Market Fresh: Fall Salad

The delicious toppings for salad during the fall season make some of the best salads. Recently I tried a new dressing on a bed of mixed greens, sliced apples, chopped walnuts, craisins, and goat cheese. It was wonderful! And really, the whole salad was brought together with the creamy, tangy, richness of the goat cheese (don’t skip it!). Everyone enjoyed the combination of flavors and the large salad bowl was empty at the end of the meal.

HONEY DIJON VINAIGRETTE (I doubled this for a great big salad)
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1 Tb. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. honey
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 minced garlic clove
2 Tb. extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Gradually whisk in  the oil.


Market Fresh: Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash is my favorite winter squash. I love its mild, sweet taste and its bright orange color. I’ve been noticing the suggestion this fall of using butternut squash puree in place of pumpkin puree in your favorite pumpkin recipes. Sounds like a good idea to me!

Here are some other ideas for butternut squash:

Butternut Tarts with Spinach and Feta make a delicious fall take on quiche.

This Spicy Butternut Curry is a recipe I made several times last fall. Company loved it and, served with brown rice, it is a very healthy meal.

Roasted Sweet and Savory Squash is a quick and easy side dish that mixes fresh herbs, butter, and brown sugar for a winning combination.

Market Fresh: Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a wonderful seasonal addition to your fall table. Some of you may be lucky enough to find mushrooms such as these (below) at your local farmer’s market. The rest of us must choose from the selection at the grocery store.

Wherever you find your mushrooms, here is an amazing side dish that I recommend you try. We all loved it so much that the ingredients to make it are in my fridge again. You can make the sauce a day ahead of time and refrigerate it so all you have to do is cook the beans and mushrooms.

(greatly adapted from
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1 pound green beans, trimmed
8 oz small white mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped chives (optional–I didn’t feel they were a necessary component)
5 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. grated fresh root ginger (essential)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

butter for sauteeing mushrooms

Melt two tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Saute the mushrooms (leaving plenty of room between them) in several batches until they are nicely cooked (about 5 minutes). Add more butter as necessary.

Cook the beans in boiling water for 5-7 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain.

Put the remaining ingredients in a jar and shake well. Mix the beans and mushrooms, pour over the sauce.

Serves 6.

For more mushroom ideas, check out these recipes:

Supreme Pizza Pasta Salad

Orzo with Mushroom, Snow Peas, and Pine Nuts

Savory Mushroom Meatloaf

Mushroom Soup

Spinach Mushroom Bacon Swiss Casserole

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Frittata

Baked Garlic Butter Mushrooms

Market Fresh: Melons

I will admit that I’m not very creative when it comes to melon – usually, I cut them and serve them. For this post, however, I decided to step outside the box since you probably don’t need tips on how to cut your melon into 1-inch pieces.

A couple notes on picking a melons: For honeydew and cantaloupe, I smell them – if it smells faintly like the fruit, it’s probably good, if it smells really strong, it’s probably past. For watermelon, I really do smack the melon and I can tell by the way it feels if it’s likely a good one.  I want to feel the juice “ripple” inside.

Now on to the recipes for today. I really liked this first one, it seemed like an unusual combination (I adapted the recipe from one I found) but the juicy melon with the classic tomato and basil combination was fabulous. It was a sophisticated and unexpected salad.


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1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. sugar (next time I would try honey)
1/2 watermelon cut into chunks,
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tb. fresh basil, chopped
2 Tb. Olive oil

Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Combine watermelon, tomatoes, & basil in a large bowl. Pour cooled vinegar mixture and olive oil over the fruit. Gently stir to combine. Can season with salt if desired. Chill until serving.

My sister recommended this recipe and I couldn’t resist trying another fruit soup. It’s so refreshing and quite good. It would be lovely as a light dessert.

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1 cantaloupe – peeled, seeded and cubed
2 c. orange juice
1 Tb. fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Peel, seed, and cube the cantaloupe. Place cantaloupe and 1/2 cup orange juice in a blender or food processor; cover, and process until smooth. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lime juice, cinnamon, and remaining orange juice. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with mint if desired.

