Cooking

Honeymoon Soup

Honeymoon Soup

The silly name for this soup stems from a sandwich I made when I was a kid. I was making  my sandwich with Swiss cheese on toasted rye bread. I put one single slice of cheese on the bread and then proceeded to pile up all this lettuce on the sandwich.

What can I say? I really like a lot of lettuce on my sandwiches.

I cut it in half and was sort of struggling to eat it without the lettuce tumbling everywhere, when my father came in the kitchen. He said I had made a honeymoon sandwich, lettuce alone. Get it? Let us alone. It took a second before I got it. My dad was the king of puns. The name stuck.

I make lettuce soup from time to time. Mostly when I have a lot of lettuce I need to use up.  I have planters full of lettuce right now, so honeymoon soup is on the menu today.

The lettuce actually adds nice flavor to the soup. For this one, I decided to add the other elements of my sandwich by topping the soup with some shredded Swiss cheese and fresh rye bread croutons. The combination was really nice- kind of light and satisfying at the same time.

 

 Honeymoon Soup

6 c. stock- I used chicken, but vegetable or beef stock would work, too
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
6 c. shredded Romaine lettuce- you can use other lettuces – I often use Spring Mix
2 T. butter or oil
3-4 slices rye bread, cubed
1 c. shredded Swiss cheese- or whatever cheese you prefer

Heat stock and simmer carrots in stock until tender. While carrots are cooking, heat butter or oil in a skillet and toast the bread cubes in the skillet. Stir often so they don’t burn. You end up with nice rye croutons. You can just set them aside and add to the soup at room temperature. I prefer to warm them in the skillet right before serving.
Back to the soup- once the carrots are tender add the lettuce to the stock. It will wilt down a lot and cook quickly. Allow about 3-4 minutes for the lettuce to wilt down. Ladle the hot soup into serving bowls. Top with some shredded cheese and then the croutons. Serves 3-4.

Strawberry Waffles

Strawberry Waffles

These waffles would make a great breakfast. We actually had them for dessert last night. That’s the thing about waffles. They can be eaten any time of the day.

I have been enjoying fresh strawberries in everything!!! The season for local berries is pretty short, so I try to enjoy them as much as possible, while I can.

This waffle recipe came about because I needed a dessert for dinner with a friend. It was a last minute dinner, so I didn’t have a lot of time. Waffles seemed like a great idea. They don’t take a lot of time to make, and  they highlighted the berries. My friend really liked them. I did, too.

I made the waffles with fresh strawberries in the batter. Then, the  waffles are served topped with more fresh berries and a dusting of powdered sugar.

They were a perfect dessert. I could see topping them with ice cream or whipped cream, too. Any leftover waffles can be frozen.

For the fresh strawberry topping, you just combine fresh, sliced berries with some sugar. If you can make it ahead of time, the sugar draws juice out of the strawberries, kind of making its own sauce. I made the topping first, then popped in the fridge.

So here is my recipe. Enjoy!!

 

Strawberry Waffles

 

1 1/3 c. flour

2 T. sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 t. cinnamon

½ t. salt

2 eggs, separated

½ c. butter, melted

1¾ c. milk

2 t. vanilla

1 c. chopped fresh strawberries

 

Powdered sugar for topping waffles

Strawberry topping- recipe follows

 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Set aside. Separate the eggs. Set aside the yolks. Place the whites in a small mixing bowl. Beat whites until moderately stiff; set aside.  Combine milk, melted butter, egg yolks and vanilla in small bowl. Add to dry ingredient mixture and blend. Stir in berries. Fold stiff egg whites into mixture. Ladle mixture into hot waffle iron and bake. To serve, top with powdered sugar and strawberry topping. Makes 10-12 (4-inch) waffles.

 

Topping

1 qt. strawberries

½ c. sugar- or to taste

 

Wash and stem berries. Slice berries. Place in bowl and sprinkle on the sugar. Stir to combine and place in fridge until ready to use. Try to do this at least 30 minutes before using. That will give the mixture time for juice to be released from the berries.

Strawberry Chocolate Cheesy Pie

Strawberry Chocolate Cheesy Pie

This pie has it all. Fresh strawberries, glazed and sitting on a flaky crust. But it doesn’t stop there. The crust is topped with chocolate and a layer of sweetened cream cheese. The chocolate and cheese are under the berries. They provide a wonderful surprise when eating the pie.

The chocolate is such a natural match for the strawberries. The cream cheese gives a little “cheesecake” feel.  In the end, the combination works perfectly together.

