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Recipes made with Summer ingredients in Central Texas

Recipe Roundup: Texas Peaches

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There are few things I look forward to as much as peach season in Texas. If I don’t eat my peaches  in the car on the way home from the Farmers Market I love to incorporate them into savoy dishes. I think most people associate peaches with dessert and sweet dishes, like peach cobbler (which is probably my favorite dessert) but I challenge you to try a new preparation of the glorious peach this summer. There are some peachy keen ones out there!

Peach

Smoky Heirloom Tomato and Grilled Peach Pasta Salad – How Sweet It Is

Peach Gazpacho – Addie Broyles

Caribbean Peach Slaw Salad with Crispy Tofu – Taste Mag

Peach and Goat Cheese Sandwich – Madaket Home

Rustic Strawberry Peach Tart – Sally’s Baking Addiction

Lamb Burger with Peach Chutney – Kimberley Hasselbrink

Peach, Rhubarb, and Ginger Crisp – Eating Well

Peach Salsa – She Wears Many Hats

Rustic Grilled Peaches Pizza – The Healthy Foodie

Tomato, Radicchio and Grilled-Peach Salad with Basil Oil – Food & Wine

Continue the peachy fun with us on pinterest!

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Blackberry Popsicles

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I love popsicles.  They are the one sweet I always have in the house , even in the winter.  After 41 days of over 100+ degree temperatures in Austin, my favorite treat has also become a vital survival tool.   I’ve started taking a popsicle break about  each day, just when I don’t think I can take the heat anymore.

Last year, I was given a vintage popsicle kit by my stepmother and I’ve started making my own popsicles rather than buying them at the store.  I get to use the freshest produce available and I control how much and what type of sweetener I am using.

Vintage Popsicle Set

I love my vintage pop molds, but if you prefer a speedier method, you might also consider a quick pop maker like this one featured on The Kitchn site.

You can get quite elaborate with your popsicle recipes (see links below), but a basic mixture is pureed fruit combined with simple syrup and any spice or flavoring you want to add.

I chose blackberry popsicles for my first experiment and decided to keep it simple – just fruit and simple syrup.

Blackberry Popsicles

1 pint blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Place the blackberries in a blender and process until you have a smooth puree.

Place a thin mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the blackberry mixture into the strainer to remove the seeds.  Run a wooden spoon over the mixture to force the juice through the seeds.

While the blackberry mixture is straining, make the simple syrup by boiling the sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Remove the strainer from the bowl and combine the blackberry mixture with the simple syrup.

Place the molds on a cookie sheet and pour the mixture into the molds.

Blackberry popsicles pre-freezer

Once the popsicles are frozen solid, run the molds under cool water to loosen the popsicle from the mold.  Gently press the popsicle out of the mold.  (Gently! I’ve already broken one stick.)

Blackberry Popsicle

Don’t you just love the eskimo!  I feel cooler already.

If you want to get fancy, here are a few other sites with fun popsicle recipes.  Everyone must be overheated this summer!

Mark Bittman’s popsicles four ways (sweet, savory, creamy, boozy)

Six popsicle recipes from Women’s Health Magazine

Cooking Light’s Beat the Heat with Icy Treats (not strictly popsicles)

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Austin Food Bloggers’ Hunger Awareness Blog Project: Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini

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I was delighted when I learned that the first formal activity of the newly formed Austin Food Blogger Alliance would be an internet campaign for the Capital Area Food Bank.  I learned so much from last year’s education campaign and I am looking forward to exploring new ways to end hunger in Central Texas because hunger is unacceptable.
This year our focus is on how important the SNAP program can be for fulling in the nutritional gaps for low-income families and individuals.  Many people who qualify for the program don’t apply because the forms are onerous, requiring that you prove the identity, income and expenses for you and every member of your immediate family every six months to a year.  If you receive toward the high end of the benefit (several hundreds dollars for a multi-person family), then it is more clearly worth the time invested.  But for many individuals who might receive the minimum amount, $16 per month, it is easy to dismiss the amount as too little to justify the effort.  
We are exploring healthy, nutritious recipes that you can create with $16.  For my first recipe, I picked a dish I could make from items bought primarily at the farmers markets.  Many markets accept SNAP funds including the SFC Triangle Market by my house.
I wanted a dish that was healthy and satisfying, could be used as a side dish or a main course, and was easy enough that kids could help prepare.  I’ve been excited about the first of season zucchini and decided a stuffed zucchini fit the bill.  Dos Lunas Artisan Cheese is selling light, creamy ricotta at the market and it makes a terrific filling for the zucchini.   I also like this dish because it looks “fancy” and is an easy way to dress up an every day meal.   
This recipe takes about 25 minutes to make and you an easily prepare the rest of dinner while the zucchini are baking.  If you are using the zucchini as a main course, you could serve it with a salad and a pasta or grain on the side.  Or, you could pair it with a main dish like grilled chicken or pork chops and serve with a salad.  
The cost for the dish was $8.00 with the two key ingredients coming from the farmers market.  Here’s the break down:
$1.50  zucchini, ($3 for 4, used 2) 
$5.00  rictotta for 8 oz
$1.00  parmesan (Not purchased at the market – $3 for cheese, used 1/3)
$  .50  basil (Not purchased at the market.  Mine was free because I grow it, but it would cost $2 for a bunch at the grocery and I used two sprigs – about 1/4 of a bunch)

