Recipe: July 4 dessert ideas–or–How much fun can we have with “Red, White and Blue(berry)”?

Here's a reason to have fun in the kitchen!

Here’s a reason to have fun in the kitchen!

For more affordable July 4 recipes and meal plans, click here

Festive, I am not. I was never the girl to wear the jingle-bell earrings in December, or the chick to dress in red and pink on Valentines day.Heck, I didn’t even wear makeup most Feb 14ths. On The Fourth of July? I was generally wearing some other country’s garb and riding a smoking viking ship in a parade.

But now that I am a full-time Mommy, I feel obligated to go hog-wild for holidays. Because, really, what else is there to separate one day’s pile of dirty dishes, laundry and misc. Lego’s from another’s?

So with this in mind, I’m thinking about possible July Fourth desserts that would be Red, White and Blue.

I don’t want to do a cake with red, white and blue frosting…I want the dessert to actually be made of the colors, not just decorated in them

So, here we are: blueberry cheesecake with strawberry sauce, Red, White an Blue-berry cheesecake pie, and simple cut-up strawberries layered with blue berries and whip cream and confectioner’s sugar in a trifle bowl.

“Red White an Blueberry cheesecake pie”

from allrecipes.com

So pretty, so perfect.

So pretty, so perfect.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberry jelly

DIRECTIONS:

  1. On a flat surface, place one sheet phyllo dough. Brush it with melted butter or margarine, and cover with another piece of phyllo. Repeat until all 8 sheets are used. Using kitchen scissors, cut layered phyllo into a 12 to 13 inch circle. Carefully press circle into a greased 9 inch pie plate; gently fan edges. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) until edges are just golden, 6 to 8 minutes; cool slightly on a wire rack.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until well combined. Fold in 1 cup of blueberries. Pour filling into prepared crust.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until set, 40 to 50 minutes. To prevent over browning of crust, gently cover pie with foil for the last 25 minutes of baking. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. In a small bowl, beat jelly until smooth; spread over cheese filling. Arrange 1 cup blueberries on top in a star pattern.

White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake with Raspberry (or Strawberry) Sauce

this recipe is from allrecipes.com

Just top with some raspberry or strawberry sauce and you've got a patriotic dessert

Just top with some raspberry or strawberry sauce and you’ve got a patriotic dessert

INGREDIENTS

  • CRUST:
  • 2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup clarified butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons caramel topping
  • FILLING:
  • 1 pound white chocolate, chopped
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • TOPPING:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C). Make the crust: In a food processor, blend together the graham cracker crumbs, almonds and sugar until the almonds are ground fine. Pour in the melted butter and caramel while processing, until mixture is combined. Press the mixture onto the bottom, and half way up the side of a 10 inch springform pan.
  2. Make the filling: In a metal bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time. Beat in the flour and the vanilla and blend in the melted white chocolate slowly, beating until the filling is well combined. Pour filling into crust.
  3. Bake in the middle of preheated oven for 1 hour. Then turn off the heat, and crack the oven door an inch, letting the cheesecake cool in the oven to room temperature. Cover loosely and refrigerate overnight before removing from pan.
  4. Make the topping: In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water and blueberries. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Press through a fine sieve. Stir in lemon juice, allow to cool, and store in a glass jar.

Strawberry-Blueberry Trifle

This is the quickest, easiest and healthies option out of the three

This is the quickest, easiest and healthiest option out of the four

This really couldn’t be easier. You can use frozen (and then thawed) berries–or fresh. Your pick

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4cups fresh blueberries
  • 4cups strawberries/raspberries (or mix of)
  • lady fingers
  • powdered sugar/Splenda
  • Whip Cream

DIRECTIONS:

In a trifle bowl, layer the berries. If using frozen, separate with lady fingers. On top of each layer of berries, sprinkle powdered sugar or Splenda. Top with whip cream and decorate with remaining berries and lady fingers

Red (Velvet) White and Blue (berry) Trifle

Redvelvet cake, blueberries and whip cream make this trifle extra patriotic.

Redvelvet cake, blueberries and whip cream make this trifle extra patriotic.

