Spring in Portland is pretty special. Granted it may rain during most of it, but the flowers that bloom and the vegetables and fruit that grow are partially due to that persistent drizzle. For that reason I try not to get mad and remember that old saying “April, May, June and July showers bring …”
Local strawberries are truly amazing, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with putting out a bowl of them for dessert, with nothing else, and your guests will savor their uncomplicated deliciousness. But you can also create some pretty cool recipes and discover that strawberries are not only great in muffins and desserts, like these strawberry streusel muffins and mini strawberry trifles, but are also terrific in salads, paired with some unlikely ingredients, such as this arugula and cilantro salad with chicken.
And if you want a frozen treat, stick them in the freezer. When you want a snack, take them out and you’ve got a terrific icy delight. Bananas and melon are good frozen as well.
This five-ingredient dessert would work well as a breakfast item; just substitute granola for the angel food cake and unless it’s a weekend, leave out the rum! When strawberries are at their peak, they might not need the sugar.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- 1 ½ cups angel food cake, torn into chunks
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 2 tablespoons white rum
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 ½ cups vanilla Greek yogurt
- 6 small jars, glasses or ramekins
- Divide the cake evenly among the six jars. Place 4-5 strawberry slices on top of the cake in each container. In a blender, puree 1 cup of the berries with the rum and sugar. Spoon the sauce over the berries and cake.
- Chop all the remaining berries with the exception of ¼ cup. Mix the chopped berries with the yogurt. Spoon the yogurt over the puree and top with the remaining sliced berries. Can be made in advance.
There is something about a streusel topping that adds flavor, crunch and an extra bit of comfort. I usually have some in my fridge or freezer for last-minute fruit crisps. These muffins are also good with blueberries, pitted cherries, and taking them to a whole different place, chocolate chips.
Ingredients (1 dozen muffins)
- Cooking spray
- 1 tablespoon fresh-slivered orange peel for zest
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup white whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 1 1/2 cups fresh chopped strawberries
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ stick unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Coat 12 large muffin cups with cooking spray.
- Combine the orange zest and sugar and set aside. Place the buttermilk, oil, egg and vanilla in a food processor or blender and combine well. Add the sugar and zest. Set aside.
- Combine the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture and fold until just blended; the batter should not be smooth. Gently fold in the strawberries. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
- In a small bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and cinnamon until crumbly, either with a fork or clean fingers. Distribute evenly over the muffin batter.
- Bake the muffins until the edges and tops are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
Whenever I have leftover chicken I try to come up with recipes that use chicken as just an ingredient, rather than the focus of the meal. I find that if you cook a bit more than you need for a meal, you will most likely be able to get another meal or two out of that first one. Healthy eating involves lots of greens and grains, and in this salad the chicken plays a small but tasty role. If you like things spicy, add some diced jalapeno pepper to the toss.
Ingredients (Serves 6)
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 mango, peeled and cut in chunks
- ½ avocado, peeled, drizzled with lemon, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 chicken breasts, cooked and thinly sliced
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Juice of 1-2 limes
- In a medium bowl combine the berries with the balsamic vinegar.
- In a serving bowl combine the mango, avocado, onion, chicken and the tomatoes. Drizzle with the honey and squeeze the lime juice over the salad.
- Add the balsamic berries, toss and serve.