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DIY Strawberry Syrup & Strawberry Italian Cream Sodas

A simple syrup made with strawberries and sugar perfect for, pancakes, ice cream, and these yummy Italian Cream Sodas.

 
Spring is here and so are all those beautiful seasonal berries that go along with it. Strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are my favorite summer treat! When late May
and early June roll around, it's berry picking time in North Texas. 

Currently our local pick-your own strawberry farm is closed most likely due to all the heavy rains we've received. Our lawns our fully saturated right now, so the ground can't take too much more rain. Mother nature can be a blessing and a beast at times, but the much needed rain is certainly welcomed. 

If you can't pick your own strawberries the next best thing is farmers markets, road side stands, or supermarket strawberries. Strawberry season is usually in full swing around mid - late spring at my local Walmart. Once I start seeing those red beauties pop up I usually can't contain myself, because everyone in my house is crazy about strawberries. 

Today I want to share a few tips to keep in mind when purchasing supermarket strawberries. When selecting strawberries, choose smaller, bright-red berries with a sweet aroma (giving the berries a good sniff is important). Turn the container over and inspect the bottom. 

Make sure the bottom of the containers are not stained (stained containers are a sign of over ripe, soft, mushy berries). Never purchase containers that have moldy berries inside. Always use fresh berries as soon as possible because strawberries are very perishable, and do not ripen any further after picking. 

When strawberries are in season, I tend to pick up a package or two just about anytime I'm in the grocery store. Last week was no different during a quick stop into Walmart for a few grilling essentials, I spotted a display of fresh strawberries priced at $1.50 for 16 oz packages and $2.98 for a 32 oz size. 

I've been wanting to try my hand at making Homemade Strawberry Syrup, so the timing was perfect. My family doesn't care for store bought syrups, so I thought homemade would be a better option. I used a easy recipe consisting of the basics, strawberries, water and sugar. The strawberry syrup turned out awesome!    

The next day I used the homemade syrup to make these tasty Strawberry Italian Cream Sodas to enjoy during our cookout. Everyone loved them and they're super simple to make. Italian Cream Sodas are a huge crowd-pleaser, making them perfect for parties and celebrations. These would be a great addition to your Memorial Day celebration. 

 
Today I have two recipes to share with you. One for a homemade strawberry syrup, and the second for Italian cream sodas. The ingredients you will  need for the Italian cream soda's are: Half & Half, club soda, strawberry syrup, whipped cream, and strawberries for garnish. Both of the complete recipes are listed below.  


DIY Strawberry Syrup

1 - 16 oz package fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into quarters
1 - cup sugar
1 1/4  - cups water
mesh strainer
mason jar

Wash, hull, and quarter the strawberries. Place the strawberries into a medium size saucepan. Cover the strawberries with 1 1/4 cups water and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes (skimming off any foam).  After about 20 minutes the strawberries will have lost their color and the water will be pink in color.  

Remove the pan from heat, strain the strawberries through a fine mesh strainer, and add the syrup to another clean pot. Do not push down on the strawberries to remove more juice. Set the strawberries aside.

Add 1 cup of sugar to the strawberry liquid. Bring the mixture back to a boil while stirring the sugar so it dissolves. 
 Reduce heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes (skim any additional foam). 

Using an immersion blender or food processor blend the strawberries until fine and add back to the pot containing the syrup.  If you don't like seeds just toss the berries out. Let the syrup simmer for 5 more minutes. 

Remove from the heat to allow the syrup to cool completely. When cool pour into a pint size mason jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 - 4 weeks.

Cook's Note: if you prefer a thicker syrup you can simmer the mixture longer so it reduces and thickens more. This recipe can also be used to make raspberry syrup using fresh raspberries. 


Recipe yields: about 1 1/2 cups syrup


Strawberry Italian Cream Soda

1/4 - cup strawberry syrup 
6 - oz club soda
3 - tablespoon half & half 
whipped cream 
ice 

Fill a tall glass or pint size mason jar about 2/3 full with ice. Pour in the strawberry syrup and add the club soda.  

Slowly add the half & half and stir just before drinking. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a fresh strawberry. 




For more great tips and berry recipes check out the Fresh Spring Flavors section on Walmart's Food & Celebration  page. 

You can also check out my my previous Walmart spring berry posts for this Easy No Bake Flag Cake & this beautiful Strawberry Cream Cake   





     


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Recipe Round-Up: Red, White & Blue Desserts & Treats

Memorial Day is this weekend! Celebrate the Red, White & Blue with these sweet treats and tasty desserts. If you're looking for a few ideas for your Memorial Day get together check out this Red, White & Blue Recipe Round-Up from some of my favorite food blogs.

