Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Zucchini Cupcakes

Zucchini...but not from my garden!This Zucchini Cupcake Recipe comes from Martha Stewart and you won't be disappointed, especially with the yummy frosting!

Zucchini Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or grate your own)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cup grated zucchini

Pre-heat oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper liners (12)

Stir together the flour, soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, & cloves. In a separate bowl blend together the oil, egg, vanilla, and zest. Whisk in the brown sugar until smooth.
Stir in the zucchini. Add the flour mixture and stir until combined.

Spoon the batter into prepared muffin cups. Place in oven and set timer for about 12 minutes...rotate pan and bake 12 additional minutes.

Cool in muffin tin for 10-12 minutes and remove them to a cooling rack.

Creamy Frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
6 oz. cream cheese, also at room temperature
2 cups (or a bit more) of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the butter & cream cheese on medium - high until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add about one cup powdered sugar and the vanilla, mixing until smooth & combines. Continue adding powdered sugar a little at a time until of desired consistency.

As you can see, a few cupcakes were left with plain frosting and a sprig of mint & others were sprinkled with chopped nuts.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lemons & Daisies!

The above picture is from Caribe's birthday and is the only picture that shows two of the lemon & daisy creations...not to mention little Maggie giggling at Aunt Courtney!!!

I had some lemons that needed to be used so thought I would try to make some little containers for a few flowers...Initially I thought of just cutting the top off the lemon and using the whole thing but then decided to cut the lemons in half.

The daisies were picked in our open field and the vine is from the flower garden so this is quite the inexpensive little "table touch". The stems were gently pushed right into the pulp and I did moisten the center of the lemons with water. There were four bouquets down the center of the table and I must say that two days later they still look nice!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Upside-Down Berry Meringue Pie

Yet another birthday celebration...this time it was Caribe's special day and she prefers pie to cake so I decided to make her very favorite...Upside-Down Strawberry Meringue Pie!I stirred together two pastry crusts & baked them. After they cooled I moved right along to the meringue recipe & thought I had vanilla in my hand but as you can see in the above picture I accidently added red fool coloring (which was out on the counter for the filling). When all was said and done, the family decided it was a good mistake!

Upside-Down Berry Meringue Pie:

(for one pie)

3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or red food coloring)
1 baked 9" pie shell

After the shell has cooled:
Beat egg whites with vinegar and salt until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and the vanilla (or red food coloring), beating to stiff peaks. Spread on bottom and sides of cooled pie shell. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Strawberry Filling:

3 cups fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Red food coloring (a few drops)

Mash 2 cups of strawberries.
In a saucepan blend 1/3 cup sugar and the cornstarch. Gradually add the water and strawberries. Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens & then cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add food coloring. Allow to cool slightly!

Spread over cooled meringue layer and chill until set.

Just an hour or two before serving whip a carton of whipping cream & sweeten to taste, adding vanilla if you desire. Spread the cream over all!

The final cup of strawberries can be used for decorating the pie or creative.

Our family has delighted in this pie for many years.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ben's Birthday

Ben's birthday was yesterday and since I worked until six p.m. it was a good thing I made a Chocolate Sheet Cake the night before since the family was to arrive for dessert at 7 p.m.

I am a fan of Roxie Kelly's cookbooks and in her recent publication entitled At Our Table, she has a Chocolate Sheet Cake recipe with Fudge Frosting...sounded good to me!!!

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup chopped pecans, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 10 x 17 sheet cake pan.

Cream sugar and butter together in a large bowl until light & fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until smooth.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa. Combine the sour cream and buttermilk in a small bowl.

Alternate the addition of the dry ingredients and the sour cream mixture to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Blend well after each addition. If using pecans, add them now by folding them in. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Cool completely on wire rack.

Fudge Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cocoa
1 pound box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

In a mixer bowl, cream the butter, cocoa, and powdered sugar together until light, about two minutes or so. Beat in the vanilla. Gradually add the milk, beating until smooth and creamy. Spread over the cooled cake. Sprinkle the pecans, over the frosting.

Chocolate Sauce for Ice Cream:

I received this recipe from Trudy Herman when we worked together on creating a cookbook at our church many years ago.

1 can Eagle Brand Milk
1 can Hershey's Syrup
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan stir together the milk & syrup completely. Add the butter and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and add the vanilla.

This sauce will surely become a favorite!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Zucchini Blossom

Courtney & Matt had some zucchini plants left over and shared their bounty with me and I promptly planted them with the flowers.

There are two plants so the zucchini will be plentiful and I look forward to the bread...thanks Courtney & Matt!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Chicken Creation

This is yet another chicken dish and Ben & have decided this is a keeper!I had some chicken tenders to use so put my mind to creating something quick & easy.

Above you will see meringue, I read somewhere that spreading meringue on hamburger buns creates a nice touch when placed in a fry pan with a touch of butter. I set the meringue aside while preparing the remainder of my creation.

As you can see, I sliced a few tomatoes, green onions, fresh dill, fresh parsley, dried cherries and had Romaine lettuce ready to go.

Next, I decided to create a sauce...about 1/3 cup Hellman's, with a few shakes of Natalie Robyn's Vinaigrette (cherry) and honey mustard to taste.

Now, I sprinkled Italian Bread Crumbs on the chicken tenders and fried briefly in olive oil. Then I spread the meringue on the hamburger buns and fried quickly and then started assembling.

The special sauce was spread on top of the meringue, then the Romaine, chicken, and all the condiments (I also toasted some walnuts).

The chicken sandwich was served with fresh fruit!

The Cherry Vinaigrette is so tasty and I have mentioned it before...there is an apricot vinaigrette, along with ice cream toppings, oatmeal, etc. Please visit Olsen-Sayles in Frankfort to check out many of the products!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Additional Throwdown Selections...

The above Braided Lemon Bread was created by Courtney and her recipe can be located on her blog
The lemon braid tied for 1st place honors! It was really a nice sweet/tart lemon curd in a sweet bread!

Matt was very creative and his selection tied with Courtney's for 1st place. He used Pillsbury Crescent Rolls for the base and then started adding and there was definitely a little kick to his breakfast entry! Good job Matt!

Caribe chose a Paula Deen recipe and it was typical Paula...lots of butter!!! This was a take-off from Monkey Bread and the twist was a cream cheese filling. I think Caribe is getting ready for the 4th of July (cute plate).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

First Summer Throwdown!

A few weeks ago Courtney & Matt suggested Summer Throwdowns...that sounded like a nice competitive activity so here we go...
As you can see in the picture above Ben is busy at work on his creation...and let me just say that he chose his recipe thinking he would get the girls votes!

Ben's recipe choice was Deep-Dish Ham Quiche with Herb & Asparagus Salad...the basic recipe came courtesy of Tyler Florence! The quiche was baked in a large springform pan and Ben didn't make his own pastry, instead used Pillsbury ready-made and it didn't fit the pan quite right.

After baking the quiche, Ben prepared the asparagus salad (while the quiche rested for 30 minutes).
The quiche was served in pie shape wedges with the asparagus salad spooned on top.

The recipe can be located on Food Network's website

Ben didn't receive top honor's but the quiche was tasty and was quite the project for him to tackle. Let me just say that there were two large Vidalia onions carmelized that went into the filling along with some very good smoked ham and of course eggs & cream!

The asparagus salad included parmesan, flat leaf parsley, fresh mint, fresh lemon juice, fresh dill and olive oil.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Momma and Fawn

It is difficult to see the fawn in the picture above but look to the left of Momma and you can see some spots!

Momma generally brings her little one to the salt lick in the evening and we look forward to watching them!

Pictured above is the fawn nursing and Momma is watching another deer in the woods. After the salt lick treat is finished the fawn nurses and then Momma grooms her baby and finally takes the fawn to a safe spot for the night.

Living in the woods is truly a blessing...!!! We appreciate each and every day in our little neck of the woods!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pasta Salad With The Works!!!!

This is an interesting salad full of flavor and the color is quite appealing!

The lemon and basil really add interest to the pasta and you can't go wrong adding shrimp and asparagus!

3 qts. water
1 heaping teaspoon salt, divided
2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1 1/2" pcs.
4 cups broccoli florets
16 oz. pkg. Bowtie Pasta, cooked & cooled
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cup corn, cooked & drained
1 pound (or more) cooked cocktail shrimp

In a large pan, bring water to a boil over medium high heat, add the broccoli & asparagus, boiling for a quick minute...immediately cool under cold water (or drench in ice water).

Combine pasta, asparagus, broccoli, peppers, basil, corn, & shrimp in large bowl.

In a separate bowl combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, a bit of salt, garlic powder & pepper...stir to combine completely. Add the olive oil and whisk well, pouring the dressing over the pasta mixture.

Cover and chill for 2-3 hours to combine the flavors, stirring a few times.

Serve with fruit muffins and you have a nice little dinner (or lunch).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Lighter Fare!

Okay, I know what you are thinking...more nasturtioms on the plate!!!
How can a person go wrong with a beautiful salad for dinner, after all the waistline is thanking you and the prep is quick and easy!

The greens are from the Elberta Farmer's Market which is held on Thursday's in downtown Elberta, Michigan!
I baked two chicken breasts and combined with a variety of salad greens and topped with strawberries, dried cherries, toasted pecans, a few croutons, green onions and a few tomato slices. The picture doesn't do justice to the melon was so tasty! The Athena melon was purchased at Shop 'n Save and was so good!
And topping off the salad was Natalie Robyn's Cherry Vinagrette that can be purchased at Olsen-Sayles in Frankfort, Michigan. Robyn's company is called Six Lugs. This particular company has many products that you should check out!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

"Hissing Turtle"

I was on my way home from the Memorial Day Service at Gilmore Cemetary and happened to see a turtle on the edge of Grace camera of course so stepped on the gas to get home, retrieve the camera and head back to the turtle.When I arrived back with camera in hand the turtle was still there!
She was not thrilled with my presence and promptly hissed at me...I quickly took a few pictures before she got too upset.

When Ben arrived home & I told him of my turtle experience, he said that he had seen one very large turtle about a mile east and another smaller one near Pond Road.

I just wonder if I will ever learn to take the camera with me in the car???

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fruit Dip

This is such a simple recipe with only three ingredients and you will be asked for the recipe!

Fruit Dip:

1 7oz. jar Marshmallow Cream
1 8oz. package cream cheese softened
1/4 cup homemade strawberry freezer jam (or you can use preserves)

Mix the ingredients until smooth!

Serve with assorted fruits & enjoy!

Memorial Day!

We awoke to the sound of thunder on Memorial Day and it was followed by lightning and was short-lived but brought out the bugs, for sure! When we attended the Memorial Day Service at Gilmore Cemetary the knats were awful!The spent shell above was given to us at the graveside shoot-over this morning.
I have wondered if it is acceptable to take pictures at such a service???
The Taps are played every year by the MacRae's and they never fail to bring tears...we so appreciate their time & talents!

It's nearly time to put out the food and celebrate the non-official start of summer!

Let the party begin!!!