Sunday, October 31, 2010

Root Vegetables with a Pot Roast

Onion, Turnips, Celeriac, Carrots, Parsnips, and Rutabaga

Root vegetables are not the most beautiful of vegetables, but I love their earthy, sweet flavor, and their health giving qualities. 

Rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, celeriac, and carrots are all excellent sources of potassium (proven to help regulate blood pressure) and good sources of vitamin C, magnesium, and folic acid.  Additionally, carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A.  Onions have been credited with so many medicinal qualities they could be called a panacea.

Root Vegetables with a Pot Roast
1 (approx.) 3 lb. pot roast
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 1/2 cups brewed strong coffee
1 1/2 cups water
Several stems fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 large rutabaga, peeled and sliced into "french fries"
2 medium turnips, scrubbed and diced
3 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 small celeriac, peeled and sliced

Heat the oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the pot roast on all sides.  Place the roast into the hot pan; sear and brown on all sides.  Once the roast is thoroughly browned, remove from heat for a few minutes.  Add the hot coffee and the water, along with the thyme and bay leaves.  Return to heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the roast is very tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the roast to a platter and keep warm.  Discard the thyme stems and bay leaves, and add the prepared vegetables to the simmering stock.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, covered for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.  Arrange the vegetables around the roast.  Serve with french bread and the au jus.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Don't Forget to Vote

We have early voting in our state, which makes voting very convenient.  No excuse not to.  Please vote--it is your right, your privilege, and your duty.

Crockpot Brunswick Stew

I really enjoy using my crockpot when I know I will be otherwise occupied and not able to cook dinner.  Where some may resort to fast food or frozen dinners, I always prefer homemade food, though using the crockpot does require some advance planning.  The crockpot is ideal for meats and stews, which require long cooking times anyway.  Like this Brunswick Stew.

For those not familiar, Brunswick Stew is a Southern thing. Both Brunswick County, Virginia and Brunswick, Georgia claim this well-loved stew as their own. Both State Legislatures have issued proclamations claiming to be the rightful birthplace of the dish.

There have been many good natured "stew wars", but most agree on a couple of points. The stew should be very thick and should have a good kick of heat. Virginia stew leans more toward chicken, while Georgia stew is more pork based, associated with barbecue, and presided over by pit-masters. (Historically, game was used--squirrel, rabbit, venison, etc.)

Here, I have used both chicken and pork, along with bacon for a smoky element.

Crockpot Brunswick Stew
4 slices bacon
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 lb. boneless pork ribs
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. potatoes, sliced or diced
1 pkg. frozen cream style corn, thawed
1 pkg. frozen butter beans, thawed
1 quart tomatoes and their juice
1 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
Several squirts Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. sage
Salt and pepper to taste

Build layers, in the crockpot, first the bacon then the chicken. Top with onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Add a layer of the potatoes, then salt and pepper heavily. Add the corn and then the butter beans. Sprinkle oregano and sage over the beans.  Add the tomatoes, Tabasco, Worchestershire, and mustard. Top with the pork and cover each piece with BBQ sauce.

No need to stir at this point. Put on the lid and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce to low and cook for 7-8 hours. Stir all together, breaking apart and shredding the meat. Adjust seasonings.

Serve with saltine crackers or hushpuppies, along with hot coffee, iced tea, or cold beer.  And don't forget to pass the hot sauce!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cream Cheese (Candy Roaster) Squash Bread with Toasted Pecans

 This was originally a Southern Living recipe for Banana Bread.  I had made several Candy Roaster Squash pies, had some leftover puree, froze some for later, and decided to use the balance for bread.  Originally, I had in mind using the flavors of orange and fresh ginger.  After looking at a number of Squash Bread and Pumpkin Bread recipes, nothing was really ringing my chimes.  Then I remembered the banana bread recipe my husband loves so much, which is flavored with cream cheese and toasted pecans.

Don't skip toasting your pecans because it really does add another level of delicious flavor and aroma to the bread. Some people toast their nuts in the oven.  I toast mine in a skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally. Pull the nuts from the heat as soon as you smell them because once they become fragrant, they will burn very quickly.

Also, I did use a Candy Roaster squash, but acorn, butternut, pumpkin, or any other winter squash should work just fine.

Cream Cheese (Candy Roaster) Squash Bread with Toasted Pecans
3/4 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups squash puree
1 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating  just until blended after each addition.

Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until blended.  Stir in squash puree, pecans, and vanilla.  Spoon in prepared pans. 

