Easy Strawberry Muffins

muffinsThe under-five-feet-tall set in my family (my kiddos and my sister’s kiddos) are pretty much living in the swimming pool these days. That’s awesome – water and summer sun are great for children and gardens alike! But swimming makes children hungry. Really, really hungry!

This super fast recipe is Continue reading

Kids in the Kitchen: Strawberry Creamsicles

straw2Kids love popsicles! They can run around the back yard with them, and rinse off sticky hands and faces by running through the sprinkler. Homemade popsicles are essential… they cost less than store-bought, and using wholesome ingredients means kids enjoy more flavor, take in a few vitamins, and won’t even miss all of the corn syrup and artificial colors in the freezer section of the supermarket.

Strawberry Creamsicles are a favorite here at Crowded Earth Kitchen, but feel free to substitute any fresh, ripe fruit!

Ingredients (Makes 6 popsicles) Continue reading

Strawberry Ice Cream Topping

WIN_20150809_171917In my corner of the world, summer is slowly giving way to autumn. Leaves are beginning to fall from the trees, apples and pears and creeping into supermarkets in a wide range of seasonally available varieties… and summer berries are making their final appearance for many months. Hurry! Grab a few quarts of strawberries before they’re gone, and preserve them to enjoy throughout the winter. This recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream Topping is simple. When you taste this spooned over a scoop of vanilla ice cream in January, you’ll be glad you took an hour or so right now to plan ahead!

Be sure to read Crowded Earth Kitchen’s safe canning guidelines before you begin! If you have freezer space, you could freeze your ice cream topping in small containers instead.

WIN_20150809_154213Ingredients (Makes 6 pints or 12 half-pints)

12 cups strawberries (cut in half if berries are large)

6 cups sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 pectin cubes or 4 ounces of liquid pectin

Directions

Step 1) Bring strawberries, sugar, cinnamon, and black pepper to a boil in a large pot, stirring frequently.

WIN_20150809_162725Step 2) Add pectin and stir constantly over medium heat for five minutes. Ice cream topping will not “set” like jam, but will thicken to a lovely rich consistency.

Step 3) Ladle mixture into sterilized jars, top with seals and bands, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Strawberry Balsamic Sorbet

WIN_20150719_203628Recently, we spent a morning at a local farm picking strawberries. We brought home approximately twenty pounds of berries, in addition to the pound that Half-Pint managed to eat while scampering around in the field.  😉  Fresh picked strawberries are small, flavor packed morsels of summer goodness, and taste oh so much better than the big-but-bland strawberries sold in most supermarkets. It would be tempting to pick berries all day long, but there’s a catch… strawberries can spoil alarmingly quickly. Forget about having a few days to leisurely make jams, jellies, and other goodies. If you bring strawberries home from the field, you better preserve them the same day.

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Don’t panic – Freeze! As explained in a previous post, summer fruit is easy to freeze. You can thaw berries later to make jams and jellies (the end product is just as delicious). Today, we’re using frozen strawberries to make what just might be the Easiest Sorbet In The Entire World. Because the berries are already frozen, all we need to do is blend three ingredients together. In less time than it would take to pour a glass of lemonade for your dinner guests, you can make them a dish of Strawberry Balsamic Sorbet. How cool is that?

Ingredients (Makes 4 servings)

2 cups small, frozen strawberries

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Mint sprigs for garnish

WIN_20150719_201853Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender, but don’t blend right away! Let the ingredients sit in the blender at room temperature for approximately ten minutes. When berries are still partially frozen but not rock hard (you should be able to pierce them with a fork), puree the ingredients together. Scoop into small dishes with an ice cream scoop and garnish with mint. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Soup (Anraith Sútha Talún) in Dublin, Ireland

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Full disclosure:  I was only in Ireland on a layover between flights.  The food options for travelers passing through Dublin International Airport were, well, not worth featuring here.  As I surveyed the lackluster (and expensive!) options for a quick bite, I found myself longing for Irish strawberries.  Yes, strawberries.  Everyone knows that Irish food culture has a storied history with potatoes, but fewer folks realize that strawberries are also an important crop on the Emerald Isle.  In fact, strawberries account for over 90% of the commercial berry crop in Ireland, generating around 10 million euros ($14 million US dollars) annually.  That’s no small potatoes.

This recipe for a simple, chilled strawberry soup was found in one of my Great Grandmother’s recipe boxes.  Intrigued, I gave it a try.  After all, strawberries sure are plentiful this time of year!  Considering the healthy dose of nutritious berries and calcium rich yogurt in this recipe, I can forgive the sugar.  Serve strawberry soup as a light, summertime dessert, or as an afternoon snack with a mini muffin and a cup of tea.

picture1099Ingredients (makes 6 small bowls)

1 pound fresh, organically grown strawberries

1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca

1 cup orange juice

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar (a bit less would be fine)

1 tablespoon grated, organic lemon peel

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt

Directions

Step 1) Remove green tops from strawberries.  Cut berries into quarters.

picture1103Step 2) Bring strawberries, tapioca, and orange juice to a boil over medium heat in a saucepan.  Remove from heat.

Step 3) Add allspice, cinnamon, sugar, lemon peel, and lemon juice.  Refrigerate 2 hours or longer, until well chilled.

Step 4) Remove a few tablespoons of liquid (not the berries themselves), and whisk into yogurt to thin and blend.  Then, pour thinned yogurt into chilled berry mixture.  Stir and serve in small bowls or tea cups, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and a bit of lemon peel.  Enjoy!

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