Wee Cook Wednesday: Zucchini-Blueberry Bread and Zucchini Chocolate Cake

Today we went blueberry picking at a farm near our house. It’s a local secret — we go every year and pick gallons of blueberries for a couple of dollars each. It keeps us in berries all through the winter, since blueberries are very easy to freeze. Just wash, place on a cookie sheet, freeze, and bag in ziploc baggies. We like our frozen berries on oatmeal or Kashi Pilaf (when I can find it).

Anyway … yesterday we also got an armful of zucchini from a friend, and I decided to combine the two. With a little help from Bobby on blogchef.net, I adapted her recipe to create both lower-fat and lower-calorie versions.

Basic Recipe:

3 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 C vegetable oil* (loaf on right made with lower-fat recipe, using 1 C brown and 1 C white sugar)
3 tsp vanilla
2 C sugar** (loaf on left made with lower-sugar recipe)
2 C shredded zucchini
3 C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbls cinnamon
2 C fresh blueberries
1/2 C chopped walnuts or pecans

* Lower sugar version: Use 1 C sugar, 1 C Splenda. Increase baking powder to 1-1/2 tsp.
** Lower fat version: Use egg substitute. Replace 1/2 of oil with apple sauce (1/2 C oil and 1/2 C sauce)

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 2 loaf pans.

In large bowl, combine eggs, oil/sauce, sugar and vanilla. Stir in shredded zucchini. Beat in flour, salt, bp, bs, and cinnamon. Gently fold in blueberries and nuts. Pour mixture into loaf pans.

Bake for 60-75 minutes, or until toth pick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow bread to cool 20 minutes, remove from loaf pans and cool on wire racks.

Each loaf serves 6-8.

If you’re looking for an even sneakier “cover,” my friend Joyce Haase recommends this chocolate cake recipe:

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
3 Sq. unsweetened chocolate (or 9 Tbs. Cocoa, 3 Tbs. Shortening)
3 C. flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
3 C. Sugar
1 ½ C. Oil
3 C. finely grated zucchini
1 C. chopped nuts (pecans are wonderful, walnuts also great)
1 C. chocolate chips

Directions: Melt chocolate squares & cool. Grease & flour LARGE bundt pan (or dust with cocoa instead of flour to prevent white residue on cake.) Sift dry ingredients. Beat eggs until thick, add sugar. Gradually add oil and melted chocolate. Blend well.

On low speed, add dry ingredients. Stir in zucchini, nuts & chocolate chips. Pour into pan & bake 1 hour & 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan. When completely cool, drizzle with Chocolate Glaze.

Chocolate Glaze (Optional)
1 Tbs. Butter
1 Sq. unsweetened chocolate
Dash salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 ½ C. Confectioners sugar
2 to 3 Tbs. milk

In sauce pan, melt butter & chocolate. Stir in salt & vanilla. Stir in Powdered Sugar & Milk until smooth. (Use 2 Tbs. milk for thick glaze, more for a thinner glaze.)

This makes a large bundt cake. If your pan is not the 12 cup size, it may overflow.

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Wee Cook Friday: Apple Brie Bread with Almonds (Scribbit)

This is a reprise of an article I ran last year, linked to Michelle’s yummy recipe for Apple Brie Bread with Almonds. The perfect simple Lenten meal, paired with a salad! (The cookbooks are still available, if you’d like one!)

cover image002Michelle at Scribbit had her recipe for Apple Brie Bread with Almonds posted at her site the other day, and it looked like the perfect combination of savory and sweet for those holiday party nibblers. She’s such a fantastic cook, I’m glad she lives in Alaska, or I’d be peeking over her fence every other day for an invitation to tea!

Last weekend I finished compiling the first “South Arbor Family Recipes” book. They’re $10 each, and have a special section inside where you can put a few of your own recipes to personalize it for Christmas gifts. If you’d like a copy, just send me a check!  (I have my husband creating a website where you can order through PayPal right now …).

Need my address? Drop me an email.

Wee Cook No-Meat Fridays: A Vegetarian Feast!