Bake for 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides pull away from pan.  Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.  Remove from pans, and cool 30 minutes on wire racks before slicing.

And here are some other interesting and pretty squashes, pumpkins, and gourds I saw on my trip to the Farmers Market to find a Candy Roaster Squash.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Several years ago, I heard Barbara Walters speak of her Mother's stuffed cabbage rolls. She spoke so lovingly and longingly, I wanted to cook them for her. I told my family for years I was going to invite Barbara Walters to Thanksgiving dinner.  Alas, I never did, because I didn't want to risk rejection.  Of course, it is not too late.

I did a search for the recipe and found it, as described by Ms. Walters, at Cooks. com.  Now I can't absolutely guarantee, that this is THE recipe, but I have made this several times and can tell you that it is excellent.

Barbara Walters' Mother's Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
3 lb. lean ground chuck
2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 c. catsup
2 eggs
1/2 c. crushed unsalted crackers
2 heads (2 lb. size) green cabbage
6 qts. boiling water
3 c. chopped onion
2 bottles (12 oz. size) chili sauce (2 c.)
1 jar (12 oz.) grape jelly (1 c.)

In large bowl, combine chuck, salt, pepper, celery salt, catsup, eggs and crushed crackers. Mix with hands just until mixture is well combined.

Cut out and discard hard center core of cabbage. Place cabbage in large kettle. Pour boiling water over it; let stand until leaves are flexible and can be removed easily from the head, about 5 minutes. (If necessary, return cabbage to hot water to soften inner leaves.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop up a scant 1/4 cup meat mixture. With hands, form into rolls, 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, making about 28 rolls in all.

Place each meat roll on a drained cabbage leaf; fold top of leaf over meat, then fold sides and roll up into an oblong. Continue rolling remaining meat rolls and cabbage leaves.

In bottom of lightly greased 12 x 11 1/2 x 2 1/4 inch roasting pan, spread chopped onion evenly. Arrange cabbage rolls in neat rows on top of onion.

In 2 quart saucepan, combine chili sauce and grape jelly with 1/4 cup water; heat over medium heat, stirring to melt jelly. Pour over cabbage rolls.

Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake 2 hours. Remove foil; brush rolls with sauce; bake, uncovered, 40 minutes longer or until sauce is thick and syrupy and cabbage rolls are glazed. Serve with sauce spooned over rolls. Makes 28 cabbage rolls, 14 servings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Old Fashioned Candy Roaster Squash Pie

 Last fall, I posted about the heirloom Candy Roaster Squash, which is native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains, here and a Candy Roaster Pie here

Saturday, on a visit to the Western North Carolina Farmers Market in Asheville, I bought another Candy Roaster. These squash are very, very large.  The one I bought weighed about 12 pounds.  That is a lot of squash!

To approach this statuesque squash, cut in half crosswise, then cut each half again lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds and place the quarters face down on a lightly oiled baking pan.  Bake at 375 degrees approximately 45 minutes, depending on size, until tender, the skin is beginning to char and blister, and it is completely pooped.  Be sure you use a rimmed pan because these squash are juicy.

Once the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop out all the flesh from the rind.  If desired, puree in a blender until smooth. 

Pies are the traditional use of these squash and I have experimented with a few different flavor combinations. The one that seems most popular in my circles, is this one.  It is very simple and lets both the delicate flavor and the beautiful golden color of the squash shine through.

Old Fashion Candy Roaster Squash Pie
2 cups candy roaster squash puree
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. melted butter
Your favorite pie crust

Stir all ingredients together, then beat at medium speed of electric mixer until smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 375 degrees for 45 - 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sweet & Savory Pear and Apple Soup

How many things can you change about a recipe before it is not the same recipe anymore?  It is a question I ponder often. If I walk into my kitchen, pull ingredients I have on hand and create a dish, I consider that "my" recipe. On the other hand, if I see a recipe that I think sounds good, even if I change almost everything about it, but wouldn't have otherwise thought of the concept, I think credit is due to the original recipe.  What are your thoughts on this? 

I saw a recipe for Apple and Pear Soup on allrecipes.  I changed/added so many things about the recipe. The recipe calls for tart apples, but at this time of year, I'm madly in love with our locally grown Gala apples. To my palate, they have the perfect texture with just the right amount of crispness, the perfect juiciness, and the perfect sweetness, so that is what I used.  The original recipe calls for fresh ginger, so I thought onions and garlic would enhance the flavor profile.  Also, in the end, I squeezed in the juice of a lemon to help balance the sweetness of the apples and add brightness to the soup. 

