back to basics: strawberry sauce

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I know it’s not strawberry season, but for some reason when I walked through Whole Foods this weekend and saw the cartons of strawberries, I couldn’t help but grab one right away.  It’s probably the fact that the weather has been so spectacular lately.  Today is March 1st, a time of the year when it is often still frigid and snowing, yet for the past couple weeks, the northeast has been blessed with beautiful sunny days in the 50s and up.  I even turned my A/C on in the car this weekend!  And walked outside with a long sleeve shirt on!  So when I saw those bright red strawberries, I immediately started thinking about what I could do with them.  I knew that I had to bake a cake during the weekend, so a lightbulb went off instantly – I would make a vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberry filling.

I love being able to make a basic sauce like this strawberry sauce because the possibilities with it are endless.  And we all know how much I love a versatile ingredient.  Sure, I used this sauce as a cake filling.  But this sauce also works great as a filling in a cupcake, as a sauce to incorporate into (or top) your vanilla ice cream, or even as a filling in doughnuts!  Mmmmmm.  Now excuse me while I go wipe the drool off my face!

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you use it for in the comments below.

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Strawberry Sauce
(Makes 2 cups)

2 1/2 cups cubed fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

In a small saucepan, combine the strawberries and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Add the cornstarch and continue to stir.  Let boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat.  The sauce will thicken and go from translucent to opaque.  Allow to cool completely before using.

– sauce on,
Sharon

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trio of fruit smoothies

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For the past year or so, I’ve grown to love fruit smoothies.  I don’t go overboard with the ingredients either.  The way I see it, if I have a way to get fruit, juice, and yogurt in my belly before 10am, that’s 100% A-okay.  I have these smoothies pretty regularly for breakfast, and I also love to have them as a post-workout “snack”.

I also love making smoothies because it’s pretty impossible to mess it up.  Pretty much any and all combinations work.  Whatever juice, fruit, or yogurt I have in the house, I can throw it in the blender and (somehow) it always comes out delicious.  Today I’m sharing three (yes, three!) different smoothies.  But again, use these recipes as just a base – feel free to include, or leave out, whatever fruit you’d like!

Pink Smoothie
(Makes 1-2 servings, easily multiplied)

1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt (I typically use vanilla, strawberry or blueberry yogurt)
3-4 large strawberries
1 banana
1/2 apple, peeled and seeds removed
5 ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a blender or Vitamix and pulse for 45 seconds, or until smooth.  Refrigerate before serving.  If any separation occurs, mix with a smooth or pulse for 10 seconds.

Yellow Smoothie
(Makes 1-2 servings, easily multiplied)

1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup green grapes
1 cup honeydew chunks
1 cup cantaloupe chunks
5 ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a blender or Vitamix and pulse for 45 seconds, or until smooth.  Refrigerate before serving.  If any separation occurs, mix with a smooth or pulse for 10 seconds.

Green Smoothie
(Makes 1-2 servings, easily multiplied)

1/2 cup coconut water
1 cup green grapes
1 cup pineapple chunks
1 banana
2 cups spinach, lightly packed
5 ice cubes

Add all ingredients to a blender or Vitamix and pulse for 45 seconds, or until smooth.  Refrigerate before serving.  If any separation occurs, mix with a smooth or pulse for 10 seconds.

smoothie on,
Sharon

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Açaí Bowl with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, honey, chocolate chips, and granola

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I never jumped on the açaí bandwagon.  Sure it’s healthy, exotic and has a lot of antioxidants, but so do a lot of other things.  But, about 6 months ago, I had my first açaí bowl and wow, I was hooked.  I couldn’t believe how tasty it was.  And, like other recipes I’ve mentioned before…I thought, they call this breakfast?? Sign me up because to me, this tastes like dessert.  I’ve had a few bowls since, but decided that this was simple enough that I could make it at home.

The only thing I needed to tackle was this açaí berry thing.  After some (okay, alot) of looking and digging, I honed in on what to buy and how to make these bowls.  I found that regular grocery stores had no açaí berry selection (aside from juice), trader joe’s was no help (for once!), and my best bet was whole foods.  The frozen foods section had a few different options – what you want the açaí fruit frozen packs that are supposed to be used in smoothies.  I’ve used the unsweetened packs before, and given the honey and sweet fruits, I personally prefer those.

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Açaí Bowl with blueberries, strawberries, bananas, honey, chocolate chips, and granola
(makes 2 bowls)

2 single serving frozen açaí berry pouches, ~7 ounces
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 banana, thinly sliced
5 strawberries, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup granola
2 tbs honey
2 tbs coconut flakes

In a blender, mix together the açaí berry and the coconut milk until a smooth consistency is reached.  Place in freezer for approximately 10 minutes.  Scoop the açaí berry mixture into a bowl.  Place strawberries, blueberries, bananas, chocolate chips and granola into the bowl and drizzle with honey and coconut flakes.

Açaí on,
– Shirley

sunday funday: frozen strawberry margaritas

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We’ve been getting really lucky with the weather lately.  Especially on the weekends.  Which may explain the lack of blog posts lately.  I mean, can you blame us?  We’ve been getting out of the house as much as possible to enjoy the last few weeks of summer.  Beach.  Waterfalls.  Family. Going into Philly.  It’s been really refreshing, but so tiring.  Every sunday I find myself completely exhausted.

Which brings me to this Sunday Funday recipe!  There is nothing better than putting together this margarita and drinking it out on the porch with a book.  This boozy drink is refreshing, and sweet, with just the right amount of alcohol.  Shirley and I have made this drink together so many times.  From the beach, to dinner outside, there is always room for this drink!

Frozen Strawberry Margaritas
(Makes one serving, yet easily doubled or quadrupled)

1 cup ice
2 ounces Grand Marnier
1 1/2 ounces Tequila
2 ounces lime juice
2 1/2 ounces strawberry simple syrup (recipe follows)
Fresh strawberries, for garnish
Lime wedge, for the rim
Sugar, for the rim

With a small lime wedge, rim the ridge of your margarita glass with a lime.  This will allow the sugar to stick to the rim of the glass.  On a small, flat plate, add a thin layer of sugar.  Dip the margarita glasses in the sugar.  Put to the side.

In a blender, combine the ice, Grand Marnier, Tequila, lime juice, and strawberry simple syrup.  Blend at the highest speed until the drink is almost smooth, about 30 seconds.  If the mixture is too thin, add more ice and blend once again.  Pour into the glasses and garnish with a strawberry.

Strawberry Simple Syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups diced, fresh strawberries

Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let the sugar dissolve completely.  Take the mixture off the heat and let cool completely.  This is the simple syrup.  Next, combine 1 cup of the cooled simple syrup and 1 1/2 cups of diced strawberries in a blender and blend until combined.

– drink on,
Sharon

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