Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry Salsa | Pinky's Pantry
I saw the Pioneer Woman make this on TV one weekend and decided to try it. I wasn’t disappointed. It was delicious! This salsa is great served with grilled fish or chicken. You could probably serve it as an appetizer with tortilla chips, too.

STRAWBERRY SALSA

  • 2 pints strawberries, hulled and diced
  • ½ small red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a bowl, combine strawberries, red onion, red pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice together.
  2. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Before serving, taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lime juice or salt and pepper, if desired.
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Strawberry Cream Cake

Strawberry Cream Cake | Pinky's PantryIt’s Bashful’s birthday today. She’s turning 23. Where did the years go? It’s so true that time flies faster the older you get. Like her namesake, Bashful is shy and sweet and kind-hearted. Been that way since she was a little girl. She spoke just fine at home, but hardly said two words outside. Without fail, every new teacher she had would call me at the beginning of each school year to ask if things were alright at home because she never said a word in class. I would have to explain that that was just her way but if they called on her to answer, she would, even if she hadn’t raised her hand. She answered in this tiny little soft-spoken voice, but she answered. She’s all grown up now but when I look at her, I still see that quiet little girl who always stood to one side silently watching the world with big, solemn eyes and a shy smile.

This morning I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday and of course, she asked for her favorite Strawberry Cream Cake. Its always been her favorite and that hasn’t changed over the years. I’m not surprised. This cake is so fabulously good. I make a moist vanilla cake for the base, use sliced fresh strawberries in the filling, and cover it up with a fluffy whipped cream frosting. It’s Yummy with a capital Y!
Strawberry Cream Cake | Pinky's Pantry

STRAWBERRY CREAM CAKE

Vanilla Cake:

  • 3 cups all­ purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Spray three 9-­inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper, then spray the paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  4. Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until creamy.
  5. Slowly pour in the sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, stopping periodically to scrape down the bowl as needed.
  7. Then add the vanilla, beating until well-combined.
  8. Reduce speed to low and add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions.
  9. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing tops with a spatula.
  10. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  11. Place cake pans on a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  12. Invert cakes, peel off parchment paper, then re-invert so cakes are top side up.
  13. Cool completely before frosting. Trim tops off to make cakes level if desired.

Strawberry Filling:

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries
  • 2 tbsp. sugar, or to taste
  1. Hull, wash, and slice strawberries.
  2. Toss in a bowl with sugar and set aside until ready to use.

Whipped Cream Frosting:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar, add more or less as desired
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla, optional
  1. Place mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.
  2. Place whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl. Add more sugar if you want it sweeter or less if you want it less sweet.
  3. Beat until stiff peaks form.

NOTE:

  • If you want really white frosting, omit the vanilla or use clear vanilla extract.
  • If you have cake strips, use them! They really help the cakes to rise up evenly with nice, level tops.

Mini Lemon Mousse and Berry Trifles with Puff Pastry Stars

Lemon Mousse and Berry Trifles | Pinky's Pantry
I wanted to come up with a new red-white-and-blue dessert for our 4th of July Barbecue this year and thought it would be nice to make individual little trifles. My daughter, Bashful, helped me with these. She’s becoming quite the little sous chef.

These trifles are easy to make because there’s very little baking involved which is perfect for this hot summer weather. I did bake the graham cracker crust, though if you don’t feel like baking it, you could very easily use the crust unbaked. If you want to decorate the trifles with puff pastry stars like I did, those don’t require much more than 10 minutes of baking time either.