Market Fresh: Raspberries

Picking raspberries is a yearly tradition in our family. We love to go out into the country and hide among the raspberry canes, popping berries into our mouths as we pick buckets full to freeze for the winter.

We freeze our raspberries on cookie sheets and then, once frozen, transfer them to freezer bags. They do lose some of their sweetness once they are frozen, but we still enjoy them in pies, crisps, muffins, and smoothies throughout the year.

I decided to try a savory dish with raspberries and found this recipe for grilled raspberry chicken. Unfortunately, that evening my grill decided not to start, so we had to bake the chicken instead. It still tasted terrific, the mustard and raspberry making a winning combination with the chicken. However, I’m sure it would be even better grilled.

As the recipe suggested, I topped the chicken with a few frozen (but thawed) raspberries. I think I preferred the chicken on its own with the cooking juices/sauce rather than with the whole raspberries.

I’ve also included a recipe for raspberry pie because fruit pies are my very favorite.

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1/2 cup raspberry jam (I used Smucker’s seedless Spreadable Fruit)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1  3/4 lb)
1   1/2 cups fresh raspberries or frozen raspberries (thawed and drained)

Heat gas or charcoal grill in. In a small bowl, mix jam and mustard.

Carefully brush grill rack with canola oil or vegetable oil. Place chicken on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 20-25 minutes, brushing occasionally with jam mixture and turning once, until juices in chicken run clear. Discard remaining jam mixture.

Serve chicken topped with raspberries.

Note: You can also bake the chicken at 350 for 40-50 minutes with the glaze on top of the chicken.

Serves 6.

(The Cooks Next Door)
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pastry for a two-crust pie

8 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

Mix together cornstarch and sugar. Add lemon juice and sugar mixture to raspberries. Pour into a pastry-lined pie plate and top with pastry crust that has vent holes cut into it. Bake at 375F for 60-90 minutes (timing depends on fresh or frozen berries) until center of pie is bubbling. Allow to cool (pie will thicken as it cools).

Serves 8.

Other ideas for raspberries include using them to top a pavlova, serving them with an easy pannacotta, and stirring them into gluten-free muffins.

Market Fresh: Okra

Okra is abundant in our garden at present. You can also find it at the Farmer’s Market. It has never been a favorite vegetable of mine (it’s a texture thing) but my husband loves it and, as we have discovered this sumer, so do our boys! I enjoyed it more this time than I ever have before – perhaps in part to these wonderful recipes (both of which happen to be by Alton Brown). If you have never tried okra or have had a past negative opinion, I encourage you to give these okra recipes a try.

I love how the cornmeal compliments the okra but doesn’t overpower it. The textures work great together. I also like that is pan fried – not deep fried. Actually, these were just plain amazing – we couldn’t get enough of these tasty pieces!

WET FRIED OKRA (Alton Brown)
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1 pound okra, stems removed
1/2 cup cornmeal
Vegetable oil, for frying
Kosher salt

Cut the okra into 1/4-inch pieces and place into a colander. Rinse under cold water and allow to drain only slightly.

Place the cornmeal into a sealable ziptop bag. Add the okra and shake to coat thoroughly.

Add enough vegetable oil to a cast iron or stainless steel skillet in order to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Place over medium heat and heat until the oil reaches 370 degrees F (when you put a drop of water in, it sizzles). Add the okra all at once and fry until golden brown on 1 side, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Do not disturb until the bottom is golden brown. Turn the okra with a spatula and do not disturb until the majority of the other side is golden brown as well, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Now stir occasionally until all of the okra is golden on all sides, approximately another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the okra from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula to a cooling rack set over a newspaper-lined sheet pan. Season, to taste, with salt and allow to cool for 1 to 2 minutes before serving.

My husband absolutely loved this dish and all of the boys declared, “Yum.” I think it’s definitely a keeper. The flavors are excellent – the texture of the okra bothered me a little cooked this way but the flavor contrast makes me overlook the texture.

OKRA & TOMATOES (adapted slightly from Alton Brown)
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1 pound okra, rinsed and trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups peeled and chopped tomato
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon freshly black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Cut each okra pod in half lengthwise and set aside. If there are any pods longer than 4 inches, cut them in half crosswise and then lengthwise.

