Spanish Rice with Salsa Rose

This cold spell has sent my kitchen into a tail spin! Ella and I tend to cook when we are worried so when we saw the forecasted temperatures in the teens we fired up the oven and started baking. In the past five days, we have made chocolate chip cookies, brownies, beef brisket, pizzas, pasta, pancakes and Spanish rice! If we can’t control the weather, we might as well eat good food, don’t you agree?!

A couple of nights ago we had Taco Tuesday on Wednesday and thanks to the Lego movie, my kids think that is so much fun. Our taco night consisted of bowls of Eckert’s homemade salsa, Eckert’s taco dip, Eckert’s hydroponic lettuce and freshly grated Mammoth Cheddar. I removed Eckert’s chorizo from the casing before browning it in a skillet and serving it along with this recipe for Spanish Rice with Salsa Rose. We enjoyed this comforting meal around the dinner table while overlooking a frosty orchard.

The big hit of Taco Tuesday was my newly concocted Spanish Rice recipe. I love the Salsa Rose products from the folks at Reinneck Ranch because they are delicious and LOCAL! The owners of Reinneck Ranch live in Mascoutah, Illinois and they are always a pleasure to work with. Recently they sampled their salsas at our Wine and Food Festival and as usual, they sold their shelf clean.

I thought it would be fun to experiment with their salsa in a rice dish and now I know, I will never buy the packages of instant Spanish rice again. This dish gets it savory flavor from the onions and garlic and a hint of sweetness from the salsa. My kids topped off their plates with shredded cheese before eating their body weight in rice. Yes, I will be making this recipe again very soon.

Fingers are crossed these temperatures won’t harm the peach crop. In the meantime, I will keep my apron on and my oven full.

 Eat well this winter,

Angie

Spanish Rice with Salsa Rose

 2 Tbs. canola oil
½ white onion, chopped (about ¾ cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups white rice (I used Basmati)
3 cups water
¾ cup Mild Salsa Rose

 Add oil to 10” skillet over medium heat. Heat until shimmering. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Add rice and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Pour in salsa and water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is done and liquid is fully absorbed. Makes 8-10 servings (or only 6 if you have rice lovers).

 

Baked Havarti with Apple Slices

If you are looking for a delicious appetizer to pair with an ice cold glass of local beer, here ya go! I love this simple appetizer and it is on my mind as we assign tasting tables to all the breweries that will be attending our biggest and best Wine and Food Festival this weekend!! The weather looks perfect and our outdoor seating area is already calling my name. CLICK HERE for more details..

Just a couple nights ago, Chris’ parents were over for an impromptu happy hour and I served up this baked Havarti. It was simple to toss together in a matter of minutes and the apple slice tie-in is fun and different.

Eckert’s pie shells are thin and flakey adding just the right amount of dough to this recipe. You can get creative with your own favorite mustard. I had a hard time deciding between Eckert’s Honey Mustard, Eckert’s Horseradish Mustard and Eckert’s Hot and Sharp Mustard. I really think they all would be delicious choices. Shine up your presentation with a little brushed egg (you could also use milk) and a sprinkling of poppy or sesame seeds. It is important to bake the cheese in a small dish with sides. I used a 3 cup oven-safe container but anything small will work. The cheese will run and ooze out of the pie crust but that is what I like most of all.

We will be sampling our baked Havarti recipe this weekend. Come on by the festival and give it a try!

Cheers, Angie

Baked Havarti with Apple Slices

1 Eckert’s frozen pie shell (9”)
8 oz. block Havarti cheese
1 1/2 Tbs. Eckert’s Hot & Sharp German Mustard
1 egg, beaten
½ Tbs. poppy seeds
apple slices for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the frozen pie shell on a cutting board or flat surface. Allow shell to thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes. Spread mustard in the center of the shell. Top with block of Havarti cheese. Make four cuts (about 4 inches in length) around the edges of the pie shell towards the center. Pull outside edges of pie shell up and towards the center of the cheese, pinch dough shut over the top of the cheese. Once edges are well sealed, brush outside of dough with egg, sprinkle with poppy seeds and place in a small baking dish*. Bake 20 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Rest five minutes before serving with apple slices.

 *Note: The baking dish must be a snug fit to prevent the cheese from running outside of the pie shell. I used an 3 cup Pyrex container (7” x 5” approximately).

Chef Lou's Blue Cheese Zinfandel Butter

Eckert’s Wine and Food Festival is approaching quickly and I am getting more excited by the day because we are going to have more tasting opportunities than ever before! Click here for details

At last year’s festival, it was a thrill to have the acclaimed Chef Lou Rook from Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield, Missouri as our guest chef. Chef Lou shared recipes in our cooking classroom and signed copies of his cookbook called Rook Cooks, Simplicity at its Finest. This recipe is called Domestic Blue Cheese Zinfandel Butter in the cookbook and it can be found on page 141.

This week, we made Chef’s butter recipe and decided to freeze it for tasting during this year’s festival. This recipe is packed with interesting flavors and would make a great topping for grilled steaks, hot pasta and fresh bakery bread. After whirling some up, we decided to serve it on toasted bread with sautéed mushrooms and a slice of cured sausage. Wow, was it delicious! Needless to say, our demo samples only lasted a couple minutes as the store staff gobbled them all up!