My husband was surprised by this soup.  He had seen the apples and pears, washed and on the cutting board, thought they would be a dessert, but he loved the soup. It is very warming and he said he thought it would be a great thing to eat when you have a cold.

Sweet & Savory Pear and Apple Soup
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
3 apples, peeled and chopped
3 pears, peeled and chopped
2 cloved garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. pureed fresh ginger
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp. rubbed sage
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add onions, apples, and pears. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger and stir for a minute longer. Add vegetable broth, sage, and bay leaf. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer for about 20 - 25 minutes until pears, apples, and onions are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf. 

Puree the soup in a blender until very smooth, not filling more than half full. Pour into a clean pan and reheat. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper Taste to adjust seasonings.  Serve piping hot garnished with chopped fresh parsley. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Farmhouse Chicken Pot Pie

Remember the folder of old recipes I brought back last summer from a trip to my Parent's home, and my hometown, in Alabama? When I was looking at this one, Mama told me it was a very good recipe.  She clipped tore the recipe from The Atlanta Journal on Wednesday, October 9, 1968.

The recipe calls for a very unusual ingredient--powdered creamer.  I suppose it was a hot, new item at that time.  I bought the smallest size of  "original" Coffee Mate, started reading the ingredients, and made myself stop it at once!  Some things you just don't want to know.

I was most intrigued by the cheese pastry.

Ready for the Oven

Farmhouse Chicken Pot Pie
1 4-pound stewing chicken, cut into pieces
4 sprigs parsley
1 stalk celery, cut up
1 bay leaf
1 onion
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup powdered creamer
1 cup cooked sliced carrots
1 cup cooked peas
1 cup cooked small white onions

Cheese Pastry
1/4  cup soft butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

Place chicken in large kettle with parsley, celery, bay leaf and onion; cover with water.  Bring to boil; cover and simmer until chicken is tender (45 minutes to 1 hour).  Remove from heat.  Allow chicken to stand in stock until cool.  Remove chicken, discarding skin and bones.  Cut meat into large pieces.  Strain stock; measure 2 cups and reheat to boiling. In saucepan, melt butter over low heat until frothy.  Blend in flour, cook and stir 1 minute without coloring.  Add powdered creamer and hot chicken stock all at once, beating with wire whip to blend.  Increase heat to moderately high; cook and stir until sauce comes to a boil and thickens.  Adjust seasonings.  Add chicken and the cooked vegetables.  Spoon into a deep-dish pie plate or 1 1/2 quart casserole.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine all ingredients for pastry; roll about 1/4 inch thick. (Cheese pastry will be more moist than normal pastry). Cut into strips; arrange lattice fashion over top of casserole and secure edges.  Bake 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake 30 to 40 minutes. or until crust is golden brown.

Mama was right.  This is a very good recipe. My husband and I both loved it very much

Friday, October 15, 2010

Light Brioche Sandwich Rolls

For their July 4th promotions, most area grocery stores had good sales on ribs and pork shoulders.  I bought a pork roast at a great price but didn't get around to cooking it.  It was too hot in the house and my grill master had to work.  Plus, I realized I didn't have a taste for big meat. It was too hot.  So, after a few days, I put the roast in the freezer. 

With the weather cooler, I moved the roast from the freezer to the refrigerator, to thaw, with the plan of making my 16-Hour Pulled Pork.  Alice and Baby were going to be spending the night and I thought it would be a good make-ahead and simple meal, with homemade buns, Eastern North Carolina Barbecue Sauce, and Coleslaw, to make pulled pork sandwiches.  (Once Baby is in the house, I am too distracted to cook!)

When I opened the pork package I detected a mildish funky odor. Not foul or strong, just funky.  I practically had my nose on the meat, sniffing it.  The pork had good color and was not slimy. I did a google search and found out that the sealing process can sometimes lead to a temporary smell, but if the meat seems fine otherwise, the smell should disappear during cooking.  So I made my spice rub and proceeded, as usual, with cooking the roast in the crockpot.

Guess what? I woke up twice in the night smelling that pork cooking. The next morning, there I was again, sniffing and sniffing. In the end, I decided that it smelled like a very spicy piece of dead meat.  So, following the "When in doubt, toss it out" rule of cookery, I pulled it and changed dinner plans.

