Saturday, October 27, 2012

Green Tomato Pound Cake

Yes—you read the recipe name correctly! In the past few weeks, my neighbor has given me an abundance of green and red tomatoes that she and her daughter pick at a farm on Chandler Mountain. A woman she has gotten to know at the farm told her about this recipe from Paula Deen. As a thank-you for the tomatoes, I decided to make it. The original called for a brown butter icing, but it seemed too much, so I omitted it. In addition, I substituted dried cranberries for raisins and pecans for walnuts. Once baked, the green tomatoes impart a tartness and texture similar to Granny Smith apples. It’s delicious right out of the oven. Andy likes it for breakfast. Enjoy!

Green Tomato Pound Cake
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 1/2 cups diced green tomatoes (about 6 small to medium size)
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in green tomatoes, cranberries, and pecans. Spoon batter into a lightly greased Bundt pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until done. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Easy Chicken Fricassee

Don’t be intimidated by the name—this is simple to make and delicious. I saw a recipe for this traditional French stew in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living. The directions and the ingredients list were pretty extensive and not conducive to a weeknight meal. Following is my streamlined version. We enjoyed our stew with a buttered, toasted baguette and yummy brussels sprouts. Egg noodles or rice on the side would also be delicious. Enjoy!

Easy Chicken Fricassee
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
8 oz. baby portobello or white mushrooms, quartered
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into chunks
2 tsp. herbs de provence
2 tsp. dried tarragon
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white wine
1 (32-oz.) carton chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
Zest and juice from 1 lemon

1. Sauté onion and next 2 ingredients in hot oil for 10 minutes or until vegetables soften. Season with salt and pepper, and add in garlic. Cook 1 more minute. Add in chicken, and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until chicken is almost done. Stir in herbs de Provence and tarragon; sprinkle with flour. Cook, stirring often, 1 minute. Gradually add in white wine and chicken broth, stirring constantly. Cook for 10 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cook for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baked Sweet Potatoes With Blue Cheese and Pecans

Last week we attended P.E.E.R.’s annual harvest feast that marks the end of the farmers market season. The menu features produce from local farmers and was absolutely delicious. My favorite dish was a strange-but-delicious combination of sweet potatoes, blue cheese, and candied pecans. After one bite, I had to re-create it. For my version, I also added a little bacon. The combination sounds weird, but, trust me, it is a terrific balance of sweet, salty, savory, and earthy. We will definitely have this for Thanksgiving!

Baked Sweet Potatoes With Blue Cheese and Pecans
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and pepper
5 sweet potatoes (mine were pretty small, so adjust depending on size), peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup chopped pecans, divided
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
4 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Melt butter in a skillet; stir in flour, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk, stirring until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in blue cheese until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Place 1 layer on sweet potatoes in bottom of baking dish; season lightly with salt and pepper. Spoon a third of blue cheese mixture over potatoes; sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped pecans. Top with another layer of sweet potatoes; sprinkle with bacon. Spoon half of remaining blue cheese mixture over potatoes. Layer with remaining potatoes; lightly season with salt and pepper. Top with remaining blue cheese mixture.
3. Melt 4 Tbsp. butter and brown sugar in clean skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is combined and smooth. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped pecans, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Spread hot mixture over top of blue cheese mixture.
4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until potatoes are tender.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pear Bar Cookies

This recipe is based on one for apple brownies in the October issue of Martha Stewart Living. The list of ingredients reminded of apple cake, which I love. The advantage to a brownie recipe is that the batter can be easily stirred together. The one in the magazine called for a mixer, but that’s totally unnecessary. I had pears on hand, hence the fruit change. Also, I used pecans instead of walnuts and varied the spices a bit. Very easy and delicious! Serve the bar cookies with vanilla ice cream and, if you have time, homemade caramel sauce. Enjoy!

