Monday, September 17, 2012

Fudgy (not cake-y) Zucchini Brownies

 It took a few tries, but I finally found an AWESOME zucchini brownie recipe!  This is a winner, through and through.  Moist and fudgy- not cakey like most- and deliciously chocolate, this is hands down the best recipe I tried.  So, SO good.

Here is what you'll need:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • And here is how you do it: 
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.  
    In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. 
    Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. 
    Fold in the zucchini and walnuts. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.  
     Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched. 
    To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled brownies before cutting into squares. 

    ~~~~  Thank you Allrecipes ~~~~

    Flourless Zucchini Breakfast Bread

    I was looking for a zucchini brownie recipe and found this flourless one.  Having Gluten Free friends, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and make delicious zucchini brownies and have a new gluten-free recipe under my belt for when the occasion arises.

    But it turns out, these weren't what I deemed a BROWNIE to be- but more of a zucchini bread taste in square form.  Still delicious, still worthy of repeating, still amazing since they have no FLOUR (!!!) but not worthy of the title "BROWNIE". 

    Plan on making these for breakfast and not dessert and you won't be disappointed!

    What you will need:
    • 1 cup of peanut butter. (The original recipe called for almond-but I didn't have any.  If you do, use it!)
    • 1 1/2 cup of shredded zucchini.
    • 1/3 cup of raw honey
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp of vanilla
    • 1 tsp of baking soda
    • 1 tsp of cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
    • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips. I used gluten free chocolate chips.
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix everything together.
    3. Pour into a greased 9x9 baking pan.
    4. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
    ~~~ The original recipe was found here. ~~~~~

    Baked Zucchini Fries

    These baked zucchini fries are not only healthy, but delicious!  They turn out perfectly seasoned and very crispy, without the worry of (to work or waistline) frying.  Really, a summer MUST from henceforth in the Newman House.

    You need:

    2 lb zucchini
    1/2 c. flour
    1/4 t. salt
    2 c. bread crumbs (panko.  OR, homemade whole wheat-like I used.)
    1/2 c. parmesan cheese
    2 T. Italian Seasoning
    2 eggs
    a bit of water

     Here's how:

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Rinse and dry the zucchini. Cut the ends off and then cut each one into strips.

    Put the flour and salt in a ziploc bag and shake the zucchini strips in it to coat.   In a wide, shallow bowl combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. In a second wide, shallow bowl, whisk a raw egg with about 1 T. of water until fairly smooth.

     Cover a baking sheet with foil and then place two wire cooling racks over top. One by one, take the flour coated zucchini strips and dip them in the egg and then the seasoned bread crumb mixture. Place the breaded zucchini on the wire cooling racks making sure that they do not touch each other (for good circulation.)  The wire racks keep the zucchini up off of the baking sheet and allows hot air to circulate underneath, which will prevent soggy bottoms.

    Bake for about 15 minutes or until they are a medium golden brown color.

     Serve them right away- they are best when they are warm!

    ~~~~~~~~~~ I originally found this recipe here- a cool site that breaks recipes down by cost to see just how much you are spending (or, better still, SAVING!) by making your own. ~~~~~~~~~~

    Tuesday, August 21, 2012

    Hearty Minestrone

    Soups are hard to write recipes for becaus, as I have said before, my goal is usually to use up what I have on hand rather than follow recipes to a tee.  So if you have sweet potatoes instead of carrots or green beans instead of zucchini-- then by all means, use THEM!  Don't ever be boxed in to recipes, ESPECIALLY soups.  That said- here is this particular days' variation.

    1 pound mild Italian Sausage
    2 med. onions, diced
    2 med. green peppers, diced
    1 T. minced garlic
    2 carrots, diced
    2 stalks celery, cut into pieces

    (Brown the meat with the tiniest bit of oil.  Add everything else and saute until the onions are translucent.

