Blackberry Cobbler

We’ve really been focused on eating more local seasonal ingredients this year and have really loved it.  The farm share we subscribe to has been amazing and we’ve tried to come up with recipes to take use such abundance!  This past weekend we visited a local berry farm and found the biggest sweetest blackberries around.  Of course, they were begging to be a dessert and we had a family fish fry/pool party Sunday that offered the perfect occasion.

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BLACKBERRY COBBLER

Ingredients

  • 8 Cups Fresh Blackberries
  • 2 Tbs. Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbs. Sugar

For the topping:

  • 1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs, Beaten
  • 9 Tbs. Butter, Melted

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Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wash blackberries and pat dry with a towel.  Place blackberries in a 13×9 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
  • Pour lemon juice over berries and then sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar.  You can use more or less to taste based on the sweetness of your berries.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Stir in the eggs until combined – the mixture should be crumbly.
  • Spoon mixture over the blackberries.  Do not press down or even out the crumbles – this is what makes the fantastic crispy bits of crust!
  • Drizzle the melted butter over the crumbled mixture and place in the oven.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until the berries are bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
  • Serve immediately or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream.

This recipe is fairly straightforward and can easily substitute any fresh berry or combination.  I like the proportions of this recipe because it lets the fruit be the star of the show and doesn’t completely cover it with crust – save that for pies!  I’ll tell you this didn’t last long at our picnic, but if there’s leftovers keep the pan just loosely covered or the topping will get mushy.  Now get our there and pick some for yourself.  Dig in!

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Portobello Personal Pizzas

When don’t you have a craving for pizza?  The fact is, most of us will save pizza for Friday movie nights, a party or some other excuse to indulge our endless craving for dough, cheese, sauce and goodies.  Trying to get in shape for an upcoming vacation has me rethinking recipes and finding ways to have my favorites without sacrificing too much.  That’s where this alliterative recipe comes in – you’re going to love it!

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PORTOBELLO PERSONAL PIZZAS

Ingredients

  • 2 Portobello Mushroom Caps
  • 2 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp. Dry Italian Seasoning
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Pizza Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Diced Red Onion
  • 8 Slices Pepperoni or Turkey Pepperoni
  • 1/2 – 3/4 Cup Shredded Mozzarella

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Remove gills from mushrooms with a spoon.  Wash and dry them thoroughly.
  • Place mushrooms on a baking stone or sheet.  Drizzle each with a teaspoon of olive oil.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on size and thickness of your mushrooms.  They should darken and shrink some, but still be slightly firm to the touch.
  • Remove from oven and pat dry with a paper towel.  They release a lot of water in the initial baking and you don’t want soggy pizzas!
  • Spread each cap with half of the pizza sauce.  You can use marinara or any other jar sauced here as long as it is thick and not watery.
  • Top each cap with onions, then pepperoni and finally cheese.
  • Place in the oven and bake an additional 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and slightly brown and bubbly.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.

You almost don’t miss the crust on these easy pizzas.  The good news is that your topping choices are endless – sausage, peppers, olives, etc.  As long as you like mushrooms, you’ll be thrilled with an alternative to heavy pizza that saves you both carbs and calories.  It’s also great for gluten-free friends if you watch your sauce ingredients.  Try some at home and let me know what you create.  Dig in!

Roasted Beet Salad

I have always loved beets!  Granted, as a child and into early adulthood, my exposure to beets were limited to the canned variety or pickled beets.  Both are delicious, but you can’t full appreciate the true flavor unless you roast them yourself.  Luckily, our farmers market had some this past week and I was able to make this fantastic salad.  As a side or a main, this one hits all the right notes of sweet, salty, crunchy and fresh.IMG_0771

