Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Feb 12, 2014

Dandelion or Spinach Noodle Recipe

One of the most popular recipes in my Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook, having been featured at several blogs (including Backyard Renaissance and Simply Homemaking), is Dandelion Noodles. But even if you've read that book, you may not know you can use the very same recipe for any type of green, from nettles to collards and kale to - yes! - ordinary old spinach.

If you've never made homemade noodles before, you're in for a treat. They are easy to make - and taste so much better than anything you can buy. I consider this a beginner's recipe - that is to say, the taste is very mild. If you already love dandelions or other greens, feel free to increase the amount of greens in the recipe.

Spinach Noodle Recipe (Dandelion Noodle Recipe, Nettle Noodle Recipe, or Other Greens Noodle Recipe)

1 1/4 cups greens (dandelion leaves, spinach leaves, etc. If using greens with thick stems running through the leaf, be sure to cut the stems out. Pack down the greens in the measuring cup.)
2 tablespoons water
1 egg
1 + cups  all purpose flour
Pack down the greens when measuring. By the way, on the left hand side is my fruit and vegetable keeper. I highly recommend it! I find it adds weeks to the life of my veggies.
1. Place the greens and water in a saucepan. Cover and cook over medium until the leaves are tender. Watch closely; if the water evaporates, add a tablespoon more. Don't allow the greens to scorch!

2. Add the egg and a pinch or two of salt, stirring to combine.

3. Carefully transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse until pureed. (Or, use a blender to puree the greens.)

4. Pour the leaf mixture into a mixing bowl and stir in 1 cup of flour. If the dough is still soft, add a little more flour and mix again, repeating until the dough is stiff. If the mixture is too dry, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until a stiff dough forms.

 5. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead for about 1 minute. 

6. With a rolling pin, roll the dough very thin. Leave the dough untouched for 20 minutes. 

7.  Cut the noodles about 1/4 inch thick. (For the photos, I made the noodles pretty thick; my kids like them that way. But rolling the dough as thin as you can and cutting the noodles no more than 1/4 inch thick makes them more like the type of pasta you buy in the store.) If desired, you can loosely roll the dough into a cigar shape, cut into 1/4 inch strips, then unroll the noodles and cut them to whatever length you desire.

8. You may now cook the noodles, or you may dry or freeze them for storage.  

To dry the noodles, leave them in a single layer on the lightly floured counter, place them in a food dehydrator, or hang them on a pasta drying rack or a clothes drying rack. To avoid spoilage, be sure the noodles are completely dry before storing them. 

I personally never frozen fresh pasta, but you can. Just place the noodles flat on a baking sheet, or form into little "nests" and set them on a baking sheet; place the baking sheet in the freezer until the noodles feel solidly frozen, then transfer to an air tight freezer container for up to three months.

To cook the noodles right away, just toss into boiling water. Fresh pasta doesn't take as long to cook as dried or frozen pasta, so test for doneness frequently. (To test, just remove a strand of pasta with a fork, allow it to cool for a minute, then taste.) If it will be 2 hours or less before you need to cook the noodles, place them in an airtight container, or in a platter covered tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate and cook as soon as possible.

To serve, use whatever pasta sauce you like, or just butter the noodles.

Serves 2.

Jan 20, 2014

Easy Homemade Hash Browns

There are three reasons you might want to make homemade hash browns:

* DIY hash browns are healthier. Sadly, most frozen, store-bought hash browns contain GMO ingredients, soy, extra oils, preservatives, etc. (For example, see the ingredients in these Walmart brand hash browns, or in these Ore-Ida hash browns.)

* From scratch hash browns are more frugal than prepared, frozen hash browns, saving about $2 - 3 per pound.

* It's helpful to know how to make hash browns in case you run out of the frozen kind and don't want to spend the money and time to run to the store.

Besides, making hash browns from scratch is really easy.

What You'll Need:

Scrubbed potatoes
A large pot
A colander or strainer
A cheese grater

And if you want to freeze them for later use, you'll need:
wax paper or parchment paper
rimmed baking sheet
freezer bags

How to Make Homemade Hash Browns:

1. Place scrubbed potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. (How many potatoes you need depends upon the size of the potatoes. To give you an idea, though, four very large, baking style potatoes makes enough hash browns to fill about two full gallon-sized freezer bags)
2. Boil the potatoes until they are "al dante." You should be able to prick them with a fork, but the potatoes should still feel firm.

