Strawberries N’ Cream Cake (dairy-free)

Glorious, glorious summer strawberries.

Has anyone ever had a farmstand strawberry? I am blessed to live in Sonoma County: known for vineyards and wineries, yes, but also home to a myriad of small farms that sell produce so fresh that your fruits and veggies usually still have dirt clinging to them. (washing before eating… not an option!) At a job I had before my current one, I would drive right by a strawberry field every day on my commute. When I finally pulled over and bought a basket of the little red berries for the first time, I could not believe how sweet and incredible they tasted.

I do still mostly buy strawberries from the grocery store out of convenience, but tasting a strawberry from a farm stand is a testament to eating produce that is in season. There’s a reason that farm stand fruit is so good: it’s only available when it is in season! In a typical grocery store, although the fruit/veggie may be adorned with a “USA” sticker, I still have no idea how far across the country it has been shipped. No guessing games are played when you visit a farm stand and you can actually see where their growing field is.

I saw the recipe for this strawberry cake pop up last week, and the author stressed the importance of using very good strawberries… I couldn’t believe how easily my blender turned the strawberries (store-bought, but so in season) into a puree without the addition of any additional liquid to help it along! Strawberries are sweet and soft and ripe right now… and I’m not sure how long they will be this good, so I plan on enjoying them liberally while I can!

Strawberries N’ Cream Cake
(ironically, as I made it, it was dairy-free… so I guess putting “cream” in the title is a stretch!)
halved and de-dairyed from this recipe found on “Healthy Delicious.”

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 T + 1 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick butter, softened (or 4 oz butter substitute- I used Earth Balance coconut spread)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup soymilk with 1 tsp. vinegar)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup (fresh!) strawberry puree*
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottom and sides of a round cake pan.
  2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter and strawberry puree, and beat with an electric mixture for about 2 minutes.
  3. Mix your egg whites and milk together in a separate bowl, and gradually incorporate into the large-bowl mixture.
  4. Pour your batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (mine was done at 25, I would check at that point)
  5. Allow to cool in the pan for at least half an hour, then gently and carefully remove and allow to sit on a wire cooling rack until completely cool.

Seven-minute vanilla bean frosting

  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
  1. In a double boiler, combine all ingredients except for the vanilla extract and bean seeds, and whisk together for a good 30 seconds. Place bowl on top of simmering water, and beat on high with electric beaters for about seven minutes, or until soft peaks form. Remove from boiling water, add vanilla extract and bean seeds and continue to beat for an additional two minutes.

Because fruit in the middle of a cake always makes it a hundred times better, I chose to torte my cake and fill it with chopped strawberries and frosting.

The cake itself was very moist, and the frosting is extremely sweet. Honestly, because the cake was so moist, I wished that I had paired it with a firmer frosting. My seven-minute frosting was a merangue-like consistency and felt slightly too wet an already moist cake. However, I still enjoyed it, and I’m assuming that most everyone else did too- it was 4/5 gone by the end of the night!

Enjoy!

*strawberry puree can be made by throwing strawberries in your blender, turning it on, and watching them turn into liquid! Mmm. If you have good strawberries, you shouldn’t need to add anything!

Kale, Carrot, and Avocado Salad.

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This bowl is like a big, fat VIP party for the most nutritious and delicious members of the produce world. And guess what? I’ve got you a guest pass so that you can let these party animals vegetables mingle in your belly!

This is the third recipe from my week of Whole Foods meals, and again, I was introduced to a new food that I will surely be seeing more of in the future: wheat berries.

Cooked overnight in a crock pot, the wheat berries ended up with a chewy, satisfying texture and a slightly nutty taste. I would say that the closest comparison I could make would be to brown rice.

Tossed with raw kale, grated carrots, some thinly sliced red onions, creaaaaamy avocado, and a freshly-made strawberry balsamic dressing… this salad rocked. I most definitely ate it for breakfast the morning after. Weird, I know… but it was almost 10 when I got around to eating breakfast. Don’t judge!

Kale, Carrot, and Avocado Salad
with strawberry-balsamic dressing
courtesy of Whole Foods Market

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup wheat berries, rinsed and drained
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 avocado, diced (I threw the whole avocado in there! up to you)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2/3 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  1. In a crock-pot: combine the wheat berries and water, and cook for 8 hours on low overnight. If you don’t have a crock-pot or time: follow the directions that came with your wheat berries. But they still take a couple of hours to cook on the stovetop. Rinse and drain the liquid from your wheat berries, and cool in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. To make the dressing: blend the strawberries, vinegar, shallot, thyme, mustard, pepper, and 1/4 cup water in a blender until completely smooth.
  3. Combine the kale, carrots, avocado, onions, and cooled wheat berries in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing, and allow to sit for thirty minutes before serving to allow the kale to soften.

