……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Zucchini Bread August 28, 2011

The plant continues to grow and grow and grow. And I continue to give squash away.

And yet, there are pounds and pounds and pounds of it on my counter.  [This story is certainly getting old, isn’t it?]

So, I’m whipping up batches and batches of zucchini squash bread. (The boyfriend’s uncle told me it doesn’t matter if you use zucchini or summer squash – and he’s correct.) And, here are three different recipes that have turned out ok.
 Light Lemon Zucchini Bread

Really light, moist, lemon-y zucchini bread that’s heavier on the squash than on the bread

2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp lemon zest, or 1 tsp lemon juice

Mix together all wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Then combine all together, being careful not to mix too much. Bake in a greased loaf pan at 325 for 45-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Paula Deen’s Zucchini Bread (with less sugar)
I think this is my favorite. It’s really a classic recipe that makes for some great snacks.

3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1.5 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup water
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, water, zucchini, and lemon juice. Mix wet ingredients into dry, add nuts and fold in. Bake in 2 greased loaf pans for 1 hour at 350, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Bread
Solid recipe for zucchini bread – though it can’t compete with Paula’s, even with less sugar

3 eggs
1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Beat eggs, then add in oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla. Combine all dry ingredients separately. Then, stir all ingredients together and fold in nuts. Bake the mixture at 350 in two loaf pans for 60 minutes, or in 24 muffins for 25-35 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


Summer Crostini – Four Variations July 13, 2011

The way to trick people into eating whatever weird flavor combination you feel like is to serve everything in small pieces, hence why I love tasting dishes. It’s also the reason that I currently love crostini.

At a recent brunch, I got to make 4 different kinds – both sweeter and more savory, which made for a nice brunch combo.

People ate all of them.

I’d recommend these at all hours. (Also, the basic ingredients needed are portable enough you can assemble and eat them at work.) Put some together immediately.

These ingredient recipes are written as they are assembled, from bottom to top.

Peach and Proscuitto Crostini

Sliced baguette
Ripe peach slices
Strips of prosciutto (stays on best when wrapped around the peach slice)
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of honey

Thyme Apple Crostini

Sliced whole wheat or rye baguette/small pieces of bread
Gruyere (preferably melted on top of the bread in the broiler)
Fresh thyme leaves
Apple slices

Goat Cheese and Tomato Crostini

Sliced baguette
Goat cheese (do not buy the pre-crumbled kind – you need to be able to spread this)
Fresh basil leaves
Sliced sundried tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper

Pear Walnut Crostini

Sliced whole wheat baguette
Pear slices
Large walnut pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of honey


Vintage Oatmeal Everything Cookies July 7, 2011

This recipe for oatmeal cookies will not change your life. It will not make you suddenly like oatmeal. You will not feel the need to discard any other oatmeal cookie recipes you have if you try these.

Still, I like this recipe…if only because it’s incredibly flexible and forgiving. I can put literally whatever I want in these cookies, and they happily accept the ingredients. And since for me, cookies are primarily about the mix-ins, these are pretty wonderful.

On the 3×5 card my grandmother typed up for my mother (back when you gave people typewritten 3×5 cards with recipes), it says “Add nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, dried fruit, etc. as taste dictates.” What a perfect sentence to have on a recipe card.

So, if you’re looking for a simple oatmeal cookie you can deck out in whatever you want, check these suckers out.

Vintage Oatmeal Everything Cookies

1 cup shortening or butter [the fact that this recipe calls for shortening and, on the original family recipe, has all the ingredients that you need one cup of in a line is what makes this a vintage recipe to me. plus it’s totally not gourmet; it’s just homey and inexpensive to make]
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
3 cups oats
2 – 2.5 cups whatever [Most recently, I did walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, and coconut]

*Note: I hate nutmeg in oatmeal cookies, so I prefer this recipe since it doesn’t call for it. I’m sure you could throw it in if you like to muddle the taste of your chocolate chips.

Cream butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl. [This is a recipe that you want a Kitchen Aid for–it’s a lot of heavy dough to blend by hand, and it would probably kill your electric hand mixer.] Blend in egg and vanilla. Separately, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Then add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Add oats and other mix ins, stirring in thoroughly. [If you’re using an electric mixer, you may want to do this step by hand.]

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 13-16 minutes, depending on your oven.


Tofu Scramble July 3, 2011

This recipe is blatantly lifted from the Post Punk Kitchen’s wonderful website/cookbook here.  I added chickpeas and cauliflower to the mix to give the egg-ish texture some contrast. Also changed the spices according to what I have/like (more cayenne and garlic powder, please).  I think this recipe is a really easy way to explore some different methods of making tofu if you’re new to the game– the stuff doesn’t necessarily have to be fried/baked/roasted in little cubes all the time.

Note: I omitted the nutritional yeast from the original recipe (it weirds me out), so if you aren’t vegan feel free to add some shredded cheese to this. If you are vegan though, the nutritional yeast gives it a slightly cheesy flavor.

