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.

Wee Cook Friday: Easter Bread!

To conclude the “Wee Cook Friday” meatless meal series, I wanted to reprise my very favorite recipe for this holiday season, my Easter Bread.  We like to make this for Good Friday supper, or for Easter breakfast (especially if there’s company).  We always make two loaves, and play “Easter Bunny” by leaving one on someone’s door stop!

easter-breadWhile I’m on my writer’s retreat, I thought I’d reprise this recipe from “Mommy Monsters” for Easter Bread — makes a great Good Friday supper, or Easter breakfast treat!

Easter Bread

2-3/4 C flour
1/4 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 pkg dry yeast
2/3 C milk
2 Tbls margarine
2 eggs, beaten
4 colored raw eggs
(optional: 1/4 C chopped blanched almonds)

Combine flour, sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Heat milk and margarine over low heat until warm (120-130F). Add to dry ingredients. Add beaten eggs into dry mixture with milk. Beat 2 minutes.

Stir in enough additional flour to make soft dough. Knead 8-10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, flip to grease top. Cover and let rise until double (1 hour). Punch down. If adding almonds, knead them now. Divide in half and roll each half into 24″ rope.

Twist ropes together loosely, like a candy cane. Form into ring on greased sheet, tucking loose ends under to form ring. Brush with melted butter, and place eggs into spaces of twist. Cover and let rise until double (about 45 minutes). Bake 350 for 30-35 minutes.

We usually make 2 for two reasons: If they both turn out, we bring one to a friend. If not, we eat the one that doesn’t look as though it will break a tooth. After all, Lent (and any associated suffering) is over. It’s time to REJOICE!

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 Wednesday: Motel Cookery

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Okay, it’s almost over now — at our house, MLK Day is also Sarah’s birthday — and I have a moment to write a bit about the past few days, which I spent (a) with my Sweetie, (b) and our kids, (c) and WITHOUT the computer.

Ah, the sheer bliss of it.  Four of us, in one room, the kids bouncing off the wall from the sheer excitement of an acre of water park just beneath us.

Craig attended Code Mash, and brought us along this year — the conference went so well, I’m hoping they’ll be able to do the same thing next year. They even had little events for the kids — brilliant!

Kalahari Resorts in Sandusky has added a couple of new water slides to the acreage, my favorite being the Tanzanian Twist, which is constructed a bit like a toilet bowl — you swirl around the outside rim, then drop through a hole into six feet of water. (I tried not to think about how many people wet themselves with fright as they fell through the hole into the pond below.)

Back at the room, kids ravenous and me unwilling to take out a second mortgage on our home to eat out every meal, I came up with a few easy meals to eat in the room. We had a small fridge and a microwave, plus a few basic utensils that easily fit into a crockpot.

Crockery Chili:  canned kidney beans, crushed tomatoes with garlic and peppers, packet chili seasoning, package of veggie crumbles. Crock and top with shredded cheddar — eat with corn chips.

Stuffed Tators:  Zap 4 large potatoes after slashing the skins. Stuff with cheese and leftover chili, or salsa (jar) and cheese.  If you just gotta have the meat, add a little canned chicken.

Chicken Rolls:  Spread tortillas with soft cream cheese (the kind you bring along to spread on bagels in the morning). Add a couple slices deli chicken, and roll around a pickle spear or green onion. Dunk in ranch of you want to — along with baby carrot sticks.

Broccoli Toss:  Zap a bag of frozen broccoli, slit open and dump in bowl along with a can of chicken and a jar of Pace’s spicy four-cheese sauce. Eat with chips.

All of these go really well with a Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which since no one is driving anywhere feels really good going down after a day in the noisy water park!  Later on, nibble on a bag of microwave corn — I like it with a dash of garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.

What’s your favorite Motel Cookery?

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: Apple Bread Pudding@ Scribbit

apple dumpling

Did you go apple picking this weekend? We did … I’m up to my neck in Granny Smiths. Much to my family’s delight! (They suck up the peels like the ticket-taker at Chuck-E-Cheese. Delightful.)

Today head on over to Scribbit, where Michelle has a delectable recipe for … drum roll, please …

Caramel Apple Bread Pudding!

Need I say more? No? I thought not. Enjoy!

Wee Cook Wednesday: Chicken Cordon Bleu (and Lemon Tarts)

chicken cordon bleuThe other day Michelle at Scribbit posted the mouth-watering yet super-easy recipe for chicken cordon bleu that won her husband’s heart.

