Super Easy Strawberries & Cream with Sherry Vinegar

I’m writing this on the morning of my 31st birthday and it feels CRAZY but, not for the obvious reasons–wrinkles where there were none before, my new found obsession with moisturizing creams, those persistent gray hairs–but, because I barely registered my 30th birthday. I was deep into pregnancy and house hunting. I had curly fries for dinner from Jack in the Box. To be fair, there was a lot happening. This year seems to be barreling by at warp speed, too. Where do these days go?! They just kind of crept up, leapfrogging over one another. It’s good, though. These super speedy days remind me to keep my eyes wide open and that sometimes simple is the order of the day. It means more time for rosé on the patio, some good conversation, and extra moments with my dudes.

This recipe for Strawberries with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream answers that call for easy-living. The elements are super simple, but still special: ripe strawberries, lush sherry vinegar, deep brown sugar, crunchy grahams, velvety whipped cream, and buttery…well, butter. I pair sherry vinegar with the berries instead of the classic balsamic because I’m having a moment with sherry vinegar and I don’t like the muddy color that happens when using balsamic. I’m also having a moment with dark brown sugar. It’s just so deep and delicious with all those dark, caramelly, molasses notes. It makes the whipped cream a little extra special and adds a pleasing sandiness to the graham crumbs. Speaking of the grahams, it’s basically the things you’d use to make a graham cracker crust–just not pressed into a pan. It’s my go-to, dead-easy, dessert these warmer months. I’ve already made it several times with good reception, plus it makes me feel like that effortless entertainer I’ve always wanted to be, instead of a frazzled weirdo. #fakeittillyoumakeit

Strawberry with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whip

I also made my first, ever, GIF! I kind of feel like a dinosaur because the tutorial I watched was basically made by an infant and I had to watch it several more times than I’d like to admit. But, here it is. I did it. It’s just a little animation of the nit-picky adjustments I made trying to style one of the shots. I mean it’s no sexy syrup-pour-shot or oozing-yolk, but maybe I’ll get there? I’m 31, I made my first GIF, and am figuring out this mom thing (or at least trying). I’m still learning things and that’s GOOD.

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Strawberries with Sherry Vinegar, Graham Crumbs, and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream

Serves 4-6

Everything in this recipe can be made in advance–making it that much easier to pull together. I wouldn’t whip the cream in advance, but you can combine the cream and brown sugar in a jar and whip just before serving.

for the berries:

1 lb. ripe, fresh strawberries stemmed and hulled

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons (more or less) dark brown sugar

for the graham crumbs:

1 sleeve graham crackers (about 9 crackers)

1 tablespoon melted, unsalted butter

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

pinch of salt

for the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sherry vinegar and brown sugar, to coat. Set aside.

Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs (I like to use a mini food processor for this, but a bag and rolling pin will work in a pinch). Place the crumbs in a bowl and stir in the melted butter, brown sugar, and salt, until well combined.

Using electric beaters or an immersion blender (or your guns and a whisk) beat the cream until it begins to thicken. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat until you get a soft peak.

Spoon the berries into bowls, top with the whipped cream, and a generous sprinkle of graham crumbs. You will probably have extra crumbs, they store well in a jar with a tight lid for several days. Use them for topping yogurt, sundaes, or more strawberries and cream! [/recipe]

 

Lemon Bar Ice Cream

Are you guys watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix? I’ve been trying not to burn through the episodes, but I mean…I love a good binge watching session and for the last 2 nights Sean and I have been watching after we put Casper down for the night. (Side-note: he’s sleeping through the night most nights now…HALLELUJAH! Queue the choir of angels)! Anyway, I kind of love it. It’s a little cheesy in my favorite way, the theme song includes the line “Females are strong as hell!” (TRUE), and I always loved Ellie Kemper as Erin in The Office, plus Tina Fey is amazing, so needless to say I’ve become a quick fan of the show. Anyway, I feel like this ice cream might be something that would blow Kimmy’s mind and definitely elicit one of her 90’s throwback exclamations (possibly my favorite thing about her character).

I mean, this ice cream has a lot of good, exciting things happening: Lemon-scented vanilla bean ice cream base, tart meyer lemon curd ripples, and crunchy, buttery shortbread cookie crumbles! I definitely used the homemade Meyer Lemon Curd I shared last week, but there’s no reason you couldn’t use store-bought. It’s creamy, rich, sweet, tangy, and has a ton of texture and totally tastes like the ice cream version of a classic lemon bar without making a batch of lemon bars and churning them into a batch of ice cream. So, “By the power vested in me as an adult who is a grown-up”, maybe have ice cream for dinner (PS, don’t ever tell my son I okay’ed that). #hasbrown-nofilter

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Lemon Bar Ice Cream

This ice cream is a riff on my favorite, easy ice cream base from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.

If you don’t have a vanilla bean, go ahead and use 2 teaspoons of extract and skip the steeping portion of the recipe.

2 cups whole milk

4 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split

zest of 1 lemon

1 cup Meyer Lemon Curd

1 1/2 cups crumbled, store-bought shortbread cookies

Prepare an ice bath in a clean sink basin or a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of milk with the cornstarch, set slurry aside. Set the cream cheese in a large bowl and stir in the salt, place a mesh strainer over the top. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan heat remaining milk with the cream. Scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and add both the scraped beans and pod to the milk and cream, as well as the lemon zest. Heat to a simmer, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod from the milk mixture and add sugar and corn syrup, reheat to a low boil. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch slurry and continue to boil, whisking, until thickened. Whisk a ladleful of the hot mixture into the cream cheese, before straining the remaining hot mixture into the cream cheese mixture and whisk to combine. Prepare an ice bath and pour the hot ice cream base into a large plastic bag. Chill bag in ice bath until cooled and process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.

Once the ice cream is processed, layer 1/3 of the ice cream in the bottom of a lidded container, spoon 1/3 of the lemon curd over the top and sprinkle with 1/3 of the crumbled shortbread cookies. Repeat these steps with the remaining ice cream, curd, and cookies. Fit the lid over the container and freeze for several hours, until set. Serve with additional cookies and lemon curd, if you want. [/recipe]

 

Spicy Orange-Bourbon Hot Chocolate

How was your Thanksgiving weekend? Ours was good. It was easy and fun. I made this Chocolate Mousse Pie with Phyllo Crust and it was SO GOOD and much simpler to make than I anticipated. I’m obsessed with it and plan to make it for Christmas, since my brother loves chocolate pie and this version is my new favorite. I also mades these dinner rolls and the mashed potatoes–which I kept warm in the slow cooker and it’s totally my new favorite trick. I also learned that I find rice-ing potatoes super satisfying. It’s on par with melon-balling. I’m a weirdo. Casper snatched a handful of stuffing from Sean’s plate, but luckily he couldn’t figure out how to put it in his mouth (since he’s not on solids yet) and ended up just sucking on the back of his hand instead.  It was pretty funny.

In lieu of Black Friday shopping, I stayed at home in my jams all day, did a bit of online shopping, and decked the dang halls because I LOVE CHRISTMAS. I love it, guys. A lot.

I also made this spicy, boozey, hot chocolate. Sean and his brother had some after kicking the soccer ball around at the park and I’m pretty sure it was the perfect warm-up since it was super cold and windy out there. It’s made with chopped chocolate, so it’s super-rich and creamy. There’s also orange zest in there, which cuts the richness a bit and adds a ton of flavor. The cayenne is spicy and brings on another level of heat, while the bourbon warms everything up in the way only bourbon can.

It’s seriously so good. This may be the winter of hot chocolate. I hope you don’t mind.

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Spicy Orange-Bourbon Hot Chocolate

Makes 2-3 servings

2 cups whole milk

2-3 large pieces of orange peel

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

2 ounces bourbon

whipped cream, additional chopped chocolate, and cayenne for topping

In a saucepan combine the milk with the orange peel and cayenne. Warm the milk over medium heat in a saucepan until small bubbles begin to appear around the edges and the milk begins to steam. Try to avoid boiling it. Turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, then cover with a lid and let it sit for a minute or two before whisking to combine. Whisk in the bourbon and pour into 2 or 3 mugs, top generously with whipped cream and a sprinkle of chopped chocolate and cayenne.

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