Berries and Cream

Happy Labor Day!  If you’re able to be off and enjoy the holiday, yay!  If you have a party to attend, I’ve got some recipes for you – or even if you’re just chilling at home, you still gotta eat.  If you’re going to a USA themed party, check out my Red, White, & Blue Mini Trifles and Red & White Sweet & Salty Popcorn.  If you just want a fun snack to bring – or keep for yourself – try your hand at one of my simplest, go to recipes.

This recipe is truly so easy.  It is often my go to when people are over for dinner because it is a light, sweet addition to nearly any style of food.  I love that it only requires a few ingredients, and less than 10 minutes to whip up – literally!

Berries and Cream

serves 2

2C berries – I like tart berries for this recipe such as the blackberries and raspberries I used

2C heavy whipping cream

1/4C sugar

1/4t vanilla extract

1 lemon

First, chill your metal mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15 minutes to chill.  As I learned recently from Kellie, this causes the whipped cream to be lighter since it maintains a chilled temperature throughout the whipping process.  The cream can easily be whipped by hand with a regular whisk, but I chose to use my Kitchenaid for this recipe.  Look how frosty it is!

While the bowl and whisk are freezing, wash all the berries and set them aside to dry. Then, zest the lemon.  I have had this recipe with lemon curd folded into the cream which is just as delightful – and significantly more lemony.  But the zest is a nice light touch that compliments the berries well.

Once the bowl and whisk are sufficiently chilled, pour in the cream and begin to whip on a low setting, if using a hand beater or Kitchenaid, or medium by hand.

Once the cream has begun to be whipped, slowly add in the vanilla,

sugar, and lemon zest.

Whip for several minutes until incorporated, or until the whip cream can stand on it’s own in nice peaks that curl over.

Be careful not to over whip – you do not want to create butter!  Look at this goodness.

Prepare berries in whatever bowls you’ll be serving them in.


Oh, blackberries!  Good thing I love you!

Serve cream over berries immediately. I chose to add a little more lemon zest on top for presentation.  So easy!

My food wanted to model.  The camera loves it!



Sweet & Salty Popcorn

Here’s another fun recipe that could be adapted to any holiday based on the food coloring chosen.  Since 4th of July is rapidly approaching, I attempted red, white, and blue popcorn.  The red & white worked, but the blue was a fail.  I’ll have to experiment with blueberries or something in order to get a good, healthy, natural blue food dye into my repertoire.  Though the blue didn’t work out, it was still delicious!!!

If there is a food that is near and dear to my heart, it’s popcorn.  My childhood is full of memories of my popcorn-freak-father having popcorn weekly and in as many different varieties as you could imagine.  One of my favorite “dates” with him was when we would go to the popcorn store to buy specialty popcorn.  He would always get something cheesy or spicy and I, a cool kid of course, would get the multi-colored popcorn.  Cuz that’s basically what kids do.  This is a fun, healthier version to make at home!

Sweet & Salty Popcorn

makes 6 quarts

1C popcorn kernels

1/4C high heat oil, I used Safflower

salt to taste, for salty popcorn

spray oil or butter, for salty popcorn

1T butter per colored, sweet popcorn

1C sugar per colored, sweet popcorn

2-3T water per colored, sweet popcorn

food coloring of choice, I used beet juice for red color (ignore the failed blue food coloring pictured)

Burnt popcorn is one of the most awful culinary tragedies.  It’s shameful, disappointing, and stinks up the house.  So don’t do that.  Make homemade popcorn with the most preparedness possible.

Heat the oil on medium-high heat and toss in 2-3 kernels.  Prepare the rest of the kernels.  (You may want to make this in 2 batches if your pot is small.)

Once the first 2-3 kernels pop, dump in the rest of your kernels.

You’ll want to get a splatter screen quickly, otherwise popcorn and oil will be filling your kitchen rather quickly!

Shake the pot occasionally so the popcorn doesn’t stick to the bottom and burn.  Then divide popcorn into respective number of colors desired. I divided my popcorn 3 ways for 3 colors, but since the blue didn’t work out, I ended up having 2/3 salty white popcorn and 1/3 sweet red popcorn – which actually was a nice ratio.

With the white, salty popcorn spray oil or butter onto it lightly and sprinkle salt to taste.  Toss well (or as I did, attach a lid and shake well.)  Then prepare the colored sweet coating for the remaining popcorn.  On medium-high heat combine butter and sugar

and water and food coloring.  Since my food coloring was natural and very liquidy I used 1.5T beet juice and 2T water.  (You couldn’t even taste beets!)

