Berry Smoothie Pie

Berry Smoothie Pie

Berry Smoothie Pie

Looking for a quick-to-make dessert for the weekend?  This one is it!

Smoothies are the “in” drink now-a-days.  They can contain just about any combination of ingredients that are compatible and taste good together.  All vegetables, all fruits, some yogurt, grains or seeds;  the possibilities are endless.   Most of us enjoy a smoothie because it’s cool and refreshing and if made with some thought to ingredients, can be quite nutritious.

One of my favorite kinds of smoothie is made with strawberries, yogurt and almond milk with an occasional banana added for thickness.  Today’s recipe for Berry Smoothie Pie grew out of my love of strawberry smoothies.  Wanting to capture all the luscious flavor of fresh strawberries, but without the added sugar, I started with strawberry sugar-free gelatin.  I dissolved it in cranberry juice, then added a small cup of strawberry blended Greek yogurt, and lots of sliced strawberries.  I blended this all in the blender and poured it into a cookie crumb pie crust;  let it chill until set, then served it with a dollop of low-fat whipped topping. I must say  this pie is “berry, berry good”.  It’s quick and easy to make, cuts cleanly, it’s cool and refreshing and tastes great.  What more can you ask of a summertime desert?



Yield:  8 servings


  • 1 package sugar-free strawberry gelatin ( raspberry would be good, too)
  • 1/3 cup low-cal, low-sugar, cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup ( 6-oz.) low-fat Greek yogurt ( strawberry or raspberry)
  • 3 cups chopped berries ( strawberries or raspberries)
  • 1  (9-inch) graham cracker or sugar cookie crust
  • Fat-free whipped topping


1.  In a small microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle gelatin over juice, let stand 1 minute.  Microwave on high 40 seconds.  Stir, and let stand 1 minute for gelatin to completely dissolve.

IMG_7604               2.  In a blender container, combine gelatin mixture, yogurt and berries. Process until blended and smooth.


Pour into crust and chill 4 hours.  Serve with whipped topping.IMG_7605













SOURCE:   This is a major revision of an old recipe from Taste of Home.



Layered Strawberry-Coconut Panna Cotta

Strawberry-Coconut Panna Cotta

Strawberry-Coconut Panna Cotta

After this year’s seemingly never ending winter, it’s a joy to see the arrival of spring and the arrival of fresh vegetables like asparagus, baby artichokes, and new beets.  Early fruits include rhubarb and strawberries, and I can’t wait to start to use them in my meals.

One of the first things I made was this sweet, creamy strawberry-coconut panna cotta.   The strawberries are served up in two ways–sliced and sweetened as a topping, and cooked into the ruby-red gelatin. I showcased it’s pretty layers by serving it in wine glasses.


This dessert gets it’s coconut flavor thru coconut milk, and the recipe calls for both regular coconut milk and light coconut milk.  If you prefer to use all light coconut milk you certainly can, but it’s amazing how much flavor and creamy consistency you get from mixing in a little full-fat coconut milk.  I already had some cream of coconut open in my refrigerator, so I used that, and thinned it with skim milk.  This allowed me to keep the fat content low, but still get the coconut flavor.  The cream of coconut is sweet, so I used only 1 Tablespoon of sugar in the panna cotta.


Yield:   Serves 4


Strawberry Gelatin:

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •  1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup water

Panna Cotta:

  • 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk**
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk **
  • 2  1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar  ( I used only 1 Tablespoon sugar, here.)IMG_7099
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  •  ** If using cream of coconut, make a 50-50 mixture of cream of coconut and fat-free milk for a total of 3/4 cup of liquid.


  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1  teaspoon fresh lemon juice


1.  To make the strawberry gelatin:  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon gelatin over 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl.  Combine the strawberries, the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan;  let stand for 5 minutes.  Mash mixture with a fork or a potato masher.  Place pan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer;  cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves.  Add the water; return to a simmer.  Remove from the heat.  Add gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves.  Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard solids.  Divide strawberry mixture evenly among 4 wineglasses.  Chill 1 hour or until set.

2.  To make the panna cotta:  Sprinkle 3/4 tsp. gelatin over the 1 tbsp. water in a small bowl.  Combine coconut milks, sugar, and 1 tsp. lemon juice in a saucepan; bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat.  Add gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin dissolves.  Cool to room temperature.  Carefully pour one-fourth of this mixture on top of each strawberry gelatin.  Chill 1 hour or until set.

3.  To prepare strawberries:  Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl;  toss gently.  Let stand  5  minutes.  Divide strawberry mixture evenly among the glasses.





SOURCE:   Cooking Light Magazine

Let’s Get Berried on the 4th!

Lemon buttermilk cake with strawberries, whipped cream and strawberry coulis.

Lemon buttermilk cake with strawberries, whipped cream and strawberry coulis.

Ahhhhh—-Strawberry Shortcake!  Nothing that I know of says summer so well as strawberry shortcake, a great favorite for the 4th of July.  And this recipe does the impossible–makes it even more delicious.   It starts with a warm, lemon flavored golden buttermilk cake that’s followed by sweet juicy fresh strawberries, and topped with whipped cream drizzled with strawberry coulis.   Like Whoa!


This version is so beyond the shortcake I grew up with it’s almost in another world.  Back in the day when I was still living at home, strawberry shortcake consisted of sweetened, sliced berries spooned over biscuits that were a lot like the texture of scones.  They soaked up the juice and got all soft like, and the perfect bite included biscuit, berries and cream.  Yeah, that’s the shortcake I know.

But this,  this takes it all to a new level.   Here you taste and smell the essence of lemon in a finely textured cake, along with the goodness of fresh sweet berries, then the cream is further enhanced by the strawberry coulis, a puree of strawberries containing just a touch of balsamic vinegar.  Can I entice you to give this a try?  I don’t think you will be the least bit sorry.



Servings:   8


  • 1 quart of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Combine sliced berries and sugar in a bowl.  Toss to coat.  Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.

For the cake:IMG_4463

  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2  tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2  tsp lemon extract
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Spray an 8 – inch round cake pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

3.  Place 1/3 cup sugar and butter in a medium bowl;  beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.  Add egg, beat just until combined.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour.  Beat well.  Stir in vanilla.

4.  Spoon batter into the prepared 8 – inch cake pan.  Bake at 350*F for 22 – 25 minutes, until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan to cool completely on wire rack.  To serve, place on serving dish and  sift powdered sugar over top of cake.

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Lemon Buttermilk Cake

For coulis:

  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar

Place berries, vinegar and sugar in the blender and blend to smooth consistency.  If too thick add a little water or a touch more vinegar.

This strawberry sauce is great spooned over the cake only, or over ice cream.

Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Place all the ingredients in a small beater bowl, and beat on high speed until the cream holds stiff peaks.

To assemble and serve:

Portion the cake into 8 wedges.  Place a wedge of cake on each serving plate.  Spoon strawberries with their juice over the cake.  Place a dollop of cream on top.  Drizzle a little of the coulis over the cream or on the plate around the cake.


SOURCE:  Cake recipe adapted from Cooking Light,  the remainder is my own idea.

Strawberry and Apricot Crisp

Strawberry and apricot crisp.

Strawberry and apricot crisp.

I can’t seem to get my fill of strawberries this year, so here’s another dessert I made recently that combines fresh apricots with strawberries.  Fresh apricots are available pretty much thoughout the month of May, so combining them with strawberries is a natural.  I don’t know why I’ve never thought of that before, but I’m glad this recipe brought it to my attention.  The results are crazy good especially when you add on a crumble topping that includes pine nuts.


In this crisp the apricots hold their shape while the strawberries become sauce-like.  Bake it in a 9 or 10-inch baking dish or pie plate for the right ratio of fruit filling to crumble topping.  Served with a scoop of strawberry ice cream takes it over the top.   Just sayin….


Yield:    6 servings

Crumble ingredients:

Make the crumb topping from these ingredients.

Make the crumb topping from these ingredients.

  • 1/2 stick  ( 4 Tbpn )cold unsalted butter cut into small  pieces, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 ounces pine nuts, toasted  ( 1/3 cup )

Filling ingredients:

  • 4 apricots, pitted and cut into sixths (about 2 cups)
  • 12 ounces strawberries, ( about 15) hulled and halved, or quartered if large (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • pinch salt

1.  Combine all crumble ingredients in a medium bowl and massage together with your fingers until butter is incorporated and mixture forms small clumps.  Refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Slice up strawberries and apricots, add sweetener.

Slice up strawberries and apricots, add sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch .

2.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Butter a 9-inch round shallow baking dish or pie plate.  Combine all filling ingredients in another medium bowl.  Transfer to baking dish and top with crumble.

Pour into baking dish.

Pour into baking dish.

Cover with crumb topping.

Cover with crumb topping.

Bake until bubbling in center and crumble is browned, about 40 minutes.  Let cool at least 20 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or frozen yogurt if desired.

Out of the oven and the aroma fills the house.

Out of the oven and smelling soooo good!

Serve with a little ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Serve with a little ice cream or frozen yogurt.

SOURCE:  Martha Stewart Living

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

A salad of spinach, strawberries, goat cheese and almonds.

A salad of spinach, strawberries, goat cheese and almonds.

Some spring seasons have come and gone when I haven’t devoted much time to utilizing strawberries.  This year for some reason I feel as though I’m on a mission to use them in as many ways as possible.

When I was growing up we lived next door to a farm where every year one large field was planted with strawberries.  When they began to ripen,  several of us teen-agers were hired to help with picking and the berries were sold at a road-side farm stand.  Picking strawberries by hand is an experience not to be missed (or forgotten, either).  The work is hard on the knees and back,  but the opportunity to sample warm, sweet, juicy strawberries, right off the plant more than made up for the aches and pains in the back and knees.

Strawberry Field

Strawberry Field (Photo credit: timtak)

On most days when I got off work, I was sent home with a basket of berries for my folks.  As I recall the only ways my mother served strawberries was as a shortcake or fresh strawberry pie.

We did not have access to California grown strawberries in the supermarkets as we do now.  So when the berries were ripe (usually end of May through to July 4, if the weather was good)  we ate berries often, made jam, and froze some sliced and ready for recipes in the months ahead.  And since they are fruit they were designated as dessert.  Now-a-days we add fruits to main entrees, and salads, and I like the sweetness fruits add to a dish.   The recipe I have for you today is just such a combination;  a spinach salad with strawberries, goat cheese, or feta, and almonds.  The dressing is a balsamic vinaigrette, which really complements the strawberries and helps to bring out their sweetness.  This is very easy and quick to make, and goes with a variety of main dishes.  With all that spinach, its also healthy and good for you, so try this while berries are “in season” where ever you live.

A pretty salad on the plate.

A pretty salad on the plate.




  • 1  ( 5 – 7 oz. pkg.) Baby Spinach 
  • 2  cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 / 2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt and pepper

1.  Combine spinach and strawberries in a large bowl.

2.  Whisk together the vinegar and oil in a small bowl.  Add the basil and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Add vinaigrette to salad and toss gently to evenly coat.  Divide salad among four plates.  Sprinkle each salad with cheese and almonds.


Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta

Lemon panna cotta.

Lemon panna cotta.

Panna Cotta is a dessert that I’ve been wanting to make for such a long time, but just never seemed to get around to it.  I have collected several recipes for making it, all just a little different from each other.

Panna Cotta, which means “cooked cream” is Italian in origin, and can be made with milk, cream, half and half, buttermilk, or any combination of these.   I also have a recipe  using yogurt.  Panna cotta is a cool, silky, creamy dessert that is often served with fruit or caramel sauce.  The higher the fat content of your base liquid, the richer the dessert will be, and of course, more calorie laden.

A light refreshing dessert.

A light refreshing dessert.

Happily this is a dessert that can be adjusted in terms of calories and fat content.  The recipe I’m offering here is a lighter version that makes good use of lemon for flavoring and still produces the silky texture of the classic with a pleasing hit of sweet and tang.  Meyer lemon–a lemon-orange hybrid–is sweeter than conventional lemon.  If you don’t have access to Meyer lemons, you can use a regular lemon and enjoy a dessert that’s a bit less sweet.  I used a regular lemon in my panna cotta and it had a nice mild lemon flavor, and was neither tart nor overly sweet,—-just right!

Silky, smooth, creamy and cool.

Silky, smooth, creamy and cool.

I also sliced some strawberries, added about 2 Tablespoons of sugar and 1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar to them, and then served a few spooned over the panna cotta for a very pretty presentation.


Servings   4

Requires just a few ingredients.

Requires just a few ingredients.


  • 1 Meyer  or regular lemon
  • 1/2 cup  plus 3 Tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup half and half  ( I used light cream)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1  3/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin, ( 1 envelope)
  • 1  1/2 cups reduced-fat buttermilk
  • cooking spray
  • Mint leaves and lemon rind strips (optional)


1.  Remove rind from lemon using a vegetable peeler, avoiding white pith.  Squeeze 3 Tablespoons juice from the lemon and save.

Peel the lemon very thinly to flavor the milk and squeeze the lemon for juice.

Peel the lemon very thinly to flavor the milk and squeeze the lemon for juice.

2.  Combine lemon rind, 1/2 cup milk, half and half, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan;  bring to a simmer over medium heat ( do not boil).  Remove pan from heat;  cover and let stand 20 minutes.   Discard lemon rind.

Heating the milk mixture with the lemon peel.

Heating the milk mixture with the lemon peel.

3.  Sprinkle gelatin over remaining 3 tablespoons milk in a small bowl, and let stand at least 10 minutes.

4.  Return half and half mixture to medium heat; cook for 1 minute or until very hot.  Add the gelatin mixture, stirring with a whisk until dissolved (about 1 minute).  Stir in buttermilk and 3 Tablespoons lemon juice.

5.  Lightly spray  4 ( 6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups.  Divide the lemon mixture among the cups.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.


6.  To serve:  run a knife around outside edges of panna cotta.  Place a plate upside down on top of each cup; invert onto plate.  Garnish with mint and lemon rind, if desired.    Or you may wish to serve with a fruit sauce or sliced fruit as I did.

Panna cotta served with sliced strawberries.

Panna cotta served with sliced strawberries.

Nutritional Profile:    Calories  185;   Fat  6.3 g.;  Protein  7 g.;  Carb  26 g.;  Sodium 258 mg.

SOURCE:   Cooking Light