Fresh Strawberry Frosting

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hey, everyone! I'm Karey, Lara's sister-in-law, and I'm just here to share a little bit of berry bliss with you tonight! I stumbled upon this delicious recipe about a week ago, and after devouring the cupcakes it was spread upon, and receiving rave reviews from people we shared them with, I polished off the leftover frosting by spreading it on graham crackers. I couldn't leave it alone! And what did I do today? Made it again! So for all you strawberry lovers out there, here's a super easy frosting recipe that just screams summer!

Note from Lara: 
To capture the great strawberry flavor in this frosting, you'll want to go lighter on the powdered sugar.  It will be a runnier frosting...great tasting, but not beautiful.  If you're looking for for a pretty frosting to pipe, then just add more and more powdered sugar until you get the right consistency.  The strawberry flavor will be more subtle. 

Fresh Strawberry Frosting
adapted from Conversations with a Cupcake

Click Here for Printable Recipe

Here's what you need:
5 medium or 4 large strawberries
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
up to 2 lbs. powdered sugar
4 tsp. (or 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.) lemon juice

Start by washing and destemming the strawberries. Then mash them with your hands, allowing the juice and pulp to fall into a mixing bowl.
Add butter, shortening, and vanilla.  Follow with about a cup of powdered sugar. Mix thoroughly with electric mixer.

Continue adding powdered sugar a little at a time and mixing thoroughly until the mixture is creamy and frosting-ish. Add the lemon juice and blend till evenly distributed. The lemon juice really balances the sugar and brings out that fresh strawberry flavor. Now for the important part: Lick those beaters!

Spread on cupcakes, graham crackers, brownies, fingers, etc. I've put this frosting on two cupcake recipes, both with excellent results: strawberry cupcakes, and vanilla cupcakes. (note: the second link is actually for chocolate cupcakes, but there's a vanilla variation below.) The picture above is of the vanilla cupcakes.

I had one verrrrrrrrrrry happy customer.
Don't miss a single recipe at Recipe Shoebox.  Sign up on the right for free email updates. 


Mom's Breakfast Cake

Sunday, June 28, 2009

This is one of those old classic recipes from my Mom.  She didn't cook fancy breakfasts very often, but when we woke up to the sweet cinnamon aroma wafting through the house we knew to come running to the table quickly.  Since there were eight of us kids she would always double the recipe, but even still if we didn't take our fair share first thing there definitely were not going to be seconds.   Now my kids love it as much as we did!

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:
1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 cup oil
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup flour
3 Tbs. firm butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift dry ingredients together.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, milk, and egg.  Stir just until combined.  Pour into a greased 8x8-inch pan.  In a small bowl, cut the topping ingredients together with a pastry blender or fork.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter, pushing the topping down slightly with your fingers into the batter.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until tests done.  Serve warm.



Curried Chicken Pasta Salad with Mandarin Oranges

Friday, June 26, 2009

This is one of those recipes that brings back a lot of memories for me.  Twelve years ago when I was a few days overdue with my second child (Cami), I had to go into the hospital for a non-stress test to make sure she was still doing okay in there.  When I dropped my oldest child off at a friend's house before I went in, it was right about lunch time and my stomach was growling like only a pregnant belly can.  My friend, Cathleen Ashton, offered me this salad here as a quick lunch before I took off for my test.  I eagerly ate it and thoroughly enjoyed it, and apparently Cami did too, since she somersaulted and karate kicked the monitor off my belly several times during the test.  The technicians laughed after 5 minutes  of what was supposed to be an hour long test, and told me that with a baby moving around that much we didn't have anything to worry about!   She was born a few days later and hasn't stopped zipping around since.  

Now whenever I make this recipe I think back with fondness to the kindness of a friend on a hot summer day and back to my days of having babies.   :)   

The ingredients:

1 package (12-oz.)  pasta
1 cup cooked, chopped chicken
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup seedless grapes, sliced
1 can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)
2 cans mandarin oranges, drained

2/3 cup mayonnaise
~1 cup reserved pineapple juice
1 tsp. curry
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Add chopped chicken, pineapple chunks (I chop mine up a bit first), mandarin oranges, chopped celery, and sliced grapes.  

