Listings of what's available at the farmers' markets and how to use the produce available.
January 09
Canned Corn Casserole Warms Up a Cold Day

In the dead of winter, canned foods bring the summer harvest to the comfort foods that fill our tables.  A standard of the comfort foods is casseroles and one of my favorites is corn casserole.

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While in the summer I enjoy fresh corn, boiled on the cob, cut off into salads and sauteed in side dishes, the winter calls for canned corn in the form of a hot, bubbling casserole in the oven.

The most common recipe for corn casserole uses a cornbread mix and this makes a wonderful, hearty, less sweet casserole that is filling and sturdy.  The other way to make a corn casserole is more of a corn pudding with a custard like base that is light and fluffy, sweet and delicious.  The recipe my Mom uses is like this and it is easy to make with a melt in your mouth base full of sweet corn kernels.

Canned whole kernel corn and canned cream style corn combine with flour, sugar, eggs, butter and milk and are poured into a greased 9"x13" pan to bake.  It is easy enough for a weeknight dinner or fills the house with delicious aroma along side a beef roast for the weekend.  It also disappears at potluck dinners!

In January, I usually clear out the pantry and freezer and try to use up what is stored there and clean out what has been pushed to the back and been freezer burnt or outdated.  So this is the perfect time to search the pantry and use those canned​ vegetables for winter comfort foods.

Mom's Corn Casserole

1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (15 ounce) can cream style corn

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup milk

2 eggs, well beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

Black pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients and pour into a greasted 9"x13" baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

January 04
Beef Stew for Cold Days

​Brrr!!!  It's cold outside.  We haven't seen it this cold in a while here in Middle Tennessee.  I can't complain though since I like cold weather.  In fact, cold, gray days are my favorite - call me crazy but I'll take a winter day over the heat of the summer anytime!

Beef Stew Web.jpg

And with the cold weather I enjoy cooking hearty dishes that make the house smell fabulous and fill you up with warm goodness.  One of these dishes is beef stew.  I don't make it very often but when I do, it's a steaming bowl of warm-you-up deep, rich beefy flavor with light, fluffy dumplings.

Last night I dug into my pantry for those root vegetable winter staples of potatoes and carrots along with onions, mushrooms and celery to throw in the pot with beef and seasonings for beef stew.  It was a heavenly aroma that made my mouth water until dinner time.

A couple of things I add to my beef stew to ramp up the flavor and richness are some sherry (or red wine) and a little tomato paste.  These two things will enrich the beef broth and bring out the beefy flavor.  I keep a tube of tomato paste in the refrigerator.  This way I can use just a little and not waste a whole can.  It will last a long time in the refrigerator and you just squeeze out a tablespoon or two as needed.

So while it's cold, get out the Dutch oven and simmer a batch of stew for your dinner tonight! 

Let me know what your favorite cold weather dishes are in the comments!

Beef Stew with Fluffy Dumplings

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds beef stew meat
black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
2 tablespoons sherry
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
3 cups beef broth
8 ounces small round potatoes, cut in half or quarters
8 ounces baby baby carrots
4 stalks celery, cut into 1" sections
6 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup water
2 cups baking mix
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper
2/3 cup milk

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over high heat.  Sprinkle stew meat with a little salt and pepper and toss with flour.  Add half at a time to the hot oil and brown on all sides, removing to a platter.  Reduce heat to medium high and add the onion and mushrooms.  Add the sherry to the pot and stir up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  When almost dry, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and add tomato paste, thyme, basil and garlic.  Stir and cook until mushrooms are reduced and onions are translucent.  Add beef back to pot and pour in the beef broth.  Simmer over medium heat for an hour.  Add potatoes, carrots and celery.  Continue simmering, covered. another hour or until beef and vegetables are tender.  Whisk together water and flour and stir into liquid.  Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened.  In a medium bowl, stir together baking mix, basil, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add milk and stir together. Drop by teaspoonfuls (about 10-12) into boiling liquid, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook for another 10 minutes, until dumplings are cooked through. 