3. Drain, but DO NOT rinse. Allow the potatoes to cool in the colander. Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the peels; they will slide off easily. Let the potatoes cool completely in the refrigerator. (If you try to grate the potatoes when they are still warm, you may end up with something that looks more like mashed potatoes than hash browns.)

For simplicity's sake, I recommend either boiling the potatoes in the morning and finishing them in the afternoon or evening, or boiling the potatoes the day before, placing them in the  frige overnight, and finishing them in the morning.

4. Grate the potatoes using a cheese grater (or food processor).

How to Freeze Homemade Hash Browns:

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. Spread the hash browns over the paper in a thin layer.
2. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the potatoes are firm. Transfer to freezer bags, breaking into smaller chunks, as needed. Store in the freezer.

How to Cook Homemade Hash Browns:
1. Place a dab of butter, bacon drippings, or a tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Set the skillet over medium to medium high heat.
2. When you can flick a little water in the skillet and it sizzles, add the hash browns. Season with salt, pepper, or other seasonings. Brown on both sides, until the desired crispiness and color is reached. Serve right away.


Jan 6, 2014

The BEST Cinnamon Roll Recipe Ever

We don't eat a ton of cinnamon rolls, but we do love them as a special, once-in-a-while treat. For years I've tried to find the perfect cinnamon roll recipe - and last month I finally found it. These are quite simply the best cinnamon rolls we've ever eaten. Period. The recipe comes from my Cuisinart breadmaker manual, but you can very easily make these cinnamon rolls without a bread maker. Here's how.

The Best Cinnamon Roll Recipe Ever*

For the dough: **

2/3 cup milk, warmed to 80 - 90 degrees F. (use a meat or candy thermometer to make sure the temperature is just right)
3 eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2 in. pieces
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups bread flour (yes, it must be bread flour!)
2/3 cup cornstarch
2 1/4 teaspoons fresh dry active yeast, at room temperature

For the filling:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Raisins (optional)

For the frosting:

4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup ulsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk

1. Begin by making sure all the ingredients (except the dough's milk) are room temperature. This makes a big difference in the finished cinnamon rolls!

2. Make the dough: Place the warm milk, eggs, butter, granulared sugar, salt, vannilla, flour, cornstartch, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. You may either stir them together by hand, stir them together with the dough hook of an elextric mixer, or pop them into a 2 lb. bread maker (making sure to follow the manufactuerer's directions about which ingredients should go into the pan first; usually all the wet ingredients go on the bottom of the pan and the yeast must not touch the liquid.) If using the breadmaker, turn it to the dough setting, so it will mix and rise the dough by itself, and skip to step 4.

3.If not using a bread maker, cover the dough with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm location until it doubles in size.

4. Punch down the dough and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Lightly grease two 10-inch round cake pans and set aside.

5. In a small bowl, combine the filling ingredients until well blended. (If you like raisins in your cinnamon rolls, I recommend placing the desired amount in a bowl, covering them with water, and allowing them to soak for 10-15 minutes. Then drain and add to the filling.) Set filling aside.

6. Roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, or a little less. If desired, you may divide the dough in half and roll each part out separately, for easier handling.

7. Brush the rectangle with the melted butter. Evenly sprinkle the filling mixture on top. Take one short end of the rectangle and begin rolling the dough into a cigar shape. Pinch along the opposite end to "seal" the roll. Use a serrated knife to cut the roll into equally-sized cinnamon rolls. (You should get about 24 cinnamon rolls total.)

8. Place the cinnamon rolls in the prepared cake pans. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm location to rise for 40 minutes.

9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

10. Once the rolls have risen, bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the rolls sound hallow when you tap them. Allow the rolls to cool for about 20 minutes.

11. In a small bowl, whisk together all the frosting ingredients. Brush the frosting onto the cinnamon rolls. (The frosting recipe makes a generous amount; apply according to your family's tastes and don't worry about using it all up - unless you like a lot of frosting!)

* If desired, you may cut this recipe in half.

** Throughout this recipe, it's fine to use lower-fat dairy products, if desired.

Nov 13, 2013

Easy Homemade Garlic Bread Recipe

Looking for a light-textured, garlicy bread to round off meals? I've got the recipe for you! It's based on a much more naughty cheese bread featured at Lauren's Latest, but with a few important changes. Even if you've never made bread before, you can make this bread. Just allow yourself about an hour and a half before dinner is ready to get started on it.

