Peaches and Sour Cream Corn Muffins

What makes you feel rich? Ok, well, money would work for us all; I know. But for each of us there’s a little something or a big something (maybe more than one) that creates enough comfort in our heart to make us sigh and feel as though we need nothing more at all. Could be that once in a blue moon moment when all the wash is done and folded or perhaps after the fall garden cleanup is completed and the tulip bulbs are planted. A night after a long work project ends successfully. Close friends coming to stay for a few days. The day your afghan (or toychest) is finished, washed, and mailed. A night alone with your favorite movie of all time. (Mine is: “It Happened One Night.” That or “Michael.”) A lunchtime when the whole family is together. Might also be a full freezer. Walking a 5K; you’ll note that doesn’t say run. A case of canned tomatoes stored away for winter spaghetti sauce. For me, it’s also when there’s a slow cooker full of lusciousness bubbling all day long, promising an all-you-can-eat dinner and giving me a free day. (Hello, sleazy novel!) I feel even richer if I’ve time to bake a little something to go alongside that happy pot of goodness. A bread, simple or not, made especially to go with one particular meal. That’s really rich. This week’s jalapeño-studded peach cornmeal muffins are just such a bread. Even more so as they’re not your typical muffin. With their sweet-savory profile, they’re kind of on the special side despite their easy preparation and basically simple nature. If you’re on your toes, they’re made and baked and on the table in under 45 minutes, including preheating the oven — a must for big, round-domed muffins.

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The Ever-Changing Salad

Today, in Colorado Springs, we have a high of 68 degrees F (20 C) with (praise God) rain. It’s by no means the end of summer, but is for sure the harbinger of fall. Our jeans and fleeces never get put away as they do in Chicago or Minneapolis because we never know if we’ll have that bizarre August snow or just the run of the mill welcome and chilly summer evening when we sip a little stronger something out at the fire pit watching the stars. (Remember watching the stars?)

This time of the year, we’re so happy with our Palisades peaches, Rocky Ford cantelope and watermelon, Pueblo or Hatch chiles, jalapeños, home grown tomatoes, fresh herbs, and Olathe sweet corn that sometimes we celebrate our soon-to-end warm weather by making dinner out of just those ingredients. A few additions like salt and pepper, arugula, Sherry vinegar, goat or mozzarella cheese, and maybe a little oil make the meal just what it ought to be. One night there’s a version starring ruby red watermelon and the next day it’s Halloween-orange cantelope instead; sometimes a berry of some sort gets thrown in. I call it, “The Ever-Changing Salad,” not because it must change, but only because by nature, it just does. And we’re so glad of that.

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Peach Scones

For those of us who live in Colorado –and lots of other places, too — late summer is indeed a special time because…peaches. Palisades peaches (mostly known as Colorado peaches in other states) are some of the best examples of this gorgeous juicy fruit anywhere. Our peaches are only a bit smaller than their California cousins and perhaps a tad more tender than their Georgia sisters, and that’s what makes them oh-so-special. There is, to me, the tiniest edge of lemon in our local fruit; the acid helps make them even more pleasing. They are, as you’d guess, best eaten out of hand but when you’re flush with peaches (oh, please, God, let that happen to me), there are a few other ways to enjoy them! Pies, cobblers, salsa, cheesecake, and ice cream come to mind–but there’s also one of Alyce’s newest favorites...Peach Scones. Why shouldn’t Palisades peaches make an appearance in breakfast, brunch, and tea-time pastries?

Go to the Palisades Peach Festival!

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Peach Dream Cheesecake (Gluten-Free)

Directions for a cake containing gluten included in the printed recipe.

A few weeks ago, my friend Jeanne’s niece, Julianne and her family, came to visit Colorado from Florida. Why didn’t we come for a cookout? wondered Jeanne. We have a long-standing tradition of eating my cheesecake sometime around husband Dave’s birthday and the 4th of July, so it only made sense to offer to bring it. Jeanne was thrilled, but allowed that as Julianne followed a gluten-free diet, would I make some GF cookies, too? Of course I would.

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Fourth of July Desserts: My Berry Best

Homemade Frozen Yogurt with Strawberries and Blueberries

It came without warning. All of a sudden it was the end of June. It was nearly the 4th of July. Dave and I were both off by about a week and had no idea why. This man’s birthday is July 3 and yesterday he said to me, when I asked about a birthday dinner reservation, “What? Is my birthday this weekend??” Why, yes it is!

