for my Dad’s birthday. I also decided to make a chicken pot pie and a lasagna to have for lunches and dinner.

I found a classic vanilla cake recipe that you can obtain here from Food Network. I made a layer cake and followed the recipe exactly as it is stated.

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After the layers came out of the oven and cooled, I trimmed the bottom layer so the top layer would lay flat. I will admit my two layers did not come out the same width so make sure you distribute the batter evenly throughout pans. Not surprising that I was in a rush while making the cake so it explains the different sized layers.

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Next for my favorite part, the frosting! I adapted a recipe from Pioneer Woman on Food Network but added a few of my own touches to the mocha buttercream.

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Ingredients:
2 sticks of butter
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 cup kahlua
1/4 cup cold coffee

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The frosting recipe makes more than enough to frost both layers and I added chocolate sprinkles for decoration.

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My next meal was a chicken pie. We love the rotisserie chickens from Whole Foods because every week they are buy one get the second one half off. While I wish I had more time during the week to roast a chicken myself, I am happy to let Whole Foods do the work when we’re busy! I pull the chicken and use some of the breast meat and some of the thigh/drumstick meat. I had used the other chicken breasts for Jon’s chicken sandwich so the leftovers were just enough for the pie. I used 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of whole wheat flour, 2 cups of chicken stock and 1/2 cup of water to make a quick gravy for the pie. Whisk the mixture together and it usually thickens up into gravy while it’s cooking in the pie. I use pre-made pie crust for the top layer, dust it with a little whole wheat flour and lay it over the filled pie dish. Bake on 350 degrees for about 40 minutes and you have a delicious chicken pie to eat all week long!

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I also made a small lasagna. I had a tub of fat free ricotta that was going to be past its prime so I decided lasagna was a simple and quick solution. I had no boil lasagna noodles and jarred tomato sauce from Whole Foods (which is actually really really good). I had some fresh basil leftover so I mixed that into the ricotta along with about 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. I don’t think it is necessary to use egg to hold a lasagna together so I omitted it.

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Hope you enjoy this week’s lineup. We enjoyed the cake as a family in my Mom’s beautifully decorated dining room. And of course Tobes has been loving all this beautiful spring weather we have been enjoying all week.

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Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Skewers

I was heading over to my sisters for dinner last Sunday night and I needed a quick appetizer. I decided to make my easy go-to app, caprese skewers. My Gram made me this gorgeous tomato runner for my birthday and Spring is almost here so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use it!

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This is super simple to make. All you need are toothpicks, cherry or grape tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil and a bit of balsamic vinegar. I used my favorite pear balsamic glaze for these particular skewers because I wanted to add a little sweetness.

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All you need to do is add a piece of each ingredient on a toothpick and then drizzle with a bit of the balsamic before serving. A delicious and easy appetizer and a great idea when you need an app in a pinch. I cannot get enough of the vibrant colors in the tomato fabric.

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I spent the beginning of the week on a business trip in Utah and Tobes was kind enough to call me to check in. I love how he looks right at the phone 😃.

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Sweet Avery’s Chocolate Covered Pretzels

My friend has an amazing Etsy shop called Sweet Avery’s where she sells her delicious baked goods. I decided to try out the chocolate and candy covered pretzels and I was not disappointed!

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As you can see Tobes was drooling over the yummy pretzels too!

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Check out Sweet Averys on Etsy!

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Filet Mignon with Roasted Winter Vegetables

Around Valentine’s Day filet was on super sale so I figured we could splurge. Instead of mashed potatoes, I decided to make roasted veggies using what I had on hand – carrots, white turnip and potatoes.

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I diced up the potatoes, carrots and turnip and drizzled them with olive oil, thyme, rosemary and some black pepper. I baked them in a large baking dish on 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until they were tender and a few of the edges were crispy. Yum!

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I decided to attempt to create my own version of a bordelaise sauce.

The ingredients I used were:
One cup of Cabernet Sauvignon
One and a half cups of beef broth
One shallot, diced
2 tbs butter
Pinch of thyme
One bay leaf

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For the sauce, first reduce the red wine in a sauce pan for 15 minutes. Add the shallots and spices. Next add the beef broth then let it simmer for another 15 minutes. Melt in the two tablespoons of butter until well combined. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes and make sure you taste test to make sure you like the flavor. I ended up adding a bit of black pepper to mine at the end.

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For the filet, melt one tablespoon of butter in a skillet until it is hot. Season the filet with salt and pepper and sear on either side for about 3 minutes. Transfer the filet into a warmed baking dish and place into a 350 degree oven for another 5-6 minutes.

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Enjoy this delicious meal with a nice glass of wine. Hope you enjoy!

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I gave Tobes a haircut after his bath which is never his favorite activity. He hid out in his bed afterwards but I found him to snap a few pics of his new do. Such a cutie.

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Valentine’s Day Brownies

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤️🐶 I got the beautiful red heart doilies from my Grammy so of course I had to display them on The Strawberry Blondes.

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For the brownies I found a recipe on chow.com and adapted it a little bit because I wanted to use milk chocolate instead of bittersweet. Melt 1 cup of chocolate in a sauce pan along with a stick of butter. Once completely melted, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes.

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Next mix 2 eggs, 1 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla together in a bowl. Stir in the cooled chocolate until it is well combined with sugar mixture. Next stir in 1 cup of flour with half a teaspoon of baking powder into the chocolate mix. Last but not least take another 1/4 cup of milk chocolate chips and cover them with a tiny bit of flour and add them to the batter to make the brownies gooey. Line a baking pan with foil so the brownies will come out easily. I used my heart shaped pan from my Mom so the brownies came out a little thicker than if you were to use a sheet pan.

