Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast

This is a delicious and simple special-occasion breakfast that is quick to put together for company.  You can certainly substitute raspberry preserves if you’d like.  If you’re having a large, brunch-type gather, these rich, filling “sandwiches” can easily be halved.

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 T. powdered sugar
2 T. strawberry preserves
8 slices sturdy bread
2 eggs
½ c. half-and-half or whole milk
2 T. sugar
4 T. butter

Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar in a small bowl; mix well. Stir in preserves.

Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over 4 slices of bread; top with remaining slices to form sandwiches.

Whisk together eggs, half-and-half and sugar in a medium bowl; set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip each sandwich into egg mixture, completely covering both sides.

Cook sandwiches 1-2 minutes per side or until golden.

Makes 4 sandwiches.


Bribing for Black Raspberries

Usually, black raspberry season is pretty short here in the Hoosier State.  That has certainly not been the case this year.  We have been picking these purple gems off and on for more than a month.  It’s a beautiful thing.

However, due to the rain, rain and more rain, the usual unpleasant picking conditions are bordering on brutal.  Typically, we are only fighting briers, poison ivy, nettles and the occasional mosquito.  This year, the mosquitos are some type of mutant super pests which swarm innocent berry pickers in relentless droves.  It’s nasty.  No commercial bug spray or homemade repellent has consistently worked thus far.  We just cover every body part we can cover with as many layers as we can bear and pick fruit as quickly as we can pick.

Well, my kids have said that enough is enough.  According to them, we need no more black raspberries.

I disagree.  I said that we could surely pick one more time.

They maintained that the “one more time” has already been used.  Twice.

I told them that if God gives us this abundance, He surely wants us to use it.

I reminded them that a really good year of a certain crop often precedes a poor year for that same crop.

No logic could persuade them of the necessity for more, so I switched tactics.

I bribed them.

For another gallon bucket of black raspberries that they help me gather, I will make one black raspberry cream pie today and one canister of homemade ice cream on Friday.  With raspberries for topping.


Berry Lemonade

This would be a fun treat for the Fourth of July!

3/4 c. sugar
1 c. fresh lemon juice
1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
ice cubesT
thin lemon slices

Mix sugar, lemon juice and 6 cups of cold water. Mix well until the sugar dissolves.

Puree raspberries in a food processor and then press through a fine sieve into a bowl, discarding the seeds.

Mix the raspberries with the liquid. Chill for at least an hour or until desired temperature.

Add ice and lemon slices if desired.

Upside-Down Black Raspberry Cobbler

upsidedowncobblerEverybody has their own cobbler recipe.  I tend to waffle back and forth between a few different ones.  This one is SUPER easy, and pretty much any type of berry can be used.

1/2 c. melted butter
3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. black raspberries

Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a 9″ baking dish.

Mix together the milk, 1 cup sugar, flour and baking powder. Pour this mixture over the butter. DO NOT STIR.

Pour the berries over the batter and butter. DO NOT STIR.

Pour the remaining sugar over the berries. DO NOT STIR.

Bake the cobbler at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until the crust is browned and set.

Black Raspberry Cream Pie


Words cannot describe the sheer yumminess of this easy pie.  Feel free to use frozen black raspberries.

1 (8 inch) pie shell
3/4 c. sugar
4 tbsp. flour
1 c. evaporated milk (You can also use whipping cream if you’d like.)
3/4 c. skim milk (I used 2%.)
1 c. black raspberries, washed and drained

Mix sugar and flour together in a 2-quart saucepan.

Pour evaporated milk and skim milk into the sugar-flour mixture, while stirring. Heat mixture over medium heat until it just reaches the boiling point. Stir constantly to prevent sticking. Remove from heat.

Place drained raspberries in bottom of 8-inch pie shell in an even layer. Pour hot cream mixture over the berries. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is set.

Grandma Rayl’s Black Raspberry Pie


I picked so many black raspberries yesterday that I saw the loaded canes in my mind as I was trying to sleep last night.  I was pondering all things raspberry while I teetered on the edge of slumber, and I remembered the beauty of Grandma Rayl’s black raspberry pie.