Mix all ingredients together for sauce and pour over the noodle mixture.  Toss well.  Refrigerate for a couple hours before serving if possible.  If you do need to serve this right away, be aware that the liquid will settle down to the bottom, so you will need to stir well before each serving.  Serves 8.  


Welcome Fellow Foodies!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What a surprise to wake up to this morning...I am one of the random blogs featured on the Foodie Blogroll today! Since I know there will be visitors from all over the world today I wanted to take this opportunity to say:

Welcome to the Recipe Shoebox!

I started this blog as a forum for my family to share recipes with each other, but over time I have found that I have a passion for good food, new recipes, and connecting with other people. While I am still ecstatic whenever one of my sisters or mom posts their own recipe here, you'll find most of the recipes here are mine. My earliest posts are most of my tried and true old favorites, while you will find my more recent posts new recipes from books, magazines, and friends that I'm trying for the first time. Some of them are delicious, others of them okay, but don't worry I spare you all the details of the most horrible ones.
Here are a few random tidbits about me:

* I have five kids ages 4-14 and I'm usually on the run, as a result you'll find that most of my recipes are fast, easy, and use only simple ingredients.

* Our favorite types of food are Mexican and pasta dishes (and way too many desserts).

* I have such a shady backyard and have so little natural light in my kitchen, that I usually take most of my food outside to take pictures of it. I'm certain that my neighbors think I'm a little weird.

*Due to the constant sleep deprived state of my brain I occasionally let a little silliness shine through in my recipe descriptions!

*I am determined that my kids will love cooking too, so each Monday through the summer I'm doing a Cooking with Kids series with some fun ideas to help them get excited about it too.

*Unrelated to my cooking exploits, but significant to me...I live in the Washington DC area and LOVE it! I'm pretty sure we live in the coolest place in the world!

I hope you'll take some time to look around. You can click on the links at the top for the basic categories: Main Dishes, Desserts, and Sides. If you're looking for something more specific check out the labels along the right side here. You'll find all of my recipes are labeled by category, main ingredients, and other various descriptions.

If you like what you see, feel free to become a follower or leave a comment! I love meeting other fellow foodies!


Spinach Artichoke Calzones

Every Friday night is pizza night at our house.  Sometimes I make it from scratch, sometimes I order it...either way I like not having to think about what to make for dinner.  Although my family loves this tradition, every once in a while I get the itch to try something a little different. When I found the recipe for these calzones, I decided they were pizza-like enough to count for our tradition, but with a fun new twist that would add a little pizazz to our Friday night fare.  

I normally make the crust for this type of dish from scratch, but I've never had much success getting the dough the right thickness for calzones before, so I stuck with the tubes of pizza dough from the refrigerated section to save my sanity.  The kids grumbled a little at first about it not being their normal pizza, but seemed to have no problem eating them all anyway.  

The ingredients:
2 cups low-moisture part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 package (10-oz) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1 can (15-oz) quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 -3 tubes prepared , refrigerated pizza dough (10-oz. each) **the recipe says "2", but I had enough filling to use 3 whole tubes**
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups tomato, marinara or pizza sauce, warmed, for dipping

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine ricotta, nutmeg, black pepper, parmesan cheese, spinach, artichoke hearts, and garlic in a bowl to make the filling. 

Roll out both tubes of pizza dough out on 2 separate nonstick cookie sheets (I ended up with enough filling for 3 tubes of dough) and cut each dough into fourths.  
Spread each fourth with mozzarella cheese and mound filling over half of each rectangle, then fold dough over top of filling; pinch edges to firmly seal.  If the dough tears, remove a little filling and repair. 
Repeat process with each of the remaining calzones, spacing them evenly on a baking sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm with tomato or pizza sauce for dunking.  Add a tossed salad and you've got a complete meal!  The recipe claims it only makes 4 servings, but I ended up with 12 small calzones, which was probably more like 6 servings.  


