Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
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Happy Fall Everyone! Finally this week’s cooler temperatures has it actually feeling like fall in the Midwest which means it is time to pull out the autumn squash recipe file. This recipe for Spaghetti Squash Lasagna reminds me of a Pinterest craft project. It involves multiple steps and layers but don’t let that scare you, they are simple! And this recipe is really fun to make with kids.

My kids are fascinated by Spaghetti Squash so this recipe caught their attention from the start. They had fun picking out perfectly sized spaghetti squash from Eckert’s wide variety. Back at the house, they helped me wash the squash with my handy dandy produce brush before I prepared it for baking. The kids were also super helpful in shredding the baked squash, mixing the ingredients and assembling the layers in the reserved squash shells. The most fun however, comes when you get to eat the finished product in your very own stuffed squash shell!

We prepared this recipe with Eckert’s home-grown spaghetti squash, Eckert’s home-grown garlic and home-made sausage from our meat department. It doesn’t get any fresher than that on the farm!

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You will be amazed by the tasty flavor and texture of this recipe for Spaghetti Squash Lasagna. I hope you will give this gluten-free, low-carb recipe a try sometime soon. When you do, I know you will have so much fun putting your creative spin on the assembly process!

Eat well this fall,

Angie

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

2 small spaghetti squash (about 1 ½ pounds each)
2 tsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 (5-ounce) package of fresh baby spinach
½ cup ricotta
¼ tsp. kosher salt
3 ½ ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, about 1 cup, divided
1 pound uncooked ground beef or Eckert’s Italian Sausage
2 cups marinara sauce
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds; discard. Place squash halves, cut sides up, on a rimmed parchment lined baking pan. Bake about 50 minutes or until soft but still holding shape. Allow to stand and cool about 10 minutes. Carefully, scrape inside of each squash with a metal table fork to remove spaghetti like strands into a large colander. Place empty squash shells back on the same rimmed parchment lined baking pan. Set aside.

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Press spaghetti squash strands to extract excess moisture. Set aside.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium high meat. Add oil to pan coating the bottom. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add fresh spinach and cook about 1 minute or until just wilted. 

In a medium bowl, stir together spinach mixture, squash strands, ricotta, salt and half of the mozzarella cheese. Set aside.

Return skillet to medium high heat. Add ground beef or sausage and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Add marinara sauce; stir to coat meat.

Increase oven temperature to 400-degrees.

Spoon meat sauce evenly into each squash half.  Cover the meat sauce evenly with the divided spinach/squash/cheese mixture. Sprinkle each squash half with the remaining mozzarella cheese and the Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.

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Leave baking pan with stuffed squash in oven. Preheat broiler to high. Broil baked squash about 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven; allow to stand about 8 to 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 entrée servings.
*remove sausage from casing before browning

Chuck Wagner
Autumn Apple Muffins
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It's a another lovely week in the apple orchards here at Eckert's. We recently received much needed rain to nourish the trees and get them perked up for several more weeks of apple picking. 

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My family is hitting the road tomorrow to travel to our new Versailles, Kentucky location called Eckert's Boyd Orchards. Our whole family is excited to be on the farm for the peak of the fall season.  Last night, I decided to pack a snack box for our five hour trek and that meant it was time to bake a batch of Autumn Apple Muffins! 

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 This muffin recipe is great for snacking or for breakfast. I like to dip my apple muffins in vanilla yogurt or smear them with butter or cream cheese. Since baking recipes tend to be a bit on the fussy side, be sure to follow the order of ingredients below and you will be assured and applicious success!

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 I used Gala apples in this batch since I had a few stray Gala tucked in the back in my frig. Other apples to consider include: Jonathon, Zestar, Pixie Crunch, Golden Delicious, HoneyCrisp, Fuji and Candy Crisp. 

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Fall is here, the apples are ripe and your kitchen is calling you to bake these delicious muffins! I sure hope you have plans to enjoy the beautiful outdoors this weekend by picking apples or pumpkins on one of our 4 Eckert Farms. See you soon!! 

 Eat well this fall, Angie

 Autumn Apple Muffins 

1 large egg*
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup butter, melted
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup milk
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 cup unpeeled apple, ¼-inch diced (do not over measure) 
½ cup raisins or chopped nuts, optional

 Preheat oven to 400-degrees.Grease a regular muffin tin with butter or vegetable spray. Set aside.  

 In a 4-quart-sized bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed,  beat egg, sugar, and butter until light and fluffy about 1 to 2 minutes.

With mixer on low speed, add in salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, milk and lemon juice. Set aside.

In a small bowl, using a metal fork or wire whisk, combine flour and baking powder. Combine the flour mixture into the sugar mixture using a mixing spoon. Stir until just blended. 

 Gently fold in apples and raisins or nuts.

 Spoon dough into prepared muffin cups, filling each about ¾ full. Bake for 25 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.
Makes about 12 to 14 muffins.

* For best results allow egg to come to room temperature by sitting it out on the counter for 15 minutes.

Note: Use 6-ounce greased oven proof baking cups or bowls to bake any extra muffin batter. 

 

Open Face Ham & Apple Melt
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The branches are loaded and the apples are absolutely beautiful in the orchards this fall! As I walk down row upon row of apple trees, I feel like I can hear them offer a sigh of relief thanks to the cooler temperatures that rolled in this week. All of team Eckert, including our trees, are thrilled to have a perfect fall forecast for the coming weekend! 

This week, we have been busy slicing and dicing apples in our cooking classroom and one recipe in particular has received a work-out. We have utilized this recipe, Open Face Ham and Apple Melt, for multiple kids classes, Wine in the Orchard and a recent Advisory Board Meeting. Believe it or not, it is a recipe that suits all ages and appeals to a wide variety of taste buds (Yes, we got kids to eat slaw!). 

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Many thanks to our kids class recipe development team, Connie and Sabine, for discovering this yummy combination of apples, ham, cheese and slaw with a specially made sauce. I know we will be making it many more times this fall!!

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I would like to invite you and your family to come out to one of our four apple orchards to enjoy the beautiful fall weather and to taste this delicious crop of apples for yourself. Hope to see you soon on the farm!

