Sweet Potato Persimmon Cookies

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I love the combination of two classic flavors of fall in this cookie. The combination makes for a super soft nutritious cookie that you can even serve at breakfast. I add chopped pecans and oats to make a very filling cookie, and chocolate chips to entice my littles. We make an annual visit to the Maino Ranch in Knights Ferry, to pick persimmons at the ancient Hachyia persimmon tree. We then bring home the fruits of our labor, waiting for when they turn just ripe enough to scoop out their sweet flesh for use in cooking. Having never been a persimmon fan before discovering this tree, I now love them, both the cooking ( Hachyia) and the eating (Fuyu) variety. I enjoy this new tradition and watching the kids play and climb under the big tree. See our recipe using Persimmons for Christmas Jam from last year! This recipe is a great way to use left over sweet potatoes and pecans from your traditional thanksgiving dishes! img_4141

Persimmon Sweet Potato Cookies                                                       Yield: 24 Cookies 

Ingredients: img_4248

  • 3/4 C Mashed Sweet Potato Puree
  • 3/4 C Persimmon Pulp
  • 1/2 C Butter (softened)
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 C Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 tsp Ginger
  • 1/2 C Oats
  • 1/2 C Chopped and roasted Pecans

Directions: Pre-Heat Oven to 350 F. In bowl of stand mixer, mix on high sugar, puree, pulp, and butter until fluffy. Add egg on slow until just combined. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl.

 

Slowly mix in dry ingredients into wet, stopping to scrape bowl. Fold in chocolate chips, pecans, and oats. Drop hearty size Tbsp dollops onto parchment lined baking sheet.

 

Bake for approx 25 minutes until cooked through. Enjoy!

Dairy Man’s Dream; No-Rise, No- Knead, Quick Parmesan Bread

img_3785Why is this bread called “Dairy Man’s Dream”? It has cheese, yogurt, milk, and butter! I adapted this recipe from “Bread Illustrated” written by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen. I have loved this book, all the recipes have great step by step illustrations. Bread is intimidating for me and this book really helps me understand the process of making bread so I can, well, actually make bread! In fact this recipe was done with my 2 year old!

I tried this recipe out last night, we did not have bread for dinner and the kids were up to make something. I almost pulled our bread machine out, (the kids call him “crunchy robot”) but I put him back and flipped through the cook book instead. I love the idea of no knead quick bread you can literally make in 10 minutes pop in oven and serve! The recipe called for sour cream and I substituted my farm fresh yogurt instead. I also omitted the cheddar cheese and added extra parm. The results were impressive and my dairy man of a husband happy after another long day at the new barn.

Ingredients:                                                                                                   

  • 2 1/2 C All Purpose Flour img_3790
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Tsp Salt
  • 3 Tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 3/4 C Yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp Melted Butter
  • 2 Cups Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Directions: Pre heat oven to 350 F. Melt Butter over low heat. Whisk in milk, salt and yogurt. Set aside.

Mix flour baking soda, pepper and 1 C of the cheese. Butter a 8″ x 4″ pan and sprinkle 1/2 C Parmesan cheese on bottom. Fold wet ingredients into dry, until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Dough will be very heavy and lumpy. Place in prepared bread pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake approx 45 minutes until golden brown! Let cool at least 30 minutes, slice and serve with more butter of course!

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The kids helping at the new barn

Creamy Summer Squash Soup with Roasted Chicken

img_1827Looking for a way to use all your summer squash and serve a healthy meal the whole family will love, while also freezing tons of extra for later use or gifts? This recipe will meet all those needs. It is a great, fresh way to get the kids to eat your garden veggies. This soup is amazingly satisfying for those on a low-carbohydrate diet or those trying to eat a healthier whole food based diet. I added Jalapenos from our Gospel Garden to our abundant harvest of crook neck squash and onion from our home garden. To this I also added our farm fresh home made raw yogurt. Make extra to freeze for soups and sauces during the winter months. The spicy kick will also serve those who need a nourishing soup during cold and flu season.

Summer Squash Soup                                                              Yield: Approx. 15 Cups

Ingredients:

  • 10-15 Crook Neck Squash, coarsely chopped.

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    My helpers!

