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Tag Archives: Berries

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #7 and Yogurt Fruit Dip

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So you come home from work or school or running errands and you’re starving. It’s too late for lunch but way too early for dinner. You go rooting around the cupboards and the fridge for something to eat, and if you’re lucky you find a few crackers or maybe some fruit in the back of the veggie drawer at the bottom of the fridge. And you wolf down those tidbits like a bear just come out of hibernation.

And in the aftermath of that snack, you look at yourself in the hall mirror and think two things–one, that was not a very graceful way to satisfy your late afternoon hunger; and two, you’re still hungry because a couple dry crackers or a few grapes by themselves just doesn’t cut the craving.

But wait–Reading and Recipes to the Rescue (R&R to the R!).

This week’s Yogurt Fruit Dip takes just a few minutes to mix together and can be stored in a covered container in the fridge, waiting there to jazz up any afternoon snack.

And just like that, you are no longer wolfing unsatisfying tidbits like a wild child but are now eating flavor-enhanced tea-time fare like the landed gentry on one of those cable-t.v. mini-series. Next thing you know, you’ll be ordering a sterling tea set and booking a butler.

Nah. Bag of pretzels and this Yogurt Dip will do just fine.

fruit dip

Yogurt Fruit Dip

8 ounces plain Greek yogurt*

2 ounces whipped cream or Cool Whip

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

a pinch of salt

In a small mixing bowl, mix the yogurt, whipped cream, and vanilla. To another bowl, whisk the granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt, ensuring there are no lumps. Stir this mixture into the yogurt until well incorporated. Refrigerate the dip for at least 30 minutes. Serve chilled, with fruit, graham crackers, pretzels, or other dippers.

Makes about 1 cup.

*Greek yogurt is preferred. You can substitute regular yogurt, but the dip will not be as thick.

vanilla fruit dip

{Adapted from Layers of Happiness}

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #7, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #7, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #6 and Mini Lemon Berry Cheesecakes

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Give me an “S.” Give me a “P.” Give me an “R.”

I’m not going to waste your time or mine finishing the word, but I trust you get the idea. It’s spring!!! And I feel like cheering about it.

O.K. So you’re probably thinking–Get a life. It’s been spring for over a month.

Yes, that’s true. But until the fresh berries start showing up at the farmer’s markets, it’s not really spring. And just this week, the pick-your-own strawberry farm down the road opened its gates–earliest opening on record!

So it’s spring! Give me an “S.” Give me a “P.”

How ’bout give me a recipe?

O.K. Try this out for size–Mini Lemon Berry Cheesecakes. Doesn’t that just cry out for spring (and summer)? Lemon! Fresh berries! The cool richness of cheesecake! The baker, who lives a little farther north than this writer, used blueberries for this batch. But fresh-picked strawberries would work just as well. And they’ll be coming your way soon, because it’s spring!

Give me an “S.” Give me a “P.”  .  .  .

Hey, don’t throw your shoe at me. I’m not some howling dog!

mini lemon cheesecakes

Mini Lemon Berry Cheesecakes

For the crust:

4 honey graham cracker sheets

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

2 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, room temperature

1 large lemon, juiced

For the topping:

6 Tablespoons berry jam* 

1/2 cup fresh berries*

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard muffin tin with 9 paper liners, and set aside.

Add the graham cracker sheets to a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs. Add the 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and melted butter, and process until ingredients come together. Divide the mixture between the 9 paper liners, pressing and packing the mixture into the bottom of each liner.

Next, make the filling by adding the cream cheese and granulated sugar to a mixing bowl. Using a handheld mixer, beat the ingredients on high until smooth. Add the flour, salt, vanilla, egg, and lemon juice to the mixture, and beat until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Divide the batter between the 9 paper liners. Bake the cheesecakes in your preheated oven for 25-27 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden brown and the centers are just set. Allow the cheesecakes to cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Once the cheesecakes are cooled, the centers will have sunk slightly, leaving room for the fruit topping. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the berry jam on high for 10-15 seconds, or until warmed. Mix the fresh blueberries into the jam. Spoon this mixture on top of each cheesecake. Return the cheesecakes to your refrigerator until ready to serve.

Makes 9 mini cheesecakes.

*Any berry jam or berries will do. I used blackberry jam and fresh blueberries, but any variety of berry jam and berries will work. The possibilities are endless!

mini lemon berry cheesecakes

{Adapted from Chelsea’s Messy Apron}

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #6, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #6, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #7 and Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt

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How about a Labor Day present from Reading and Recipes?

For little old me?

Yeah, that’s right, just for you.

What kind of present?