Bring to a slow boil.

It is ready when it is the consistency of a thick syrup.

Remove from heat for a moment to cool, then dump over reserved plain popcorn.  Mix well to coat and set aside to cool.  (I cooled mine in the fridge so the plastic bowl the popcorn was in wouldn’t melt.  The syrup is super hot!)  Once all colors are mixed, cooled, and dried, combine with salty, plain popcorn and serve!

Old Fashioned Red, White, and Blue Mini Trifles

Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays!  I’m proud to be an American and slightly embarrassed to admit that I cry at nearly any patriotic song.  I love the lyrics & music to patriotic songs, I’m grateful for the men & women who put their lives on the line for our freedom, I really enjoy summer grilling, and having game night and fireworks with friends and family each year is priceless to me.  So, in anticipation for this great day, I’ve got a light, healthy dessert for you.  (Because we all know the meal preceding Independence Day dessert is anything but light!)

I’ve been wanting to make a trifle for a long time – mostly because it looks so pretty in the big clear bowl!  But alas, I still don’t have a trifle bowl, so I thought, why not make individual trifles?!  So you could use this recipe as is into individual dishes as I did or double it and make one big trifle.  Either way, don’t forget to thank a veteran and say a prayer for our men and women on the field.

Traditionally, a trifle is layers of sponge cake with jam and custard or cream.  Though Angel food cake is technically not a sponge cake, it serves the same purpose without the fat, so I approve of this substitution!  I went with my over-achiever nature and made everything from scratch – including the food dye!  However, if you want to buy the cake, jam, and food coloring pre-made, these little sweets can but put together in about 10 minutes!  I love light, fast, and healthy – but making everything from scratch was incredibly satisfying.

Old Fashioned Red, White, and Blue Mini Trifles

Makes 4 mini trifles or if using small jars or large shot glasses it will serve about 6

½ a White Angel food cakemine turned out to be9 inches round
, 1 inch high

1/2C + 1T cake flour

1/8t salt

3/4C + 1T white sugar

6 egg whites

3/4t cream of tartar

1/2t vanilla extract

2C Red strawberry jam

3 pounds strawberries

3.5C white sugar

1/4C lemon juice

Blue whipped cream

1.5C whipping cream

1/2C sugar, mine was infused with vanilla bean

Few drops of blue food dye
 or ¼C natural food coloring

1 head red cabbage, if making food coloring from scratch

1T cornstarch, if making food coloring from scratch

I made my Angel Food cake by completely following the recipe and directions from Jessie.  Well except the part about not having the correct pan…and cutting the recipe in half….and since I didn’t have the right pan, when I flipped the cake upside down it dumped on the counter about 2 minutes later.  So I mostly followed the instructions.  I figured since I’m cutting the cake to fit into small jars anyway, those details didn’t matter.  Her Angel food cake recipe (with step by step photos) is here.  It turned out pretty good if I do say so.  If I was making this just as a cake I’d probably cut the sugar a bit since it was so sweet it tasted like marshmallows!  But for this recipe, I used the sweetness to my advantage.

I started by making the blue food coloring.  I found a simple recipe online for boiling red cabbage then adding cornstarch to the water.  Though it did not give clear measurements, so it was a guessing game.  This blue did not turn out as bright as expected, and the jam was a darker red then I thought it would be so with that and the off white color of the white Angel food cake, I thought, this looks like an old school recipe my grandmother would make.  (So I tacked “Old Fashioned” on the beginning of the recipe title & viola!)

I boiled 1/3 of the red cabbage head in about 1.5 quarts of water for about 5 minutes – but my camera had a hard time focusing with all the steam!

While it was boiling, I cut the tops off and hulled 3 pounds of strawberries.  It was hard not to eat all of them because they were so ripe, sweet, and delicious!  When the cabbage was done boiling the water was left a pretty purple color.  So I added about 1T of cornstarch…

and it turned into a pretty blue jean color.

Though this didn’t make my cream as blue as the coloring itself, this recipe would be really great for a liquid recipe.

This is a good time to mention that my summer venture is to teach myself how to make jams and can them.  So I thought I’d try my hand at a homemade jam for this recipe.  I was inspired by my favorite jelly at Wholefoods Market: Tiptree Preserves.

