Blueberry Cheesecake Ice-Cream

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Blueberry season is winding down! This to me means two things…get to a u-pick farm FAST for several pounds of the blue gems and finding as many ways to use them up throughout the year as possible!

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Throughout the past several years, July has become the month of continuing our family tradition of picking blueberries at a local farm! I get all excited as soon the farms open for the season. I immediately start to think about how many pounds to pick so I have enough to freeze for the rest of the year. Usually, if we pick about 15 pounds or so, they last till about March or April. That’s a lot of picking! And perhaps that’s why my kids never get super excited about getting ready for this day! I guess the summer heat, rivers of sweat pouring down your back and all the patient work to pick the bluest berries could possibly make you a bit less excited! 🙂 But, to their credit, they always go with us, try their best to do their part, and even have a bit of fun!

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So, after couple of hours of sweating buckets in the scorching sun, we managed to pick almost 13 pounds, little shy of what I would have ideally liked! After sorting through, rinsing, drying and freezing most of the berries, I saved just enough to try hand at my first batch of ice cream – blueberry cheesecake ice cream, combining two of my favorite things!

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The original recipe is found on the Eagle Brand website. With couple of minor tweaks, including substituting bit of milk for some of the heavy cream and incorporating crushed graham crackers, the ice cream turned out to be quite something! Although the recipe called for at least 4 hours of freezing, mine didn’t quite freeze to an ice cream consistency at 4 hours. But that didn’t stop me from serving this as soft serve for dessert following dinner. It was delicious! I did have enough to let freeze all the way. Next day, it was perfect! You may need to let the container stay at room temperature for about 5 minutes to make it easy to scoop.

This is the scoop served "soft-serve"

This is the scoop served “soft-serve”

This recipe is super easy to whip up! Literally! So, go ahead and give it a try! You will be happy you did!

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Blueberry Cheesecake Ice-Cream

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 container sweetened condensed milk
1/2 package reduced-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup crushed graham crackers

Preparation:
1. In a small pan, simmer blueberries, lemon juice and sugar till the berries start to burst. Continue to simmer for about 5 minutes till the sauce thickens a little. Remove from heat and let come to room temperature.
2. In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream till stiff peaks form. Keep aside while you proceed to the next step.
3. In another medium bowl, using hand held mixer, combine the condensed milk, milk and cream cheese till smooth. Add vanilla and the lemon zest.
4. Slowly incorporate the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture.
5. Layer one third of the blueberry mixture into a plastic container (with a tight lid). Ladle in 1/2 of the ice-cream base. Sprinkle a tablespoon of crushed graham crackers. Now, gently swirl the two layers. Repeat with the remaining berry mixture, ice-cream base and graham crackers. Cover and freeze till completely set. This will take about 4-5 hours.

Serving tip: Let the ice-cream stay at room temperature for about 5 minutes to make it easy to scoop! Serve with additional blueberries and a sprinkling of crushed graham crackers!

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Blueberry Preserves

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OMG friends! I missed posting here! It’s been rough few weeks!

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It so happened that a mishap occurred with my laptop….it “somehow” got drowned from the bottom and stopped working! Yes, I nearly crumbled into nothingness when I turned on the laptop and it made this whirring sound. My heart sank knowing something was terribly wrong! The screen was black. I almost collapsed thinking of the many photos saved on it! Can they be retrieved somehow? What about my computer time? Sure, I could have used one of the backup units, but somehow I felt I needed to wait till mine got at least some sort of a CPR.

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Long story and ordeal cut short, my laptop did get fixed. Although it took a bit of time (partly because I was too busy preparing for my extended family’s visit and work to bug my husband to do something about it), the unit is back to action – thanks to my brother and my husband!

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So, I couldn’t think of any better recipe to post but a wonderful, delectable, vibrant, fresh from the garden to a jar, blueberry preserve!

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Yesterday, we had gone blueberry picking. We picked several pounds and after freezing most and saving some for eating fresh, I used up a bunch to make two 16-oz jars of delicious preserves.

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If you can get past the beautiful hue of the preserve, I assure you that you will be greatly rewarded by the taste of the spread on a lightly buttered toast or spread on a split muffin or scone! Yummmm….so what are you waiting for??!! Grab the few things you need to start twirling the kitchen, will you!

