Fig, Pancetta and Grape Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

October 18, 2012 - Written by Diana
Fig Pancetta and Grape Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Fig Pancetta and Grape Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

A couple of weeks ago at the farm market, there were figs.  I love the way figs taste but I also love that they remind me of growing up in Queens.  Our Italian neighbors across the back fence grew some pretty neat stuff, wine grapes was one, and fig trees were another.  Every summer, they had figs on their trees they grew in pots on their patio and would hand over the fence a big bowl for us.  We sat at the picnic table biting and chewing the figs.  Then later in the fall they took big burlap rugs or cloth and wound it around each tree to try and keep it alive for another winter.  They lasted a few years, but the NY winters were rough on the fig trees.

We found the last container of figs at Anderson Orchards.  The farmer said  he’d have more, but we didn’t have time to go back since we went on vacation.  When I asked how he kept the trees alive over the winter since they are a kind of tender tree in Ohio, he said he has a tunnel over about 60 trees but he doesn’t heat it, just keeps a cover over top of them.  I wish I had time to go back for more figs.

We also bought some local honey from Honeyrun Farm in Williamsport, which I thought would go well with a balsamic vinaigrette over the salad.  We had Black Corinthe grapes on hand, sweet tiny grapes called champagne grapes sometimes and really delicious soft cheese.  The salad was missing pecans or walnuts to go in the salad this time.  Toasted nuts would have made the salad fantastic.  This was a really good dinner salad, but would also make a good salad course.  Enjoy.

Fig Pancetta and Grape Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Fig Pancetta and Grape Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Fig, Pancetta and Grape Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Fig, Pancetta and Grape Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette - a good dinner salad, or in smaller portions as a salad course.
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Salad
Serves: 2-4
  • Salad greens
  • 12 figs
  • 2 oz Pancetta
  • 4 oz very fresh soft goat cheese or sheepsmilk cheese
  • ½ cup champagne grapes
  • ¼ cup pecans
  • Dressing:
  • 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  1. Chop pancetta and then saute pancetta in a pan until crispy.
  2. Drain on paper towel, wipe pan mostly clean.
  3. Halve the figs and heat face down on pan, then flip and do the other side.
  4. Remove figs to bowl.
  5. Toast pecans in pan and remove to small plate
  6. Add the dressing ingredients into the pan and swirl around, then whisk into small bowl.
  7. Rinse and drain salad greens.
  8. Place Salad Greens on place.
  9. Sprinkle pancetta over top.
  10. Place figs around the salad greens.
  11. Using a spoon scoop out dollops of cheese and place around the plate.
  12. Rinse dry and sprinkle grapes around the plate.
  13. Sprinkle pecans around the salad greens.
  14. Re-whisk dressing and pour over salad.
  15. Serve



Blackberry Peach Mint Fruit Salad

July 23, 2012 - Written by Diana

Blackberry Peach Mint Fruit Salad

I think some seasonal fruits and vegetables become ripe at the same time for a reason… like they tastes so great together. Or maybe they taste so well together because they ripen at the same time.  Peaches and blackberries are the perfect combination.  This fruit salad can be a side or a dessert, either way it’s sweet, fruity and delicious.  The mint takes it up a notch and white wine is the perfect finishing touch.  Four ingredients for the perfect salad and while you peel and chop the peaches and chop the mint, most of the work is quick and easy and it can be made ahead and chilled while you work on something else. I served this at the (birthday) dinner party for the kids (college age kids) this weekend.  It was wiped out – gone.  I also made it for dinner tonight as a side for our main pasta dish.

Blackberry Peach Mint Fruit Salad
Prep time
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Great summer salad using peaches blackberry and mint with a splash of white wine over top.
Recipe type: Fruit Salad
Serves: 8
  • 5 peaches
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1 handful of mint
  • ½ cup of white wine
  1. Rinse and peel peaches and slice thin - but not super thin.
  2. Rinse and drain blueberries.
  3. Pull mint leaves off the stem and mince.
  4. Toss the peaches, blackberries and mint together.
  5. Splash white wine over top.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Easy Peasy.
Really best when peaches and blackberries are in season and can be found at the farm market. You can substitute white grape juice, or if you can find it, peach juice for the wine.


Friday Unwind – Frozen Strawberry-Basil Margarita

May 26, 2012 - Written by Diana

Strawberry and Basil together are fantastic.  I love the combination of sweet and herb and with a little tequila, it kicks it up to a fun summer drink. Basil is such a great summer herb.  It’s a tender perennial, so won’t last the winter in Ohio, but in the south you may be able to grow it all year long if you keep picking the flowers off.  Make the simple syrup using sugar and water and then steep the basil in it.  You can also throw leaves in the blender with the strawberries to add a little more basil flavor.

