Monday, July 15, 2019

Cherry Crumb Cake with Almond Crumb Topping

My plan was to bake today, even though, as you all know, I am not much of a baker. My plan was not that my air-conditioner go out. But still, with a bag of ripening cherries, the baking must go on!

I made use of a recipe from the Bake from Scratch website, adding my own crumb topping. For me, it’s all about the crumb topping, so I want a lot of it, and I want it to be flavorful. Brunch, lunch, dinner, or late night snack, you’re going to love this delicious crumb cake.
Cherry Crumb Cake
Adapted from Bake from Scratch

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon
vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup buttermilk
1 pound
Melissa’s Bing cherries, stemmed and pitted
Almond Crumb Topping (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a
9” springform pan with Baker’s Joy (or grease and flour), covering thoroughly; set aside.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, beat just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top. Top with an even layer of cherries, sprinkle crumb topping over all.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Let cool on a wire rack. Cover and store at room temperature for up to two days or refrigerate for up to six days.

Almond Crumb Topping

1½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter, melted
½ cup slivered almonds
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a food processor, pulsing until mixture is crumbly.

Fruit-filled coffee cake lovers will also enjoy this Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sag Aloo

I am a fan of “Gavin and Stacey.” It is a British comedy/drama that centers around the title characters, he from Essex, she from Wales, and how they come together, joining two very different families. It is funny, pleasant, poignant, sad, touching, and my “go to” show any time I’m feeling down. I think I have watched this three-season program all the way through 4 or 5 times.

One of my favorite scenes is when Gavin’s best friend, Smithy (played by James Corden), and Gavin’s family are ordering Indian takeout. One of the dishes ordered is Sag Aloo, a dish with which I was unfamiliar. Naturally, I had to investigate. It turns out it is a delicious potato and spinach side dish, that is easy to make (although there is a bit of chopping) and suitable for any meal of the day. I enjoyed it with Firecracker Salmon on (you guessed it) the Fourth of July, and this morning again with an omelet (also significant in “Gavin and Stacey”) for brunch. It is delicious!

The original recipe called for red chili peppers, I didn’t have any of those so I used one of my homegrown jalapeños. The original recipe also called for black mustard seeds, and I only had brown, so I made that substitution as well. I’m going to be eating a lot of this because it makes a plain dinner quite exotic and fancy.
Sag Aloo

2 T. canola oil
1 3-oz. pkg.
Melissa’s shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. minced fresh ginger
2 c. cubed, peeled potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
1 jalapeño, halved, seeded and sliced
1/2 t.
brown mustard seeds
1/2 t. cumin seeds
1/2 t. turmeric
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 handfuls fresh, washed baby spinach

Heat oil over medium high heat in a 10-inch sauté pan. Add shallots, garlic, and ginger, and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in potatoes, jalapeño, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, and salt, and continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes more.

Add 1/2 cup water, cover, and cook for 8 minutes.

Check to see that the potatoes are done to your liking by spearing them with the point of a knife. If so, add spinach, give it a stir, cover, and let the spinach wilt into the pan. Remove from heat and serve.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Tex-Mex Squash Casserole

Despite my rather impressive container garden, that is particularly lush this year, I have never had any luck growing zucchini. Other people complain about having way too many, I’ve always complained about having none at all. For those of you who have an abundance, or, for those of you who, like me, rely upon Melissa’s Produce for your supply, here is a recipe we all can enjoy.

I have fallen in love with baby squash. If you follow me on Facebook you will know that I roasted some for a snack during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Nothing is easier, and, dipped in your favorite sauce, it’s incredible! Because of their tender skin, no peeling is required. You just pop off the stems, and quarter them to use in casseroles like I did here.

I am a vegetable fan, so I had a hard time stopping myself from eating the entire pan. If you have meat eaters in your family, I would imagine that shredded chicken, or seasoned ground beef, would be an excellent addition to this, and make for a hearty, nutritious, crowd-pleasing meal. Personally, I thought it was perfect as it is.
Tex-Mex Squash Casserole
Adapted from Homesick Texan

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups cubed
Melissa’s baby squash
1 3-oz. pkg. Melissa’s shallots
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 can
Ro-tel tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped cilantro*
1 cup grated pepper jack cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 cups crushed tortilla chips

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a
9” x 13” casserole dish; set aside.

Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted, add squash, shallots, and jalapeño, and sauté until the shallots are translucent and the squash is soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne (if using), salt, pepper, and cook for a minute. Stir in flour and cook until a light brown paste forms, another minute.

Add broth and tomatoes and stir until the mixture thickens, 1-2 minutes. Add the half-and-half, sour cream, and cilantro, and turn off the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Cover the bottom of the greased casserole dish with crushed tortilla chips. Pour the creamy squash mixture on top, and then cover the whole dish with the grated cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbling.

*Use it if you like it, if not, don’t

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Monday, July 8, 2019

BLT with Creole Mayonnaise

I know some of you have already been enjoying your tomato harvest, but where I live, red tomatoes don’t generally show themselves until July. My tomato plants are loaded with green tomatoes, only just now beginning to turn red. When they finally do, I am going to have a bumper crop!

I was so desperate for a BLT that I went to the local farmers market, and picked up a couple of Arkansas tomatoes so that I could dig into their juicy goodness. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this sandwich, particularly the way I make it, with a hefty dollop of Creole mayonnaise slathered onto the bread. If you’ve never tried this on your BLT, you are missing out. It is zippy, spicy, and delicious, but not so much so as to overpower the delicate fresh taste of your homegrown tomato, or smoky goodness of the bacon.

Here’s my recipe for Creole mayonnaise. It’s good on chicken sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, stirred into egg or chicken salad, pimiento cheese (I know, sacrilege!), even veggie sandwiches, but I think it’s at its absolute best on a BLT.
Creole Mayonnaise

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp.
Creole mustard
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. hot sauce
1 teaspoon
Creole seasoning

Blend all ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl, and store in the refrigerator for one hour to allow the flavors to meld before using. Will last in the refrigerator, covered, for up to five days.

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Garlic Bread Dip

I’m not proud of this, but sometimes I have dip for supper. These days I’m busy and I just don’t want to be bothered. I wake up in the morning with the best of intentions of making an excellent meal, and by day’s end, whatever I can heat up in the oven and hold on my lap while watching the ball game works for me.

As you may know from my earlier post about
Cheesy Garlic Bread, I do love my bread and cheese, particularly when garlic is involved. I recently ran across this recipe, cut it in half, altered it, and it made the perfect high-calorie, artery-clogging, dinner for baseball-watching me. I dipped ribs of celery and toasted bread cubes into it, but dip whatever you like. It’s going to be good no matter what.
By the way, if you have any dip left over, it is marvelous piled on top of fresh mushrooms and broiled. I used a cookie scoop to top these mushrooms, and broiled them until the tops were pleasantly bronzed. Delish!

Garlic Bread Dip

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sour cream
1 T.
Melissa’s roasted, chopped garlic
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1½ c. Shredded Italian Blend Cheese
1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
Garlic powder
Chopped fresh parsley
Toasted bread cubes or your dipping favorites

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 1-quart baking dish with Pam. I used
this one.

In a medium bowl and with a hand-held electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sour cream, garlic, mozzarella, Italian cheese blend, and cheddar cheese. Beat until all the ingredients are well blended. Spread in your prepared
baking dish and bake for 20 minutes or until hot, and mixture bubbles around the edges. Remove from oven and sprinkle with onion powder, paprika, and chopped parsley. Serve.