Eat well this fall,

Angie

Open Face Ham & Apple Melt
3 teaspoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons Eckert’s Dijon mustard
4 slices Eckert’s sourdough bread
4 slices Boar’s Head tavern ham
1-2  apples, sliced
4 slices Boar’s Head baby Swiss cheese
¼ cup Eckert’s apple cider slaw, well drained*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (375 convection).  In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard until combined, set aside.  Toast bread in oven for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees.

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Spread each bread slice with 1-2 teaspoons sauce.  Place slice of ham on top, followed with apple slices (do not overlap apple slices).  Lay a slice of cheese on top of apples.  Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 6 minutes. Before serving, place 1 tablespoon apple cider slaw down the center of each open-faced sandwich.  Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.    

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* If you are making your own, substitute a slaw recipe with vinegar based dressing.

Apple Crisp for One
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It is officially the heart of apple season here at Eckert's. We are now picking what I call the classic varieties of apples: Jonathan, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious apples. Families have been picking these beloved varieties for more 53 years on our farms!

This week I pulled out a cooking-classroom favorite from the Eckert Family Fall Cookbook called Apple Crisp for One. This recipe is especially popular in our kids cooking classes because each kiddo can make his or her very own dessert. Additionally, it easy for anyone to remember to combine 1 tablespoon each flour, brown sugar, quick oats and butter with a dash of cinnamon. And, it happs to be the perfect choice for when you need a single serving to satisfy your sweet tooth. 

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On KSDK's Show Me St. Louis this week, I made Apple Crisp for One with Jonathan apples but other good options include Jonathan, Fuji and Granny Smith. This recipe was a hit with Show Me St. Louis hosts Heidi and Dana and I know you will love it too!!

I hope you will come out to one of our 4 farms this week and celebrate the heart of apple picking season with us!

Eat well this Fall,

Angie

1 1/4 cups peeled apple slices  (2 small/medium apples)

1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. quick cooking rolled oats
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. butter, cold
1 scoop Eckert’s Vanilla Custard, optional

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Place apple slices tightly into the mug. Gently push slices down while filling the mug. Add a couple more slices if necessary to fill to the top of the mug. Set aside.

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In a small dish, mix flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter with a metal dinner fork until mixture is crumbly. Using hands sprinkle topping over the apples. The apples and crumb topping will be mounded over the top.

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Place filled mug in a metal cake pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and the apples are tender.

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Note: During baking the apple crisp will shrink below the mug rim; perfect for a scoop of

Eckert’s Custard.

Makes 1 serving. 

Country Apple Bacon Baked Chicken Breast
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Cooler temperatures earlier this week kicked my appetite for fall comfort food into full gear. I have started day dreaming about pot roasts and slow cooking. Since there isn’t enough time for slow cooking in the middle of our busy apple season, I pulled out this family favorite, Country Apple Bacon Baked Chicken Breasts. This is one of those recipes that has our home smelling just like fall days when grandma lived here. There is just something about the smell of cooked apples, bacon and onions swirling around the kitchen that takes me back to childhood days of Sunday dinners.

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This recipe calls for tart apples so I used Golden Delicious. I also used apple sauce I had made from Golden Delicious apples but we sell jarred Eckert’s Applesauce if you need a short cut.  Be sure to cut the apples and onions as directed below to allow them to cook to the desired doneness. Everything else is pretty straight forward except the taste. You just won’t believe how good this dish is, until you try it! For me, it is the perfect chicken dish to celebrate flavors of the fall harvest.

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Come on out and take a walk in one of our four apple orchards this year! The apples are plentiful and delicious!!

Eat well this fall,

Angie

Country Apple Bacon Baked Chicken Breasts
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup Eckert’s Apple Cider
About 1 Tbs. olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbs. stone-ground mustard
½ cup Eckert’s Applesauce
5 slices uncooked bacon, halved crosswise
2 unpeeled tart apples (about ½ pound); cut each apple into 10 even wedges
1 sweet onion, peeled, cut into 12 even wedges
¼ to ½ tsp. of each: dried thyme, sage, rosemary (crushed)
¼ tsp. celery seed
Sprinkle or pinch of ground cinnamon

In a small bowl, at room temperature soak cranberries in apple cider about 2 hours or until soft.

Preheat oven to 425-degrees. Coat bottom of an 11x8 baking dish with olive oil. Place chicken breasts in a single layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk mustard and applesauce together. Mix in thyme, sage and rosemary, celery seed and cinnamon. Spoon over chicken breasts. Lay half-slices of bacon on top of chicken breasts.

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Arrange apples and onions around the chicken, but not on top. Drain cranberries reserving apple cider. Sprinkle cranberries over top of the dish.  Add any remaining apple cider to the dish.

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Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until bacon is crisp about 10 to 15 minutes. (An instant read food thermometer inserted into the center of the chicken breasts should read 160-degrees.)

Allow to rest about 5 minutes (chicken temperature will increase to 165-degrees).

To serve: Remove bacon and set aside. Slice each breast into diagonal ½-inch thick pieces. Place on dinner plate. Place slices of bacon over top of each cut chicken breast. Evenly divide the apples, onions and cranberries on dinner plates. Drizzle juices over chicken breast.

Makes 4 servings.

Blooming Apple Recipe
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Happy September in the Midwest! The date time temperatures have been moderate, evenings are cool and crisp and I cannot get enough of the smell of ripe apples in the orchard.  This week, my family has been “testing” out the new fire pits that we will have in place for the Fire Pit Concert Series at our Belleville Farm in October.

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As we gather around the fire’s glow, we chat about our days at work and school and we discuss apples, of course. My daughter and I have been wanting to make blooming apples since the first time we saw them on Pinterest! I have been scouring the internet for recipes and this week we were finally able to experiment in the kitchen. This is a super fun recipe for teen cooks to make and for anyone to eat. You just have to jump on the apple band wagon and give this recipe for Blooming Caramel Apples a try.

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I hope you will come out to one of our 4 farms this fall and pick some of the most beautiful apples I have ever seen. Last year we experienced a devastating disease called Bitter Rot in our orchards. We are pleased to say that with extra care from our skilled horticulturists, we have eradicated this disease. We are thrilled to be able to share a gorgeous crop of apples with you this year!!

Eat well this fall, Angie

Blooming Caramel Apples

4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
4 apples
8 caramel candy squares
Caramel sauce for drizzling
Eckert’s Frozen Custard (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bush a pie pan or a rimmed baking dish with butter. In a small bowl, stir together butter and cinnamon.

