Squash Verole

IMG_3111There are so many ways to enjoy summer squash!  I used my 8 inch iron skillet to make this delicious Mexican flavored crookneck squash, a real treat along with some fresh purple hull peas.  I found the recipe in an all time favorite cookbook, The Texas Experience, Friendship and Food Texas Style. I use the cookbook so often the back is coming off and the pages are loose, and I always smile when I see my friend’s handwriting inside the front cover:  “To my best friend with much love, Merry Christmas 1984  Sondra.

It has been almost 30 years since we lived near each other, but I still miss her, and every time we talk, we pick back up where we left off!  Thank you, Sondra.  For the book, and for the friendship!

Squash Verole

4-6 yellow squash, sliced into rounds

1 onion, choed

4 tablespoons oil of your choice (I used coconut)

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped green chiles

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated.

Saute squash and onion in oil until tender.  Add milk, chilies, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. Remove fro heat and add cheese. Serve hot.

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Blueberry Muffins

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Fresh blueberries usually disappear before I have a chance to cook with them, because we love them fresh, with yogurt, and in smoothies. But prices have been good lately and I decided to use some of the most recent purchase making these fresh blueberry muffins. These were wonderful fresh from the oven, but this makes a large batch, so I stored them in the refrigerator for breakfasts and snacks. This recipe has more berries than most, so they are moist, full of berry goodness, and a little crumbly – yum!

Blueberry Muffins

12  cup butter, at room temp

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons baking powder

1teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

1cup milk

2 1cups fresh blueberries

1 Tablepoon sugar and 1.2 teaspoon nutmeg for topping

Heat oven to 375°. Mix 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg for topping and set aside.

Grease 18 regular-size muffin cups  In bowl, mix butter and sugar until creamy.Add eggs one at a time, then beat in vanilla, baking powder and salt.

Fold in half of flour, followed by half of milk. Repeat for other half. Fold in blueberries.

Spoon into muffin cups and sprinkle topping  onto each muffin.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and test done..

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Fig and Apple Chutney

IMG_2836One of summer’s gifts comes to us from the fig tree in our garden. When its fruit begins to ripen around the first week in July, it seems as if its branches will break from the hundreds of green figs. The foliage is so dense that I really have to work at finding the blushing fruit whose softening texture and slight bent on the stem say “pick me” even more than the color. This year because we had such a wet June, the harvest began a bit sooner. Picking twice a day can be a chore, especially as the temperatures rise.  We have many ways we like to use the figs, but because I know we won’t use all of them, I start giving bags away to those I know love figs, and try to make at least one batch of fig chutney.  This year, the figs I used for a small batch were almost the last to ripen.  Because of the sudden extreme heat, the tree went into preservation mode and all the green figs on the tree stopped ripening, hardened, and began to drop.  Even though we watered heavily, there were no more ripe figs.  So the few little jars of fig and apple chutney will have to do. It is some of the best I have made, so I will certainly try the recipe again next year.

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Fig and Apple Chutney

1 pound of fresh figs

2 apples 1

1 1/4 cup of sugar

1 / 2 cup cider vinegar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Clean the figs and halve or quarter depending on size. Peel and cut apples into cubes. Put everything in a saucepan with sugar, vinegar, spices and salt. Heat until boiling. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Ladle the hot chutney in sterilized jars. Close immediately. Turn the jars over until completely cooled. Best after 2 or 3 days. I store mine in the refrigerator.

Tarragon Chicken

IMG_3031My neighbor brought me a wonderful gift last week. She knocked on my front door and I opened it to find her smiling and holding out a bunch of sweet-smelling herbs from her garden, all tied up with yellow ribbon. Since tarragon is difficult to grow in this part of Texas I substitute an easier to grow herb, Mexican MInt Marigold, in my own garden so this was a real treat!  Tarragon is called the “King of Herbs” by the French, and with good reason. It is the main flavoring in many of the sauces that form the foundation of classic French cuisine. I understand that Tarragon Chicken was one of Jackie Kennedy’s favorite dishes (Another neighbor years ago gave me a cookbook titled Cooking for Madam, written by the woman who began as nanny and became the Kennedy’s housekeeper and cook.).