But my buns turned out great! I saw this recipe at the very excellent blog, Susi's Kochen Und Backen Adventures and knew I would be making these.  I didn't change a thing about the recipe Susi gives.

Light Brioche Burger Buns
(From Susi's Kochen Und Backen Adventures)
3 Tbsp. warm milk
1 cup warm water
2 tsp. yeast (1 package)
2 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 Tbsp. butter, softened

For the topping:
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
Sesame seeds

Combine warm milk, warm water, sugar and yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk one egg in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or other large bowl) whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour, with your fingers, to make fine crumbs. Add the egg and yeast mixture and mix with a dough hook in your stand mixer on low until combined. Continue kneading on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 - 8 minutes.  Alternately, knead the dough by hand on a well-floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 - 10 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a large, oiled bowl, turn the dough over and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise, in a warm place, until doubled in size, 1 - 2 hours.

Punch down the dough and divide into 8 equal pieces and shape into balls. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, 2 - 3 inches apart.  Spray some plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray and place over the shaped buns.  Return to a warm place and let rise again, until doubled in size, 1 - 2 hours.

Place a large, shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Beat the remaining egg together with the water.  Brush some onto each bun and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake in the center of the oven until the buns are golden brown, turning halfway through baking, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Blondies

I wanted to bake for a couple of reasons. One was I wanted to make a sweet treat for my husband and the other was I wanted to use my new mixer.  I was comfortable, at home, and wanted to use ingredients I had on hand,  Prominently featured in my pantry was a partial bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.

The food muse that gets in my head told me to make Blondies.  Blondies?  I have never made Blondies and I'm pretty sure I've never eaten one.  So, I turned to my friend, Google, to help me find a recipe.  I was most intrigued by one I saw at because it also had peanut butter, which Pritchard Parker loves. 

I did change a few things about the recipe.  For one, it called for margarine, which I don't use, so I substituted butter. Another thing is the recipe called for 2 cups of white sugar; I used 1 cup plus one-half cup of brown sugar. Finally, the recipe called for chunky peanut butter and I used creamy. They were delicious!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Blondies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees and line a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in the vanilla and peanut butter until smooth.  Combine the flour and baking powder the stir into the peanut butter mixture.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Spread the dough out flat on the prepared pan.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes until the top looks dry.  Cool in pan, then cut into squares.

You're Not Going to Let it Go, Are You?

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for cube steak with mushroom and onion gravy.  The meal was requested by my husband and he was very pleased by the way it tasted.  I had several sweet comments left here on my blog, and others elsewhere.  The photo I submitted to Photograzing was published and that is always gratifying. 

Then I got this comment,
anonymous of course:

"How bland is this?

There is nothing to this dish.. just stock and from the picture, it looks watery... no herbs or anything to help bring out the flavor.
Sorry, but it looks like someone took a dump on a plate of mashed potatoes."

I was so offended!  I couldn't stop thinking about it and talking about it to all my family and friends. And I was trying to understand why?  That is when Pritchard Parker asked me, "You're not going to let it go, are you?" 

To anonymous: this dish was anything but bland. Steak, when properly seared is very flavorful.  So are mushrooms and onions.  I made more of an au jus, at my husband's request, but if you want a thickened gravy, you are certainly free to do so.  Also you may add any herbs you please to your recipes.

My question to you is:  Why would you take the time to go to someones personal blog and leave such a rude comment?

You really hurt my feelings.

OK, now I can "let it go".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Skillet Apple Cake

I saw this cake featured on Photograzing, clicked, and was led to the blog, One Vanilla Bean.  I love cooking and baking with apples at this time of year. We have apple orchards locally so I can get them extra fresh, and at very reasonable prices.  Not to mention that I love making anything in my iron skillets.  Cast iron cookery is part of my heritage and always makes me feel grounded and happy. 

Skillet Apple Cake

1 tsp. boiled cider, which can be made by boiling 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar for about 5 minutes
1 1/2 lbs. apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt

1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup warm milk
1 egg
6 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

Preheat oven and generously butter a 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Mix together the apples, boiled cider, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter, and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients into a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared skillet.  Arrange the apples over the batter, pouring any extra juices over the apples.  Sprinkle the top with the turbinado sugar.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove skillet from the oven and run a knife around the edges of the pan to keep the cake from sticking as it cools.

Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Crockpot Peach Butter

Peach Butter
 On a recent trip to the Farmers Market, I purchased a bushel of beautiful, late-season South Carolina peaches to make peach butter.  I had never made peach butter, but I really enjoyed making apple butter last year and I had no idea, at that time, how much my family and friends would enjoy it over the coming months.  So, I decided to apply the same process with peaches.   

One thing I learned last year is that it takes a lot of fruit to cook down into a "butter".  For my bushel of peaches, I canned 14 pints of peach butter.  That equates to about 7 to 8 good size peaches per pint, or about 35 to 40 peaches for a 6 quart crockpot to yield about 5 pints of peach butter. 

Beautiful Late-season South Carolina Peaches
 I loved the coloring of these peaches, and the fragrance of them was heavenly.  I look forward to opening  jars over the winter and releasing the aroma of summer. 

Gorgeous Puree from the Peaches
 After I peeled and chopped the peaches, cutting out any brown or mushy spots (which were several as these were late-season, very ripe, cheap, and I bought such a large quantity), I pureed them in the blender with a tiny amount of water. 

Peach Water
 Even the boiling water I dipped them in, to facilitate easier peeling, turned a lovely rosy color.

I really considered the sweetness and spices I wanted to add to my peach butter.  These peaches were very sweet, so I knew I wouldn't be adding much sugar.  Additionally, there are many spices which are delicious with peaches, including ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  In the end, I decided to make my peach butter mostly "plain",  knowing I could add more sweetener and/or spices as I opened each jar.  The concentrated taste of peaches was what I was looking for.  And I got it!

Crockpot Peach Butter
10 quarts peach puree
2 tsp. lemon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. allspice

Peel, pit, and chop peaches.  Place in blender and add a splash of water if needed.  I tried not to use any water, but my ripe peaches clunked around in the blender until I added some to get them started.  Pour the peach puree into a 6 quart crockpot until almost full. 

Continue to puree and pour peach puree, this time, into a bowl to refrigerate overnight. Stir in 1 tsp. lemon juice, cover, and reserve.

Into the crockpot, add 1 tsp. lemon juice, the sugar, and the allspice.  Turn the crockpot on low, cover with a spatter screen and cook overnight.  Next morning, the mixture should be reduced by about half.  Add the reserved peach puree, cover again with the spatter screen, and cook on low for about 3 or 4 more hours. 

Eat, freeze, and/or process in hot water bath according to canning methods for your area.

Yields 5 to 7 pints.  Enjoy!

Peach Butter on a Toasted Corn Muffin

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn Fruit Salad

A few years ago, at this same time of year, I was asked to contribute a salad for my Mother-in-Law's birthday dinner.  I had been apprised of what my Sisters-in-Law were making and considered what kind of salad would complement.

When I found this recipe at All Recipes, I was enchanted by the introduction by the contributor, Kathryn Booher, who said, "I've made this recipe for special dinners all through my 46 married years, and it's always been a hit.  My sister worked for a farm wife during the late '30s and early '40s and she got this recipe from her.  It's especially delicious when the apples are freshly picked, and it adds wonderful color to any table!"  I was sold. 

Autumn Fruit Salad
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
6 cups cubed unpeeled apples
2 cups halved seedless red grapes
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and flour.  Stir in water; bring to a boil.  Cook and stir until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.  Cool to room temperature. 

In a large bowl, combine apples, grapes, celery and walnuts.  Add the dressing and toss gently.  Refrigerate until serving. 

Mrs. Booher, thank you for this wonderful recipe.  I've made it a few times and it is very delicious.  The dressing, or sauce, is very unusual, and I just love it!  I just made it again yesterday, for another one of my beautiful Mother-in-Law's birthday dinners.

Ham and Cheese Potato Soup

We enjoyed warm weather for a while after summer officially ended, but Fall is definitely here now.  We had a cold front move in bringing with it with several cool, rainy, gray days.  The kind of days that make me want to cook a big pot of hearty soup, which is exactly what I did. 

I used some leftover baked ham, but you could also use some deli ham. Also, I served my soup this time with homemade garlic croutons but cornbread is delicious with potato soup and what I usually do. 

Ham and Cheese Potato Soup
(adapted from
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups diced ham
1/1/2 cups water or broth
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups milk
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

In a large pan, combine potatoes, carrots, celery, ham, water, and salt.  Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to simmer until potatoes are just tender.  Blend together thee butter and salt and stir into soup.  Add the parsley and pepper.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.Remove from heat and stir in cheese.