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Individual Red, White, and Blue Trifles

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The fact that the Fourth of July falls right smack in the middle of peak berry season seems almost too good to be true. Right around the time when many of us are scrambling to come up with the perfect patriotic red, white, and blue dessert for our Independence Day barbecues, the sweetest strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries are arriving in the grocery store, fresh picked from local berry farms. It’s no wonder that so many 4th of July desserts feature berries. It’s patriotic kismet.

And this dessert is no different. But it’s more than just seasonal festive colors. These red, white, and blue fresh berry and vanilla custard trifles are addictively delicious. Seriously, I should admit that I made two batches since I just wasn’t satisfied with the photos I’d gotten from the first batch. I ate most of that first batch. I shared a little with the kids, but I made quick work of the rest…and I barely regret it either. I’m going to try to save the second batch for tomorrow’s festivities, but I’m not making any promises.

Traditionally, trifles are made with layers of fruit, spongecake, custard and whipped cream, arranged in a large glass bowl to display the beautiful layers. My version is made in perfect individual portions, arranged in jam jars for a unique presentation. In some variations of trifle, the fruit is suspended in gelatin. In mine, a bit of sugar and some instant pectin (commonly used in making jams and jellies), create a sweet thickened glaze around the fresh berries. Layers of crushed vanilla wafers, creamy vanilla custard, and sweet whipped cream complete the perfectly portioned dessert. Be sure to stick your spoon straight down to the bottom with every bite to get a little bit of every layer.

How will you be spending your 4th of July??

Individual Red, White, and Blue Trifles

Ingredients

  • 20 vanilla wafer cookies, crushed
  • 1 cup blueberries

For the Berry ‘Jam’

  • 1 cup strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup raspberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 17-gram package instant pectin*

For the Vanilla Custard

  • 1 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks

For the Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
*Look for pectin wherever your grocery store carries their jarring supplies for jams and jellies.

Directions

For the Custard: Bring the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt and cornstarch to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently so that the sugar and cornstarch dissolve. Then, reduce the heat. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks with a fork. Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks, starting with a very slow drizzle. (Gradually incorporating the hot milk into the egg yolks tempers the eggs, allowing them to slowly rise in temperature without scrambling.) Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk in the pot. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking constantly for about 3 minutes, until thickened and smooth. Allow to cool at room temperature, whisking occasionally, until no longer hot. Then, transfer the mixture to a bowl or large measuring cup. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled.

For the Berry Jam: Combine the strawberries, raspberries, sugar, and pectin. Stir for about 3 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the other components.

For the Whipped Cream: Beat the heavy cream and sugar for several minutes until quite thick.

To Assemble the Trifles: Spoon about 1/6 portion of the berry jam into the bottom of each serving glass. (8-ounce jam jars work perfectly.) Sprinkle about 1/6 of the crushed cookies on top of the jam. Spoon or pipe about 1/6 of the custard on top of the cookie layer. Top the custard layer with a layer of blueberries. Spoon 1/6 of the whipped cream onto each blueberry layer. Garnish with a additional berries, if desired. Refrigerate until serving.

Makes 6 Servings

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Strawberry Spinach Smoothies

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Obsession, thy name is Strawberry Spinach Smoothies.

I honestly can’t quantify the amount of fresh baby spinach my family has consumed over the past two weeks. We are a family obsessed. It would probably behoove Popeye to snatch up whatever remaining spinach he can get his hands on, before my family calls dibs on every last green leaf. I suppose there are worse things to be obsessed with.

It all started with the Strawberry Basil Smoothie recipe I recently shared. While adding the bright green basil, it occurred to me that a bit of spinach might be a nice match to the ripe summer strawberries.

So, as soon as I was able to get my hands on some spinach, I set about making my first ever strawberry spinach smoothie. I started with just a small handful of spinach. A quick taste led to another handful. Another taste, another handful. Turns out that these smoothies can easily handle a full bag of fresh baby spinach without sacrificing any of the sweet strawberry flavor.

Now, admittedly, adding vegetables to a smoothie is not an insanely novel idea, but it’s one I hadn’t tried before and I just had to share the recipe with you! These smoothies are so insanely nutritious and delicious, you won’t be able to stop smiling. You’ll smile even wider while watching your young picky eaters happily gulp down massive quantities of fresh, spinachy goodness.

Strawberry Spinach Smoothies

Ingredients

  • 3-4 cups frozen strawberries
  • 6-8 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup apple juice, milk or water

Directions

Blend all ingredients until smooth and frosty. Enjoy!

**Tips**

Buy and freeze plenty of strawberries now, while they’re in season and priced low.

Freeze your strawberries on a baking sheet before placing in a container to help prevent them from sticking together.

Chop large strawberries before freezing to make things easier on your blender.

Freeze leftover smoothie mixture in ice cube trays. Blend your frozen smoothie cubes with a splash of juice when you’re ready to enjoy!

This recipe is fully customizable. Have fun playing around with different combinations of fruits and vegetables!

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

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It takes a lot for a non-chocolate dessert to excite me. It’s got to be something pretty special. Even still, I usually feel chocolate’s absence. I must admit that when I put this recipe together, I tried to rationalize a place for chocolate. I almost threw in a handful of chocolate chips, for good measure.

