Thursday, July 29, 2010

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread, Coffee Talk!

Good morning!  I've had requests for zucchini recipes and the first thing that came to mind is zucchini bread.  This bread is hearty, made with whole grain, and freezes well. 

Imagine a nice visit with your girlfriend on the deck, a hot cup of coffee and a delicious piece of homemade zucchini bread.... (try to block out all the interruptions from the kids, fighting, crying, and questions)  Just be in the moment....

Back to reality.  Make this bread, you and your family will LOVE it!

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

1 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1) Preheat oven to 350’. Spray 7 mini loaf pans with Pam for Baking. Set aside.
2) In large mixing bowl, mix oil through zucchini, set aside.  Mix all remaining dry ingredients in medium bowl. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture all at once and mix until dry is just incorporated into wet. Divide evenly among mini loaf pans. Bake for 28-32 minutes. Toothpick should come out clean. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely and wrap tightly in cling wrap. Place into labeled and dated large freezer bag to freeze.

*you may add raisins, chocolate chips, or nuts if you wish. Add them to the dry ingredients. This will prevent them from all settling to the bottom.  You may need an additional pan depending on how much extra ingredient you add.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grilled Pepperoni Flat Bread Pizza....

Who doesn't love pizza?  How about wholesome pizza, made with real ingredients on a whole wheat flat bread?  No fussing with the dough.  I love to make homemade pizza dough, but working with a potentially sticky anything when it's so hot is completely unappealing!!!  We will go there in the fall, when we have agreeable temperatures.  Oh, did I mention you make this on the grill?  No need to heat up the house.  Top with your favorite ingredients.

Grilled Flat bread Pepperoni Pizza

1 package whole wheat flat bread (5 pieces)
2 cups homemade pizza sauce or canned (recipe below)
1 package sliced pepperoni
4-6 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1) Preheat grill on high for 5-10 minutes. Turn heat off of one section of grill for pizza.
2) Have all ingredients ready at the grill for quick assembly.
3) Place a flat bread on indirect heat, close lid for 2 minutes, give a flip. Spread a generous layer of pizza sauce over bread leaving a ½” boarder. Carefully top with shredded cheese and pepperoni. Close lid and allow to bake indirectly  for 8-10 minutes.  Makes 5 servings.  (if you have teens, this could be one!)

Grilled Margarita Flat Bread Pizza....

Grown up pizza anyone?  This is extremely delicious with the flavorful tomatoes and fresh basil available at this time of year.  This goes together in minutes.  Enjoy with a salad or serve as an appetizer at your next deck party.

Grilled Margarita Flatbread Pizza

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 fresh clove garlic, halved
1 package whole wheat flatbread (5 pcs.)
4-5 ripe plum tomatoes
2 large fresh mozzarella balls, sliced thinly, or 4-6 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 small bunch fresh basil

1) Place olive oil and sliced garlic in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
2) Preheat grill on high for 8-10 minutes, lower to medium heat and turn off half of the grill for indirect cooking.
3) Collect all ingredients on a tray and have ready at the grill. Place flatbread on the part of the grill without heat. Close lid for 2 minutes. Open, flip flatbread and brush with garlic infused olive oil, add a few slices of fresh mozzarella, and sliced tomatoes. Close lid for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add fresh basil leaves. Enjoy as a vegetarian entrée or an appetizer.

Homemade Pizza Sauce.....

It is totally worth making your own pizza sauce.  No unpronounceable ingredients or high fructose corn syrup in this sauce!  Label and freeze any leftovers for another time.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced finely
2 large cloves garlic, diced finely
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 pinches thyme
2 pinches red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 -6 ounce cans tomato paste
3 6 ounce cans water

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions when heated and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, cook about one minute. Add oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar. Cook about one minute, add tomato paste. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. This will caramelize the tomato paste. Add water, mix well, simmer about 5 minutes partially covered. Remove from heat. Makes 4 cups.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tantalizing Tidbits.....

Good morning!

