Memorial Day Dessert: Red, White, and Blueberry!

Today we celebrate Memorial Day.

It’s a day to remember the service and sacrifice of those who joined the military to fight for our right to the many freedoms we so often take for granted. I thank those family and friends who served, and those whose names I will never know.

Memorial Day traditionally kicks off the start of summer. There is always a place for a fast dessert that incorporates patriotic colors, but is easily made with other seasonal flavors and ingredients.

Red, White, and Blueberry Parfait

Blueberries

Strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 3.4 oz box Vanilla instant pudding mix

2 C Milk, any variety you like (I used fat-free)

1 C Frozen whipped topping (I used So Delicious dairy-free)

1 t vanilla extract

Combine pudding mix and milk in a bowl; whisk together for 2 minutes. Let set up for 5 minutes. Mix in frozen whipped topping, using whisk to break up lumps.

Spoon pudding mix into a clear container (I used a short glass). Spoon blueberries around the sides, and layer in more pudding mix. Spoon strawberries around the sides, and top with another layer of pudding. Top with three blueberries.

Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole

Sunday was my birthday. Fun Fact: Every few years it falls on Mother’s Day. My next-youngest sister and I are 13 months apart, but our birthdays are five weeks apart. The years when my birthday falls on Mother’s Day, her birthday falls on Father’s Day.

My mother gave me this sweet card. I love the sparkly koala bear in his fancy shades and festive headgear đŸ™‚

We celebrated my youngest niece’s college graduation in Miami on Friday, then drove to Jacksonville Saturday to meet the newest member of our family: my youngest sister’s new granddaughter. Family weekend all around!

Mother’s Day was a wonderful celebration with four generations of our family. My nieces and nephew took care of everything, and my oldest niece made today’s recipe.

We started with coffee and mimosas, with all the fixings on two tables.

Brunch followed, with a crustless quiche, mixed berries, watermelon chunks, bacon, and bagels with a variety of cream cheese spreads to choose from. The feast included this delightful Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole.

Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole

2 packages (17.5 oz) cinnamon rolls, separated and each roll cut into quarters

2 T butter, melted

4 large eggs

1/2 C milk

1 t cinnamon

1T vanilla sugar

1 t vanilla extract

Maple syrup

Packaged icing cups for cinnamon rolls

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour melted butter into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish and brush it up the sides. Distribute cut cinnamon rolls evenly in baking dish. Combine eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla sugar, and vanilla extract, mixing well. Pour over cinnamon rolls.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until center is set and top is golden brown.

Put reserved icing from both packages into a small bowl; add maple syrup to thin into a sauce to pour over casserole after it comes out of oven.

Serve while hot, or at room temperature.

Fresh fruit makes a delicious side, as does crisp bacon. We had a Mother’s Day and birthday feast, and celebrated being together for two special occasions rolled into one!

Happy Homicides 5: The Purr-fect Crime is available for only $.99 for a limited time.

Vanilla Bean Gelato with Cognac Macerated Raspberries

Did I have you at Gelato, or was it Cognac Macerated Raspberries?

Sometimes I want a tasty addition to my gelato (crazy, I know). Sometimes you need to whip up a fabulous dessert on short notice. It’s easy to make with a few simple ingredients.

My husband took advantage of a buy one/get one sale on gelato. Is it any wonder that I love him? I decided to take advantage of our gelato abundance and made a topping to bump up the decadence.

 Macerating and marinating are different terms for the same cooking principle: adding flavor to fruit or meat with liquids. You can add sugar to the macerating liquid if fruit isn’t sweet enough, but if you’re using fresh in-season fruit you probably won’t need to. Adding sugar makes the juice thick and syrupy; if you don’t add sugar, the juice will be thinner but still tasty.

You can make an even faster version by putting any fresh or frozen fruit on ice cream and adding a drizzle of the liqueur of your choice. Kahlua, Amaretto, Cognac, and Brandy all would dress up berries, banana, coconut, or chocolate – the possibilities are endless!

Vanilla Bean Gelato with Cognac Macerated Raspberries

1 C frozen raspberries, or your favorite fruit

1t sugar

1T Cognac

1 pint Vanilla Bean Gelato, or your favorite flavor

Combine first three ingredients in a small bowl, toss to coat, and stir every 15-20 minutes (if you have that much time). As the berries or other fruit thaws, their juices mix with the sugar and Cognac to make a delicious sauce.

After dinner, spoon saucy berries over scoops of gelato.

Serve with a sprig of mint or grated chocolate.

I just returned from Malice Domestic 29, and had a fabulous time seeing old friends and meeting new ones!

Happy Homicides 5: The Purr-fect Crime is available for presale now and will be $.99 for a limited time. It will be released May 12 in time for Mother’s Day. In “Dying for Sweet Tea” BevAnne makes Puff Pancake with Sliced Strawberries. The recipe for both are in the bonus pdf.

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry

Ever since I discovered puff pastry, I have loved its ease and versatility. I use it for cinnamon rolls instead of a heavier yeast dough, and for making a savory dinner dish like this one. I use mix mustard and fig jam together for a sweet/tangy accompaniment to the ham and cheese, and it cuts the richness of the puff pastry.

The hardest part is planning ahead and taking the puff pastry out of the freezer the night before I make it; I prefer to thaw it in the refrigerator, but have done it on the counter in a pinch.

My husband likes this also, and I mix it up sometimes by using only one sheet and baking it open-faced. While puff pastry isn’t in any sense a “diet” food, using one sheet instead of two cuts the calories.

Ham and Cheese in Puff Pastry

1 package puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed

6 slices ham

4 slices cheese (I use Swiss, but use what you like)

2 T mustard (I’ve used Dijon, a grainy mustard, or a mix of the two)

2 T fig jam

1 egg, beaten

1 T water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unfold one sheet of puff pastry on a flour-lined board. Roll it out to a smooth rectangle. Transfer to prepared baking sheet.

Mix the mustard and fig jam together; spread over the puff pastry, leaving a 1/2″ wide border all around. Place the ham evenly over the mustard/fig spread. Lay the cheese over the ham.

Roll out the second sheet, if using it. Moisten the 1/2″ border with water, and carefully place the puff pastry top over the layered ham and cheese. Use a fork to seal the edges. With a small sharp knife, cut slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Make an egg wash with the water and beaten egg, and brush over the top of the puff pastry.

Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is puffed and golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. This makes a tasty dinner or delicious appetizers if cut into smaller portions.

I’ll be at Malice Domestic April 27-30, in Bethesda, MD. Hope to see you there!