Peaches and Cream Crepes

Peaches and Cream Crepes

Peaches are such a natural addition to any summer dessert. I decided to use some of my fresh peaches in crepes. Crepes are a nice dessert any time of the year. I think especially nice in summer, using fresh, seasonal fruit.

 

The crepes were filled with peeled, sliced peaches that had been tossed with sugar ahead of time. The sugar softens the peaches a little.  I also added some sweetened cream cheese and a little strawberry jam to the filling. My friends loved them.

 

They can be assembled ahead of time, and just kept chilled until ready to serve.  Serve as is, with a dusting of powdered sugar or even a vanilla caramel drizzle- recipe follows.

 

Peaches and Cream Crepes

1 recipe basic crepes- recipe follows
2-3 peaches, pitted and sliced thin
¼ c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ c. powdered sugar
Strawberry jam, optional

Make a batch of basic crepes and set aside until ready to use. Place sliced peaches in a bowl with sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and stir until sugar is dissolved. Best to do this at least a couple of hours before you want to use them. This softens the peaches and allows juices to come out of the peaches. You need the juices for the cream cheese. You can do this the day before, then just finish the cream cheese and assemble.
Place cream cheese in a bowl and start beating with an electric mixer. Drain juices off the peaches and add the juice to the cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar, too. Beat until cream cheese is fluffy.

To assemble the crepes: Place a crepe on work surface. Spread with some of the cream cheese. Along one side of the crepe place a small amount of strawberry jam, like a stripe. Place several slices of peach in a row, on top of the strawberry jam. Starting on the side of the crepe with the peaches gently roll up the crepe. Repeat with remaining ingredients. You will have 12. Serve as is, or you can top with powdered sugar, peach slices, warm jam, whipped or caramel sauce.

Basic Crepes

3/4 c. flour
1/8 t. salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 T. melted butter
3/4 c. milk, approximately
Butter or oil for pan

Beat together flour, salt and eggs until smooth. Stir in melted butter and then stir in milk until batter consistency is that of cream. Let stand for 30 minutes before using, or can be refrigerated, covered, overnight. Beat again, just before using.
Heat 6 or 7 inch skillet. Brush with butter or oil and pour in about 2 teaspoons of batter, tipping pan to cover bottom of pan completely with batter. Cook until edges start to brown, turn over and cook until lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side.)
Crepes can be made day ahead or even frozen between sheets of waxed paper and frozen. Makes 12.

 

Crepes with a vanilla caramel drizzle

Crepes with a vanilla caramel drizzle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vanilla Caramel

I made a light caramel sauce for the crepes. I just put 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan with a cup of sugar. Boiled it all together for about 3 minutes. Removed from the heat and added a teaspoon of vanilla, 4 tablespoons of butter and a 1/4 cup of half and half. Stirred until smooth, then added a pinch of salt, for extra flavor.

Peach Liqueur

Homemade Peach Liqueur

I like to think of making fruit liqueurs, as just one more type of food preservation. I make jams and jelly with seasonal fruit, so why not preserve some of summer’s bounty in alcohol?

Peach liqueur is one of my favorites. Pretty simple, really. Just combine peaches with vodka (or brandy) and allow the mixture to steep. After a week or two, strain it. After straining out the fruit, I also filter the liqueur through either coffee filters or cheesecloth to get it nice and clear.

Sweetening is optional. Unsweetened, it is called a Peach Eau de vie, which translates into water of life. Got to love the French!!! Sweetened, it is a liqueur.

Poured into pretty bottles, these liqueurs can make fun gifts, too.

 

 

Peach Liqueur

10 medium sized, ripe peaches
3 c. vodka or brandy
1 c. sugar syrup – optional – recipe follows*

Peel and pit peaches reserving only the fruit. Place in jar with the alcohol and steep at least a week, shaking several times. You can leave the fruit in for up to two weeks. Strain, squeezing out as much juice from the fruit as possible. Filter through cheesecloth, fine mesh strainer or coffee filters for a clearer product. Add sugar syrup, if desired,  and mature 4-6 weeks. Makes 4 cups.

