Delicious strawberries can be used in a variety of ways

Strawberries are a summer taste sensation. | Jodie Mirosovsky photo

The ultimate summer taste is a bite into a fresh strawberry, so juicy and sweet. Each year we wait for the strawberry season, the thrill of picking fruit right off the vine or from your grocery store or farmers market.

The boost of fibre and vitamin C make this berry a powerhouse. Strawberries are so delicious when fresh, but can be incorporated into menus in many ways.

Strawberry daiquiri

This refreshing strawberry cocktail can be made with or without alcohol. Some tasters have reported that the drink is better while in a lounge chair.

  • 4 tbsp. white rum or vodka (or just water if no alcohol is wanted) 60 mL
  • 4 tbsp. lime juice 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. sugar 15 mL
  • 2 c. fresh or partially frozen strawberries 500 mL

In a blender, combine the alcohol or water, lime juice and sugar. Blend to mix. Add berries and blend until well combined, serve immediately. If you are using fresh berries add four ice cubes to the blender with the berries for a frosty effect. Add a splash of water until desired consistency is reached. Serves two.

Strawberry limeade

A cool flavourful beverage without the icy consistency.

  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 5 c. cold water 1.25 L
  • 1 c. lime juice 250 mL
  • 1 c. pureed strawberries 250 mL

Combine the sugar and one cup (250 mL) of water. Bring to a boil and let bubble gently for five minutes. Cool. Then add remaining cold water, lime juice and pureed strawberries. Serve chilled.

Garnish with lime slices and/or mint leaves. Yields about six cups.

Strawberry freezer jam

  • 4 c. granulated white sugar 1 L
  • 4 c. fresh strawberries 1 L
  • 3 oz. Certo liquid fruit pectin (do not use the powder) 88 mL
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 30 mL

Wash and rinse glass jars (or plastic containers) and lids in the dishwasher or with hot soapy water. Rinse and dry thoroughly.

Stem and crush strawberries by hand with a potato masher. This method makes the perfect consistency.

Measure two cups (500 mL) of prepared fruit into a large microwave-safe bowl. Add the four cups of sugar and stir well for one minute.

Place the bowl in the microwave on high power for three minutes. Mixture will not cook but will become warm enough for sugar to dissolve. Remove from microwave and stir well for another minute.

Allow strawberry mixture to sit for two hours, giving it a good stir about every 30 minutes. Take a taste to make sure the sugar is dissolved. If it still has a bit of a grainy texture, stir for another minute or two until sugar is well-dissolved and liquid is clear.

Combine the liquid pectin and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add to strawberry mixture; stir three minutes.

Fill containers to within a half-inch of top; don’t fill any higher because the mixture will expand in the freezer.

Wipe off the mouth of the containers and put on the lids. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Give the fruit a stir in the jars if the solids are all at the top before putting the lids on. The glass containers can go in the freezer as long as you have left room on the top.

Refrigerate up to three weeks or freeze up to one year. Thaw in refrigerator.

When serving, this jam can stay out on the counter for two hours maximum. Makes 80 servings of one tbsp each. Source: www.thecafesucrefarine.com

Summer berry meal salad

  • 6 c. washed and torn greens (lettuce or a mix of lettuce and spinach) 1.5 L
  • 1 c. sliced fresh strawberries 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. blueberries (optional but delicious) 60 mL
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 c. thinly sliced red onions 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. grated fresh parmesan cheese 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. chopped roasted almonds 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. balsamic saladdressing 60 mL
  • protein of your choice, grilled chicken, prepared ground beef and pulses

Combine all ingredients except dressing in large bowl.

Serves four as a side salad without the protein or serves two people as a meal.

Add dressing just before serving; mix lightly.

Variation: Use a sweet dressing such as a creamy poppy seed for a different taste.

Strawberry sauce

  • 3 1/2 c. strawberries rinsed, hulled and thickly sliced 875 mL
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar 80 mL
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 15 mL

In a medium saucepan, combine sliced strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat and simmer 20-23 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. While cooling the sauce will thicken.

Serve over creamy vanilla ice cream, Greek yogurt, angel food, pound cake, pancakes or waffles with whipped cream. Source: www.natashaskitchen.com

Strawberry lemonade pie

  • 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened 225 g
  • 1/2 c. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed 125 mL
  • 4 c. whipped cream (stiff) or whipped topping, divided 1 L
  • 1 ready-to-use graham cracker crumb crust
  • 1 1/2 c. sliced strawberries 375 mL
  • 2 tbsp. sugar 30 mL

Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with mixer until creamy. Gradually add concentrate, beating well after each addition.

Stir in two cups (500 mL) whipped cream or topping. Spoon into crust.

Refrigerate four hours or until firm.

Meanwhile, toss berries with sugar. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve pie topped with berries and remaining whipped cream or topping. Serves eight.

Source: www.myfoodmyfamily.com.

Mini berry cheesecakes

  • 1 c. graham crumbs 250 mL
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted 45 mL
  • 2 pkg. brick cream cheese, softened 500 g
  • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 2 eggs

Heat oven to 350 F (180 C).

Mix graham crumbs and butter; press evenly into 12 paper-lined muffin tins.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed, just until blended.

Spoon mixture over crust. Bake 20 minutes or until centre is almost set. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate three hours.

Top with fresh berries. Makes 12 servings. Source: www.kraftcanada.ca.

Fudgy brownies

Decadent on a plate with a side of fresh berries.

  • 1/2 c. butter (softened or cut into pieces if cold for faster melting) 125 mL
  • 2 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips, divided 625 mL
  • 4 eggs, large
  • 1 c. granulated sugar 250 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules (3.3 gram packet, I like Starbucks) 7 mL
  • 3 tbsp. light olive oil or vegetable oil 45 mL
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract 15 mL
  • 2/3 c. (or 1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp.) all-purpose flour 160 mL
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder 125 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 7 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F(180 C). Butter a 9×9 pan and line with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt together two cups chocolate chips and butter while whisking; then set aside to cool 15 minutes.

In a second large bowl, whisk together eggs, granulated sugar and coffee granules, oil and vanilla extract.

Stir cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, use a spatula to fold mixture into the batter and fold just until combined. Do not over mix.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and sprinkle all over with remaining half cup chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, depending on the desired doneness. For fudgy brownies, bake 35-37 minutes and a toothpick should come out fudgy. For soft and moist brownies, bake 40 minutes and a toothpick should come out with moist crumbs attached.

Cool until nearly at room temperature; then cut into bars before serving. Makes 12 squares. Source: www.natashaskitchen.com

Strawberry parfaits

As a child, there was not a better dessert than jiggly Jell-O. Have some fun and add berries to this chilled treat.

  • 1 c. boiling water 250 mL
  • 3 oz. pkg. Jell-O strawberry jelly powder 85 g
  • 2 c. ice cubes 500 mL
  • 1 c. fresh strawberries, divided 250 mL
  • 1 c. whipped cream or topping 250 mL

Add boiling water to jelly powder in medium bowl; stir two minutes until completely dissolved. Add ice; stir until jelly is slightly thickened. Remove any unmelted ice.

Reserve four strawberries for garnish. Slice remaining berries; stir into jelly. Spoon glasses or parfait cups. Refrigerate two hours or until jelly is set. Top with whipped cream or topping.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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