Mel’s Favorite Fare


 This is all about strawberries.

Strawberry rhubarb bars

1 C packed brown sugar

2 C large oats

1 C whole-wheat flour (or all-purpose flour)

3/4 C cold butter cut into ½-inch pieces

4 C fresh diced strawberries

3 C frozen or fresh chopped rhubarb

1/4 C cornstarch (reduce to ½ TBS If using fresh)

3/4 C granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, oats and flour until mixed. Add butter and mix with an electric mixer, a pastry cutter or your hands until combined.

Set aside 1 packed cup of oatmeal cookie mixture. Press rest into bottom of prepared pan, covering bottom entirely. Bake bottom crust for 10-20 minutes until dry on top and lightly golden.

In the same bowl used to mix oats, combine strawberries, rhubarb, cornstarch and sugar. Spread on top of crust and crumble remaining oat     mixture on top. It will not cover the top completely. Press down oat        mixture slightly. Bake for 45-50     minutes until filling is bubbly and thickened and oats are light golden brown.

Cool to room temperature. I highly recommend chilling before cutting – they will set completely and cut more cleanly. Store in refrigerator. It also freezes well.


Chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake

1-1/4 C chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about 9 whole crackers)

1/4 C butter, melted

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

1/2 C cold water

16 oz. fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed

2 8-oz. pkgs. fat-free cream cheese, cubed

1 C fat-free cottage cheese

sugar substitute equivalent to 3/4 cup sugar

1 8-oz. carton frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed, divided

1/2 C chocolate ice cream topping

1 C quartered fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350. Mix cracker crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 1 in. up sides of a 9-in. springform pan coated with cooking spray. Place on a baking sheet. Bake until set, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over cold water; let stand 1 minute. Heat over low heat, stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved; remove from heat. Hull strawberries   if necessary; puree in a food processor. Remove to a bowl. Add cream cheese, cottage cheese and sugar substitute     to food processor; process until smooth. While processing, gradually add gelatin mixture. Add pureed strawberries; process until blended.

Transfer to a large bowl; fold in 2 cups whipped topping. Pour into crust. Refrigerate, covered, until set, 2-3 hours. Loosen sides of cheesecake with a knife; remove rim. To serve,   top with chocolate topping, remaining whipped topping and quartered strawberries.


Frozen strawberry dessert

2 sleeves (9-1/2 oz. total) graham crackers (or 2 C finely ground)

10 TBS butter

cooking-oil spray

1 pt. heavy whipping cream

1/2 C sweetened condensed milk

18-oz. Pourable Fruit topping strawberry, or 2 10-oz. pkgs. frozen strawberries, mashed

1 lime zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Break up crackers and whirl half at a time     in a food processor until finely ground (or use pre-ground). Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown throughout, 6 to 8 minutes total. Pour into a bowl.

Meanwhile, heat or melt butter (stove or microwave). Drizzle crumbs with butter and toss to coat. Let cool. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper; coat with cooking-oil spray. Pour cream into a mixing bowl; beat on medium speed, slowly drizzling in 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk. Then beat to stiff peaks. Set aside, chilled.

Evenly sprinkle bottom of lined pan with 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, spreading in an even layer, using a small spatula. Dollop half of  whipped cream on top. Carefully spread cream level, without stirring up crumbs. Spoon (or pour) 1/2 bottle of strawberry Pourable Fruit topping (or mashed frozen strawberries) over cream. Use juices! Sprinkle 1 cup crumbs on top.

Repeat cream and strawberry fruit layers. Sprinkle top with remaining crumbs, but don’t smooth down. Wrap dessert with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, but still sliceable, about 6 hours. Remove from pan and cut into wedges. Garnish with lime zest or a mint leaf; serve!

Make ahead: Up to 2 weeks, and keep in freezer. To serve, let stand at room temperature until just soft enough to slice, 45 minutes to 1 hour.


She said, “AutoCorrect makes me say things I don’t Nintendo.”

If you would like to share a recipe with me, just send it to the J-T or email it to me.

(Melanie Behrens –

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