Monday, May 21, 2012

Strawberry Daze

  This past weekend, my hometown had a strawberry festival.  Succulent, ripe rubies are in abundance in May around here, although with the mild winter, the berries have weighed down the vines earlier than usual.  Recently I blended up this recipe from Southern Living's Big Book of BBQ - Strawberry Tea Slush.  Cool strawberries hit the tongue, and background notes of tea and lemonade round out this slightly tart slush.  I believe this is what summertime tastes like.  Here's the beauty of this recipe, though; it uses frozen strawberries that can be found in your freezer section year-round.  Keep in mind this has just a little over of an hour of chill time before blending.

Strawberry Tea Slush
Yields 6 cups

2 cups water
4 tea bags, regular size
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
6 oz. frozen lemonade concentrate
1 cup ice cubes
1/4 cup powdered sugar (can add more to taste if you prefer a sweeter drink)

  Start by steeping the tea.  In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.  Take the pot off the heat and add in the tea bags.  Cover and let the tea steep for 5 minutes.  Remove the tea bags and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

  Add the chilled tea, frozen strawberries, lemonade concentrate, ice and powdered sugar to a blender and process until the mixture is slushy and smooth.  Serve right away and enjoy!

Note: Resist the urge to squeeze those tea bags when removing them.  Squeezing releases very bitter liquid into the tea.

  Now that you are sippin' on strawberry goodness, want something to nibble on?  One of my dear friends brought in this amazing salsa made with not tomatoes, but strawberries to work.  Heavenly!  This is another treat from Southern Living, found in the March 2012 issue.  She didn't have the avocado, but it was still fantastic.  The magazine suggests serving this with grilled or pan-fried meats, seafood or poultry aplenty, but it was very tasty on plain ol' tortilla chips.  Give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

Strawberry Salsa
Yields about 2 1/2 cups

1/2 cup red pepper jelly
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cups fresh chopped strawberries
1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1 small avocado

  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the jelly, fresh herbs, lime zest and juice, and red pepper.  Gently fold in the strawberries and dried cranberries.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  Right before serving, dice the avocado and add to the chilled salsa mixture.

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