My obsession with icebox cakes continues. I may one day just become known as the “icebox cake lady.” I’m not quite sure if this is a good or bad thing, but I don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that they are easy to make and delicious. My in-laws came to town last weekend, and I wanted to do something festive and make-ahead. Continue reading
My mom has made this jam every summer for YEARS. I can’t remember when it all started, but as a kid, after my first taste of this jam, there was no looking back. I could officially never eat store-bought strawberry jam EVER again. This homemade stuff was way too good. It doesn’t even resemble the store-bought strawberry jam…you know, that name brand everyone else buys…you just can’t do it after this jam.The proof lies within everyone who has had it, the biggest example being Jordan, who I am convinced maybe decided he was going to marry me after his first taste of this jam. The moment went along the lines of me making him some scones, which he had never had before. Obviously, this plays into the life-changing moment, but then he put some of the jam on top and freaked out. “What is this?!? This is homemade? How is it so good? Oh my god, this is the best jam I have ever had.” I couldn’t help but laugh at his jam freak-out…I mean, it’s just strawberries, sugar (a lot), and pectin. Nothing crazy. It’s just one of those things that is a bajillion times better when it’s homemade.Then I told him I didn’t even make the jam – it was actually my mom. Through college (and years after) I still was getting reloaded with jam from her every year. Even through this confession, I think Jordan knew deep down I would be making it one day, solidifying all PB&Js and toast in his future. Or he knew if he stayed with me, I would at least always have an arsenal of jam from my mom. But this year it was finally time!My mom and I made this jam together and it’s super easy, it just takes some time. It’s super worth it and super basic. Like I said earlier – it’s really nothing crazy or special. It’s actually from the side of the pectin box, which is probably why it’s been there for years and is so good. Anyone can do it, as long as you get past the fact it’s about a 2:1 ratio on sugar to berries. Don’t even worry about it – you are eating homemade goodness! It’s better than anything bought from the store. No weird ingredients you can’t pronounce. Everything in moderation, people – you may have a problem if you are like my Grandpa (Pompa) who eats this jam by the spoonful and can clear through a pint in a week (maybe days). But hey, the guy is 88 and also has been known to eat butter by itself, so I say just eat some damn jam every once in awhile and you will be okay.Also – this recipe is easily adaptable, the same recipe below can be followed with just about any fruit or combo thereof. Strawberry + mango happened this year, and WHOA. Just remember, 1 part berries, 2 parts sugar, 1 box pectin. We always make a few batches, we use at least 4 boxes of pectin every year so we can freeze, save, and give to friends. But if you are flying solo, 1 batch will keep you going for at least 6 months, maybe a year depending on your jam intake I think the biggest “secret” here is using the best local strawberries you can find. In the Portland area, the local strawberries are different than ones you buy at a grocery store, they are smaller, and much more delicate – they only last about a day after you buy them. This jam does turn out a little different if you use non-local store bought berries. Go to your farmers market or buy them from a road side stand if you can.
Mom’s homemade Strawberry Jam
adapted from the box of Sure Jell
makes about 5 cups of jam
- 2 pints fresh strawberries (preferably farmstand/farmer’s market berries)
- 4 cups of sugar
- 1 box (1.75 oz) of Sure Jell fruit pectin, or any other kind of fruit pectin
1. Wash and rinse plastic or glass containers with tight fitting lids. You can use 1-2 cup sized containers, or whatever you’d like depending on how many batches you are making. Try to make sure they are freezer-safe, as the jam freezes really well.
2. Prepare fruit. Wash 2 pints of strawberries, discard the stems. Crush berries using a potato masher, or you can pulse them in a food processor. Make sure you only PULSE them, do not puree. Your jam should have nice little bits of fruit.
3. Your 2 pints of strawberries should pretty much measure out to 2 cups crushed berries. Pour the 2 cups of berries into a large bowl. Add 4 cups of sugar to the bowl with the berries and stir well. Let stand for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not reduce the sugar or add a sugar substitute, or the pectin will not set!
