Strawberry Season: A Fond Farewell

It’s almost that time.  There might be a few left in the field or some delicately overripe pints at the market.  We anticipate their arrival and we mourn their departure–strawberries.  They are the sure sign that spring is officially here.  As we prepare to say farewell to this sweet little berry, I wanted to share a fantastic no-cook strawberry ice cream recipe I discovered recently.  This recipe most certainly can be adapted to other fruits as the seasons progress, and it makes a creamy, delicious dessert with little effort.

_MG_0424

If you were prepared enough to freeze some strawberries, remember that you can make this recipe later with those.  I added a little vanilla extract to this recipe, and I am sure there are other fun flavors that would lend to even more complexity and creativity.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Add some mini-chocolate chips for a “chocolate covered strawberry” dessert
  • Mascarpone cheese mixed in with the cream would add a lovely decadence
  • Don’t forget the booze! Add in your favorite liqueur for a fun twist (Gran Marnier, Chambord, Cointreau, etc.)

Find the recipe here:  Perfect No-Cook Strawberry Ice Cream

_MG_0434

Sugar Cookies and Kids: A Winning Combination

When you are invited to bake holiday cookies with a precious curly-haired four year old, you know you must be someone special.  So, I packed up my favorite baking pans and rolling pin and headed to the home of friend and fellow blogger, Leigh Hines (Hines Sight Blog). Have rolling pin, will travel?  Absolutely.

Leigh’s daughter had requested this event not long after meeting me last summer.  She and I share a special bond–we’re both curly headed girls!  It was an instant connection only made stronger by the fact that I could converse with her about ALL of the Disney princesses.

Baking with children is not only fun, but it can be a great way to teach math, kitchen safety, and share a life skill that will stay with them forever.  Having baked with my own children, who are now grown, I knew engaging my curly-haired friend in hands-on work would be important.  I chose easy to decorate shapes: candy cane and snowflake.  I opted for colored sugar and three colors of icing to keep in simple.  She was a pro at helping me roll out the dough and cut the cookies.  Decorating is the best part, but it can be difficult for a little one to wait for that task.  So, while the cookies cooled, she assisted me with measuring the ingredients for the icing.  When waiting became cumbersome, she was easily reengaged rolling out some of the excess dough and cutting out a few more cookies (to be baked while we decorated).

The whole event was captured by her mom, Leigh, and placed on Leigh’s Hines Sight Blog.  Check out the fun, the smiles, and the recipes here.  I can’t wait to return next year for Holiday Baking 2.0!

These Christmas trees were last year's design.  Maybe my curly-haired friend and I can conquer these next year!

These Christmas trees were last year’s design. Maybe my curly-haired friend and I can conquer these next year!

One Year…and Counting!

A year ago I embarked upon this blogging journey.  After years of longing to write about farmers markets, using local produce, and great restaurants, I finally created my first post on November 30, 2013.  I cannot believe it has already been a year.  I admit, I would love to write more often.  In a perfect world, I would spend every day in the kitchen–cooking, creating recipes, and snapping photos of my creations.  Perhaps, some day…my perfect world will exist.  Until then, I will settle for perfect moments.

I am certain that my purpose in life is to be a connector.  The satisfaction I feel when I share a resource with someone or connect two people with similar interests is what makes life worth living! I appreciate the opportunity to give readers my favorite recipes or enlighten them with creative ways to use local produce.  I find joy in supporting local farmers and businesses by telling everyone about their products.  Thank you for reading my posts, sharing them with others, and continuing to walk with me on this food journey.  It wouldn’t be the same without YOU!

What better way to say thank you than a plate of heart shaped palmiers?

What better way to say thank you than a plate of heart shaped palmiers?

This is one of my favorite recipes because it is so good and SO easy.  Check out Ina Garten’s Palmier recipe, and impress your friends!

