Peach Yogurt Cake

August is now officially over, which means peach season is going to be winding down soon. Excuse me while I shed a tear or two. While I try to eat most things only when in season, there are times when I bend this rule. However, with peaches I am very strict. I will not buy peaches at any other time of year except in late summer. There is nothing as disappointing as biting into a beautiful golden peach and hearing a crunch, and find yourself looking at a dry, hard and very sad piece of fruit. Peaches just don't do well at all out of season. 

To celebrate these golden beauties for a little longer, Lara whipped together a light and delicious peach cake to bring to a friends house this weekend. We enjoyed it after feasting on grilled pizzas, hot and bubbly right off the grill. It was the perfect way to end a late summer Saturday night. 

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The original recipe called for figs instead of peaches, and then had you swirling mascarpone and jam into the batter before baking. This sounds absolutely divine, but unfortunately I had neither, and was not making another trip to the store so I ended up with a simpler version of the cake with only some chopped peaches. It was still absolutely wonderful, but if you're looking for something with just a bit more pizazz, I would definitely give the mascarpone and jam a try!

This cake baked up nice and tall, and had a lovely tender crumb. Nice and moist, and really not super sweet at all which I really like. It would be fantastic with some lightly whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream! Next time!

 
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Peach Yogurt Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 2 peaches, chopped

Directions
Place a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch wide and 3-inch tall cake pan and lightly dust with flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, butter, eggs, and buttermilk. Whisk in the vanilla or almond extract.

Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined and no lumps remain. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool to room temperature before slicing to serve. Serve plain or with sweetened whipped cream.

Baby Peppers Stuffed with Sausage and Herbs

The first official week of fall was SO HOT this year! We had record highs 5 or 6 days in a row, it was the hottest week of the whole summer, and it wasn't even summer. Kind of ridiculous. It's usually in the low to mid 70s, and we got up to 95 degrees! I'm not complaining. I know it will be cold before I know it, so I tried to enjoy the heat while I could. I decided to enjoy these unseasonable days with a summery stuffed pepper dish full of delicious sausage, in season veggies, and lots of herbs. Enjoyed on the front porch with a glass of Prosecco, it was spot on. And I ended the night with ice cream, obviously!

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A recipe in one of the cookbooks I recently checked out of the library inspired this dish. I didn't follow the recipe all that closely, but used it as a guide. The original recipe called for chorizo, but my butcher was out, so I went with their verde sausage which is one of my favorites. I don't know exactly what's in it, but it has herbs and a little heat, and is absolutely delicious. It worked out perfectly and these little stuffed peppers were perfect. I will definitely make these little guys again. And really, and sausage would be delicious, chorizo, verde, Italian, choose your own adventure. 

 
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Baby Peppers Stuffed with Sausage and Herbs
Adapted from Les Marchés Francais: Four Seasons of French Dishes from the Paris Markets by Brian DeFehr and Pauline Boldt
Ingredients

  • 10-12 mini bell peppers
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 oil packed anchovies, or about 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 small or 1/2 large zucchini, diced
  • 2 Plum tomatoes, chopped
  • Shredded kale (optional)
  • 2 verde sausages (alternatively Italian sausage or Chorizo are good options)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a medium baking dish. Cut the tops off the sweet peppers. With a small knife, dig out the seeds and place the now prepped peppers in the baking dish (slice off a thin slice on the bottom of any of the peppers that want to fall over to create a flat surface). 

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Once warm, add a couple of tablespoons olive oil and the add the onions along with a little salt. Cook for 8-10 minutes until softened and starting to brown. Add the jalapeno (if using) and garlic and let cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the anchovies or anchovy paste,  zucchini, chopped tomatoes and kale (if using; I had a little hanging out in my garden and so just threw it in, but it's not needed). If the skillet is looking too dry, add a little bit of water. Let cook for a couple of minutes until everything is getting nice and wilty. Add more salt to taste. 

Remove the casing from the sausages and crumble into the pan with the onion and zucchini mixture. Cook until the sausage is just about cooked through. Remove from heat and add the minced parsley and stir everything together. (At this point you can add a little bit of shreded of diced cheese; I had a small piece of Manchego floating around the fridge that was perfect for this, but you can just skip it too). 

