Celebrate your independence with these festive Fourth of July treats.
PHOTOS: Matthew Gaulin
There’s something about summer that makes people crave a handful of nice, juicy berries. And ‘tis the season for them. Hit any local grocery store and the assortment of fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries is bountiful.
Cheryl Bloom grew up enjoying fresh berries in Michigan.
“We would pick our own strawberries and blueberries,” she says. “Then we would freeze them individually to use all year long to make blueberry pie, strawberry pie or blueberry pancakes. We also used them to make freezer jam.”
Eating berries fresh with no frills is a given, but sometimes it’s fun to get creative. One of Cheryl’s favorite recipes is for fruit pizza, which she first learned from her friend Jodi.
During an 18-year Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School study, doctors gathered data from 93,600 women, ages 25 to 42. They found that women who ate the fewest blueberries and strawberries were at increased risk of a heart attack. Those who ate the most were 34 percent less likely to have a heart attack than the women who ate the least of these fruits. They also found that those with heart benefits had three or more servings of a half-cup of blueberries or strawberries each week.
In honor of the Fourth, Cheryl gave her fruit pizza a patriotic makeover with blueberries and strawberries. And if you want a gluten-free option, you can replace the standard sugar cookie crust with oatmeal. You can also use canned or fresh fruits to make this dish. Or you can mix the two.
If your Independence Day plans have you hitting the road, Cheryl suggests trying layered Jell-O cups as a fun, portable treat. The idea came to her following a visit from her health inspector to her restaurant.
“He said a lot of towns with festivals were starting to offer food in cups so revelers can walk around with them,” she says. “So during Bikefest, I served tossed salads in clear plastic cups with dressing on the side. It was a hit.”
The idea got Cheryl thinking of other ways to utilize the cups.
“This can be a neat way for parents and grandparents to keep snacks in the refrigerator,” she says. “You can make them ahead of time and then the kids can just help themselves. You can pack them full of fruits, vegetables or just about anything your child likes.”
Therefore, whether you’re planning a family picnic, a trip to the beach or a tailgating event, Cheryl says use the cups to keep things interesting — and contained.
“Store them in an ice chest and keep different sizes on hand to feed adults and children,” she says. “And what’s great about them is you can write your name on them so you can find your leftovers later.”
Recipe courtesy of Cheryl Bloom
Sugar cookie crust
- 1 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Cream cheese spread
3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
- Cream butter, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract and egg using an electric mixer.
- Add baking powder, salt and flour one cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Dough will become very stiff. Blend the last 3/4 cup flour by hand.
- Place dough in 12-by-18 cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until slightly golden brown.
- Mix cream cheese and sugar in bowl. Spread mixture on crust once it’s cool.
- Arrange fruit of choice in any combination on top of cream cheese spread. For the American flag, use whole blueberries and sliced strawberries. Use a No. 16 tip and pastry bag to squeeze extra cream cheese spread between the stars. Make typical shells for the borders.
NOTE: A glaze keeps the fruit fresher longer and adds a little more flavor and moisture to the pizza. If you like a glaze on your fruit pizza, use juice from canned pineapple and mandarin oranges. Add enough water to make two cups. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and three tablespoons of cornstarch. Bring to boil, then cool slightly. Pour over fruit.
Layered Jell-O Cups
Recipe courtesy of Cheryl Bloom
- 1 (3-ounce) Berry Blue Jell-O package
- 1 (3-ounce) Strawberry or Cherry Jell-O package
- 1 four-pack Knox unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite flavoring (I suggest lemon, strawberry, or orange)
- 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- Red, white and blue sprinkles
- 4 (16-ounce) clear cups (If you prefer to have smaller portions, use 9-ounce clear cups)
- Fill microwaveable measuring cup/bowl with one cup water.
- Microwave for 90 seconds, or until almost boiling.
- Mix dry Berry Blue Jell-O into hot water. Stir until Jell-O is completely dissolved.
- Add enough ice cubes to reach the two-cup mark and keep stirring.
- When ice is melted, pour 1/2 cup blue Jell-O into each cup.
- Refrigerate until set. Wash and clean measuring bowl and utensils for next step.
- Mix two packets of Knox gelatin with one cup cold water. Let sit for one minute.
- Heat one cup of water in microwave for 90 seconds, or until almost boiling. Remove water from microwave and add one teaspoon flavoring and 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Add hot mixture to cold mixture and stir well.
- When the clear gelatin has reached a thicker consistency, stir in red, white and blue sprinkles. Spoon 1/2 cup clear gelatin over blue Jell-O. Refrigerate until set.
- Follow the same directions with the red Jell-O. Pour over clear gelatin. Refrigerate until set.
NOTE: If taking on a picnic or to the beach, cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep cold. If desired, add whipped topping just before serving.