Summer Berry Shortcake

So a couple weeks ago after dinner, I got this crazy hankering for shortcake. I really, really, REALLY wanted it.

I know that when a lot of ‘y’all think of shortcake you think of those spongy pre-made mini ‘dessert shells’ with the indent that you can find in the produce section of the grocery store near the strawberries. Y’know the dessert shells that should really just get called by their true name: sponge cake. I’ve seen some that are just straight up angel food cakes. Not that I have a problem with them per se. There’s no judgment here; depending on the company, those can actually be pretty tasty.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

In the first place, sponge cake isn’t shortcake. It’s light and airy and spongy. It’s…sponge cake.

All of the above adjectives contradict shortcake by it’s very definition. Shortcakes are actually very similar to an American-style biscuit, both in texture and the baking method. In a sponge cake, egg whites are beaten until they’re stiff to make the crumb as light as possible. The point of a ‘short’cake, is actually to make a ‘shorter’, denser crumb.

If you’ve tried any of my biscuit recipes on the blog already, then this ,method will look very familiar to you. The frozen butter (and we’ve already established why it’s important that it is frozen) is grated directly into the dry ingredients. I used cake flour to give it the best texture, then in addition to the sugar, flavored the dough with vanilla, ground ginger and cardamom. The spices aren’t overpowering–they’re just going to give the shortcakes a little something extra flavor-wise. You’re going to like it, promise.

The result is a shortcake that has just the right texture. It is slightly dense, but it’s also buttery and tender, with enough height to split it in two and sandwich with the good stuff. Now what that ‘good stuff’ is, I’m going to leave entirely up to you. This is summertime, which means there are plenty of delicious fruits that are in season that are perfect for shortcake; strawberries, blackberries, peaches, apricots. All are excellent choices. I went with the strawberries and blackberries, but it’s your shortcake so go with what you like best. And of course y’all know to make/use a ton of good whipped cream to cram inside and dollop on top.  It’s the summer–get downright nasty with it.

Linking this up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #230, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

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Summer Berry Shortcake

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Shortcake

  • 3 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, frozen
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed

For Berries

  • 2 quarts of your choice of berries (I used a mix of strawberries & blackberries)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

For Berries: combine the sugar and lemon juice together with the berries and allow to sit for one hour.

Preheat oven to 425°. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven. In a small bowl combine the egg with the buttermilk and vanilla extract, set aside.

In a large bowl combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cardamom and sugar—stir with a fork until combined. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg-buttermilk mixture and stir to combine with a fork. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the shortcakes to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to trim the edges of the rectangle. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cutter to cut shortcakes, pressing scraps together to make more no more than two additional times. Discard the rest of the dough.  Place shortcakes slightly touching, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill 15 minutes in the freezer.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Remove them from the oven and cool for 15 minutes before serving. Just before serving, split open the shortcakes, spoon half the berries and whipped cream on the bottom half, top with remaining shortcake halves, and spoon on the remaining berries and cream.

No-Bake Vanilla Fruit Pizza

No Bake Vanilla Fruit Pizza3

Hey guys- I know I’ve been somewhat absent over the past several days, but I did have a pretty good reason. I really can explain.

See, in exactly 8 days, my twin sister Jas is getting married.

And I’m the maid of honor.

It’s my first time being in a wedding but maybe some of you that have been MoH before can attest to this. Being a MoH-a GOOD, DUTIFUL MoH that tries to keep the bride happy and assist with planning her wedding- keeps you very, very busy.

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Between all of the bridal fittings, bridesmaid dresses fittings, bridal shower planning/partying, shopping, reception planning details and daily assurances/emotional support to the bride, I’ve kind of fallen off the food blogging wagon, depending on just making my Old Faithful recipes to sustain us through the week rather than create and try new ones.

But I’ve still managed to fit them in here or there, just so long as they’re not super labor-intensive can be cooked and photographed within a few hours.

