Fresh Strawberry Salsa

When looking back at my life, I just have to laugh sometimes.  For example.  Looking back at the day when Mr. Rodgers shared his decision with me to change his eating habits.  Being young in age and in my health knowledge,  I was convinced that I ate great!  You know, the whole…potato is a healthy vegetable, a couple Tbsps of brown sugar in a sauce is fine, “as long as I’m not going through a drive through I’m doing good” mindset.  But when he started talking about all natural, totally organic, super strict stuff…I thought my new found love for experimenting in the kitchen was over.  How would I ever try all those fantastic recipes I had pinned on Pinterest if I had to follow these rules?  I thought my days of fun food were over.  I thought the days of flavor and exploration were done.  “Hello tasteless baked chicken every day” was my fear.

And now I look back and laugh.  It’s like a whole new world  has been opened up to me…flavors I didn’t even realize existed!!  I don’t see rules, I see challenges.  Those pins I thought I lost?  They are just canvases waiting to be adapted into healthy, nourishing, flavor packed meals.  When Mr. Rodgers and I do really good at being consistent (let’s be honest, we are far from perfect, though he has been kicking butt and dropping pounds the past two weeks!!), we realize that those other foods really were devoid of true flavor.  So I smile at the younger me with tears in her eyes over a passion she thought she was losing…and rejoice that I listened to him so I could discover a whole new level of said passion!

ANYWHO!  This recipe brought all that rambling to my brain.  Because I never would have thought that some day I would be making a fresh strawberry salsa!  Delicious!  It was adapted from the WONDERFUL Caveman Feast app by Abel James.  You should all download it.  Its organized.  It’s pretty.  It’s healthy and easy!  For this meal we used the salsa on meat (recipe soon to come.)  But I would love to find a healthy way to make a form of cinnamon chip (Ideas?  Anyone?) and eat it as a snack.  Sweet.  Tart.  A little heat.  Perfection.

 

So, here’s what you need:

  • 2 Cups Strawberries, Finely Diced
  • 1/2 Sm Red Onion, Finely Diced (I usually do red onion to taste, or till it “looks right.”  You can tell when there is enough by the ration of strawberry to onion!)
  • 1 Jalapeño, or 1/2 Serrano (I tend to enjoy the serrano flavor better, but jalapeños are great too!)
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar (Optional!  We have some from our first anniversary trip to Lake Placid, almost two years ago!  It just seemed fitting to add to a strawberry salsa!)

And here’s how you do it!

  1. Now here is the main difference between my version and our good friend Abel’s.  I like my sauces more chunky and “pico de gallo” style, so I diced everything.  However, the original says to pulse in a food processor till you have a smoother sauce.  I will let you decide your preference.  🙂  If your strawberries aren’t super sweet, then the food processor may be better so you won’t have chunks of tart strawberry.  But I love getting distinct flavors in different pieces, and mixing everything together before hand to get a sort of “marinating” action.  All that said, here is where you prep your veggies and fruits!
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.  Refrigerate until serving.  OR put it all in a food processor and blend away!!

 

How easy was that?!  And how fancy does it look?!  I love it!  What would you use this for?!

 

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Mixin’ mixin’ mixin’…

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Strawberry Salsa…who woulda thought?!

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Cheesecake Party Planning (As Promised!)

First of all….Happy 100th post everyone!!!  Can you believe that?!  This little blog has grown so much since November! I am so proud of it, and so thankful to all of you, my faithful followers all the way down to my first time visitors!  What better way to celebrate…than a giant cheesecake party post?!  Are you ready?!  I’m ready!  Let’s DO THIS!

Wow your next party with a spread of mouthwatering sauces that they can smear on top of a slice of cheesecake!  The best part; they all came together much faster than I expected.  Also, I made them all the day before, stuck them in the fridge, then just warmed them up in the microwave for about 30 seconds for the few that had thickened.  It was peeeerfect!  Especially since I worked the day of the party!

So a little disclaimer…this beautiful idea came together for one of my new bestie’s birthday parties, which was glorious…and also happened in the midst of a long streak of MADNESS that is currently my life.  Training at two jobs…its wonderful, I’m thankful…it’s madness.  Because of that fact, I went semi-homemade with this celebration.  I know that making cheesecake can be a delicate process, and also that I wouldn’t have time for mess ups on my first cheesecake adventure.  So I bought my cheesecake this time!  Now I know that may be against the “inner code” of some of you foodies (honestly it was against mine too), but some days you just can’t be Martha Stewart.  But I tell you what.  Spend a much shorter amount of time making these fantastic sauces I will show you, and people will think you ARE Martha Stewart!!  But if you have the time to do it all, I read some crazy good reviews on Ina Garten’s cheesecake recipe on foodnetwork.com!  Check it out!!

 

Sauce #1 Stupid Easy Caramel Sauce

Cheesecake 6

Sorry for the fuzzy nature of the photos. As you can probably tell, this party was happening outside at night, haha!

