Monday, May 20, 2013

Sponsored Video: American Cancer Society's 100th Birthday

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the American Cancer Society. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own, I am honored to have this opportunity to tell my story as part of the American Cancer Society 100th Birthday Celebration.

This month marks a milestone birthday for the American Cancer Society, an organization that during that time has led the way in saving lives and creating birthdays for so many. It was through the vision and determination of a group of 15 physicians and business leaders in 1913 who had a mission to raise awareness of cancer that this organization was formed. 100 years later, the work they have accomplished and continue to do every single day is monumental. I am continually amazed by their constant strides, including contributing to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the US since the early 1990s. That is nearly 1.2 million lives, a truly staggering testament to their mission in action.

Cancer has touched my life several times over. In 2009, I had a profound experience with a loved one's cancer diagnosis. Back home in Oklahoma, my maternal grandmother began having symptoms indicating that she might need a colonoscopy. It was during that colonoscopy that her doctor, Dr. Minor detected through a biopsy that she had colon cancer. I remember the day she was given her cancer diagnosis. I have thought many times over about what if it had been me in the patient chair being given that diagnosis. I was completely numb and stunned, and I was a family member, not the patient. I will never forget how Dr. Minor chose to give her diagnosis to her. Not the words, "You've got cancer." We waited to see if he would say those words. Instead he told her about the surgery he wanted to do. It was the surgery she would have so she could "beat the cancer". She and I, along with my future husband Craig, looked up Dr. Minor stunned. I saw the stunned look flow across my grandmother's aged face. She determined to have the surgery and the days in between were filled with so many emotions. I remember her words to me as she prepared for my to take her to the hospital that morning, "I want you to know I am going to go into that surgery room FIGHTING to live for you!" That she did. I remember the look of joy and elation on her face several months later when a local "Relay for Life" team had her stand to be honored as a cancer survivor at a Mother's Day tea fundraiser.
The American Cancer Society's campaign to increase the number of birthdays by beating cancer touches me to the core because of the reality I experienced first-hand in my life with Grandma Cleva living to celebrate another birthday after beating colon cancer. 

I was blessed to be raised in a family who taught me early on in life about the important work the American Cancer Society does and since my childhood in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it has been an amazing feeling to see them play a role in nearly every cancer research breakthrough in recent history. For the past several years, I have supported my friends and family during their fundraising efforts for the annual "Relay for Life" in their communities, watching with pride from the sidelines in my own community as cancer survivors begin the event by walking a victory lap. 

100 years later, the American Cancer Society stands strong in their commitment to a world where there are more birthdays celebrated. Their goals include helping people facing cancer have the help they need, such as transportation to their treatments and a place to stay when they get there. They are committed to keep fighting for cancer research funding, quality health care access for everyone, lifesaving screenings.
Singer Josh Groban lends his amazing voice to the "Finish the Fight" TV commercial you can view below and I think it conveys a powerful message of exactly what it means for the American Cancer Society to finish the fight.  

This post is sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day Gift from the Heart: "Homemade Lemon Curd"

I'm a big fan of homemade food gifts and this Mother's Day is no exception. This year, I have made jars of homemade lemon curd for some of the special ladies in my life. I prepare my lemon curd with a no double-boiler needed method, using low heat, then medium heat. I do the "spoon test" to check when the mixture is ready to be removed from heat and strained. 

Lemon curd...I could go on-and-on about all the virtues of this tangy, bright yellow delight.  It originated in jolly old England and is very popular there to this day. It is a perfect filling for tarts and cakes. I love to spread some on a shortbread cookie. Serving some with scones or pound cake at tea time is a great way to channel your inner Downton Abbey!  

Preparation Tips: 
- Older eggs are actually great for using in a lemon curd because the egg white has broken down and helps keep the egg from curdling.   

 -Certain types of saucepans made of materials such as plain aluminum will react with the acid in the lemons and will cause the lemon curd to have a metallic flavor. Make sure you are using a heavy-based, nonreactive saucepan made from a material such as stainless steel, anodized aluminum or enamel.

