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Friday, July 31, 2015

The Power of Red, Granata Recipe Gives Reason to Crack a Watermelon


It's mouth-watering and refreshing, beautiful, delicious and super simple to make! Plan accordingly the granata has to stay in the freezer for several hours before serving.

½ cup water
⅓ cup sugar
5 cups watermelon

Coconut Ice cream
Lime zest

1.    In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add sugar and stir to dissolve the sugar.
2.    Place watermelon in a food processor and add the sugar water and process until nearly smooth.
3.    Transfer the mixture to a container with a tight fitting lid. Place it in the in the freezer for several hours or until slight firm, with a bit of a slush factor. It helps to periodically move the mixture around using a fork as it tends to freeze unevenly.
4.    Evenly divide watermelon granata evenly among 6 serving bowls and top with coconut ice cream and shaved lime zest if desired. Serve immediately.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Market Haul: Blueberries

  Blueberries: A Visionary Fruit

Studies in Europe have documented the relationship between bilberries (the European cousin of blueberries) and improved eyesight. In fact, most researchers believe that the substance, anthocyanin (the blue pigment of the blueberry) is responsible for eyesight improvement. In a recent study, researchers at Tufts University analyzed 60 fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant capability – blueberries came out on top! They are loaded with vitamin C, very low in calories (about 80 calories per cup) and are a good source of dietary fiber. Moreover, Pterostilbene (pronounced – TARE – on – STILL – bean) a powerful antioxidant found in blueberries is already known to help fight cancer and may also help to lower cholesterol.

James Joseph once director of the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University researched the potential of blueberries to improve short-term memory loss and the decline of motor skills associated with aging. “The blueberry has emerged as a very powerful food in the aging battle," said Joseph. "Given the possibility that blueberries may reverse short-term memory loss and forestall other effects of aging, their potential may be very great." This delicious berry contains more age-proofing, disease-fighting antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable.

What are you waiting for? Now that it has been established that blueberries have powerful health benefits and they are nutritional stars, here are a few tip and possibilities.

There are several varieties of blueberries, one of the most common is the highbrush variety that grows in the Eastern seaboard of the United States, primarily from Maine to Florida. The blueberry season runs from May through October. Choose blueberries that are firm - shake the container, if the blueberries don’t move freely, this indicates they are soft and possibly moldy. Ripe blueberries should be stored (covered) in the refrigerator. They will keep for about a week, but like most delicate fruit they should be eaten within one-two days of purchase. Wash blueberries just prior to use.

Classic favorites include blueberry pie, muffins and cobblers. But blueberries are also delicious tossed with fresh fruit, as a landscape for salad greens, cereal or yogurt or try adding a cup of blueberries to your breakfast smoothie. Blueberries have gained such popularity you can buy blueberry bagels and blueberry ice cream, they also come dried (like cranberries) and blueberry juice is available in most grocery stores. There is even blueberry wine! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Summer Memories: Peaches


Summertime makes me of think of peaches and the cabin in the country where we spent weeks with my grandparents and cousins. After dinner we'd pile into my grandfathers old, beat up jeep and head down the dirt lane to the house next door were there was a peach orchid. We could see the peach trees from afar with their gnarled branches so heavy with peaches they practically kissed the ground - the sweet scent of peaches perfumed the air paving the way. Once there, we leaped from the door less jeep and bounded to the farmhouse for we knew from previous summers what was churning inside this neighbors country kitchen.

Wooden crates were filled with heavily scented, beautiful, aromatic peaches. Bottles filled with milk and cream from the neighboring dairy farmer lined the kitchen counter. Peach ice cream was in production and once more we marveled the hand-churning process. When it was thick and creamy, we'd watch with excitement and anticipation as the  mixture was removed from the odd looking paddle. Then scoops of peach ice cream were transferred to special ice cream vessels. We gleefully relished every spoonful, nearly screeching with delight! 

Whenever I think about a peach or bite into a ripe peach, I'm that 10 year old girl again thinking about those idyllic summers spent with my family and the neighbors churning that unforgettable peach ice cream. I've never attempted to make ice cream because I'd rather savor the childhood memory!

Today I turn the peach harvest into peach cobbler, peach pie, marmalade, jam, cake, and peach crisp. One summer I made spearmint syrup and spooned it over peach halves with delicious results. It's so popular, I make it every year.

Here’s the simple process … Dissolve 1½ cups of sugar into 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat slightly and cook for about 5 minutes. Add one bunch of fresh spearmint (reserve some leaves for garnish), and stir the mixture until the leaves wilt. Add pitted peach halves (skin on) to the syrup water. Cook the peach halves until fork-tender, about 3-5 minutes. (FYI, tender happens quickly.) Carefully remove peach halves using a slotted spoon. When the peaches are cool enough to handle (1-3 minutes) gently remove skin. 

To serve, place two halves on a plate, spoon a little spearmint syrup over peaches, garnish with spearmint leaves. For added decadence, add a little vanilla ice cream or cottage cheese! Leftover syrup is a great sweetener for iced tea!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Don’t Let the Peach Season Slip by Without Making this Delicious Peaches and Cream Cake

½ cup butter (1 stick) softened
cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup (4 ounces) light cream cheese, softened
cup sugar
¼ cup sour cream
1 egg

4 cups fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

1.      Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.      In a medium bowl, cream butter with sugar. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until smooth.
3.      In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and beat until smooth. Spread cake batter into a lightly oiled 9-inch round baking pan. Set aside.
4.      In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, sour cream and egg until well combined. Spoon filling evenly over cake batter. Bake for 30 minutes or until light brown.
5.      While the cake is baking, assemble the topping. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream and brown sugar until well blended.
6.      Spread sour cream mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Top with peaches. Serve immediately. Refrigerate any unused portion.

8 servings

Friday, July 3, 2015

4th of July Horseradish Dip is as Tasty as the Fireworks are Beautiful!


This crowd-pleasing dip is true to its name! (I'll be taking it to the community block party on July 4th.) It's a zesty, delicious, can’t-get-enough dip that has an irresistible, savory flavor. Serve the dip with crispy bagel chips, fresh pineapple chunks, raw vegetables, pretzels or crispy pita chips. Happy Birthday America!

8 ounces light whipped cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 vegetable bouillon cube with sea salt, mashed

In a food processor, combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, sour cream, horseradish and mashed bouillon cube until well blended, combine making sure that the bouillon cube is fully integrated into mixture. Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate. Serve at room temperature.

About 10 servings