Fried Zucchini Blossoms

For years I've wanted to try this.  I would always see pictures in cooking magazine & thought it looked so good.  Well, I finally gave it a go; and ya know what, these are pretty dang good.  They have a great texture & flavor.  And they look so cool.  Since I couldn't keep up with my zucchini, what better way to control it that to snip the blossoms.  And then of course fry them up, dip 'em in ranch & eat them.  You got to give 'er a go, it's a fun way to eat "zucchini"& a creative way to slow down your gardens production.  Here's how...
8 zucchini blossoms
2 cups frying batter (boxed or homemade)
canola oil
Fill a medium skillet with about 2 inches of oil.  Heat over medium heat until about 350 degrees.  Dip zucchini blossoms in frying batter until fully coated & set into hot oil.  Fry about 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Remove from oil & set on a paper towel to drain.  Salt & pepper to your liking immediatly while blossoms are still hot & add a slight dusting of paprika. Enjoy!

Zucchini Cookies

Bet I caught you off guard with this one!  This recipe is straight from my Grandma's recipe box.  I remember her making these when we were little.  We'd gobble them up & then she would proudly announce that they were zucchini cookies.  Like my Mom said, there wasn't a vegetable that my Grandma could leave alone.  And while I didn't appreciate it with brussel sprouts, this time I am thankful.  I've tweaked them a bit from my Grandma's recipe, she used dates instead of chocolate chips.  These cookies are so yummy.  There is a nice flavor mix with the zucchini & cinnamon.  Marry that with the sweetness of chocolate & you have a winning combination.  The cake-like texture pulls it all together.  Serve these cookies with a big glass of cold milk & you won't be disappointed   Here's the DL...
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup shredded unpeeled zucchini
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream shortening & sugars together.  Add egg & vanilla & beat until fluffy.  Add zucchini.  Mix in flour, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon until well incorporated.  Using a spoon mix in chocolate chips & walnuts.  Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges just start to turn brown.  Remove from baking sheet & let cool for a minute before serving.  Enjoy!

Fried Zucchini

Sorry I haven't posted for a few days.  My plan was to have a new zucchini recipe everyday this week.  But plans change.  Especially when your youngest requires an emergency visit to the doctor.
My one & a half year old daughter decided to climb out of her crib.  On the getting out part she was successful, but she didn't stick the landing.  The result was a fractured forearm & a big purple cast that she will have to wear for a month.  An all this while were trying to finish up renovating our house & moving.  Yeesh!

Anyway, on to fried zucchini.  This is probably my favorite way to eat zucchini.  It's so tasty & makes a great appetizer.  Serve this with homemade ranch & you have a winner.  Here's the DL...
One medium to large zucchini
1 cup of beer batter or frying batter (I use the store bought stuff, but if you have a good recipe I'd love to see it.  Put in the comments section below)
canola oil
Wash zucchini & cut in half.  Then cut in half again lengthwise.  Cut each section into one inch strips (or to desired size).  Put 2 inches of canola oil in a medium pan & heat on medium or until about 350 degrees.  Dip zucchini strips into batter to coat.  Immediately set into hot oil.  Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Then flip over & fry other side until golden.  Remove from oil & set on a paper towel to drain.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with ranch dressing.  Enjoy!

Zucchini Drizzled with Olive Oil & Parmesan

This is a super easy & flavorful way to enjoy zucchinni.  Actually, this recipe works on a variety of vegetables.  It also looks really pretty.  Only five ingredients are required to make this scruptous zucchinni dish.  Here's the how...
kosher salt
olive oil
Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Slice zucchini into 1/2 inch slices.  Place zucchini slices on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle with salt & pepper to desired taste.  Place about one teaspoon of grated Parmesan on top of each zucchini.  Bake for 10 minutes then turn on low broil for 1-2 minutes, or until tops are golden.  Enjoy!

