Enhance menus with fresh vegetables and fruits before the end of season

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Serve fresh fruits and vegetables before the bounty of summer ends. Creole corn makes an attractive presentation when served in scooped out whole tomatoes. Green beans with brown butter sauce are served alongside the stuffed tomatoes for flavorful vegetable dishes to enhance end of summer meals. Check out other vegetable dishes as well as fruit ideas for after school snacks.

By Ann Cipperly

Before fresh summer produce comes to an end, include more vegetables and fruits in menus for the coming week. Markets will continue to feature the last produce of the season a few weeks longer. Susan Forbes at O Grows Farmers Market said fresh corn and peaches, along with other products, will be available for the next couple weeks until the market ends the last Tuesday of this month.

Farm fresh produce provides more nutrients and a fresher taste than produce shipped from out of state. Most of us are trying to stay healthy these days and adding fresh produce will boost the immune system. Serve fresh fruit with cookies and milk for after school snacks. See other ideas for after school in the no cook snacks listed below. 

My family always had gardens, which I miss. My parents grew heirloom tomatoes and always provided us with plenty. I remember the taste of garden-fresh green beans and new potatoes that is not the same as those that come from the grocery store.

We don’t have a good place for a garden with all the towering trees around our home, although we do plant herbs in pots. I feel fortunate that we have the local farmers markets.  

Most summer vegetables are best when simply prepared and seasoned. These days I oven roast most fresh vegetables, which is a quick and easy method.

After coming back from a market, I get the vegetables cooking while they are fresh. Squash is sliced and placed on a cookie sheet with a rim. Whole okra with the stems removed goes on the other side, and wedges of sweet onions are placed in the center.

After a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt, the pan goes into the oven. Depending on what else I am cooking, I will oven roast at 350 or 375 for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then I check to see if it’s done.

While fresh fruits are wonderful by themselves, they become sublime when baked in pastry or cakes or simply mixed with a dressing to bring out their flavors. Create a special treat for your family while fresh fruit is at its peak flavor.

The first time I experimented making the Fresh Peach Cake, I was looking for a dessert with peaches to take to a supper club dinner. Instead of baking a cake mix, I decided to make a Cream Cheese Pound Cake and bake it in layers. It made a tall cake.

The cake turned out well and was so popular that I have promised to make it again. I think it would work just as well with a cake mix or your favorite recipe for yellow cake. Some of the juice from the peach filling soaked into the cake, making it super moist.

As you clip recipes from the column each week, I hope they will become favorites at your home and create happy memories of good times around the table with your family.    

Now that children are in school, here are a few suggestions for serving fresh fruits for afternoon snacks.  Be sure to check Jenny Clary’s recipe for Frozen Fruit Cupcakes. They go together quickly and are refreshing on hot afternoons. 

No-Cook Fruit Desserts for After School Snacks

Serve an assortment of fresh fruit with a bowl of yogurt for dipping.

Place a large chocolate chip or sugar cookie on a dessert place (can lightly warm cookie in microwave, if desired). Top with a scoop of ice cream and spoon assorted fresh fruit over ice cream. Looks like an individual tart.

Enhance store-bought pound cakes and angel food cakes with ice cream or whipped cream and generous amounts of fresh fruit.

Create festive and colorful parfaits by layering fresh fruit in a pretty glass with ice cream, sorbet, sherbet or Greek yogurt.

Make a fondue by melting dark or white chocolate in the microwave and thinning with cream. Surround with assorted fresh fruit.

Thaw phyllo tart shells and fill with sweetened whipped cream or softened, lightly sweetened cream cheese. Top with fresh fruits for tiny tarts.

Leave strawberries whole with stems. Place on a platter with bowls of sour cream and brown sugar. Dip berries in sour cream and then in brown sugar for a yummy taste treat.

Arrange fresh fruits with mild flavored cheeses. Serve with crackers or ginger snaps.

Ann Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.

Frozen Fruit Cupcakes

Jenny Clary

These are good to have in the freezer for after school snacks.

1 small lemon

2 cups buttermilk

½ cup sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

2 cups assorted fresh fruit (strawberries, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, bananas)

About 3 hours before serving or early in the day:

Line 12 muffin pan cups with fluted paper baking liners.

In a large bowl, grate peel from lemon; mix buttermilk, sugar and salt and lemon rind; gently stir in 1 ¼ cups of fruit.

Spoon mixture into muffin cups (make sure that each cup has pieces of fruit).

Cover and freeze until firm; to serve peel off paper baking liners.

Peach Fizz

Jenny Clary

This is a refreshing summertime drink.

1 pint fresh chopped peaches, sweetened

1½ cups cold pineapple juice

1 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice

2 cups ice cubes

1 cup cold ginger ale

Place fresh peaches in a blender; add pineapple juice and lime juice. Blend until peaches are broken up.  Add ice and blend to a thick icy consistency. Add ginger ale and blend. Makes 6 cups.

Creole Corn

Peggy Dyar

Makes an attractive presentation stuffed in whole tomatoes. 

2 slices bacon

1 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings

1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped into small chunks

2 ½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes

2 cups fresh corn cut from cob

1 small bay leaf

½ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. sugar

Fry bacon until crisp; remove from skillet, reserving drippings.  Drain bacon on paper towels and crumble.  Add onion and green pepper to bacon drippings (or olive oil); cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until crisp-tender.

