Sweet & Tangy Strawberry-Vanilla-Banana Jam

Sweet & Tangy Strawberry-Vanilla-Banana Jam

I remember when I first started canning about 15 years ago. I thought I owned the world. To be able to create jams, jellies and preserves in flavors no store would ever have; to feel so danged “Earth Mother-ish”. It was empowering in its own weird way. The first thing I ever made was orange marmalade. It was, yet again with me, a case of not even realizing I had picked something that experienced cooks/canners don’t like to do and that the inexperienced canners balk at. I have a habit of that. Same thing happened the first time I made croissants not long after I started baking with yeast. I found out later that many experienced home bakers don’t like to attempt croissants because they can be touchy. I’ve always been like, “This sounds good… I want to make it” and I give it a try. Usually things go well. I suppose ignorance really is bliss, ehh? This particular jam is a favorite in my family. My son Jordan has to be stopped from just eating it out of the jar as dessert and my husband, who is diabetic, loves it even though it’s so NOT good for him. If you like the classic mix of strawberry banana, you will love this jam. And contrary to what you may think, home canning isn’t difficult at all. If you can mix, stir, ladle into jars and then boil sealed cans, you’ve got this. I will say what I say every time I post a canning recipe, however. Steer clear of recipes/web sites/blogs that tell you it is just fine and dandy to do things like seal your jars by turning them upside down or just putting a lid on and letting the inner heat seal them, etc. These methods are NOT safe. You’ll run into people who will say, “Oh, my gramma/great gramma/gramma 35 generations ago did it this way and everyone was just fine.” They’re wrong, plain and simple. We have no way of knowing how many illnesses, “Oh, she has a stomach virus” or even deaths back in the day were from food poisoning. Seal your cans the correct way and you’ll have tasty food that is safe. Here’s a wonderful site to check out if you’re new to canning- Fresh Preserving . It will guide you along in easy terms and make you see how simple this really is! You know the drill…. git to cooking. Erhmmm, canning. This makes about 8 half pint jars.

Sweet & Tangy Strawberry-Vanilla-Banana Jam

  • 4 3/3 cups prepared fruit (about 2 1/2 containers strawberries and 3 to 4 medium bananas)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (bottles is fine)
  • 1 box pectin (the powdered kind, not the liquid)
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter to help prevent excessive foaming
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 6 3/4 cups sugar (yes, this is the correct amount; jams take a fair amount of sugar to set properly and are NOT diet food 😛 )
  1. Prepare your jars as directed in the above link and set your lids in a bowl of bowling water to sterilize them.
  2. Stem your strawberries. Crush them and measure out exactly 3 1/4 cups of the mashed berries (if there is any left over, which is doubtful, just find another use for them). Mash the bananas and add exactly 1 1/2 cups of them in a large pot along with the mashed strawberries. Stir in the lemon juice and the vanilla.
  3. Stir the powdered pectin into the pot with the fruit. Make sure you have your sugar measured and at hand.
  4. Add the butter and bring the fruit/pectin mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that can’t be stirred away), stirring constantly.
  5. Pour in the sugar all at once. Still stirring constantly, bring the mixture back to a full rolling boil Once it gets there, boil for a full minute. Immediately remove form the heat and skim off any foam that has collected on top. Let the pot sit for five minutes, stirring about once every minute to help make sure the fruit doesn’t settle, but stays suspended throughout the mixture.
  6. Ladle into the prepared jars; wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean hot, wet cloth. Cover with the lids and process in boiling water for ten minutes. Remove form the water and let cool, set on a clean towel. You’ll hear a satisfying “ping!” as each jar seals.
  7. Label and store in a dark, cool place.

Sweet & Tangy Strawberry-Vanilla-Banana Jam 2   Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars (Recipe Redo)

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars

I am constantly amazed at how bad my photography skills were a few years ago. I’m no prize now, but at least I don’t cringe (most of the time) when I see my pictures. And I am constantly amazed that I make some things and then do the whole blogger thing of not making the it again because if I do that, I can’t use it in the blog. Totally silly of those of us who blog because in doing that, as we miss out on eating the most delicious things more than once. I haven’t made these bars since the first time I did in 2011. I have no idea why I have never made them again because, dang, these are awesome! It all comes down to, I think, what I said about how when you’re a blogger, you tend to not make the same things twice because if you do, it’s no longer blog fodder :-p

I made these a bit differently than the first time. I added more flavor to the crust, a bit to the filling and I used less chocolate chips on top, because, my God, what was I thinking last time with the amount of chips on there?! It’s a chocolate filling, for pete’s sake. it doesn’t needed a covering of chocolate thick enough to put a herd of elephants into a diabetic coma. So I cut it down. Now only one or two elephants are in danger of that coma.