During strawberry season, I enjoy so many different dishes made with fresh berries. Fresh strawberry pie is always going to be a favorite. I try to make different versions and this one was definitely a version I will make again.

Strawberry Cheesy Chocolate Pie

 

1 9-inch pie crust * recipe follows

1 c. chocolate chips

1 T. butter

1 qt. strawberries (1¼ lbs.), hulled

1 c. sugar

2 T. cornstarch

¼ c. water

1 T. butter

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

½ c. powdered sugar

Whipped cream, optional

 

Using a pie pan, roll out your crust and fit it into the pan- trim off any excess. Pre-bake your crust. To do this: The prepared pie crust should be pricked all over with a fork. Cover the surface with foil and then pie weights. I use dry beans for my pie weights. Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes. Check to be sure it doesn’t get too brown. Remove weights and foil. Melt chocolate chips and butter together, stirring until smooth. Pour over crust and use a spatula to spread into a thin layer on the bottom and, if you like, up the sides of the crust. Set aside and allow crust to cool and chocolate to set up. Select about 25-30 berries to be placed in pie crust, large side down, and set aside. You might need fewer berries, if they are really big. Puree or crush remaining berries. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch with water and stir until smooth. Add to the strawberry mixture and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and gets clear. Simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Set aside. Place cream cheese in a bowl and beat in the powdered sugar. Spread cheese over the chocolate layer. Arrange the reserved berries on the cheese layer, pointy side up. Put the largest berry in the middle and arrange the rest around it decoratively. Spoon the puree over the berries and allow the pie to cool down a little before putting in the fridge. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Note: other berries can also be used including raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, or a combination. This recipe can also be used as a filling for tarts and tartlets.

 

Half and Half Dough*

 

This is a great crust for liquid fillings like custard type pies and fresh fruit pies.

¼ c. butter, room temp

½ c. shortening, room temp- you can use lard instead, or chilled coconut oil

¼ c. sugar

½ t. salt

2½ c. pastry or all purpose flour

1/8 t. baking powder

¼ c. milk

1 t. lemon juice

Cream together the first 4 ingredients until smooth. Mix together the flour and baking powder. Set aside. Combine milk with the juice and set aside. Stir ½ c. of the flour into butter mixture. Stir until smooth. Add a little of the milk, stirring until smooth. Add remaining ingredients alternately until finished. Dough will firm up once chilled. Chill at least 4 hours before using. Makes 2 crusts. You only need half the dough for the strawberry pie.

Strawberry Liqueur

Strawberry Liqueur

With strawberries in season, this is the time of year to enjoy them. I have been eating strawberries in breakfasts, desserts and salads. I made strawberry jam and I froze berries, too.

Another way to preserve strawberries, is by making a liqueur with them.  It is pretty simple. Just combine berries with vodka and a small amount of powdered sugar. I use half gallon canning jars for this, but you could use any food safe container with a tight fitting lid.

Let the mixture steep long enough for the berries to infuse the alcohol with their flavor. You can sweeten it later on, or even leave it unsweetened, if you prefer. I like to sip the liqueur as is, or serve on the rocks with a splash of club soda.

 

Strawberry Liqueur

 

3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

3 T. powdered sugar

3 c. vodka

1 c. simple syrup*

Sprinkle powdered sugar over berries and let dissolve. Pour over vodka and let steep 2 weeks. Crush berries and strain then filter. Add sugar syrup and mature 1 week. Makes 5 cups.

 

*Simple syrup is made from 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cool. You will have 1 cup of syrup. You can sweeten your liqueur with honey, if you prefer. Watch when you substitute honey for sugar, as it is sweeter and stronger flavored. Better to use orange or clover honey. Add to suit your taste.

Fresh Peach Salsa

 

Peach Salsa

This salsa makes a great topper for grilled meats or fish. It is also fun to serve with chips. While salsa is traditionally made with tomatoes, there are other options. The peaches give the salsa a great natural sweetness. It is so colorful.

I used really ripe peaches, which are tough to peel. To help peel them, I placed the peaches in boiling water for a minute.  Then I put them in cold water. Once they were cool enough to handle, they peeled easily.

I used 5 peaches and ended up with almost 2 cups of prepared fruit. You might need more or less, depending on the size of the fruit.

You can make the salsa as spicy as you like. I added a jalapeno pepper and some hot sauce. I tasted the salsa 30 minutes after I made it and added a little more hot sauce.

