Sweet Potato Chips

It is nearly fall.  Really, this just means I am excited for the return of pumpkin spice lattes and caramel pumpkin latte candles.  And of course, yummy sweet potatoes!  Between you and me, this is just a sneaky way to eat sweet potatoes outside of an official meal.

These are really easy and super healthy.  For those of you who are concerned about health or follow Bob Harper, you know he has published his book Skinny Rules, which gives 20 guidelines to help with overall health and wellbeing.  One of his rules is to say goodbye to white potatoes.  Though I did not usually keep white potatoes in my pantry, this was enough for me to embrace sweet potatoes and blue potatoes.  That combined with the fact that my household runs on chips – tortilla chips, pita chips, falafel chips, pretzel chips, oh my – inspired me to try baking a new, fresh twist on a chip.  And I love that it has very few ingredients!

Sweet Potato Chips

makes 2-3 servings

2 medium sweet potatoes

2T olive oil

1/2t paprika

1/2t chili powder

1/2t sea salt

1/4t cinnamon

1/4t nutmeg

Check out the seasonings and spices.  These could be switched up if you’d like, but I love this combination for sweet potatoes!

First preheat the oven to 400 then wash and scrub sweet potatoes, then slice thinly and evenly.  A mandolin would work well for this, but since I didn’t have one, I resorted to cutting them by hand with a knife.  I tried a potato peeler for really thin slices, but it only worked on the skinny ends of the potato, so I used the knife primarily.  This didn’t result in the most perfectly even cut, but I was pretty close.

You’ll want the slices as even as possible so they cook as evenly as possible.

Once the potatoes are cut, combine them with oil in a bowl or plastic bag and toss well to coat.

I used my fingers to ensure every piece had a light coat of oil on them.

Then, in the same bowl or bag add the spices and toss well to evenly coat.

Place slices evenly onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, then flip them over.  This is how they look after about 10 minutes.

Continue baking for 10-12 additional minutes.  Some pieces were crispy after that, others needed up to an additional 10 minutes.  When they’re finished, they’re delicious hot or room temperature!  Store in a covered container for a few days – if they last that long.

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Yellow River Smoothie

Hubby and I were recently on vacation in sunny Central America.  At one of the resorts we stayed at we were introduced to this addictive smoothie!  It’s perfect for those last few days by the pool that Summer will give us.  It’s a nice refreshing treat as a healthy dessert, too!

Yellow River Smoothie

serves 1-2

juice from 1.5 mangoes

1/2 pineapple cut into frozen chunks

1 banana

ice optional

I used all fresh fruit, juicing the mango just before this photo was snapped.  I also cut fresh pineapple and froze it earlier in the day.  I have made this before with mango & pineapple juice with ice and the ice watered it down too much.  Since I didn’t add any extra sugar (the fruit is sugary enough) I didn’t want to fruit to have to compete with ice watering it down.  This time I froze the pineapple and it worked perfectly!

Combine all ingredients in a blender.

Since there is not a lot of liquid in this recipe, and I used a regular blender, I had to stop midway through and mix the top chunks in with a wooden spoon then resume blending.  And that’s it!

Enjoy while summer is still here!

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!

 

Quinoa Salad

I feel like quinoa popped up overnight.  One minute I’ve never heard of it, the next it’s all over the internet.  I have grown very fond of quinoa and it is now a regular part of my diet.  It is known as an ancient grain and isn’t considered one of the “bad grains” I’ve written about earlier.  Quinoa has twice the fiber and protein of brown rice or any other grain.  It also has a nearly perfect blend of amino acids which helps keep stabilized blood sugar, etcetera, etcetera. I’m probably boring and not as qualified as the rest of the internet, so do your own googling!

This is one summer salad that is so easy to make and it’s light, healthy, and delicious!  The ingredients are easily interchangeable so the flavor profiles are endless.  It also packs well so it’s great on a picnic or the next day at work or school.