Tarragon Chicken

3  large unpeeled garlic cloves

4 small skinless boneless chicken breast halves 

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Heat small cast iron skillet, add garlic and cook, turning occasionally  until browned in spots and tender when pierced with knife tip. Remove to cool.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Melt butter in larger skillet. Add chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate but do not clean skillet, as browned bits will be deglazed by wine, adding delicious flavor to sauce.
 Peel garlic. Add garlic and wine to same skillet; cook until reduced by about half, mashing garlic finely with fork, about 1 minute. Add broth and tarragon; simmer until liquid is reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cream and simmer to thicken slightly, about 1 minute. Return chicken to skillet with any accumulated juices. Simmer to heat through, turning occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate; spoon sauce over. Serve with rice.

Eggplant Involtini

IMG_2845A friend from church recently  brought me some vegetables from his garden which included several lovely Japanese eggplants so I made these rollups.  The time spent in preparation was well worth the finished dish!

Eggplant Involtini

3 Tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing on parchment to line the baking sheet

2 medium Japanese eggplant, ends trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise

1 Tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 28 ounce  can diced tomatoes, with liquid mostly drained and reserved for other use

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

10-12 slices of thin sliced deli ham

10-12 slices whole milk mozzarella (I use the ready sliced logs of mozzarella, not sandwich slices)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the slices of eggplant on the parchment paper, brushing both sides with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with oregano, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, turning once. This will make eggplant slices soft and easy to roll.

While eggplant is in the oven, saute onion for 3 minutes in the remaining olive oil. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add drained tomatoes then saute for 2 or 3 minutes.

When eggplant has baked, remove from oven and lower the oven temperature to 350.  On each eggplant slice, place a slice of ham and a slice of mozzarella. Roll the pieces from the small end forward and secure the bundle with a toothpick.

Put about a cup of the tomato sauce in  the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish, then arrange involtini in dish, seam side down.  Over each bundle, spread some of the tomato mixture, then sprinkle shredded mozzarella over all. Place in oven to warm for 15 minutes before serving.

Chicken Fricasee

IMG_2762An old fashioned and very French dish, Chicken Fricasee has been called a serving of history! Recipes exist that are said to have been served to Abraham Lincoln. Julia Child and other famous chefs made it. It is not often seen on restaurant menus now, and I had never eaten Chicken Fricasee much less prepared it, but I like saying the name and I was intrigued enough to try it. It was a great success in the Parker house, and has gone on our list of keepers. This is my version, but I found the recipe I started from in Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s Ultimate Cookbook. Once more, this was a matter of wanting to use ingredients I already had:  chicken thighs, leeks, and mushrooms! This is a fine entree to serve dinner guests.

Chicken Fricasee

3 Tablespoons butter

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 strips bacon, chopped

2 leeks, trimmed, washed, and sliced

8 ounces brown mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 teaspoon dried French tarragon (I used Penzey’s)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon flour

3 cups white wine

In large heavy soup pot, melt butter, add chicken thighs and brown on both sides, turning occasionally. Do this in batches to avoid crowding.

While chicken is browning, add bacon pieces to an iron skillet, cook until browned Add leeks and stir while cooking about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms to this mixture, stir and cook until their liquid cooks off, about 5 more minutes.  Sprinkle tarragon, salt, cloves, and pepper over vegetable mixture and stir briefly.  Sprinkle on flour, stir, and cook for a few seconds but do not brown flour. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the wine while and scraping up browned bits from pan. When simmering, add to chicken pieces in large pot while stirring with remaining wine.  Combine well, bring to simmer and allow to continue cooking for 30 minutes, or until chicken meat is very tender. Serve over white rice.