I decided to rerun this post from June 2009 in honor of the first Friday in Lent, for those who would like a meatless meal idea!

The Vacation Bible School program at my church this year is called “Adventure with the Apostles,” and explores the Church around the world, each day focusing on a different part of the globe:

Today, in honor of the Church of Asia, I have for you this tasty and inexpensive lentil-and-rice feast (with Naan bread and cucumbers with yoghurt dressing) that is easy enough for the whole family to help with! 

wholemeal-naan-bread-food-recipe16To make Naan Bread, you will need

1 tsp fast-rising yeast
1 Tbls sugar
1/2 C warm water
2 C flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 Tbls oil (olive works fine)
2 heaping Tbls yoghurt (save rest of 6 oz container for salad)
2 Tbls milk

1. Put warm water, yeast, and sugar in cup; stir to dissolve. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. In medium bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add oil, milk, yoghurt, and yeast mixture. Stir with fork to combine, then put on floured board and kneed 5-6 minutes until flour is incorporated and dough is soft. Cover with a wet tea towel and set aside 15 minutes. (Get rice-and-lentils started during this time.)

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a cookie sheet. Break dough into four equal sized balls, turn onto lightly floured board. Pat or roll into ovals approximately 6-8 inches long and 4-5 inches wide. (Don’t roll too thin, should be about 1/4 inch). Repeat for remaining 3 balls; place on cookie sheet. If desired, brush with milk. Rest 10 minutes. Bake 10-12 minutes, until bubbled and brown on top. To serve, tear in half with hands and place in basket.

(Photo credit: For an excellent recipe for whole-wheat Naan, check out “Jenna’s Kitchen” blog!)

For Rice-and-Lentils, you need:

1 C lentils (dried)
1 C rice
2-1/2 C water
3 small potatoes (sliced thin)
2 med. onions (sliced thin)
1/4 C oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt

1.  Rinse lentils and place in large pot. Add 2-1/2 C water, then cover and simmer on low 20 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, place rice in strainer, then put strainer in a pot of warm water deep enough to cover the rice. Allow to soak while you’re doing the next step.

2.  In frying pan, heat up the oil then layer onions and potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Cook 8-10 minutes, until nicely browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside (but do NOT drain off oil).

3.  When lentils have cooked 20 minutes, strain extra water from rice and add to pot along with curry, cumin, and salt. Stir well — add another 1/2 cup of water if it has all steamed away. Sprinkle potato-onion mixture over the top and cover again. Cook another 10 minutes, until rice is done. (Should be chewy, not sticky.)

For Cucumber Salad, you need:

6 oz carton plain yoghurt (less 2 Tbls for bread)
1-2 medium sized cucumbers, chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbls white rice vinegar (works best — white vinegar works okay, too)

Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Refrigerate until serving time.

Wee Cook Wednesday: Morning-After Christmas Quiche

Necessity is the mother of invention, the saying goes. And so when my husband wished for a Christmas morning quiche like his mother used to bake, I took it to heart. Then I took it to the kitchen.

We had tons of left-over mashed potato from our ham the previous night, and so I whipped together a few things that I thought would go together well. I failed to get a picture, but the spices gave it a lovely orangy color that made the feta “pop.” And now I want to write down the recipe before I forget it!

Morning-After Christmas Quiche

1 pie crust (in a 9 or 10 inch pie plate)
2 C leftover mashed potatoes
1 medium onion, minced
6 eggs
1/2 C cream, half-and-half, or milk
a generous squirt of mustard
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
(optional add-ins: chopped ham, chopped spinach bits, bacon bits, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in the order listed, beating well after each addition. Pour into prepared pie plate and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until puffy and set. Serve with simple fruit salad.

Wee Cook Wednesday: Kimberly’s Fudge

Today the kids and I stirred up a batch of fudge to replenish the goodie tree that has been rather depleted with holiday gift-giving and get-togethers.

The recipe was given to me by my friend Kimberly, who died as a missionary in China, in an automobile accident. She left behind several children, and a husband who at the time of her death was in Germany on business. It took several days for him to return home to his children. Several years have passed, and I still find it shocking to think that she was taken so soon.

