Deconstructed Shortcake

Alternate title for this post: Red, White, and Blueberry Shortcake

A few weeks ago, we celebrated a life milestone for one of the people in my office. I signed up to bring a dessert. I was looking for something low-maintenance that I could easily transport to work and would capitalize on the delicious fresh berries that are currently in season.

Behold the deconstructed shortcake!

photo(5)This dessert could not have been easier to prepare. The secret – one store bought ingredient for convenience, one fresh/high-quality ingredient, and fresh/seasonal produce. And a pretty platter for serving.

The store bought ingredient was the Sara Lee pound cake. It was on sale at Publix – buy one, get one free. I defrosted the pound cake for about 10 minutes and then cut it into cubes.

The fresh/high-quality ingredient was the whipped cream. Using the whisk attachment on my mixer, I whisked a medium-sized carton of heavy whipping cream until soft peaks formed (careful not to let it go too long or you’ve have butter). I added a few teaspoons of sugar and a splash of vanilla at the very end to give the whipped cream a little bit of sweetness. Cool Whip and the artificial stuff in the cans have nothing on freshly whipped cream.

The fresh/seasonal produce was a carton of strawberries (rinsed, dried, and cut in quarters) and a pint of blueberries (rinsed and dried). Easy peasy. Blackberries would work well, too.

photo(4)Another option for this dessert would be to get small plastic cups and layer the ingredients to create individual parfaits – start with a layer of cake cubes, then berries, and then a few spoons of whipped cream. One more layer of each and top with a berry or two.

A berry delicious seasonal dessert that is easy to make, easy to transport, affordable, and a huge hit.

Strawberry Avocado Grilled Cheese

When  first saw this recipe pop up on one of the blogs I follow, I was skeptical. Fruit and avocados on grilled cheese? Meh. I floated the idea by a few coworkers who looked at my like I’d lost my mind.

However, my curiosity won out and last Tuesday night I found myself whipping this up for dinner.

It was surprisingly good! The avocado was buttery and creamy, the strawberries were sweet, and it was all held together by creamy, melty reduced-fat provolone cheese. Mmm. Plus, it’s grilled cheese which means it took all of 5 minutes to throw together and I only had one dirty pan. Win!

I found myself recreating this sandwich at least 4 times in the past two weeks (not grilled, but on bread and in wraps). It’s the sweet-salty combo that I love and highlights to of my favorite fruits. With a lightly dressed arugula salad on the side, this is a perfect meal.

I hope you will give this a try – if you like strawberries and avocado, I assure you it will not disappoint. I’m already dreaming up other sweet-savory grilled cheese combos to try in the future…

What Artie Eats When Jill Is Away

Jill and I were both supposed to go to Orlando for a baby shower this weekend, but because of some issues with our roof, I had to stay home. While she was out of town, I took the opportunity to replace the light fixture in the kitchen (which will hopefully help with taking photos for this blog), watch Ninja Master with the Halladay and Heddings families, and eat beef (aside from the occasionally crumble of bacon, Jill doesn’t eat red meat).

Since I still have a variety of lettuces growing in my back yard, I cut and washed just enough fresh lettuce for me.

Lettuce from the garden

I then seasoned some beef that I picked up from New Leaf Market.  To save time, I bought beef cut for fajitas. I seasoned the beef with a little salt and pepper and sautéed it in a non-stick skillet with a little oil (about 1 tsp).

Beef for fajitas

While cooking the beef, I added a couple of dashes of worcestershire sauce (probably about a tablespoon) and let it reduce down in the skillet with the meat.  When the beef was cooked how I like it (medium), I took it off the heat and let it rest.

Cooking the beef
Cooking the beef

While the meat rested, I cut strawberries in half and added them to the lettuce. I also added thin slices of parmesan cheese. I am a huge fan of the strawberry-parmesan cheese flavor combination.

Salad without meat
Salad before adding the beef

I thought about making a vinaigrette, but remembered that I had bought some roasted garlic salad dressing from Tomatoland.

Salad Dressing
Roasted Garlic Salad Dressing

I added the steak and dressed the salad.

Salad with beef
Lunch while Jill is out of town

This was a quick and light lunch that satisfied my desire for beef and left me plenty of time to play Xbox before Jill got home.