Posts Tagged 'strawberry'

Strawberry Muffins

5Ks are not my favorite.  I don’t know why I thought I wanted to run one on Sunday, but I went to sleep really nervous on Saturday night and was even more stressed about it when I woke up.  I tried to tell myself I could just run it for fun, but of course in the back of my mind I really hoped I would run an okay time.

I did a very slow one-mile warm up and tried to calm my nerves.  The first mile was down hill but when the gun went off my legs just felt kind of asleep.  I was in the middle of the pack (there were only about 250 people in the race) trying to get into race mode.  I didn’t look at my Garmin, but I didn’t feel like I was running very fast.  It turns out I was wrong. first mile: 6:23

The second mile was all uphill and I started feeling a lot better.  I passed a bunch of people and by the two mile mark, I was feeling really strong. (7:11)

The last mile was mostly downhill and I tried to kick a little bit. (6:48)  I looked incredibly awesome at the end.

In case there’s any speculation based on the horribly unflattering outfit I chose, I’m not pregnant again, I just need to lay off the cookies and beer.  I was the 5th place woman, 38th/265 overall.  (21:11; 6:49/mile)

After the race, I made these muffins for breakfast with Mike’s parents.  They’re really easy, and were a huge hit with everyone.  Pretty much the only change I made from the original was using full fat yogurt instead of nonfat greek, and baking them at the same temperature for the whole time.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:90]

(from Confections of a Foodie Bride)

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Strawberry Banana Bread (and a novel about my current job situation)

Almost two years ago I put on my suit, drove north for a few hours to a city I’d never heard of, and interviewed for a teaching job. We were still living in San Luis Obispo at the time, and the school year would be starting in two weeks.  After applying to almost thirty districts, I had only interviewed twice, and didn’t get either job.

I got to the school way too early, so I sat in my car on the street and watched the three other candidates walk in for their interviews.  When it was finally time for me to go in, I took a deep breath, clutched my portfolio, and nervously walked into the office.

The principal, a science teacher, and a math teacher asked me questions about my experience teaching abroad, why I wanted to work in a middle school, lessons I’d taught, and how I work with students who speak languages other than English.  They asked if I would be okay with teaching PE and I told them about how much I loved running and being active.  I felt relaxed and confident as I showed my portfolio and answered their questions.   I walked out of there thinking I might actually get to teach that year.

I got in the car to drive back home and within 45 minutes, the principal called and offered me the job.  I spent the next two years teaching 8th grade science and PE, working with a phenomenal group of teachers and a dedicated principal.  I came to realize I love teaching, and particularly teaching middle school, more than I ever thought I would.  I am incredibly grateful that the principal took a chance and hired someone with no full-time experience. I’m also fairly sure I wouldn’t have survived my first year without the other 8th grade science teacher — the most organized person I’ve ever met — who was was more than willing to answer my questions, give lesson and lab ideas,  and skip her lunch to observe and offer feedback.

The job was challenging but incredibly rewarding, and I absolutely loved my students.  But I also knew that there needed to be some changes.  I didn’t want to spend the rest of my career teaching PE; I went to school to teach science.  Also, Daly City just wasn’t somewhere I wanted to live for the rest of my life.  The summers are cold and foggy, the winters are clear, but cold and windy, and because it’s decently close to San Francisco, rent isn’t cheap.  I have a few friends who live in the East Bay, where there are trees! And you get a real summer! And you can get an entire house with a yard for the price of a tiny apartment in the the city!  Mike and I were determined to make a move.

I started applying for jobs in the East Bay a couple months ago, and went to a couple interviews.  No offers.  Then this past Thursday, I went to a screening interview.  When I sat down with the interviewer, she told me she was a principal helping the district screen applicants for a pool, not interviewing for a specific job.  If I “passed” this round of interviews, my information would be forwarded to principals with openings, and they might contact me.  We chatted about teaching, and why I wanted to leave my current position.  After answering a few more questions, she let me know that she had a science position open at her school and she was interested in having me interview for it the next day.

Friday morning I drove to her school and met with the vice principal and science department chair.  I got a tour of some of the science classrooms and computer labs.  I’d looked into the school a little bit the night before and knew it was somewhere I would love to work.  I felt pretty confident leaving that interview, and tried not to stress about it over the weekend.  Monday morning at 8:09 AM, the phone rang and I was offered the job!

After calling Mike with the great news, I immediately knew I had to bake something to celebrate, so I chopped up some strawberries and mashed up some bananas and baked this loaf of bread while Ellie hung out in her high chair.