*Sweetening– Simple syrup is made from 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil, then cool. You will have 1 cup of syrup. Some recipes call for plain sugar and others for honey. Watch when you substitute honey for sugar, as it is sweeter and stronger flavored. Better to use orange or clover honey.

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Ah, that time of year when there are more zucchini than people in the country. I read that once. That in August, there are more zucchini than people. I am inclined to believe that. I didn’t even grow zucchini this year and I have a bumper crop!!! Thanks to my cousin Laurie, I have an abundant supply of beautiful summer squash.

So, I have started cooking with them…..

These are wonderfully spiced, moist cupcakes. Instead of frosting them, I decided to top them with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.  It’s something I’ve done with muffins, in the past. I didn’t see why I couldn’t do the same thing with cupcakes.

I am glad I did. The flavor was great and I didn’t miss the frosting at all. These were packed up for a short road trip. It has been very warm, and the frosting would have melted.  Of course, you can frost them, if you prefer.

 

 

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
¼ c. unsweetened cocoa
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup olive oil
1½ c. sugar
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk
1½ t. vanilla
2½ c. grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
Topping:
½ c. butter, melted
½ c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. Mix together the dry ingredients. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, olive oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture, just until incorporated. Stir in the grated zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Dip top of cupcakes in melted butter, then dip in the cinnamon sugar. Place on rack to finish cooling off. Makes 24.

Giant Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Let me be clear. The bread is normal size- the zucchini are giant. Even the most diligent of gardeners will have a few zucchini get away from them. Zucchini seem to go from too small to gigantic in the blink of an eye. My cousin Laurie just brought me a big bag of really big zucchini.

This time of year I get a lot of questions about overgrown zucchini.  People seem to think there is nothing you can do with them. That’s not true. Oh you may want to give up the idea of thin slices of squash, lightly sauteed in oil, but don’t toss them. Even older squash can be eaten in all sorts of ways.

You can determine if the skin is too tough to eat by trying to pierce it with a fingernail. If you can easily poke the skin- it is tender enough to eat. If it isn’t, just peel before using.  Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and look at the seed cavity. If the middle looks spongy, hollow or if the seeds are developing scoop out the middle and discard. The remaining zucchini can be cubed or sliced and added to stews, soups, stir fries and all sorts of dishes.

One of my favorite things to make with the bigger zucchini, is zucchini bread. I shred up a whole zucchini and portion it out in amounts I will need for my bread. I freeze what I won’t be using that day. It is really nice in the dead of winter to be able to make zucchini bread. Here is the recipe I use. It is a favorite and makes 2 loaves, which is a bonus.

 

Zucchini Bread

3 c. flour

3 eggs

2 c. sugar, I use less

2 c. shredded zucchini

1 c. oil

1 c. chopped nuts or raisins, optional

½ c. sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 t. each vanilla, cinnamon, salt and baking soda

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 (9×5 inch) loaf pans. Set aside. Place flour in large bowl. Beat eggs and add with remaining ingredients to flour, mixing well and scraping bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 1 hour , or until browned and toothpick in center emerges clean. Cool in pans on wire rack. Freezes well. Makes 2 .

Mushroom Lovers Pasta

Mushroom Lovers Pasta

It would be hard to fit more mushrooms into this dish. I started by making fresh pasta and included mushroom powder in the dough. Then I sauteed up onions, garlic and a pound of fresh mushrooms for the sauce. My dinner guest loved it, and so did I.

Start by making the pasta dough. It has to rest before rolling. It will only take a couple of minutes to cook. I rolled and cut the pasta, then set it aside. Once my sauce was ready, I boiled the pasta and added it to the sauce.

I think the only thing I forgot, was to dust the top of the dish with mushroom powder before serving. I served it as a side dish, but it could easily be a main dish. I used a combination of button and Crimini mushrooms. Use what mushrooms you like.

So, we will start with the recipe for the mushroom pasta.

Mushroom  Pasta

 

3 c. flour, more if using electric pasta machine. See note.

½ c. mushroom powder- made from dried mushrooms*

1½ t. salt

4 eggs

Water, as needed

 

Mix flour, mushroom powder and salt. Stir in eggs, kneading until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough will be very stiff. Add a little water, as needed, to hold dough together. You may wish to mix the dough in a mixer or food processor. Cover dough and let rest  at least 15-20 minutes before rolling. Under kneading your dough will result in coarse, crumbly pasta. This batch makes about 1 pound. Serves 4-6.