This recipe comes together quite easily using a couple of tips from Chef Lou. First of all, take your time cooking the shallots and garlic over medium to low heat. The wine is used to deglaze the pan and capture the flavors that adhere to the skillet. Next, it is a slow reduction process to thicken the wine adding more richness to the butter. After cooling the wine mixture and combining it with the butter, we tasted it before adding small amounts of salt and pepper. I remember Chef saying “salt is not a flavor, it is a flavor enhancer.” He cautioned the crowd to use salt sparingly and to let the natural flavors be predominant. After the butter was seasoned to our liking, we placed it on waxed paper and rolled it into a log before placing it in an air tight container. This butter can be refrigerated or frozen for future use. In our case, we will be freezing it for a couple weeks. 

Chef Lou’s Blue Cheese Zinfandel Butter is truly a WOW recipe. It is exploding with flavors that will instantly add complexity to grilled meats, pastas and more. Give it a try when you are looking to add a gourmet twist to your next dish. Please consider this an official invitation for you to come to Eckert’s and taste it for yourself during our Wine and Food Festival!

Cheers, Angie 

Chef Lou's Blue Cheese Zinfandel Butter

1 Tbs. minced shallots
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 stick plus 2 Tbs. unsalted whole butter, room temperature and cubed
2 tsp. honey
¼ cup red zinfandel
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 Tbs. minced chives
1 Tbs. minced Italian parsley
Kosher salt, to taste
Peppermill, to taste

In a medium sauté pan, sauté the shallots and garlic in the 2 Tbs. butter over medium heat until they are lightly toasted.Add the honey to the pan, then deglaze with Zinfandel. Reduce wine by three quarters and allow to cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator. When the reduction has cooled, combine the stick of butter, blue cheese and the reduction in a food processor or blender. Blend on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes.Finish the butter with chives, parsley, salt and pepper. Blend until incorporated, about 1 minute

Melted Manchego Cheese, Rosemary and Honey Wedges

We are less than a month away from one of my favorite events here at Eckert’s, our annual Wine and Food Festival!! This year’s festival will be held on March 4 & 5th, 2017 in our Country Store in Belleville from 12-6pm. I am excited to announce our new partnerships that will make our festival bigger and better than ever!!!

First of all, we will be sharing $5 from each wine/beer tasting arm band sale with Belleville’s Art on the Square. We are thrilled to be supporting Art on the Square’s youth outreach programs with proceeds from our event. We are also partnering with Angela Ortmann, St. Louis’ very own “wine girl.” Angela will be at Eckert’s both days of the Festival to interact with wine tasters and share her robust wine knowledge. In addition to our wine tasting tables featuring more than 40 wines, we will also have beer from local breweries. Local vendors including Salsa Rose, Thompson Farms, Ropp Dairy and more! Click HERE to learn more about tickets to our wine festival.

All of this event preparation has me daydreaming about wine friendly food! So, when it was time to select a recipe for my next Show Me St. Louis episode on KSDK, coming up February 16th, this recipe for Melted Manchego Cheese, Rosemary and Honey Wedges instantly came to mind. It is a nice and light bite to pair with a variety of dry whites or light bodied red wines. The honey can be dialed up or down according to taste and wine preference. It also features, a personal favorite of mine, Manchego cheese! Aged Manchego is a spectacular cheese for pairing with dry red wine and it can be sliced with a potato peeler to create small shavings that are packed with flavor.

In addition to all the wine and beer being served during our Wine and Food Festival, Eckert’s culinary educators will be sampling a variety of wine friendly foods and sharing tips on how to create a cheese board for pairing with wine and beer. Come taste this recipe for yourself by stopping by our classroom during our 7th Annual Wine and Food Festival. I look forward to seeing you there!!

Cheers! Angie

Melted Manchego Cheese, Rosemary and Honey Wedges

1 Eckert's pizza round, defrosted
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 ounces Manchego or another semi hard cheese,* cut into curls with vegetable peeler or cheese plane
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons pure honey

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place pizza crust on parchment-lined baking sheet.  Brush pizza crust with olive oil.  Bake about 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Arrange cheese on the top and return baking pan to the oven.  Bake about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Sprinkle melted cheese with rosemary.  Drizzle honey over crust.  Cut into wedges.

Makes appetizers for 4 to 6.

*Marisa, Dry Jack, Gruyere are other cheese examples

Super Chicken, Apple & Butternut Stew

I rediscovered this recipe when I was sorting through my old Cooking Light magazines and I was thrilled to find it because it will be a perfect fit for my Super Bowl gathering! I love the idea of a yummy chicken stew to go with all the typical party appetizers and I think it will pair perfectly with beer as well.

cut chicken.jpg

I also love that I can use Eckert’s cider, homegrown butternut squash and Granny Smith apples to put a local spin on this recipe. Lana and I tested the recipe in our cooking classroom to make sure all the cook times were accurate and they were, so we really didn’t change Cooking Light’s recipe version much. I did switch to chicken breast instead of thighs because our chicken breast is excellent at Eckert’s and knew it would be able to handle the heat without getting tough.

This stew is perfect comfort food for game day or cold winter nights. It is hearty enough to stand on its own or it can be a nice compliment to appetizers when served in mini jam jars or mini bowls. Whichever team you are cheering on this weekend, I hope you will consider this recipe for your game day fixins’!

Eat well this winter,

Angie

Super Chicken, Apple & Butternut Stew
2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 ½ cups chopped yellow onion
2 Tbs. fresh sage or 1 Tbs. dried sage
1 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
1 cup peeled and diced parsnip
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 ½ cup Eckert’s apple cider
1 ½ cup chicken stock
2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples

 

Sprinkle chicken with ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper. Heat 4 quart Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of chicken to pan; saute 6 minutes or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.