But I would have been wrong to add the chocolate. This luscious ice cream, with the rich taste of a slice of strawberry cheesecake, does not need a stitch of chocolate. It’s true. It’s perfectly decadent as it is. So deliciously decadent that I’ve been battling with the little angel and devil on my shoulder about whether I should exercise a bit of self-control or simply surrender and finish every last bite for breakfast.

Is there any better way to welcome summer than with some homemade ice cream made with hand-picked berries?? I think not.

Go ahead. Indulge.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar*
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cup fresh strawberries, halved if large
  • 1 cup graham crackers, broken into small pieces
*Use more or less sugar, as desired, depending on the sweetness of your berries.

Directions

In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add the sour cream, cream, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add the strawberries and beat until the berries mostly break up, leaving a few delicious chunks. Refrigerate for about an hour. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s directions. Add the graham crackers during the last 5-10 minutes of freezing.

Inspired by the Cheesecake Ice Cream recipe found here.

Strawberry Basil Smoothie

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It takes a while for strawberry season to peak this far north. When it does, we like to take the little men out to the fields for some berry-picking family fun. Ideally, we would put all of their little hands to work at picking a bulk quantity of sweet, ripe berries. The reality was that my husband ended up picking 10 pounds of strawberries while the boys wandered the fields dining on an all-you-can-eat buffet of fresh-picked berries. It’s a good thing my husband enjoys picking berries!

I promptly washed and froze half of our berry loot for one of my sons’ favorite treats in whole world…smoothies! They go absolutely bonkers over smoothies. I’m thinking about sneaking some veggies in the next time; perhaps making a strawberry spinach smoothie. But, for today, we’re just going to accent our sweet berries with a touch of fresh, summery basil!

When it comes to making smoothies, I prefer to skip the ice. I don’t care for the texture or the watered-down taste. To achieve an equally thick, frosty smoothie without the ice, simply freeze your fruit. Combine your frozen fruit with a bit of creamy Greek yogurt, a touch of honey, and a few leaves of fresh basil for a delicious and nutritious treat!

Strawberry Basil Smoothies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, frozen
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 5-6 large basil leaves
Directions
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Easy as that.

Strawberrylicious Round-Up

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Strawberry season has finally hit its stride in our neck of the woods. I foresee an afternoon of berry picking (and berry tasting) in our near future. I’m also predicting that the ice cream maker may find its way out of storage for this season’s inaugural batch of sweet, creamy goodness.

New strawberry recipes are forthcoming. In the mean time, here are a few previously posted Gourmand Mom strawberry recipes. Click on the titles for the recipes!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry Pretzel Squares

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese and Almonds

Quadruple Berry Muffins

Mixed Berry Mousse with Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

Quadruple Berry Muffins!

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Have you seen my belly lately?? It’s seriously impressive. I suppose that is what happens when you’re a month away from expecting your third baby! A belly this big requires plenty of delicious treats. And these muffins totally fit the bill! These quadruple berry muffins are bursting with all of the sweet flavor and delicious nutrition you’d expect from fresh berries and yogurt.

Yes, you caught that right… QUADRUPLE Berry Muffins! We don’t mess around with plain old blueberry muffins ’round here. Our muffins are exploding with the flavor of four different berries. A sweet and buttery, cinnamon streusel topping adds the perfect finishing touch. It’s a fantastic way to start a beautifully sunny spring morning.

The recipe which follows is slightly tweaked from the one I actually baked. In my original recipe, I incorporated fresh strawberries into the batter, along with the blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. What I quickly discovered is that fresh strawberries get kind of wet and mushy when baked. In my book, that was a less than ideal texture. So, I traded in the fresh strawberries for some creamy strawberry-flavored yogurt. Now the only thing missing from these muffins is a bit of cranberry! Maybe next time we’ll go for quintuple berry muffins!!

Quadruple Berry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup strawberry yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries, coarse chopped
  • 1/2 cup blackberries, coarse chopped

For the Streusel

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare muffin tins with liners. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, egg, yogurt and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir, just until combined. Do not overmix. Fold in the fresh berries. Fill each muffin liner with a generous 1/4 cup of the batter.

For the streusel, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients. Stir until evenly moistened. Use your fingers to press the mixture together into large clumps. Break the large clumps into smaller crumbles over the muffin batter. Gently press the crumbles into the batter.

Bake for about 25 minutes.

Makes 12-15 Muffins

** Adapted from Alton Brown’s Blueberry Muffins

Berry Pickin’

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The weather couldn’t have been more perfect yesterday. It was warm, but not too hot. The sun was out, but it was not scalding. A refreshing breeze passed through the air. So, we took the boys and our niece berry picking. The beauty of living in an area which offers us the comfort of a quiet neighborhood, the convenience of being able to walk to the grocery store, and fields full of fresh berries within a few minutes drive is not lost on us.

We had the blueberry fields all to ourselves.

It was quiet, breezy, peaceful. A few shiny bugs were our only companions.

The kids enjoyed filling their buckets with the sweet berries.

More than a few berries were sampled by sneaky children.

But we managed to bring home enough berries for some fresh berry shortcake dessert.

I used an Alton Brown recipe for the shortcake, found here. I added about 1/4 cup additional milk to give the dough the right consistency. Next time, I’d also add a bit more sugar, but it was otherwise delicious!

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