Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Say: Grilled Cheese

There are a million ways to make grilled cheese grown up and still be that wonderful comfort food. Sometimes though, you want that memory of childhood to shine through. Sometimes you just want something quick, quirky or fun.

I think this grilled cheese is a nice blend of grown up, childhood and quick. It's fun and easy with a very adult taste and perfectly compliments the Tomato Soup.

Grilled Cheese
Ingredients:
4 thin flakes of Parmesian Reggiano (about an inch square)
2 thin slices of Gruyere
1 tbs shredded mozzerella
1 tbs shredded cheddar
1 slice Kraft Deluxe American cheese
2 tbs butter
2 slices of bread

Directions:
Thinly spread butter on insides of both pieces of bread. Layer all of the cheese on. Close sandwich and gently spread butter on outsides of bread. Place in heated/greased sandwich maker or pannini press. Cook for approx. 4 minutes or until bread is toasty brown and cheese is melted.

Tomato Soup

It's that time of year, where us Southern gardeners start dreaming of that first fresh ripe tomato. We envision tomato sandwiches, tomato pies, thick slices of tomato topping creamed corn and biscuits. mmmmm. Before we get to the summer though we have to make a mad effort to finish out our stores of food that we have stingely guarded over the long dark winter. We ration ourselves out to make sure we have an array good quality ingredients to last till spring and somehow, we always have an abundance left and chide ourselves every year.

This year, I have ONE jar of canned tomatoes left. I've actually had to substitute using cans from the store, but I found one quart I had missed hiding behind a casserole dish in the pantry. So I decided to give a go at Home made Tomato Soup. I looked at several recipes but decided to wing it with a loose inspiration from Robert St. John's Deep South Staples.

I did not get mine perfectly smooth and tomato-y like Campbell's. So please don't try this if you are expecting a home made version of the classic condensed soup. This a is light tomato creamy flavor. Perfect for dipping a Grilled cheese!

*Don't yell at me. I promise I've been taking pictures, but I've been trying a new trick of typing up the drafts while items are cooking so that I don't get terribly behind in posts AND pictures. I'm still figuring out the time tables of better blogging practises while living!

Tomato Soup
Ingredients:
1 Quart Jar of canned tomatoes with juice
1 can diced tomatoes
4 tbs butter
1 vidalia onion
3 cloves garlic
1 large carrot
1 stick celery
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup flour
1 cup cream
1/2 stick butter

Directions:
Melt 4 tbs butter in sauce pan. Add finely chopped onion and garlic. Stir. Add finely chopped carrot and celery. (I use a mini food chopper and do each item seperately). Cook for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add chicken broth. Stir. Add all the tomatoes. Bring to a light boil then reduce to simmer for as long as possible to let the flavors blend. About an hour.

In a seperate sauce pan, melt the 1/2 stick butter. Add flour and cook until a smooth paste. Add cream and cook until blended. Add to tomato mixture. Pour entire mixture into a blender or food processer and pulse until tomatoes are well chopped and mixture is smooth.

Spaghetti with Spinach Sauce

Don't worry, this is not a variation of my Creamy pea Pasta. They are actually NOTHING alike. Last night I was planning on Asparagus and Goat Cheese Lemon Pasta. However, for the second time in a row, the asparagus I bought from a particular vendor at the Farmer's Market was molded inside the bunch. Given the fact that I do have a mold allergy, I have to throw the whole bunch away. (which last night was two bunches). That's $6.00 in the trash. I was highly pissed and scrambling for something to substitute for dinner. I pulled out one of Giada's recipes and let it inspire me to suit what I had on hand. It came out very well, though I believe next time I would prefer to saute off the onion's and garlic first. I will definately be making this again in the future. It's so easy and quick.

Spaghetti with Spinach Sauce
Ingredients:
1 lb spaghetti
3 garlic cloves
1 small onion
4 ounces Goat Cheese
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions:
Boil noodles in salted water till tender. Drain.

