willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs


For the Love of Berries

Summer berries

If one could live by berries alone… than one surely would! Well this one would at least, as well as the rest of my family. The summer months provide an abundance of them and they are at their peak. Major differences are detected when one pops a berry into ones mouth that has been acquired at a road side farm stand or in ones own garden. The strawberries that we grew this year were some of the sweetest that we have ever tasted.


strawberry oil painting

Given the freshness of berries at this time of the year and the fact that they are red and blue makes them a wonderful choice to incorporate into your summer menu. Especially on the 4th of July. I wonder what came first… the birth of the red and blue berries or the colors of independence being red, white and blue? I think we know the answer to that question but it is kind of ironic that their color fits right into the decor of a red, white and blue holiday celebration. I mean what if they were orange and purple? Not that apropos. 

berry dessert

For this 4th of July, to add some festive color and flavor to our cookout menu, I had to include berries. I was a little short on time and after perusing my files of 4th of July possibilities, I decided on a dessert that cut some corners but looked like I had not. Always a win- win situation. The main ingredients are pictured above and I will show you how to make it step by step in case you want to whip one up tonight or any time this summer.

Star Spangled Tart


1 to 2 rolls of refrigerated cookie dough (I used Pillsbury for it does not have any trans fats)

course sugar (optional)

1 – 14 oz. can (1 1/4 cups) sweetened condensed milk or fat free version

1/2 cup sour cream or light sour cream

1/2 tsp. finely shredded lemon or lime peel

1/3 c. fresh lemon or lime juice

1 cup fresh blueberries or black berries

2 cups fresh red raspberries or 3 cups fresh strawberry halves


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. To make the crust, generously grease the bottom of an 11 x 8 x 1 1/2 inch rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom or an 11- 12 inch pizza pan; lightly grease sides. With floured hands pat the remaining dough onto bottom and up sides of pan.

sugar cookie dough

This is what it looks like after baking. (I used the pizza pan which required that I use one and half tubes of cookie dough to cover) When you bake this crust, you will also want to bake the star shaped cookies at the same time. 

3. For cookies, on a lightly floured surface roll out remaining dough to 1/8″- 1/4 ” thickness. Using small star cutters, cut into shapes. Place cutouts on an un greased baking sheet. Re-roll trimmings and recut more stars. Continue until you have used up all the dough. ( I used up the entire 2 packages of dough so that I could make extra star cookies that can just be eaten plain.) Sprinkle half of the stars with the course sugar if you have it. 

baking sugar cookies

4. Bake crust and cookies until golden, allowing 4-5 mins for small cookies and 12 mins for crust.

sugar cookies

5. For filling, in a mixing bowl combine condensed milk, sour cream, lemon or lime peel and juice. Stir about three minutes or until mixture is thickened. Don’t worry if it does not thicken a huge amount. When you chill it until ready to assemble it will firm up more in the fridge. It will not be quite the consistency of pudding. 

From this:

tart shell filling

To this:

6. To assemble, loosen and remove sides of pans from crust if using the tart pan with removable bottom. If using a pizza pan it is best to leave tart in it to prepare and serve. Before serving, spread filling onto crust leaving an edge of dough showing, like a pie crust.

star fruit tart

7. Top with berries and star shaped cookies. Refrigerate if making ahead of time until ready to serve.

homemade whipped cream

8. To make the dessert utterly decadent, whip up a batch of homemade whip cream by pouring 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into a metal bowl and add 2 tsps of sugar. Whip until firm peaks develop. Serve alongside the star berry tart and enjoy!

berry fruit tart

If one is so inclined they could always serve ice cream, another summer dessert staple along side this yummy fruit tart and they could make sugar cookie spoons out of the remaining sugar cookie dough… if one is so inclined!

4th of July ice cream

However you serve it, my wish is that you enjoy it alongside the people that you have prepared it for. Sharing and enjoying family and friends this holiday is what it is all about. Realizing and recognizing the freedoms that we have in this country and giving thanks for them and the people who have gone before us to attain it. There is always room for improvement… but giving gratitude for what works is essential! 

To the land of the free and the home of the brave… we wish you a very Happy and festive 4th of July!





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