German Plum Cobbler

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I always want to buy plums in the market, but honestly have never enjoyed eating a plum by itself that much. Cobblers are summer’s way of saying “I love you” to fresh fruit – all kinds of fresh fruit.

While the word “kuchen” means cake in german, I found this recipe to be so reminiscent of a summer cobbler. There is no better way to eat cobbler than with vanilla ice cream melting slowly over the top!

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GERMAN PLUM COBBLER

Adapted From Cooking Light’s Plum Kuchen, July 2011

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2/3 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar, divided

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

3/8 Teaspoon Salt, divided

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon, divided

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg

7 Tablespoons Butter, divided

1/2 Cup Milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Large Egg

1/2 Pound Black Plums (about 6 medium) or any variety of plums, pitted and quartered

1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Rind

PREPARATION

Preheat Oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/4 Teaspoon Salt, and Spices (1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg) in a medium bowl. Using two knives or a pastry blender, cut in 4 Tablespoons Butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk together Milk, Vanilla, and Egg in a bowl. Add milk mixure to flour mixture, and stir until just comvined.

Spoon batter into a 9-inch square metal cake pan coated with butter using a butter wrapper or cooking spray. Arrange plums in a linear pattern over batter.

Combine remaining 2/3 Cups Granulated Sugar, remaining 1/8 Teaspoon Salt, and 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt remaining 3 Tablespoons Butter. Stir into sugar mixture. Sprinkle plums evenly with sugar mixture.

Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Serve for dessert, warm with vanilla ice cream or as a breakfast cake.

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Basil Gazpacho with Homemade Crunchy Croutons

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This is  Helen’s Basil Gazpacho and Crunchy Crouton recipe and it is worth the trouble!  I am not saying you will need to grow your veggies in a garden like Helen’s –  see below – but according to Helen “If you want something good then you have to go to a lot of trouble and that’s just the way it is.”  Helen is an extraordinary cook, gardener, knitter and friend.  Thank you for doing this post with me Helen – now I have one of my favorite Helen creations down on the books.

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The reason you want the croutons to get extra crispy is so they stay crispy once they are put in the Gazpacho. This is the best Gazpacho so get ready!  Helen says “god help you if there are any leftover croutons because you will just sit there eating them.” It is SO true.

INGREDIENTS for Crunchy Croutons

1 day old free form loaf or baguette

3 – 6 T each – butter & olive oil,  – adjust amount depending on the size of the loaf.

s/p

garlic powder

onion powder

dried parsley

OR

use Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning as an alternative to the individual seasonings

PREPARATION

  1. Preheat oven to Bake  300°
  2. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes
  3. Bake for 1 hour
  4. Heat butter and oil in a large skillet on Medium, add toasted bread and toss until well coated in oil and butter
  5. Turn heat to low, add spices and toss
  6. Remove from heat and set aside

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INGREDIENTS for Basil Gazpacho

Serves 4 – 6

INGREDIENTS

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and chopped

4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped with juice

2 garlic cloves minced

1 4 oz jar of pimento, drained

3 cup of vegetable stock

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 c white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

4 tablespoons basil, chopped

  1. Skin tomatoes: submerge tomatoes in hot water for 2 minutes, until skin cracks easily.  Cool and peel.
  2. Chop all the veggies and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add other ingredients and spices.
  4. Blend ingredients with a hand blender (or use a food processor) until you reach the right consistency.
  5. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  6. Garnish with herbs and Crunchy Croutons and serve chilled.

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Tacos

The taco is a  delicious creation in which the eater is able to design a new masterpiece with each tortilla. Really…building a taco is just good fun. On tap tonight; a meatless taco, made with Morningstar Crumbles, topped with all the good stuff.  Super easy to throw together and you can use any filling that sounds tasty – try grilled shrimp, ground beef, or tofu.
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TACOS

makes 8 tacos

INGREDIENTS

1 bag of Morningstar Crumbles

1 avocado diced

1 tomato diced

1/2 cup red onion diced

10 sprigs of cilantro

1/2 cup  cheddar cheese shredded

1/2 cup sour cream

1 lime cut into wedges

flour or corn tortillas

hot sauce

PREPARATION

Prepare your toppings

Cook your filling

Heat tortillas  – I use tongs and heat mine over the flame of my stove top

Build a taco and enjoy!

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Summer Raspberry Cream Cake

         Summer Raspberry Cream Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing – Yes please!