I priced the zucchini and ricotta from the grocery store as well.  The zucchini was $1.38 per lb and two equivalent sized zucchini were 1 lb.  The ricotta was $4.88 for 15 oz.  Using the grocery store ingredients, the price of the dish would have been $5.48.

If you agree that hunger is unacceptable, please donate to the Capital Area Food Bank today.

Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini
Serves 4
2 zucchini
8 oz ricotta
2 oz parmesan, grated
2 sprigs of basil – about 8 leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the zucchini in half.  Scoop the center (seeded) portion out with a spoon [great job for kids.]  As you scoop, make sure you leave enough flesh on the sides and bottom that the zucchini can act as a “boat” for the ricotta stuffing.
Scraping out the zucchini
Pull the basil leaves off of the stem.  Stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them like a cigar.  With a sharp knife, but the basil into strips.  This is called a chiffonade (in case you want to impress your friends.)
Rolling the basilChiffonade of basil
In a bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, basil, salt and pepper until the mixture is even and smooth.  
Ricotta filling
Spoon a fourth of the ricotta mixture into each zucchini boat.  Place the zucchini in a baking dish and place in the oven.  Cook for 20 minutes.
Ricotta stuffed zucchini before cooking
 The cheese should be gooey and the tops lightly browned.

Ricotta stuffed zucchini

Note: I’m participating in a one month challenge with other Austin Food Bloggers to raise awareness for the Capital Area Food Bank about the SNAP program.  We were asked to create fresh, healthy recipes for $16 or under from the locations where someone could use SNAP funds.  

I’ve chosen to do 4 posts total – two on each of my blogs.  I’m using a maximum of $16 for each blog (approx $8 per post.)  The two posts on Austin Farm to Table will be made primarily with farmers market ingredients as SNAP participants can buy from the market.  For comparison purposes, I will list the grocery store price as well, but SNAP participants aren’t limited to the store.   The posts on Ditch the Box will use grocery store ingredients.  
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Chorizo & Turnip Tacos

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Last week I found myself staring into a fridge full of food as I thought, “There’s nothing to make for dinner.”  Clearly, that wasn’t true.  There was plenty of food, but none that obviously screamed “make this dish.”

After taking inventory, I started pairing foods together until I fixated on a package of Dai Due green chili chorizo and a bunch of turnips.  I knew these ingredients worked well together because I’ve used them before in  a Portugese style stew, but I didn’t want to make that dish again.  I decided instead to mix it up and make tacos – a picadillo like filling with chorizo, diced turnips and sliced onions.

Chorizo & turnip tacos

When I experiment like this, I’m always a little nervous to take the first bite, but there was no need to hesitate – the tacos were DELICIOUS.  The chorizo and turnip filling was spicy and rich, and the sliced radish garnish gave it a great crunch.  Yum!

The next time you catch yourself thinking there is nothing to cook in your packed fridge, try the matching game to create a new dish.  Create pairs of ingredients that you know work well together in other dishes and figure out how to put a new spin on it.   If you like BLTs, make pasta with bacon, tomatoes and spinach instead of another sandwich.   Don’t be afraid to experiment.  If all else fails, you can always order pizza and at least you’ll have learned something new in the process.

What creative dish have you made lately?  I’d love to hear about your kitchen experiment.

Chorizo & Turnip Tacos
4 servings

1 lb of bulk chorizo – I used Dai Due green chili chorizo, but you can use any variety
4 small turnips, trimmed and diced
2 spring onions, sliced
4 radishes, sliced
8 tortillas

Place the chorizo in a skillet and cook over medium heat until just cooked through (no longer raw.)  Add the diced turnips and onions.  Cook the mixture until the turnips are tender when poked with a fork.

Let the mixture cool for a few minutes, then top tortillas with the filling and garnish with radishes.

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