  • 1 Small White Onion, diced.
  • 4 Cloves Garlic bruised.
  • 5 Jalapenos, sliced, seeded and cored.
  • 4 Tbs Olive oil
  • 3 Tbs Butter (no margarine please!)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Cup Yogurt 
  • 1 C Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Heat olive oil, onion, jalapenos and garlic until onion becomes translucent. Add squash, butter, salt and pepper.

Heat for 20 -30 minutes, ever so often stirring the squash to help break down. Add chicken stock and cook an additional 30 minutes until squash is slightly mushy and cooked through. Let cool and puree in blender in batches. Rinse out original pan. Return puree to pan and place in medium heat. Add yogurt and cheese and whisk to incorporate.

Serve warm or cold and topped with roast chicken breast, and accompanying a loaf of french bread.

For the Chicken : My method for roasting chicken is simple- choose bone in, skin on chicken breasts, season with salt and pepper, a little olive oil and cover with foil. Bake in 375 F oven for 45- 50 minutes, (or until an internal temperature of 170 F). Remove foil and brown an additional 10 minutes. Remove breast from rib before serving in soup if desired, or serve as is on the side!

 

 

 

The “Gospel Garden” and a recipe for Salsa Con Queso

Early winter of 2016 myself and enlisted help including Cody Simar of Central Valley Sustainability and my dear husband met with the director at the Modesto Gospel Mission to discuss a future community garden at their existing 1 acre plot surrounded by employee housing, and located a block behind the mission itself.

Approaching the site I knew this was the spot. Since this time we have been blessed to have many hands volunteer and come together to donate, plant, care for and harvest from this garden. We have affectionately named our garden the “Gospel Garden.”

Some crops have not worked out, we have had weeds overtake some of our lettuce and tomatoes. We have put in a lot of work to keep up with our first year at this new site. Yet, every time I visit the garden, when I feel overwhelmed at the work, at the weeds, at what needs to be done and when I can barely keep up with the kids, animal, and yard at home, I come away with a sense of calm. Chris, a resident at the mission, will usually stroll out and remind me of just how much the garden is giving. He tells me he places tomatoes in neighbors mailboxes up and down the street; that families in the community come to garden and pick lettuce, peppers or tomatoes. Rita a volunteer informs me that the salad bar at the mission has never looked so good. (I owe a huge thank you to Westurf Nursery, Rick Grey of Plant a Seed Foundation and Waterford Irrigation Supply Inc as well as many others!!)

We had the opportunity to have a local Girl Scout troop visit our garden and we took along children from the mission as well. It was a day of discovery for many kids, including one young girl who informed me this was he first trip off the mission without her parents. As we took the five minute walk from the Children’s Center holding hands I couldn’t help but feel prideful as people peered from their windows in a neighborhood that is constantly on the look out for what is wrong, and instead catching a glimpse of what is right.

On one field trip morning, I remember feeling particularly overwhelmed and disappointed; that the corn had all died, that weeds were overtaking our garden, and that there was a huge leak in our drip causing mud and more weeds to grow among the melons. As I took the kids to the garden that same day I was again reminded of of useless our doubts are.  The kids could have cared less about the weeds, or the dried up corn, instead they exclaimed over tomatoes, melons, and bravely tasted jalapenos. One boy asked with hope, “Can we come next week again, and bring cheese this time for the tomatoes!” The joy this boy had found here replaced any feelings of failure I had had just an hour ago. What a reminder that God requires of us not to be perfect, but to simply give what we can and look for the blessings in each small thing; and that all our anxieties need to be reexamined, surrendered to and handed over to something much greater than ourselves. Something that says its ok, and that is satisfied with the smile and thank you of a child.

In looking for a delicious and versatile way to use our tomatoes and jalapenos harvested on our last field trip with the Children’s Center, I thought of Salsa Con Queso. This one is dedicated to Angela who gives her heart and soul to her kids at the mission, who made an amazing salsa to share with the Children’s Center, (made from vegetables from the Gospel Garden), and and who loves cheese. I give you the best of both worlds. img_1652

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Salsa Con Queso

  • 6-10 Ripe Tomatoes (of any variety)
  • 5 Jalapenos (more or less depending on desire for heat) Cored
  • 3 Large Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Large White Onion
  • 3 Large Squash (yellow or zuchinni)
  • 1/2 Head Roasted Cauliflower (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Cups shredded cheddar cheese or blend.
  • 1/2 C Greek Yogurt (see recipe for homemade)

Directions: Coarsely chop all vegetables. In heavy bottomed pot heat vegetables with salt until softened. Add butter, melt and then add flour. Simmer until easily pierced with fork. Use immersion blender to puree vegetables.