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When my friend invited me to watch her put together her summer time cake and take the recipe with me for my blog I was really excited.  Heather is a stay at home mama with three in her brood. She also has a wonderful story of childhood that helps one understand why Heather cares so much about preparing natural, wholesome, and delicious foods, from scratch.  Heather was raised in Papua New Guinea, in a tribal village. Her parents were missionaries and she was there between the ages of 2 and 11. Heather watched closely as her Mom grew and prepared everything by hand. She learned skills as well as a philosophy on preparing food that she carries with her today. She cares very much about the origin of the products she buys and makes efforts to use local and natural ingredients. Heather makes foods like yogurt, jams, and breads. She has a vegetable garden, she enjoys knitting beautiful accessories for her little girls, and she loves to bake. She invited me over to watch her put together this summer time cake; as well as enjoy a piece with a lovely cup of Earl Grey Tea. I highly recommend trying this combination – it is so delicious. Thanks for sharing this, Heather.

Just a couple of things about the recipe I should mention is that in developing these recipes, Heather was trying to achieve a creamier frosting with less powdered sugar – as many recipes call for – so after years of altering her favorite recipes Heather has reduced the butter and created a lighter meringue to incorporate into the icing and therefore was also able to reduce the amount of sugar. She also chose recipes based on the number of egg yolk vs. egg whites for the frosting so there would be no waste.  So together, these recipes for cake, filling and icing will produce a creamy, light and fluffy, perfectly sweetened cake. Some things you will need: electric mixer, two  9 inch cake pans, long bread knife, food thermometer, and a cooling rack.

INGREDIENTS for YElLOW CAKE

3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temp

1 1/2 cup sugar

4 lg egg yolks + 1 egg – separate and reserve 4 whites for the icing

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

PREPARATION for YELLOW CAKE

1.  Heat oven to 350°, place to racks in the center of oven. grease two 9 inch cake pans with butter. Dust with flour. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, gradually add sugar. Keep beating until light and fluffy – 3 minutes. Drizzle in egg yolks,beating on med – low until fluffy.

3. Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture, ending with flour mix. Beat in vanilla, divide between pans. Bake 30 – 40 minutes – until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 min then remove from pan, cool on wire racks.  Score the cakes before slicing – this will help you slice it through the center. Please click here to see Heather’s demonstration. Split layers horizontally using a bread knife. Set aside the prettiest dome for the top. Assemble. Refrigerate if necessary (due to the whip cream filling it is best to keep this cake in a cool place).

 INGREDIENTS for RASPBERRY and CREAM FILLING

  12 – 14 oz of raspberry jam

1 1/2 cup whipping cream – will yield about 4 cups

1 1/2 tablespoon of powdered sugar

PREPARATION for RASPBERRY and CREAM FILLING

1. Whip cream, adding the powdered sugar during the whipping process.

2. This filling will be divided among the three layers.  Spread the jam over the top of your bottom layer, then spread your whip cream over the jam, leaving a 1 inch border. Place the next layer of cake and gently press from the center of the cake to help distribute the cream.  However, do not over do it, the weight of the cake will spread the cream to the edge of the layer as the cake settles.

 INGREDIENTS for SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM ICING

4 lg egg whites

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

2 sticks butter unsalted

PREPARATION for SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM ICING

1. Combine egg whites, water, cream of tartar and sugar in a bowl. Set bowl in skillet with simmering water. Beat on low until whites reach 140°. Beat on high until 160°. 2-4 min. Remove bowl from heat add 1 tsp vanilla. Beat on high 3 – 5 min to cool and until meringue holds glossy stiff peaks.

2. In a separate bowl beat unsalted butter to cream. Fold large dollop of meringue into batter.  Continue to fold in meringue in stages.

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Spicy Thai Noodles

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The aroma from this sauce will dance off your stove and have your family investigating the peanutty, sweet smells.  ‘What’s for dinner?‘ is a typical response.  Compliments of The Grit! – an amazing vegetarian fare restaurant in the hip downtown of Athens, GA- these Spicy Thai Noodles are one of my favorite recipes from their cookbook.  My friend, Helen, introduced me to this place a few years ago and it is the kind of food that I sit around all day dreaming about.  Their Thai Noodle Bowl – ‘special of the day’ – had me talking about it for weeks! The list of vegetarian options at The Grit are endless, and each one is mouth-watering good.

