Fresh Strawberry Dessert Sauce

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It’s been a busy summer, and the weather has been perfect.  Is this mother nature’s way of apologizing for the polar vortex?  We haven’t have the air conditioner on for the last two weeks, which is amazing.  I love the fresh air and I really love the low electric bills!  Add to that all of the fresh produce and the long days and it’s hard not to be happy.  We’ve been painting bathrooms and cleaning out closets and fighting over whether or not to plant trees in the back yard (I will win this battle).

Last night, Lily and Jake went to see Walking with Dinosaurs and she is still glowing.  She knows the names, eating habits, mannerisms, and pretty much every other tidbit you may or may not be interested in learning about dinosaurs, so it was a fun time.  Jake said that she got excited for each new scene and was the entertainment of the people around her.  Though supposedly there is once scene where a dead dino gets picked apart and eaten by the others, which was slightly traumatizing to my 3-year-old.  No time like the present to learn the ins and outs of the circle of life!

So, while we’ve been busy, I forgot to post this recipe from a month or two ago.  I originally made this sauce to go over the cheesecakes seen in the picture above but I didn’t like the cheesecake recipe enough to post.  The texture was off and it was way too lemony (didn’t stop Jake from liking it, but I wasn’t a fan).  The sauce is easy and delicious though, so why leave it hanging?   Plus, it’s the last day of national ice cream month, so you can whip up a batch and throw it on a scoop after dinner.  Or before dinner.  Whatever tickles your fancy.  :)

Fresh Strawberry Dessert Sauce

1 pound strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Wash and hull the strawberries.  Chop them up to the size that you would like (if you want big hunks of strawberry in the end product, cut them in half; if not then dice them smaller).

Combine the strawberries in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the strawberries have released their juice and the sugar has dissolved.  Add the corn starch, vanilla, and salt, reduce the heat to low, and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take off the heat and let cool.  Serve over ice cream, cheesecake, or really anything else that you like.  Can be kept in the fridge.

Source: L+K original, though strawberry sauce in general has obviously been around awhile!

Japanese Steakhouse Yum Yum Sauce (a.k.a White Sauce, a.k.a Shrimp Sauce)

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You know when you go to a hibachi restaurant and they give you two little containers of sauce, one that is mayo based and one that is more of a soy sauce?  Who ever eats the soy sauce?  The mayo based sauce (which I didn’t know was called yum yum sauce until I started looking for the recipe) is SO good.  I would really rather just have two of those and skip the other, but I feel like that might somehow offend the chef.  And after seeing how comfortable hibachi chefs are with knives and flames, I like to keep quiet.  I have a child to think about.

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But I still want some more of that darn yum yum sauce.  So a couple of weeks ago I went on a hunt for the recipe, and this one is really close to the restaurant version.  Jake and I ate it on roasted vegetables, and we also had it as a condiment on faux chicken sandwiches.  It was delicious both times.  And super easy to make, so I’ll likely whip up another batch this week (especially because I now have an open container of tomato paste sitting around that needs to be used… WHY do they sell it by the can when no one ever needs that much at one time?).  I can’t wait to lather it on different kinds of vegetables.  Summer produce season is the best!

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Japanese Steakhouse Yum Yum Sauce

1 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann’s/Best Foods is recommended by the original recipe author)
1/4 cup water
1 heaping tsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 dash cayenne pepper powder (I like a heavy dash)

Whisk all of the ingredients together until they are combined and the sauce is smooth. Refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to blend (don’t skip this step!). Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

The sauce will keep for about a week in the fridge.

Source:
Japanese-Steakhouse-White-Sauce.com 

Pear Applesauce

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Well, friends, I’m joining the 3-spinal-surgeries-under-30 club this week.  Which sucks because it seems like every time I have a surgery I convince myself that it will be the last one, so when my doctor looked at me with concern in his eyes and said that I have to get into the operating room for his first available time slot it’s a pretty devastating feeling.  But this time he’s doing a fusion on my spine, and it should be the last one for real this time.  Please keep your fingers and toes crossed for a safe procedure and recovery!