 Reduce heat to medium; add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add onion, sage and ginger; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add squash and parsnip; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle vegetables with flour; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in cider and stock, scraping pan to loose browned bits. Stir in chicken, remaining ¾ teaspoon pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer 25 minutes. Stir in apple; cook 5 minutes. Serves 6.

 Recipe adapted from Cooking Light Magazine November 2015

 

Meatloaf Italiano

Now that I am a parent of two busy pre-teens, I find myself in sheer amazement that my mom made dinner for three kids almost every night while we were growing up. And that she found a way for us to eat around the table on a regular basis in spite of all of our activities. That was my normal!

In today’s busy world, I am sure you agree, it is increasingly difficult to juggle kid activities, full work days and putting a good dinner on the table. I love to spend time cooking in the evenings while the kids work on homework but sometimes I just need a quick and easy recipe so we can get back out the door. This recipe for Meatloaf Italiano is an answer to that call and it happens to be one from my childhood.

My mom made Meatloaf Italiano for us regularly and when she brought me a dish of it a few weeks back (after inhaling it!), my mind went spiraling back to the dinner table in my childhood home! I hadn’t eaten this recipe in years but now it is going to be at the top of my “speed dinner” list because it so easy to make and oh so good. My mom formerly used bread crumbs when she made but she recently tried it with oatmeal and found that oatmeal works even better and makes the recipe gluten-free.

I am going to have to start doubling this recipe for my family because I am sure it makes great leftovers but I have yet to find out! Every morsel of this meatloaf is devoured every time I make it. I hope you will give this recipe a try soon and let me know what you think! 

Eat well this winter,

Angie

NOTE:
Eckert’s Country Store will be featuring Ground Beef for $2.99 on Fridays in February 2017! Come on in and take advantage of this great promotion!!

Meatloaf Italiano
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 Tbs. butter
½ cup oatmeal (regular or quick cook) or breadcrumbs
½ cup beef bouillon
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
3 Tbs. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
8 oz. marinara sauce
1 tsp. oregano

Sauté onions in butter until tender. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal and bouillon. Add all but the last two ingredients. Mix lightly until well blended. Shape into a loaf and place in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Pour sauce over top and sprinkle with oregano. Bake 30 minutes longer.

Recipe from Angie’s Mom, Janet

Hamburger Pie Pockets
Hamburger-Pie-Pockets

National Pie Day is coming up soon and I can’t wait to celebrate with all kinds of pie…. sweet and savory! This recipe for Hamburger Pie Pockets is a kid-favorite in Eckert’s Cooking Classroom. Kids love the familiar flavors and the opportunity to make their own masterpiece. Hamburger, ketchup and corn makes a yummy filling for our flaky humble pie dough. If you can’t swing by Eckert’s to get our 6” round pie dough pieces, substitute homemade or regular-sized pie crust. I made these pie pockets this week on Show Me St. Louis at KSDK Channel 5. They are a perfect finger food for National Pie Day or for your upcoming Super Bowl party.

What is your plan for National Pie Day? Will you be making a pie or pie pockets or will you take advantage of our best pie deal of the year at Eckert’s Country Store? On Monday, January 23, 2017, Eckert’s Bakery will be offering all pies “Buy 1 Get 1 FREE.” Call today to place your order 618-233-0513 x 2!

Eat well this winter,

Angie

Pie-Pocket-Ingredients
Placing-Ingredients
Crimping-With-A-Fork

Hamburger Pie Pockets

3/4 lb hamburger, browned
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/3 cup frozen corn, thawed & drained                                                                                        
1 egg
4 Eckert’s frozen humble pie crusts (5” pie crust circles)

Hamburger Pie Pockets Plated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Brown hamburger and drain.  Stir in salt, granulated garlic, ketchup and corn.   Place 2 tablespoons of meat filling on circle.  Fold dough in half over top of the filling.  In a small bowl, whisk egg.  Brush edges of pie dough with egg. Crimp edge closed with fork to seal. Brush top of dough with egg wash.  Cut a couple of slits in top.  Bake 20 minutes.  Makes 4 hand pies. 

Overnight Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole

With an epic ice storm forecasted for our area, I can’t help but plan delicious lock-in meals to get my family through it all. I have no idea if it will get as bad as the weather experts are forecasting, but I do know I will be PREPARED for my family to eat well!

 I have been aspiring to make this Overnight Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole for months and this is the perfect occasion to accept winter for what it is and get baking.

 There are several things I love about this recipe. Number one, it calls for our delicious frozen strawberries in the Natures Blessed line. We buy this product line directly from Michigan where the Coloma Company packages top grade fruits and vegetables picked at optimum ripeness. Their strawberries are divine.

 The second thing I love is that I can use Eckert’s Bakery’s Irish Soda Bread. Our Irish Soda Bread is very popular and nothing like it can be found in our region. We make scones out of it for our restaurant and we slice loaves of this unique bread daily in our Country Store.

 Third, this recipe calls for a sweet cream cheese to be spread on top of the Irish Soda Bread and then topped with strawberries. After that, the dish is soaked with creamy custard. I think you will find a slice of this yummy breakfast casserole to be a little piece of heaven on a plate.

 I must admit, this recipe requires a bit more time to prepare than most of mine. But, with the forecasted ice storm, you might just be looking for something to do and to warm the souls within your household.

