Farmers Market Finds & A Goat Cheese, Bacon, Onion & Tomato Pie

This past Saturday, if you haven’t already figured out, I went to Pepper Place Farmer’s Market. Farmer’s Markets are obviously an addiction for me. I could be a Farmer’s Market Hoarder. Because I want everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. I’ve bought cutting boards, bowls, jewelry, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, BBQ…pretty much anything I’m in the mood for at the time! Last post, it was strawberries. Before that it was honey. And this week, I just couldn’t make up my mind! Clearly….

Pepper Place Farmer's Market, Birmingham, AL

Farmers Market Goodies

But one thing that was very clear to me was that I wanted some tomatoes. And what a week to want them. They were just gorgeous! Heirlooms, Clusters, Beefsteaks, Cherry, Green…they were everywhere! Swoon!

Combination of Beefsteak & Cluster Tomatoes

Farmer’s Market Tomatoes, Basil & Onion

Now I just had to figure out what to make! I always make BLT’s. I mean who doesn’t?!?! But I wanted more! So the longer I walked around “sampling” the market with my The Home T Tote Bag (Seriously go check them out), it dawned on me. Tomato Pie. With Bacon. And Caramelized Onions. And GOAT CHEESE. Ahhh…this was going to be good. And it seriously was.

Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

Just look at that Tomato Pie Goodness!

This is really an easy dish to make. And one that is so versatile you can eat it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Take it to a picnic, serve it at a party or a reunion! It’s really just good anytime!

First thing to get started. Slice your tomatoes about 1/4″ thick into a colander. I used a combination of Beefsteak & Cluster. You use whatever kind is in season and looks the best from your market. Lightly salt & pepper them and let drain of any excess juice and seeds for at least 30 minutes. You don’t want the pie to be soggy, and this will help.

Sliced tomatoes drained in a colander

Let these sit for at least 30 minutes!

While you are letting those tomatoes sit, prepare your other ingredients. Slice your onions, chiffonade your basil, prepare your pie crust & chop your bacon. If you have forgotten…click here for the easiest way to prepare bacon and always have some ready to go! For the pie crust, I wanted to keep it simple this time. So I used a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. All you have to do is place it in your pie plate and then pre-bake it for 10 minutes. Simple as that. If you want a homemade pie crust…you can click here for my homemade version from my Aunt Inez. Either way will work just fine.

Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

While your pie crust is baking and cooling, you need to caramelize your onions. Drizzle your olive oil in a sauté pan. Once the oil is hot, add your onions and sauté for about 25-30 minutes. Don’t stir these too often. Just enough so that they aren’t sticking to the pan. You want them to be a rich, warm & brown in color.

Once the onions are done and the pie crust cooled, it’s time to start layering the ingredients for the pie! Start with your tomatoes. You want these in a single layer barely overlapping each other. Next, add your onions and bacon. About half of each. Then spread out your basil, pinches of goat cheese and mozzarella. About a 1/3 for each layer.

Goat Cheese Tomato Pie Layering

The First Layer of the Goat Cheese Tomato Pie

Continue with the next layer and then finish with a layer of tomatoes. Here is where you will add the rest of the cheese & basil. I also added a little bit of fresh grated parmesan cheese, but that is up to you!

Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes until your crust is golden brown, pie is bubbly and the cheese is melted and browned! Let the pie rest and cool on a wire rack or trivet for at least 30 minutes – up to an hour. Then serve! Serve it with a salad, drizzle some balsamic on top, or just eat it by itself! Which is what I did. All. By. Itself.

Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

We need Smell-o-Vision AND Taste-o-Vision for this!

This is definitely my new favorite way to make a Tomato Pie! And my inspiration came straight from the Farmer’s Market! If you haven’t been to your local market…go this week! It’s well worth your time. You’ll be supporting your local farmers…and who knows what other inspiration you may find!!