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Pour into the pan and bake on 350 degrees for about an hour. If you use a larger pan the brownies will be thinner so the bake time will be less.

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All this cold February weather has me thinking about summer and the boat. Flashback to a summer Friday with Tobes and his best bud Bennett. Come on summer!

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Packing up the brownies to bring in to work tomorrow!

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I LOVE cookies of any kind but I especially love anything with chocolate. I didn’t have enough chocolate chips on hand so I used a box of nonpareils. I used a Betty Crocker recipe but cut it in half so I didn’t end up with too many cookies because I can never stop eating them!!

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Ingredients for the cookies 🍪
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 one egg
1 cup oats
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup of chocolate chips/nonpareils

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Beat the sugar and butter together until creamed then beat in the egg and vanilla. Mix the oats, flour and baking soda together in a bowl and then slowly stir into the butter mixture. Stir in all the chocolate chips and nonpareils and you are ready to bake. Form little golf ball sized piles on a non-stick cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

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I made these cookies to bring on our long car ride up north last weekend. Here is Tobes running around like crazy up in Maine, using the truck as a fort and watching Jon do donuts in the parking lot. He provides endless entertainment at all times!

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Chicken Piccata

Jon had chicken piccata at a restaurant the other night and it looked so delicious I have been craving it ever since. We had a snow day last week and Al and Justin came over for dinner so I decided to make it using Giada’s recipe from Food Network.

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4 chicken breasts
Juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup capers
3 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup whole wheat flour for dredging chicken
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tbs parsley
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper
Pasta

First dredge the chicken in the flour. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a skillet until it is very hot and then cook the chicken for 3 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Then add the rest of the butter, capers, chicken stock, and wine to the pan and scrape up any bit from the bottom of the pan from the chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil and then mix in the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

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Add the chicken back into the pan and cover with the sauce. Cook pasta and serve the chicken and sauce over the pasta.

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Tobes was sporting his new reindeer suit and in typical Toblorone fashion was putting on a show after dinner.

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“Everything but the Kitchen Sink” Soup

We have no food in the fridge so Sunday night I got very creative while I watched the Grammy’s. I made a tomato based soup with different veggies and chicken from the freezer and it came out great!

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I had two chicken breasts in the freezer which I thawed and boiled, then chopped.

Next I heated olive oil in a skillet and searched through the freezer for some veggies. I used pearl onions and edamame which I threw right into the pan while frozen. Once thawed and tender, throw in the chicken. I added a few tablespoons of roasted red peppers and a tablespoon of the oil from the red peppers for flavor. Next I added some leftover roasted brussel sprouts and 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels.

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Next I stirred in one can of tomato paste, 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar and 3 cups of chicken broth. I added black pepper, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. Let the soup simmer for about half hour and it is finished. It has a little heat and is really hearty!

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We ate the soup and watched the Grammy’s. My idea of a great night!

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I used my new mug from Jon with tons of Toby pics. He was so teeny as a pup and was all white – doesn’t get any cuter!

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Coconut Chicken Curry

It was a busy day in our house today because we had new furniture delivered! I didn’t have very much time to put dinner together so I decided to make chicken curry which is quick and easy. I used a recipe from the blog Oh Snap! Let’s Eat! and it was delish!

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I had a few boneless skinless chicken breasts in the freezer which I thawed to put in the curry. I cooked the chicken breasts in coconut oil until fully cooked then transferred them to a plate.

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For the rest of the meal you need the following:
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1.5 tbsp of butter
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 small potatoes
- 1 diced onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced

In the pan used to cook the chicken with the coconut oil, melt one half a tablespoon of butter then add the garlic, onion and potato. Saute until tender. In a separate skillet, melt the rest of the butter. Stir the curry powder into the butter then add in the coconut milk.

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Add chicken back into the pan with the potatoes then pour into the coconut milk curry. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for about 5 minutes. And then enjoy! Perfect meal for a freezing cold night!

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Tobesy was all up in arms today because his bed and toys had to be moved from “his area” in the living room to move in the new furniture. I set him up with all of his friends in the bedroom but he was uneasy all day. He stayed under the bed or in the bedroom pretty much all day and this is how the bedroom looked when he was done.

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Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples and Onions

Last week I was a little too busy to cook every night but I did manage to make dinner in my new kitchen on Thursday. I had purchased some small boneless pork chops on sale at Whole Foods and I found this recipe from Martha Stewart that was simple and delicious.

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The peanut has been thoroughly enjoying the view from his new pad. I like to think he is staring at the ocean thinking about being out sailing!

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For the pork chops you need the following:

2-3 small boneless pork chops
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 bottle of dark beer (I used a chocolate flavored Sam Adams that was leftover) – only need 1/4 cup
Salt and pepper

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Heat the olive oil until it is very hot then sear the pork on either side for about 3 minutes each side. Salt and pepper the pork before searing. Transfer the pork to a plate.

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In the same pan, melt the butter then add the onions and apples. Cook on low, stirring every so often, until the apples and onions become browned and caramelized.

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Deglaze the pan with about 1/4 cup of the beer. Allow the beer to be absorbed and continue to stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the pork chops back into the pan and over with some of the apple mixture for about another 5 minutes.

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I served the pork chops with a side of sweet potatoes. Yum! 👍

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