Tag Archives: strawberries

Strawberry Mint Muffins

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Muffins are the perfect breakfast item.  I will bake up a batch on a Sunday morning to be enjoyed over lazy cups of coffee all morning long.  Leftovers can be reheated and eaten on the go for busy weekday mornings.  Just about anything can be added to a basic muffin recipe.  Fruits, nuts, chocolate; the possibilities are endless.  I like to use buttermilk as the liquid in this recipe since I think it adds a slight tang to the muffin but you could easily substitute plain yogurt or even sour cream.  Depending upon the add-ins, I’ve also used good quality unsweetened flavored yogurt with fantastic results.

This time of year I like to use fresh fruit.  Fresh seasonal fruits are a perfect foil to the sweet, crumbly cake but if fresh fruits aren’t in season, frozen makes an absolutely acceptable substitution.  With fresh strawberries in abundance I had been thinking about baking up a batch of strawberry muffins all week.  When I discovered mint growing in my garden I decided to turn these muffins into the ultimate spring treat.  The mint adds a fresh contrast to the sweet berries and the combination is amazing. Do eat these muffins warm.  If you can’t eat them fresh from the oven reheat them in the microwave for a few seconds. You won’t be disappointed.

STRAWBERRY MINT MUFFINS

3 cups flour plus 1 Tablespoon

1 cup white sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries

1 heaping Tablespoon fresh minced mint

1 Teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Granulated sugar (if desired)

  • Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  • Combine 3 cups of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the mint and lemon zest.  Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk the eggs until blended.  Add in the buttermilk and stir to combine.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg-buttermilk mixture.  Gently stir until just combined.
  • Add in the butter and mix until incorporated.
  • In a small bowl toss the strawberries with 1 tablespoon of flour.  Mix into the batter being careful not to crush the berries.
  • Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon divide the muffin batter evenly between twelve muffin cups.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with granulated sugar if desired.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until browned and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tins.

Strawberry Mint Muffins

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Muffins are the perfect breakfast item.  I will bake up a batch on a Sunday morning to be enjoyed over lazy cups of coffee all morning long.  Leftovers can be reheated and eaten on the go for busy weekday mornings.  Just about anything can be added to a basic muffin recipe.  Fruits, nuts, chocolate; the possibilities are endless.  I like to use buttermilk as the liquid in this recipe since I think it adds a slight tang to the muffin but you could easily substitute plain yogurt or even sour cream.  Depending upon the add-ins, I’ve also used good quality unsweetened flavored yogurt with fantastic results.

This time of year I like to use fresh fruit.  Fresh seasonal fruits are a perfect foil to the sweet, crumbly cake but if fresh fruits aren’t in season, frozen makes an absolutely acceptable substitution.  With fresh strawberries in abundance I had been thinking about baking up a batch of strawberry muffins all week.  When I discovered mint growing in my garden I decided to turn these muffins into the ultimate spring treat.  The mint adds a fresh contrast to the sweet berries and the combination is amazing. Do eat these muffins warm.  If you can’t eat them fresh from the oven reheat them in the microwave for a few seconds. You won’t be disappointed.

STRAWBERRY MINT MUFFINS

3 cups flour plus 1 Tablespoon

1 cup white sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 Teaspoon baking soda

1/2 Teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 1/4 cups sliced strawberries

1 heaping Tablespoon fresh minced mint

1 Teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Granulated sugar (if desired)

  • Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  • Combine 3 cups of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the mint and lemon zest.  Set aside.
  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk the eggs until blended.  Add in the buttermilk and stir to combine.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the egg-buttermilk mixture.  Gently stir until just combined.
  • Add in the butter and mix until incorporated.
  • In a small bowl toss the strawberries with 1 tablespoon of flour.  Mix into the batter being careful not to crush the berries.
  • Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon divide the muffin batter evenly between twelve muffin cups.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with granulated sugar if desired.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until browned and a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tins.

 

Crispy Chicken w/ Avocado-Berry Salsa

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Its strawberry season here in Belgium and I’m loving it. Thanks to globalization it is now possible to find fresh strawberries year around but nothing tastes better than a fresh local berry. Belgian strawberries are slightly smaller than their imported counterparts and when ripe, are a deeper red color. They are also sweeter. I buy them every chance I can get and they are so good it is hard to make it home with them. But when I do, I try to incorporate them into as many dishes as I can.

This fruit salsa is refreshing and flavorful and is the perfect topping for cripsy panko coated chicken breasts. Of course the strawberries play a leading role in the salsa but I’ve also added avocado, blueberries and pineapple to the mix. Be sure that your avocado is ripe and use whatever fresh fruits you have available. The jalapeno and the cilantro add a bit of heat and spice to the sweetness of the fruits. Regular breadcrumbs may be substituted for the panko but using the later will result in crispier chicken.