 

Fresh Peach Salsa

4-5 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and diced

½ c. minced sweet onion

½ c. minced sweet pepper

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

2-3 T. chopped fresh cilantro

1t. hot sauce, or to taste

zest and juice from 1 lemon, you could use a lime instead

salt and pepper to taste, don’t be afraid to give this dish a good bit of salt

 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixed. Check seasonings. Chill for at least 30 minutes and taste again- you will likely add more seasoning. Serve over grilled meats or with chips.

Strawberry Chocolate Crepes

Chocolate Crepes with Strawberries

Since strawberries are in season, I am sharing a lot of my favorite strawberry recipes.  This is one of my favorites. The chocolate crepes pair so nicely with the fresh berries.

If you haven’t made crepes, this might be just the reason to start. I often make a double batch of the crepes, then freeze some, between layers of wax paper. That way I can have crepes whenever I want.

Truth is, you can fill these crepes with all sorts of stuff. I had fresh berries, so that is what I used. I added some Kahlua to the batter for a little extra flavor and it worked out just great.

You can have all the components ready, then just assemble when ready to serve. Such a lovely dessert.

 

Here is the recipe.

Chocolate Crepes

1 c. flour
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
¼ c. cocoa
3 T. sugar
¼ c. Kahlua or other coffee flavored liqueur or ¼ c. strong coffee
1/4 c. butter, melted and cooled

Mix all ingredients in blender (except butter) until smooth, scraping sides often. Add butter and blend well. Let stand for 30 minutes before using, or batter can be refrigerated, covered, overnight. Beat again, just before using.
Heat 6 or 7 inch skillet. Brush with butter or oil and pour in about 1 tablespoon of batter, tipping pan to cover bottom of pan completely with batter. Cook until edges start to brown, turn over and cook until lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side.)
Crepes can be made day ahead or even frozen between sheets of waxed paper and frozen. Makes 18.

Strawberry filling: I just sliced a couple of pounds of berries and added a little sugar- about ½ cup- a tablespoon of vanilla and a healthy dash of cinnamon.
When filling the crepes I spooned some berries down the center of the crepe and added some whipped cream. Folded over, topped with a few berries and another bit of whipped cream.

Homemade Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Once you taste homemade jam, you will understand why it is worth the effort to make your own. Homemade jams, preserves and jellies are a great way to save seasonal fruits to enjoy all year. They also make nice gifts.

One of my favorite homemade jams is strawberry. I like the addition of some vanilla to my strawberry jam. I think it adds an additional layer of flavor, without covering up the natural beauty of the berries.

I try to make enough to last all year, but I end up running out quickly. This jam is great on toast, but also a nice addition to several desserts I make.

With local berries in season now, it is a perfect time to make a batch, or two.

In grocery stores, berries are often sold in one pound packages, not in quarts. A quart of strawberries should weigh 1 1/4 pounds. That should help you figure out how many berries you will need.

 

Here is the recipe.

 

Strawberry-Vanilla Jam

 

2 qts. strawberries, stemmed, washed and crushed

2 T. pure vanilla

1 package dry pectin

1/4 c. lemon juice

7 cups sugar

Combine  berries, vanilla, pectin and lemon juice in large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.  Add sugar and turn heat up to high. Stir often until mixture comes to a boil. Boil hard one minute stirring constantly. Ladle hot jam in to jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe rims and screw on lids comfortably tight. Place in boiling water bath and process 5 minutes. Remove to cooling rack, towel or wooden surface to cool. Makes 8-9 half pints.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Mini Pies

Peanut Butter and Jelly “Pies”

These are a great way to take peanut butter and jelly on the road. These little “pies” are just cut out circles of pie crust, filled with peanut butter and jelly, sealed, then baked.  Very easy to make, and a fun cooking project for kids as well as adults.

I prefer home made pie crust, but use store bought, if you like.

A nice treat, these little pies can be a snack, breakfast, lunch or even a dessert.

They are also great to take along to the pool, for picnics and road trips. You can fill them with just jelly, if you like. I have filled them with peanut butter and a few chocolate chips for a fun dessert. You can use almond or cashew butter, if you like.

Get creative and have fun.

 

Peanut Butter & Jelly  Mini Pies

1 (15 oz.) package pie crusts or homemade crust for 2 pies*

1 egg

1 T. water

½ c. peanut butter

½ c. preserves, any flavor

Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. On lightly floured surface roll out one of the crusts into a 12-inch circle. Using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter cut out about 12-14 circles, re-rolling scraps and set aside. Roll out second piece of dough so you will have about 24-28 circles altogether. Beat together water and egg and set aside. Place a circle on work surface and place 1 teaspoon each of peanut butter and preserves in the center. Brush edges of the circle with egg wash. Place second circle on top and press edges together to seal. Repeat with remaining circles. Place “pies” on lightly greased baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Martha Stewart’s Pie Crust Recipe

2½ c. flour

1 t. salt

1 t. sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, very cold

About 6 T. ice water

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Using a fork to mix the dough start to add the ice water a tablespoon or 2 at a time until mixture just holds together. Wrap and chill until ready to use. Makes 2.

 

Strawberry Lemonade

Strawberry Lemonade

I love this “pink” lemonade. The lovely blush comes from strawberries, not artificial color. The strawberries add more than just color- they add their wonderful flavor as well.

 

This is a great drink for hot summer days. Heck, I think its a good drink anytime. You don’t have limit yourself to lemonade. I have also made a pink limeade, which is also very tasty.

The strawberry seeds will settle to the bottom of the pitcher- so be careful when pouring out the last bit of lemonade. No one wants a mouth full of seeds.

 

Here is the recipe. I have also included some helpful information when buying strawberries.

 

Strawberry Lemonade

7 c. water

1¼ c.   sugar

1¼ c. lemon juice

2-3 c. fresh strawberries, washed and stemmed

In a pitcher, combine water with sugar and lemon juice and stir until sugar dissolves. Place berries in blender and add about 2 cups of the lemonade. Process until strawberries are pureed. Add strawberry mixture to the remaining lemonade. Chill before serving. Serve over ice, garnishing with whole berries, if desired. Watch as seeds will accumulate on the bottom of the pitcher.

 

 

Shopping Tip

When berries are priced by weight or volume it is not always easy to decide which is the best price. If one store has quarts for $2 and another had berries for $2 per pound where would you get the better deal? Also, if a recipes calls for 4 cups sliced berries how many do you need to buy? Here are some approximate guidelines.

3/4 lb. = 1 full pint

1 1/2 lbs. = 1 full quart

1 1/2 lbs. = 4 cups sliced

1 lb. frozen = 1 1/3 c. whole berries

To help your berries last longer soak them in a water/vinegar solution for a few minutes as soon as you get them home. Then just drain and put in the fridge. This will keep them from getting mold as quickly. I use 1/2 cup of vinegar and 4 cups of water.

 

 

Giant Strawberry Shortcake

Giant Strawberry Shortcake

A couple of days ago, I posted a recipe for mini strawberry shortcakes.  Now, we go to the other extreme. One giant shortcake.

Seriously, it is a fun way to make shortcake. You could make one for Father’s day.

This is a great dessert for a party, picnic or barbecue. Instead of making a bunch of individual shortcakes, make one really big one. It makes quite an impression.

When ready to serve it, just cut into slices, like cake or pie. I often serve this shortcake with ice cream on the side. Feel free to switch up which fruits you use. I used kiwi fruit with the strawberries, but you can add different fruits. Peaches would go well with the strawberries or blueberries. Just have fun and use fruit combinations you like. For the 4th of July, you could use a combination of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

 

 

Giant Strawberry Shortcake

1 egg

3/4 c. milk

1/2 t. lemon juice

2 c. flour

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 T. baking powder

1/2 stick cold butter plus 1 T. softened

1/2 c. plus 1 T. sugar

1 qt. strawberries, sliced thin

2 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced thin

1/4 c. chopped nuts, toasted

whipped cream, optional

 

In small bowl combine egg, milk and lemon juice and set aside. In larger bowl combine the flour, brown sugar and baking powder. Cut in cold butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Add egg mixture and stir until mixture forms into a soft dough. Knead dough gently on a lightly floured surface about 10 times. On greased baking sheet pat dough into a 15×6-inch oval. Sprinkle dough with the 1 tablespoon of sugar and dot with the softened butter. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Place on wire rack to cool. Toss the berries with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Allow to stand 30 minutes. Split the shortcake lengthwise and remove the top. Spoon over the half the berries and replace top of shortcake. Combine the kiwi with the remaining berries.Spoon over the remaining fruit and sprinkle with the nuts. Dot with whipped cream, if desired. Cut in wedges to serve. Serves 8.

Note: you can bake shortcake day ahead and prep the fruit day ahead, keeping it chilled and just assemble when ready to serve.