Minty Strawberry Sauce

Minty Strawberry Sauce

I’ve already told you how much I enjoy fresh strawberries, so I won’t go there again, but when we got more strawberries this week from our CSA, along with some mint, I was thrilled! I knew immediately that I wanted to do something with them together.

We had a few slices of pound cake left over from our dinner last week (I froze most of it for use later) and I decided to make some Minty Strawberry Sauce to top that and of course it was just perfect! If you’ve never had mint and strawberries together before try it…It really is fabulous!

Minty Strawberry Sauce: Strawberries

What You’ll Need:
1 pint of strawberries
1/4 cup of mint leaves, chopped
1/4 cup of organic cane sugar

In a glass bowl or container chop strawberries to desired size:

Minty Strawberry Sauce: Ready for Sugar and Mint

Stir in mint leaves and sugar until mixed:

Minty Strawberry Sauce: Ready for the Fridge

Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or until “sauce” forms. Perfect as an ice cream topping for vanilla or vanilla white chocolate ice cream or as a topping on angel food cake or pound cake.

Notes: This goes together quickly, is easy, yet provides a bit of bang in terms of wow factor. This mixture also can be used to make an ice cream similar to this one.

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

First up let me say that I had hoped to have 6 or 7 ice cream recipes for this week, but a few of the versions I’m working on are still in the working on stage and I wanted to go ahead and share the ones that I had finished that worked since the weather is starting to warm up (despite being in the 50’s and rainy here in Maryland today!) and people are starting to think about ice cream. You’ll most likely see those other versions later in the summer, including one that uses Snicker’s Bars, a plum/ginger creation, another that utilizes tomatoes and even an avocado version!

Now let’s talk some strawberries!

We already had Strawberry Frozen yogurt this week and if you were around Dianne’s Dishes last year you got a Strawberry Chocolate Mint version. One of my all time favorite versions of ice cream involves strawberry so I’m always experimenting with different versions! Besides since they are in season this is the perfect time to play around with strawberries!

A few years ago someone told me about buttermilk ice cream and how wonderful it was. I’ve played around with straight up buttermilk versions and honestly have never really liked it that much. I finally decided it would be fun to try and mix fruit with the buttermilk to let the sweetness of the fruit and the tanginess of the buttermilk play off of one another and it really worked! Another thing that was great about this ice cream is that I utilized a lot of fresh, local ingredients and that is always good!

This ice cream is the perfect blend of tangy/sweet. The strawberries and buttermilk blend well with one another! If you like a fruity bite, coupled with a zest of tang then look no further…This is the ice cream for you!

Note: This recipe is designed to fit this ice cream maker. You could easily double or triple it or whatever to fit in a larger machine.

What You’ll Need:
1 pint of strawberries (Note: From our CSA)
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of heavy cream (Note: From South Mountain Creamery)
2 cups of buttermilk (Note: Also from SMC)

Chop your strawberries and place in a glass container:

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream: Strawberries

I like to use my blender. This comes in handy especially if you want to blend them smooth later.

Add sugar:

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream: Strawberries and Sugar

Cover and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours to overnight to let juices form. Once the juices are there you can use them as is, or if you prefer smoother ice cream you can blend or process until smooth. I like bits of frozen strawberry, so I would just go from here. Go with what you prefer

In a large glass bowl mix together strawberry/sugar mixture with sweetened condensed milk, buttermilk and heavy cream. Pour into the bowl of your ice cream mixer and freeze according to your model’s instructions.

Once the mixture hits the soft serve stage place in an airtight container and store in the freezer.

Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream: Soft Serve Stage

Notes: You could try this with any sort of fruit. Peaches and blueberries immediately come to mind as good options to try.

