#FRIDAYFOOD Valentine’s Day

pb0210-1_strawberry-cake_s4x3I think I have had strawberry cake every Valentine’s Day of my life. Sometimes it would be heart-shaped, sometimes cupcakes, but always strawberry.

Valentine’s Day is my birthday. Everybody says, “Aweeeee.” My brother’s birthday is Feb. 18, so growing up, we always had birthday parties together. Easier on my parents, I guess. One year, we received three set of Chinese checkers! When we moved to Mattoon, Ill. when I was in the fourth grade, we found marbles all over the house in strange tucked-away areas. Too funny!

One year, when my husband and I were newly-married, I off-handedly said I always wanted to have a birthday party at McDonalds. That was a big deal in the late 70s-early 80s—long before there was a McDonald’s in our area.

My cousin, Tracey, had a McDonalds Birthday party when they lived in Tupelo. There was the playground, the French fries – it was wonderful!

I think it was the year I turned 30, when Pepper’s Uncle George and Aunt Margie threw a “McDonald’s” birthday party at their house for my birthday! There was a huge yellow “M” on the carport. Everyone had McDonald hats and toys! It was WONDERFUL and hilarious! When Uncle George went to McDonalds to buy toys and party favors, the McDonalds worker asked him how old the “birthday girl” would be. When Uncle George said “30” he laughed and gave him the toys for free!

And, as always, we had strawberry cake. My mother-in-law, Sandra Sisson, makes the best strawberry cake, and as it works out, we all have her strawberry cake on our birthdays (and special occasions and family reunions and any other time we ask for a strawberry cake! YUM!)

This recipe is VERY similar to Sandra’s Strawberry Cake. I do not think she uses cream cheese in the frosting, but that would be awesome!

Strawberry Cake

1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
7 cups confectioners’ sugar
Freshly sliced strawberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two (9-inch) round cake pans. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add pureed strawberries, eggs, oil, and water; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour into prepared pans, and bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
For the frosting: In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the strawberry extract. (The rest of the puree is leftover but can be used in smoothies or on ice cream for a delicious treat.) Gradually add confectioners’ sugar, beating until smooth.
Spread frosting in between layers and on top and sides of cake. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.

A Valentine’s treat I am going to work on this year will be heart-shaped cookies, decorated with fun colors and “Sweet Tart” messages!


½ pound butter, softened

2 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon of milk

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (170 degrees C). Mix butter in a mixer until light, add remaining ingredients. Knead until velvety. Roll one-half of the dough at a time to about 1/4 inch thickness using the smallest amount of flour possible. Cut out and bake on a lightly greased pan for 12 minutes. Cookies will be almost white when cooked.


1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons milk

2 teaspoons light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon almond extract

Assorted food coloring

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

I am also a HUGE fan of cherry pie, cherry turnovers, cherry-filled doughnuts or cherry cheesecake for Valentine’s Day, or just for Thursday!

What great things will you be making at your house this Valentine’s Day? Send your recipes to gwenwoodssisson@yahoo.com.


See this column in the February 9, 2017 edition of The Winona Times.

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