I’ll admit it: I’ve been a bit lazy and slacker-ish. But I know I need to step my game up and get back to my old regular posting schedule-especially since September is now here and with it, the arrival of Autumn, which also happens to be my favorite time of year. I won’t let you guys down on my Fall Baking; hand to God.

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But in spite of all the hullabaloo that’s going on at our place now and the frenzy that will only increase in fever pitch during the next week, I still managed to crank out a post for you guys. And to be honest, even though this recipe is STUPID easy, it is still one of my favorite desserts, hands down. My sisters literally asked me to “make” this, and we ate up every bit. It’s also a really perfect way to get one last hoo-ha of summer while the weather is still relatively warm, and the cool and fruity desserts are a la mode.

The best part? No baking or hot ovens required.

No Bake Vanilla Fruit Pizza4

You guys remember my Speculoos Toffee Cookies I posted about? Well when I decided to make this fruit pizza, I had a bunch of those still sitting around (the recipe makes a pretty big batch), so I decided that I would use those as the base for my no-bake crust. I piled them all up in a bowl and crushed them with my hands very easily. My recipe calls for using a cookie flavor that’s generally pretty mute so as to not overpower the flavors of the fruit- typically this is a sugar cookie, but if you’re feeling adventurous like I was, I do think that using one with a mild richness (like cookie butter) would be worth trying out.

One thing I will strongly advise though, is making sure that you’re using cookies that are on the softer side; if they’re soft that typically means that they had more butter in their dough, and will thus be easier to make stick together when putting together the crust. Can you use drier cookies like vanilla wafers or traditional Danish butter cookies? Yes, but they will require more butter to hold the crumbs together.

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And I would personally like to be able to continue telling myself that because this thing has fruit on it, it’s a “healthy dessert”. Adding more butter may get in the way of that.

All kidding aside, I have to say: when you eat this pizza, it REALLY does feel very light and refreshing- unlike most rich desserts that make you feel like you swallowed a stone a few hours later. Additionally, a little of it goes a long way, so all things considered it’s really one of the better ways to appease your sweet tooth without feeling too bad afterwards.

No Bake Vanilla Fruit Pizza

Plus, if you’re super artistic (or you just google “Fruit Pizza Designs” like I did) you can really go all out and make this an impressive dessert to bring to a Labor Day Barbecue.

And did I mention it tastes delicious? Because it does. Just imagine that first bite: Cookies. French Vanilla Whipped Cream. A burst of tangy juice from the berries. Your mouth is watering by now, I know.

See you all at the Fiesta Friday #84 party, co-hosted this week by , Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Steffi @ Ginger & Bread. I probably won’t be able to post again by the time my sister gets married a week from now, so wish me (and her lol) luck!

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No-Bake Vanilla Fruit Pizza

Recipe Adapted from KRAFT

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Ingredients

  • 12-16 Large &  soft “neutral” flavored cookies (like sugar), crushed
  • 6-8 tbsp. butter, melted (depending on how dry or moist the cookies you use are)
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package JELL-O French Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 cup thawed COOL WHIP Whipped Topping
  • 1 cup mixed fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, halved strawberries, sliced kiwi)

Directions

Combine the cookie crumbs and butter in a bowl. You’re looking for a good mixture of firm and moist crust– it shouldn’t be ‘wet’, but it needs to be able to hold together when you squeeze it with your fingers.

Press the crumbs into the bottom of a 9-inch round tart pan or shallow pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least one hour.

Beat pudding mix and milk together for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped cream.

Remove tart crust from fridge. Using a spatula, spread whipped cream mixture over the top of crust. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Top pizza with fruit, and serve. 

 

 

Bourbon Peach Cobbler

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Picture this:

I’m sitting at my desk at work daydreaming about cooking, the blog and food (which, is pretty par for the course), and it suddenly dawns on me that the summer is winding down, and I haven’t made a single peach dessert. That’s like a crime, right? Pretty sure it’s probably illegal in some states. I immediately resolved to fix this error and bake something with peaches in it before summer was over and I missed my chance.

