Sunday, May 24, 2020

Strawberry Shortcakes with Macerated Strawberries

Savor the unofficial beginning of summer with a traditional summer dessert
Strawberry Shortcakes with Macerated Chocolate Balsamic Strawberries
 Cook's Notes: Recipe adapted from Midwest Living and makes 6-7.
I followed the Chocolate Balsamic Macerated recipe for the strawberry filling. 
Use a serrated knife to slice shortcakes. They can be served open faced or with top on as shown in photo. 
Cooking Tips: Avoid overworking the batter so shortcakes are tender not chewy. 
Shortcake Biscuits Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used the yogurt) 
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2-3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Sweetened Whipped Cream 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, the 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and baking soda. Whisk ingredients. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (pea size for butter). Make a well in the center. In a small bowl, stir together egg, sour cream and milk. Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring with a fork just until moistened.
  • Drop dough into 7 mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to wire rack; cool completely.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. If desired, mash slightly with a fork or a potato masher. To serve, split shortcakes horizontally. Fill with the whipped cream and sweetened berries.

Macerated Strawberries 
2 cups fresh strawberries and add
2 tablespoons sugar

Macerated Strawberries with Grand Marnier
reduce sugar to 1 tablespoon and add
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Macerated Strawberries with Citrus Juice
reduce sugar to 1 tablespoon and add
2 tablespoons lemon or orange juice

Macerated Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar

Cook's Notes: Use a high quality dark balsamic vinegar for this recipe. Consider a splurge and purchase Chocolate Balsamic. It's amazing and really elevates the flavor. Recipe is enough filling for 5-6 biscuits or shortcakes.
Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
the skinny on it...
Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar is rich, thick and resounds with the complexity of three different chocolates responsible for the depth of its flavor. Drizzle over vanilla gelato, mix with fresh berries or add zing to your chicken mole sauce. Make a simple salad of greens, berries, feta or blue cheese with nuts. This balsamic makes a perfect meat marinade, especially wild game.
Chocolate Balsamic Strawberries

  • 2 cups diced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Chocolate Balsamic or another high quality dark balsamic
  • In a bowl add diced strawberries and stir in sugar. Drizzle in balsamic and mix well. Let strawberries sit for one hour on the counter, uncovered. Stir and use a slotted spoon to serve. Add a dollop of whipped cream for piece de resistance.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Memorial Day Eats Part Two

Sides and Appetizers
7 layer salad gets a holiday makeover 

Best Ever Baked Beans

Chipolte Lime Shrimp Bacon Wrapped
Yummy appetizer with your favorite margarita

Tomato Basil Caprese Skewered Appetizer
Drizzle with a high quality balsamic right before serving

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Great accompaniment for fish, chicken or pork
Foil Packet Dinners
Lemon Dijon Shrimp with Potatoes 
Lemon Shrimp with Corn and Zucchini 
Both recipes found at

 Chicken Fajitas

Provencal Shrimp and Fish Foil Packets with Creamy Saffron Orzo

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Memorial Day Treats Part One

A Blitz of Memorial Day Recipes
Desserts and Salads
Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches
Cook's Notes:Sandwich homemade (or store-bought!) waffles with ice cream and roll in colorful sprinkles. Need I say more for a winning kid-friendly treat. Bonus save extra waffles for breakfast. Recipe makes 8 servings.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 pints  vanilla ice cream, softened or another favorite
  • Multicolored sprinkles, for coating
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter in a separate bowl. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until incorporated.
  • Heat a round waffle iron. Spoon a heaping 1/2 cup of batter onto waffle iron and cook until light golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Scoop ice cream onto half of the waffles, spreading evenly. Sandwich with remaining waffles, gently pushing ice cream out to the edges. Coat edges in sprinkles. Freeze until firm, 4 hours and up to 2 days. Cut each waffle into 4 triangles just before serving.
Desert Tacos
Ice Cream Sandwiches
Cherry Float Cupcakes

Watermelon Salad with Tomatos and Strawberries
Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad with Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
Tex-Mex Cauliflower Rice Salad (GF)
Blueberry Corn Salad

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Oven Roasted Salmon with Asparagus and Roasted Potatoes

Oven-Roasted Salmon, Asparagus and Roasted Potatoes
Cook's notes: A meal made on a sheet pan that requires almost no cleanup. Not only is it  healthy, delicious and fast, the flavors of the salmon, potatoes and asparagus come together beautifully to make a dish company worthy.