I will be sharing one of my quick fix meals for a hot summer day.  Healthy and delicious!  Kids will absolutely FLIP!

Stay tuned.....

Monday, July 26, 2010

Our Garden, Pollinators.....

Honey Bee enjoying a Lantana Flower
I read this fabulous article (July 4th) in the Sunday section of the Chicago Tribune.  I've known for awhile that our precious pollinators were in jeopardy.  I see many, many different bees and insects in our garden. 
I thought I'd share some information on the subject with you today..

Do you realize how incredibly important pollinators are?  Most of us know that they were important for flowers, but what about food?  In the 1996 book The Forgotten Pollinators, Buchmann and Nabhan estimate that animal pollinators are needed for the reproduction of 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops..... Holy Geeze!  I did NOT know that!  I collected much of the information below from  The pictures are from my garden.

Here is a list of pollinators:

Bees-pollinate a wide range of crops including alfalfa, melons, soybeans, and tomatoes.  There are nearly 4,000 species of native ground and twig nesting bees in the U.S.    Some form colonies while others live and work alone.  It is essential that they have the following to survive:  nesting habitat, nectar, pollen, and water.  Different bees have varied tongue lengths that determine which flowers they can obtain nectar and pollen from.

Butterflies-they are mainly attracted to flowers that have a good landing platform.  They get essential minerals from moist or muddy soil.  They also love rotting fruit.

Monarch Butterfly
Monarch and Swollowtail Butterflies on cone flowers

Moths-they differ significantly from the butterfly.  Their bodies are more stout and they are quite hairy.  They are active at night and attracted to  sweet smelling flowers that open later afternoon or night. 

Beetles-they aren't as exciting to watch as butterflies or hummingbirds and most people do not try to attract them to their gardens.  They are often found on flower heads and sometimes can damage flowers, yet they do play a role in pollination.  Flowers they are most known to pollinate are Magnolia, sweet shrub, paw paws, and yellow pond lilies.

Flies-um, ewe!   No one wants to attract flies for goodness sakes, but they do play a part in pollinating small flowers in most habitats.  Plants pollinated by the fly include the American paw paw, dead horse arum, skunk cabbage, goldenrod and Queen Anne's Lace.

Birds-well, you know how much I love hummingbirds.  They would be the primary bird that play a roll in pollination in North America.  Their long beaks and tongues draw nectar  from tubular flowers.  Hummingbirds can see the color red, bees can't.  I plant plenty of red in my garden every spring and we've painted our Adirondack chairs red.  Check out how to plant your very own hummingbird garden.
Please do not kill bees.  Get to know the different species of bees.  Most bees are not interested in stinging you.  If you encounter a nest of aggressive bees, do not break out the can of Raid!   They are not insects to mess around with or tease.  Call an expert. 

Have a wonderful day!  Angie

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quick Pasta Supper.....

I love the simplicity of pasta.  This recipe is quick (takes only about 20 minutes) and you may use any vegetables you like.  I used a combination of fresh and frozen in this recipe.  Let's not forget the sun dried tomatoes, so flavorful.  No homemade stock?   Try using Better Than Bouillion.  There is a good amount of sodium in it so taste at the end before any additional seasoning. 

Pasta With Sun dried Tomatoes, Vegetables and Cheese

12 oz. whole wheat pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
5 thinly sliced sun dried tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup frozen spinach
1 cup frozen petite peas
Parmesan cheese

1) Place pan for pasta over medium high heat, add salt.
2) While water is heating, slice onions, mushrooms, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes. In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil. Cook onions for about 5 minutes, add mushrooms, cook about 5 minutes. Add garlic, dried tomatoes, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook a few minutes. Add broth, spinach, and peas. Heat through.
3) Cook pasta according to directions, drain. Add vegetable mixture to pasta, toss with cheese.
Serves 4.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Classic Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.....

