Fresh Strawberry Smoothie

 

I am squeezing in every last bit of summer strawberries that I can.  The prices are starting to go up at the grocery store, so that’s how you know that they are going out of season.

 

 

 

Add in the beautifully sweet strawberries to the blender.  Now you know why my favorite color is red!

 

 

 

Add in the remaining ingredients and blend it all up until it looks like a whirlwind of creamy good strawberry-ness.

 

 

 

I love that I can see all the bits of strawberry through the glass.  This smoothie is refreshing and satisfying, especially during this long hot summer we’ve been having in Southern California.  Hot weather puts me in a bad mood, but this smoothie helps to readjust my attitude.  Who knew a smoothie could be so powerful?

 

Fresh Strawberry Smoothie

8-10 strawberries, hulled

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

10 ice cubes

 

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Makes 2 servings.

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Triple Berry Crumb Cake

I’m very sad to say that summer is almost over.  My kids go back to school tomorrow and a new year of responsibilities, schedules, and homework begin.  So this is my homage to summer and the wonderful berries that we’ve enjoyed for the last 3 months.

This berry crumb cake is the epitome of the balance of flavors.  The cake is moist and tangy from the berries, then crunchy and sweet from the pecan crumb topping.  Make this for an easy evening at home or fancy it up with homemade whipped cream and fresh fruit on the side.

Put all the crumb topping ingredients into a food processor and pulse until………..

you get this.   Pour it out and set it aside.

Add the cake’s dry ingredients  to the same food processor and blend until crumbly.

In a bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together well and then pour in the dry ingredients from the food processor.

Mix it all together with a spatula until well incorporated.  It’s okay if it’s a bit lumpy.  The lumps are the magnificent specks of butter reminding you of how buttery good this cake will taste!!!

Pour out into a greased 8×8 pan.

Spoon the berries over the top and be sure to press them into the cake dough.

Sprinkle the crumb topping all over, covering every square inch.

See….this is what I mean by pressing the berries in well.

Here’s the lovely warm cake just out of the oven.  I could take a spoon and dig right into this, but that wouldn’t have looked very nice for my quests, huh?!  But………….I wish I could have!

Run a knife all around the gooey berry edges to release the cake from the pan, making sure you lick the knife when you’re done.  Not the sharp end of course, that would be silly, and irresponsible.

Enjoy my homage to summer and the berries that its warm weather brings us.

Care to share some of your end-of-the-summer recipes?  I’d love to know!

Triple Berry Crumb Cake

Adapted from Real Simple

 

FOR THE CRUMB TOPPING:

1/2  cup  pecans

1/3  cup  brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4  cup  all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

2  tablespoons  cold unsalted butter

 

FOR THE CAKE:

1/2  cup  (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan

2  cups  all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1  cup  granulated sugar

2  teaspoons  baking powder

1  teaspoon  kosher salt

1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon

2  large eggs

1  cup  whole milk

1  teaspoon  pure vanilla extract

1  pound  frozen blackberries, blueberries, raspberries thawed (about 3 1/2 cups)

 

Heat oven to 350º F.

Make the crumb topping: In a food processor, pulse the pecans, brown sugar, flour, and butter until crumbly; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the food processor.

Make the cake: Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. In the food processor, pulse the butter, flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until crumbly. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the blackberries and crumb topping.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before serving.

American Flag Cake

This is a cake that I made last year, but I thought I’d bring it up to remind you of the wonderful holiday coming up in America in a few days, Independence Day.  Not only is this cake patriotic, it tastes amazing!!  This cake celebrates the colors of America’s flag and the tasty sweet berries that summer has to offer.

This 4th of July, enjoy your family, the fireworks and this cake!

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.

Pineapple Cream on Pound Cake

This is my favorite easy-to-make dessert when I’m in a pinch and want to serve something fast and refreshing.  All it takes is assembly, no baking involved.  I used a store-bought butter pound cake and the cream is three simple ingredients; crushed pineapple, vanilla instant pudding and whipped topping.

You can make this exact same dessert in the form of a trifle, which makes for a beautiful presentation.

Anyway you make it, the pineapple cream will stand out as being the star in this dessert.  It is creamy, but light.  It’s sweetness balances well with the tart berries and adds moisture to the heavier pound cake.  No one will go away unsatisfied with this dessert.  Enjoy!

