Sunday, September 23, 2012

Peach Caprese Salad

Until recently I thought caprese only referred to those lovely salads of tomato, basil and mozzarella.  When in fact caprese refers to something that comes from the style of the island of Capri, off the coast near Naples, Italy.   Most commonly used in the United States to refer to the Caprese Salad.  During the summer months when tomatoes are beautiful and plentiful, we enjoy Caprese Salad several times a week.  A few weeks ago, our CSA basket included some of the most delicious Missouri peaches I've ever eaten.  Having bookmarked this recipe for a Peach Caprese Salad, I decided to see how it stacked up to the tomato version we enjoy so often.  This beautifully color salad is a wonderful combination of tang from the vinegar and sweetness from the honey. 

Georgia Caprese Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Adapted slightly from Southern My Way by Gena Knox – serves 4

Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon champagne or white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon salt

4 ounces tiny water-packed mozzarella cheese balls
4 ripe peaches (southern if you can find them), unpeeled, each cut into eight wedges
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces

Prepare the vinaigrette by combing the ingredients in a glass jar with a screw top lid. Shake well to combine and set aside. Cut cheese into 1-inch pieces (or leave whole if they are small balls) and gently toss with the peaches. Add the vinaigrette and toss again gently. Add a little freshly ground black pepper and the basil and mint pieces. Serve right away.

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Heartland Turtle Bars - Club Baked

It's Club Baked time and it's my turn to host!!   Our leader, Karen asked me to choose a recipe from the Cookies and Bars section of Baked Explorations.   Heartland Turtle Bars?   I've never lived anywhere else but the Heartland.  Check! The book says the original recipe for these came from a Minnesota church cookbook and my husband is from Minnesota. Check!  Heartland Turtle Bars it is!

The recipe calls for a 9 x 13 pan.  Not wanting to have quite that much dessert in the house, I cut the recipe in half and used a 9 x 9 pan.  These remind me of Magic Cookie bars, with a homemade caramel topping in place of the Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Although there are several steps and some cooling time in between steps, this is a relatively simple dessert to make.  These bars are delicious, rich in butter and chocolate.  Need I say more?

Heartland Turtle Bars
Servings: 24 bars
For the bar topping and base:
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 and 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped into large pieces
1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
For the caramel filling:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 tablespoons ( 1 and 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1. For the bar topping and base: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light colored metal baking pan.
3. Line the pan with parchment paper so that the paper overhangs the pan on two sides.
4. Butter the parchment.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
6. Use your hands to rub in the brown sugar.
7. Add the oats and stir until the ingredients are evenly combined.
8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in the melted butter and stir until
the entire mixture is wet and combined.
9. Spread two-thirds of the mixture across the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for about 10
10. Remove the pan from the oven to cool (but leave the oven on).
11. Sprinkle the pecans and chocolate chips across the cooled crust.
12. For the caramel filling: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the sugar and
butter together.
13. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly (the caramel will begin
to darken at this point).
14. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the cream, and pour the caramel directly over the
chocolate pecan layer.
15. Use an offset spatula to evenly distribute the caramel.
16. Sprinkle the remaining oatmeal mixture onto the caramel and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or
until the top is golden brown.
17. Let the bars cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then place the pan in the refrigerator and
chill for 1 hour to firm up.
18. Cut and serve.

You can find the links to the other Club Baked members Heartland Turtle Bars here.  Next up for Club Baked, Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Frosting.

I am linking this to On the Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baked Acorn Squash with Apple Filling

Acorn Squash just says Fall to me!  Fall is one of my favorite seasons and I love the hearty foods that go along with it.  For this month's Secret Recipe Club, my assigned blog is Close to Home.  Check out her blog, she has some fun information and terrific recipes.  When I saw this recipe for acorn squash with an apple and pear filling, I was hooked.

Did you know if you microwave any winter squash for about 60 seconds, it will be easier to slice?
The apples and raisins add texture and flavor to the already hearty squash.  We'll be having this again the next time there's a squash in our CSA basket!