Zucchini Parmigiana

Here's a vegetarian twist on an old world classic.  This is a great dish for those who aren't wild about zucchini.  It's very flavorful & rich, & doesn't have an overwhelming zucchini taste.  A good hearty dish that is simple to make & pretty dang healthy.  This recipe is great for those overgrown zucchinis.  You know, the ones that hide under the leaves & you don't discover them until they're the size of your arm.  Here's the how to...
1 large zucchini, washed
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 egg, beaten
2 cups marinara sauce
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella cheese
Cut zucchini into 3/4 inch pieces.
Heat oil in skillet over medium heat.  In shallow bowl combine bread crumbs & Parmesan cheese.  Dip zucchini in egg until coated.  Immediately set egg coated zucchini into bread crumb mixture & turn until coated on all sides.  Put coated zucchini into hot oil & repeat process with remaining zucchinis quickly to ensure even cooking time.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until coating is brown & crispy & zucchini is heated through.
Cover zucchinis with marinara sauce & sprinkle tops with Mozzarella.  Cover & cook until cheese is melted & marinara is warmed through.  Serve immediately & enjoy.  Makes about 4 servings.
The rich tomato flavor combined with the zucchini is amazing.  The bottoms are crispy & the whole thing is scrumptious.  Goes great with fettuccine alfredo.

Zucchini Week Begins

 Alright, go out to that garden & pick you some zucchini.  Go ahead and take that bag full your neighbor keeps trying to give you.  Zucchini week is officially beginning.  I personally have been overran by the buggers. So much for planting a "little" garden.  So this past week I actually had some time to cook & with my over abundance of zucchini I played with some recipes.  Starting tomorrow I will share some with you.  A few are surprising and all are yummy.  Stay tuned.
And here is a pretty picture of a flower A) because summer is almost over & I don't want it to be.  Especially since I didn't get to enjoy it because of a house remodel & moving. B) just to brighten your day & remind you of the beauty that constantly surrounds you. C) because I love pink, always have (even ask my Mom), always will.

See you tomorrow!

Fettuccine Alfredo

If your looking for a rich, easy to make, Italian pasta, stop your search.  You have arrived.  I remember years ago when the thought of making alfredo sauce was intimidating.  But when I actually buckled down & gave 'er a try it was all too easy.  And over the years I've discovered it's pretty hard to mess up as well.  Most dishes that are solely based on butter, cream & cheese will taste good no matter what.  Fettuccine Alfredo goes well as a side with so many main courses, yet is hearty enough to be a main course in itself.  Ingredients are minimal & cook time is fast.  This makes a great after-thought dinner.  My two tips are:  1) Buy a decent Parmesan cheese, it makes a difference. 2) Don't step away from the sauce while making it.  It cooks quickly & you don't want to scorch it.  So keep that whisk in hand & stand by the stove.  Here's the low-down...
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed
1 pint heavy cream
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, plus a little extra for topping
16 ounces dry fettuccine noodles
While making sauce cook fettuccine noodles to al dente (if noodles get done before the sauce strain & rinse with cold water or toss with olive oil & set aside).
In medium size sauce pan melt butter over medium heat.  Add garlic & cook for 2-3 minutes or until butter begins to bubble.  Slowly whisk in cream & cook whisking constantly until cream is warmed through & becomes thick.  A bit at a time add the cup of Parmesan cheese & whisk until cheese it melted throughout.  Stir in 1/4 cup parsley.  Pour sauce over noodles & toss until coated.  Top with remaining parsley & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy! 

Burnt Butter Bread

I dig this bread.  I serve it with a variety of dishes & there are never any left overs.  It's a knock off of Pioneer Woman's "The Bread".  It's cheap, quick to make, & scrumptious.  Plus this bread goes great with a variety of dishes: anything Italian, BBQ, steak, chicken, and fettuccine alfredo (look for that recipe coming soon).  Here's how...
1 loaf of french bread
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
garlic powder
kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut french bread loaf in half length ways.  Spread half the butter on one side & the remaining butter on the other side.  Make sure every inch is covered.  It will seem like there is too much butter... there is... it's wonderful!  Now sprinkle garlic powder & kosher salt on top to your desired taste.  Spread butter around again to mildly incorporate the garlic powder & salt.  Put bread on a baking sheet & stick in the oven until butter is totally melted, about 3-4 minutes.
 Now crack the oven door & set oven to low broil.  Let the bread broil until the edges turn black & the top is well browned.  Don't get nervous & pull it our too soon, you want the butter to kind of burn & caramelize.  Gives the bread a great taste & texture.
Slice it up in skinny pieces (it's rich, so a little goes a long way) & serve immediately.