Pineapple Cream on Pound Cake

1 can (20 oz.)  Crushed Pineapple, with juice

1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.) Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding

4 cups whipped topping

1 loaf store bought pound cake

fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Mix pineapple and dry pudding mix in medium bowl with whisk until well blended. Stir in whipped topping.  Slice pound cake and place on plate.  Spoon on pineapple cream and top with fresh berries.  Serves 6-8.

American Flag Cake

Okay, I’ve officially been off the blogging radar for a month and I’ve missed it dearly.  A lot has happened since my last post, including moving into a new house.  For anyone that has ever done that, you know it’s lots of work and doesn’t seem to end for months to come.  I still have boxes to unpack and things to hang on the walls, but it’s slowly feeling more like home everyday.  What better way to celebrate than to make a cake for our country’s birthday!!

I am very happy to post this flag cake in celebration of Independence Day.  The summer berries are just so festive and I love the combination of whipped cream frosting with berries.  Here I made a chocolate sheet cake and it was the perfect size and shape for our flag.

The field of blueberries with white whipped cream stars.

I realize that I have the wrong number of stars, but that’s okay.  This is a cake, not a history lesson!

The strawberry stripe.

Try making this on Monday for your 4th of July barbeque and I guarantee people will LOVE it!!  There really is no other food that’s more patriotic than this, right?  And besides, it tastes amazing!

Chocolate Flag Cake with  Whipped Cream Frosting

From Hershey’s Kitchens

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan.
Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes.

Whipped cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Assemble Cake

When cake is cooled, place on platter and cover cake with whipped cream evenly.  Start by placing the blueberries on the top left of the flag.  You do not need to be precise, just eyeball it.  Wash and cut strawberries and place them in line.  Spoon the remaining whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a start tip and pipe the white stripes in between the strawberry stripes.  Then finish with white stars on the blueberries.

Berry Oat Bread

This might be the world’s easiest sweet bread to make.  I only used 5 kitchen tools…….a large bowl, a glass measuring cup, measuring spoons, a spatula, and a loaf pan.  Now, that’s my kind of clean-up!  Am I right?!

Also, the main reason I made this bread is because I had all these ingredients in my pantry and fridge.

Well………technically, I didn’t have buttermilk on hand.  That is easily remedied by my homemade version, using regular milk and vinegar.  Just substitute one cup of buttermilk with one tablespoon of vinegar plus enough milk to make one cup.

I had reservations about the oats drying out the bread, but to my surprise it was totally moist.  The berries also help with the moisture content.  They also add sweetness and tang.  Love that combination!

Berry Oat Bread

Adapted from youmadethat.com

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup quick cooking oat

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 cup of buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tbsp. lemon zest

2 eggs

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup diced strawberries

Combine all dry ingredients and lemon zest in large mixing bowl and mix together with a spatula.

In a small bowl whisk eggs, buttermilk and oil together.

Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix.

Fold in berries and pour into a greased and floured loaf pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, checking for doneness about 10  min. before timer goes off with a cake tester.  If you are using fresh berries and not frozen then only cook for about 65 min.

Berry Buttermilk Muffins

These berry muffins came out beautifully and I couldn’t ask for a better way to use up the left over berries from my fruit tart.  They were very tender and moist.  The crunch from the turbinado sugar also adds a wonderful texture contrast to this  billowy soft muffin.

The next time you find yourself with extra berries around the house, try this recipe.  You’ll love them for breakfast in the morning!

 

 

Buttermilk Berry Muffins

adapted from the Joyofcooking.com

 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest of one orange

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3/4 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup safflower or canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups fresh raspberries and blackberries

1/4 cup turbinado raw cane sugar

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Position rack in center of oven. Butter or spray with a non stick cooking spray 12 – 2 3/4 x 1 1/2 inch muffin cups or use paper liner. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract.

In another large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Gently fold in the berries. With a rubber spatula fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Fill each muffin cup almost full of batter, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.  Generously sprinkle raw sugar over the top of each muffin.

Place in the oven and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes 12-15 regular sized muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.

Note: If using frozen berries you may have to bake the muffins a little longer than the stated time. Also, if making jumbo sized muffins, again, you may have to bake the muffins a little longer.