Sunday, September 12, 2010

Zucchini Cupcake Muffins

It's that time of year--when the monster zucchini arrive, sometimes miraculously on your doorstep in the middle of the night.

Cupcakes and muffins are made with differing methods and end up with different textures. This recipe is a combination, so you can call the resulting goodness whichever you want. If you have any left over, store them in an airtight container or they do freeze well. Plop a frozen muffin in your lunch bag in the morning and by break or lunch time you'll have a fresh treat.

Zucchini Cupcake Muffins

1 1/2 cup cake flour (all purpose or a combination of all purpose and whole wheat works just as well)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice *
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oatmeal
2 large eggs
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cup packed shredded zucchini
1/2 cup optional raisins or walnuts

*the original recipe called for 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cloves--neither of which I keep on hand because they're not my favorites. Pumpkin pie spice made a great substitution. If you like a stronger spice flavor, use 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice.

Mix butter, sugar and eggs together for 3 minutes. Add zucchini and mix well. In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients then add to the wet mixture and stir until just blended. Add optional ingredients.

Portion into sprayed or paper lined muffin tins. Bake at 350. Regular sized muffins for 20-25 minutes. Mini-muffins for 12-15 minutes.

I sprinkled a little turbinado (sugar in the raw) sugar over the muffins before baking to add a little crunchy sweetness to the top.

These cupcake muffins would be great with sunflower or toasted pumpkin seeds for a true fall treat.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mexican Rhubarb Chocolaate Chunk Brownies

Mexican Rhubarb Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Recipe courtesy Guy Fieri

Prep Time:
20 min
Inactive Prep Time:
Cook Time:
50 min
12 brownies


For the rhubarb compote:

  • 1 cup rhubarb, strings removed, cut in 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the brownie batter:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon New Mexico chile powder (not chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon dark rum
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • Shortening spray, for baking dish


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
To make the rhubarb compote: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring rhubarb, water and sugar to a boil. When sugar is dissolved, lower heat to a simmer and cook until rhubarb is soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Puree in a blender until smooth, if necessary. The rhubarb should break down to a smooth compote.
To make the brownie batter: In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, Chile powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a clean microwavable glass bowl, melt bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate together in the microwave at 50 percent power or in a double boiler. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, combining well. Add in the vanilla and rum. Stir the rhubarb into the chocolate mixture, then add to the batter. Mix until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and gently fold in the semisweet chocolate and walnuts. Do not over mix. Spray an 8 by 8 by 2-inch clear glass baking dish with shortening spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, then spray parchment. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth out top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Patriotic Salad

Here's a recipe from author Billie A. Williams.  And she gives us some interesting information about jicama! This is definitely a salad I'm going to try, both at home and as a possible addition to my school lunch menus.

Patriotic Salad
·         3 cups cubed seeded watermelon
·         2 cups blueberries
·         1 cup julienned jicama *
·         1/4 cup lemon juice
·         2 Tbsp. oil
·         2 Tbsp. honey
·         1/4 tsp. salt
·         1/8 tsp. white pepper
Combine lime juice, oil, honey, salt and pepper in small bowl and blend well. Mix immediately with the fruits and jicama. Chill well before serving. Serves 6

*The root's exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples or raw green beans, and it is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes.
In cooking Jícama is often paired with chilli powder, cilantro, ginger, lemon,lime, oranges, red onion, salsa, sesame oil, grilled fish and soy sauce. It can be cut into thin wedges and dipped in salsa. In Mexico, it is popular in salads, fresh fruit combos, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes. In contrast to the root, the remainder of the jícama plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish

Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31--Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

3 Tablespoons margarine-melted
2 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs
2 pounds softened cream cheese
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 tube refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough-rolled into 1 inch balls
2 ounces chocolate chips

Grease the bottom and sides of a 10 inch springform pan

Combine margarine and cookie crumbs. press into the bottom and sides of the pan.

beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs and flour until smooth. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until just blended.

Pour 1/2 the batter into the prepared crust.

Gently stir chocolate chips and cookie dough balls into the remaining batter. Then pour into pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Turn off oven and prop door open several inches. Allow the cake to remain in the oven for 30 minutes.

Cool then refrigerate until service. Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate chips or chocolate curls.

Serves 10

Day 30--Chinese Coleslaw

Chinese Coleslaw

2 bags of coleslaw mix
2 packages chicken ramen noodles
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds

3/4 cup oil
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons Accent
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pepper

Crush the ramen noodles and add to the salad ingredients. Add the chicken seasoning packets from the noodles to the dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour over the salad mixture and toss to coat. Chill well. 