How about a yummy frozen dessert that’s skinny, healthy, inexpensive, and easy to make?

Lead me to it!

Well, you’re there. This Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt is all of those things–a Labor Day present from R&R!

Aww, isn’t that sweet!

And we’ll throw in a story for good measure–Brooke and Leah eavesdropping on the world from their hideaway under the pier.

A yummy dessert and a story too?

Our Labor Day present just for you! (Might almost think it was your birthday . . . .)

strawberry cheesecake ice cream

Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt

6 ounces strawberry Greek yogurt

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup milk or cream

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries, divided

1 8-ounce container whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), room temperature

2 sheets graham crackers, broken up into small pieces

strawberry cheesecake ice cream close up

Add the yogurt, cream cheese, vanilla, milk, and 1/2 cup strawberries to a blender. Puree the ingredients together. Add the whipped topping to a mixing bowl. Pour the pureed strawberry mixture over the whipped topping and mix ingredients together. Lastly, fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries and graham cracker pieces. Once everything is combined, pour the mixture into a container with a lid. Place the container in the freezer for 2-4 hours, stirring every hour.

Once the ice cream reaches your desired consistency, scoop the ice cream into individual serving bowls. This ice cream is best served the same day to ensure a smooth and creamy texture. If you have any leftovers, cover and store them in the freezer for up to a week. Remove any leftovers from the freezer 15-20 minutes prior to eating to allow the ice cream to soften.

Serves 3-4.

strawberry cheesecake ice cream1

{Adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #7 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #7, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #7, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #4 and Blueberries and Cream Cake

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Now it’s back to basics.

After our brief excursion into kid food (wasn’t that fun? make you feel like putting training wheels on your mountain bike?), it’s time to come back down to earth. And if it’s August and you’re baking desserts, there’s probably blueberries somewhere in that reality check. And at R&R, that blueberry connection takes the form of this delicious Blueberries and Cream Cake.

No disrespect to good old traditional blueberry pie (love it!) or the tried and true blueberry buckle (nothing better when it comes to a summertime breakfast or brunch buffet). But I’m going to go way out on a limb and say that this Blueberries and Cream Cake is the best blueberry dessert of all time.

I know, that’s a big claim. But I’m a certified blueberry fanatic, and I’ve eaten blueberries in about every form they can be eaten. And in my book, this is the best blueberry dessert of them all. Part cake, part pie, part trifle, and chock full of yummy blueberries, it’s blueberry heaven on a spoon, or fork, or whatever means you use to get it from the pan to your mouth.

I should know–I’ve been eating this cake my whole life (thanks Mom!). I loved it (I’m told I once ate a whole pan all by myself, at age three!) long before I’d tried one of those toaster tart things or an oatmeal cream cookie. For me, it is kid food that made the transition to adult dessert. Lucky me.

So give it a try. Then it will be lucky you!

pinterest blueberries and cream cake

Blueberries and Cream Cake

2/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

3-4 Tablespoons milk

1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and stemmed

pinch of ground cinnamon

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 egg yolk, beaten

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

blueberries and cream cake

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 5×7 baking pan and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together 2/3 cup flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture is achieved. Add 3 tablespoons of milk and mix until the dough starts to come together and is just moistened, careful not to over mix. If the dough is still dry, add one more tablespoon of milk. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Lay the dough into the greased pan and press up the bottom and sides of the pan.

To make the filling, toss together the blueberries, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon. Pour the blueberry mixture into the crust. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly brown at the edges. Remove the cake from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a clean bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg  yolk, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla into the whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream mixture over top of the warm blueberry filling. Return the cake to the oven and bake for another 10-14 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and light brown. Remove the cake from the oven and cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Serves 4-6.

blueberry and cream cake

Click below to listen to or read Serial #4 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #4, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #4, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Angels Unawares, Serial #20 and Very Berry Chocolate Parfait

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Every once in a while a diversity of pleasures comes together in the perfect combination, and you feel like for just that moment you can have it all–like sitting out on the patio with a light breeze blowing and the irises and lilacs blooming and filling the air with a sweet fragrance and the sun setting in a rainbow of pastels and the evening songbirds calling back and forth. Ah, yes, you can have it all. Or lying out on the beach, the morning sun warm but not too hot on your skin, the sand cool around your toes, the sound of the waves lapping, the gulls calling, the smell of salt on the breeze. Sometimes you can have it all.

This Very Berry Chocolate Parfait aspires to such lofty heights. It’s easy and quick to make, giving immediate (or nearly so) gratification. It’s healthy, with the vitamins and nutrition of fresh fruit and yogurt. It’s got the indulgence of chocolate (got to have that in any dream dessert). It has a variety of textures and flavors, but is also cool and creamy. And to top it all off (the rest isn’t enough?) it’s very pretty and multi-colored in the glass–just before it disappears into your mouth.

