Fresh from the Strawberry Patch

You know the problem that I had with thieves in the strawberry patch? The netting worked, and now I have plenty of berries for fresh eating, preserving and freezing. Here are some delightfully fresh recipes for early-in-the-summer days.

This delicious and healthy salad uses early summer greens and strawberries. (Other summer berries can be substituted) Sometimes I add a cooked chicken breast, hard-boiled eggs or Gorgonzola cheese on the top for a light summer dinner. Experiment by adding your own fresh vegetables to the salad. It is the honey-mustard-poppy seed dressing that makes it so good. I think this dressing would be great on any salad!

- about 1 pound lettuce or spinach (or combo)
- 1 avocado, peeled and sliced or chopped
- 1/2 pint strawberries, halved or sliced if they are larger
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 small sweet onion, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup walnuts

- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. Mix with salad just prior to serving.

Hot Strawberry-Pepper Relish
I made this relish to use up what remained of the strawberries. It has a sweet-hot-tangy flavor and the peppers tend to stay crunchy. It is great on a cracker with Gouda cheese, or heated in the microwave as a dip for shrimp or chicken fingers. Easy to make, it will be a welcome preserve in the winter.

-1 box "no sugar needed" fruit pectin mixed with 1/4 cup sugar
-3 cups strawberries, mashed (including juice from berries)
-2 cups finely diced green bell peppers
-1 cup finely diced jalapeno pepper
-1 cup finely diced onion
-3/4 cup cider vinegar
-1 1/4 cup sugar

Mix the first 6 ingredients in a large saucepan/stockpot. Bring to a rolling boil. Add 1 1/4 cup sugar all at once, bring to rolling boil for 1 minute. Take off heat. Ladle into prepared canning jars with 2-piece canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Now, this is decadent! 
Strawberry Cake with Strawberry-Pecan Icing by Christy at Fudge Ripple
The cake is heavenly made from scratch and the strawberry-pecan icing is perfection! Time doesn't permit me to follow as many blogs as I would like, but this one has too many good recipes and cooking ideas to pass up. Check it out if you get a is the link to the recipe and blog...

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