Recipe: Zucchini Bread (It’s zucchini season!)

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 10.45.12 AMIt’s September, and, if you or a neighbor has been growing a garden this summer, you likely now have an abundance of zucchini.  So it’s the perfect time to bake up several loaves of zucchini bread.  Everyone loves it, and it’s an excellent way to use up that extra squash! (Tip: Make different variations – some with nuts, some with dried fruit – even chocolate chips!)

Zucchini Bread

2 5×9″ loaves

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 2/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter two 5 by 9 inch loaf pans.

2 In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter.

3 Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and stir it in. Add the flour, a third at a time, stirring after each incorporation. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg over the batter and mix. Fold in the nuts and dried cranberries or raisins if using.

4 Divide the batter equally between the loaf pans. Bake for 55 minutes (check for doneness at 50 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Back to School Lunch Ideas!

back-to-school-lunch-picIt’s a new school year, and perhaps time to jazz up those brown bag lunches. After all, your kids deserve to eat well, too!  See some of our ideas below to keep it fresh, healthy, safe, and yummy.

  • Sit down with your kids and make a list of their favorite lunch foods. Use the list as a guide so you have lunch menus that will be kid-approved.
  • Involve the kids with grocery shopping so they are involved in the process. Offer them a choice between healthful options like applesauce or grapes and corn chips or popcorn.
  • Review the school menu and talk about how to build a healthy meal out of the choices: whole grains, protein, veggies and fruit. Have kids circle the choices on the school menu they like. That way everyone is clear what days to buy and what days the kids will pack lunch.
  • Pack snack-sized sandwich baggies with cut-up vegetables. Offer kids a choice by placing several vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, celery and even raisins out on the kitchen counter. Tell them how many items to place in the bag.
  • Thread pieces of fruit such as oranges, grapes, strawberries and blueberries onto coffee stirrers.
  • Take a whole grain waffle, toast and spread it with peanut or almond butter. Cut it in half and make a sandwich. Place the warm waffle in a baggie. By lunch, the texture will be perfect- soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside.
  • Roll sandwich bread flat, add a piece of deli meat and a piece of cheese and roll. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Dipping is always a hit with kids. Instead of a high fat salad dressing, use a packet of dip mix and mix it with 2 cups non-fat plain Greek yogurt.
  • Count out whole grain pretzels or corn chips into individual baggies. It’s cheaper to purchase big bags of snacks opposed to individual snack sizes.
  • Keep lunch boxes cool. You’ll need a frozen gel pack to keep foods, especially protein items such as cheese, deli meats and tuna, cool. Freeze juice boxes or pouches to keep lunches cool.
  • Keep lunch boxes clean. Be sure to wipe out lunch bags and boxes. Wash as you would a plate because food items touch it and things can get sticky.
  • Include hand-sanitizer or wipes in your child’s lunch. Statistics show 6 out of 10 children don’t wash hands before eating.
  • Be sure to include whole grains: Go beyond regular white bread by selecting pitas, wraps, whole grain crackers or brown rice cakes.
  • Ensure your child is getting enough protein. It can be as simple as adding black beans to salsa. Melt cheese on tortilla chips and place in a baggie. Kids can dip the chips into the salsa.
  • When it comes to treats, keep it small. Try mini muffins or graham cracker bears.
  • Be sure to include a note of praise in your child’s lunch box. It could say anything from “We’ll take a bike ride after dinner” to “I love you.”
  • Click here for 21 lunch ideas/recipes from Real Simple.