I made these in little shot glasses, but you could use little mason jars, small disposable clear plastic cups, or any other small, clear containers you have that would show the red, white and blue layers. If your strawberries aren’t very sweet, sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar before assembling. Also, depending on how many mini trifles you’re making, you could end up with extra graham cracker crust. I just use it to make a pie.
Lemon Mousse and Berry Trifles | Pinky's Pantry

MINI LEMON MOUSSE AND BERRY TRIFLES

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ⅓ cup melted butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ⅓ jar purchased lemon curd (or you could make your own)
  • fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into the size of blueberries
  • fresh blueberries

GRAHAM CRACKER CRUMB CRUST

For a baked crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. With a fork, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar together.
  3. Press the mixture into the bottom of a baking pan.
  4. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until crust begins to brown at the edges.
  5. Set aside to cool completely.

For a no-bake crust:

  1. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar together with a fork.
  2. Place about a tablespoon of mixture into bottom of each shot glass and press down with the handle of a wooden spoon.
  3. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

LEMON MOUSSE

  1. With an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Add 1/3 of a jar of lemon curd and continue to beat until well-combined.
  3. Taste the mousse and see how you like it. If you want it more lemony, beat in more lemon curd, a tablespoon at a time, until it tastes the way you want it.

TO ASSEMBLE THE MINI TRIFLES

  1. Take the baked and cooled graham cracker crust and crumble it up with a fork. If you’re doing the no-bake crust, you can skip this step.
  2. Place about a tablespoon of crumbled graham cracker crust into the bottom of your shot glass and press it flat with the handle of a wooden spoon.
  3. Place lemon mousse into a piping bag and pipe a layer of mousse over the crust.
  4. Sprinkle some blueberries over the lemon mousse.
  5. Pipe another layer of lemon mousse over the blueberries.
  6. Sprinkle chopped strawberries over the lemon mousse.
  7. Pipe a little dollop of lemon mousse right on top.
  8. If desired, decorate each trifle with a puff pastry star (recipe follows).

Puff Pastry Stars | Pinky's Pantry

PUFF PASTRY STARS

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • pearl white sparkling sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Cut out stars from puff pastry sheet using a star cookie cutter.
  3. Transfer pastry stars to a non-stick cookie sheet.
  4. Brush each star with a little melted butter.
  5. Sprinkle top of each star with sparkling sugar.
  6. Bake for about 10 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
  7. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

NOTE:  I also bake the little scraps of leftover puff pastry dough. After cutting out the stars, I take the little leftover scraps and lay them on another cookie sheet. Brush the scraps with melted butter and sprinkle regular sugar on them, then bake them together with the stars. Hand them out to the kids to snack on and voila! Nothing wasted at my house!

Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcake | Pinky's Pantry
I picked up some lovely end-of-season strawberries at the Farmers Market yesterday so decided to make Strawberry Shortcakes. After all, who doesn’t love Strawberry Shortcakes? It’s a timeless, classic American dessert that was invented in the late 19th century and hasn’t lost any of its appeal since then. I’ll admit, it’s not a dessert that I grew up eating in the Philippines. However, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with it shortly after we moved to the US. The toasty outside and tender inside of the shortcakes, the sweet strawberries swimming in their own syrupy juice, the billowy, lightly-sweetened whipped cream, all combine to make a delicious dessert that leaves you wanting to lick every last bit off your plate.

I’ve seen it made in different ways, from a version that layers yellow cake with strawberries and cream, to Paula Deen’s version which uses angel food cake and which, though delicious, to my mind is actually a trifle. I’m of the old school that believes classic American Strawberry Shortcakes should be made with biscuits. They’re called shortcakes because the butter (or shortening) in the dough makes them tender like cake. They really aren’t hard to make and the individual desserts look so impressive on the plate. Plus, they’re absolutely delicious. Yep…… I licked my plate clean.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKES

Strawberries:

  • 4-6 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1/3 cup sugar (use more or less depending on how sweet your strawberries are)
  1. Cut the strawberries in half and place them in a bowl.
  2. Stir the sugar into the strawberries, adding more or less as needed.
  3. Let the bowl of strawberries sit covered in the refrigerator to release their juices while you prepare the biscuits.

NOTE:  If you want the strawberry juices to form a thicker sauce, you could mash up to a third of the strawberries with a potato masher. I opted for a thinner sauce and left all my strawberry halves as is.

Biscuits:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp. baking powder
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 cups cream (can substitute buttermilk, half-and-half, or milk)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • a little extra cream for brushing over top of biscuits
  • sanding sugar for sprinkling over biscuits
  1. Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles pea-size crumbs.
  4. Stir the vanilla into the cream.
  5. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the cream.
  6. Mix with a fork until the dough just comes together.
  7. Gather the dough and gently knead 4 or 5 times. If the dough seems dry, add more cream, a teaspoon at a time, until evenly moistened.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a 3/4 to 1-inch thick square.
  9. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°F.
  10. Take dough out of refrigerator and cut into 9 squares. Use a sharp knife dipped in flour and cut straight down without dragging the knife back and forth.
  11. Separate the squares leaving a 1 to 2 inch space between each.
  12. Brush tops with a little of the extra cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  13. Bake about 15 minutes or until tops are light brown.
  14. Set biscuits aside while you make the whipped cream.

Whipped Cream: 

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
  1. Pour the cream into the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until it begins to thicken.
  2. Sprinkle powdered sugar over cream and continue whipping until soft peaks form.
  3. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

To Assemble:

  1. Slice the shortcakes in half horizontally with a serrated knife.
  2. Place the shortcake bottoms onto 9 dessert plates.
  3. Spoon some fresh strawberries with their juice over each shortcake.
  4. Top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
  5. Place the shortcake tops over the whipped cream.
  6. Spoon more strawberries and whipped cream over the shortcake tops.
  7. Place a little strawberry half over the whipped cream to decorate.

Strawberry Panna Cotta

Strawberry Panna Cotta | Pinky's Pantry
Panna Cotta is an Italian custard dessert. Panna Cotta literally means “cooked cream.” My kids love Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta which I usually serve with different fruit sauces, but since strawberries are in season, I thought I would try making Strawberry Panna Cotta by switching the vanilla bean for strawberry extract and making a strawberry sauce. They liked it a lot so I made it again to take to my sister’s house for Labor Day. It was a hit.
Strawberry Panna Cotta | Pinky's Pantry

STRAWBERRY PANNA COTTA

  • 1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 cups cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. strawberry extract
  • few drops of pink baker’s gel food coloring (or red grocery store food coloring)
  • fresh strawberries and mint leaves, for garnish
  1. In a small bowl, soften gelatin in cold water; set aside.
  2. Place cream, sugar and strawberry extract in a saucepan.
  3. Stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
  4. Simmer gently for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add gelatin to hot cream mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves.
  6. Stir in a few drops of food coloring until mixture reaches the shade of pink desired. This is optional. You could skip the food coloring if you want.
  7. Pour into 6 lightly oiled 1/2 cup ramekins or other small containers and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  8. Once panna cottas are firm, pour a little strawberry sauce on top.
  9. Decorate with sliced strawberries and mint leaves, if desired.

STRAWBERRY SAUCE

  • 1-1/2 cups strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • sugar to taste
  1. Blend strawberries and orange juice together until smooth.
  2. Add sugar to taste. How much sugar you add will depend on how sweet your strawberries are. Just add in one tablespoon at a time until it’s as sweet as you want it.

Fresh Strawberries with Citrus Dip

Citrus Dip | Pinky's PantryIt’s strawberry season in California. We’re seeing them everywhere – in the groceries, at the farmers market, and displayed for sale on folding tables set up on the side of the roads. They’re big, red, juicy, and oh-so-good! The strawberries are so delicious, they really don’t need any embellishment, but my kids love dunking them in this easy Citrus Dip, which goes great with any fruit, though strawberries are our favorite dunkers.
Citrus Dip | Pinky's Pantry

CITRUS DIP

  • 1 8-oz. box cream cheese
  • 1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • sugar
  1. With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Blend in frozen orange juice concentrate, adding more or less to taste.
  3. Add sugar to taste.