Use a teaspoon to stuff the mixture into the prepared sweet peppers. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the peppers are fully softened. Remove from oven and top with shredded parmesan cheese if desired. Let cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
 

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins

For the last few weeks I've been resisting the rhubarb at the farmer's market for no particular reason. I didn't have anything specific in mind for what to do with it, so I kept walking right on by. However, this past week I realized that if I didn't pick some up it would soon be gone, and then I would be very sad that I didn't enjoy this lovely spring vegetable (?) when I had the chance. First thing up, some baking with the classic strawberry rhubarb combination. I couldn't resist. Why mess with success? 

I recently ran across this simple bran muffin recipe and thought it looked like a winner. Sweetened with molasses and a little honey as well as a some applesauce, it's definitely more on the healthier side of the muffin spectrum. Since I almost never have applesauce around, I replaced it with mashed banana making these strawberry rhubarb banana bran muffins. Yes, the banana adds some of it's characteristic flavor to the muffin, but with the deep flavor of molasses as well as the strawberry and rhubarb it's really not that noticeable. Plus, I love bananas so it didn't matter that much to me. If you prefer a more neutral flavor, stick with the original applesauce. 

I halved this recipe and ended up making 8 muffins. I was going to make 6 but there was too much batter for that! This may be due to the fact that I just threw in a banana that had been hanging out in my freezer for far too long without measuring it. The batter was likely a little wetter than it was supposed to be, but it all worked out deliciously in the end!

These muffins turned out moist and sticky, strongly flavored with molasses so if you're not such a huge molasses fan just be warned. I'm guessing you can replace some of the molasses with a little more honey, but I haven't tried that yet. However, these muffins were so easy and nutritions that I know I'll be experimenting with them more in the future. 

 
 

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins
Adapted from Food 52
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) wheat bran
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of a mix of chopped rhubarb and strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the strawberries and rhubarb to the flour mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, molasses, honey, egg, banana, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Place 12 paper cups in a muffin pan, or grease the cups. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Gratin of Zucchini, Rice and Corn with Cheese

I was browsing through my Instagram feed earlier last week when I came across a photo for a zucchini rice casserole that for whatever reason just called to me. I went online to find the recipe and was happy to see that it was a very simple and a very healthy recipe. So when I went to the farmer's market on Saturday I picked up two large zucchini so I could whip this dish up over the weekend. I am a huge zucchini fan and usually end up just slicing it up into rounds or spears and grilling it. I liked that this dish gave me something else that I could do with zucchini if I am feeling ambitious. Not that it's a difficult dish by any means, but it's slightly more involved than slicing and grilling!

Of course, I couldn't leave the recipe alone so I decided to add my own twist and add in some freshly picked sweet corn that I also picked up at the farmer's market. I think zucchini + corn is one of the best late summer combos so I couldn't pass it up. I think it was a brilliant addition to the gratin! The tender zucchini mixed with the juicy and sweet corn is fantastic along with some salty parmesan and a couple little pats of butter. Fresh, healthy and delicious, this is a great late-summer winner!

On the blog where I got the recipe she used brown rice in this gratin as opposed to the white rice which is what the original recipe that she used called for. I went with the brown rice as well and parboiled it for 8 minutes as she said. I found that in the finished dish the rice was not quite tender so I would recommend upping the length of the parboil to 10-12 minutes, or alternatively, baking the casserole longer overall. I ended up baking it for 35 minutes and there was still quite a bit of liquid left over when I dug in. This extra liquid did not detract from the delicious flavors, but if you are looking for a finished product with less moisture I would bake it longer and/or add less liquid prior to baking.

 
 

Gratin of Zucchini, Rice and Corn with Cheese
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds zucchini or other summer squash
  • 2 ears corn
  • 1/2 cup short grain brown rice 
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • about 2 1/2 cups warm zucchini juices
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Shred the zucchini in a food processor or with a box grater, toss with a heaping teaspoon of salt and drain in a colander. Reserving the juices. Meanwhile drop the rice into boiling salted water, bring rapidly back to a boil for 10-12 minutes; drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400'.

Cut the kernels off of the ears of corn. In a large oven-proof frying pan melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the corn, salt and pepper and cook over medium high heat until starting to brown. Remove corn from pan and set aside. 

Return the frying pan to heat. Add the 2 tablespoon olive oil and cook the onions with a little salt for 15-20 minutes, or longer, until tender and translucent and starting to brown. Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and the garlic. Let sit without stirring for a few minutes to start browning some of the zucchini. Then, toss for about 5 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender. Add the corn back to the pan. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for a minute and remove from the heat. 

