recipe

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.

Peachy Chef Salad

Peachy Chef Salad

When you think about cooking with peaches, don’t limit yourself to desserts and jam. Peaches can pair well with savory dishes, too. I often use peaches for glazes and sauces for meats.

In this dish, I paired peaches with traditional chef salad ingredients. I tossed the peaches in a homemade honey French dressing, then spooned them over the salad. The result was wonderful- and a great lunch or dinner option for hot weather.

You can top the salad with cheese, meats or both. I like to add some nuts, too. I made it for lunch today and topped the salad with sharp cheddar cheese and bacon. I really liked the combination of the sweet fruit with the smoky bacon. Use what you like- and what you have on hand. A chef salad is a great way to use up that leftover grilled chicken or that open package of cheese. Add extra veggies, too, if you like.

 

 

Peachy Chef Salad

Honey French Dressing:
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 t. paprika
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. olive oil

3 cups chopped peaches

Salad:

6 c. torn salad greens
12 oz. cooked chicken, turkey, ham etc, cut into strips
1 c. cubed cheese

1/2 c. cashews, optional

To make the dressing, in blender, combine first five ingredients and start running machine on high. Add oil in a slow stream until mixture becomes thickened. Pour into bowl and stir in peaches and chill, several hours if you can. When ready to serve arrange greens on one large platter or on smaller salad plates. Arrange meat and cheese on platter or plates. Spoon over the peach/dressing mixture, add cashews, then serve. Serves 4-6.

 

Peachy Chef Salad with Cheese and Bacon

Peachy Chef Salad with Cheese and Bacon

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

I love peaches. For me, peaches always mean summer. My peaches aren’t ripe yet, but I found some at a produce market recently. They were nearly ripe, so I put them in a brown paper bag to help them finish ripening. A few days later, I have a bunch of super tasty, juicy peaches.

Since it is going to be unseasonably warm for the next week, I decided to use some to make ice cream.  I added some vanilla and orange zest for some extra flavor- but mostly just plenty of peaches.

 

Homemade Peach Ice Cream

3-4 ripe peaches

2 c. half and half

1 c. sugar, or to taste

1 T. vanilla

1 T.  orange zest

Peel and dice peaches. Cook in a small amount of water and a little sugar until tender. If you don’t precook the peaches they will be icy and hard in the ice cream. Cool and drain. In bowl combine half and half and sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Place in ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s directions. If you don’t have an ice cream maker place mixture in a shallow pan and freeze solid. Remove from freezer and allow to soften a little at room temperature then break up into chunks and place in a mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer until smooth and return to freezer. Makes 1 quart.

Chicken with Cherry Mustard Sauce

Chicken with Cherry Mustard Sauce

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits to cook with. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating cherries fresh. I bake with them and make sweet treats like jam. But, cherries are so wonderful when combined with different proteins. I love to pair cherries with duck, pork and chicken.

 

I think cherries add a special touch when added to main dishes. I have used them in any number of sauces, glazes, chutneys and marinades over the years.

 

This time, I was looking for a way to dress up some chicken. I remembered that I had a pound of cherries in the fridge. I made the cherry mustard sauce while the chicken was baking. Here is what I did.

 

Chicken with Cherry Mustard Sauce

 

To prepare the chicken: I had about 3 lbs. of bone-in chicken pieces. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and placed them in a 400-degree oven. I knew the chicken would take about 45-50 minutes to cook. I made the sauce while the chicken was cooking- sauce recipe follows. When the sauce was done, I left it in the skillet while the chicken finished cooking.

When I took the chicken out of the oven, I removed the pieces from the roasting pan and placed them skin side down in the skillet with the cherry sauce. I turned the heat onto medium-high and turned the chicken a few times until both sides were coated from the cherry sauce and the sauce had sort of glazed the chicken.

This would be a nice sauce to finish off grilled or broiled chicken, too.

 

Cherry Mustard Sauce

 

3 T. oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. cherries, pitted and halved

½ c. apple cider vinegar

¼ c. brown sugar

3 T. Dijon mustard

1 t. celery seed

1 t. hot sauce, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In large skillet, heat oil and cook onions until tender. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add the cherries and cook over medium- high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and turn heat down to medium. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Adjust seasonings. This sauce can be used to glaze meats, or served on the side. I used it with chicken, but it would be wonderful with duck, turkey or pork, too. Makes about 3 cups of cherry sauce.

 

 

 

Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Why did it take me so long to make peanut butter ice cream? I love peanut butter and I make ice cream pretty often. I just never thought of putting those two things together.

I kept it simple, and was really happy with the results. I wanted a strong peanut butter flavor- so I used a whole cup of peanut butter in the recipe. It worked out fine. Creamy and rich, but not too heavy. I thought about adding chocolate chips or maybe a swirl of jelly, but decided to leave the ice cream alone this first batch. I did serve it with homemade hot fudge sauce- recipe follows. I could see using this ice cream as the filling in ice cream sandwiches. I think I might use almond butter in the next batch.

