Honey Apple Salad

appleIt’s apple season in the Ozarks! Orchards all over are offering the tastiest apples on the farm and at the farmers’ market.

Here is a simple recipe for a Honey Apple Salad that makes a perfect compliment to a weeknight meal from the grill.

Honey Apple Salad
3 1/2 diced red apples
2 T. lemon juice
2 c. grapes
1 c. sliced celery, thin
1/2 c. chopped dates
1/2 c. mayo
1/4 c. honey
2 T. sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

In a large bowl toss apples with lemon juice. Add grapes, celery and dates. In a small bowl combine mayo, honey, sour cream and salt, mix.

Pour over apple mixture and toss; stir in walnuts.

Feta Stuffed Zucchini

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Photo from cookinglsl.com

Looking for more ways to add zest to all that zucchini you have in your gardens or from the farmers market? I’ve got the perfect recipe with these “zucchini boats” as the kids call them.

And, makes these a main dish by stuffing the zucchini with browned beef or pork sausage.

Feta Stuffed Zucchini
5 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Italian bread crumbs
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. fresh or dried basil
½ tsp. fresh or dried thyme
7 1/2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (Try using Terrell Creek Goat Cheese)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Preheat oven to 475°. Scoop out zucchini centers to form canoes, leaving a 1/4-inch border, set aside.

Arrange zucchini, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet; bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, salt and basil and thyme; cook, stirring, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add chopped zucchini and garlic, and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool slightly.

Fold in feta and tomatoes and fill zucchini with mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Classic Fettuccine Bolognese

fettuccine-bolognese

I always say that every delicious soup, sauce, stew or braise starts with the “Holy Trinity.” The holy trinity in cooking is simply a combination of three aromatic ingredients (carrots, onions and celery), sautéed together to provide a stable flavor base for other ingredients to build upon. Typically, butter or olive oil and the vegetables are cooked to release their aromatic flavors. I use the holy trinity in the majority of all my cooking of meats, soups, stews and other recipes.

One example is my family’s Classic Fettuccine Bolognese. This hearty pasta dish is perfect for fall and winter dining. Bolognese simply means ragu sauce (meat-based sauce) that originated from Bologna, Italy. Red wine and tomatoes are added and then the dish is simmered for hours to produce a thick, rich sauce that is something magical.

On a business trip in New York I asked a chef I had met for his recipe for Fettuccine Bolognese after dining at his restaurant. Although, the recipe was jotted down on a napkin and vague, I’ve adapted the basic instructions. He was adamant on using only Chianti wine, to develop a bold flavor in the Bolognese, which you can pick-up at most liquor stores and pairs beautifully with this dish.

This recipe calls for top round, but you can also use a mixture of ground pork and ground veal too.  I use whatever I have on-hand in our deep freeze from the protein butchered from the farm.

Fresh fettuccine is best used for this dish, but you can also use the dried variety if you choose. And, be sure and pick up a loaf of sourdough bread from your local baker or farmers market to serve on the side…you’ll need it to clean the last little bits from your plate. From my kitchen to yours…Bon Appetit!

Classic Fettuccine Bolognese
Adapted from the Kitchen of Macelleria Restaurant

1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped onions
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lb. beef top round
4 ounces pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
1 cup Chianti red wine
½ cup heavy cream
1.5 cups crushed peeled tomatoes
1 T. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
4 cups water
4 T. freshly grated Parmigianino Reggiano cheese
1.5 lbs. fresh fettuccine

Heat olive oil in skillet; add the Holy Trinity (celery, onion and carrots), plus garlic and simmer until vegetables sweat. Add ground beef, pancetta/bacon, salt, pepper, and bay leaves to taste. Brown the beef until all liquid is absorbed, then add the red wine and stir until liquid is absorbed once more. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, cream and water. Cook slowly, uncovered for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, add water as needed.

Cook fresh fettuccine for one minute. Drain pasta, leaving a small amount of water and olive oil. Mix fettuccine with Parmigianino Reggiano, gradually adding the Bolognese sauce to fettuccine and serve.

Flag Football Season Here We GO!

As baseball season winds down for Caston, we enter the fall football season.  Caston LOVES football and the kid has some fancy feet and can catch the ball like a rockstar.  It’s hard to believe he’s only a six-year-old!  We can’t wait to see how he develops over the next year.  #footballseason2016

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon

0302Fall in the Ozarks is my favorite time of the year.  Our region boosts an array of fall vegetables like spaghetti squash, eggplants, peppers, acorn and butternut squash, sweet potatoes, bright greens, apples and more!  It’s the perfect time for a visit to the local farmers market or farm stand to see what’s in season for your family’s table.

Butternut squash is one of my very favorite fall vegetables to cook for my family.  Roast this fall squash and it becomes slightly sweet, puree it for a hearty soup and its the perfect texture.  The best part about all winter squash is the long storage life, if kept cool and in a dark place.

Here is one of my go-to recipes all winter long that our family enjoys and takes little effort to prepare.  It’s perfect to warm you up on a crisp fall day!

Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon
Serves 6

1 medium butternut squash (about 1 lb.), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced sliced
4 sliced of bacon, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 T. olive oil
3 T. butter
½ tsp. fine grain salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream or milk
1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. nutmeg
For garnish: Crispy bacon, chopped chives, crumbled goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F and place a rack in the middle.  Lightly grease a baking sheet and place butternut squash chunks, quartered onion, diced red bell pepper, chopped bacon, and garlic cloves in a single layer.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring at halftime, until butternut squash is nicely roasted.