4. Stir 1 box of pectin and 3/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Pectin may start out a little lumpy but just stir it around a bit more. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
5. Stir pectin mixture into strawberry mixture. Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes.
6. Pour into prepared containers, leaving 1/2 inch space at the top for expansion during freezing; cover.
7. Let jam stand at room temperature for 24 hours until set. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks. Otherwise, store in freezer for up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator. This jam is good on everything. Scones, Biscuits, Waffles, Sandwiches, stirred into yogurt, you really have endless possibilities! My mom has even used this jam as the middle layers on white cakes. And it’s amazing.
Is this one of the weirdest things you haver ever heard of? Strawberry…soup? Ok, it’s probably not the weirdest thing…but still. Not your everyday soup. However, this soup is quite tasty and I highly recommend making it under several different circumstances:
- It’s sweltering hot outside and you want something chilled and refreshing.
- You are hosting a fancy summer soirée and want to look creative and awesome.
- If Gazpacho (aka cold tomato soup, ugh) just isn’t your thing.
- There are tons of strawberries in your kitchen, and you are looking to do something “different”.
- You are hosting a “ladies only” event…This doesn’t really strike me as a soup a lot of dudes would be into. I’m thinking bridal shower, mother’s day brunch, baby shower…However, maybe not baby shower, since this soup has WINE in it. Which brings me to…
- GIRLS WINE WEEKEND. This really doesn’t have to be soup, it can pretty much be a smoothie and the best way to start a wine-filled weekend…A totally healthy breakfast alternative to mimosas or Bloody Mary’s…Because why not be smart when boozin, better to stick with one type of alcohol all day!*
So now that it’s clear I am very excited about the Riesling in this soup, I feel it’s best to put a disclaimer out there that in about a month I will be doing a day in NAPA for a joint Bachelorette party with my favorite girls! Since moving I miss everyone terribly, and I booked my flight pretty much the second the dates were set in stone. For whatever ridiculous reason, making this soup made me reallyreallyEXTRA excited for the upcoming girls wine weekend.
*Drink responsibly. It is recommended to eat something with your breakfast booze, like a f*ckin bagel.
Chilled Strawberry Soup
adapted from Southern Living
makes about 4 cups
- 3 cups fresh sliced strawberries, washed with stems removed
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup Riesling or other sweet white wine
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Garnishes: olive oil, freshly ground pepper, sliced fresh strawberries, fresh mint and/or basil
- Process 3 cups sliced fresh strawberries, Greek yogurt, Riesling, and sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Cover and chill 2 hours. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, freshly ground pepper, chopped fresh mint, and sliced fresh strawberries.
Dare I say this is one of the BEST Quinoa recipes I have ever discovered?!? It’s such a fun combination of flavors and ingredients that totally compliment each other. I can’t wait to make this for a summer party!
I was so excited to dive into this, that I didn’t end up with any well styled photos. I was just too hungry and it all just tasted too good.
Note: this recipe tastes best the day it is made. Strawberries just aren’t quite the same after they have sat in the fridge overnight. It’s still great the next day, but if you are making it for an event or party serve it the same day.
Strawberry, Pecan & Prosciutto Quinoa Salad
adapted from Southern Living
Makes 4 servings (more as a side dish for a party)
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- A pinch of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 4 oz. prosciutto
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup pecans, toasted
- 1 cup arugula
- 1 cup quartered strawberries
- 1 cup crumbled fat free feta cheese
Seriously, there is rarely any reason to go to a smoothie place. They are so simple and much healthier if you invest in a decent blender and make them at home! The Classic Strawberry-Orange-Banana smoothie will never get old. One of these always makes me feel better if I am under the weather. Only 3 ingredients and you’re ready to blend!
Classic Strawberry-Orange-Banana Smoothie
Makes 1 large smoothie or 2 smaller smoothies
- 2 cups orange juice
- about 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 banana
Add all ingredients to blender and mix until smooth. Bonus: Add about 1 cup fresh spinach. Sounds weird, but you can’t even taste it! Don’t worry about your smoothie turning into a weird color, it’s even healthier now!
If you want to talk about wingin’ it…smoothies are the definition. It’s not hard to make a quality smoothie at home for half the cost of those juicery places – and most of the time half the calories. I almost always just pick a juice and frozen fruit…you’d be surprised how something so simple can be so good!.
Pom-Blue Strawberry Banana Smoothie
- 1 banana
- about 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 2 cups Pomegranate-Blueberry Juice (I used Tropicana 50 light juice)
Throw all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add more juice or frozen strawberries until you get to desired thickness.