In the meantime, I’d been working on a risotto post for the blog. Having a fun old time making the risotto, finding the dishes, taking the photos, writing the text and recipe and so on. Except I had nothing for the immediate holiday. Necessity is the mother of disaster sometimes, but hopefully not here. (Watch this space for the risotto love coming up next week or maybe even the week after.)

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Gone Fishin’ — In the Meanwhile Enjoy my Favorite Peach Post:

Peaches, cream, and more 

If its August.  If it’s Colorado.  I’m eating peaches.  Any day. Every day.  For at least two weeks.  By themselves.  On Greek Yogurt with Colorado honey and slivered toasted almonds.  Or granola.   On top of vanilla frozen yogurt.  In a salsa on pork chops.  Etcetera.

Here are a few of the yummy things I’ve done.  Of course the best?  Above.  Fuzzy naked.


Grilled peaches:

Preheat clean grill to medium-high heat.  Cut peaches in half and remove pits.  Brush each half with a little bit of canola oil and place cut-side down on grill.  Let cook about 3 or 4 minutes and turn over when grill marks are well-established, but not blackened.  Cook another 2 or 3 minutes until tops of cut-side are somewhat visibly drying.  Remove and cool briefly.  Enjoy as is or try another good idea…

Grilled Peaches with Goat’s Cheese, Honey and Thyme
God had to have been in on this creation.  Of course.  Here’s how:
Grill peaches as above.  Top each with 1-2 T plain goat’s cheese (softened a bit).  Drizzle with your favorite honey and sprinkle with a few leaves of fresh thyme.   (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan, 2010)
Grilled Peach Salsa
Lovely on BBQ Pork Chops (Really),
Salmon
Shrimp Tacos
Grilled Fish
Tortilla Chips?  Of course.  Here’s how:

2-6 t very finely minced jalapeno (to your taste–start with 2t and more if you’d like)
1/3 c finely minced onion
2 large peaches (Colorado preferred), cut in half and grilled*, peeled after grilling, and chopped into 1/2″  pieces
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 ea medium red sweet pepper and green sweet pepper, diced
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Dash of kosher salt and a couple of grates of fresh ground pepper

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. (Add more jalapeno, etc) Serve on with grilled pork chops, shrimp or salmon or on seafood or fish tacos. (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan 2010)


Wine? If you make the bbq pork chops or salmon, try a little inexpensive Beaujolais. Other reds or bigger wines will overwhelm this meal, though a nice Lodi (California) Zinfandel would drink!  It’s summer and something lighter and refreshing will turn on these peaches. If you make the shrimp or fish tacos, a cold Spanish Albarino (lovely white) or even an Oregon Pinot Gris could do the trick.

(If you’d like to make the green bean salad, here’s the blogpost for it, though I dressed it differently here.  Rather than a mustard vinaigrette, I mixed a bit of top-quality light Ranch with some roasted salsa for a dressing.)

Lovely frozen yogurt from David Levovitz’ book THE PERFECT SCOOP. (Click for the recipe.)  Just slice those lovely lady peaches and slither them on top of this silky iced lushness.

Or try  PEACH AMARETTO BREAD PUDDING  if nothing else sounds good:

Peach-Amaretto Bread Pudding  serves 4-6
 
Ingredients:

  • 2 large hard rolls, cut into ½” slices and buttered
  • 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/3” pieces
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 1 ½ -1 ¾ cups milk
  • 1/8 c Amaretto liqueur
  • 1 t cinnamon (Vietnamese is good)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 2 qt round casserole and set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, beat eggs and add remaining ingredients. Beat well.
  3. Layer bread and peaches in casserole dish and pour egg mixture over all, stirring just a bit to make sure all ingredients are wet. If some bread/peaches are sticking out on top, it’s fine.
  4. Bake 60-70 min. until edges are crispy, but bread is still tender. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Can also be served at room temperature or cold.

 

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While you do all that, I’m on the road again with a fishing pole in the trunk….

We’ll be back next week…all of us.

In the meantime, keep cooking…

and grinning.

Sing a new song, Alyce