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CHEESY APPLE TURNIP BAKE

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Turnips and apples pair well together!

Hubby and I recently returned from trips to Vermont and North Carolina and brought back apples we picked ourselves. We’ve been enjoying fresh apples and apple muffins and apple cake. The turnips in this week’s CSA box called out to be used with apples in some way. I’ve been wanting to try a friend’s recipe for Apple Casserole, so I tweaked it and added turnips! It was a good call as evidenced by the scraped dish on today’s potluck dinner table!

WHAT YOU NEED:

turnips, cubed and boiled

5 large red apples, unpeeled

1 tsp. cinnamon

6 T. water

1 tsp. lemon juice

¾ cup sugar

½ cup flour

½ tsp. salt

¼ cup butter

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Prep the turnips: wash, slice in half, and cube. I used my vegetable chopper. Boil them until crisp tender, about 15 minutes, drain, and toss with a tablespoon butter and some cinnamon. I did this step the night before and refrigerated until the next morning.

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Cubing turnips for boiling.

Prep the apples: core and chop. Again, I used my vegetable chopper.

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Core unpeeled apples.

Place in casserole dish with the chopped turnips. Stir to combine and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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cubed turnips and apples

Mix water and lemon juice and pour over apple/turnip mixture.

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Lemon water!

Combine sugar, flour, and salt; cut in butter with two knives or pastry cutter.

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Cut in butter with flour/sugar/salt mixture.

Stir in about half of the cheddar cheese. Sprinkle this crumb topping over top of apples.

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Top with crumb topping.

Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese over top.

Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.

You could easily increase the amounts of this recipe. It was a tad sweet in my opinion, but that might have been because the apples were so sweet.  It was a definite hit at today’s potluck dinner. Several expressed surprise at the addition of turnips and asked for the recipe. I brought home an empty casserole dish; that’s the sign of a keeper recipe!

 

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Almost scraped clean!

 

 

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TURKISH DIP

This recipe is one of three featured in a magazine article entitled “3 Ways with Eggplant.” I clipped out the article quite a while back and recently came across it again in my recipe box. When I saw the fairytale eggplant in our first fall CSA box, I decided it was time to try out the Turkish Dip recipe.

I “googled” Turkish Dip and read that this roasted eggplant dip is served everywhere in Turkey. At its most basic it is just eggplant, lemon, olive oil and salt but you can jazz it up with spices or garlic.  It’s traditionally eaten as a cold starter, or ‘meze’ or can be served as a dip or spread at parties.

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WHAT YOU NEED:

1 lb. eggplant

1 clove garlic

½ cup parsley (I used parsley I’d chopped and frozen)

1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbl chopped onion (I used red)

2 tsp. olive oil

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin (I reduced to 1 tsp.)

¼ tsp. pepper

WHAT YOU DO:

If using a one pound purple globe eggplant, pierce a few times and roast in baking pan at 350*  for 1 hour, until soft.  Halve, cool, and scrape out pulp.

I had just over 1 pound of fairy tale eggplant, so I cubed them using my chopper. The skin is so thin and soft that there’s no sense in peeling.

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Cubing eggplant for roasting

I tossed the cubed eggplant with a few tsp. of olive oil and roasted for 30 minutes at 350*.

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Roasted eggplant!

Put eggplant pulp in a food processor with all the other ingredients and pulse until chopped.I do believe I over-processed mine! But it was nice and creamy and very spread-able!

Chill in the fridge for a while.

Serve with toasted bread, preferably pita bread.

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Turkish Dip with pita wedges

Note that I reduced cumin to 1 tsp. I’m very glad I did, for it was very spicy and fragrant. Hubby does not like that flavor, so he wasn’t a fan of the dip, but Oldest Daughter and I enjoyed it with our lunch. She and I agreed that this would be tasty spread on a sandwich with some cheese and turkey.

If there’s a butternut squash in our CSA box, can autumn be far behind?

