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Fresh Market

BLOOM-jalapenoBy Vicky Babcock

 

The jalapeño, a medium sized chili pepper, is a cultivar of the species capsicum annuum which originated in Mexico. It is probably the most well-known of the chilies, often considered one of the hottest. However, the jalapeno’s heat level varies from mild to hot, depending on the soil and cultivation.  The heat is mostly concentrated in the membrane surrounding the seeds and in the seeds itself, which is why whole chilies are much hotter than chilies that have been seeded.  Always use caution when handling chilies and keep hands away from the face and eyes as it can be extremely painful if brought into contact with the eyes. It is traditionally picked unripe as a green fruit but it can also be eaten as a mature red chili.

One cup, chopped (90 grams) contains only 27 calories and provides 10 percent of your dietary fiber and 66 percent of vitamin C.  It is low in Cholesterol and Saturated Fat, low in Sodium and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Thiamin, Copper, Potassium and Manganese.

Fresh out of garlic? Around here the best deterrents against vampires and werewolves are chilies. It’s also very effective in warding off the evil eye.  According to the web site, Fiery-Foods, East Indians in Trinidad have been known to wrap “seven red pepper pods with salt, onion skins, and garlic skins in paper” and pass it around a baby to “remove najar, the evil eye, which is believed to cause unnecessary crying.”  Another African-American legend holds that in order for peppers to be hot, you must be angry when you plant them.  We assume that means, if you want medium hot peppers you would only need to be mildly annoyed.

 

Jalapeño Poppers

1 lb Italian Sweet Sausage

1 8 oz. pkg. Cream Cheese

4 T. Parmesan Cheese

3 tsp.  Italian Seasoning

A produce bag full of big Jalapeño Peppers.

Note:  If you get the smaller ones they will be really hot. The bigger peppers are mild.

Crumble and cook sausage.  Remove from heat and drain grease.

In bowl mix cooked sausage, cream cheese,  parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning.

Prepare peppers by cutting in half and removing seeds.  Fill each pepper and place on cookie sheet.  Broil for about 4-6 minutes. Be sure to wash your hands and keep your hands away from your face as these peppers  can be extremely painful to the eyes.

Serve warm.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

 

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Fresh Market

BLOOM-RosemaryBy Vicky Babcock

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.”—William Shakespeare

Rosemary’s long time association with weddings and funerals probably stems from this complex herb’s ability to aid in mental activity—thus rosemary for remembrance. Students in Rome wore wreaths of rosemary to improve their test scores—indeed modern studies seem to support this belief. Studies have indicated that this pungent herb may help in the delay or prevention of Alzhetimer’s or age related memory loss. It is a digestive aid as well. It improves mood, respiratory function and circulation and boosts the immune system. It has anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties. Rosemary was burned as an incense to protect against the plague and later in France during WWII in hospitals to protect against infectious diseases. The herb is an excellent source of iron, and contains about 83 percent RDA per 100 grams of fresh leaves.

Folk stories abound around this herb. It is associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who is said to have worn a drapery of rosemary when she ascended from the sea. The Virgin Mary is said to have spread her cloak over a rosemary bush as she rested and the flowers, once white, took on the blue of the cloak. Thus the bush received its name, “Rose of Mary.”

Rosemary actually gets its name from the Latin Rosmarinus, dew of the sea.

One 16th century belief states that in homes and gardens where rosemary grows in abundance, the woman rules the household. This caused a bit of consternation among the men, who began ripping out rosemary bushes to prove that they, not their wives, ruled the roost. Sorting fact from fiction can be a bit tricky at times, as in the belief that rosemary placed under one’s pillow will prevent nightmares. This indeed may be true as the herb’s scent improves mood. Whatever your beliefs, consider adding fresh rosemary to your supply of culinary herbs. Its unique flavor will surprise and delight you. And tuck a sprig into your lapel as well. It just may keep the thieves—and the witches—away.

Cautionary note: Women who are pregnant are advised against using rosemary in large quantities. Check with your doctor.

Rosemary Pecan Onion Bread

2 cups milk

2 pkg. dry yeast

¾ cup finely chopped onion

2 tsp. salt

½ cup butter

5-6 cups flour

2 T. honey

¾ cup toasted pecan pieces

Vegetable oil cooking spray

2-4 fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped

In small saucepan, combine milk, onion, butter, honey and salt. Cook over medium heat until butter melts. Cool mixture to about 100 degrees (warm to touch, but not hot)  Dissolve yeast in warm mixture.

