The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 22, 2012

Cheryle Finley: Peachy ideas help prolong the season

By Cheryle Finley
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — No doubt about it. My all-time favorite pie or cobbler has always been peach, so I’ve been really happy to get fresh peaches from my brother-in-law Brent and neighbor Ed Sneed.

Brent had so many peaches on the tree he had to pick some before they were really ripe in order to save the branches. What to do if the peaches aren’t ripe enough when they are picked? Store the firm fruit at room temperature until it ripens, or for faster results, place the peaches in a paper bag at room temperature.You will know they are ripe when they give slightly when gently pressed, and they will have a sweet peachy smell. If the peach is already ripe, store it in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

When the peach is ready to be enjoyed, how about making a smoothie or a nice fruit salad? If you have a little one, homemade baby food made with fresh peaches would be a great choice. Eating peaches three times a day and still have them running out your ears? Peel, slice and pack in a solution of water, peach or apple juice and sugar or Fruit Fresh. Melt the sugar in the liquid then cool before adding the fruit. Ladle the fruit mixture into freezer bags (not just plain baggies), remove all the air and lay flat in the freezer. If you just toss them in willy-nilly, they will freeze in wonky shapes that will take up more room in your freezer. You can also squeeze fresh lemon over the peaches, stir, then add sugar and stir before freezing. Another option is to peel the peach, quarter to remove the pit, put back together and place each peach in a muffin tin cup. Freeze in the tin then remove and freeze in a large freezer bag. Gives you melon balls all winter long. To thaw, sit on your countertop for a couple of hours or place in the fridge overnight. Microwaving isn’t a good thing in this situation.

For easy peeling, dip the peach into boiling water for 20 to 30     seconds, remove with a slotted spoon and dunk it into an ice bath. That peach will peel in no time at all.  I hope you are enjoying fresh peaches as much as I am.

 Don’t just run. Run fast to Braum’s. We stopped there one evening last week for sherbet for my grandson, Atlas. It was no surprise when he picked a half gallon of the red raspberry, but it was a surprise to see grape sherbet. I resisted and didn’t pick up a carton but while waiting in line, I noticed the nice couple behind us had nabbed the grape.  I asked them if it was good and they were so enthusiastic about it, I went back and grabbed a carton.  They said it reminded them of the NEHI grape soda we enjoyed as kids and they were right.  That frozen concoction didn’t last much past the first night.

 From the Pillsbury Quick & Easy Bake-Off comes a great recipe for using those fresh peaches.  You will want to eat your ice cream and fresh fruit sauce first so you will be sure to have room for it.  The last two recipes are from the Taste of Home cookbook, as is most of the peach info I shared today.  The taco casserole is a stand-alone meal and the cookies are chocolate so enough said about them.  Have a wonderful week and happy eating.

 

Fresh fruit sauce

1 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup orange juice

1/3 cup honey

1 cup sliced fresh peaches

1 cup sliced fresh plums

Vanilla ice cream

In a small saucepan, combine the cornstarch and orange juice until smooth; stir in honey.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 1 minute or until thickened. Remove from heat.  Stir in peaches and plums.  Serve with ice cream.  Yields 2 1/4 cups.

 

Slow-cooked taco casserole

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 package taco seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

9 (5 1/2-inch) corn tortillas

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce

6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) finely shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cans pinto, black or kidney beans, drained, rinsed

1 can Mexican corn (Green Giant)

1 (4.5 ounces) can choopped green chiles

1 can chopped ripe olives

Sour cream

Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray or use slow cooker liner.  In large skillet, brown beef, onion and garlic over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently; drain.  Stir in taco seasoning, salt and pepper. Place 3 tortillas in bottom of slow cooker. Top with beef mixture, broth, tomato sauce and enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Layer three more tortillas; top with beans, corn, green chiles, half the olives and 1/2 cup cheese.  Top with remaining three tortillas.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and olives.  Cook on high for 21/2 to 3 hours or on low for 6 to 7 hours.  Uncover cooker for last 30 minutes.  Top individual servings with sour cream. Yields eight servings.

 

Brownie macaroons

1 chocolate chunk deluxe brownie mix

2 cups coconut

2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon oil

1 egg

Combine all ingredients in large bowl; beat 50 strokes with spoon.  Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls.  Place 3 inches apart on lightly greased or parchment paper lined cookie sheet; flatten slightly.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are set. (Center will be soft.) Remove from cookie sheet and cool on rack. Yields 24 cookies.