Peach Skin Vodka

Peach Skin Vodka

This is really a story about how I was raised. My mother and father both grew up in a time when people didn’t waste things. Both of them knew hard times growing up. I try to be like them in that way. I hate throwing out something that might serve some purpose.

While making a peach pie the other day, I was left with a pile of peach skins. I could toss them in the compost pile, but I knew they had a lot of flavor in them. I decided to make peach liqueur with them instead.

I just put the peach skins in a Mason jar- I had about 2 cups – and covered them with 3 cups of vodka. I put the lid on the jar and set it in a cabinet. In a few weeks, I’ll strain it out, then pour the mixture through coffee filters to get out anything that will make it cloudy. Could not be easier. I’ll have lovely peach flavored vodka that I can leave as is, or sweeten if I prefer. I could also have used brandy. You can add a cinnamon stick or vanilla bean to the jar for additional flavor.

Thinking this will make a great ingredient for a cocktail in the near future.

So the lesson here is just to think twice before tossing. Sometimes, what might seem like something of little or no value, could have another purpose.

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcake

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 stand up well in summer heat. 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 Galette

Blueberry Galette

A galette is a cross between a pie and a tart. Rather than placing the crust in a pie pan, the crust is rolled out and the fruit is placed in the middle. The edges of the crust are folded over the fruit, leaving them exposed in the middle.  Galettes have a rustic charm. They are also easy to make.

I will be serving this for dessert later. It was one of those times that what I had on hand worked together perfectly. I had blueberry pie filling and leftover kolachy dough from cooking camp. Made sense to use them together.

I used homemade blueberry pie filling, but you could use store-bought, if you prefer.

The ingredients are pretty simple, pie crust and pie filling. You’ll need enough pie crust dough for one pie and one cup of blueberry pie filling per galette. After I folded over the edges, I brushed them with a little milk and sprinkled the edges with sugar, to help the crust brown nicely.

Blueberry Galette

Crust for one pie- recipe follows

1 cup blueberry pie filling

milk

2-3 T. sugar

Roll out crust like you would for a pie, about a 10 or 12 inch circle. Place crust on a baking sheet. Spoon filling into the middle of the crust. Fold edges of the crust over the fruit filling, leaving about a three inch circle exposed in the middle. Brush crust with milk and sprinkle  with the sugar. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool. Serves 4-6.

Blueberry Galette: ready to serve

Here is the recipe I used for the crust. It would make enough for about 3-4 galettes.  We used most of the dough for kolachy in cooking camp and I had leftover dough. It can be frozen, too.

Eva’s Kolachy Dough

3 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

½ t. salt

1 c. butter

3 eggs

2 pkts. Yeast

½ c. warm milk

In mixing bowl, combine flour with baking powder and salt. Cut butter into flour until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside. Place eggs in a small bowl and beat until smooth. In small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add to egg mixture and stir to combine. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined. If mixture is sticky add a small amount of flour. Roll dough out on floured board. Thinner the better, as this dough will puff some when baked. Unlike a traditional pie crust dough, this one does not need to be chilled. It is also very easy to roll out. Use about 1/3- 1/4 of this dough per galette. Extra dough can be frozen to use later.

Butterscotch Sauce

Butterscotch Sauce over Ice Cream

Any time is a good time for an ice cream sundae, in my opinion. Still, when the weather warms up- it is even nicer. I have been known to have an ice cream sundae for dinner on really hot days.

I was talking to some friends about ice cream sundaes and our favorite toppings. I had mentioned how much I loved a hot fudge sundae. My friend Jill said that she loved butterscotch sauce. I had to agree. I love a butterscotch sauce, too.

I had made butterscotch sauce before, but not in a very long time. I found my old recipe and made it. I thought it could be better, so I played around and tweaked it a little. The end result is bliss. Creamy, sweet, smooth and buttery with just a hint of saltiness.

This sauce is a great topper for ice cream, but is also a tasty sauce for cakes, and fresh fruit.