In a large bowl, combine 5 cups flour and yeast mixture. Stir to form a soft dough.Turn onto floured surface—using additional flour as needed, knead dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about five minutes. Add pecans and rosemary, kneading to incorporate.

Place dough in a large bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray—turn once to coat dough. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide into thirds, shaping each into a round loaf.  Place on lightly greased baking sheets—cover and allow to rise in a warm place 20-25 minutes.

Score tops of bread with a sharp knife to form an x. Lightly brush tops with water—bake in pre-heated 375◦ oven about 25 minutes until golden. Serve warm or cool completely on a wire rack.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

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Fresh market

BLOOM-zucchini-plant

By Vicky Babcock

Got zucchini? Who doesn’t? This prolific and tasty summer fruit is a gardener’s friend—and their worst nightmare. First time growers will brag about their zucchini crop, only to find that they can’t even give it away! Zucchini—botanically the immature fruit of the zucchini flower—is best cooked fresh, retaining its peel. Because of its high water content, it does not lend itself well to freezing or canning—thus creating a problem for consumers with an overabundance of the crop. Indeed, popular folklore warns against leaving your car windows open during zucchini season, lest you come back to find it filled with the troublesome squash. It even has its own national holiday—August 8 is “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch day”—an opportunity to share your largess with less fortunate individuals.

Frankly we think the green (and also yellow) squash has gotten a bad rap. We’d like to do what we can to sweeten its reputation. Zucchini is a great source of potassium, providing about 14 percent of your daily requirements in one medium fruit. Fresh fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C providing 58% RDA. Zucchini contains no fat or cholesterol, almost no sodium and one medium fruit contains about 33 calories. Sliced and eaten fresh, zucchini is a dieter’s dream! And the overabundance? Zucchini bread can be cooked and frozen for later use. Or try our recipe for zucchini relish, a flavorful alternative to traditional pickles. Bon appetite!

Zucchini relish

10 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

3 cups chopped onion

5 tablespoons canning salt

2 red bell peppers, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

3 cups white sugar

3 cups white vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon dry mustard

3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed

½ to1 teaspoon ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Place the zucchini and onion in a large, plastic bowl, and sprinkle with canning salt. Mix. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the zucchini, and rinse well with cool water. Squeeze out excess water. Place the red and green bell pepper, sugar, vinegar, and cornstarch into a large pot. Add the dry mustard, turmeric, celery seed and pepper. Stir to combine; add the drained zucchini. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, sterilize jars and lids. Pack hot relish into sterilized jars, making sure there are no air pockets. Fill jars to ¼ inch from the top. Screw on lids.

Cool. Check seal once cool. Refrigerate any unsealed cans and use within 3 to 6 weeks. Great with brats or hot dogs!

Brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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National Ice Cream Month

ice-cream-scoopsJuly is National Ice Cream Month

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. He recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by a full 90 percent of the nation’s population. In the proclamation, President Reagan called for all people of the United States to observe these events with “appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
The International Ice Cream Association (IICA) encourages retailers and consumers to celebrate July as National Ice Cream Month. In 2013, National Ice Cream Day will be Sunday, July 21.
The U.S. ice cream industry generated total revenues of $10 billion in 2010, with take-home ice cream sales representing the largest section of the market, generating revenues of $6.8 billion or 67.7 percent of the market’s overall value. (Source: MarketLine, an Informa business)
About 9 percent of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream, contributing significantly to the economic well-being of the nation’s dairy industry.
Founded in 1900, IICA is the trade association for manufacturers and distributors of ice cream and other frozen dessert products. The association’s activities range from legislative and regulatory advocacy to market research, education and training. Its 80 member companies manufacture and distribute an estimated 85% of the ice cream and frozen dessert products consumed in the United States. IICA is a constituent organization of IDFA.

