Zucchini Tomato Bites

The cyclist has a brother. We'll call him "the doctor". He grows a mean vegetable garden. He introduced me to this delicious recipe. I'd feel bad about stealing it, but it is from a cookbook of mine that he borrowed and didn't return for 5 years.

When he makes these little bites, the vegetables and herbs are all from his garden. Well, we grew the zucchini and the basil was from a dear friend. But out of the fourteen tomato plants we planted this year, the deer have eaten all but one tiny cherry tomato (I ceremoniously ate it with a little sprinkling of kosher salt).

Do you have a garden? Do you grow zucchini? Or tomatoes? Or basil? If not, run to the farmers market. These are delicious. P.S. If you DO grow tomatoes, bring some to my house and we'll have tomato sandwiches.

Zucchini Tomato Bites

5 small zucchini, cut into 1/2" slices (not too big around or the zucchini to cheese ratio is off)
4 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled and chilled
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Fresh small basil leaves, or larger ones, torn
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 oz fresh Parmigiano cheese, finely grated

Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Scoop out the center of each zucchini slice carefully with a melon baller, creating a shell that resembles a bowl. Fill each shell with about 1/2 teaspoon of the Gorgonzola cheese. Top each bite with 1 tomato half and 1 basil leaf. Sprinkle with pepper and Parmigiano.

Arrange the bites on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese melts. Do not allow them to brown.

You can prepare these ahead of time and store them covered in the refrigerator. Bake just before serving.

Little Apple Cinnamon Puff Pancakes, or Autumn, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways."

Labor Day is tomorrow. Summer is over. No more linen. No more white loafers (sorry John E. Rubb, you can get them out again next spring). No more "Sorry, it's cold cereal for dinner again...you know how I hate to heat up the kitchen."

The evenings are getting cooler. Soon the mornings will be brisk enough to run with a jacket. Two of the four girls are back in school. Number three starts on Wednesday.

And it's time to start baking with apples.

Little Apple Cinnamon Puff Pancakes

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into small pieces (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 T lemon juice
5 T butter, separated
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
5 T granulated sugar, plus more for muffin tin
3 eggs
3/4 cup half and half

This recipe makes 6 individual pancakes, but luckily we doubled it because the cyclist ate 3 of them himself.

Preheat oven to 450.
Melt 3 T of the butter in microwave.
Brush cups of a jumbo muffin tin with 1 T of the melted butter (set other 2 T aside for pancake batter), coat with granulated sugar.
Toss apples with brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice.
In a 10-inch, non-stick skillet, melt remaining 2 T of butter over medium heat. Add the apples and saute, turning occasionally, for 10-12 minutes, until caramelized. Remove pan from stove and let cool about 5 minutes. Divide apples among muffin cups.
Place flour, salt, granulated sugar, melted butter, eggs and half & half in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 3 minutes.
Pour batter over apples. Place tin in oven and lower heat to 400. Bake 15 minutes. The pancakes will puff up in the last 5 minutes of baking.
Remove from oven. Let sit three to four minutes. Loosen sides with knife. Remove from tin (you may need to coax them a bit). Dust with confectioners sugar or dollop with a spoonful of whipped cream and serve.

Summer Lime Pie

This is one of my favorite summer dessert recipes. Preparation is quick and easy (and your kitchen stays cool). The result is sweet and tart and refreshing.

1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
4 oz (1/2 cup) frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
8 oz cool whip

9" cookie crust (I like the Nilla Wafer one)

Combine condensed milk and thawed limeade. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour into crust. Chill until firm. I usually make a day ahead and chill overnight.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and key lime slices.

Yogurt Waffles

Another waffle recipe?

These were rich, moist, and "melty" as blond bob #2 so eloquently described them. (They do melt in your mouth).

The girls topped theirs with peanut butter, the cyclist liked syrup, I enjoyed mine with fresh, ripe melons.

2 C flour
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t nutmeg
1 3/4 C plain yogurt
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
3 T butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Preheat a waffle iron. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg.
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg yolks and butter. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients, stirring with a few quick strokes to form a lumpy batter.
In a third bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly fold the egg whites into the batter.
Cook the waffles according to the manufacturer's instructions for your waffle iron.
Transfer the baked waffles to the oven, placing them directly on the rack so they stay crisp.


Carrot Cookies with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Don't let the fruit and veggie title fool you into thinking these taste "healthy". They melt right in your mouth.

1 cup butter (room temp)
¾ cup sugar
½ t lemon extract
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 cup cooked, mashed carrots
1 t salt
2 t baking powder
2 cups flour

Cream together butter, sugar, lemon extract, egg and vanilla. Add carrots. Sift and add dry ingredients. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375* for approximately 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Frost with orange icing while warm.

Orange Icing (you'll have some leftover)

4 T Butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 T orange zest
about 2 T orange juice
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Whip butter and cream cheese. Add zest and juice. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until you get a good consistency.

Enjoy these moist little cookies. We did.

Morgan's Chunky Marinara

This last Christmas, we received a very tasty present. A jar of homemade pasta sauce from my sister-in-law's sister, Morgan. She was generous and shared the recipe with me as well. It's the kind of sauce that makes your kitchen smell wonderful. And it tastes so good, it is hard to not eat it all straight out of the pot.

Thanks Morgan.

Morgan's Chunky Marinara

About 2 T Olive Oil
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, plus more for seasoning
2 (32 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
Sprig of fresh rosemary

In large pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until onions are tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add celery, carrots, salt and pepper. Saute until all vegetables are soft, about 10 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves and 1 whole branch of fresh rosemary (the leaves will mostly fall off on their own and you will remove the branch later). Simmer over low heat until sauce thickens a little, about 1 hour. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary branch. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.