 Stay warm and eat well this winter,

Angie

 

French toast ingredients
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon juice
1 loaf of Eckert’s Irish Soda Bread (about 12 slices)
20 oz or 3 cups frozen strawberries, sliced

Custard ingredients
¾ cup milk
¾ half and half
10 eggs
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Optional: Eckert’s Strawberry Syrup or Jam for topping

Butter a 9x13 baking dish. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and beat to incorporate. Beat in sugar for 1-2 minutes. Then beat in 1 egg and lemon juice.

 In a large bowl, whisk together custard ingredients: milk, half and half, ten eggs, maple syrup and vanilla. Set aside.

 Spread cream cheese mixture on one side of each slice of bread, then top cheese with sliced strawberries. Repeat with all bread slices. Using a serrated knife, cut bread (with topping) into one inch cubes. Place 2/3rds of the cubes in the baking dish. Top with remaining strawberries and remaining cream cheese. Top with remaining bread crumbs. Then pour custard mixture over the top. Lightly press the mixture down with the back of a spoon. Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes or until nicely browned. Serve with Eckert’s Strawberry Syrup or Jam. Serves 12.

20 Minute Italian Chicken Breast

Back to school, back to work, and back to healthier eating is not nearly as much fun as Christmas! However, I must admit, I was craving a little more routine in my house this week. As we ease back into the schedule of early out the door, piles of homework and party-less nights, I am finding the need to rely on my simplest recipes to get on the dinner table. This week I made a super quick, clean chicken recipe using our hand-trimmed chicken breast from the meat department in our Belleville Country Store.

 I wanted to compliment (not overpower) the mild flavor of the chicken so I chose three simple ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, Italian bread seasoning and parmesan cheese. Bread seasonings are sold in tins or grinders at Eckert’s and while they are designed to be added to a bowl of olive oil for bread dipping, they can also provide great flavor to meats, pizzas, noodles and potatoes. If you don’t have access to bread seasonings, don’t worry, you can make your own seasoning mixture and customize it to your preferences.

I paired the chicken with Eckert’s bake at home bread, some of Ella’s homemade noodles (more on that in a later post!) and a salad made with our home-grown hydroponic lettuce. Believe it or not, I had dinner on the table in less than thirty minutes and that felt like a major accomplishment of 2017!

 Our chicken breast are on sale at the butcher counter in Eckert’s Belleville Country Store the whole month of January. If you haven’t tried them already, I bet they will be the most tender chicken breasts you’ve ever had! And, you can have this simple and delicious dish on your table in under thirty minutes!

 Eat well this new year,

Angie

20 Minute Italian Chicken Breast
4 trimmed chicken breast (8 oz each)
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. Italian Bread Seasoning*
4 Tbs. parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9x9 baking dish with foil. Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil on the foil. Place chicken breast in dish. Drizzle remaining oil on top of chicken. Top chicken with seasonings, then parmesan. Bake 20 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees.

 *To make your own Bread Seasoning combine these ingredients in a small bowl:
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
Few grinds of fresh cracked pepper

5 Fabulous Appetizers for New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve is just a couple days away and I am finally finding myself with enough gumption to plan a menu! I needed a few down days after Christmas to reset my brain after the shopping and celebrating frenzy. Thanks to some warm and cozy sweater time spent on the cushy couch, I am game for hosting another party!

There is no need to reinvent the wheel, so I simply selected the appetizer category on the blog and scrolled through my past recipes to find these fabulous five! We are looking forward to a small get together with a few friends and kids. I think these recipes will suit a variety of ages and food preferences with a little wiggle room for creativity from the consumer!­

First of all, Queso Fundido makes a large dish of cheesy, meaty deliciousness. Eckert’s homemade chorizo sausage is a stand out with our homemade tortilla chips for dipping. This dish is fun to serve and filling.

Our recipe for Loaded Baked Potato Appetizers can be completely personalized to your liking. I am planning to prebake the potato slices and serve the toppings a la carte. A DIY station comprised of little bowls of shredded cheese, chopped scallions, bacon pieces, bacon jam and sour cream in a piping bag will attract the attention of the kids and adults alike!

Next up, I love the Apple Butter Meatballs because they have a sweet and savory-ness to them. They can be made ahead, then warmed up and held in the crock pot. Love that!

Apple nachos are easy and fun to make! Dress them up with your favorite toppings as well. I think I will let the kids help me make this one. I will give them choices of chocolate chips, granola, marshmallows, melted caramel, chocolate sauce and slivered almonds. (Don’t forget to dip your apple slices in a bowl with 2 cups of water and 1/8 tsp of salt to prevent browning.)  

And last but not least, Mac and Cheese Bites are perfect for all ages. This recipe turns a favorite comfort food into a two-bite appetizer.

Now that I have my menu planned, I need to get working on my sparkling and still wine selections. I will be strolling around our wine department at Eckert’s to see what is new. I know I want to pick up an inexpensive sparkling wine to serve with cranberry juice and frozen, sugared raspberries. My sister-in-law served this on Christmas Eve and I am still thinking about it!!!

Hope you give one or more of these recipes a try this new year. Wishing you a tasty start to 2017!!

Eat well in the New Year,

Angie

Baked Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins

Merry Christmas everyone! Are you busy shopping and wrapping? Of course you are, but I also hope you have time to whip up a few heart-warming dishes during this big week! I am planning to keep it simple for sure. With lots of running (thankfully we have lots of local family members to visit) I can’t be delving into difficult recipes on top of my cookie baking projects.

pour.jpg

 I fell in love with this recipe at a my friend Heidi’s house in early November. She assigned me to make it for a baby shower that she hosted for a dear group of friends. It was a breeze to toss together and that is when I decided it was going to be my Christmas breakfast casserole this year! I have stocked up on the ingredients and printed out the recipe so I will be ready to assemble Christmas morning. I can already imagine the house filling with scents of cinnamon and baked apple while we are unwrapping gifts.

