Farm fresh strawberries

Summer strawberries fresh from the farm were gifted to me a couple of weeks ago, and were they ever delicious. There is something special about fresh strawberries that have not gone through a market of handling, packaging and processing for shipment.

These berries were sweet, tender and delicious. Many of them were petite and perfect for strawberry tarts.  I have an amazing recipe that I have used for years that makes any type of fruit tart bakery quality.  This time, I did not add the glaze, which even makes their presentation more spectacular, but opted to just enjoy the sweetness of these special berries instead.

Using your favorite pie crust, determine the size and shape of the tarts.  I have a variety of pans, and often choose to use my heart tart pan. This time, I used one large rectangle and three smaller circle pans for the recipe quantity.  Prepare the crust and cool.

Make the tart filling. Whip together one 8 ounce package of softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 tablespoon thawed frozen orange juice concentrate, and 1/2 cup whipping cream.  Spread into the tart shells.  And, then top with fruit. I dusted these tarts with white sanding sugar.

An additional glaze can be added of 2 tablespoons honey mixed with 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate and brushed over the fruit.  Refrigerate until serving.

Yummy for summer.

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Grilled chives from the garden

Summertime herbs are being harvested in my garden, and I recently decided to grill some chives with my other vegetable assortment for dinner.

The chives were delicious on the grill and gave another texture to the Asian dish, which I paired with some grilled shrimp.  There is something just so wonderful about taking cuttings from a home garden and adding them into the dinner menu.

I usually clip my chives a couple of times a season and enjoy them in everything from herb dips to garnishes for salads or pasta dishes.

If you did not plant chives this year, be sure to put them on your list for next year, as they are super easy to grow and will even tolerate some shade in the garden.

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late summer snack on my new bamboo board

Ah, the last day of August is here.  I have been working in my garden for one week now, cleaning and dividing hosta and perennials.  It is the time of year that I look forward to dreaming of what my garden will be next year.  It is a time to think about what grew well and what could have been better.

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I evaluate my sun and shade areas and make changes based on what trees the neighbors have removed and planted, creating those changes in my garden.  I look forward to thinking about new additions to my garden spaces for next year, and harvesting my onions, tomatoes, and herbs.

My husband was mowing the yard and asked for a small afternoon snack. So, I decided to serve some dill havarti cheese and some fresh end of the season raspberries.  I have a new #bambooboard that was sent to me for review on my blog.

It is a smaller size bamboo board which is perfect for a small presentation or for bar service.  And, is just the right size for slicing lemons and limes or for cutting a few stalks of celery for everyone’s favorite beverages. The board has a nice drip ridge for catching juices from citrus fruits keeping them from dripping through to the counter-top.

Bamboo is a great surface for a cutting board, as it will not dull knives like plastic cutting surfaces.  This board does not have any dyes or stains and is 100 percent bamboo. The board stores easily due to the smaller size and washes easily in soap and water.

Summer is coming to an end, but this bamboo board will easily move into Fall with many more uses in entertaining.

 

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For more information, please follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Bamboo-Cutting-Serving-Groove/dp/B010ULK74C/ref=lp_11481709011_1_2?srs=11481709011&ie=UTF8&qid=1441049416&sr=8-2

 

#bambooboard

Summertime gelato

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IMG_3905Today feels like fall to me in Michigan. I already have a sweatshirt on after the bursts of rain came down these past couple of days. So, I decided that I better catch up with my blog, and post some of my favorite summertime memories.

We tasted some amazing gelato this summer up North at American Spoon in Petoskey, MI. Wow, the flavors were spectacular and I think the presentation was even better. The cafe is very cute with high ceilings and an old-fashioned but upscale feel. The room is bright with large windows. They also have some outdoor seating. We were there in the mid-afternoon for our gelato treat, and it was not busy at all. The cafe serves breakfast and lunch with the gelato until 10 p.m. during the summer months.

Now for the flavors–toasted marshmallow, blood orange, maple pecan, milk caramel,coffee, banana creme caramel, Michigan blueberry and so many more. Each flavor shines in the glass counter and the decision is difficult. Each small cup provides space for tasting up to three flavors. I loved visiting Petoskey and this shop made the trip even more fun.