Thanksgiving Dessert: Gluten Free Spiced Acorn Squash Bars

It is tough to eat locally in the winter.  Squash, greens, root vegetables, and sweet potatoes–that about sums up the winter harvest that starts in November and takes us into early March. It’s a long time to eat the same thing over and over again.  Being creative is the key to embracing the limited choices at the winter farmers markets. So, let’s talk squash.

Acorn squash has a similar taste, texture, and sweetness to pumpkin, so why not use it for desserts? It will be around long after the pumpkins are gone from the market tables.  If the urge hits you to bake more pumpkin bread in January, you don’t have to turn to the canned stuff.  You can use acorn squash or butternut, too.  As for for the gluten, I am not a gluten-free eater.  I love bread.  I love pastries.  I love pasta.  I am thankful that I can eat these things without issue. I know many people who cannot.  Eating gluten is harmful to them.  Gluten-free is more than a fad or a choice.  For many people, it is a health issue.  I have had some amazing gluten-free pastries and cookies.  I am still learning how to adapt recipes to make them without wheat flour.  I have found that almond meal or almond flour works well for more dense cakes like these bars.

My family had no idea these were gluten-free when they devoured the first batch.  I’d call that a success!

Gluten Free Spiced Acorn Squash Bars with Mascarpone Cream

  • ½ c. acorn squash puree
  • ½ c, brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup almond flour or meal
  • ¼ c. arrowroot powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Place dry ingredients: almond flour, arrowroot, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl. Using a whisk, combine thoroughly.
  3. In another bowl, combine squash puree, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate.
  5. Line an 8×8-baking pan with parchment paper. Pour batter into the pan and spread evenly.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until springs back when lightly touched.
  7. Cool on a rack.  When completely cooled, cut into squares.

For the Mascarpone Cream:

  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 3-4 tbs. powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Place ingredients in a chilled mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Spoon into a piping bag with a star tip.  Pipe on to each bar.  Grate a little nutmeg or sprinkle a pinch of cinnamon over the top and serve!

IMG_7258 IMG_7264

bgd14_square_800x800

Thanksgiving is all about family, friends and delicious food. Luckily, the food blogging community is all about these things as well. To celebrate the holiday, Meghan from Cake ‘n’ Knife and Susannah from Feast + West are hosting Blogsgiving Dinner. There are 20 awesome blogs sharing 52 recipes

The idea is based on the old-fashioned progressive dinner party, in which you’d eat each course at a different guest’s home. Each blogger is bringing one or more dishes to the party on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of this week, so be sure to stop by each one and get some ideas for your own Thanksgiving meal.  Today’s bloggers have recipes for dessert and after-dinner drinks, as well as ideas for eating leftovers.

We’ll be posting to social media with the hashtag #blogsgivingdinner. Hope you can join us!

Blogsgiving Progressive Dinner Menu

Friday, Nov. 14

Dessert

Grandma’s Pecan Pie from The Wetherills Say I Do

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting from My Cooking Spot

Gluten-Free Apple Berry Crumble from Twin Stripe

Paleo Pumpkin Pudding from Wit Wisdom Food

Cranberry Almond Coconut Bars from Love & Flour

Torched Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie with Olive & Sinclair Chocolate from The Local Forkful

Poached Pears with Salted Maple Caramel Syrup from Home at Six

Sweet Potato Pie from Think Fruitful

Nutella Pumpkin S’mores Tart from bethcakes

Gluten-Free Acorn Squash Spice Bars from I Cook. I Eat. It’s Life.

Drunken Pecan Pie Bars from The Speckled Palate

After-Dinner Drinks

Slow Cooker Cranberry Apple Cider from A Savory Feast

Cranberry Bourbon Granita from Feast + West

Leftovers

Cheesy Potato Croquettes from Hello Little Home

Leftover Stuffed Egg Rolls with Cranberry Dipping Sauce from Cake ‘n’ Knife

Freezer-Friendly Turkey and Rice Casserole from Betty Becca

Turkey and Cranberry Quesadilla from Glamour Girl Gourmet

Stuffed Crescents with Thanksgiving Leftovers from My Cooking Spot

Wine + Dessert

I love a wine paired with an amazing meal. I also enjoy using wine in my cooking. It is a diverse indulgence and the perfect ingredient. When it comes to wine and food—well, they just go together in perfect harmony. So naturally, a dessert with wine in it peaks my interest.

