Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshake (and Big News!)

Okay, I’ve been keeping this secret for about four months now and I am soooo excited to finally share it all with you along with this perfectly appropriate Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshake…

A festive pink Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshake with pictures from some of our baby girl's first ultrasounds!

Baby Girl Deem will be arriving in October!!

That’s right, our little family is growing, and at a rapid rate at that, because there’s something else I haven’t told you yet (unless you’ve been peaking at my Insta-stories)…


The newest addition to our family, golden retriever puppy Brooklyn, isn't sure how she feels abut getting a baby sister in October!

We got a puppy!!

And oh my goodness we are just over-the-moon with excitement. Brooklyn is an 8-week old red golden retriever and she has completely stolen our hearts. We picked her up on Mother’s Day, which also happened to be the day we did our gender reveal with both of our families, so it was an exciting one! Good thing we have about five months to get used to Miss B. before our other little bundle of joy arrives in the fall 😉

So, yes, Chris will be going from just having to deal with me and my crazy hormones and Type A personality to a household full of girls in a matter of months…I hope he’s ready for all of this! Actually, I have no doubt that he is because he is the best and I know he is going to be the world’s greatest father to both our fur baby and our real baby. No questions asked!

To celebrate all of this big news and the sudden plethora of females in our little corner of the world, I decided to whip up this Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshake. After all, there’s nothing better than a festive (and yes, non-alcoholic) pink drink to get a pregnancy (or new puppy) party started!

Two frosty Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshakes ready to be consumed!

Now, I know many of you tune in every Friday for a new boozy cocktail recipe, so I hope you can bear with me here. And I also know what you’re thinking…There have been an awful lot of boozy cocktail recipes here on the blog over the past few months. Well, I’m loathe to report that I have not been drinking any of them (sad face) but have instead been working on my spitting game and handing the taste-testing reigns over to the hubs to make sure they’re suitable for your consumption and enjoyment. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it 😉

And if you’re really wanting a boozy recipe to get you through the weekend, I’m just going to throw this out there and say that a splash (or glug) of bourbon would be an absolutely AMAZING addition little addition to a frosty Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshake.

Overhead shot of Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshakes that happen to be dairy-free AND vegan!

In other news, these shakes just also happen to be dairy-free and vegan…and I’m very happy to report that you’d never even know it. They’re just as deliciously creamy and indulgent as your average strawberry milkshake, yet contain absolutely no milk or cream.

So here’s what I used:

Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream from Trader Joe’s

(I didn’t even know this existed but trust me when I say it’s amazing.)

Frozen Strawberries
Vanilla Extract
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
Simple Syrup

That’s it! I picked up some strawberries at the Farmer’s Market that were possibly not quite ripe, so a little more on the sour side (although still delicious.) If you find some really ripe strawberries or can only find sweetened vanilla almond milk, you may want to decrease the amount of simple syrup or eliminate it altogether.

After you have all of the ingredients, the cooking process is as easy as throwing everything together in a blender and pressing “Start!”

Profile view of frosty Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshakes topped with homemade whipped cream and pink sprinkles.

One quick note: I did make some homemade whipped cream to dollop on top of these bad boys for photography purposes that is NOT vegan. I know some folks have had success making coconut whipped cream (I have not) so please feel free to use that if you want to go completely vegan and dairy-free, or just omit the whipped cream altogether. The shake will still taste super-delicious!

I know this is all a lot of excitement for one post, so I don’t want to keep you too long. What I do want to know, though, is what (if anything) you’d like to hear about how my pregnancy is going, how my diet and workouts are changing, what I’m buying (for myself AND baby girl,) etc. I know you come here primarily for the recipes, but I know there may also be some of you out there who are in the same boat as me, so please drop me a line!

Overhead view of Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshakes with some pictures from one of our baby girls' latest ultrasounds!

Looking forward to sharing all of these new adventures with you 🙂

Profile view of frosty Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshakes topped with homemade whipped cream and pink sprinkles.
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Lightened Up Double Strawberry Milkshake
Prep Time
10 mins
 

This lightened up version of the 50's diner favorite is both dairy-free and vegan but tastes just like the real thing.