I used a tri-color quinoa of red, black, and white, but using simple white quinoa is just as tasty.  I love that quinoa is easily made on the stovetop or a rice cooker, with water or vegetable stock.  It is a great rice substitute and it goes well with so much.  I have given approximate portions of what I used, but this is the type of recipe that doesn’t need exactness, you just put a little bit of what you like and a lot of what you love.

Quinoa Salad

serves 2-3

2C cooked quinoa

1.5C cooked black beans

1 mango

1/2 bell pepper

2 scallions

zest from 1 lemon

3T lemon juice

5-6T olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

First, cook the quinoa if you haven’t already.  This would be a good time to make the dressing.  Simply combine the oil, lemon juice and zest, with the salt and pepper in a small food processor to combine.  Then, chop all the fruits and veggies of your choice.

Once the quinoa has cooled to room temperature, combine it with the black beans in a large serving bowl.

Toss the veggies and fruits in.

Look at the lemony yellow dressing.  It’s BEAUTIFUL!

Pour it over the salad and toss thoroughly to combine.

Rest for at least an hour to let the dressing soak into the quinoa and serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

Grain Free “Granola”

 

In my search for grain free options, I stumbled upon this idea.  I have attempted making granola bars before with various ingredients and have never found the right combination for a bar with a great consistency.  Or any consistency for that matter.  Every “bar” recipe I’ve tried before turned into mushy crumbles.  With some inspiration from around the internet and Pinterest, I was able to create this lovely “granola.”  Some pieces turned out to be bar like, but most of it turned out to be a great granola.  It has a great flavor, great texture, and knowing that I put only wholesome ingredients makes me feel really great about having this available for me and my husband to have something quickly available.  There is a lot of time required to make these – but it’s not a lot of hands on time, so pick a day off you have and make these while you do something else around the house.

The flavor is so ridiculous that I had to hide some to photograph because my husband was gobbling it up!  We ate it as a dry snack and with almond milk as a yummy cereal.  The first cereal that doesn’t go mushy! Lovit!!!

I based my recipe off of this one, and know that you could switch out any nuts and seeds for others if you’d like.

Grain Free “Granola”

makes about 4 cups

1C almonds

1C pecans

1/2C sunflower seeds

1C of golden raisins or various small dried fruit of choice

1C shredded coconut

1/2C maple syrup

1/4C coconut oil

1/2t salt

1/2t vanilla extract

a few dashes of cinnamon

 

First I put 3/4 of the nuts and seeds with the coconut in a food processor

 

and pulsed several times until it was a fine chop.

Then, I roughly chopped the remaining nuts and seeds and preheated the oven to 200 degrees.

 

Stir the two nut mixtures together with the dried fruit.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the coconut oil with the vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup.

Once the mixture begins to boil, promptly remove from heat…

and add it to the fruit & nut mixture.  Mix well with a wooden spoon.

 

Press into a pan lined with parchment paper.

Press into the pan well with the wooden spoon, greased fingers, or another piece of parchment paper. Set in the oven for 3-5 hours.  The time will be determined by how thick your mixture is in the pan.  If the mix hasn’t had time to dry out enough, it will be moist and crumbly.  A few hours into the dehydrating process, most of the mix will be bar-like if you’d like to make nut bars out of the mix.  Continue dehydrating to create crunchy “granola.”

 

 

Or like me, kick back with a bowl and enjoy!

Add a little almond milk.  So delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Fruit Crisps

I feel like I have had an obsession with cherries and peaches lately.  And who can blame me?  It’s summer!  So I have allowed myself to entertain it and I started researching.  I knew I wanted to do a crisp, but I’ve been reading a lot lately about how grains are actually unhealthy!  Though I am not trying to be cynical, and may not be ready for a completely grain-free life, I am open to exploring new options and trying a few recipes to check it out.  I started with these crisps…and they were completely delicious!

I could not decide between the combination of cherries and blueberries or peaches, so I made both!  Even my husband loved them – hot and cold!

