Strawberry Cheesecake Squares
It's the hottest time of the year just about everywhere right now, and Southern California is no exception. In fact, most Angelinos will tell you that the past month has included some weird very june-gloom-esque weather. Lots of cloudy, humid mornings leading to sunny, hot afternoons. Basically, every afternoon becomes an excuse for me to run to the grocery store and pick up a pint of DF Mavens Mint Chip (my latest obsession) Ice Cream and then come home and eat it all, justifying that without it, I would be a puddle! The problem? I still kind of puddle out around 3 pm when the heat reaches its peak, but I've also eaten 600 calories worth of ice cream and my daily allotment of sugar. Whoops! This week I'm giving up the ice cream and packed the freezer with these sweet, low sugar Strawberry Cheesecake Squares. They're just the right amount of sweet on top of a chewy date-oat-nut crust, and make the perfect afternoon cool-down treat or late-night snack. They're packed full of good fats from the nuts and coconut milk, and are a nice break from a traditional round cheesecake. Easier to serve + share! Plus, when it's as hot as it has been here lately, you only want to have to pull out a piece at a time because, you know, MELTING. As you can see as proof above (well, and below), things got a bit melty under photography lights in the hot hot afternoon, but it still tastes amazing. If its that hot, keep them in the freezer until ready to serve. Otherwise, you can soften them a bit in the fridge, but since coconut milk/cream is so melty, the cooler the better for these babies. Let's eat!
1½ cups cashews
1½ cups oats
1 cup pitted dates
6 tablespoons melted coconut oil
4 heaping cups strawberries, green tops removed
1 - 14 oz. can coconut cream OR 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight + liquid drained
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup melted coconut oil
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup OR agave nectar
Soak cashews in warm water for at least one hour. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or high speed blender. Grease or line a 9x9 inch glass baking dish. Press date & nut mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Refrigerate or freeze to set coconut oil, about one hour.
Blend strawberries, coconut cream, vanilla, coconut oil and maple syrup in a high speed blender until completely combined. Remove crust-filled baking dish from the fridge and fill evenly with the cheesecake mixture. Cover + place in the freezer or fridge to set for at least 3 hours or overnight. When ready, remove from the fridge, cut with a large knife into 12 even squares, and plate. Sprinkle with crushed cashews, fresh strawberries, and a bit of coconut whipped cream, if you like. Since coconut cream can get melty in the heat (like in some of the photos above!), this dessert is best left in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to eat it. It lasts indefinitely covered in the freezer, and makes 12 medium-sized or 15 small cheesecake squares. Enjoy!
Matcha, Cherimoya + Strawberry Ice Cream
Ice cream season has arrived! At least, it has if you live in Southern California like us. The weather here lately has been verging on August temps and I am ba da ba ba baaa NOT loving' it. But this ice cream, packed with summery flavors, provides absolute relief from the miserable heat. A bowl of Matcha, Cherimoya + Strawberry ice cream topped with fresh strawberries? OH HELL YES. This whips up to be super creamy- so if you're not a hard serve kinda gal let it soften up a bit before eating and it's just like old school soft serve.
I'm already a huge matcha fan, and started incorporaring it into more than just my lattes with this Matcha Green Tea Scone recipe about a month ago. Since then, I want it in everything- including my ice cream. Its gives the best earthy, sweet flavor and pairs so well with the cherimoya.
The cherimoya is a totally new discovery to us. A friend kept telling us it tasted- on its own- like frozen yogurt, so we picked some up from the farmers market last week to try it for ourselves. When soft and ripe, the 'custard apple' really does have a light, sweet, almost frozen yogurt like taste...but I just couldn't stomach the soft, stringy, milky white texture. So, we blended it up! Since its not super sweet, we tossed in some fresh strawberries to sweeten the deal, plus a splash of maple syrup. Omit the maple syrup for a sugar-free option, or feel free to sub in whatever sweetener you prefer in its place. The vanilla helps balance the earthy flavors with the sweet, and the whole bit comes out a lovely shade of green. This recipe is high in potassium, vitamins C + B6, and antioxidants plus a whole lot of good fats & fiber, so have two servings if you like- I won't tell.
1 - 15 oz. can coconut cream (OR 2 - 15 oz. cans coconut milk, 'water' drained)
1 tablespoon matcha powder
1 cup cherimoya, seeded and skinned
1 cup fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 vanilla bean, scraped (OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
Wash + rinse the cherimoya well. Use a spoon to scoop the meat from the middle and remove the large black seeds- they're poisonous! Wash and hull strawberries, and cut vanilla bean in half and scrape insides into small bowl.
In a food processor or high speed blender combine all ingredients until creamy, then pour into a loaf pan or deep bowl, and freeze at least 8 hours- until hard enough to scoop. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out hearty portions into a bowl and enjoy!
Mango Rosemary Sorbet
Mango & Rosemary. Oh yeah. You betcha. I dreamed up this flavor combo while explaining how something about mangoes always taste PINEY to me. I know a lot of people agree with me, but (surprise!) some people just don't get it. I suppose the riper a mango is, the less piney in flavor, but it always has a hint of it to my tastebuds.