 

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

1 c. peanut butter

2/3 c. sugar, or to taste – I was using natural peanut butter that had no sugar in it

2 c. whipping cream – you could use some half and half, if you prefer

1 t. vanilla

In medium bowl, combine peanut butter with the sugar, stirring until smooth. Add the whipping cream and vanilla and stir until well blended. Chill mixture. Pour chilled peanut butter mixture into ice cream machine and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once firm, transfer to a container with a lid and place in freezer until ready to use. Makes about 1 qt.

Hot Fudge Sauce

1 c. cocoa

¾ c. sugar

½ c. brown sugar

1/8 t. salt

1-c. heavy or whipping cream

½ c. butter, cut into pieces

1 t. vanilla extract

 

In saucepan , stir together dry ingredients then stir in cream and butter. Heat to boiling and boil 1 minute. Remove from heat, cool 5 minutes and stir in vanilla. Warm up before using. Store leftovers in fridge. Makes 2 ½ cups.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream- topped with homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Peanut Butter Ice Cream- topped with homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

Chilled Beet and Watermelon Soup

Chilled Beet and Watermelon Soup

Rather than start dinner with a salad- why not try a cold soup instead? It’s been very hot around here lately, and a cold soup sounded good to me. This is a great first course for a hot day. Or, a perfect lunch.

I got this recipe from a friend of a friend. I tweaked it a little from the original, but it is pretty much the same. It is  simple to make and full of flavor.

The sweetness of the watermelon, pairs nicely with the earthy flavor of the beets. The mint also adds a nice little pop of flavor. The color is pretty cool, too. I shared this recipe with a friend and she said she just drinks it like a smoothie. You can easily make bigger or smaller batches. Just start with equal amounts of watermelon and beets. Thin it down with a little stock, until it gets to the consistency you like. The soup will keep in the fridge for several days and freezes well.

You don’t have to serve it just at dinner or even just for lunch.  I actually have eaten it for breakfast, too.

 

Chilled Beet and Watermelon Soup

2 cups diced beet (cooked)

2 cups diced seedless watermelon

a few sprigs of mint

Put in blender

Add Chicken or Vegetable stock to taste/consistency

Add salt if desired

Dollop with Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt, if desired.

Garnish with fresh mint.

With any cold soup- chill well after you make it. You might even want to chill the bowls and spoons.

Strawberry Lemonade

Strawberry Lemonade

I love this “pink” lemonade. The lovely blush comes from strawberries, not artificial color. The strawberries add more than just color- they add their wonderful flavor as well.

 

This is a great drink for hot summer days. Heck, I think its a good drink anytime. You don’t have limit yourself to lemonade. I have also made a pink limeade which is also very tasty.

The strawberry seeds will settle to the bottom of the pitcher- so be careful when pouring out the last bit of lemonade. No one wants a mouth full of seeds.

 

Here is the recipe. I have also included some helpful information when buying strawberries.

 

Strawberry Lemonade

7 c. water

1¼ c.   sugar

1¼ c. lemon juice

2-3 c. fresh strawberries, washed and stemmed

In a pitcher, combine water with sugar and lemon juice and stir until sugar dissolves. Place berries in blender and add about 2 cups of the lemonade. Process until strawberries are pureed. Add strawberry mixture to the remaining lemonade. Chill before serving. Serve over ice, garnishing with whole berries, if desired. Watch as seeds will accumulate on the bottom of the pitcher.

 

 

Shopping Tip

When berries are priced by weight or volume it is not always easy to decide which is the best price. If one store has quarts for $2 and another had berries for $2 per pound where would you get the better deal? Also, if a recipes calls for 4 cups sliced berries how many do you need to buy? Here are some approximate guidelines.

3/4 lb. = 1 full pint

1 1/2 lbs. = 1 full quart

1 1/2 lbs. = 4 cups sliced

1 lb. frozen = 1 1/3 c. whole berries

To help your berries last longer soak them in a water/vinegar solution for a few minutes as soon as you get them home. Then just drain and put in the fridge. This will keep them from getting mold as quickly. I use 1/2 cup of vinegar and 4 cups of water.

 

 

Hidden Treasure Strawberry Pie

Hidden Treasure Strawberry Pie

This pie has it all. Fresh strawberries, glazed and sitting on a flaky crust. But it doesn’t stop there. The crust is topped with chocolate and a layer of sweetened cream cheese. The chocolate and cheese are under the berries. They provide a wonderful surprise when eating the pie. The chocolate is such a natural match for the strawberries. The cream cheese gives a little “cheesecake” feel.  In the end, the combination works perfectly together.

During strawberry season, I enjoy so many different dishes made with fresh berries. Fresh strawberry pie is always going to be a favorite. I try to make different versions and this one was definitely a version I will make again.