Apple Pie Ice Cream

Apple Pie à la Mode (Or Where Apple Pie Meets Ice Cream)

Apple pie and ice cream go hand in hand, so why not combine the flavors into one? For a while now I’ve wanted to try something like this and since it is Ice Cream Week after all what better time than now? Some might think apples in ice cream are a little weird, but this really turned out great! So if you’re a fan of a little ice cream with your apple pie, then this is the ice cream for you!

Note: This recipe is designed to fit this ice cream maker. You could easily double or triple it or whatever to fit in a larger machine.

What You’ll Need:
1 pint of heavy cream
1 – 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of cooked apples (Note: You want to cook them until they are completely soft and thick.)
1/2 cup of maple syrup

First cook you apples and let cool completely. I did this the night before and let it cool in the fridge over night.

Apple Pie à la Mode (Or Where Apple Pie Meets Ice Cream): Apples

In a large glass bowl mix together all the ingredients and add to the bowl of your ice cream freezer. Freeze according to your manufacturers instructions.

Apple Pie à la Mode (Or Where Apple Pie Meets Ice Cream): Soft Serve Stage

Once the ice cream hits soft serve stage you can serve or place in an airtight container in the fridge until it hardens further.

Notes: No notes on this one!

Better Bites: Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Ice Cream Week Meets Better Bites: Frozen Strawberry Yogurt

I’ve always wanted to make some frozen yogurt, but I never had. I don’t know why…The process couldn’t be simpler, yet something always kept me from actually making a batch. When I decided to have another ice cream week since last year was so much fun, I decided I would finally try to make some frozen yogurt. Then I just had to decide what kind I wanted to make.

Some of the versions that flitted through my head included peach, blueberry and just your basic vanilla, but I finally decided that strawberry was the way I wanted to go. Frozen yogurt is a bit healthier than your standard ice cream, but it’s enjoyable none the less. You can utilize fresh, local fruit and make a healthier, cool treat that really hits the spot!

Note: This recipe is designed to fit this ice cream maker. You could easily double or triple it or whatever to fit in a larger machine.

What You’ll Need:
2 – 16 ounce containers of plain fat free Greek Yogurt (Note: I like Oikos.)
2 cups of strawberries, chopped (Note: I like chunks of frozen fruit in my ice cream/frozen yogurt. If you prefer you can mash the berries for a smoother consistency.)
2/3 cup of organic cane sugar

Ice Cream Week Meets Better Bites: Frozen Strawberry Yogurt: Strawberries

The day before you plan to make your frozen yogurt chop (or mash) your strawberries and pour sugar over them. Place in an airtight container (I like to use a canning jar) and place in the fridge overnight to let juice form:

Ice Cream Week Meets Better Bites: Frozen Strawberry Yogurt: Strawberries and Sugar

Once juice has formed combine strawberry sugar mixture with yogurt in a large bowl and stir until mostly mixed:

Ice Cream Week Meets Better Bites: Frozen Strawberry Yogurt: Ready to Freeze

Don’t worry about getting it completely mixed unless you just want to. The ice cream freezer will do part of the mixing for you as it turns.

Place mixture in the bowl of ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s directions. Once the mixture hits the soft serve stage you can serve immediately or place in the freezer in an airtight container to harden fully.

Ice Cream Week Meets Better Bites: Frozen Strawberry Yogurt: Soft Serve

Once you put this mixture in the freezer it gets quite hard, so you’ll have to let it sit on the counter for a bit to be soft enough to serve.

Notes: You could use a Greek yogurt with a higher fat content if you wanted. You could also do this with any fruit that you liked.

Strawberry and Asparagus Salad

Strawberry Asparagus Salad

One of my favorite aspects of spring is when it’s easy to start picking up local produce making it that much easier to eat locally! In warmer climates it’s easier to eat completely locally year round. For those of us who live in cooler climates it is a bit more difficult, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. The season varies depending on where you live, but right now you can start finding greens, broccoli, cabbage, peas, various herbs and in some places you can start finding two of my favorite earlier in the season gems, asparagus and strawberries!

