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  I originally made this sauce to go over the cheesecakes seen in the picture above but I didn’t like the cheesecake recipe enough to post.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!

Fresh Strawberry Curd

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So, Easter has come and gone and I somehow got through it without cooking a single thing.  My dad had us over to his house for a pre-Easter dinner that was comprised of a smorgasbord of homemade Mexican foods (omg I didn’t know ahead of time that I should have worn an elastic waist band) and then on the actual holiday we were too busy picking up our messy house in anticipation of Jake’s parents’ arrival that night to actually make a meal.  We didn’t even have chips and dip (which I now regret).   But we DID have an Easter Egg hunt for Lily (two of them!), found a hidden basket full of crayons, coloring books, and sweets, and discovered an Anna doll from Frozen that the bunny must have snuck into the house.  It was even nice enough to spend some time at the playground.  I’ll post pictures soon!  And by soon, I mean that if they are up before Cinco de Mayo then you have to give me a standing ovation and a margarita in each hand.  On the rocks.  With salt. But once Easter was over, I started to feel bad that I hadn’t made anything in awhile, so I set off to find a recipe to try.  Something with a little spring in it’s step (pun intended).  I found this one from A Calculated Whisk as a part of the SRC swap for April.  I was going to make her lemon curd because I could eat lemon curd all day long and on top of anything, but strawberries were on sale at the grocery store and they looked delicious.  I bought two pounds and made this recipe before Lily and I ate the rest straight out of the container.  I could eat this with a spoon, and do encourage everyone else do that, too, but it’s also great on top of everything from angel food cake to vanilla ice cream.  And I bet it would be a great filling in lemon cupcakes.  If you think of anything creative to make with this curd, let me know!  I still have some left and I need to find it a home.

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Fresh Strawberry Curd 1/2 pound strawberries, hulled Zest and juice of one orange 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice Pinch of salt 1 cup sugar 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), cubed 4 large egg yolks In a food processor, puree the strawberries, orange juice, orange zest, and lemon juice until very smooth. Heat a shallow amount of water to a simmer in a double boiler or a saucepan.  In the top of the double boiler or in a heatproof bowl, combine the puree, salt, sugar, and butter.  Place the bowl on top of the pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t actually touching the water.  Beat the egg yolks and add them to the bowl.  Cook, whisking constantly, until the curd comes together and thickens, about ten minutes.  When the curd is done, it will coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let the curd cool to room temperature.  Then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Source: Adapted slightly from A Calculated Whisk

Strawberry-Avocado Salsa

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While those of us in much of America are freezing and miserable (well, most of us), the fine folks in Florida are happily harvesting strawberries.  They’re wearing shorts, wiping their sweaty brows, and drinking all the strawberry margaritas that the bartender will serve them.  Luckily, the rest of us can also enjoy the fruits of their labor (literally).  It gives me hope for the upcoming summer.

To prepare for said summer, I’ve been getting seed packets in the mail for everything from tomatoes to zucchini to watermelon.  I can’t wait to get them started, but am not sure where to do it.  The only place in our house that gets good sun is the kitchen table, so I guess that’s where they will go even though it seems like an odd place to start your garden.  But since right now the table mostly collects junk, it will be good to do something productive with the space.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

As for this recipe, it sounds kind like an odd pair, but the strawberries and avocados actually work well together.  The strawberry and lime are acidic and sweet, and the avocado is has fat and a creamy texture.  Then, of course, the jalapeno makes everything better with its kick of spice.  And yet, with all of the different flavors, it still tastes clean and simple.  I was skeptical, but am really happy I decided to make it.  If you’re into fruity salsas and guacamole, this is a must-try!

Strawberry-Avocado Salsa

2 finely chopped ripe avocados
1 cup finely chopped strawberries
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 minced, seeded jalapeño pepper
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Gently mix all of the ingredients and serve with tortilla chips.  Cooking Light advises serving with sweet cinnamon tortilla chips, which sounds delicious, too!

Source: slightly adapted from Cooking Light

Pavlova with Raspberries and Blueberries

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Furthering the quest to find a great 4th of July recipe, I started reading through magazines and visiting websites to research.  And there’s a lot out there!  As it turns out, red, white, and blue are all pretty common food colors (especially in the summer when berries are in season).  But something drew me to this pavlova.  The crispy meringue shell with a creamy center and a huge pile of fresh strawberries and blueberries.  How could you go wrong?  And, as it turns out, I didn’t.  This dessert is light and refreshing, but still satisfying.  It got the stamp of approval from my dad and from Jake, so that’s always a good thing.

But the funny part of my quest for good Independence Day recipes is that I won’t even be cooking on that day.  Jake and I will be in the car driving to Chicago and attending a BBQ when we arrive empty-handed.  So, hopefully, my quest will help the rest of you in some way.  And, really, this pavlova would be good anytime of year.  Don’t think I won’t make it again before the end of summer!

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Pavlova with Raspberries and Blueberries

For the topping:
⅔ cup chilled heavy whipping cream
⅓ cup plain 0% Greek yogurt
3 Tbs. sugar
1 pint fresh blueberries, cleaned and dried
1 pint raspberries, cleaned and dried
For the pavlova:
1 cup sugar
1 ½ tsp. cornstarch
½ cup large egg whites (about 4 eggs)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat the cream, yogurt, and 2 Tbs. sugar in medium bowl until stiff. Combine the blueberries, raspberries, and remaining 1 Tbs. sugar in separate bowl. Cover, and chill separately until ready to serve.

Preheat the oven to 250°F and place the rack just below center. Trace 9-inch circle onto sheet of parchment paper. Turn parchment over onto large rimmed baking sheet (so that you can see it but not have it get on your food).

Combine 1 Tbs. sugar and cornstarch in small bowl. Beat the egg whites, lemon juice, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in remaining 15 Tbs. sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until meringue is thick and satiny and a path remains when a spoon is drawn through it. Beat in the cornstarch mixture.

Scrape the meringue into the center of the circle on the parchment paper. Spread to fill the circle, building the edges slightly higher than the center. Bake the pavlova until outside is dry but center is still soft (crust will give when poked). This will be about 1 hour – 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Turn off the oven, leaving the door closed, and cool 1 hour. Slide a spatula under the pavlova to loosen, and transfer to cake plate while supporting the bottom (I used the spatula).

Spread the yogurt cream thickly over the pavlova, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered. Top with the fruit mixture.

Source: Adapted slightly from Vegetarian Times June 2013 p.73

Patriotic Strawberries

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There’s something about the 4th of July that makes me happy.  Maybe it’s the years I spent in Boston, the home of the American Revolution and the Pops-filled 4th of July fireworks.  Or the warm summer nights I’ve spent up on Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh watching the fireworks explode at almost eye height.  Or maybe it’s just that it’s the holiday with the most sunlight filling the day, the most warmth in the air, the freshest, produce-filled foods, and people who (sometimes for the only time all year) feel proud to be together as a country.

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 I was so excited when I saw these strawberries  on Shari’s website (for the SRC swap) because they are both festive and easy enough to do with kids.  And other than melting the chocolate, they don’t require any heat added to an already hot kitchen.  And, let’s be honest, they would be a hit at an Independence Day BBQ!

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Patriotic Strawberries

1 box strawberries
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup blue sanding sugar (or sprinkles if you can’t find)

Rinse the strawberries and pat them dry.  In a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water), slowly melt the white chocolate until it is smooth.  Dip the strawberries into the chocolate until they are about 3/4 covered and then immediately dip the bottom of the strawberries into the colored sugar.

Put the strawberry on a lined baking sheet or plate and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes until hard before serving.

Source: My Judy The Foodie