Carrot Zucchini Cake

Another respite from “heavy” dialogs and blogs, today I want to share a bakery treat on my first attempt at it: Carrot-Zucchini Cake with Pineapple-Pecan Frosting.  The picture I got online looked really delicious, and mine tasted as good as that one looked, but not being a cake decorator, my creation looked pretty miserable.  But as fast as it went down I was proud of how it came out!

Again, I start with everything on the counter to make sure I don’t need to run to the store:
Ingredients:

  

Dry MixWet MixFrosting
1 cup brown sugar1-½ cups butter16 ounces powdered sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour4 large eggs1 cup crushed pineapple
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon1 cup grated carrot8 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt1 cup grated zucchini¾ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda½ cup honey¼ cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.  When I do this again, I will add ¼-½ cup of finely chopped pecans for the added nutty flavor.

Grate the carrots and zucchini. I grated the zucchini a little bit coarse and changed wheels to grate the carrots finer. Next time I will grate both with the finer wheel or even use a food processor, although the texture came out okay.  Someone thought it had raisins, but it was just some zucchini bits.

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C). Beat the eggs in a large bowl on low speed or hand mix adding the softened butter.  (Don’t whip the eggs!)  Add in the honey, carrots and zucchini and beat at a medium speed.  

Stir in the Dry Mix gradually, beating on medium speed until the batter is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Divide the batter evenly into pans, filling each about one half full.  I only had one “real” cake pan, but I had another of stiff foil, and I used a pie tin for the “top pan.”  (Reminder to self: Buy MORE cake pans!! 🙄) Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the deepest part of the pan comes out clean.  

Cool the baked cakes for at least five minutes and invert onto wire rack.  (Doh!  I forgot to grease the pans 😌, so I had to be tricky to get the cakes out of the smaller pans.  The silicone-coated one came out fine.)

While the cake is baking there is plenty of time to mix up the ingredients for the frosting; just dump them all together and blend thoroughly.  Or you can make the icing while the cakes cool, because you must let them cool to room temperature to spread the icing.  After mixing, refrigerate to get the icing to stand up a little.

Spread the icing on the first layer and repeat, but do a neater job than I did.  It still tasted great, though the presentation left something to be desired.  Maybe next time?  Actually, the way it turned out, I think I could just use three 9″ pie tins.

And before presenting to our Labor Day friends, I laid bunches of pecan halves all over the top for an added treat and to draw attention away from the sorry look. 😏 Bon appétit!

 

 

Lemon Squash Cake

With so much “stuff” going on in the world, I needed a break from serious blogs, and we ran out of dessert, so I thought why not steal someone’s recipe and bake something; one for Anita and me and another for a neighbor?  This recipe is healthier than just a plain flour cake as it has some nutritious vegetables included!  It’s a variation from Dorothy’s The New Vintage KitchenAlways good eats there!  (And much prettier than mine.)  Someday Anita and I want to stay at her B&B when we travel northeast again!

Per usual, I always set out almost everything I am going to use when the Baking Bug bites me. So for this recipe you need:

  • 2 cups grated yellow summer squashIMG_6377
  • 2-½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • zest from two large lemons
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vanilla yogurt

If you wish to glaze the cake, use 1-½ cups of sugar, 1 teaspoon corn starch and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice.  If you use a blender to pulverize the sugar and cornstarch before adding the lemon juice, you probably will not have to heat this mixture.  If you need to heat it in the microwave or on the stove top, do this just before glazing, as the glaze will firm up as it cools.

In a food processor, grate the yellow squash, but not too finely, and set aside.  (I did this too finely; another time I would use a coarser blade; the cake will fall less.)

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and zest and mix thoroughly.

Cream the butter with the sugar.  Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly till forming waves in the mix.  This can be done with either a hand mixer or stand mixer.  Blend in the lemon juice and vanilla extract.  (Again, next time I will use my Sunbeam Mixmaster with more speeds instead of my little Hamilton Beach.)

With the mixer at its lowest speed, begin folding in the flour mixture, interspersing with the yogurt, no more than half of the mixture at a time.

Add the squash and fold in with a spoon or spatula until thoroughly, but gently, blended.
Pour the batter into a greased Bundt pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 50 minutes or until the top is brown and a toothpick inserted into the thickest part comes out clean.  Because of the moisture in the squash, do NOT take it out early or the cake will fall and be mushy inside!  Better if the top is a little overdone as it will be inverted, but in any case, make sure the inside is fully baked and dry.  Even then, the cake will settle a little as some of the CO2 bubbles from the baking soda and baking powder will deflate as it cools.