Yes.  It is that easy.

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

Yes.  That’s it.  Can you believe it?!  Here’s how you do it!!

  1. Fill a medium or large pot with water.
  2. Drop your can, still sealed, into the water and bring to a boil.
  3. Simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours.  Drain water and let cool for a while so you don’t burn your fingers.  If you don’t boil it long enough, it will be more solid than you want.  You can heat it up to thin it, but be careful!
  4. Open your can, and you will have caramel sauce!!  Don’t believe me?!  Google it!  You’ll be amazed!!

 

Sauce #2  Classy Chocolate Sauce adapted from southernfood.com

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Sorry for the fuzzy nature of the photos. As you can probably tell, this party was happening outside at night, haha!

Note:  This makes a large batch, so what you are going to want to do is use half for the next sauce, Orange Chocolate Sauce.  Unless you just want a butt load of chocolate.  Sometimes you just need chocolate.

So, here’s what you need:

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1  tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Mix the sugar, cocoa, flour, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, adding just enough whipping cream to make a paste so everything gets incorporated and dissolved.
  2. Add the rest of the whipping cream and stir in.
  3. Bring to a boil, stir,  and immediately reduce to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in vanilla, pour half of the sauce into a serving container or Tupperware.  Put pot back on burner to make the Orange Chocolate Sauce (my favorite!!).

 

Sauce #3 Rich Orange Chocolate Sauce adapted from Southernfood.com

Cheesecake 3

Sorry for the fuzzy nature of the photos. As you can probably tell, this party was happening outside at night, haha!

I’ll say it again.  This was MY FAVORITE!  I even drizzled it on brownies…and died a little from the happiness.  Orange and chocolate runs in my veins.  I think it’s part of being a Kirkwood (that’s my maiden name) 😉  My sweet grams, before she died, would always have those chocolate oranges that you can smack on the table, unwrap, and you have perfect little slices!!!  We got them for her whenever we came across them.  🙂  Okay.  On to the sauce!!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 Recipe of Classy Chocolate Sauce
  • 1 Orange, zest and juice

And here’s how you do it:

  1. With your chocolate sauce over low heat, zest the orange and whisk it in.  Squeeze most of the orange juice and whisk in again!  Now taste and adjust.  I kept adding juice until it was pretty well used up!

 

Sauce #4  Creamy Peanut Butter Sauce adapted from Chow.com

Cheesecake 7

 

Believe it or not, this was my husband’s favorite sauce, and he doesn’t usually care for peanut butter desserts.  That’s a good sign, right?!  It was super good, not gonna lie!!  Supposedly this is a Friendly’s copy cat recipe!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 C Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/4 C + Sugar (The original called for Karo Syrup and sugar.  I nixed the Karo and made my 1/4 C Sugar a HEAPING 1/4 C…then sprinkled a little here and there as I went.  This one you can do to taste, depending on how much you want your Peanut Butter Flavor to shine!)
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 C Creamy Peanut Butter

And here’s how you do it:

  1. Toss everything but the peanut butter in a pan over medium heat.  Stir until well combined.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until creamy and consistent.  See how easy these sauces are?!

 

Sauce #5  Fresh Mixed Berry Sauce adapted from Foodnetwork.com (Ina Garten!)

Cheesecake 4

Sorry for the fuzzy nature of the photos. As you can probably tell, this party was happening outside at night, haha!

 

The picture doesn’t even come close to doing this sauce justice.  It.  Was.  Gorgeous.  And so easy.  And so flippin delicious.  So delicious in fact that by the time I went to put some on a piece of cheesecake and take a picture for you all…it was done, haha!  Good sign, eh?  I was so intrigued by the idea of this sauce.  I assumed you probably just made sauce like you would pie fillings that I have done before…fresh fruit, sugar, not much else.  So when I came across this recipe and saw Ina’s idea…I simply had to try.  Honestly, I think it was even easier!!  Are you curious?!  Read on!

So, here’s what you need:

  • 1 Cup Strawberry Jelly (Not Jam)
  • 2 C Sliced Strawberries
  • 1 Small Package Raspberries
  • 1 Small Package Blackberries

That’s it!!!  And it’s so good!!

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Put the jelly in a pan over low heat and stir until heated through and melted.
  2. Dump in your berries, stir so everything is well coated, and let cook just for a couple of minutes or so, letting the flavors fuse.  Annnnnd you’re done!!!

 

Cheesecake 2

Whew!!  How was that?!  Much simpler than you thought?!  Another fun tip for party situations like this…make little cards with labels for your sauces so you don’t have to babysit the table and explain to people what each is!  And as far as presentation goes, people love it!  I get comments on it every time!!  I hope you try all of these sauces, and they change your world!  Or at least your next celebration!! 😀

Cheesecake 9

 

Here is my slice!  It’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake!!  Are you drooling?!