Slice off the stem end of the apple with a knife, then scoop out the core with a melon baller or a teaspoon (see photos). Use a paring knife to cut 3 concentric circles in the apple. Place apple cut side down and slice crosswise.

Place cut apples in dish. Fill each apple with 2 caramel squares, then brush melted butter on top. Bake the apples until tender (may vary by apple), 20-30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with baking juices and caramel drizzle and a smalls scoop of frozen custard.

This blog was inspired by many blooming apple recipes but especially the one on delish.com

Dessert, Apples, Gluten FreeChuck Wagner
Apple Crostini with Bacon

Apple season kicks off this weekend on all 4 of our Eckert Farms. Our offices and barns have been a bee hive of activity as Team Eckert gets ready for the weeks of fall fun ahead!

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In our cooking classroom, our culinary team started experimenting with apples for an upcoming event at the Belleville farm called Wine in the Orchard. We are still working on the line up of wines but we do have some yummy apple recipes ready to go. This recipe for Apple Crostini with Bacon will be making an appearance during this special evening of wine tastings and orchard tours.

Crostini recipes almost always include some kind of crusty bread, this recipe is a breadless version and it is just down right delicious if you ask me! This recipe is the perfect time to use your apple machine if you have one. If not, small hand cut slices will do just fine. A quick time in the oven melts the apple, cheese and bacon together. Then, a drizzle of Eckert’s Pure Honey sweetens the deal. And that’s it… super easy and super delish!

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Hurry…. go check your calendar and see if you can join us for this fall favorite:

Wine in the Orchard at the Belleville Orchard
September 14, 2017 from 6-8pm
CLICK HERE to registration

Eat well this fall, Angie

Apple Crostini with Bacon
1 Apple, your choice of variety
4 slices of sharp white cheddar, cut into thin triangles
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Eckert’s Pure Honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place apple slices on parchment and top with 2 triangles of cheese and cooked bacon. Bake until cheese has partially melted, 3-4 minutes. Drizzle with honey and serve hot or at room temperature. 

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Bacon & Apple

My kids started school this week and they are quick to tell anyone who will listen that “their summer" is OVER! I, on the other hand, cannot help but think summer is actually at its peak when it comes to home grown veggies. We have been eating fresh-picked tomatoes, corn and cucumbers every meal and each night I swear it is the best tasting produce of the season! Homegrown just keeps getting better and better . . .

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I have been experimenting with some new salads and this one called Creamy Cucumber Salad with Bacon and Apple is a keeper for sure! I love the snappiness of a fresh picked cucumber, grated apple also makes an appearance and bacon assures this recipe will be a homerun hands down!

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I employed a few basic techniques to help the veggies draw up the dressing and reduce the wateriness of fresh cucumbers. I started out by resting the sliced cucumbers for 20 minutes, then I blotted the excess moisture with paper towels. It is also important to slice the onions very thin. Thinner slices mean more surface area to draw up the full flavor of the vinegar. I chose to grate the apple, allowing more of it to come in contact with the dressing. (I used an early season apple from our Kentucky Eckert’s farm but just about any apple will work.)

The resulting salad has nice crunch from the cucumbers, a hint of sweetness from the apple, smokiness from the bacon and a little zing from the vinegar soaked onions. All around yum!

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If you are looking for a delicious way to enjoy the fresh flavors of summer, give this recipe a try! 

Eat well this summer,

Angie

Creamy Cucumber Salad with Bacon & Apple
Salad ingredients:
3 Eckert’s cucumbers
½ cup very thinly sliced red onion
3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
4 thick-cut slices of Eckert’s bacon
1 apple (unpeeled), grated on large holes of box grater

Dressing ingredients:
½ cup dairy sour cream
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
½ tsp. granulated sugar
Salt and pepper

Peel cucumbers, half lengthwise, remove seeds and slice about ¼-inch thick (should yield 4 cups). Place cucumber slices in a single layer on paper towel-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Then blot cucumbers dry with paper towels.

In a 2-cup bowl, mix onions and vinegar; allow to sit at room temperature 20 minutes.

Place bacon in a cold 12 to 14-inch skillet. Cook over medium heat until crisp about 5 to 7 minutes. Place bacon on paper towel-lined plate to cool; then crumble.

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a large serving bowl. Set aside for 4 to 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Add grated apple and toss well.

 Add cucumbers, onion-vinegar mixture and crumbled bacon to the dressing. Toss to combine. Allow to set about 10 minutes. Taste for flavor, adjusting with salt and pepper if needed.

Makes 4 to 6 servings. Salad can be made 24 hours in advance.

Eckert’s Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Tomatoes, Kale, Bacon and Avocado
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This recipe captures the essence of fresh summer produce like no other! If you love summertime BLT’s, you will adore this creative twist of classic BLT flavors.

This recipe was inspired by a zucchini noodle recipe in our Eckert Family Summer Cookbook but we decided to change it up a bit for this month’s cooking class. As we perfected this recipe in our test kitchen, we kept tossing more things into it like fresh herbs, homegrown garlic, bacon…. Oh my goodness! By the end of recipe, I couldn’t even wait to plate a serving, I just dug my fork into the bowl for scoop full of zucchini noodles exploding with summer freshness!

Farm grown vegetables are still in abundant supply on all of our farms which means there is no time like the present to give this recipe a try. You can even try out or spiralizer and taste this recipe for yourself by signing up for our August 2017 Lunch and Learn classes at the Belleville farm!! Click here for our cooking class schedule.