CRISPY CHICKEN w/ AVOCADO-BERRY SALSA

1 ripe avocado, diced

1 cup strawberries, diced

3/4 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced

Juice of 1 lime

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1/4 cup cilantro, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oll, divided

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin

1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper

2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

1 cup panko crumbs

  • To make the salsa, combined the avocado, fruits, lime juice, jalapeno and cilantro in a small bowl.
  • Sprinkle with the salt, toss well and allow to sit while you make the chicken.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Place the seasoned flour in a shallow dish, the egg mixture in another dish and the panko crumbs in a third dish.
  • Dredge the chicken first in the flour mixture followed by the egg mixture and finally the panko crumbs, ensuring that all sides of the chicken are covered with all of the mixtures.
  • Place two of the chicken breasts in the hot skillet and saute until crispy and browned, about 4 minutes.
  • Flip the chicken over and cook for an addition 3 to 4 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. The length of cooking time will depend upon the thickness of the breasts.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet and once it is hot, cook the remaining chicken breasts.
  • Serve immediately topped with the avocado-berry salsa.

Serves 4

Glazed Grilled Chicken Salad w/ Strawberries & Feta

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Spring has arrived in Belgium and while some days still call for warm and comforting food, others inspire lighter meals. And when that is the case salads are the perfect dinner option. This salad is inspired by  Cooking Light and is filled with juicy seasonal fruit, crisp greens and sweet and tangy chicken breasts.

For me, the secret to building a satisfying salad that can serve as a satisfying entree is a variety of flavors and textures. The chicken is glazed with a simple mixture of preserves before being grilled; if your dinner hour is rushed, you can cook up the chicken ahead of time. Alternatively you can use any leftover chicken you have on hand or even buy a rotisserie chicken to slice up as a topping. I am a fan of sweet and savory combinations  so this salad uses a combination of strawberries and fresh pineapple tossed with onions and peppers. Use whatever fruits and vegetables sound good to you. And because you build the salads individually you can add or omit toppings depending upon your family’s individual preferences.

GLAZED GRILLED CHICKEN SALAD w/ STRAWBERRIES & FETA

1/3 cup black current, cherry or seedless raspberry preserves

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon sugar

4 6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cups strawberries, sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

4 cups mixed salad greens

1 cup thinly sliced orange bell peppers

1 cup fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

4 tablespoons sunflower seeds

  • Combine the preserves, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper and the garlic powder in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring until combined. Set aside.
  • Preheat a lightly oiled grill to medium-high.
  • Brush both sides of the chicken breasts with the preserve mixture. Place the chicken on the grill and cook, turning every 4 to 5 minutes and brushing with more preserves until cooked through, about 24 to 28 minutes depending upon the thickness of the breasts. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the grill and set aside.
  • Combine the oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar and remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Place the strawberries and onions in a medium sized bowl and then add the oil and vinegar mixture. Toss gently to coat.
  • Divide the salad greens amongst four plates or shallow bowls.
  • Evenly divide the strawberry mixture and dressing over the top of the greens.
  • Add the peppers and pineapple to the tops of the salad.
  • Slice each chicken breast on the diagonal and place one breast on top of each salad.
  • Sprinkle with the feta cheese and sunflower seeds over the top of the salads and serve immediately.

Serves 4

 

Cannoli French Toast

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French toast is a breakfast and brunch favorite in my house. There is something about the simple ingredients of bread, eggs and milk that turn what should be a basic meal into something special. But why stop there? These pantry staples are just the jumping off point for endless possibilities of morning culinary fun.

Case in point is this stuffed French toast, adapted from the Noble Pig website that brings a touch of dessert to your morning meal without being overly sweet. The recipe is inspired by classic Italian cream filled dessert of cannoli. I’ve used my own cannoli filling recipe, infused with lemon zest and a touch of Grand Marnier. And to complete the dish, and give you a serving of fruit, I’ve topped the French toast with some of the juicy fresh strawberries that are just beginning to appear in my local markets.