ROASTED BEET SALAD

Ingredients

  • 4 Medium Red Beets
  • 6 Cups Spring Lettuce
  • 4 Ounces Semi-Soft Chèvre (Goat Cheese)
  • 1/2 Cup Roasted Pistachios
  • 8 Tbs. Ken’s Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette
  • Fresh-cracked Black Pepper
  • Flaked Sea Salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Trim and wash beets thoroughly to remove dirt.  Do not dry them!  Wrap each wet beet individually in aluminum foil.
  • Place beets in a shallow baking dish or 9×9 pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Remove beets from oven and allow to cool about 1 hour or until you are able to handle.
  • Remove beets from foil.  Unless you want red hands, wear rubber gloves and carefully peel each beet with a knife.  The skins will come off easily like a roasted sweet potato does.
  • Dice each beet into 1-inch cubes and place in a glass bowl.  You can refrigerate or use them at room temperature for this dish.  I prefer them chilled.  (HINT:  you can peel and dice beets with a pair of tongs and a knife, but be careful!)
  • Assemble 1 1/2 cups of lettuce mix on each of four plates.  Drizzle each plate with 2 Tbs. (or less) of the vinaigrette.
  • Arrange 1/4 of beets on each bed of dressed lettuce.
  • Sprinkle each salad with 1 ounce Chèvre and 1/4 of the pistachios.
  • Top each salad with fresh black pepper and sea salt to taste.
  • Serve immediately.

It sounds pretty simple, but the star of the show is the beet!!  I recommend the salad dressing above, but you can easily make your own light vinaigrette.  I recommend a fruity vinegar as it helps bring out the flavor and sweetness of the beets.  I enjoyed this for an easy lunch at home or topped with seared salmon for dinner or it would be a dazzling starter for your next dinner party – how gorgeous would this look on a large platter?!  Enjoy the bounty and eat those red and yellow beets while you can get them fresh.  Dig in!

Bacon Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms

I’m constantly looking for and creating new small bites for holidays, parties, Sunday suppers, tailgates, etc.  Who doesn’t love an afternoon or evening of cocktails, cold beer and appetizers??  I like to make things that don’t require a ton of work, but taste like a million bucks with the convenience of friends/guests being able to grab-and-go with something.  Think of it as “what can I pick up and eat while never putting my drink down”!  Behold, the best stuffed mushrooms below…

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BACON PARMESAN STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

  • 2 Quarts White Button Mushrooms
  • 2 8-ounce Bricks Cream Cheese
  • 6 Ounces Real Bacon Bits
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tbs. Parsley Flakes
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder

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Instructions

  • Lay out cream cheese to bring to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Wash and stem mushroom.  If there are thick ribs on the underside, scoop out with a spoon.  Place on paper towels and blot dry.
  • In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to mix cream cheese, bacon bits, parmesan and garlic powder until well combined.
  • Using a spoon, fill and smooth a teaspoon or more of filling in each mushroom.  These should be mounded, but not overfilled.  A good rule of thumb is that the filling should be about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mushroom cap.
  • Continue filling and place mushrooms on a large foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Bake mushrooms at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the filling has browned on top.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately.  These can also be transported but place a few paper towels in the bottom of your contained as they will seep liquid as they cool.

You’re going to love the earthy, creamy and salty bite of these mushrooms!  The recipe above will fill a large cookie sheet, but you can easily cut this recipe in half or double it depending on your event.  Oh, and if you have any filling left over, it’s ridiculously good on a toasted everything bagel.  Now go get that party started.  Dig in!

Garlicky Roasted Cauliflower

It seems like cauliflower is everywhere these days!  From pizza crust to faux fried rice to “steaks” on the grill, everyone is obsessed with it.  I’m not quite on the bandwagon wholeheartedly, but I do love it both raw and cooked.  We’re going through a kitchen remodel and have limited resources for prep and cooking.  So I came up with the recipe below to accompany grilled chops and dirty just one bowl and cookie sheet.  If you’re looking for a savory alternative to carbs for your next meal, give this smokey-garlicky recipe a try!

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GARLICKY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Ingredients

  • 1 Medium Head Cauliflower
  • 3 Tbs. Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • 1 1/2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Wash cauliflower thoroughly and dry with paper towels.  Cut out the core, cut into 2″ florets and place in a large bowl.
  • Drizzle cauliflower with olive oil and stir to coat evenly.
  • Sprinkle remaining ingredients over cauliflower and stir again to coat everything in the spices.
  • Pour cauliflower onto a foil-lined cookie sheet and spread out into a single layer.
  • Place in oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Remove and serve immediately.

