Ahhh…summertime. I know it hasn’t technically started yet, but after Memorial Day it’s pretty much summer in Tennessee. This is without a doubt my favorite time of year, I love all seasons, but you just can’t beat bare feet on the patio, the aroma of grilled goodness in the air, and carefree days spent by the pool. I’m also quite fond of the food that goes along with warmer weather. Heck, I wrote a whole cookbook about it! I like taking a fresh ingredient of the season and using it in all kinds of fun, new ways. However, as much as I love to come up with unique recipe ideas, sometimes you just can’t beat a classic. Hence, this week’s recipe, a delightful Peach Cobbler. All you need is a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go with it, and you’re all set. I actually listed the ice cream as an ingredient in this recipe, because let’s face it you just can’t have cobbler without it. If you forgot to grab it at the store(like I did), have the husband run back to the grocery to snag some (like I did). It’s really that important, I mean it’s not like you get to enjoy fresh Peach Cobbler every day.
I was lucky enough to make my cobbler out of a bag of peaches my parents’ brought me from The Peach Truck. They weren’t quite ripe enough the day they were bought, so I left them in that brown paper bag for a couple of days. As soon as they ripened to perfection, I knew what I had to do. Sweet, buttery, cakey, cobbler is what happened, and I’m so glad it did. Even in the midst of contracts being signed, a poor baby who caught my cold, and just all around business, I had to make time for cobbler.
Sometimes, in this crazy season we’re in, I’ve learned that I have to go out of my way to enjoy the sweetness of life. Whether it’s laying on the floor laughing with Maverick when there are countless tasks to be done, or saying no to laundry and other household chores to make cobbler. I didn’t want to let peach season go by without making peach cobbler, and you shouldn’t either! It may sound simple or even silly, but these are the little treats that make life sweet. Don’t miss them!
Sweet Summertime Peach Cobbler
- 4 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced*
- 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1 cup self rising flour
- 3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk (low fat is fine)
- Vanilla ice cream, of serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Toss together the peaches and vanilla and pour them into a 9 inch baking dish.
- Whisk together melted butter, flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and milk. This mixture will seem runny, and that’s okay.
- Pour the batter over the peaches and bake for 45 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar over the cobbler and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Cool slightly and serve with vanilla ice cream!
***Peeling peaches can be daunting, but I have a simple trick to help you out. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut an X at the bottom of each peach. Place the peaches into the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove them quickly and allow them to cool in a big bowl of ice water. The skin of the peaches should easily pull away from the flesh where the X’s are cut.
I hate to admit this, especially since we are less than 2 weeks from my cookbook coming out, but I just haven’t been cooking very much lately, at least not cooking to come up with new recipes. We have been going through probably the busiest, most stressful time of our lives for the past month or so. Hard work and chasing your dreams can be really hard, especially when you throw a baby into the mix. Sometimes I forget that it’s supposed to be hard, and it’s going to take a lot of work. If my life ever looks like it’s all sunshine and roses from the outside, just know that on the inside it’s chaotic, risky, and pretty tense at times. Thankfully, we are finally getting to the fun part of all that we have had going on, and I really can’t complain about a thing. There are seasons for everything, and I am learning to embrace the present not just look to what’s next. Easier said than done, especially when the outcome is uncertain, but I’m trying!
You’re probably not surprised to hear that when I’m feeling stressed, I like to pray…and cook. I love to turn on some calming music and just zone out in the kitchen when life feels chaotic. At least I have some control in that space, as opposed to so many other aspects of my life. Cooking allows me to get my creative juices flowing and focus on something fun and beautiful. That’s actually how this pasta recipe came about.
I have been buying zucchini every week lately, because it is so plentiful and inexpensive right now. Usually, I roast it and serve it as a simple side. However, this time I roasted it with some frozen corn, which gets almost candied in the oven, and I added it to pasta shells. Then I tossed it all in a light, creamy sauce. The awesome part about this recipe is that it’s total comfort food, but without all of the calories and fat from a heavy, cream sauce drenched pasta dish. I also love that this dish is filled with zucchini, making for an easy way to get the kiddos (and adults) to eat those veggies!
If you want to add some fresh Parmesan cheese to this dish, I certainly won’t be mad at ya. But I will say, it’s pretty tasty as is!
Roasted Zucchini and Corn Pasta in Light Lemon Cream Sauce
- 2 medium zucchini, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 tablespoo extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 ounces pasta shells (whole wheat may be used)
- 3 slices bacon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 cups lowfat milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
- Place the chopped zucchini and corn (still frozen) onto a large baking sheet and toss with the oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
- Bake the veggies for 16-18 minutes, tossing halfway through baking. The corn should be golden and the zucchini should have a slight char.
- Meanwhile cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and set aside.
- Cook the bacon in a large skillet, and then chop it and set it aside. Reserve about 2 teaspoons of the drippings in the skillet. Add the butter to the drippings and let it melt over medium heat.
- Stir in the garlic and flour into the skillet and cook for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk to prevent any lumps and continue stirring until the mixure thickens. Then stir in the lemon juice. Season the sauce with the remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper.
- Toss the veggies, pasta and chopped bacon into the sauce and serve warm.
Photo courtesy of www.stephaniemullinsphoto.com
Well, I can hardly believe it, but we are less than 3 short weeks away from the release of The Outdoor Table! Since we are so close, I plan to share a few more sneak peak recipes from the book over the next couple of weeks. Remember, the recipes in the book are exclusive, meaning you won’t find them online! So be sure to pre-order your copy today, so you can get all of the deliciousness this book has to offer.