In a food processor, chop onion and garlic. Add spinach, salt and pepper and blend. Add Goat Cheese and mascarpone and pulse until mixed well. Pour mixture over hot noodles and mix until well blended. Top with Parmesan. This is a "dry" recipe. The "sauce" just coats the noodles but do not look for an actual sauce. You can add some pasta water to loosen the mixture up a little bit if needed.

Popovers

I decided to make Popovers to go with the Rhubarb Strawberry Jam I made to send to my parents. I've actually never made Popovers before, so I turned to Ina Garten for a recipe. I followed her tips and they came out well but a little overdoneon the outside for my taste. I would recommend keeping an eye on them through the oven glass or if you can't get a good look because your oven light is dim like mine, crack the door at 25 minutes to take a peek. These are VERY smooth and light on the inside. Perfect for bites of jam.

Popovers

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups self rising flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Preheat your muffin pan while heating the oven. When you take it out, spray it with Pam. In a KAMixer using the paddle attachment, mix together the flour, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans about half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek. (I had some batter left over)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Monday

I am being a bit ambitious this week despite the fact that I have a garden that needs to be deweeded, a few more rows to plant, and a yard that needs trimming and countless flowerbeds to rework. MEH. I'm giving myself a pass since we have a "chance" of rain three days this week. It's a good excuse right? With all the gardening, I've missed my kitchen. So we got reacquainted this weekend.

I actually planned my menu yesterday morning so this includes Sunday's baking and dinner.

Rhubarb and Strawberry Muffins
Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam

Scalloped Potatoes and Fried Chicken

Meatloaf and Asparagus Goat Cheese Lemon Pasta

Root Gratin wtih French Onion Chicken

Fusilli with spinach & Asiago

Asparagus Frittata, Fresh Sausage and Popovers

Bread Loaf

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Muffins

I decided to try a little experiment this weekend. Instead of adding pieces of RAW fruit to the muffin mix or making plain muffins and spreading jam, I decided to add the jam to muffin mix. The batter was excellent. Fragrant, strong, pink. The muffins are a little bland though. Because the jam has so much sugar, I didn't put that much in the mix, so they are not very sweet and the fruit flavor is just hinted at after the baking process.

Not bad at all, but not exactly what I was going for. I even tried some butter cream icing on them but it overpowered the muffin completely...so no cupcakes either. If you are not sure about the flavor combination, try these because its very subtle. Or double the amount of jam or add some raw strawberries and these will be excellent.

Hey, not every concoction can be perfect on the first try right? I like them, don't get me wrong, they are just a light on the flavor for me.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam Muffins
Ingredients:
1 cup Prepared Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
3 cups Self Rising Flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 stick butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Cream Butter and sugar. Add sour cream and blend until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Add Vanilla.

Add flour 1/2 cup at a time. At the end dough will get really thick. Add Jam. This will loosen up the dough and make it creamy. Spoon mixture into cupcake cups about 3/4 full. This rises but not too much. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

This weekend has been a whirlwind, but I love it. The Farmer's Market was packed yesterday but I have a nice array of seasonal goods to use for a week full of exciting recipes. (I'm feeling ambitious this week despite the desperate need to attack weeds in the garden). So what was so great that I bought? RHUBARB and STRAWBERRIES! I haven't had Rhubarb in YEARS but I distinctly remember my mama's rhubarb strawberry pies.

I decided to go in a little bit different direction though and set out to make a small batch of jam to go with my PopOvers later in the week and experiment with some cupcakes. So far so good and my house smells wonderfully of baked strawberry. MMM

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
(adapted from Simply In Season)

Ingredients:
4 cups diced Rhubarb
3 cups strawberries (decapped)
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup water

Directions:
Place rhubarb and strawberries in a large sturdy stock pot. Mash strawberry's slightly (I used the flat side of the measuring cup) Add water and bring to a boil. Add sugar and stir pretty consistently for 20 minutes. About 15 minutes in, you can lower the heat to medium for the last few minutes. This is when it is most likely to burn so lowering the heat is ideal as it thickens. Be careful because this will scorch on the bottom.

