Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Nut Bread (Mom's)

I've been waiting for Mom to jump on here and put this one up herself but she's a little computer challenged ;) so I'm just going to add this before we forget. It really is a great one. The zucchini/chocolate may sound like an odd combination, but really what you end up with is a very moist and delicious quick bread. Or muffin! The loaves make great gifts, the mini muffins make for a lazy and quick snack(no inconvenient cutting involved, just pop in your mouth!). My kids love these.

Mom's Choc Chip Zuke Nut Bread


3 eggs - beaten until light
Add: 1 1/2 cup sugar(I do more like 2)
3 tea vanilla
1 cup oil (I cut the oil to 2/3 cup and added another cup of zucchini)
Mix well

Add: 2 cups grated zucchini (I add almost 3 cups)

Add: 3 cups flour
1 tea salt
1 tea soda
1 tea baking powder
3 tea cinnamon (I also add some allspice and nutmeg)

Add: 3oz pkg instant chocolate pudding mix (I never have this on hand so I don't put it in personally)
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup choc chips (I add almost 1 cup )

Grease and flour the muffin tins or mini loaf pans(I find it doesn't work to try to make a larger loaf than the minis). Bake at 325 or 350 for 20min and check to see if done. I find the mini muffins are done at 325 and 20ish mins, the loaves take around 10min more. To check to see if they're done, take a toothpick and insert into center. If there's batter on it when you pull it out, isn't done! Also you'll notice the edges brown. Most times the entire top of my loaf is brown. Don't worry, it probably isn't burning.

Spinach Cheese Pasta

This is a tame pasta, good for kids(16g protein!). I'd think easily dressed up for adults, as well, if you were to use a ricotta cheese or something. Scott chime in with recommendations if you think of any. Personally I enjoyed it just as is; it is comforting. Quick to fix and doesn't have a ton in it. Good with a simple salad and crusty bread on a cool fall night.

Spinach Cheese Pasta, serves 8


1 (16 ounce) package extra wide egg noodles
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed (I did more like 5)
1 1/2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach (I used both packages)
1 (8 ounce) container cottage cheese
1 (3 ounce) package finely grated Parmesan cheese (Didn't end up putting this on top as I thought might be too much for the kids)


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente(took me more like 16min). Drain, and return to the pot.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and cook the garlic and spinach 3 to 5 minutes, until well coated(have spinach thawed prior and I prefer to saute the garlic first, then throw the spinach on top). Transfer to the pot with the drained pasta. Toss in the cottage cheese(everything is hot enough it'll warm up and melt the cheese). Top with Parmesan cheese to serve.

Gotta give credit where credit is due:

Apple Red Onion Chutney

We're 'bout to get crazy in 'har. I'm posting up 2 recipes, maybe 3. Maybe 4. Who knows just when the craziness will stop? First up is the chutney- I love this stuff and I don't usually like a chutney that well. Delicious on hotdogs or ham sandwiches. Pretty much you can sub this on whatever you're putting mustard on. Makes whatever you're putting it on taste like a million bucks!(slight exaggeration, I've never actually seen, held nor tasted a million bucks).

Apple Red Onion Chutney

Makes 1 lb

4 tbsp extra virigin olive oil
2lb red oinions thinly slices
6 tbsp sugar
2 apples
6 tbsp cider vinegar

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan and add onions. Stir in sugar and let cook uncovered over medium heat for 40min, stirring occaisionally until onions have softened.

Peel, core and grate apples. Add them to the pan with the vinegar and continue to cook for 20min or until the chutney is thick and sticky.

Spoon into sterilized jars and cover when cool. Label and store in fridge up to 1 month.

**Variation, add a cinnamon stick to the pan during cooking. Remove the stick before bottling.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cherry Garcia Cookies

I was craving ice cream and cookies one night. Instead, I ate some dried cherries (a little more healthy). The idea to make cookies with them came to mind and this is what I found. I tweaked it a bit, adding more semisweet chocolate chips and reducing the white chocolate ones. They came out really well.

Cherry Garcia Cookies

• 1 cup dried cherries
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1-1/2 cups flour
• 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar, (packed)
• 1 egg
• 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
• 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
• 1/2 cup coarsely-chopped macadamia nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Place dried cherries in a bowl soak in cherry liqueur overnight. Or, you can cover them with boiling water. Let sit 30 minutes to plump up. Drain well, pat dry, and coarsely chop.