There’s no rocket science to this recipe, but simple ingredients expertly prepared always make a delicious dish!  You’ll love this side with your favorite grilled or roasted meat or fish.  Try making a variation of this using five spice powder and brown sugar instead of garlic powder and smoked paprika.  I’d love to hear other ideas you have.  Dig in!

Blueberry French Toast Casserole

Leftover bread, dinner rolls, etc. can all be put to good use in making stuffing, croutons and one of my favorites, french toast casserole.  Easy to make ahead and bake in the morning, this recipe was amped up this weekend with the addition of fresh blueberries.  Served warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and crisp salty bacon, you’ll definitely want to try this around the upcoming holidays.

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BLUEBERRY FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

Ingredients

  • 6 Dinner Rolls or 1/2 Load Bread
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Cup Fresh Blueberries
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Butter

Instructions

  • Tear bread into roughly 2-inch pieces and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl combine eggs, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.  Whisk together until until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Place bread into egg mixture and toss lightly to coat evenly.  Do not over-mix or your bread will turn to mush.
  • Fold in blueberries until evenly distributed.
  • Pour mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Take casserole out 30 minutes prior to baking.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake covered for 40 minutes.
  • Remove lid or foil and sprinkle dish with brown sugar.  Cut butter into small pieces and dot along top of brown sugar.
  • Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately with warm maple syrup.

It doesn’t get much easier than a make-ahead breakfast like this one.  This recipe serves four, but can easily be doubled and baked in a 13×9 dish.  Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this on Christmas morning?  Or any morning for that matter?  Dig in!

Sweet & Salty Nectarine Salad

Taking advantage of fresh produce is what usually drives our cooking menu week to week.  With nectarines at their peak not long ago I made a delicious salad with the perfect combination to balance those sweet, soft and buttery nectarines.  It doesn’t get easier than four ingredients that make you look like a rockstar chef.

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SWEET & SALTY NECTARINE SALAD

Ingredients

  • 4 Ripe Nectarines
  • 8 Slices Prosciutto
  • 8 Ounces Blue Cheese
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions

  • Wash, pit and slice nectarines.  Arrange one nectarine’s-worth of slices per plate in a pinwheel.
  • Tear two slices of prosciutto into 3 pieces each and arrange in small “piles” around each plate.
  • Crumble 2 ounces of blue cheese over each plate.
  • Drizzle with a quality balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.

I said it was easy!  Any ripe stone fruit will work well in this recipe – try it with peaches or plums.  I used a blue cheese this time that was little harder than I would recommend, creamier would be better.  Want to vary the texture, try a few toasted walnuts or pistachios as a topper.  Dig in!

Tuna Noodle Casserole With Mushrooms

Growing up, I absolutely hated tuna noodle casserole – it was guaranteed PB&J night!  Of course, that was back in the day of the terrible boxed stuff full of dried veggies and salty sauce.  Now that my tastes have changed and I have come to embrace all things tuna and noodles!  This recipe is a riff on the classic with the addition of mushrooms and it’s super-creamy.  What a perfect quick dinner that won’t gross out your kids!

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TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE WITH MUSHROOMS

Ingredients

  • 12 Ounces Uncooked Egg Noodles
  • 12 Ounces Canned Tuna, Drained
  • 2 Cups Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 Cup Frozen Green Peas, Thawed
  • 16 Ounces Low-Fat Sour Cream
  • 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 Tsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tsp. Parsley
  • 2 Tsp. Garlic Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
  • 3/4 Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Saute mushrooms in butter until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.  Set aside.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Fold tuna, peas and cooked mushrooms into noodles.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, mayo, mustard, parsley, garlic salt and pepper.
  • Fold sour cream mixture into noodle mixture.
  • Spray a 4-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour mixture into baking dish and top with swiss cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered, until top is golden and casserole is bubbly.
  • Serve immediately.