Easy Homemade Garlic Bread Recipe

1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon real honey
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
Olive oil
½ cup butter
3 - 5 garlic cloves, minced
1. In the bowl of am electric mixer with a dough hook attachment (or simply in a large mixing bowl), pour in the water, honey, and yeast. Stir with a fork just a bit, to combine. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the mixture should be foamy. If its not, the yeast is no longer good.

2. Add the salt, then add a little of the flour. Mix, gradually adding in the rest of the flour. (If you're using a mixer, keep the speed on low.)

3. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, allow the mixer to keep churning away for 5 minutes. (If not using a mixer, knead the dough by hand until smooth but tacky.)

4. Remove the dough from the bowl. Spray the bowl lightly with oil, return the dough, and cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel. Set in a warm location for 1 hour. The dough should double in size.

5. Punch down the dough and cut into two pieces of about equal size.

6. Shape each dough piece into a baguette. If you twist the dough, it won't shrink as badly - plus it looks nice. Place the baguettes onto a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or a clean dishrag. Turn the oven to 400 degrees F. and place the baking sheet on top of (not in!) the stove. Allow the dough to rise for half an hour.

7. Meanwhile, melt the butter and stir in the minced garlic.

8. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut deep slits into the bread every inch or so. Brush the garlic butter into them and all along the top of the bread.

9. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F. and place the baguettes inside. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until bread is golden.

Best served warm.

Oct 14, 2013

Green Tomato Pie Recipe

Not long ago, I harvested over 28 lbs. of green tomatoes from our garden. (Our weather is no longer warm enough for them to ripen on the vine.) I always keep some to ripen indoors (a great way to have fresh tomatoes through winter!), and some I keep for my favorite green tomato recipes. But this year, I also really wanted to try making - and tasting - our first green tomato pie.

I know, it sounds really weird. Even gross. But this Southern dessert actually tastes similar to apple pie. Even my kids, who were totally turned off by the thought of the pie, became huge fans after tasting it. It's easy, too!

Green Tomato Pie Recipe

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
5 tablespoons all purpose flour 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
A pinch of salt 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 cups thinly sliced green tomatoes (about 4 or 5 medium tomatoes) 
Pastry for 9 inch double crust pie (I used my Perfect Pie Crust recipe)
1 tablespoon butter
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the vinegar and tomato slices, tossing to coat well. 

3. Line a 9 inch pie plate with one of the crusts. Spoon the filling into it. Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter over the filling.

4. Lay the second crust over the the filling, cutting 3 slits in it. Or cut the crust into strips and lay them, lattice-style, over the filling.

5. Bake for 60 minutes, or until tomatoes are tender and the filling is bubbly. If desired, serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Aug 16, 2013

The Best Tasting, Easiest Applesauce Ever

A few years ago, I posted instructions for making applesauce - an annual tradition at our house. But last year I discovered an even easier - and yes, more tasty and nutritious - way to make applesauce. I think it warrants it's own post.

Before I begin, I'd like to note that there are many different ways to make applesauce. Some people swear by a food mill, for example. I don't use one for applesauce because:

1) It removes most of the skin, and the skin adds a ton of nutrition and flavor.

2) It involves cooking the apples with their seeds. Apple seeds contain arsenic, and the idea of having that cook into the applesauce just doesn't appeal to me!

The method I now use is just as easy as using a food mill (maybe easier!), but doesn't have problems number one and two, above.

AND you don't need any special equipment. If you like your applesauce lumpy, an ordinary potato masher will do. If you like it nice and smooth, I recommend using an immersion blender; I bought a $25 Oster and have used it successfully for years. In fact, I like it so well, I got rid of my traditional blender. (Immersion blenders are stick like, and you put them directly in the pot you are using; this saves time - and cleanup.)

The Apples

I usually use free apples I find in public areas, the wilderness, or neighbor's yards. It's amazing how many people have old apple trees but don't have the time or desire to pick the apples. And they are usually thrilled if someone wants to come pick them; it saves them from cleaning up a big mess under their tree.

For applesauce, you really can use any type of apple. If they are scabby or wormy, that's fine! (That just proves they are organic!) If they are apples the wind has sent to the ground, that's fine! (In fact, windfall apples are traditionally what applesauce is made from.) If they are crab apples - even the type that taste awful to eat raw - that's fine! (My family's favorite applesauce is made with crab apples. One note, though: If the crab apples are so small you could eat them in one bite, they are a real pain to core. Instead, I'd use other apples for applesauce and can those tiny crab apples whole and spiced. Click here for other things to do with crab apples.)

