dessert

Giant Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Let me be clear. The bread is normal size- the zucchini are giant. Even the most diligent of gardeners will have a few zucchini get away from them.

Zucchini seem to go from too small to gigantic in the blink of an eye. A friend just brought me a bag of really big zucchini.

This time of year I get a lot of questions about overgrown zucchini.  People seem to think there is nothing you can do with them. That’s not true. Even older squash can be eaten in all sorts of ways.

You can determine if the skin is too tough to eat by trying to pierce it with a fingernail. If you can easily poke the skin- it is tender enough to eat. If it isn’t, just peel before using.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and look at the seed cavity. If the middle looks spongy, hollow or if the seeds are developing scoop out the middle and discard. The remaining zucchini can be cubed or sliced and added to stews, soups, stir fries and all sorts of dishes.

One of my favorite things to make with the bigger zucchini, is zucchini bread. I shred up a whole zucchini and portion it out in amounts I will need for my bread. I freeze what I won’t be using that day. It is really nice in the dead of winter to be able to make zucchini bread. Here is the recipe I use. It is a favorite and makes 2 loaves, which is a bonus.

Zucchini Bread

3 c. flour

3 eggs

2 c. sugar, I use less

2 c. shredded zucchini

1 c. oil

1 c. chopped nuts or raisins, optional

½ c. sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 t. each vanilla, cinnamon, salt and baking soda

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 (9×5 inch) loaf pans. Set aside. Place flour in large bowl. Beat eggs and add with remaining ingredients to flour, mixing well and scraping bowl. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake 1 hour , or until browned and toothpick in center emerges clean. Cool in pans on wire rack. Freezes well. Makes 2 .

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Spiced Chococlate Zucchini Cupcakes

It’s that time of year. Zucchini time. Maybe I should call it, “What do I do with all my zucchini time?” Zucchini and other summer squash are in abundance right now. This recipe is another, tasty way, to use them.

These are wonderfully spiced, moist cupcakes. Instead of frosting them, I decided to top them with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.  It’s something I’ve done with muffins, in the past. I didn’t see why I couldn’t do the same thing with cupcakes.

It was a really good idea. The cupcakes were baked for a picnic, and in the heat, frosting would have melted. Besides, not everyone likes frosting.

As an added bonus- it is a another recipe using zucchini, and that is never a bad thing.

 

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
¼ c. unsweetened cocoa
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup olive oil
1½ c. sugar
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk
1½ t. vanilla
2½ c. grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
Topping:
½ c. butter, melted
½ c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 24 muffin cups or use paper liners. Mix together the dry ingredients. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, olive oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture, just until incorporated. Stir in the grated zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top of the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans over a wire rack for at least 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Dip top of cupcakes in melted butter, then dip in the cinnamon sugar. Place on rack to finish cooling off. Makes 24.

Blueberry Cupcakes

Blueberry Cupcakes

I wanted to make dessert for a lunch I had planned with friends. Since they both love blueberries, I thought I might try making blueberry cupcakes. I started by making my classic vanilla cupcakes, then topping them with blueberries just before baking. The berries fell into the batter during baking, just as I had hoped.

The result was moist, tender cupcakes with a pop of fresh blueberries. I also used a simple vanilla buttercream and dressed them up with a few berries on top. I was really pleased at how they came out. My guests were, too.

 

Blueberry Cupcakes

 

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

About 1 cup of blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12paper liners. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Top each cupcake with 5 blueberries. Fewer if the berries are really big. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they springs back to the touch.  Cool before frosting. Frost with the buttercream- recipe follows-  and top with a few extra fresh blueberries. Makes 12.

 

Vanilla Butter Cream

½ c. butter

4 1/2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 T. vanilla extract

In a bowl beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the vanilla. Slowly beat in remaining sugar. Beat in a little  milk, if needed, to make of spreading consistency. Tint with food color, if desired.