It's Too Hot for the Oven

Anything the cyclist decides to do, he does well. Including dessert making. Between this dutch oven cake and his chocolate chip cookies (I'll post someday), he's baked his way right into my heart.

Dutch Oven Chocolate Cherry Cake

1/2 stick of butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
2 cans pie filling (we like cherry)
Cake Batter: we mixed in half of the chocolate chips, and sprinkled the rest over the top.

Sprinkle butter cubes in the bottom of a clean, seasoned dutch oven (ours is a #12). Cover bottom of oven with pie filling. Spoon cake batter over all.

Light the charcoal (we used our metal fire-pit) and wait until it starts to ash over a little bit. Put twice as many charcoals on top of the lid as there are under the dutch oven. We used 4 on bottom and 8 on top. Cook for about 30-40 minutes and then take off the lid and check the cake with a toothpick making sure it comes out clean. Be careful when taking of the lid not to spill ash in the cake. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
When it's hot outside and you don't want to heat up your kitchen, this is the perfect way to have a homemade cake. It's also a great recipe to take camping. With the new baby, we've been doing all of our camping in the back yard.
However, this can also be made indoors using your dutch oven. Preheat your regular oven to 350. Assemble the cake. Put the dutch oven into your oven and bake as directed.

P.S. For all you trivia buffs, the Dutch Oven is the state cooking pot of Utah. Who knew?

Decadent French Toast, or "The Merry Parry’s Come for Brunch"

The Merry Parry's.  For those of you who don't know them, that’s Lindsey, Layla, and Long John Leather Couch himself. 

Lindsey holds a special place in my heart because she is the only person I know of to have accepted "the challenge".  

Plus, they drove 8 hours from Lake Tahoe, so John could spend another 5 plus hours in the car, handing out water & Gatorade for the cyclist on his 100 mile bike ride

 How do you repay that kind of devotion? An invitation to brunch and some tasty French toast. 

This is another brunch recipe with the prep work all done the night before.  

Company French Toast

16 slices bread
6 oz cream cheese
cinnamon/sugar mixture
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1 stick of butter
6 eggs
1 3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
sour cream
fresh berries

Spread 8 slices of bread with cream cheese.  Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar.  Top each slice with the remaining bread.  Cut each sandwich in half on the diagonal.  

Melt butter, brown sugar and syrup in the microwave.  Pour into a rimmed cookie sheet (jelly roll pan).  Place bread in pan on top of syrup mixture.  
In a medium bowl, blend eggs, milk and vanilla.  Pour over bread.  Cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.  

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes rotating pan halfway through.  

Remove French toast from pan and flip so that the caramel side is up.  Top with sour cream and sliced berries.
Johnny Rub enjoyed the breakfast but Layla was much less impressed by the whole thing.

Blueberry Scones

I've been looking for a good scone recipe and this one, aptly titled "The Best Blueberry Scones" did not disappoint.
If you like scones, or blueberries, or lemon zest, or eating a little something sweet for breakfast, you will like these.

It is important to work the dough as little as possible—work quickly and knead and fold the dough only the number of times called for. The butter should be frozen solid before grating. In hot or humid environments, chill the flour mixture and work bowls before use.

If fresh berries are unavailable, an equal amount of frozen berries (do not defrost) can be substituted. An equal amount of raspberries, blackberries, or strawberries can be used in place of the blueberries. Cut larger berries into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces before incorporating.

The Best Blueberry Scones
from Cooks Illustrated
Makes 8
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, frozen solid, plus additional 2 Tbsp, melted for brushing

1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sour cream

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon zest

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. With the large holes on a box grater, grate the 8 tablespoons of frozen butter. Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside. Place blueberries in freezer until needed.

2. Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in chilled medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.

3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.

4. Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.

5. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over surface of dough, then press down so they are slightly embedded in dough. Using bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.

6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.

"The Award" Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

I issued a challenge to my family: whomever could make me laugh the hardest would win an award. My older brother and the cyclist tied (actually, they were the only ones to participate). Now that they realize that my awards come freshly baked, maybe they'll take my challenges more seriously. Maybe not.

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring in between, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto greased cookie sheets (a silpat works great for these). Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; transfer to racks to cool completely

Cook Books

As of right now, I am out of cookbooks. There is a chance (a good chance I think) that I can get my hands on a few more, so if you are interested, please leave a comment or send an email and I will put you on a list and let you know if and when I have some available.
Thanks to everyone who has expressed interest. I didn't expect such a great response. I've loved all of the comments and emails. As the cyclist can attest, it makes my day when I learn that someone is reading or has made something from my "flog" (food log)!

P.S.  I know the photo has nothing to do with the cookbook, but I think a post without a picture is boring.  Plus she's seven weeks old already and I think she's really cute.  

Peach Salsa

I found some white peaches at the store, so I decided to make peach salsa. It was delicious on tortilla chips, but even better on the cyclists blackened halibut. (Halibut rubbed with fajita seasoning, cooked on the grill).

2 C chopped peaches (I needed two peaches)
1 1/2 C chopped tomatoes (I used 4 Romas)
1 C chopped red onion
2 tsp minced garlic
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 T chopped cilantro
2 T olive oil
4 T lime juice (I used 3 limes)
3 tsp sugar

Combine peaches, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, green onion and cilantro. In separate bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice and sugar. Pour over peach mixture and stir gently to combine. Chill until ready to use.