This is the recipe I think I will be making for our 4th of July. It is from the foodnetwork.com

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix, about 18 ounces (if you can’t find red velvet cake use 1 box chocolate cake plus a bottle of red food coloring)
  • 1 (16-ounce) tub whipped topping
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 1 pint strawberries, tops removed

DIRECTIONS:

Bake the red velvet cake mix according to package directions and allow to cool.Using a serrated knife cut the red velvet cake into 1 inch square pieces and line the bottom of the trifle bowl with half of the cake squares.Using a spatula, spread about a 2-inch layer of whipped topping on top of the cake squares.Layer about 1 1/2 pints of the blueberries on top of whipped topping.Layer the remaining cake pieces on top of the blueberries forming a second layer of cake.Using a spatula, spread remaining whipped topping over the cakes pieces.Decorate the perimeter with the strawberries; placing the strawberries cut side down. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries on top of the trifle inside the strawberry perimeter.

Recipe: Blueberry muffins from scratch

Remember my mention of that giant bag of frozen blueberries in the freezer, hogging valuable space (Thanks, Costco!)? Today I plan to make a dent in it.

I finally opened it to make some ebelskivers. I’ve also been feeding them to Logan, one cup at a time…which works really, really well since we’re trying to crack down on his using his fingers to eat everything and encourage him to use silverware and, when eating blueberries, you can tell if you’ve used your fingers or not–hilarity.

So here is the best blueberry muffin recipe I could find. I’m going to add in some of those rolled oats we have so much of (again, thanks, Costco!) to add some fiber and bulk.

This recipe is from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Recipe: Ebelskivers 4, 5, 6

Even more ways to make ebelskivers!

Even more ways to make ebelskivers! click here to buy the pan and check out the instructional video on their site. Makes it look deceptively easy.

For more ebelskiver recipes, click these links or check out the Recipes tab at the top: cherry; strawberry and blueberry; maple-banana-walnut, banana-graham cracker, spiced apple maple; lemon; a basic batter; another basic batter

This little recipe –and its three different takes on the filling–struck me for a few reasons. Not only is this a pretty simple recipe, it is also very versatile.

If you’ve been lucky (or unlucky..) enough to receive Williams-Sonoma catalogs in the mail you may have noticed that every year around the holidays they include an Ebelskiver recipe. Each year that recipe changes just a tad. This year they even have an ebelskiver book they are hawking…which I am sort of tempted to buy, not that I need an entire book of ebelskiver recipes (but I also didn’t need an entire book of pie recipes, or the book entirely devoted to sauces, or especially the Things I can Put in Jars cookbook…)

So maybe I’ll get another oddly-specific cookbook, maybe I wont, but in the meantime I can at least enjoy ebelskivers in a shameful array of flavors thanks to the freebie recipes the Williams-Sonoma catalog has been putting in my mailbox the last several years.

Basic Ebelskiver Batter:
2 eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tbs. sugar
4 tbs. Melted butter

Separate eggs; beat egg whites until stiff. Mix all the other ingredients together at one time and beat until smooth. Fold in egg whites.

Heat pan on low to medium heat. Put 1/2 tsp. butter, oil or shortening in each cup. Pour in batter near top but not filling cup. If desired, put 1/2 tsp. of jam, a piece of pineapple, blueberries, raisins, etc., in batter. (If fruit is added, reduce the amount of batter initially placed in cup. Add fruit and cover with a small amount of batter.) When bubbly, turn ball with a fork or skewer. Continue cooking until toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm with powdered sugar or syrup.

Spiced Apple With Maple Whipped Cream:
1 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp firmly packed light brown sugar
3 granny smith apples, peeled, grated
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 ground ginger
1/8 freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 ground cinnamon
juice of half a lemon
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook 1 tbsp butter, brown sugar, apples, ginger, clover, nutmeg, 1/4 tsp cinnamon and lemon juice for 30 minutes. Drain liquid. Beat cream, maple syrup and salt to soft peaks. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. In a small bowl combine the confectioner’s sugar and 1/4 tsp cinnamon.
To cook: brush wells of pan with butter. Pour 1 tbsp of batter into each well. Cook about 2 minutes. Spoon 1/2 tsp apple filling into centers; top with 1 tbsp of batter. Cook 2 minutes. Flip and cook for about 3 minutes longer. Remove. To serve, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve with maple whipped cream.


Banana – Graham Cracker:

4 oz graham cracker, broken into pieces
3/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup heavy cream
maple syrup for serving

Place graham crackers in a blender, blend on high until powdery. Add flour, soda, powder, 3 tbsp sugar and salt. Pulse to combine. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and buttermilk. Whisk in flour mixture; batter will be lumpy. Beat egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 1-2 minutes. Gently fold egg whites into batter in two additions.

In a cup, combine cream and 2 tbsp sugar. Whip until thick and combined.

To cook: pour 2 tsp batter, place three banana pieces in the centers of each pancake; top with 1 tsp batter. Serve with maple syrup and whipped cream.

