Almost Summer

I had strawberry shortcake for breakfast today. I’m not super proud of it, but I wanted to blog about strawberry shortcake and the other day when I made it for me and the kids, I made these gorgeous, decadent towers that fell over long before I had a chance to capture their majesty.

So I had just enough cake left for one​ more go, and I thought to myself, 

The very empty can of Redi-Whip. Breakfast was delayed for a few minutes while I went and had a very calm (okay, it wasn’t particularly calm but I didn’t completely lose my shit on her, either) discussion with my 10 year old about a) not eating whipped cream straight out of the can and b) more importantly, not putting empty containers back in the fridge so that people would get two-thirds of the way to a delicious breakfast and then discover they’re missing a key ingredient.

I dimly recalled buying some “shelf stable” cream from Trader Joe’s to make ice cream with, and it turned out I still had a box, so the 10 year old gets to live. I whipped it up, threw some sugar and vanilla in, and called it a day. You’ll see in the pic that it could have used more whipping, but I was about to starve at that point and still had to take the photos so I just served it up. Still delicious.

The strawberries were the big disappointment: they looked so pretty and juicy, but they were just kind of flavorless. I can hardly wait until we get the fresh-off-the-vine strawberries we pick ourselves…that’s when I’ll know it’s really summer.

 

TBT: Easy Jersey Convertible Wrap

Originally published as “Found It on the Internet #15” on Tasteful Diversions, August 09, 2012.

Oh, Pinterest. The delights you lead me to. This one was so easy…a rectangle of jersey fabric with a couple yards of t-shirt yarn sewn on to opposite corners. You can wear it as a skirt, as a wrap, as a top.

Grey/green wrap
So comfy on a sweltering day.
red wrap
This one is a bit longer and makes a great lightweight skirt — it can even be worn as a mini-dress.

You’ll need some jersey fabric, wide enough to wrap around your waist (or chest) about 1 1/2 times. The length of the fabric will determine the length of the skirt/top. The grey piece in the top pic is about 30″, and I flip it over at the top before I criss-cross and tie it when I wear it as a shirt. The red piece on the bottom is about 36″ and is a great longer skirt. Both pieces are 45″ wide.

Gluten Free-dom!

Note: this was originally intended to be posted last week, but there was a bit of an issue with images. All fixed now and everything should be getting back on schedule! Apologies for the low quality cell phone pics — I completely forgot to get photos until we were at the party.

flag tart

I had big party plans this weekend, then about mid-week started getting kicked in the head by social anxiety about said parties. So I cancelled out on one (I’ll get there someday, C!) but decided to just pop my head in at the other, largely because I’d offered to bring something and the hostess had requested a non-cake dessert: “You like to bake — bake something for dessert. But not cake. I’m baking a cake.” I like these kinds of parameters — guidelines are good. And also the cake was delicious. But ANYHOW, I decided I’d always wanted to make a flag tart thing, and this was the perfect opportunity. And I promised myself I could just drop off the tart and the kids and Kit and go home if I felt overwhelmed.

flag tart closeup

I perused Pinterest for a shortbread crust, grabbed some cream cheese for cream cheese topping, and picked up blueberries and strawberries to top it all off. I had intended to bake the crust Friday night, but then I ate too much Chinese food and laid on the couch like a lump instead. And then I didn’t get up early enough to bake it before the town parade. So I was down to crunch time when we got home and I discovered I was out of regular flour. Um. Oops.

I really didn’t have time to find a store open on the holiday, so I decided to wing it with the GF supplies I had on hand. And thus, the Gluten Freedom Tart was born. (Also, I ended up staying for the whole party because it was all awesome people I already knew, so that was nice.)

Gluten Freedom Tart
Print Recipe
A gluten free shortbread crust topped by cream cheese frosting and fresh fruit.
Servings Prep Time
20 squares 25 min
Cook Time Passive Time
15 min 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
20 squares 25 min
Cook Time Passive Time
15 min 1 hour
Gluten Freedom Tart
Print Recipe
A gluten free shortbread crust topped by cream cheese frosting and fresh fruit.
Servings Prep Time
20 squares 25 min
Cook Time Passive Time
15 min 1 hour
Servings Prep Time
20 squares 25 min
Cook Time Passive Time
15 min 1 hour
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Cream Cheese Topping
Fruit
Servings: squares
Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper
  3. Combine butter, powdered sugar, and flours in mixer (will be slightly softer/doughier than shortbread typically is).
  4. Spread dough on lined jelly roll pan to a thickness of about 1/4". (Dough may not be enough to fill entire pan -- if not, shape into a rectangle in the center of the pan.)
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until just brown.
  6. Let crust cool for at least 1 hour (should be room temperature before adding topping).
Topping
  1. Whip cream until it is just beginning to peak.
  2. Add granulated sugar and vanilla.
  3. Continue to whip until stiff, being careful not to overwhip.
  4. Add cream cheese and whip until fully combined.
  5. Spread cream cheese topping on crust.
  6. Arrange blueberries and strawberries in flag pattern.
  7. Serve immediately or refrigerate.
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Better-than-boxed Brownies