When ready, remove from the oven and peel garlic. Transfer everything to a large pot, add thyme, stock, and puree with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, then transfer roasted veggies to a food processor and process. (You may need to add some chicken stock to get a fine puree.) After you have pureed the mixture, add it to a large stockpot.

Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until it starts to thicken. If it’s too thick add more stock, ¼ cup at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.

Take a taste and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with some crispy bacon, chopped chives, and crumbled goat cheese as desired.

And, if you are looking for other ways to use up all that delicious winter squash from your garden or the gardens of local farmer friends, check out this great list.

 

Berry Freezer Jam

blueberry-chia-jam-1Growing up as a farm kid meant good food was always served on our table. My mother preserved food by canning everything from green beans and pickled beets and okra, to jelly, pickles and fruit. Food preservation was a priority to not only save money, but extend the season. She would store all the canned products in the basement, where her three large deep freezes were- which also were packed full of frozen veggies, corn, fruit and harvested beef from the ranch.

Now, I freeze and preserve fruits and vegetables from the farmers market and our own garden. But, it seems like the older my kiddos get, the harder it is to find time to can as much as we used too. That’s why I love making freezer jam!

Freezer jam makes life a little easier because it takes less than 10 minutes to prepare and preserve the fresh summer fruit into pure deliciousness. I make a variety of flavors like Very Berry (strawberry and blueberry), Red Raspberry, Blueberry Peach and others. Below is a basic recipe to use or you can view my post about How to Make Jalapeño Freezer Jam.

Be sure the fruit you use is in peak season for the best flavor!  I like to stock-up during berry season and freezing the fruit until I am ready to turn it into jelly.  The farmers market or a you-pick farm are the best places to find top-notch local fruit.

Basic Fruit Freezer Jam
makes 7 cups
3 cups crushed fruit (Blueberries for instance)
5 1/4 cups sugar
1 package pectin
3/4 cup water

Combine blueberries and sugar; stir well. Let stand 10 minutes. Combine the pectin and water in a small saucepan and bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Boil the mixture for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add hot pectin to blueberry mixture and stir for 3 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved and is no longer grainy.

Pour or ladle jam into glass jars, leaving 1/2 space at top for expansion during freezer. Place lids on containers, and let stand at room temperature 24 hours until set. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks, or store in the freezer for 1 year. When ready to use frozen jam, simply thaw in refrigerator.

Raspberry Peach Jam: The directions are the same, but use 2 cups crushed raspberries, 1 1/2 cups finely chopped peaches, and 7 cups of sugar. This makes 7 cups of jam.

Make Ahead Frozen Breakfast Burritos

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I don’t know about you, but our mornings are typically a little chaotic.  I am not one of these “morning moms” that is up before the kids- dressed and ready to take on the world. I am more of the roll out of bed, I need my coffee before I can function kind of mom.  That’s why I am always looking for ways to make my family’s mornings easy.

Make ahead breakfast meals is one way that get our mornings started off to a bright and happy start!  These breakfast burritos can be stored in your fridge all week or frozen for up to a month.  Add whatever your favorite add-ins are like tomatoes, salsa, mushrooms or bell peppers and feel good about serving your family up a helping of healthy food in under 2 minutes! They are also great for on-the-go breakfast meals, not that you’ll need it.  But, if you happen to have to feed your littles ones breakfast in the car on the way to school, at least you’ll know they are getting a happy fill of protein, so they can feel good and focus on their school work.  (And don’t feel bad…my kiddos have eaten many a meal on the go.  Hello to motherhood, have to love this crazy, chaotic life!)

Make Ahead Frozen Breakfast Burritos
12 large eggs
2 T. cream
1 lb. pork sausage (optional)
Chopped Chives
1 tsp. hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup cooked, diced potatoes (make it easy and buy frozen diced hashbrowns)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup shredded cheese (I like to use Terrell Creek Cherve or Edgewood Creamery White Cheddar- both from local farms)
20 6-inch tortillas
20 parchment paper squares or alumni foil, about 10 inches
*Other add-ins: tomato, mushrooms, bell peppers, spinach

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, chives, hot sauce, salt and pepper. In a medium skillet (about 10 inches) over medium-high heat, heat olive oil and pour in whisked eggs. Once they start cooking, add in any add-ins you please. Continue to stir the egg and topping mixture until fully cooked/scrambled and remove to bowl.

In the same skillet you cooked the eggs, add the sausage over medium heat. Let the sausage brown properly by not stirring the sausage around in the skillet. (I like using my cast iron skillet for browning meat.) When the sausage has cooked for 5 minutes, add the potatoes and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the cooked sausage/potato mixture to the eggs and stir to combine.

On a flat surface, place a tortilla on top of a parchment paper square. Top the tortilla with about ¼ cup of the mixture, top with cheese and any other toppings or salsa.

Fold tortilla over the fillings, fold in the sides, and roll into a burrito. Once your breakfast burrito is closed, wrap with the parchment paper or alumni foil square.

Repeat the process with remaining tortillas and mixture. Once cooled, transfer assembled burritos into a gallon sized freezer bag and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to one month.

To eat, simply warm directly in the microwave until heated through.

 To freeze and reheat burritos: Wrap each burrito in waxed paper and foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. To use, remove foil and waxed paper. Place one burrito on a microwave-safe plate, cover with paper towel. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, turning burrito over once. Let stand for 20 seconds.