Can’t get enough baked dip? Try this Hot Corn Dip with sweet, fresh, summer corn.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Sweet and Tangy Root Beer Meatballs

Last night before I went to bed, I had great ambitions for today.  In addition into cleaning and straightening, I told myself that I was going to try a new recipe for a Spanish Beef and Noodle dish, so got out a 1-pound package of ground chuck and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. After I went to the dentist today (good check up, my teeth are sparkling), and got home (having had to take numerous detours because of construction), my enthusiasm had waned. These meatballs (also a new recipe) seemed so much easier to deal with, and I enjoyed them with some bagged salad, and a scoop of Bob Evans’ mashed potatoes. Dinner!
Sweet and Tangy Root Beer Meatballs
1 lb. ground chuck
½ c. Italian breadcrumbs
1 large egg
1/3 c. milk
2 T. dried minced onion
1 T. dried parsley flakes
1 t. kosher salt
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 t. freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 7” x 11” baking dish with Pam; set aside.

Mix together above ingredients until thoroughly combined; form into small to medium-size meatballs, placing each into prepared dish as you do.

Whisk together the following ingredients and pour the mixture over the top of the meatballs:

1 c. tomato sauce
1 c.
Rogue root beer
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. prepared mustard
¼ t.
dried minced garlic 

Bake for 60 minutes until the liquid is bubbly, and meatballs are done. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

If you think Italian-style when you think meatballs, you will love these.

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Spinach and Avocado Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

In reviewing recent posts I noticed that I haven’t given you all a salad recipe in a while, so I thought I would remedy with this one. I was experimenting over the weekend and came up with what I think is a unique combination. But unique as it is, it is also delicious. Sophisticated, complex, crunchy, chewy, with hints of sweetness, and decided zing, it is easy to prepare, and incredibly good for you. The dressing can be made in advance, and all but the avocado can be prepped ahead of time. That way, it takes nothing more than slicing pitted halves of avocado, adding them artistically to your plate, and drizzling them with the tangy dressing. This is perfectly suitable for during the week, but quite impressive when you’re having company.
Spinach and Avocado Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
16-oz. pkg. fresh baby spinach
½ cup toasted walnuts
¼ cup sliced
Melissa’s Italian Sun-dried Tomatoes
½ cup fresh cubes of pineapple
Maple Mustard Vinaigrette

1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt.
½ cup vegetable oil

For Vinaigrette:
Place all dry ingredients into the bottom of a medium size mixing bowl and whisk together until blended.

For Salad:
Place baby spinach on plates. Top with avocado slices, walnuts, pineapple, and sun-dried tomatoes. Drizzle the dressing on top, sprinkle with a few grains of salt, and serve.

Serves 4

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Great Lovers Wine Glasses...This Week's Find

Prepare yourself to be wowed. I mean it. This week I brought home my mother’s collection of “Great Lovers” wine glasses. At least that’s what we called them. Officially they are Maurus Gallo Pewter Toasting Cups featuring Beauty and the Beast, Romeo and Juliet, and a Renaissance Wedding couple. Each pair locks hands when put together. I don’t remember where they were purchased despite the fact that I was with her at the time, but it was some time during the 1980s. They are made from pewter and spun silver and each holds 4 ounces of liquid. They certainly draw gasps from guests when they see how they go together.
My mother would use these for very special dinners, or ones that she would serve around Valentine’s Day. Naturally, the female guest would get the female lover cup, the male guest, the male lover cup; they would be put together between place settings.
I honestly don’t know how many times I will use these, but I need to find a place to put at least one pair of these on display. Truly magnificent!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Brandied Blueberry Crumble

I cannot get enough of fresh fruit this season. My refrigerator is packed with it, including all forms of fresh berries. One of my favorites is blueberries, and I have been including them in salads, on top of oatmeal for breakfast, baked into pancakes, and for dessert. This recipe is easy, but elegant, considering the inclusion of the brandy. It can be made in a baking dish, or individual ramekins for a nice presentation.
Brandied Blueberry Crumble

1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 T. Brandy

Crumble topping:
1 cup flour
5 Tbsp. butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly butter a 1-quart ovenproof dish (or four small ramekins, I used
these); set aside.

Put blueberries in a bowl with sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and brandy, and toss to mix. Pour berries into the prepared baking dish(es) and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place flour, butter, and brown sugar into the work bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly over the berries and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let
crumble cool slightly before serving with your favorite topping, or none at all.
Serves 3-4.