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions along with the salt and cook until they begin to turn golden, approximately 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and add the ginger, pepper, cardamom and okra. Stir to combine. Cook, uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve immediately.

Market Fresh: Cherries

Cherries are perhaps one of my very favorite fruits. I like them sweet or tart and I am hard-pressed to pass up a piece of cherry pie or a jar of preserves. The flavor and texture of this wonderful fruit amaze me every summer. I’m content enough to just sit with a bowl of cherries and eat them by themselves but I wanted to share some different uses for them. And yes, there is a cherry salsa – I thought it only fitting after the yummy blueberry salsa Heather posted a couple of weeks ago! My two-year-old gobbled it down though we all liked it!

I found and adapted these recipes from a couple of cherry grower websites. They were all delicious and showcase cherries in some different ways. It was fun using them in a couple of more savory dishes and the honeydew and cherry salad was very refreshing! Hope you enjoy!

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1 head Romaine lettuce, medium-chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup diced green onion or chives
1 can (11-ounce) mandarin oranges
1 cup smoked turkey, diced
2/3 cup sweet cherries, washed, pitted and halved (I used Ranier)
balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)
Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to tasteToss all salad ingredients together except cherries in a large bowl.Whisk all Balsamic Vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl. Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette over salad, reserving 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette, and toss salad. Drizzle remaining vinaigrette over cherries and toss to coat. Arrange salad on individual plates and sprinkle with cherries.Serves 4

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1/4 honeydew melon, seeds and skin removed, and cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/4 cup minced fresh mint plus mint sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons light honey
1 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries
lemon juice
juice of 2 limes

Put the cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and minced fresh mint in a bowl and turn several times. Put the honey in a bowl with the lemon juice and stir until the honey dissolves, a minute or two. Pour this over the melons and turn several times. Add the cherries, turning them in as well. Pour the lime juice over all, garnish with mint sprigs and serve.

Serves 6

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1 cup pitted fresh sweet cherries (I used a combination of bing & ranier cherries)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped green peppers
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash bottled hot pepper sauce

Chop cherries in food processor or manually. Combine all ingredients; mix well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Makes 2 servings.

Market Fresh: Tomatoes

‘Tis the season for tomatoes! These days you can have your tomato in a rainbow of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown. If you haven’t tried some of these fascinating varieties, now is the time!

My very favorite way to eat tomatoes is in Caprese Salad. I love the flavors and textures of the tomato, mozzarella and basil all mingling together.

(The Cooks Next Door)
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mozzarella (authentically it should be buffalo mozzarella)
salt & pepper
olive oil

Layer slices of tomatoes and mozzarella on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over all. Tear basil leaves and sprinkle over top.

The most common way I fix tomatoes for the family is to slice them on a plate and pour heavy cream over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and it is finished! Adding chopped herbs makes it even better. If I don’t have any heavy cream I use mayonnaise thinned with a little bit of milk.

Roasted tomatoes are a nice side to have on your plate with something like fish or chicken. They are even delicious for breakfast along side eggs and bacon!

(Everyday Food Magazine)
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4 large beefsteak tomatoes (about 3 pounds), cored and halved crosswise
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into 8 thin slices
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
coarse salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Place tomato halves, cut side up, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Dividing evenly, top with butter and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Bake tomatoes until tender, 40 to 45 minutes.

Serves 8.

Market Fresh: Blueberries

How I love blueberries! They are one of the chief delights of summer, a time when we can enjoy them fresh rather than frozen. 

Some years we’ve been able to go and pick our own. Most years I buy them on sale and freeze them in quart bags, ready to pop into muffins, pancakes, cobblers, and occasionally a blueberry pie (one of my very favorites!). Blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup and butter soaking in is a golden memory of childhood summers at Grandma’s house.

I do like to enjoy blueberries fresh: eaten straight from the bush, bucket, or plastic shell; dropped into a fruit salad with seasonal melons, sprinkled on morning cereal or oatmeal, and enjoyed for dessert with whipped cream. But, blueberries do gain a different level of delicious-ness when cooked, so be sure to buy enough berries for many different dishes.

I was intrigued to find this recipe for Blueberry Salsa and felt compelled to try it. The result: terrific! The sweetness of the blueberries, mixed with cilantro, lemon juice and red peppers, melded nicely with the salty tortilla chips.