 

Janet’s Notebook

by Janet Tharpe

Ice cream churns sweet summer Memories

Just-a-pinch-IceCream1From hand-cranked ice cream in the backyard to hot fudge sundaes at the drive-in, it’s hard to imagine a food memory that says ‘summer’ more than ice cream. Growing up it was the queen of all treats to get served up a scoop. Strawberry was always tops for me. And to this day, every time I have ice cream I’m transported back to times of flower picking, bike rides and hanging clothes on the line with my mom. (While wearing my favorite sundress, of course!)
These days, on www.justapinch.com, Pat Morris of Augusta, GA is making homemade ice cream a heck of a lot easier to share with your family all summer long. Her recipe for Lemon Ice Cream is like creamy, dreamy sunshine in a bowl. “This is a delicious and easy ice cream which does not require an ice cream maker,” says Pat who has been making the recipe for nearly 40 years. “I love to put a scoop of this lemon ice cream on top of a warm piece of blackberry cobbler or pie – the flavors meld so well.” The secret to the recipe is in the blender! Instead of combining the ingredients in an ice cream maker, combine your cream, sugar, fresh lemon juice, and coloring into a blender. Give the mixture a few whirls, then freeze for several hours. You’ll be amazed at how smooth the ice cream comes out without a bit of churning! Serve with your favorite dessert, or top with fresh fruit or herbs like mint or basil. (Oh, and sugar substitute works great in this recipe as well!)
Another summer favorite is also getting a Just A Pinch spin: ice cream cake! Cathi Smith’s Oreo and Fudge Ice Cream Cake is a wonderful way to get that fresh-from-the-ice-creamshop flavor without all the expense. “This tastes just like a DQ cake,” says Cathi. “The kids love it!!!” And it didn’t take us long to figure out why! Made from layers of ice cream sandwiches, fudge topping, crushed cookies and whipped topping, this is truly a treat for kids of all ages. “You might want to go ahead and make more than one,” prompts Cathi. “[The cake] was gone in a flash!”
Sorbet is the secret to one of Linda Griffith’s favorite frozen treats. Her recipe for Frozen Raspberry Layer Cake combines the richness of poundcake and vanilla ice cream with the lightness of fresh raspberries, sorbet, and Chambord… a luscious raspberry flavored liqueur. This one was truly made for a patio. “It’s a very refreshing cake, especially for the lazy days of summer,” says Linda. “Simple but time consuming, the end result is well worth the effort.” We couldn’t agree more. This pretty, pink layered cake makes quite an impact on all the senses.
Care for an after dinner drink? Lynda Hayes of Port Saint Lucie, FL has just what you ordered! Full of creamy vanilla ice cream and the flavors of banana and chocolate liqueurs, her Dirty Banana Cocktail is like a drinkable banana split for grown-ups! “Back in the 70’s everyone played cards on Saturday night when I was growing up,” explains Lynda. “There were always great drinks to go along with the card game [and] this is one of them. My mom used to make it (40 yrs ago) and now I do. I don’t know what they called it, but it’s sweet, smooth, creamy and delicious! Be careful… you’ll want to drink it all in one sip!”
Ice cream is one of those simple gifts that I just cannot imagine summer without. It’s as fun to juggle a melting cone now at my age as it was years ago as a child… In fact, I think the clock winds back a bit with every lick. Here’s to a crazy, lazy, creamy, dreamy summer for us all!
www.justapinch.com

 

OREO-AND-FUDGE-ICE-CREAM-CAKE-_-Just-A-Pinch-RecipesOreo and fudge ice cream cake

added by CATHI SMITH

Tastes like DQ cake… Kids loved it!! Might wanna make more than one!! Was gone in a flash!
Cook time: 4 Hr 10 Min Prep time: 10 Min Serves: 12 SERVINGS
Ingredients
1/2 c fudge ice cream topping warmed
8 oz tub cool whip topping; thawed and divided
1 pkg ( 4 serving size ) chocolate flavored instant pudding / pie filling mix
8 oreo cookies
12 vanilla ice cream sandwiches
Directions
1. Pour the fudge topping into a medium bowl. Stir in 1 c of the whipped topping with wire whisk until well blended. Add dry pudding mix, stir 2 min or until well blended. The consistency of the fudge topping can vary depending on what brand you by. If it is too thick to spread easily, stir in 1/4 c milk.
2. Chop cookies into pieces, stir into pudding mixture. Arrange 4 of the ice cream sandwiches side by side on a 24×12 piece of foil, top with half of pudding mixture, repeat layers top the pudding mixture with the remaing 4 ice cream sandwiches.  The layers create a neat striped effect when clied. Frost the top and sides with remaining whipped topping. It doesn’t have to look perfect or pretty. Bring up the goil sides. Double fold top and ends to loosely seal the packet. Freeze at least 4 hours before serving. Let stand at room temperature to soften slightly before serving. Store leftover dessert in the freezer.
Makes 12 servings.