Pasta Caprese

IMG_2752A combination of two of our favorite summer salads, Pasta Caprese is perfect for Sunday lunch after church, for taking to a potluck, or as a side to serve with grilled meats or fish. We make a wide variety of pasta salads using ingredients that are in the pantry or frig. An all time favorite is Caprese made with fresh garden tomatoes, basil, and a slice of whole milk Mozarella. For this bowl of combined flavors, I use canned tomatoes and grated Mozarella, but you could also chop fresh tomatoes and/or use little Mozarella balls to make it even better. This recipe makes a large amount. Can be made ahead.

Caprese Pasta Salad

1 pound tube pasta such as penne or gemelli

1 28 ounce can or box of diced tomatoes, drained (reserve liquid for later use)

2 cups shredded mozarella

fresh basil leaves , shredded (I used a large bunch, but add this to taste)

sea salt and pepper,

1 cup balsamic vinaigrette

Cook pasta to package directions, al dente. Drain past, add to large bowl, and add drained tomatoes, shredded basil, grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Toss and add balsamic vinaigrette

Breakfast Ramekin with Sherried Eggs and Ham

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Perfect for breakfasts for lazy Saturdays, times when there are guests in the house, or for a light meal any time of the day – this is a tasty individual dish that is something old and familiar and something with a new twist at the same time!

Once again, I found a great starting recipe in my copy of Breakfast in Bed which has recipes from Northern California to British Columbia B&B’s. This is a variation of a dish served at the North Coast Country Inn in Gualala, California.

Breakfast Ramekin with Sherried Eggs and Ham

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set desired number of buttered ramekins on baking sheet.  This recipe is for 2 individual servings, but may be multiplied by as many servings as you need.

3 Tablespoons finely chopped ham

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons half and half

2 teaspoons dry sherry

1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Worcestershire sauce

sea salt

black pepper

paprika

Put finely chopped ham in bottom of buttered ramekins, Break 2 eggs onto top of ham. In a small bowl, mix half and half, sherry, a dash each of Worcestershire sauce and Tobasco, salt, and pepper.  W ith a teaspoon, carefully drizzle this mixture (divided evenly) over top of eggs. Sprinkle with shredded cheese on each cup and sprinkle with paprika.  Bake about 20 minutes, or until eggs are set. Serve hot.

Zucchini Onion Pie

IMG_2701Summertime vegetables are best when cooked simply. Even though I prefer not to heat up the kitchen with baking, this veggie pie is a great one dish meal, delicious with a crisp salad for supper.  I like adding some color with slices of red pepper from our garden.

Zucchini Onion Pie

3 eggs

1 cup flaked or grated parmesan cheese

1 cup cooking oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 cups thinly sliced zuchinni

1 small onion, chopped

1 cup biscuit mix ( I used Cheddar Bay biscuit mix and loved it)

In a large bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients. Stir in the zucchini, baking mix and onion. Pour into a greased 9-in. deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 350° for 25-35 minutes or until lightly browned.Yield: 6 servings.

Southwestern Meatloaf

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We enjoyed a new twist on traditional meat loaf this week.  I have made meat loaf like Mother did (ground beef, tomato sauce, cracker crumbs, eggs, onion, and green pepper) as well as substituting bread crumbs or oatmeal  for the filler and different seasonings, but this spicy version is a keeper. Crushed tortilla chips and salsa make it a super quick and easy. I liked serving it with fresh roasted corn, black beans, and a garden salad.

IMG_2706Southwestern Meat Loaf

1/2 cup crushed tortilla chips

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 crushed and minced garlic cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup peach salsa (or salsa of your choice)

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup cup grated cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons spicy ketchup

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Heat oven to 350. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, crush tortilla chips in sandwich bag, add to mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, cumin,garlic and salsa and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes.  Add ground beef and cheese.  Mix well, shape into an oval, place in loaf pan, and bake for 50 minutes.  Mix ketchup and lime juice and spread over top of meat loaf, then return to oven for another 10 minutes.

I used some tasty peach salsa but you can use any salsa, preferably a chunky one. Turn up the heat by trying Chipotle or Habanero Salsa!