Whisk together salt, baking soda, and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Beat in egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Add flour mixture to butter mixture half at a time and mix until combined. Fold in cherries, white chocolate chips, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and macadamia nuts. Refrigerate cookie dough 30 to 45 minutes to firm up.

Drop dough by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, placing cookies about 1-1/2 to 2 inches apart. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Cool 10 minutes on cookie sheets before removing to racks to cool completely. Store in a covered container.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stacy's Brazilian Soup

(as Blogspot hates me this evening, this is freakin take 2 in writing this all down!)

I am so proud! I did this myself! Ok, so I used one recipe and it's mismatched photo as a base but made up the rest based on what I had. Here is the base: and you can see in the pic, not so much the same thing according to the directions below the picture!

This is what I came up with using the base plus stuff in my kitchen that needed used or I thought sounded good:

8cu water
1 can black beans drained/rinsed
1 can pinto beans drained/rinsed
3-4 med. tomatoes chopped to desired size
1 sm-med. onion white or yellow(I had yellow)
3 green onions diced
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 bell pepper whatever size and color(I had a small green one from the garden)
1 pint corn(frozen from our garden!)
2-3 cu chopped zucchini(of course, from our garden LOL)
1 cu leftover cooked rice from an earlier meal
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp chili powder(used Penzey's medium hot, yum!)
1/2 tsp cumin ground or seed
salt and pepper to taste(sppose I ended up doing 1/2 tsp each)
1 tbsp lemon, lime or orange juice

*served with
tortilla chips
shredded cheddar cheese

Pretty much threw it all in the stock pot, save for the already cooked rice and green onions which I did the last 10 or so. Let it boil/simmer for 45min til it cooked down some. Then let each person add cheese and chips. The new thing for us? I put chunked avocado, mango and oranges on top of each person's served bowl. Sounds weird, was totally delicious(and thanks to that mismatched photo to the above recipe link!) This made quite a bit. We ate it for dinner and now have 2 meals in the freezer plus 2 servings for Isaac to take to work AND still more to share for the roommate and her boyfriend tomorrow. Pretty much you can take the base and do whatever you want with it, I imagine. A side note, this was so filling I have no idea what else you'd eat with it or why you'd even want to try!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Someone's in the Kitchen with Dina making Pepper Jelly, Someone's in the Kitchen I know, I know...

Anyone know just who was in the kitchen with Dina? I know who's not in the kitchen. Me. That's right. You know who is? My husband. That's right! I'm sitting on the couch writing to you while my loving husband seeds peppers for pepper jelly this evening. But don't feel too poorly for him, he didn't get to experience the *joys* of being an at home parent this week and all the shining moments that come with it. Like, a potty training toddler and corn and bean fed infants. Need I say more. Ah, but there is more! Because I am also a portable oven. How so? I am the Constant Baker, the 24/7 maker of one Bun to Be called Sam, somewhere around New Year's. Are you feeling sympathetic, yet? Say 'Yes' or I shall go into detail just what it means when I say corn and bean fed...

Back to the kitchen! Yesterday we made 11 pints of salsa using peppers and tomatoes from our garden. I'm not even positive what some of the peppers are, but we used them regardless. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, it's all about balance and creativity. Any taste-testing volunteers in a week or two? In truth, I find it difficult to eat my own fare as I am far too critical to actually enjoy it! Unfortunately we are to the end of the tomatoes and won't be making more salsa, but we do have peppers by the bushel. Say, 'Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers' seven times fast! Hence this evening's foray into Creative Pepper Jelly Making. This will be our second year making pepper jelly. Last year's (which I just got up the courage to try literally a week ago) was lacking in flavor and peppers. Plus a little too sweet due to the apple cider vinegar. I most enjoy a jelly with lots of peppers in it. It must have some bite, or by the time it's put over cream cheese it becomes too sickly sweet.