Course: Dessert
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 pint strawberry coconut ice cream
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until combined. Pour into milkshake glasses and garnish with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, if desired.

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher

The best of both worlds!

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com - The perfect cocktail OR mocktail for late spring celebrations like Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

In multiple senses of the words 😉 I’m super excited to bring you this Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher today for a couple of reasons:

  1. It can be made virgin or alcoholic – you choose depending on your situation or personal tastes.
  2. It combines some of my favorite spring produce (strawberries!) with some of my favorite summer produce (watermelon!)

If those aren’t the perfect excuses for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and beyond, I don’t know what would be!

I first made this incredibly refreshing beverage for our monthly SB Foodie Gals meetup we had a couple of weeks ago at the Santa Barbara Mission. I love when we host our meet-ups at the Mission because we do them picnic potluck-style…everyone brings blankets, wine, cheese, cookies, you name it, and we relax and chat about our recent trials and triumphs goals for the future, etc. I feel so lucky to have met such a great group of local gals that share so many of my same passions and ambitions.

We were all sipping on this Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher, that I had totally made off-the-cuff and with no intention of sharing it on the blog, but after receiving so many rave reviews from the gals and requests for the recipe, I decided I better recreate and share it so everyone can make it for all of their celebrations this weekend!

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com - An icy glass of one of the most refreshing cocktails or mocktails you'll ever taste. Incredibly easy to make with all fresh ingredients. The perfect drink for Mother's Day!

I love making drinks with watermelon because you can easily “juice” it without a juicer (because unfortunately neither our kitchen nor our budget can handle one right now.) And when I say “juicing,” I mean whirring it up in a blender (with some fresh strawberries, in this case) and then passing the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any seeds or other things that didn’t break down during the pureeing process. Sure, it takes a tiny but of extra time, but the deliciously thirst-quenching result is soooo worth it.

So, I mentioned the watermelon and the strawberry, but there are a few other ingredients that take this Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresh from “just juice” to over-the-top. We’re lucky enough to have a ton of wild mint growing in our backyard (which also happens to be about the only thing we can keep alive back there) so I threw a big handful into the mix to give the drink an extra hit of flavor. I also added some fresh lime juice to balance out all the sweetness, as any cocktail or mocktail should have.

And last, but not least, the big question: to make it alcoholic or not to make it alcoholic? This is totally up to you! It will taste REALLY good either way you try it. For the non-alcoholic version, simply add sparkling water or club soda. To booze things up, simply use sparkling wine in lieu of the soda! And, if you can’t decide, you can always break the juice into two batches and add club soda to one and sparkling wine to the other. See, so easy!

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com - These refreshing drinks with fresh strawberry and watermelon can be made alcoholic or non-alcoholic and are the perfect drink for summer holidays!

I am personally becoming quite a pro at making this Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher (and subsequently cleaning out our local TJ’s of most of their strawberries and watermelon,) so I think I am definitely going to have to whip up a batch for the weekend. We’re headed over to my brother and sister-in-law’s house for a BBQ on Sunday and I know it will go over well with both the kids and adults alike. 🙂

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend celebrating all of the beautiful mothers in your life! Xo

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com - The perfect cocktail OR mocktail for late spring celebrations like Mother's Day and Memorial Day.
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Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher
Prep Time
20 mins
 

This refreshing drink filled with fresh watermelon and strawberries can be made into a mocktail OR cocktail. The perfect sipper for spring and summer occasions! 

Course: Drinks
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8 cups cubed watermelon (about 1 baby watermelon)
  • 3 cups hulled strawberries
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 10-12 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups chilled club soda or sparkling wine
Instructions
  1. Combine watermelon and strawberries in a blender and puree until no chunks remain. 

  2. Place a fine mesh sieve over a wide-mouthed pitcher and, in batches, slowly pour the watermelon mixture through to strain. To speed up the process, use a pestle or some other utensil to help push the mixture through the sieve more quickly. It took me about 4 sieve-fuls to get through the entire batch of juice from the blender.