Eat well this summer, Angie

Eckert’s Zucchini Noodle Pasta with Tomatoes, Kale, Bacon and Avocado
2 cups Eckert’s cherry tomatoes
1 to 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 medium Eckert’s Home Grown garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 to 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves (removed from stem) (1 to 2 tsp. dried)
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 thick-sliced bacon strips, uncooked
2 medium Eckert’s zucchini, spiralized into noodles (6 to 7-inches long) (about 3 cups lightly measured – do not pack)
3 to 4 cups very finely chopped Eckert’s kale leaves, stems removed
1 ripe peeled avocado, cubed
1 cup (3 ounces) freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano®
Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, toss tomatoes and garlic with enough olive oil to coat. Season lightly with salt and black pepper. Toss to combine. Spread tomatoes and unpeeled garlic on baking pan in a single layer.
Roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until the tomatoes collapse and their skins are slightly charred. Remove from oven. Squeeze each garlic clove to remove the soft garlic; discard peel. Set aside.
Meanwhile, place bacon in a 12-inch skillet. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until crispy. Place bacon on paper towel-lined plate to drain. Set aside.
Leave about 1 to 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat in the skillet. Discard remaining fat.
Using the same skillet, return to stove top over medium heat.  Add zucchini noodles and kale. Sauté, tossing frequently about 1 to 2 minutes or until the zucchini is al dente.
Immediately, place zucchini/kale mixture to a 4-quart salad bowl.   Add tomato/garlic mixture, crumbled bacon, cubed avocado and Parmigiano-Reggiano® cheese. Toss gently.

Serve immediately.

Makes 4 to 5 servings. 

Chicken & Peach Dinner Salad with Sweet Curry Dressing

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie! Chicken & Peach Dinner Salad with Sweet Curry Dressing currently appears in The Eckert Family Summer Cookbook. It was also part of an older cookbook edition called Everything’s Peachy at Eckert’s. Some of you may even have this peach colored cookbook on your shelves at home. The Peachy Cookbook inspired our newer series of family cookbooks of produce-packed recipes dotted with family and farm tips.

This salad was originally called the Peach Supper Salad because it is big enough to be an entrée.  We jazzed up the name but the ingredients remain the same. The sweet curry dressing is one of my favorite parts of this dish! It complements the fresh salad ingredients perfectly but it is also great dressing for big bowl of freshly sliced cucumbers and tomatoes.

If you are looking for a unique way to enjoy fresh produce for dinner, give this recipe for Chicken & Peach Dinner Salad with Sweet Curry Dressing a try!

Eat well this summer,

Angie

Chicken & Peach Dinner Salad with Sweet Curry Dressing

Sweet Curry Dressing
½ cup sour cream
2 Tbs. + ¼ tsp milk
¼ tsp. curry powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1-2 tsp. Eckert’s Pure Honey

In a small bowl, blend sour cream and milk. Whisk in curry, then add remaining ingredients and combine well. Makes about 2/3 cup dressing. Use immediately or refrigerate and use within three days.

Chicken & Peach Dinner Salad for Two
Prepare the following before starting the salad ingredients. Set aside.
    Sweet Curry Dressing, divide
    2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped (see Eckert’s Family Spring Cookbook)
    slices crisply cooked bacon, crumbled (see Eckert’s Family Spring Cookbook)
    (Can prepare up to 3 days ahead; cover and refrigerate).

2 large Eckert’s peaches, peeled and sliced thinly
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 cup cooked chicken breast or deli meat, ½-inch diced (5 oz.)
2 green onions tops and bottoms, thinly sliced (about ¼ cup)
3 cups Romaine lettuce leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup Eckert’s Kale, very thinly sliced into ribbons
½ cup Sungold cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ cup Red Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
OR: 2 medium unpeeled tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1 ripe avocado, peeled, ½-inch diced

 Place peaches in a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside. In a 3-cup bowl, mix chicken and onion with enough Sweet Curry Dressing to moisten, about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Set aside.

Divide all ingredients equally in two 6-cup sized individual salad bowls or dinner plates.
Line bowls with lettuce and kale. Arrange sliced peaches in center of lettuce. Top with a mound of chicken mixture. Arrange egg, bacon, tomato and avocado, around edges. Serve with extra Sweet Curry Dressing.

 Makes 2 entrée salads or 4 side salads. 

 

Fresh Picked Six-Veggie Quesadillas

Veggies and cheese are always a win-win combination for me! With all the fresh fruits and veggies on the farm, I hardly remember to include meat in my meals on these hot summer days. I honestly can’t decide what my favorite fresh-from-the-field summer treat is …. a cob of corn eaten raw in the field, a bite of a peach when it is still hot from the sun or a handful of cherry tomatoes popped into my mouth as a pick a pint from our high-tunnel greenhouse.

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In celebration of the bountiful vegetable garden at Eckert’s, I decided to make this recipe for Fresh Picked Six-Veggie Quesadillas for lunch today. The combination of fresh veggies and a unique cheese place this quesadilla at the top my summer lunch list.

After chopping the veggies, this recipe comes together quickly because freshly harvested vegetables only take a few minutes to sauté to perfect doneness. Note: overcooking can turn freshly picked veggies mushy in a hurry. Instead they need just a few minutes of heat to soften them up a bit while maintaining the flavor and crunch that makes this dish so enjoyable.

 I call for the veggies to be cut into specific sizes so that they cook in the same amount of time. I decided to use a unique cheese in this receipt called Brun-uusto. Brun-uusto, also known as “Bread Cheese,” is made by Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin.  The expert Wisconsin cheesemakers at Brunkow have translated Brun-uusto into an authentic version of Juustalepia (Juusto), a specialty cheese with Finnish and Swedish roots.

At Eckert’s, we often serve this cheese warmed in a skillet during sampling sessions and in wine classes. In the skillet, the edges of the cheese melt and form a delicious crust much like the edges of crusty bread. If you are in a pinch and cannot find Brun-uusto, no worries, substitute another favorite such as Colby Jack or goat cheese.

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If you are looking for a way to enjoy all the fresh picked flavors of summer, I invite you to give this recipe a try. You are sure to love it as much as me!!

Eat well this summer,

Angie

Fresh Picked Six-Veggie Quesadillas

1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup sweet onions, finely chopped
2 unpeeled zucchinis, 6 – 7 inches long, thinly sliced into ¼-inch thick semi-rounds (about 2 ½ cups)
1 bell pepper, ¼-inch diced (about 2/3 cups)
About 1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels,* 2 medium ears
½ cup Sun Gold or Red Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
½ cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup ready-made or homemade basil pesto
4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 (6-ounce) package baked “bread” cheese**, grated (about 2 cups)
Optional garnish: 2 Tbs. sour cream topped with ½ teaspoon of prepared basil pesto per quesadilla

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper.

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, zucchini and bell pepper; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper; sauté 1 to 2 minutes. Add corn and tomatoes and sauté another 1 to 2 minutes or until all veggies are crisp tender. Stir occasionally while sautéing.  Add cooked beans if using. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside.