Although there’s a lot of stress that comes with this move – finding a new daycare, finding a place to live, figuring out which gym to join and where I can run and where I’ll grocery shop… it feels so right.   I will definitely miss my first school and the amazing people I worked with, but I’m also SO ready for this new challenge (sixth graders!) and to live somewhere we really want to be.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:88]

Whole wheat berry pancakes


This was the first thing I made in our NEW kitchen! I’m still trying to get used to the fact that we have plenty of cabinet space for all our stuff, and that Mike and I can both be in the kitchen at the same time without running into each other constantly. It’s pretty luxurious.

Our first night in this place was Friday. However because the kitchen was pretty much a complete disaster…
we decided not to cook. I realize it doesn’t look that horrible in that picture, but what you can’t see is that pretty much every kitchen item we own was in a box in the living room, so cooking wasn’t really an option.

We got pizza delivered and celebrated the move with bubbly…water.

Saturday we spent the ENTIRE day cleaning the old apartment then took a much needed break at the San Jose Earthquakes v. New York Red Bulls game.

When you’re used to watching English Premier League games the MLS looks…kind of weak. But it was fun, and the fireworks after the game were awesome.

This morning we made a little more progress unpacking and I made some patriotic pancakes for a little early Independence Day cheer. These are just buttermilk pancakes, but using half whole wheat flour makes them hearty and the berries add enough sweetness that you don’t really need syrup…a dollop of yogurt and some fresh berries are pretty much perfect.

Recipe:

makes 8-12, depending on size

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar or evaporated cane juice
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp butter, melted
about 1/2 cup mixed blueberries and sliced strawberries, plus extra for serving

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.

Stir the eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter together.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently (it’s fine if the batter stays a little lumpy).

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat and spray with nonstick spray. Ladle a little batter onto the griddle, then sprinkle with a few berries. Let cook for a few minute, or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook an additional minute or two. Repeat with remaining batter and berries.

Serve with plain yogurt and berries.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Strawberries and rhubarb…such a perfect combination. But I just can’t get excited about strawberry rhubarb pie. It’s not the fussiness of rolling out the crust – I actually kind of enjoy that. I just feel like I’ve eaten so many pies in my life that it’s time to give more attention to the other desserts that highlight fruit so well. Cobblers, crisps, crumbles… there are so many options!

I’ve been using white whole wheat flour in just about everything lately and it’s perfect here as well, but of course you can use all purpose if that’s more your style. The original recipe called for a full teaspoon of orange zest, which I would scale back next time because I felt like the orange flavor infringed on the strawberry and rhubarb a little too much. The original recipe also called for tapioca, but I didn’t use any thickeners and the texture seemed fine to me.


Recipe:
(adapted from Simply Recipes)

fruit
4 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of grated orange peel

crust
2 tbsp evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten

Heat the rhubarb and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until rhubarb begins to soften and some liquid collects in the pan (stir occasionally). Remove from heat, then stir in the orange zest and strawberries.

Pour the fruit into a 2 1/2 or 3 qt baking dish and make the topping.

Stir the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together with a fork. Cut the butter into several small pieces, and blend into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until it resembles small pebbles. Stir in the milk and egg, and mix just until there are no more traces of flour.

Drop pieces of dough all over the fruit, then bake for about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Strawberry-Chocolate Icebox Cake

I’ve been buying massive quantities of fresh strawberries lately, but they usually don’t last long enough in the house to bake with. This week I bought a half flat, determined that some of them would actually make it into a dessert rather than just being consumed fresh by the bowlful.

I’d never made an icebox cake before, but the idea of layering cookies with strawberry sauce and whipped cream, then letting time and the refrigerator work their magic seemed pretty brilliant, particularly since I had to work all day and couldn’t put together a labor-intensive dessert like I love to do. I found a great-looking recipe on Seven Spoons, but wanted to bring some chocolate to the party instead of using graham crackers. So, I made some chocolate wafer cookies.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, sliced 1/8″ thick. Let me just warn you, the chilled dough is really good. So good, in fact, that I was slicing mine, I probably ate one little disk of dough for every one that made it onto the baking sheet. Good thing I’m running a lot these days.

Anyway, if you want to, you could obviously use store-bought wafers. Then you just chop up some strawberries and make a sauce, whip a little heavy cream with sugar and vanilla, and layer everything together and put it in the fridge for about 8 hours. The result, when sliced (which I should have taken a picture of…oops) looks like a cake with a 5 thin layers, with plenty of chocolate and strawberry flavor and sweet, velvety whipped cream holding it all together. Definitely not waistline friendly, but totally delicious.

Recipe:
(adapted from Seven Spoons)

strawberry sauce
1 pound strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped (about 3 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon

cake
3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, divided
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chocolate wafer cookies (you’ll need about 60)

To make the sauce:
Put about 2 1/2 cups of berries in a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until the fruit becomes soft and the juices begin to thicken, about 8 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender until smooth, then strain through a sieve back into the saucepan. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until clear, glossy, and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Add the remaining fresh berries and cook for about 2 minutes. Use the immersion blender again, pureeing until smooth. Strain through a sieve, then add additional sugar to taste.