These are fantastic pot luck or church supper fare; rich enough to be decadent yet not time consuming in the least. But once you try a bite, suddenly, you’ll forget to take the plate with you where ever you need to go. Instead, you’ll be that person hiding in the closet from your kids so that you can eat these in peace. Wait. I’m not the only one who does that, am I?

The crust for these are wonderfully crumbly to the bite, but not when you cut it. Then you have a layer of tangy sweetened berries, covered with a creamy chocolate filling, then crumbs on top. What’s not to love? Berries, chocolate, creamy and crumbs. 😀

You know the drill…

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Bars

  • CRUST-
  • 1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup slivered toasted almonds
  • 1 lb container fresh strawberries, capped and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 13×9 inch pan. Line with foil and grease the foil or spray with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, butter and powdered sugar. Sprinkle with the extracts. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour and sugar until you have pea sized crumbs. Fold in the slivered almonds
  4. Pat 2 cups of the crumb mixture into the bottom of the greased pan. Set the rest aside.
  5. Bake the crust for ten minutes or until a very light golden brown around the edges.
  6. Meanwhile, gently fold your sliced strawberries together with the preserves.
  7. In a small bowl, mix one cup of chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and extracts and microwave on high in 30 seconds increments, stirring after each one, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
  8. Carefully spread the strawberry mixture on top of the hot crust. Then pour the chocolate/milk mix on top of the berries and spread. Sprinkle that with the reserved crumbs and the rest of the chocolate chips.
  9. Bake at 350 for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the center is set.
  10. Let cool, preferably in the fridge for a couple of hours. Use the foil to lift the bars out of the pan to a large cutting board. Use a knife dipped in hot water then wiped dry to cut the bars into serving sized pieces.

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Ahem… Anybody Still Out There?

I know I know… I disappeared for a little bit (believe me; my FoodBuzz rating shows that I have been gone for a week and a half. Erhmmm…ack?) and shouldn’t be asking you if you are still out there. Instead I should be begging your forgiveness for leaving right?

C’mon now… you know I love you all dearly but can you REALLY see me begging for forgiveness? 😛 Didn’t think so.

I had to leave for a while… honest. Personal issues (and we know I’m just full of issues hehe) plus my grown kids were coming home for Christmas and I was getting too caught up in things that weren’t as important as that.

But… I’M BACK! And I come bearing goodies.

Ok, no I don’t. But I come bearing a recipe for goodies. Do your own baking darn it. 😀

I know a lot of people do New Years Day Brunches so I come bearing a scone recipe. Please say scones in a lively sort of upper crust British accent. Or Scottish. Scottish is good too. I expect a perfect accent before you even attempt to make these.

I was originally going to make a scone with other dried fruits and I am sure I will get to that at some point or another. But today, chocolate possessed me. Surprise huh? So I made chocolate covered strawberry scones. But as my strawberries were dried and rather chewy. added a shot of amaretto to them to rehydrate them. Honest, it HAD to be amaretto… water would not have worked. *Looks innocent* Then I made a creamy strawberry butter to slather all over these bad boys. Or maybe they were girls. I’m not sure; I didn’t check. I tend to leave the gender of baked goods alone. I am big on respecting the privacy of my scones.

Be warned; these spread a lot. So if you like precise more crisp edges, don’t put these close because they will blend together. if you like soft edges however, place them about an inch apart. Either way, they aren’t the prettiest daintiest looking scones in the world but darn, do they taste good!