 

Lemon-Ice-Cream-Just-A-Pinch-RecipesLemon Ice Cream

added by Pat Morris

This is a delicious and easy ice cream, which does not require an ice cream maker. I love to put a scoop of this lemon ice cream on top of a warm piece of blackberry cobbler or pie – the flavors meld so well. I have been making this for 38 years, since I got the recipe from a cookbook that a school where I worked put together. One of the teachers, Mrs. Barksdale, submitted this refreshing recipe.
Prep time: 5 Min Serves: Makes 1 Pint (can double recipe)
Ingredients
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 c granulated sugar (you can use splenda)
1 pt half and half
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 dash(es) (2 drops) yellow food coloring (optional)
Directions
1. Blend well all of the above ingredients.
2. Pour into a cake pan, glass loaf pan -or ice tray without the removable inserts.
3. Freeze for 3 hours in freezer or freezing compartment of refrigerator. It is not necessary to stir, as it freezes smooth. No cooking -let the freezer do the work; no ice cream maker needed. Enjoy. Delicious and refreshing on top of a warm slice of Blackberry (or Blueberry) Cobbler.

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Fresh Market

By Vicky Babcock

 

Lavender – part two

…with immediacy and intensity, smell activates the memory, allowing our minds to travel freely in time.” – Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume, 1984.

Lavender, the base for most dream pillows, can chase away nightmares and ease stress. It is one of the herbs used in four thieves vinegar, which is believed to have been used in the 1800s to ward off the plague. No wonder this magnificent herb is considered to be good luck!

Lavender likes a sunny spot in well-drained soil. It won’t tolerate wet feet. It is fairly disease resistant and pest resistant—an excellent choice in the garden since the deer will not touch it. If purchasing lavender for culinary purposes, be sure to get organic or culinary lavender. While both the leaves and the buds are fragrant and edible, most of the oils are concentrated in the buds.

Try lavender in the bath, the dryer, your pillow or your dresser drawer. Or try the following recipe—we think you’ll agree it’s a keeper.

*BLOOM-Fresh market lavender lemonbars2

Lavender Lemon Bars

Ingredients: Topping:

¾ cup butter 1 ¾ cups sugar

½ cup confectioners sugar 1/3 cup flour

2 cups flour ½ teaspoon baking soda

½ cup ground almonds 4 eggs

1-2 teaspoons Lavender flowers, crushed

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated fresh lemon rind

confectioners’ sugar

 

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and ½ cup powdered sugar. Add the 2 cups flour, almonds, lavender and lemon peel, and beat until crumbly. Pat into an ungreased 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Bake in pre-heated oven 350◦ for 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

Meanwhile, in another small mixing bowl. Combine sugar for topping, flour, baking soda, eggs and lemon juice; beat until frothy.  Pour over HOT crust.  Bake at 350◦ for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on wire rack—dust with powdered sugar.  Refrigerate leftovers.

Brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Fresh Market

BLOOM-Fresh-market-lavenderBy Vicky Babcock

 

Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, lavender’s green, when you are king, dilly dilly, I shall be queen.

You may think we are deviating from our theme of fresh edible foods. Not so. Lavender, most widely known for its use in aromatherapy products, is an edible herb—both its leaves and buds can be used in that capacity. Once a favorite choice for the chefs of kings, lavender somehow fell from the list of common cooking herbs.

Common it is not. Lavender’s unique flavor lends itself well to dishes with chicken or fish, but it is also used to enhance the flavor of cookies and lemonades. If you are trying out lavender for the first time, a light hand is best as its flavor can be overpowering.

Lavender originated in the Mediterranean, where it remains a wild herb as well as a cultivated plant. Referred to as Spikenard in the Bible, lavender is believed to be the oil used to anoint the feet of Jesus. From the root word “lave” (to wash), lavender has been used for that purpose since the written word. It is a natural astringent, mild bug repellant, aid to relaxation and headache reliever.

Check out next week’s Post for more on this versatile plant and try a sample of our recipe at Market. Have a happy holiday!

 

Lavender Shortbread

1 ½ cups sifted flour

¾ cup confectioners sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

½ lb. butter, softened to room temp.

2 tbsp. Fresh lavender buds or 1 tbsp.

dried culinary lavender, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 325º f.

