Heirloom Zucchini Bread

I have fond memories from my childhood of my mom making zucchini bread. Zucchini is a huge crop in Utah during the summer and many variations of breads and cakes and casseroles and side dishes abound. When I get my hands on zucchini it is going into either mom’s zucchini bread or dad’s zucchini saute. Both are amazing. Both mean summer time.  True story: Once when I was 14 I wanted zucchini bread pretty much more than my first kiss. So I opened the fridge and found to my delight that we had some zucchini. So I got it out, shredded it up, found mom’s recipe and whipped up some zucchini bread. And the only flaw was that I had grated up a couple of cucumbers rather than zucchinis. It was atrocious in flavor, texture, and smell. Try to avoid this fatal error.

 

Heirloom Zucchini Bread

2 cups white sugar

1 cup of softened butter

3 eggs

3 cups flour

1 t. salt

3/4 t. ground allspice

3/4 t. ground nutmeg

3/4 t. baking powder

1 T. vanilla

2 cups of shredded zucchini

1/4 cup milk

 

In mixing bowl cream butter, sugar, and eggs. Once creamed to a soft texture, add vanilla, and mix. Then in small bowl combine flour, salt, baking powde,r nutmeg, and allspice then mix well. Add the finely shredded zucchini* and finally milk to loosen the batter if it is too thick (it should be like thick cake batter).

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until you can smell it. It should softly crack on top and be golden brown. Table butter or tub butter would be a great spread for this fresh bread, the saltiness of the butter on the soft warm bread is beyond all definitions of tasty.

* To prep zucchini, scrub it under warm water and then dry. You can process it in a food processor using the shredding insert, or you can shred it by hand, which is what I prefer. I do a fine shred which works well. You can drain off the excess liquid if you are concerned about it, and you do not need to peel the zucchini to use it.

I enjoy this recipe as it has spices but not cinnamon, which is a nice switch from the ever present cinnamon. You can also toss some chocolate chips in for variety if you are in the mood for chocolate. But it doesn’t need any help 😉 .

 


Best Ever Blue Ribbon Oh-My-Heck Chocolate Chip Cookies

No, really.

I love cookies. More than cake. Good cookies make life sweet. Because I like my blog, and because I consider it a good recipe journal for my kids to use when they get older and would like to make mom’s recipe…I am going to slowly add my favorite cookie recipes.

And these are fantastic. No, really. Did I say that already? Well, it needs to be said, a lot.

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1/2 cup softened butter

1/4 cup shortening

1 1 /4 cups brown sugar

1 T. milk

1 T. vanilla

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 t. salt

3/4 t. baking soda

1 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In bowl combine butter, brown sugar, and shortening and mix until a smooth even batter. Add egg, milk, and, vanilla and blend well.

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Next, measure flour, salt, and baking soda into a measuring cup, then with mixer slowly going pour slowly into sugar/butter/egg mixture and blend until firm batter forms and flour is fully combined with wet ingredients.

Finally, add chocolate chips and blend until evenly combined.

Form into 3 T. balls and place evenly on baking sheet.

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Bake for 7-9 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating.

* I like my cookies soft. If you like a crisper cookie, increase baking time by 1-2 minutes.


Sunday Afternoon Tomato, Basil, Cream Pasta

Sunday lunch, it always sneaks up on us right after church when the children are blood sugar vampires and there is no simple food in the house.

Today, I pulled this little gem out of thin air, and it was phenomenal. And easy; which seems to be my anthem lately. Yummy and easy.

1 box of thin spaghetti

1 small can of tomato paste

1 /8 to 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 T. butter

3/4 t. garlic powder

1 t. oregano

1/4 t. black pepper

1/8 t. crushed red pepper

Salt to taste

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh basil

Boil and prepare one box of thin spaghetti noodles (or any pasta you have on hand, really).

In small saucepan open one can of tomato paste, and add two cans full of water. Whisk until it is well combined. Now add 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I didn’t measure, just drizzled it in), and 1 T. of butter. Then add 3/4 t. of garlic powder, 1 t. of dried oregano, 1/4 t. of pepper, 1/8 t. of crushed red pepper, and finally salt to taste. Allow to simmer while whisking lightly, then let it simmer on it’s own for several minutes over medium heat. Once it is well heated and combined, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (not grated like Kraft). Whisk and allow the cheese to melt. Once melted, allow to keep warm over low heat.