Fair Week

You may have noticed that my posting was a little slow this past week.  That's because around here it was fair week.  For the past 10 years of our lives my husband & I have devoted fair week to working the food booths for our church.
Our church food booths are ran by our children's & youth ministry & raise funds for their entire year of activities, trips, & outreaches.  Although fair week is hot, long & greasy, it's totally worth it to see all that the young people in our church are able to do throughout the year.  I can't complain too much because I generally get to work the espresso bar, which I love.  Reminds me of when I was in college working at the coffee bar in the student union building.  My hubby on the other hand generally gets put at the grill whipping up cheesesteak sandwiches.  This is a much hotter & more intense job.  (Do you like how focused my son is in this picture.)
I love the food at the fair.  I have so many must have food items I order throughout the week.  The food at our church's booths is also wonderful, curly fries, cheesesteak sandwiches, steak kabobs, sweet potato fries, fried snickers... I love it all.  But this year our children's booth added giant turkey legs.  My hubby has been wanting to get our booth to serve humongous turkey legs for four years now.  And a the 2011 Western Montana Fair his dream came true.  Plus they tasted extra yummy!
We did manage to squeeze in a little fair fun with our kiddos.  We mostly do the free stuff, like the animal barns.  But of course grandma can't resist treating the kids to a few rides.  It was my youngest first time on a ride.  Since she loves horses & the carousel allows parents to ride along for free we did that.  She LOVED it & was a little disappointed when it was all over.
So between fair week & house remodeling I have not been cooking or blogging much.  (Do ya like my son's spurring action in this shot.  He says he wants to ride bulls, but from this pict I'd say he's gonna be a bronc rider.  My oldest seems to be practicing her trick riding.  I love that we have real horses, yet the fiberglass ones are so much more fun.)  I get to play catch up this week a little bit.  I will have some yummy recipes coming up & a whole section on zucchinis.  Anybody got way too many zucchinis in their garden?  (I'm raising my hand)

Iced Coffee

I'm not a big hot coffee drinker.  After a nice dinner I will drink a cup with some amazingly chocolaty dessert.  But other than that I like my coffee iced.  Even in the dead of winter when it twenty below I will pull up to the coffee cart & ask for an iced mocha.  They look at me like I'm crazy.  To which I respond "Honey, you don't even know crazy!"  Okay, I don't really say that, but I think it.

Back on track.  I've learned over the last year how to make my own iced coffee that I love.  I also love how much cheaper it is than buying espresso & how I don't have to get out of my pjs to get one.  Here are my steps:
*First you need to cold brew some java.  I like to use the Toddy Cold Brew System.  Not too expensive & works like a dream.  But if you don't have a Toddy you can also add a half pound of your favorite coffee (dark roast recommended) to 1 gallon of water.  Giver 'er a good stir & then cover & let sit (brew) for eight hours or so.  Strain through a few layers of cheesecloth & a colander.  Now that you have your coffee concentrate prepared stick it in the fridge until it is very chilled (no one likes lukewarm iced coffee).
* Now, find yourself a glass.  I like to throw in one tablespoon of chocolate sauce.  Then add the coffee concentrate a little below half full (about 3 ounces).  Mix the chocolate & coffee together.  Add ice cold half & half almost to top (about 8 ounces).  Give a good stir, your almost done.
* Here's my secret ingredient: coffee ice cubes.  Whenever there is a bit of coffee left in the pot, instead of pouring it out I put it in ice cube trays & freeze it.  Then I add the coffee ice cubes to my ice coffee.  It keeps the flavor real & doesn't water my iced coffee down.  Don't use coffee concentrate for the ice cubes, that would be over powering.  Just stick to the drip coffee for the cubes.  If you don't have coffee ice cubes on had just use regular ice.  Fill the glass the rest of the way up with ice so your coffee is freezing cold.
*Now you're ready to sit back & sip away.  I suggest using a straw, it just makes it that much better.  Enjoy.

Iced coffee is a great drink to serve at parties & BBQs as well.  To make an entire pitcher just stick to the same quantities- a little less than 1/2 a pitcher of coffee concentrate, rest of the way with half & half & then ice to top it off.  Add flavor (like chocolate) as desired.