Spread about 2 tablespoons of pesto thinly over each the four tortillas. Evenly divide the vegetables between the quesadillas and spread the veggies on half of the tortilla. Sprinkle veggies with about ½ cup grated cheese. Carefully fold over the tortilla (the side without the vegetables) to make a half circle. 

Place filled quesadillas on baking pan. Bake in preheated oven until cheese is slightly melted, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Cut into each quesadillas into 3 pieces. Serve with sour cream and pesto. Serve while warm.

Makes 4 entrees or 12 appetizers.
* Nature Blessed frozen sweet white corn, defrosted can be substituted.
**Eckert’s carries Brunkow’sBaked “bread” Cheese in 3 flavors: Original, Jalapeno and Garlic.
Grated Monterey JackCheddar cheese, or Colby Jack can be substituted if this cheese is not available.

 

Cheesecake Stuffed Peaches

Things are just peachy in my kitchen right now, how about yours? I must confess I have not been keeping pace with my usual level of baking with peaches this summer. I have been so obsessed with eating peaches fresh off the tree that I didn’t even realize I hadn’t baked Chris’ beloved Peach Custard Pie yet this season! Now I am on a personal mission to play catch up to my family with peach desserts a plenty.

 My son is a big fan of cheesecake so I was excited to see what he thinks of Cheesecake Stuffed Peaches this week. This recipe is fun to make because it uses a muffin tin in a unique way. The muffin pan allows the peach halves to sit upright and level while the parchment paper directs the juices to the cup below (saving your oven from a sweet drippy mess).

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 We have made this recipe many times for our private cooking classes and bridal showers here in our Cooking Classroom in Belleville. It is always a hit in peach season because it is a yummy gluten-free dessert and it is surprisingly simple to prepare. The key to a delicious stuffed peach is an Eckert’s tree-ripened peach of course. This is the time of year when many customers tell me they have never had a peach as good as an Eckert’s peach. I just love to hear that!

 Customers also ask me what the secret is to making Eckert’s peaches so sweet. There really is no secret I say! We just pick them riper than most farms and the longer the a peach hangs on the tree, the sweeter it tastes. So simple and so delicious.

 I hope you will give this recipe a try this peach season. The peaches are sweeter than ever…

 Eat well this summer,

Angie

Cheesecake Stuffed Peaches

6 unpeeled medium peaches, halved and pitted
2 Tbs. butter melted
3 Tbs. cinnamon sugar*
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Blackberries and mint leaves, optional

 Preheat oven to 350°F. Place a piece of parchment paper over 12- cup regular-sized muffin pan. Cut an “x” into the paper just above each muffin cup. Dip peach halves, cut side up, in melted butter to coat. Place peach halves, cut side up, in prepared pan. Sprinkle top of peaches with cinnamon-sugar. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla. Beat until combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon cream cheese mixture into peach centers. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until lightly browned and softened. Serve warm or at room temperature. Add optional garnish of blackberries and mint. Makes 6 whole peach servings or 12 half peach servings.

*Note: Use a purchased cinnamon-sugar mixture or combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Pork Tenderloin with Farm Veggies
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Hey Midwest, happy home grown season! Eckert’s homegrown season is hitting a sweet spot this week. We have had lots of peach, blackberry and veggie pickers in the fields here over the holiday week. I am thrilled to be eating my first ears of homegrown corn and biting into large red tomatoes. And yes, the first corn of the season is incredible in case you were wondering!!

I love this time of year because I eat something from the farm for every meal! I started with peaches on my yogurt this morning, I had a tomato salad for lunch and dinner tonight will be this recipe for Pork Tenderloin with Farm Veggies. This recipe is designed to show off a sheet pan full of roasted Eckert’s fresh picked veggies.

This recipe starts by marinating Eckert’s perfectly-trimmed pork tenderloin in our Vidalia Onion Dressing. Since our butchers in our Belleville Country Store trim all the silver-skin off of the tenderloin, you don’t have to do any extra work to prep the meat. I like to marinade the meat and veggies separately to ensure that all ingredients get good contact with the dressing but you could toss them all together if you want to. Use whatever summer veggies you have on hand, this recipe calls for everything we have from the farm this week.

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 If you roast the veggies for five minutes before adding the pork as directed, the veggies turn out nice and tender without overcooking the pork. My family enjoys this recipe with a side of Amish noodles, Ella’s homemade noodles or steamed rice.

 I hope you will visit one of our farms soon since the homegrown summer season is officially here! And don’t forget to put this recipe in your summer dinner rotation soon.

 Eat well this summer,

Angie

Pork Tenderloin with Farm Veggies

2 pork tenderloins, silver skin removed (1.5 pounds of meat)
2 cups Eckert’s Creamy Vidalia Onion Dressing, Divided
Zucchini, cut into 1-inch coins
Yellow Squash, cut into 1-inch coins
Spring onions, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
Unpeeled turnips, diced
Yellow & Green Bell Peppers, cut into 1/2 strips
Patty Squash, diced
Red and Yellow Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
Green Tomatoes, diced

Preheat oven to 450-degrees. 

Place tenderloins in a glass bowl. Add ¾ cup Vidalia Onion dressing and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.  In a another glass bowl, toss remaining Creamy Vidalia Onion Dressing with 8-10 cups of prepared vegetables 2 to 6 hours before baking. About 20 minutes before baking, remove pork tenderloin from marinade, pat dry with dry paper towels. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Allow to remain at room temperature until ready for oven. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread cut vegetables in an even layer. Roast about 5 minutes, stirring once. Place pork on top of vegetables. Roast pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of pork reads 145-degrees, about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn pork once during roasting. Stir vegetables once or twice. Remove pork from baking sheet. Place on a platter, cover with foil and allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes. Reserve any juices. Plate vegetables and cover with foil. Slice pork into 1 ½ inch pieces. Serve with vegetables and pass the juices. Serves 4-6.
 

Red, White and Blue Tomato Salad

Happy Almost 4th of July! I love this week because my son’s birthday is July 1st and it is fun to celebrate America’s birthday along with Mr. Theo’s!! We will be celebrating this weekend at Eckert’s Summer Concert series with family and friends. I am not sure what is on the menu each night but I will surely be making this celebratory salad sometime this week!