 Another big bonus is that I will be able to incorporate Eckert’s Granny Smith apples which are still available in our produce department in the Belleville Country Store. I am not planning to peel the apples- another time saver for me. If you are looking to make this recipe gluten free, just be sure to check the label on the oatmeal.

 I would love to hear what your favorite go-to Christmas breakfast recipes entail. Please share!!

 Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas from the entire Eckert Family!!

 Eat well this holiday season,

Angie

Baked Oatmeal with Apples, Raisins and Pecans
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
½ cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped pecans, divided
½ cup raisins
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
2 tart apples, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, ½ cup pecans, raisins, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs then add in milk and vanilla. Whisk until incorporated.
Add milk mixture to oat mixture. Pour in melted butter.
Place apples in baking dish. Pour oat mixture on top and spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining pecans on top. Bake 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Balsamic Deviled Eggs with Serrano

Every year our Christmas Eve celebration table includes deviled eggs and no matter how many are made, there are none left by the end of the night! So when Lana and I were planning our holiday menus for the classroom, I immediately thought of deviled eggs! A few months ago, I came across this recipe from Eggland’s Best called Balsamic Deviled Eggs and I tucked it away in the “to try” folder on my desk. This week we are whipping it up for our Lunch and Learn Cooking classes where it has received 5-star reviews!!

Usually I mash egg yolks by hand for deviled eggs but this recipe calls for a food processor and WOW does that make a difference! After whirling the filling around the food processor, it becomes ultra creamy and smooth. (Full disclosure: I did have to lick the bowl and the spoon!)

This recipe also calls for an extraordinary garnish. We are so lucky to have two kinds of internationally cured gourmet meats here at Eckert’s. In our specialty cheese and meat case in our deli, we offer Serrano ham and Prosciutto de Parma. Both of these meats can be sliced paper thin by our deli staff. These cured meats are guaranteed flavorful accents for your holiday appetizers and platters. In this recipe I chose to use Serrano but you could easily substitute Prosciutto. 

Serrano ham is imported from Spain where it is salted, air dried for cured for more than 8 months. This curing process intensifies the flavor which is why a little goes a long way! When we receive our Serrano ham, it comes with a certification of authenticity proving it has passed the rigorous quality standards in Spain.

While you can enjoy Serrano without cooking it, this recipe calls for a little time in the skillet to crisp it up. Then we used it as a garnish for our deliciously creamy deviled eggs. The result is a home run for the holiday table. I hope you will give this recipe a try for one of your next holiday gatherings.

Eat well this holiday season,

Angie

Balsamic Deviled Eggs with Serrano

12 large eggs
¾ cup regular mayonnaise
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. chopped chives
2 oz Serrano ham, sliced paper thin

Hard cook eggs. When cooked and cooled, peel eggs and set aside. Cook Serrano in a large skillet over medium-high heat until slightly crispy. Remove the Serrano from the skillet to a plate lined with paper towels and gently blot dry. With a scissors, snip pancetta into small pieces.
Halve the eggs and place the yolks into the bowl of food processor. Add the remaining ingredients except the pancetta. Process until smooth.
Spoon egg mixture into a large plastic bag. Snip off the end and pipe filling into egg whites. Garnish the filled eggs with the cooked Serrano.

Note: Prosciutto or Pancetta may be substituted for the Serrano
Recipe adapted by Eckert’s from Eggland’s Best Eggs

 

Toasted Quinoa & Farm Vegetable Soup
bowl.jpg

When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light magazine, I just knew I would love it! I am a big fan of veggie soup and this recipe allows a lot of room for creative alterations. What really caught my attention was the technique of toasting the ever-popular quinoa grain. I had never heard of that before! I decided to make a batch and include Eckert’s home grown squash instead of celery root, and I also tossed in some Eckert’s homegrown garlic that I had curing in my pantry.

After sampling the soup to our classroom team, we came to the consensus that this recipe needed to be part of our Holiday Wine and Food class. This soup is an excellent pair for Sauvignon Blanc and we just happened to have one in our wine lineup for the class. Most Sauvignon Blancs have herbaceous notes and as a result they pair well with veggie dishes ranging from steamed asparagus to summer salads. Sauvignon Blanc is my go-to summer patio wine because I find it refreshing on a hot day with lighter summer meals. I am thrilled to have discovered this pairing with a soul-warming soup. 

Another bonus about this recipe is that it’s gluten-free and vegan. You can make this recipe for friends and family members following these special diets but I can guarantee it will also appeal to your whole guest list. I can’t wait to see what our classroom guests think about our version of Toasted Quinoa & Farm Vegetable Soup!

Eat well this holiday season,

Angie

Toasted Quinoa & Farm Vegetable Soup

1 cup uncooked quinoa*
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ cup small diced onion
¼ cup small diced carrot
¼ cup small diced bell pepper
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves (or 1/2 tsp. crushed dried)
¾ tsp. ground cumin
6 to 7 cups unsalted vegetable broth, divided
¼ cup small diced unpeeled gold or russet potato
¼ cup diced peeled sweet potato
½ cup large diced Eckert’s peeled butternut squash
½ cup small diced zucchini
½ cup thinly sliced Brussels sprouts
½ tsp. kosher salt, optional
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spread quinoa in a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet; roast until lightly browned about 20 to 25 minutes; stirring every 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside. 

