Thursday, August 30, 2012

BLT and Zucchini Fries

I have made these before but feel they are worth sharing again... zucchini fries.  They are accompanied by the annual BLT (bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich).  A classic American fare sandwich.  I think I make bacon twice a year.  Seriously.  I can not stand the grease all over but for this BLT with fresh tomato, I get over my 'thang' with bacon grease.  I do, however, use bacon in soups, don't get me wrong.  A few slices.  Not a whopping frying pan of bacon grease spitting and sputtering all over.  

I had to share with you my proud Mama moment.  I, for the first time, grew tomatoes from seeds.  Yup, never did it. My Mother has always pooh poohed me from doing it.  She has said they are too wimpy and spindly and there is so much work in making them stronger.  Shhh (she's... WRONG!).  It was way easy.

You see I tasted a kumato - which is grown in hot houses.  I knew I had to give this one a go.  Tasting as great as it was from a hothouse, I couldn't even imagine what it would taste like coming from the garden, fresh, in the summer!
And here it is, in the front row, looking all purple and delicious! It is our favorite of all the tomatoes this year! The ones in the middle are green zebra tomatoes from the McCracken CSA. The ones in the back are Brandy Wine.
And then there is this tomato from my CSA.  It is called, Pink Cavern.
Bizarre.  Isnt it?  I think it would be great for making my fire roasted salsa.

Zucchini Fries

Cut zucchini into thin fry like pieces.  Place in large bowl.  Take two egg whites and beat a little with two tablespoons of water.  Toss zucchini strips with egg white.

In another bowl combine:

1/2 cup peccorino romano cheese
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Dredge 'fries' in bread crumb mixture and place on sprayed or greased cooking sheet.  Bake the 'fries' at 425F for about 15 minutes.  Flip and bake five minutes more. Salt and eat!

My kids liked them dipped in marinara or ranch

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pleasing Pumpkin Pancakes

I am back from a two week vacation.  We drove down to Tennessee to see my brother and his wife.  They live right near the Smoky Mountains.  There is so much to do in the Smoky Mountains.  Millions of people visit there each year.  There is a lot to do but I am picky about what my kids do there.  I like to focus on local culture and learning with some wild fun thrown in.  Its nice to have a mix of visiting and sight seeing.  

We visited The Lost Sea Cave,

The Museum of Appalachia (pronounced apple-latch-a),

The Knoxville Zoo (a must for the kids) If you go make sure you take a bathing suit and towel because they have a little splash park now,

and the Visitor Center with WDVX where they had some live Blue Grass Music (you can check it out here).
Count This Penny
These people are from Madison, Wisconsin.  If you live in that area and get a chance to visit them- do it, it will be worth it.  They have a nice smooth sound.
Gina Forsyth
Gina Forsyth lives in New Orleans.  She is a pleasure to listen too.  She has a rich voice and great picking skills.  Her songs are about things that most of us can relate to, from light and funny to sad and lonely.  She runs the gambit of emotion.

We also went swimming in the Tennessee River and walked around market square down town.  We even did a little volunteer work at the Raptor Center in Clinton TN.

While visiting Market Square in downtown Knoxville we ate at a place called Tomato Head (they have a great blog with recipes!)and had this great pizza there.  One of the best pizzas I have ever eaten.  Thin crust in the middle, high on the sides, loaded with vegetables and cheese.  The crust was very tender and delicious.
fresh spinach, red onion, roma tomato, kalamata olive, banana pepper feta cheese, fresh oregano & organic baked tofu or andouille sausage

This is the view from my brother and sister in laws place.  That is Crepe Myrtle growing there.  Just beautiful.

I went to  take some close ups of the blooms and found a preying mantis on the flower- very cool.  Don't they look wise for some reason?


adapted from this recipe at Allrecipes.

1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, mix together the coconut milk, water, pumpkin, egg, oil, brown sugar, and vinegar. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.

Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides.  I turned down the heat as the griddle gets hotter, otherwise they cook too fast and you end up with brown on the outsides and uncooked in the middle.  Any leftovers can be toasted in the toaster for a quick breakfast on another day.

More on our next state to visit coming up...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Carrot Cake Muffins

I could really call this a Weight Watcher Wednesday recipe but I wont because I don't want you to think that it would be any less in flavor. Not that lighter recipes are that.  They really are not.  It takes a bit of practice but  they can be just as flavor with less fat and calories.  These really have a lot of flavor and are pretty light.  It will satisfy your desire for carrot cake.  Hey, you could even slather on a bit of cream cheese and it would still be pretty light.  One of these muffins is 120/145 calories, depending on whether you choose the pecans or not. 
Carrot Cake Muffins
From My Recipes

Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place about 15 paper baking cups in muffin pans, and coat with cooking spray.
2. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pineapple and next 4 ingredients; add pineapple mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in carrots, pecans, and raisins. Spoon batter into baking cups, filling about two-thirds full.
3. Bake at 350° for 22 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yogurt Biscuit with Dill

This biscuit is a-m-a-z-i-n-g, tender and delicious.I thoroughly loved it and will use it with many other herbs.