Pear Bar Cookies
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 to 3 pears, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1. Stir together butter and next 3 ingredients. Stir together flour and next 6 ingredients. Stir into butter mixture until combined. Stir in pears and pecans. Spread mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until done. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack, and cut into bars.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Breakfast Burritos

This recipe idea came from a student at a local ministry that GK is partnering with to serve breakfast this semester. Breakfast burritos are very easy to pull together, and the flavor combinations are limitless. Here I used cheese, eggs, and sausage, with a fresh salsa served on the side. The next time I make this dish, they will have ham, spinach, eggs, and cheese. After I assembled the burritos, I arranged them in a disposable pan, covered it tightly, and put it in the warmer until ready to serve. The students in the GED program loved the results. (The recipe makes 24 burritos, but you can easily scale it down to meet your needs.) Enjoy!

Breakfast Burritos
24 flour tortillas
2 lb. sausage
24 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper
4 Tbsp. butter
16 oz. shredded cheese

1. Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil, and heat in the oven at 350° for 15 minutes.
2. Cook sausage until browned and crumbly.
3. Whisk together eggs and milk; season with salt and pepper. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet; pour in half of egg mixture. Cook until eggs are scrambled. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 Tbsp. butter and remaining egg mixture.
4. To assemble the tortillas, place shredded cheese down center of a warm tortilla. Top with a couple of spoonfuls of eggs and sausage; roll up tortilla. Place, seam side down, in a baking pan. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, eggs, and sausage. Place in warmer until ready to serve. Serve with salsa on the side.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sweet Potato Soup

I came up with this recipe a couple of weeks ago but forgot to take a photo. However it’s so tasty and perfect for fall that it’s time to share it. We love potato soup, and this seemed like a logical combination. For additional flavor boasters, I used onion, red bell pepper, and bacon (of course). Andy and I loved the results and we’ll definitely have this soup again. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Soup
2 bacon slices, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 (32-oz.) box chicken broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook bacon in Dutch oven until crisp; drain on paper towels. Leave 1 tsp. bacon drippings in pan, and sauté onion and bell pepper until softened. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Add in sweet potatoes and next 2 ingredients. Bring to a boil, and cook 15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Use immersion blender to puree mixture until smooth. Stir in milk, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crumbled bacon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup

This is probably the easiest soup in the world. Andy and I are both a little under the weather, and soup was very appealing for dinner. I had four fresh tomatoes (the last ones from this year’s farmers market basket season) and decided to turn them into soup. To keep standing at the stove to a minimum, I roughly chopped the tomatoes and an onion and roasted them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and oregano. Once the onion was soft, I puree the whole thing with one of my favorite tools, the immersion blender. Some homemade croutons and freshly grated Parmesan cheese were all this delicious soup needed. Enjoy!

Roasted Tomato Soup
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, depending on size
Olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. Place tomatoes and next 2 ingredients on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, basil, and oregano. Drizzle with vinegar. Toss mixture to coat.
2. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until onion is softened. Pour mixture into a heat-proof bowl, and puree with an immersion blender till smooth. Serve immediately.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chocolate Sheet Cake

No one will guess that this delicious, rich cake is a snap to make. My version includes chocolate chips in the cake batter because I like the texture contrast with the tender cake. The frosting has toffee chips because there was a partial bag in my pantry. Traditionally, chopped pecans are stirred in. If you’ve never made a sheet cake, now’s the time—your family will love it!

Chocolate Sheet Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa, divided
2 cups butter, divided
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
4 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (16-oz.) box powdered sugar
1/2 cup toffee chips

1. Combine flour, granulated sugar, and salt. Melt 1 cup butter in microwave; stir in 4 Tbsp. cocoa. Stir in boiling water; pour over flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool. Stir together buttermilk and next 3 ingredients; add to chocolate mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into a lightly greased half-sheet cake pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cake is done.
3. Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 cup butter in microwave; stir in remaining 4 Tbsp. cocoa. Stir in milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar until combined; add in toffee chips. Pour frosting over warm cake.