Ladel into hot prepared jam jars. Add seals and lids and place in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. I flipped mine upside down on a towel for about five minutes to really keep that lid seal hot, then flipped for a tight seal. This made 4 1/2 pints with about 1 cup leftover for use in my cupcakes.

ENJOY!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

This recipe is from Food Network and they are oh so adorable and yummy. Another item baked up for my Easter dinner and they were a hit. (I know, i'm way behind on posts, as usual).

I've become a mega cupcake ho, because there is nothing better than a table set with wonderful food and a stand full of cupcakes. Perfectly portioned sweet treats for all ages. From the elegant fruity concoctions, to the liquor inspired, to the simple. And kids LOVE them. My nephews are all about the cupcakes and now I have the cupcake rep. Meh, I'll go with it. People expect cupcakes from me now? I'm happy to oblige! Cupcakes are my new passion!

Quick Note: I did not like the icing from Food Network's recipe. It was very thin and more like a glaze so I incorporated it into a Buttercream icing. Same lime flavor, fluffy buttercream topping. Perfection. (I had A LOT OF icing left over so you can half the recipe if you want or make extra cupcakes or a strawberry cake, up to you).

Strawberry-Lime Stuffed Cupcakes
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Icing:
1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 stick butter, room temp
1/2 stick crisco
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar

Directions:
12 large ripe strawberries, hulled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until light and foamy, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the butter and then the vanilla.

Alternate Flour and Milk, starting and ending with flour. Take care not to over mix the batter. Batter is going to be super fluffy and it expands! One and a half cookie scoop per muffin tin is plenty because it will run out.

Bake about 30 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove. Cool on the rack completely.

For icing: Mix the confectioners' sugar and lime zest. Add the lime juice. Set aside.

Cream butter and crisco. Add vanilla and slowly add sugar. Mix until fluffy. Add Lime juice mixture. If it becomes a little thick, just add splashes of milk until a piping consistency.

To assemble: With a pairing knife, remove cone shape (the size of the strawberries) from the cupcake top/center, leaving about 1/2 to 1-inch of cake in the bottom. Stuff each cake with a strawberry (without the green stems. Pipe Buttercream icing onto cupcake. Top with a small slice or fan of strawberry.

Triple Lemon Cupcakes

Disclaimer: I'm not sure where I retrieved this recipe from. I saw something similar on Food Network and then a few more by browsing blogs. This was from a word document so I'm not sure if I yanked it from someone's blog or pulled a few pieces from various sources which I am known to do. Please let me know if this is your exact recipe and I will be happy to give credit. Thanks.

On to the cupcakes: These were to die for adorable. Seriously. A refreshing sweet tart taste perfect for spring time. I will DEFINATELY be making them again! It seems like there are a lot of stages and steps but they really do not take long and can be broken up over time (like oh you know, a trip to TJMAXX while the cupcakes cool).

I used a basic Sugar Cookie Recipe and Lemon Icing Recipe from the Joy of Baking for the cookie toppers. I also used about 5 large lemons for this whole process.

Triple Lemon Cupcakes
Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups Self-Rising flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 ounces cream cheese, room temp
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 plus 2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice.
1/2 cup buttermilk
Zest of 1 lemon

Directions:
Using a KAMixer bowl, gently mix lemon zest and sugar until fragrant with a fork or fingers. Ad the butter and cream cheese and cream with a paddle attachment for 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating till blended. Alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Add lemon juice and beat on low until smooth.

Fill each lined muffin cup about 2/3 of the way full (or two scoops with a cookie scoop). Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until done.

Lemon Curd:
4 egg yolks
Zest of 1 Lemon
1/4 plus 1 Tbs Lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tbs unsalted butter, cold, diced

Directions:
Whisk everything except the butter in a sause pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture coats the spoon (8-10 minutes). Remove from heat, Add butter a few pieces at a time, stirring constantly. Some people strain their's, I did not since it was VERY smooth and I wanted the pop of the zest to stay in there. I poured into a greased corningware dish and covered with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic into the top of the curd.