Let me know what you think! Enjoy! 🙂

Fresh Tomato Pie with Goat Cheese, Bacon & Caramelized Onions

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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4-6 Fresh Tomatoes (Heirloom, Beefsteak, Cluster) Sliced 1/4″ Thick
Refrigerator Pie Crust (Or Homemade…Click here for recipe)
1 Medium Onion Sliced Thin
3/4 lb Thick Cut Bacon, Cooked & Chopped (Around 6-7 Slices)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Handful of Fresh Basil, Sliced in a Chiffonade. About 2-3 tbsp.
4 oz Herbed Goat Cheese
1 c Shredded Mozzarella (I used a little less)
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Fresh Grated Parmesan for Dusting

1. Slice Tomatoes about 1/4″ thick and place in a colander. Salt & Pepper and let stand for at least 30 minutes to drain seeds and extra juice.
2. Slice onion into thin slices to caramelize. Set aside.
3. Chiffonade fresh basil & set aside.
4. Place refrigerated pie crust in a pie plate. Bake according to instructions. Then set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. While tomatoes are draining & crust is baking/cooling, caramelize the onions.
6. Drizzle olive oil into a sauté pan and begin caramelizing onions until brown on medium heat. Stirring occasionally. About 25 minutes. Set Aside.
7. Begin layering tomatoes in the pie crust in a single layer overlapping a little.
8. Add bacon & onions on top of tomatoes. Then top with basil chiffonades.
9. Add pinches of goat cheese and mozzarella on top of basil, bacon and onions. About 1/3 of each.
10. Repeat layers until tomatoes are the last layer. Then top with remaining cheese and basil. Dust the top of the pie with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
11. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes until cheese is browning & pie is bubbly.
12. Let cool for 30 minutes – 1 hour before serving.

A Fresh, Beautiful, Sinful & Sweet…Homemade Strawberry Cake!

Fresh Strawberries. Is there a fruit much better than fresh Strawberries? No…no there isn’t. Unless it’s Peach Season. And then…there is no better fruit than Peaches. Well…until Watermelon Season…and then…well you get my point. I am a lover of all fruit. But as of right now…my favorite fruit is Strawberries!

After my latest trip to Pepper Place Farmer’s Market I saw SO much produce that I just wanted to take it all! But I since I couldn’t…I knew I wasn’t going to leave without one of the BEAUTIFUL buckets of Strawberries that seemed to stare at me with every turn. And since Memorial Day cookouts will be in full force this weekend, I decided that I should indulge in something other than my Updated, Old Fashioned Strawberry Pie (click the link if you missed it, because it’s a “can’t miss”). And trust me…that was a tough decision to make. So what could possibly come close to that goodness?? AHHHH….A Fresh, Beautiful, Sinful & Sweet…Homemade Strawberry Cake! YES!

Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Everything is fresh in this cake. No boxed cake mixes (even though you totally could), no over-sweetened frozen strawberries and no food coloring. I really don’t see the need for food coloring. But again…you could totally add it. So here is how this recipe starts.

Homemade Strawberry Cake

Homemade Strawberry Cake

This first step is really a taste preference. I didn’t use any of that frozen strawberry mixture that is loaded with sugar. Instead, I pureed my fresh strawberries with a tablespoon of sugar and juice of half a lemon. You don’t HAVE to add the sugar OR the lemon. But I tasted (or maybe had a small snack of) a few of the strawberries and wanted them just a TAD sweeter…and thought the lemon would just add a nice kick! So if you want to just puree them by themselves…that is just fine for this recipe!

Fresh Strawberry Puree

Fresh Strawberry Puree

Fresh Strawberry Puree

Fresh Strawberry Puree

Now that this done & out of the way…preheat your oven to 325 Degrees. Then sift together the dry ingredients in a mixer or a mixing bowl. The flour (I use White Lily), baking powder, lemon zest, salt & sugar.

Strawberry Cake Mix

Strawberry Cake Mix

Next add the wet ingredients and start mixing. The oil & vanilla first…then add the eggs & whites one at a time until the batter is mixed. Careful not to over mix. Then finally fold in your strawberry puree until just incorporated. [If you want to add the food coloring for a cake that is brighter pink color…here is where you would do that. Just mix in couple of drops of red food coloring at a time until the cake is the color you want it. Remember…a little goes a long way.] Now, back to the important stuff. Time to pour this mixture evenly into 2 separate 9″ pie pans that have been greased with Pam Cooking Spray. Then bake for 30-35 minutes.

Strawberry Cake BEFORE the Oven

Strawberry Cake BEFORE the Oven

Now for the icing…Cream Cheese. Strawberry Cream Cheese. Just saying those three words makes smile. Or want to grab a shot of insulin. 🙂 And this icing is just your classic Strawberry Cream Cheese that everyone’s Grandmother has made. With just a little lemon zest added. You beat the butter & cream cheese together until creamy. Then add the strawberry puree & vanilla. Once this is mixed…start adding the confectioner’s sugar a little at a time until the frosting is the consistency you like it. Then store in the fridge until ready to frost your cake.

