Take Advantage of Seasonal Produce

There’s still time to take advantage of the wonderful summer produce while welcoming the incoming fresh fall fruits and vegetables.

I just hate to think about the summer produce season closing in around me. All those wonderful fruits, berries and vegetables will soon be over…until next year. Something to look forward to!

In Middle Tennessee, you may still be able to find tomatoes, green beans, okra, squash and other vegetables. Plenty of choices for another few vegetable dinners to serve with cornbread. With the closing of summer, the fall brings us many additional flavors to savor like apples, pears, pumpkin, collards and turnip greens. Check out your local farmer’s markets to see what’s in season.

I love this recipe for Summer Squash and Cornbread Pie. The squash is cooked the same way my mother always cooked hers, then topped with a cheesy cornbread mixture and baked. It’s delicious and if you can find some good tomatoes to slice, it will make a nice late summer dinner. For a heartier meal, add some fresh peas.

The Harvest Apple Cornbread Panzanella recipe is a nice transition recipe from summer to fall The recipe calls for one of a couple of apple varieties, but feel free to use some local ones, if you have them.

Treat Your Friends to Homemade Coffee Cake

With the kids back in school, now may be the perfect time to reconnect with old friends. As we all know, friends are such an important part of our lives. Maintaining those friendships will be a source of joy and comfort throughout our lives. A spur-of-the-moment cup of coffee may not happen often and it may take some effort to get together – but it will be worth it. To show your friendship commitment, treat your friends to a special homemade coffee cake.

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As a general rule, coffee cakes are fairly easy to prepare. I love a when a coffee cake has a creamy component. If you’re still hanging on to summer, the Peach Custard Coffee Cake is delicious. The creamy part of this recipe is made with sour cream mixed with eggs and flour. The cake recipe is made with Martha White® Self-Rising Flour which saves you time by eliminating the need to measure out baking powder, baking soda and salt. As for the peaches – you can use fresh or frozen!

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If you’re ready to leave summer behind and move into the fall or if you just want to a shortcut to home baking, the Songbird Sweet Potato Skillet recipe is the perfect option. Begin with a Martha White® Sweet Potato Muffin Mix.  Change the ingredients a bit by using buttermilk and butter. Pour into a cast iron skillet or baking pan. Swirl in the cream cheese filling and sprinkle with streusel topping. The outcome is fabulous! A piece of this coffee cake, a cup of coffee and a good friend is all you need!

What is your coffee break favorite?

Pizza for All Seasons

When I was nine years old, my sister moved to Nashville to go to college. In one of her letters home, she shared the news that she had pizza at Melfi’s – a long-gone Italian restaurant here. This was exciting as there were no pizza places in our small town. In fact, we had never eaten pizza in our lives! How things have changed since then!

I usually think of pizza as a cold weather comforting food, but to a true pizza lover, the time of year doesn’t seem to matter. During the warmer months, I like the idea of incorporating seasonal ingredients as toppings and using more vegetables for a fresher flavor in warmer weather.

Pizza Margherita is a perfect example. Tradition implies this pizza was named in honor of the Queen of Italy – Queen Margherita.  The pizza reflects the colors of the Italian flag – red (tomatoes), green (basil) and white (mozzarella). Perfectly simple and delicious!

If you have an herb garden, Three Cheese and Herb Pizza is a great option. This recipe calls for dried herbs, but use fresh herbs if you have them.  Dried herbs make it convenient to prepare this pizza year-round.  However, if using fresh herbs, substitute three times the amount of fresh herbs to the suggested amount of dry herbs as they are more concentrated.

The great thing about Martha White® Pizza Crust Mix is that it is quick and easy to make.  It provides a blank canvas for you to be creative and make your own pizza masterpiece. What are your favorite toppings to add to your pizza?

Secrets to Perfect Cornbread to Serve with Fresh Summer Vegetables

I grew up eating a variety of fresh vegetables all summer long. My mother cooked a big meal in the middle of the day and I looked forward to dinner time. My family was lucky enough to live in a north Alabama farming county where a wide variety of fresh produce was readily available.

Cornbread was the only thing absolutely necessary at dinner time! My mother used Martha White® Self-Rising Corn Meal Mix and a recipe similar to this one for Southern Cornbread. The only difference is that she heated the shortening in the skillet and poured it into the batter. The finished product was thin and moist with a very crisp crust.

