three treats with all the feel of fall

Happy First Day of Autumn! A strong warm wind blew all day yesterday warning us that the piles of leaves will soon be rustling under our feet. The sounds of summer fade to a crinkly whisper and rich green turns to dusty gold. Acorns keep the squirrels busy and we know the world is changing.

harvest apple dip

Applesauce, fresh apple slices, apple butter, baked apples, apple pie, or just a whole apple in your pocket can only mean one thing. September is for apples, and we love this three ingredient apple dip. I always double the recipe, cover the bowl we served it in, and store it in the fridge for next time. We have this at lunch, for a snack, and as a fruit side with supper. It’s only three ingredients: cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.

https://letsdishrecipes.com/2017/09/three-ingredient-apple-dip.html

apple bread

Apple bread is at the top of our family’s favorite quick breads. It’s sweet and soft and we often serve it alongside dinner. You’re going to love this recipe full of chunky apples! We use 1 cup of sugar instead of 2 cups.

https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/apple-bread/

maple milk

The maple milk is turning into our family’s year around favorite special drink. We used to only have it cold during the summertime, but warm is the best alternative to hot chocolate in case sometimes you want something else :).

It’s just two ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk (cold, warm, hot)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (we prefer FirstFruits Farms maple syrup :). Comment or email us if you’d like some!

We sometimes sprinkle cinnamon on top or a little nutmeg (the children’s preferred way).

Do you have simple recipes your family loves? Happy Fall Friends!

 with love, Damaris

Maple Pumpkin Pie

This week is proving to be the quintessential autumnal weather. Outside my window, the wind rocks thin branches with tawny leaves and weathered edges. The air current through the room made us all reach for a cozy pair of socks this morning! Certainly a season of inexhaustible flavors and tastes, cool fall evenings require creamy pies for warming the body and soul.

No better way to kick off October than with maple plus pumpkin in a satisfying pie dish.

As soon as there’s a chill in the air, I crave the textures and flavors of pumpkin. And here it is, our first pumpkin pie of the season. The addition of maple to the silky pumpkin adds a soft and subtle flavor. This maple pumpkin pie recipe is so simple, you’ll be putting this fall favorite on your regular dessert rotation.

For a pudding-like option, skip the crust and bake the filling in a lightly greased dish or individual ramekins.

The ingredient list is so wholesome, you may just want to have a slice of pumpkin pie as an afternoon snack with a cup of hot tea…every day until Thanksgiving : )

Maple Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin puree

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (maple sugar or coconut sugar would be perfect!)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs, well beaten

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • CRUST: use your favorite pie crust recipe, I recommend this one. Have it premade in the fridge (or store bought) for a faster way to enjoy your pie!

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll your pie crust onto a pie plate. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy and add all other ingredients. Stir until combined and smooth. Carefully pour filling in pie crust. Bake in the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it stand 30 minutes or more before cutting. It’s delicious slightly warm, but you might enjoy it best after it’s chilled in the fridge.

That’s it! To serve, sprinkle toasted pecans, drizzle a little maple syrup, or maybe whip up a little cream for a silkier, richer treat.

Let me know how you like it. Can’t wait to hear how you enjoyed it!

with love. Damaris


Heirloom Tomato Quiche

If you’ve been to the farmer’s market lately, the tables are overflowing with all sizes and every color of heirloom tomatoes. It’s a beautiful thing to see! Malformed, purple, lopsided, variegated, golden, pink, really every shape and shade is delicious.

We are growing a handful of heirloom varieties this summer. The good-lookin’ ones go out to the farm stand, but a fair share come into the farmhouse kitchen. Too many too eat sliced up, matter fact! We make batches of fresh salsa using jalapenos from the garden, and we also crush the tomatoes and slow simmer with garlic and basil for a simple, traditional marinara sauce. Since the abundance was exceptionally high last week, I picked the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and decided to make a couple quiches.

