Monday, July 18, 2016

5 Ways You Can Love Zucchini Season!

You know what I mean. You planted two zucchinis, just in case one of them didn't make it. Of course, they both did and now, in the middle of the season, you can't give it away fast enough. Or your neighbor did that and keeps leaving sacks of them on your doorstep when you're not home.

It's a shame to waste good food, of course, but there are only so many ways to use zucchini, right? Instead of getting frustrated and just tossing them in the freezer, try out these five ways to learn to love the season of zucchini.

1. Make pickles from them, just like you would with cucumbers. Use the same spices and the same method, but don't try to ferment them like old fashioned pickles. Use the very young ones, around 4 to 5 inches long. You can make refrigerator pickles or can them, just like cucumber pickles.

2. Zucchini chips are a great snack any time. Slice them thinly, sprinkle a little salt on them and dehydrate until they're crispy. That's all you have to do, but be careful to not overdo the salt! (Make a few without salt and save them to use in soup and stew when the weather gets cold.)

3. Make a pie that tastes and looks like apple pie, but is made with zucchini. Even the larger ones work fine if you take out the more mature seeds. Peel and cut them in half, then slice into 1/4 inch slices and just follow your favorite apple pie recipe. You can freeze these before they're cooked, so make a few for winter eating.

4. Chunk zucchini and add chopped onions, cooked, crumbled sausage, diced or grated cheese and toss. Make up a bowl of cornbread batter and pour it over this. Bake at 400 for about a half hour.

5. Enjoy. Zucchini season only comes once a year. ;)
Got some big ones? Split them in half and remove the seeds, then stuff with a cooked meatball mixture or chicken and rice mix. You can also use rice, mushrooms, onions and tomato sauce for a meatless dish. Bake at 350 until the squash is tender. Let your imagination roam with this one.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Hot Summer? Make the Coolest Treats Ever

Summer heat means that anything cool sounds good! Frozen treats can be expensive from the store, but you can make the best and coolest treats at home.

Fudgesicles

Start with a chocolate pudding mix and be sure to use whole milk. You can even substitute a little cream or evaporated milk to make them creamier. Here's how to do it:

To a four ounce package of instant pudding mix, add two cups of milk and beat until it starts to set, then add a half cup of sugar and a cup of evaporated milk or cream (or even coffee cream, made liquid). Mix it well and pour into popsicle molds, small paper cups or other containers to freeze.

Popsicles

Have you ever tried to make popsicles with plain juice or flavored drink? It froze hard and solid, didn't it? Here's the secret ingredient: Jello.

Dissolve whatever flavor of Jello you like with half as much hot water as it calls for, then add a cup and a half of cold water. Freeze in molds or other container.

Plain Ice Cream Without a Freezer


Mix two cups of milk with a quarter cup of sugar (or more; taste it to see if it's sweet enough for you). Add flavorings like chocolate drink mix or dry fruit drink mix. Put this in a can with a very tight fitting lid, then put that in another, larger can. Fill the open space with a layer of ice, then salt, then another layer of ice, etc., until the space is filled. Put the lid on (tape it closed if necessary) and shake or roll it for at least 15 minutes. Check to see if it's frozen yet, if not, continue to shake or roll the can.

Strawberry Yogurt Pie

You'll need a graham cracker crust, a cup of sweetened, mashed strawberries and a couple of cups of plain yogurt. Mix the strawberries and yogurt well, pour into the pie crust and freeze. Simple enough?



Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How To Bake an Almost Healthy, Frugal Chocolate Cake

We all like to indulge now and then, but guilt may stop you from enjoying common, traditional treats like chocolate cake. Besides that, buying a chocolate cake is not the most frugal of actions.

Baking a healthy cake might seem like an oxymoron, but it really isn't. You simply add or maximize the healthy ingredients and minimize the unhealthy ones.

Okay... cake recipes don't always take well to experimentation! So here's how to bake a chocolate cake that's as close to healthy as you can get. It started as a recipe that I copied from some long forgotten source years ago and adjusted it slowly over time to create a cake that I will and do eat with gusto!

First, dark chocolate is healthy, they tell us, and eggs are, too. Coconut oil? Yes. Oats? Definitely. Here's the complete recipe:

  1. 1 1/4 cup boiling water
  2. 1 cup quick cooking oats
  3. Scant cup of unsifted flour (whole wheat or spelt flour can be substituted for white wheat flour)
  4. 1 1/4 cup or slightly less of sugar
  5. 1/2 cup of baking cocoa
  6. 1 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1/2 cup coconut oil
  9. 1 egg, beaten
  10. 1 tsp vanilla

Pour the boiling water over the oats and set aside while you mix the dry ingredients very thoroughly. Add the egg, vanilla and coconut oil and mix well, then add the oats and mix again.

Bake in a 14 X 9 inch cake pan at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean.

You can frost this with whatever frosting you prefer, but I enjoy it plain or with a dusting of powdered sugar.