Also, I do recommend organic apples. Yes, you can remove the peels of non-organic apples, but that's a pain, removes much of the nutrition, and frankly, doesn't remove all the pesticides. Especially since you'll be cooking down and concentrating the apples, you'll want them chemical free.

How to Make the Best Tasting, Easiest Applesauce Ever

You will need:
A cutting board and knife
A large pot
Potato masher (optional, but recommended)
A blender (optional, but recommended; an immersion blender makes the job really easy)
Sugar (optional)
Cinnamon (optional, but recommended)
Bottled lemon juice (optional, unless you plan to can the applesauce)
Boiling water bath canning equipment or freezer bags

1. Set up the cutting board and get out your knife. Have a handy place to put cores and bad sections of the apples; I use my counter top compost bin, but a large bowl works fine, too.

2. Wash a few apples at a time, then, one at a time, cut them in quarters. Slice off the cores on each quarter and cut away any bad spots. Toss the cores and bad spots into the compost bin or bowl. (Note: It's okay to give a little of these to the chickens, but their eggs will start tasting "off" if they eat too many fruit peels. I prefer to compost apple scraps.) For
large apples, it's a good idea to cut the quarters into smaller chunks.
Removing the cores.
(NOTE: One of my friends read this post and asked why I don't use an apple corer/slicer instead of a knife. I find that when using non-commercial apples - that is, apples that don't come from a grocery store - they are too irregular to work with this type of device. Crab apples are also too small for an apple corer/slicer. And if the apples are windfall or from a purely organic tree, you'll need to cut away bad parts, anyway. However, if YOU have consistently regular apples, an apple corer/slicer may be just the thing.)

3. Place the apple pieces into a measuring cup. When you have a total of 9 or 10 cups, toss them all into the large pot.

4. Add 3 cups of water to the pot and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the apples are tender.

5. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon. If you like, add sugar. (If you're using crab apples, you'll definitely want sugar. Use about 2 cups. For non-crab apples, I usually start with 1/2 cup of sugar, then add more to taste, if necessary.)
Cooking down the apples.
6. If you'll be canning the applesauce, add 4 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice. If you won't be canning the sauce, you may still want to add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of bottled or fresh lemon juice.

PLEASE NOTE: Lemon juice is not optional if you are canning applesauce! If you don't add bottled lemon juice, your jars may become a breeding ground for botulism.

7. Stir and keep cooking until the sauce is thickened a little. Remove from the stove and allow to cool slightly. (IMPORTANT NOTE: If you're canning the applesauce, don't let it get too thick; that can mean the applesauce doesn't get heated through during canning, which can lead to an unsafe product. The applesauce should be a bit runny. Add water, if you need to.)

8. If you like lumpy applesauce, carefully use the potato masher on the cooled mixture until you're happy with the consistency. Otherwise, use the immersion blender to make the sauce smooth. (If you use a traditional blender, add the apple mixture in batches.)
Pureeing the applesauce with a stick blender.
9. If the applesauce is the correct consistency, move on to step 10. Otherwise, you can thicken it by cooking it a bit more. (Do not add thickeners, like flour or cornstarch, if you'll be canning the applesauce. Neither is safe in home canned products. In fact, I don't recommend adding thickeners at all; they just aren't necessary. Cook the sauce to thicken it, or add a few more apples.)

10. If you want to freeze the applesauce, allow it to cool before spooning it into freezer bags or jars.

To can the applesauce, working one jar at a time, ladle into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 in. headspace. Bubble and add a lid and ring. Repeat until the jars are full, then process pint or quart jars for 20 minutes in a boiling water bath canner. * (If you aren't an advanced canner, please review the basic canning guidelines here.)

Makes about 5 pints.

NOTE: I usually double this recipe because I make large quantities of applesauce at this time of year, and a double batch fits my canner just about perfectly.
 * NOTE: If you live at a high altitude, read this important information about adjusting canning times.

Aug 14, 2013

Try a New Food: Pattypan Squash

Stuffed pattypan squash.
Several years back, a friend of my husband's gave us the overflow of pattypan squash from his garden. We laughed at the squash: It looked like some sort of strangely scalloped flying saucer. But when we ate it, we stopped laughing and starting saying "yum!"