Literally, the only ingredients on the label are: strawberries and sugar.  This is what food should be, people!  Not a laundry list of things developed in a laboratory.  In my search across the internet I found that adding lemon juice as a preserving acid is a wise step, so I made a simple jam of strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice.  Once the berries were washed, trimmed, and hulled, I dumped them into a tall pot on medium heat…

and mashed them with a potato masher.  I was surprised at how easily they juiced right up!  The amount of mashing depends on how large you like fruit chunks in your jelly.  I was going for more of a jam consistency so I mushed them pretty good.

Once all the liquid has come up,

add the sugar

and lemon juice.  I used a sieve so I didn’t need to worry about seeds or lemon pieces.

Bring the mixture to a low boil.

And once it gets to this point, grab that wooden spoon and stir straight for about 20-25 minutes.  I know that sounds laborious, but 1) it is worth it!!! And 2) you don’t want to let the mixture burn on the bottom of the pot.  Also, beware.  I’m not sure if “jumping jelly” is a phrase, but it should be.  The molten hot liquid will occasionally jump out of the pot and onto your poor arm.  The end result is this beautifulness.

Last step is making the cream.  I started with my food coloring in the bowl and slowly added the cream while beating with a hand mixer.  (I was not at home where my kitchen aid sat feeling useless.)

While the cream was whipping, I slowly added in the sugar.  My sugar was infused with real vanilla beans – which not only makes the scent glorious, but you’ll also notice the little black flecks in the cream later.  Here’s how to make vanilla scented sugar.  Yumm!

And whip until all the cream is incorporated and fluffy.  Be careful not to over whip – you don’t want to make butter.  As you can see, it’s not terribly blue, however, it had a slight, slight blue hue (the camera can’t even catch it, it’s so slight!)  If you really want it to pop, you could always use blue food coloring or experiment with blueberry juice or skins to keep it natural.

All that is left is to assemble everything!

I wanted red, white, and blue so I started with the red jam on bottom.

Then the white food cake.  If you want your layers to be perfect, try to make sure the cake touches the glass all the way around so the cream doesn’t run through it.  However, it doesn’t have to look perfect.  The messy cream falling everywhere is part of the appeal!

Add the cream, then repeat give the trifles a total of 6 layers of deliciousness.  They stand alone in deliciousness, but adding fruit garnish on top never hurt anything.  Enjoy!

Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

I love children. And I love ice cream. So, when my sweet niece – well, I’ve adopted her as my niece since my siblings only produce boys – had a Strawberry Shortcake birthday party, who was I to deny myself her some strawberry ice cream?

I’ve made ice cream before, once, and it was vegan and made without an ice cream maker. We were so hungry we didn’t even wait for it to freeze up all the way. After reading a few blogs on the differences in the process of making it with & without a machine, it just saves a lot of labor time with it. So for this special event I actually bought a cheapie ice cream maker and was not disappointed. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, no need to fear, because I’ll guide you through it.

It’s super yummy, creamy, and was a huge hit at the birthday party for children & adults alike. Not gonna lie, this isn’t the healthiest version of ice cream you’ll find, but I at lease reduced the amount of sugar so the faint sweetness doesn’t knock you into sugar-coma. Now that I’ve conquered this and know how easy it is, I’ll experiment with other healthy but still tasty alternatives.

Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from
makes 5 quarts

2 lbs ripe strawberries

4 C cream

2 C milk

1.5 C sugar, divided

1 T vanilla

1 t salt

Wash and dry the berries, cut off the tops and any funny white or green spots. You want ripe, sweet berries for the best flavor. 1 pound of berries I cut in half and set aside to purée them. The other half was roughly chopped to be bits in the ice cream. If the ice cream won’t be eaten within a day or so, I would purée all the berries. If left in the freezer for an extended time they become rock hard and acquire a funny flavor.

After the berries are cut & in their respective bowls, sprinkle a 1/4 cup of sugar in each bowl and let them sit for at least 10 minutes. When my mom did this when I was little, the sugar drew out the juices of the strawberries making a syrup, but since I used vegan cane sugar this actually didn’t happen the way I thought it would. If you use regular sugar, you’ll get the syrupy results, if not, you’ll at least sweeten the berries a little bit and that will still help.

In a large bowl whisk together the milk,

the remaining cup of sugar,  salt,

and vanilla.

Slowly whisk in the cream last – you don’t want to make whipped cream.

Once everything is fully incorporated, purée the berries.

Add the purée to the rest of the ingredients and slowly add in all the berries – purée & pieces.

Chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge.  After its chilled, make the ice cream according to your makers instructions. With such a great quantity, the ice cream maker should churn for at least 45 minutes. If it were a smaller portion, 20-30 minutes should suffice.

If you do not have an ice cream maker, skip the fridge step and put the cream mixture in a sealed container in the freezer.  Remove every hour for 4-6 hours and mix with an electric mixer to break up the ice cream.  This is the hand version of what the ice cream maker is churning.

This is how mine turned out after 45 minutes of churning.

It turned out pretty soft even after 45 minutes.  If you like soft serve style, though, it’s great just like this!

However, I knew this wouldn’t work with 3-year-olds, so I divided the ice cream into several plastic containers and froze the mixture for 4 hours. It was perfect at the party!!!

Here’s the 3-year-old birthday princess!

Fruit Pizza

I love fruit.  I dig pizza.  Combine the two and it’s magic!  We’re headed to an Easter party this weekend and I decided this would be a winner.  When my husband found out, he said I should make it look like an Easter egg.  This man is a genius.

Most fruit pizza recipes call for a sugar cookie crust, but between that and the sugary sauce, it’s a sugar overload.  So I made mine how my mom made it when I was little – with a crescent “roll” crust.  I also reduced the amount of sugar that is typically called for in the sauce.

You’ll need:

1 8oz package of cream cheese, room temperature

1 can of crescent rolls

3/4 C powdered sugar

Any variety of fruit you want (I used strawberries, kiwis, grapes, mandarin oranges, blueberries, and cherries)

1/2 C white chocolate chips optional

1t vegetable oil optional

I preheat the oven to 375, per the crescent roll instructions.  You could use either type of crescent rolls, I just chose the jumbo kind so I’d have fewer seams to worry about.  Roll the dough onto a sprayed cookie sheet.

Pinch all the seams together.  You’ll want to pay extra attention to the outer seams.

Then flatten the pinched seams to make a smooth surface.

To make my easter egg shape, I cut the corners off.

Then I rolled all the corners together into a ball, divided the ball in two, then stretched them out and added them to the side of the former rectangle to give it some width – like an egg.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, eggs aren’t either.

Be sure to pinch the seams of these new additions, too.

The crescent instructions will say something like bake 14-16 minutes.  Since we’re using it in flat formation, rather than rolled up like a crossaint, we actually need less time.  I baked it about 11 minutes.

While your crust is baking, cut all the fruit.  You can make the fruit as big or small, thick or thin as you’d like.  I chose just to cut the strawberries in half, slice the kiwi, halve the grapes, and I left the blueberries and cherries the size they were.  I found it easy to get the skin off the kiwi with a potato peeler.

Normally, I’d use only fresh fruit, but I didn’t have any cherries or clementine oranges.  Thankfully, I found mandarine oranges that were packed in juice, rather than syrup.  I also rinsed and drained the cherries and let them dry while wrapped in a paper towel so the red juice doesn’t run all over the white sauce.

After the crust is finish baking, allow it to cool completely.  You don’t want the sauce to run off the crust.  Notice some seams came apart.  Don’t fear!  Cream cheese covers a multitude of mistakes!

While the crust is cooling, time to make the icing.  You could use a hand-mixer, but I got to use my baby…the KitchenAid.

I love my KitchenAid.  I registered for one in three different stores for our wedding but we didn’t get one.  Much to my surprise, my husband gave this to me last Christmas.  I actually cried when I tore off the wrapping paper.  He’s so thoughtful.

Isn’t it beautiful?

On the lowest setting, begin to mix the cream cheese,

add the powdered sugar,

and mix on high to ensure everything is thoroughly combined.  Don’t over-mix.


Once the crust and the cookie sheet are cool to the touch, spread the sauce on top and smooth it out.

Add the fruit in whatever pattern or random order you’d like.  For the Easter egg, I did a stripey chevron-ish pattern.

The last step, which is really more for looks and only a little for taste is the white chocolate topping.  In a small glass ramekin microwave the white chocolate chips for 30 seconds.  Mix well.

Add the oil which will make it thin enough to use for decorating the pizza.  Stir well so the oil is incorporated.

I didn’t have a pastry bag, so I used a sandwich size ziploc bag and barely snipped the corner.

The hole was tiny and could have been made larger, but I liked how thin the lines turned out.  Drizzle to your heart’s content.  Or until you run out of chocolate.  Chill until ready to serve.  Enjoy!