Father’s Day Recipe: Sky-High Aussie Burgers

med105744_0710_ausie_burger_vertIngredients

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80% lean)
  • 4 split plain or sesame-seed buns
  • 4 large eggs, cooked over easy
  • Ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • Sliced canned beets
  • Lettuce leaves

Directions

Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Cut onion into thin rings and season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Form ground beef into 4 patties and season with salt and pepper. Grill 4 minutes per side for medium. Transfer to bottom halves of buns. Top each burger with an egg, grilled onions, your choice of sauce, sliced beets, and lettuce.<

Mother’s Day Breakast: Berry-Topped Puff Pancake

exps52838_SD1999448B02_183bIngredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Topping:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange liqueur
  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • Confectioners’ sugar, optional

Directions

  • Place butter in a 9-in. pie plate. Place in a 425° oven for 4-5 minutes or until melted. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk eggs and milk. In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Whisk into egg mixture until blended. Pour into prepared pie plate. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until sides are crisp and golden brown.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in orange juice and liqueur. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer or until thickened. Remove from the heat.
  • Spoon berries over pancake and drizzle with sauce. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired. Yield: 4 servings. (Recipe: Taste of Home)

Bring on the Sun: Orange Juice Cake

Ingredients

539255_471917056215291_1930387222_n1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® yellow cake mix
1 box (4-serving size) lemon instant pudding and pie filling mix 3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
4 eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup orange juice
Directions
STEP 1 Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 12-cup fluted tube cake pan.
STEP 2 In large bowl, beat cake mix, dry pudding mix, oil, water and eggs with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, then on medium speed 2 minutes. Pour into pan.
STEP 3 Bake 38 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
STEP 4 Meanwhile, in medium bowl, mix powdered sugar, melted butter and orange juice until powdered sugar dissolves.
STEP 5 Poke holes in hot cake with skewer or fork. Pour orange juice mixture over hot cake. Cool in pan 15 to 20 minutes, then turn cake and pan upside down onto serving platter; remove pan. (Recipe: Betty Crocker)

Easter Dessert: Strawberry Cream Cake

med103901_0708_strawbry_ck_vertLooking the perfectly refreshing spring or Easter dessert?  This Strawberry Cream Cake is perfect, combining cake, cream, and berries, this treat is twice as delectable as the sum of its parts. The buttery cake soaks up the strawberry juices, while the whipped cream adds an airy richness.

Serves 12/ Prep Time 25 mins / Total Time 1 hour plus chilling

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-ounce envelope)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper and sides. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in 3 parts and milk in 2, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Spread batter in prepared pan.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Using a serrated knife, split cake in half horizontally; place bottom half, cut side up, on a serving plate.
  4. Make topping: In a large bowl, combine strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside. Place 2 tablespoons cold water in a small saucepan, and sprinkle with gelatin; let soften 5 minutes. Place saucepan over very low heat, and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat; let cool.
  5. Using an electric mixer, beat cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl until very soft peaks form. Continue to beat, and gradually add gelatin mixture; beat until soft peaks form.
  6. Arrange half of strawberries over bottom cake layer; top with half of whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Cover with top half of cake, cut side down. Top cake with remaining whipped cream, leaving a 1-inch border. Refrigerate cake and remaining strawberries separately, at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day). Just before serving, spoon strawberries over cake.

Cook’s note:  This cake can wait in the refrigerator for up to a day.

(Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart)

Hot Fudge Ice Cream Bar Dessert

hot-fudgeIngredients
(16 ounce) can chocolate syrup
3/4 cup peanut butter
19 ice cream sandwiches
1 (12 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup salted peanuts

Directions
Pour the chocolate syrup into a medium microwave safe bowl and microwave 2 minutes on high. Do not allow to boil. Stir peanut butter into hot chocolate until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Line the bottom of a 9×13 inch dish with a layer of ice cream sandwiches. Spread half the whipped topping over the sandwiches. Spoon half the chocolate mixture over that. Top with half the peanuts. Repeat layers. Freeze until firm, 1 hour. Cut into squares to serve. Recipe: ohsoshabbybydebbie.com

Cheesecake Brownies!

Combine two things like cheesecake and brownies, and you truly have your own little piece of heaven!

421075_429214513818879_1605551376_nCheesecake Brownies

Ingredients

Brownie Layer:
2 eggs, at room temperature
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cheesecake Layer:
1 egg, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and flour or using baking spray with flour one 8×8 inch pan.

In a medium pot, melt chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.Whisk in sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing the surface with a spatula as needed.

