‘Tis the season for strawberries

Above, a slice of chocolate chip-pecan pound cake with strawberry sauce will satisfy your sweet tooth.

A brimming basket full of plump, ripe strawberries is sitting in my refrigerator. One thing for sure: there will be fruit salad on the menu every night this week. I may slice some strawberries to put on a tossed green salad, too, and add some pieces of fried chicken tenders, cheddar or feta cheese, and a mixture of different dressings made with balsamic vinegar or a creamy poppyseed. Strawberries are healthy and delicious and a sure sign of springtime. Many recipes call for the berries to be hulled, a method of removing the white, flavorless interior section. Sometimes I do hull, but sometimes I just remove the tip and the stem with a paring knife. In sweet or savory dishes, eaten alone or mixed with other fruits, be sure to enjoy some strawberries this spring!

Chocolate Chip-Pecan Cream Cheese Cake with Strawberry Sauce

This is a delicious cake all by itself, but the strawberry sauce just puts it over the top.

• 1 cup chopped pecans, divided

• ¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

• 1 ½ cups butter, softened

• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

• 3 cups sugar

• 3 cups all-purpose flour

• 6 large eggs

• 1/8 tsp. salt

• 1 TBSP. pure vanilla extract

Sprinkle ½ cup chopped pecans in the bottom of a greased and floured tube pan or large bundt pan. Use a mixer to cream together the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the batter and beat well. Stir in the remaining ½ cup pecans, chocolate chips, and vanilla extract. Pour into the prepared tube pan; bake at 325 degrees for 1 ½ -2 hours, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Optional: serve with strawberry sauce.

Strawberry-Butter Sauce

This sauce is delicious drizzled over angel food cake, fluffy pancakes, plain cheesecake, or any type of pound cake.

• 1 ¼ cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

• ¼ cup butter, melted

• ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

Process the strawberries in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the butter and powdered sugar and blend well. Makes about a cup.

Fresh Strawberry Salsa

Using fruit, such as strawberries or blueberries, in a spicy salsa gives the dish a unique flavor combination, and it pairs well with poultry, beef, or fish.

• 2 ¼ cups fresh strawberries, diced

• 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

• 1 small red onion, diced

• 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

• Juice of I large lime

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 TBSP. olive oil

Combine the strawberries, tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno peppers in a bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, minced garlic, and olive oil. Add to the strawberries and toss to coat. Refrigerate for two hours. Serve with tortilla chips or wheat crackers or as a side with grilled chicken, etc.

Golden Strawberry Lush

This dessert is so easy to make! One tip: You top off the dessert with the remaining Cool Whip, but I usually have a small container of Cool Whip on hand just in case it needs a bit more of the topping.

• 1 (14.3 oz.) package Golden Oreos

• 6 TBSP. butter, melted

• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

• 1 cup powdered sugar

• 1 (16 oz.) container Cool Whip, thawed and divided

• 2 (3.4 oz.) boxes instant cheesecake pudding mix (can use instant vanilla pudding mix)

• 3 cups milk

• 3 ½ cups sliced strawberries

Crush the Oreo cookies into coarse crumbs and mix with the melted butter. Press the mixture into a lightly greased 9x13 pan. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar and 1 cup of Cool Whip. Gently spread this over the cookie layer. In a bowl, whisk together the pudding mix and milk and another cup of Cool Whip for about two minutes or until slightly thick and almost set. Spread this over the cream cheese layer. Place the sliced strawberries evenly over the pudding layer and spread the remaining Cool Whip on top. Chill for 5-6 hours. You can add more strawberries to the top for garnish.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at facebook.com/MySouthernTable.

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