- When you get to the step where you add the lemon juice and lemon zest, your mixture will look like a soupy and curdled mess. Don't worry because the remaining preparation steps are how the lemon curd gets its smooth and creamy texture.  

"Southern Fried Bride's Luscious Lemon Curd"
*makes two half-pint jars or one pint-size jar

3/4 stick butter, firm at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (if using fresh lemons, juice lemons then strain out the pulp and discard)

2 teaspoons lemon zest (zest of 2 medium lemon rinds) 

In mixing bowl, add butter and sugar. Cream with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes.  Add eggs and yolks one at a time.  Beat well for one minute.  Slowly mix in lemon juice, then lemon zest. Pour into a medium-size heavy saucepan and cook on low heat until mixture becomes smooth in appearance. C
lip a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Increase heat to medium and stir frequently until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. If you are not using a candy thermometer, watch mixture closely and stir frequently for 15 minutes, then do spoon test to see if mixture is ready by mixture being able to coat the back of a spoon. Do not let the mixture boil. Turn off heat and remove saucepan from the stove top immediately. Place wire strainer over heat-safe bowl and pour mixture into strainer to strain bits of cooked egg from mixture. When mixture has been strained, allow mixture to cool at room temperature. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools. When mixture has cooled, transfer into pint-size jar, two half-pint jars. Cover the top of jar(s) with plastic wrap to prevent forming a skin over the curd mixture and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Remove from refrigerator and cover jars with tightly sealed lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy! 

Mother's Day Memories: "Granma's Buttermilk Layer Cake"

This year marks my 4th Mother's Day without my Granma Cleva. I miss her countlessly each and every day. This year I decided I would create a special cake in her memory. I looked no further for a "special" ingredient than one of her favorites throughout her life: buttermilk. To me, buttermilk is steeped in the Southern landscape. It was surely passed on to Granma through her mother, Alabama belle and my namesake Ollie Eugenia as Ollie began life as a wife and mother along Northeast Oklahoma's Illinois River. Granma never wavered in her love for buttermilk through the years. Some of my early childhood memories are when she would enjoy a concoction of cornbread soaked in buttermilk.

The woman who was of the utmost inspiration to me in her kitchen passed down her love of buttermilk to me. When Granma had colon cancer surgery in 2008 and as a result, came down with a serious case of pneumonia in skilled nursing unit for after-care, I remember the moment I stood by her bedside in the hospital and she had fought off the pneumonia. She looked up at me and her first word was "buttermilk".
I decided I would take to my kitchen and create my take on a Southern classic, buttermilk cake. This layer cake was very well-received by my family members who taste-tested it for me. I was happy with how this cake turned out and I have lovingly given it the name, "Granma's Buttermilk Cake". I think she would like this cake and that thought brings a smile to my face.


"Granma's Buttermilk Layer Cake"                                                                                                                                                   

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 8-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and dusting of flour. In large bowl, add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until combined and set aside. In large mixing bowl, add shortening and beat with mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. Add dry flour mixture to shortening mixture in thirds, adding buttermilk to mixture between flour additions, until all of buttermilk and flour mixture has been added. Beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and mix only until combined. Pour batter into cake pans. Bake 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks.                      

"Granma's Buttermilk Frosting"
 *makes 4 cups (frosts 2 layer cake)

2 sticks butter, softened
8 cups powdered sugar
½ cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In large bowl, add butter and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat at medium speed 5 minutes, or until smooth.  If thinner frosting is desired, add an additional 1/2 teaspoon of buttermilk to mixture until it reaches your desired consistency. Frost cooled cake. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo is here: "Easy, Cheesy Enchiladas"

Cinco de Mayo, celebrated on May 5th, is a commemoration of the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). In the United States, this holiday has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. I love to celebrate the spirit of this day by making  some of my favorite Mexican food dishes. At the top of my list of favorites is cheese enchiladas and here is  my recipe that can be easily adapted to make enchiladas for fewer or more people. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