Now, before I get to the recipe, I wanted to invite you all to my first book signing which is also serving as a release party for The Outdoor Table! This will a be fun, laid back event at Parnassus Books, right across from Green Hills mall.
We will have some delicious refreshments, recipes courtesy of the cookbook, of course, for you to enjoy as well. So help me out on this first one, we would love to have a big turn out for this event! Bring your friends, grab some food and your copy of The Outdoor Table, and make a night of it! Thank you all for your support!
Here are the details…
What: Book Signing and Release Party
And now back to the recipe! As you may have heard, this cookbook originally started out as a southern book, so many of the recipes do have a southern flair, which I’m actually thrilled about! It really brings some character to the book, and this process made me fall in love with southern food all over again. And no, it’s not all fried chicken and cornbread, although those are included of course! One of my favorite warmer weather dishes is fish tacos, it’s just a go to dinner for me. I really wanted to include a recipe in the book for them, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to make fish tacos southern. And then I thought…Catfish! I didn’t want to fry the fish, because I wanted this to be something quick and light. In fact, that’s how most of the recipes are in this book. Fresh, fast, and colorful!
So, go on and get you some good catfish, maybe even fresh caught if you know a guy, and whip up these southern style fish tacos in no time. You’re gonna love them!
***A note about buying fish: I try to buy my seafood from somewhere that I trust. One thing to remember, fish should never smell fishy, if it does, don’t buy it. Also it’s best to use fresh fish the same day it is bought!
Tennessee Fish Tacos with Creamy Jalapeño Slaw
I call these “Tennessee Tacos,” because you probably won’t find fresh catfish tacos anywhere by the beach. Our ponds and lakes in Tennessee are full of good catfish, usually perfect for frying, but also for grilled tacos.
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
3 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds catfish filets
For the slaw, place the green and purple cabbage in a large bowl. Mix together the sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, jalapeño, green onions, and salt. Pour the dressing over the cabbage, and toss to coat the cabbage completely. Refrigerate the slaw until you are ready to serve.
For the fish tacos, mix together the chili powder, paprika, cumin, and salt. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the catfish filets.
Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Grill the fish for 3 minutes per side, or until it is flaky. Meanwhile, wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil, and place them on the grill to heat. Remove the fish and tortillas from the grill, and use two forks to flake the fish apart. Assemble the tacos and top them with the slaw.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Tip: Be sure your grill is very clean and oiled before grilling this delicate fish.
Is this not the most beautiful cake?! And just wait until you taste it, I’m thinking this is the perfect Mother’s Day dessert. I’ll get to the recipe soon, but first a little about the star of the show, strawberries!
If you haven’t noticed from social media yet, it’s Strawberry picking time! A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a “Strawberry School” at Wagner Berry Farms conducted by my friend and mentor, Tammy Algood with Pick Tennessee Products (check out http://www.picktnproducts.org to find local strawberry farms in your area). Tammy is the southern cooking queen, and she has played a huge role in this crazy cooking journey I’m on. She actually introduced me to her book agent, who is now my agent and the talented man who came up with the concept for The Outdoor Table. Needless to say, I’m a big fan of hers, and I’m so incredibly thankful for her generosity and wisdom.
The fabulous Tammy Algood and I
Now back to the berries. Strawberry season here in Tennessee starts in May and runs through late June, it’s pretty short and sweet. So, I wanted to share 5 takeaways I had from the class, that will hopefully allow you to get the most out of these delicious local berries!
All you need for serving beautiful strawberries is a pretty platter and a bowl of powdered sugar!
It’s amazing the difference in the store bought berries compared to freshly picked. Did you know that it is logistically impossible to buy a ripe strawberry from a grocery store? (Find out why in my 5 tips below) Not only will you get the best berries locally, it’s also a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors with your family. Oh and once you get them picked, go home bake up my Strawberry Upside Down Cake!
5 Tips for Strawberry Picking and Storage
- Strawberries do not ripen after they are harvested. Once you pick the berry, it won’t continue to ripen like some other fruits, so be sure to pick the ripest berries you can find!
- The ripest strawberries to pick should be red from the tip to the cap (where the stem is). Leave those green tipped berries on the vine!
- Store your berries in a single layer, on a jelly roll pan, in your refrigerator for the longest shelf life.
- DO NOT pre wash the berries and then store them, wash them right before eating/serving. This will prolong shelf life and keep them from molding prematurely.
- The shelf life of a strawberry is about a week from the time it is picked. This is why strawberries in a super market, usually from California are rarely at their peak. The ripest berries from huge farms actually go into juice anyway, not into the cartons for consumers.
Since Mother’s Day is this Sunday, I thought that this Strawberry Upside Down Cake would be appropriate this week. I mean what mom doesn’t love cake and strawberries?! Oh and it simply must be served warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Okay, my mouth is watering.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mommas out there. Now that I am a mom myself, I can appreciate this day more than ever. Enjoy!
Strawberry Upside Down Cake
makes 8 servings
- 10 tablespoons of butter, divided
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- 3/4 white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a 9inch cast iron skillet over medium heat.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter and then arrange the strawberry slices evenly on top. Remove the skillet form the heat and set aside.
- Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and place in a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar until well mixed. Stir in the almond extract, eggs, and buttermilk.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly mix the flour mixture in the buttermilk mixture. Pour the batter over the strawberries, and spread it evenly to the edges of the skillet.
- Bake the cake for 28-30 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, and then place a serving plate upside down on top of the pan, and invert the cake onto the plate. Serve it warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.