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Scones

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar (plus sugar to sprinkle on the top)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (a stick and a half) of cold unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 4 ounce bag dried strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons amaretto
  • 1 cup dark or semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup strawberry preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Chop the dried strawberries and put them in a bowl with the amaretto. Set aside for about 15 minutes to soften.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender, cut in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In a measuring cup, combine the cream, extracts and the eggs. Beat well,
  5. Pour the cream mixture into the flour and mix just until combined.
  6. Mix in the strawberries (leave behind any excess liquid) and the chocolate chips.
  7. Dump mixture onto a lightly floured board and pat into a 1/4 inch thick circle (or triangle or hexagon if that’s your thing). Using a 2 inch biscuit cutter, cut out the scones and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Gently re-pat out the scraps and cut them. I got 12 scones and a teenie tiny baby scone from the dough.
  8. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown.
  9. To make the strawberry butter, combine the 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup strawberry preserves. Beat until fluffy. Do NOT forget to let your butter soften well or you will end up with strawberry butter that has noticeable butter pieces in it, like in my photo. Oops.
  10. Serve with strawberry butter. Think to yourself that these may not be pretty, but darn, do they taste good! 😛

Courtin’ The Volcano

You know how there are some things you just don’t ever make for whatever reason? Some people are fearful of working with yeast (that’s one that never bothered me. I think I was so young and inexperienced when I started using it I didn’t even realize I was supposed to be nervous lol), others don’t like grilling (I do it but I can understand the fear… I was there the day my two oldest boys and my son in law almost set the back porch and back wall on fire “lighting” {translate- using far too much lighter fluid and loving it} the grill.) Still others hate working with puff pastry (I still get nervous with it myself), others hate baking cakes (that’s why God let us invent box mixes 😛 ) and so on and so forth.

One of my things has always been the Lava Cake. I wasn’t scared of it in the least. I had read many recipes for it and for some reason it just didn’t appeal to me so I never tried it. But today, trying to figure out what to do for the blog, I was looking in the cabinets and saw that I had some bittersweet chocolate I needed to use before the boys decided my 3 dollar and fifty cent bag of Ghirardelli’s chocolate was perfect to make the “trail mix” they love to use odds and ends to make. Then I would be minus two teenage boys for a while as I hung them by their toenails off of the roof. Hmmmm, thinking about it, that sounds like it could be fun just for general purposes 😀

Moving on (titters and knows regular readers know why I am)… bittersweet chocolate to use. I also had some Raspberries and Strawberries that were beginning to look a bit peaked. So I decided that ok, it was time. I would make a Lava Cake and try to figure out what all the fuss was over a half cooked cake (cause really… that IS all it is if you think about it.) I figured I’d make a berry couli with it and if nothing else, how bad could ANYTHING be with smooshed berries and whipped cream with it. 😀

All I have to say is this… WHY THE HELL DIDN’T SOMEBODY MAKE ME ONE OF THESE AND FORCE IT INTO MY MOUTH YEARS AGO??! Shame on all of you for not writing me, say a decade ago (not knowing me then is no excuse darn it!) and telling me that I just HAD to try a Lava Cake.

Erhmmm, that was my way of saying I kinda liked it. Admittedly, I can’t lie, the berry couli was a big draw too but the gooey chocolate (aka the half cooked cake; I can’t lie to myself about that either) with the slightly crispy edge of the cooked part was…ummm… ehhh, it was ok I guess, if you’re gonna pin me down. FINE!! It was good! Happy now? I said it. Sheesh; some people. 😛

So try this. Right now. Go. Shoo. Get to the kitchen. Well, copy and print out the recipe first. But THEN… go. Cook. Eat. Drool. This recipe (the cake part anyway) comes from Paula Deen.

Chocolate Lava Cake


A Double Berry Couli

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped if needed
  • 2 ounces semi sweet chocolate, chopped if needed
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (NAHH!!! Not butter from a Paula Deen recipe 😛 )
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons orange liquor (Optional. I didn’t use it since I was using the berry couli)
  • For the couli-
  • 1 cups raspberries
  • 1 cup capped and sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Grease 6 6 ounce ramekins. Melt the butter and chocolates in the microwave (took a minute and 15 seconds in my 1000 watt microwave).
  3. Add the flour and sugar to the chocolate. Mix well.
  4. Add the eggs and egg yolks. Stir well until smooth (I used low on my mixer; worked fine) Stir in the vanilla and liquor if using.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins
  6. Bake at 425 for 14 minutes. Do NOT over bake. The edge should be firm but the middle still goopy (yes, I said goopy 😛 )
  7. Loosen the edge carefully with a butter knife then invert onto a dessert plate.
  8. For the couli-
  9. Mix berries, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture is slightly thickened. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pushing down on it to get all the juice.  Let cool. Serve the cake in a puddle of couli with lightly sweetened whipped cream or serve the couli on the sides for people to put on the amount they want. If the cakes cool down too much and the inside thickens up, just microwave it for 20 seconds or so.