You can make this frozen or put the strawberries into the simple syrup with the basil and make it a nice cocktail without the fruit slush.  This is great for your memorial day weekend, up the quantity and make a whole blenderful to share.  Use soda instead of alcohol and you can make a fun non-alcoholic drink.

Frozen Strawberry-Basil Margarita
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Really refreshing Strawberry Margarita with nice basil tones.
Serves: 2
  • 1½ cups strawberries
  • splash of Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • 1 ounce tequila
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 cup ice
  • splash of basil simple syrup
  • Basil leaves
  1. Whisk the sugar in the water in a saucepan or small pot until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear. Rip up the basil and let steep.
  2. Margarita
  3. Throw all of the ingredients into the blender and blend. Pour into glasses garnish with basil - fresh strawberries with sink, but they make a nice surprise at the bottom.

You will have a lot of simple syrup left over. You can store it in the fridge, or make ice cubes and then stick in a ziplock bag to use as desired.


Sweet Potatoes and Kale

February 8, 2012 - Written by Diana


I love sweet potatoes and kale, such a great healthy combination.  How are your winter stores holding up?  The sweet potatoes were in our basement cold storage and holding up really well.  These were potatoes we grew from slips in our garden, so I’m thrilled to have them in such good shape in February.

We have been picking up a market bag from a grocer.  Each week is a surprise, but usually contains greens, fruit (apples, pears, oranges) some sort of grain,  and usually bread and veggies.  Most of it is organic, and as much as possible local – not easy to do this time of year.  Last week we received some dinosaur kale.  Lovely bright and green dinosaur kale.

Recently I saw an episode of The Chew where Michael Symon attempted a 5 in 5 – which he failed to complete on time, but it had the ingredients I love together – sweet potatoes and swiss chard.  I took his idea of grilling the sweet potatoes and sauteeing the chard, but substituted kale.  Instead of a vinaigrette, I squeezed an orange over top and grated orange zest over top.  While the sweet potato was grilling I sprinkled cinnamon over top.  Toasting crimini mushrooms and pine nuts to sprinkle over top for the finish.  My son and I enjoyed this meal a lot, and it was very filling.


Sweet Potatoes and Dinosaur Kale
Prep time
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Cinnamony Grilled Sweet Potatoes over Dinosaur Kale that has orange over top with pine nuts and crimini mushrooms for the finish.
Recipe type: Vegan Main
Serves: 3
  • 2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes sliced into planks
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 shallot sliced
  • bunch of dinosaur kale
  • 1 orange (zest and juice)
  • ⅛ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup crimini mushrooms chopped
  • Olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Lay sweet potato planks on oiled grill pan and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  2. In a saute pan, melt 2 tbs butter and toast mushrooms and pine nuts.
  3. Take the mushrooms and pine nuts out of the pan and place on a dish.
  4. Add olive oil to the saute pan.
  5. Saute shallots until soft.
  6. Slice the dinosaur kale across the width and add to the shallots.
  7. Flip the sweet potato planks when one side is soft and has grill marks.
  8. Grate orange zest and squeeze orange juice over top of the dinosaur kale.




Merry Christmas & Ginger Applesauce

December 25, 2011 - Written by Diana

There’s always one last thing to make , one more dish to prepare. Here’s a quick pretty fail safe delicious one we made this morning. It was all hands on deck. The kids peeled and cored an put the apples into lemon water. My husband helped remove the rough spots.
We put it into my new dutch oven and I poured a little apple cider over top. For the piece de resistance We grated fresh ginger and gave it all a toss.
Heat it up giving it a stir every few minutes until its mostly melted into sauce. Yummy.

I hope every one enjoys their day and thanks to all those working today to make our lives easier. My daughter is a working waitress. Be extra nice to your waitress today if you eat out. She’s missing the family dinner, but needs the money for school. We miss her, but we understand. God bless us everyone. Happy Holidays to all, from Winter solstice through Happy New Years and every holiday in between.

World’s Best Applesauce – It’s All In The Apples

December 5, 2011 - Written by Diana

I bring killer applesauce to family dinners and I often can some and give away as gifts. I get many compliments on my sauce and my response is always the same- it’s all in the apples you use. Seriously, I don’t need sugar in my sauce at all because I’m using a blend of apples to come up with the best sauce.

Learning which apples to use in your recipes is the key to achieving the desired result. Fuji and Gala are great for salads and fresh but I wouldn’t put them in sauce. I’ve used Rome because they make a pretty pink sauce but the taste is meh. My husband loved Red Delicious until I pointed out they only had flavor for a couple of days and then the flavor went downhill fast.

I use Winesap, Gold Rush and/ Suncrisp together for the sauce. Winesap are sweet and melt right down into sauce with very little effort. The Suncrisp and Goldrush have a little tartness and hold their shape more and so they add a little chunkiness and texture to the sauce.

Making applesauce is easy peasy.

Wash and peel apples.