This all also means that recipes will slow down a bit around here while I recover, but luckily there are a couple of fun giveaways to look forward to, including the signed copy of Ina Garten’s Foolproof one which is already open.  But before I step back a bit, I had to get one last post up from Turnips to Tangerines for the Secret Recipe Club swap.  It’s nice because it gives me one last chance to get an apple recipe in this year. Apple picking is a required rite of passage before fall can transition into winter, and I’m so glad that we got to go with Allie and Darren while we were in Boston.  Lily loved climbing the trees and eating apples two at a time.  Luckily, Jake was around this weekend to help prepare this recipe and take pictures.  The recipe is simple enough that he could handle it among the million other things involved in caring for a bed-bound wife, a 3-year-old child, and a prototype due at work this Friday, so you can definitely whip it up with any apples and pears you having hanging around the house.  The recipe is very flexible, so have fun with it!  Here’s a picture of Jake playing food blogger, and Lily doing her best to help, too:

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 Pear Applesauce

~12 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
~4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced
Juice from 2 lemons
1/4 cup apple cider
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Place apples, pears, lemon juice, and apple cider in a large saucepan.  If you want your sauce to be sweet, add a couple of tablespoons sugar to the saucepan at this point.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender.  Using an immersion blender or a traditional blender, puree the apple mixture to desired consistency.  Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

Source: Adapted from  Turnips to Tangerines

Eggplant and White Bean Dip

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Eggplant is pretty polarizing.  Some people love it and others hate it.  I mean, pretty much everyone likes it when it’s sliced thinly, coated in bread crumbs, fried, and covered with so much provolone that you can’t tell there was ever a vegetable there to begin with.  I feel like only someone inhuman wouldn’t like that.  But taking a bite of an actual, meaty eggplant is a whole other story.  Jake and I are generally in the “deep fried or bust” camp, but we kept getting them in our CSA, so I figured it was time to experiment.

Generally, I’m big into dips, so I decided to give this recipe from Giada a try.  I really liked it; Jake was still on the fence and decided that eggplant probably just isn’t for him (he doesn’t love Giada any less, but I don’t think that has anything to do with her cooking).  For me, the white beans cut the taste and also added a creaminess that I really liked.  Then the lemon added some acid and brightness, and salt and seasonings finished it off.  You could really do all kinds of different spices or herbs depending on taste, so it could be fun to experiment with different flavor combinations.  I think this recipe is a winner, and if served with vegetables for dipping, it’s certainly a healthier option than fried.  Give it a try and let me know your thoughts!

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Eggplant and White Bean Dip

1 (1 1/2-pound) eggplant, trimmed and cubed
Olive oil, for drizzling, plus 1/3 cup
Kosher salt, for seasoning, plus 1/2 teaspoon
Freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning, plus 1/4 teaspoon
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
2 cloves garlic

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and place an oven rack in the middle.

Place the eggplant on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cooled eggplant, beans, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of olive oil until the mixture is creamy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Refrigerate for at least two hours for the flavors to blend.

Place in a dipping bowl and serve with cucumber slices, tortilla chips, crackers, etc.

Source: Giada de Laurentis

BBQ Onions

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Last weekend, Jake went with my dad and his dad up to the PGA Championship in Rochester while Lily and I stayed home to have a girls’ weekend.  So, I did what any decent mother would do while left alone with an almost-3-year-old: anything she wanted.  We had a pizza party and frozen yogurt.  We went to multiple playgrounds and the library.  We watched Little Einsteins and Mickey Mouse.  We even had one of her boyfriends over to play. (Yes, she has more than one.  Lord help me.)  She spent the weekend as a spoiled princess.  I was willing to go to great lengths to keep her from throwing one of those toddler tantrums that make the neighbors knock on the door.   But, more importantly, I just wanted it to be a fun time for both of us (I certainly wasn’t complaining about the froyo).  And fun we had.  Both Lily and I avoided having a meltdown and we made some fabulous memories.  But I think we were both ready to see Jake first thing Monday morning.

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So, needless to say, not much cooking happened in those couple of days.  And that’s ok because it gives me the chance to share these onions that have been sitting in the back of my mind for a few weeks now.  I like to cook up veggie burgers on the grill or stove and while I enjoy them as they are, I’m always on the lookout for different ways to spruce them up.  This recipe is perfectly easy (you throw the foil packet right on the grill or in the oven) and is a great topping for all kinds of food.  I would eat these onions with anything from hot sandwiches to mashed potatoes.  Definitely give them a try and let me know about any different variations you try!

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BBQ Onions

1 onion
2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp honey or brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
A couple dashes of hot sauce

Either preheat a grill or preheat the oven to about 350 degrees.  Lay about 1.5 feet of aluminum foil on a flat surface.

Roughly chop the onion and lay it in the middle of the foil.  In a small bowl mix all of the other ingredients.  Pour the mixture over the onions and fold up the sides of the foil, pinching them together until the pouch has an airtight seal.

Put the pouch on the top rack of the grill or in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.  Open and serve.

Source: L+K Original