Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins


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Still have zucchini from your garden? Thinking about Fall? This baked treat is a perfect combination.

I was having thoughts of Fall this weekend. Fair season is starting up and all things pumpkin will be here before we know it! However, I'm still in full on zucchini mode over here, so my search for a combination of the two led me to this recipe.

I added a few spices and cinnamon chips to bring on even more Fall flavor. These muffins are super moist, and are going to be the perfect comforting treat for those long work and school days this week.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 24 muffin cups with baking spray, or alternately line with cupcake liner, and set aside.

Combine eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until well combined.

Add dry ingredients to bowl of stand mixer. Mix on low until just incorporated.

Add zucchini and cinnamon chips to batter and mix until incorporated.

Pour evenly into muffin cups (approx. 1/3 cup per cup). Reduce oven to 325F degrees and bake for 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean (or with a few crumbs, but no batter). Remove from oven and tilt each muffin in it's muffin cup to cool. Makes 24 muffins.

Alternately, you could bake this in 2 loaf pans for 50-60 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Spend with Pennies

Basil Pesto


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Pesto is relatively new to me. It's really only been on my radar for the last year and boy how we've made sure to make up for lost time. Last year's garden produced so much basil I was at a loss for what to do with it. Enter the ideas of my trusty blogging friends and we've got pesto for the whole year.

This year our garden didn't produce as much basil, but we still had an armful that needed to be picked and put up for future use. Since pesto became such a big hit in our house, it was a no-brainer what I'd do with this years bundle of basil.

This is more of a method vs. real recipe since the texture and flavor is up to you. Some of my favorite ways to use this pesto are:
  • Toss with hot pasta and a splash of half and half
  • Toss a cube or 2 into some roasted cherry tomatoes for a fresh tasting pasta sauce (with or without zucchini)
  • Use as a marinade for chicken
  • Add a few cubes to an easy foil packet meal of shrimp and vegetables over rice
Here is what you'll need:
  • 5-7 garlic cloves
  • ~1/3 cup Parmesan, Pecorino and or Romano cheeses
  • ~1/3 cup nuts (I've used pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews are especially delicious!)
  • ~1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
  • a few handfuls of basil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
Place garlic, cheese, nuts and oil in food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.

Add basil and pulse until smooth or your desired texture. Add salt and pepper to taste. You may need to add some olive oil to smooth out the texture.

Use immediately, or spoon into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze. Once frozen, remove from ice cube tray and store in the freezer in a ziplock bag. 

When you are ready to use it, take it out of the freezer that morning, or the night before, and place in the refrigerator to thaw. I've stored this up to 1 year in the freezer with good results. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Source: Adapted from Epicurious

Canning: Strawberry Rhubarb Jam


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Remember those 7 lbs of strawberries? Ice cream and cake wasn't enough to use them all up, for that matter making jam didn't finish them up either. However, this jam did make a big dent in the remaining berries.

I've been wanting to make jam for awhile, and when Heather suggested Strawberry Rhubarb Jam it was perfect since I had some rhubarb in the freezer. My sister declared this the best jam she has ever eaten (homemade or store bought). If that isn't enough to convince you to try it, I'm not sure what would.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 2 cups whole strawberries, crushed
  • 2 cups rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp classic pectin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 1/2 cups granulated sugar
To prep jars for canning, heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

In a large stainless steel pot, combine strawberries, rhubarb and lemon juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved.

Bring to a boil over high heat stirring often. Add sugar and cinnamon, and return to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute while stirring.

Remove from heat and skim foam if necessary.

To Can:

Remove hot jars from water. Ladle hot jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles by running a sterile knife around the inside of the jar. Wipe rim clean. Center lid on jar. Apply band and tighten until just tight (do not force).

Place jars in boiling water bath making sure water covers jars by at least 1 inch. Process jars in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and set aside to cool.

After 24 hours, remove bands and check lids for seal. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed and lids should stay intact when lifting jar by the lid. Store on a cool, dark shelf.

Makes ~ 6 half-pints.
Source: Ball's Blue Book Guide to Preserving as seen on Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks

Strawberry Summer Cake


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Cake or pie? Given the choice, I always choose pie and pie is what I was looking to make with our strawberries. That was until JR caught wind of my plans. Cake is his preference, and since I knew he'd more than likely be eating the majority of this treat, I went ahead and fulfilled his request.

I was pretty sold on this cake after reading the reviews. It was described as  having a "jammy" top and well, I do love anything strawberry jam! Plus, this was super simple to make which is a bonus in my book!

I'm rethinking my always choose pie decision. We gobbled this cake up at a very fast pace and I'm willing to bet you will too when you make it. It's already on my list of things to make when our short late strawberry season comes around in a few weeks.

Here is what you'll need:
  •  6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cup strawberries, stemmed and halved 
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 8x8 glass baking dish and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy, approx. 3 minutes. Add the egg, milk and almond extract and beat until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture and beat until well incorporated.

Pour batter into greased baking dish. Place strawberries cut side down on top of batter. Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp sugar.

Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 325F and continue baking for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick insert comes out clean (it may have some strawberry on it, but no wet batter should be visible). Cool on a wire rack before serving. Serves ~ 9.

Source: Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart as seen on Smitten Kitchen

Sweet Cream Strawberry Ice Cream (Lactose Free)


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JR and I went strawberry picking this year for the first time together. There is a very popular place around, and since I imagined it would be packed with people I sought out a smaller local farm that was actually closer to home. I loved driving up and seeing the little hand painted wooden strawberry sign hanging on the side of the road.

Remember I said JR and I went, well, he sort of just directed me while I picked. It was funny when a lady a row over from us asked if he was actually helping or not. I think his idea of helping is the eating part after. This is fine by me because there would be a lot of eating after picking 7 lbs of berries!

I sought out recipes from my cooking board friends because I knew they'd have the best recipes to share. It's funny, one of the ice cream recipes I read stated they were making it for milkshakes, and that is exactly what JR asked for. Besides cake, which will come in another post.

This recipe was an experiment in the sense that I was trying to make it lactose free. I know some people will turn their nose up at using coffee creamer, so go ahead and use real cream instead (as long as you don't care about it being lactose free). Since JR can be a "picky pants", I was going more for flavor over healthy here. Who am I kidding, ice cream isn't exactly healthy to begin with!

My experiment worked for the most part. Why for the most part? Like it's name suggests, this ice cream is sweet, so adding milk for a milkshake helped subdue the sweetness, and the texture lends better to milkshakes vs. eating. While I'd prefer my ice cream straight up, a milkshake works too!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 3 3/4 cups whole strawberries
  • 3 Tbsp agave
  • 1 cup 2% reduced fat lactose free milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup Italian Sweet Cream coffee creamer
  • 2 tsp Kirsch, optional
Place strawberries and agave in a medium pot and cook over medium heat until strawberries are softened and begin to break down. Allow to cool and puree in blender. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, warm milk, sugar and vanilla bean with scrapings. Once warmed, remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolks in another mixing bowl. Slowly add warm milk mixture to egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan. Heat saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Pour coffee creamer into a large mixing bowl. Place a mesh strainer over bowl. Pour custard through the strainer.

Make an ice bath of ice and water in another large mixing bowl. Place bowl of custard into the ice bath. Stir custard over ice bath until cooled. Place custard in the refrigerator to chill completely.

Remove custard from refrigerator and stir in Kirsch. Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Freeze in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the ice cream to keep ice crystals from forming.

Source: Adapted from David Lebovitz