In a separate bowl, beat together cream cheese, egg, sugar, flour and vanilla until fluffy. Carefully pour over brown layer.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack then slice and serve. The cooler the brownie, the easier it will be to cut.

Peppermint Cheese Cake Layers: The ultimate holiday dessert!

This layered cake, courtesy of Southern Living Magazine, is pure heaven for both the taste buds and the eyes.  It will make an impressive end to any holiday meal or party!

189285_415990718474592_1250846181_nIngredients
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup crushed hard peppermint candies
Sour Cream Cake Layers:
1 (18.25-oz.) package white cake mix
2 large eggs
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
White Chocolate Mousse Frosting:
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup white chocolate morsels
2 cups whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Garnishes: White chocolate curls, peppermint candies

Directions
1. Prepare Peppermint Cheesecake Layers: Preheat oven to 325°. Line bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil. Beat cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp. butter at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until creamy and smooth. Add 3 eggs, l at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add flour and next 3 ingredients, beating until blended. Fold in candies. Pour batter into prepared pans. Place cake pans in a large pan; add water to pan to depth of 1 inch.
2. Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until set. Remove from oven to wire racks; cool completely in pans (about 1 hour). Cover cheesecakes (do not remove from pans), and freeze 4 to 6 hours or until frozen solid. Lift frozen cheesecakes from pans, using foil sides as handles. Gently remove foil from cheesecakes. Wrap in plastic wrap, and return to freezer until ready to assemble cake.
3. Prepare Sour Cream Cake Layers: Preheat oven to 350°. Beat cake mix, next 3 ingredients, and 1/2 cup water at low speed with an electric mixer 30 seconds or just until moistened; beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Spoon batter into 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans.
4. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).
5. Prepare White Chocolate Mousse Frosting: Cook 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Add morsels; cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes), whisking occasionally.
6. Beat cream and 2 tsp. vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until soft peaks form. Gradually fold white chocolate mixture into whipped cream mixture, folding until mixture reaches spreading consistency.
7. Assemble Cake: Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or plate. Top with 1 frozen cheesecake layer. Top with second cake layer and remaining cheesecake layer. Top with remaining cake layer. Spread top and sides of cake with frosting. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish, if desired.
Melodie Belcher; Lagrange, Georgia, Southern Living

Thanksgiving Make-Ahead Dessert: Brown Sugar Cranberry Tart

Brown Sugar Cranberry Tart

The sweet-and-tart berries in the creamy custard pop when you take a bite.
Makes one 9-inch tart

Ingredients

Tart shell

  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 1 large egg yolk
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling & Topping

  1. 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 2 cups cranberries (10 ounces)
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  7. 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half
  8. 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
  9. Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  10. Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving

Directions

  1. MAKE THE TART SHELL In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and salt, scrape down the side of the bowl and beat at low speed until smooth. Gradually add the flour, beating until the dough just forms a ball. Pat the dough into a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Roll out the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 12-inch round. Carefully peel off the top layer of parchment paper and invert the dough onto a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Peel off the parchment paper and gently press the dough into the pan. Trim the dough flush with the rim. Patch any cracks with the dough trimmings. Lightly prick the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate the tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes, or freeze for 10 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the tart shell for about 30 minutes, until the rim is lightly golden. Remove the foil and weights and bake the tart shell for about 5 minutes longer, until it is lightly golden all over. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet. Increase the oven temperature to 375°.
  4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar with the water and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries, cover and cook over moderate heat for 3 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove the pan from the heat and let the cranberries cool to room temperature. Drain the cranberries well; reserve the cranberry syrup.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the brown sugar and flour. Whisk in the half-and-half and the almond extract. Spread the cranberries in the tart shell. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the reserved cranberry syrup over the cranberries, then pour in the almond custard.
  6. Bake the tart in the lower third of the oven until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer the tart in the pan to a rack to cool completely, at least 2 hours. Dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar. Cut the tart into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Recipe courtesy of foodandwine.com