Icing:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
1 tbs lemon juice
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:
In KAMixer cream butter, cream cheese and lemon juice. Once smooth, add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add lemon zest and beat until smooth.

ASSEMBLY:
Using a paring knife, cut a cone shape out of each cupcake. Using a ziplock bag with the corner tip cut off (or a piping bag), fill each hole with lemon curd. Pipe a swirl of icing on top of each cupcake.

Top each cupcake with a sugar cookie chickadee for a spring party OR a ribbon of lemon rind.

*pictures posted this weekend! Come back to see them. They are adorable.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Menu Monday

This week has been a little tough for me. I've been so focused on getting the garden planted that I've let my cooking AND blogging slide. (which I warned you about so don't blame me! LOL)

So far for the week's menu:

Grilled chicken, rice and limas

Something with Hamburger: pasta or meatloaf

Baked Chicken with Butternut Pasta

There will probably be a Spinach Quiche along the way

and a Chicken Pot Pie.

what's on your menu this week? Maybe you can inspire me (and I'll have all the ingredients to do it *fingers crossed*)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Big Garden

Since I briefly introduced the newest gardening adventure this week, its time to show the tranformation. (and frankly, this has been consuming my life lately and my cooking/posting has suffered but we are almost done with the worst time consuming part --I'm deluding myself right now, work with me.)

As you read in the previous post this piece of our property was part of our horse pasture and has recieved quite a lot of manure over the past several years along with a lot of trampling so we have fertile hard packed dirt (and a lot of crab grass).

Since I do not have my beautiful horses to stare at anymore, I wanted to try and go larger scale on my gardening efforts so I could can more and feed more people (elderly neighbors etc.). So with the help of my parents and the loan of my neighbor's (Uncle Bill) tractor we begin the process of turning this fallow filed into a thriving garden again (the way I remember it from my childhood).

Here are the beginning stages to what we call "The BIG Garden": plowing the field to break it up-letting it freeze to kill grass roots. Will bring you more pictures soon (as they are still on the camera and we are finishing the planting today!).

My Dad (isn't he the cutest thing?)


Cutting the field:


Freezing the cut field: (thank you weather for cooperating!)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Food and Faith Challenge: Week 2

I'm going to go about the Call to Action a little bit different this week.

•Walk slowly and mindfully through a piece of land that’s important to you.


I'm going to start with a picture. This is part of my land:


I walk through my land on a daily basis to watch things grow. Everyday I walk through my gardens to monitor my plants, pinch a leaf, water here, pull a weed there. This land is important to me. It's been in my family for decades and multiple generations. It has been split, inherited, sold, parceled etc to a form unrecognizable to the original piece but I still have part of it. Most of my neighbors are still family. And this land still grows food for us and noursishes my soul.

The portion you are seeing used to be a fantastic garden when I was a child, feeding several families. Then it was converted to horse pasture for a decade, which is how I used it when we first moved in. We sold our horses last fall for several reasons and this year, we are turning it back into a large garden. I've watched it go from a garden, to green pasture, to snow covered, to barren land and now to rows of seeds and plantings that will soon be food. It's an amazing process and quite frankly more than I can deal with but I'm doing it anyway.

I'm connected to this land in so many ways and I will continue to watch it change and grow and do my best to work with it as much as possible. I don't have a tractor so I had to borrow this one that you see from family to return it to a garden as 3/4 acre is a bit much to do by hand but all the tending? It will be by hand. And I will raise my children here and teach them to watch things grow.

Walk out on a piece of property, even if its a townhome patio and find the simple beauty in nature.

And this? This is good NC red clay with horse manure.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Menu Monday

This week is going to be a fly by the seat of my pants kinda week. Why? Because my allergies (the sinus ones, not the food ones) are killing me, I'm exhausted, and I have a ton of yardwork and gardening to do. Garden updates to come soon but the "big" garden is finally being put in. After all the cutting, tilling etc. its finally being planted and lordhavemercy did I bit off way more than I can chew. I did not realize how big this thing is. ::whimpers::

so this week will be throwing things together that are quick and easy so I can spend my evenings outside. (Not a rain cloud in site ya'll).

Turkey Parmesan Burgers with Homemade Brioche rolls (don't be surprised if this gets put off!)

Potato Gratin with Goat Cheese

Goulash

Chicken with Asparagus

Grilled Sweet Potato Souffle

and who knows what else. For reals. It may be a Week inundated with Subway. For real. Fortunately, I still have a lot of posts because I'm behind so have no fear that the blog will be suffering. (If it does, its because of lack of time, not material!) LOL

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grilled or Baked? It's a CUPCAKE BURGER

These little boogers have been surfing the net for some time from Blog to Blog in various forms. I chose to incorporate items from three different sources and use my own recipes instead of boxed mixes (because I'm difficult like that). It's really not as complicated as it looks. Messy? yes, a bit.

But well worth it. These were a big hit at the Birthday party yesterday!

Recipes:
Buttermilk Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Icing (just eliminate the chocolate from this recipe for white icing)

Scratch Brownies

What you will need:
A Round Cookie Cutter
Gel Food Coloring
White Fondant
shredded or Flaked coconut

Bake cupcakes and brownies per directions. Cool overnight (or several hours). Make icing per instructions leaving out chocolate. Seperate icing into three bowls.

Lettuce=Shredded coconut, icing and green food coloring (add a little at a time until your color is the way you want).

Ketchup=icing plus a few drops of blue food coloring and quite a bit of red (to get a deeper red.

Mustard=yellow plus icing.

Cheese= Fondant kneeded with yellow, roll out on floured board to very thin and cut into small square.

Directions:
Cut cupcakes in half, pipe on some "lettuce", place a circle of brownie, pipe on "mustard", place fondant "cheese", pipe on "ketchup", and top with the cupcake top! TA DA! Easy Peasy.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies

I had two lemons and an extra container of Ricotta cheese leftover from Easter. What a perfect way to use both items but to create these light as air cakey cookies? The taste is fantastic and would actually make an excellent cake but because I can't leave well enough alone, instead of icing them, I cut them in strips and used them as "fries" to go with my Cupcake Burgers, so I don't really have a good picture for you.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
(Inspired by Giada)
Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups Self Rising flour
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 container ricotta cheese
3 1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
Splash of Vanilla extract (maybe 1/4 tsp)
Sugar to dust

Directions:
Cream butter and sugar in KA Mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Add the ricotta, lemon juice and zest. Slowly incorporate the flour.

Spoon onto a greased cookie sheet (or mini muffin pan would work well too). Sprinkle with sugar. Bake in a preheated oven (375 degrees) for about 15 minutes and cool on a wire rack.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing

So I took a hiatus yesterday even though I have quite a backlog of entries because it was my birthday! Happy Birthday to me. (Not really, I'm not one who enjoys getting older at this stage of my life...oh to still be in my 20's and not care).

Now, I'm one of those freaks of nature that as a child, the one thing that made me happy for my birthday was grilled hamburgers and yellow cake with chocolate icing. Out of all the elaborate cakes etc, I always wanted yellow with chocolate icing. (I vaguely remember a strawberry cake one time but I think that was during my Strawberry shortcake doll phase). As an adult, my leanings are for coconut cake but I digress.

Last night I took a trip down memory lane and made homemade buttermilk cupcakes with chocolate icing courtesy of The Neelys. Let me tell you, this is by far the best tasting yellow/chocolate combination I've ever had. My one tip: do NOT fill the cupcakes as high as you do with other recipes because these expand a great deal and overflow. So mine are not that pretty but I will be making them again (and again and again).

Excellent Recipe and so simple!

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups Self Rising Flour
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (melted)
2 tsps vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick of butter (room temp)
8 ounces of cream cheese (room temp)
3 cups confectioner's sugar
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In KA Mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and yolks one at a time. Add vanilla and buttermilk.

Slowly add flour. Mix until smooth. Batter will be very fluffy.

Fill Muffin Cups 1/2-3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

For Icing: Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Blend chocolate and vanilla into mix and then slowly add confectioner's sugar. Pipe icing onto cupcakes. (I tried spreading and it makes a mess of the cupcakes; the piping worked much better).

As Promised: Picture! (Please ignore the bad icing job. I tried spreading icing first. Ended up piping the rest).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Walk on the Crunchy Path: Part II

After a really bad 2009, I was really hoping for a good 2010. My hopes were high. I should have known better. 2010 started out with an explosion of unhealthy proportions...literally. Something happened to change my relationship with food and start me down the crunchy path.

January 5th, I made Sausage and Pepper Risotto. Approx. 45 minuts later I was in full blown panic as my throat was scratchy and tight, it was increasingly difficult to breathe, lips were numb, tongue felt swollen even after taking four benedryl and throwing up multiple times. With a red face and chest that felt like it was on fire, we headed to the emergency room.

I was given epinephrin, rehydrated, given steroids and monitored. Finally, in a dazed stupor I was released. For weeks I experienced scary episodes and lung/chest pain. I endured allergy tests, CT scans, meds, pokes, prods and treatments. I racked up quite a lovely medical debt despite insurance.

I became afraid to eat. I was tormented and panicked at the thought of putting food in my mouth. I lost 15 lbs in less than two weeks.

As I redeveloped my relationship with food, things changed. I started relying on fresh, local products, steering away from packaged items with things I couldn't pronounce. I introduced things into my system in their simplest forms without multiple ingredients in case I reacted so I could more clearly pinpoint what I could and could not eaten. My body was in turmoil and my stress and anxiety did not help.

I used smaller portions in case I racted so there wouldn't be as much of the "poison" in my system. Weeks were spent living in fear that I would die because of something I put in my mouth and no one could pin point exactly what the triggers were but they are more frequent with varying degrees of severeness. Some days I wouldn't eat at all. My husband would often remind me to eat and I would still refuse. Weight started falling off and I became fairly obsessed with it.

To be Continued...

Food and Faith Challenge: Challenge to Action

For the Challenge to Action question this week on the Food and Faith Challenge over at the Local Cook, the question is asked:

•Visit your local farmer’s market and let us know what’s in season right now. If your farmer’s market isn’t open yet, when does it open and what kinds of things are available from it?


I am an avid Farmer's Market visitor. I go every week (and even write the occasional article for the Examiner about them.) I'm very fortunate to have a year around farmer's market with an indoor market place that imports and uses local greenhouses and farms to supply superior produce at all times.

I prefer to shop the outdoor stalls of local farmers, but when the pickings are slim during the winter I will definately peruse the indoor vendors for better 'pickins' then I can find at the grocery store. Be careful though, many vendors don't always label everything giving you the impression its not imported from other countries. Even "farmers" can be deceitful to make a buck.

Many that I have come to know are pretty honest and straightforward though and I always enjoy an early morning with coffee and a stroll, conversation over the smell of fresh baked bread on a saturday at the market.

Currently in season is a wonderful display of cabbages, collards, sweet potatoes and cold tolerant root veggies. The occasional greenhouse tomatoe makes a bright splash of red and there is an array of colorful flowers and plants available for gardeners and flowerbeds. The meat providers are there in droves offering beef and pork. Fresh cheeses and breads are also appearing on the weekends when customers are plentiful.

A few weeks ago, there were one or two vendors braving the late winds of winter and now as the sun shines down the stalls are 3/4's full in both sheds. We have a large market and I'm so fortunate to be able to supplement my own growing with better options.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This is the recipe I impressed my grandmother with at Easter. Seriously, poised older Southern baptist lady. Compressed smile, folded hands, peering over her nose in disapprovement prissy grandmother. I finally got to her through my coffee cake (and my spinach lasagna). SCORE!

This recipe comes from a fellow NCer (soon to be back in her native SC-Congrats on the Farm!) and horse lover Branny from Branny Boils Over. Check out her site, its lovely!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Ingredients:
2 cups Self Rising Flour
1 cup Sour Cream
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter (room temp)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Topping:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:
Mix topping ingredients together and set aside. In KA mixer on medium speed with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Mix in 1/2 of flour, then sour cream and then flour until blended smooth. Pour half of the batter in a greased and floured loaf pan. Sprinkle half of topping mixture and carefully spread. Carefully smooth the rest of the batter on top. Sprinkle the rest of the topping mixture and then bake at 350 for 55 minutes.

Make sure you use a large loaf pan or put a baking pan underneath. Mine went over the side a little bit.

I served with a choice of sides: sugared strawberries in juice, sweetened whipped cream and chopped walnuts. Everyone was able to make it their own special piece and LOVED IT.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chocolate Fudge Pie

There is a war in my family over Chocolate Pie. My father and uncle have long fought over the chocolate pies at family dinners. One of the instances involved spitting and fingers. I believe it was my father (the younger brother ofcourse) who grabbed the pie off the table and took off with it. My uncle gave pursuit, grabbed it and stuck his finger in the center thinking that would prevent anyone else from wanting any. My father, never to be outdone, spit on it. He got the pie.

Please don't mistake that my family are trashy rednecks without manners (okay, they really kinda are), but they are extremely competitive and full of pranks in their hay day. Neither of these characters are up to the challenge of running much less chasing each other (though my dad would still probably give it a damn good effort) so I figure the safest bet is to never have the two of them at a family function or only one dessert.

I've never made the infamous pie. I will have to remember to get my aunt to give me the recipe, but I did make a chocolate FUDGE pie for Easter that was a huge hit. I will definately be making this again (which is a good thing as it was the one thing I forgot to snap a picture of!)

Chocolate Fudge Pie
Inspiration taken from Paula Dean's recipe
Ingredients:
Pie Crust
3-4 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten (plus one with water for eggwash)

Directions:
Brush Pie crust with eggwash. In double boiler, melt chocolate and butter together, stirring gently until smooth. Turn off heat and add sugar. Stir until blended. Add eggs. stir until smooth. Pour the filling into pie crust and bake for 25 minutes (until just firm) in a 375 degree preheated oven. I topped with homemade sweetened whip cream and served chilled. EXCELLENT!

Easy Flaky Pie Crust

I admit to taking the easy way out...a lot! When it came to pie crusts I mostly just did Pillsbury roll out. Easy, tasty. Yum. In my new quest for health I decided to go the unpreserved route and finally conquer my own. So I turned to my trusty "Joy of Cooking" book and applied their basic recipe to the method I've seen on the food channel, because well, I'm still lazy. LOL It worked GREAT! Not complicated, flaky and delicious. I'll probably never go back to ready made again.

Easy Flaky Pie Crust
Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups Self-Rising Flour
1 tsp white sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (very cold and in small pieces-slice down center and chop at tbs marks)
1/3 cup plus 1 tbs ice water

Directions:
In food processor, combine flour, sugar and butter and pulse until butter is covered and in pea size pieces. As you continue to blend on low, add icecold water. When balls start to firm it will only take a few seconds before you get one big dough ball.

Roll dough ball out onto floured surface. Gently smooth the ball and wrap in plastic. Place in fridge for atleast thirty minutes to make sure it is nice and cold. Roll out gently (don't mash it) and place in pie shell. Trim extra and place back in fridge to chill until you need it!

Menu Monday-After Easter

Well, my blog and online presence has been very quiet of late. I have a great reason though: lot's of new work to post. That's right, I have been busting my decreasing rear-end not only in the kitchen but in the garden and yard as well. Exciting new things: the big garden is coming along, little garden is being tended, new flower beds installed, and yummy holiday (or anytime) recipes.

Posts to look forward to: Strawberry Lime Cupcakes, Triple Lemon Cupcakes, Chocolate Fudge Pie, Homemade Pie crust, Sugar Cookies, Lemonade, Garden Updates, etc.

On the menu this week:

Biscuit Surprise

Paula's Garlic Cheese Grits

Turkey Something or Other

Butternut Squash Pasta

Veggie Pizza or Veggie Stuffed Pancakes (haven't decided)

Chicken Salad

Veggie Pot Pie