Strawberries add taste, texture to recipes

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

We are busy at our house preparing for Ross' ninth birthday this Saturday. It seems like such a very short time ago that we were letting him play in his first birthday cake while he sat in his highchair. Now we are into baseball, basketball and braces. How the time does pass so quickly as we cherish every moment.

Strawberry season is finally here. Our Lexie loves strawberries and can eat them until I literally have to make her stop. I wash them and leave the stems on for use as a handle, and she dredges them in powdered sugar. She is so cute when she is enjoying them.

Ronda Bramlett of Cape Girardeau shared some strawberry recipes with some excellent nutritional information in our recent aging magazine at work. I would like to pass along a couple of her recipes.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

1 pint fresh strawberries

2 bunches fresh spinach

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons minced green onion

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup Balsamic or cider vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Wash strawberries under cool running water. Remove caps and set aside to drain. Wash spinach and remove large, tough stems. Tear large leaves into small pieces. Drain. In a medium bowl combine remaining ingredients and whisk together. Slice strawberries into halves or quarters and place in a large bowl. Add dry spinach. Pour dressing over all and toss.

Strawberry Muffins

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/3 cup melted butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped

Additional sugar for topping

Firm, fresh strawberries work best in this recipe, but when the season is over substitute blueberries, cherries or chopped peaches.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line tin with paper cupcake liners. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, stir until all ingredients are well blended. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the middle of dry ingredients and pour liquid mixture in and the strawberries. Using a large spoon, gently fold ingredients just until moist; do not overmix. Spoon the batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with about 1/2 teaspoon sugar, if desired. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

Joan Weeks of Cape Girardeau made these delicious brownies for a recent meeting she attended. The recipe makes about 36 brownies in an 8-inch-square baking pan, so this tells me they are very rich.

Praline Brownies

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine, divided

2 tablespoons evaporated milk, not sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine dark brown sugar, 3/4 cup butter and evaporated milk. Cook over low heat just until butter is melted, stirring constantly. Pour into an ungreased 8-inch-square baking pan; sprinkle evenly with pecans. In a large mixing bowl, beat light brown sugar and remaining 1/2 cup butter until light. Add eggs, mixing well. Stir in flour, vanilla and salt, mixing just until moistened. Spread over pecans, making sure to cover the bottom layer completely. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until brownies test done. Remove pan to a cooling rack; let cool 5 minutes. Invert brownies onto a tray or serving platter; lift off pan. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Cover when brownies cool.

A McClure, Ill., reader sent in a nice variety of recipes she uses often in entertaining during the summer months. Though the sender was not identified, I have every bit of trust that they are delicious, as McClure is my home stomping ground.

Stromboli Sandwiches

1 pound ground round

1 tablespoon chopped onion

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Mozzarella cheese

Kaiser rolls

Garlic spread:

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Brown meat and add other ingredients. Cook about 20 minutes. Blend garlic spread in a small bowl and spread on both sides of Kaiser rolls. Put meat mixture on bottom of rolls and a slice of Mozzarella cheese on top of meat. Wrap sandwich in foil. Heat for 15 minutes in a 350-degree oven. These can be made up a day ahead, refrigerated, and heated before serving. Also may be frozen.

Chicago-style Italian Beef

3 to 4 pound beef roast

2 large green bell peppers

1 teaspoon black pepper

6 to 8 bay leaves

2 medium onions

2 tablespoons garlic salt

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

1/2 cup pepperoncini juice

Cut roast in large chunks and place in a Dutch oven, preferably cast iron. Place all spices and vegetables on top of roast. Cover with enough water to fill the Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for several hours, you may have to add more water occasionally. Remove roast from broth and shred with a fork. Discard the bay leaves. Return roast to broth and add pepperoncini juice to beef. Reheat and serve on fresh rolls.

Italian Pasta Stir-Fry

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1 medium zucchini

1 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

1 (8-ounce) package linguine

3 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion

1 teaspoon basil

2 medium tomatoes

1 can Pillsbury bread sticks

6 to 8 fresh mushrooms

Cook pasta according to package directions. Keep warm. Slice zucchini; chop onion and tomato. Snip parsley. Heat oil in skillet, then stir fry garlic for 15 seconds. Add zucchini and onion. Stir fry 2 to 3 minutes until crisp and tender. Add tomatoes, parsley and seasonings. Heat 1 to 2 minutes, stirring gently until heated through. Remove from heat. Stir in warm pasta. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top. Serve hot.

We still have the request for pineapple bran muffins if you have a recipe to share.

Enjoy this beginning of strawberry season and have them often while they are fresh and delicious.

We are out of space again for this week. So until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, Mo. 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by the Southeast Missourian staff.

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