Pepper Jelly take #01 for this year has: 1 1/4 cu jalapenos, 1/2 chili pepper, 2 bananas(we think) and a 1/2 large red bell. All seeded and diced, currently looking lovely in my pot. Like a Christmas present, which this will most likely become. Add to this 2 cu white vinegar and 6 cu sugar. My thought on white versus apple is that it will hold it's color better and look pretty. If I had apple on hand I might do a batch of each just to taste test the difference. But we don't, so here's to hoping! Lastly, 1 pkg liquid pectin. We went on a limb here and picked up a box of Ball brand seeing as the Certo I bought a year ago was apparently to be used by 2006. I'm not sure if I'm more upset that in 2008, there was still a box of 2006 sitting there meaning no one else was canning or, now I can't use it because I checked the blasted date.

As far as the rest of the nitty gritty:

Fill a water bath canner about half full; add the empty canning jars (6 half-pint size) and bring to a boil. Lower heat and leave jars in the hot water. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add the lids; keep hot.
In a large stainless steel stockpot or kettle, combine vinegar, chopped/processed jalapeno peppers, and sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in the liquid pectin and return to a full rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle into the hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace and wipe jar rims with a wet paper towel. Fit with lids and screw on the bands firmly. Place the jars in the canner on a rack and add more boiling water to at least 1 inch above the jars.
Bring to a boil, cover, and keep boiling for 10 minutes. Note: 1-pint jars should be processed for 15 minutes. Makes about 6 half-pint (8 ounce) jars.

Cross your spatulas, throw some salt over your shoulder and dance the kitchen jig that this turns out! Before I forget- Just what does one do with pepper jelly? Put it on toast, meats, bagels. Most commonly you take a brick of softened cream cheese, throw it on a plate, pour a jar of jelly over it and serve with crackers. For anyone that's not tried it before, this might sound like a really strange combination but it is very, very addictive. Great for parties!

Be on the lookout for apple/red onion chutney in the next few weeks!

Broiled Parmesan Tilapia

Easy. Delicious. And I don't even like fish as a rule of thumb. Need I say more? This one's courtesy of and 'chef' Pheobe.

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (not your cheapy kraft kind! get the good stuff- 100% better)
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I never have lemons on hand, it's always from the concentrate and works as well)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon onion powder (I subb'd a clove of minced garlic. Can't go wrong with fresh garlic!)
1/8 teaspoon celery salt (Also didn't have on hand, used celery seed)
2 pounds tilapia fillets (Should be enough for 4 fillets)
bread crumbs to dust on top

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil. (Do the alum foil! So easy!)
In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.
Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. (I flipped once more and did for 1 more min since it seemed to need it) Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. (Here's where I dusted the tops with the bread crumbs) Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Served with diced, sauteed zucchini in olive oil seasoned with ground pepper and salt(just a little). Would be great with a salad and crusty bread, too! The first time I made this I don't know what I did but it wasn't as good(one big change was probably using real parm). Of course here the second time I made this for the kids and it came out perfectly I managed not to make enough for myself. For the love of Pete. Thankfully, I only briefly singed the pot holder on the element and managed a nickel sized burn on my hand from the baking dish.

Eat your fish! Mama says!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Italian Lasagna- by a Little Greek Grandma

Meat Filling:

2 T. Olive Oil

1 lb Italian sausage

½ lb ground beef

½ cup finely chopped onion

2-4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 T. sugar

1 T. salt

2 T. basil (fresh) (at end of sauce)

1 T. rosemary

1 t. dried oregano

1 t. thyme

½ t. fennel seed

¼ c. Parsley

¼ t. pepper

1 big can (2 lb 3 oz) 4 cups canned whole tomatoes (puree) , un-drained

12 oz tomato paste

½ cup water


1 T, salt

12 curly lasagna noodles (3/4 of 1 lb pack)

Ricotta Cheese layer:

16 oz ricotta

1 egg

½ t. salt

1 T. chopped Parsley


1 lb mozzarella cheese grated

¾ cup grated parmesan cheese


1) In a large, heavy pot (Dutch oven), add onion, garlic and meat. Mix together, breaking meat apart. Cook until meat is well browned. Remove excess fat.

2) Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs (not basil), sugar, salt and pepper and ½ cup water. Mash tomatoes with wooden spoon. Simmer covered for approximately 1 ½ hr until thick. Add basil.

3) Boil water for noodles, add salt when water comes to a boil, add noodles. Cook for 8-10 min (al dente). Drain and allow to cool.

4) In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, parsley, salt and mix.

