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Archive for the ‘Sweets’ Category

Straightneck Summer Squash is a better alternative to zucchini

Straightneck Summer Squash wins over zucchini hands down

This is our first year growing straightneck summer squash, and I wonder why it has taken years to discover this absolutely delightful veggie. In fact, I scratch my head wondering why on earth zucchini became as famous as it is today? Because it rhymes with spaghetti? Does anyone have an answer?

This squash is meatier and deliciously creamy unlike its watery flavorless cousin. When stir fried, zucchini tends to get limp, transluscent, and loses lots of water, whereas the yellow straightneck stays relatively firm and almost butter-flavored. The best part is that it is as easy to grow as zucchini, not to mention prolific!

You can use the yellow squash for my zucchini bread recipe , replacing the zucchini with this squash variety as shown in the photo. The bread was a bit denser but still delicious! Next time, I may add about 1/8 cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice just to see what happens when you add a bit more liquid.

As an FYI, we got our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds at the Seed Bank in Petaluma, CA.

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Snickerdoodles Recipe

Enjoy warm snickerdoodles with milk, tea or coffee!

This recipe is credited to James Beard, whose recipe book I’ve had since the 70’s. A foodie friend told me that he was not a model of restraint with respect to butter, but that’s just fine with me as we consume probably a pound of butter a week, sometimes more.

These cookies are best enjoyed when fresh out of the oven!

Ingredients:

Sift together and set aside flour mixture:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, mix

  • 5 tablespoons raw cane sugar (or granulated white, but raw cane is better)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Butter the cookie/baking sheet.

Cream:

  • 1 cup softened butter till fluffy, then
  • Gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat till fluffy. Then add (mix between ingredients)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk

Combine well till mixture is smooth and creamy.

Gradually add the flour mixture till well-combined.

Using two teaspoons, put small dollops of snickerdoodle dough about 2″ apart on the baking sheet. It will look like a gooey mess – don’t worry. Then generously sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon mixture on the top. Don’t worry if the sprinkles miss the dough because upon baking, the dough will rise and expand and pick up the sprinkles.

Bake approximately 10-12 min. till the sides of the snickerdoodles are light brown. Depending on the size of the snickerdoodles, this recipe can make up to 6 dozen/72 snickerdoodles! Best served warm.

Enjoy!

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For breakfast or tea time, maple walnut scones are a hit!

For breakfast or tea time, maple walnut scones are a hit!

This maple walnut scone recipe is a significantly-modified Joy of Cooking scone recipe. Scones can sometimes taste like dry icky biscuits, and it took quite a bit of experimentation to finally get it just as we love it, so we hope you’ll enjoy it, too!  I am writing this exactly as I prepare the scones. Scroll down to see the ingredients.

Grease and flour a cookie sheet.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 425F or 218C.

In a small bowl, combine egg, heavy cream, maple syrup, and imitation maple flavoring (Alas, the maple syrup alone does not give it enough of a maple “zing” to come through!). Set aside in fridge.

In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  I use a dry whisk to mix it well.  Take butter out of fridge and cut up in little 1/2″ cubes; add to flour mix.  Once all the butter is cut up, I use my fingers to work it in the flour until the chunks are mostly broken up and incorporated in the mix.  You don’t need to go crazy to make this completely homogenous.  You just want to break up the butter, but do take care to keep the butter cold or the scones will not rise properly.

Add nuts to flour mixture and mix in with fingers till blended.

Make a little well in the center of flour/nut mix.  Pour in the egg/cream/syrup mixture that you took out of the fridge.  Set this small bowl aside as you may need it again (read on). With a large spoon, blend the liquid and dry ingredients till most of the liquid is taken up.  Do this gently as overworking the mixture will yield hard scones.

Now with your fingers, continue blending the liquid and dry ingredients till you’ve cleaned up the bowl of any dry clumps.  Gently work the ingredients together into a nice ball of dough, taking care NOT to knead the dough as you would with bread.  Kneading yields hard scones 😦 If your dough is too dry and won’t stick together, dab it along the inside of the small bowl that contained the wet ingredients to moisten it up.

On a floured surface, gently flatten out your ball into a circle about 9 inches in diameter and ~1/2 ” thick.  This may take a few “flips” of the dough to get it just right.  You’ll want to keep adding some flour to prevent it from sticking to the surface.  Cut up the circle into 8 triangle wedges as you see on the photo.

Place the wedges about 1/2″ away from each other on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 min. till scone is slightly brown on underside.  The scones should have risen at least 2x its pre-baking height.

While baking, prepare the glaze.  Mix the confectionary sugar, imitation Maple flavor, maple syrup, vanilla flavor till well blended.  Add 1/2 teaspn of water at a time till you get a nice viscous mixture, similar to ranch salad dressing.

When scones are done and still warm, brush the glaze over the top of each scone. I found a really cool silicone brush which does a great job and cleans out beautifully.

Serve warm with your favorite beverage.  ENJOY!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups sifted all purpose or pastry flour
  • 1 tablespn finely sifted baking powder (caked baking powder will NOT work, so I put it through a small mesh strainer like those used for teas)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tablespns brown sugar
  • 6 tablespns COLD butter.  Leave in fridge until ready to use!
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup; keep extra maple syrup (about 1 tablespn) on side to make glaze
  • 1 1/2 tablespns imitation Maple flavor (from McCormick)
  • 1 cup finely ground walnuts
  • GLAZE:  1/2 cup confectionary sugar, 1 teaspn. imitation Maple flavor, 1 teaspn. vanilla extract or imitation vanilla flavor, 1 tablespn. maple syrup, a little water to add 1/2 teaspn. at a time

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Who’s Mrs. Campbell? Well, she’s the mom I used to babysit for back in the 70’s. I loved her kids. They introduced me to things like Goober Grape and Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Creme. At the age of 14, I already knew what NOT to feed my kids (sorry Mrs. C, wherever you are).

However, she did share this wonderful recipe with me, and this has been my all-time favorite “bread” in the summer months with the usual limitless supply of zucchini (not this year though!).  So here it is:

Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups peeled & grated raw zucchini
  • 3 tsps. vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tblspns flax seed meal (I throw this in most breads, but it’s optional)
  • 1 tspn. baking soda
  • 1/4 tspn. baking powder
  • 3 tspns. cinnamon powder
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans work well)

Preheat oven to 350F or 177C. Grease two 4″x8″ or bread loaf pans.

Beat the eggs till fluffy and light.  Gradually add the sugar.  Then slowly beat in the vegetable oil and vanilla.  Add zucchini and mix well (no need to beat, just mix well with wooden spoon till homogenous).

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, optional flax meal and cinnamon with a whisk.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients.  Finally add in the chopped nuts.  Pour into pans.

Bake for about 1 hr. and cool on rack.  ENJOY!

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A pink delight!

A pink delight!

Christmas is a time for spice and dried fruit cookies and sweets.  So how about a change and go with a tart-sweet raspberry butter cookie?  It’s a basic butter cookie recipe but with slight modifications.

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tblspns thawed rasperries, making sure the liquid is drained if you use the frozen kind.  Have not tried this recipe w/ fresh raspberries but probably 1/4 cup would be ok
  • 1 tblspn raspberry extract/flavor (near the vanilla extract on supermarket shelves; gives an extra ‘zing’.)
  • 3 cups + 2 tblspns sifted unbleached white flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tblspns flax meal (I put this on just about everything)

Cream butter.  Work in sugar gradually till fluffy.  Add eggs, raspberries and raspberry extract.  Beat well.  The mixture should be nice and pink!

Sift flour, salt and flax meal.  Work into the butter mixture.  This will become a sticky gooey mess.  Divvy up in 3-4 globs, roll to about 1 1/2 inch diameter tubes in wax paper, and refrigerate about 4 hrs (or put in freezer for 30 min).

Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Cut about 3/8 inch slices and lay out on ungreased cookie sheet; OK to crowd together.  These will not expand much.  Bake 8-12 min. depending on your oven, but should be slightly brown on the edges.  Cool on rack.  Makes about 5-6 doz cookies.  Enjoy!

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Rye Happies from Gerda Endemann

Rye Happies from Gerda Endemann

This recipe is credited to Gerda Endemann, a fabulous nutrition consultant and author of Fat Is Not The Enemy.  We have botched this recipe countless times but by some miracle, it always comes out perfectly!

Some people shudder at the sound of “rye” (icky dry rye bread) but believe us, this snack looks as good as the picture.  Everyone we know LOVES this treat – it’s got omega-3 “healthy fat” from walnuts and canola oil.

It takes 20 minutes to prepare, about 25 min. to bake.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 cup dark brown sugar (sometimes I mix 50/50 brown and white)
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt (optional)
1/2 cup old fashioned raw oats (not instant!)
1/2 cup whole rye flour
2 tablespoons flax meal (optional, gives lovely nutty taste)
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven at 350F/177C.  Butter or oil bottom and sides of 8×8 inch baking pan.

Beat eggs till frothy, ~2 min.  Add vanilla and sugar, beat at medium speed for ~2 min.  Add oil and a pinch of salt, beat for another 2 min.  Stir in the oats.

In a separate small bowl, add flour to nuts.  Mix well and then stir in the nut-flour mixture to the above.

Spread in pan, then bake about 25 min. till brown and set.  The result should be about as thick (1 inch) and dense as a fudge brownie, but healthier!

Bon appetit!

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Try adding a little flavored agave nectar mixed with maple syrup!

Try adding a little flavored agave nectar mixed with maple syrup!

This recipe dates back to my college years.  The women were girly girls and I had had enough with hairspray queen jibber jabber.  Surprisingly, I did more cooking with the guys.  One year I decided to hang out with geeks at the engineering school (didn’t date any though!).  One of them, actually a brilliant pre-med student, introduced his mom’s buttermilk pancake recipe to me:

Mix dry ingredients with a whisk:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tablespn sugar

Then add and stir with whisk till smooth, but don’t overbeat:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespns veg oil

Sometimes I’ll throw in about 1/2 cup of finely-chopped walnuts and mix that in with a spoon (not whisk).  Flax meal also give it a yummy nutty taste!

Highly recommend agave nectar mixed in with your maple syrup.  ENJOY!

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