Vivan’s Texas Sheet Cake

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I’ve never been a gambler.  Well, at least not a good one.  I rarely win anything, be it a stuffed toy at the county fair, or a pair of tickets via the local radio station.  This fact does not bode well for me since I have a group of friends that likes to meet occasionally for a “friendly” game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker.

We have some really, really good players in the group and I am so bad that I only play when I know I have decent cards – I’m giving away all my secrets here!  In all seriousness, the game is always fun.  I see it as a way to connect to friends on a human level rather than via Facebook, and hey, when we host, I always make some sort of sweet or savory snack!  So, even though my friends walk away with my buy-in (all $10 of it!), at least I can say I provided something good to eat while they do it.

This time, we welcomed two newcomers into the fold.  My friend from Norway, Thomas, was here visiting and he brought his friend, Anders.  To mark the occasion, I felt that something chocolatey would suffice.  I instantly thought about my mother’s Texas Sheet Cake.  It’s quick and simple, and totally divine.

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Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

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This is not the first (nor will it be the last) strawberry-related recipe you’ll see on this blog.  I absolutely love strawberries and I thoroughly enjoy trying new recipes which feature them.  As I was flipping through my July edition of Bon Appétit, I came across a delightful section devoted to tasty frozen treats.

I totally love making ice cream here in my kitchen.  There is something so pure and delicious about a well-made batch of rich ice cream.  I don’t have to wonder what sort of preservatives might be lurking beneath the surface, nor do I have to consider how many artificial flavors are taking the place of good, clean ingredients.

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Rhubarb-Strawberry Cobbler (with Fresh Thyme, Orange Zest, and Port!)

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Rhubarb at the farmers market always excites me.  I grew up with a rhubarb patch in our garden, and my mom would always make rhubarb pie for my dad.  There was something about the tartness of the stalks mixed with the sweetness of the sugar that always stuck with me.

Rhubarb is one of those ingredients that can be mixed with almost any fruit and thrown into a cobbler, pie, or crisp and taste delicious.  This time, I chose to go with the classic pairing of rhubarb and strawberry.  But with a couple of my own additions, natch.

Cobblers are so easy that I don’t know why I don’t make one every week.  How could you go wrong with sweet, warm fruit under a buttery biscuit topping??

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All that is required of you is some fresh fruit and a few other ingredients, and wham! you have cobbler.  Listen, go out and pick up some rhubarb and strawberries from the farmers (or other) market and get started.  You’ll be done before you know it and enjoying warm cobbler on your patio while you listen to the summer birds sing your praises!

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Strawberry Cake and Scrabble

I absolutely love America’s Test Kitchen and everything related to it.  I love the magazines, the cook books, the shows on public television – all of it.  I love that novice or expert chefs alike can try something new, knowing it has been tested and retested until it is “perfect.”  However, I also love that I can still alter or change the recipes to make them my own.

In my opinion, this strawberry cake was almost perfect.  The problem arose in the frosting department, but we’ll get to that later.

But before that, I’ll tell you what I loved about this cake.  First of all, it was beautiful to look at.  But this cake wasn’t just all beauty and no substance, nosiree.  This cake was a genius on the inside.  The cake itself was light and airy, with a faint pinkish color to indicate that it was, in fact, made from strawberries.  Tucked inside were fresh sliced strawberries to add a pop of freshness and bright color when served and eaten.

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