Our family loves quiches! It’s really a real food, fast food : ) Lately, I’ve been keeping a pie crust or two in the fridge for a late afternoon summer galette that can be made at a moment’s notice. When I told Eva I was going to write this post, she was very excited saying that I had invented this recipe. The truth is there are many similar ways to a quiche, all tasty and rewarding. I have made quiches for so many years, so many ways, that I’ve found how to simplify it to be a quick and easy breakfast, lunch, or supper pleasure for our family.

We don’t have chickens yet, but we’ve had hens in the past, and if you can get your hands on a half-dozen real eggs, this quiche will be all the more satisfying and goldenly delightful.

Heirloom Tomato Quiche

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon herbed salt blend (delicious with herbs de Provence salts, or just seasoned salt)

  • 1 cup of bacon, cooked and cut up/chopped/thinly sliced

  • 1 cup of sharp shredded cheese

  • 1 or 2 heirloom tomatoes (depending on their size), cored and sliced

  • more herbed salt bled of your choice for sprinkling over tomatoes

  • CRUST: use your favorite pie crust recipe, I recommend this one. Have it premade in the fridge (or store bought) for a faster way to enjoy your quiche!

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll your pie crust onto your pie plate. Beat the eggs until fluffy, add milk and herbed salt blend. Add the bacon and the cheese and pour the mixture into the crust-lined plate. Lay the heirloom tomato slices over the egg mixture and sprinkle a little herbed salt blend to flavor the tomatoes. Bake in the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it stand 5 minutes or more before cutting.

That’s it! Real food the fast way for any day of the week!

Let me know how you like it. I’m sure cooked sausage, ham, or meatless would be just as tasty. Can’t wait to hear how you enjoyed it!

with love. Damaris


Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

This free-formed pie is light as a summer supper al fresco requires. This delicate fruit galette is just sweet enough to nicely wrap up the meal all the while being wholesome and loaded with seasonal fruit.

Traditional galettes may have a crust on top too. We’ve served it up with a generous dusting of sugar, but a dollop of whipped cream would be extraordinary. Strawberries and rhubarb are so happy together! Sweet and tart are an ageless match. Whenever they’re paired, strawberries and rhubarb make so much juice that some will always run out.

Peaches are also absolutely delicious (not too mushy) in this galette instead of strawberries and rhubarb. Since blueberries are in season, I think blueberry-peach or blueberry-strawberry would be scrumptious. Apples in the fall are perfect for this recipe and yield less errant juices.

I’m convinced this is the fastest desert you’ll ever make!

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped

  • 1/2 cup sugar, any will do – we used coconut sugar in the galette pictured

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

  • zest of a lemon or 1 teaspoon lemon peel

  • melted butter for brushing over the crust

  • 1 raw or coarse sugar for sprinkling

  • CRUST: use your favorite pie crust recipe, I recommend this one. Have it premade in the fridge (or store bought) for a faster way to dessert!

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper to collect any juices. In a medium bowl, add the sugar, zest, and cornstarch or arrowroot to the fruit. Mix and spoon into the center of the round crust. Leaving about 3 inches between the fruit filling and the edge of the crust. Fold the edges of the crust over the fruit. To finish the galette, brush the crust with melted butter and sprinkle with a few pinches of sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Allow it to cool before slicing. Enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Let me know how you like it and which fruit combination you enjoyed!

with love. Damaris


The Best Uses For Zucchini and Squash

Move over, asparagus, there’s a new garden boss!

So this is complicated. We have a quarter of an acre garden, and grow every kind of summer and winter squash known to the Midwest. Nobody likes them but me. ‘What are we thinking planting all those vegetables??‘ I know. I wonder too, but it certainly has pushed me to get creative and find the most flavorful uses for my family to eat the least favorite (also the most prolific) of our garden produce.

I almost can’t believe I just admitted to their very well-hidden food aversion : )

Here they are! All the recipes that we have made, and our family ate and finished their plate. You can switch yellow squash for the zucchini in all these recipes.