Peach Cobbler3

As I always do when I resolve to bake or cook something, I polled the family to see what it was they would be interested in eating with peaches in it. I was feeling gung ho about a peach pie, but the general consensus leaned more in the direction of a peach cobbler. Now in all honesty,  I’ve got nothing against cobblers. They’re fine, they taste good, but I’ve always half-thought that cobblers are really just pies that never quite got their act together and grew up. In a family of fruit dessert overachievers, the cobbler is the wayward rebel kid that’s really charming and suave, but didn’t go to college or get a job and can’t stay in a stable relationship.

Peach Cobbler1

Jas and I got into a mini debate about this. She’s somehow under the impression that cobbler’s superior to pie because in pie there’s such a thing as “too much crust” that “overpowers” the fruit filling. She only needs the top crust that a cobbler provides.

Let me repeat: she thinks there’s such a thing as too.much.crust.

Yeah, I know. I’m definitely the smarter twin.

Peach Cobbler4

But, you know, whatever. I can’t just cook for myself and to be honest peach cobbler is a world of a lot easier to make than peach pie. So I decided to go with the cobbler and save the pie for a day when I’m feeling selfish and have more time to make the crust from scratch. I had a recipe from Tyler Florence bookmarked in my Food Network recipe box for a very long time and that’s what I went with here. I did leave the bourbon out of the cobbler, so that it would be cool for my baby niece to eat, but I’m sure it adds a great compliment to the sweetness of the peaches. Rather than just throw it all in one of my glass baking dishes, I just baked it in the cast iron skillet I cooked the peaches in. It looks so much more homey and rustic, don’t you think?

Peach Cobbler5

I also tried out a fool-proof method of peeling peaches that won’t result in you removing too much of the fruit while trying to get rid of the skin.  I’m sure some of you already know this, but for those that don’t, it’s really pretty simple: set a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. Fill another bowl with ice water. Drop the peaches into the boiling water, and leave them there for about 45-60 seconds. Fish them out and immediately drop them into the bowl of ice water. Let them sit for about 2-3 minutes then take out. The skins should literally come off just by rubbing your fingers over the peaches. Voila.

I’m taking this cobbler to the Fiesta Friday #33 party this week, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted by Andrea @Cooking with a Wallflower and Sylvia @Superfoodista. It’s the freakin’ weekend, so go out and have yourself some fun alright? 😉

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 Bourbon Peach Cobbler

Recipe Courtesy of Tyler Florence

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 8 peaches, peeled and sliced, about 6 to 8 cups
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl add the peaches, bourbon, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon and mix well to coat the peaches evenly; set aside.

3. Prepare the dumplings: Into a bowl sift together the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter into small pieces. Add it to the flour mixture and cut it in with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs. Pour in the cream and mix just until the dough comes together. Don’t overwork; the dough should be slightly sticky but manageable.

4. In a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Add the peaches and cook gently until heated through, about 5 minutes. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls over the warm peaches. There can be gaps, the dough will puff up and spread out as it bakes.

5. Brush the top with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar; put it into the oven on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Cook for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

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‘Sup you guys! I’m super psyched to be participating in my second Fiesta Friday Link-up. Last week was my first time and it was a real blast to get to look through all the wonderful goodies that everyone brought to the party. A huge thank you to everyone who came and checked out my Blueberry Crumble Muffins and made me feel so welcome. You’re all awesome, and I intend to make myself pretty comfortable at this here party. Jess is definitely here to stay.

Today, I have my mind on 90’s Nostalgia. Specifically 90’s cartoons. I know everyone probably says it about their own decade of their childhood, but I really do feel like the 90’s was just a really great period for children’s cartoon characters and tv shows. These days, little kids may not even know who Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck are. The chances of them recognizing the French cartoon Madeline are even slimmer. And I’d be very surprised to meet a kid under the age of 10 who knew who could give me the names of all the Power Puff Girls. All of the above is sacrilege, so far as I’m concerned.

