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.

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


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.

Fresh Fruit Tart

I can’t think of many other desserts that are as beautiful as a fresh fruit tart.  The combination of the vibrant fruit colors and the shiny glaze all nestled inside a crispy pastry crust is a thing of beauty.

When I first set out to make this desert, the recipe seemed really daunting, with many steps.  So, I decided to spread out the process over a two-day period.  The first day, I made the pastry dough and the pastry cream.  The second day I tackled the baking of the crust and adorning the tart with the cream and fruit.

On the first day, I was helping a friend babysit her 5-year old daughter and I thought it would be fun to have a baking buddy.  My kids are usually in school when I bake, so it was nice to have someone in the kitchen with me.  Janelle even brought her own little apron………so cute!  She sat up on a high stool against my black granite counter top, with her clean hands and sleeves pushed up, ready to work.

 This post made it to #5 on Foodbuzz’s Top 9 on April 9, 2011.  Check it out!

Add in the flour, sugar, salt and cold butter.

You will notice that this is the first time I’ve used a food processor in any of my baking or cooking.  That’s because I didn’t have one until this time.  I asked for a Cuisinart food processor for Christmas and my wish came true, thanks to my hubby!

Janelle, couldn’t help but notice that with every step of this process, I would stop and wash my hands and pick up my camera to take a picture.  She asked why I was doing this and I explained as generically as I could without having to explain to a 5-year old what a food blog was.

I told her that I wanted to keep the pictures so that I could remember how to make this in the future.

Janelle:  “Mrs. Freese, why don’t you just keep the recipe for next time?”

D-u-uh!  What a smart little girl.

Pulse, while drizzling in the egg yolk until it looks like corn meal.

Grab some dough and squeeze into a ball.  If it holds its shape, it’s ready to go!

Pour out the dough onto the counter top and form into a ball.

Wrap it up with plastic wrap and flatten into a disc.

After resting for about 30 minutes, roll out the crust in between the plastic wrap.  This is a great way to keep your counters and your clothes flour-free!  Clean up is so much easier this way.

Keeping one side of the crust attached to the plastic wrap, turn it onto your tart pan and gently press into the fluted edge.  Then run your rolling pin over the edge to cut the excess dough off.

Here’s the completed pastry crust.  Refrigerate again for about 30 minutes.

Here is the tart crust all baked off.  I totally forgot to take a picture of the blind-baking process where you lay foil or parchment paper over the crust and bake with dried beans .  The beans weigh the dough down during the baking process, so that the dough does not rise.

Melt strawberry jelly with some water for the glaze.

Apply a thin layer of the glaze to the crust to seal it in.  This also helps the crust with not becoming soggy when you spread the pastry cream in.

This step ends the pastry crust tutorial stage.

Start the pastry cream with three egg yolks and sugar.

Mix with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.

Janelle did a great job mixing this part.  Thanks Janelle!!

Sift in the flour and cornstarch until smooth.

Here’s everything all mixed well.

Boil milk and vanilla bean paste.

At this point, I had to take Janelle to her afternoon Kindergarten class, so “Zai jian, Janelle.”

I forgot to mention that while I was baking, I also taught Janelle some Chinese.  She already knew, “ni hao” or hello, so I taught her good-bye, “zai jian.”  When I dropped her off at school we said, “Zai jian” to each other and I came back home to finish the rest of the tart.

Whisk in the hot milk slowly into the egg mixture.  Pour everything back into the pot and put over low heat.

Keep whisking until the cream hardens and becomes thick.  Add in the half and half until nice and smooth.

Dump it out into a clean bowl.

Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap touching the top, so it does not create a dry film on top.

Once cooled, spread the pastry cream into the tart crust and go to town with your berries and fruit.

Don’t forget to brush on a final layer of glaze over the fruit.  The shiny finish really makes this fruit tart sing!

Janelle, I hope you’re very proud that you helped me make this beautiful fruit tart.  Thanks honey!!

P.S.  When I spoke with Janelle’s mom later that day, she told me that Janelle said that we were making a pop tart together!  So funny.  She probably would be more impressed with that.

Fresh Fruit Tart

Adapted from

Sweet Pastry Crust:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Pastry Cream:

1 ¼ cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

3 large egg yolks

¼ cup granulated white sugar

2 tablespoons  flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup half and half

Glaze: (optional)

1/2 cup strawberry  jelly

1 tablespoon water


2 – 3 cups mixed fruit, such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, kiwifruit

Sweet Pastry Crust: In a food processor, pour in the flour and salt. Cut the cold butter into ½ inch pieces and add to flour. Pulse your food processor until the flour and butter resemble coarse corn meal.  Gradually add the beaten egg, beating just until incorporated.  (Do not over mix or the pastry will be hard when baked.) Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes or until firm.

Have ready a 9- inch tart pan with removable bottom. Uncover the dough and center it in the middle of the plastic wrap, after folded in half. Roll out the dough and keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). To make sure it is the right size, take your tart pan, flip it over, and place it on the rolled out pastry. The pastry should be about an inch larger than pan.

When the pastry is rolled to the desired size, lightly peel off one side of plastic wrap and place onto top of tart pan. Never pull pastry or you will get shrinkage (shrinkage is caused by too much pulling of the pastry when placing it in the pan). Gently lay in pan and lightly press pastry into bottom and up sides of pan. Roll your rolling pin over top of pan to get rid of excess pastry. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to chill the butter and to rest the gluten.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line unbaked pastry shell with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill tart pan with pie weights, rice or beans, making sure the weights are to the top of the pan and evenly distributed over the entire surface. Bake crust for 20 to 25 minutes until crust is dry and lightly golden brown. Remove weights and bake 5 more minutes until the crust is completely cooked.  Cool crust on wire rack before filling.

Pastry Cream: In a medium-sized stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together with a wooden spoon. (Never let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine the milk and vanilla bean paste on medium heat until boiling. (The milk will foam up to the top of pan when done, so watch carefully.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.)

Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 – 60 seconds until it becomes very thick and it is hard to stir.

Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the half and half. Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

Glaze: Heat the jelly and water in a bowl in the microwave until liquid.  Let cool until it is only slightly warm.

To Assemble Tart: To remove the tart from the fluted sides of the pan, place your hand under the pan, touching only the removable bottom not the sides. Gently push the tart straight up, away from the sides. The fluted tart ring will fall away and slide down your arm. If you want to remove the bottom of the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula between the crust and metal bottom, then slide the tart onto a cardboard cake round.

Spread a thin layer of glaze or melted chocolate over the bottom and sides of the baked tart shell to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry between 20 – 30 minutes. Spread the Pastry Cream onto the bottom of the baked tart shell, filling about 3/4 full.

To decorate the tart you will need 2 to 3 cups of mixed fresh fruit (such as berries, bananas, oranges, kiwifruit, plums, pineapple, and melon). Prepare the fruit by gently washing and drying. Peel and slice the bananas, plums and kiwifruit. The strawberries will need to be sliced also. Arranging the fruit on the tart can be done either randomly or in concentric overlapping circles, starting at the outside edge. Try to cover all the pastry cream with fruit so that no pastry cream is showing through.

After arranging the fruit, rewarm the glaze, if using, and gently brush a light coat on the fruit. Do not put it on too thick or it will look like Jell-O. Try not to get any glaze on the tart shell. The idea is to make the fruit look shiny.  If not serving immediately, refrigerate. Take out about 30 minutes before serving to give the fruit and cream a chance to warm to room temperature.

This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Serves about 8-10 people.