It is really easy to make, which is a nice bonus. Start to finish, this sauce can be done in about 10 minutes. No special equipment needed, either.

I used a heavy bottomed pan, which worked great. I didn’t want my sauce to scorch while cooking. I think I might have stirred it once, just to be safe.

The sauce will thicken when it cools down. Thickens even more once stored in the fridge. It is best served warmed up a little or at room temp.

So here is my butterscotch sauce recipe. Thanks Jill, for the inspiration.

Butterscotch Sauce

6 T. butter

½ c. half and half

½ c. brown sugar

1 t. molasses*

½ -1 teaspoon salt

1 t. vanilla

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan. Add remaining ingredients, except vanilla, to the pan. Stir to mix well, then bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Sauce will thicken as it cools. Store in fridge and warm a little before using. Makes about a cup of sauce. Keeps for weeks in the fridge, but you’ll eat it long before that.

*The addition of a little molasses was because my original recipe called for dark brown sugar. I only had light brown sugar. I liked the flavor that extra molasses added to the finished sauce. Feel free to omit the extra molasses, or add a pinch more, depending on how dark you want your finished sauce.

Blueberry Cinnamon-Vanilla Jam

Blueberry Cinnamon Vanilla Jam

I often make blueberry jam with a little added vanilla, but decided to add cinnamon this time, as well. The result was so tasty.

I used the basic berry jam recipe from the Ball Blue Book, but I added both vanilla and a cinnamon in this batch. The flavors worked really well together. I am making more of this one, for sure. Enjoy.

Cinnamon- Vanilla Blueberry Jam

9 c. crushed blueberries

6 c. sugar

1 T. ground cinnamon

1 T. vanilla

Pick over berries getting any stems. Rinse , drain and crush. Place berries, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a large saucepan and heat slowly until sugar has melted. Bring up heat and cook over high heat, stirring often. Stir more as mixture thickens. It will take 20-30 minutes to get to the gel stage. To check for gel stage dip a metal spoon in blueberry mixture and hold it up sideways. Allow mixture to drip off and when two drops come together to form one larger drop- you are at gel stage. You can also use a candy thermometer. When the jam reaches 220 degrees- or 8 degrees over the temp of boiling water- you are at gel stage. Ladle hot jam into clean, hot jelly jars. Fill to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe rims and place on lids prepared according to directions on box. Screw lids comfortably tight. Place jars in boiling water bath with water at least 1-2 inches over the tops of the jars. Cover pot and start timing when water returns to the boil. Process 15 minutes. Remove jars to towel, cutting board or cooling rack in a draft-free location. Check seals once jars are cooled. Makes 8-10 jelly jars.

Source: Adapted from Ball Blue Book

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

Tomatoes are in season and I am loving it.  I have been enjoying tomato sandwiches, tomato salad and fresh tomato sauce.

This is a great recipe for some of those tomatoes. A simple soup, with lots of flavor, it is a favorite of mine. So much better than the canned tomato soup of my childhood.

I enjoy it served hot, but this soup can also be served cold. On a  hot day, this soup, served chilled, is a wonderful change from a salad with dinner.

I prefer to use fresh tomatoes, but I have used my home canned tomatoes, in a pinch.

If you want a stronger tomato flavor- use a couple extra tomatoes.

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup

 3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 rib celery, chopped fine

3 whole cloves

1 small bay leaf

3 T. butter

3 T. flour

1 t. salt

3 c. milk or half and half

Peel and chop tomatoes. Place tomatoes in saucepan with onion, celery, cloves and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a boil; reduce heat and cover, simmering 15 minutes. Melt butter in a large saucepan then stir in flour and salt. Cook mixture until bubbly. Add milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Puree tomato mixture through a strainer, food mill or in a blender or processor. Add to milk mixture and heat through. Serves 6.

Zucchini Bread Pudding

Zucchini Bread Pudding

I had some extra zucchini bread and wanted to do something different with it. I ended up making this zucchini bread pudding. It came out even better than I thought it would.  Rich, not too sweet. A simple, classic dessert.

I felt it needed some sort of topping or sauce. I made a vanilla caramel sauce to dress it up a little. It worked great. Ice cream or whipped cream would have worked, too.

I guess I should really call it a zucchini bread bread pudding.  After all, it is bread pudding made from zucchini bread.  My spell check hates it when I type the same word twice, so zucchini bread pudding it is.

I know this would also work with other quick breads, like pumpkin or banana bread.

So here is the recipe- for the bread pudding, the zucchini bread and the caramel sauce.

Zucchini Bread Bread Pudding

6-8 cups cubed zucchini bread- recipe follows

8 oz. cream cheese- cubed

2 c. half and half

3 eggs

1 T. vanilla

1 t. cinnamon

Vanilla Caramel sauce- recipe follows

Butter a 2-quart casserole. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place half the cubed zucchini bread in the prepared pan. Add half the cubed cream cheese, scattering over the bread. Repeat with remaining bread and cheese. In bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, beating until well mixed. Pour over the zucchini bread mixture. Place casserole in oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until bread pudding is set. Allow bread pudding to cool a little before serving. Serve with the vanilla caramel sauce or top with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 8.

While often served warm, this bread pudding is tasty served chilled, too. Heck, I just had some for breakfast.

Zucchini Bread

3 c. flour

3 eggs

2 c. sugar

2 c. shredded zucchini

1 c. oil

1 c. chopped nuts or raisins

½ c. sour cream or strained yogurt

1 t. each vanilla, cinnamon, baking powder, 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 and 20 minutes, or until browned and toothpick in center emerges clean. Cool in pans on wire rack. Freezes well. Makes 2.

Vanilla Caramel Sauce

1 c. sugar

¼ c. water

4 T. butter

2 t. vanilla

¼ c. half and half

Pinch of salt

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until smooth.

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 really big zucchini. I knew it would make nice zucchini bread.

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 .

Zucchini Brownies- Gluten Free!!!

Gluten-Free Zucchini Brownie

These brownies are everything you want in a brownie. Sweet, moist and very tender. The fact they are also flour and gluten-free is a nice bonus for those who can’t have gluten.

You might think, when you read the ingredients, that I left something out. I didn’t. They baked up beautifully and had a wonderful texture. I think the next time I make them, I might also add some chopped nuts.

Gluten-Free Zucchini Brownies

1½ c. shredded zucchini
1 c. almond butter- but you could use peanut butter instead
1 c. chocolate chips
1/3 c. honey – but you can use 1/2 cup if you want a sweeter brownie
¼ c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. allspice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×9 inch pan, set aside. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well blended. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool before cutting. Makes 16.

Hot or Cold- Creamy Zucchini Soup

Creamy Zucchini Soup

You can never have enough recipes for zucchini. If you have ever planted zucchini, you know what I mean. 

This is a recipe I’ve had for ages, but had not made in a while. I forgot how much I liked it. As an added bonus, it can be served hot or cold.

I leave the skins on my zucchini, I like the way the little green flecks look in the soup, but you can peel, if you prefer. You can also use a combo of green and yellow summer squash.

Here is the recipe.

Creamy Zucchini Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
2 T. butter
4-6 medium zucchini, sliced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 T. chopped parsley
½ t. each basil, marjoram and thyme
1 t. hot sauce, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
6 c. chicken or veggie broth
1 c. milk or half and half- I prefer the half and half

In Dutch oven cook onions in butter until tender. Add vegetables and seasonings and cook until hot. Add broth, heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Puree mixture in blender in batches and return to pot. Add milk and heat through. Adjust seasonings. Serve hot or cold. I topped mine with some fresh chopped parsley and a little hot sauce. Serves 6-8.

Subscriber to our Mailing List

Follow us on Social Media

Support This Site

Donate Now

New Release: