Recipe–Rebecca on Ree–Carnitas Pizza, Cherry Limeade, Strawberry Shortcake Cake

APRIL 30, 2012

MY BIRTHDAY! I turned 39–next year is the big 4-0.  I’d like to do something, but don’t know what yet.  Might as well celebrate the passing of years.  They pass with or without celebration, so celebrate is my motto.

Let’s finish up the CARNITAS PIZZA (pg. 150) as I have been looking forward to it for two days.  If you remember, we left the meat smelling wonderful very late at night on Saturday.  I snitched a sample and decided to serve it for Sunday Dinner with mashed potatoes.  It really was flavourful, and got me thinking.

I had never thought to cook a roast in fruit nectar, but it worked.  I wondered if any other Mexican meat was cooked in fruit juices.  Wendy, a California friend, mentioned that she bought her Canrne Asada preseasoned, and she thought it contained some fruit juices.  So how is Carne Asada seasoned?

This blog has a short and handy recipe.

Baically Carne Asada seems to fall in the same category as BBQ for American’s–which means every body has a favorite sauce but they all have similar ingredients.  The Carne Asada marinate is very similar to my MOJO recipe.  Some people use Papaya Juice as it has a natural meat tenderizer in it called Papain.  The Papain in a papaya needs to be heated up to work (temperatures of 140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit).  And if papaya juice (which tenderizes meat) is used with pineapple juice (which has enzymes that help break down connective tissue) you have an all-natural, highly effective, meat tenderizer.  See this link for more great info.  And here is an EXCELLENT SITE called No Recipes–just techniques.  Chef Marc has two posts on Carne Asada–one with a recipe and one with just techniques.  I also learned from his site that kiwi can be used to tenderize meat as well.

Back to CARNITAS PIZZA.  The papaya juice used by PW does more than just flavour the meat, it is also a natural tenderizer.  Now I didn’t know this when I was shopping, so I bought peach nectar.  Regardless, I cooked the meat long enough so that it was very moist and tender.  It tasted great as a Sunday Dinner meal, and we have since used it in tacos.  But on my birthday, it went on a very delicious pizza.

The recipe called for 1 cup of jarred tomatilla salsa.  I found my tomatilla salsa to be a bit on the runny side, so I drained my before adding it.

So what are tomatillos anyway?  Green tomatoes said the Spanish way?

(photo from Wikipedia)

“Tomatillo” means little tomato in Spanish, and like tomatoes they are also in the Nightshade family.  They are not just little unripe tomatoes, but a separate plant.    Here is the Wikipedia link for more information.  And if you would like to try to grow your own plants you can read this blog posting.

Back to CARNITAS PIZZA.  I didn’t have any fresh mozzarella, just the staple grated kind, so I made that substitution.

I started the pizza at 350 degrees instead of the 300 degrees recommended by Pioneer Woman.  Everything was going as planned when I realized that Scout had soccer practice at the same time that LBG (Little Big Guy) had a baseball game.  (Remember, we are a one car, one income, one bathroom family)  So then I cranked the oven up to 400 degree to try to finish it up.

It was raining.  Now soccer practice is usually only canceled if there is lightning, so we headed on over.  But about halfway there the coach called and said he didn’t want to start the season with everyone on the team getting a cold.  I agreed.  We turned the car around and headed for baseball.

Now baseball does get called if it is raining too hard.  We arrived and were told that the game would be delayed 30 minutes, then start.  The dugouts weren’t covered, so The Hunni headed home for tarps and rope.  We got everything set up, then they decided to “call the game.”  So the Beverly Hillbillies packed up their tarps and boards and ropes and headed home.

Suddenly my birthday evening became mine again.

Along with the CARNITAS PIZZA we served CHERRY LIMEADE (pg. 114).  This was the second time we made this recipe, and we all loved it.  I didn’t add the extra cup of sugar the recipe called for, and no one missed it.  Pop, or Coke as we call it, is a novelty in our house, so we enjoy every drop of it.  I used Squirt in this recipe.

There was a tiny bit let over, so I froze it (cherries and all) and added it to some lemonade the following day.  If I had been thinking, I would have frozen the CHERRY LIMEADE is a mold, but I just put it in a metal mixing bowl.  It still looked kinda festive and fun, though.

Earlier in the day, I had started my birthday cake–STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CAKE (pg. 246).

Everything in the cake recipe made sense except the 3 Tablespoons of corn starch.  I have never added corn starch to a baked recipe.  I have only used corn starch as a thickener and to make GOOP–at least that is what we call a corn starch and water slime.  (The link also gives you other kitchen slimes which your kiddos and maybe even Hubbies might enjoy.  My advice is to avoid the food coloring.  All the slimes and goops are messy enough without adding the whole element of staining.)

Back to STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CAKE.  Why add corn starch?

” Cornstarch is also included in many baked good recipes, and is often used in conjunction with flour. Since it is gluten free, cornstarch can help add some structure to a baked good while increasing its tenderness. It appears very often in shortbread recipes, where bakers are looking for a very crumbly and tender texture in the finished product. Another common way of using it is adding a small amount of it to all purpose flour to make a substitute for cake flour. You will also often see it included in batters, where it helps contribute to a light crust after frying.”  (from

This same link includes more information about corn starch–a great article.