This winter squash is known in Australia and New Zealand as butternut pumpkin. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of a pumpkin, with yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. This hardy squash can be kept for up to three months in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate.

When I saw that butternut squash, I instantly thought of a recipe I got several years ago at a Weight Watchers meeting. I’ve made it many, many times since then. The tender squash, sweet apples and crunchy nuts all come together in a delightful way! I think you’ll like it, too.

Since I only had one squash in the box, I halved the recipe.

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The cast!

WHAT YOU NEED:

2 medium sized butternut squash

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cubed

¼ cup butter, melted

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup pecans, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350*.

Prep the squash: Wash and cut in half lengthways; be careful with that sharp knife and a wobbly butternut squash! Remove seeds.

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Halve and de-seed.

Place squash halves face down in a glass dish, add a few tablespoons of water, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 6-8 minutes.

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Just minutes in a microwave!

This smallish squash was tender in 6 minutes. Allow to cool before removing peel and chopping into chunks.

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Chunks of tender butternut squash!

You could also prep in the same manner but cook uncovered in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, using about ¾ inch of water in the bottom of the pan.

Core, peel and chop apple. I used a Gala apple since that’s what I had on hand. I placed the apple pieces in a bowl of lemon water to prevent browning while I prepped the other ingredients.

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Core, peel, and chop apple.

I chopped the pecans rather finely since there aren’t very many of them and I wanted them to be evenly divided within the squash mixture. I also toasted them in the microwave on high at 30 second bursts. I did this twice, allowing them to cool between sessions.

Combine apple pieces, toasted pecans, cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl. I poured the melted butter over the apples first so the other ingredients would stick to the apples.

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Here’s the flavor!

Add to the dish of chopped squash and toss lightly to coat squash pieces. Spread evenly in dish.

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Apple nut mixture joins the squash!

Bake for 30 minutes or until casserole is warm and bubbly.

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Oh my!

VARIATIONS: use coconut oil rather than butter; honey rather than brown sugar; add ½ tsp. each of cinnamon and nutmeg. I chose to add the cinnamon which I’ve never done before. I’m pretty sure I’ll love this addition! I’m also thinking this dish will make an appearance on my Thanksgiving table this year!

PEAR BREAD

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sweet, crisp pears!

 

Last summer a friend gave me lots of pears from her tree. I made canned pears, and pear sauce, and Pear Flip Flop and this bread. It is delicious! The secret to its yumminess is Cardamom. I hadn’t used this spice much until I discovered this recipe. Cardamom, in the ginger family, is the world’s third-most expensive spice by weight, outstripped in market value only by saffron and vanilla. It adds such an interesting flavor! When I found this box of pears in Saturday’s CSA box, I knew Pear Bread would soon be in the oven!

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Secret ingredient!

WHAT YOU NEED:

3 cups flour

¼ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cardamom

3 eggs

¾ cup vegetable oil

2 tsp. vanilla

1.5 cups white sugar

2 heaping cups chopped pears

1 cup chopped pecans (opt)

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease two 8×4 inch loaf pans. I used parchment paper in bottom as well.

Prep the pears. The original recipe calls for grated pears, but I enjoy finding a piece of soft pear in my bread, so I used my chopper. I covered the pears with a damp paper towel to slow down oxidation while I got other ingredients ready.

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Chop or grate the pears.

In large mixing bowl combine oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamom (and nuts, if using).

Stir chopped pears into dry ingredients; coating the pears this way will help distribute them throughout the batter.

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Coat pears with dry ingredients.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.

Place in preheated oven; position a pie tin filled with cool water under the loaf pan. This will keep the loaf from browning  too quickly before the inside is baked.

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A pie tin of water slows down browning of the loaf.

Bake for 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a loaf comes out clean.

Allow loaves to cool in pans for 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Pear Bread!