Mix all ingredients together. Knead until consistency becomes doughy.  Press firmly into shortbread mold (or pie plate) making sure to fill in all the space in the shortbread mold. Bake 1 hour. (Shortbread should be pale in color—not brown)  Unmold while still warm. Great warm or room temp.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon  Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

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Fresh Market – Sugar snap peas

*BLOOM-Fresh market sugarsnaps

Imagine a product with a satisfying crunch and a lovely flavor—and get this—you can eat as much as you want with no weight gain!  Enter the sugar pea.  Sugar peas are a free food to dieters, containing only 41 calories per cup. chopped raw.  They are believed to have originated in Europe where aristocrats in France began eating the immature peas, pods and all.  Sugar peas are very high in vitamins C and  A—one cup provides nearly 100% of your daily needs of vitamin C.  Rich in fiber , consumption of these treats helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, obesity, and constipation.

While sugar peas are a treat fresh picked from the garden, they also enhance any salad and are a great addition to stir fries.  The tender shoots can also be used in this capacity.  Sugar peas are planted early in the season as they cannot tolerate excessive heat.  There is also a second planting in August for a fall harvest.  This planting, however does not traditionally produce as well as Spring crops.  If you decide to plant your own, don’t forget that deer like them too!

 

Easy stir-fry

½ pound sugar peas, strings removed

1 T. olive oil

1 green onion, chopped (green parts also)

Toasted sesame seeds

In a heated stir fry pan toss sugar peas with olive oil—cook until tender crisp, about 3 minutes. Add green onion and stir fry until onion is tender. Toss with sesame seed.  Serve alone or with rice or as a side to pork or chicken dishes.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue. For more information call 616-696-1718. Like them on facebook for updates.

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Fresh market

DIG-Fresh-market-strawberries

Nothing says “Summer” like strawberries!  The earliest of the summer fruits, these tasty treats usually hit Markets in early to mid-June, lending themselves to open houses and wedding receptions. Bright red and heart-shaped, these nutrition rich berries are associated with Venus, the Goddess of Love. In parts of Bavaria, ranchers attach baskets of strawberries to the horns of their cattle. These are believed to attract magical elves, which then repay the ranchers by providing them with healthy calves and cows that produce plenty of milk.

Studies have shown that eating  berries can help prevent memory loss as well as reduce the risk of heart disease.  It is a rich source of vitamin C, a powerful natural antioxidant. Consumption of fruits rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious disease and counter inflammation. It is an excellent source of the trace mineral manganese, which is essential for maintaining healthy bone structure, absorbing calcium, and creating enzymes that build bone. For a healthy choice, why not grill some fish or chicken? Pass the salsa please.

 

Strawberry Salsa

1 c. coarsely chopped strawberries

1 Tbsp. orange juice

1 tsp. grated orange peel

1 green onion, finely chopped, top included

1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard

2 Tbsp. dried currants

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Chill.

Makes six servings, 1/4 cup each. Each serving has 20 calories, no fat, 22 milligrams of sodium, 0.5 gram of fiber and 15 percent of the daily recommendation for vitamin C.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue. For more information call 616-696-1718. Like them on facebook for updates.

 

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Grill Up a Father’s Day Feast

FATH-Fathers-day-feast

(Family Features) Make Father’s Day special by combining two of Dad’s favorite things – sweet treats and the grill. Hot dogs have gone gourmet and a big, juicy hamburger or steak is a tried-and-true classic. But, this year, show Dad how much you love him with a healthy twist on two  American favorites – the chicken wing and watermelon.

If Dad is usually the one manning the grill, review these simple tips for cooking chicken outdoors before you begin:

Preheat the grill on high.

Make sure the grate is well oiled to prevent sticking.

Transport the chicken to the grill on one plate and use a clean plate to take the prepared food back to the kitchen.

Use tongs to turn the chicken instead of a fork, which may tear the meat.

Keep the grill covered as much as possible for quicker, more even cooking.

Have a spray bottle filled with water handy in case of a flare up.

Once you remove the chicken from the grill, allow it to “rest” for five minutes so it will retain its juices when cut.

Get the kids involved in the meal preparation by creating a fun dessert. They can use a small ice cream scoop or melon baller to scoop out watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew. Serve the cool, refreshing treat in a pretty bowl or thread the melon balls onto skewers. Slices of watermelon can also be cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Add the shapes to the plate for a fun garnish or place one or two on the rim of a glass to add a festive flair.

Grilling out is a time-honored tradition so fire up the charcoal and let the celebration begin.

Look for more fun ways to enjoy watermelon and sign up for a free newsletter, at www.watermelon.org.