 
Maybe you're hosting a cookout or you're looking for something festive to make and take to a celebration. Either way I think you've come to the right place.  Today I've gathered over 30 recipes that I think will be perfect for your upcoming Memorial Day celebration. Click on the titles under each of the photos to be taken to the recipes.    



Flag Cookie Cake - Mommy Hates Cooking 


Easy No Bake Flag Cake - Mommy's Kitchen 

Patriotic Jell-O Marshmallows - The Country Cook 

Strawberry Delight - Southern Bite 


Berry Shortcake - Mommy Hates Cooking 

Cherry Spoon Cake - Recipes That Crock 

Strawberry Angel Fluff - Mommy Hates Cooking 

Strawberry Dessert Pizza - Mommy's Kitchen 


Patriotic Pudding Pops - Life in The Lofthouse 

Cherry Crescent Cobbler - The Country Cook 


Red Velvet Brownies - Goodeness Gracious 


Patriotic Jell-O Poke Cake - Mommy's Kitchen 

Cherry Pie Fluff - The Country Cook 

Strawberry Cream Cake - South Your Mouth 


Skinny Strawberry Cheesecake Dip - Life in The Lofthouse 

Red, White & Blue Spoon Brownies - Goodeness Gracious 


Patriotic Sandwich Cookies - Mommy's Kitchen 

Blueberry Muffin Cake - The Country Cook 


White Texas Sheet Cake - Life in The Lofthouse 


Blueberry Banana Cream Pie - Mommy's Kitchen 

Red Velvet Brownies - Southern Bite 




Pin this Red, White and Blue Recipe Round up to your Patriotic Pinterest Board. 


     


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No Bake Flag Cake & Patriotic Pretzel Rods

A quick and easy no bake flag cake celebrating red, white and blue. Everyone will love this simple patriotic dessert.     

Happy Thursday everyone! Today I have a no fuss recipe to share with you. Are you having a Memorial Day cookout with family and friends? If so I have the perfect dessert! How about this festive No Bake Flag Cake!

The best part is this light and fluffy flag cake is made without turning on the oven! This recipe starts with store bought pound cake, strawberry glaze, and a creamy whipped cream and cream cheese topping. Fresh blueberries and chopped strawberries are added to create festive stars and stripes.

Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and woman who died serving in our country's armed forces. It's a day to pay respect to all who have lost their lives making the ultimate sacrifice. Sometimes all of us can get caught up in cookouts and barbecues and forget the true meaning of Memorial Day. 

I grew up in a military family and several of my family members are still dedicating their lives to our armed forces. Cookouts and holiday celebrations give us all a chance to spend quality time with family and friends, but please take time from your Memorial Day festivities to pay respect and pray for those who died while serving in our countries U.S Military. For their families it is more than a barbecue or cookout. 

If you do have a get together this Memorial Day weekend remember every great cookout should end on a sweet note, so I hope you'll give this No Bake Flag Cake a try. 

I love super simple desserts that require no baking especially when it's hot outside. This easy red, white, and blue desserts comes together in no time with just a handful of ingredients found at your local Walmart.

For the cake base I used pound cake from the bakery department at Walmart. This was the first time I have tried their pound cake and it was delicious. I usually purchase Sara Lee's pound cake, but this was really moist and priced at only $2.98 each. I have included some easy step-by-step photos of how easy this cake came together.  



No Bake Flag Cake 

 
2 - 12 oz bakery pound cakes or homemade, cut into one inch cubes
2 - cups store bought strawberry glaze or (1) recipe homemade glaze (recipe below) 
1 - 16 oz container fresh strawberries, chopped and separated
4 - ounces cream cheese, softened 
1 - 16 oz container heavy whipping cream
1 - teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 - cup powdered sugar
1/2 - pint fresh blueberries 

If using homemade strawberry glaze, prepare the glaze first so it has sufficient time to cool. If using store bought glaze omit this step (I used homemade glaze). 

Cut the pound cake into one inch cubes and arrange in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

Add the strawberry glaze over the pound cake and spread evenly. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries over the glaze.

Prepare the whipped cream topping, by whipping the cream slowly until the cream is lightly thickened and soft peaks start to form. Add the softened cream cheese to a separate bowl and whip until creamy.

Add the cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar to the heavy whipping cream, and continue whipping until the cream forms semi stiff peaks.

Drop the whipped cream mixture by dollops over the strawberry glaze and spread evenly to cover the glaze completely.

Add the fresh blueberries and remaining chopped strawberries to resemble a flag. Refrigerate cake for at least 2 hours before serving. Refrigerate any leftovers.

servings: 12-16

Cook's Note: Store bought strawberry glaze is not always in stock at my grocery store, so I have included a homemade version if you're unable to find it. Raspberries can also be substituted for strawberries. 