December 20
Cranberry Bread Spices Up the Season

​My Mom always got ready for the holidays by baking.  In November she would take a whole day and bake banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini bread and fruitcake (which had to age a few weeks before eating).  The breads would go into the freezer, ready to come out when needed for breakfast or a tray to take somewhere to share.

So quick breads have always been a tradition in my family at the holidays.  While I still make some of the handed down recipes, I have also added some newer recipes.  One of those is Spiced Butternut Cranberry Bread.

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This bread is full of holiday flavor with spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg with fresh cranberries for a tart contrast.  Similar to pumpkin bread, this one uses roasted, mashed butternut squash for a little less intense squash flavor.

I used to cut up the squash and take the seeds out and roast.  However, butternut squash is really hard to cut through, so someone said they just roasted them whole and then scooped out the flesh.  So I gave it a try and it works just great!  Be sure to take a sharp knife and cut a few slits in the squash to allow the steam to escape (otherwise it may explode all over your oven!).  I washed it, put the slits in and placed on a baking sheet at 400 degrees until it was tender enough, about an hour or so (poke it with a fork).  The outside will get a little dark but that's ok.  When it is cooled down a little, cut open and scrape out the seeds and fibers in the middle and then scoop out the flesh and mash.  If you have any extra mashed squash, add some maple syrup, a little ginger and cinnamon, salt and butter for a great side dish to pork or chicken.

This recipe makes three regular size (8" x 4") loaves, so you will have plenty to stock up the freezer or to feed a crowd or wrap up and give away.  Happy Holidays!

Spiced Butternut Cranberry Bread

3 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups roasted, mashed butternut squash
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberry

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.  Whisk well.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.  Mix on medium speed until creamy, 2 minutes.  Add the roasted squash and mix until combined.  With the mixer running on low, gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the berries by hand.  Transfer the mixture to three 8"x4" greased loaf pans.  Bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just  a few crumbs.  Let cool for a few minutes and then remove from pans.

December 15
Cranberries Star in Holiday Appetizers

​For Christmas Eve, my family always had a buffet of finger foods and then we opened our presents.  We could go back and get snacks throughout the evening and always ended with a box of Esther Price Nuts and Chews Chocolate Candies.  I have always loved finger foods and all the little different tastes.  So I'm always looking for new appetizers and small bites to use at the holidays.

With all the parties and get togethers, we often need a finger food to take.  So these Ham Biscuit Crostini with Spicy Cranberry Sauce are a great little gem to take to a get together, whether its a morning brunch or a fancy evening gala or even Christmas Eve at home.

Ham Biscuit Crostini with Spicy Cranberry Sauce web.jpg
Cranberries just scream holidays.  First of all, it's their season and they're only around this time of year.  But also they are bright red and look so pretty on a holiday table.  Homemade cranberry sauce can be made ahead and used in so many ways - poured over cream cheese with crackers, served with baked poultry or spooned over cheesecake for dessert.

For a great little appetizer, this recipe takes frozen tea biscuits that you bake and then split and toast, top with sliced ham and dollop with cranberry sauce.  Can you say Southern and yum, yum?!  I used a city ham but you could also cook up country ham slices for this as well.  The cranberry sauce is a little spicy with hot pepper jelly added to the cranberries and has some dried cranberries added as well for texture and more sweet cranberry flavor.

So give these a try for your next party and watch them fly off the tray.  Colorful, yummy, pretty and holidayish!  

Ham Biscuit Crostini with Spicy Cranberry Sauce

12 ounces fresh cranberries

1 (10-ounce) jar red hot pepper jelly

2 cups peeled and diced Granny smith apples (2 apples)

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup dried cranberries

24 frozen tea biscuits

5 tablespoons butter, melted

Fully cooked ham, sliced 1/4" thick and cut into biscuit size pieces

In a large saucepan, combine cranberries, jelly, apples, sugar and water.  Bring to a boil, stirring often.  REduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes or until cranberries pop and mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in dried cranberries.  cool completely, about 45 minutes.  You can store this in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Bake tea biscuits according to package directions.  Cool on a wire rack 20 minutes.  Cut biscuits in half and brish cut sides with melted butter.  Arrange, cut sides up, on a baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden.  Place ham on biscuits and top with spicy cranberry sauce.