CANNOLI FRENCH TOAST

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar plus more for dusting

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Pinch nutmeg

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier, other orange liqueur or vanilla extract

12 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed

1 cup sliced strawberries

  • Sift confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl, then stir in ricotta cheese, lemon zest and nutmeg.
  • In a shallow dish (a cake pan works well), beat the eggs, milk and Grand Marnier.
  • Trim the crusts off 12 slices of sandwich bread and using a rolling pin, roll out the bread to flatten.
  • Place 6 slices of bread on a flat surface then add 1 tablespoon of the ricotta cheese mixture to the center of each slice. Top with the remaining 6 slices of bread.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat.
  • Working in batches, dip the stuffed bread slices in the egg mixture and transfer to the skillet.
  • Cook, turning once, until puffed and golden, about 3 minutes.
  • Dust with more confectioners’ sugar and top with the sliced strawberries before serving.

Serves 6

Strawberry Shortcake

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Strawberry shortcake is the ultimate summer dessert. The concept is so simple: sweet strawberries and lightly sweetened whipped cream on top of a buttermilk biscuit ensures a dessert that is not too sweet but totally satisfying. The biscuit recipe is my old standby from America’s Test Kitchen. It is a no-fail recipe, always baking up light and fluffy. I like to add a small amount of orange liqueur to both the berries and the whipped cream but if you prefer you can omit entirely or substitute vanilla extract for the liqueur in the cream.

So go ahead and make this class summer treat. Wouldn’t it make a perfect addition to your upcoming Independence Day celebrations?

For the biscuits:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes and well chilled

3/4 cup cold buttermilk

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Pulse the flours sugar, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
  • Scatter the butter pieces evenly over the top of the flour mixture and pulse to combine, about 12 pulses.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the buttermilk.  Use a rubber spatula to fold the liquid into the flour until a soft and sticky dough forms.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and quickly roll in into a rough ball.  Do not over mix.
  • Use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 12 even pieces.  Using your hands, quickly form each piece into a ball and place on a large baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the biscuits are browned and flaky.

For the strawberries:

1 quart strawberries, sliced

1/4 cup sugar, more to taste

1/8 cup Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur

  • Place the strawberries in a medium sized sauce pan set over low heat.
  • Sprinkle with the sugar and the liqueur. Stir gently taking care not to break up the berries.
  • Heat slowly, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer to a non-reactive bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

For the whipped cream:

1 pint whipping cream

2 tablespoons super fine sugar

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur

  • Place the cream in a large chilled bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer beat the cream on high speed until slightly thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the sugar and liqueur and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
  • Cover tightly and chill until ready to serve.

To assemble the shortcakes:

  • Split each biscuit in half and place on a plate.
  • Place a tablespoon or two of berries on top of the bottom biscuit and top with a small dollop of whipped cream.
  • Place the remaining biscuit half on top, add a drizzle of the strawberries and another dollop of whipped cream.

 

Yields: 12 shortcakes

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

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I’m still on my rhubarb kick so here is my latest rhubarb creation- a strawberry-rhubarb crumble. A fruit crumble is my favorite way to use fresh fruit; it has all of the tastiness of a pie without the hassle of struggling with a pie crust. Instead, you have juicy fruit topped with a crumbly topping, which in this case is a combination of nuts, oatmeal, and flour. It’s fool proof, delicious, and fast to make. I like it best served warm so you can put it in the oven shortly before dinner is served and dessert will be done by the time you are ready for your final course. To make the crumble extra special top it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Yum!

STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB CRUMBLE

For the topping:

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup old fashioned oats (do not use quick or instant0

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

3 tablespoons white sugar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced

Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Pinch of salt

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • To prepare the topping combine the flour, baking powder, salt, oatmeal, walnuts, sugars and lemon zest in a large bowl.
  • Drizzle with the melted butter then use a wooden spoon to combine the ingredients until small clumps form. Set aside until ready to use.
  • To prepare the filling, combine the rhubarb strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a 9-inch deep dish pie dish.
  • Cover the top of the fruit with a thick but even layer of the topping.
  • Bake until the topping golden brown and the fruit is bubbly, 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Allow to cool slightly before serving.
  • Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

Serves 4-6

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

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Growing up in New England, a rhubarb plant or two was always a mainstay in every garden we had. With toxic leaves and acidic bitter stems one might wonder why anyone would even want to eat this vegetable. (And yes, most people consider it to be a vegetable even though it is most often served in dishes like a fruit). The answer, is because it is so versatile–it is perfect in pies, tarts, muffins, and sauces; it can accompany sweet or savory dishes; and frankly because when cooked with a bit of sweetener, it is just plain good. As a cooler weather vegetable, rhubarb was all but impossible to find in the markets of Mediterranean Albania and I missed it. Each spring I would crave pies and muffins and wonder where I could find myself a few stalks.

Much to my delight, rhubarb is popping up in all of the local markets here in Belgium. Like asparagus and strawberries, once they begin to appear I know spring is really here. So what was the first recipe I made with my initial rhubarb stalks? Classic strawberry rhubarb muffins. The recipe is an adaptation of one from Boston’s Flour BakeryYou may use fresh or frozen rhubarb but be sure to only use fresh ripe strawberries. The recipe makes a dozen generous sized muffins; fill the muffins cups to the rim but do not overfill them. If necessary use a second muffin tin or other small oven proof baking dish for the remaining batter.

STRAWBERRY RHUBARB MUFFINS

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 cup plus two tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup milk, at room temperature

1 cup Greek yogurt, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup fresh sliced strawberries

1 cup fresh or frozen chopped rhubarb

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Alternatively line the cups with muffin papers. Set aside.
  • Using a wire whisk and a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk until creamy. Slowly whisk in the sugar, melted butter, yogurt, and vanilla extract.
  • Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and fold until just combined. Do not over mix.
  • Gently fold in the strawberries and rhubarb. The batter will be thick and a bit lumpy.
  • Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling the cups to the top but not over filling them.
  • Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown on the top and spring back when pressed with a finger.
  • Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool in their pans for 20 minutes before serving.

The muffins are best when eaten immediately but can be stored in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Yields: 12 muffins

 

 

Strawberry Bruschetta

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It had been awhile since I had seen fresh strawberries in the local fruit market.  Strawberries are an early spring fruit here in Albania and now that it is June it is all about fresh cherries.  Much to my delight I did come across some very good-looking berries this weekend and bought some as a last hurrah to spring.  After eating a few right out of the box I decided I wanted to do something special with these last berries of the year.

A little rummaging through the refrigerator produced these fast and easy treats.  The combination of strawberries, mint, and goat cheese is so simple yet the flavors compliment each other nicely.  We enjoyed them for lunch with cold glasses of Rose wine but you could just as easily serve them as an appetizer or as a part of a first course.  More importantly, the total kitchen to table time was less than 10 minutes.  How’s that for fast?

STRAWBERRY BRUSCHETTA

10 thin slices of Italian bread, or a crusty bread of your choice

1 cup fresh strawberries, diced

1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced

Dash salt

1/2 cup spreadable goat cheese

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

  • Place the oven rack as close to the top of the oven as possible and turn the broiler to high.
  • Place the bread slices on a baking tray and place under the broiler for 3 minutes watching carefully to ensure that the bread doesn’t burn.
  • Combine the strawberries, mint, and salt in a small bowl.  Toss to combine.
  • In a separate bowl mix the goat cheese with the honey and lemon juice and stir until well combined.
  • Spread approximately one tablespoon of the cheese mixture onto the top of each slice of bread.  Top with an equal amount of the strawberry mixture.
  • Return the baking sheet to the oven and broil for 2-3 minutes until hot.
  • Serve immediately.

Buttermilk Biscuits With Strawberry Mint Butter

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These biscuits and butter makes for an easy and sophisticated weekend breakfast or brunch.  If you let the butter sit on the kitchen counter overnight you can easily whip up this dish for breakfast the next morning.  When served alongside a fruit salad and bacon or sausage you have a complete meal that is sure to please.  Living in Europe means that all of our butter is European-style with a higher fat content than most butters found in the United States. It is possible to find European-style butters in some grocery stores and if you can find it, use it.  The results are that much richer.  I love the combination of strawberries and mint this time of year when the strawberries are ripe and plentiful.  If the berries aren’t perfectly ripe look for another fruit. Other possible combinations include cherries and orange zest or blueberries and lemon zest.  Simply substitute an equal amount of fruit, an equal amount of zest for the mint, and omit the black pepper.

This biscuit recipe is courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen.  Like most of their recipes it is fool-proof and comes together quickly.  If you don’t have cake flour you can substitute 7/8 of a cup of all-purpose flour and 1/8 of a cup of cornstarch.  Make sure the butter is cold and do not overwork the dough; the less handling you do the fluffier the biscuits.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS WITH STRAWBERRY MINT BUTTER

For the biscuits:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the flours, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a food processor and pulse six times to combine.

Sprinkle the butter cubes on top of the flour and pulse until the mixture comes together and resembles a fine meal.

Transfer the dough into a large mixing bowl.

Add the buttermilk and use a wooden spoon to combine until the dough is soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and pat into a large circle.

Using a sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 even pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and place on a large baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until brown.

For the butter:

1/2 cup softened butter

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

  • Place the butter in a small bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  • Add the strawberries, mint, and peppercorns and blend until combined.

Yields:  12 biscuits and 3/4 cup of butter

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