To make the cake, line the inside of an 8 or 9″ springform pan with plastic wrap so the bottom and sides are completely covered.

Whip 2 1/2 cups of cream until it holds soft peaks. Sift in the powdered sugar and salt, mix for a few seconds, then add the vanilla and continue beating just until stiff peaks form.

Spread a small amount of the cream on the bottom of the prepared cake pan. Arrange a single layer of wafers so the cream is covered as much as possible. Spoon some whipped cream on top of the wafers and smooth so they are covered by a thin layer. Drizzle a few tablespoons of the strawberry sauce over the whipped cream, then top with another layer of wafer cookies. Repeat with whipped cream and strawberry sauce until you have 5 layers of cookies and 4 layers of whipped cream. Do not spread strawberry sauce over the top layer of cream.

Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

About 1 hour before serving, remove the cake from the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Invert the cake onto a serving plate, and remove the plastic wrap from the top and sides. Smooth out the sides with an offset spatula if needed. Place the cake in the freezer, uncovered, to chill for 30 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the remaining 1 cup of well-chilled heavy cream. After soft peaks begin to form, sift in 1/2 cup powdered sugar and continue beating until it holds stiff peaks.

Take the cake out of the freezer and gently spread a thin layer of the whipped cream to cover. Spread the remaining strawberry sauce over the top, then put the whipped cream in a piping bag and pipe some decoration, if desired. Chill for 30 minutes before slicing to serve.

Strawberry Bread

The Thursday night Farmer’s Market in our town is kind of a scene. It’s always packed with people, barbecue carts, a bounce house, puppet shows and live music, various political and religious booths, and of course, plent of farmers selling fabulous produce. It can be overwhelming and I usually don’t feel like dealing with the crowds (or the cold!) But Saturday mornings, most of the same farmers go to a shopping center parking lot, and that market is just focused on the food. I love it.

I picked up tons of great stuff this weekend, including the first fresh California strawberries I’ve had in a very long time. I knew Mike and I could devour all three baskets with no problem, but I couldn’t get the idea of strawberry bread out of my mind, so I decided to do some experimenting.

I used white whole wheat flour because it’s the best thing on earth, and a cup and a half of diced fresh strawberries. I wish I could say I waited for it to cool so I could cut perfect slices, but obviously that didn’t happen. I have a feeling I’ll be baking dozens of loaves of this over the next few months. With local strawberries so plentiful, who needs banana bread?

Recipe:
2 eggs
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups fresh diced strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease an 8 x 4″ loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until the evenly yellow (but not frothy). Stir in the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and stir until evenly mixed. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until there are no longer traces of flour. Gently fold in the strawberries, then pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the bread and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Strawberry Cupcakes

It seems like every morning I wake up, look out the window, and fall in love with California all over again. Where else do you get sunny, seventy degree days in the middle of January and a summer and fall free of hurricanes or tornadoes? Yes, we miss out on the seasons a little bit, but there was definitely no doubt that it was winter a few weeks ago, when it was 50 and pouring for an entire week straight.

My first winter here, I remember being shocked to see fresh, local strawberries in the farmers market in early February. In Oregon, the strawberry season was painfully short so the idea of being able to get strawberries that had not spent weeks in transit completely blew my mind.

If you happen to be in a place where there’s snow on the ground and no strawberry plants for thousands of miles, these cupcakes are here to put a smile on your face and bring you a little bit of summer…all you need to do is pick up some frozen strawberries at the grocery store. (And in all honesty, I think these may actually be better made with frozen strawberries!)

Some of the comments on the recipe indicated that the strawberry flavor wasn’t strong enough in the icing, so I took the advice of one commenter and boiled the puree to reduce it and concentrate the flavor. It not only gave the frosting a beautiful pink color, it definitely made the strawberry flavor nice and strong. I only made 6 cupcakes because I was baking a few other desserts the same day, but the recipe is easy to double.

Recipe:
(adapted from Martha Stewart, originally from Candace Nelson at Sprinkles Cupcakes)

Cupcakes:
3 tablespoons strawberry puree (just puree fresh or thawed frozen strawberries in a food processor)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
2 tbsp whole milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

Frosting:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/2 cup thawed frozen (or fresh) strawberries, pureed and simmered until reduced by half
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put paper liners in 6 cupcake tins.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt onto a piece of wax paper. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, vanilla, and strawberry puree.
Cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the sugar. Beat for a few minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix on low until combined.
Add half the flour mixture and mix briefly on low. Scrape down the bowl and add the milk mixture, mixing just until combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining flour mixture. Mix on low, then divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting:
Beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the strawberry puree a teaspoon or two at a time until the frosting is smooth and spreadable.



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