Fresh out of the oven

Peaches and Cream Crepes

Peaches and Cream Crepes

Peaches are such a natural addition to any summer dessert. I decided to use some of my fresh peaches in crepes. Crepes are a nice dessert any time of the year. I think especially nice in summer, using fresh, seasonal fruit.

 

The crepes were filled with peeled, sliced peaches that had been tossed with sugar ahead of time. The sugar softens the peaches a little.  I also added some sweetened cream cheese and a little strawberry jam to the filling. We loved them.

 

They can be assembled ahead of time, and just kept chilled until ready to serve.  Serve as is, with a dusting of powdered sugar or even a vanilla caramel drizzle- recipe follows.

 

Peaches and Cream Crepes

1 recipe basic crepes- recipe follows
2-3 peaches, pitted and sliced thin
¼ c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ c. powdered sugar
Strawberry jam, optional

Make a batch of basic crepes and set aside until ready to use. Place sliced peaches in a bowl with sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and stir until sugar is dissolved. Best to do this at least a couple of hours before you want to use them. This softens the peaches and allows juices to come out of the peaches. You need the juices for the cream cheese. You can do this the day before, then just finish the cream cheese and assemble.
Place cream cheese in a bowl and start beating with an electric mixer. Drain juices off the peaches and add the juice to the cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar, too. Beat until cream cheese is fluffy.

To assemble the crepes: Place a crepe on work surface. Spread with some of the cream cheese. Along one side of the crepe place a small amount of strawberry jam, like a stripe. Place several slices of peach in a row, on top of the strawberry jam. Starting on the side of the crepe with the peaches gently roll up the crepe. Repeat with remaining ingredients. You will have 12. Serve as is, or you can top with powdered sugar, peach slices, warm jam, whipped or caramel sauce – recipe follows.

Basic Crepes

3/4 c. flour
1/8 t. salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 T. melted butter
3/4 c. milk, approximately
Butter or oil for pan

Beat together flour, salt and eggs until smooth. Stir in melted butter and then stir in milk until batter consistency is that of cream. Let stand for 30 minutes before using, or can be refrigerated, covered, overnight. Beat again, just before using.
Heat 6 or 7 inch skillet. Brush with butter or oil and pour in about 2 teaspoons of batter, tipping pan to cover bottom of pan completely with batter. Cook until edges start to brown, turn over and cook until lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side.)
Crepes can be made day ahead or even frozen between sheets of waxed paper and frozen. Makes 12.

 

Vanilla Caramel

I made a light caramel sauce for the crepes. I just put 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan with a cup of sugar. Boiled it all together for about 3 minutes. Removed from the heat and added a teaspoon of vanilla, 4 tablespoons of butter and a 1/4 cup of half and half. Stirred until smooth, then added a pinch of salt, for extra flavor.

Crepes with a vanilla caramel drizzle

Peanut Butter Coconut Shortbread – Vegan!

Peanut Butter Coconut Shortbread

I knew I was going to be spending some time with my Goddaughter and I wanted to bake something for her. I actually made her great grandmother’s shortbread recipe. She always loved them. Did I mention that Gwen is vegan?  So the pound of butter normally used in them was out.

I needed to change them, to make them work for her.  Rather than using butter, I used a combination of crunchy peanut butter and coconut oil.

They came out just right, with the crumbly, dry texture of a traditional shortbread and the added flavor of the peanut butter, coconut and vanilla.

I used crunchy peanut butter- it was what I had. I like the bits of peanuts in the cookies. I could see adding a few more chopped peanuts the next time I make these cookies

 

Peanut Butter-Coconut Shortbread

1 c. sugar, plus 1/4 cup extra for sprinkling

1 c. peanut butter

1 c. coconut oil

4 c. flour

2 t. vanilla

Cream together sugar, peanut butter, coconut oil and vanilla. Stir in flour until mixture forms into a dough. Press into 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle extra sugar over the cookies dough, and cut into squares. Bake in a 300 degree oven for an hour or until light brown around edges. Re-cut while warm. Makes 4 dozen.

Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

Vanilla Cupcake with White Chocolate Frosting

Tomorrow is another camp day- and another day of making cupcakes with kids. I am really looking forward to it. The kids always have a great time and get very creative.

I must admit to being a sucker for the classics. This cupcake is certainly a classic.

I normally top them with a vanilla buttercream, but decided to make a white chocolate frosting instead. Yes, I know white “chocolate” is not really chocolate. But when I say white chocolate, everyone knows what I am talking about.

I used a white chocolate bar- and broke it into pieces, before melting, but you could you use white chocolate chips instead. The frosting has a really nice flavor and fluffy texture, without being too sweet. These cupcakes are always a hit.

Classic White (Vanilla)  Cupcakes

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12paper liners. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when they springs back to the touch. Makes12

White Chocolate Frosting

6 oz. white chocolate – if using bars, chop before melting
1 stick (4 oz.) cold butter, cut into cubes
1-2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Melt chocolate. I just melt mine in a microwave safe dish, but you can use a double boiler. Let chocolate cool down a little. Beat butter into the melted chocolate. Beat until smooth and then beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip until frosting is smooth and fluffy. I normally beat for 5 minutes or longer. If too thick, add a few drops of water or milk.

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

With blueberry season here, I had to make these rolls. These are a favorite recipe of mine. They are not too sweet, even with a powdered sugar glaze. Great for brunch or breakfast. Sweet enough to be dessert, too.

The base of the rolls is a rich, yeast dough. The dough is divided in half, rolled out, then brushed with butter. Then the dough is sprinkled  with cinnamon sugar and topped with blueberries. The dough is rolled up, jelly roll fashion, then sliced into rolls.

The rolls are baked in 2 (9-inch) cake pans. The recipe makes 24 blueberry rolls.

I used fresh berries, but frozen work well, too. A good reason to buy extra berries and freeze them!! 

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

3-3 1/2 c. bread flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/3 c. evaporated milk
6 T. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. salt
1 egg
6 T. butter, melted

1/2 c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. grated lemon or orange peel
2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

In bowl combine 1 1/2 c. of the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Heat together the milk and 2T. of the butter until warm and add to the flour mixture, beating 2 minutes. Add egg and beat 2 minutes longer. By hand stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed until dough becomes moderately stiff. Place in greased bowl, turning once to coat and cover. Allow to double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down, cover, and let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 14×8 inch rectangle. Brush dough with the melted butter. Combine the remaining sugar, peel and cinnamon and sprinkle over the dough. Top with the blueberries and press the berries into the dough. Starting at the long side roll up dough jelly roll fashion and seal edge by pinching. Repeat with second roll. Cut each roll into 12 slices and place 12 rolls in greased 9 inch round pans. Cover pans and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. While rolls are warm, you can top with a powder sugar glaze, if desired. Makes 24.

Fresh Peach Scones

Fresh Peach Scones

I’ve really been in the mood to make scones lately. It has been hot, so I haven’t been baking as much. Scones bake pretty quickly, though. These were well worth heating up the kitchen for a little while. Since I had some beautiful peaches, I decided to use them in the batter.

They worked out even better than I had hoped. I added cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves into the dough, for a little extra flavor. Nicely complimented the sweetness of the peaches.

 

These are wonderful for breakfast, brunch or with tea or coffee. They would also make a nice base for shortcake. I could see them with berries and whipped cream for a perfect summer dessert.

I used a 2 oz. cookie scoop and got 25 scones. You could make them bigger, just increase the baking time a couple of minutes. I also placed only one baking sheet in the oven at a time. You could put both in at once, but reverse the rack you have them on- half way through baking- so they bake more evenly. Also, if both trays are in the oven at once, increase baking time a couple of minutes.