May use blender for smoother consistency, cool to room temp before blending. Add Cheese and yogurt. Stir until melted and incorporated. Serve and enjoy! Use as a dip for bread, crackers, or chips. Best served warm. Try on your favorite sandwiches, tacos or as pasta sauce tossed with olive oil.

Cherry Sauce

img_0706This sauce is in no way reminiscent of the cherry flavored medicine we got as children…

What a joy to be able to visit with friends down the road and be sent home with fresh picked cherries. In an effort to not waste these beauties I decided to make batches of cherry sauce that can be used as a filling in pies, tarts or turnovers, mixed with yogurt or cottage cheese, in cheese cake, and drizzled over pancakes or ice cream. Use a cherry-pitter or simply cut out with paring knife. This is the time-consuming portion, promise its worth it!

Ingredients: (Recipe may be doubled.)

  • 2 C Bing cherries
  • 1/4 C Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Corn starch

Directions:

Pit Cherries and place in large stock pot. Heat on low and add sugar, syrup and lemon. Simmer for 10 -15 minutes until cherries are heated through. Use immersion blender to blend.

Heat on high until thickened slightly. Allow to cool and pour into jars for preserving if desired. May be stored in refrigerator for 3 weeks or freezer for 9 months without preserving. Enjoy and keep me posted on the many uses you find!

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Hot Butter Rum Crepe Cake

img_9228Hot Butter Rum Crepe Cake! Crepe Cakes are a new discovery, and really is it necessary to make a cake out of crepes? Yes! We love our pancake mornings, and in deciding to try crepes  for the kids, I remembered an image of a crepe cake with it’s layers and layers of goodness. For the holidays a pastry creme with hot butter rum pair deliciously with these apple crepes! We used our Auntie Dana’s applesauce for the crepes and a little “pannenkoeken” or dutch pancake mix to add to tradition and meaning for our holiday!

This is a new adventure for me, as I have neither made pastry cream or crepes. The first img_9223cake was a disaster, as I used my own made up version of a crepe, which was more of a pancake and the layers were course and hard, not soft and light. So, in the second attempt, take my recommendation and stick to a traditional crepe recipe, yes they are more than just thin pancakes!  This really was simple to make, especially if you take it in steps, the longest part being making all the crepes.You need around 20 crepes to make the cake, and it goes fast once you get the hang of it!  You can  make the crepes well in advance and they will freeze beautifully until ready to be assembled. The pastry cream can be made a day or two before as well.

If you have not made pastry cream before, be ready for a bit of a science experiment! I’ll walk you through it with a few tips on what not to do, as learned! The kids and I really had fun watching the sudden formation of a solid from a liquid as the cream thickens.

Ingredients:

Crepes:img_9282

  • 5 Tbsp Butter
  • 1 1/2 C Flour
  • 1/2 C Pannenkoken ( if available, otherwise substitute with additional 1/2 C flour)
  • 3 C Milk
  • 1/2 C Applesauce
  • 6 eggs
  • 5 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Salt

Pastery Fillingimg_9281

  • 2 C Whole Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Egg Yokes
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp “Hot Butter Rum Mix”
  • 1/4 C Corn Starch
  • 3 Tbsp Butter (Cold and Cut into pieces)
  • 1/4 C Whipping Cream
  • 3 Tbs Sugar

Directions:

Crepes: Mix Flours, salt and sugar in medium bowl. Melt butter. In mixer beat eggs and add  milk and applesauce, and then dry ingredients. Add melted butter and mix until just smooth. Allow to chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Heat medium non stick round pan over medium heat. Add approx 3 Tbsp of batter to pan and swirl to cover the entire bottom surface of pan. Wait 1-2 minutes and using hands gently flip crepe by grabbing edge. This may take a couple tries, but once you get it down will go fast! Place on plate and use paper towels or parchments sheets between each crepe so they do not stick together. When finished allow crepes to cool and then wrap in seran and place in refrigerator or freezer until ready to assemble and up to 2 months.

