Sparkling Strawberry Basil Lemonade

We are right in the middle of summer here in California.  The Central Valley has had a month of triple digits and that heat has extended over to the coast.  When our Sprout was a newborn, I often drove the twenty minutes over to the central coast just to get a break from the heat. It was so nice to top those hills in Atascadero, and drift down into Avila Beach, Morro Bay or Cayucos.

Now that we live on the coast, I am spoiled with lovely weather every day, or almost every day.  Instead of running to the coast to get a break, I now get to run home from our activities inland and breathe a sigh of relief when I see that fog cresting over the hills.

Heat or no heat, there is one thing that we make all the time during the summer…lemonade!  This is the season when bright, beautiful citrus is ready for your kitchen!  There’s a reason all the kids in your neighborhood start pulling out their card tables and plastic cups.  Lemonade is a classic drink that satisfies your sweet tooth as well as your thirst.

In today’s recipe for our Summer Produce Series, we pair juicy lemons with sweet strawberries and a hint of fresh basil.  It’s topped off with some sparkling water to make it refreshing and satisfying.

The recipe is easy to prepare and customize.  Any berry can be substituted for the strawberries and the basil can be swapped out for rosemary, or mint.  Another favorite of ours is blueberry/rosemary lemonade.

img_2039The key to our lemonade is to use a fruity flavored honey.  We buy it locally at our farmers’ market.  I tend to use “Orange Blossom” or “Wildflower.”  They both add a layer of flavor that you won’t find with store brand honey.

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This is a great option to use up strawberries that are starting to over ripen or basil that is less than perfect.  Just wash all produce well and remove blemishes.

Another tip is to use Meyer lemons if you can.  Meyers are thought to be a cross between a mandarin and a lemon.  They have a richness and natural sweetness that allows you to reduce the amount of sweetener used, in this case, honey.

img_2052We hope you enjoy this recipe!  Follow us on Pinterest and Instagram.  Don’t forget to tag #TheSproutedCottage in your posts!

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Cheers!signatures

Sparkling, Strawberry Basil Lemonade

  • Servings: 8 Cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A bright and summery lemonade with a refreshing twist.



Ingredients

  • 2 pounds strawberries, halved and stems removed
  • 6-8 medium basil leaves
  • 4 Meyer Lemons, (yields about 1 cup of juice)
  • 1 cup honey (more or less to taste)
  • 6 cups sparkling water or club soda

Directions

  1. In a blender, puree the strawberries, basil, lemon juice and honey until smooth and syrup like.
  2. Pour the strawberry mixture into a pitcher or carafe. Mix in the sparkling water and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon slices or strawberries.

Chocolaty Zucchini Muffins

Not exactly the typical summer crop that comes to mind, but once you try this, you’ll be making it late into the fall with that large zucchini crop!

Today, Day 4 of the Summer Produce Series we are bringing you chocolate! Not exactly the typical summer crop that comes to mind, but once you try this, you’ll be making it late into the fall with that large zucchini crop!
img_1961Zucchini is a great crop to grow, even if you have a smaller yard. Each plant yields several pounds of vegetables and the blossoms are delicious to cook with too! The plants are hardy and there are many varieties to choose from.  We like to grill them with a little salt, pepper and olive oil for a dinner side.  When we aren’t grilling them, we’re baking them like this…

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All the spices blend well with the moisture of the zucchini to create a flavor party in your mouth!

The inspiration for these muffins came from a recipe that is often made in Dave’s family. They make a chocolate zucchini cake that is moist and divinely full of chocolate. His great aunt made the cake many times throughout the years and it became a signature dish to bring to potlucks and parties. In fact, we made the cake on one of our first dates. Dave had made it several times for friends and we decided to make it together. So, I guess you could say this started our love for cooking together!
img_1980A cake is a great dish when you have a crowd or large family, but our family is still small and apparently it’s not healthy to devour a whole cake on a regular basis! (Say what?!) So, we came up with these muffins. They are a portable version of the original with a couple twists. A little less dessert and a little more breakfast.
img_1979They will keep in an airtight container on the counter for 4-5 days. Or you can wrap them individually and freeze them for up to a month. Just pull out however many you want and thaw them overnight.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but I promise, they all add to the layers of flavor in these beauties.
img_1974Hope you enjoy them! I promise, your kids won’t even know that they are high in protein and full of green veggies!