 This recipe for Red, White and Blue Tomato Salad can be easily doubled to feed a crowd. It can be portioned into serving sizes or served on a large platter for pot-lock style meals. Although we are anxiously waiting for the large slicing tomatoes to ripen here on the farm, I have been taking full advantage of our early crop of cherry tomatoes. We are growing a new variety in our high-tunnel this year called Sun Peach. I adore them and often have a bowl of them on my desk to snack on!

 This salad showcases our farm grown produce in patriotic form! Eckert’s corn is still a few weeks away from being ready to pick so I used our frozen white corn, the next best thing. Our frozen corn has won many a blind tastings against home grown corn so I use it anytime corn is not in season. Garlic and kale are also available from the farm so I tossed them into the salad as well.

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 I topped my fresh farm pickins’ off with Amablu St. Pete Select, a delicious blue cheese found in our Artisanal cheese case inside our Belleville Country Store. St. Pete’s Select, which is cave-aged for more than 100 days, is deliciously creamy with pronounced sharpness.  We also have Buttermilk Blue and Point Reyes Blue in our Artisanal case. If you are not sure which to choose for your next recipe, ask a deli assistant to give you sample of all three! You will be amazed by the nuances between blue cheeses.

 I hope you will give this festive recipe a try for your next summer gathering. Happy Birthday America and Theo Eckert!

 Eat well this summer,

Angie

Red, White and Blue Tomato Salad Salad Dressing
1 large clove Eckert’s fresh garlic, peeled, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. kosher coarse salt
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Eckert’s pure honey

 Place garlic on cutting board; add about 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt on top. Using a wide-bladed knife; mashed the salt and garlic together to form a paste. In an 8-ounce canning jar with a lid, place garlic paste, olive oil, vinegar and honey. Shake to combine. Set aside.

Salad Ingredients
1 ½ cups frozen white sweet corn*
About 6 cups boiling water
½ tsp. kosher salt  
4 cups red and green Eckert’s fresh kale
1 pound Eckert’s high-tunnel red cherry tomatoes, cut in half
4 scallions, thinly sliced (green tops and bottoms)
½ cup blue cheese (approx. 6 oz.)

 

Add corn to salted boiling water. Simmer about 2 minutes; remove from heat and drain corn immediately. Set aside to cool slightly.

 Remove stems from kale and chop very finely. In a 4-quart bowl, place kale and add about 2 tablespoons of the prepared dressing. Toss kale to evenly coat.

 Top kale with corn, tomatoes and scallions and toss with the remaining salad dressing. Crumble about 1 cup blue cheese over salad.

 Makes 4 side salads. Adding deli chopped roast beef to create entrée salad.

 *equivalent to 2 ears of corn

Summer Corn and Ham Soup
Summer Corn & Ham Soup

A lovely night was had by all at our Annual Wine in the Vineyard event! During set up on Wednesday, it was so hot our plastic cups melted but just like clockwork, the breeze kicked in and cooled off the orchard and vineyard as the wagons pulled up to the house. Our guests enjoyed a lovely evening of dining and sipping on the farm adjacent to our Chambourcin vines.

As I have mentioned before, this wine class is one of my absolute favorites of the year. Our guests treasure the opportunity to ride the wagons with a glass of wine in hand! And my family just loves hosting people who are passionate about wine and food pairings. We had five well-received courses and it was fun to show everyone how well summer wines pair with our farm produce.

Summer Corn & Ham Soup Ingredients

One of the favorite pairings of the night was this recipe for Summer Corn and Ham Soup with a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon. I promised our guests that I would put the recipe up on the blog this week, so here it is!

I have three tips to share that will make preparing this recipe a little quicker and more flavorful. First of all, a speedy way to husk & cook corn is to microwave it for two minutes an ear in the husk. Once heated by the microwave, the moisture in the husks helps to peel off the silks easily as you shuck the corn. Next, I rest the shucked cob on a small bowl inside of a larger bowl and use a chef’s knife to cut the kernels away from the cob. The corn falls into the bowl instead of going flying across the room. Genius!

Cutting Corn From the Cob

Tip number two is geared towards cooking with thyme. Harvest a 3-4” piece of thyme stem. Rinse it with water before placing the whole stem in the pot. When you get to the end of the cooking time, remove the thyme stem and you will notice all the leaves have fallen off the stem into the soup. This is a great way to avoid having to de-stem tiny thyme leaves.

And last but not least, you will notice we call for the ham to be browned in the skillet in the directions below. This is in effort to amp up the ham flavors before adding it to the soup. If you are in a hurry, no worries, just skip this step and your soup will still be yummy.

Brown the Ham

We served this soup at room temperature and it was both refreshing and tasty. It is a terrific way to feature homegrown corn, garlic, herbs  and onions. I hope you will give it a try and that you will enjoy it as much as our guests did!!

Eat well this summer,

Angie

Summer Corn & Ham Soup Served

Summer Corn and Ham Soup

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and small diced (about 3 cups)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
About 5 to 6 ounces bone in ham steak
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried thyme
¼ to ½ tsp. red chile pepper flakes
4 ears sweet corn, kernels cut off cob (about 2 cups), cobs reserved  
1 medium washed unpeeled yellow potato, medium dice (about 1 cup)
4 cups unsalted chicken or vegetable stock
1 oz thinly shaved aged cheese, like Parmesan or Manchego or Marcoot Tomme
Cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish, optional

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a 4-quart pan over medium heat. Add onion, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté stirring occasionally about 6 to 8 minutes or until onions are soft.

While onions cook, place ham in a small stainless steel skillet. Over medium high heat, cook both sides of the ham until lightly browned about 5 to 6 minutes in total. Remove from pan and cut into bite-sized pieces. Discard ham bone or reserve for alternate use.  

Add garlic, thyme and chile flakes to cooked onions; sauté about 1 minute. Add corn and the corn cobs, potatoes, stock and ham pieces and bone. Cover with lid. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked tender firm. Stir occasionally.

Remove soup from heat. Remove corn cobs and ham bone from the soup. Taste and adjust salt and pepper seasonings.

Garnish with shaved cheese and fresh herbs. Serve warm. Makes 5 to 6 servings.

