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The Recipe Gals: Sweet and savory treats for summer

Summer is just around the corner and strawberries are coming into season. I have a strawberry dessert that will tickle your taste buds, as well as a mouth watering snack for movie night.

Lemon and Strawberry Sundaes

Cake:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup part-skim ricotta, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

3 teaspoons lemon zest (from 3 lemons)

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Assembly:

1 quart strawberries, hulled and diced

Pinch of salt

4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 pint vanilla or strawberry ice cream

For the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×5 inch metal loaf pan and line the bottom and sides with a strip of parchment paper.

Add the butter, ricotta, and sugar to a large bowl. Beat the mixture with a hand-held mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract and beat to combine. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold the ingredients together with a rubber spatula until just combined. Do not over-mix. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool for 1 hour.

For the assembly: Meanwhile, combine the berries, salt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a bowl. Toss well with a fork to combine, mashing the berries slightly with the back of the fork. Allow mixture to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Whip together the heavy cream, vanilla extract and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a separate mixing bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.

Dice 6 slices of the lemon loaf, then divide evenly into 6 bowls or dessert glasses. Top each serving with some of the berries, followed by a scoop of ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream.

Hints: This can be a gluten-free recipe, just swap out the all-purpose flour for gluten-free flour. If you don’t want to whip your own topping, you can use frozen whipped topping to thaw. Again, you can decrease the sugar since you are using ice cream, you won’t miss it. This dessert really is a mouth full of all kinds of tastes and textures. I hope you enjoy it.

This second recipe, like I said, is a great make-ahead movie night snack — or anytime snack, for that matter — with an abundance of flavors.

Pizza Popcorn

4 tablespoons butter, unsalted at room temperature

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/3 cup popcorn kernels

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small food processor, puree the butter, tomatoes and garlic until it forms a smooth paste. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat and add the butter mixture. Heat the butter until melted down and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Keep warm.

Heat a large saucepan over high heat. Once hot, add the popcorn kernels and oil, and shake the pan to coat the kernels in the oil. Cover and continue to cook over high heat until the kernels begin to pop. Shake the pan once again and reduce the heat to medium-high. Continue to cook until the popping slows down, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour the popped popcorn into a large bowl. While still warm, add the flavored butter, cheese, oregano and salt. Toss to coat, and serve.

Hints: You can use plain microwave popping corn or, if you have a popcorn popper, you can do your popcorn that way as well. Also, you might need to add a little warm water to your food processor to keep the ingredients moving and the blade smooths the ingredients out. Those items really do smell like a pizza. You can make the pizza ingredients ahead of time and put them in the refrigerator until ready for use.

-Pam Rolley

This Strawberry Cake recipe is sweet, moist and loaded with fresh strawberries.

Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Sauce

Servings: 10 slices (9″ cake)

Cake

2 large eggs room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour (*measured correctly)

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

12 oz strawberries hulled

1 teaspoon powdered sugar for dusting, optional

Strawberry Sauce

16 oz strawberries hulled and halved

1/4 cup granulated sugar or to taste

Butter a 9″ springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Prepare 12 oz of strawberries for the cake: dice 6 oz of strawberries and slice the second 6 oz into halves and set aside.

Cake: In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer), beat together 2 eggs with 1 cup sugar on high speed for 5 minutes or until light in color and thick.

Add 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla and beat on low speed until well combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together: 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt until well incorporated. With the mixer on medium/low speed, add flour mixture to the batter 1/3 at a time, letting the flour incorporate with each addition and continue mixing just until well combined. Do not over-mix.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with 6 oz of diced strawberries then spread remaining batter over the top. Cover the surface with 6 oz of halved strawberries (cut-side-down), pressing them down just slightly into the batter. Bake at 375 F for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake rest in the pan for 15-20 minutes then remove the ring and cool to room temp or until just slightly warm.

Run a thin spatula around cake edges to loosen from pan, then transfer to a cake platter. Cool until just warm or at room temperature.

Strawberry sauce: While the cake is baking, make the strawberry sauce. In a blender or food processor, combine 16 oz strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar (or add sugar to taste) and blend until pureed.

To serve, dust with powdered sugar if desired. Drizzle individual slices generously with strawberry syrup.

Creamy ripe avocados stuffed with rotisserie chicken salad make for a refreshing, healthy, savory snack.

Healthy Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocado

Chicken Salad:

1 whole rotisserie chicken

1/4 cup diced red onion

1 fresh diced apple (honey crisp or gala)

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

3/4 cup mayo

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

salt

fresh cracked black pepper

Stuffed Avocado:

5 ripe avocados (can use 4-6 avocados with more or less stuffing)

1 lime, juice only

salt

paprika

Note: Chicken salad recipe makes about 4 cups. This recipe can make about 8-12 stuffed avocados, depending on how much stuffing is used on each half. Chicken salad can also be made ahead of time and used as needed for individual avocados.

Chicken salad: Take rotisserie chicken apart, picking out all the meat.

Dice chicken meat and add it to a large mixing bowl.

Add diced red onion, diced apple, parsley, mayo, greek yogurt, thyme, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Mix very well, until all ingredients are incorporated throughout.

Stuffed avocados: Cut avocados in half and take out the pits. Use a large spoon to gently separate the skin off the avocado flesh. Carefully spoon the avocado meat out, leaving it intact.

Make a thin slice at the rounded bottom of each avocado half to help it stand without rolling over.

Rub each avocado half with lime juice on all sides and season it with salt all around. Sprinkle just a pinch of paprika onto the avocado.

Spoon about 1/3 cup of chicken salad into the avocado halves and serve.

-Karen Sick

The Recipe Gals, Pam Rolley and Karen Sick, together have more than 60 years’ experience as nutritionists in the public school and university settings. You’ll find their delicious offerings every other week in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette’s section, The Taste.

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