 

 

Pinot Noir Cherry Bruschetta

Happy December All! After baking 14,000 pies in our bakery last week my mind has officially shifted to full-blown Christmas mode. I must admit here I had a lot of help from my 12 year old daughter with the transition. I was ready to crash and she had a bee in her bonnet to get the house fully decked and two live trees decorated to the hilt. Needless to say, the holiday season has arrived in full force at the House of Eckert thanks to Ella. 

This week in the cooking classroom, we are getting ready for another one of my favorite classes here at Eckert’s, our annual Holiday Wine and Food Class! This class is so popular we host it two nights and it is the perfect time to celebrate delicious food and wine pairings with friends. Yesterday, Lana, my dad and I tried a variety of foods with wines and I think we are very close to a perfectly paired menu.

One of the recipes I am really excited about is called Pinot Noir Cherry Bruschetta and I found it on a blog site called barefootwine.com. But as always with recipes we are inspired by in the classroom, we put an Eckert’s spin on the details. This recipe uses Pinot Noir wine to create a savory sauce for the cherries. I fell in love with the idea of a cherry topping for goat cheese and crusty bread, who wouldn’t? This delicious appetizer and a glass of jammy Pinot Noir are downright delightful!

 If you are making this recipe at home, be sure to use our frozen sweet cherries from Eckert’s produce department. They are grade one fruit and they are frozen quickly to lock in the maximum fruit flavor just after harvest. We used sweet cherries but our tart cherries are also super popular with cherry pie bakers.

I can’t wait to see what our classroom guests think of this appetizer and wine pairing. I think it might be my favorite of the night!!

Eat and drink well this holiday season,

Angie

Pinot Noir Cherry Bruschetta

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. minced onion
½ cup finely chopped pecans
¼ tsp. dried crushed thyme leaves (or ½ tsp. minced fresh)
¼ tsp. dried finely crushed rosemary leaves (or ½ tsp. minced fresh)
1 Tbs. Eckert’s Pure Honey
2 cups Nature Blessed Individually Quick Frozen Dark Sweet Cherries slightly defrosted and drained*
¼ cup Pinot Noir wine
Fresh thyme leaves for garnish, optional
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before using
1 Eckert’s Bake at Home French Bread, sliced ½-inch thick (about 30 slices)

Cherry Compote:

1.      In a 10-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat.
2.      Add onions and cook about 2 minutes or until they start to soften.
3.      Add pecans, spices and honey. Stir to combine.
4.      Turn heat to medium high and add cherries; cook until cherries are soft about 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use kitchen scissors to cut cherries in half. Note: Seems more logical to cut cherries in half before adding to the mixture. May release a little more juice; however, I suggested draining juice in ingredients listing.
5.      Stir in wine. Increase heat to medium high for 2 to 3 minutes.
6.      Cook mixture until liquid cooks down to a syrupy texture about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir during this cooking time.
7.      Remove from heat.
Yield: about 1 cup.

Bruschetta:

1.      Take a slice of baguette, thinly (if using 4 ounce package) spread on soften goat cheese. Top with a spoonful of cherry compote.
2.      Garnish with a couple fresh thyme leaves.
Makes about 30 appetizers.
Can make Cherry Compote 2 or 3 days before serving; cover and refrigerate. Appetizers can be assembled 3 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature.

 *Note: If the cherries are totally defrosted there is lots of juice. Takes too long to cook down. And the cherries cook so long they lose their identity. Draining helps this problem.

Caramel Apple Walnut Pie

It‘s pies, pies and more pies at Eckert’s this week!! We have begun our round-the-clock shifts for our annual baking for QuickTrip convenient stores, pie fundraisers sales and Thanksgiving pie pickups. The sweet aroma of pie baking is permeating every nook and cranny at Eckert’s Country Store, I think even the commuters on Highway 15 can catch a whiff of our pies as they drive by!

This is the time of year I literally have sweet dreams about the nearly 10,000 pies we will be preparing at Eckert’s. Even in my subconscious state I am thinking about making, baking and boxing pies. Last night I dreamt about a Caramel Apple Walnut Pie and so here it is! This sticky sweet version of a classic apple pie will impress every guest at your Thanksgiving gathering.  

As always I am using Eckert’s frozen pie shells as my base. We still have some homegrown Eckert’s apples in the Country Store and I chose Granny Smith because the tartness will complement the sweetness of the caramel (other varieties­ of tart apples can be substituted).­

This week on Show Me St. Louis, I demonstrated how easy it is to assemble this delicious pie. I hope you will give it a try soon….. and don’t forget to add a heaping scoop of Eckert’s Frozen Custard!

With the Thanksgiving holiday around the corner, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for reading the Eckert Family Blog. Our family is grateful for you and your interest in feeding your families with fresh and local ingredients. We wish you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Eat well this holiday season,

Angie

Caramel Apple Walnut Pie

2 unbaked Eckert’s 9 ½-inch frozen pie crusts, defrosted (Reserve 1 empty aluminum pie pan to cover baking pan after 30 minutes).
1 jar (12 ¼ -ounce) Stonewall Kitchen Sea Salt Caramel Sauce, divided (or other similar brand)
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
8 cups baking apples, peeled, cored, sliced ¼-inch (6 to 8 medium)
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. milk, divided
1 tsp. granulated sugar
8 scoops Eckert’s frozen vanilla custard

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a 2-cup mixing bowl, mix ½ cup caramel sauce topping with 2 tablespoons flour. Spread evenly over uncooked bottom pie crust. Set pie crust aside.

