What’s In Your Garden Plan

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Last week I wrote of the symbolic nature of flowers. Look around your garden. What does it say about you? Plant some dill. It symbolizes power against evil. Every victory garden could use that power right about now. Nasturtium, too. Those edible peppery and sometimes fiery orange blossoms stand for patriotism. Do you love this country? How do you show it?

For those who knew William or have followed this blog I’m certain I don’t have to explain why dill and nasturtium remind me of him. I don’t know a soul (other than his military brothers) who love this country more and fought the good fight, so others could live free.

William on the left with two of his brothers.

Today, I praise the essential workers battling the evil of COVID19 especially my two nieces. Heather and Brenda are on the front lines as nurses in ICU units devoted to the care of those infected. I can’t imagine the mix of emotions associated with these essential jobs, but they do it. They pledge an allegiance to quality healthcare no matter the hardship. All any of us nonessentials can do is express our gratitude for their courage, dedication and willingness to fight the good fight…plus wash our hands and practice social distancing. This thing isn’t over, yet.

With its feathery leaves and delicate flowers dill is an essential herb that attracts beneficial predators to the garden. I guess that is how it got its reputation for fighting evil.

As much as I love this recipe as written desperate times call for desperate measures. These days #AmericaStrong we are all adapting to a new normal. Thankfully, this is a raid your pantry kind of recipe initially adapted from William-Sonoma’s web site. No puff pastry? No problem. Use any kind of pie dough or even a pre-made pizza crust, flour tortillas or naan…hey! it is an international situation we are in so be brave and use whatever. Same goes for fresh tomatoes. Any fresh vegetable will do, but if it is crunchy like broccoli, blanch it first. Onions? Caramelize them first. Canned tomatoes? Drain them and pat them dry. Same for cheese and herbs…just do you and don’t forget to plant some seeds.

Fresh Tomato Tart with Feta & Dill

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced

kosher salt

6 oz. crumbled feta cheese

1 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

 freshly ground pepper, herb oil and freshly grated parmesan cheese

Heat an oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle both sides of tomatoes lightly with salt and place in a single layer on paper towels. Let them stand 15 to 30 minutes for paper towels to absorb some of their moisture.

Unfold the puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a 9-by-13-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, prick (or dock) the pastry all over. Fold over 1/2 inch of the pastry all the way around the edge.

Arrange the tomatoes and cheese evenly on top of the pastry rectangle. Sprinkle evenly with the dill and some freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with a little herb oil and parmesan.

Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a work surface. Cut the tart into pieces and serve.

Roasted Pear Fool Crunch

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The countdown to Christmas is on. How about a make ahead dessert to take the pressure off your holiday entertaining? My recipe for Roasted Pear Fool Crunch can be made a day in advance and checks off all the boxes for festive, easy and delicious. This is my second entry in the USA Pears Blogger Recipe Challenge Baking/Desserts category.

Dip your spoon into this creamy, crunchy, spicy and juicy dessert. The caramelized pears add a fresh intense sweetness that “pears perfectly” with the warm spices of the gingersnaps and slight bitterness of the orange marmalade. The addition of the mascarpone cheese helps to stabilize the cream, so the dessert can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Garnish just before serving.

Roasted Pear Fool Crunch

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 ripe USA pears

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons honey

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

½ cup crumbled ginger snap cookies

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

Heat oven 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Core, peel and dice 2 pears. Toss pears with butter and honey, spread over prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until pears are caramelized; cool. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low speed, combine heavy cream, mascarpone, powdered sugar and marmalade until blended. Increase mixer speed and beat to just stiff peaks. Fold in cooled pear mixture. Layer half the pear fool mixture over the bottom of 4 serving glasses. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the crumbled cookies for garnish. Sprinkle the remaining cookies evenly over the pear fool. Sprinkle with half the pomegranate seeds. Dollop remaining pear fool on top. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cookies and pomegranate seeds. Thinly slice the remaining pear. Garnish each serving with a fan of pear slices.

For more information and delicious recipes check out the website www.usapears.org and their social media platforms @usapears

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Festive Pear Crostini

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I am taking part in the “USA Pears Blogger Recipe Challenge”. This is my first entry into the appetizer category.

It’s holiday time and that means partying with USA Pears. At their peak of freshness right now, pears are a beautiful versatile fruit that need little embellishment. Sliced on a cheeseboard or tossed into a salad pears are an easy addition to every festive table. Come on now. They come in both red and green Christmas colors! If that doesn’t just get you excited about cooking with USA Pears during the holidays then the flavor will.

Here is a crowd pleasing appetizer recipe for holiday entertaining. With a few flavorful ingredients you will WOW your guests with this delicious pear bite. The sweetness of the pears complements the nutty cheese and balances out that little pop of pomegranate.

Roasted Pear Crostini with Manchego & Pomegranate

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 bunch fresh thyme

2 USA Pears, (1 red like Anjou and 1 green like Bartlett), cored, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 large baguette, cut on an angle into ½-inch slices (I like a whole grain loaf)

 4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup shredded mild Spanish Manchego cheese

Freshly ground black pepper, optional

¼ cup fresh pomegranate seeds


Heat oven 375F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Spread several thyme sprigs over bottom of one baking sheet. Fan pear slices over top of thyme. Using two tablespoons of butter, spread butter lightly over 1 side of each bread slice and place butter-side-up on other baking sheet. Melt remaining butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add sugar and swirl until melted and starting to brown. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  Spoon mixture evenly over sliced pears. Bake pears and bread for 10 minutes. Arrange baked pears on top of crostini. Sprinkle each with some cheese. Return crostini to oven and bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with pepper, if desired and top with pomegranate seeds and fresh thyme leaves. Serves 8 to 10.

For more information and delicious recipes check out the website www.usapears.org and their social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram) @usapears