Eton Mess On A Stick

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Eton Mess (a traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, whipped cream, and crushed meringues) is my kids’ new favorite reason for livin’/snack. This afternoon they were happily introduced to meringues. Then we smashed them into bits! It was great.

I even put them to work making their own snack. Here they are whipping some cream and smashing meringues.

They are very focused.

But the pay-off for all their hard work is deemed worth it.

A sure sign that a snack is a winner is when my children, who are usually nice enough to humor me, refuse to stop eating so I can take a couple photos. [/donotprint]

Eton Mess On A Stick Recipe

This recipe actually works best with huge industrial-strength California strawberries. The beefy berries hold their own on skewers better than I imagine delicate local berries would. They also have more square footage for the whipped cream and meringue to cling to. For the meringues I took the easy route and used Trader Joe’s Vanilla Meringues, but feel free to make your own, especially if you have a ton of egg whites and sugar waiting to be used.

1 pound strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved lengthwise
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 medium meringue cookies

Pour the cream and vanilla into a small bowl. Whip the cream mixture until peaks form. Set aside.

Place the meringues in a sandwich bag or under a towel and gently smash the cookies into tiny bits with the flat side of a meat tenderizer.

Stab the berries with a small bamboo skewer. (Cut off the pointy tips if your little ones can’t be trusted not to poke themselves in the eye.) Dip the berries into the crushed meringues, the whipped cream, and then maybe the crushed meringues one more time. Consume immediately.

Yield: 3 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes

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Valentine’s Day Snack: Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

Well, life is back to normal I guess. We’re all done being television stars around here. My seven-year-old is so over it. She watched the video in the previous post at school yesterday and hasn’t asked to see it again. I watched the show a couple times yesterday. I’m at the point where I’m starting to notice everything I did wrong and am obsessing about what I should have said and done to plug the blog more. But hopefully I’ll get over myself very soon. Considering it was my first time on camera, I’m just glad I wasn’t a total train wreck.

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I’ve got time to squeeze in one more snack. Normally, I try to stay away from smoothie recipes simply because I love the impromptu act of throwing a smoothie together based on whatever you happen to have on hand. But I’m making an exception for this one because it’s so easy and perfect for the holiday.

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie Recipe

1/2 cup silken tofu or plain yogurt
8-10 frozen strawberries, preferably organic
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small to medium-sized banana
1/4 cup orange juice
Chocolate syrup, for garnish

Place the tofu, strawberries, vanilla, banana, and orange juice in a blender. Process until smooth. Pour into cups and garnish with a swirl of chocolate syrup. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Homemade Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups

I’ve seen plenty of recipes for fruit leather using very low temperatures in a traditional oven. But I freed myself from having to fool around with that when I bought myself a refurbished food dehydrator for Mother’s Day a couple years ago.

I find myself using the machine more during the summer and the fall when we are suddenly surrounded by fresh local produce. And since we’re on the go so much more during the summer, I’m sure we’ll have no problem using up whatever I can find time to make.

There is a great deal of flexibility in this recipe. I’ve used all different kinds of berries along with the applesauce.

2 cups unsweetened applesauce, preferably organic*
1 pint fresh strawberries, preferably organic*

Lightly grease two dehydrator tray liners and place them on trays. (My trays are 15-inches square. You may need more or less trays if your machine isn’t a similar size.) Set aside.

Wash and hull the strawberries. Combine strawberries and applesauce in a medium mixing bowl. Puree the mixture with an immersion/hand blender until smooth.

Transfer half of the mixture to each prepared tray and spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon until it is approximately 1/4-inch thick. A large offset spatula might do an even better job of spreading.

Place trays in dehydrator for 4-20 hours depending on the machine, thickness of puree, etc. Set temperature to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Mine only takes about 5 hours at this temperature. Rotate the trays a couple times if you think of it.

When the puree has dried completely (I always seem to have one stubborn thick spot.) remove it from the tray and cut it into 2-inch wide strips. Layer strips with wax paper and store in an airtight bag or container. The roll ups, if completely dry, will keep for months.

Yield: 13 2 x 12-inch strips
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Dehydration-time: 4-20 hours

*Note: I encourage using organic ingredients in this recipe because the food, along with any pesticides it may contain, is concentrated by the process of dehydration. At least, that’s what I read somewhere once. I’m not entirely sure if it’s really an issue.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

I don’t know about you, but our summer is off to a good start…

Gone are the orange and brown days of winter. The berries are finally here! 