I love to make these Noodles for parties – always a crowd pleaser!  Also, it makes the best leftovers in the world and your kids will love them too.

I added a couple of carrots, sliced julienne. I love the color and it compliments the dish well. Also I want to mention that this recipe is not very spicy – my kids love it just like this – but if it were up to me I would add more chili paste, or oil, to turn up the heat on this dish because I love spicy!

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

12 ounces of slender pasta

4 quarts of water

1 tablespoon salt

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup sesame oil

1/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons chili paste or 1/2 teaspooon chili oil

2 teaspoons granulated garlic, or fresh

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 lime – freshly squeezed

5 green onions

1 cup of snow peas or 1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 carrots julienne

1/2 cup slivered almonds

PREPARATION

Combine water and salt in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente.  Drain thoroughly in a large colander, rinse with cool water and drain again; set aside.

Combine all other ingredients except green onions, peas, carrots and almonds in a saucepan and stir well over high heat until gently boiling. Remove from heat. Toss noodles and sauce in a large bowl. Allow to cool slightly. Toss with remaining ingredients cover and refrigerate. Serve well-chilled.

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English Muffin French Toast (With Homemade English Muffins)

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The thing you are going to love the most about this post is that in addition to a sweet breakfast plan, you will walk away with a recipe for the most comforting, butter-melting, honey-drizzling-good English Muffin recipe you never knew existed. It is all thanks to my cousin’s wife, Meredith, who brought a loaf of these to our Thanksgiving family gathering a couple of years ago. I can’t remember the loaf lasting too long, and given the way my large family plunges into something delicious, like pyranah’s devouring their prey in a rapid feeding frenzy, I’m lucky to have tried a slice, or perhaps even two… and I have not forgotten them. “Meredith’s Mom’s English Muffins” is my top page under the breads category in my recipe binder. So, when Southern Living offered a suggestion for English Muffin French Toast recently, I knew I would not be buying English muffins.

Meredith made hers in a regular loaf pan, but she mentioned that her mom had often used a large, empty tin can to make them round. Intrigued, naturally, I had to try the tin can thing. What you see below is one recipe of the English muffins,divided among two cans; the first before the rise, and the second, after. These cans originally held pineapple juice.

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I guarantee these “muffins” are so simple, and yet fail-proof impressers. Baked in a loaf pan, the smell of them baking will wow anyone who sets foot in your house. Saying you made your own English muffins, alone, will require its own set of wowed comments. Make them round, and really, you’re just showing off. I’ll give you one must-do instruction, just as Meredith’s mom’s recipe directs: “Use real butter on these.” But, of course.

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MEREDITH’S MOM’S ENGLISH MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS

2 Packages Rapid Rise Yeast
6 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons Salt
2 Cups Milk
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Water
*you will also need a food thermometer

PREPARATION

Combine 4 Cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt and soda in medium bowl and set aside. 

Heat liquids (milk and water) in a saucepan on the stove until very warm (120°-130°…if it goes over you will kill the yeast and they won’t turn out). Add to dry mixture and beat well with mixer.

Gradually stir in the rest of the flour to make a stiff and sticky batter.

Pour batter evenly into two greased loaf pans or extra large, clean tin cans. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until double or rising out of pans- about a half hour.

Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool.

“Best served with real butter!”

Moving along to the fabulous french toast: I love this spin on the breakfast classic. It’s not too out there- you know, same flavors and everything (with the possible exception of orange zest), but why not change up the bread a little and go for a subtle difference? Your shapes are different, too, which just makes this look so pretty! Then there is the lovely greek yogurt and syrup combo for a topping; a bit of a travesty that no one thought of it until now. It’s just no wonder breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and this one says it with love.

Who will you make this for?

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ENGLISH MUFFIN FRENCH TOAST and CREAMY SYRUP SAUCE

From Southern Living

INGREDIENTS

4 Large Eggs
1 Cup Buttermilk
2 teaspoons Orange Zest
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
6 English Muffins, Split
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
toppings: Chopped fresh peaches,
strawberries, blueberries, or
whatever you have is season

PREPARATION

Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Place English muffins in a 13×9-inch baking dish, overlapping edges. Pour egg mixture over muffins. Cover and chill 8-12 hours.
Remove muffins from remaining liquid, discarding liquid.
Melt butter in large skillet and cook muffins in batches over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until muffins are golden.
Stir together yogurt and syrup until blended. Serve over English muffin french toast and fruit.