Strange Dreams

Just could NOT get a good photo today. It's so gloomy out it's like shooting in a cave. 🙁

It’s funny how having kids makes you so aware of your own mortality. I think I’ve mentioned that I have six kids.  Yes, you read that right. Six. Five boys and one girl. Three are grown and married (in their twenties) and three (all boys) still live at home. They are Jordan, my sixteen year old, Zach, my 14 year old and Joshua my “omg what was I thinking having another child at my age” two year old. :-P. Josh is the one that makes me contemplate my own life more most of the time. His brothers have that effect some, especially Jordan, who I have mentioned before has a handful of major challenges he deals with wonderfully on a daily basis but not as much as my two year old terror. I find myself aware of every kink and every pain. There are times that every twinge becomes a harbinger of doom leaving me planning my estate and telling my husband what songs to play at my funeral (I never knew anyone could roll their eyes quite that much). It will of course be attended by 5000 grieving people. I’m not sure where they will come from since I’m rather shy in “real” life and am pretty sure I haven’t known 5000 people in all my 46 years. Maybe he can hire them? Or pull people off the street with the promise of cheap booze and free Doritos? I dunno. But that’s neither here nor there. They’ll be there. All 5000 of them… in our little house… probably with muddy feet, getting the carpet all dirty. Awww crap… I better plan for a carpet cleaner. Russ will never think of that.

Where was I? Doom… kids… mortality. Oh yeah; mortality. Seriously though,  you think differently when you have kids. Not saying it’s better or worse, just different. I wonder at times how old would my two year old would have to be to have concrete memories of me? Would he remember me reading him Dr. Seuss and being the “SNORT” in “Are You My Mother?” Would he smile when he smelled Lemon Vanilla cologne and not know it was because it reminded him of me? If I died today, would he remember our cuddle sessions in bed every morning after his daddy goes to work? Who would help Jordan and take care of him? Who would make sure Zach took out the garbage and stayed away from the computer when he was supposed to be doing chores? I also wonder what type of woman my husband would replace me with and if I can hunt her down now and let her know what a picky eater he is and how he has a tendency to…erhmmm… empty a room quickly at times. All I know is she’d better be 4’11” and weigh 300 pounds and not be able to cook. Just sayin’.

Introspection is annoying. It makes me write silly posts that have not a whit to do with cooking (though in defense the tag line of my blog DOES say “Cooking and life from a mom on the edge”. :-P.)  It comes into being from strange dreams where I wake up saying to myself “I’m going to die today”. Yeah, I know… freaky. Try being the one who woke up thinking it.

Ehhhhh, let’s eat.


  • CRUST-
  1. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • Filling-
  1. 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  2. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  3. 1 10 jar strawberry preserves
  4. 3 large eggs
  5. 1/4 cup flour
  6. 1 lb  fresh strawberries, sliced
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 cup sour cream
  9. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Topping-
  1. Whipped cream or creme fraiche
  2. strawberry pie filling of strawberry dessert topping
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • line a 13×9 baking pan with foil. Grease with butter or spray with non stick cooking spray
  • In a large bowl, mix butter and powdered sugar for crust. Beat well. Add vanilla and eggs, again beating well. Slowly beat in the two cups flour, beating at medium speed until it is fully mixed and crumbly. Pat into the bottom of the foil lined pan.
  • Bake at 350 for ten minutes while you make the filling.
  • Beat cream cheese and sugar at high speed just until mixed. Beat in the strawberry preserves.  Add three eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add in the vanilla extract, sour cream, heavy cream and flour, beating just until mixed. Overbeating anything cheesecakey (yes, that too is now a word 😀 ) is one thing that makes the cracks in the top. Fold in the sliced strawberries.
  • Spread the filling mixture on top of the crust and put back in the oven. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes or until it is just barely set in the middle. It can look somewhat shiny but shouldn’t be sloshy (don’t ya just love my directions? 😛 ). The residual heat will finish baking it.
  • Let cool for an hour on the counter then cover and refrigerate overnight. Trust me… it will be easier to cut if you do. If you want to serve it room temp, cut and plate it when cold then just let it sit out to come to temp.
  • Top with whipped cream or creme fraiche and strawberry topping.