  3. Remove sieve from pitcher and add lime juice and mint leaves. Stir to combine and refrigerate for at least a half hour. Add chilled club soda or sparkling wine right before serving. Serve over ice or neat, up to you!

Minty Watermelon Strawberry Refresher | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

If this doesn’t scream “Mother’s Day,” what does??

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com
This post is sponsored by Sonoma Syrup Co.

In-season fresh strawberries dot a vanilla- and lemon-laced Bundt cake, topped with the sweetest, tangiest lemon drizzle. This Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze is one for the books and I can guarantee that just about any mom in her right mind will go crazy for this if you make it for her this weekend.

This is yet another post I’ve created with my friends over at Sonoma Syrup Co., and I must say it was so fun to make and came at just the perfect time. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ll know that over the past year or so I’ve partnered with Sonoma Syrup to make some really fun drink recipes, like this Honey Citrus Detox Elixir and this Spiked Lavender Lemonade, but every once in a while I love to flex my creativity and use their amazing syrups (and, in this case, vanilla extract) in a super tasty baked good, like these Vanilla-Ginger Doughnuts with Pomegranate Glaze.


So when they approached me to create a fun Mother’s Day recipe using their Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush,” I jumped at the chance. And of course I couldn’t stop there, I had to add some of their No. 1 Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup as well because who doesn’t love hints of fresh lemon paired with strawberry and vanilla?

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m even more excited for this Mother’s Day for a few very important reasons that I have to keep under wraps for now, but I promise to let you know soon! We have both of our parents coming to town, plus some siblings, and a couple of big surprises to unveil that are going to really put the icing on the cake for the weekend (pardon the pun.) All the more reason to have some Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze to celebrate!

And really, this recipe is not at all hard to make. That’s one of the greatest things about Bundt cakes. They look so pretty and elegant with almost no effort at all. Forget the fancy frosting techniques, let the shape of the cake mold do all the work!

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com - A beautiful and delicious Bundt cake laced with fresh strawberries, vanilla and lemon. The perfect spring dessert!

So, we start with a fairly basic Bundt cake batter, with a hefty dose of Greek yogurt to be sure it turns out nice and moist. We happened to have a huge jar of homemade limoncello in our refrigerator, so I added some of that to the batter to really up the lemon factor, but you could just as easily use fresh lemon juice if you don’t have any limoncello on hand. We’re saving the Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup for the glaze so it can REALLY shine.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com - Moist cake batter in Bundt pan laced with fresh strawberries.

I also put in a hefty dose (we’re talking one whole tablespoon) of Sonoma Syrup’s Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush.” Now what, you might be wondering, is the difference between the Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush” and regular vanilla extract? Well, the crush is not only made from some of the finest vanilla beans you can get your hands on, it’s also laced with actual vanilla bean SEEDS, making it especially delicious and intense in flavor. I love the extra-vanilla-y taste it gives all of my baked goods, I’ve even been known to throw some into a smoothie every now and then!

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com - Baked cake without glaze.

Once our Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake has baked and cooled slightly, it’s time to put together the super-simple Lemon Glaze. This glaze is really similar to the Pomegranate Glaze I made for the Vanilla-Ginger Doughnuts I mentioned above, but using the No. 1 Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup instead of the pomegranate. To really punch up the flavor, I also added lemon zest and even MORE of the Vanilla Bean Extract “Crush.”

I really love that the light glaze is not too overwhelming with the delicate, fresh flavors of the cake, which also makes it just as suitable for brunch as it does for dessert after a heavier lunch or dinner. This means that you have no excuse not to order some of these syrups right this instant and make a Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze for all of your favorite moms this Mother’s Day.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com - A slice of this cake and a hot cup of coffee is all you need this Mother's Day!

Even better, Sonoma Syrup is offering all of you, my dear readers and biggest fans, 10% off of your next purchase. Simply use the special discount code CALI10 at checkout on their site and you’ll be well on your way to making a delicious dessert that all your guests will love. Now hurry up and order so you can get to baking!