    Then add:

    14 oz. water
    1 can kidney beans, drained
    1 can garbanzo beans, drained
    1 can stewed (or crushed) tomatoes
    4 T. sugar
    1 jar spaghetti sauce  (I used a homecanned quart jar so I don't know if that is more or less than storebought, but they look about the same.)
    1 T. italian seasoning
    1 t. salt
    A few turns of the peppermill
    1 bay leaf

    This you let simmer for a while and then, 20-30 minutes before serving add

    2 cups of water
    1 cup of pasta

    When the pasta is cooked through, discard the bay leaf and serve!

    PS.  Before adding the last water and pasta, if you have a smaller family you can divide this large portion of soup into smaller portions to freeze for later. Then simply thaw and some pasta and water and ta-da-  DINNER FAST!

    PPS.  Soups always taste SO much better if given time to meld.  So if you can manage to make the soup in the morning and put it in the fridge, that is how soups love to be treated.  Even still, it is a great soup. 

    Lemony Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

    I really love zucchini muffins. You know the ones I mean~ the brown and heavily spiced kind sometimes dotted with walnuts. The banana muffins' brother. But sometimes, you just want something....different.

    Well, THESE zucchini muffins certainly are that.  They are barely distant cousins to the zucchini muffins we know and love.  The zucchini makes them moist but it is the lemon and blueberries that really stand out for flavor.  They have only subtle sweetness, so if you prefer a very sweet muffin- use a bit more sugar.

    These will be great for winter muffins, using frozen shredded zucchini from the summer and the frozen berries I put up in July.  Plus-they are just so sunny looking.

    Here is what you do:
    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup ( to one cup, depending on preference) white sugar
    • 1 t. baking powder
    • 3/4 t. baking soda
    • 1/2 t. salt
    • 1 cup shredded zucchini
    • 1 (8 ounce) container yogurt (I used plain because that is what I had on hand.  Lemon would be awesome.)
    • 6 T butter, melted
    • 1 egg, beaten
    •  2 T. lemon juice 
    • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries   
    • Here is what you do:
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. 
    • Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Mix zucchini, yogurt, butter, egg, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon lemon zest in a separate bowl; pour yogurt mixture into well. Gently stir yogurt, slowly incorporating the flour mixture until just blended. Batter may be slightly lumpy. Add berries.  Pour batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.(I usually plop one or two berries on top of each cup of batter to make for prettier muffins too.  You don't have to-but can.)
    • Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012

    Summer Squash Boats


    The problem with my cooking is this:  I believe in the waste not, want not theory.  So I throw a little bit of this in, throw a little bit of that into recipes in order to clean my fridge.  This is how I make sure we use things up without being wasteful and also how I have taught myself to cook (learning what works and what emphatically DOESN'T!).

    This method is great for our palates, not-so-great for writing recipes.

    So here is the how-to for making zucchini boats, with the superfluous stuff in italics.

    You'll need:

    • 2-3 zucchini or summer squash
    • 1 pound meat of some sort (I used a jar of homecanned ground beef in tomato sauce but sausage would be good!  Or chicken!  Or beef cubes!  Kielbasa works great too!)
    •  1 large onion, diced
    •  1 large green pepper, diced
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, depending upon your tastes (I used two)
    • any other veggies you might like or have to use up:  I used some leftover roasted delicata squash, zucchini and potatoes from the other night and two carrots that we pulled up for Sketch Tuesday that I promised we would eat for supper (our first pulled up garden carrots create quite the excitement around here!) 
    • spaghetti sauce, about a 1 cup. (Mine was canned with the beef and I also added five fresh small tomatoes.
    • Cheese of some sort, shredded (any would be good.  I used mozzerella because that is what I had.)
    • Seasonings:  a few pinches each of salt, pepper and italian seasoning
    Here's what you do:

    Cut in half 2-3 zucchini lengthwise and hollow out seeds with a spoon or scoop, leaving the bottom intact.  Place on a cookie sheet or baking pan and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Meanwhile, brown meat (and discard some fat if necessary) (OR use canned beef, like me!) then saute onion, green pepper, carrots, garlic in mixture until onions and peppers are nearly ready.  (This is when I added my roasted leftover veggies) Add sauce and a few fresh tomato hunks (if you want) and simmer for a few minutes some of the water is cooked off.