Like most summer squash, pattypan (sometimes called "scallop squash") is extremely easy to grow and is just as prolific as, say, zucchini. I've never seen it in any grocery store, but I have friends who've found it at farmer's markets. They are easy to spot by their strange shape, and come in colors ranging from bright yellowish orange, to green, to a combination of both.

Once tried, pattypan is pretty universally admired - although I have read some blogs where the authors complain it's "too bland." It's true pattypan is, like other summer squash, mild tasting, but if it's bland, something is wrong.

The Secret to Great-Tasting Pattypan Squash
All summer squash diminish in flavor if allowed to grow too large; pattypan squash is no exception. But what surprises many is that pattypan is ideally eaten when quite small - no more than 5 inches across and ideally about 3 inches across. When eaten small, pattypan has a wonderful buttery flavor with hints of artichoke or zucchini. When large, pattypan is bland and may be full of seeds.

On the left is a pattypan I let get too large. On the right is an ideally small pattypan squash.
How to Cook Pattypan Squash
All summer squash can essentially be cooked the same. So you could use pattypan in your favorite zucchini and yellow summer squash recipes. Try it sliced and pan fried, battered and baked, chopped into salads, or stuffed with sausage and rice and marinara sauce.

But if you want a very simple recipe that highlights pattypan's flavor, try this, from my A Vegetable For Every Season Cookbook:

With a fork, poke through the skin of the squash three or four times. Place the squash in the microwave and cook on high for 4 minutes. Turn the squash over and cook for another 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then slice in half. Dab with butter and season with salt and pepper. Eat, skin and all.

If you prefer, cook the pattypan in a 375 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes, or until completely tender.

Bon appetite!

Jul 22, 2013

Canning, Dehydrating, and Freezing Plums

Some weeks back, my husband spotted what he thought might be a "wild" (i.e., feral) plum tree. Last weekend, I finally had him drive me to the spot so I could check it out. It turned out the plums - little 1 inch balls that looked a lot like a large cherry but have a fantastic plum flavor - were ripe! I picked a bag full, then headed home to research them (they are called, not surprisingly, cherry plums and date back to the 19th century) and decide how I would preserve them.

Canning Plums

The first thing that came to mind was to can them, even though I've never eaten, seen, or heard of canned plums. But, it turns out, plums do can well. You don't have to remove their skins (always a bonus) and you may can them whole or cut them in half and pit them. For full directions, consult The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving or visit The National Center for Home Food Preservation. The raw pack method is easiest, but some people dislike it because you end up with jars that don't look full because the plums float. To prevent this, you can hot pack the plums instead.

You may also make plum jam. The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving has several recipes for both canning and freezing. You'll also find recipes all over the web, including:

* Basic Pectin Plum Jam
* No Pectin Plum Jam
* Spiced Plum Jam
* Raspberry Plum Jam
* Peach and Plum Jam
* Lower Sugar Plum Jam

I also found this great-looking recipe for canned plum pie filling.

Freezing Plums

Plums can be frozen whole or cut up. The traditional method is to pack the plums into freezer containers and cover with syrup: 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar and 4 cups of water brought to a boil until the sugar completely dissolves. Cool completely before pouring the syrup over the plums.

A more modern method is simply to pit and slice the plums, placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the plum slices are solid, then transfer to a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

There is no need to thaw frozen plums before turning them into pie or jam.

Dehydrating Plums

Before there was home canning, before there were freezers, people dehydrated plums in order to preserve them. Cut the plums in half, then press them into the dehydrator tray, to help flatten them a bit. Dehydrate at 130 - 135 degrees F. until no trace of moisture remains. (To check for moisture, pinch a piece of fruit with your nail; you should feel no moisture.) To hasten dehydration, you can steam blanch the plums first.

To steam blanch: Fill a lidded pot with 1 or 2 inches of water and bring to a rolling boil. Place a steaming at least 3 inches off the bottom of the pot. Place a single layer of plums in the basket, cover, and begin counting 1 or 2 minutes. Immediately plunge the plums in ice water.
basket in the pot so it is

Plum Recipes

Of course, a great many of my plums were eaten raw, as snacks. Other ways to eat plums include:

* Plum pie, plum tart, or plum crumble/cobbler
* Plum cake
* Plum shortcake
* Roasted plums
* Plum chutney
* Plum sauce (to eat with pork)
* Kebobs
* Turkey with poached plums

Happy eating!