Homemade Strawberry Glaze

Ingredients:
2 - cups sugar
2 - cups water
6 - tablespoons cornstarch
6 - tablespoons strawberry gelatin (Jell-O)

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and cornstarch. Cook over medium high heat until it boils and thickens. 

You will know the mixture is thick enough when it coats the back of a spoon. Remove glaze from heat, add gelatin, and mix to combine using a wire whisk. Cool glaze before using. 

I also made up a batch of these fun Patriotic Pretzel Sticks! These chocolate dipped pretzel rods are super simple to make and and are perfect for your Memorial Day table. Everyone will love the sweet and salty combination of these yummy pretzel treats. I made two varieties, white chocolate, milk chocolate with caramel.  



Patriotic Pretzel Sticks

1 - 12 oz package pretzel rods (I used Great Value)
12 - ounces (1/2 a package) Plymouth pantry vanilla bark
12 - ounces (1/2 a package) Plymouth pantry chocolate bark
1 - cup Kraft caramel bits
2 - 3 tablespoons water
red, white, and blue holiday sprinkles

Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Rods: 

In a small bowl add the caramel bits and the water. Using the defrost setting melt the caramel until smooth and runny. 

Place one end of a pretzel rod into the caramel, and spoon the melted caramel over at least 3/4 of the length of the pretzel rod. lightly tap the pretzel on the side of the bowl to remove excess caramel. Lay the pretzel rods on parchment paper to set the caramel.  

In a small bowl melt the chocolate bark on the defrost setting of your microwave until smooth (about 6 minutes) I melt the chocolate in 3 minute intervals, remove, stir, and melt the last 3 minutes.   

Dip each caramel covered pretzel rod into the melted chocolate and spoon the chocolate over the caramel. Lightly tap the pretzel on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. Add sprinkles and place pretzels on parchment paper until set. 


Vanilla Dipped Pretzel Rods:
In a small bowl melt the vanilla bark on the defrost setting of your microwave until smooth (about 6 minutes) I melt the chocolate in 3 minute intervals, remove, stir, and melt the last 3 minutes.  

Dip each pretzel rod into the melted vanilla bark and spoon the melted vanilla over 3/4 of the length of each pretzel. Lightly tap the pretzel on the side of the bowl to remove any excess vanilla bark. Add sprinkles and place on pretzels on parchment paper until set. 






For more great patriotic recipe ideas stop by the Food & Celebration page at Walmart.com

If you're looking for more Patriotic recipe ideas check out my Walmart posts for these easy Red, White & Blue Mini Fruit Pizzas and this Red, White & Blueberry Angel Fluff.     


     


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Mexican Pork Pozole {Red Pozole}

Pork Pozole is a traditional Mexican inspired soup made with pork, hominy, and red chilis. This authentic soup can be made using pork or chicken. 

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today I'm sharing a recipe for Mexican Pork Pozole. Living in Texas I'm able to not only enjoy wonderful southern food, but also delicious Tex/Mex inspired dishes as well. Growing up my step dad was Mexican so I was introduced to a variety of wonderful authentic Mexican dishes. 

One dish that stands out for me is Menudo. When it comes to menudo I have found that you either love it or hate it. For me I love it! I don't get to enjoy it as much as I used to, but when I do get the chance I never turn down a hot bowl of menudo.  

Another wonderful Mexican soup is Pozole. Similar to Menudo, but Pozole consists of only chunks of meat (pork or chicken), hominy and flavored with red chili peppers. Pozole is served with shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, chopped onion, fresh limes, oregano and salt and pepper.

Pozole is composed of the simplest of ingredients, but yields the most delicious authentic soup. The flavor of the guajillo chili peppers is what really give this soup it's delicious authentic broth. I could eat this soup every day if I had the chance.

Since today is Cinco de Mayo I thought it would be fitting to share one of my favorite Mexican inspired soups with you. I understand that Cinco de Mayo is not an american holiday, but it's still nice to celebrate different cultures and holidays especially through food. Not to mention it's a nice excuse to enjoy some great authentic Mexican food. 

Lets get started on the recipe. You will need dried chili cascavel (guajillo peppers) for this recipe. The flavor of these peppers really give this pozole it's authentic flavor. These chili peppers are located in the spice isle or the Latin isle of most any grocery store. 

Place pork roast, onions, garlic, and bay leafs in a large 8 quart stock pot, and fill about 2/3 full with water (The pork roast can be seared in a skillet on both sides with a bit of oil before adding to the stock pot). Cook the pork roast about 1-2 hours or until the meat is cooked through and tender. While the meat is cooking add the chili peppers to a saucepan with water and cook until soft and then remove the seeds. See the recipe below for complete directions. 

Serve this pork pozole with a variety of toppings such as, shredded cabbage, sliced radishes, chopped onions. lime juice and dried mexican oragano. 