After the fruit sherbets earlier in the summer, I decided to lighten things up with a sorbet. Sorbet has a palate-cleansing characteristic that makes it the perfect end to a summer meal. It’s not too sweet and has a refreshing tang that gives your taste buds a wake up call. With the abundance of summer fruits and access to a variety of wines, it is fun to create delectable pairings. Blackberries and Zinfandel?   Yes, please! Peaches and Reisling? That could work! The possibilities are endless.

The bounty of blackberries at the farmers markets right now, made it easy to focus in on the first recipe. We often hear bold red wines described with notes of blackberry, plum, and cherry. These notes provide a wonderful hint as to which wines to pair with which fruits. The same is true for the white wines with their citrus and pear notes. A little fruit, some sugar, some wine…and you have an amazing dessert that will have you sneaking back to the freezer for more!

Blackberry Zinfandel Sorbet

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • ½ to ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Zinfandel wine
  1. Puree the blackberries with the sugar in a food processor or blender.
  2. Pour mixture into a saucepan and heat over medium until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat promptly.
  3. Strain mixture by pushing it through a sieve. This should yield about 2-3 cups of syrup.
  4. Stir in the Zinfandel and chill for 4-5 hours.
  5. Process mixture in an ice cream maker until soft serve consistency. Place in a container and freeze.

IMG_4814

IMG_4804 IMG_4809

 

 

Move Over Sorbet, I Want Sherbet

Do you remember sherbet from your childhood? I do. Lime, pineapple, and orange were always hiding in the back of my Nana’s freezer. My favorite way to enjoy it was with 7-Up. A sherbet float was a special treat during most visits to Nana’s house. A bowl of dry roasted peanuts usually accompanied this foam-laden, fizzy concoction. It was the perfect combination—a little sweet, a little salty.

Traditional sherbet contains less milk fat than ice cream because it is made with milk not cream. Sherbet it is more like sorbet—lighter, refreshing, and with a higher ice crystal content. It’s a perfect summer dessert because it is fruit based. Likewise, it is an excellent use for that bounty of strawberries that appears in your local farmer’s market starting in late April. Add a little rhubarb, and voila! You now have the delicious frozen equivalent of strawberry rhubarb pie a la mode.   In June, try blueberries or blackberries. I have yet to meet a berry that wouldn’t make a great sherbet!

This recipe is a bit more decadent than the sherbet I remember from my Nana’s freezer. Admittedly, my refined adult palate doesn’t mind a bit! Buttermilk is the key to creating a sherbet with a creamier texture and fuller flavor. Have fun with this recipe! Be adventurous! Leave the sorbet in the freezer and grab the sherbet instead!

 

IMG_7091 IMG_4308 IMG_4330 IMG_4318 IMG_4326

Strawberry Rhubarb Sherbet

  • 2 cups strawberries – halved
  • 1 cup rhubarb – chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbs. water
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Place the rhubarb, 1/2 cup of the sugar and 2 tbs. water into a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes or until the rhubarb starts to break down.  Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.  Once rhubarb is cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2.  Place the strawberries and the other 1/2 cup of sugar in a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth.  Strain mixture to remove seeds.
  3. Combine strawberry puree, rhubarb, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Whisk until incorporated.
  4. Add buttermilk and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  5. Place mixture in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to chill.  Once chilled, pour mixture into an ice cream machine and process as you would ice cream or sorbet.  Place mixture in a plastic, freezer-safe container and place in the freezer.

***Pre-chill your container in the freezer to keep the sherbet from melting!