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 Shortcake

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I think the last time I posted I lamented the sluggishness of the oncoming spring weather here in Omaha.  Well, surprise surprise, it’s still not here.  We’ve had freezing rain, snow, rain, clouds, wind, and pretty much everything else you can think of that isn’t spring weather.  To top off the disappointing weather, I have been deep in finals for this semester at school.

With this easy version of strawberry shortcake, I hoped to usher in the sun, the budding trees, and the singing birds.  For the moment, it lifted our spirits, but ultimately, spring has yet to be sprung here in my lovely city.

This isn’t so much a shortcake as it is a sponge cake.  It’s light and airy due to the whipped egg whites, but it retains a tender cake texture because of the egg yolks, sugar, and small amount of flour.

What I love so much about strawberry shortcake is that there are many variations or additions one can make.  For instance, one could add Cointreau or Grand Marnier to the strawberries as they macerate.  Instead of a liqueur, one could add a splash of balsamic vinegar or even the seeds from a vanilla pod.

As for the cake, I could see orange zest as being a nice addition to the batter.  Or perhaps a dash of cardamom for a floral note?  I enjoy adding fresh herbs to my desserts and I think a little fresh thyme would be lovely in the batter!

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Orange “Creamsicle” Ice Cream

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It’s winter here in the midwest.  The sun may be shining, but it is by no means warm outside.  This is the weather of sledding, hot cocoa, fireplaces, and heavy blankets.  Certainly not the weather of ice cream, right?  Normally, I’d agree with you, but in this case, you’d be wrong.

Perhaps it was the sunny sky that fooled me, or perhaps I just wanted to bring a little summer to these winter days.  Either way, I decided I wanted to make a creamy citrus ice cream.

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Pistachio and Cranberry Biscotti

A few things have happened in the last week.  First, a week ago today I turned 33-years-old.  I treated myself to a manicure and my lovely husband treated me to dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant in town.  Second, my fall semester finally ended last week and I have to say that I am pleased with my grades so far (one grade is still not posted – gah!).  This last semester was tough, I won’t lie.  It was tough academically and it was tough culinarily.  I feel like I neglected the blog more than I was comfortable with and I apologize to the few of you out there that follow it.

But…I’m back!  It’s officially winter break and I’ve spent pretty much every day in the kitchen.  Just where I want to be on chilly Nebraska days.  We also got our first snow, so it looks extra wintery out there.

Every year our dear friends Sarah and Matthew throw a holiday soup party at their home.  And every year it is a lot of work for Sarah because she prepares all the soups (at least four).  This year, I offered my services and she accepted.  I am always happy to help Sarah, as she has helped me in so many different ways.

For the soup offerings, I prepared a creamy asparagus soup, which I’ve written about before.  For the party, I made it without the sausage.  However, I did make a soup with spicy chorizo, chickpeas, and kale, so sausage made an appearance.

And of course, I brought dessert.  On the menu was a Dobos torte, a banana bread bundt cake with bourbon buttermilk glaze, and pistachio and cranberry biscotti with white chocolate.  That is what I want to talk about right now.  Biscotti.

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Sundays in the Summer – Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you know that I like to bake.  I love to cook just as much, but when the weekend arrives, I like to pay special attention to baking.  This last weekend was no exception, especially since I found some lovely raspberries at the farmers market on Sunday.

I visited the farmers market alone this weekend.  Normally, Scott and I divide and conquer, but he had some paintings to finish, so I set out with my canvas bags and cash in hand.  I took a little longer wandering around, smelling the produce, checking out the various dogs and their owners, and lingering around the Cajun band playing between vendor booths.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous (we’ve been experiencing 100 + degree days for far too long) so I was in no rush to get back into air conditioning.

I knew I’d be baking this cake later on, so as I walked around I kept my eye out for fresh berries of some sort.  I spied the ruby-red raspberries from quite a distance, and I headed straight for them.  The price was a little steep for just a pint, but I knew that farm fresh berries far surpassed the sad, packaged-in-plastic berries I see in the grocery store.  With a quick exchange of cash, they were mine.

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