For me, it was lemon tarts. Into little tart shells you spoon a mixture of  lemon curd (1 jar — available at most grocery stores) whipped with about 2 cups of creme fraiche (in the dairy section, or you can make your own). Add a dab of REAL whipped cream and top with a pinch of lemon zest or a twist of lemon peel . . . and chill.

The first time I offered Craig one of these, he promptly ate three, then asked me out on our first date. Yeah, they’re that good!

Wee Cook Wednesday: No-Peel Boiled Eggs!

eggToday I found a link on Michael Hyatt’s blog to Michael Ferris’ post about how to have boiled eggs without having to shell them by hand.   In  nutshell:

1. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water as they are boiling for 12 minutes.
2. Submerge cooked eggs in in ice water.
3. Tap off each end, and BLOW from the pointy end to the fat end.

Sarah and I are going to try this one this afternoon!

Wee Cook Wednesday: Apple Dumplings and Crock Pot Applesauce

apple dumplingIt’s getting to be that time of year again … apple season!   In honor of National Apple Dumpling Day (Thursday, September 17) I’d like to post my tried-and-true recipe for these tasty seasonal treats.

To make Heidi’s Apple Dumplings, you will need…

8 fresh-picked apples (peeled, cored, and cut in quarters)

3 C flour
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbls baking powder
1C plus 2Tbls shortening
3/4 C milk

2 C sugar
2 C water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 C butter
a dozen little cinnamon candies (optional)

First, make the dumplings. Cut together flour, salt, bp, shortening together to course crumbs; add milk to make dough. Roll thin like pie crust (handling as little as possible to keep it tender). Place hand-sized (fingers spread) circle of dough in one hand, cupped slightly. Put apple quarters on top, then draw up dough around apples, squeezing with both hands so that dough covers entire apple. Place each “doughed” apple in baking dish, making sure there is space (at least an inch) between each apple. Continue with remaining apples.

Next, bring to boil the sugar, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter. Stirring constantly, continue to boil, adding cinnamon candies (if used) in the last minute. Pour hot syrup over apples, making sure some of the juice gets on each one. Bake 375 for 35-40 minutes, until golden.

To make vanilla milk, take a pint of milk and add 2 tsp vanilla extract and 2 tsp sugar. Pour over warm dumplings. Yum!

Looking for something a little simpler? Try this recipe I found today at AnnArbor.com, by Teresa Shaw, for her “Slow Cooker Applesauce”!  You will need …

4-5 pounds apples (McIntosh, Winesap)
1/2 C water
2 Tbs cinnamon
1/2 C sugar (I would use brown)
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice.

Wash, core, peel, and chop the apples into large chunks. Dump apples and other ingredients in the slow cooker (crock pot) and set on low heat. Cook 8 hours or until apples are soft and cooked down. Allow to cool slightly, then use a potato masher or immersion blender (yeah, right, got one of those RIGHT HERE) until the applesauce is the desired consistency. Add a little water if it’s too thick.

Editor’s comment: I like mine sprinkled with Lorna Dune crumbles.

For a recipe even simpler than that, try Deacon Tom’s recipe for Crockpot Applesauce. Peel & core ~ 8 sweet apples (e.g. Fiji). Cut into small pcs/segments. Put in crockpot. Add ~ 1/2 cups of water & of sugar + 1 TBSP of cinnamon. Mix & heat low ~ 7 hours. Use a masher to mash the cooked applesauce to a consistency you like. Refrigerate after cooling. Easy and most everyone likes it a lot. Enjoy…. I’ll be awaiting whatever dessert you care to send me 🙂

Wee Cook Wednesday: Pastie Time!

pastiesToday I found this link for a wonderful lunchtime or quick supper (if made ahead and frozen) treat at Aussie Therese’s blog. Pasties are a popular dish here in Michigan … a fair amount of work, but worth it!

I was especially intrigued by this recipe, which calls for puff pastry instead of pie dough (which can be a hassle). I’m “translating” the recipe into American measurements here:


1kg carrots (about 2 pounds, or 10-12 carrots)
1 kg potatoes (6-8 medium).
500 grams onions (3 medium onions).
18 sheets frozen puff pastry.
(For the carnivores in the crowd, you can also add 1 pound sausage or ground beef, cooked and drained well. Also, Michigan pasties often have small cubes of rutabegga — 1 medium sized root should do it. You’ll need more puff pastry if you add these things…)

Great for lunch boxes!