If you want to scar your idea of “healthy” whole grains, there are a lot of websites to read from, however, I like the way Katie writes about it here.  I “see the light” since I know a few people with celiac’s disease, so I try to cook gluten-free when I can, and this is further inspiration. Since I had to be creative and go grain-free, I got a lot of ideas from Kelly at Foodie Fiasco.  Here’s what I used.

Fruit Crisps

makes 4 servings – 2 peach and 2 blueberry-cherry

1 large peach

1 handful of cherries

1 handful blueberries

1/3C almond meal

1/4C shredded coconut

2T unsweetened applesauce

1t vanilla extract

1t coconut oil, divided

1t sugar, divided, optional

1/2t salt

Allow me to introduce you to rainier cherries.  If you have never had these, they’re worth the extra buck for a recipe such as these.  Compared to their darker cherry cousins, rainiers are lighter and sweeter and can only be described as golden.  They are definitely worth adding into your fruit basket!  Look at them!  They’re a blend of a lovely light yellow and pink.

Preheat the oven to 400.  After washing and drying your produce, cut the peach in bite size pieces and pit the cherries and slice them in half.  The rainiers are slightly larger than a normal cherry, so they were a bit difficult to maneuver into the cherry pitter, but it didn’t really bother me that the skins were a little scuffed up since they were cooked together with the blueberries and the scuffs weren’t noticed.

The original recipe called for shredded coconut.   Due to weird sensory issues from childhood, I don’t really love the texture of shredded coconut.  I decided to try to be an adult and try it, but I still chopped it up further so it was tiny pieces.

Meanwhile, I combined the almond meal, coconut, vanilla, salt, and applesauce which will serve as the healthy, gluten-free, sugar-free crisp topping.  Putting half the sugar and half the coconut oil in a pan on medium heat, let it melt.

Then I cooked the fruit in separate batches for 3-5 minutes each.

The blueberries will give off a blueish, purple juice, but don’t worry – since it’s not being cooked too long, the color doesn’t effect the light cherries too much.  Melting the other half of the coconut oil and sugar, I repeated this step with the peaches.

Separate the fruit into oven-safe ramekins.

Then top with the crisp topping.  Because this isn’t a traditional crisp with butter and flour, it will not be very crumbly.  I carefully and evenly placed the crisp topping onto each ramekin with my fingers and a fork.

Then baked for 20 minutes.  You’ll know they are ready when the fruit is bubbly and the crisp is lightly browned.  Cool for a few moments on a towel or cooling rack and serve.  For a non-vegan version, fresh whipped cream or even ice cream would pair well with these lovely crisps.  However, on their own they are a delicious, healthy treat and they showcase the delicious flavors of the fruit.  Despite the non-traditional ingredients in the crisp, I was pleasantly surprised with how crispy the topping turned out.  (And for all the coconut haters out there, you could probably up the almond meal if you wanted to ditch the shredded coconut.)  Here’s the peach crisp.

And the blueberry-cherry crisp.

I can’t decide which is my favorite!  They are both so good!

Oh, I’m sorry.  Did you want some?  Oops!

Stir Fry

I apologize for the delay.  I’m changing my posting days to Mondays.  And also, my husband and I were recently leading 150 youth at camp.

There’s this game my husband and I play at various times.  One main time is when we’re about to go out of town.  It’s called: Use only the ingredients on hand and make it work!  This often leads to culinary genius!  But a lot of times it leads to stir fry.  We love Asian flavors, and we can basically whip up stir fry any day of the week at our house.  I always keep rice, sesame seeds, and various Asian spices and oils in the pantry, and there’s always some teriyaki and soy sauce in the fridge – though lately I’ve switched to Braggs Liquid Aminos which is much healthier than soy sauce, and I pleasantly have not noticed the difference.  No complaints here!  The beautiful thing about stir fry is that the veggies you include can be whatever you’d like, so use whatever you have.