Baked Acorn Squash with Pear and Apple Filling from Joy of Cooking
Recipe Courtesy of Close to Home
2 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
2 large apples, peeled cored and diced
1 ripe pear, pealed cored and diced (I just used apples)
1/4 cup dried currants or raisins
2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
Zest of 1 small orange
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup apple cider or orange juice
1 tbsp bourbon or dark rum (optional)  (I used brandy)

4 tsps of softned butter mixed with cinnamon and sugar  to taste

Preheat oven to 325. Butter a baking pan. Place the squash cut side down in the pan. Add 1/4 inch hot water.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile in a medium bowl, mix apples, pear, currants or raisins, brown sugar, orange zest cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a large skillet heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the apple mixture and cook until the fruit is golden brown. (about 5 minutes).

Stir in the cider and bourbon. Simmer, stirring often until the fruit is tender. (about 8 minutes). Sprinkle with a tsp of salt.

Remove the squash from the oven; pour off the water from the pan and turn the squash cut side up. Fill the squash with the apple mixture.

Bake until the squash is tender, About 15 minutes. Dollop a teaspoon of Cinnamon butter and let melt.

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Summer's Worth of Goodness

As summer draws to a close, I'd like to share my adventures in preserving.  Until recently, I'd never pickled or canned anything.  We are a member of a local CSA  and there are times I have too much of something for just the two of us to eat.  Keeping with my vow to throw away less food, I decided to learn how to can.  In addition to dehydrating some tomatoes and freezing the vegetables that freeze well or can be used in soups this winter, here's what I have made.

As a kid, I remember eating Lime Pickles.  To this day, I remember how much I enjoyed their crisp crunchy taste.  With a little research and some assistance from Tim,  we made these Lime Pickles.  I chose not to dye them green, as I think I remember them being when I was young.

Tim says he can take or leave pickles but does remember those great Bread and Butter pickles his mom made when he was a kid.  He says these taste just like the ones his mom made.  Curious why they're called Bread Butter pickles?  It's because during the Depression they were as as common as bread and butter.

Searching for a different type of pickle, I ran across this recipe that uses IPA beer as the base.  They won't be ready for a couple of weeks.  I am looking forward to checking them out!!

If you read Lynn's blog, Happier Than a Pig in Mud, you're most likely familiar with her Freezer Pickles.  I actually made these for the first time last summer.  I put them in the freezer in the garage and apparently forgot about them.   While seeing what was lurking in the freezer, I found them.  I love them, they are delicious.  To me they're a cross between a pickle and a cucumber.  I use them on everything, salads, burgers, brats and sandwiches.  They're perfect for a cold winter day when you are missing the taste of summer. 

My friend Larry loves jalapenos. Whenever we eat out, he will often ask for a side of jalapenos.  I made him these pickled jalapenos (No picture, I forgot to take one before I gave them to him.).  He said, "they were excellent with a strong kick".  After making a batch of this salsa I had some leftover jalapenos and decided to give these Candied Jalapenos a try.  They have to sit for a few weeks before they're ready for eating, so I don't have his comments on these just yet.

We were lucky enough to have delicious Missouri peaches in our CSA this summer.  These were some of the best peaches I'd had in years.  I am sure like a lot of the fruits and vegetables this summer, our intense heat has caused them to be sweeter.  Having made regular peach jam before I wanted to try something different.  I found this recipe which takes Martha Stewart's Rosemary Peach Jam and adds pepper to it.  I am looking forward to trying this with cream cheese and crackers, on chicken or a pork loin.

 (Left to Right IPA Pickles, Peppered Rosemary Peach Jam, Bread and Butter Pickles, Lime Pickles, Freezer Pickles, Candied Jalapenos)

As we enter the final weeks of our CSA, we'll receive acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkins and cabbage in our bags.  I need to research some preserving techniques for these items.  Does anyone have any great recipes, they'd like to share?

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.