 Hidden Treasure Strawberry Pie

 

1 9-inch pie crust * recipe follows

1 c. chocolate chips

1 T. butter

1 qt. strawberries (1¼ lbs.), hulled

1 c. sugar

2 T. cornstarch

¼ c. water

1 T. butter

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

½ c. powdered sugar

Whipped cream, optional

 

Using a pie pan, roll out your crust and fit it into the pan- trim off any excess. Pre-bake your crust. To do this: The prepared pie crust should be pricked all over with a fork. Cover the surface with foil and then pie weights. I use dry beans for my pie weights. Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees. Bake crust for 15-20 minutes. Check to be sure it doesn’t get too brown. Remove weights and foil. Melt chocolate chips and butter together, stirring until smooth. Pour over crust and use a spatula to spread into a thin layer on the bottom and, if you like, up the sides of the crust. Set aside and allow crust to cool and chocolate to set up. Select about 25-30 berries to be placed in pie crust, large side down, and set aside. You might need fewer berries, if they are really big. Puree or crush remaining berries. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch with water and stir until smooth. Add to the strawberry mixture and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and gets clear. Simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Set aside. Place cream cheese in a bowl and beat in the powdered sugar. Spread cheese over the chocolate layer. Arrange the reserved berries on the cheese layer, pointy side up. Put the largest berry in the middle and arrange the rest around it decoratively. Spoon the puree over the berries and allow the pie to cool down a little before putting in the fridge. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Note: other berries can also be used including raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, or a combination. This recipe can also be used as a filling for tarts and tartlets.

 

Half and Half Dough*

 

This is a great crust for liquid fillings like custard type pies and fresh fruit pies.

¼ c. butter, room temp

½ c. shortening, room temp- you can use lard instead

¼ c. sugar

½ t. salt

2½ c. pastry or all purpose flour

1/8 t. baking powder

¼ c. milk

1 t. lemon juice

Cream together the first 4 ingredients until smooth. Mix together the flour and baking powder. Set aside. Combine milk with the juice and set aside. Stir ½ c. of the flour into butter mixture. Stir until smooth. Add a little of the milk, stirring until smooth. Add remaining ingredients alternately until finished. Dough will firm up once chilled. Chill at least 4 hours before using. Makes 2 crusts. You only need half the dough for the strawberry pie.

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

I had some fresh asparagus and wanted to make something special with it for dinner. I decided to make a quiche. I had just baked a strawberry pie- and had an extra crust. I also had some ham, so combining the two ingredients in a quiche seemed like a good idea. It was a very good decision.

 

Quiches are so versatile. You can fill them with almost any ingredients. They can also be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. You can also bake it right away, or freeze it for later. I often make two quiches, just so I can freeze one for later use.

 

The mix of ham, asparagus and Havarti cheese worked well together. You could use any number of cheeses that you like. Swiss would be nice, Gruyere or even a sharp cheddar.

 

I use a homemade crust, but you can use a store bought crust, if you prefer.

 

 

 

Ham and Asparagus Quiche

 

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust

1½ c. shredded cheese – I used Havarti

4 t. flour

1½ c. diced cooked ham or turkey ham

12 oz. asparagus, trimmed, cut in ½- inch pieces and steamed 3 minutes

4 eggs

1 c. milk or half and half

2 T. fresh chopped parsley or 2 teaspoons dried

¼ t. salt

1T. Dijon mustard

1 t.  hot sauce

 

Toss cheese with flour in a bowl and place in pie crust. Sprinkle the ham and asparagus over the cheese and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl beating well to combine. Pour over the ham and asparagus mixture and bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn down heat to 350-degrees and bake until knife inserted off-center comes out clean, about 30 minutes more. Makes 1.

 

Note: This quiche freezes well. After adding the fillings just wrap in heavy foil and freeze solid until ready to bake. When ready to bake unwrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Bake as with the fresh version, but add another 10-15 minutes to the baking time. If you don’t want to freeze the pie pan, you can line the pie pan with foil before you add the crust. Once it is frozen you can remove the frozen quiche from the pie pan and wrap, returning to freezer. When ready to use unwrap and put the quiche back in the pie pan before baking.

 

You can also use a foil pie pan.

Fresh from the oven

 

 

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Strawberry Vanilla Jam

Once you taste homemade jam, you will understand why it is worth the effort to make your own. Homemade jams, preserves and jellies are a great way to save seasonal fruits to enjoy all year. They also make nice gifts.

One of my favorite homemade jams is strawberry. I like the addition of some vanilla to my strawberry jam. I think it adds an additional layer of flavor, without covering up the natural beauty of the berries.

I try to make enough to last all year, but I end up running out quickly. This jam is great on toast, but also a nice addition to several desserts I make.

With local berries in season now, it is a perfect time to make a batch, or two.

In grocery stores, berries are often sold in one pound packages, not in quarts. A quart of strawberries should weigh 1 1/4 pounds. That should help you figure out how many berries you will need.

 

Here is the recipe.

 

Strawberry-Vanilla Jam

 

2 qts. strawberries, stemmed, washed and crushed

2 T. pure vanilla

1 package dry pectin

1/4 c. lemon juice

7 cups sugar

Combine  berries, vanilla, pectin and lemon juice in large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.  Add sugar and turn heat up to high. Stir often until mixture comes to a boil. Boil hard one minute stirring constantly. Ladle hot jam in to jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Wipe rims and screw on lids comfortably tight. Place in boiling water bath and process 5 minutes. Remove to cooling rack, towel or wooden surface to cool. Makes 8-9 half pints.

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