To be honest, I had a slight obsession with it throughout my childhood.  I typically prefer cobblers, crisps and crumbles to pie, but I remember being willing to endure pie crust if it had juicy black raspberries cooked within its folds.  I could not understand why black raspberry pie could not be the pie of choice at every get-together.  Thanksgiving only offered pumpkin, apple and pecan pies, which left me opting out of dessert altogether.  It was a travesty in my young mind.  If my mom and aunts weren’t watching the desserts too closely, I would sometimes scoop some apple filling out from between its crusts or even just help myself to a hefty dollop of whipped cream for dessert.  (Please don’t tell my mom.  This is the first time I’ve come clean on this one.)

Anyway, I remember my grandma inviting me to bring “my fella” over for supper one summer when I was home from college.  She said she’d make whatever I wanted, so I ordered cubed steak, mashed potatoes & gravy and black raspberry pie.  I’m sure she threw in a veggie or two, but they were irrelevant to me.  I was focused on the protein and carbs for that meal.  I knew that Dave would love the meal, because his mom cooked kind of like my grandma did, and Dave loved fruit pie.  I was excited!

Grandma was always good to everyone.  My step-grandpa, Ralph, though good through-and-through, was a little bit ornery.  He had been my grandpa for as long as I could remember, and I loved him dearly.   Ralph liked to tease, and I hoped that Grandma had coaxed him into being on his best behavior.  I shouldn’t have worried; they were both gracious, kind hosts.

The meal was wonderful.  As we visited after supper, I kept thinking about that pie that was still coming.  I had intentionally left room for it, and I could hardly wait.  I was almost certain that Grandma would have ice cream to go with it, and she did.  When it was time to cut the pie, Grandma doled out big pieces and large scoops of ice cream–more than I really left room for, but I wasn’t going to complain.

We all savored our pie and ice cream, eating it slowly and allowing the beauty of its gloriousness to have its full effect on our taste buds.  It was as good as I remembered it being.  I noticed that Dave seemed to be working hard to fit his in, which surprised me a little bit, but sheer determination triumphed, and he succeeded.

I loved that time with Grandma and Ralph.  I love that she let me choose the menu and that they cleared their evening just to get to know my future husband.  Dave is twelve years older than me, and not everyone was thrilled with that age difference.  Grandma and Ralph, though, took him for who he was and treated us both with respect.  That meant a lot to me.

Eventually, we said our good-byes and gave our hugs.  We thanked them both and headed to the car.  Dave got in the driver’s side, and while I was still waving–before I even had the door all the way closed–he said to me, “Don’t ever give me raspberry pie again.”

Apparently, Dave likes every kind of fruit pie he’d ever tasted–except raspberry.  Oops.  I sure do appreciate that he choked it down out of respect and appreciation for my grandma’s service to him in preparing it.  He said the ice cream really helped.

After we were married, Grandma invited us out for pie one afternoon.  She asked if I wanted black raspberry or another kind.  I kind of hesitated (because I did, indeed, want black raspberry), and then I asked her if she’d mind making an apple pie this time.  Of course, she didn’t mind.  She was a grandma.

Picking Black Raspberries

blackraspberriesI spent a lot of time picking black raspberries today, and I was well-rewarded for my efforts.  Between our patch and a neighbor’s we gleaned over a gallon and a half of sweet, black, juicy gold.  Aside from what we ate out-of-hand today, we were able to put seven quarts in the freezer for summery-tasting treats throughout the winter months.

Those of you who have picked black raspberries before know that there is a cost to this seemingly free fruit.  The mosquitos are ruthless, and the briars, poison ivy and stinging nettle can be brutal.  Even if it’s 85 degrees, we gear up pretty heavily when we head out for the canes.  Aside from the backs of our hands and parts of our faces, there’s not much skin showing.

I don’t know what it is about the time I spend out in the woods picking berries, but it’s often very soothing to me.  It’s a time for thought and for prayer–a time for ordering my day or reflecting on moments past.  I enjoy that quiet time so much.  I also look forward to sharing the fruits of my labor with people that I love.  I enjoy baking a pie for the kids or taking some berries to a neighbor.  If I give you black raspberries, you can be certain that I think you’re pretty special.