NOTE: I halved this recipe to make one loaf. I used two eggs and reduced oil to 1/3 cup because of the two eggs.

EGGPLANT DRESSING WITH BEEF

This Cajun dish is a good fall-back for me when I’ve exhausted all of my eggplant recipes. It freezes well and is enjoyed by everyone in the family. It makes a filling meal when paired with some peas (purple hull, crowder, or limas) and some fresh fruit.

WHAT YOU NEED: DSC00109

1/2 stick margarine

2 large purple eggplants (peeled and cubed)

1 lb. good ground chuck

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup water

1 tsp. each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme

2 cups cooked hot white rice (I used brown; recipe below)

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9 by 11 inch pyrex dish with a non stick spray.

Prep eggplant. I used Fairy Tale Eggplant from the CSA box.

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Chopped Fairy Tale eggplant

Saute’ onion and bell pepper in melted margarine. I used about half of the amount called for; you could also use olive oil.

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When onion and bell pepper are softened, add garlic and stir to prevent burning.

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Garlic joins the mix!

Add meat and brown slightly; then, add seasonings, eggplant, and water.

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Cover and simmer for 20 minutes on medium low heat.

Add rice* and pour into the pyrex dish.

Sprinkle with 1/2 cup bread crumbs and bake at 350* for 30 minutes.

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Eggplant dressing with beef!

* The original recipe calls for white rice, but it works just as well with brown rice. Since the oven is hot already, I like to bake up two recipes of Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice. After reading reviews, I cut back on the rice to 1 cup and use chicken broth rather than water for deeper flavor. I omit the salt because of the chicken broth.

BAKED BROWN RICE: 1 cup brown rice mixed with 2 1/2 cups boiling chicken broth mixed in small baking dish. (I spray dish with non-stick spray.) Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375* for one hour. Fluff with fork and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

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Boiling chicken broth gets brown rice to cooking!

I used one pan in the recipe; the other pan got divided into 1/2 cup portions, bagged, and frozen for future meals. It’s a snap to zap a bag in the microwave for a quick addition to supper!

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Double the recipe and freeze one for later!

OKRA: boiled and fried!

th8BF3NOE5These tender little guys are just screaming for a spot on your dinner plate! Today I’ll show you TWO ways to prepare them.

#1.  BOILED OKRA

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Boiled baby okra with onion and fresh tomato!

WHAT YOU NEED:

fat to sauté onion (I used bacon)

onion

fresh tomato

okra

salt & pepper

Sauté  chopped onion in the bacon fat. I used about 2 tsp. of fat and half of a red onion.

When onion is translucent, add chopped tomatoes and stir. Season with salt and pepper.

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Add okra. My CSA portion was right at a pound. I did cut off some of the upper stem. Stir to coat okra with other ingredients and then add ½-1 cup of water. Bring to boil, cover, and simmer about 6 minutes. Check for tenderness. Mine were done in about 7 minutes.

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That’s it! Easy and delicious! This is how I prepare baby okra, but if I have larger pods that I slice, I use this recipe for Stewed Okra and Tomatoes. I use chicken broth in place of the chicken bouillon. I found the recipe to need more liquid, and the broth takes care of that.  

# 2.  FRIED OKRA

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Super crunchy fried okra “fingers!”

Hubby loves fried okra, but he doesn’t get it very often, for a couple of reasons: health (Hello!) and because I hate the smell of fried food in the house. I control these two reasons by limiting his intake of these deliciously crunchy wonders and by frying them outside on the patio.

I had two FRIED OKRA break-throughs last summer:  I found the absolute BEST recipe for fried okra – a Southern Living method that produces crunchy breading that stays ON the okra! The secret is cornstarch and a tiny bit of sugar. And, I read on a blog about okra “fingers.” I hate chasing little pieces of okra around a frying pan. This blogger sliced the pods length-ways and fried them up like that. Eureka! Okra fingers!

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Slice okra length-ways to create okra “fingers.”