Note: I actually preferred the salad once it had been sitting overnight! I cannot promise that it will look as beautiful, so if you are planning to serve it to company I would only let the salad sit for thirty minutes with the dressing on it. However, the kale and the wheat berries are sturdy enough that the salad does not get soggy when sitting overnight, but the flavors seem to be enhanced with time.

Signing out… enjoy the ever-increasing summer sunshine!

PS- the salad was photographed before the dressing was poured onto it! Just so you know.

Cherry Lentil Salad with Basil.

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Another day, another Whole Foods recipe.

My last recipe expanded my culinary experience with watercress (which I had never tried before) and the new-to-me combination of mint and strawberry (in love!). Today’s recipe introduced me to green lentils. It also introduced me to a version of myself that is willing to shell out $5 for a pound of cherries… My mostly frugal nature does not spend more than a couple of dollars a pound on fruit. I digress.

Never having cooked lentils before, I was surprised to find that boiling them emitted an unpleasant smell unto my kitchen. A bit like… dirt, perhaps? This may have been due to the fact that I skipped the advising of both my recipe and the back of the box to rinse them thoroughly before cooking, however. Oops. I rinsed them after they were done cooking since they were going to be a part of a cold salad. Does that count for something?

Anyways, once everything was together, I was mostly satisfied with the result. I believe the recipe was a little heavy on the salt, so if I were to make it again I would probably halve the amount and then add more as needed.

And as for lentils… after the initial shock of a new taste in my mouth, I have decided that I like them. They are chewy (as I cooked them, at least) and filling and rather bean-like.

I would certainly prescribe this salad to anyone who: a) wants to celebrate the just-arrived cherry season, b) is feeling adventurous and spicy and wants their food to act as such, or c) who enjoys wholesome, filling, nutritious eats like me!

Cherry Lentil Salad
courtesy of Whole Foods Market

  • 3/4 cup dried green (French) lentils, rinsed (!)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar, more to taste
  • 2 T. orange juice
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, more to taste (these are my changes)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced
  1. Combine lentils and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, partially covered and just until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine vinegar, orange juice, green onions, salt, and pepper. Add warm lentils and toss until coated. Let cool to room temperature, refrigerate if not serving immediately (which was how we ate it). Toss with the cherries and basil just before serving. Add more salt and vinegar to taste if desired!

Strawberry/Mint/Avocado Sandwich…

Does this sandwich scream summer to you?

I had never fathomed putting fruit on sandwiches until the last year, but since I’ve made the leap I am now sneaking them in whenever I can. Peanut butter and jelly? Borrringggg… how about peanut butter and fresh strawberry? Or almond butter and crisp apple?

Whole Foods puts out a pamphlet once a month or so with a workweek’s (5 days) worth of meals that you can prepare for under $20 (supposedly…). And the best part- they are all super healthy, following their “Health Starts Here” program. Oh! And one more thing… they give you a shopping list for everything you need to buy for the week!

So, I decided to take a week off of menu planning and refrigerator-scrounging.

This was day one: cucumber sandwiches with strawberries and watercress. The lovely pink spread that you see lounging beneath my beauteous watercress and strawberries is fresh mint, more strawberries, and… (wait for it, all you health-food haters) silken tofu.

Eek! If you’re really hating on the tofu, you can always substitute in some cream cheese. But if you were to feed this to a friend, they probably wouldn’t guess what the spread was made from. That’s the beauty and the horror of tofu- it really just takes on the flavor of whatever it is mixed with/marinated in.

Anyways, here is the recipe. To keep with the strawberry theme… here’s a drink recipe I’ve had pinned for quite some time. I imagine you could definitely replace the basil with some fresh mint!

Cucumber Sandwiches (with strawberries and watercress)
makes 4 sandwiches
courtesy of Whole Foods Market

  • 8 strawberries (divided)
  • 4 oz soft tofu (or cream cheese…)
  • 1 T. fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tsp.lemon zest (I forgot to put this in, but I’m sure it would have only made it better)
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thin (my photo does not show cukes, but the first time I made the sandwich I included them, and they were great of course)
  • 1 bunch watercress, long stems removed
  • 8 slices of a good whole wheat bread (I used WFM Seeduction loaf. So. Good.)
  • Sliced avocado. Duh. (my addition to the recipe)
  1. Chop four of the strawberries, and puree them with the fresh mint, lemon zest, and tofu/cream cheese in food processor or blender.
  2. Toast your bread. Unless you’re one of the weirdos of the world who doesn’t love crunchy sandwich bread. I won’t judge you, though.
  3. Spread that strawberry spread on one piece of toast, and follow it with the spicy watercress, crisp cucumber slices, and sweet strawberries.
  4. Smush some avocado on the other piece of toast. Smush both pieces of bread together. Cut your sandwich in half, because sandwiches always taste better that way.

Enjoy your taste of summer!

❤ Mrs. Webb