Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Scream, You Scream!

Although these will do nothing to cool you off on a hot day, I had to share! I loved the new royal icing so much that I couldn't wait to make more cookies. My mom came down this afternoon and we cranked out several summer themed cookies, but these were by far our favorite design. I think they would be really cute favors for a party and the bonus is they won't melt on you!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Watermelon Decorated Sugar Cookies

We had another Throwdown yesterday and to sweeten my chances of victory I made these tasty cookies to compliment my watermelon lemonade.
They are by far my favorite sugar cookie recipe and though I didn't think I could find a better "royal icing" recipe, I think I hit the jackpot. The royal dried hard enough to stack and package the cookies nicely, but was still soft enough to be delicious and not break your teeth.
Now I am looking forward to the cookie orders I have in August because I am confident they will travel well and taste fantastic.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Not only is this a great way to burn through your stash of zucchini, it is a really delicious dessert. The deep chocolate flavor is complimented by the small amount of coffee, and the zucchini makes for an incredibly moist cake. A simple way to wow your guests and get a small dose of veggies while you are at it!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
via Clotilde's Chocolate and Zucchini blog
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 scant cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or 2 tablespoons strong cooled coffee -- this is just to deepen the chocolate flavor, you won't taste it in the finished product
3 large eggs
2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini
1 cup good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
Confectioner's sugar to garnish

Serves 12.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch round springform pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.

Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without overmixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan, and level the surface.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or a chocolate glaze if desired.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zucchini Slaw

I have been on a slight Sara Foster kick lately, so when I ran across this recipe for zucchini slaw I thought it would be a new and delicious way to use up all that zucchini.
Although some readers may scoff at the idea of using raw zucchini and summer squash, I urge you to give it a go. Because the veggies are julienned, the texture is crunchy and the taste is fresh, much like you would expect from any slaw recipe. Unless you have mad knife skills, I would highly recommend that you purchase a julienne peeler. For under $10 you can impress your friends and family and sway them into believing that you are on the fast track to auditioning for the next Top Chef.
Note: I have included the Sweet and Tart Dressing recipe if you would like a lighter version of this slaw.

Zucchini Slaw

Serves 4-6
2 medium zucchinis, cut into 2-inch julienne
2 yellow summer squash, cut into 2-inch julienne
2 carrots, cut into 2-inch julienne
4 scallions, julienne (white and green parts)
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and julienned
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Creamy Slaw Dressing
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine the veggies and parsley in a large bowl as you cut them. Drizzle with the dressing, salt and pepper, and toss. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container. With the creamy dressing the slaw will keep nicely for up to 3 days. With the sweet and tart dressing the slaw should be served immediately.

Creamy Slaw Dressing (makes about 3/4 cup)
1/2 mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar **I used Raspberry Vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.

Sweet and Tart Slaw Dressing (makes about 1 cup)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake until the sugar dissolves. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Makin' Whoopie

I couldn't resist the title which transports me back to the good 'ol days of skinny microphones, tuxedos, and Bob Eubanks talking about makin' whoopie on the Newlywed Game was probably the most off-color phrase the FCC had to worry about.
Those simpler times also make me think about my grandmas overflowing Tupperware cookie jar and her delicious recipe for zucchini chocolate chip cookies. When I saw a recipe for zucchini whoopie pies over at Gourmet I was convinced the I could adapt it by using my grandma's recipe, sans chocolate chips, as the base. My overabundance of zucchini was finally paying off!!
These delicious pies had the perfect balance of sweet and tangy with the addition of the cream cheese filling. Next time I throw these together I will go more the bite size route since they are quite a filling treat.

Zucchini Cookies
1 cup grated zucchini
1 tsp soda
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped nuts

Mix the zucchini, soda, sugar, shortening and egg until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; add to the zucchini mixture. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoons on greased pan. Bake at 375 degrees until they start to brown, 12-15 minutes.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat together cream cheese, butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and salt with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pipe or dollop filling on flat side of cookie and top with another cookie.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sara Foster's Pickles

Don't get too excited, I am not completely done sharing zucchini recipes with you yet, but I thought it was time to throw a little something else in the mix.
The cucumbers have just started to come on, so I had a small collection of the little beauties and pickles were just the thing to make. I have not made many pickles in my day, but these were the easiest I have encountered. I ran across the recipe in Sara Foster's Fresh Every Day cookbook. The recipes I have tried in the book have been successful, so I thought I would give it another go.
The pickles were no exception. Simple, quick, and full of flavor, these pickles would be a great addition to sandwiches and burgers on the grill. One caveat: they do have quite a little kick. You could certainly hold back on the red pepper flakes if you are so inclined.