Jul 19, 2013

16 Ways to Cook Zucchini - My Favorite Recipes

Zucchini is, in many ways, the perfect vegetable. It's super easy to grow. It's compact, not needing a whole lot of garden (or container) space. It's versatile in the kitchen - and thank you God for that, because zucchini is also one of the most prolific veggies you can grow. So if you're wondering what to do with all those zukes invading your garden (or coming your way via neighbors), here are my favorite zucchini recipes:

1. Cook it simple. Slice a zucchini into thin rounds, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender in a skillet with olive oil.

2. Dehydrate zucchini slices and turn them into healthy chips!

3.  Cook it a la Julia Child. Shred the zucchini; salt it and let it sit in a colander for about 20 minutes. Press between paper towels to remove excess moisture. Toss into a skillet with a little olive oil and chopped shallots or onions. Cook, but don't stir, until golden on one side. Flip and cook the other side. Season with salt and pepper.

Simple pan fried zucchini circles.
4. Make Zucchini Fries. In bowl #1, mix together some flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. In bowl #2, mix together some breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan cheese. In bowl #3, place some beaten eggs, or some milk. Cut zucchini in French fry-like slices. Dredge in the flour mixture; coat in the egg or milk; coat in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F. for 10 minutes. Turn over and cook another 10. (From A Vegetable for Every Season Cookbook.)

5. Bake zucchini chocolate chip cookies. Find an excellent recipe for this cookie in A Vegetable for Every Season Cookbook.

6. Make zucchini "pasta" by grating the vegetable along it's length. This creates long strands of zucchini. (You may also use a mandolin. Or maybe even a vegetable peeler. Or you can cut them very carefully by hand.) Cook the strands in a skillet and serve with sauces or toppings you'd normally put on pasta.

7. Add it to soups and stews, shredded, chopped, or sliced.
Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies.

8. Add to pasta dishes. Shred first. For example, zucchini excellent added to spaghetti.

9. Whip up some zucchini pesto.

10. Grill stuffed zucchini.

11. Grill it plain. Just slice in half, lengthwise, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with seasonings, and grill until tender, turning once.

12. Bake zucchini pizza. Slice the zuke in half; slice off a bit of the rounded bottom of each slice, so they flat. Now use just like you would a pizza crust, adding pizza sauce, cheese, and other toppings. Bake at 375 degrres F. for 20-30 minutes.

13. Bake zucchini brownies.

14. Make zucchini tots (like tater tots, but better). Find the recipe in A Vegetable for Every Season Cookbook.

Zucchini blossoms are yummy, too!
15. Make zucchi burgers. Shred and well drain about 2 cups of zucchini, squeezing out excess moisture. Add 1 minced onion, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 2 eggs, salt and pepper, and a dash of cayenne. Place 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet. Once warmed, add 2/3 cup of the zuke mixture, pressed into a round patty. Cook until golden on each side. Now add a bun and all the fixings!

16. Make zucchini bread. In fact, bake a bunch of it, double wrap in heavy duty foil, place in a freezer bag and freeze to give away during the holidays.

Still have zucchini? Shred it, squeeze it between paper towels to remove excess moisture, and pop into freezer bags. If you're careful about squeezing out the excess air, it will last years. I measure mine out according to what I'm likely to make with it. For example, I might measure out 3 cups for zucchini bread, then mark the bag "3 cups."

Oh, and while you're at it, eat some zucchini blossoms, too! Just be sure to only eat blossoms that have the start of fruit growing behind them; otherwise, you may reduce the productivity of your zucchini plant.

And one last tip: If you're growing your own zucchini, don't let the zukes get huge. Watch the plant every day, because zucchini grow madly fast - and huge zukes are less flavorful (and more full of big seeds) than their smaller siblings.

Jul 12, 2013

Bacon, Tomato, & Oregano Grilled Double Cheese Sandwich Recipe

When summer starts producing those amazing right-off-the-vine tomatoes, we eat more sandwiches. BLTs are always great, but my family's favorite is Bacon, Tomato, & Oregano Double Cheese Sandwiches. Words don't begin to describe how yummy these are!