December 13
Spice Up the Holidays

​Holiday spices fill the house with warm aromas that beckon you into the kitchen to see what's baking!  We associate cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg with holiday treats.  But another warming spice that you might want to try is cardamom.

Cardamom Sweet Rolls web.jpg
Cardamom grows on a plant related to ginger that produces cardamom pods that contain seeds.  You can purchase the pods or seeds and grind them yourself or you can purchase the ground spice, which loses its flavor more quickly.  

The flavor of cardamom is complex with citrusy, smoky, herbal notes.  Because of this complexity, it is used both in savory and sweet dishes.  In Indian cuisine, it is paired with meats and vegetables while in Swedish cuisine it is more often used in baked goods.  Breads, sweet rolls and cookies are all infused with cardamom and sometimes paired with the other warming spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger.

You can add cardamom to cranberry sauce for a special touch or add some in your sugar cookie or shortbread recipes for a Scandinavian twist.  One of my favorite ways to use cardamom is in sweet bread.  Usually when I make this bread, I braid it and bake a loaf but here I have made sweet rolls with a candied fruit filling with sugar and spices with a glaze over the top.  If you are not a candied fruit fan (although it provides the red and green holiday colors!) just use the sugar and spice mixture or add some toasted pecans.

So give cardamom a try this holiday season!

Cardamom Sweet Rolls

3 cups flour, divided

1 packet yeast

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1/4 cup honey

1 egg

1 cup fruitcake mix (candied fruits, chopped), divided

1/4 cup softened butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Powdered sugar and milk

In a small saucepan, heat milk, butter and honey to melt the butter and let cool until just warm.  Pour into a large bowl and add yeast, whisking to mix.  Let sit a few minutes and when cool enough, whisk in egg.  In another bowl combine 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon cardamom and salt.  Add to wet ingredients along with 1/2 cup of fruitcake mix and beat until it forms a batter.  Let rest a few minutes.  Stir in enough remaining flour (2 cups) to form a dough (dough will be sticky).  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 12"x14" rectangle.  Spread with butter.  In a small bowl combine remaining 1/2 cup fruitcake mix, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, ginger and cinnamon.  Sprinkle evenly over butter.  Roll up long edge and seal.  Cut into 1/2" slices and place in 2 greased cake pans.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until lighly browned.  Let cool slightly and drizzle with glaze of powdered sugar and milk.

October 12
Autumn Apples

​Both of my parents were raised in Michigan which is big fruit country and in the fall it is all about apples. My Grandfather would always go get a couple of bushels of apples in the fall and store them under the front porch in cold storage to use all winter. My Mom would get three apples and line them up on the arm of the couch to eat while she was studying her homework. So fall apples have always been a tradition in our family. 

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Here are a few of my favorite varieties of apples:

Golden Delicious - These sweet, mellow beauties are one of my favorites for cooking and baking. They retain their shape and have thin skins so you don't have to peel them for sauteing (although I do in pies). They have a much better texture and flavor than red delicious which can get a little mealy. I often pair these apples with pork or mix with other more tart varieties in pies.

Honeycrisp - I love these for fresh eating with a tart sweet flavor. They are however, too tart for some people (like my Dad) for fresh eating. The flesh is very crisp and they don't brown nearly as quickly as other varieties so are good for fruit trays. They are a newer variety out of Minnesota and are quite a bit more expensive than other varieties.

Jonathon - These are somewhat tart and spicy apples that are excellent for applesauce. They don't hold their shape well so break down as they are cooked. They also have a crisp texture for fresh eating.

McIntosh - These are the kings of fresh eating with a very spicy, aromatic flavor and crisp texture. These also do not hold their shape well so are good in applesauce and cider.

Granny Smith - Tart apples that are great for mixing with sweeter varieties in pies and baked goods. They are a little too tart for fresh eating (for me anyway) but great for cooking.

One way to enjoy apples is in applesauce. While most people just buy a jar of applesauce, fresh made applesauce has a great depth of flavor and texture. I love it with pork especially or with chicken. You can season your sauce as you desire with the warm fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove or allspice or leave it alone with just the apple flavor. If you are interested in preserving the fall harvest on a larger scale, the National Center for Home Food Preservation has the safety tested recipe for canned applesauce here.