Chocolaty Zucchini Muffins

  • Servings: 24 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast? This muffin recipe is full of moist zucchini and protein to keep you full.



Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 c. zucchini, finely grated
  • 1 c. chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Fill 24 regular muffin cups with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and maple syrup using a hand mixer. (Or the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer.)
  3. Add the oil, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Mix until fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl, blend the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, baking powder and spices.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter in two batches and mix until incorporated.
  6. Fold the zucchini and chocolate chips into the batter.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, fill each muffin cup 2/3 of the way with batter.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then enjoy!

Mouthwatering Bruschetta with Tomatoes (Bruschetta con Pomodoro)

Today’s recipe for mouthwatering bruschetta with tomatoes, is a quick and tasty version that works great when you don’t have a lot of time. It also uses up all those juicy tomatoes and zesty basil leaves that are flourishing this time of year!

We love to cook and experience food from all cultures here at The Sprouted Cottage. Dave is a classically trained chef who loves the adventures of Asian cuisine and classic French techniques. He works as a chef at a local bakery in a neighboring town and gets to play with food everyday. I have always enjoyed learning about other cultures because of my love for art and textiles. I love discovering the unique traits of different people. There is one thing that both Dave and I see in every culture; sharing a meal is a common way to enjoy others company.

In true American fashion, our Sprout is a melting pot of ancestry. She has Italian, German, Polish, Norwegian, Irish, English, Scotch and possibly even Mongolian. We love how unique this makes her and have enjoyed watching her grow and seeing different characteristics show up as she matures. It also inspired us to expose her to foods and cultures that make up her ancestry. Continue reading “Mouthwatering Bruschetta with Tomatoes (Bruschetta con Pomodoro)”

Cucumber Pinwheels with Goat Cheese & Sun Dried Tomato Cream

Our Cucumber Pinwheels with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese are a quick and easy appetizer to bring to family bbq’s, beach picnics or even to have in the fridge on those hot nights when you can’t stomach a full meal. They pair well with lots of dishes.

This has been one crazy week! When we planned out this Summer Produce Series, we chose this week in July because our produce would be ripe and our schedule was open.

We kicked it off Monday, and then Tuesday hit… Continue reading “Cucumber Pinwheels with Goat Cheese & Sun Dried Tomato Cream”

Simple Strawberry Jam

Day one of our Summer Produce Series is “filled to the brim” with fruits! Or within ¼ inch of the brim, actually. 😀

Last week we went to visit both of our families for a week; half with each family. While we were at the Gerszewski’s place, we picked pounds and pounds of strawberries and we also jammed some cherries from their early summer crop. Dave’s family has their own farm up in the mountains. They have an abundant variety and thanks to his dad and youngest brother, that variety is constantly growing! My in-loves are pros at processing and preserving their crops to enjoy all year. Their cherries were pitted, bagged and frozen. While frozen cherries are a pretty amazing treat all on their own, they also make a tasty jam for toast or cookies. 
This is our go to jam recipe for fruits that we pull from our yard or receive from the Gerszewski side up in the sierra foothills. All in all we ended up with almost 2 gallons of jam to enjoy even when the winter weather hits. Continue reading “Simple Strawberry Jam”

Summer Produce Series Coming Soon…

Produce season is upon us! It is one of those times during the year where farmers’ markets get fuller and if you are fortunate enough to have your own trees and vines in your yard or homestead…you probably have fruit coming out of every drawer and bin in your fridge!

Produce season is upon us. It is a relatively short season, even in some parts of California. Some farmers’ markets in the mountains are just now seeing the first fruits of all their hard work.

It is one of those times during the year where farmers’ markets fill up with vendors and if you are fortunate enough to have your own trees and vines in your yard or homestead…you probably have fruit coming out of every drawer and bin in your fridge! At one point last week, our entire dining room table was covered with strawberries and plums.
This leads to our first series on the blog; a week of daily recipes to help you preserve and cook your way through all that produce! Continue reading “Summer Produce Series Coming Soon…”