"Southern Fried Bride's Easy, Cheesy Enchiladas"
Makes 8 enchiladas

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

8 (8 inch) flour tortillas, warmed

3 1/2 cups Kraft 2% shredded Mexican Four Cheese Blend

1/2 cup light sour cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove tortillas from oven and increase heat to 350 degrees. Coat 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. In large saucepan, combine tomato sauce, water and chili powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Spoon 2 tablespoons chili sauce over each tortilla. In large bowl, combine 3 cups shredded cheese, sour cream and salt. Stir until well- combined and place 1/3 cup of cheese mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Pour remaining chili sauce over top. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake 4-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Garnish, if desired, with sour cream, lettuce or other favorite toppings. Enjoy! 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Celebrating a true American treasure on Derby Day: "Kentucky Bourbon Walnut Sweet Bread"

As hundreds of thousands gather in Louisville to celebrate the 139th Kentucky Derby, another American treasure is in the spotlight at Churchill Downs, where they expect to serve 120,000 of classic Bourbon drink the Mint Julep today. Kentucky is the birthplace of Bourbon, producing 95 percent of the world’s supply. According to the Kentucky Distillers' Association, Bourbon production in 2012 topped the one million mark for the first time since 1973. Only Kentucky has the perfect natural mix of climate, conditions and pure limestone water necessary for producing the world’s best Bourbon.

Did you know that Bourbon is America’s only and "Official Native Spirit"? This was declared by Congress in 1964. 

On this Derby Day, I made a Bourbon-infused sweet bread. This makes a wonderful dessert and is perfect for a breakfast or tasty snack. Happy Derby Day!  

"Southern Fried Bride's Bourbon Walnut Sweet Bread" 

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 stick butter, softened

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons Kentucky Bourbon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with flour. In mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside. In separate bowl, cream brown sugar and butter. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients to mixture. Add milk and mix well. Stir in walnuts. Stir in bourbon. Pour into loaf pan and bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Enjoy!

Kentucky Derby Refreshment: "Mint Julep Cupcakes"

Derby Day is here. The 2013 Kentucky Derby will be underway today in Louisville's renowned Churchhill Downs. The first Kentucky Derby race occurred in 1875 and is a 1.25 mile race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses. Nearly 100 of the horses that have won the Kentucky Derby were actually born in the state of Kentucky, making horses from the Bluegrass state the most likely to win the race.

The event is also known for its fashion parade by a number of both females and males in the grandstands and a renowned "Derby Hat Parade" consisting of a throng of unique, colorful and in some cases truly one-of-a-kind hat creations.

The Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. It is an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint, and a sweet syrup and is traditionally served in a commemorative Kentucky Derby glass. Churchill Downs expects to serve 120,000 mint juleps today! Here is my recipe tribute in cupcake form to this legendary derby drink. I bake these mint julep cupcakes to serve family and friends while we watch the race widely-known as "The Run for the Roses".

"Southern Fried Bride's Mint Julep Cupcakes"

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup "Maker's Mark" Kentucky Bourbon 
1/4 cup Creme de Menthe liquor 

Preheat the oven to 350ยบ F, and grease or line 24 cupcake cups. In mixing bowl, add 1 cup of flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In separate bowl, add butter, sugar, eggs, and extracts and mix at medium speed until creamy. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add milk, bourbon and Creme de Menthe liquors to the batter, then the remaining 1 cup of flour. Stir lightly, only enough for batter to combine. Divide batter evenly into cupcake liners. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Cool before frosting..
"Mint Delight Frosting"
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon mint extract  

In large bowl, cream butter with mixer on medium speed. Add confectioner's sugar one cup at a time, mixing between additions. Add mint extract. Beat at medium speed for 5 minutes, or until frosting reaches creamy consistency. Spread frosting over cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!