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Bright and Sunny Blueberry Preserve

  • Servings: two 16-oz jars
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Ingredients
3 1/2 cups of crushed blueberries
2 tablespoons sure-jell low-sugar pectin
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup stevia
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preparation:
1. Prepare the fruit by crushing rinsed blueberries. Scoop 3 1/2 cups of the crushed fruit and pour into a small sauce pan.
2. Place over medium-low heat and add the pectin.
3. Stir the pectin into the fruit and cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Add the sugar and stevia and continue cooking the fruit for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. The fruit may start to bubble and froth up. Stir in the butter to help reduce the froth.
6. While the fruit is cooking, place the two jars in a medium pot of simmering water and warm for about 5 minutes.
7. Remove the jars from the water, letting all the water drain out. Scoop the cooked fruits into the jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of head space. Place the lid and the ring and lightly tighten the lids.
8. Place the jars back into the pan with hot water and simmer for about 10 minutes. Make sure the water mark is well below the lid.
9. Remove the jars from the water and transfer the jars to the refrigerator to cool.
10. Check for seal after about 24 hours. You will see that when properly sealed, the lid will be slightly depressed down.

Enjoy!

Berry Delicious Strawberry Sauce

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You can spoon it over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, drizzle over freshly made waffles, use it to dunk pancake bits cooked in ebelskiver pan or use it in whatever else you like! I am talking about a simple yet berry delicious strawberry sauce!

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So, you already saw my post about my first ever strawberry preserve recipe! So, here is another recipe using the gorgeous berries! Feel free to cut down the sugar as much as you want – less sugar you use, chunkier the sauce will be, but I promise you, it will still be super delish!

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All you need for this recipe is a good amount of fresh berries, bit of sugar and a splash of water! Yes, just three ingredients!

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Berry Delicious Strawberry Sauce

  • Servings: About 1 1/4 cups
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Ingredients
2 heaping cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and patted dry
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Preparation
1. Combine sugar and water in a small pan and bring to a simmer.
2. Add 1/2 the strawberries to the pan to lightly soften the berries. Scoop the berries out of the sugar syrup and set aside in a small bowl.
3. Repeat with remaining berries.
4. Bring the syrup to a low boil and continue cooking till it reduces to a syrupy consistency. If any juices accumulate in the bowl with the berries, strain into the simmering sauce.
5. When syrup is your preferred consistency, turn the heat off and pour over the berries.
6. Chill the sauce in the refrigerator till ready to use.

 

Easy Summer Berry Preserve

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Warm weather is here and that means strawberries! Bright, red, juicy berries so full of flavor and nutrition that you can enjoy in many ways! That brings me to canning!

I have long admired the talent, passion and patience of folks who make it their summer mission to not only source season’s freshest produce, but also take the time to prepare and preserve them for months to come! When we visited our friends last winter, we had the opportunity to sample some homemade jams and preserves! They tasted so pure and delicious! Best of all, they were free of commercial preservatives and had significantly less added sugar. My friend insisted it was so simple to make! OK!

Since then, I sort of dabbled with the thought of trying my hands at making some homemade jam myself but kept putting it off! So, when the strawberry season came around, I just had to take the plunge! So, we went to the local farm to pick some berries. Ahh….what an enjoyable experience! From toddlers to grandparents, it was an afternoon of fun for everyone!

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After a bit of crawling around on piles of hay and red fingers, I managed to keep the family working long enough to pile on about 10 lbs of berries! That was the easy part! Seriously! The hardest part is setting aside the time to sort through, rinse, hull, blot and prepare the fruits!

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Since this is the first time making preserves, I wanted to make just enough to fill a few 16-oz jars!

After seeing how much added sugar is in a traditional homemade or store bought jam/preserve, I wanted to control the amount of sugar in my recipe. I heard from a fellow shopper in the pectin aisle that stevia has a weird taste and flavor and she uses raw turbinado sugar to reduce the amount of added sugar. After a bit of contemplation and a quick Google session, I decided to try a combination of few sweeteners – raw turbinado, stevia and regular refined sugar! So, after grabbing a small jar of pectin (for low/no sugar recipes), a large bag of stevia (swallow) and a pouch of turbinado, I raced to get a few canning jars! Armed with a dozen Canning jars, I started to feel like a pro!

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Once you clean and prepare the fruits (or if you are lucky, recruit family and friends to do it for you!), rest of the process is very quick and easy.

After a few minutes of cooking, you are ready to scoop into sterilized jars and seal for later! See, I told you the cooking process is easy!

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NOTE ABOUT TASTE/TEXTURE: After opening many a jar of store-bought jelly and preserves, the look of this preserve closely resembles other low-sugar versions you get at the store. It’s not as “glossy” looking as regular sugar versions, but I didn’t mind it much. It tastes great and most importantly it was a winner with my kids!