Maybe this Very Berry Chocolate Parfait isn’t quite the same as a perfect morning on the beach, but at least you don’t have to slather on sunscreen or worry about the kid upwind throwing sand in the air that ends up in your face. These perfect moments are difficult to find and more difficult to preserve. Go for the sure thing: Very Berry Chocolate Parfait!


Very Berry Chocolate Parfait

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 cup Cool Whip, thawed

1 cup mixed berries 

1/3 cup chocolate wafer crumbs

fruit parfait

In a small bowl, mix together the Greek yogurt, cocoa powder, and sugar until well blended. Fold in the Cool Whip.

To assemble the parfaits, spoon some of the chocolate wafer crumbs into the bottom of two glasses. Top with the chocolate yogurt mixture, and then with some of the fruit. Repeat these layers. Top the last layer of fruit with a dollop of Cool Whip. Eat immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Makes 2 parfaits.

bite of parfait

Click below to listen to or read Serial #20 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #20, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #20, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Angel Unawares, Serial #17 and Strawberry Crumble

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Yep, we made it.

It must really be spring if the Pick Your Own Strawberry Farm down the road is beginning to mark out the parking area and dust off the tables and benches. I noticed the first blossoms on the plants a few weeks ago, and my mom always said “thirty days from bloom to berry”–so we can’t be far from the succulence and sweetness of fresh-picked local strawberries.

So to get you in the mood, we’re posting this Strawberry Crumble recipe. It’s super easy and super quick and oh so delish! And it bakes and serves in the same container–a Mason jar that practically exudes the flavors of down-home cooking. This recipe makes one generous serving, but feel free to double it or more to share this treat with friends. They’re bound to love the Mason jar touch, and like what’s inside the jar even more.

If you’re in the Deep South or California, you can use fresh-picked berries for this recipe. The rest of us will have to buy ours at the store. But don’t worry, the pick-your-own version are coming our way. And when they get here, you’ll have a great recipe ready to put them to use!

strawberry crumble for one

Strawberry Crumble

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons oats

1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

strawberry crumble for 1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, add the butter, flour, oats, 1 Tablespoon of granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Mix the ingredients with a fork until the butter is broken up into pea-sized pieces and is incorporated throughout the dry ingredients.

In another small bowl, add the sliced strawberries, 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. Toss the strawberries until they are evenly coated with sugar and vanilla.

In one regular-sized mason jar, press half of the crumble mixture into the bottom of the jar. Top with strawberries, and finish with the remaining crumble. Place the jar on a cookie sheet or shallow baking dish to catch any spills, and bake for 30 minutes or until crumble is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 1 crumble.

strawberry crumble

{Adapted from Dooley Noted Style}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #17 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #17, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #17, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Angels Unawares, Serial #3 and Blueberry Muffin

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So you made it–through the holidays, through the cold snap, through the work week, through the deadline, through the flu, through whatever the latest challenge in your life might’ve been. The world seems to have an endless supply of challenges to put in front of us. No sooner do we get clear of one, then here comes another.

And winter is the worse. I read somewhere that January 7th was the most depressing day of the year. How about the whole month of January? (Even if you have a birthday in it–there’s another challenge: birthdays!)

So what to do? Well, here at Reading and Recipes we have the perfect solution–curl up on the couch, pull the afghan tight, and have a quiet, restful evening or weekend.

But you don’t want to do that with nothing to eat–too hungry–and nothing to do–too boring. To solve the hunger issue, we suggest you try this old reliable blueberry muffin–comfort food for the morning, afternoon, or evening with just a hint of summertime in its flavor and fruit. And to solve the boredom issue, sample one or more of the stories on this website by either clicking the audio file to hear them read or the text file to read them on the screen or print them out. The stories are of all different lengths, so you can partake of as little or as much as you like. Just hit the stories page to get a full index of what’s available.

And enjoy a quiet, restful, peaceful evening or weekend–with a little help from Reading and Recipes.

single blueberry muffin

Blueberry Muffin

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

1 Tablespoon  + 1 teaspoon milk

5-8 fresh blueberries (a small handful)

blueberry muffin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line one muffin cup with a paper liner, and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the vanilla, oil, and milk and mix ingredients together, careful not to over mix. Lastly, fold in the blueberries.

Pour batter into the muffin liner. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffin for 10-15 minutes before eating.

Makes one muffin.

blueberry muffin for one

{Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #3 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #3, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #3, text © Jeffrey Anderson