(Southern Living, Summer 2010)
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2  cups  chopped fresh blueberries
1  cup  whole fresh blueberries
1/4  cup  fresh lemon juice
3  tablespoons  chopped fresh cilantro
2  seeded and minced jalapeño peppers
1/3  cup  diced red bell pepper
1/4  cup  chopped onion
1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt

Coarsely chop 2 cups fresh blueberries. Stir together chopped fresh blueberries, 1 cup whole blueberries, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 2 seeded and minced jalapeño peppers, 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped onion, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a large bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Makes 3 cups.

    (The Cooks Next Door)
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    10-12 oz. mixed greens and spinach (or just one of these)
    1 pint fresh blueberries
    3/4 cup toasted pecans
    3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

    Dressing (adapted from Country Living):
    3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    1/4 cup canola oil
    1/4 cup olive oil

    Make Dressing: combine lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, add the oils one at a time in a steady stream. Remove garlic and serve (or store refrigerated up to 1 week).

    Make salad: toss together the greens and blueberries. Just before serving add the pecans and blue cheese. Toss with dressing and serve.

    These amounts feed 8-12 but can easily be halved.

    Market Fresh: Zucchini and Summer Squash

    Zucchini and Summer Squash season are here! I hope you’re not sick of them yet. I resisted nearly every urge to buy them throughout the winter so I’ve been eagerly awaiting their arrival. And now my fridge and counters are groaning under their weight.

    Every year people come up with more uses for these easy-to-grow vegetables. There are saute, stir-fries, breads, quiches, casseroles, tians, pastas, soups, salads, and more that can be made with them.

    One afternoon we tried grilled squash kabobs. We used both zucchini and summer squash and added red onions. We brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme. Not only were they beautiful, they were also delicious served alongside our grilled chicken.

    This pasta is so good that I can’t wait to have it again. The recipe originally called for just summer squash, but I threw in zucchini too. Either or both would taste fine in this dish.

    (Everyday Food Magazine)
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    coarse salt and ground pepper
    8 ounces fusilli
    4 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
    4 medium yellow squash (8 ounces each), quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
    2 garlic cloves, thinly slices
    1/2 cup heavy cream
    1/4 cup grated Asiago (or Parmesan) cheese, plus more for serving

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.

    While pasta is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium. Add bacon, and cook until browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain (leave bacon fat in skillet).

    Place skillet over medium-high. Add squash and garlic to fat in skillet; season with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash begins to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Uncover, and continue to cook until liquid is evaporated and squash is tender, 2 to 3 minutes more.

    Add cream and cooked pasta to skillet; toss well, and cook until cream begins to thicken, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in Asiago, and add enough reserved pasta water to create a sauce that coats pasta. Serve topped with reserved bacon and more cheese.

    Serves 4.

    This salad may look too simple to be good, but don’t be deceived. We loved this salad and thought it was perfect for a summer evening. You must try it!

    (Everyday Food Magazine)
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    3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    3 Tbsp. olive oil (or mix with canola oil if your olive oil is very strong)
    coarse salt and ground pepper
    2 medium yellow squash (8 ounces each), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
    1 shallot, thinly sliced crosswise (or use green onion or finely chopped red onion)
    1 to 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

    In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add squash, shallot, and thyme. Toss to combine. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

    Serves 4.

    Note: Try this again with zucchini instead.

    Zucchini bread always brings me back to my childhood when we would make 6 loaves at a time in a desperate attempt to use up all of the huge (almost baseball sized) zucchini that grew in our backyard garden. I don’t think we knew about picking them young and tender.

    This is the very recipe we used when I was a child.

    (More-With-Less Cookbook)
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    3 eggs
    ¾ c. sugar
    1 c. oil
    2 c. raw, grated zucchini
    1 Tbsp. vanilla
    3 c. flour
    1 tsp. salt
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. baking powder
    3 tsp. cinnamon
    1 c. nuts (optional)

    Combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini and vanilla in a bowl.

    In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.

    Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix just until combined.  Stir in nuts if using. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until done.

    Makes 2 loaves.