Stir Fry

serves 2

2C rice, cooked and chilled I used brown rice

1 egg, optional

1C broccoli

1C mushrooms

1 small zucchini

1/2 bell pepper

1/2 onion

1T of butter or margarine or sesame oil

2T Bragg’s or low sodium soy sauce

1-2T sesame seeds

I’m not gonna lie.  I don’t remember if I read this somewhere, heard it on a cooking show, or if I straight up asked the hibachi chef one day, but I found out that Japanese hibachi grill restaurants make fried rice with cooked, chilled rice.  It apparently cooks better, takes on the flavor better, and doesn’t become mushy in this state.  So I cooked my rice the night before – gasp – in a rice cooker.  Hey, I’m human, too.  I chilled the rice in a covered container in the fridge over night.

Then, everything is pretty simple.  Chop all your veggies in about bite size portions.  I like to switch up the shapes, so diced onion, pulled apart stems of broccoli, matchstick zucchini, chopped carrots, sliced mushrooms, etc.

Once all the vegetables are prepared, I heated my wok with a small bit of sesame oil inside.  Cooking in order of the hibachi restaurant, I started by scrambling the egg,

then added the rest of the sesame oil (or butter if you choose) and the chilled rice on top.

Once the rice begins to cook, add the Bragg’s or soy sauce to taste.

Once it was cooked through, I set aside the rice mixture

and cooked the vegetables, starting with the thicker, or longer cooking ones first.  I sautéed the garlic and onions together, then added the broccoli.  If you’re using carrots or mini corn this would be a great time to throw it in.  I added a bit more sauce as the liquid was either cooking in or evaporating.  (Look at the steam!)

Next zucchini, and peppers, and whatever else you’d like.

Once all the vegetables are cooked through, add the rice back in and a little more sauce if you’d like.

Stir well.

Top with sesame seed and serve.  I actually have genuine wooden chopsticks that I received as a souvenir after my mom had a trip to China.  Thanks, Mom!!!

Strawberry Basil Bars

Oh, summer.  I love it!  It has been a busy, yet wonderful summer thus far!  Light summer desserts are one of my favorite things about summer and I cannot get over my obsession with the combination of strawberry and basil!  In March, some friends and I ran a 5K in St. Augustine and afterwards we treated ourselves to a gourmet popsicle shop!  (After a rewarding breakfast of fruit, pancakes, and potatoes!)  This popsicle shop, called the Hyppo was fairly new and had a line out the door!  We had to check it out.  They had several flavors to choose from, so of course I chose strawberry-basil!  It was the perfect combination in a not too sweet popsicle.  I will tackle trying to create my own version at some point this summer.  For now, I have these lovely goodies to eat!

I am a firm believer that if you have a friend’s Tupperware (or Gladware or Ziploc containers, etc.) they should be returned with treats!  I tweeted this a few weeks ago and got a container returned to me with Dove dark chocolate.  I had forgotten about that container, but was greatly delighted to receive it back – with the lovely contents.  I had accumulated two different friends containers so I decided to bake them a summer treat.  I found a recipe for strawberry bars and changed up a few thing to account for my own friends’ tastebuds.

Strawberry Basil Bars

makes about 24 bars

Adapted from allrecipes.com

1C sugar

1/2C butter or margarine, softened

1/4C mashed ripe banana or fruit purée of choice

2 eggs

31/4C flour, divided

1t lemon zest

1t baking powder

1/2t salt

1 dash of cinnamon

8-10 basil leaves

12oz strawberry jam

First, combine 3 cups of flour, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Then preheat your oven to 350.

Whisk dry ingredients together.

In my Kitchenaid, I creamed the butter, mashed banana, and sugar together, but of course this could be done in a bowl with a hand mixer.  This was somewhat of an experiment since I found out that banana can be a butter substitute.  Since I used the banana, I cut butter and sugar from the original recipe, but did not end of compromising on flavor.

Then added the eggs in, one at a time allowing the beater to incorporate each egg individually.

Add the lemon zest.

Then slowly add the flour mixture…

until the dough appears as big crumbles.