Day 29--Couscous Salad with Apples and Spinach

Couscous Salad with Apples and Spinach
8 Apples, Gala or Fuji work well
2 cups fine grain Couscous
1 quart fresh spinach, washed and julienned
1/2 cup chopped scallions

1 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Rice Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons Lime juice 
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Core and chop apples.

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Make dressing by whisking together all the ingredients together. Place the warm couscous in a large bowl, pour the dressing over the couscous then stir well to combine.

Add apples, spinach, and scallions. Chill until serving.

Serves 8 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 28--Steak and Asparagus Quiche

Steak and Asparagus Quiche

2 Tablespoons butter, softened (plus more for pan)
1 pound frozen, shredded hashbrowns
4 eggs
2 cups half and half
coarse salt
ground pepper
1 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
4-5 oz soft goat cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup steak, cubed
1/4 cup asparagus chopped in 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup roasted red peppers cut in 1 inch pieces
scallions-thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 9 inch springform pan with butter then line the sides with strips of waxed paper. Brush paper with butter.

Squeeze excess water from hashbrowns. Mix with butter, 1 teaspoon salt and 1.4 teaspoon pepper.  press into bottom and side of pan. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes.

In a large bowl whisk sour chream, goat cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until well combined. Whisk in eggs and half and half. Add steak, asparagus and peppers. Pour into crust and sprinkle with scallions.

Bake unti set, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from pan and peel off wax paper.

Serves 6

Note: gently tap or shake the pan to test if the quiche is done. If the filling jiggles slightly in the middle but not on the sides, the quiche is set.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day 27--Mozzarella-Tomato Skewers

Mozzarella-Tomato Skewers

Grape Tomatoes
Fresh Mozzarella Boconccini, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup vinaigrette dressing
splash of red wine vinegar
splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinated vegetables such as olives or mushrooms

Halve or quarter the boconccini (The size should correspond to the size of the tomatoes) Add red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to vinaigrette. Add the cheese. Marinate for several hours. This step can be done up to a week prior to serving!

Skewer a tomatoe, a chunk of cheese and olive or mushroom on a toothpick.

Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper then garnish with chopped fresh herbs if desired.

Day 26--Chinatown Vegatable Medley

Check out for more recipes like this quick and tasty stirfry.  This dish is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

Remember: Fruits and Veggies--More Matters!

Chinatown Vegetable Medley

1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced diagonally
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite size pieces
1/2 yellow onion cut into 1" pieces
2 ounces baby corn
1/4 cup broccoli florets
1/4 cup cauliflower florets
1/2 cup snow peas

1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Place wok or large frying pan over HIGH heat until hot. Add oil to coat. Add vegetables and stirfry for 1 minute. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to MEDIUM-HIGH, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day 25--More Brownies

Here's a magical recipe. It's been given out throughout the family, but no one makes them like Char! She's got that special touch. But even without her knack, these are some durned good brownies.

Brownies #2

Melt: 2 squares unsweetened chocolate

Cream together: 1 cup sugar
                             1 stick margarine

Add: 2 eggs
         1 teaspoon vanilla
          2/3 cup flour

Stir in: melted chocolate and 1/2 cup nuts (always optional)

Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes

2 Tablespoons cocoa
2 Tablespoons hot water
2 Tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla
enough powdered sugar to make desired consistency

Mix ingredients together and spread on brownies...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 24--Brownies #1

As a chocolate lover, of course Brownies are a favorite. And I don't have just one favorite. This recipe comes from a tattered much used and much loved Hershey's Cocoa cookbook.
"The Best" Brownie 

1/2 cup vegetable oil or melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (Always optional for me)

Blend oil, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add eggs and beat well with a spoon. Combine dry ingredients then gradually add to egg mixture until well blended. Stir in those optional nuts. Spread in a greased 9x9 inch pan.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes--or until brownie begins to pull away from edges of the pan. Cool in pan. Frost if desired.

Note: One of my favorite 'frostings' for brownies is to simply pour chocolate chips on the brownie just after it comes out of the oven. When the chips have melted, spread them over the surface. Let cool and enjoy!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day 23--Sour Cream Banana Bread


When I worked for the University, one of my titles was the queen of bananas. When bananas got too ripe to serve, they were frozen. By the end of the year, there was a good chance of there being a fairly substantial amount of bananas. So I would take some workdays and do nothing but make banana products for summer camps. Here's one of the recipes. This bread freezes well, so I made loaf upon loaf. This recipe is cut back for the home kitchen.

