Saturday, May 22, 2010
It's The Berries!
There are so many things to love about strawberries. They make a beautiful centerpiece with their vibrant red color and tantalizing aroma. They’re the perfect fruit for dipping into rich, dark chocolate.
They're a great source of Vitamin C and one cup is only about 45 calories! (Minus the chocolate, of course.) They call out to me to pop one in my mouth and enjoy the burst of delicious sweetness on my taste buds and I answer that call...a lot. Right now, there’s a basket of locally grown strawberries in my fridge and I’ve been having a blast eating them six ways from Sunday. They’ve graced my cereal at breakfast, added colorful flavor to my yogurt at lunch, topped a bowl of ice cream for dessert, joined with pineapple and bananas for a satisfying snack, quenched my thirst in a cool smoothie and tumbled joyfully over home-baked shortcake.
The Happy Berry. Don’t you just love that name? It’s a great place! The people who run it are friendly and helpful, there’s always laughter among both the employees and the pickers, you share the orchard with chickens and the occasional baby pig and you leave with oodles and oodles of yummy berries at a very affordable price. Have you ever picked blueberries? There’s a technique called “tickling” that makes it easy and fun. The berries hang in clusters from the branches. Hold your bucket in one hand and cup your other hand below the cluster of berries. Then, using your fingers, “tickle” the berries off the branch and right into the waiting bucket. Easy peasy! I visit The Happy Berry five or six times over the summer and usually end up with enough berries in my freezer to see me through the winter. Making fresh blueberry muffins, pancakes or cobbler in the summer is a delicious delight but, in the dark days of winter, it’s priceless!
Here are a few of my favorite berry recipes.
SUNSHINE STRAWBERRY SMOOTHIE
2 cups orange sherbet
1/2 cup fresh strawberries
2/3 cup fresh pineapple
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. For a thicker smoothie, add crushed ice before blending.
BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE SQUARES
3 cups blueberries
1/4 cup cornstarch
2-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp sugar
1/3 cups melted butter
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 small package of whipped cream
Combine blueberries and cornstarch; cook until thickened. Cool.
Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter and press into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Reserve a little to sprinkle on top.
Soften the cream cheese. Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla, then fold in whipped cream. Spread half of cream cheese mixture over crumb crust. Spread cooled blueberries over this and then the rest of the cream cheese over the blueberries. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Chill overnight.
1 cup blueberries
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk (room temp.)
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
3 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (room temperature)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease muffin pan or pans.
Sprinkle berries with small amount of sugar or flour and toss lightly to cover. (This prevents sinking in batter). Set aside.
Sift and combine all dry ingredients in a medium size bowl.
In a smaller bowl, beat eggs until light then add milk and melted butter.
Using a spoon, make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Quickly add the liquid ingredients, then mix lightly. Gently fold in blueberries.
Fill muffin pans two-thirds full of batter. Bake 20 to 30 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins
Do you like berries? Which ones are your favorites? Have you ever hand-picked them? Have any recipes to share? I'm always on the lookout for new ways to fix my favorite berries! Oh, and just for fun, on which side of the great Strawberry Shortcake debate do you stand? Biscuit or Sponge Cake?