Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

When I saw these adorable skewers on Lady Behind the Curtain, they were just too cute to pass up.  I had to make these for my daughter’s tea party!  They are made with pre-made biscuit dough so it’s super easy too.

Roll out one piece of refrigerated biscuit dough to about a 5 inch circle and cut into 1 1/2 inch circles.  Each one should give you 7 circles.  Make sure you use your handy-dandy homemade circle cutter.

Yes, this circle cutter was made by my Dad.  First let me explain the type of guy my dad is.  He can make ANYTHING!!  Really, he’s a general contractor by trade, but a mad scientist in the workshop. He whipped up this little cutter and just soldered it together and voila, I have a cookie cutter!

Place the the biscuit circles on parchment paper and brush with an egg wash and sprinkle each one with sugar.

They are done when they’re a nice golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Now prepare the strawberries.  First wash and dry all the berries.  Cut the tops off.

Then the small end.

Then slice in half, giving you two strawberry circles.

I stacked them together and the kept each of the two pieces together, so it would look more uniform on one skewer.

I cut my skewers down in size to about 6 inches so they would look nicer.  You don’t have to do that.

Now just start layering with the biscuit, whipped cream and strawberries.

Start and end with a biscuit.  Easy peasy.  It was fun to make and even more fun to eat.  These were a hit at the tea party and they are fun to slide right off and pop into your mouth.

Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

Adapted from Lady Behind the Curtain

Biscuit Rounds:

1 can of grands biscuits

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

sugar for sprinkling

20 large strawberries, 2 slices per strawberry

Cream:

2 cups heavy cream

½ jar marshmallow fluff

3 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll a biscuit into a 5-inch circle.

Cut 7 – 1-1/2 inch circles and place on a cookie sheet sprayed with non stick cooking spray.

Whisk together the egg white and water.  Brush on each biscuit and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking prepare the strawberries.  Cut two 1/2 inch slices from each strawberry.  I also kept the two slices stacked on themselves, so I could use the same strawberry for one skewer.  This way they fit together better.  Once the biscuits are baked, transfer to a cooling rack and let them cool completely before constructing the skewers.  Then start layering; biscuit, strawberry, whipped cream.  Do this twice ending with a third biscuit on top.  One can of biscuits made 20 skewers.  That’s WITHOUT using the scraps.  If you use the scraps you’ll need to adjust the ingredients for extra.

Cream:

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream and sugar and beat until firm peaks form.  Add half a jar of marshmallow fluff until just combined.

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Candied Almonds and Poppyseed Dressing

Even though it is technically still spring right now, where I am, the weather has been in the 80’s this week and that makes me think of summer.  Summer makes me think of eating lighter and that’s what led to this summery salad of spinach and strawberries.

To start this salad, I need to make the candied almonds first.  I’ve been trying to find healthier snacks, since summer is approaching.  So, I bought this huge bag of raw almonds.  They are not the tastiest thing compared to roasted and salted almonds, but I’ve come to enjoy the fresher, cleaner flavor.

So, since I have this big bag of almonds, I thought it would be good to add to the salad for a crunchy texture.  But, I couldn’t just leave them plain and naked.  It just wouldn’t stand up to the strawberries or dressing in this salad.  So, I had to dress them up.

So, here’s what I did.  Start by bringing to boil, brown sugar, water and cinnamon.

**The original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar, but next time I will reduce that to a 1/2 cup.  It ended up being too much liquid, even after reducing.

Throw in the almonds and let it come back to a boil.

Once it’s rapidly boiling, turn the mixture to medium heat and stir constantly with a spoon.

It will eventually reduce down to a thick, rich syrup.

Spoon the almonds onto a baking sheet with wax paper and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Now for the poppy seed dressing.  Just throw in all the ingredients and stir until the sugar is melted and combined.

This dressing is perfect for spinach because it cuts through the mild bitterness of raw spinach.  It also just looks so pretty with the stratified layer of sesame and poppy seeds.  Yes, I said stratified!!

Here’s the whole thing all put together.  When you take your first bite, please make sure you get all the components onto your fork in one bite.  You’ll understand why when you combine the bitterness of the spinach, sweet juiciness of the strawberry and crunch of the almond, smothered with poppy seed dressing goodness.  That’s serious YUM!

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing and Candied Almonds

 

Salad:

1 bag baby spinach

1 pint strawberries, sliced

Layer spinach, strawberries and candied almonds in a large bowl.  Pour on the poppy seed dressing right before eating.

 

Dressing:

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp sesame oil

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a measuring cup and stir until the sugar melts and the dressing becomes viscous.  This will make more than you need, so you can store for future use.

 

Candied Almonds:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 cups whole almonds

Combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; add the almonds. Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup-like coating on the almonds. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Separate almonds using forks. Allow to cool about 15 minutes.

This will make more than you need, so you can store in an air-tight container for future use.

White Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Bites

My sweet daughter just turned 8-years old and we had a tea party at home.  This is one of the mini morsels on the tea table. That’s why they’re sitting on a fancy paper doily.  I love the the color combination with the little pop of raspberry red on top.  The sweetness of the brownie and chocolate were offset perfectly by the tangy berry.  The white chocolate also served it’s purpose with a crunchy texture.  It is definitely a decadent bite of deliciousness!

Best of all, these are super easy to make with your favorite box brownie mix.

Follow the box directions and dump everything into a bowl.

Line the mini muffin pan with paper liners.  I used my handy #70 scoop, which is about one tablespoon.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

As you can see from the bottom left corner, I left one muffin cup unlined.  I wanted to see how it would work without a liner so I could report back to you if it was worth the trouble and calories to spray each cup with oil.

Well, it was NOT worth it!  I’m glad I had the paper liners.  I had to pry the brownie out with a knife and some of it cracked off.  I can’t imagine having to do that about 50 more times!

It is very important to let these puppies cool completely before trying to peel the paper liner off.  I found out the hard way.  I was being careful, but the warm ones weren’t quite set and I lost the bottoms off a few brownies.

I just love miniature things, don’t you?  Mini chihuahuas, Mini Coopers, and mini brownies…………I love them all!

Once they’re all cooled and peeled and placed on a lovely fancy doily, you can top them with anything you want.  I decided on melted white chocolate.  I just melted one cup of white chocolate and spooned it into a sandwich bag, cut the corner and piped each one and topped it right away with the raspberry.

One box of brownie mix will make about 55 mini brownies.

Maple Almond Granola

I have been buying 2 boxes of granola a week for my family and they go through it crazy fast.  After realizing how much money I was spending on it, I thought I should start making it myself.  Not only is this easier on the wallet, this tastes better than anything you can buy in your grocery store.

The best part about making homemade granola is that you can put anything you want into it.  You can use your favorite types of nuts or dried fruits.  Add or delete what you want to make the granola your own.

I started with old-fashioned rolled oats, sweetened coconut, sliced almonds, brown sugar and a few pinches of salt.  Combine it thoroughly and prepare the wet ingredients.

Here is the oil, maple syrup and honey all measured out.

Pour the syrup mixture into the dry mixture and toss to combine.

Spread it all out on a half sheet pan.

Here’s the granola after baking.  At this point, the warm granola is warm, crunchy and caramelized and is making my kitchen smell oh so good.

While the pan is still warm, I mixed in the raisins.  It took all my will power from eating all of this before my family had a chance at it.

Look at this up close and tell me you don’t want to run to your kitchen and make some right now!  The toasted oats, almonds and crispy coconut give your mouth a wonderful crunch.  The raisins are warm and plump and balance everything else.

Here’s how much one batch makes.  It fills up two 32 oz Ball jars.  It just so happened that a friend came over as I was filling these jars, so I gave him one.  I heard about it for the rest of the night from my hubby, “How could you give that away?!”  He only stopped when I promised to make him more tomorrow.  Funny hubby!

 

Homemade Granola

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup shredded sweet coconut

½ cup toasted flax seed (optional, but so good!)

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup raisins

1 egg white

 

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

 

In a bowl, combine the oats, nuts, flax seed, coconut, salt and brown sugar thoroughly.

In a measuring cup combine maple syrup, honey and oil.

Pour the wet mixture over the oats mixture and toss well to combine.

Beat one egg white  in a bowl until frothy and pour over the whole mixture and combine well.

Bake  for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a golden brown color.

Remove from oven and break the granola into bite-sized pieces.

Add raisins and mix until evenly distributed.

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells

These stuffed shells are a cinch to make and bake.  They are also a great make-ahead dinner item.  They can sit in the fridge during the day and just bake them right before dinner time and voila, dinner is ready!

My only problem is that my daughter doesn’t eat anything green.  So her plate ends up with all the cheesy stuffing and the shells are devoured quickly.  That’s why I always cook extra shells just for her.  Can someone please tell me when this perpetual-fear-of-vegetables stage will be over?

Combine the ricotta, spinach, basil, egg, nutmeg and salt and pepper and mix well.

The options are endless as to what you’d like to add to your stuffing…………fresh herbs, bacon, prosciutto, Italian sausage.  You can also substitute the spinach with artichokes or any other vegetable.

If you add a protein, this dish would hit all the food groups; meat group, dairy group, vegetable group, and pasta group.

Here’s the lovely mixture.  I really could just eat this with a spoon………..except for the raw egg part.

Use the jumbo shells.

I always cook extra shells,  for my picky daughter and also because some will break in the boiling process.

Once stuffed, cover with sauce and cheese and bake.  Simple and delicious!

 

Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Shells 

24 jumbo pasta shells

1 15-oz. container ricotta

2 cups shredded mozzarella

1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

10 leaves fresh basil, chopped

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Salt and pepper

Pinch of ground nutmeg

1 26-oz. jar spaghetti sauce

 

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cook pasta shells according to package label directions; drain and set aside to cool. While pasta cooks, in a large bowl, stir together ricotta, spinach, basil, egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg.

2. Spread 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce over bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Stuff shells with cheese mixture and place in dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.

3. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes longer, until bubbly and cheese begins to brown.