What's not to love about pulled pork?  Well, for one thing, the fat.  I use lean pork loin roast, most recipes call for pork shoulder.    In addition to the lean meat, you don't have to work around all kinds of bones, grizzle, and large pieces of fat.  It makes for much quicker and healthier preparation. 

If you're entertaining a crowd, like most of us do in the summer, make this ahead and serve it warm in a crock pot.  If you have guests arriving at different times, say for a graduation party or open house, food will remain hot for every guest.  Serve with small rolls that are easy to eat and can withstand the juicy meat and slaw.  You do not want to use hard rolls as the filling would "squish" out when you bite into them.

The pork is sweet and spicy so I love to pair it with a simple red cabbage salad with slight acidity, it's a great flavor combination. 

The thing I love most about it is not having to cook while you have guests.  Sooooo simple!

Classic Pulled Pork Sandwiches
In the Slow Cooker

3 tablespoons canola oil
4 lbs. pork loin roast, cut in half
1 cup cider vinegar
¾ cup ketchup
½ cup dark molasses
½ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard or 1 tablespoon regular yellow
2 teaspoons granulated onion powder
2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1) Turn slow cooker on low. Season the pork roast with salt and pepper. Preheat large skillet over medium high heat and brown pork roast on all sides. Place meat in slow cooker.
2) Deglaze pan with a little water. Add all ingredients to the pan, mix well and bring to a bubble. Pour over meat and cover. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high 4-5 hours. Meat should be very tender.
3) Remove meat from cooker, set aside. Skim as much fat as possible from the top of the sauce.  (There will be very little)  Using two forks, shred pork and add back to sauce. Serve over soft mini buns. 1 1/4 lbs. of cooked pulled pork will easily feed a family of four.  Freeze leftovers for another hot busy day!

For the simple red cabbage slaw:

1 head of red cabbage
olive oil
cider vinegar
salt & pepper

Core the cabbage and very thinly slice.  Place in a large mixing bowl.  Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil over the cabbage.  Sprinkle two pinches of kosher salt and pepper over cabbage.  Gently toss to coat.  Drizzle one tablespoon over cabbage, toss.  Taste.  Add more seasoning if necessary.  Serve alongside the sandwiches.

*The reason for putting warm ingredients into the slow cooker is that time won't be wasted in the crock pot getting up to cooking temperature.
**If you've made the pork ahead, warm in microwave before putting intot he crock pot.  The crock pot is more for holding warm food,not for actual re warming.
***Freezes well

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tantalizing Tidbits.....

Good morning!  We're having some pretty intense heat these days.  It makes for an interesting dilemma of what to make for dinner.

Time to break out that slow cooker.  There are plenty of summer time dishes that can be done in that handy kitchen gadget without heating up your house, or yourself.

In the next couple of days I'll be sharing one of my family's favorite hot sandwich recipes.  It's the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.

A couple of other cool and delicious alternatives would be my Creamy Egg Salad with Yogurt  or my
Grilled Chicken Salad with Jicama and Creamy Lime Cilantro and Yogurt dressing

Look forward to some great slow cooker recipes!

Have a "cool" weekend!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Light Bleu Cheese Dressing or Dip.....

You simply have to try this dressing/dip recipe.  It is absolutely kidding, it's my favorite.  Compare this ingredient list to any bottled you've tried..made with real ingredients.  This will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator, although I doubt it will last that long!  Get your hands on some heirloom mini tomatoes, aren't they beautiful?  Try dipping spicy chicken wings in this dip, fantastic!!!

Bleu Cheese Dressing or Dip
1 cup plain low fat yogurt
2 tablespoons sour cream, use light if you wish
2 tablespoons olive oil mayonnaise, or any you may have
¼ cup bleu cheese crumbles
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate. Serve with crudités (fancy word for cut veggies) or use as a salad dressing. Great for dipping spicy chicken wings! Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 1 1/4 cup.

*add a little milk if it's too thick for salad dressing

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Essential Pantry List.....