Add tomatoes and bay leaf to onion mixture and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in corn; simmer 10 minutes.  Discard bay leaf; stir in salt, pepper, sugar and crumbled bacon.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Green Beans in Brown Butter Sauce

Peggy Dyar

3 Tbsp. butter

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lb. fresh green beans, washed and trimmed

1 small sweet onion, sliced

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cracked pepper

Place butter in a 2-cup glass-measuring cup; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at high for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until butter begins to brown.  Remove from microwave; immediately add minced garlic.

Place green beans, onion, and 3 Tbsp. water in a microwave-safe bowl.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, folding back a small edge to allow steam to escape.

*Microwave at high for 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender; drain. Toss together hot beans, brown butter mixture and salt; sprinkle with cracked pepper.

*Microwave cooking times vary with ovens.  Test beans after about 3 minutes and cook to desired tenderness.

Green Tomato Casserole

Carolyn Dudley

5-6 green tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup grated Cheddar cheese

1 stick butter

Cracker crumbs

Remove stems and core from tomatoes; cut tomatoes into thin slices. Butter casserole dish. Layer half of tomatoes in casserole dish, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and ½ cup cheese; dot with half the butter. Repeat layers. Cover with cracker crumbs. Dot with remaining butter. Cover dish and bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes.

Tomato, Goat Cheese and Onion Tart

JoAnne Woodall

9-inch piecrust

3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 large onion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper

6 oz.  (1 1/3 cups) goat cheese crumbles, mild soft variety

1 lb. plum tomatoes, thinly sliced crosswise

Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Bake piecrust in a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate; cool.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy skillet; sauté onion; season with salt and black pepper.

Preheat broiler. Spread onion in baked shell, then add 1 cup goat cheese. Arrange tomatoes in concentric circle over cheese; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Salt and pepper to taste; drizzle with remaining olive oil. Cover edges of crust with foil so it does not over brown.

Place tart on baking sheet; broil about 7 inches from heat until cheese starts to brown slightly. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serves 6 to 8 as a first course or 4 as a main course.

Fresh Peach Sauce for Pound Cake and Ice Cream

2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 cups peeled peach slices (about 4 medium peaches)

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

4 slices pound cake

Vanilla ice cream

Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, peaches and cinnamon, tossing slightly to coat. Cook peaches until softened and juices are released, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

If desired, toast pound cake slices in toaster until warm and slightly golden, about 2 minutes.

Serve warm peaches over pound cake, and top with scoops of ice cream.

Oven Roasted Yellow Squash and Onions

Line a cookie sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Slice squash onto cookie sheet and cut a sweet onion or two into wedges. Drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat. Sprinkle sea salt or kosher salt over squash. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until squash is tender and onion begins to brown.

Susan’s Mexican Street Corn

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema

1/2 cup finely crumbled Cotija or feta cheese, plus more for serving

1/2 tsp. ancho or guajillo chili powder, plus more for serving

1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

4 ears shucked corn

1 lime, cut into wedges

Prepare grill. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream or crema, cheese, chili powder, garlic, and cilantro in a large bowl. Stir until homogeneous and set aside.

When grill is hot, place corn directly over hot side of grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides, about 8 minutes total.

Transfer corn to bowl with cheese mixture and use a large spoon to evenly coat corn on all sides with mixture. Sprinkle with extra cheese and chili powder and serve immediately with lime wedges.

Fresh Peach Cake

Cake:

Bake 1 box butter flavor cake mix into three layers or prepare the Cream Cheese Pound cake and bake in three layers.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake:

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

3 sticks butter, softened

3 cups sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

6 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add sugar and continue beating. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla. Gradually add flour, which has been sifted. Pour batter into three cake pans coated with nonstick spray. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  After 10 minutes remove from pans. Cool.

Filling:

1½ cups sugar

4 Tbsp. cornstarch

¼ cup water

4 cups sliced peaches

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add water and peaches. Heat and stir until sauce is thickened. Cool.

Topping:

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup sugar

Beat cream until stiff.

Assembly

Place one cake layer on plate. Spread with half of cooled peaches. Top with another cake layer, and top with remaining peaches.  Add third layer. Cover cake with whipped cream.

If desired, garnish with peach slices and fresh mint.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Glazed Peach Pie

4 cups fresh peaches

¾ cup water

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp. cornstarch  

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. butter

Baked pie shell

Whipped cream

Mash 1 cup of the peaches. Add water and cook 4 minutes. Combine sugar and cornstarch; add to mixture. Cook until thick and clear; add lemon juice and butter.

Arrange remaining sliced peaches in baked shell. Pour glaze over peaches. Chill.

Top slices with whipped cream and additional slices of peaches.

Peach Cheesecake Tarts

Baked tart shells

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla

4 fresh peaches, sliced

½ cup apricot preserves

2 Tbsp. sugar

Whipped cream

Beat cream cheese; add condensed milk and lemon juice and continue beating until smooth. Place in tart shells and chill.

Place sliced peaches on top of filling. Continue preserves and sugar; heat until melted. Pour over peaches. Top with whipped cream.

Fresh Vegetable Soup

Add any other fresh vegetables desired

4 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cups chopped onions

2 Tbsp. finely minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups carrots, peeled and sliced

2 cups peeled and diced potatoes

2 cups fresh green beans, broken into 3/4-inch pieces

2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

4 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes

2 ears corn, kernels removed

1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional

1 to 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat olive oil in large stockpot over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic and a pinch of salt; cook until they begin to soften, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add tomatoes, corn kernels and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste with additional salt.

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