Yogurt Biscuit with Dill
Adapted from this recipe at the Kitchn;adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman Makes 10 biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup butter
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 450.
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. In a food processor, add dry mixture and butter and pulse until combined. Or you can use a fork/pastry blender/finger tips to blend the ingredients together.
Gently stir in yogurt and dill with a spoon and combine.Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead 10 times. Press out the dough until it is about 3/4 inch thick. Cut out biscuits with a glass or biscuit/cookie cutter, and repeat until all the dough is shaped. I actually just spooned them onto a baking sheet rather than rolling. I just wasn't in the mood for fussing with it.

Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 7 to 9 minutes at 450.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Apricot Cereal Bars

If you want a nice, energizing, cereal bar for breakfast, this is your bar.  This bar has really nice flavor.  The only down side, is that it does fall apart a little as you are eating it. I suppose I should have packed it before I baked. Since I will make these again, I will be sure and do that. And yes, those brown spots in there are apricots because my apricots got dark.  They are unsulphured.  I'd rather have dark apricots than sulphured ones though.  I just pretend they are apricot tasting raisins.

Apricot Cereal Bars
Largely adapted from this recipe at Eating Well

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, (about 2 ounces)
3 cups unsweetened puffed-grain cereal, such as Kashi
2 cups chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces silken tofu, drained (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 large egg
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a large (15 1/4-by-10 1/4-inch) jellyroll-style pan with cooking spray.

Spread oats and walnuts on a baking sheet with sides. Bake until fragrant and light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and add puffed cereal, dried apricots, flour and salt; stir to combine.

In a blender or food processor, puree tofu, egg, oil, honey, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Make a well in the center of the oat mixture; fold in the tofu mixture until combined. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake until firm in the center and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars with a sharp knife.

16 bars- 306 calories per bar.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tomato Salad

One of my absolute favorite things to eat in the summer is a fresh tomato salad.  We all have our versions of this but I wanted to share my favorite way.  I mince a clove of garlic, a few tomatoes, fresh basil, sea salt and olive oil.  WOW.  Swoon.  This salad is in all my dreams of summer. 

I wanted to show you my first tomato of the season.  I think I am remembering it, April Wine.  As my CSA farmer informed me and I think we realized this a few years ago after losing a few tomatoes to rot, is that heirloom tomatoes look not ripe when they really are. 
If you feel adventurous and have not had it, add a bit of allspice to your tomato salad.  I never thought this would taste good but I saw it in a recipe from the book, Aromas of Aleppo.  So good.  You really must try it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Peach and Pepper Salsa

I had about 8 or 9 kinda sour nectarines in the fridge and a couple sweet peaches.  They weren't movin' real fast as they were.  I needed to do something but I didn't want anymore sweets.  Ah, yes, salsa.

I threw in a few Hungarian peppers that I picked up at the market and one jalapeño from my CSA.  Oh, yeah, and one beautifully fresh white onion from my CSA as well.  Bonus.

For salsa with peppers, I prefer the onions and the peppers to be crisp tender rather than raw.  So, I kind of did a mix of cooked and fresh. Here's what I did.
Peach and Pepper Salsa
Mix it up as you please, all peaches, all nectarines, whatever you choose.  Just don't forget the roasted peppers. If your nectarines aren't tart like mine were, throw in some lemon juice or lime juice.

8 nectarines
2 peaches
3 Hungarian peppers, roasted
1 whole white onion
1/2 jalapeño
2 cloves garlic,minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Before you cut up your peppers, roast them.  I do it right on top of the stove.  I have a gas stove so this works pretty well.  Just keep a close eye on things.  Don't walk away and prepare any margaritas just yet.  Plenty of time for that later...

In a frying pan, sauté onion in oil until translucent. Remove from pan and place in a bowl. While the onions are cooking, chop peppers. Add peppers and sauté just until they loose some of their crispiness.  Remove and add to bowl. Add salt, garlic, jalapeño, peaches/nectarines and peppers.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I decided to make some cherry/blueberry slab pie. This recipe is actually called fruit squares.  I made half cherry and the other half is blueberry.  For the blueberry side, I spread some blueberry jam over the dough and then sprinkled on some blueberries... This was my Mom's idea.  I told her it would be too watery but she thought it would be a fine idea.  Yup the dough underneath was a bit soggy.  For the other side I had cooked some cherries that I had from the freezer, along with some cornstarch and sugar.  It was a perfect filling.

This particular recipe is the one my Mother has made over and over again when I was a kid.  She never put glaze on it though.  My Mother does not like frosting of any sort. (I know, are you kidding me - that is the best part). I have made something similar here.  This dough is quite a bit more tender.

This dough is very sticky! So be forewarned.  You will say to yourself when it all comes together, that, it is too wet to be rolled out.  It is.  You roll it between two sheets of wax paper.  It is a pain in the neck to pull the wax paper off, but go slowly and patiently and it will all work out.  If there are any holes, no worries, they are easy to patch.  Don't add more flour though because that will just decrease the tenderness.

Fruit Squares
My Great Aunt was apparently a caterer. This recipe comes from her.  This recipe is one of the things she use to serve.

3/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

filling of our choice (you can make your won or buy the canned pie filling)

In a large bowl beat shortening/lard with sugar.  Add eggs, milk and vanilla.  In another bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder.  Add the flour mixture into the wet ingredients.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

After dough chills, roll out half of dough and lay in an ungreased 15-x10-inch baking sheet. Spread pie filling over it.  Roll out remaining half and place over filling or you can make a lattice top by cutting in strips and laying over top of filling, pinching the edges as you go.
Roll out dough between wax paper.  It is very sticky. If you want to make your life a little easier, chill the dough for 20 minutes before pulling the wax paper off.  Place dough on jelly roll pan about 10 x 15. Bake at 350F until golden and pulling away from the sides a little, about 30 to 35 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into bars or squares.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake

After our blueberry picking extravaganza, I put up about seven puinds of blueberries.  These will later be made into blueberry sauce, blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins and blueberry smoothies.

I clean them

Dry them.
I then lay them out on baking sheets in a single layer and place them in the freezer.  This doesnt take long before they get packaged up and put in freezer bags.  Back they go into the freezer.
One more pic on the pretty blue plate.
But I had to make something yummy besides the usual blueberry eating!  My parents 60th Wedding Anniversary was this past week.  I made this dessert that totally called out to me.  All of its millions of creamy calories.  It's worth it.  Maybe a bite or two will do - feed a crowd with this cake.

First spotted on Pinterest. The recipe comes from Epicurous.  This recipe does not disappoint!

No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake.  But the recipe should really be called, Luscious Blueberry Cloud.  Or Creamy, Dreamy Blueberry Goodness.  You get my drift?

Luscious Blueberry Cream Dream
Recipe adapted from this recipe at Epicurious. I need to mention that I might only make my crusts this way from now on.  The addition of the oats i soutstanding.

9 whole graham crackers
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin (measured from 2 envelopes)

12 ounces Philadelphia-brand cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
4 1/2-pint baskets blueberries
2/3 cup blueberry jam or my vanilla blueberry jam

Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend first 4 ingredients in processor until graham crackers are finely ground. Pour into a 9 inch springform pan. Add butter and vanilla; mix. Press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 inch up sides pan. Bake crust until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes. Cool.
Pour 1/4 cup water into small saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir over very low heat just until gelatin dissolves. Set aside.This works real well in the microwave.

Blend cream cheese, cream, sugar, and lemon juice in processor until smooth. Add berries; puree until smooth (some blueberry bits will remain). With machine running, add warm gelatin mixture through feed tube and blend well. Pour filling into crust. Cover; chill overnight. Run knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Transfer to platter.

Beat cream and sugar in medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spread cream mixture thickly over top of cheesecake. Place berries in bowl. Heat jam in small saucepan over low heat until just melted. Pour jam over berries; toss to coat. Chill blueberries before mounding the coated berries in center of the cream, leaving 1-inch plain border. Chill cake at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blueberry Picking

It's an annual event for our family.  Drive an hour or so to a blueberry patch, called Russell's U-Pick, owned by Whittier Farms and pick to our hearts content.  Fourteen pounds, yes, fourteen pounds of blueberries all in one, gloriously huge patch of blueberries.  This year my husbands hands got super quick and he was able to keep up with me... seven pounds a piece... Yes, I know, dear man, that you might of had a little assistance from these little elves:

I post these pictures from time to time on my blog from our picking and I can not believe how much my children have grown.  Actually I stop and think that very thought, often. 
After picking is our reward... Buy a jar of honey, made by bees doing their work right where we are. Of course they are very busy and we thank them very much for their hard work.  In a cup of tea, especially blueberry tea- delicious!

We then go to a nearby park called, Krull Park, located in Olcott, NY.  The kids get to cool off in the splash area (sometimes the grown ups too).  After we have our picnic lunch we head into the town for the kids to go on some kiddie rides at a little ride area in town. 

And here is our blueberry man, year after year, time after time, he is our steadfast Lord of the Blueberries!  He tells us where to pick, what the current blueberry conditions are, weighs our hard work and takes our money.  You are the best!
This is a glimpse of the acreage on the way in.  blueberry tent with lots' o' blueberries behind.

Tune in next time to find out what I did with these luscious blueberries, which I might add are super sweet this year because of all the sun.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cereal Mix

If you are American, I am quite sure you know about this mix.  If you are not American, you may not.  It's  a great snack that has been wildly popular for a number of years.  Now they sell it in bags pre-made but it is nice to have options about ingredients and make it yourself.  If you want to try it and Chex is not available, most dried cereal would work.  You just want it snacking size.

Some people dont realize this but did you know that there is anchovies in Worcestershire sauce.  People usually say, bleck, anchovies, but hey its in there and Worcestershire Sauce happens to be a favorite of a lot of people.

Chex Mix
Original recipe found here.

3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Wheat Chex
3 cups corn chex
1 cup pretzels
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup sesame sticks
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Lowry's seasoned salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon onion powder

Heat oven to 250°F. In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and sesame sticks; set aside. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in cereal mixture until evenly coated. Bake 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.