I’m overdue in posting this recipe for my friend Missy, but I hope she and you all love it.  Want to save some fat and calories?  Use fat-free sour cream and mayo and substitute breadcrumbs for the swiss cheese.  The consistency is still great with low-fat or fat-free dairy and the texture of the breadcrumbs makes up for the cheese.  Either way, I think you’ll find it better than that old box.  Dig in!

Open-Faced Salmon BLT’s

It’s been a long time since I’ver posted, but trust that I’ve been both cooking and eating with my regular enthusiasm!  We recently went camping and were looking for something fresh and easy for dinner – who needs another hot dog on a stick, right?!  These open-faced salmon BLT’s were simple, delicious and easy to make with minimal mess.  Try them at home for a busy weeknight or as a wonderful weekend brunch.

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OPEN-FACED SALMON BLT’S

Ingredients

  • 1 Lbs. Fresh Salmon Filet
  • 4 Sliced Ciabatta Bread
  • 8 Slices Crisp Cooked Bacon
  • 2 Avocados
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • Fresh Bibb Lettuce
  • 2 Ripe Tomatoes, Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbs. Water
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Chives, Chopped
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard, water, chives and a dash each of salt and pepper.  Stir until smooth and place in refrigerator.
  • Remove skin and pit from avocado.  Dice and place both avocados in a small bowl.  Add lime juice, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.  Smash together with fork until mixture is slightly lumpy.  Cover and place in refrigerator.
  • Salt and pepper the salmon filet.  Grill or pan sear until cooked through – about 5-7 minutes per side depending on thickness.
  • Remove salmon from grill and let rest.  Place ciabatta on grill and toast both sides for 30-45 seconds until browned.  You can also use a toaster here.
  • To assemble sandwiches:  smear each piece of toasted bread with 1/4 of the avocado mixture.  Add two slices of bacon per piece, then layer with tomato, Bibb lettuce and 1/4 of cooked salmon.
  • Drizzle each sandwich with dijon/mayo mixture and serve immediately.

I hope you love this easy dish as much as we did!  It could easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group, but still doesn’t require a ton of work.  Whether outdoors on the grill or made in your kitchen, you’ll add this to your summer meal rotation for sure.  Dig in!

My Favorite 7-Layer Salad

After some extraordinarily busy months, I’ve found time to get back to cooking and entertaining.  And as summer weather has landed in Cincinnati, I’m looking forward to plenty of picnics, pool parties and family gatherings!  One of my go-to dishes for any of these occasions is my Favorite 7-Layer Salad.  There are lots of variations I’ve eaten in the past, but this particular combination of ingredients and dressing put this at the top of my list.  Crisp, green and fresh, it makes the perfect side for any of your upcoming summer gatherings.

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MY FAVORITE 7-LAYER SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1 Head Iceberg Lettuce
  • 1 Cup Diced Celery
  • 1 Bunch Green Onions, Chopped
  • 8 Ounces Frozen Peas
  • 1 1/4 Cups Light Mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 6-8 Strips Cooked Bacon, Crumbled

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Instructions

  • Chop or tear entire head of lettuce into bite-size pieces.  Spread into an even layer in a 13×9 pan.
  • Sprinkle diced celery over lettuce.  Then spread green onions on top of celery.
  • Pour frozen peas over salad in a single layer.  Press down on first four layers to compact salad.  HINT:  I leave the peas frozen to keep the salad colder longer and it makes it easier to spread the dressing in the next step!
  • In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, sugar and parmesan.  Spread evenly over frozen peas.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese over salad and finally top with bacon.

You can serve this immediate if it will be out where the peas will thaw quickly.  You can also chill in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours prior to serving.  Also, you can use regular mayo, more cheese and/or bacon to make it a little more over-the-top.  Either way, I know you’ll love using this recipe throughout the summer.  Looking for variations?  Try using white onion instead of green for a little extra bite.  Also consider swapping or adding a layer of radishes or green pepper for additional texture and flavor.  Dig in!