Set aside 1/4 of the dough-crumbs (about 1 cup,) then press the bottom of the remaining crumbs into either a 9×13 or 10×15 inch baking dish.  Greasing your fingers to press the crumbs helps tremendously.  So as not to brown the basil leaves, rip them into strips rather than cutting them, and spread them on top of the pressed dough.  (It’s ok if there are finger prints!)

Spread the strawberry jam on top.  If you’re really feeling adventurous and want to make your own strawberry jam, check out my first attempt here.

Finally, mix the remaining crumbles with the flour.

Work with your fingers until it looks about like this.

Then top the jam and basil mixture.  You want to keep this part crumbly, but you also want to make sure all your basil pieces are covered.  Exposed basil in the oven = black, burnt basil = no bueno.  It’s ok if some strawberry jam peeks through.

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes and viola!  Crumbly, gooey goodness.  Seriously, they’re so good.  The bars aren’t too sweet, and the basil and strawberry combination shines!

Strawberry basil bars!!!  Eat liberally, or be a hero and give them to your friends.  And oh, yeah, Operation-Return-Tupperware was successful.

Orzo & Wild Rice Salad

What an eventful week!  The 4th always brings lots of fun, memories, and food!  After the burgers & desserts that accompanied the fireworks I had to make something light, chilled, and refreshing for this HOT summer we’re having in Florida.  This little chilled salad is perfect!

I was inspired, once again, by J. Alexander’s and their orzo & wild rice salad.  That side is one of my husband’s favorites, so I decided to make my own version.  Cherries are in season and so delicious, so I wanted to make those the star of this dish.  This is the type of dish where measurements don’t really matter, as long as you’re happy with the look of the salad and ratio of ingredients.  But for all those OCD folks, I listed the measurements I used.

Chilled Orzo & Wild Rice Salad

Serves 10

2C orzo pasta

1C wild rice

1/2C red winter wheat berries

2 handfuls of fresh cherries

1 ear of corn

½ red bell pepper, diced

½ green bell pepper, diced

1 handful of raw almonds

5-10 basil leaves

1/3C olive oil

2T balsamic vinegar

1-2T lemon juice

1/2t pepper

1/4t salt

1T cherry juice, optional

Cook the orzo, wild rice, and wheat berries according to the package directions on the stovetop.  Meanwhile, roast your corn in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes.  Leave the husk on (it holds in juicy moisture) but rinse it off before placing in oven.  Also, this is a good time to stem, pit, and slice the cherries.  I used my handy dandy cherry pitter from Williams-Sonoma.  It shoots through the cherry taking only the pit and occasionally a small circle from the bottom of the cherry.  Otherwise the cherry is perfectly in tact.  I shot the pits directly into a deep garbage can…and still managed to get cherry juice on the side of my white fridge.  Clorox wipes to the rescue!

Since cherries are notorious for staining, and I didn’t want my pasta pink, I sliced them each in half and let them sit on paper towels for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, I roughly chopped the almonds.  If you want to save some time, or really want everything to be symmetrical, you could pre-buy slivered almonds.  But, I like the rough and tumble, all natural, hand-made, rustic feeling of this dish, so I roughly chopped away.

Then, I julienned the basil.

And made the dressing.  I first combined the salt, pepper, half the basil, & vinegar

with the lemon juice.  This would be the time to add a Tablespoon or two of cherry juice if you’d like, but if not, add extra lemon juice.

Blend together well.

Once blended together, slowly, and I mean slowly incorporate the oil a little bit at a time, and set aside.  At this point, the corn should be about ready and whenever the orzo, wild rice, and wheat berries are ready, they should be cooling at first on the stove top, then in the fridge.  Don’t forget to rinse the starch from the orzo.  Though it looks like rice, you’re still dealing with pasta!  Cut the corn off the cob and assemble your ingredients together.  You’re almost ready!

I first started with the orzo, wild rice, and wheat berries to make sure I had a good ratio of each and that it looked pleasing.  (I didn’t end up using all my wild rice.)

Then added the veggies (I used them all!)

then lastly the nuts, fruit, remaining basil, and dressing.  Stir well and chill for at least an hour to let the flavors develop.  Enjoy!

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!