Listings of what's available at the farmers' markets and how to use the produce available.
March 06
Beef Up Your Soup

​I love a good bowl of soup when its rainy, blustery and cool outside and the past couple of weeks fit the bill.  So I made a pot of Barley, Beef and Mushroom Soup to enjoy last week.

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Not only does this soup have beefy chunks of chuck roast in it but the broth is beefed up too with flavor.  

First of all, late winter/early spring is the perfect time for using those produce staples like onions, carrots, celery, peppers and mushrooms.  These vegetables make a perfect base for soups, adding layers of flavor to the broth. 

Another way to pump up the flavor is by adding just a little tomato paste while sauteing the vegetables (this wakes up the flavor of the paste) and then adding the broth.  It doesn't really make it taste like tomato but gives it depth.  

Adding an acid, like balsamic vinegar or red wine (or white wine in chicken broth) can bring up the flavor also. 

A fourth way to add depth of flavor is to add an earthy umami flavor through a little bit of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. 

The last way to enhance broth is through herbs and spices.  Chicken broth, simmered with a couple of star anise and a cinnamon stick, makes a rich broth with just a little something special.  Bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns are also good in flavoring broths.

So perk up your soup reperatoire with flavorful broths, interesting grains and tender meats for a pot full of comfort.

Barley, Beef and Mushroom Soup

1 pound boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/2" pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup sliced baby carrot
8 ounces mushrooms, halved or quartered
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
3 cups water
3 bay leaves
3/4 cup quick cooking barley

Season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy pot over high heat.  Brown the meat on all sides, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in the balsamic vinegar and cook for an additional 30 seconds.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a plate.  If there is no fat left in the pot, add the remaining tablespoon of oil.  Add the onion, carrots and fresh mushrooms.  Season with a sprinkling of salt.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two.  Add the browned beef, beef broth, water and bay leaves.  Bring the soup to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the beef is tender, about 60-90 minutes.  Stir in the barley and simmer another 15 minutes until barley is puffed up and tender.  Remove the bay leaves and serve hot.

February 20
Love Your Heart with Curried Pork Tenderloin

​February is heart health month and taking care of your heart is easier when you can enjoy delicious recipes that are also healthy.  

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Leaner cuts of meat usually have round or loin in the name, like tenderloin, sirloin, eye or round or top round steak.  Leaner cuts have less saturated fat which helps to lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.  So lean meats, fish and poultry are good choices for eating less saturated fat.  In the recipe below, pork tenderloin is used along with apples for a flavorful, meaty dish with less fat.

Also in this recipe, spices are used instead of salt to season the meat and sauce.  In this case it's curry powder.  Sodium increases blood pressure, another risk factor for heart disease.  So decreasing the salt we consume can help keep blood pressure under control.  Spices are a great way to add flavor and interest to foods without adding any sodium.  Curry powder adds a warm, Indian inspired flavor to the pork and apples in Curried Pork Tenderloin with Apples.  It may seem like a lot of curry powder, but with the sauce and apples, it all balances out and makes a great dish.  The curry powder is actually a blend of spices that packs a powerful punch of flavor.

Look in your cupboard.  What spices do you have that can elevate that chicken breast or plain piece of meat without adding a lot of sodium?  Maybe its chili powder or blackening seasoning or jerk seasoning.  Take care of your heart with lean meats and salt free spices.

Curried Pork Tenderloin with Apples 

16 ounces pork tenderloin

1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 3/4 cups apple cider, divided

1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped (Honeycrisp or other tart apple)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Trim the pork tenderloin of any silverskin and excess fat.  Coat with curry powder and let stand 15 minutes.  In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the tenderloin and brown well, turning to get all sides, about 15 minutes total.  Add the onion and cook until softened a little, about 5 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the cider.  Bring to a boil and then turn to a high simmer.  Cook for 15 minutes, turning the tenderloin once or twice and letting the juice reduce by about 1/2.  Add the apples, cover and cook 10 more minutes.  Check the tenderloin with a thermometer and cook until about 145 degrees.  Remove to a board to rest.  Combine the remaining 1/4 cup cider and cornstarch.  Add to the pan and bring to a boil.  Cook until thickened and apples are tender.  Slice tenderloin and top with apples.

Serves 4, nutrition per serving:  220 calories, 7 g total fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 18 g protein, 44 mg sodium

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.

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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.

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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