Sour Cream Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 egg
2 ripe bananas
2 Tablespoons sour cream
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the egg, banana and sour cream and mix well.
Mix in the dry ingredients. Pour into loaf pan.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 50 minutes or until pick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.

Day 22--Lemon Spinach Chicken

Easy to prepare and definitely easy to clean up, there's nothing better than a dish cooked in foil! This chicken can be either baked in an oven or cooked on the grill. Adjust cooking times to suit the method of cooking. I'm not giving amounts here--this is a pile on what you like kind of recipe. Just remember that spinach really cooks down, so you'll need more than you think you might.

Lemon Spinach Chicken
Boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
fresh ground black pepper
your favorite saltless herb seasoning
raw spinach, cleaned and destemmed
grape tomatoes or roma tomatoes cut in quarters
 button mushrooms, quartered
Lemon Juice
lemon slices
red pepper strips

Center the chicken in a square of foil. Season with pepper and  herb seasoning. Surround with the mushrooms. Top with spinach and tomatoes. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Lay two lemon slices over veggies. 

Bring up edges of the foil and fold together to seal tightly. Place in a baking dish.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

Note: Any of you favorite veggies can be cooked this way. Summer squash is a good mix with the tomatoes. 


Day 21--Poppy Seed Fruit Salad

Another of Walt's recipes... an excellent fruit salad for a summer treat!

Poppy Seed Fruit Salad

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup limeade concentrate
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1 cup fresh strawberries--halved
1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup cubed, seeded watermelon
1 cup peeled and sliced kiwi
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Combine the honey, limeade concentrate and poppy seeds in a small bowl.

Combine the fruits in a large serving bowl and drizzle with the dressing. Toss gently to coat. Just before serving, sprinkle with the almonds.

Day 20--Cream Cheese Bacon Crescents

Here's another favorite that comes from the Kraft Kitchens
Cream Cheese Bacon Crescents

1 8 oz tub Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
3 Slices bacon--cooked and crumbled
2 tubes refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix cream cheese and bacon in a small bowl until well blended

Separate each tube of dough into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle in half lengthwise. Spread each triangle with 1 generous teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture. Roll up starting at the shortest edge of the triangle and roll toward the point. Place point side down on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 12 - 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 16 servings--2 rolls each.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 19--Chocolate No Bake Cookies

These are my favorite cookies. Maybe because they're more like candy than cookies. And because they're quick and easy to make.

Most folks make these with peanut butter. This recipe is pure and simple chocolate only, great for those like me who only occasionally like peanut butter. These cookies are tempting at any time, but if you can wait and keep them in an airtight container overnight, they 'mellow' and are even better!

Chocolate No Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) margarine or butter
1/2 cup milk
3 cups quick cooking oatmeal
5 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a heavy sauce pan bring the first three ingredients to a rolling boil. Stir constantly and boil for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper. Cool until set. Store in an airtight container.

This photo is of cookies proudly displayed on an assortment of Darlene's handmade potholders. Beautiful, aren't they--the potholders, I mean.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 18--Cereal Killer Cookies

This recipe was adapted by author Sandy Aquilar from the recipe in Diane Mott Davidson's Cereal Murders.

Cereal Killer Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together in a small bowl:
1 cup chocolate chips
1 (7 1/2 oz) bag almond brickle chips
         (Heath or Bits o' Brickle)
2 cups Oatmeal

Mix together in another bowl:
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder

In a third bowl blend with a mixer:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Blend slowly into sugars:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter

Add and blend well:
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Add the flour mixture and blend with mixer.

By hand stir in the oat and chips mixture.

Using a 2 tablespoon measure, place dough 2" apart on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper or 'release foil". (Cookies tend to stick without a pan liner)

Bake 12-15 minutes. Cool on racks. They may look slightly puffy but will flatten out as they cool. Makes 4-5 dozen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 17--Bow Tie Pasta Salad

Here's a recipe from my friend Walt. Since asparagus is so fresh and tasty right now, give this version of a pasta salad a try! Green beans or broccoli make good substitutions for the asparagus.

Bow Tie Pasta Salad

1 pound bow tie pasta
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 pound fresh asparagus cut up
4 green onions sliced
1 diced pepper--use whatever color you want
1/2 pound grape tomatoes
4 oz Feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. During the last 3 minutes add asparagus and cook until tender-crisp. Drain and cool. Then add all ingredients to a large bowl.

