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Houston, TX
Just your atypical hispanic male living in the big city

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Making a Request: Homemade Strawberry Cake

A while back I had been asked to put together a bridal shower for a very close friend. I really didn't know what to put together since I had never actually put together a shower. Baby showers are different since I had done that with my teacher friends. I have also used this for Easter in the forms of cupcakes as shown below.
This was totally different. When I asked MR about what she wanted for a cake, the first thing that came to her mind was Strawberry Cake. I was thinking, oh snap! I definitely didn't want to make a cake out of the box since this was a special day. 

Originally, I intended to have a sit down dinner, but we changed the time. We made it more like a spread of various nibbles such as Gourmet Chicken Salad, Avocado Pico de Gallo, MC's Bruschetta and, of course the star of the show, Strawberry Cake. Personally, this is an anytime type of cake. The recipe I actually obtained from GothicGirl at www.allrecipes.com with the exception of my Buttercream Icing.


2 cups sugar
1 3 oz package Jello gelatin, strawberry
1 cup butter, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup strawberry puree (you can use frozen strawberries)
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Buttercream Icing (from Italian Cream Cupcakes minus the nuts).

First off, this cake that I made was a double batch of the recipe. Preheat the oven at 350. Grease and flour the cake pans you intend to use. I am using two different cake pans.


Blend together the softened butter, sugar and strawberry gelatin. Notice I am doing this in a very large bowl since I am, again, making double the batch.

Add the eggs one at a time to your mixture. Beat the mixture each time in order for the eggs to incorporate well with the batter. 

Sift the flour and baking powder. Stir the flour into the batter alternating with the whole milk. Mix well with the blender.


Add the strawberry puree and vanilla. Remember, I am using frozen strawberries rather than fresh. Mix well. Place into the cake pans and into the oven.


Bake the cake for about 30 minutes, but since I have done a double batch I add an additional 10 minutes. Check first at 25 minutes. Use some toothpicks to see if the cake is done. If the toothpick comes out clean, then its done. Allow to cool for 5 - 10 minutes before taking off of the pan and allowing to cool through.

Now use the same recipe for the icing as you did with the Italian Cream Cupcakes. Keep in mind that I am nut adding nuts to this as it was part of the request of the bride to be. So I did the same thing as I did with Italian cream: butter, vanilla, cream cheese and powdered sugar. Put this off to the side until you are ready to ice the cake.


I then wanted to make it a little fancy despite my lack of cake decorating skills. I obtained a 1.5 pint of strawberries. I washed them and made sure they were dry. Then got a package of white chocolate and melted it in a double boiler. Mix this until softened. Dip the strawberries into the chocolate and allow to set. Since it was rather hot, I placed them in the refrigerator in order for the berries to fully set faster. I drizzled it with blue icing and voila! Chocolate covered strawberries! Of course some decorated the cake and I had leftovers off to the side.

Needless to say, the couple loved the cake as did all of the guests. This is the first time I, along with some close coworkers and friends, put together a wonderful spread. Luckily, we got both MR and JC to practice with their cake cutting. We had a wonderful time and I have to say we outdid ourselves, but I would do it again for this special friend. Congrats MR and JC in their coming nuptials!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Avocado Pico De Gallo

Avocados. Everybody loves this fruit. There I said it. Avocados are actually fruits as are tomatoes. When I was growing up, we always had avocados in tacos along with pico de gallo. When you were a kid though, pico de gallo wasn't something that I had in my tacos (something about raw onions that I didn't like). Now years later, I have found that I do appreciate pico, but not too terribly hot.

Recently, MC's mom showed me her pico with black beans. I have to say that it was damn good. She also added avocado to it and I thought that was rather nifty. I had a soiree to put together and realized that this would be a crowd pleaser (minus the black beans). By the time the day was over, the bowl was empty and I had no avocado pico left. Here's the recipe:


6-8 roma tomatoes
2 large avocados
1 large red onion
3-4 large jalapeño peppers
1 tbsp garlic
1 large lemon
1 large lime
salt and pepper to taste
2 handfuls of coursely chopped cilantro

Start by chopping the tomatoes. Scoop out the seeds and pulp of the tomatoes. Dice the meat of the fruit and place into a large bowl.

Coarsely shop the red onion. Place the onion with the tomatoes that you just cut up.

Dice up the jalapeños. Notice that I am leaving out the seeds of the peppers. Also, try to cut out the veins as the peppers' veins carry some heat. Now if I had some people that like their heat, then I would have left some of the seed and vein on the peppers.

Add the coarsely chopped cilantro.Mix the rest of the veggies. Add the garlic, salt and pepper.


Cut the lime and lemon and add the juice to the mixture. Start to dice up the avocados. Notice that when you cut into an avocado, it should feel somewhat firm, but still soft. Once you have diced them, add to to bowl and mix together.

Taste and see if it needs more salt and pepper. The best way to know this is by trying it with some tortilla chips. You don't want to have too much salt since you are having enough salt with the chips. 

You can make this ahead of time and allow everything to meld together overnight. Don't worry, if you put enough lime/lemon juice the avocados won't turn brown. You can add a can of corn and black beans for a little variety. Believe me when I say that every time I make this, its gone! Try making this and enjoy it as a nice appetizer or for your next Mexican inspired meal!