1 medium onion, diced

1 lb extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed and pressed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup cauliflower, chopped roughly

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 16 oz. can chickpeas

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons each curry powder, cumin, black pepper, crushed red pepper

In a large wok or skillet, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil on high heat until softened. Add the mushrooms and cauliflower and stir the mixture while it cooks, eventually turning the heat to medium as the mushrooms brown. Season to taste as you go (you might use more than 2 teaspoons of each listed spice).  Then crumble the block of pressed tofu into the skillet so that the texture is a bit chunky and continue cooking on high heat while stirring the mixture. Make sure the tofu is coated with the spices, and then add the water to keep the mixture moist. This takes about 15 minutes to cook through, so continue seasoning and stirring as you see fit, and then add the chickpeas. Keep on low heat long enough to get the chickpeas warmed, and serve immediately. This keeps for about a week and tastes really great with sriracha the next day.


Summer Brunch July 2, 2011

Filed under: Brunch — krandle @ 12:43 pm
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After way too many weeks of planning, my big summer brunch finally happened. The credit for inspiring the brunch goes to Madame Fromage – her post about brunch got me thinking about having a get together for a bunch of our friends-who-we-really-like-but-don’t-fit-into-a-friend-group people over. And, I only like nice, interesting people, I think everyone had an alright time. [And if they didn’t, they at least left full.]

I followed lots of different brunch recommendations when planning the menu and whatnot; per usual, BGSK came to the rescue with a lot of great suggestions. I ended up assembling a quiche to be baked a week in advance (and freezing it in the meantime), doing all my quickbreads and cookies a day or two before, and doing light assembly the day of the brunch, which cut down on the stress of having a brunch for 10 (as much as you can cut down on that stress when you’re doing it for the first time). Doing prep beforehand was also nice since I could rope the boyfriend into pitching in ahead of time when we could be a little more relaxed about getting everything done.

[I really have nothing witty to say about this brunch – it was a lot of fun and a lot of work – but I’m terribly thrilled about how it turned out, so I didn’t quite want to quit bragging about it…]

Anyhow, in case you want to see a really delicious brunch menu, or want to link to the specific recipes, see below.

Summer Brunch for 10

Strawberry and Blackberry Bellinis

4 Types of Summer Crostini


Banana Bread Muffins


Aztec Quiche


Oatmeal Cookies

Shaved Squash Salad [ok, I made this for the brunch, but forgot to take it out the fridge. It still counts.]

Chocolate Peanut Butter Trifle


Really Green Quiche July 1, 2011

We’ve been featuring a couple of different quiche recipes recently (namely, K’s delicious takes on the dish involving kale and mushrooms as well as a basic standby). I’m adding another one to the mix because 1. you can’t have enough egg recipes, 2. I need to make something that keeps well (a nasty sprained foot has kept me off my feet and out of the kitchen for a little bit) and 3. I have a ton of raw greens and too much cheese at the moment (not necessarily a bad thing!)

The crust for this is store-bought in the refrigerated section… hypocritical, I know. (My last quiche recipe stressed the merits of making your own, and I still think it’s a good idea to do it when you can.) We all have our days though, and injury trumps effort for the moment.

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded fresh spinach

1 1/2 cups shredded fresh kale

1/2 cup black olives, cut in half or whole

1/2 cup cauliflower, large pieces cut in half

1/2 cup orange bell peppers, sliced

1 medium onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Black pepper, garlic powder, paprika to taste. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out the pie crust and place in a 9″ pie plate and set aside.  Start prepping the filling by sauteing the onion in olive and adding the greens.  Saute until wilted, spice to taste, and remove from heat.  Dice the remaining vegetables. (Feel free to substitute according to what you have!)  Then, whisk the eggs together and stir in the milk. Layer the greens/onion and remaining vegetables into the pie shell and pour the egg mixture evenly over everything. Bake in the oven, uncovered, for  40-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the eggs have set. Serve with a salad and enjoy that heaping dose of iron-laden veggies.


Aztec Quiche June 17, 2011

This recipe is from my mom. It’s one of the first recipes that I typed down off of her recipe cards after I got my first kitchen in college and I’ve been making it pretty frequently ever since. M has eaten this quiche more than once, and even she has never complained about the calories because it’s just too tasty to care. I don’t really know why it’s Aztec quiche, but whatever – just go with it. It’s so delicious that you won’t care what it’s called. Green chilies and cumin are some of my favorite flavors, and in this fantastically easy dish, things are no different.

The most beautiful thing about this quiche is that it can be frozen for a few weeks with no deterioration in its flavor or consistency. When you pull it out of the freezer, thaw it, and bake it, it tastes just as good as if you’d baked it immediately after you assembled it. And, when you’re hosting a big brunch, having a frozen quiche that you just have to defrost and bake is ideal since it allows you to spread out prep time.

Yes, it does go so fast that you don't have time to take a photo of it when you put it out at a brunch table

Aztec Quiche

2 1/2 cups grated cheese (a blend of 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack and 1 cup cheddar works particularly well; this time, I used 2 cups smoked Gouda and 1/2 cup Monterey Jack)
Pie shell (I buy a refrigerated pie crust round from the store, then put it in the pan I’m going to use)
4 oz. can diced green chilies
1 cup half and half
3 eggs, beaten lightly
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin, or more to taste

Spread 2 cups cheese over the bottom of the pie shell. Sprinkle diced chilies over the cheese. In a separate bowl, combine the half and half, eggs, and seasonings. Pour carefully into the pie shell and top with the remaining cheese. Freeze.

When thawed (or if you opt not to freeze), bake uncovered at 325 for 40-60 minutes.