Tomato and Vidalia Onion Tart

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Let’s talk about Vidalia onions today. Now, if you happen to be from Vidalia, Georgia- or the 20 counties surrounding the town which are able to grow these famously sweet onions, or have a mother from south Georgia- you know that the pronunciation goes like this:

[VI (like “pie“) DAY- YUH] (don’t forget your southern drawl)

The deliciously sweet taste of Georgia’s official state vegetable began on a Toombs County family farm in 1931. The sandy soil and mild climate was just where these babies wanted to grow, so as more and more onion lovers sought out that sweet, sweet flavor, more south Georgia farmland was dedicated to the cause. You’ll pay a little more per pound for a Vidalia, but it is worth it, given that you might actually catch someone eating one apple-style one day. The Vidalia onion is distributed far and wide these days, and finding them in our beloved appalachian market was no surprise.

My challenge was finding just the right recipe to share with you. Which of dozens of onion recipes would showcase the sweetness that no other onion-growing region can mimick? My answer, believe it or not, lay in a random and old issue of Taste of Home that literally fell into my lap (but that’s just because I haven’t cleaned off that shelf where I tend to stack random things). Before I settled on modifying the 2001 recipe for a tomato-onion phyllo pizza, I thought I would do just one last internet search for extra inspiration. A search for Vidalia onion recipes on Epicurious brought me right to a fantastic cookbook I had just purchased over Spring Break, reminding me of a to-die-for recipe for a Vidalia Onion Tart.

My mission now was to combine these two into something marvelous…

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I had a fit over the taste of this dish. I seriously did. I mean, the hubby and I ate half the tart for dinner and were all excited about lunch the next day, where we finished off the rest. Gone. It was seriously good. Now, I do have some, um, revisions to make, however. I did not put enough tomatoes on mine; I let the onions steal the show, and I’m sorry about that. My apologies to the tomato. I will make up for it in the recipe posted, instructing you to make full layers of tomatoes, both beneath and above the onion filling.

 

TOMATO AND VIDALIA ONION TART

Adapted from Holly Herrick’s Southern Farmer’s Market Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks cold butter, cut into 1″ cubes

5-6 Tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

3 Tablespoons butter

4 or 5 large Vidalia Onions, cut in half and sliced thinly

2 Tablespoons fresh Thyme, minced

2 Tablespoons fresh Oregano, minced

1/2 Cup White Wine

3 Tablespoons Honey

1 Egg, beaten

2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream

5 or 6 Roma Tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

salt and pepper

PREPARATION

Prepare the crust- Mix flour and salt together. Cut in the butter by pulsing in a food processor or cutting with two knives until mixture forms pea-sized clumps. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough can be pressed into a ball. Form into ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in fridge for a half hour or so (or up to 3 days).

In a large skillet, melt butter and add thyme and oregano to infuse. Add onions and Cook down for about 15 minutes over med-high heat, but don’t let onions brown. Add the wine and the honey and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Stir in Egg and Cream.

Drizzle sliced Roma Tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 375°. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out into a 1/4″-thick circle on lightly floured surface. Place in pie plate and flute as desired. Fill with pie weights (I used parchment paper and uncooked rice, but also pricked dough with a fork) and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove weights and reduce heat to 350°, bake for 15-20 minutes more. Allow to cool.

Line bottom of crust with half of the sliced Roma tomatoes to cover bottom of tart. Top with Onion mixture. Top onions with remaining tomatoes and press them into the onions slightly. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes.

* a side note about cheese: cheese is probably the best food on this earth, and I love it, truly. My husband really wanted to put cheese on this tart. Because I had some gruyere on hand, I gave in and hesitantly allowed him to sprinkle some on half of the top after it came out of the oven. I also had someone else ask if I would put cheese in this dish. It seems fitting enough, but here’s the thing: this tart is all about the onions and the tomatoes. The white wine and the herbs in the mixture make these flavors so, so poignant, and I feel that adding cheese takes away from them. No more show-stealing. This is what it is… but I’m a softy. If you absolutely must put cheese on yours, make sure it is a good one and not too much, okay?
  
Now that you know what to do, build a simple green salad with mild flavors- may I suggest lettuce and oil and balsamic vinegar, perhaps some black pepper? Pour a glass of wine, or what-have-you, and savor this! Let me know how you like it…just don’t rub it in my face when your crust turns out prettier than mine. I am a little sensitive about this right now…but that’s a post for another day.

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