The perfect cornbread is the one you love. To me, the cornbread extremes are an unsweetened cornbread made with white corn meal and a soft sweet cornbread made with yellow corn meal and a touch of flour.

If you are still looking for your favorite cornbread recipe, my advice is find someone who makes cornbread you love and ask them to teach you how to make it! Of course, cornbread mixes are a good option, too. Martha White even has a Gluten Free Sweet Yellow Cornbread & Muffin Mix if you are gluten free.

Cornbread tip: dry cornbread usually indicates the batter was too thick. Most basic cornbread recipes suggest that the batter should be thin and pourable – about the consistency of pancake batter.

Caribbean Cornbread Crab Cakes for a Perfect Summer Supper

As much as we talk about the food traditions of the Mid-South, the food traditions of coastal areas of the South are equally as rich and interesting. As with most locations, the food traditions usually come from the heritage of the people and the resources available in the area. The coastal heritage is different to other parts of the South as the French and English settlers (in addition to many others) influenced the cooking style. Crops and the availability of fresh seafood created a cuisine unique to that part of the county.

Crab, shrimp and fish sustained all types of people – the rich and the poor. I remember driving through South Carolina many years ago and seeing a small refrigerated truck with shrimp for sale. This was so surprising because shrimp was a rare delicacy to me at that time. In time I realized the shrimp were right there for the taking, just as catfish are abundant in the inland South.

We are blessed to have easy access to seafood so we can enjoy it much more often. Summer is the perfect time to use seafood in our cooking. This recipe for Caribbean Cornbread Crab Cakes is a delicious example. A National Cornbread Cook-Off winning recipe, these crab cakes are held together by cooked, crumbled cornbread. The mango salsa topping combined with pineapple and seasoned with the fresh flavors of lime, ginger and cilantro give it the perfect summer touch.

What’s your favorite summer seafood dish?

Bake a Cobbler for Dear Ole Dad

The temptation to plan a celebration based on doing something we will enjoy instead of the recipient is sometimes a challenge. When trying to figure out how to celebrate Father’s Day, take time to consider the things that make your dad happy.

Coming together around the table for a home cooked meal may be more his style than going to a fancy restaurant. If he loves watching sports on Sunday afternoon, plan your celebration to allow for some recliner time. If your dad’s an outdoorsman, plan a cook-out or a picnic at one of his favorite destinations.

Regardless of how you plan to celebrate, there are probably very few dads who wouldn’t appreciate a good homemade cobbler. No matter your cooking skill, there is a delicious cobbler you’ll love making for your dad.

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Lazy Days Blackberry Cobbler

If scratch baking is not your forte, Berry Good Cobbler is delicious and easy to make with a Martha White® Muffin Mix. It’s easy and delicious. If you’re up for a bit more and have basic ingredients like Martha White Self-Rising Flour, milk, sugar and butter, this is really all you’ll need plus berries to make Lazy Days Blackberry Cobbler. If you’ve mastered a basic flaky pie crust, treat your dad to an old-fashioned Peach and Berry Cobbler. No matter which one you choose, he’s sure to appreciate your thoughtfulness, time and effort.

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Peach and Berry Cobbler

Pretty as Peach

We usually say “pretty as a peach” when talking about a pretty little girl, but peaches really are beautiful. Combined with a velvet skin, wonderful flavor and aroma, peaches are a summer treasure.

I feel so lucky to live in a neighborhood with a produce market that’s been in business for over 20 years. Going to a big farmer’s market is always a great option, but to have a trusted friend close by who takes great pride in making sure the best fruits and vegetables of the season are available is wonderful. Since there are just the two of us, I rarely need large quantities, so this option is perfect for us.

I always look forward to peach season. Summer is the only time when really delectable peaches are available, so I’m aware that I need to take advantage of them while they last. This is the time when you want to take advantage of all your favorite peach recipes. By now you’ve probably made your favorite strawberry shortcake, but what about shortcake made with peaches?

Butter Pecan Drop Shortcake with Fresh Peaches is a delicious variation on the classic. Made like the traditional sweet biscuit style shortcake, this one calls for brown sugar and pecans in the shortcake recipe. The shortcakes are sliced and filled with sweetened whipped cream and sliced fresh peaches. It’s sure to become a tradition in your family.

What is your favorite summer peach recipe? I would love to hear about it.