5) Preheat oven to 375˚F

6) In a 13X9X2 baking dish layer the following:


Lasagna Noodles

Ricotta Cheese Layer


Repeat, adding Parmesan after the sauce layer. Finish with Mozzarella and Parmesan

7) Cover with foil and Bake 25 min, remove foil and bake 25 more minutes until fluffy. Cool 15 min before serving

Recipe: Pilafi - Greek Lemon Rice

Prounounced: "Pee-la-fee"

½ lb butter- yes you can do less, but why bother?
2 c uncooked long grain rice (Uncle Ben’s)
¾ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 cups hot water
3 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
Pepper to taste

Put everything in a pot, bring to a slight boil. Place lid on pot and allow to simmer for 17 min, taste to check the texture for doneness. Keep in mind that the rice cooks slightly after it’s off the stove.

This is a family favorite that my grandmother used to make for us whenever we needed a bit of "summer" in our bellies. It's especially delicious with Spanakopitakia!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Banana Muffins... that will change your life

Ten or so years ago, I came across a recipe book in my mom's cupboard titled Muffins and More. Some of the recipes are a little odd- but there are definitely delicious things to be found. Here are two recipes for banana muffins- one regular and one bran- that I've made SO many times. They always please. Now that I think of it, I should post the recipe for the pumpkin muffins sometime soon. But that is for another time.

Banana Muffins (regular)
1 3/4 cups - flour
1 tsp - baking soda
1/4 tsp- salt

1/2 cup- butter
1 1/4 cups- white sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup- sour cream
1 cup- mashed bananas (about 3)

How to:
It is pretty easy to whip up. Combine wet ingredients in one bowl, dry in the other. Make a "well" in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet (don't over-stir or you end up with large air pockets in your crumb).

Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full.

Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes. Will make about 16 muffins.

Banana Bran Muffins
1 cup- flour
1 cup- bran cereal
1 tsp- baking powder
1 tsp- baking soda
1/2 tsp- salt
2 tbsp- cocoa

1/4 cup- butter
1/2 cup- sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup- sour milk (1 tsp vinegar in 1/4 cup milk)
1 cup- mashed bananas (about 3)

How to make:
same story as the muffins above

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Most Dangerous Chocolate Cake In The World


1 Coffee Mug (Large works best)
4 tablespoons flour(that's plain flour, not self-rising)
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
(Double as needed for "fix")
Small splash of vanilla

Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well . Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well. Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla, and mix again. Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts. The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed! Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired. EAT! (this can serve 2 if you want to share, but WHY BOTHER?!) And why is this the most dangerous cake recipe in the world? Because now we are all only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake at any time of the day or night! I used a soup mug to make this, and it doesn't get up over the rim.....a large coffee mug works great! Also we have a half pint microwave, so I cooked ours at 8 minutes and it worked great! Kool Whip or whipped cream or ice cream on top works great! What a treat! The next one I do will have chopped nuts in it. This is so tasty!

-Stacy (I haven't personally tried this, yet, it was passed to me by a friend)

Lemon Baked Pasta- PW

I stumbled across this delicious dish the other day while perusing the Pioneer Woman's website. This dish is a delightful citrus twist on the traditional; very light, very lemony. Next time I will reduce the amount of noodles(recipe calls for 1lb) to half so there is more cream to noodles. Also, be careful not to overbake. In my effort to achieve the golden brown noddles on top, I did managed not only NOT to get golden brown noodles at all but baked too much of the moisture out. It is still edible and good, but not the desired texture that I know would be much better. Without further ado, the recipe!

Baked Lemon Pasta

1 pound thin spaghetti
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
2 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste if desired
Plenty of grated Parmesan cheese
Flat leaf parsley, chopped
Extra lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook spaghetti until al dente.
In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil over LOW HEAT. When butter is melted, add minced garlic. Squeeze lemon juice into the pan. Turn off heat. Add sour cream and stir mixture together. Add lemon zest and salt. Taste, then add more salt if necessary.
Pour mixture over drained spaghetti and stir together, then pour spaghetti into an oven safe dish. Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for an additional 7 to 10 minutes. (Don’t bake too long or the pasta will dry out.)When you remove it from the oven, squeeze a little more lemon juice over the top.Top generously with Parmesan cheese, then chopped parsley. Give it a final squeeze of lemon juice at the end.
Serve with crusty French bread and a simple green salad.

If you are a sucker for delicious pictures, follow this: