Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Barnes Family Strawberry Fest!

So you probably know that May is National Strawberry Month.  Well, I am assuming you know, since it is as important as maybe Flag Day, or Arbor Day;)  It is funny to me that May is strawberry month, since living where I live…..it snowed today.  You would think they would postpone strawberry month until the whole country is sunny, like maybe July or August.  Strawberries say “summer” to me, and I didn’t feel like it was summer when I looked out the window today and had to ask Addy where her snow boots were.  Are you all sick of me complaining about the weather yet? 
This was my front yard this morning, so perhaps you can see my point.
Anyberries, we celebrated “Barnes Family Strawberry Fest” last night.  We had strawberries in every part of our meal.  Overkill?  Nope.  Strawberries are so delicious that I could eat them all the time.  I think they might be my favorite fruit.  If you agree, you will love today’s recipes.
I started with a spinach salad with a strawberry vinaigrette.  I know that sounds kind of odd, but you see raspberry vinaigrettes everywhere, so why not a strawberry version?
For my vinaigrette, I used a little baby shallot, strawberry jam, balsamic vinaigrette, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and olive oil.  You can use a strawberry jam, jelly or preserve….your choice.
My first step was to grate the shallot into the bottom of my mixing bowl.  This gave me the flavor of the shallot, but no big chunks.  If you don’t have a micro plane, you could always just mince your shallot very finely. 
Then, I added my jam, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.  I whisked this together, and then I streamed in the olive oil….all the while whisking.  This is a thick dressing.  The mustard and jam will both thicken this.  Don’t be tempted to add too much olive oil in an effort to thin it out…..Just make your peace with a thick dressing.
I served my strawberry vinaigrette with a spinach salad.  I put strawberries, sautéed shrimp, gorgonzola cheese and candied almonds on my salad.  With this dressing, it was one of the best salads I have ever had.  Period.  I usually prefer creamy dressings to vinaigrettes, but this dressing won me over.  So, so good.  And it tastes so fresh and fruity!
It turns out a really pretty color too!
My next recipe is for a strawberry chicken salad.  I love chicken salad….You know the one that usually has grapes or apples in it, with mayo?  I decided to try it with strawberries.  Actually, I created this recipe a couple of years ago when I had too many strawberries, and Addy was beggin’ for chicken salad.  It is our family favorite now.
For this recipe, I used 3 chicken breasts that I had grilled and shredded.  Chicken salad is such a good “use-up” for leftover grilled chicken.  Whenever we grill, we always grill double the amount we think we will eat…..because I love me some leftovers.  I also used strawberries that I had diced, sliced almonds, diced celery, mayo, poppy seed salad dressing and salt and pepper.
Chicken salad is super easy to make.  I dumped the chicken, strawberries, celery and almonds into a bowl.  Ummmm-even Paisley could make this.  Or Chris, and that says a lot.  That says more than saying Paisley could make it because I am pretty sure Chris doesn’t know how to boil water.  He would at least have to ask me how to turn on the stove.
Then, I added the mayo and poppy seed dressing, and mixed….gently.  I want everything to stay whole and not turn into a mush.
That’s it.  From here, you can eat it in a sandwich, on crackers, on greens, or by itself.  We ate it on ciabatta rolls because we have a household obsession with sandwiches.  Or rather, I do and I force it upon them.  What can I say?  The chef/mommy makes the rules.
If you will notice, the right side of the picture…..right when I was about to take the picture…Paisley stole a chunk of chicken salad right out of the sandwich.  Darn kid.  But who can blame her….This chicken salad is to die for.
Lastly, I made a berry shortcake for dessert.  I always make my own shortcakes.  I hate, HATE, those weird cake-like things that are supposed to pass for shortcakes that you get by the produce section.  I don’t mean to be rude, as I realize you might like them…..I just don’t.  I think they taste like a stale Twinkie.  And anyway, shortcakes are crazy easy to make.  And quick too!  Here is how I did it…..
I used Bisquick, sugar, heavy cream, butter, apple pie spice and vanilla extract.  I love Bisquick.  You really can make just about anything with it…..You should always have Bisquick in your pantry.  You never know when you will need an emergency supply of drop biscuits;)
I stirred the dry ingredients together….the Bisquick, sugar, and apple pie spice.  If you can’t find apple pie spice, you could always substitute pumpkin pie spice….or cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
Then I added the butter, vanilla and cream.  Pretty quickly, you get a sticky dough.  Don’t over mix, just mix until a soft dough forms.
I used a large ice cream scoop to drop these onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  These only bake for 10 minutes.  See how easy this is?  There is no reason to buy shortcakes!!
While my shortcakes baked, I added a bit of sugar to some strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.  This will bring some of their juices out and make them super yummy.
We ate our shortcakes with vanilla ice cream, but whipped cream would be good here too.  Or both.  Both would be fantastic;)  Berry shortcake should be your “go-to” dessert recipe this summer.  People will be so impressed that you make your own shortcakes, and they never have to know how easy it was!  Plus, berries are so good in the summer…..and spring too.  Unfortunately, we had to eat ours by the heat of our fireplace, instead of outside….enjoying a warm spring night……..
I hope you try these strawberry recipes!  Maybe not all at once, like us…..unless you already had a family “strawberry fest” planned.  People do that, right?
Ok, remember, I promised you a give-away????  Here are the rules.  On my Gourmet Rooster Facebook page, message me which picture has a baby foot in it.  We can go ahead and use numerical order…the first picture being number one, etc.  I will put all the correct answers into a hat, and pick a winner.  The winner wins this bracelet…..
This fabulous bracelet was provided by my Stella and Dot stylist, Lexie Hinds, (www.stelladot.com/sites/lexiehinds).  Have you looked at Stella and Dot’s latest stuff?  You should check her page out!
You must message your answer by Thursday at noon, Pacific Time.  I will ship the bracelet to the winner that afternoon!  Good luck!
Strawberry Vinaigrette
1 small shallot, grated to equal about 1 tablespoon
¼ cup strawberry jam
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
About 1 cup olive oil
Whisk together all ingredients except olive oil until blended.  Slowly stream in olive oil, while whisking. 

Strawberry Chicken Salad
3 chicken breasts, grilled and shredded
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup strawberries, hulled and diced
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup poppy seed salad dressing
Salt and pepper to taste
Gently stir together all ingredients.  Chill for at least one hour before serving.

Berry Shortcake
2 & ½ cups Bisquick
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon apple pie spice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
In a mixing bowl, stir together Bisquick, sugar and apple pie spice.  Add butter, cream and vanilla, stir. 
Drop with a large ice cream scoop onto an ungreased baking sheet.  You should get about 6.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes
Serve with mixed berries and vanilla ice cream

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