Combine that subtle hint of pine with the aromatic and earthy flavor of rosemary, and you've got a new favorite flavor combo. The sweetness of the mango and added maple syrup balance out any residual 'woodsy' taste, and the orange juice adds just a snap of citrus to round the flavors out. I'm a big fan of this recipe, and can't wait to make it again to share, because lets be honest- between recipe testing, photographing, and posting: I ate almost the whole batch myself.
This is the perfect recipe for using up the last of the seasonal mangoes, and a great way to use some fresh rosemary before you put it and dry it for winter. (Unless you live in So Cal like us- then it's sort of a year round friend.) Let's eat!
1- 15 oz can coconut milk
1 whole mango (about 1 cup), skinned, pitted and cubed
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
In a high-speed blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, mango, rosemary, maple syrup, and orange juice and blend until combined. Pour into a freezer-safe dish, and cover. Freeze for at least 3 hours, but overnight if possible. Remove from freezer about 10 minutes prior to serving to allow sorbet to soften for scooping. Serve with a sprig of fresh rosemary and a cookie. Any kind will do.
Will stay fresh in the freezer, well covered, indefinitely. Enjoy!
Strawberry Basil Ice Cream
I know, I know, I've been complaining about the heat for weeks now. But the struggle is REAL. And our tiny home is gettin' real toasty from about noon to 7 pm lately. Ick. We're whipping up cool treats to beat the heat exhaustion and avoid trips the movie theatre just to pay $24 for air conditioning. Our basil plants have been freaked out by the weather too, so they're in flowering mode and we're trying to eat up what what we can before this round of growth wraps up. Basil is great in bruschetta and we certainly don't have a shortage of tomatoes, but ice cream tastes better than lukewarm bruschetta. Trust me.
Plus, ice cream in fun flavors is FUN. I know, I said it twice. But seriously- this flavor will change how what you think about plain ol' strawberry ice cream. (But if you still love the original, we've got a recipe for that too.) Adding basil livens it up and makes it refreshing. Plus, you'll look like a regular Martha Stewart the next time you serve this to your friends. Seriously. And if you grow your own basil, you can brag about that too. 'Cause you rock. Now, let's all SCREAM for (dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free & raw)ICE CREAM!
2 cans coconut cream
1 lb. strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1 loosely packed cup of fresh basil
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor until completely combined and pour into a freezer-safe container. We used a loaf pan. Let mixture freeze 4-8 hours or overnight, and remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving to soften. Scoop into bowls, cones, or your mouth. Enjoy!
Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream
Valentine's Day is almost here! Alex and I are 6 days from leaving our little farmhouse in Maine and heading back to the West Coast, so things here have been a little hectic with all the organizing, packing, and insane excitement. This is our 4th V-Day spent together and I know exactly what my Valentine loves to get. He's not much for chocolate, but LOVES fruit and anything ice cream-esque, so to make him happy, I came up with this recipe. Its super simple, healthy, and a guilt-free sweet treat you can snuggle up & enjoy with your love after that romantic dinner.
Before we go any further though, a couple of notes on coconut milk:
-Coconut milk has a tendency to melt in heat. For best results, keep ice cream in the freezer until you're ready to eat so it doesn't get too soft.
-You can keep this recipe sugar-free by completely removing the sugar suggested or using a sugar substitute, such as stevia.
-Coconut milk is a tricky thing. Oh, Ladycakes did a great tutorial on making coconut whipped cream and how to avoid disaster. Some highlights: before buying flip your can and listen for a slight gurgle. If it sounds like there is room to slosh there is excess air-which you want to avoid. Refrigerate your can, untouched, overnight before using. Scoop gently, and use only the thickest, hardest, whitest part from the top. Keep the leftover coconut milk and toss it in a smoothie or at the very least, the compost. Also, I usually buy Thai Coconut brand because its consistently good and easy to find, but most other 100% full fat coconut milk cans will work.
2 - 15 oz. cans full-fat organic coconut milk
2 cups frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Refrigerate the cans of coconut milk on a stable shelf overnight. When ready, open the can and scoop the full-fat, thick white layer off of the top half of the can and into a high speed blender or food processor. Save the clearish liquid at the bottom to use in smoothies, oatmeal, or anything else that requires a milk substitute.
Add the strawberries, sweetener, and vanilla to the blender and start to blend, slowly at first, faster as the strawberries break down. Blend it all together about 1 minute, or until all the ingredients are completely combined in a soft-serve texture. Scoop the mixture into a medium sized mixing bowl or loaf pan and toss it in the freezer for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight. Stir the mixture about every hour or so to aerate the ice ream and make it easier to scoop later.
When ready to eat, let it sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes to soften up enough for serving. Scoop out into bowls, top with sprinkles if desired, and share with your Valentine! Saves in the freezer indefinitely if stored in a sealed container. Makes about 4 servings.