In honor of a hometown Fourth and Strawberry Pizza.

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Fourth of July is a huger than huge holiday in my family.

In my tiny hometown of Long Beach, Indiana (yes, there’s a Long Beach in Indiana), going “home for the Fourth” is practically a law. There’s the parade that runs through town, complete with crepe-papered bikes and fire trucks, the beer tent afterward, where everyone drinks lukewarm Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Miller Lite from kegs and catches up with friends they’ve known since they were three, and a fireworks display that rivals most large cities’ that we watch on lawn chairs from my parents’ front yard.

It’s a time to show off your new clothes, boyfriend, husband or kids, drink during the day without shame, get your picture taken for The Beacher (Long Beach’s weekly newspaper), jet ski on Lake Michigan, grab a hamburger at Redamaks, people watch at the Tree House, have pancakes with your best friends at Memo’s and most importantly, it’s a time to appreciate the wonders of home.

Here’s a shot of us last year with my Mom and sister. The Bear was 4 months old:

This year, I’m sad to say that we’re staying in California over the Fourth. With our big move this year and the holiday falling in the middle of the week, it’s just too hard for us to get back. But, mark my words, Long Beach: the Murphys will be back next year, so get ready! 🙂

In honor of a Long Beach Fourth of July and of Fourth celebrations everywhere, I’m sharing with you my mom’s recipe for Strawberry Pizza, which she makes every year as a Fourth tradition in the design of an American Flag. I’ll be missing your Strawberry Pizza this year, Mom, but I’ll miss my family even more.

Have a wonderful Fourth, everyone!

YAYA’S PATRIOTIC STRAWBERRY PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 package sugar cookie mix

1 package strawberry Jello (you’ll only use a little)

1 package raspberry Jello (you’ll only use a little)

1 8oz package of cream cheese

1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar

1 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries, cleaned, drained and sliced

1 pint fresh blueberries, cleaned and drained

2 bananas, sliced into discs

4 TBS cornstarch

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 C water

2 TBS Karo syrup (the clear kind)

Pinch of salt

Whipped Cream

Rimmed rectangular baking sheet

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease the baking sheet and pat the cookie mix into the baking dish, creating a medium-thin “crust.” Bake for 10 minutes at 350 and let cool completely.

Soften 1 8 oz package of cream cheese and mix with ½ c sugar and ½ tsp of vanilla. After the crust has completely cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled cookie crust. Mix 1 c sugar, 4 tbs cornstarch, 1 C water, 2 TBS of white Karo syrup and a pinch of salt in a pot and boil until clear, stirring constantly. Separate this mixture into three equal parts. Add 2 tbs of the strawberry Jello to one, 2 tbs of the raspberry to another and leave the third clear. Mix well and let cool. After they’re completely cool, add the strawberries to the strawberry mixture, the blueberries to the raspberry mixture and the bananas to the clear mixture. Now, it’s time to get artistic. Arrange your berries and bananas on top of the cream cheese mixture in the design of an American flag: the strawberries and bananas form the red and white stripes, and the blueberries form the stars. Refrigerate and top with whipped cream or Cool Whip just before serving.

Voila! A Fourth of July favorite that I look forward to every year at my parents’ house. This recipe can work any time of year and with any fruit. It’s a great versatile dessert that tastes like a little slice of heaven. This picture of the finished product doesn’t include bananas, but is just as delish!

Enjoy my Mom’s recipe, friends, and wherever you’re celebrating this year, I hope you have a great holiday!

Kisses and hugs,

Erin

 

UPDATE 7/4/12:

I made my mom’s recipe today, and here are a few tips to help make the end product even better:

1) Don’t be tempted to over cook the cookie crust. It may not look like it’s cooked, but 10-12 minutes is really all it needs. The crust may “puff up” a little in the oven, but you can gently press it flat with clean fingertips as it’s cooling. Make sure you grease your dish/pan really well. Mine stuck a little.

2) The Jell-O can be cut back a little. If your fruit is fresh, you won’t need it for flavor, just for color, so I’d definitely cut it in half next time.

3) If you use bananas in yours, add them just before you serve/present the dish, otherwise they get brown, even if they’re glazed.

Here’s a picture of my finished product! I remembered just before I made this that I actually had a cookie cutter in the shape of a teeny tiny star (I use it for stenciling and felting), so I used that to cut my banana discs. Fun little patriotic touch!

What do you think?? 🙂

 

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