 

Roll dough out on a well-floured board or with a pasta machine until desired thickness in reached. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into strips or whatever shapes are desired. You might want to let the noodles dry 1-hour or more before cooking, but this is not necessary. Pasta can be hung to dry or separated and allowed to dry flat on a table. When pasta is not hanging to dry it must be turned occasionally to dry evenly. Although you may hear otherwise, homemade pasta, even when dried, should be frozen for long term storage. Storing at room temperature can lead to spoilage. Fresh pasta can also be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.

Cooking fresh pasta happens quickly. For most noodles you are looking at 2-3 minutes at the most. Thicker cuts and ravioli would take a little longer. Watch it carefully. Drain after cooking, and toss with your favorite sauce.

Mushroom powder

*You might be tempted to powder up some store bought dried mushrooms. I would advise against that. Commercially dried mushrooms have not been washed before drying, so you might get dirt in your mushroom powder. I clean my mushrooms thoroughly before dehydrating.

Note: All electric pasta machines vary slightly and you should use their recipes as much as possible. Still, for most models, adding 1/4 c. flour for each cup in a hand rolled recipe works the best. Also recipes that contain seeds and vegetables may clog an electric pasta maker. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

 

The Mushroom Sauce

3 T. oil- I used avocado, but olive oil would be nice, too

3 c. sliced onions

4-5 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced

4 T. flour

1 c. chicken stock, or a bit more

1 c. half and half

salt and pepper to taste

2 t. fresh thyme leaves

Heat oil in a very large skillet and saute onions until golden. add the garlic and cook another minute. add the mushroom and cook until mushroom are tender. Mushrooms have a lot of water in them. Don’t freak if you start to get some in your pan. Add flour and stir until smooth. Stir in stock, half and half and seasonings. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is thickened and bubbly. You might want a little more stock, if you like a thinner sauce. remember, the pasta will absorb some of the liquid, too.

Cook mushroom pasta. I only boiled mine for a minute, then drained it and added it to the mushroom sauce. Toss the pasta and sauce together. Keep on low heat for a minute or two before serving. Serves 4-6.

Spiced Blackberry Muffins

Spiced Blackberry Muffins

Sometimes, little things can just improve your day. For me, it was starting the day with a mug of raspberry tea and a warm blackberry muffin. I had some beautiful fresh blackberries, and decided to make muffins with some of them. So happy that I did.

 

I used a recipe I had made before, but decided to add cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter. I also dipped the tops of the warm muffins in melted butter and a spiced sugar mixture to finish them off. So good. So very, very good.

 

 

 

Spiced Blackberry Muffins

 1 c. milk

1 egg

¼ c. oil

2 c. flour

1/3 c. sugar

1 T. Baking powder

¾ t. salt

½ t. each cinnamon and nutmeg

1 c. blackberries, I used fresh but frozen would work, too.

Topping:

1/2 c. sugar

1 t. each cinnamon and nutmeg

4 T. butter, melted

Beat together milk, egg and oil. Combine dry ingredients and add to milk mixture, stirring to just moisten flour. Fold in blackberries. Fill 12 paper lined muffin cups to 3/4 full.  Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Combine sugar and spices in a small bowl. Place melted butter in another bowl. When muffins are removed from the oven carefully dip the top of a muffin in the melted butter and then in the spiced sugar. If muffins are too hot to hold wait a few minutes before dipping. Repeat with remaining muffins. Serve warm. Makes 12.

Fresh Blackberry Scones

Fresh Blackberry Scones

I was recently given some beautiful blackberries. I decided to make scones with some of them. Warm from the oven, with a cup of coffee, these are hard to beat.

While scones are traditionally served for breakfast or brunch, I often use them in a dessert. These scones make a great shortcake.

For dinner with a friend, I split the scones and filled them with some sliced peaches. I had tossed the peaches with a little sugar and some vanilla.  We topped them off with a scoop of ice cream. Blackberry and peach shortcakes- bliss. 🙂

For shortcakes, just split scones add fill with some seasonal fruit, sweetened, if you like. Top with ice cream or whipped cream. Easy dessert and very tasty.

Here is the recipe for the scones.

Fresh Blackberry Scones

 2 c. flour

1/3 c. sugar

1 T. baking powder

¾ t.  salt

6 T. chilled butter

2 c. blackberries, fresh preferred, but you could use frozen

1 t. orange zest

2 large eggs

1/3 c. heavy cream or half and half

Mix dry ingredients together in bowl and cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Toss in berries and zest. Beat together eggs and cream and stir into flour mixture. Mix very gently to avoid bruising berries. Use 1/2 cup ice cream scoop to scoop batter onto a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with a little extra sugar, if you like. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 22-24 minutes. Makes 10-12.

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

This is a great recipe for some of those fresh tomatoes. A simple soup, with lots of flavor, it is a favorite of mine. So much better than the canned tomato soup of my childhood.

I enjoy it served hot, but I also eat this soup cold. On a  hot day, this soup, served chilled, is a wonderful change from a salad with dinner.

I prefer to use fresh tomatoes, but I have used my home canned tomatoes, in a pinch. If you want a stronger tomato flavor- use a couple extra tomatoes.

 

 

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

 3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 rib celery, chopped fine

3 whole cloves

1 small bay leaf

3 T. butter

3 T. flour

1 t. salt

3 c. milk or half and half

 

Peel and chop tomatoes. Place tomatoes in saucepan with onion, celery, cloves and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and cover, simmering 15 minutes. Melt butter in a large saucepan then stir in flour and salt. Cook mixture until bubbly. Add milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Puree tomato mixture through a strainer, food mill or in a blender or processor. Add to milk mixture and heat through. Serves 6.

Classic Pesto Sauce

Classic Pesto Sauce

I can’t make pesto without wanting to call it green spaghetti. I had friends over for dinner one night. Their son was about 4 at the time. I had made pesto and tossed it over hot spaghetti. The little boy wasn’t quite sure about the big, green plate of pasta. He did agree to try it. Turned out he really liked it, and after that, when he came for dinner, he would ask for “Aunt Judi’s green spaghetti”.

 

Pesto is most often made with basil, but there are a lot of variations out there. I must admit to being a big fan of the original. I make it often when I have fresh basil. I also freeze basil with olive oil, so I can make it all year long. Pesto can be tossed with pasta, rice, potatoes or other veggies. I also like it on chicken.

 

Pesto Sauce

1 c. tightly packed basil leaves
1/4 c. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1/2 c. pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts
1 c. fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients, except the cheese, in a blender and mix until smooth. Stir in the cheese and toss over hot, cooked pasta or use as a sauce on meat and poultry. Sauce will keep a few days in the fridge and makes about 1 1/2 cups, enough for 1 lb. of cooked pasta.

My Favorite Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Frosting on a Chocolate Cupcake

When a friend asked for something chocolate for her birthday dessert, I knew I was going to make cupcakes. I also knew what frosting I was going to make to top them.

This frosting is really wonderful. Creamy, full of chocolate flavor and not too sweet. Dark chocolate is melted, then little cubes of cold butter are beaten in. The frosting is finished with some powdered sugar and a little vanilla.

Super simple to make, but so good. I used dark chocolate chips, but any dark or bittersweet chocolate could be used. If you are using a solid block of chocolate, break it up into pieces before melting. You can melt chocolate over a double boiler, or use your microwave. I used my microwave. I heated the chocolate for one minute, stirred it and heated 30 seconds longer. Be careful not to burn the chocolate, when using a microwave.

There is plenty of frosting to ice 24 cupcakes. You could frost up to 30 cupcakes, if you use less.

 

Here is the recipe.

 

My Favorite Chocolate Frosting

 

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate – you can use dark chocolate chips

1 c. cold butter, cut into cubes

1 c. powdered sugar- or a little more- if you like

2 t. vanilla

 

Melt chocolate and place in a mixing bowl. Let cool 2 minutes. With electric mixer on high speed, beat in the butter bits, adding about ¼ of them at a time. Beat until butter is melted, and incorporated into the chocolate. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat a few minutes, until frosting is creamy and smooth. Makes enough to generously frost an 8 or 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes.

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