For 1 sandwich:

2 slices sourdough bread
1 slice mozzarella
2 slices tomato
1 slice bacon, cut in half and cooked
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon minced onion
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 slice cheddar cheese
Butter, room temperature

1. Lay out one piece of sourdough and place the mozzarella on top of it.

2. Place the tomato slices on top of the mozzarella.

3. Place the bacon on top of the tomato.

4. Place the sour cream on top of the bacon.

5. Place the onion, followed by the oregano, on top of the bacon.

6. Place the cheddar cheese on top of the oregano and onion.

7. Place the other slice of sourdough on top of this. Butter one side of the bread.

8. Place just a dab of butter in a skillet placed over medium high heat. When the butter is melted, place the sandwich in the skillet, buttered side down. While that side of the sandwich cooks until golden, butter the opposite side. Flip over cook the second side until golden. Serve warm.

Jul 5, 2013

DIY Popsicles

I don't know about your kids, but in the summer, mine fairly live on popsicles. And I don't mind; they keep them hydrated - and I make most of our popsicles, so I know they are healthier than store bought. (Seriously - have you read those labels?!) I use an inexpensive plastic popsicle mold I bought years ago; you can even buy BPA free ones now. And here are a few things I put in them:

* Yogurt. Just yogurt and nothing else. The full fat kind works best.

* Real juice. So simple.

* Lemonade. The homemade kind is healthier. Here's my favorite recipe.

* Healthier Fudgesicles: In a blender, pour 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup canned full-fat coconut milk (or other type of milk – though the pops won’t be as creamy), 2 small ripe bananas, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Puree. Add sugar to taste.

* Healthier Orange Creamsicles: In a bowl, combine 1 cup real orange juice, 1 cup heavy cream or full fat coconut milk, 3 tablespoons honey, ¼ teaspoon orange extract, and ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract.

* Juice-Yogurt: Pour any type of juice you like 2/3 of the way up the popsicle mold. Add enough yogurt (usually plain flavored) to fill the mold, then swirl the juice and yogurt together using a knife.

* Watermelon: Put 2 1/2 cups of cubed watermelon (seeds removed), into the blender and puree. If desired (though it's not necessary), add a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract or 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice.

Sometimes I want my very own popsicles. That's when I make Mocha Pops: In a bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee, 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 cup half and half, 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Add sugar to taste (I use about 3-4 tablespoons). Stir until sugar dissolves.

In all cases, once the liquid is in the mold, add the sticks and pop into the fridge. Most of these pops are fully frozen within 1 to 6 hours.

Jul 1, 2013

BLT Salad Recipe

Recently on Facebook, I mentioned making BLT Salad for my family, and many people asked for a recipe. I thought I'd just send them to a link to the recipe on this blog - but no; I'd never posted it! Then I thought I'd send them to the original source for my slightly altered recipe - but I couldn't find that, either. So here it is: My BLT Salad recipe...a real hit in my family, and ideal for warm weather eating.

BLT Salad Recipe:

2 pints of home canned chicken OR 15 - 20 oz. commercially canned chicken OR about 1 lb. of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
13.25 oz. whole grain or vegetable rotini pasta
7 slices of bacon, cooked
about 4 cups torn lettuce
1 -2 tomatoes, chopped

For the Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cups water
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
3 teaspoons white vinegar
3 teaspoons chopped fresh chives OR dried chives, soaked in water for 10 minutes, then drained
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix together all the dressing ingredients; set aside.

2. If using fresh or frozen chicken breasts, fill a pot with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Add the breasts and gently boil until the chicken is cooked through. Drain and shred chicken with two forks. (If using home- or commercially-canned chicken, skip this step.)

3. Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. (It's fine to re-use the water from step 2.) Add the pasta and boil until just tender. Drain.

4. In a large serving bowl, mix together the pasta, chicken, bacon (crumbled), lettuce, and tomato. Pour in the dressing and toss until completely coated. Serve hot or chilled.

Serves 6 - 8. (The chilled leftovers are yummy!)

Jun 17, 2013

Foraging Yellow Dock + Yellow Dock Enchilada Recipe

Yellow dock
I've made it a habit to try to identify every weed that tends to grow in my yard; it's surprising how many are edible. Among my family's favorites is yellow dock (Rumex crispus; also known as curly dock).

Yellow dock makes it's first appearance in spring, as a plant with leaves that roll in on themselves like a cigarette or cigar. As the plant ages, the leaves at the bottom open up and grow quite large, and the plant grows taller, producing small, curled leaves at the top as it grows. Finally, the plant produces seeds - first green, then reddish brown. The leaves, seeds, and even the root of this plant are edible.