Makes about 1 quart

1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dill seed
4 to 5 small Kirby (pickling) cucumbers, peeled in stripes and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 small white onion, thinly sliced into rounds

1. Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, cloves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and dill seed in a quart jar. Place the lid on the jar and shake until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Layer the cucumbers and onion in the jar using a wooden spoon to press them tightly into the jar. Place the lid on the jar, shake it well, and refrigerate at least 4 hours, shaking the jar occasionally to keep the ingredients mixed. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 month.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Zucchini Sticks

In my quest for zucchini recipes I stumbled across these delicious baked zucchini sticks featured on the Skinny Taste website. I have mentioned the site previously, but it really is a treasure trove of great tasting, healthy food. If you are following Weight Watcher's, it is practically a must.
Being that the zucchini sticks were a fairly healthy alternative to something fried, I thought I better punch up the calories be serving them with cilantro ranch sauce. The sauce was very simple and had some powerful flavor that complimented the zucchini sticks perfectly. I imagine it would be a great sauce for fajitas, french fries, or even a dressing for sandwiches.

Zucchini Sticks
very slightly adapted from Gina
3 medium zucchini sliced into 3" x 1/2" sticks
1 large egg white
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
cooking spray
1/2 tsp garlic powder
fresh pepper
In a small bowl, beat egg whites and season with salt and pepper. In a ziplock bag, place breadcrumbs, garlic powder and cheese and shake well. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

Dip zucchini sticks into eggs then into bread crumb and cheese mixture, a few at a time and shake to coat. Place the breaded zucchini in a single layer and spray more cooking spray on top. Bake at 425° for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cilantro Ranch Sauce
1 pkt Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
8 oz salsa verde
1/4 cup cilantro
1 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
Tobasco to taste

Combine all ingredients and blend. Season with Tobasco.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Zucchini Tart

You better get used to seeing a whole mess of zucchini recipes because they are coming out of my ears! We have six plants and I never imagined we would have this kind of luck, but we are harvesting at least a couple every day.
Although I would never consider freelancing in the baking department, cooking is something I am much more comfortable with taking risks. I knew that I wanted some type of tart, so I turned to Smitten Kitchen for a simple no-shrink tart that did not have to be par-baked. I have to say it wasn't as flavorful as some tart doughs I have made, but I can make some adjustments next time.
As the dough firmed up in the fridge, I caramelized some onions and sliced the mushrooms and zucchini. I only par-cooked the mushrooms and zucchini since it would have lots of time to cook in the oven. Then I set about layering the tasty goodness in the tart dough. First, a healthy dose of goat cheese seasoned with fresh basil, chives, parsley, salt and pepper. Next came the caramelized onions and mushrooms, and finally I layered the zucchini on top. I baked the tart for about 25 minutes at 350 and voila...my freelancing paid off.

This is a great example of using items you have on hand to make something really delicious by just trusting your instincts and experimenting with tastes you enjoy.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chocolate Ice Cream

Remember a few posts back I was semi-complaining about how it was cool enough to have chili for dinner? Well, someone must have been listening because it has been beastly around here the past few days. Humid, hot, ughhh...time for ice cream!
Several years ago my sister and her husband gifted my dad with a Cuisinart ice cream maker. Just when you think you have him figured out and are sure of the perfect present, he rains on your parade and promptly puts the box in the closet never to be seen again.
Well, I for one was not going to let that ice cream maker go to waste. So far I have tested the waters with Cake Batter, Vanilla Bean, and now this lovely Chocolate. It is an easy, no-egg option that has a very smooth consistency and a wonderfully deep chocolate flavor. I am sure there are ice cream purists who will scoff at the idea of using sweetened, condensed milk in the base, but frankly they can suck it. I will stand by that little can of gooey milk and proudly serve it to my guests. In fact, this ice cream forced my dad to admit that he was sure he just loaned me the ice cream maker-ha!

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup best cocoa powder you have (preferably dutch process)
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 T. vanilla extract

In medium saucepan, stir together sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, and chocolate shavings. Cook over LOW heat until mixture is smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
Gradually add cream, milk, and vanilla, beating with a whisk until well combined. Refrigerate until cold--overnight if possible.
Place in ice cream freezer container and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fresh Figs!

Since we had an extended holiday weekend, we fixed something that wouldn't normally make an appearance on our weeknight menu unless a good amount of prep had been done in advance. Matt threw together our favorite pizza dough and we rounded up a variety of toppings that we had sitting in the fridge. We also harvested a zucchini from our garden just for the occassion!!

Although I recognize that the picture is beyond atrocious, I am sure you can vaguely make out my two new favorite pizza combinations: carmelized onion, fig, and goat cheese & zucchini and goat cheese. I happened to hit the jackpot with the Black Mission figs on my last shopping excursion at Meijer. They were inexpensive, ripe, and delicious. I simply sauteed them in a little butter and threw them on the pizza at the last minute. As for the zucchini, I also sauteed it so that it would be properly cooked as it doesn't spend a great amount of time on the grill. This will be a great way to use up all the zucchini coming our way!