 

Chipotle Maple Citrus Watermelon Wings

Watermelon Glaze:
2 cups watermelon puree

Juice from 3 fresh lemons
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup maple syrup (can use light version)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, or to taste
Chicken:

Chicken wings or drumettes
2 cups pineapple juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves minced fresh garlic

 

To prepare the watermelon glaze, simmer ingredients together in a heavy saucepan for 20 minutes or until sauce is thick. Makes 2 cups. Keep warm.
To prepare the chicken, place the chicken in a large zipper lock bag with rest of the ingredients and seal tightly. Allow to marinate at least 2 hours or up to 12. Grill until cooked and arrange on a warm platter. Pour the glaze over the chicken and serve immediately.

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Janet’s Notebook

by Janet Tharpe

by Janet Tharpe

ENT-HobbsCake

Gooey Caramel Confection Takes the Cake in Crock Pot Contest

We love casseroles.  We love stews.  Ok, we pretty much love everything that comes out of a Crock Pot.

What we didn’t know was how stunningly delicious a slow-cooked DESSERT could be!

“I just love baking pies, cookies and cakes,” says Emily Hobbs of Springfield, MO.  “I’m more of a baker than a cook.”

Well, it turns out that she’s also a veritable Crock Pot dynamo, creating fanciful sweet confections straight from her slow cooker.  It’s no coincidence then, that Emily has also been named Grand Prize winner in the Just A Pinch Crock Pot Creations Contest at www.justapinch.com!  It was absolute love at first bite when we came face-to-face with her Dulce De Leche Sweet Potato Pudding Cake.  Full of sass and class, this is one mighty fine dessert.

“It’s a spiced sweet potato cake flavored with dulce de leche caramel, coconut and pecans,” explains Emily.  “It’s delicious, easy… and yes, ‘bakes’ in a slow cooker!”

Now, I’d love to be able to tell you how well Emily’s dessert keeps, but there was not a speck to be found after the Crew and I had our way with it in the Test Kitchen!  We served the cake in small, individual ramekins while it was still warm and the caramel golden and sticky.  We let French vanilla ice cream melt down over the top and, well, the rest is history.

Emily has had a passion for cooking since she was a child, an interest spurred on by the support of both her parents.

“They always cooked when I was growing up. My mom was more the baker, my dad the cook.  The first thing I tried to make for them on my own was cinnamon rolls for Mother’s Day when I was about 12 years old.  They were undercooked and doughy and not good at all, but it got me interested,” smiles Emily.  “I started checking out library cookbooks.  Now, I read cookbooks and food blogs all the time!”

In fact, Emily has created her very own cooking blog chronicling her many kitchen adventures. She prides herself on cooking with a sweet, Southern flair, and her delightful photography speaks to the outstanding quality of her food.  Utilizing different tableware, backdrops and props, she takes great care to capture the true essence of her dishes in every shot.  Perhaps her biggest tip for aspiring food bloggers is to snap your photos at eye-level; it makes readers feel like they’re there and can just reach out and grab that perfectly iced cupcake or last piece of pie.

For winning the Just A Pinch Crock Pit Creations Contest, Emily wins a $500 Visa card to spend any which way she wishes.  So, what’s she going to do with her winnings?  “I have a Kitchen Aid mixer but it’s been broken since October,” she laughs. “Maybe I’ll finally repair it!”

 

www.justapinch.com

© 2011 Just A Pinch Recipe Club. Used by Permission.

Brought to you by American Hometown Media

ENT-HobbsCakeDulce de Leche Sweet Potato Pudding Cake

added by Emily Hobbs

 

This is a delicious, easy cake that “bakes” in a slow cooker. It’s a spiced sweet potato cake flavored with dulce de leche caramel, coconut and pecans.

Cook time: 1 Hr 45 Min Prep time: 10 Min Serves: 6-8

ENT-Just-a-pinch-logo

Ingredients

1/2 c unsalted butter

2 c all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 c brown sugar

1 can(s) (15 oz) sweet potatoes, drained, finely mashed

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 c coconut milk

1/2 c finely chopped toasted pecans

1 c dulce de leche

1/4 c toasted flaked coconut

Directions

1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook, whisking constantly, until butter foams and starts to turn golden brown. Place browned butter in a large mixing bowl.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; whisk until combined. Add brown sugar and sweet potato to mixing bowl with browned butter; beat, using a mixer on medium

speed, until creamy – about 1 minute. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined – about 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture, alternating with coconut milk until just combined. Stir in pecans until combined.

3. Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread batter evenly into slow cooker; cover and cook on low for 45 minutes. Pour dulce de leche on top, sprinkle with coconut, cover, and cook an additional 1 hour. Turn slow cooker off and allow to cool 45 minutes before serving.

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