Maple Banana Walnut
Bananas, sliced
Walnuts, broken
Maple Syrup

Heat bananas in a little butter. Add the walnuts and syrup. Heat through. Done.

Recipe: Dairy-Free Ebelskivers (stuffed pancakes) 2

If you are going to spend $50 on a single-use pan, you need lots of versions of that single food to justify the expense, right?

The original, unmodified version of this recipe for a basic Ebelskivers batter is NOT from William-Sonoma. It is from karenblixen.com . 

This recipe can be easily modified to become dairy-free–just swap the buttermilk for coconut buttermilk (mixing each cup of coconut milk with 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice; let stand for five or ten minutes, until it begins to curdle.)

Add in whatever filling you like…we are partial to the blueberry, lemon and maple-banana-walnut (below)…or leave it plain and put the fillings on top. An easy topping? Thaw frozen strawberries, smash, add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and mace to taste. Done.

For more ebelskiver recipes, click these links or check out the Recipes tab at the top: cherry; strawberry and blueberry; maple-banana-walnut, banana-graham cracker, spiced apple maple; lemon; a basic batter; another basic batter

Aebleskiver (Danish Ball Pancakes)

    • 4 separated eggs
      2 tablespoons sugar
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      2 tablespoons vegetable oil
      2 cups buttermilk (or 3/4 C beer plus 1 1/4 C milk….or lemon juice/coconut milk)
      1 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon baking powder
      2 cups all purpose flour
      oil or lard (coconut oil…or bacon grease)

Beat egg whites until stiff; set aside. Beat rest of ingredients until batter is very smooth. Fold in egg whites. Heat at a moderate temperature a well-seasoned ebelskiver pan with 1/8 teaspoon oil or lard in each of the  holes. Fill each hole  3/4 with batter, and add a few drops of oil with each new batch.

When browned on one side, turn with knitting needle and keep turning until needle comes out clean after piercing through the cake. Serve with fresh fruit or flavored butters or honey. Makes approximately 48 pancakes; most people will eat about 6.


Recipe: Ebelskivers (stuffed pancakes) 1

Breakfast made harder. Yum.

Breakfast made harder. Yum.

For more ebelskiver recipes, click these links or check out the Recipes tab at the top: cherry; strawberry and blueberry; maple-banana-walnut, banana-graham cracker, spiced apple maple; lemon; a basic batter; another basic batter

Yesterday I noticed the 5-pound bag of frozen wild blueberries in the freezer, still unopened. Unopened bags in the freezer make me feel guilty and ashamed for shopping at Costco. Matt asked me what the heck I was planning to do with all those frozen blueberries…I said I was going to make blueberry muffins.

“Five pounds’ worth?!”

He had a point.

So I tried harder. I tried to think of things I could do with blueberries aside from muffins, pancakes, crumbles, pies and the normal kinds of stuff…

Ah. Ebelskivers.

It’s even hard to say…harder to say than to make…but…it does take a batch or two to get the technique down.

It’s the winner for taking these berries off my hands and out of the freezer.

The first time I had ebelskivers was in Pullman, Washington at the Old European restaurant just outside of the WSU campus. It was a weekend tradition–and a finals and mid-terms and after-morning workout tradition, too–to go to Old E and eat. A lot. And order some fresh-squeezed orange juice.

So, when Williams-Sonoma sent me a recipe for ebelskivers (the first of several recipes in their catalogs for these stuffed pancakes) I was delighted. When my FAVORITE STORE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, Rudy’s, had an Ebelskiver pan for sale, I bought it. I was ready to recreate my college brunch days.

The menu at Old European claimed the Ebelskivers were a Danish thing…Williams-Sonoma say, “…ebelskiver in Denmark, these light, fluffy pancakes filled with fresh blueberries make a delicious breakfast treat.” I think its just a fabulous reason to (finally) open the five-pound bag of frozen blueberries.

This recipe comes from Williams-Sonoma.com . Williams-Sonoma has the pan for sale here and even has an electric version now  which, honestly, is tempting.

FYI You will need some special equipment for this recipe: namely, an ebelskiver pan and some of those long tooth picks or knitting needles to flip the balls over while baking.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 TBSP granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

3 eggs, separated

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

4 TBSP (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 pint fresh blueberries

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Maple syrup for serving

Directions:

Williams-Sonoma even has a video with easy-to-follow directions HERE

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, granulated sugar and salt.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk together the egg yolks and buttermilk. Whisk the yolk mixture into the flour mixture until well combined; the batter will be lumpy.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff but not dry peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter in two additions.