Love This Stuff

One thing we don't lack around here are mosquitoes.  They're horrible for all of July & August.  My poor kids get eaten alive the minute they step out the door.  And they hate it when I have to spray them down with bug spray.  So you can only imagine my excitement when I found this stuff.  Not only does it smell good, it's sunscreen & bug repellent in one.  It's always handy when you have 4 kiddos if you can skip a step.  So to get sunscreen & bug repellent on in one shot is wonderful.  It's also waterproof.  I swoon, I'm in love.

You can grab a bottle of this stuff here wait patiently for a sale & you can get it for a steal.

White Enchiladas

Enchiladas are a common occurrence in our household.  We all love them in various forms.  This white enchilada is a nice change from the more common red enchilada.  It very mild & is great for kiddos or a large crowd with a wide range of taste preferences.  My version is not spicy at all, but you could easily kick up the spice by adding chili powder or hot sauce.  Some folks are intimidated by enchilada making, I know I was at first.  But in reality it is very easy.  I've done a step-by-step for you to help the process go smoothly.  Let's get to making some enchiladas!
2 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons canola oil
12 corn tortillas
1 medium onion, diced
2 cans (4 oz) diced chilies
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Flash fry tortillas to soften, about 5 seconds on each side (do not cook too long or they will get crispy).  Place tortillas on paper towels to drain.
In large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat.  Add the onion  saute for 3 minutes.  Add chicken, one can of chilies, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, cumin & garlic powder.  Stir well & add 1/2 cup chicken broth & cream.  Cook, stirring occasionally until mixture begins to bubble.  Turn off heat & set aside.
In separate large skillet melt butter & sprinkle in flour.  Cook over medium heat whisking constantly until brown & bubbly.  Pour in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth & cook for two minutes.  Stir in the remaining can of chilies.  Reduce heat to medium-low & stir in sour cream.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the grated Monterey Jack cheese & 1/2 teaspoon paprika.  Stirring constantly cook until cheese is melted & sauce is creamy & smooth.
To assemble:
Spoon a couple of tablespoons of chicken mixture on top of tortillas.
And plenty of cheddar cheese.
Roll up
Place seam side down in 9x13 casserole dish
Pour cheese mixture all over the top & spread out to coat evenly.
Top with remaining Monterey Jack cheese & back at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle with green onions & serve.

Grandma's Stroganoff

There are three foods that I will forever associate with my Grandma Wilma (there's a name that's hard to pass on to your children.  We used her middle name Rose instead for our oldest Maddie-Rose.  Maddie-Wilma just didn't have the same ring).  They are homemade Mac & Cheese, Vegatable Beef Soup (which I called Grandma Soup & only later in life realized that it had an official name & was made by other people in the world) & my favorite of her's, Beef Stroganoff.
 This is comfort food at its finest.  My Grandma's stroganoff had a bit of a twist that was uniquely hers.  For one, she used ground beef instead of strips of steak.  Secondly, she always threw in a secret ingredient...
... for great tasting stroganoff you've got to put in a can of diced tomatoes (okay, so maybe it's not that secret of an ingredient).  It takes the flavor to a whole new level.  Don't be shy, throw those tomatoes in!  This dish is hearty, flavorful, & appeases to youngin's as well.  My last bonus I'll give you for this dish is that is easy & quick to make.  Serve it with some salad or green beans & you'll have a completely down home & yummy meal that everyone will enjoy.  Here it is, straight from my Grandma's recipe box...
1 lb. ground beef/elk/deer
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 lb. mushrooms, washed & sliced
1 medium onion, minced
1 1/2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 can diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup sour cream
16 ounces Rotini noodles
In large skillet melt butter.  Add onions & mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes.  Add ground beef & cook until meat is cooked through.  Reserving 1/3 cup of the broth stir in remaining broth, ketchup, garlic, salt & tomatoes.  Cover & simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile cook noodles until al dente.  Blend reserved broth & flour.  Stir flour mixture into meat mixture & heat to boiling stirring constantly.  Reduce heat & stir in sour cream.  Cook until heated through.  Pour over noodles & serve immediately.  Enjoy!

*Some folks are extremely adverse to mushrooms.  I wouldn't suggest it, but if you must omit them I think this dish would still be wonderful.