Sunday, July 31, 2011

Scenes from the Farmers' Market

Another trip to the market! This one is only 10 minutes from our home. I bought a patty pan squash, a yellow summer squash, four ears of corn, organic potatoes, and a beautiful head of cauliflower (not local, unfortunately, but from an organic farm in CA). My friend bought blackberries, blueberries ... and quail eggs

What a nice use of old enamelware bowls ... they make a pretty display. There are so many tempting things at the market. I try not to go crazy and buy too much because I hate to throw away food that goes bad before it can be used. But, I usually regret passing up certain things like these tomatillos for making salsa verde (in the bowl behind the hot peppers).

Little yellow "garden peach" tomatoes were adorable and so soft with their velvety skins! I wanted to buy some, but the seller was very busy, so I decided to come back later ... and then forgot. Maybe she'll have some next weekend.

 A variety of heirloom tomatoes ...

Pretty, speckled quail eggs which my friend took home.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peach Ice Cream, Anyone?

Ice cream. I love it any time of year, but especially in the summer. When my husband and I were married, my parents gave us a Krups ice cream maker. For a while, I used it frequently, making all sorts of delicious ice creams and sherbets. Then it was put away and went unused for many years. 

Recently, we gave some friends an ice cream maker for their wedding, and after hearing how wonderful their homemade ice creams have been, I decided it was time to whip up a batch at our house. My husband isn't as much of an ice cream fan as I am -- he prefers less rich ice milk or frozen yogurt. So in an effort to find a recipe both of us would like, and one that isn't too complicated to make, I pulled out several cookbooks and searched the Internet before finding this Cooking Light recipe for peach ice cream. It uses only five ingredients and isn't custard-based, so it's not thick and creamy. It's more like ice milk than ice cream, and because it only has half a cup of sugar, it's not overly sweet. Use very ripe peaches so the ice cream will have natural sweetness and lots of flavor!

Here is my slightly altered version. I increased the peaches from 3 to 4 cups and didn't peel them (because I overlooked that step in the directions). Be sure to use a food processor to finely chop/process them (a blender did not work). I used Nielsen-Massey pure vanilla extract and organic dairy products.

  • Peach Ice Cream
  • 4 cups sliced peeled peaches (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Place peaches in a food process and process until finely chopped. Combine peaches and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour peach mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions. Spoon ice cream into an airtight, freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for two hours or until firm. Enjoy!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dinner on the Porch

We've been having some lovely weather this summer (some of it unseasonably cool), and we've been enjoying dinners on the porch at our new little table. Paul prepared this delicious supper of angel hair pasta and a gorgeous spinach salad with carrots and green olives, dressed with raspberry vinegar. French rolls and a nice red wine (Ravenswood Zinfandel, my new favorite) rounded out the meal. While we usually drink wine out of tumblers, I felt like using a wine glass last night, hence the two different glasses!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Lake

How I love the water! We recently rented a pontoon boat for the day and had a group of friends join us for a day of boating, swimming and fun in the sun. And lots of laughs! Everyone had a great time, even if we did get a little too much sun. 

Being on the water is one of the most relaxing and fun ways to spend the day. It can really work up an appetite too. For my husband and me, I brought a couple of vegetarian sandwiches like the one below, only I used a wheat baguette. On it, I spread some garlic and basil goat cheese, then piled on fresh spinach, thinly sliced green bell pepper, cucumber and zucchini, and finished it with a few sliced Kalamata olives. What a delicious sandwich! We also enjoyed a delicious homemade black bean and corn salsa with tortilla chips, hummus with pita chips, watermelon, cherries, brownies, and of course, ice cold beer. And our friends brought some iced tea vodka that was delicious mixed with lemonade! For me, nothing quite says summer like a day on the lake. I can't wait to do it again! 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Sangria

Many years ago I made sangria from scratch, but for some reason I hadn't made it since. I'm not sure why since it's easy to prepare, delicious on a hot summer day, and to be honest, store-bought sangria is usually a little disappointing. Originating from Spain, sangria traditionally uses red wine, but there are variations that use white wine. Brandy, fresh fruit, sugar and seltzer are added to the wine and the mixture is chilled to make a refreshing drink. Some recipes also use fruit juice or liqueurs. The fruits can be anything from lemons and oranges to peaches, grapes, raspberries or plums. Here I've combined lemon, orange and apple with Cabernet Sauvignon.


In a large pitcher, combine the juice of two oranges with 1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar. Add 1/4 cup brandy and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Add one bottle of dry red wine (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Merlot). Halve and thinly slice two oranges (remove seeds). Cut ends off one lemon and thinly slice (remove seeds). Cut one Red Delicious apple into quarters, core and thinly slice. Add apple, orange and lemon slices to wine mixture. Cover and chill a couple of hours. Just before serving, add 1 to 2 cups of chilled seltzer and stir to combine. Serve over ice and enjoy! 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

4th of July - Red, White & Blueberry Trifle

So what are you planning for this 4th of July holiday? Whether you're vacationing at the beach, spending the day on the lake, grilling out, attending an awesome fireworks display, or just chilling out at home, I hope you're enjoying the holiday.

I came across a recipe for a red, white and blueberry trifle, and since I've been wanting to make a trifle for quite a while, I decided to prepare this easy and festive dessert this weekend. It just seems perfect for Independence Day, don't you think?

Red, White & Blueberry Trifle

1) Make lemon syrup: in a small saucepan, bring 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/4 cup of water to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool completely. Cut one 16-ounce store-bought pound cake into 3/4" thick slices. Brush lemon syrup over cake slices, then cut each slice into quarters.

2) With an electric mixer, beat 1 bar (8 oz.) reduced-fat cream cheese (brought to room temp) with 1/3 cup sugar on high speed until lightened. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add 1 cup heavy cream in a steady stream; continue beating until mixture is light and airy (will be like very soft whipped cream). 

3) Arrange half the cake pieces in the bottom of a 15-cup trifle bowl or serving dish. Spoon half the cream cheese mixture over cake in dollops and spread gently to sides of dish. Scatter 1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries and 1-1/2 cups fresh raspberries (washed and dried) on top of cream cheese mixture. Repeat layering with remaining cake, cream cheese mixture, 1-1/2 cups blueberries and 1-1/2 cups raspberries, piling the berries in the center. 

4) Cover and refrigerate trifle until chilled, at least one hour and up to overnight.

from Everyday Food

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