Core and slice – place in a bowl of water with citric acid of some sort ( lemon juice, fruit fresh, true lemon)

Drain slices and place in crockpot or roasting pan on low.

Give it a swish chop up the bigger chunks with a wooden spoon.

Add a little spice if you like (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice).


But really, it’s all in the apples.

Here’s a chart I’ve used to help decide what apples to use.

There’s Cilantro in my Watermelon

September 14, 2011 - Written by Diana

Today was the second time I bought this salad from work. As I was going through the line, the cashier asked me why they put the green stuff on the watermelon. I told her it was cilantro and I thought it was tasty. She obviously disagreed.

I’m not a cilantro fan, but watermelon as a salad with a little heat is actually yummy.

The ingredient list is easy:

Chunks of watermelon – bite size
Cilantro chopped
Jalapeno – diced really itty bitty
Red Onion – diced really small

Toss and serve.



Southern Apple Pecan Dressing

November 13, 2010 - Written by Diana

The time has come to start the Thanksgiving dinner recipes.  Dressing or Stuffing what’s the difference.  Where I came from, everything was called stuffing, here in Ohio, mostly it’s called dressing so I always thought it was a regional thing.  Whatever – you can also call it stuffing if you stuff it, and dressing if you don’t.  Usually I don’t stuff the turkey, I bake the stuffing (or dressing) and serve it as a side dish – because I like it that way.  I love apples and pecans in my dressing (stuffing) and sometimes I throw in some raisins.  Here’s a recipe developed by the Deen Brothers.  Oven dried bread means cube it and toast it on low until the bread is dry enough to use for stuffing.

Southern Apple Pecan Dressing

Recipe created by Jamie and Bobby Deen on behalf of the Grain Foods Foundation

Servings – 8
PreHeat – 350°
Prep Time – 20 min
Cooking Time – 1 hr
Total Time – 1 hr 20 min
Difficulty – Easy



In an extra large mixing bowl, toss together white bread and crackers. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in celery, onion,apples, sage and poultry seasoning. Cook until onion is translucent. Pour vegetable mixture over bread mixture. Add stock, salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Add beaten eggs and mix well. Stir in Nuts. Pour mixture in a prepared 9×13 baking pan.

Bake until golden on the top and cooked through with a slight jiggle (45-60 minutes).

Tell us, are you a stuffing, or dressing person?  What kind do you like best?

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

October 20, 2010 - Written by Diana

It’s apple season and I have had such a craving for an Apple (Cinnamon Coffee) Crumb Cake.  It doesn’t help that I have all of these apples that my husband and I are planning on canning sitting around the house calling to me.  Psst, psst, you want it, you know you doooooo.  Well, I caved.  I hit the books looking for a simple cake that I could put together quickly for a nice evening snack.  This is one of the times it would be nice to have kids hanging around.  I’ve got apple cake and I’m eating it, and eating it.  This is my type of cake, not too sweet, a little bit of apple, moist and delicious.  Love it.  Warm is better, and if you have vanilla ice cream, dollop it on top.  I don’t have any, but I just keep snacking on it.  I found this recipe in my Best of Cooking Light Kitchen Secrets for Quick and Easy Meals from Sept 2008.  I guess this is the reason I keep magazines I like around for a while. 

Apple Cinnamon Cake 080 Serve warm or freeze this coffee-cake for up to 3 months




Preheat oven to 350.  To prepare cake, lightly spoon 1 1/2 flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Make a well in the center of mixture.  Combine milk, melted butter, vanilla, and egg, stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.  Fold in apple.  Pour into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. 

To prepare streusel, combine brown sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle streusel over batter.  Bat at 350 for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Yield 12 servings.

Peach Crisp – It Is In Season

January 17, 2010 - Written by Diana

We were invited to dinner at a friends house, and I thought I would bring dessert.  It was after work, but I had a secret weapon in my freezer.  Peaches that I bought at a farm market during the peak of their ripeness, and stored in my freezer.  I defrosted the peaches and made a crisp that was fantastic tasting.  Leftovers went for breakfast this morning, yum.

Can you use regular canned peaches?  Yes, but they’re a lot softer than the ones I made.  They also have frozen peaches in the freezer section of the grocery store.  Mine were presweetened when I packed them into the freezer bags so if you are using fresh you will need to sweeten them a little.  You can take them out of the freezer and place them in the refrigerator the night before, or use the microwave to defrost the peaches.

My recipe is basically defrost peaches and place them into a lightly greased casserole dish or cobbler dish, top with crisp topping and bake until the top is the right consistency.  The topping on mine came out like a gooey cookie topping consistency.  I used almond meal and hazelnuts to add a little more flavor in the topping, along with the oats.  Fast, easy and delicious – perfect for a work night gathering.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA           Crisp topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients, and sprinkle evenly over the top of the peaches. Bake about 45 minutes until bubbling and like a gooey cookie topping.