Filling: Heat milk and Hot butter rum mix  in saucepan until very hot but not scalded. Beat eggs, egg yokes and salt at medium speed until thickened, add sugar 2 tbsp at a time until thickened and pale. On low speed beat in cornstarch until smooth, then add milk a spoonful at a time as to not “cook” the eggs. Then pour mixture back into sauce pan that was used to heat the milk and add cold butter pieces. Cook over medium heat with constant stirring using a spatula, scraping across sides and bottom. It will begin to form thick lumps on the bottom, continue scraping (this is the science experiment part!) Once mixture is fully “lumpy” switch to whisk and whisk for 5 to 7  minutes until mixture is smooth. Pour into bowl. In chilled bowl (helps cream thicken faster) of mixer beat whipping cream and sugar on high until thick peaks form. Fold into pastry cream. Place plastic wrap down into bowl touching the surface of mixture. This will keep any “skin” from forming.

 

When ready to assemble cake lay a crepe down on desired serving dish and add 1/4 C pastry creme mixture, then layer with remaining crepes and repeat layers. Top with extra whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar. Enjoy!

 

One Pot Chicken for Two Meals

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And one fabulous pot I may add!  I use my red cast iron dutch oven, which was a wedding gift, ( 8, or is it 7 years ago?), for so many different things throughout the fall and winter months. You could use a crock pot for this as well. This recipe incorporates my yogurt- sweet potato pasta sauce. Since I was out of my sauce I made a batch by roughly cutting up garden vegetables place in pot, cooking through and blending with immersion blender (love this tool!). I then placed the chicken in the sauce and cooked through, so no fuss and less mess for busy week nights! You could substitute a similar marinara. The first dinner I made with this recipe I simply served the chicken over rice.The second dinner I used the leftover chicken, sauce and rice for  enchiladas! See directions below and enjoy this simple but satisfying meal! img_8110-1img_8286

Ingredients:

  • 6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 4  C Pasta Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 1 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 Tsp Fresh Chopped Tarragon

img_8285Directions:

Place Chicken Breasts in dutch oven or crock pot. Season with salt, pepper. Cover with sauce. Add tarragon and nutmeg. Simmer for 2-4 hours until chicken shreds easily with fork. Serve over rice of choice.

For Lentil Rice as pictured:

Boil 1 c white rice, 2 c lentils in 3 c water with 1 tbs of butter and 2 tsp of chicken bouillon unit cooked through, (around 50 minutes).

Ingredients for Enchiladas:

  • Left over Chicken Breasts with Sauce and Rice (About 2 Qt Total Leftovers)
  • 4 C Shredded Jack and Cheddar Cheese.
  • 6 Large Flour Tortillas
  • 2  15 0z can of Enchilada (Red) Sauce.

Directions:

Pre Heat Oven to 350F. Place 1/2 C Enchilada sauce in bottom of 9″x 13″ dish. Place 1/4 C leftover mixture in tortilla and top with 2/3 shredded cheese. Fold and roll as you would a burrito. Place seam side down in dish and repeat with remaining tortillas. Pour remaining enchilada sauce over rolled tortillas, being sure to get edges as well. Top with Remaining cheese. Bake covered for 30 minutes, remove and bake additional 10 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

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Raw Yogurt Soaked Oatmeal

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This his recipe incorporates my recipe for slow and low crunchy roasted almonds and Raw yogurt. I use a crock pot as it is convenient, but you can also use a large pot and place in a warm spot, like oven with light on overnight. By “soaking the oats” you are letting the oats break down anything that may be difficult for the body to digest. This allows for your body to be absorb nutrients from the oatmeal without stressing you system by the oatmeal so that your body may be more easily nourished. The raw yogurt in this recipe adds further nutritional benefits. Feel free to play with other ingredients with this simple basic recipe. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 2 C Oats
  • 1 1/2 C Water
  • 1/2 Raw yogurt 
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbs Maple syrup
  • 2 tbs Butter (if desired)

Directions:

Place Ingredients in crock pot. Stir to incorporate. Leave on warm setting for 6-12 hours, overnight. Serve topped with crunchy almonds, milk, or fruit!