    Fill up your squash boats with your beef mixture and top with mozzerella and put in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until the meat mixture is nicely browned and the zucchini is cooked.

    Monday, July 30, 2012

    Beet Greens

    I really love beets.  I love the taste of them, I love the look of them, I *love* growing them, I love thinning them!  So it is all the more unfortunate that I only learned about beet greens a few years ago; to think of all the delicious greens I just....discarded. (gasp!)

    Next time you pull up some beets from your garden-don't throw those leaves away!  Utilize those flavonoids and vitamins for your own benefit: Try this recipe instead...and be forever converted.

    **For an extra treat, I will occasionally add crumbled bacon pieces to the top before serving...but only when I want to impress.

    You'll need:

    • 1 pound beet greens
    • 1/4 cup chopped onion
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 3/4 cup of water
    • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/6 cup of cider vinegar
    •  1 or 2 strips of  bacon, chopped** (or a tablespoon of bacon fat)

    ** If you choose to impress with bacon, brown it now. Pat it dry and set aside.

    Keep the hot grease or heat 1 Tbsp of bacon fat in your large skillet.

    Add chopped onions, cook over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in minced garlic. Add water to the hot pan, stirring to loosen any particles from bottom of pan. Stir in sugar and red pepper. Bring mixture to a boil.

    Cut the leaves and stems an inch or two from the neck of the beet. Wash and pat dry your beet greens, and if you want to chop them, do so-I usually don't) and then add them to the skillet by gently tossing them in the onion mixture so the greens are well coated. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 5-15 minutes until the greens are tender. Stir in vinegar.

    ** Top greens with bacon pieces just before serving.


    Thursday, July 26, 2012

    Saucy Spareribs

    Spare ribs are a very special treat in this house but since we had our home-grown hogs butchered, we happen to have them in the freezer.  So on a middle-of-the-week, hotter than heck summer day, and nobody present except our very own selves, we decided to have a feast.  

    These spare ribs were delicious.  The sauce was divine.  Try them next time you want a middle-of-the-week feast.  That's all.

    6 lb. pork spare ribs
    1 t. salt
    3 T cooking oil
    1/3 c. finely chopped onion
    1 clove garlic, minced
    3/4 c. ketchup
    1/3 c. light corn syrup
    1/3 c. vinegar
    2 T. worcestershire sauce
    2 T. soy sauce
    2 T. spicy mustard

    Place ribs and salt in a kettle with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until almost tender.

    Drain well.  Set aside (in fridge if it won't be for a while)

    Meanwhile, heat oil in 2 qt. saucepan over medium heat and sauce onion and garlic in it about five minutes or until tender.  Add remaining ingredients, mixing well.  Cook until mixture comes to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes. 

    To Grill:

    Grill ribs over medium heat, turning and basting often with sauce, for about 30 minutes or until ribs are well glazed.  

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    Huckleberry (or Blueberry) Syrup

    I have four children.  That is eight extra hands to help pick huckleberries with me every July that I can make good use of.  Of course, it can take some doing to make those small hands actually kerplunk them into buckets instead of mouths- but the promise of this blueberry sauce and pancakes for supper usually does the trick.

    The above photo required making a (THIRD!) batch of pancakes after supper and scrape the bottom of the syrup pan just to get this picture.  You BARELY got a picture.  So, is edible.

    Here is the recipe, which I doubled for my family of six (and will likely triple in the future.) 

    1 c berries
    1 T. butter
    1/2 c. water
    1/3 c, sugar (or honey)
    1 t. cornstarch

    Mix cornstarch and water and then all other ingredients to a saucepan and boil until berries have popped.  Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened.  

    Super simple.  Super delicious.