Friday, July 22, 2011

:: Zucchini Parmesan ::

  Two zucchini posts in a row...what?!? Yep guys, hope you don't mind that I recently seem to be stuck on the ever abundant green veggie of the summer.... I've just been so very blessed with them & I can get tired of them  rather quickly, so I keep looking for new & exciting ways to cook with it. Since I now have tomatoes from my garden I wanted to use them too. 
  So I went on a search & found a couple different versions of this recipe which I thought would be a perfect way to use both veggies. I sorta combined two & then added my own twist as well....
  I recruited some help for this dish also. It wouldn't have been that bad to do everything myself, but Daren was here so I asked for his assistance & he willingly agreed. :) So while I was breading the zucchini he was mastering the frying pan; giving the zucchini a nice golden color & then layering it in the baking dish. I would then add the other layers while he was frying more zucchini etc.... It all went quite smoothly & we were finished in no time; which was great since it was really too hot to be cooking anyway!
  Will have to say it was worth cooking in the heat for. We both thought this tasted really yummy! I didn't fix meat of any kind, (just cooked some fresh sweet corn to serve with it) & to be honest I didn't miss meat at all. (and I do love meat!:)) Guess when it's this warm the less cooking I have to do the better! So without further ado, here's the recipe....

Zucchini Parmesan~

1/2 cup olive oil
3  zucchini, sliced 1/4" thick
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 eggs
1 (16 0z) can pasta sauce*
1-2 tomatoes, depending on the size, sliced
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
fresh basil

Slice the zucchini, & set aside. In a shallow bowl combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, basil, oregano & garlic powder. In a separate bowl beat the eggs. Dip the zucchini in the bread crumbs, eggs & then bread crumbs again. Preheat olive oil in skillet & then fry zucchini slices until golden brown on both sides. In a baking dish spread 1/2 of the pasta sauce. Cover with a layer of zucchini. Layer tomato over zucchini. Follow with fresh grated parmesan, chopped fresh basil & mozzarella. Top with more pasta sauce. Continue layers finishing with cheese. Bake uncovered @ 350* for 25- 30 minutes or until hot & bubbly.

* I just used my canned spaghetti sauce

mm mm gooood! :)


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chocolate & Caramel...Need I say more?

  Happy Tuesday, everyone!
  May I just start by saying; "I'm soo in love with cupcakes!" I mean how can you not love them? They're easy to make, the perfect size for eating & the flavor combinations are endless! Not to mention they are absolutely delicious! (well most of them that is=))
  My one zucchini plant is out doing itself & doesn't seem like it has plans to slow down production anytime soon, so needless to say we're well blessed with them! If any show up on your doorstep I may or may not be guilty ;)
  Anyway I've been trying to use as many of them as possible & I wanted to make cupcakes with zucchini as an ingredient so I found some recipes that I thought sounded like winners & then combined them to come up with this one.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes with
Salted Caramel Frosting

2 (1 oz) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

In a large bowl, beat eggs & sugar 6-8 minutes until pale & thick. Blend oil, vanilla & cooled chocolate into egg mixture.
In a small bowl sift together flour,baking powder, soda, salt, cloves & cinnamon. Stir into egg mixture just until blended. Stir in zucchini, chocolate chips & nuts. Fill lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake at 350* for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes; Remove from pans & let cool completely.

Caramel frosting:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2-2 cups confectioners' sugar

Combine brown sugar, butter & milk in a saucepan; bring to a boil over med heat. Cook & stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in vanilla. Cool to lukewarm. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until reaches spreading consistency. Frost cupcakes.
* You may also drizzle with caramel syrup (I didn't have the right kind) & sprinkle with a small amount of course salt.

  I got my idea for these when Daren & I went to Charleston, SC at the end of June for our five year anniversary. We stopped at a cute little cupcake bakery there one afternoon & shared a chocolate & salted caramel cupcake that was amazing! So thought it would be fun to try & duplicate it somewhat, but add zucchini as well. I'm really happy with how these little guys turned out! =)

Enjoy!!! =)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Cool as a Cucumber

  This is the time of year that you begin to have an abundance of fresh garden veggies, especially cucumbers, zucchini & squash etc. =) And while I love having an almost endless supply at my fingertips for cooking & such; after awhile I do start to wish they would not produce quite so abundantly & quite as often!
  So if you have extra cucumbers & your wondering what  to do with them, give this recipe a shot....To be honest I don't just love cucumbers, but I think this dip is lip-smacking good!

Cucumber Dill Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 med cucumber, finely chopped *
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 drops hot sauce **
dash of salt
pepper to suit your taste
dried dill weed to suit you taste

Mix together well & chill. Serve with crackers.

*I used about 2 cukes & grated them instead of chopping.
**I'll use more hot sauce the next time, wasn't hot at all.

We had this for lunch yesterday witthhh.....guess what?!..... Zucchini & squash! =) Was just perfect for a light meal after we had been working outside in the heat. It would be wonderful for any get-together you have planned for the weekend also!
Everyone have a safe & happy 4th of July! =)