Yep, another re-publish from Tasteful Diversions. Next week it’ll be a new one, I promise. 

To follow up last week’s lemonade recipe, I give you brownies. Specifically, I’m publishing these two recipes close together because one of my very favorite summertime combos is brownies and lemonade.

I avoided making brownies from scratch for years because not only were they WAAAAY too much effort (double boiler? No thank you very much!) but they also never came out fudgy like I like them. Then I stumbled across this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated which is only slightly more work than making from a box (no double boiler!) AND makes the fudgiest brownies I’ve ever had.

Better-than-boxed Brownies
Print Recipe
These brownies are perfect every time...dense and fudgy on the inside with a lovely crisp top. (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2010)
Servings Prep Time
12 ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Better-than-boxed Brownies
Print Recipe
These brownies are perfect every time...dense and fudgy on the inside with a lovely crisp top. (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, March & April 2010)
Servings Prep Time
12 ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies 15 minutes
Cook Time
30-35 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: ? I dunno -- depends on how big you like your brownies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line 13×9 pan with foil; spray lightly with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk cocoa and boiling water together until smooth.
  4. Add in unsweetened chocolate and continue to whisk until chocolate is melted.
  5. Whisk in melted butter and oil. [CI notes at this point that the mixture may look curdled; I have not had this issue.]
  6. Whisk in eggs, yolks, and vanilla.
  7. Whisk in sugar.
  8. Stir in flour and salt [CI indicates a rubber spatula for this part; I use a wooden spoon and it seems to work fine] until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  9. Fold in chips.
  10. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350° 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean (or with a few moist crumbs).
  11. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan on a rack for 1 1/2hrs.
  12. Using foil, remove brownies from pan and place on rack to cool another hour before serving.*
Recipe Notes

*Okay, look, this is 2 1/2 hours of cooling time. I don’t know about you, but there is no chance in hell that fresh brownies are going to get that much alone time at my house. I usually make it about 45 minutes before I start cutting.

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Tasty Tuesday: Aw, Lemon!

Originally published on Tasteful Diversions June 14, 2011.

Lemonade pitcher and glassAs a child of the 80s, I’ve always been about convenience and speed. Powdered drink mixes always seemed like the easiest way to get a nice refreshing pitcher of lemonade, and it tasted okay. When my kids got old enough to start eating and drinking real food, I started looking at the ingredients in foods and resolved to make from scratch as much as possible. Sometimes this is an utter failure. For instance, one of the few things The Girl will eat are chicken fingers. She will not eat any other form of chicken, even if I’ve made it look just like the prepackaged chicken fingers. I heartily wish that she had never been introduced to the pre-made crap, but it happened and I’m sure eventually we’ll get her to start eating something else. Maybe when she goes to college.

But I digress. I started looking for a lemonade recipe last year — I figured it would be a pain, but worth it to keep the chemicals going into the kids down to a minimum. I was surprised — and a little annoyed at myself for not figuring it out earlier — to find out how incredibly easy it is…almost as easy as fixing one of the powdered mixes. It’s so easy, in fact, that I almost feel silly writing up the recipe.

Lemonade
Print Recipe
Quick and easy lemonade from scratch.
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts (about) 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts (about) 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Lemonade
Print Recipe
Quick and easy lemonade from scratch.
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts (about) 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 quarts (about) 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: quarts (about)
Instructions
  1. Combine boiling water and sugar.
  2. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved (the water will become clear again — yay! You’ve just made simple syrup!).
  3. Stir in lemon juice.
  4. Put ice in pitcher.
  5. Add half the cold water.
  6. Pour in lemon juice mixture.
  7. Top off with remaining cold water.
  8. Stir.
  9. Serve over ice.
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