So enjoy the crisp air and the crunch of a fall apple!

Cinnamon Applesauce

2 golden delicious apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 gala apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3/4 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium size saucepan, combine apples, apple juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered 15-20 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring occasionally.  Using a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, mash the apples until it is the consistency desired.  You can make it smooth or leave some chunks in it.  Cool and refrigerate until ready to eat. 

June 09
Farmers’ Market Fresh: Cabbage and Pea Salad

Yesterday was another successful day at the Farmers’ Market! We had great vendors selling a variety of products. This week we had blackberries, jams, baked goods, Kettle Corn, and much more. Extension was also there with our weekly recipe and samples. This week we had Cabbage and Pea Salad.

Cabbage and Pea Salad web.jpg

The salad features cabbage from one of the vendors Wilma Kane of E & D Farms, peas, cucumber, green onion, and an oil and vinegar dressing. The salad is served chilled making it perfect for summer, and it only gets better with time as the flavors get a chance to meld together. It’s a beautiful and easy to make salad that will be perfect to bring to your next picnic or cookout.

Cabbage and Pea Salad

Makes 6 cups
4 cups thinly shredded cabbage
1 medium cucumber
½ cup chopped green onions
2 cups sweet peas
3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste
1. Place shredded cabbage in large mixing bowl.
2. Cut cucumber (peeled or unpeeled) in half lengthwise, then slice thinly.
3. Add to cabbage cucumbers, green onions and peas. Toss lightly to combine.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk oil, apple cider vinegar and sugar.
5. Drizzle salad with dressing mixture.
6. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
June 06
Peas and Pasta for Dinner (with a Little Chicken Too!)

​Last week was opening day at the Bedford County Farmers' Market.  I purchased some sugar snap peas from one of the vendors.  I love peas, especially sugar snap peas.  Growing up my Dad had a garden and one of my favorite things was snacking on the peas while walking through the garden with him.  They were sweet and crunchy.  I still really love raw peas.  Sugar Snaps with their edible hull make a great addition to a vegetable tray or mixed into a salad.  However, with my peas from the market, I decided to make some pasta one night for dinner.

Lemon Chicken and Peas Pasta web.jpg

So some of my favorite flavors with peas are lemon and basil.  They're fresh and bright and make a lovely combination with the sweetness of the peas.  So for this dish I used dried basil on the chicken breasts and then a sauce of white wine, chicken broth, capers, garlic and lemon juice with peas and onion.  It's a lighter, fresher, lovely summer pasta for a quick meal or entertaining.

So come on out to the market on Thursdays at 2:30 - 5:00 p.m. at the Celebration pavilion in Shelbyville and see what treasures you can find for dinner!

Lemon Chicken and Peas Pasta

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut into 1/2" squares

kosher salt

black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, chopped

8 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed and cut in half crosswise

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with a little water

4 ounces spaghetti, cooked

Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt, pepper and basil.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet.  Add the chicken and cook just until cooked through.  Remove to a bowl.  Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan and add onion.  Cook a few minutes until translucent.  Add the peas and garlic and cook for a minute.  Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced to a tablespoon or so.  Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, capers and cornstarch and bring to a boil, cooking until sauce is lightly thickened.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Toss in the pasta and serve immediately.

June 05
The Farmers' Market is Open: 3 Reasons to Shop at Your Local Farmers' Market

Last Thursday, June 1, 2017, marked the opening of the Farmers’ Market! We have amazing vendors this season selling delicious produce, herbs, meat, and more! Bedford County Extension will also be there as a part of our Famer’s Market Fresh program. Every week we will have a new recipe featuring ingredients you can purchase fresh from the Farmers’ Market as well as samples.

Our first recipe was Blackberry Muffins, and everybody who tried a sample loved it! We will back next week with Cabbage and Pea Salad as the recipe! And, as usual, we will have free recipe cards for you to take with you! We will also have other free goodies as well as fun activities for children!

And, in case you were wondering why you should shop at the Farmers’ Market (other than all of the delicious and fresh foods), I have given 3 reasons why you should support your local Farmers’ Market.

