cherry street market –a wonderful fall experience

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Last Friday, we took a relaxing Fall drive Up North to Traverse City Michigan.  I certainly do love Northern Michigan and will never give up an opportunity to experience wonderful food, shopping, and of course the Lake.  The weather was lovely and the air was filled with the crisp cooler weather that has rolled into our state.  I enjoyed every minute of the day, especially my stop at the Cherry Street Market in Kalkaska. ( http://www.cherrystreetmarket.com/)

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The vegetables and fruits were overflowing the shelves into bushels and pecks for sale.  The apples, squash, concord grapes and pie pumpkins were beautiful.  I love everything about a farm market.  I love that it is outdoors. I also love that the produce looks and tastes better than anything available at any local grocery store.  The romaine lettuce is deep green.  The corn is super sweet.  The apples are crisp and perfect without any blemishes. I love that I don’t have to “pick through” the pile, because every specimen of fruit or vegetable is picture perfect.  The freshness factor is overflowing.

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I purchased two large bags brimming with fruits and vegetables for $17.  This amazes me, as produce is so expensive at the grocery store. The abundance is breathtaking and the atmosphere is charming.  I love the harvest season and everything about farm produce.  I encourage everyone to have a small garden.  For those items that cannot be grown at your home due to hours of sun available in your yard, or even just space, I encourage supporting local growers in your area.  I have never been disappointed with the quality or the selection at the end of a growing season.

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raspberry breakfast muffins

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Fresh raspberries are plentiful at the market, and I just couldn’t resist purchasing several packages.  Muffins made with fresh berries are sometimes a bit tricky, since there is so much moisture in the berries.  I looked through some of my cookbooks to find a recipe using fresh raspberries, and decided after some time to look online at Driscoll’s website for a suggestion. All of my cookbooks were recommending frozen berries, rather than fresh berries. Driscoll’s is the berry distributor.

At Driscoll’s, they had this recipe for breakfast muffins, and it suggested slightly freezing the berries before incorporating into the muffin batter.  I decided to try this technique and froze two packages of berries for 45 minutes in my freezer.

The muffins are delicious and the technique worked, though i still feel like the raspberries were soft while being blended into the batter.  However, I can’t imagine what they would have looked like if I had not frozen them for the short time frame.

To make these muffins:

Measure out 1 cup of granulated sugar and add onSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESe teaspoon of chopped lemon zest or dried lemon zest. If using fresh lemon zest, it is recommended to allow the sugar to absorb the flavor for several hours.

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Next, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and using about 3/4 cup of the sugar, coat the muffin cups.  Then, measure out 2 1/4 cups flour, adding these ingredients to the mixture:  2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the rest of the sugar.  Combine and add 1 stick of unsalted butter, cutting into the mixture until it is in small pieces.  I used my stand mixture to complete this step.

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In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup buttermilk, 2 large eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract together.  Add this liquid to the flour and sugar mixture and incorporate with the mixer.

To 1 3/4 cups of fresh raspberries, add 1/4 cup flour and mix together to coat the berries.  Next, add them to the batter, simply to mix in and not over beat.

Fill the muffin cups to the top and bake 10-15 minutes until the muffins are cooked through.  A cake tester may need to be used to make certain all of the moisture, from the berries, is baked into the muffin.  These muffins are very tasty and would be perfect for everyday or a special holiday breakfast or brunch.  The muffins are delicious when warm and can be microwaved to heat for ten to 20 seconds to gain that flavor boost.

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easy pralines

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When I lived in Charleston, I was given this recipe for easy pralines from a friend.  I made them many times over the years, and recently found the recipe again while going through one of my files.  It is a classic easy recipe with an upscale taste.  The key to the preparation is covering the sheet pan in foil, and then using a silicone baking mat under the graham crackers.  This allows for a very speedy clean up process.  The melted sugar is very sticky and difficult to clean after the pralines have cooled.  By using these techniques, the recipe becomes very manageable.

To make this recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place foil over a sheet pan.  Using a silicone mat on top of the foil layer, place graham cracker sections to cover the pan.  In a sauce pot on the stove top, melt 1 stick of margarine with 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of brown sugar.  Add a pinch of salt.  Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for two to three minutes, watching the pot very carefully so the mixture does not spill over. Pour the mixture over the graham crackers and cover with chopped pecans.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes.  When out of the oven, as the pralines cool, spoon some of the melted sugar over the graham crackers before they harden.  Separate the graham crackers, so that can be easily removed when cooled.

These pralines should be stored in the refrigerator to stiffen up prior to serving.  I keep mine in the refrigerator until serving time.  This recipe will make almost two sleeves of graham cracker sections.  Tip:  Don’t worry if the graham crackers do not break perfectly.  If desired, when baked, the graham cracker can be shaped with a knife to have sharp and clean edges for serving.

Serve with ice cream.

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fall squash casserole

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAnother fall comfort food which adapts well to a casserole dish is squash.  I recently tried making this dish with a mixture of zucchini and yellow squash.  It was very tasty and could be adapted to include other herbs and seasonings as desired. Over the years, I have used several recipes to perfect this dish.

This past week, I used chives, basil, thyme, salt and pepper for this dish. I had these herbs growing in my home garden.  This side dish could be served with any fish, chicken or beef entrée.  It is smooth and creamy.  And, is especially tasty for children who may not typically like to eat squash.

to make this recipe:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Precook the two cups of sliced squash on the stove top in a steamer.  When the squash is tender, add the following ingredients to combine:  1 egg, 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 1 1/2 cups of shredded white or yellow cheddar cheese, and herbs to taste.

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Place into a ceramic baking dish and top the casserole with 1/2 cup additional shredded cheese and a decoration of chives, thyme or parsley.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until browned. Serve while warm.  This dish will serve 6-8 guests.