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salted caramel chocolate chip cookies

Salted caramel “anything” seems to be super popular these past couple of years.  I have seen everything from candy and drinks to cake with this flavor profile.  I recently found a recipe online at the smitten kitchen for these cookies and just had to sample them.  I had a good occasion to try them this week, as a good friend was visiting from out-of-town.  She seemed to like them, and so did my husband.

I made them smaller than the recipe suggested, as I used my smallest cookie scoop.  They could easily be baked in a larger size for any occasion.  I even scooped more smaller sized cookies and froze them on a 1/8 size cookie sheet for over one hour. Then, I took them out of the freezer, placed them in a freezer bag, labeled them and will use them in a week or so, out of the freezer to bake.  This cookie works very nicely for this purpose.  I would recommend baking a couple of more minutes when taking them from frozen.  I like being able to bake only the amount that can be served in a few days.

Make these cookies by first gathering these ingredients:

1/2 cup softened butter, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, 3/4 cup mixture of light and dark brown sugar, and 1 large egg.

Combine these ingredients in a stand mixer.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon baking soda. Mix very well.

Then add 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour.  Incorporate gradually into the cookie batter.  Finally, add 8 ounces of dark chocolate chips.

I used a small cookie scoop and placed the cookie balls on prepared cookie sheets. I used silpat mats. Add a small sprinkle of flaked sea salt to the top of each cookie.  Place into a preheated 360 degree oven.  I baked my cookies on a convection oven setting, and they were perfect.  I did not have to rotate.  Completed cooking time was 12 minutes.  After baking and removing from the oven, I used a flat-bottomed drinking glass to flatten the cookie for a nice presentation. Allow to cool on cookie sheets before removing.

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Suggestion:  The cookie dough is crumbly, so I found that flattening the cookies prior to baking was not very practical.  However, they easily flattened after the short baking time.

Enjoy with lemonade for a summer treat!

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Roasted peppers with pasta stuffing

Inspired by Martha Stewart’s spaghetti stuffing for peppers, I adapted her recipe and prepared an unusual filling for the traditional stuffed peppers of the past.  The key to this recipe is the brightly colored peppers which add to the look and upscale feel of the dish.  Martha peels her peppers after roasting in an open gas flame, and I chose to roast my peppers under the broiler and not peel them.  I like the look of the peppers and the stability they offer by not peeling, when baking with the stuffing.

The dish is delicious and very unexpected for your summer guests.  Since the pasta portion is small, it is not overwhelming for a summertime meal.  This dish does not revolve on the pasta, but the delicious taste of the roasted or baked peppers.

I chose 4 peppers to make the dish, but any number of peppers could be used and ingredients increased to match the need of the party. I cut the tops off of the peppers and cleaned the inside of them.  I chopped the tops of each pepper and placed in a skillet with olive oil.

I roasted the main portion peppers in my oven broiler for 20 minutes, rotating them often on a small sheet pan.  While they were cooking, I boiled a pot of water for the pasta.  In another skillet on the stove top, I added to the chopped pepper tops, 4-5 chopped green onions, one 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes,  chopped fresh parsley, one small chopped red onion, sea salt, ground black pepper to taste and dried oregano.

While this mixture was cooking, I measured my spaghetti pasta and boiled for 8 minutes as directed on the package.  When the pasta was done, it was drained and added to the pepper mixture.

After the roasting was done in the broiler, I removed the peppers and added the pasta mixture to the pepper insides.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Served with a side salad, this is a fun meal to enjoy with guests.

raspberry bars

Summer desserts are often centered on fruits of the season.  Here is a delicious raspberry bar recipe that begins with the Jiffy raspberry muffin mix.  The recipe comes from the Jiffy mixes recipe book.  The bars are perfect for an easy dessert for a summer barbecue.

To make the dessert bars:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a square ceramic dish with Pam spray.  Mix together one box of Jiffy raspberry muffin mix, 5 tablespoons softened margarine, 1/4 cup quick oats, and 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts.

Divide out 1/4 cup of the crumb mixture and place in a bowl for the topping.  With the remaining dough, press into the square pan.  Next, spread 1/2 cup raspberry jam on top of the dough in the pan.  Sprinkle the reserved crumb mixture into dots on the top over the filling.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned.  Cool completely and cut into small squares for serving.

This is a nice fruit dessert for summer parties. Serve alone or add ice cream on the side.  Whipped cream would also be delicious with this fruit bar.

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