I knew Kimberly while we were students at Bethany College of Missions. Kimberly was Mennonite, and a natural beauty in every sense of the word. Soft-spoken and kind, she exuded a kind of innocent feminine charm that left most of the young men in the campus swooning in her wake … and yet, she spent most of her time with her girlfriends.  At least until a German student stole her heart; they made a wonderful couple. I felt privileged to have known them both, even for a short time.

Whenever I make this recipe, it reminds me of my friend. And of the sweetness of homespun nostalgia. Which is why I keep making the candy, every year, with my kids. AndI tell them of a young mother who completed the work God had for her by doing her daily household tasks for her family well, and with her whole heart.

Lord, help me to do the same.

Kimberly’s Fudge

2-1/2 C chocolate chips
1 pint marshmallow cream
1 C butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon (my addition)
2 C nuts (I like chopped almonds)
4-1/2 C sugar
1 can evaporated milk

Combine first six ingredients in large bowl, set aside. Combine sugar and milk in dutch oven, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for five minutes. Pour over the mixture in the bowl and beat with a mixer 10-12 minutes, until the mixture thickens and loses its gloss. Pour into buttered tins and chill to set.  Makes 1-1/2 pounds (enough for an 8×12 cake pan or two round cake pans).

Wee Cook Wednesdays: Friendship Cake

Have you ever made sourdough starter? I’m trying an experiment this week, to add a finishing touch to the baskets I do for various friends and family members. My mother used to make this starter — it requires a 10 day babysitting commitment, a true investment in time and effort that is the mark of most truly great Christmas gifts.

To make your sourdough starter (make this 3-10 days before you want to make the actual cake), in a small bowl combine 1 package active dry yeast and 1/2 C warm water. Stir to dissolve. Then, in a non-metallic bowl using a non-metallic spoon, combine 2-1/2 C warm water, 2 C all-purpose flour, and 2 Tbls sugar. Stir to combine well, and add yeast mixture. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth and let stand in a warm place for 3 days, stirring 2-3 times daily. 

For your own baking:  After three days, place in refrigerator, stirring daily. Use within 11 days. Always bring starter to room temperature before using in cake recipe by allowing to set in a warm place for an hour before using. Stir well, then measure out the amount needed for recipe.

To share starter:  On Day 10 divide starter as follows:  2-3 C for recipe (below). Divide remaining starter into 1C portions and place in plastic or glass containers, cover with plastic wrap (don’t let starter touch metal lids). Keep one cup for yourself and give the rest to friends along with the “Nurturing Your Starter” directions:

Nurturing Your Starter:  Starter should have a sweet, yeasty smell. If you notice signs of spoiling, toss and start over. Do not add milk, cream, or eggs to starter or it may produce harmful bacteria.

*  Day 1 (starter received):  Stir mixture with spoon, let it sit on a counter loosely covered with plastic wrap or wax paper for one day. Do not refrigerate or place in metal container.

*  Days 2-4:  Refrigerate, stir the mixture each day, keep loosely covered.

*  Day 5:  Transfer starter to larger glass or ceramic jar or bowl. Add “starter food”:  1 C water, 1 C flour, 1 C sugar. Stir to mix, cover loosely, return batter to refrigerator. (Container should not be more than 1/2 full.)

*  Days 6 -9: Stir once a day and keep refrigerated, loosely covered.

*  Day 10:  Transfer to larger non-metallic container and add more starter food (1C water, 1C flour, 1C sugar). Allow starter to sit at room temperature for an hour. Remove 1C for each of 3 friends, use 3C for the following recipe.

Friendship Cake

1 C sugar
2 C flour
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 C vegetable oil
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
3 C starter
2 C chopped nuts or fruit (raisins, cherries, chopped apple, crushed pineapple, dates, pecans, almonds, etc.)
1 egg plus 2 egg whites

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl, set aside. In another bowl mix starter, egg, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture, fruit and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan or 9×11 loaf pan. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes. Cool and dust with powdered sugar.