Mexican Pork Pozole

1 - 3 lb pork sirloin tip roast, pork shoulder roast or pork stew meat
water (see recipe for amount)
1 - large onion, quartered
8-  cloves of garlic
2 - bay leafs
1 - 3/4 oz package dried chili cascavel (guajillo peppers), seeded
1/2 - teaspoon dried Mexican oregano 
6 - 15 oz cans white hominy, rinsed (prefer bush's brand)
1/2 - teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste
garnish, radishes, limes, cabbage, cilantro, chopped onion, and dried oregano

Place pork roast, onions, garlic, and bay leafs in a large 8 quart stock pot, and fill about 2/3 full with water. Bring the water to a boil then reduce heat and simmer the pork roast about 1-2 hours or until the meat is cooked through and tender. 

While the meat is cooking add the guajillo chili peppers to a saucepan with water and cook until soft. When the pork roast is cooked, remove the meat to a serving plate and cool before cutting into smaller pieces.

Drain and reserve the broth from the pork roast and add it back into the stock pot. Keep the onions, garlic, but discard the bay leaves.  

Add the onions and garlic to a blender; drain the peppers, remove the seeds and add the peppers to the blender. I like to add about 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano as well.   

Add 1 - 2 cups of reserved broth and blend well. (you may have to strain the broth if the blender does not chop up all the skin from the chili peppers). If this happens you can throw out the pulp or add it back to the pozole.

Add the strained mixture back to the stock pot with the broth. Cut the pork into 1 inch pieces and add back to the stock pot. Add the rinsed hominy, cumin, salt and pepper. 

Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce heat to a medium low and simmer for about 1 hour. Ladle into bowls and serve with assorted garnishes.

Cook's Note: The pork roast can be seared in a skillet with a bit of oil before adding to the stock pot. Searing the meat first gives the broth a rich flavor. 

adapted from: A cowboys wife 

Don't forget the tortillas. You can serve pozole with corn or flour tortillas it's your preference. I have included a a recipe for Homemade Flour Tortillas that would pair perfectly with this delicious pork pozole. 

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May Menu - Menu Plan Monthly

Happy May Everyone!!! Today I have my May Menu Plan for you. I hope y'all find something you like.  Any dish noted with {New} is a recipe I plan to, prepare and will post the recipe as I make them. I hope you enjoy another delicious month!!


May Dinner Menu 


Honey Lime Grilled Chicken, Grilled Corn & Cilantro Lime Rice 
Easy Lasagna, French Bread & Olive Garden Salad

Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice & Beans
Margherita Pizza {Friday Night - Pizza Night}
Cheeseburger Pie {New} & Salad 
No Fail Pot Roast W/Potatoes & Carrots 
Sticky Asian Chicken W/Whole Grain Pasta or Spaghetti Squash
Grilled Chicken Bombs, Baked Sweet Potatoes & Grilled Veggies
Smothered Chicken, Brown Rice & Skillet Asparagus
Franks & Beans, Cornbread & Fruit Salad 
Salisbury Steak & Gravy, Brown Rice & Green Beans
Chicken Corden Bleu Casserole , Salad & Honey Wheat Rolls
Buttermilk Bacon Waffles, Scrambled Eggs {New} & Fresh Fruit 
Baked Texas Chili Dogs {New} & Baked French Fries  
Chicken Alfredo Stuffed Shells {New}Roasted Broccoli
Skillet Spaghetti , Italian Green Beans & Bread Sticks
Cowboy Up Beans & Cornbread {New} & Strawberry-Banana Cheesecake Salad
Chicken, Bacon Veggies Pizza {Friday Night - Pizza Night}
Moms Meaty Cornbread Skillet, Crunchy Asian Slaw & Fruit 
Honey Barbecue Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes & Steamed Carrots
Easy Smoked Ribs, Potato Packets, Pasta Salad, Baked Beans & Grilled Zucchini 
Copykat Pizza Hut Pan Pizza {Friday Night - Pizza Night} 
Chicken Tacos & Black Bean & Cheese Quesadillas
Barbecue Pork Roast, French Bread Rolls & Coleslaw 
Taco Salad 
Sticky Chicken Legs, Macaroni & Cheese, Fruit & Veggie Sticks
Carson's Birthday {Eating Out - Campisis Pizza} 


Desserts:
Peanut Butter Cake W/Peanut Butter Icing {New}

Mandarin Orange Cake 
Grilled Peaches W/Vanilla Ice Cream
Old Fashioned Chocolate Cobbler 

These meals will get us through most of the month. I have left a few meal spots open for last minute recipes or for eating out. For more menu planning inspiration check out my menu planning tab

     

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Gooseberry Patch - Celebrating 20 Years of Homestyle Cookbooks

 

 

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