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This recipe is a winner even for the most challenged cook! So, give this a try and see for yourself! You still have a few days left of the strawberry season in your local area, so make it a berry fun weekend!

Easy Summer Berry Preserve

  • Servings: 3 16-oz jars
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Ingredients
4 cups of crushed fresh berries
1/2 cup refined sugar
1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
1/2 cup stevia
3/4 cup water or strawberry juice
6 tablespoons fruit pectin for low/no sugar recipe
1 teaspoon butter, optional
3 16-oz canning jars with lids

Preparation
1. Wash the canning jars and the two-part lids with dish soap and warm water. Bring a large, wide pan of water to a low simmer and place the jars and the lids. Keep them in the water till the preserve is ready to be poured in.
2. Scoop the crushed berries, sugars and water into a large, heavy bottom pan and place over medium heat.
3. Add the pectin, while continuously stirring so as not to allow the pectin to clump up.
4. Stir in the butter. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a rolling boil.
5. Continue to maintain the boil for 2-3 minutes and turn off heat.
6. Using tongs, carefully remove one jar at a time and spoon (or funnel) in the hot preserves, leaving about 1/4″ – 1/2″ space at the top. Using tongs, remove the flat lid from the water and place on the jar. Wipe away any spills from the rim and sides and seal using the lid rings. Repeat with remaining preserves.
7. Place the filled jars into a water bath with boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, wipe down the jars and place in the refrigerator.
8. Check for seal after about 24 hours. Lid should not have any bounce when you press on top. Your bottled preserves are ready for storage or giving away as gifts.

Berry-licious Scones

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Happy Mother’s day ladies! I hope all you moms out there have a wonderful day tomorrow! I know, I know, we are supposed to stay in bed till breakfast is ready and not worry about anyone spilling hot coffee on themselves or burning their fingers in the stove or oven etc. And your kids ordered you to just take it easy and relax the whole day! THE WHOLE DAY! Yikes!

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Am I the only weird one out there that finds it near impossible to just sit still and watch all the rumblings in the kitchen. You know, I am OK with the family CLEANING, DOING LAUNDRY etc., but when it comes to cooking or any kitchen related task, I think I develop some sort of an anxiety. Hmmm….maybe not so much anxiety, but perhaps a longing to be in there, in my kitchen, where I am always ME!

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Yes, for the love of my kids, I will let them do what they please on Sunday! But I couldn’t help but share with you a pre-Mother’s day recipe that is likely to be a winner! I came across this recipe at http://www.averiecooks.com. I modified the recipe only slightly by replacing half the flour with white whole wheat. I am starting to fall in love with KAF white whole wheat!

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Scones are an indulgence of mine! I especially like the cinnamon-pecan and chocolate chunk ones! Yum. But in honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to make a batch with berries! Personally I think there is something about Mother’s Day and BERRIES! These berry-licious scones are light, almost muffiny and delicious! I hope you get to make them and enjoy! WARNING: The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the scones to cool so you could drizzle the lemon glaze and devour it in one inhale! 🙂

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Berry-licious Scones

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 heaping cup mixed berries of your choice (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoons of coarse or turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

Lemon Glaze
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon (slightly less) lemon juice

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
3. Using two forks or pastry cutter, incorporate the cold butter into the dry mix (just like how you prepare a pie crust). Once the butter is sufficiently incorporated, the flour mixture will resemble very coarse crumbs. (This is one of the least favorite tasks in the kitchen for me – for no good reason!)
4. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl. Stir in the sour cream, vanilla and lemon zest.
5. Fun begins. Gently stir in the wet ingredients into the dry mix just until barely incorporated. Like with muffins, pancake batter etc., over mixing will result in tougher end product. The “dough” will be rather sticky and wet, but avoid the temptation to grab more flour for a CPR!
6. Fold in the berries. If using frozen berries, do not thaw them prior to using.
7. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface (use about couple of tablespoons of flour for the surface) and gently knead to bring the dough together. Just a few movements. If the dough is too sticky to form into a general circle or square, add another tablespoon of flour, but no more.
8. Pat the dough into a circle about ….diameter and ….thick. Alternatively you can form the dough into a square …x….. For circle, cut it into 8 wedges. For square, cut initially into 4 squares and each square diagonally into 2 triangles. You didn’t know you were going to use geometry here, did you? 🙂
9. Using a spatula, transfer the scones to the parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with turbinado or coarse sugar if desired. Bake the scones for about 15-18 minutes till the top is lightly golden.
10. Remove from oven, let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.
11. GLAZE: Mix the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle about a teaspoon on top of each scone. Let the glaze set prior to serving.

ENJOY!