Holiday Menus Balance Naughty and Nice New Chef-inspired Recipes Use Winter's Surprise Ingredient--California Strawberries

Plus, Share New Recipes & Get Inspired with Holiday Pinterest Contest and $250 Prizes

WATSONVILLE, Calif., Nov. 13, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Though it's tempting to include every indulgent dish on holiday tables, the most successful menus are a balance of both healthful and decadent favorites.

Finding the right combination of delicious and healthy recipes doesn't require an endless search for exotic ingredients -- they're already on your store shelf. California strawberries can add an unexpected boost to a holiday fruit salad, platter or creative cocktail.

Pleasing to every palate, fresh California strawberries are always available, even in the holiday season. Staggered planting throughout the state's 12-month growing cycle keeps fresh-picked, ripe California strawberries in the produce aisle all year long.

Blended with cucumber, a dash of hot sauce and the surprise of a tomato, fresh strawberries accent this Spicy & Sweet California Strawberry Tonic for a great pre-dinner cocktail, or without the vodka, a healthy smoothie.

Desserts look more festive and fresh with the addition of strawberries, either as a garnish or a cake filling. Cooked to a consistency of jam and folded into a mixture of cream cheese and butter, fresh strawberries are a delicate counterpoint to these Mini California Strawberry and Chocolate Party Cakes.

Just in time for the holidays, the California Strawberry Commission is encouraging fans to find their culinary inspiration with a $250-prize Pin-2-Win Contest! Click here for details.

Spicy Sweet California Strawberry Tonic
Makes four 10-ounce servings

Ingredients:
1 pound California strawberries, hulled
1 medium cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
4-6 drops red pepper sauce, more or less to taste
1 tablespoon honey
Dash of salt
4 lime slices for garnish
4 California strawberries for garnish
4 cups ice
4 ounces of vodka, optional

Directions:

  1. Place strawberries, cucumber, tomatoes, lime juice, red pepper sauce, honey and salt in a blender. Blend until very smooth.
  2. Fill glasses with ice. Pour mixture over ice and garnish with a lime and a strawberry.
  3. Serve immediately.

Per Serving: 137 calories; 0.6 g fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 304 mg sodium; 17 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 2 g protein

Mini California Strawberry & Chocolate Party Cakes
Makes 12 single-serving cakes

Ingredients:
Butter, for greasing pans
2 cups diced California strawberries
1 (15.25 ounce) strawberry cake mix, prepared to package directions
1 (15.25 ounce) chocolate cake mix, prepared to package directions
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups powdered sugar, more or less as necessary
½ teaspoon strawberry extract
2 (12 ounce) packages semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
12 medium California strawberries, sliced, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease two large-sized muffin pans with butter and set aside.
  2. Place diced strawberries in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until berries start to bubble, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very thick, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
  3. Prepare strawberry cake according to package directions. Pour batter into one of the muffin pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Prepare chocolate cake according to package directions. Pour batter into the remaining muffin pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, place thickened strawberries in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add cream cheese and butter, mixing until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, beating between additions until all sugar has been added and mixture is thick and smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes.
  6. While cakes are still in the muffin tins, slice off the domed tops. Remove cakes from muffin tins and slice each cake into two layers.
  7. Place the slightly larger layers (these will be the cake bottoms) on a sheet of wax paper.
  8. Spread strawberry mixture thickly over the bottoms. Cover with remaining layers of cake. Each cake will have both a chocolate and a strawberry layer.
  9. Place 1/3 cup of the chocolate chips in a small bowl and set aside for garnishing.
  10. Place remaining chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat on high at 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until chocolate has melted and is very smooth. Pour over tops of cakes, letting drip down the sides. Let set for 20 minutes at cool room temperature, if serving right away. Or, refrigerate until ready to serve. Cakes can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.
  11. Garnish tops of cakes with slices of strawberries and reserved chocolate chips before serving.

Per Serving: 655 calories; 37 g fat; 79 mg cholesterol; 332 mg sodium; 85 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 7 g protein

About the California Strawberry Commission
The California Strawberry Commission is a state government agency that represents 600 growers, shippers and processors of California strawberries. With a focus on food safety education, Commission strategies also include production and nutrition research, trade relations, public policy and marketing communications. For more information, go to CaliforniaStrawberries.comFacebook.com/CAStrawberries, or Twitter.com/CAStrawberries.

Media Contact:
Jodi Reinman
California Strawberry Commission
(831) 763-5421
jreinman@calstrawberry.org

Related Link:
California Strawberry Commission

SOURCE California Strawberry Commission



RELATED LINKS
http://californiastrawberries.com

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