Cream Cheese Icing

Cream Cheese Icing

Once the cakes are done…let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then remove them from the pans and let them cool completely before trying to start adding the frosting. But once they are cool…get to it!

Homemade Strawberry Cake

Cakes are Ready for the Icing!

Here is where you can get creative. Just make sure to put the icing in between each of the cakes, the sides and the top! If you want to make designs or make it smooth…it’s whatever you want to do! And for garnish…I’ve added Strawberries, Blueberries, Mint, Coconut…anything that I already have on hand to make it look pretty! So many different options for you to make this cake fit your occasion.

So here is my very plain…but ever so delicious…work of non-art.

Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

Homemade Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

But WOW…doesn’t that still look awfully yummy! Once I finish this post…I may just have another piece!

Let me know what you think! Be sure to send me some pics, leave me a comment or message me on Facebook or Twitter! And be sure to share the blog with your friends to sign up via email! Hope you Enjoy!

Homemade Fresh Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Strawberry Puree

2 lb Fresh Strawberries
1/2 Lemon, Juiced (optional)
1 tbsp Granulated Sugar (optional)

1. Slice the green tops off of the strawberries.
2. Place Strawberries, Lemon Juice & Sugar in a Blender and Puree. Keep a Chunky Consistency in the Puree.
3. Set aside.

Cake

2-9″ Pie Pans Greased with Non-Stick Vegetable Spray
3 c. All Purpose Flour
2 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 Lemon Zested & Juiced
1 1/2 c. Fresh Strawberry Puree
1 tbsp Salt
2 c. Sugar
1 c. Vegetable Oil
2 Whole Eggs
4 Egg Whites
1 tbsp Vanilla
**3-4 drops Red Food Coloring (Optional)

1. Preheat Oven to 325 Degrees.
2. Sift together dry ingredients into a mixer or mixing bowl. Flour, Baking Powder, Salt & Lemon Zest.
3. Mix in vegetable oil then the vanilla.
4. Mix in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
5. Mix in strawberry puree (and optional food coloring) until incorporated.
6. Pour mixture evenly into the greased baking pans.
7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean in the center of the cake. Careful not to overcook.
8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove from the pans and let completely cool. Preferably on a wire rack.
9. Decorate with Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing making sure frosting is smooth between both cakes, sides & top.
10. Garnish with whole strawberries, blueberries, coconut, mint, etc.
11. Store in Refrigerator.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing

1 8oz Block of Cream Cheese, Softened (not low fat)
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter, Softened
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 Lemon Zested
1/2 c. Strawberry Puree
4-5 c. Confectioners Sugar

1. Beat cream cheese & butter together until creamy.
2. Mix in Zest, Extract & Puree. Continue to mix on medium speed
3. Slowly mix in Confectioners Sugar a little at a time until you reach your desired consistency.
4. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Aunt Ivene’s Drop Sugar Cookies…with a Nutella Twist

My Great-Aunt Ivene was one of a kind.  She was born in 1914 and lived for 94 beautiful years.  She grew up cooking, working on the family farm, later working at the bank and probably her truest calling…taking care of the family because she had no children of her own.

Aunt Ivene Hammond

Aunt Ivene & Foster Hammond, 1944

You see, Aunt Ivene married the love of her life, Foster Hammond.  Foster was killed in the war in 1944.  And she never remarried.  She always told me about why she didn’t remarry…”It wasn’t Foster”…she would say.  So she took it upon herself to take care of us.  ALL of us.  The rest of her long & beautiful life.

As a child, I used to spend nearly every Friday night with Aunt Ivene.  We would watch Dallas, play Chinese Checkers and OF COURSE…we would cook. I credit her with first showing me around the kitchen! Green Beans, Mac & Cheese, Pies, Cakes & her famous Sugar Cookies!  She made those for everyone!  And she would deliver them in an empty cracker box, an old Maxwell House Coffee can or those old Planters Cheese Ball Tins. Still such vivid memories I have of those special times and those cookies!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about Aunt Ivene lately and I decided to make a few batches of those cookies and deliver them to some friends like she did.  And then I decided I wanted to make some with Nutella.  I love Nutella.  And I could probably eat it by the spoonful (notice I said probably…doesn’t mean that I’ve actually DONE that…ummm, no…never).  And if you don’t know what Nutella is…just click on the link.  And then drop everything and race to the grocery store.

Here is all you need because these are very, very quick & easy.

