Fresh air and blue skies.
Green fields studded with red.
Sticky fingers and stained faces.
Baskets and baskets of ripe fruit waiting to be turned into jams, baked goods, refreshing Spring drinks, or simply enjoyed as is in all of its seasonal juicy goodness.
May means strawberry-picking time!
My oldest son three years ago when we last went strawberry picking.
I have missed strawberry season for the last two summers. Two summers ago, I had a very young baby and a toddler and was not up to taking them both to go strawberry picking. Last summer I was in my first trimester of my pregnancy and was not up to the task again due to fatigue and nausea. This summer I am determined to go, even if it means, (and it probably will), taking a preschooler, a toddler, and a baby with me. I am learning to embrace the craziness of this period of my life. That and I really have missed all those fresh strawberries in my kitchen the past couple of years.
My mind is already racing with all of the ways we can enjoy our strawberries. Pies will certainly be made. Breads will be baked. And fresh, creamy yogurt will be topped with sliced strawberries. (Have you tried making your own yogurt yet? The summer is a wonderful time to have yogurt on hand to be enjoyed with all the delicious seasonal fruits!)
Last week my mother-in-law brought over strawberry shortcakes for dessert. Since then, I’ve been thinking of how many things I can make using the delicious combination of strawberries and cream. Over the weekend it was cakes that were layered alternately with strawberry jam and buttercream frosting. Today I opted for a breakfast version.
I made the jam this morning which added a little time to the process. You can easily make your own jam or use a store-bought jam. Both would work fine. A recipe to make your own strawberry jam follows the muffin recipe.
Strawberries and Cream Muffins
- 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 C white whole wheat flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 1/4 C unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/3 C sugar
- 1 C plain Greek-style yogurt
- 2/3 C whey or milk
- strawberry jam (see recipe below)
- In a small bowl combine cream cheese, butter, and maple syrup. Whisk together until well blended. Transfer cream cheese mixture to a piece of parchment paper and press into a log, about 12 inches long. Wrap log in parchment paper and place in freezer to chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a muffin pan.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Set aside.
- In another bowl whisk egg until well blended, about 30 seconds. Add sugar, melted butter, and yogurt, mixing after each addition. Stir in whey or milk.
- Pour wet mixture into dry mixture. Stir until just combined and there are no more streaks of flour, being careful not to overmix.
- Remove cream cheese log from freezer. Slice into 12 pieces, each about an inch long.
- Scoop about a tablespoon of dough into each place in the muffin pan. Use a spatula or spoon to flatten the dough slightly so it covers the bottom. Add a heaping teaspoon of strawberry jam to each muffin. Set a slice of the cream cheese mixture on top of the jam. Cover each muffin with the remaining dough, trying to keep the cream cheese and jam in the center of the muffin.
- Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack. If you plan to eat them right out of the oven, take care since the cream cheese and jam in the center will be quite hot.
Quick and Easy Strawberry Jam
- 1 lb strawberries, fresh or frozen
- 1/4 C honey
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp low sugar pectin
- Hull and halve the strawberries.
- In a large heavy bottom saucepan, heat the strawberries over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. (If using frozen strawberries, allow for extra time for the berries to thaw and soften).
If you are lazy or in a hurry like me, you can just throw in whole, frozen strawberries.
- Stir in the honey, lemon juice, and pectin. Bring fruit mixture to a boil. Use a potato masher to mash the strawberries to desired chunkiness/consistency. Gently boil for 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let the jam cool. Transfer to a jar or other container and refrigerate. The jam will thicken as it cools.
What are some of your favorite ways to use fresh summer strawberries?