IMG_6419Let the cake cool five minutes out of the oven.  Then invert on a rack to completely cool.
Put on a cake plate and serve as a modestly sweet cake, the way Anita and I like it.

As you can see, I had some left over batter, so I used some cupcake holders and monitored the baking of these for about 30 minutes.

If you like it sweeter you can increase the sugar to about 1-½ cups or add about 1/4 cup of honey with the creamed butter, but you will have more “extra” for cupcakes.  Or add the aforementioned glaze, drizzled over the top.

Pumpkin Apricot Walnut Cake

IMG_4571Okay, so I still had my last cup of pumpkin puree that has been frozen since after Thanxgiving and about 14 dried apricots left from the last recipe of Banana Apricot Walnut bread.  So I decided to combine them with some more of the three pounds of walnuts we had purchased at Sam’s Club and found a delicious recipe that made a wonderful cake.

IMG_4572Filling:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons firm butter or margarine
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots (about 14)

IMG_4576Cake:
3 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

1 cup butter or margarine, softenedIMG_4580
2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree

Directions:
Heat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 12-cup fluted tube cake pan with shortening or cooking spray; lightly flour. (Do not use a dark or nonstick pan.)

In a small bowl, mix the filling ingredients except apricots with a fork until you have fine crumbs. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped apricots; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt and walnuts; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter and granulated sugar with electric mixer for five minutes on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating on high speed after each addition to thoroughly blend each egg.
Beat in the pumpkin puree.

Gradually fold in the flour mixture on low speed until blended.
Grease the pan with butter or cooking spray.
Spread 3 cups of the batter into the pan. With the back of a spoon, make a 1/2-inch-deep groove in middle of batter.
Spoon the filling into the groove, making sure the filling does not touch the side or center of the pan. Top with the remaining batter, making sure the batter layer completely covers the filling and does touch the sides and center of the pan.

Bake 1 hour to 1 hour-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into thecake comes out clean and the top is golden brown.  Cool 15 minutes.  Remove the cake from the pan to a cooling rack.  Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Note: I kind of skimped on the walnuts and would add a full cup if I make this again.  If you like even more walnuts, you can include some in the filling, and if you use frosting, garnish the finished cake with apricots and nuts.
If you have a big sweet tooth, you can add an icing such as:
Browned Butter Frosting
1/3 cup butter (do not use margarine)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tablespoons milk

In 2-quart saucepan, heat 1/3 cup butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, until light golden brown; cool slightly.  Stir in powdered sugar.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of the milk until smooth.  Add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency.  Spoon frosting onto the ridge of the cake, letting some run down the sides and center.  I did this for another cake for a neighbor, but forgot to take a ‘finished’ picture.

Bon appétit!

Banana Apricot Walnut Bread

IMG_4458Per my usual procedure, I always assemble everything needed for a recipe to make sure I have all the ingredients and any tools for the job. (Note: there are no affiliate links in any of my blogs.)

  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk*
  • 1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup wheat germ (or substitute with dry oatmeal)
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Roughly mash one to three bananas to make one cup.  In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar for five minutes until light and fluffy.  My Mother gave me a Sunbeam mixer many years ago which I set to ‘7-Cream’ medium speed.  Beat in the eggs thoroughly on high speed.

In a separate bowl, mix the mashed banana and buttermilk*.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the flour mix and banana mix alternatively three or four times to the creamed mixture, beating well with each addition.

Stir in at low speed or by hand the wheat germ (or oatmeal), apricots and nuts.

Pour into a 9×5 inch greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 F for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan; finish cooling on a wire rack.

IMG_4491
Slice and enjoy as a meal complement or as a dessert.  You can make any icing for the top if you wish, although Anita and I like desserts less sweet than most Americans.

*I usually do not have buttermilk on hand, but there are several easy substitutes you can find online.  My go-to is 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per cup of milk.  As this recipe only calls for 1/4 cup, I find 1 teaspoon works well.

Christmas Treat – Pumpkin Buttermilk Cake

I stole a recipe from Gail’s Kitchen (snapshotsincursive) and changed it up a bit to make a single cake instead of her mini-bundt cakes that you can find at her site.  This works both with a tube pan or as a full size bundt cake (that I did not photograph as it was my first outing with a bundt pan).  It worked great with amounts of ‘stuff’ close to her original recipe, but now I want to try to make a larger one in my tube pan.  This will take some playing with the temperature or time.

The nice thing about this cake is its simplicity as there is no rush between steps and it still comes out great!  On my first trial bundt, I melted the butter and wound up having to refrigerate it for several minutes to get the cream consistency of its mixture and got everything else ready.   It is really hard to goof this one up!  Believe me, I tried!! 😄 Even the measurements can be varied according to taste; more or less buttermilk, sugar, honey, or spice.  And on my first trial, it only took about an hour from start to finish.  I always assemble everything I expect to use before starting.