Today I’m going to share with you a quick, easy Strawberry Asparagus Salad that I came up with last year. We participated in a local CSA last summer and toward the end of the strawberry season I was a bit burned out on eating strawberries by themselves. There is just nothing like a fresh, ripe from the plant strawberry, but after a while it can be too much of a good thing. I froze some of the strawberries for use during the fall and winter and then I began to play around with them in the kitchen as well.

This salad is not only very good for you, it also has a bit of a wow factor, with very little work. Fresh, local and fancy, yet easy…What’s not to like about that?

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 springs of thyme, leaves stripped from stems
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pint of strawberries, chopped

Sauté asparagus and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil with thyme leaves, sea salt and some freshly ground pepper until asparagus is slightly tender and slightly browned. Remove from heat.

While the asparagus is cooking cut strawberries and place in a glass bowl. Set aside.

Once asparagus is tender add asparagus/garlic mixture to the strawberries and toss to coat. Serve warm, or even chilled. It’s good either way!

How simple is that?

Notes: If you want to spice things up you could add in some red pepper flakes. You could also switch up the herbs and use rosemary instead.

What’s your favorite thing to do with local fruits and vegetables?

Strawberry and Rhubarb Jam

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

This past weekend I was restless. With Alexis not being able to be around people the last few weeks due to her illness and their concerns that she might pick up something else on top of what she already had, I was more than tired of being in our house, looking at the same walls. While I’m a homebody of the biggest sort for the most part, if I HAVE to stay somewhere without the choice to go out, then I get a bit stir crazy!

On Saturday I decided to get out and run some errands. Jamison was at home, so I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to keep my very social, very friendly, “I love people!” child from interacting with folks who might be carrying this germ or that that her system might not be able to handle yet, and left her at home with “Dad” as she calls him, while I went and got a few things done.

When I finished doing what I needed to do, I didn’t feel like rushing straight home. Jamison was watching Miss G so I decided to take another route home. I would say more scenic, but this whole area is scenic, so it was beautiful either way. It’s spring, the trees are either sprouting or entirely green and the whole world is just stunning! Other than spring allergies that come from these pollinating beings, this is why I love spring!

I was driving along, and yes singing my songs, when I remembered that it was now May and that meant the orchard was open! I decided to pop over and see if they had any peas yet, because ours are still growing and not producing yet, and Alexis loves her some peas! She’s always liked them, so I thought I’d drop by to see if they had any. They didn’t, but I was pleasantly surprised to find some strawberries!

I’ll confess no matter what time of year, you’ll usually find strawberries in the fridge as they are another of Miss G’s favorite things. But there is just something about a plant ripened, local strawberry that makes spring so fun! The taste of fresh, ripe strawberries just can’t be beat! I picked up a container, along with some spinach and spring onions and headed home. The strawberries were so good I just had to run over and get some more on Tuesday and this time when I went they had rhubarb too!

Rhubarb is one of those things you either like or you don’t. I hear people talking about it each spring, and I’ll admit I’ve had rhubarb all of once, when I experimented with it a couple of years ago, but I just couldn’t pass up those beautiful stalks when I saw them on Tuesday, so I picked up a couple of bunches along with the strawberries and headed home. But what was I going to do with them?

I decided that it would be fun to try and make a strawberry rhubarb jam and I was very pleased with the results. (I also made a strawberry rhubarb cobbler…You’ll most likely see that one next week!) The jam ended up being tart, but with just the right hint of sweetness. I’m not a fan of overly sugary jams, and if you’ve ever looked at jam recipes most of them call for inordinate amounts of sugar! 1 cup of fruit to 1 cup of sugar in a lot of cases and let me just say that is more than sugar overkill! Fresh, ripe fruit doesn’t need a lot of sugar, it just needs a bit to compliment the flavor and that’s what I’ve done here.

So if you like strawberries, rhubarb and a little tang, this is the jam for you!