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Do any of you guys have small children in their families or circle of friends that’s into the cartoon Strawberry Shortcake? I worked in a daycare at my church for several years with little girls that loved her, and my mom has kids in her Sunday school class that were huge fans of hers.  Not that I blame them; SS is pretty cool so far as cartoons go. I even liked her when I was young. However, what I find to be interesting about the whole thing is that the SS of today is nothing like the SS us girls had when I was little. For one, they don’t even look alike.

My first exposure to SS was through a board game that me and my sisters loved to play together when we were little, called Strawberry Land. I found a picture of it online (much to my surprise), and maybe one of you guys who grew up during the 90s, or had kids who did, may recognize it as well:

Strawberry land

See how much things can change in the space of 15 or so years? She looks nothing like the SS we see now, right? 90s SS always looked ready for a tea party, whereas today’s SS is somewhat tom-boyish, I think. But for me, this was SS- long hair, frilly dresses and curtsies. I actually kinda miss that game now that I think about it. There wasn’t much to it- I think the rules had something to do with color matching, but I don’t remember the details. Can I be perfectly honest?  I just loved SS as a cartoon mainly because I thought the girls were all really pretty and wanted to look and dress like them every day of my life- big hair, tea party dresses, curtsies and all. Then, I also just liked the food aspect of it. Three cheers for childhood nostalgia.

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Okay, so now for the real strawberry shortcake aspect of this. I had some spare strawberries that were getting a little soft/mushy in my fridge that I really didn’t want to see go to waste. I went searching for some recipes to try out, and stumbled across this one on the blog Two Peas and Their Pod. They have a pretty solid reputation for good eats, so I decided to give these a try. I think they turned out okay. They are cookies- not ‘shortcake’ in the way that we think of flaky, crumbly cake that we think of with the real thing. However, the flavors are pretty good and I could see using these for strawberry ice cream sandwiches, or for a strawberry ice box cake as well. Overall, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, but not a disappointment either.

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Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

Recipe Courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced fresh strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 7 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl.

4. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, or rub in with your fingers, until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in cream until dough starts to come together, then stir in strawberry mixture.

5. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly apart. Sprinkle cookies with turbinado sugar, and bake until golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.

6. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool.

 

 

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Blackberry Jam- Filled Muffins

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Hey guys. Let’s talk about forgetfulness for a few minutes. What are the types of things that we can forget?

I forget things when shopping at the grocery store (for some reason, it’s almost always the mouthwash. I ALWAYS forget to to buy the mouthwash. Don’t ask why, cause I don’t know).

Sometimes I forget to send in my monthly check for 1 of my latest student loan payments (which is actually really bad and you think I would’ve learned my lesson by now, but I think it’s an unconscious desire on my part to stick my tongue out at the Powers That Be that make education so ridiculously expensive these days).

I took Arabic as a second language in college for 3 years. Anyone who’s ever learned a foreign language outside of their native one knows that the key to getting really good is retention. It’s been a while since I was learning it 7 days a week and taking exams on it every two weeks or so and needless to say, I’ve forgotten more than a few things of what I learned of that lovely language. Don’t get me wrong, I can still read and write it phonetically, but my translation skills are very rusty.

I also forget to do laundry. And dishes.

….and who am I kidding? No one really forgets to do laundry and dishes, I just pretend to forget them sometimes because I don’t feel like doing them. Don’t act like you’ve never done it before.

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I’ve got a question for some of my fellow bloggers out there: am I the only one who will make a dish, take all the pictures in a photo shoot, and even eat all of the food, but then just set aside the actual post to put on ‘for later’ in favor of another post, the end up forgetting about it by mistake? I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only one who does that. I’d feel kinda silly if I was, so please go ahead and tell me in the Comments section that it’s happened to you before. Seriously, tell me if you’ve done this before.

Why am I asking you this? Well, because that’s kinda what I did with this recipe. Do you all remember a few weeks ago when I made the scrumptious Blackberry Jam for the ‘Scandal’ series? If you don’t, or just weren’t following my blog when I posted it, go ahead and check it out, cause not only is it bomb.com, it’s also featured in this recipe that I may or may not have made a while ago and accidentally forgot to put up on the blog.