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1. Buying locally grown foods is more sustainable

Buying foods from the Farmers’ Market is more environmentally friendly than purchasing from larger chain stores. By purchasing foods from the Farmers’ Market, you help decrease the amount of fossil fuel it takes to ship in various produce from other regions.

2. You help support local farmers and small businesses

Buy shopping at the Farmers’ Market, you are also helping to support farmers’ businesses, which is important for the community’s economy.

3. The produce is in season

Produce that is in season tends to be richer in nutrients than those that are out of season and shipped in from other regions. Produce that has to be shipped in tends to lose some of its nutrients while in route, but, by purchasing the produce locally and in season, you are purchasing the food at its peak nutritional value.

The Farmers’ Market is open every Thursday from 2:30 PM-5:00 PM.  It is located on Celebration Drive under the pavilion. See you next week!

May 26
Roasted Beef for Father's Day

​Hello everyone!  My name is Ashley Hillsman, and, as you may or may not know, I am Bedford County Extension's 2017 Intern!  I am very excited to be here, and I am having a great time so far!  During my stay here, I will also be taking over the Seasonal Eating blog.  I will be posting weekly recipes featuring foods that are in season and available at the local Farmer's Market.  I am so thrilled to have this opportunity.  I love reading different blogs, and I am looking forward to starting my own one day.  So, this will be a great opportunity.

Ashley Hillsman with Roasted Beef Sandwiches.jpg

The recipe for this week's post is one that we were testing out for Ms. Whitney Danhof's newspaper article Seasonal Eating.  Since June is the month of Father's Day, Whitney wanted to create a recipe that would pay homage to all the Dads out there.  And what better way to do so than with hearty, filling Roasted Beef Sandwiches?  These roasted beef sandwiches will be a great, flavor filled meal to whip together for Dad this Father's Day.  He will love it for sure!

The sandwiches feature caramelized green bell peppers and onions on top of thinly sliced roasted beef round.  Toasted, golden French steak buns with a dab of Dijon mustard complete this flavor rich sandwich that the whole family will love.  I had a great time helping Whitney create this receipe, and I cannot wait to make it for my Dad for Father's Day!

Roasted Beef Sandwiches

1/4 teaspoon  black pepper
1 teaspoon  paprika
1 teaspoon  dry mustard
2 teaspoons  thyme
2 teaspoons  parsley
2 teaspoons  dried minced onion
1 teaspoon  garlic powder
1 teaspoon  kosher salt
3 tablespoons  vegetable oil, divided
2.5 pounds  eye of round roast
1  onion, cut in half and sliced
2  green bell peppers, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon  balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1/4 teaspoon  black pepper
1/2 cup  beef broth
6 crusty French steak rolls
Dijon style mustard

In a small bowl, combine black pepper, paprika, dry mustard, thyme, parsley, dry minced onion, garlic powder, kosher salt, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Mix together until well combined and set aside. Heat about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet until hot.  Add the roast and brown on all sides. Remove roast to a rack in a roasting pan. Massage the spice mixture onto all side of the meat. Roast at 325 degrees until internal temperature of 135 degrees is reached, about 1 1/2 hours.

While the roast is in oven, add onion and peppers to the same pan the roast was browned in. Add olive oil, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, salt, black pepper, and beef stock. Stir peppers and onions to evenly distribute ingredients. Bring liquid to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Let peppers and onions simmer on low heat for 45 minutes or so until softened and cooked down, stirring occasionally. Add a small amount of water to prevent burning, if necessary.

When the roast is done, let stand covered with foil for 10 minutes and then slice very thinly. Cut buns in half and spread with a little butter. Place buttered side down in a skillet or on a griddle over medium heat until browned. Remove and pile with beef and vegetable mixture, adding a little dijon mustard.

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 UT Extension Bedford County Seasonal Eating Page
 Franklin Farmers Market
 Rutherford County Farmers Market
 Bedford County Farmers Market

 Favorite Seasonal Cookbooks


​Fresh from the Farm by Susie Middleton

Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagasse

Cooking through the Seasons by Cooking Light