Cooking with Kids: Easiest Orange Jello Salad Ever

Monday, June 22, 2009

Need a quick side dish or dessert, but don't have time to make it? Just keep these few ingredients on hand and when you remember at the last second that potluck at the church or need something quick to round out a summer meal; just give these ingredients to your kids and VOILA 5 minutes later and you have a cool, sweet tasting and no one will ever have to know it was so easy your teenage son could have made it. :)
If your kids don't like the chunkiness of cottage cheese like a few of mine, then just zip the cottage cheese in the food processor really quick and they'll never know it's there!
Come back here every Monday during the summer for more Cooking with Kids ideas

Click here for Printable Recipe.

The ingredients:

1 small package (3-oz.) orange Jello
1 can (20-oz.) crushed pineapple (I only had pineapple chunks, so I just drained them then stuck them in the food processor for a few seconds)
1 carton (16-oz.) cottage cheese
1 can (11-oz.) mandarin oranges, drained
1 carton (8-oz.) Cool Whip

Add the dry orange Jello packet

and a 16-ounce carton of cottage cheese (you can blend this first if you don't like the texture)

then dump in a whole can of drained mandarin oranges,

and a whole can of crushed pineapple.

Lastly dollop in an entire carton of Cool Whip

and try to contain your excitement when you stir it up. :)

Eight servings just like that! Way to go Adam!



Chicken Pasta Salad with Tomatoes

Sunday, June 21, 2009

When my friend Corinne heard I was looking for good summer recipes to try, she told me about this easy one her family loves and immediately copied it off for me to try.  It was a lot different than the normal pasta salad I make, but it was a nice change of pace for us and other than picking around the mushrooms the kids ate it all!  

The ingredients:

1 pkg. (12-oz.) noodles of your choice (bow tie, tortellini, ravioli, rotini, etc.)
1-1/2 cup peas, heated
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
1-2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/2 lb. ham or chicken, chopped
6 Tbs. parmesan cheese

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Saute mushrooms in a little olive oil, then heat peas.  Add hot peas, mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, chopped chicken or ham, and parmesan cheese.  
Mix sauce ingredients all together and pour over noodle mixtures.  Toss until well coated.  Serve hot or cold.  Serves 6-8.  


Pepperoni and Fresh Mozzarella Panini

Friday, June 19, 2009

Our kids are finally done with school and we are officially in full summer mode... which of course means staying up too late, eating too many popsicles, and hanging out at the pool every evening. I have always had the hardest time getting very excited about cooking in the summer time, since all of my winter staples don't work very well in the summer. This summer is different though! I've been scouring all my cookbooks with new eyes trying to find fun, new recipes that I've overlooked in years past.

At first glance I thought this Emeril recipe looked like it would be too plain for my taste, but this time I noticed the combination of the olive oil, basalmic vinegar, garlic, and fresh basil and decided it was worth a try and boy, oh boy was I sure glad we did. With that ooey, gooey cheese and basalmic vinegar flavoring it; it was a hit with the whole family!

The recipe said it only made 4 sandwiches, but we easily got 7 big sandwiches out of it and had enough for a couple of us to have one for lunch the next day too. This would be a great recipe to have the kids help out with. They could brush on the oil mixture and arrange the cheese and pepperoni in preparation for an adult to do the grilling. Hmmm....Maybe summer cooking doesn't have to be so bad after all!

Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients:
The ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil+ a little more for brushing the outside of the bread
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. minced fresh basil or 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. salt
Black pepper, to taste
8 slices ciabatta bread or other rustic Italian white bread, thinly sliced (we used ciabatta rolls from Costco which were quite thick, but still very good)
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni

Whisk olive oil, vinegar, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl to blend. Set the vinaigrette aside.

Arrange the slices of bread on a flat work surface and using a pastry or basting brush, brush one side of each slice with the vinaigrette, dividing it equally.
Divide the mozzarella equally among 4 of the bread slices. Top the mozzarella with the pepperoni slices, then place the remaining 4 slices of bread on top of the mozzarella and pepperoni , to form 4 sandwiches. (We easily made 7 sandwiches out of this recipe).