Fresh Blackberry Tart

It’s really starting to feel like summer at Eckert’s in Belleville! We have our first-of-the-season peaches, Lodi apples (perfect for making applesauce), blackberries and homegrown cherry tomatoes in our Country Store. My mouth waters as I walk past the piles of fresh produce and think about all my favorite summer recipes…

With blackberries on my mind and in my culinary dreams, I just had to pull out this recipe for a Fresh Blackberry Tart from The Eckert Family Summer Cookbook (found on page 71). The recipe as written in the cookbook, is a faster version of what we made today. The cookbook version calls for mixing and dumping the berries in the pie shell which makes this recipe easy and efficient. Today however our classroom culinary instructor, Lana, taught me a new little trick to make our tart look even prettier. She had an idea to face all the berries upright in the pie shell and boy does it look lovely!!

Lana also shared a tip on rolling rounded pieces of dough. When you roll pastry dough with a tapered rolling pin (like the ones we sell in our Belleville Country Store), the pie dough naturally maintains its circular shape. Pastry chefs favor tapered rolling pins, also called a French rolling pins, for shaping bread or pastry dough. It is really quite amazing so if you would like to see for yourself, stop by our cooking classroom and we will do a little demo for you.

In the meantime, I hope you will give this recipe a try in its simple or fancy form. Thanks to premade pie dough and a short baking time, you can have this delicious blackberry dessert on the table in an hour or less!

Eat well this summer,

Angie 

Fresh Blackberry Tart
1 (9-inch) Eckert’s unbaked pie shell, defrosted (but still cool)
4 Tbs. all-purpose flour, divided
5 to 6 cups fresh Eckert’s blackberries, washed and patted dry with paper toweling
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar, divided
2 tsp. lemon zest
Pinch of salt
1 large egg, well beaten
Eckert’s Vanilla Custard (optional)

 Preheat oven to 350-degrees.

Spread 1 tablespoon of flour on countertop. Remove pie shell from tin. Gently roll out pie shell flat (final diameter should be 11-12”). Use fingers to crimp edges of pie dough all around the crust forming a 3/4 inch border. Set aside.

 In a large bowl, mix 1/3 cup sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt.  Add berries and toss gently.

Place each berry, stem side down, side-by-side inside the pie dough.

Brush tart crust sides and edges with beaten egg. Use remaining egg to brush on the tops of the berries. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar on top of berries and crust. Bake for 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Allow to cool 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve with Eckert’s Vanilla Custard. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Note: Some of the fresh blackberry juices may escape, but that’s okay!

Fresh Blackberry Sauce

 

I cannot believe it is blackberry season already on our Belleville Farm! I walked into our main office today to find a giant box of blackberries freshly picked by our farm manager. Oh my goodness, the crop looks amazing and the berries are so juicy and sweet. We are just starting what we expect to be a ten-week season in the blackberry vines. Our thorn-less vines are trellised upright which makes for easy pickin’.

My dad, Lana and I were brainstorming menu ideas this week for one of our favorite upcoming wine classes called Wine in the Vineyard. This annual event highlights summer wines and food pairings featuring the homegrown harvest from our farm. We have five delicious pairings lined up for the two-evening event. I don’t want to spoil the suspense in case you will be joining us but I will share our plan for a sweet finish to the evening. Our last course of the night, Eckert’s Peach Wine with Eckert’s Frozen Custard and ourFresh Blackberry Sauce, will be served in cups so guests can walk around the vineyard and farm while enjoying the stunning views at sunset.

Our recipe for Fresh Dessert Sauce yields sauce thinner than preserves, think more like syrup, making it perfect for ice cream, yogurt, pancakes, waffles and more.  I also think it would make a delicious addition to a cocktail for those of you who are creative with craft cocktails. The sauce can be made with your extra blackberries and stored in the refrigerator for up to four weeks.

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I hope you will come out soon to taste our delicious blackberries and see for yourself just how easy and fun they are to pick. Be sure to check our crop availability schedule with your calendar and plan your trip sometime within the next two months!

Eat well this summer,

Angie

P.S.  Space is limited for Wine in the Vineyard event on June 21 and 22, 2017,
CLICK HERE to learn more: 

Fresh Blackberry Sauce
4 cups of fresh blackberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. water
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs. corn starch 

Place blackberries, sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir as sugar mixes with blackberry juice and melts, about 2-3 minutes (don’t worry if mixture is not yet juicy). In a small bowl combine lemon juice and corn starch, then stir in the lemon mixture into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes to thicken the sauce. Cool and store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.

Makes 24oz of sauce or two 12 oz jars.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

This recipe reminds me of my grandma so much! She had huge rhubarb plants and I remember thinking the leaves were surely something the dinosaurs ate way back when. I also remember her telling me the leaves are toxic but the stems are delicious when cooked. That fun fact fascinated me as kid!

Grandma Sweetie, as I used to call her, came over on Sundays with pies and desserts. She often brought stalks of green rhubarb from her garden and cooked them down with sugar and water. She called it “stewed rhubarb” and I could hardly wait for it to cool before digging into a bowl full. I started eating rhubarb at a young age so I am always delighted to see it as a leading ingredient in spring desserts as an adult. That being said, I know many people who say they don’t like rhubarb and I sure have to wonder what’s not to like!!

 For those people who are more apprehensive about trying rhubarb, this dessert combines two terrific flavor partners, sweet strawberries and tart rhubarb. These two dial up one another in a magical way. The fruit filling is easy to assemble. The topping also comes together simply as long as you use cold butter as directed. To serve this dish successfully, allow it to cool for at least an hour after baking so that the fruit mixture can firm up a bit. Because the moisture content of homegrown strawberries varies tremendously this desert produces a juicy filling. No worries, just serve your portions in a bowl.

 If you want to try an excellent vintage recipe guaranteed to blow your socks off, give this recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp a try! I know Grandma Sweetie will be smiling.

 Eat well this strawberry season,

Angie

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Fruit Filling:
4 cups fresh rhubarb, sliced in 1-inch pieces
4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved if large
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. grated orange zest
3 Tbs. cornstarch
½ cup orange juice

 Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Line a metal baking sheet with parchment paper. Butter bottom and sides of an 8-by-11-inch baking dish. Place baking dish on the baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

 In a large 6-quart bowl, toss rhubarb, strawberries, granulated sugar and orange zest. Set aside. With a fork, stir cornstarch in orange juice until completely dissolved; about 1 minute. Add to the reserved fruit mixture. Mix thoroughly. Pour fruit mixture into the baking dish. Set aside.