Put 1/2 tsp. butter in each well of a filled-pancake pan. Place over medium heat and heat until the butter begins to bubble. Pour 1 Tbs. batter into each well and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Put 5 or 6 blueberries in the center of each pancake and top with 1 Tbs. batter. Using 2 wooden skewers, flip the pancakes over and cook until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter and blueberries.

Dust the pancakes with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm with maple syrup. Makes about 40.

Recipe: Strawberry Cake from scratch

Strawberry Cake from scratch made May 11,2010…think it looks good? It tastes amazing!

The first time I ever had a strawberry cake it was made from scratch.

It was made by Sueann, an on-air NPR host, for Joan, a part-time NPR announcer, as a joint celebration: making it through breast cancer surgery and having a birthday, too.

Maybe it was just because we were all so thankful and happy to be alive–all of us, still alive–that the cake tasted so good. Maybe it was because it was one of the last times I was ever at the station that I remember it so fondly; I took a job the next week for a CBS affiliate in a different state. Maybe it was the lazy, calm of a summer afternoon after the school year had ended, but before the summer term had begun.Maybe it was because it was before my first shift back after getting married; a wedding Joan hadn’t been able to attend because of her cancer treatments but a wedding she had still been part of because I insisted on sending the wreath from the door to the hall of my wedding all the way to her home, to cheer her up and let her know she was missed. Maybe it was all those things; all those intangibles that no recipe can possibly include on a 3×5 index card, but that nevertheless are required for a good cake. And a good meal. And any good time. Aren’t those memories, really, the reason we care so much about certain recipes? Certain foods? Not just because the food tastes good, but because it reminds us of a time that was equally sweet and satisfying. Good food is good for the soul.

So, yesterday I made a strawberry cake for Logan’s 5th birthday. Logan wasn’t even a thought that first time I had a strawberry cake in 2002, but our lives have gone through so much upheaval–just like that first time with the strawberry cake–I thought it would be fitting. Above all, we are just happy to be together and alive, just like back then.

This recipe comes from allrecipes.com

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 (3 ounce) package strawberry flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (NOT flour to be sifted. Sift first, then measure)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (yes, TABLESPOON. You will thank me later)
  • 1/2 cup strawberry puree made from frozen sweetened strawberries

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  2. In a large bowl beat the eggs until soft peaks form. You can choose to do only egg whites if you like, but keep at least one yolk.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and dry strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1/4 of foam mixture at a time, mixing well after each. Combine the SIFTED flour and baking powder; stir into the batter alternately with the milk. Blend in vanilla and strawberry puree. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a small knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in their pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, before tapping out to cool completely.

Recipe: Curry

I first made this dish for a get-together at my home back in 2007. We called it “Meatless Mondays” and “meatless” meant that the dish was meat-free and there were no sausages–or, ahem, men–allowed. Meatless Mondays were a pretty regular get-together for any number of us–anywhere from four to 30–at changing locations. It was all based on whoever could make it, whoever wanted to host, and whoever was up for a nice chat, some laughs, and girl time.

The idea behind Meatless Mondays was the brainchild of myself and my girlfriend, Shelley. We were both finding ourselves more and more conscious of our meals, our health, and the impact of our food choices on the planet. We wanted a chance to experiment with meatless options without worry about if the rest of the family–little kids, husbands, etc–would like it or go hungry in protest. Meatless Mondays gave us an outlet to make meatless dishes and try lots of new things we might not otherwise have the inclination to do because of our demanding work and family lives.

I miss those get-togethers. A lot. But, it brought a bunch of new–and FABULOUS–recipes in to my recipe box, and I intend to continue making those and thinking fondly of the ladies who taught me so much about food, and life, on those evenings.

This curry dish can be made with Tofu–or chicken. Just swap one for the other. It is very, very easy and very, very good. My 4-year-old even loves it and asks for seconds.

This recipe comes from allrecipes.com. click the link for nutrition info and more suggestions on tweaking the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 1 (14 ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons chile paste
  • 1 pound firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 4 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 4 cups chopped bok choy
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Remove white parts of green onions, and finely chop. Chop greens into 2 inch pieces.
  2. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, mix coconut milk, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, brown sugar, curry powder, ginger, and chile paste. Bring to a boil.
  3. Stir tofu, tomatoes, yellow pepper, mushrooms, and finely chopped green onions into the skillet. Cover, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in basil and bok choy. Season with salt and remaining soy sauce. Continue cooking 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but crisp. Garnish with remaining green onion.