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup good olive oil
fresh ground pepper

Whisk the first four ingredients together then add the oil slowly, whisking to make a homogeneous sauce. Pour over salad and toss to coat.

Day 16--Mint Kiss Cookies

A recipe from Hershey's. Originally, when Hershey's Mint Kisses first showed up on the store shelves, they were difficult to find--and then only at holiday time. These cookies were a hit with friends and family, and not being able to find the kisses was tragic. Although, these are just as good with plain kisses. The 'filled' kisses don't work as well.

One year I made these and used green tinted powdered sugar calling them Leprechaun Balls.

Magical Mint Kiss Cookies

1 cup butter or margaine
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
48 Hershey's kisses, unwrapped
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Stir together flour and cocoa then gradually add to the butter mixture. Beat until blended. Mold a scant tablespoon dough around each kiss, covering completely. Shape into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool for 1 minute then remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Roll in powdered sugar.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 15--Peanut Butter Doggy Cookies

I'd never forget my canine friends! Here's a recipe for yummy dog biscuits. Of course there's nothing in these cookies that would be bad for people--if you're so inclined.

Peanut Butter Doggy Cookies

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup non-fat powdered milk
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
8 oz. peanut butter
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 cup cold water

Mix  the ingredients except water until blended. Then add water and knead the dough for 3 to 5 minutes until if forms a ball.

Roll 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Of course bone shapes are perfect. 

Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Day 14--Lemon Dessert

When life gives you lemons....

Make this easy  lemony dessert!

Lemon Dessert

1 White cake mix
1 can lemon pie filling
1 can lemon frosting
1 8 oz container cool whip 

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Pour batter into a 9 x 13 pan. Gently spread the pie filling over the top of batter. Using the temperature listed on the cake mix box, bake for 25-30 minutes.  Cool.

Combine the lemon frosting and cool whip. Spread over the cooled cake.

Keep leftovers of this cake loosely covered in the refrigerator. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day 13--Shrimp Pomodoro Pasta

I found this recipe on Kraft Foods and thought it was worth a try.

It was.

My only comment is that if you use frozen shrimp, make sure they're thawed and drained completely before adding them to the sauce--otherwise the sauce will be too thin. I also used shallots for a milder onion flavor.

Shrimp Pomodoro Pasta

1/2 cup Kraft Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic- minced
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 pound cooked medium shrimp
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add dressing, onions and garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cook for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cook pasta as directed on package.

Add shrimp to sauce and cook another 2 minutes or until shrimp is heated through. Remove from heat.

Toss drained pasta with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

Makes 4 servings.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 12- Cheesy Corn Casserole

This recipe comes from one of my past co-workers. Thanks Andrea!  It's great for family gatherings. I tend to just dump everything into the crock pot. The casserole turns out moister that way. I'll bet that those of you who like crunchy crusts on their casseroles would like this topped with buttered bread crumbs or crushed potato chips.

Cheesy Corn Casserole

8 oz cream cheese
3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
16 oz package frozen corn

Preheat oven to 350

Mix ingredients except corn in a small saucepan and heat until melted and well blended. Add corn. Pour into an 8x8 dish.

Bake for 30-40 minutes uncovered.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day 11--Mexican Casserole

This is a family favorite, throw together casserole. I'll tell you how I make it, then you can make adjustments in heat level and ingredients for your family. Garnish with sour cream, green onions and diced tomatoes. Or any taco-ish topping you like! Great with tossed salad or a fresh fruit salad.

Mexican Casserole

5 flour tortilla
1 can refried beans
1 package of spanish rice mix-prepared
1 pound hamburger prepared with taco seasoning
1 small jar picante sauce
8 oz. shredded cheese (Any combination of cheeses is great. I usually use a cheddar/jack blend)

Prepare the spanish rice and taco meat.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a sprayed round casserole dish, layer the ingredients as follows:
~3 Tablespoons picante sauce (to cover bottom of dish)
~1 flour tortilla (If it doesn't fit exactly, just tear it into pieces that will)
~the refried beans with a splash of picante and a 1/4 cup cheese
~1 flour tortilla
~the taco meat
~1 flour tortilla
~1/2 cup cheese
~1 flour tortilla
~the spanish rice
~top with a tortilla and cover with picante sauce

This is what the casserole looks like ready to go into the oven.

Bake for 35-40 minutes until heated through. Remove from oven and top with the rest of the cheese. Return to oven until the cheese melts.

Let stand a few minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.

 Done and ready for eating. Yummy!