IMG_4140

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
1/4 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened (room temperature)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk*  (substitutions below)

powdered sugar for dusting

IMG_4141Preheat the oven to 350⁰F.  Spray the inside of the pan with PAM or grease with butter.
In the first bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, pumpkin spice and cinnamon and set aside.

In the second bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and honey.  Beat with a hand mixer on high for two minutes.  Add the eggs and beat on high two more minutes, scraping down the sides as needed and set aside.

In the third bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and buttermilk.*  Mix well.

Add one-half the the butter mixture and one-half the flour mixture to the puree mixture, gently stirring until combined.  Do not use a mixer, and do not even over-stir; just stir enough to blend.  Add the remaining mixtures and again, do not over-stir.

Fill the bundt pan or tube pan no more than 3/4 full.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, and test with a toothpick until it comes out clean.  A stainless steel cake tester comes out clean too easily, while a toothpick’s texture will give a more accurate picture of the internal doneness of the cake.

Cool for five minutes before placing on a wire rack.  With a tube pan, I had to ‘slice’ the bottom and center of the cake away from the pan, even though it had been greased, but then it came out beautifully.  My tube pan comes apart, so this would have created a problem if I had used a one-piece tube pan.  (My bundt cake pan is silicone, so it is flexible.)

After cooling, dust with as much confectioner’s sugar as you like, or serve with Cool-Whip or ice cream.

IMG_4170

*Buttermilk Substitutions
Few of us home-bakers use enough buttermilk to keep it on hand, so I went to my old chemistry texts looking for substitutes.  Though buttermilk and sour milk ARE different, they can be used interchangeably in most cooking applications.  These are the three easiest I found:
When you look at the composition of buttermilk, really it’s just acidic (or sour) milk.  You can easily recreate this using some common ingredients you likely already have in the kitchen.

  1. Lemon Juice
    To make one cup of homemade “buttermilk,” just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to whole milk.  Use freshly squeezed if you can, but bottled works fine.  Lemon juice is acidic enough to turn your milk sour, i.e., into buttermilk.  Mix the two together and use once your whole milk begins to curdle.  If you use low-fat or 2% milk, just give it a two or three minutes to do the magic and taste to make sure it is sour.  (NOTE: Spoiled milk is NOT the same as sour milk!)
  2. Cream of Tartar
    If you do occasional baking, then you’re might have cream of tartar somewhere in the drawers.  Cream of tartar is a strong acid.  If you add it to egg whites when making meringue, it helps it hold its structure.  For every cup of buttermilk you want, mix in about one and a half teaspoons of cream of tartar. Wait for a couple of minutes or until your milk thickens.
  3. Vinegar
    If you don’t have either of these, you’ll probably at least have vinegar available.  Just add a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of milk and let it sit for about five minutes, or until your milk starts to curdle and split.  Distilled white vinegar is best because it won’t alter the color of your milk, but when you’re baking with pumpkin and spices you can use apple cider vinegar and the result will be just fine.

Intermezzo – July 4, Independence Day and a Picnic

July 4th came up soooo suddenly!
HALF of the year is already gone as Kentucky moves into summer.
A friend always invites us to his family gatherings and they always have fantastic food.  So this time I wanted to contribute something more than just a snack platter from Meijer. 
Thus two dishes: Cheesy Green Bean Casserole and Lobster Deviled Eggs!

Cheesy (Cheezy? 😁) Green Bean Casserole
A staple of family get-togethers, I decided to make the green bean casserole something that was my own.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
48 ounces fresh green beans
1 large carrot
1/4 large onion
8 ounces of your favorite cheese (I used Monterey-Jack since we were out of gorgonzola or cheddar.)
1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Celery soup
1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 container French’s Crispy Fried Onions

Directions: (really siimple)
Preheat oven to 350⁰F.
Start by rubbing the sesame oil into the 3 quart (3L) baking dish with butter.  Be sure to rub the sides of the dish.
Cut the fresh green beans, French-style.
Actually, this went pretty quickly after the first two (or you can purchase these canned).
Mince the carrot.  I just used my Cuisinart Smart Stick Grinder.
Slice and saute the onion until brown or clarified.
Grate the cheese.
Put the beans, onions and carrots into your dish.
Add the soups and mayonnaise and stir thoroughly.
Bake for 30 minutes after which add the cheese and cover the top with the fried onions.
Bake for five more minutes, and it’s done!