Recipe serves 2 and is an Ever Ready Special.

  • 1 pound small new potatoes, scrubbed clean and halved
  • 2 TB. olive oil or Herb Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound medium asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal, 1-inch long pieces
  • 1 TB. chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 TB. lemon zest
  • 1 small garlic clove, coarsely chopped
  • 2 (8-to-10 ounce) salmon fillets, or salmon steaks cut about 1-inch thick
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 1 lemon, cut into 4 slices

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the potatoes with olive oil and parsley flakes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Place the potatoes cut side down on the baking sheet and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the potatoes begin to brown on the bottom.
  • Turn the potatoes over and roast another 10 minutes until browned on top. Remove the pan from the oven.
  • In a medium bowl, toss the asparagus with the chopped dill, lemon zest, garlic, salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Place on baking sheet near potatoes. 
  • Add salmon filets skin side down. Sprinkle the salmon with herbes de Provence. Add two lemon slices to each fillet. Return the baking sheet to the oven.
  • Roast the salmon and asparagus for 10 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.
  • If you want, remove the skin and center bones (if you are using steaks), and arrange on individual plates before serving. Garnish with fresh dill and lemon wedges or slices.
Food Ideas for Memorial Day 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Sheet Pan Meal

True wisdom lies in gathering the precious things out of each day as it goes by E.S. Bouton
Chicken Apple Sausage Sheet Pan Meal with Roasted Veggies and Couscous
Cook's Notes: A healthier alternative to traditional sausage when using Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage. They are gluten and nitrate free with no added hormones. Some delicious add ins include: butternut squash, sweet potatoes and broccoli. Serve the entree with a side of Parmesan Garlic Couscous. It's an Ever Ready Special that serves 4.
Cooking Tips: I added the broccoli in the last 5 minutes of cooking time with dried cranberries. This avoids the broccoli getting mushy being overcooked. 
Reserve one teaspoon of the olive oil /syrup/spices to toss with broccoli. Quartered Brussels sprouts can substitute for broccoli but will need the full cooking time with butternut squash cubes and sweet potatoes. 

  • 2  tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon each thyme, parsley, rosemary, cinnamon 
  • 1 package (12 oz.) chicken and apple smoked sausage such as Aidells. Each link cut into fourths  
  • 2 cups each broccoli florets and diced sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into slices
  • 2 Honeycrisp apples, diced or another crisp apple (could substitute Bosc pears)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • Optional 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad.  
  • In a bowl mix sweet potatoes, butternut squash cubes, sausage links and diced apples with olive, maple syrup and spices. Reserve 1 teaspoon of liquid for broccoli. 
  • Spread mixture out on a baking sheet and arrange garlic and red onion chunks around the veggies.
  • Roast vegetables and apples until tender 15 minutes. Add in broccoli florets and cranberries or cherries. Cook 7 minutes longer.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Celebrating a milestone birthday
Happy Birthday to the guy who loves his Minnesota sweatshirt and all things chocolate.   
Jenny and Chris's dogs, Sadie and Luna stood at attention waiting for their treats. 
Yes indeed, my husband likes all things sweet particularly chocolate but a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie comes in at a real close second. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Cook's Notes: With it being mid May and rhubarb one of spring's first I thought surely I  would not have any trouble finding it in stores. WRONG assumption as I called 4 local stores and not a one had any  Lucky for me, a friend came to my rescue with some from her prolific garden patch.
Thank you Shirley for  the rescue.