Walk out front to your basil patch…unless you don’t have one, then you have to be prepared and buy some fresh basil leaves. You will want about 1/4 cup fresh cut basil. Clean the leaves and then using some scissors cut little ribbons of fresh basil.

Once the pasta is done, toss it with the sauce and sprinkle with fresh basil and more Parmesan cheese. This is going to knock your socks off. So easy, so good.

I’ve learned to keep heavy whipping cream on hand because a little bit works wonders in dishes like this, and I usually want it on a whim. You can buy a mini carton for about $1.50 and keep it for almost a month. It does great things for pasta sauces as well as cream soups. The flavor enhances well with very little cream added, so don’t stress out too much about the caloric content.

This dish is good hot or cold, and would be yummy with meat or sauteed veggies if you want something heartier.


Black Bottom Cherry Pie Tarts

Cherries, oh, cherries. Is there anything better than fresh sweet cherries in July? I found some for a decent price at my local grocer and stocked up for the weekend. 

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My mom told me recently that my departed grandfather loved cherry pie the very most, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit tender as I purchased my cherries to create a cherry pie for Sunday dinner. Of course, I couldn’t just make a cherry pie. I had to complicate things, so I decided to make individual pies in my muffin tin with cute little gingham liners.

Which made me pause and consider changing the name of this blog to be something about gingham because I adore gingham. But I soldiered through my distracted musings and focused on the task at hand and began to make mini pies rather than re-design my neglected food blog.

I started with a new pie crust recipe. Why? I don’t know. So here it is.

2 1/2 cups of flour 

2 T. of sugar

1 t. of salt

12 T. cold butter

8 T. shortening

1/4 cup ice cold water.

 

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Pour onto large metal baking sheet. Add butter and shortening, then using a pastry cutter, cut butter and shortening into the flour. (You can do this in a bowl if you prefer. I tried it out on the sheet on a whim and liked working with it that way.) Once you have cut the fats into the dry ingredients, drizzle with cold water and sort of toss together, adding more water as needed to JUST barely bind the flour together. You don’t want to smear the butter or shortening into the butter, that ruins the flakiness. So just toss it until you can press it into a soft ball. Roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Cherry Filling

3 1/2 cups of pitted sweet red cherries

2/3 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of corn starch

1 t. almond extract

1/2 t.s vanilla

Take baking sheet used for pie crust and pour the cherries onto the sheet. In small bowl combine the corn starch and sugar and then sprinkle evenly over the cherries. Drizzle extracts onto pile of cherries, sugar, and corn starch. then using hands gently toss and roll the cherries to coat well with the corn starch, sugar, vanilla, and almond. Let sit.

I use freezer paper as a base for rolling out pie crust. It works really well, and then I throw the whole mess away. So sprinkle a large sheet of freezer paper with flour. Then gently ROLL don’t press the pie crust into a large rectangle. I then placed a cupcake liner on the corner and using a pizza roller cut a large square about 1 inch wider than the base of the cupcake liner. Repeat for number of mini pies you will be making. Gently peel the pie crust square from the freezer paper and hold by corners, creating a small “purse” shape. Fit into the cupcake liner in the cupcake pan. Shape with care to the shape of the cupcake liner. Does not need to be perfect, but don’t lose filling space by only half putting the pie crust into the liner. 

At this point I added Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Chips to the bottom of the little tarts. You can skip that step if you wish.

Take a large spoon and carefully spoon cherries into each tart, taking care not to over fill, but also not under-filling each tart. It’s  not hard, just remember they will collapse a bit while baking as the juices run out. Top each tart with a tiny slice of butter on top.

For the final step I rolled the crust out and using a large star shaped cookie cutter cut a star to top each tart. Cute, right?

So excited to try these tonight after dinner! 

 


Chocolate Sour Cream Mousse

I made this on impulse as a fruit dip. It was fantastic. It works as a stand alone mousse as well. Plus, it is super easy, so why not?

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup sour cream

1/2-3/4 cup sugar

1/4-1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. almond extract

Combine whipping cream and sour cream in a bowl. Whip on high, slowly adding sugar and cocoa powder to desired sweetness/cocoa flavor. Finish off with vanilla and almond extract and continue whipping until the cream thickens to the consistency of whipped cream.

Serve with fresh strawberries, bananas, pound cake, kiwi, graham crackers. you really cannot go wrong. This would also work well as a cake filler or to top a chocolate cream pie. 

Or simply serve in little cups for a romantic dinner treat.