Gradually stir in the 2-2 1/2 cups warm liquid (zucchini juices). Put the pan over moderately high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat again, stir in the blanched rice, 1/2 cup of the grated parmesan and 1 tablespoon butter. Taste carefully for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. 

Transfer frying pan to oven. Bake until the gratin is bubbling, top is browned and appears most of the liquid has absorbed, approximately 35-40 minutes, sprinkling with additional parmesan in the last 5 minutes if desired.

Zucchini Greek Yogurt Muffins

It's that time of year again, zucchini season. The summer squash are exploding from every stand at the farmer's market, dark green, light green, yellow. Every year I hear people groaning about their excess of summer squash but to be honest I've never felt like I had too much of this mild vegetable. I honestly think I could eat grilled zucchini all day, every day of August. It is so good. A little olive oil, a pinch or two of salt, +/- some chili powder or smoked paprika, I never get tired of this simple preparation. And then there's summer squash's sweeter side, the magic of zucchini bread and muffins. 

I whipped up these muffins last weekend to keep in my freezer all week, easy to pull out for a mid-morning snack or to tide me over in the late afternoon before dinner. They ended up being the perfect choice. Nothing flashy, mildly flavored, not overly sweet. A true snack. Each one is on the smaller side, good for a quick bite when you need something fast! 

These muffins are full of wholesome ingredients, the zucchini obviously, whole grain oats,  whole wheat flour, and Greek yogurt. Naturally sweetened for the most part with a little honey (plus just a bit of brown sugar), and lightly spiced with cinnamon. They may not win any beauty contests, but they will give you something tasty and nutritions to sink your teeth into when that craving strikes. 

 
 

Greek Yogurt Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Running with Spoons
Ingredients

  • 1 cup (120 g) whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 cup (80 g) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup (225 g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (80g) honey
  • 2 tbsp (25 g) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (115 g) shredded zucchini, squeezed of excess liquid

Directions
Preheat your oven to 350F (176C) and prepare a muffin pan by lining the cavities with paper liners or greasing them with oil or cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg until it becomes slightly frothy. Whisk in the yogurt, honey, sugar, and vanilla, mixing until well combined. Fold in the shredded zucchini.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing gently until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling them almost to the top.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins begin to turn golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for ~15 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store them in an airtight container 

Yields: 12 small muffins

Greek Yogurt Tart with Sunflower Seed Crust

Well, June is here and after a chilly start to the week, it finally feels like it has actually arrived here in Michigan. June is a wonderful month, but for all it's greatness I think my favorite thing about June may be strawberries!! We wait so long for such a short season, but I try to enjoy every minute of it. This Greek yogurt tart is the perfect way to showcase this fruit in all of its splendor. I actually made this tart a few weeks back for a Memorial Day brunch I attended, but now that local strawberries are just beginning to arrive at the Farmer's market it's the perfect opportunity to give this recipe a try. Of course, as the summer goes on and other fruits come into season this tart can be adapted to pretty much whatever fruit you have on hand in a given moment. 

I was looking for something fresh, light and delicious to make for my brunch and my mind kept focusing on some kind of fresh tart. I didn't want it to have a traditional crust, but wanted something a little different. While browsing recipes I came across a savory sunflower seed crust over at Natural Girl Modern World and was intrigued. I decided to try adapting it a bit to work for me in a sweet application. With a few tweaks it came out great! More like a giant cookie crust as opposed to a traditional tart crust, exactly what I was looking for. It was perfect topped with some yogurt and fruit, kind of twist on the more traditional fruit and yogurt parfait - delicious. 

For the filling of this tart I wanted to go very simple. I took my homemade yogurt and strained it for several days until very thick and incredibly creamy. Store-bought yogurt would work just fine too, just make sure to buy plain yogurt to strain, not the flavored stuff, you can add sugar and flavorings yourself.  To the very thick yogurt I gently added a little honey, a little brown sugar, and some lemon zest. Not a lot of sugar, but just enough to add a touch of sweetness. Just taste and adjust until the flavors are to your liking. I spooned this sweetened yogurt into the crust and topped with the sliced berries. Done! Fresh and light, exactly what I was hoping for. 

 
 

Sunflower Seed Tart Crust
Adapted from Natural Girl Modern World
Ingredients

  • 1 cup (80 grams) oats 
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) flour
  • 3/4 cup (105 grams) sunflower seeds 
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons (63 grams) butter, chilled
  • 3  tablespoons (63 grams) honey 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom

Directions
In a food processor, blend oats until the texture of coarse sand. Add sunflower seeds and salt and blend until the seeds are also a crumb-like texture. This should only take 30 seconds to 1 minute. Over-blend and you'll start to make nut butter. Add the flour and pulse a few times to combine. Add the chilled butter and pulse a couple of times, until starting to come together. Add the honey and continue to pulse until a ball of dough forms. It will be sticky. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place into the back of your freezer for about 15 minutes, or refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. 