In a large 4-quart bowl, mix apples, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Spoon apple mixture over caramel covered bottom pie crust. Sprinkle with walnuts. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface gently roll top pie crust to about 10 inches in diameter. Cut 4 to 5 slits in top crust to allow steam to escape.   Brush edges of the bottom crust with ¼-teaspoon milk.

Place top crust over apples. Flute edges. Brush top crust with remaining milk. Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is golden brown. (After 30 minutes of bake time, cover the entire pie with the empty reserved aluminum pan to prevent overbrowning). Cool 2 hours before serving.

In a 1-cup microwave proof measuring cup, microwave remaining ½-cup caramel topping on medium about 30 to 45 seconds. Stir. Add additional 10 to 20 seconds until warm.

Cut slices of pie and top with  Eckert’s Frozen Custard. Drizzle the remaining Caramel Topping over custard.

Serves 8. 

Dark Chocolate Mulled Wine Sauce

With the election behind us, my mind has fully shifted into holiday mode! We have our annual Holiday Open House at Eckert’s Country Store coming up soon. Our team has been busy as bees decorating trees, stringing lights and unboxing some of the cutest holiday décor ever. From soaps to salsa we gotcha covered for Christmas gifts!

I can’t wait for Thursday, November 17th to host 12 of our vendors, wine tastings, Eckert’s finest holiday products and our friends from the PXP Fashion truck. Click here for details and a coupon because you won’t want to miss out on the fun!

All the holiday decorating and merchandising this week has me craving my favorite holiday recipes, especially Dark Chocolate Mulled Wine Sauce (yum!). In fact, this recipe is on the menu for our sold-out cooking class this weekend called “Cooking with Wine.” It comes together in under 20 minutes. This amazingly simple sauce is meant for divine holiday entertaining! It is the perfect way to dress up a simple sugar cookie, top a scoop of custard or steal the show in a chocolate martini. Or, it can easily become a gourmet jarred gift for the foodie in your life.

If you would like to learn how to make more delicious recipes like this one, this is the perfect time to sign up for Eckert’s cooking classes. Once again, we are offering ½ off our adult classes in the month of January. Cross someone off your Christmas list and book a class today in Eckert’s Cooking Classroom! 

 Eat well this holiday,

Angie

Dark Chocolate Mulled Wine Sauce

1 cup Carmenere wine or other dry red wine
½ cup granulated sugar
1 sachet Eckert’s Mulling Spice Blend or similar brand
½ cup cocoa
½ cup Eckert’s pure honey
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes. Discard sachet. Add cocoa and honey, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Simmer 2 minutes; remove from heat. Add chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts. Serve warm over Eckert’s Vanilla Custard.
Store in a covered canning jar for up to 3 weeks. Warm before serving.
Makes about 2 cups.

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

This week’s cooking segment at KSDK was certainly one to remember! I had a blast with these fun ladies, Heidi Glaus and Dana Dean, from KSDK’s Show Me St. Louis. Since it was Halloween, I just had to join in the dress up fun. What could be more perfect than a pollinator costume to represent Eckert’s?? This episode was packed with crazy things like puking pumpkins, a Eckert’s pie eating race and a dressed up shelter dog.

With Eckert’s pie baking season right around the corner, I chose to make a pumpkin pie for my segment. This recipe is the classic, old-fashion recipe our grandmothers made. I used fresh pumpkin  in this recipe and it makes all the difference but if you are in a time crunch, canned pumpkin will work too. 

For my crust, I chose Eckert’s Frozen Pie Shells from our bakery department. Our pie dough is made with lard and according to my Grandma B, lard makes the best pie crust hands down! This recipe makes filling for two pies so you will have plenty to share at your next holiday gathering. 

If you missed the live show, you can check out some of the fun we had here.

Eat well this fall,

Angie

Fun Fact: Our bakery is planning to bake more than 3000 pumpkin pies this month!

4 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups cooked Eckert’s pureed pumpkin
1 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 can (12-ounce size) evaporated milk
2 9-inch Eckert’s frozen pie shells, defrosted

Preheat oven to 425° F. In a large bowl, beat eggs, pumpkin, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, salt and vanilla with electric mixer until mixture is well blended.

NOTE:  An immersion blender works as well.

Gradually whisk or stir in evaporated milk; mixing well. Equally divide filling between the 2 pie shells and fill to about ¼-inch from the top of the shell. Bake 15 minutes at 425°; then reduce temperature to 350° F. and bake an additional 45 minutes to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center of pies comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. For food safety, cover pumpkin pie tightly and refrigerate. Serve topped with whipped cream.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

 

Fresh Pumpkin for Baking

Have you ever baked with fresh pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin? If not, you definitely have to give this recipe a try! Fresh pumpkin is a beautiful color and it makes baked items brighter and prettier and fresher tasting!

 So after Halloween, if you have a few uncarved pumpkins sitting around, don’t let them go into yard waste, bring them inside and clean them up for baking! This recipe can be made ahead and frozen for future baking. It is especially handy to have fresh pumpkin puree stored away in the freezer for holiday pie baking.

 This recipe calls for a pie size pumpkin. Other sizes can also be baked. Baking time will vary and multiple baking dishes may be needed. You can also use this technique to make butternut and acorn squash puree. I recommend baking for 45 minutes, then testing flesh for tenderness before baking further.