 

1 pint (3 cups) fresh strawberries
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips OR chocolate chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil

Wash strawberries. Spread them out on a towel to dry completely.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate and coconut oil in a microwaveable cup, mug, or small bowl. Gently microwave the chocolate and coconut oil for 2 minutes at very low power (10 or 20 percent). Check the chocolate and stir if possible. Microwave for another minute on low power and keep checking until the chocolate is mostly melted. Stir vigorously until the remaining chocolate is melted and well combined with the oil.

If you don’t have a microwave, you can melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium low heat.

Dip the strawberries in the melted chocolate. Place on a sheet of wax paper. The chocolate will set in a about five minutes. Serve.

Yield: approximately 24 strawberries
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Strawberries with Balsamic Syrup

We are up to our elbows in fresh picked native strawberries right now. And I  wouldn’t have it any other way. Early in the season, we eat them raw for breakfast and snacks. But if this summer plays out like the last, I’ll gradually have to get more inventive in order to keep the strawberry magic alive in my household.

We served this as dessert after dinner tonight and it was a big hit. I sliced up the berries while my first-grader tended the vinegar on the stove. It was all done in a few minutes and the kids gave it a double thumbs up.

I didn’t use bargain basement balsamic for this syrup, but I didn’t use the super expensive variety either.

2 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Wash, hull and slice the strawberries. Place the berries in two small bowls and set aside.

Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 5 minutes until thickened. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over the strawberries. Serve.

Yield: 2 servings
Prep-time: 10 minutes

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Traffic Light

For this simple and healthy little snack I created a circular pineapple shape by squishing two pieces of fresh cut pineapple together and rough cutting them into a circle. My guess is that your children will be perfectly happy with or without  the quasi-perfect circle shapes. Where my kids have the most fun is making it themselves, the wonkier and goofier looking the better.

Fresh strawberry, fresh pineapple, and fresh kiwi, sliced 1/2-inch thick

Thread fruit onto bamboo skewer* or lollipop stick. Serve.

*Note: I’m guessing bamboo skewers should not be put in the hands of most children under the age of 3, possibly 4. I cut off the pointy tips after assembly. A safer option might be lollipop sticks; pre-punch holes in the food and let the younger ones assemble on their own.

Yield: variable
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Valentine Volcano

Here we have a chocolate meringue with fresh whipped cream and crushed strawberries – a mini pavlova. 

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As I was preparing the meringues, my husband was kind enough to tell me they look like pertrified dog poop. So I guess this snack doesn’t score a 10 for presentation, but the kids didn’t seem bothered in the least.

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This recipe is substantially lower in sugar than any other pavlova recipe I’ve seen.  It’s a relatively light snack all around, except for the whipped cream. But you can’t not have the whipped cream.

 For the meringue:

3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped very fine

For the whipped cream:

1/2 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons sugar

For the strawberries:

6 frozen strawberries (about 1/3 cup), thawed
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a standing electric mixer, whip the egg whites, sugar, cocoa powder, and vinegar on medium-high speed until semi-stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the chocolate pieces with a rubber spatula. Spoon the meringue mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet about a 1/3 cup at a time. Create a heart shape, if desired.

Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until outer shell has formed and the meringues are not terribly difficult to remove from the parchment. Allow to cool on the pan.

Meanwhile, make your whipped cream by pouring the heavy cream and sugar into a bowl and beating it with an electric mixer until peaks form. If it’s an especially hot day, put the bowl in the freezer for a while before you begin. Store the whipped cream an airtight container in the refrigerator until the meringues are ready.

Meanwhile, drain any excess liquid off the strawberries. Crush the berries and sugar in a small bowl with a fork until they are broken down. Cover and keep at room temperature until the meringues are ready.

To assemble simply place a dollop of whipped cream on top of each meringue and top with 1-2 teaspoons of crushed strawberries. Serve immediately.

Yield: 10 mini heart-shaped pavlovas
Prep-time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 1 1/2 hours

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Peaches with Strawberry Sauce

If you don’t have champagne vinegar, try replacing it with fresh squeezed lemon juice. I’m in love with the sauce just the way it is though.

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1 cup frozen organic unsweetened strawberries, thawed
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
4 ripe organic peaches, pitted and sliced
Whipped cream (optional)

In a blender, puree strawberries, vinegar, and sugar until smooth. Set aside. Divide the peach slices between four small bowls. Top with 2-3 tablespoons of the the strawberry puree. Add a dollop of whipped cream if desired. Serve.

Makes 3-4 servings.
Prep time: 10 minutes

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Strawberries and Cream

[donotprint]I had to swoop in at the last minute and shove the camera in front of the bowl so I could even get a photo of this. ‘nuf said.[/donotprint]

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1 pint fresh organic strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream

Wash, hull and slice berries. In a small bowl, pour sugar over berries and toss gently to coat. Add cream and toss gently again. Serve in bowls.

Makes two servings.

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