Ingredients for Old Fashioned Drop Sugar Cookies with Nutella

Ingredients for Old Fashioned Drop Sugar Cookies with Nutella

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  You will need a couple of baking sheets for these because this recipe makes A LOT.  To start, beat your eggs with a mixer until they are frothy. Then mix in the oil & vanilla. Next mix in your Nutella & Cocoa. Mix in your sugar, and then finally your White Lily flour. Mix these just like I’ve described so the ingredients get incorporated evenly. This will only take a couple of minutes. Take your ungreased baking sheet and start dropping a “dollop” of the cookie dough onto the sheet with a teaspoon. Don’t crowd your pan because these will spread out. But don’t worry about making them perfect either! Just see mine…not perfect. Not even close.

Drop Sugar Cookie Batter

Drop Sugar Cookie Batter with no Nutella

And here are some with the Nutella batter.

Drop Sugar Cookies with Nutella Batter

Drop Sugar Cookies with Nutella Batter

You will have to watch these closely depending on how big you made your “dollops”. Mine baked for about 10 minutes. Just until I could tell the bottom was slightly brown. They cook fast, so don’t burn them!
Once they are done, take them out of the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet so they have time to rest. Once they are cool..then grab a glass of milk and DIG IN. Try to resist from eating all of them at once. Just do what Aunt Ivene did…grab you a tin can, or an empty cracker box and share with your friends & family to put a smile on their face! Or eat them…your choice. 😉

Drop Sugar Cookies with Nutella

Old Fashioned Drop Sugar Cookies…and some with Nutella

Aunt Ivene's Drop Sugar Cookies

  • Servings: 5-6 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
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Credit: Ivene Hammond & Molly Howard

2 Eggs Beaten
1 ½ tsp Vanilla
1 c. Vegetable Oil
1 c. Granulated Sugar
2 c. Self Rising Flour

1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.  
2. Beat eggs with electric mixer. Add in oil & vanilla.
3. Add in sugar and mix until thick & creamy.
4. Finally mix in flour & incorporate without over mixing.
5. Drop the batter onto the ungreased baking sheet using a teaspoon & careful not to over crowd the pans.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure to watch this close so that you don’t burn the bottoms.

Aunt Ivene's Drop Sugar Cookies with Nutella

  • Servings: 5-6 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Credit: Ivene Hammond & Molly Howard

2 Eggs Beaten
1 ½ tsp Vanilla
1 c. Vegetable Oil
2 tbsp Nutella
2 tbsp Hershey’s Cocoa
1 c. Granulated Sugar
2 c. Self Rising Flour

1. Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.  
2. Beat eggs with electric mixer. Add in oil & vanilla.
3. Mix in the Nutella & Cocoa.
4. Add in sugar and mix until thick & creamy.
5. Finally mix in flour & incorporate without over mixing.
6. Drop the batter onto the ungreased baking sheet using a teaspoon & careful not to over crowd the pans.
7. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure to watch this close so that you don’t burn the bottoms.

Updated…But Still Old-Fashioned…Strawberry Pie

Springtime weather is FINALLY just around the corner!  Thankfully!  And during the winter of 2014, the South has certainly experienced some very bi-polar weather!!  74 degrees one day…24 degrees the next.  Rain & thunder showers…followed up with 3 inches of snow & ice!!!  So tiring. So long.  So…OVER.

When I went to the grocery store this week and saw some Florida Strawberries staring back at me with their deep, beautiful red color & fruity, sweet smell…I knew Spring was finally upon us!!  And Spring for me always starts with strawberries!  I then decided that I’m going to celebrate this Spring arrival! And no better way to celebrate than with an updated, old-fashioned strawberry pie!  YES!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

For those that didn’t already know, I come from really long line of family that are really, really good southern cooks.  In fact…they even have a cookbook of just a FEW of their recipes!  It’s one of the things I cherish more than anything!  So, the homemade pie crust I use and file away into the recipe category of  “don’t fix what isn’t broken”, is one from my Great Aunt Inez.  She was born in the early 1900’s and lived to be in her 90’s.  I’d say that gives her enough experience in cooking pies!  And this one proves it.