Note: You can can this, or store it in the fridge. I’m not going to give you canning instructions because although I do can from time to time I’m not an expert. You can get more information from the National Canning Center. They have a great page set up to tell you exactly what to do!

This was also the first time I used pectin. I’ve used gelatin in the past, but wanted to try something different. I thought for a while it was going to be more like Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup, but overnight it firmed right up! I was very pleased.

What You’ll Need:
6 cups of strawberries, chopped (Note: I like to have big chunks of fruit, but you can chop the fruit and fine or as coarse as you like.)
4 cups of rhubarb, chopped
1 cup of sugar
The zest of one lemon
The juice of one lemon
4 teaspoons of pectin
4 teaspoons of calcium water

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam: Strawberries and Rhubarb

Chop fruit and pour into a large stock pot, stir to mix. Add sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir to coat. Let sit for an hour or until juice forms.

Once liquid has formed bring mixture to a quick boil. Reduce heat and cook for 10-20 minutes or until the fruit starts breaking down. You want a soupy mixture, with tender fruit.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam: Ready to Seal

Once mixture is soupy and tender remove from heat. Remove 2 cups of the mixture and place in a glass bowl. Whisk in pectin and calcium water (Note: I’ve never used pectin before. I used Pomona’s Pectin and I don’t know if pectin usually uses calcium water or if that is just a Pomona thing.) into the removed strawberry/rhubarb mixture until relatively smooth and then dump this back into the pot and stir until mixed.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam: Setting

At this point you can either can the mixture or you can store it in the fridge. I canned it and ended up with two quart jars. I would have preferred smaller jars, but I didn’t have the lids.

And there you have jam!

Notes: As I mentioned in the intro I wasn’t sure if this was going to set up. I made this around three yesterday and there was a warning on the box that pectin continues hardening until the mixture is completely cool. When I came upstairs last night at 8 the jars were still warm and the mixture was not set. When I went down to the kitchen this morning it had set nicely! Also if you wanted to add more sugar you could, but I liked the slightly sweet, slightly tart results.

Blueberry Muffins

Breakfast Week: Blueberry Muffins

Muffins are often a favorite breakfast food. I’ve made them before, but I wanted to lighten them up a bit. I decided to leave out the butter and use a small amount of safflower oil instead and I didn’t miss the butter at all!

I also decided to use lemon juice, instead of lemon zest and I really liked how that turned out. The lemon juice gave just the right pop to the blueberries, without making them overwhelmingly lemony. They complimented each other perfectly!

So if you like blueberry muffins these will hit the spot! These are just perfect to take to a breakfast gathering or even to make for a special weekend breakfast.

What You’ll Need:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour (Note: You can use white whole wheat flour instead if you like to make them even better.)
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt (Note: I used Stonyfield Farm’s Fat Free French Vanilla. If you want you can use plain yogurt instead.)
2 eggs
The juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup of buttermilk
2 tablespoons of safflower oil
1 – 15 ounce package of frozen blueberries, thawed, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugar, sea salt and baking powder until completely mix. Add yogurt, eggs, lemon juice, buttermilk and safflower oil and stir until batter forms. Fold in blueberries and place batter in muffin tins that have been lined with cupcake liners. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Breakfast Week: Blueberry Muffins

Notes: Next time I make these I’m going to set out 1/2 a cup of blueberries to add to the tops of the muffins. Alexis wants to try this using strawberries instead of blueberries. We’ll let you know how that turns out!

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m a huge fan of blueberries and white chocolate. Remember the White Chocolate Blueberry Fudge? A few weeks ago we had a “Cookie Sunday” at church. Basically one Sunday school class brings in cookies and pastries and then everyone comes in to share! How cool is that? Cookies before lunch! ;oP

I knew I wanted to make a gluten free alternative for Jamison so I whipped up a batch of gluten free peanut butter cookies, but I wanted to do something completely different for the other cookies we would take. I also ended up sending a couple of loaves of banana bread too.