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 lb. fresh okra

¾ cup buttermilk*

1 ½ cups self-rising white cornmeal mix *

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. sugar

Vegetable oil

*MAKE YOUR OWN self-rising cornmeal mix:

       1 ½ cups cornmeal

       2 Tbl. baking powder

       1 tsp. salt

       1/3 cup + 1 Tbl. cornstarch

*MAKE YOUR OWN BUTTERMILK: to one cup of warmed milk add ONE of the following, stir, and let stand 5-10 minutes:

1 Tbl. lemon juice

1 Tbl. vinegar

1 ¾ Tbl. cream of tartar

WHAT YOU DO:

Slice okra length-ways and add to buttermilk; I used a pie plate.

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okra soaking in buttermilk

Stir together cornmeal mix and next 3 ingredients in a separate pie plate.

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Remove okra from buttermilk, in batches, using a slotted spoon, and dredge in cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess, and put on plate until ready to fry.

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Dredge okra “fingers” in cornmeal mixture.

I use an electric skillet and vegetable oil heated to 375°. You could also use a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. I like to use the electric skillet so I can set up my frying station on the patio and keep the smell of fried food out of the house.

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Pretty view while frying okra!

Fry okra, in batches, 4 minutes or until golden, turning once.  Just like shrimp, the okra will stop sizzling when the moisture has cooked out, signaling that it’s time to get out of the frying pan!

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Fry until golden brown!

Drain on paper towels. Salt lightly. Enjoy!

Food Network was on while I was sewing, and my ears perked up when I heard the words eggplant paired with Italian sausage and pasta. A cold salad utilizing this purple veggie along with grape tomatoes in combination with several of my favorites (kalamata olives! feta cheese!) had me watching the entire episode. I quickly printed off the recipe to give it a try!

It’s a fairly lengthy list of ingredients, but the combination is quite delicious and yields a large salad that will provide several meals for your family.

WHAT YOU NEED:

Kosher salt

1 pound bowtie (farfalle) pasta

2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil

1 medium eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes

Freshly ground black pepper

3/4 pound Italian sausage, casings removed

1 pint (10 ounces) grape tomatoes, sliced in half

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 large lemon, juiced

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

WHAT YOU DO:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

Prep the eggplant: these Fairy Tale Eggplant in Saturday’s CSA box weighed a little under one pound, so I supplemented with a small purple globe eggplant I had from my garden to reach the one pound mark.

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almost one pound!

The thin skin of the Fairy Tale Eggplant eliminates the need for peeling; I just chopped into cubes.

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Add the eggplant to the prepared baking sheet; drizzle with the 1/4 cup olive oil (I did not use this much!), sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss it all together. Roast until golden, tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes.

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Roasted eggplant!

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat to cook the Italian sausage. I used some from Rose Creek Farms.

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Sauté until cooked through, using the back of a wooden spoon to crumble the sausage, 6 to 7 minutes. At this point, I elevated the skillet to drain off the excess fat, saving just a little to sauté the garlic.

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Elevate to drain off fat!

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

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Sauté garlic in a bit of sausage fat.

Now, add tomatoes. Heat through until tomatoes begin to soften a bit, 1 minute.

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Sausage w/garlic and tomatoes!

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente. (I used half of the package of pasta; I wanted it more “meaty” for a sometimes-picky husband!) Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and the freshly-squeezed lemon juice. Toss to coat and then add the fresh basil and parsley.

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Pasta!

Now add the feta cheese and chopped Kalamata olives. These two ingredients add a unique salty deliciousness to the pasta!

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Kickin’ up the flavor!

Add the roasted eggplant to the bowl and toss together.

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So many flavors in each bite!

The recipe says to serve at room temperature which is what I did the first day; however, this salad was just as yummy cold from the refrigerator the next day. I am happy to report that the husband really liked this salad and ate it happily – both days! I think you’ll like it, too!