 

twice baked potato casserole

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The chill is in the air.  Potato season is back.  Some of the best comfort foods feature potatoes, and this recipe should be classified as an all-time comfort food recipe.  It comes from Gooseberry Patch, which is a collection of recipes from home cooks around the country featured into categorized recipe books.

Twice baked potatoes are often served as individual portions, but this recipe suggests removing the potatoes, adding the usual ingredients, and then simply baking into a casserole for serving. The recipe was very easy.  I did not use bacon, which is a typical stuffed potato ingredient, but it can easily be added to the recipe.  In fact, I am sure it would make the recipe even more tasty.  I would use pre-cooked bacon crumbles found in the salad dressing aisle at the market.

To make this recipe:

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Choose 4-5 Idaho baking potatoes, wash and poke with a fork.  Bake for 60-90 minutes at 400 degrees, based on their size until done.  Slice the potatoes in half, remove the pulp into a bowl and mix with the following ingredients:  salt, pepper, 1/4 cup margarine, 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup sour cream, and 6 chopped green onions. Add other ingredients to personalize for your family–green or black olives, white cheddar cheese, bacon, chives, other herbs from the garden, and even browned mushrooms.

Using a hand-held mixer, cream into mashed potatoes.  Prepare a ceramic baking dish with Pam cooking spray.  Spoon the mixture into the dish.  Top with 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese and extra green onions or chives.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes until brown on top.    This recipe will serve 6-8 along with a dinner entrée.

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fall cinnamon apple bite-sized pies

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The Fall apples are being harvested and the markets are filled with the best selection of the year.  Some of my favorite desserts are prepared with apples.  My blog has featured many apple recipes over the past few years, some of which I make throughout the year.  Yes, I do love apples that much in dessert.

Recently, I found this recipe for bite-sized apple desserts.  So, when a slice of pie is just too much or too many calories, consider this recipe.  Of course, I added some ice cream and real whipped cream for presentation–maybe it would be best to leave those off the plate if really watching the calorie count.

The Six Sisters featured this one in their cookbook called Six Sisters Stuff. The mini pies taste just like a slice of homemade apple pie but are quick to make and easy to serve.

To make the bite-sized pies:  Place one prepared pie crust on the counter for 30 minutes.  While the crust is coming up to room temperature, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat.  In a smSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESall bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar with two teaspoons cinnamon. And, melt 3 tablespoons of butter or margarine in the microwave.

When the pastry is ready, open on waxed paper to lay flat.  Spread 2 of the 3 tablespoons of butter on the pie crust.  Sprinkle almost all of the cinnamon and sugar on top of the butter.  Save some of the sugar/cinnamon mixture for the topping.

Cut the pastry into 8 long strips.  Peel the two apples that are ready for baking.  I used Gala apples.  Remove the core of the apples.  Slice each apple into four wedges.

Place an apple slice on each strip of pie crust and roll around the apple.  Place on the baking sheet.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  Be sure to keep the sugary side of the pie crust next to the apple.  Brush the tops of the apple pies with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes until the pie crust is brown and the apples are cooked.  Serve warm with ice cream and whipped cream. I also sprinkled with powdered sugar. Yummy.

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roasted tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons

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I felt “Fall” in the air this past weekend in Michigan.  I must admit, I love this season the best of all of the seasons of the year.  The brisk mornings and the changing leaves make the season so comfortable for me.  I have been looking at many recipes over the past few weeks just getting ready for comfort food season.  I found this one in Jamie Deen’s cookbook titled Good Food.  It felt perfect for dinner last night, since I still had a whole bowl of tomatoes from the garden ready to be used in a recipe.

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I have made homemade tomato soup several times before and have posted recipes on the blog, but not for roasted tomato soup.  I must say that the tomatoes had an extra layer of flavor, since they were combined with the roasted onions and garlic.  The soup was delicious, making extra for lunches and to freeze for another colder fall evening dinner.

I loved the grilled cheese croutons.  They were delicious in the soup and were such a great garnish.  My husband had an extra grilled cheese on a plate, since the croutons were just not enough for his meal. The sandwiches could also be cut into strips and served with the soup, for dunking.

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to make the soup recipe:

Gather the following ingredients for the recipe–3 pounds of fresh tomatoes, or a mixture of fresh for roasting and boxed, one Vidalia onion, 6 cloves of fresh garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, 3 1/2 cups of chicken stock and dill.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Slice the tomatoes in quarters, and the large onion into chunks.  Separate the garlic into cloves. Place all on a heavy sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and honey. Mix well together.  Roast in the oven for 35 minutes.

Remove from the oven and take out the garlic cloves.  Smash 2-3 cloves depending on their size and return to the pan,  discarding  the rest.  Place all in a blender to puree in batches.  Mix any browned bits from the baking pan into the chicken stock. Using about 2 cups of stock, add to the soup pan on the stove.  Add the tomato mixture from the blender along with other boxed tomatoes as needed for the recipe volume.

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Season as needed.  Simmer for at least 25 minutes. Add the rest of the stock to incorporate during the cooking time.  Stir in the dill during the last minutes of cooking to taste.  Or use as a garnish on the soup when serving. I also used fresh basil from the garden as a garnish.

 

to make the grilled cheese croutons:

Prepare a sheet pan with cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Using margarine, spread one side of each slice of bread making a sandwich.  For 4 sandwiches, that would be eight slices of bread.  Place butter side down, one slice for each sandwich.  Add shredded cheddar cheese or other cheese slices.  Place the second slice of sandwich bread on top, butter side up.  Bake in the oven for a total of 20 minutes.  I usually bake 12 minutes on one side and flip the sandwiches.

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Cut into slices, strips, or cubes for croutons.  Delicious and so perfect for Fall.

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