For a while I tossed around a white chocolate/macadamia nut/key lime combo, but decided that wasn’t the way I wanted to go. I also thought about doing some sort of cookie bar, but decided I didn’t want to go that route either. I finally got the idea to put some dried blueberries into the cookie batter as you would a raisin and these lovely little gems were born! If you like white chocolate and blueberries then this is the cookie for you!

What You’ll Need:
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 cup of organic cane sugar
1 cup of natural brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of sea salt
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 – 11 ounce bag of white chocolate chips
2 cups of dried blueberries

Mix together butter, organic cane sugar, brown sugar and eggs until creamy. Add baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Slowly add flour and mix until dough forms. Stir in white chocolate chips and blueberries and chill dough for at least 4 hours.

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Dough

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place scoops of dough onto a baking sheet that has been lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper. Your scoops should be roughly 1 tablespoon per scoop. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are slightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 3-4 minutes and then place cookies on a rack to cool completely. Repeat until you run out of dough.

(Note: When you are not scooping the dough place it back in the fridge so the butter won’t get too warm. Cookies with butter bake better when the dough is completely chilled.)

Makes 4 1/2 to 5 dozen cookies.

Blueberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies: A Peak Inside

Notes: You could use dried cherries or goji berries in place of the blueberries if you liked. Or a mix of dried fruit would be good as well.

Baked Apples

Baked Apples

I’m in an appley mood this week, so let’s do another apple recipe shall we?

Traditionally when you think of baked apples, you think of a whole apple, that has been cored and filled with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and/or nutmeg and possibly some raisins. But I wanted to try something a little different and it worked! These apples turned out to be amazing, all with no butter or sugar…What’s not to like about that?

This could easily be a side dish, or how about using it to top waffles or pancakes? You could even use the apples to make a muffin! The possibilities are endless!

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What You’ll Need Per Person:
1 apple, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon of honey
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Toss together apple, honey and olive oil until apples are coated. Place in a baking dish. Top with cinnamon and nutmeg and bake for 25-30 minutes until apples are soft. Serve immediately.

Baked Apples

Notes: How easy is that? This version is much healthier than your standard baked apple, but trust me…You’ll never miss the butter or the sugar!

Caramel Apple Cake

Caramel Apple Cake

It’s that time of year again…Apple season! When Jamison told me that they were having a going away party today at work I knew I wanted to make something appley to send. So I starting mixing and stirring and this is what resulted!

There are bits of apples and pecan throughout, a fabulous cinnamon flavor and the caramel drizzle just takes it over the top! If you are looking for something to do with your fall apple harvest and like apple cake, then look no further! I’ve got just the recipe for you!

Caramel Apple Cake

What You’ll Need for the Apple Cake:
3 cups of unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
3/4 cup of natural brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of honey
1/2 cup of safflower oil
1 cup of buttermilk
2 tablespoons of vanilla
2 apples, chopped (Note: I used Granny Smith, but any apple will do. Also there is no need to remove the peel.)
1 cup of pecans, chopped (Note: I measure them and then chop.)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl stir together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar until incorporated. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add eggs, honey, safflower oil, buttermilk and vanilla and stir until completely mixed. (Note: The mixture will be thick.) Stir in apples and pecans until mixed through and pour into a 13 X 9 inch dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Make sure batter is spread out evenly throughout the dish.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until cake is golden and sticks done with a toothpick. Let cool completely and then top with Caramel Drizzle (see below).

Caramel Apple Cake

What You’ll Need for the Caramel Drizzle:
1 cup of natural brown sugar
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of heavy cream

In a medium sized pot melt sugar and butter in heavy cream. Bring to a boil and boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour over the top of the cooled Apple Cake (see above).

Notes: You could use walnuts in place of the pecans if you liked. You could also add in a cup of raisins if you liked.