Lobster Deviled Eggs
I kept it simple even with the Lobster Deviled Eggs.  Anita cannot handle spices and is allergic to any kind of bell pepper, including paprika.  So I divided the eggs into two batches.

Ingredients:
One dozen large or extra-large eggs
8-10 ounces of frozen lobster meat; ground up
1/4 cup ground dill pickles (or relish) drained
1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup ground olives drained
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
sprinkles of parsley flakes and paprika

Directions:
Hard boil the eggs and cool. If you boil them lying flat in a large pan or frying pan, the yolk will distribute better so you will not have some with very thin edges of white.  For ease I boiled the eggs the night before so they were in the fridge the next morning.
Peel and slice the eggs in half. 
Combine half the lobster meat and dill pickles and add half the egg yolks.
Add the yellow mustard and 1/4 cup mayonnaise and mash together with a large fork.
Spoon into the whites and set aside.
Combine the other half of the lobster meat with olives and add the the other egg yolks.
Add the Dijon mustard and the other half of the mayonnaise and mash together with any left over from the first batch.
Spoon into the remaining whites.
Add parsley flakes to the pickle set and paprika to the olive set.
If you boil an extra egg or two when you boiled the eggs, you can claim “cook’s privilege” and gobble up a couple for “testing.” 😉  The leftover filling can make a nice dip for crackers or chips.

Watch the fireworks and enjoy the food.

Intermezzo: “Traditional” New England Boiled Dinner

So THIS is how you make a traditional New England Boiled Dinner (🙄), which I have never done before!  I lived in R.I. for eight years and no one ever served this nor had I heard of it.  I copied the recipe from a new friend, Dorothy, and then made some variations that make it very different from her “traditional” NEBD, but it is still delicious.  Basically, you just throw any and all veggies and meat together in a cooking pot, slow cooker, or pressure cooker and call it your own “Traditional New England Boiled Dinner.” 😁  Dorothy is from Vermont, though, so hers is the real McCoy and worth checking out!   (Do they even have McCoys in New England?  That may just be a KY/TN phenomenon.🤠)

As always, gather your ingredients before you begin, to make sure you have everything you want for any recipe.  But this one is almost “anything goes” so it may not matter as much

New England Boiled Dinner
1 quart stock broth (veggie, chicken or beef)
1-1/4 pound beef brisket (really want to try this with lamb shank next time! 😋)
1/4 cup lentils
1/2 large onion chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon butter
==================
1/2 head of cabbage
2 large carrots
3 medium potatoes
1 meduim bok choy (or Swiss chard)
1 Roma tomato
3 or 4 Portabella mushrooms
1/2 cup Snap peas (or green beans)
2 fresh large beets (or a 15 ounce can not drained)
10 ounces (50 mL) ketchup
6 bay leaves
1 ounce lemon juice

Directions:
Put the broth in a medium saucepan with the onion, lentils, olive oil and butter to precook these ingredients.  Heat for about 20 minutes until onion begins to clarify.  I use Royal Prestige Waterless Cookware, so I cannot look inside until the whistle blows at 180⁰F (82⁰C), but this is about the time it took for mine to cook in the smaller saucepan.
If you like garlic, you can add a minced clove in the pot at this step as well.

Prepare the rest of the vegetables, cutting the cabbage into large slices, coining the carrots, chopping the potatoes into large chunks, slicing the bok choy, tomato, and mushrooms.  If you are using fresh beets, cut them into large chunks.

After the broth has clarified the onion, transfer to a slow cooker and put the potatoes on the bottom and then pile on most of the other veggies.  Put the meat with the bay leaves on top, and top with the remaining veggies.  Put in the ketchup and lemon juice.  (The tomato and ketchup can be replaced by tomato sauce.)  Add additional broth or water as much as you will need to cover about 3/4 of the dinner.

Put the slow cooker on high for a faster time (I went for two hours), or if you are preparing earlier in the day, you can simmer it on low for as long as you like, until poking a potato is easy.  I used our Royal Prestige Cookware 4 quart Dutch Oven with a Slow Cooker Base

IMG_2553 You can spoon the broth over the victuals, or you can serve it like a stew, but we think the broth makes a great stand-alone soup.
The leftovers from a New England Boiled Dinner are traditionally used for breakfast or supper, reincarnated as Red Flannel Hash, if there are any leftovers!  In my case this recipe made SO much for just the two of us, we had NEBD for four nights and one brunch!!  But I am not complaining. 😋  But next time, I will cut the recipe down substantially to accommodate just a couple meals.