While the dough chills, preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Remove dough from freezer and press it into prepared greased 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Aim for an even distribution of dough throughout the pan, pressing the dough together firmly to create a solid base. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the crust thoroughly to allow air to escape when baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Keep an eye on it towards the end of baking to ensure the edges don't over-brown. Set aside to cool before filling. 

Festive Lemon Berry Bars

Happy Fourth a few days late! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was incredibly relaxing and lazy, exactly what I was hoping for! One of the few things I did accomplish during this wonderful weekend was baking up a batch of these festive and delicious lemon berry bars. I wanted an easy and quick dessert that was summery and fitting for the 4th of July. These bars fit the bill perfectly, filled with colorful red and blue berries and topped with a simple white glaze. The hint of lemon from some fresh lemon juice and zest was the perfect way to brighten them up for the middle of summer. Light and refreshing, these bars will be wonderful all season long!

The original recipe for these bars called for just blueberries, but I wanted to make them more festive for the holiday so I threw in the strawberries too because I had them on hand. Raspberries would have also been really good. I think pretty much any berry would do very nicely in these bars, so don't feel constrained to just blueberries and/or strawberries. 

When I first pulled the bars out of the oven they looked kind of funny. Since there is no leavening in them, they didn't really rise much, and the top was covered in bubbles which you can kind of see in the pictures. I wasn't sure what they would look like in the end, but once I cut them, and especially after adding the glaze they looked really nice, and quite delicious. So if they turn out a little funny looking at first, have no fear! Just cut them up once cool and add a nice hefty dose of glaze and all should be well!

Festive Lemon Berry Bars

Adapted from 

Sweet Pea's Kitchen

Ingredients

For the Bars:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated zest 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberries, cut into small pieces

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of water or fresh lemon juice 

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8” x 8” pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds. Add lemon juice and vanilla and mix to combine. Add flour and salt, mixing until incorporated. Fold in blueberries and strawberries.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake until skewer inserted into brownies comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack to room temperature.

To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and water or lemon juice. Spread over bars and let firm up, about 10 minutes.

Smokey Tomato and Charred Corn Soup

The day started out chilly and damp yesterday. The perfect kind of day to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee. Because I was cold all morning, a big bowl of warm soup sounded like the perfect lunch. Happily I had some frozen homemade marinara sauce in the freezer, the quickest and easiest way to throw together a delicious tomato soup. I thawed some of it out, added some water and let it bubble away on the stove until nice and hot. For some additional flavor I added in a scoop of basil pesto for freshness and a couple of dashes of smoked paprika for a little smokey flavor. I topped it all off with some grilled and charred sweet corn, thinly sliced green onion, and some nice, sharp aged cheddar cheese. It was the perfect lunch to warm up to on this chilly June Saturday. 

I love using leftover marinara as a base for a quick tomato soup. All of the work has really already been done, all you need to do is heat it up and add some add whatever additional flavors you want, if any. Basil is always a good option, but really any herb will work. If you are wanting something a little creamier, you can always add a little bit of cream, sour cream or yogurt and if you need something a little heartier you can also add in some white beans or quinoa, or even rice or noodles. 

Then toppings, I always like a flavorful cheese like sharp cheddar, parmesan, smoked provolone, but you can use whatever you have on hand. This was the first time I have tried adding corn to a tomato soup and I highly recommend it. The crunchy and sweet corn kernels just burst in your mouth, full of flavor. Thin sliced onions, crispy croutons or chopped sweet pepper would also be wonderful additions. 

Smokey Tomato and Charred Corn Soup 

From Jana

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pre-made marinara sauce, homemade or store bought
  • Approximately 1 cup water or stock
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup grilled corn kernels
  • Thinly sliced green onion
  • Grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

Combine the marinara, water or stock and smoked paprika in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 5-10 minutes to let it all heat up and help the flavors to really meld. You may want to add more or less water depending on how thick your marinara is and how thick or thin you like your tomato soup. 

Once the soup is nice and hot, transfer to a bowl and taste for seasoning. Top soup with grilled corn, green onion and cheddar cheese.