 

Fresh Peach Scones

 

3 cups flour

½ c. sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 t. cinnamon

1 t. nutmeg

Pinch of cloves

½ t. salt

10 T. cold butter (1 stick plus two tablespoons)

¾ c. half and half or milk

1 egg

1½ t. vanilla

1½ c. peeled, chopped peaches – about 3-4 peaches

Glaze:

2 c. powdered sugar

About 2-3 T. half and half

1 t. vanilla

 

Preheat oven to 425. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or use silicone liners. In a bowl, place the dry ingredients and stir to mix. Cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs.  Make a well in the center and stir in half and half, vanilla and egg. Stir to make a soft dough. Fold in peaches.  Use ice cream scoop to make scones, placing scoops of dough onto baking sheets.  Bake until browned – 14-16 minutes. Cool on a rack. Make glaze and dip tops of scones in glaze  or drizzle it over them.  Makes  22-25 depending on size.

Cherry Pie Blintzes

Cherry Pie Blintzes

With cherries in season, I have been using them in all sorts of dishes.  I think these blintzes are one of my favorites.  They make a great dessert. I just dusted them with powdered sugar, but you can also top them with ice cream or whipped cream. They remind me a warm cherry pie.

Blintzes also make a great breakfast or brunch dish.

I didn’t use a lot of sugar in my pie filling because I was using sweet cherries. I also think with the powdered sugar on top, they are sweet enough. Adjust the sugar in the recipe to suit your own taste. If using tart cherries, you will want to add a little more sugar.

They are easy to make, too. We made them in cooking camp this week and the kids loved them.

These are not traditional blintzes. The secret is that the blintzes are made with flour tortillas instead of traditional crepes. I love the texture flour tortillas take on when softened in milk. They really work well, and with a fraction of the work of making crepes.

 

So here is the recipe. I think you will love them as much as I do.

Cherry Pie Blintzes

Cherry Pie Filling

4 c. pitted sweet cherries- sour cherries can also be used

1½ c. water

½ c. sugar- use a little more if using tart cherries

Pinch of salt

¼ c. cornstarch

Place cherries in a saucepan with 1 cup of the water, sugar and the salt. Bring to a simmer. Mix cornstarch with the ½ cup of water and add to the cherry mixture, cooking until just thickened. Cool. Makes about 4 cups.

Blintzes

8-10 Flour tortillas

½ c. Milk

4 T. Butter

Powdered sugar

 

Make the pie filling ahead of time, so it is cooled down. Place the tortillas in a shallow pan and pour milk over them. Turn them to make sure they all get covered in the milk. Let the tortillas soften for 5-10 minutes. Place a tortilla on a flat surface and spoon about ½ cup of the pie filling in the middle. Fold sides in until they almost touch in the middle. Roll up from the bottom to form a little bundle. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling. Heat butter in saucepan over medium heat and brown the blintzes, turning over as needed to brown on both sides. Start them off seam side down, to keep them from popping open. Place on serving dish and dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm. Makes 8-10.

 

Browning in the skillet

 

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

In cooking camp today,  we will be baking cookies, including Snickerdoodles. This is a recipe that has been around a long time and is still a favorite.

The kids really enjoy rolling the dough in cinnamon sugar, before baking.

The old version I had, called for shortening, but I use butter instead,  and chill the dough. I prefer the taste of butter in cookies.

These are a great light dessert for summer and they travel well, too. A nice treat to bring to your next cookout, picnic or road trip.

Snickerdoodles can also be used to make awesome ice cream sandwiches.

 

 

Snickerdoodles

1 c. butter, softened
1 ½ c. sugar
2 eggs
2 ¾ c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar
1 t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
2 T. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Mix butter, sugar and eggs. Combine next 4 ingredients and add to egg mixture. Chill dough at least a couple of hours. Combine sugar and cinnamon in shallow bowls. Roll dough in 1-inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place 2-inches apart on ungreased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 375 –degree oven for 9-11 minutes. Makes 6 dozen.