Sweet taste of summerPublished 12:01am Wednesday, May 14, 2014
The best season of the year is in full swing — strawberry season.
With this wonderfully addictive fruits in the prime of their harvest season, strawberries have already found their way onto tables in a variety of forms.
From the standard strawberry shortcake to jars filled with jams and preserves, strawberries can take on a life of their own on the spring and early summer menu.
To throw a little different light on this springtime staple, I’ve found a few recipes that may be new to some folks. Some of them are certainly new to me and I plan to add them to my offerings when using the ripe, luscious berry. I hope that you can find one that will give you new ideas on how to use strawberries on your table before the season comes to an end.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
2 cups crushed pretzels
¾ cup butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
8 oz. whipped topping, thawed
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 (3 oz.) packages strawberry gelatin
1 ½ cup sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix pretzels, butter and 3 tbsp. sugar until well combined. Press into the bottom of a 9×13 dish. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until set. Set aside and let cool completely.
In a large bowl, cream 1 cup sugar and cream cheese until well mixed. Fold in whipped topping and spread onto cooled crust.
Dissolve gelatin in 2 cups of boiling water. Stir in strawberries and allow to set for a short time. When the mixture is the consistency of egg white, pour over cream cheese layer and spread to cover. Refrigerate until set.
This isn’t really a salad, and it really isn’t a dessert. It can be served any way you like since it isn’t too sweet or too salty.
If you’re looking to add some strawberries to the breakfast that isn’t in the form of jam or sliced on top of waffles or pancakes, this next recipe might be just the ticket.
Strawberry Cream Cheese French toast
12 slices white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 (8 oz.) packages of cold cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 ½ cups fresh sliced strawberries
2 cups half-and-half
1/3 pure maple syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 tbsp. butter
Generously grease or butter a 9×13-baking dish. Arrange half the bread cups in the dish and evenly distribute cream cheese cubes over bread layer. Sprinkle 1½ cups strawberries over cream cheese. Layer remaining bread cubes over strawberries.
Pour half-and-half into a blender and pulse for a few seconds. Blend eggs into half-and-half until completely mixed. Add syrup and blend until smooth. Pour mixture over bread and strawberries. Cover with foil and refrigerate eight hours or over night. Remove from refrigerator about 45 minutes before baking.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the covered dish for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until French toast is puffed and gold brown – about 30 more minutes.
Stir 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens – stirring constantly for about five minutes. Mix in one cup sliced strawberries and stir until berries soften – about 10 minutes. Add butter and stir sauce until butter is melted.
Pour sauce over baked French toast dish or spoon onto individual servings as desired.
I hope you’ll have a chance to try one of these ideas for a little twist on the usual strawberry dishes at your home. And, remember, if you ever have more strawberries than you know what to do with, just give me a call. I’m only too happy to help.