A last-minute Fourth of July dessert: Berries & Cream Pastry Stars

Written by Cheri of Kitchen Simplicity.

Happy Fourth of July! For those of you who may be looking for a last-minute Independence Day dessert or just something fun and summery to make on a whim, this dessert is for you. Puff pastry stars stuffed with a whipped lemon cream cheese filling and summery berries of blue and red.

Puff pastry is my go-to for last-minute desserts because no matter what you do to them, you’re guaranteed the end product is going to be delicious. Plus, you can bake them into any shape and size you want, making them a perfect compliment to any occasion.

Today I chose to roll out the puff pastry, cut out star shapes with a cookie cutter and bake until golden. Once cooled, they get stuffed with a light and fluffy lemon cream cheese filling and slices of summery sweet, fresh fruit.

They make a perfect one- or two-bite dessert for a Fourth of July barbecue, or any summer day that just needs a sweet little pick me up.

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Strawberry-Glazed Grilled Chicken Breasts

I received a Father’s Day pitch recently that made me chuckle: “Surprise him with something different,” it encouraged, and went on to suggest that Dad would love the extra thought and effort of ” – a home cooked meal”.

I guess it struck me as humorous because I thought of Danny and the some 365 home cooked meals he enjoys in a year. It wouldn’t be much of a ‘surprise’ to see the table set on this coming Sunday and dinner on its way. But I know this isn’t the case for many dads out there, and a meal, enjoyed around the home table with family, is preferred over a crowded restaurant.

This family-style platter of strawberry-glazed grilled chicken breasts and grilled asparagus is served up right off the grill and is unbeatable when it comes to ease. It’s also pretty up there with singing spring flavors too. Serve it with a side of boiled new potatoes and an ice-cold beer and the man of the house will have no complaints.

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Homemade Strawberry Vinegar and a Spinach Salad with Feta & Pine Nuts

A salad a day is de rigueur around here now that summer has arrived, which means I have to daily face my nemesis: washing greens.

As far as kitchen tasks go, I’d rather shuck corn, peel potatoes, heck, even dice an onion over washing lettuce. I’m not entirely sure why I despise it so much, but the years of salad duty – garde manger – in professional kitchens certainly didn’t spark any affection for the job, and nor did growing my own greens fan any flames.

In one particular restaurant, I was yelled at if the lettuce was gritty. Understandably. But I was also yelled at for taking too long if I took the time required to wash the greens thoroughly (a minimum of three times, if you were wondering). I couldn’t win.

Now baby spinach and beautiful red oak leaf lettuce are growing in my garden. The rain pounds down around them, splashing droplets of soil onto the undersides of their leaves and I see a summer of lettuce washing stretching ahead of me.

Making vinaigrette for my daily salads, however, is a task I do enjoy.

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Savor spring with a recipe round-up

Spring has sprung for most of us, although up here in Quebec we’re still a few weeks away from all the gorgeous local produce that comes with the season. Soon we’ll be eating berries every morning and asparagus at dinner every evening, with a spinach salad at midday.

I’ve been holding out for local berries, but I’m not sure how much longer I’ll last, as luscious berry recipes keep calling to me from places like here and here. My palate is anxious for the bright and tangy flavors of rhubarb. It’s been a long winter.

In anticipation of spring produce, and as inspiration for you Southerners already enjoying a harvest, here is a round-up of my favorite recipes featuring the fruits and vegetables of the season.

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Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade

Written by Marisa of Food in Jars.

It happens every February. Standing in line at my local produce market, buying a basket filled with local kale, potatoes and storage onions, I smell strawberries. At first I think I’m dreaming, until I glance to my right and see the display of red berries, shipped to the East coast from California or Mexico.

Knowing full well that those berries are bred for durability rather than flavor, I slip a container into my basket anyway. I’m ever hopeful that this will be the year that they’ll taste as good as they smell. [Read more…]