Tag Archives: strawberries

Celebrate the 4th with Roasted Strawberry Sauce…and Ice Cream!

The 4th of July is a great time of year. Summer is in full swing, flowers are blooming, and the farmer’s market is overflowing with produce. To celebrate the holiday this year, I’m making roasted strawberry sauce served over creamy vanilla ice cream. It’s the perfect combination, and the cool ice cream is a welcome treat for the hot July weather.

The roasted strawberry sauce is easy, and it’s a great way to use up strawberries that might be turning past their prime. The strawberries cook down with brown sugar and create a sweet, ruby red, carmelly (I know, inventing words again) sauce that’s perfect with ice cream. And the best thing is, there are only 2 ingredients!

Take 3 cups strawberries that have been hulled and quartered. Spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Trust me, the parchment will make clean up so easy! Top the strawberries with 1 cup brown sugar. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25 minutes until soft and syrupy.

strawberriesin baking sheetbrown sugarready for the ovensauce readysauceeasy clean upThat’s it! Pretty simple, and absolutely delicious. Drown some vanilla ice cream in this sauce and dig in. I hope you have an amazing 4th of July, and buckets full of ice cream! 🙂 Enjoy!

enjoy!

Strawberries Everywhere…and Strawberry Shortcake!

Strawberry PlantWhen I was in 6th grade, my younger brother gave me a strawberry plant. At our school, the 6th graders had “partners” in 2nd grade, and he was my partner. We helped them with school work and projects, and did some fun things with them during school. At some point, they grew strawberry plants for us as a gift (for the life of me I can’t remember why). And, at that young age, I had already loved gardening, so I was very excited to take it home and plant it in the garden. Sure enough, it did great that summer, and then the next spring, there were strawberries and plants everywhere. While the strawberries were great, over the years, my mom had enough of the plants taking over the entire garden, so, unfortunately, they all came out. But, I learned a few very important lessons: 1) strawberries are really easy to grow and delicious, and 2) the plants will take over any space you give them!

BiteMany years later, as I was cleaning up the gardens at my house, and pulling out tons of pachysandra that had been planted just about everywhere, I had a revelation. There are 3 very small beds next to my house that are completely enclosed in concrete. The beds boarder the house on one side and the sidewalk on the other. So, the light bulb went off, and I decided to plant strawberries there. They could grow and spread, and not intrude on anything else, and they have done great in this spot. For many years, they were enjoyed by my nephews who would pick away and eat them, covering themselves in the red juice. Now that they are a little older, they have some self-control, and I get to enjoy the strawberries, and when I’m lucky, there are enough to make strawberry shortcake!

For me, there is only one way to make strawberry shortcake…and that’s with a biscuit or scone. Don’t get me wrong, when you use pound cake or some other cake, it’s delicious. But it’s just not Butterthe same for me. I love the crumbly texture of the biscuit that soaks up the juice, combined with the creamy whipped cream and juicy berries. The recipe I have I adapted from one I found online, which, for the life of me now, I can’t find the link, but it’s a simple scone recipe with macerated berries and whipped cream.

Whisk together 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Cut in 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces. If you have a food processor, you can use that. Otherwise, just try to work in the butter using a fork. I often times need to get my hands into it to break up the pieces of butter. If you do this, just be careful, you don’t want the butter to melt. You need to work it fast if you use your hands. Then whisk 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/2 cup heavy cream until combined. Pour that into the flour mixture and stir to combine.

Ready for OvenTurn the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Form into a 7 inch round, then cut about 2-3 inch pieces. As you can see from my picture, mine are not perfect at all. 🙂 Place them on a greased cookie sheet and brush with a little cream, half and half, or milk, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. You want them a little golden and a toothpick to come out clean.

As those are cooking, you can get the strawberries ready. It will take about 2 lbs. strawberries, although this time, I mixed strawberries and blueberries. Whatever you prefer is fine, even Fruitpeaches are great this time of year. Take about half the fruit and smash it with a potato masher. Then add the rest, along with 1/4 cup sugar. Let that sit for a while so the juices run.

The last component is the whipped cream. I used 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream and about 3 tablespoons sugar, but, whenever I make whipped cream, I always taste it. Some people like it sweeter, some people like it less. I am on the sweeter side! Start whipping the cream, and, once it starts to thicken, add the sugar and continue whipping until stiff.

Whipped CreamOnce the scones are cooled you’re ready to assemble. Of course in our hurry to eat them this time, I never took a picture of the completed shortcake, but just cut the cooled scones in half, spoon some fruit on the bottom half, with the juice of course, top with some whipped cream, and add the top!

And I know what you’re thinking, it’s a little late for strawberry season if you grow them at home, but there are tons of strawberries in the grocery stores right now, not to mention blueberries, peaches, etc. Just get some fruit, and have at it!Ready to Eat

Strawberry Chicken Salad-A Great Summer Meal!

Chopped StrawberriesOne of my favorite things to make in the summer, especially when it’s hot out, is a dinner salad.  It’s easy to make, healthy, and quick.  I especially love to add summer produce and make a sweet, summery dressing.  This recipe combines ripe strawberries, tart dried cherries, crunchy walnuts, all with a sweet honey Dijon dressing.

This salad recipe makes a big single serving for dinner for me, but probably two smaller servings for the normal eater. 🙂  Feel free to double, triple, quadruple…whateverBoston Lettuce you need.  It’s pretty flexible.  And please, substitute away.  If you’d rather have peaches and pecans, go for it.  If you don’t like dried cherries, leave them out…or substitute cranberries.  It’s easy!

To start, make the vinaigrette in the bowl you’re using.  This way, it’s easy clean up.  Just 1 bowl to deal with. Whisk together 1 teaspoon Dijon, 1 teaspoon honey, and 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar until well combined.  Slowly add 2 teaspoons olive oil, and continue whisking until it’s emulsified and Viniagretteall of the oil has been combined.  Next, you’re just going to pile in the salad ingredients.

A few months ago I wrote about grilling chicken for my Italian Grilled Chicken Salad.  You can use those same instructions for this recipe or use a different recipe.  You want 1 large or 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked.  Chop the chicken into bite size pieces and add to a bowl.  Hull 1 pint strawberries, chop, and add to the bowl.  Take 1 head Boston or Bibb lettuce, chop, and add Walnutsto the bowl with the chicken.  Add 1/2 cup dried cherries and 1/2 cup walnuts.

Toss the salad together, making sure everything has some of the dressing, and serve.  I prefer this salad at room temperature, but leftovers do well in the fridge.  Also, as I said before, feel free to substitute and experiment.  You can also add your favorite cheese to the salad.  The possibilities are endless.Salad

A Great Spring-Summer Dessert…Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries

It’s so nice to have the warm weather back.  The sun stays out longer, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and I love it.  After such a long winter, it’s so refreshing to finally be in the heart of spring, with summer right around the corner.

StrawberriesWith the warm weather, I get excited about summer clothes and outdoor activities, but I also get excited about summer food.  Just like swapping sweaters for t-shirts, I think most people also change their eating habits in the summer, even if they don’t realize it.  Instead of the heavy stews, we start eating dinner salads and lighter meals.  We start to replace the starchy vegetables for fresh summer produce.  And, we no longer crave the rich desserts like bread pudding, but start to focus on lighter desserts with fruit, like panna cotta with balsamic strawberries.

Cream and SugarI’m not sure if you’re familiar with panna cotta, but it’s a delicious, creamy dessert that’s surprisingly simple to make.  Panna cotta literally means cooked cream in Italian, and the cream is really the star of the dessert.  It’s delicious sweetened cream that takes on a creamy, semisolid texture.  And ok, ok, I’ll admit it, it does have cream, so I guess it’s not as light as I said.  But it’s cool and has a light, creamy texture that’s perfect for summer.

Cooked CreamTo start, you’ll need 1 quart heavy cream.  Pour about a cup of it in a bowl and sprinkle in 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin.  It ends up being a total of .5 oz of gelatin.  Let that begin to dissolve while you heat the rest of the cream in a saucepan over medium heat with 1 cup sugar.  You want to heat this mixture until the cream warms and the sugar dissolves.  It should only take a few minutes, but make sure you stir so the cream doesn’t burn.  Once the sugar is dissolved, add the gelatin mixture.  Continue to stir until the gelatin dissolves in the cream.

Ready for UnmoldingOnce the gelatin has dissolved, you can remove the cream mixture from the heat.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, and that’s it.  Your panna cotta is done.  You just need to pour the mixture into molds and allow it to chill.  You can pour the whole thing into a big bowl, so that you just scoop out the solidified mixture once it’s cooled, or you can pour the mixture into single serve molds that you can then unmold for a great presentation.  I just used small 1 7/8 cup rectangular Pyrex containers, but you can really use anything you like.  Once you pour the mixture into whatever container/containers you’re using, put them in the refrigerator for a few hours to cool and solidify.  I made mine the night before.  And don’t cover them when they are hot, or you’ll end up with water in your panna cotta.

Balsamic GlazeWhile that is chilling, you can make the strawberries.  Simmer 1 cup balsamic vinegar for 10-15 minutes until reduced and thickened.  Remove from heat and add 2 tablespoons honey.  Allow the mixture to cool, then add 1 lb sliced strawberries.  That’s pretty much it.  Let the strawberries stay at room temperature for a while so the flavors meld.

After several hours or overnight, when the panna cotta has solidified, you can unmold (or scoop and serve if you’re not unmolding).  UnmoldedSimply run a knife around the edges to loosen, then set in warm water for a few seconds.  That should melt the edges just a bit and loosen the panna cotta.  Just put a plate on top of the mold and flip it.  You may have to tap a bit to get it out.  To serve, scoop some of the strawberries with the balsamic reduction around the plate, and that’s it.  Enjoy!

Oh, and this recipe is great, but really, the panna cotta is great with anything.  It’s delicious with some chocolate sauce, or just some fresh fruit or berries, or just plain, on it’s own.  It’s cool, creamy, and delicious.