Sizzle Simmer Sauté–Ripe for the picking: Fresh strawberries enhance sweet and savory dishes

Jennifer Ruple

Springtime and strawberries just go hand in hand. From seasonal treats to savory salads, these sun-ripened fruits can be utilized in so many ways. They are also packed with vitamin C and an excellent source of fiber, potassium and antioxidants.
Although we’re still a few weeks out from our local picking season, I can’t help myself once they start hitting the grocery stores. Aside from eating them whole, here are two recipes to help you celebrate the upcoming strawberry season.

Double Strawberry Muffins
The combination of strawberry jam and fresh strawberries equals double the fruity flavor and moisture in these muffins – perfect for breakfast, brunch or anytime in between.
Oh, and if you’re into muffin tops, go ahead and fill the muffin cups all the way to the top. You’ll get 12 large muffins from this recipe.

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar or coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup strawberry jam or preserves
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

Heat oven to 375 F. Lightly coat a muffin tin with non-stick spray or insert paper liners.
In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking soda and nutmeg. Whisk to combine.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, butter and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold the strawberries into the batter being careful not to overmix.
Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  
Enjoy warm or at room temperature with a shmear of butter.
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

Strawberry Spinach Salad
I have included the option to add anywhere from 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey. I prefer the dressing a bit sweeter with this salad as it offsets the tartness of the feta cheese. This bright and colorful salad is wonderful on its own, or give it an extra boost of protein by adding sliced grilled chicken or steak. Makes 6 side dish servings.

6 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 quart strawberries, halved
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Honey Poppyseed Dressing
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons pure raw honey
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
To a bowl, add vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt and mustard and whisk to combine. While whisking the dressing, pour the olive oil into the dressing in a slow stream. Continue whisking until combined.
Drizzle over salad, toss and enjoy!
(Recipe by Jennifer Ruple)

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