If you prefer your blueberries for breakfast, give this recipe for “To Die For” Blueberry Muffins a try.

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Monday, June 24, 2019

Deck Garden Update for June

It’s hard to believe that the last time I updated you on the deck garden was three weeks ago. Go back to this post and see the huge difference! Things have grown incredibly since I first began. We have been lucky in away because our summer has been rather mild thus far, and the rain, though not helping with the flooding, has certainly helped with the plants. I don’t think I have ever had as lush and healthy a container garden as I have this year.
I am going to give you a number of views of it; this one is from the lanai. If you take a look at this post when the deck was first built, you can see that I have an enclosed area where I spend a good bit of my time, and an open area for gardening. I find such comfort being around my plants, and when they grow like these have I feel like I’m in my own little private world.
I hesitated to grow petunias, because I know they tend to get leggy, but I have been doting on them, being sure to pluck off the spent flowers every day, and, thus far, it’s doing quite well.  I love that pop of bright color.
It always amazes me when I plant a seed is that it actually grows. I planted four Cathedral Bell seeds, and not only are they growing quite well, but beginning to attach themselves to the bottle tree. I cannot wait to see this plant flower.
My seeds for the “For mature audiences only” Elever pumpkins arrived from the Philippines, were planted, and are showing good growth. I cannot wait for this to bear fruit.
 I thought I would have a good time growing gourds this year, and they’re growing quite well. It was only after I planted them that I read the information on the back of the packet only to learn that they are only going to be 2 inches long. Well, they should work well at individual place settings come fall, but I’m sure I’m not sure what other good they’ll be.
The cucumbers are encroaching on my seating area, as are the green beans, undoubtedly they will need to be moved, but where? I am beginning to get the impression that I may have over planted. 
Basil is ready for pesto making, now that I have managed to ward off a rather substantial attack by the dreaded Japanese beetle.
The grill takes up quite a bit of real estate on the deck, and if I had another place to put it that was as convenient as it is now, I probably would. My dear dad gave me this grill and as I write this it’s Father’s Day, and let me tell you this is excruciating for me -- the first one without my dad. I’m laying low today and surrounding myself with my plants. They are comfort.

The Asian lilies that came back last year seem to be dying off, so I may use that pot for some sort of fruit or vegetable.
In the blue planter there is a Stella Dora Lily. I dug it up, As well as a couple of hostas when I put my parents house on the market. I just had to have something from their garden.

That’s the update for June. I’ll be back with another one in July. What successes are you having in your garden this year?

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Green Pepper Fries

Onion rings, step aside; I am about to kick you to the curb. Today, I harvested my first green pepper from my deck garden. It was an exciting moment. I wasn’t sure exactly what to do with it, whether or not I should sink my teeth into the sun-warmed fruit (yes, green pepper is a fruit), make up some pepper steak (a single serving, naturally), or do something completely different. I decided upon the latter. Having recently come across a recipe for oven baked green pepper rings, today seemed like an excellent day to give it a try. 
These are easy to make, and are amazingly good! I credit some of this to my recipe for rémoulade that I will share below, but you can dip them in anything that you like. I think this would make a great snack for the kids this summer, or a nice side for a grilled steak, chop, or piece of chicken. They will surprise and delight you, and they’re guilt-free!
Green Pepper Fries
Adapted from

bell peppers, sliced into ½” rounds, seeds removed
large eggs, beaten with 1 T. water
1 c. flour
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a medium shallow bowl, combine panko with paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Coat pepper rings first in flour, then egg, and then the panko mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet.


Bake 10 minutes, carefully turn them over, and bake 10 minutes more, until tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
While peppers are baking, make rémoulade (recipe below).

Serve pepper rings with dipping sauce on the side.

1/3 c. mayonnaise
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp.
Creole seasoning
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
½ tsp. dill pickle juice
½ tsp.
hot sauce
1 small clove garlic, minced

above ingredients together in a small bowl. Will keep in the refrigerator 3-5 days.

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