The 2016 Strawberry Festival, held in Wallace, was a complete success. There were so many delicious and exciting dishes and recipes that were submitted. It definitely is a very competitive contest. I entered three dishes and won on two of them.

Below are the three recipes I submitted and they are all quite delicious to say the least. You can make extra loaves of the strawberry bread and freeze loaves of it to be ready for whenever you desire it. The salsa is one you will want to make all the time, and of course the strawberry pie is not only beautiful to look at but can be sugar free and delicious.

Make sure to make a batch of oven baked strawberry slices for a wonderful and delicious treat.



Strawberry Bread

1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped

2 large eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or Chinese Five Spice Powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan and cut parchment paper for the bottom of pan, grease; set aside.

In a large bowl beat eggs until foamy. Add oil, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts to the eggs and mix well.

In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add this mixture to the egg mixture and stir until just barely moistened. Gently fold in the strawberries and lightly mix, being careful not to over mix.

Stir together sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle over top of batter.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over top of batter. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

This bread freezes well or will keep unfrozen for 3 to 4 days in a sealed container.


Strawberry Jalapeno-Cilantro Salsa

Serves 8.

4 cups large fresh strawberries, stemmed and coarsely chopped

¼ cup red onion, chopped

¼ cup Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped

2 medium jalapeno or Pablamo peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced

½ cup yellow sweet bell pepper, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

3 tablespoons orange juice

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (Optional)

In a clear glass serving bowl mix together strawberries, red onion, sweet onion, jalapeno, yellow pepper, and cilantro.

In another bowl whisk together citrus juices, olive oil, and Grand Marnier (Optional) until well blended. Pour over fruit mixture and stir well to combine. Add salt and fresh ground black pep per, to taste. Best flavor if refrigerated over night.

Serve with tortilla chips.


Strawberry Pie with Grand Marnier

This can be made into a sugar free pie for diabetic recipes.

1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

¾ cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (Optional)

1 3-ounce package sugar free strawberry gelatin

Preheat an oven to 450 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie dish with unbaked pie crust. With a fork prick bottom and sides of crust. Line pie crust with heavy duty foil. Bake in 450 degree oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and water until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in Grand Marnier and gelatin, stir until dissolved. Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly cooled.

Meanwhile, arrange sliced strawberries in the baked crust. Pour gelatin mixture over strawberries. Refrigerate until set.


Oven Dried Strawberries

Strawberries are dried in the oven, and they taste just like candy, but are healthy and natural. Remove stems and any excess seeds from strawberries. Slice each strawberry from top to bottom into 4 even slices. Lay in a single layer in prepared baking pans.

Bake on rimmed parchment paper lined baking sheets for 3 hours in a 210 oven. Let cool in oven for 2 hours with oven door ajar. Store in lidded glass jars.

Eat as is, put into smoothies, salads or beverages. Enjoy this treat!

Freezer Strawberry and Peach Jam

Makes about 5 cups. Refrigerate up to 4 weeks or freeze up to a year.

2 cups fresh strawberries sliced

1 ¼ cups fresh peaches, peeled and finely chopped

1 1 3/4 ounce package powdered fruit pectin

5 cups granulated sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (Optional)

5 1-cup containers and lids

In a large saucepan stir together strawberries, peaches, and pectin; bring to a rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in 5 cups sugar, cinnamon, and Grand Marnier; return to a rolling boil. Boil for one minute.

Remove from heat; skim foam off top; immediately fill containers to within ½-inch of tops; cover with lids. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Refrigerate.


Strawberry Mozzarella Salad

2 cups fresh strawberries, trimmed and sliced

8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into balls or bite sized pieces

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

4 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces

1 cup baby spring spinach leaves

1 cup baby arugula

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or fresh sweet basil

Wash all the greens and pat dry with paper towels; set aside.

Trim and hull the strawberries, slice evenly toward the tip. Set aside.

Drain the mozzarella cheese, cut to desired size, and roll in the chopped cilantro or basil. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl, gently toss together all the greens and the strawberries, cheese, tomatoes, and any remaining fresh cilantro or basil.

Add about ¼ cup Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing (see recipe below), and toss well to coat. Serve immediately on chilled salad plates.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Recipe

Makes about one half cup.

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (Optional)

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

¼ cup olive oil

Pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper

Combine and whisk together the vinegars, and Grand Marnier (Optional), gradually whisk in the oil. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing, and second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.