Red Flannel HashRed Flannel Hash:  Afterward if you want some variation on the NEBD, dice up the leftover vegetables and sauté in olive oil over medium high until the vegetables begin to dry out.  Serve with an egg on top!  One dish, two New England traditions!  Bon appétit. 😉

Intermezzo: Fresh Strawberry/Walnut Cupcakes and Strawberry Butter Frosting

Well, spring WAS in the air . . . until Monday morning, when Anita and I started to go on our first of two one-mile walks.  We stepped outside without having checked the weather app, and immediately ran back inside!  The 55-60⁰F (13-15⁰C) temps we enjoyed on Sunday were gone, and the 40⁰F (4.5⁰C) bluster was blowing down to a 32⁰F (FREEZING) wind chill.  So after putting on our winter coats and Mongolian hats, we headed back out.  “There’s no such thing as too cold; only inadequate clothing!” (Ron Gifford, Canadian) 😁

So that has nothing to do with this “food blog” today.  Sunday afternoon the “baking bug” bit me again as I was ogling the strawberries Anita had bought, and wondering if I should try another pie or something new.  Thinking of the pie as more of a wintery treat, I decided on cupcakes, but with some idiosyncratic attempts to make them “my own.”  (Some would say “idiotic” but we’re not listening to them! 😂)  This blog, btw, comes on the heels of Smitha’s Bake Love’s blog which has such fantastic floral buttercream cupcakes that I could almost taste them on the computer screen.  Please read about my cupcakes before visiting her site, as once there you will find delicious cakes, breakfasts, breads, cookies, and even soups, salads and almond milk and you may never leave!  She politely tried to encourage me as a beginner, but I guess that’s what happens when you see what the pros can do 😞.

As usual, start with getting everything together to make sure you have what you need.  Yields 12 cupcakes.

  • 1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour (300 mL)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (5 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (2.5 grams)
  • 5 tablespoons softened unsalted butter (65 grams)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (120 mL)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (2.5 mL)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk (60 mL)
  • 3/4 cup medium chopped strawberries (180mL)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (120 mL)

   

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350⁰F (175⁰C).
Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
In a larger bowl, beat the butter, vanilla and sugar together at medium speed until it is as fluffy as the sugar will let it get.  Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with each stage of the beating.
Add the first egg, blending it completely for at least one minute.  After it is fully blended, add the second and thoroughly blend it as well, again scraping the sides.  Beat for at least one additional minute on medium speed.

Add about 1/3 of the dry flour mixture and beat at medium speed to fully mix.
Follow this with about 1/2 of the milk and again beat to fully mix.
Repeat with the remaining dry mixture and milk, and beat until the batter is smooth.
Add the walnuts and then gently fold in the strawberries without beating.

 

Spoon into lined a muffin tin pan, filling each cup about 3/4 to 4/5 full.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the tops are cracking and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before removing.

Cook’s privilege. 😉

For the Strawberry Butter Frosting you will need:
1/2 cup of pureed strawberries
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar (confectioners)
3/4 cup softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt

Directions:  While the cupcakes are cooling, place the strawberries and brown sugar in a blender to puree.  I tried to use my Cuisinart Smart Stick chopper, but it was not nearly fine enough, so I put it in the Osterizer blender and pulsed it to thoroughly puree it.

If you want reeeally smooth frosting, press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve before heating, but since the only sieve I have as yet is not very fine, I just put the mixture into the saucepan over medium heat for five minutes.  Once it begins bubbling, stir very frequently to constantly to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  The puree should reduce to about 1/3 cup. (Note: in my picture I made waaaay too much because I started with 1-1-2 cup of chopped strawberries! 😱)
After removing from heat, cool the mixture completely in the refrigerator or freezer.

Beat the butter and powdered sugar together with the vanilla and salt until it is light and fluffy.
Once the puree is cold, add it to the butter mixture and beat on high speed for three minutes or until it is very fluffy.
If it is too thin gradually add more powdered sugar until it reaches a slightly firm consistency.  Remember, it will set a little more when it is refrigerated and the butter congeals.
However, if it is too thick, thin it down by adding little by little a few drops of milk.
Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and enjoy!  If you want it really fancy like Smitha’s Bake Love, you will have to get an icing pipe with its various tips which I do not have yet.
Since fresh strawberries are in the mixes, the cupcakes should be refrigerated.  If you have leftover frosting (and I had a LOT!), store it in the fridge as well and use if for buttering toast or spreading on bagels.

I topped each of the cupcakes with a strawberry that had been marinated with sugar for an hour.
Since Anita does not care for sweets much, I left half the cupcakes unfrosted, but actually the strawberry butter is not too sweet, certainly not as sweet as Anita. 😊