Owens Family Cookbook--Lexington, AL

Owens Family Cookbook–Lexington, AL

Now…to get started.  The first thing I do is get that crust formed!  The ONLY thing I do different than Aunt Inez is make sure every single ingredient to be used in the crust is very cold!  Including the bowl!  So refrigerate everything for about an hour before you get started.   First you will need to cut the Crisco shortening & salt into the flour (I use White Lily, of course).  You can either use your fingertips, a pastry cutter or 2 knives.  Whatever will work best to get the mixture looking like pea-size pieces.  Don’t over work this dough because you don’t want the shortening to melt!  Next whisk together the egg, vinegar & cold water.  Gradually add this mixture to the flour until it is incorporated.  When the dough looks all mixed and can be formed into a ball…it’s ready!  Here you will want to divide the dough into 3, 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch discs.  Wrap them up in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Sorry no pics of the dough mixture…my hands were covered in flour & shortening.  **Note to self…buy a pastry cutter.  Soon.  Like yesterday.***And another note…if you don’t want to make a homemade crust…you can easily buy one already made.  Not the frozen ones.  In fact, just buy a Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust.  Because they are the best.

Pastry dough is getting wrapped up for the fridge

Pastry dough is getting wrapped up for the fridge

While that dough is refrigerating…get your strawberries cut and mixed with the other ingredients.  Cut them in halves or quarters depending on how big they are.  Then mix well– the cornstarch, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla, nutmeg & water. Let this refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight.  This will let the the natural juices from the berries come out.

Can't you just smell the sweetness of this filling?  If you can't...guess you'll have to make the pie.

I Love Strawberry Pie Filling.  Love. It.

Once everything has chilled, you will need to roll out 2 of the pastry discs and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a really well-floured surface, you’ll want to roll the bottom out to about an 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick to fit the bottom and sides of your pie dish.  So about 11 or 12 inches around for a 9 inch pie.  For the top, you will want to roll out the same size and then cut the dough into 1 inch strips using a pizza cutter.  This will be used for the lattice crust.  The way I learned to do lattice crust was online.  Seriously.  And it was from Simply Recipes.  I’ve been following their blog for a long time! Make sure to click on the link to the Simply Recipes site where I saw the easiest way to weave the crust.  Kudos, Simply Recipes…Kudos!

Lay the bottom crust into the pie dish, spoon in the strawberry mixture, then finish with the lattice top.  Brush the strips with heavy cream and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar.

Why can't their be smell-a-vision?

Why can’t there be smell-a-vision?

You will bake this little beauty for about an hour or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Once this has cooled somewhat,  just slice it up and top with orange whipped cream & a sprig of mint!  Or just plain whipped cream and no mint.  Or top it with nothing and just dig in!  Your choice!

Updated, Old Fashion Strawberry Pie

Just look at that beauty!  Topped with orange flavored whipped cream!

This is really an easy recipe to keep, adjust and make your own!  Let me know how yours turns out!  Enjoy!

Updated, Old-Fashioned Strawberry Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Adapted from Saveur Magazine, Inez White & Simple Southern Living

Pie Crust

3 c. All Purpose Flour
1 c. Crisco Shortening
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 Beaten Egg
1 tbsp Vinegar
½ c. Cold Water

1. Put all of the ingredients into the refrigerator (including the bowl) for at least 30 minutes to chill.
2. Once cold, cut the salt & shortening into the flour using a pastry cutter or your fingertips until the mixture resembles pea-like pieces.
3. Mix together the egg, vinegar and water. Gradually add the mixture into the flour. Mix together well until dough can be formed easily into a ball.
4. Divide dough into 3 even pieces. Roll out into a disc about ½ inch thick.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Freeze any unused dough.

Strawberry Pie

3 lbs Sliced Fresh Strawberries
½ c. Cornstarch
¾ c. Sugar
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
3 tbsp Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1 tbsp Orange Zest
2 tbsp Water
Heavy Cream for Brushing Lattice Top

1. Slice the Strawberries in halves or quarters. Mix well with the next 7 ingredients and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Take 2 of the refrigerated pie dough and place on a well-floured surface. Roll each out to 1/8 -1/4 inch thickness until it will cover the bottom & side of the pie dish. About 11-12 inches for a 9 inch pie plate.
4. Repeat rolling the other pastry disc out to the same size & thickness.
5. For the 2nd pastry disc, cut it into ½ inch strips with pizza cutter once it is rolled out. This will be for the lattice top.
6. Place the bottom crust into the pie dish. Then spoon the strawberry mixture on top of the bottom crust.
7. Next weave the dough on top of the strawberries for the lattice top.
8. Brush lattice top with heavy cream and lightly dust with sugar.
9. Bake pie for 45 minutes to an hour until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let cool and serve.