Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spring Forward

Spring has officially sprung! We have moved our clocks forward, celebrated Easter and are already trying to think about what to get our mom's for Mother's Day next month. Depending on what part of the country you live in the first flowers are also starting to bloom and the first fresh spring vegetables are making an appearance at your local farmer's market. What a great time of year!

It is the perfect time to shake things up in the kitchen. After a winter of frozen vegetables, start looking for recipes that call for fresh ones. Fruits and vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, beets, butter lettuce, peas and strawberries are just coming into season. Yes I know, through the beauty of intercontinental shipping it is possible to get many of these things imported to your local grocery store year-round, but there is something deliciously fresh about the first local produce of the season. Below is one of my favorite springtime recipes to whet your appetite.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

2 1-lbs packages refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 8-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream (could substitute Half and Half)
Fresh Strawberries, sliced

* Bake sugar cookies according to package directions.

*In a small bowl, mix the softned cream cheese, sugar and whipping cream with an electric hand mixer until well blended. The mixture should be the consitancy of frosting. If it is too thick to spread like frosting you can add a little more whipping cream and blend again.

*After the cookies have been allowed to cool, spread a generous layer of cream cheese frosting on top of each cookie then layer on slices of strawberries.

*Serve and enjoy!

A few notes about this cookie, because of the cut strawberries the cookies do not store well. So plan on eating them or setting them out on your buffet table the same morning or afternoon that you make them. If you need to make things ahead of time, I recommend baking the cookies and making the icing in advance (storing the icing in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it) but waiting to slice the strawberries and assemble the cookies with cream cheese icing and fruit right before you are ready to set them out for people to eat. Of course, if you have a little extra time or are feeling particularly gourmet you can always step it up a notch and make the sugar cookies from scratch. My favorite scratch sugar cookie recipe is the Classic Sugar Cookies in the Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book by Judy Rosenberg, but you could use whatever one you like.

Happy Spring!

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