Zucchini Bread and Muffins

Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Curry (with petite diced zucchini instead of eggplant)

Zucchini Lasagna (we use jarred marinara and skip the mushrooms)

Zucchini Patties

Several other ways in which I have successfully incorporated zucchini and squash are:

  • Adding cooked zucchini to meatloaf (when making the raw meat mixture)

  • Adding cooked shredded zucchini to marinara sauce (for spaghetti, or lasagna, or stuffed shells, etc.)

  • Cooking shredded zucchini with the taco meat for Mexican dishes

Maybe your garden isn’t pressuring you to eat it as fast as mine is, but I thought it would be good to share the different ways my family enjoys eating zucchini and squash considering we have children’s taste buds at our table.

Do share your tips and tricks for using up zucchini! I’m all ears.

with love. Damaris


Kale, Farro, and Chickpea Salad

Farro has been my new favorite thing. There’s just something about that unique chewy texture and nutty flavor that I can’t get enough of this summer!

Farro is an ancient wheat grain that is small, light-brown colored. It’s wholeness and subtle bran tastes are flexible and adaptable to most recipes that would call for rice or other grains. Before farro is cooked, it looks similar to wheat berries, but afterward it looks similar to barley.

I always used to make this recipe with millet, which is delicious and gluten free. We also enjoyed this kale and chickpea salad the last couple summers with quinoa, but the farro is the softest, largest, almost creamiest grain. I’m sure barley would yield similar taste, but farro’s soft texture contributes a tasty surprise. I’m sure you’ve figured out that this is one of our unconventional uses for our prolific garden kale. But really, it’s so good that you’ll find it a gratifying compliment to your grilled chicken or broiled salmon dinners this week.

You may find that it has a bite from the lemon. I admit I like to taste the lemon. If perhaps you don’t, cut back on the amount of lemon to maybe 2 tablespoons. The smoky hint from the cumin rounds it all up. Other than that, this salad is pretty straight forward. I recommend “massaging” the kale first before incorporating the other salad elements. Because kale leaves are so sturdy, allowing it to sit in the fridge a couple of days helps soften the kale and allows the farro to absorb the salad juices.

An emotional side note: Two summers ago, an older friend was suffering from cancer, and her diet was very restricted to highly-nutritious, whole foods. Of all the meals we shared with her, this salad (with quinoa instead of farro) was her favorite. She liked it with the grilled boneless chicken thighs on top as a one bowl meal. Making this salad always reminds me of Judy.

Kale, Farro, and Chickpea Salad

  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, leaves cut off the stem and chopped like lettuce for salad

  • 1 cup farro (I use Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro), cooked according to package directions

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 15 or 16 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Place cut up kale in a bowl. Add salt and massage the leaves with the salt until the leaves start to become tender. Add the cooked farro (cooled, warm is fine too) and chickpeas. Stir in the oil, lemon juice and cumin. Add black pepper to taste and enjoy. It really is better 2 and 3 days later. Refrigerate your leftovers.

Even if it’s not a weekly staple for you like it is at our house, I do hope you’ll give this delicious salad combination a chance.

Let me know how you like it and what you paired it with!

with love. Damaris


Swiss Oats: The Breakfast You'll Crave All Summer

Not too long ago, overnight oats had an overwhelming representation on Pinterest and food blogs because of the dish’s simplicity, no-cook, wholesome approach to breakfast. But the healthy overnight oats has in fact been around for well over a century. When you look at this recipe and hopefully try it, think of the beautiful summertime mountains of Switzerland for a moment : )

Swiss Oats or “Birchermüesli” was invented by Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner (1867-1939), a pioneer of holistic medicine and a whole foods diet. In 1897, Dr. Bircher founded a health clinic in Zürich, where he practiced holistic therapy which included whole foods diet, a daily walk, bathing and sunbathing. He also set up exercise equipment for his patients. He created Swiss Oats as a way to get his patients to eat more raw foods and a plant based diet. The original Bircher muesli was soaked overnight with water and lemon juice, and then eaten with yogurt.