To identify yellow dock, look for arrow shaped leaves with the split, rounded shape of a heart near the stem. There is only one leaf per stem. Young stems are a pale green with reddish brown spots; older stems (such as the ones in the photo to the right) are mostly green. Fully opened leaves have reddish brown spots on them. If you're unsure if a plant is yellow dock, wait for the seeds to appear and turn their distinctive reddish brown.

Yellow dock leaves
Yellow dock's distinctive seeds.
Close up of yellow dock seeds.

Eating Yellow Dock Leaves

This is the most common part of the plant to eat. Once cooked, the leaves taste very much like spinach and are rich in vitamins C and A, iron, calcium, potassium, and beta carotene - but they also contain oxalic acid - a common ingredient in certain wild plants, as well as rhubarb and chocolate. However, oxalic acid, unless consumed in small doses, can be poisonous, so it's vital to always cook yellow dock leaves; if done as described below, harmful amounts of oxalic acid are removed. To cook yellow dock leaves:

1. Fill a pot with water and bring to a  boil.

2. Add clean, trimmed yellow dock leaves and boil for 1 minute.

3. Drain.

4. Repeat, using fresh water.

Note that, as with most plants, the larger the leaves are, the more bitter and fibrous they are. In cooking, use the leaves as you would cooked spinach. If you drain the leaves well after cooking them, you can also place them in a freezer bag and freeze them for later.

Eating Yellow Dock Seeds

Once the plant's seeds turn reddish brown, they are ready for harvesting.Stroke them off the plant with one hand, holding the branch over a container. Sift through the seeds and remove any debris. You may then toss the seeds into cooking oatmeal, or you may grind the seeds, hulls intact, with a coffee grinder, grain mill, or food processor (or, if you're really patient, a mortar and pestle). Now you've got yellow dock flour! Use it like any other flour - although I recommend adding some all purpose or whole wheat flour.

Yellow Dock Roots

Yellow dock roots are medicinal, and are harvested in the late summer or fall. They are long, so don't try to just pull up the plant; actually dig out the tap root instead. According to Web MD, yellow dock root is useful for inflammation and swelling in the respiratory tract and nasal passages. It's also a laxative and may aid the treatment of bacterial infections. It is also filled with antioxidants.

You may purchase the root in a capsule, or ready to drink as tea, or you may chop and dehydrate the roots, just like dandelions, to use for tea making.

You may also turn the roots into a tincture.
WARNING: If you have a history of oxalate kidney stones, you should not eat Yellow dock. 

Yellow Dock Enchilada Recipe

28 oz. red enchilada sauce

1 ½ cups yellow dock leaves, cooked

3 greens onions (scallions), chopped

1/3 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups shredded Co-Jack or cheddar cheese

½ lb. cooked ground beef or cooked, shredded chicken breast

About 8 (7 inch) flour tortillas
Sliced black olives (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a bowl, combine ½ cup enchilada sauce, dandelion leaves, onions, sour cream, and 1 cup cheese.
                                                            3. Spoon about ½ cup of enchilada sauce onto the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish.

4. Spoon about ¼ cup of the dandelion leaf mixture into a tortilla and roll up. Place, seam side down, in the baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

5. Spoon the remaining enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top. If using, scatter sliced black olives over the top.

6. Bake until cheese is melted and filling is bubbly, about 20 minutes.

More yellow dock recipes:

Yellow dock seed crackers
Yellow dock clam soup

Jun 14, 2013

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a non-flour version of the classic peanut butter and chocolate cookie. It's very easy to make - and it works fine with natural peanut butter, like Adam's; just add a little milk until you get a slightly creamy consistency.

You Will Need:

1 1/4 cups peanut butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips of your choosing

Parchment paper, slip mat, or shortening for greasing
Mixing bowl and spoon or electric mixer
Baking sheet
Cooling rack

How to Do It:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, slip mats, or lightly grease each with shortening; set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and sugar. Stir in the egg, baking soda, and vanilla until smooth. (If using Adam's peanut butter, now's the time to add milk, just a teaspoon or so at a time, until the mixture is creamy and smooth.) Fold in the chocolate chips.

3. Form dough into approximately 1 inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch. apart. If desired, you may flatten each ball with a fork, creating the classic peanut butter cookie criss-cross pattern.

4. Bake for 8 - 12 minutes, or until puffed on top and slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to sit on the baking sheet for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

Makes about 2 dozen.