The Pioneer Woman Shares Two Recipes with Chow Bella Before Arriving in Phoenix This Weekend to Sign Her New Cookbook

The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, is coming to our frontier!

On Saturday, April 28, Ree Drummond will be signing books and shaking hands with fans in celebration of her second book, "The Pioneer Woman Cooks Food From My Frontier," at an event sponsored by Changing Hands Bookstore.

The event will be held at 2 p.m. Dobson High School's auditorium. Find the details here.

The long-awaited cookbook is brimming with fully illustrated recipes that cover every meal. If you don't already know The Pioneer Woman, you're in for a pleasant surprise, because not only is Drummond damn funny, she's one of the most admirable jack of all trades on the Internet. Her award-winning blog, ThePioneerWoman.com, helped blaze the trail for turning blogs into success. She's even got her own slot on The Food Network.

And she kindly shared two recipes from her book with Chow Bella.

It's always best to start with dessert, and who could possibly resist this cake? Plus, strawberry season is here!

Strawberry Shortcake Cake Makes one 10-inch cake

I made this cake a few years ago on a whim . . . and what a delightful whim it turned out to be. It's a spin on strawberry shortcake, but the cake is, well, cake -- not the biscuit-like disc in the classic strawberry shortcake recipe. I added cream cheese frosting instead of whipped cream, just for kicks, and it turned out to be just what the whole mess of deliciousness needed.

This is one of my father-in-law's three favorite desserts. He likes to eat it for breakfast.

I do too, now that I think about it!

CAKE ½ cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened 1½ cups plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar 3 large eggs ½ cup sour cream, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1½ cups all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons cornstarch ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda

STRAWBERRIES 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING One 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter 1½ pounds powdered sugar, sifted 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ¼ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan that's at least 2 inches deep (or you can split the batter between 2 pans if they're not deep enough).

2. To make the cake batter, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Add the sour cream and vanilla, then mix until just combined.

4. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda and add it to the bowl.

5. Mix it together until just combined.

6. Spread it in the pan or pans and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the cake is no longer jiggly like my bottom.

7. Carefully remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool completely.

8. Next, mash the strawberries with a potato masher or a fork (reserve a few for garnish if you like).

9. Sprinkle the strawberries with the sugar. Toss them around and allow them to sit for a little while.

10. They'll give off this beautiful liquid after several minutes. Try not to drink it with a straw.

11. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt in a mixing bowl.

12. Mix until very light and fluffy. Warning: You'll feel like eating this bowl of icing before you even get it on the cake.

13. To assemble the cake, use a sharp knife to cut it in half through the middle. It's easier if you go all around the perimeter of the cake, slicing only halfway through the circle the whole way.

14. Lay the two halves cut side up.

15. And cover both halves with an equal amount of strawberries. Then--this is an important step!--place the cake halves in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. This'll firm up the surface of the strawberries just a bit so that it's easier to spread on the icing.

16. Remove the cakes from the freezer and place one layer on a cake stand or platter. Cover with a little less than a third of the icing.

17. Place the second layer on top, then spread the top with icing.

18. Carefully ice the outside of the cake with the remaining icing.

19. Lovely! You can certainly decorate the top of the cake with strawberry slices, too. But I'm hungry and want to eat, so I'll skip that part.

Store leftovers in the fridge. The cake can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

Rigatoni and Meatballs Makes 6 to 8 servings

I always wanted to be Italian. It never materialized for me, though. Something about the fact that none of my ancestors were Italian. Details can be so annoying sometimes.

Despite my lack of Italian heritage, however, I have to say that my meatballs ain't bad at all. Marlboro Man loves them, and because long, round noodles (some humans refer to them as "spaghetti") are cumbersome and unwieldy, I take the easy road and serve mine with rigatoni.


6 thick slices crusty bread ¾ pound ground beef ¾ pound ground pork 3 garlic cloves, minced 2 eggs, beaten ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving ¼ cup whole milk ¼ teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste ½ cup olive oil

Rigatoni and sauce

1 yellow onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, minced ½ cup red wine (optional) one 28-ounce can crushedtomatoes one 28-ounce can whole tomatoes ¼ teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 teaspoon sugar ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley 12 fresh basil leaves, cut in chiffonade (optional) 2 pounds rigatoni, cooked al dente

1. Place the bread on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes in a 200°F oven, or until totally dry.

2. Break the bread into chunks . . .

3. And pulse [in food processor] until the bread turns into crumbs.

4. Throw the meat into a large mixing bowl.

5. Add the garlic, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, grated Parmesan, milk, salt, and pepper. Use clean hands to mix together until well combined.

6. Use a scoop to retrieve a small amount of the meat mixture . . . And roll it in your hands to make meatballs (about 25). Place the pan in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, just to firm them up.

7. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Working with 8 to 10 meatballs at a time, cook them until brown but not cooked all the way through, 2 to 3 minutes per batch.

8. Remove from the pan to a plate while you make the rigatoni and sauce.

10. Add the onion and garlic to the pan. Stir and cook for a minute or two, until the onion begins to soften. 11. Add the wine and cook for another minute. (Just omit this step if you're not using wine.)

12. Add the crushed tomatoes...whole tomatoes... salt, pepper, and sugar . . . And parsley and basil.

13. Stir the sauce to combine all the ingredients . . . Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

14. Then throw in the meat-a-balls!

15. Stir gently, then cover and cook for 20 more minutes, stirring once or twice, until the meatballs are cooked through.

16. Heap the rigatoni on a large platter and pile the meatballs and sauce on the top. Sprinkle on some extra minced parsley and serve with extra grated Parmesan.

This is a good one, my friends. I mean . . . i miei amici.

Sincerely, Costanza

Variations • Use leftover meatballs to make Meatball Sliders (page 103). • Slice leftover meatballs and use as a pizza topping.

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