So now I know.  Corn starch can be added to baked goods to give them a crumbly, but tender texture.  I love random nuggets of knowledge.

It was my birthday, and I was in no mood to smash up the beautiful strawberries I had just cut to get them “juicy”.  They just looked so perfectly beautiful.  So I didn’t.  Instead, I added some homemade strawberry freezer jam when I was assembling the cake.  I wish I had added more as the cake was a bit dry because it was expecting the strawberry juice.

The frosting to this STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CAKE is a cream cheese frosting, not a whipped cream frosting.  This gives the STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CAKE more of a cheesecake taste.  It also holds many candles very well.

I made a wish, and blew out the candles.

Then like most moms, I relit the candles so my 1-year-old could blow them out.  Then so my 5-year-old could blow them out, and etc. . . .

Birthdays are to be celebrated.  And not just by the one having the birthday, but by all that he or she loves.

I had a great day.


I’m okay with that.


Comments:  The CARNITAS PIZZA is excellent.  It also really takes two days to prepare.  I will use the addition of fruit juices to my roast more often–especially papaya nectar.  It really was a great flavour.  The CHERRY LIMEADE is super easy.  My kiddos made it, and I will probably use this recipe for an easy birthday party drink for years to come.  The STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CAKE needed the strawbery juice.  Mine was a bit dry.  Also I prefer a whipped cream frosting to a cream cheese frosting.  That’s just a personal preference.

Okay, now it is your turn.  You be the judge.  There are three recipes here; how did I do.  What will my report card look like?  Here is the grading scale.

Here are the categories.  Following Directions, Cooking Methods (steps that got me to the end), Presentation, Overall Impression, Creativity.  Each category will be worth 4 points.  A = 4.0,  B = 3.0 B – = 3.0, C = 2.0, D = 1, F = failure.  If I don’t get a passing grade, then I will have to repeat the recipe.

Unless you are Canadian, then here is your grading chart.

Grading Chart for Ontario schools: 1 – many errors, not meeting the requirements, not comprehending the material 2 – getting there, more attention is needed to complete the assignments. 3 – meeting the requirements, knows the material, just “just enough” 4 – above and beyond the expectations and requirements. Knows more than is necessary.  (Thanks Breakfast in Kitchener!)

So get your red pen out–make that a virtual red pen, as you don’t want to mark up your screen.

Did I pass?

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7 Responses to Recipe–Rebecca on Ree–Carnitas Pizza, Cherry Limeade, Strawberry Shortcake Cake

  1. Kelly K says:

    (1) You get an A, (2) happy birthday! (3) is that your back yard behind the cake batter photo? It looks great! When we visited you ages ago there was some sort of hole/archaeological dig going on back there.


    • whitsendmom says:

      I remember that hole. I was just trying to plant some tulips when I hit some onld roots. I started digging up the roots, and discovered an old tree. Then I decided the old tree had to go. 10 foot by 4 feet later, I realized that I needed a professional stump remover. The stump remover came, but I had to fill the hole back in. I was much, much, much, younger then. The kiddos of course thought the army trench in their back yard was much mor fun than grass.


  2. natalie says:

    The backyard photo caught my eye too. It looks so nice! I’m sure the kids have so much fun in that playhouse. I have many great memories from playing in mine when I was little. And you get an A for all the effort put into this Rebecca on Ree thing, good for you! All the recipes sound great so far. ♥


  3. Breakfast in Kitchener says:

    Okay, so, here we go:
    – lemoncokesugaraid recipe, 4. You have not only made the recipe successfully but taught it to someone else ( the miniatures in your house). This is true knowledge aquazition. ( unlike my spelling)
    – the cake: my first impression was again a 2 for “does not share well with others”, but then I noticed that you had at least 4 miniatures next to you blowing out the candles whom I assume you shared it with. However, I think the grade is only a 3. The smushed berries turned out to be integral to the recipe. Kudos on the jam, very innovative. I might recommend stabbing your cake multiple times with a squewer or lego sword next time to allow for more juices to soak in.
    – finally the roast: 4 for now knowing more than anyone needs to know about papaya nectar. Just one note, however on presentation… That pizza… Reminds me… Of doro wat (delicious traditional Ethiopian stew eated on one of the few non-fasting days of the year), it is, however, one of the ugliest dishes you will ever see. Actually, most Ethiopian food just looks, well, like bath mats and facial mud masks. I’m sure the pizza was awesome, but like much of traditional Ethiopian fare, it’s not the prettiest.


  4. Carolyn Rau says:

    I, of course, prefer whipped cream as frosting as well…..and sponge cake instead of shortcake, no matter what we’ve called it for years!

    I can’t grade you; I’d give you all A’s for effort and feeding your family and trying new stuff whether they like it or not. Excellent all around.

    And happy birthday, of course. You have a great talent for life.


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