I first tried Swiss Oats at a women’s breakfast nine or so years ago. I found it so unusual, refreshing, whole yet delicious. That’s when I did some background research on the dish and fell in love with the story of its creation. I have often shared a bowl with moms who just had a baby because it’s filling and fresh.

Swiss Oats

  • 2 cups of oats

  • 2 apples, cored and chopped very small (or grated)

  • 1 cup raisins or your favorite dried fruit

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 cups almond milk (any milk works fine)

  • blueberries or halved grapes make a delicious addition when serving (bananas add natural sweetness)

  • a splash of more milk when serving

  • honey or yogurt are very common additions (we’ve never used either one)

Combine all the ingredients together in a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You’ll enjoy the hassle-free, nutritious bowl in the morning.

Tell me when you make it, and I do so love to see your pictures!

with love. Damaris


Perfect Instant Pot Vegetarian Lentils

My mom makes the most delicious pots of lentils you’ll ever eat. Her favorite way to serve up a steaming shallow bowl of lentils is having cooked them with diced carrots, a trusty bay leaf, and short ribs. With a large romaine and tomato salad and fresh crusty pan (bread – always a baguette), you’ll find lentil stew on every restaurant’s menu in Spain. It serves their health well, for it boasts lots of minerals and vitamins.

Lentils are a quick cooking legume that provide a great source of protein making them a nutritious alternative to meat. Lentils are also high in fiber. You can read about their health benefits here. Improving digestion and heart health, lentils are a most frugal meal as well.

I have cooked lentils with a little sausage and at other times with a ham bone (reserved from a ham dinner), but meatless is equally delicious. Since the addition of an Instant Pot to my kitchen, I have made these vegetarian lentils again and again, and it’s a perfect meal every time. With no stirring, or tasting, or worries, it’s as quick and easy as dump and forget.

Some favorite garnishes are chopped parsley, thinly sliced radishes, and a splash of vinegar (growing up, mom used white wine vinegar, but I mostly used apple cider vinegar – both are delicious).

The pictures show our lentils from last week that I cooked with a ham bone.

Perfect Instant Pot Vegetarian Lentils

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 4 carrots, chopped

  • 4 celery stalks, chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

  • 4 oz. (or 4.5 oz) can of chopped green chiles

  • 12 oz. jar of roasted peppers and their juice, chopped

  • 2 cups of lentils (any kind)

  • 8 cups of chicken stock (true vegetarian: use vegetable broth)

  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

Turn the Instant Pot to the sauté function and add the olive oil. When heated, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic stirring until it’s fragrant. Add the tomato paste and bay leaf almost at the end of the sauté stirring to incorporate the tomato paste. Add the chopped roasted peppers and their juice, the green chiles, lentils, and the chicken stock (or vegetable broth). Set the Instant Pot to the porridge function (automatically sets to 20 minutes) and keep the steam vent closed. That’s it! I allowed it to slow release and stay warm until we were ready to eat. You’ll love both the convenience to this nourishing bowl!

Tell me when you make it, and I do so love to see your pictures!

with love. Damaris


Hocking Hills: Camping Trip + Fireside Peach Pie

Last week, we got away for few days to Hocking Hills. We had never heard of it until a couple months ago, and it’s a spectacular state park in southeastern Ohio. Hocking Hills is only a four-hour drive for us, and so we were bound for the perfect camping trip! The rock formations and waterfalls make it a scenic wonderland.

The cool of the deep gorges was a nice respite from the sun, although the trails were also mostly wooded and shaded. We hiked through forestland framed by spectacular sandstone rock recess and caves. I was surprised at how potentially dangerous the deep cliffs were! The names of the trails are so mysterious. How could we leave without making it through all of them?! Old Man’s Cave, Conckle’s Hollow, Whispering Cave, Devil’s Bathtub, Ash Cave, Rock House, Cantwell Cliffs, and Cedar Falls did not disappoint.