  • Pie crust for a top and bottom
  • 1-1/2 cups of sugar
  • 3 TB. quick cooking tapioca
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 3 cups sliced strawberries
  • 3 cups cut finely rhubarb
  • 2 TB. ground cinnamon or 1-1/2 tablespoons Saigon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter
  • 1/4 cup mixture of cinnamon and sugar for top crust
  • Preheat oven 425 degrees.
  • In a large bowl combine sugar, tapioca, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add in cut strawberries and rhubarb. Mix well to coat.
  • Let stand 30 minutes and stir occasionally.
  • Place one pie crust in bottom of pie pan. Use a slotted spoon to drain fruit juices, placing fruit mixture on top of bottom pie crust.
  • Dot with butter and place other pie crust on top of the rhubarb mixture.
  • Brush crust lightly with milk.
  • Mix sugar and cinnamon together and a couple of tablespoons and sprinkle over crust.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut a few vents in the crust.
  • Add strips of foil on outer edge to prevent crust edges from over browning.
  • Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees, reduce heat to 400 and bake 30 minutes longer or until filling is bubbling and looks set.
  • Wait until completely cooled before cutting so pie can set up.

You know summer is just around the corner when Roxie shows up. She looked ready for the  season with her new Webb Lake sweatshirt and stringer of empty beer cans.  Note Roxie wearing a facemask as a public service message to traffic going by. She is so ready to enjoy all that summer has to offer.  

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Indigo Girl

Indigo is the deep midnight sky, a rich purplish blue. It's the quiet color with deep and subtle tones, between blue and violet. The color indigo was named after the plant indigo. The first recorded use of indigo as a color name in English was in 1289.
Indigo plants are mostly shrubs, but can occasionally sprout into small trees that can grow up to 20 feet tall. They are generally small flowering plants with many rows of neatly organized leaves, often covered in small purple flowering buds.
I enjoy reading accounts of strong women from history. "The Indigo Girl" by Natasha Boyd is a remarkable fictionalized historical account of a girl's determination to introduce indigo as a staple crop in South Carolina. It's a well written story based on the life of a real historical figure, Eliza Lucas. She was just 16 in 1739 when given the responsibility of running her father's three plantations in rural South Carolina. Eliza's brothers are in England and unable to leave their schooling. Her father has mortgaged the plantations in order to raise funds for his own pursuit of military ambitions in Antigua. Upon hearing how much French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes indigo is the key to her family's salvation out of debt. She disdains marriage, and works hard at making the plantations successful. After a lot of trial and error with much help from slaves and neighbors, she does finally produce a small production of superior indigo. Eliza goes on to marry Charles Pinckney and one of her sons is a signer of the U.S. Constitution. It's quite a story of a remarkable woman.

Reading the endnotes and author's notes “The Indigo Girl” appears well researched with Boyd relying heavily on letters and documents from time period, 1739-1744. Most of the characters, events and locations are real. But to craft a fictionalized story and make it plausible for the reader takes a certain amount of risk and a lot of imagination on the author's part. Excerpts of real letters written by Eliza Lucas are interspersed throughout the story. Eliza was a determined, smart and tough woman who was in many ways a woman ahead of her times. While her mother worries about making a good match for her daughter, Eliza wants a husband who will treat her as an equal. She believes in compassion. Her slaves live in cabins free from draft, a dwelling has been built to serve as a schoolhouse and she has taught Quash and other Negroes to read. Eliza's kindness wins the respect of many around her. However there are those who hope she won't succeed and thwart her efforts on a continual basis.

I found it heartening to know that in spite of the societal demands of the times, there were women who were bold enough to do things considered to be only in the realm of men. Eliza is remembered for bringing to South Carolina the indigo crop that ultimately changed its economy. The indigo process was extremely interesting and well documented considering this was a historical fiction story.

Fun fact: The SC State Flag has a deep blue background because of the importance of indigo in the history of their early settlement.

Strawberry Shortcakes with Macerated Strawberries

Savor the unofficial beginning of summer with a traditional summer dessert Strawberry Shortcakes with Macerated Chocolate Balsamic Straw...