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
1 hrs 20 mins
 

A moist, delicious cake filled with fresh strawberries and laced with hints of lemon and vanilla, all topped with a tangy lemon glaze.

Course: Dessert
Servings: 10 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the cake:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush"
  • 1 tablespoon limoncello (or fresh lemon juice)
  • 3 cups flour, divided (plus more for pan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
For the glaze:
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons Sonoma Syrup Co. No. 1 Meyer Lemon Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sonoma Syrup Co. Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush"
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a Bundt cake pan with shortening or melted butter and then coat with flour. Set aside.

  2. First, make the cake. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla bean extract, limoncello (or lemon juice) and Greek yogurt. Beat until combined.

  3. In a separate, medium mixing bowl, sift together 2 ¾ cups flour, the baking soda and the salt. Add this mixture to the wet mixture and beat until just combined. 

  4. In a separate bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup flour. Fold the strawberries into the batter. 

  5. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before turning out of pan onto a wire rack to cool completely.

  6. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all of the glaze ingredients. Drizzle over the cooled cake and let set for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Fresh Strawberry Vanilla Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer

Spring has officially sprung!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

And that means it’s time to start eating (and drinking) alllll the strawberries. This Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer is going to make you want to jump head first into the season and never look back. It’s soooo tasty!


First, important question: Are you pro- or anti-gin?? My friends and I were having this discussion at my little birthday get-together the other week and two of them just absolutely can’t stand the taste of gin. I am staunchly in the other camp, because gin just happens to be one of my favorite liquors. I love how flavorful and botanical it is, and I feel like it adds so much more character to any beverage.

I would like to point out, though, that one of these friends that was so anti-gin had mentioned that she’d enjoyed a farm-fresh cocktail at one of our local bars that involved gin, and had actually loved it because the flavors were so perfectly balanced. I haven’t had her taste this Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer yet, but I bet she’ll feel the same way she did about that farm-fresh cocktail once she does!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, so enough of the gin discussion, let’s talk strawberries. We are incredibly lucky here in Santa Barbara because we live smack dab in the middle of strawberry country. We have Oxnard, home of the California Strawberry Festival, just 45 minutes south of us, and Watsonville, home of Driscoll’s Strawberries, just three and a half hours north of us. Because of this, we always have tons of farm fresh strawberry options available both at our grocery stores and in our farmer’s markets once March rolls around.

That being said, I realize all of you might not be as “strawberry lucky” as we are, but that’s the great thing about this Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer. You don’t have to be! This drink gets most of its strawberry flavor from strawberry jam, with just a few fresh strawberries muddled in for good measure. And, honestly, you could even use thawed frozen strawberries and nobody would know the difference.

You will, however, need to track down some fresh basil, but I’m pretty sure fresh basil is available year round these days so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

The most important step, of course, is to use your favorite gin! There are many different flavors and styles out there, so if you don’t have a favorite already, do yourself a favor and taste a few to get a feel for what you like. There are gins that are more juniper-forward, others that are more foral…Every gin brand uses its own combination of aromatics and spices, so even if you don’t like, say, Tanqueray, you might like Hendrick’s!

Once you have your fresh strawberries, strawberry jam, basil and gin, your Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer will come together in less than five minutes. Grab your cocktail shaker, some ice and a glass and you’ll be sipping on this deliciousness in no time!

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
 

The perfect cocktail to kick off spring - in-season strawberries are muddled with fresh basil, topped with a refreshing gin and jam mixture.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 3-4 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
  • 2 ounces gin
  • More whole strawberries for garnish (if desired)
Instructions
  1. In a rocks glass, muddle the strawberries and basil. 

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with about ¾ cup of ice, combine the strawberry jam and the gin. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds and then pour contents of shaker (including ice) into the rocks glass.

  3. Garnish with a fresh strawberry if desired.

Strawberry Basil Gin Jammer | CaliGirlCooking.com