 This week on KSDK’s Show Me St. Louis, I will be demonstrating a recipe for Everyone’s Favorite Pumpkin Muffins . I am going to make one batch with canned pumpkin and one batch with my fresh baked pumpkin puree.  It is going to be fun to have a taste test with Show Me St. Louis host, Heidi Glaus. I wonder which version she will prefer!?!

 Eat well this fall,

Angie

Fresh Pumpkin for Baking

fresh pumpkin collage.jpg

1 pie pumpkin

Adjust oven rack height to accommodate height of pumpkin. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean outside of pumpkin with soap and water. Use a rubber mallet or hammer to knock off stem. Slice through the center of the pumpkin where the stem was located with a sharp Chef’s knife. If it is difficult to cut through the pumpkin, use mallet to tap knife through. Remove seeds and set aside for roasting. Line a 9 x 13 baking dish  or rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Then fill  with 1/2” of water. Place pumpkin halves cut side down in dish. Bake for 1 hour or until flesh is very tender. Some pumpkins will take longer to bake. Moisture content varies by pumpkin and will influence baking time.

Remove pumpkin from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Peel pumpkin skin away from the flesh and discard. Place the flesh in a mesh strainer and drain for 20 minutes. Place flesh in a large bowl and puree with a stick blender or process in a food processor. Use as desired in your pumpkin pie or bread recipe or place puree in clean freezer proof containers and store for later use.  When using frozen puree. Thaw in the refrigerator a day or two before baking. Place puree in mesh strainer to drain off excess moisture before using for baking. Use as an equal substitute in recipes that call for canned pumpkin.

 One pie pumpkin makes about 4 cups of puree.

Dessert Grilled Cheese with Apples & Nutella

Last night, our culinary team was planning an upcoming wine class menu and boy did we have fun! We were tasting wine while brainstorming recipes to pair with them. A German Reisling we recently added to our wine department called 50 Degrees inspired this Dessert Grilled Cheese. After several derivations, we landed on this delicious combination of Eckert’s Cinnamon Bread, Nutella, crème fraiche and apples!

step 1.jpg

 

Just as we were taking the grilled cheese out of the skillet, my kids hopped off the bus and headed straight to classroom to offer their feedback. Theo went crazy over our sweet and chocolaty combination. In fact, I am pretty sure he had eight bites which resulted in an adorable smudge of Nutella across his cheek. Ha!

step 2.jpg

 

We will be putting this recipe to the test in our upcoming wine class and our upcoming holiday appetizer classes. I think it is a perfect dessert appetizer or a unique brunch item for holiday gatherings. I hope you will give it a test too, just be sure to wipe the Nutella off your face before your guests arrive!

Eat well this fall, Angie

 Dessert Grilled Cheese with Apples & Nutella

4 slices of Eckert’s Cinnamon Bread
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. granulated sugar
¼ cup Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, divided
¼ cup crème fraiche or ricotta cheese
1 Eckert’s apple, cut in half and sliced thin

Place bread on a sheet of foil or parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine butter, cinnamon and sugar. Spread butter mixture evenly on 4 slices of bread. Flip slices of bread over. On 2 slices of bread, spread Nutella evenly and spread crème fraiche or ricotta cheese on remaining two slices. Top Nutella covered slices with apple slices and place ricotta covered slices on top of the apple slices. In a large skillet over medium heat, toast sandwiches until desired doneness (bread will be golden brown). Cool 5 minutes before cutting into bite size pieces. Serve with remaining Nutella. Makes 16 bite size servings.

Note: This recipe can be assembled a day ahead, stored in an air tight container lined with parchment paper and cooked in a skillet just before serving.

Balsamic Roasted Butternut Squash
Balsamic Roasted Butternut Squash

I am completely in love with our farm grown butternut squash! Chris and I both make Butternut Squash and Pear Soup on regular basis in the fall. Click here for the recipe to one of our all time favorite fall recipes:

A few months back I tore a recipe out of a magazine for oven roasted butternut squash and I have been carrying it around in my work tote ever since! Finally, I decided to give it a whirl last night for dinner. Full disclosure: my kids do not eat butternut squash, but Chris and I gobbled it up. I love how the balsamic vinegar and olive oil glaze the squash in a rich, brown color which then caramelizes into a syrupy sauce as it roasts. The resulting dish is a tender and savory squash like you’ve never had before!

Cleaning Butternut Squash
Cutting Butternut Squash

I halved the recipe last night and still had a few chunks left for today’s lunch. I will be adding them to baby salad greens with feta cheese and pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) with a light drizzle of olive oil. My mouth is watering as I type my lunch plan!

 I hope you will give Eckert’s farm-grown butternut squash a try this season!

Eat well this fall, Angie

Balsamic Roasted Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash Baking

1 Eckert’s butternut squash
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 tsp. soy sauce (or tamari)* 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut butternut squash in half across the middle at the narrowed point to separate the top from the bottom. Place the cut edge on the cutting board and cut in half again thru the base of the squash and the stem of the squash. Remove the seeds of the bottom half of the squash with a spoon and discard seeds. Remove and discard the stem. Peel the pieces of squash with a potato peeler before cutting into 1” chunks.

In a large bowl, combine vinegar, oil, sugar and soy sauce. Place squash in bowl and toss until well coated. Roast squash on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes then toss squash. Bake another 15 minutes or until squash are fork tender. Serve immediately or refrigerate after cooled and serve on greens salads. Makes 6 servings.

*Make this recipe gluten free by using tamari instead of soy sauce.