We each had a favorite hike, but mostly the children can’t stop talking about the wading in clean, clear water and filling their canteens and water bottles at the many springs and waterfalls. We were surrounded by what seemed like a jungle. So much moss and fern made everything feel exotic and tropical. Can you tell one of the kids had just finished reading Jurassic Park?

Of course, it wouldn’t be a camping trip without roasting marshmallows and a late-afternoon fishing. Nathan grilled our hearty suppers over the fire. Burgers and brats never tasted so good!

As we made our way back home through gentle hills and rolling emerald pastures, we shared our blessings and the joy of spending time together. Having breakfast and Bible reading, the girls learning to pack lunches (waaaaay too much mayonnaise), and encouraging each other on to keep going as we all felt tired (6 hours of hiking each day) are some of the sweetest memories of our camping trip. Kudos to Nathan who carried Samuel in the back-carrier for all of it!

Fireside Peach Pie (Nathan’s creation – yum!)

  • peach pie filling can

  • white sandwich bread loaf

  • butter

  • Cinnamon sugar

Butter the bread slices, and add two or three spoonfuls of pie filling to one of the unbuttered sides of the bread. Top with the other unbuttered side. Sprinkle each buttered side with cinnamon sugar. Place pie in the cast iron sandwich maker (here). Cook for 3 or so minutes over the embers or until golden (grilled cheese looking). Enjoy the warm pie!

with love. Damaris


A Lovely Mother's Day Brunch: 5 quick and easy recipes

With Mother’s Day a couple Sundays away, I have been looking through recipes and making our menu. Since we head to church in the morning, breakfast will be baked oatmeal or maple muffins, but after church, we ‘ll slow down and gather. We’ll delight and give thanks for the joys of a full table, and then I’ll get to open several homemade, art-filled cards. Aren’t they the best?

Brunch is my all-time favorite meal, and surely there is no shortage of brunch menu options and incredible ideas. I compiled some of our cherished recipes which you’ll notice can all be made in advance. We have enjoyed making all of these recipes over the last few years, and they have become faithful appearances on the spring-summer menu.

I plan to prepare only the grapefruit when we come home from church. Meanwhile, the tart, quiche, and coffeecake go into the oven at a low temperature to warm up for 30 minutes or so. This will give the boys time to cut some flowers from the front yard or a branch of crab-apple (or dogwood- the prettiest) to make the best and happiest Mother’s Day table. The only thing that will make this brunch menu better is a fresh brewed coffee. With a little cream. And a little sugar.

All the quick and easy recipes are linked!

Broiled Grapefruit

A simple caramelized topping makes it a surprising favorite. This sweet and tangy pleasure can be served first or right along the rest of the brunch dishes. It is light and immensely refreshing.

Asparagus Tart

This tart makes the most elegant side dish. Roasted asparagus, creamy cheese, and a flaky crust come together so simply and so perfectly. What a beautiful way to showcase the springtime vegetable! Make it ahead and warm it in a low oven (although it is tasty at room temperature too). And when the recipe boasts only three ingredients, you’ve got to try it! Guaranteed to be a delicate delight at the table.

Crustless Quiche Lorraine

Eggs and bacon – no two foods were ever more perfectly paired! The hint of smoky gruyere complements the salty bacon in this scrumptious, easy recipe. Quiche is a staple that pleases everyone at the gathering and is perfect for making ahead (freezes very well).

Lemon-Raspberry Coffeecake

This coffeecake has a creamy center that will be a delightful surprise when served. It can be prepared very quickly if the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature already, and it bakes up perfectly every time. This sweet treat is well suited for making in advance (and even freezing). The slight citrus flavor and the moist crumb, make this gorgeous coffeecake inviting. Enjoy it with a dusting of powdered sugar! It’s especially delicious warm.

Non Alcoholic Apple Cider Mimosa

It is so fun to enjoy a colorful drink! Equally special and healthy, these mimosas are perfect for Mother’s Day brunch! The children will not be able to hold their excitement at our table when they see this treat. The recipe is only two ingredients! Orange juice and sparking cider make it the simplest, quickest drink.

with love, Damaris