Brush the outsides of each sandwich lightly with olive oil. Heat a large skillet or grill over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the sandwiches and cook until the bread is golden brown and the cheese is melted, pressing occasionally with a large metal spatula, 4-5 minutes per side. Serve hot. Makes 4-7 sandwiches.



Fluffernutter Brownies

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ah, fluffernutters. The guilty pleasure of sandwiches now in brownie form! With the stress of the last week of school and all the concerts, award ceremonies, and other stresses all the while my husband has been out of the country and I have been in serious need of some comfort food lately. I believe that the key to success for these is to pick a good brownie base. I personally like the Duncan Hines triple chocolate mix or this recipe for fudgy brownies from my sister-in-law Karey. These disappeared in one evening in our house! (This is like the twelfth recipe I've made from the Rachael Ray 30-minute cookbook; I'm going to be sad when I have to return it to the library soon. )

The ingredients:

1 package chocolate brownie mix + ingredients to make the mix (mine called for oil and an egg)
1 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix brownie mix according package directions, but DO NOT bake it yet. Stir peanut butter chips into brownie batter. Grease and 8x8-inch baking dish with softened butter and spread the brownie batter in an even layer. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and bake, 20-22 minutes total, scattering marshmallows on top for the last 3 to 5 minutes of baking time ( I added some PB chips on top too). Remove from oven and cut into 12 brownies. Serves 12.



Cooking with Kids: Magic Cookie Bars or Seven Layer Bars

Monday, June 15, 2009

Yay! My sister AnnaLisa has graduated from college and has come to stay with us this summer! Not only is she a great help with all the kids, but she's also brought a whole new bunch of recipes for us to try! This recipe from one of her roommates lent itself perfectly to our new Cooking with Kids series, since it's just a matter of layering all of the ingredients! You'll need to help them get started with melting the butter in the pan, but after that's out they should be able to do the rest completely by themselves! Make sure you check back here every Monday for more Cooking with Kids ideas. By the way, in case you hadn't noticed, I LOVE exclamation points today!!!!!
The ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 can (14-oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1-2 cups butterscotch chips
1 cup chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in 9x13-inch baking dish and melt in oven. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over butter. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over crumbs, keeping at least 1/2 inch from the edge. Evenly layer the rest of the ingredients. Press down with fork to help it all stick together a little better.
Aunt AnnaLisa and Cami (11) pressing down on the layers.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool and store at room temperature. Cut into squares, triangles, or diamonds. Serves 24 (or a bunch of hungry kids).



Tortellini with Spinach-Walnut Pesto

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This recipe from the Rachael Ray cookbook is one of those that went into the okay category for me. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't stupendous either. I'll probably make it again, since the kids liked it and it was a great way to sneak in a good dose of spinach without their knowledge, but I won't be making it every week. (Most families could easily halve this recipe and still have plenty).

Sadly I couldn't even manage to take a decent picture of it.

The ingredients:
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 pkgs. (18-oz. each) cheese filled tortellini (I found mine in the frozen aisle)
1 cup chicken broth
1 package (10-oz) baby spinach, reserve a few leaves for garnish
2 cloves garlic
2/3 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup olive oil

Toast walnut pieces in a small pan or toaster oven until lightly browned. Remove to cool

Place a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt and tortellini; cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat chicken broth to a boil and remove from heat.

Working in batches with a food processor, grind spinach with walnuts, chicken broth, and garlic. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in cheese, nutmeg, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss hot, cooked tortellini with sauce, then turn pasta out onto a serving platter and garnish with a few baby spinach leaves. Makes 10 servings.



Celestial Bars

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For some reason I didn't have high expectations for these bars (another one my daughter made from Taste of Home Baking Book), but after one bite I realized that these were inappropriately named. These nutty flavored bars with the perfectly luscious creamy frosting on top shouldn't be called "Celestial Bars", rather they should be called "The Evil Just Try to Eat Only One Bars". They'd be great to bring to a party, but I'm not letting Cami make them for our family again. Evil bars.

The ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 cups flour (I used part whole-wheat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 tsp. shortening

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add extracts; beat well. Combine flour and salt; add to creamed mixture. Stir in pecans (batter will be thick). Divide batter in half; stir chocolate into one portion. Alternately spoon plain and chocolate batters into a greased 13x9x2" baking pan. swirl with knife.

Bake at 350° for 16-20 minutes or until done. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For icing, in a large mixing bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar. Add milk and vanill; beat until smooth. Spread over bars.

For glaze, melt chocolate chips and shortening in a heavy saucepan or microwave; stir until smooth. Drizzle over bars. Let stand until chocolate is completely set before eating. Makes 24 servings.



Southwestern Chicken & Black Bean Burritos

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This is another one of the recipes I found in Rachael Ray's Classic 30 minute Meal recipe book. The hickory smell of the barbecue sauce wafting through the house had my kids flocking to the kitchen to see what smelled so good and I ended up having to shoo them away when they kept trying to steal some pre-dinner nibbles. Even my bean-hating child was overcome by the mildly spicy BBQ taste and came back for seconds. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Click here for printable recipe. 

"Yay--look at me! I'm a really exciting, yummy burrito. Don't you just want to eat me up?
Okay fine. I'm boring to look at, but take a peek inside and you'll be singing my praises soon enough!"

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 -2 tsp. hot sauce
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15-oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup smoky barbecue sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 heart of romaine lettuce, shredded
6 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 large flour tortillas (10-12 inches)
Rub chicken with cumin, chili powder, and hot sauce. Heat a griddle pan to high. cook chicken breasts 4 minutes on each side and remove from heat. **I grilled mine outside instead.**"Hot tender chicken right from the grill--doesn't that alone make you want some?"

While chicken is cooking, heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onions and garlic in oil until soft. Add beans and barbecue sauce. Chop cooked chicken breasts and drop into barbecued beans. Heat mixture through. Season with salt and pepper."Grilled chicken, black beans, sauteed onion and garlic, hickory smoked bbq sauce--contain your excitement...there's still more!"

Place a tortilla on a plate and pile chicken and beans in center."Don't look yet. I'm not quite done..."

Top with lettuce, scallions, and tomatoes. Wrap, roll, and repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Serve with chips and salsa. Makes 4 servings."I'm too tasty for this plate. I'm too tasty for this post. I'm tasty!!!!!"


PS Don't ask me where that sudden burst of silliness came from...


Cooking With Kids: Wheat Berry Muffins

Monday, June 8, 2009

A couple of my kids love to cook, so I'm always on the look-out for things that they can try themselves. My kids still have two weeks left of school, but I thought it would be fun to try a new Cooking with Kids series for the summer. Once a week on Monday, I'll post a fun and easy recipe you can make with your kids (or have them make themselves). Please feel free to email me at with any ideas or recipes you have that we may try out (or links to your own Cooking with Kids ideas on your blog which I'll post as links here).

For this first one you may want to start your adventure off at the library by checking out this book.
My eight-year-old came home from school just delighted about this delightful adaptation of the original fairy tale that her teacher had read to her and couldn't wait to try Grandma's Wheat Berry Muffin recipe which made the muffin loving wolf go gaga! The muffins were easy enough for Emma to make herself (with a little help gathering/measuring ingredients) and were surprisingly different than the average muffin with the slight nutty flavor and crunch that the sunflower seeds added. The first time we made these I didn't have almond extract so we substituted it with 1/2 tsp. orange extract and 1 tsp. orange peel and we loved that version as well.

Have fun!!!

The ingredients:

2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract **(see note below)
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (Grandma's secret ingredient)

First, turn on the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, butter, sugar, and almond extract. **Try substituting the almond extract with 1/2 tsp. orange extract and a tsp. of finely grated orange peel**

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add that to the egg mixture and stir just until combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and the sunflower seeds after making sure there are no wolves lurking about. Batter will be thick. Fill oiled muffin tins 3/4 full, and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
Be sure to check out Melody over at Cheat Day Cafe, for a fun kid's recipe for Chiquita Smoothies.



About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP