Tag Archives: strawberries

Fun Friday: Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes

9 Jun

If you’re looking for a new summertime dessert, this one comes highly recommended!

We don’t entertain often, but when we do, I like to try out new things. We are generally among friends and family so the “never try out new things for guests” rule gets bent a little bit, if I think it’s a new thing that I can pull off relatively easily.

Last Wednesday I shared our Burger Bar post from the previous Sunday’s get-together and I promised I’d share two other recipes. Today’s is one and I’ll still have another one for you coming up in a future post as well.

I was looking for a summery dessert to serve that Sunday, something different than brownies or cookies. I came across this recipe by Life, Love and Sugar and thought it would be different and something I could make gluten free, which is always a consideration. My grandmother has always made mini cherry cheesecakes which are my absolute favorite, and this reminded me of those. Additionally, they were summery and a little bit patriotic looking, which was an added bonus.

I had gluten free graham cracker crumbs on hand and I also had gluten free graham crackers in the freezer if I had needed to use them to make my own crumbs, which I didn’t need to do. I had enough left in my box to make a set of gluten free cheesecakes and a regular box to make a set of non-gluten free. I had colored cupcake liners in red, pink, orange and green in my cabinet too, so I made the red and pink liners the gluten free cheesecakes and the orange and green the non-gluten free cheesecakes so everyone could easily tell which was which.

These cheesecakes have multiple layers of deliciousness, and they’re able to be made gluten free to boot!

What I loved about this recipe was that it had layers to it: a layer of crumbs, a layer of fresh strawberries, a layer of cheesecake, more strawberries and some whipped cream. They were mini, but they were fancy and multi-faceted.

The thing to pay attention to in the recipe is the baking and cooling times. You need to pre-bake the crumbs for a few minutes, and the temperature for baking changes. The time and locations for cooling are specific as well. It’s not hard, but if you’re someone who doesn’t read a recipe all the way through to start, or who just skims and will wing it along the way, I encourage you to take the time to read it through first.

The entire recipe is easy, and the dessert was delicious, well-received by everyone and I would most definitely do it again. I like that it fed so many people. I had two trays of mini cheesecakes, minus just a couple. For my ingredients, I chose to substitute low fat sour cream instead of full fat and 1/3 fat cream cheese instead of full fat, and to use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter for my butter, which we always do. I also increased the recipe slightly, in order to make more mini cheesecakes, and increased my ingredients all accordingly. I also cheated and used a squirty whipped cream instead of making it homemade, given our time constraints.

I hope you’ll give this recipe from Life, Love and Sugar a try, and many thanks to them for sharing it!

*Tip: If you’re looking for gluten free graham cracker crumbs, I found these at a Super Walmart, but you can also make your own by using a blender or food processor to grind whole gluten free graham crackers into crumbs.*

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Fun Friday: So Many Strawberries!

4 Jul
What to do with more than ten pounds of strawberries?

What to do with more than ten pounds of strawberries?

We went strawberry picking!!

I had not been strawberry picking since I was a child. Each year it seems, we’d miss the season between the end of school and the start of summer. This year, when a friend posted her picture of her strawberries on Facebook, I decided that I was going to go that same week. I knew my kids would love it and I knew there was lots that I could do with fresh-picked strawberries.

We went on a beautiful, picture-perfect day. There were just a few clouds in the sky, the sun was bright and the temperature was an even 75 degrees; not too hot, not too cold. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Within an hour we had picked a basket full of strawberries. I was beyond excited!

As we drove home, I began to consider that full basket of berries that was sitting in the back of my car. I could smell them.

I started to think of all the things I wanted to do with all those berries. I knew that although it seemed like there would be a never-ending supply, I’d have to be strategic and prioritize because eventually they’d run out. I also knew that the berries were fresh and “ready,” which meant they’d turn quickly. I only had a day, two at most, to make use of them.

Right off the bat when I got home, I sliced the berries and put sugar and orange juice on them for strawberry shortcake. I used this recipe from Taste of Home for my biscuits and my berries, but I did add more sugar to my biscuits after taking a quick taste of the batter. I like mine sweet! That would be our dessert for that very night.

This recipe from Caramel Potatoes was so delicious!

This recipe from Caramel Potatoes was so delicious!

Next, I started prepping a dessert recipe I’d seen just days before, on the Caramel Potatoes blog for Strawberry Crumble Pie. I get their email every day and the recipe for the pie looked right up my alley. I happened to have a pie crust in the freezer and I now had plenty of berries.

The pie chilled overnight and we cut into it the next night for dessert. It was amazing!

From there, I needed to think ahead. I knew that part of my goal was to have plenty of berries on hand frozen for smoothies, since that’s something we use a lot of all year long. I had no idea the best way to freeze them, so I Googled how to freeze fresh-picked strawberries and found simple instructions for freezing both whole and sliced from Taste of Home, once again. I decided to do both. The whole would be for smoothies, and the sliced would be for a future strawberry compote, maybe even on July 4th for our breakfast!

The following day I picked one more recipe that I wanted to make as I tried to stretch my berries just a little further: my mother in law’s recipe for Strawberry Bread, one which has always been a favorite of mine. I love that it makes two breads, and we usually freeze one and eat one. This time I put chocolate chips in the one we ate that day and left them out of the one we froze.

There are so many things you can do with strawberries, and the summertime is the very best time to do them. Although picking season is just about done for strawberries, eating season can be all year long between using frozen and fresh, if you can find them. Now that we’ve frozen some, we’ll have the taste of summer once again in the fall or winter, if we can hold off that long!

If you’re looking for additional strawberry recipes, you can find several more here on my blog, just by searching Strawberries in the search bar. There are recipes for desserts, breakfasts, shakes and even a strawberry salad!

And then, before we know it, it’ll be blueberry picking season!

The Big Salad

31 May

You can load almost anything into a salad.

Anyone out there a Seinfeld fan?

Anyone remember the episode with “The Big Salad?” According to The Big Salad’s very own Wikapedia page, “”The Big Salad” is the 88th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the second episode for the sixth season. It aired on September 29, 1994.”

So there you go. More information than we needed to know about that episode, and there’s even more if you click on the link to the page itself if you so desire, but that’s not crucial today’s post.

I recently got one of those AllRecipe.com emails for a Wonderful Berry Salad and when I clicked on it to see, it was a Raspberry Walnut Dinner Salad which looked so good and reminded me of my Strawberry Salad from a few weeks back. But it also reminded me of The Big Salad episode on Seinfeld and the fact that we often will make a Big Salad ourselves either as the dinner or to go alongside the dinner.

The one shown here is one we made a few weeks back. The thing I like about salads is 1) you can put just about anything you want in them and 2) people can eat what they want to and skip the rest that they don’t like, so basically it’s something everyone likes. I often get tired of the traditional lettuce/tomato/cucumber salad, and throwing in random “stuff” makes it more fun to serve and eat. I like hearing my family say that the love this part or that part of the salad. The salad above has lettuce, olives, craisins, cheddar cheese, strawberries and grape tomatoes.

So the next time you’re at a loss for what to make, consider The Big Salad. See what you have in your house and throw it all in there!

Enjoy!

The dessert that almost wasn’t: Brownie Dessert Pizza

25 May

The final product was well-worth the journey, although at the time I was questioning it!

Ever have one of those days where nothing seems to go quite right? Well Sunday was one of those days and we almost didn’t have dessert for our dinner company because of it.

It started out that I was supposed to hit the store on my way home from our troop’s car wash at 1:00 that afternoon to pick up the stuff I needed to make the dessert: brownie mix, strawberries and cream cheese.

I forgot. I hate that.

I got all the way home and I realized I hadn’t gone to the store.

I went back out to Aldi’s at 2pm.

Strawberries: check. Brownie mix: check. Cream cheese: check.

Go home, start the recipe, which I’ve had before as a Pampered Chef recipe, but came across my desk in an email from the 24/7 Moms blog that I follow, which listed five outrageous dessert pizzas. (Of course I had to check them out!) The email directed us to Simply Healthy Cooking with Pam to get the recipe, which I did. Apparently she changed it slightly to make it healthier. (Me throwing chocolate chips into the brownie mix probably canceled out whatever she did to make it healthy.)

The recipe said to use a 15″ round pizza stone and parchment paper so that the mix won’t run off the stone and into the oven. I didn’t have a round pizza stone but I had a large rectangular stone, so I used that.

Parchment Paper: check.

Big mess in the oven: check.

Using the stone didn’t quite go as I’d planned.

About five minutes into the bake time, I smell something burning. Sure enough it’s dessert. I peek in and the brownie is literally dripping down in big, huge, chunky drips, into the oven. I quickly pull out the stone, throw the whole thing into the sink next to me and proceed to wash the brownie mix down the drain.

“Hmmm…technical difficulties with dessert,” I post on my status update on on Facebook as I decide what to do.

Don volunteers to run back out and get me another brownie mix. I take him up on that (he’s such a good guy) and off he goes.

He comes back around 3:30, and in the meantime I’ve decided to use the large bar pan that Pampered Chef sells. It’s long like my pizza stone but has low edges, which apparently I needed to keep the  batter IN the pan.

So I try again. All goes well with the baking, the brownie pizza comes out looking just fine.

Brownie Pizza, Take II

I begin making my cream cheese topping with my block of cream cheese. But now, I’m looking at my topping and looking at my very long brownie pizza and I’m thinking, “I don’t have enough topping.”

My next thought: “I have to go back to the store for more cream cheese.”

I won’t write what my next thought was after that, but it’s at this point where I decide that I should’ve just put a bag of Oreo’s on the table for dessert and called it a day.

It’s now 5:40 pm as I sneak out the door while Don showers, and our company was due in 20 minutes.

This time I ran to Price Rite and got my second block of cream cheese and came home.

The good news is, it all worked out and everyone liked the dessert except Elizabeth who picked off the cream cheese layer and put the strawberries back on top.  Whatever…

I’d definitely make it again and you can too, in fact, I highly recommend that you try it. It was incredibly delicious.

The recipe and directions are below, and now that you know my story, none of these trials and tribulations will happen to you.

See? So beautiful! Sooooo delicious and so just not my day that day!

BROWNIE DESSERT PIZZA

INGREDIENTS

1 box Ghiradelli Brownie Mix (I wonder if this was my first problem. I just bought any mix and I wonder if it yields more batter than Ghiradelli does. )

Parchment Paper

1 lg. rd. 15″ pizza stone or a round pizza sheet (you now know, I used the large bar pan.)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I’d grab two, just to be sure you have enough.)

1/4 cup powdered sugar (double for two blocks of cream cheese)

Handfuls of fresh strawberries, sliced or any fruit you like with chocolate  ( I also served a bowl of extra strawberries on the side so people could add more if they wanted to.)

Melted Semi-sweet Ghiradelli Chocolate Chips (I used Hershey’s syrup instead)
DIRECTIONS

Prepare the brownie mix as per the instructions on the box.

Cut the parchment paper to the shape of the pizza stone (I didn’t use parchment in the bar pan, I sprayed it with cooking spray.)

Spread the brownie mixture on the parchment paper within 1 ” of the edges. It’s important to use the parchment paper because it will help prevent the brownie mixture from seeping over the stone while in the oven cooking (we all now know how that worked out.)

Cook the brownies until the center comes out clean with a knife or toothpick (15-20 minutes).

Cool completely. Flip brownie crust over onto a cooling stone and carefully remove the parchment paper then flip the round brown crust back onto the stone or a nice plate for serving. (I did none of this and served it right in the bar pan.)

Mix the softened cream cheese with the powdered sugar well and spread on the brownie pizza base within one inch of the edge.

Layer cut strawberries around the crust and then drizzle with melted chocolate (or in my case, with Hershey’s syrup.)

Enjoy!

Mother’s Week Day 2: Strawberry Bread

8 May

From me to you: Happy Mother’s Week!

Yesterday I announced that I was making this week Mother’s Week, in honor of moms everywhere. I’m continuing to honor you by showering you with a week’s worth of recipes that you can use for honoring all the moms in your life, this week and every week.

Yesterday I began with a recipe from my mom. Today I’m honoring Don’s mom, my mother-in-law, Mary Lou, with one of my favorite recipes from her: Strawberry Bread. It’s great for an afternoon cup of coffee and a snack, or to bring with you to a brunch or luncheon. I added the chocolate chips to the recipe, but it’s delicious without them too!

Thanks Mom and Happy Mother’s Week!

Mary Lou’s Strawberry Bread

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 beaten eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup strawberries (Fresh sliced or frozen-thawed and drained.)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
approx. 1 cup chocolate chips (or however many you like!)

Mother’s Day Week is a perfect week for Mary Lou’s Strawberry Bread!

DIRECTIONS

Mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking soda.

Combine eggs, oil, and berries.

Add berries to dry ingredients.

Pour into greased and floured 9×5 loaf pan.

Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

*She wrote on the recipe that she keeps hers refrigerated but it’s not necessary, and that it freezes very well.

After School Snack: Strawberry Banana Yogurt Smoothies

11 Apr

Great for sore throats, warm weather, a healthy snack!

We had an unusually warm, hot actually, March this year. The weather broke all kinds of records and we loved the taste of summer that came during spring. It meant a couple of things for us though: First it meant that springtime allergies kicked in early, so everyone started with sore throats and runny noses in March instead of April. Second, it meant that the daily “can we get ice cream” and “can we get frozen lemonade” questions started early as well.

When I pick my kids up at school we drive by one of our city’s popular ice cream drive ups as well as past our favorite frozen lemonade stand. On occasion, on super hot summer days we’ll stop there after school as a treat, but I wasn’t really ready to start that in March. Not yet. It’s an expensive treat, one we don’t do too often.

One particularly hot afternoon, as an answer to their pleas, I decided to make smoothies, something I often do as an after school snack, but not usually in March. On this particular afternoon though, I had fresh strawberries in my fridge, (frozen works well too) and I had bananas in my freezer, which I often use for banana bread, but they work well for smoothies too. I had some vanilla yogurt in my fridge, so I felt I could easily pull off some smoothies for an after school snack.

A blender doesn't have to be expensive to make a delicious treat!

My “recipe” isn’t exact, but into my blender I threw: a bunch of strawberries, two frozen bananas, milk, about a cup of vanilla yogurt, and some ice to make it have a frozen feel, like a milkshake, but healthier.

I added a dollop of whipped cream and a straw and I had a restaurant-quality summer beverage for my kids for after school. Not bad! Everyone was happy and I was glad there was even enough for me to have some!

Did you survive February Vacation Week? Reward yourself!

24 Feb
Vanilla pudding dessert with vanilla wafers, strawberries and bananas

A perfect treat for the end of the week!

It’s Friday!

Did you survive the week?

If so, treat yourself to a super-simple dessert that I found on Pinterest (been on there yet??) and just had to pin for future use. The future came sooner than later! If you click on the underlined words above, it’ll take you right to the blog post where I got the recipe from.

In the past, I’ve mixed vanilla wafers, vanilla pudding and bananas for a treat before, but this recipe just looked so much better because she served it in mason jars, and I just so happened to have mason jars downstairs, sitting there doing nothing.

I also happened to have both bananas and strawberries, which in my opinion go so well together, so I figured I’d throw some of those in as well.

I got my ingredients at Aldi's, including the bananas, the strawberries and the milk.

To make this, I used two small packages of instant vanilla pudding, just as I would to make pudding for my family usually, plus three bananas and almost the entire package of strawberries. I don’t have a specific number of vanilla wafers to tel you that I used, but I made six mason jars worth of dessert, so I used almost the whole package of vanilla wafers. I just threw them into a gallon-sized ziploc bag and used my rolling pin to crush them up.

You have to let the pudding chill once it’s mixed, so I mixed it first and did the other ingredients next. Once it was sufficiently solid, I started my assembly line of layering the ingredients in the jars.

mason jars

Assembly line layering worked best for creating this dessert.

The layering was easy. I simply layered the vanilla wafers first, then the pudding and the fruit. I did another layer of wafers, a little more pudding and fruit and then whipped cream on top with a couple of strawberries for a garnish. If you have any of those nice long iced tea spoons, they are the perfect utensil to use for eating this type of dessert.

This is also the kind of thing that doesn’t keep well, so once you make it, you have to eat it right away or else the vanilla wafers get soggy inside the jars and obviously you can’t refrigerate it with the cream and strawberries on top either!

I think it’s a perfect dessert for company, for summertime, or….for the last day of February Vacation!! I also saw a comment on the original post that said someone put in mini chocolate chips too! Wouldn’t *that* be yummy?! I didn’t have any, but it’s on the list for next time!

I bet your mouth is watering right now!

Enjoy!