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But, if I had forgotten to do so entirely, it really would have been a shame. Because despite being extremely easy to make, these muffins are really quite good. For one, they’re bursting with delicious and lovely blackberry jam that provides the perfect balance between sweet and tart. What is really the unexpected hero of this recipe though, is the cinnamon that’s sprinkled on top. After the muffins are baked, it provides a kind of ‘crunchy’ texture to the soft muffins that just works really well.

You definitely don’t have to make jam from scratch to make these muffins (although I certainly won’t discourage you from doing so). A jarred jam of your choice would work just as well with these.

Note to self: don’t forget to post yummy recipes. Ever again.

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Blackberry Jam-Filled Muffins

Recipe Adapted from Great American Recipes

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup, plus 1 tbsp sugar, divided
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup blackberry jam
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix the flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

3. Combine the milk, vegetable oil and egg with in a medium bowl.

4. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, stirring gently until the dry ingredients are moistened.

5. Fill the muffin cups halfway  with batter. Place 1 tsp jam in the center of the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the jam.

6. Combine the remaining sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over each muffin. Bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Serve warm.

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Blackberry Jam

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Scandalous‘ Day 4

Gladiators! ONE.MORE.DAY.

We are one (just ONE) short day away from the long wait being over and FINALLY being able to get back to our favorite show. I don’t know about you guys, but I can hardly wait until tomorrow night. I know we all have our own ways to #CopewithoutPope, but there’s just nothing like the real thing.

The Olivia-Fitz relationship is undoubtedly one of the most popular aspects of the show, and for me, it is a sort of guilty pleasure. One one hand, I’m in love with Olivia and Fitz as a couple because #1, Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn have MAD chemistry with each other on camera. I have no idea how the two of them can manage to show so much emotion and raw passion within both their dialogue and even in their gazes. They’re both phenomenal actors in that respect. #2, I love the “I just can’t quit you” attitude that they have towards each other. I tend to be cynical about love/relationships/romance in real life, but watching the Olivia-Fitz relationship on Scandal frequently yanks at my more sappy side. The only thing more romantic about a man and woman who are crazy about each other is a man and a woman who are crazy about each other but can’t be together.

And last but certainly not least, #3…He.bought.her.a.HOUSE!

On the other hand, their relationship is something that my moral center just hates. Regardless of how Fitz and Olivia feel about each other, the facts remain: he’s the President  of the United States, and he’s married with 3 kids. Not only that, Mellie has sacrificed WAY too much for Fitz for him to continue to disrespect her in the way that he does with Olivia. Whether he knows the full extent of her sacrifice or not is irrelevant. She’s his wife, and he swore a vow to her. Until that changes, his affair with Olivia is wrong.

So in TV Land, I’m #TeamOlivia all the way. But in real life? I’ve gotta be #TeamMellie.

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The inspiration for this recipe should be obvious to us all. Who can forget the scene between Fitz and Olivia from the episode “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” where they begin to fantasize about what would happen if the stars would align and they would suddenly be able to have their Happily Ever After together:

Fitz: Somewhere, in another life, another reality, we are married and we have four kids, and we live in Vermont, and I’m the mayor–
Olivia: And I make jam.
Fitz: And you make jam. 

Sigh. I just caaaaaaan’t with them *wipes eyes with tissue*

This jam was the first recipe that I knew I wanted to make for the entire Scandal series before I even started. It’s not only ridiculously easy, it’s absolutely delicious as well. I decided to use blackberries because that’s the berry that my family likes best, but feel free to substitute strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or even a mix of all for this recipe. They all will work just fine.

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{Olivia’s Vermont} Blackberry Jam

Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 1/2 pints fresh (or frozen) blackberries

Directions

1. Combine the sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Add the blackberries and continue to cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, until the blackberries release some of their juices and the mixture boils slowly. Cook until a small amount of the juice gels on a very cold plate.

3. Pour carefully into 2 pint canning jars and either seal or keep refrigerated.

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