Crumb Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) uncooked or dry oatmeal
12 Tbsp. (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, dice each tablespoon into 4 pieces

 In a 2-quart bowl, mix together flour, granulated and brown sugar, salt and oatmeal. Distribute pieces of cold butter over top of the dry mixture. Using a metal forks, pastry blender or food processor combine butter into the mixture until crumbly. (Take care not to over mix; the mixture should be crumbly.)

 Sprinkle the topping over the fruit, covering it completely. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Allow to cool about 1 hour before serving.  (The crisp will be ‘soupy’ if served too hot.)  Serve warm with Eckert’s vanilla custard if desired.

 Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Eckert's Fresh Strawberry Dressing

I’ve eaten a lot of strawberries in my life which is why I am a self-appointed expert strawberry taster. In all my tasting years, I have to say these are the best I have ever had! Eckert’s strawberries are at their peak this week and they are solid red through the center of the fruit. They also drip like a peach when you take a bite out of one. I can’t believe that after all the ups and downs in temperature and eleven inches of rain in one week that these little jewels are glowing and growing! Maybe that is why everyone around the farm is calling them “miracle strawberries!”

 While my absolute favorite thing to do with strawberries is to slice them and eat them with Eckert’s Frozen Custard, once in a while I get creative with something less geared for my intrinsic sweet tooth. Today, I decided to try a recipe for fresh strawberry dressing for a greens salad. Four cups of pureed berries give this dressing gorgeous red color and the herb oil add something truly unique to the flavor profile. I served it with greens, fresh sliced strawberries, blue cheese and almond slivers. It was so pretty!! I am also planning to experiment with the dressing as a marinade on chicken breast in it sometime soon.

I hope you will come out to Eckert’s this week and taste what I am certain will be the best strawberries of your life!

 Eat well this spring,

Angie

 

Eckert’s Fresh Strawberry Salad Dressing

1 quart or 2 pints or 4 cups (1 ½ pounds) strawberries, stems removed
1 to 2 Tbs. Eckert’s Pure Honey
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar*
1 cup olive oil
¼ cup basil oil**
Kosher salt and pepper
1 Tbs. poppy seeds

 

Using a food processor, add strawberries, 1 tablespoon honey and vinegar. Process about 5 to 10 seconds to puree berries.  Taste and adjust sweetness with the remaining honey.

 With food processor running, slowly add both olive oils. Process about 5 to 10 seconds. Lightly add some salt and pepper; process about 5 seconds. Allow to dressing to sit about 5 minutes. Taste. Adjust seasoning. Add poppy seeds, process 1 to 2 seconds.

 Can be used immediately or cover, date and store in refrigerator.

Makes about 1 cup.

 *Aged or white balsamic vinegar can be substituted.

 **To make your own basil oil, roll 17 to 18 medium leaves or 8 to 10 large fresh basil leaves (cleaned and completely dried) and slice into ribbons. Add to olive oil and allow to marinate for 5 to 10 minutes. Basil oil can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated for 4 to 5 days. Before using allow to sit at room temperature about 5 minutes. The olive oil will turn solid when refrigerated, but returns to a liquid at room temperature. 

Eckert's Strawberry Freezer Jam

Well, I officially have more berries than your average strawberry eater knows what to do with, however, I am not your average berry eater!! The kids have been picking like mad now that the sun has been shining for several days over Eckert’s Farms so I am ready to make my first batch of Eckert’s Strawberry Freezer Jam.

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I will share some straight forward techniques in this post in case it is your first time making freezer jam. But let me first admit, I am not an expert canner! And in fact that is why I love freezer jam. Since we are storing the jam in the freezer (not at room temperature), there are no sterilizing/scalding steps involved, nor do you need to worry about sealing the jar. Instead, we will be using clean, freezer safe jars or containers. Truly, this recipe and technique is great for beginner cooks and hurried cooks like me.

 Start by selecting freezer safe jars. Many brands will note on the packaging which ones are safe for the freezer. In general, they are jars with straight sides as opposed to jars that taper at the top. Next, clean the jars in the dishwasher or with soap and water and dry completely. Labels the jars with the date and jam’s name. Then, clean and completely dry your strawberries. I like to put washed berries on a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. I shake the berries gently and set them aside for 20 minutes or so to let them dry fully.

 Next, remove the green tops and place your berries in a flat-bottomed dish and crush with meat or potato chopper. You will need 1-2 quarts of fresh-picked berries to make 4 cups of crushed strawberries. Kitchen alert: Your house will smell amazing during this step!!

 Then you are all set to follow the directions below or those found on the packet of Mrs. Wages No-cook Freezer Jam. In my house, we use freezer jam as frozen custard topping, waffle topping and we like to stir it into plain yogurt. This pectin packet also works with other fruits like blackberries and peaches. Give this recipe a try next time you have some extra fruit on hand and let me know what you like serve with it!

 Eat well this strawberry season,

Angie

 Strawberry Freezer Jam

INGREDIENTS(as stated on the packet)
4 level cups of crushed Eckert’s Strawberries (do not over fill the measuring cup)
1 Mrs. Wages™ No Cook Freezer Jam packet (1.59 oz)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar – level measure with straight edge

EQUIPMENT
2 quart flat-bottomed dish or bowl
5 clean 8-ounce freezer jars (other freezer safe containers may be substituted)
5 lid flats
metal canning rings
Meat chopper or potato masher
Large bowl
Large spoon or ladle

 Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water; rinse well. Or clean in a dishwasher. (No need to boil water to scald any of the equipment). Mix crushed berries, sugar and the pouch of no cook fruit pectin for about 3 minutes. Spoon or ladle the “jam” into jars or containers, being sure to leave ½ inch of space from the top of the jar to allow for expansion during the freezing process. Use a damp cloth or paper towel to wrap off any jam that is on the jar top or the sides. Place lid flat on jar. Add ring and twist to secure lid.  Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes to thicken jam. Jam can be stored in the freezer for up to one year or used from the refrigerator within 5 days.

Makes: 5 cups or 5 8oz jars