I wanted to re-publish my pantry list.  I have these items on hand at all times.  For every item I use, I have a back up in my pantry.   Whenever I finish what's in the fridge or in my dry pantry, I put that item on my shopping list and retrieve my back up from my pantry.  I simply cannot stand completely running out of a staple.  I have a dry erase board on my refrigerator and I have a running list.   (I have kids you see, they suck any kind of memory you may have once had right out of you!)

Pantry Items

Whole wheat cappelini
Whole wheat elbow macaroni
Whole wheat soup noodles
Whole wheat penne
No boil lasagna noodles
Brown rice
Barley-quick cooking
Quick cooking oats
Unseasoned bread crumbs
Panko crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
Saltine crackers
Corn meal

Spices and seasonings
Granulated garlic
Granulated onion
Dried thyme
Dried oregano
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Smoked paprika (Penzey's)
Chipotle, ground (you can find the best at Penzey's)
Red pepper flakes
Dried parsley
Kosher salt
Sea salt-fine granules
Black pepper-ground
Black peppercorns
Lawry's seasoning salt
Sesame seeds

Peanut butter
Better than bouillon-small jar of concentrated chicken stock
Diced tomatoes-14 oz. cans (2)
Tomato paste- 6 oz. cans (2)
Black beans-15 oz. cans (2)
Re fried beans-14 oz. cans (2)
Red kidney beans-14 oz can (2)
Cannelli beans-15 oz. can  (2)
Olive oil
Canola oil
Cider vinegar
Balsamic vinegar
Liquid smoke
Red wine vinegar
Cooking spray
Canned pumpkin-15 oz. can (1-2)
Soy sauce-low sodium
Hoisin sauce
Dijon mustard
Pecans (Refrigerate)
Walnuts (Refrigerate)
Red Quinoa (Trader Joe's)
Canned salmon
Canned tuna

Baking items
Whole wheat flour
All purpose unbleached flour
Baking powder
Baking soda
Cream of tarter
Brown sugar
Semi sweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray with flour
Wheat germ
Cupcake liners
Evaporated milk (1)
Sweetened condensed milk (1)
Unflavored gelatin

Foils and wraps-
*keep an eye on the Sunday paper ads, often there are coupons for these items.

Parchment paper
Wax paper
Reynolds non stick foil-it’s fabulous!
Heavy duty foil, wide width
Freezer bags, large and small
Cling wrap-Saran is best

Frozen items
Petite peas
Broccoli crowns
Chopped spinach-loose, not in the block
Mixed vegetables

Greek non fat yogurt
Parmesan cheese

*do not buy or use canned goods that are dented*

Monday, July 12, 2010

Roasted Garlic & Cannelli Bean Hummus....

This is the perfect appetizer.  So easy, elegant, and quick.  Make ahead and serve right when your guests arrive.   Keep several varieties of canned beans on hand, they are so versatile and you can whip up this excellent hummus in a snap.  I especially love the cannelli beans (aka white kidney beans) because they are so creamy when you process them, no need for tahini, they are great with the few true ingredients in this recipe. I made the toasted baguette myself,  it's much more economical than those bags of pita chips or bagel chips.   Hummus keeps for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator.  Also delicious on sandwiches or as a dip on a vegetable tray.  Good fiber and all healthy.  As always, real ingredients. 

Roasted Garlic Hummus with Cannelli Beans

½ cup olive oil (don’t worry; this isn’t all going into recipe! Use later for cooking or in salad dressing, sooooo good!)
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons lemon juice, bottled or fresh
2 cans cannelli beans, drained but reserve liquid
½ teaspoon smoked paprika + an extra pinch for garnish
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1) In a very small sauce pan, add olive oil and fresh garlic. Cook on lowest setting of stove top until garlic is just soft and slightly brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
2) Into food processor, add about 2 tablespoons of the reserved garlic olive oil, lemon juice, roasted garlic cloves, cannelli beans, half of the reserved liquid from the beans, paprika, salt and pepper. Process until smooth; add more of the reserved bean liquid if necessary. Taste, add more salt and pepper if necessary.
3) When ready to serve, pour into a pretty serving dish. Drizzle some of the reserved garlic olive oil over hummus. For garnish sprinkle a pinch of smoked paprika over the top and finally, the chopped parsley. Beautiful! Serve with pita chips, warm pita bread, or your own toasted baguette.

Easy Baguette Toasts....

Delicious, economical, easy, very short ingredient list.

Toasted baguette

Baguette, day old or more is best
Olive oil
Kosher salt

1) Preheat oven to 300’.
2) Slice stale bread into ¼” slices. Put into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add a couple of pinches of kosher salt. Spread out over a large cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

*always refrigerate leftover breads to use for later, they will keep much longer.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Need I say more?

I am so upset, saddened, aggravated, and just plain mad at what's happening to our beautiful Gulf!  Check out this site to get information on how you can help and get this t shirt!  I feel so completely helpless watching our wildlife suffer, I can hardly stand it.

I recently spent a few days in Ft. Myers Beach, FL.  I saw the most beautiful birds and sea life right from a condo balcony.  The thought of that perfectly balanced eco system being in danger is unfathomable.

Wearing this shirt makes me feel like I am at least voicing my opinion!

Have a safe weekend.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Cook Once, Eat Twice.....

This is absolutely delicious!  Don't expect a sweet and sticky type barbecue.  The grilling at the start of the recipe is to sear the meat and add flavor.   The small amount of barbecue sauce makes for a rich au jus.  Serve with Mickey Potatoes, Oh My!  Serve a salad with a nice vinaigrette, it works well with the very savory meat and rich potatoes.  Enjoy!!

Fall Apart BBQ Beef

3-4 lb. sirloin beef roast, fat trimmed away
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon each: granulated garlic powder, granulated onion powder, dried oregano, salt, and pepper
½ cup Open Pit bbq sauce, original flavor
1 ½ cup water

1) Trim away any excess fat from roast. Rub roast with oil, coating evenly.
2) In small bowl mix all dry ingredients. Season roast with dry ingredients. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
3) Preheat grill for about 10 minutes. Grill roast on all sides so that you have some nice browning.
4) Place in dutch oven. Pour bbq sauce over roast and add water to pan. Place in 300’ oven for 3 ½ to 4 hours. Remove from oven and carefully place meat on cutting board. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Slice across grain using a sharp carving knife. Serve with au jus.  Shred leftover beef, label, date and freeze.

Beef Carnitas

2 teaspoons canola or olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 lb. leftover shredded beef
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup water
Juice of two limes
Chihuahua cheese
Corn tortillas

1)  Heat large skillet over medium heat, add onions; cook about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, cook one minute.  Add beef, cumin, paprika, and water.  Simmer until most of water is reduced.  Mix in juice of two limes.  Taste.  Adjust seasoning if necessary, you may need a little salt and pepper.  Serve over warm tortillas with cheese.  Serve with a fresh crisp salad with yogurt ranch dressing.

Mickey Potatoes.....

These are "Mickey Potatoes," named after my dear friend Mickey.  Being invited to her home for dinner is such a treat, she is an outstanding cook, baker, and friend.  Over the years, I have made these potatoes over and over again.  They are by far the most decadent and delicious potato I've ever had.  They are actually better the next day, so if you're planning a barbecue, make them a day ahead and simply warm in the oven uncovered at 350' for about 30 minutes.

Mickey and her husband Randy are avid travelers.  The photo above was taken in Turkey at Ephesus, an ancient Greek ruin.

Mickey Potatoes

2 teaspoons softened butter
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 ¼ lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
12 oz. shredded Gruyere Swiss cheese
Salt and pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream

1) Preheat oven to 375’. Generously butter a 2 quart baking dish. Crush garlic into dish and spread evenly around bottom.
2) Layer potatoes, salt and pepper, and Swiss cheese. Repeat, reserving plenty for the top.
3) Pour cream and milk over potatoes. Place in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Thank you Mickey!