Saturday, September 24, 2011

Recipe Update: Cinnamon-Pear Cake

This cake totally takes like fall! I have posted the recipe several times because we love it so much. It’s terrific for dessert with ice cream and caramel sauce or for breakfast as we enjoyed it today. For a twist, I used Asian pears instead of apples. I bought these at a farm stand in Cleveland, Alabama. The owner told me that these pears have a smoother texture than regular ones and a nice crispness. After using them in this cake, I’m sold on their virtues! (Substitute an equal amount of peeled Asian pears for the apples.) Enjoy!
Asian pear

Friday, September 23, 2011

Menu 32: Roasted Tomato Sauce With Meatballs

Tonight some new friends came over for dinner. We had Roasted Tomato Sauce With Meatballs over egg noodles, roasted broccoli, and garlic bread. The tomato sauce cooks in the oven, so allow extra time. The great thing about this method is how it intensifies the tomato flavor. Our friends have children, so pasta seemed like a safe option. If you haven’t tried broccoli cooked this way, you must—it’s my new favorite way to eat it. Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Updated Tzaziki Salad

At the farmers market on Saturday, I bought some goat’s milk yogurt. Tonight as I planned dinner, I decided to use it to make a variation on tzaziki sauce—a Greek yogurt sauce with dill and cucumbers that’s usually served with grilled chicken or lamb. My version has halved grape tomatoes and feta; it works as a salad. Enjoy!

Updated Tzaziki Salad
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 pickling cucumbers, cut into chunks
Zest of 1 lemon
1 to 2 tsp. dried dill
1 cup goat’s milk yogurt
Salt and pepper
1 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1. Combine tomatoes and next 4 ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in feta.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Muscadine Crisp

A friend gave us some muscadines that she picked at her parents’ home in North Alabama. The day before, we had also received some in our market basket. Immediately I began to brainstorm ideas for using them. Earlier this year, I saw a chef on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives who serves grape pie at his Napa Valley restaurant, so I decided to try making a crisp with these very Southern grapes. Muscadines have very thick skins, so precooking is required for softening. (I added a chopped apple to provide body to the fruit mixture once the grapes had cooked down.) For the seeds, cut each one in half and use a knife to remove them. Andy wasn’t a big fan of this, but he didn’t grow up eating muscadines like I did in Grannie’s pasture. My friend and I thought the crisp was tasty. Enjoy!

Muscadine Crisp
1 pint muscadines, cut in half and seeds removed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into chunks
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup whole or chopped pecans
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. allspice

1. Combine muscadines and next 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until grapes soften and juice becomes a syrup. Pour into a baking dish.
2. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients. Sprinkle over muscadine mixture.
3. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Potato Wedges

Okay, this has to be one of the easiest side dishes in the world! All you do is cut sweet potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes into wedges. Then thinly slice part of a red onion. Place the potatoes and onion on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle everything with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Tonight we had them with Baked Greek Tilapia. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Menu 31: French Onion-Potato Soup

Today was a cool, gray day that reminded us that fall is just around the corner—hooray! Andy and I decided soup sounded good for dinner. My challenge was to make something that would meet our craving while using on-hand ingredients. I'll bore you with my train of thought for developing this recipe: At first I thought about making potato soup but after finding a carton of beef broth in the pantry decided French onion soup was in order. Then it occurred to me that potatoes might be really tasty with the onions, so French onion-potato soup was born! We ate our soup with grilled cheese sandwiches—so satisfying! Enjoy!

French Onion-Potato Soup
2 tsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup red wine (If you don't like wine, substitute an equal amount of beef broth.)
1 (32-oz.) carton beef broth
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into cubes (no need to peel them)

1. Melt butter in hot oil in a Dutch oven. Sauté onion in hot oil mixture 10 minutes or until onion is soft. Add in garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in flour, and cook 1 minute. Add in red wine, and cook until liquid is absorbed. Stir in beef broth and potatoes, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until mixture is thickened and potatoes are cooked. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is my go-to salad dressing; it also works great as a marinade for chicken and pork. It so easy to make this in a mason jar.
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. country-style Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. honey

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Combine vinegar and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add in olive oil, combining completely. Stir in salt and pepper.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Peach-Almond Pound Cake

This summer, our farmers market basket has included an abundance of peaches. I have made peach crisp many times but wanted something different tonight. Early this year, GK served an awesome peach pound cake made by someone at church during the tornado relief. I had to taste this unusual cake—it was delicious! A few weeks ago, my friend Jen made us a peach pound cake that was also yummy. So I decided to try my hand at making one. Almonds and peaches are a classic combo, so that became the flavor base. Enjoy!

Peach-Almond Pound Cake
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
6 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups peeled, diced fresh peaches
1/4 cup sliced almonds

1. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in almond and vanilla extracts.
2. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream. Stir in peaches.
3. Lightly grease a Bundt pan; sprinkle sliced almonds in bottom of pan. Pour batter into pan.
4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until done. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu 30: Spinach-Bacon Pizza

Tonight, I had planned to make our favorite pizza  but decided to spruce it up with spinach. After I cooked the bacon, I used a little of the bacon grease to wilt a bag of baby spinach (two minced garlic cloves added another layer of flavor. After spreading the pizza crust with sun-dried tomato pesto, I arranged the spinach and bacon on top and then layered on the cheese. A garden salad rounded out the menu. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Menu 29: Pork Tenderloin and the Trimmings

Tonight the 3Cs and their parents came for dinner. We had pork tenderloin marinated with this simple Balsamic Vinaigrette, roasted zucchini and red bell peppers, cheese grits, Sour Cream-Cheese Biscuits, and peach crisp (substitute 6 peeled and sliced peaches for the strawberries). Cameron really liked the veggies—she had a second helping! The flavor combinations worked well. Enjoy!

Sour Cream-Cheese Biscuits
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp. melted butter
1 egg
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Stir in butter, egg, and sour cream until combined. Stir in cheese. Scoop into lightly greased mini muffin cups.
2. Bake at 400° for 10 to 12 minutes or until done.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Menu 28: Baked Greek Tilapia

Tonight I decided to make Andy's favorite tilapia dish using a slightly different method. Instead of cooking it on the stovetop, I roasted it in the oven. This was even easier than the original because it was completely hands-off. On the side, we had roasted broccoli and grits. Enjoy!

Baked Greek Tilapia
4 tilapia fillets
Greek seasoning
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1 minced garlic clove
Salt and pepper

1. Sprinkle tilapia evenly with Greek seasoning on both sides. Place fish in baking dish. Add in tomatoes and next 3 ingredients. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Bake at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes or until fish is opaque and flakes with a fork.