hello, gorgeous! – part 1

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My tomatoes were grown in containers in my driveway.

do something with those gorgeous garden veggies!
Even if you don’t have your own veggie garden, there are many roadside stands, greenhouses, and farmers’ markets out there where you can pick up an amazing harvest of gorgeous, delicious, and sometimes organic, veggies. I’ve compiled a nice collection of unusual recipes that capture the spirit of the harvest that you and your family will want to enjoy for years to come.

feta and parmesan zucchini bake
This is so easy to throw together and a great way to use up zucchini or summer squash. Since eggs and cheese provide protein, this dish can be served alone with crusty bread for a quick late summer meal.

  • 6-7 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • 2 tsp dried thyme or 1 ½ Tbs fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375° and spray a large casserole dish with nonstick spray. Slice the squash into 1/4″ slices. If they are larger squash, cut them down the middle before slicing into half-moons. Heat the oil to medium high in a large non-stick frying pan. Add the squash, garlic and thyme. Sauté and stir constantly until the squash starts to brown and soften slightly. Don’t cook too long or it will be mushy after it bakes in the oven, and the garlic will burn. Remove from heat.

Beat together the eggs, sour cream, cheeses and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. Place half of the squash into the bottom of the casserole. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper (remember the cheeses are salty!) then spread 1/2 of the egg mixture over the top. Repeat with remaining squash and then the egg mixture. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling and slightly set. Serve hot.

 

Buffalo Green Beansbuffalo-style green beans
This is an old Weight Watchers recipe I’ve adapted. It serves four, but you can double it.

  • 4 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs orange juice or lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Tabasco or Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 2 nice-size plum tomatoes, diced, or 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 2 or 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 pound green snap beans, washed, trimmed, and cooked until tender-crisp and well-drained
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves rolled and sliced thin, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp table salt or to taste

Whisk together oil, Worcestershire sauce, juice, and hot pepper sauce. Stir in vegetables, basil, salt, and pepper; Serve hot, or chill for 1 hour or overnight. Divide into 4 portions and serve with blue cheese dressing.

lebanese potato salad
This is a tangy variation on your potato, onion, and mayo version. The ingredients, like lemon, scallions, and fresh mint, make it a popular local dish, and it will be a big hit at potluck dinners, too. It is also very nutritious. You can make this with new potatoes, too. Just reduce boiling time.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare all the ingredients ahead of time and refrigerate, then assemble just before serving. For a creamier salad, whisk ½ cup of plain yogurt into the lemon juice and oil mixture. Enjoy!

  • 4-5 pounds Round White potatoes (about 6-8 medium)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup each chopped fresh mint and fresh parsley

Scrub potatoes; remove stems and eyes. Place in a large saucepan. Cover with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, 25 to 30 minutes, or till a fork is inserted easily. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a cutting board. Let cool for 20 minutes. Cut the cooled potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces leaving the skins on.

Whisk lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the cut-up potatoes and toss to coat. Just before serving, add scallions, parsley, and mint and toss gently.

roasted zucchini coins
This is a cinch to put together. Let the kids help. Be daring! Add sliced mushrooms, onions, or any fresh summer veggie.

  • 2 zucchini (give or take depending on size and how many people you are feeding)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Rosemary (fresh if possible, but dried works, too)
  • Garlic cloves, sliced
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut zucchini into large coins and then quarter. Place the zucchini and garlic in a large zipper bag, drizzle in enough olive oil to coat, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, a bit of crushed rosemary and massage the bag gently to coat. Turn the zucchini out onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until soft and starting to turn golden in a few places. Spoon into a serving bowl. Garnish with parmesan cheese and pass lemon wedges.

bonus recipe: curried broccoli
This exotic twist on broccoli will have your family asking for it again and again. Healthy, delicious, AND no cooking required! This can also be made using raw cauliflower or blanched brussels sprouts.

  • 1 small crown of broccoli, washed
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 pint or container cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Remove small crowns from broccoli stems, remove skin from stems and slice stems and crowns thinly. Place in bowl. Mix liquids very well and pour over. Toss. Add spices and toss again. Marinate up to 1 hour in the refrigerator. Add chopped tomatoes and mix before serving.

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fruit

Fresh fruit, preserved fruit, frozen fruit, canned fruit—it’s all good because fruit is sweet, always available, and versatile as an ingredient in savory dishes, like ham and pineapple or pork and applesauce, as well as desserts. And now we can enjoy fresh berries and watermelon in January! My first recipe is especially for the cook who hates heating up the kitchen in the middle of summer!

no-bake berry crisp
You can use fresh or frozen fruit of any kind. No need to thaw. Serves 6.

Topping:
¾ cup sliced almonds, divided
2/3 cup flour
¼ cup white sugar
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
6 Tbs butter, melted

Filling:
1/3 cup white sugar, divided
1 Tbs cornstarch
2 lbs berries, apples, peaches, or frozen sweet cherries
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

Optional: If using sweet cherries, add ¼ tsp almond extract and 2/3 cup dried cherries; for apples, add 2/3 cup raisins or dried cranberries.

Finely chop ¼ cup of the almonds. Mix them with flour, both sugars, cinnamon, salt, vanilla in a bowl. Stir in melted butter till it looks like wet sand and no dry flour remains.

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, toast remaining ½ cup almonds over medium-low heat until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add sugar mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool and wipe out skillet.

Prepare the filling. Mix 2 Tbs of the sugar with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Combine fresh or frozen fruit with lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and remaining sugar in the skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat until fruit thaws and/or releases its juices. Stir about halfway through. If adding any dried fruit, do it at this time. Time will vary depending on the kind of fruit you are using, but 5-7 minutes should do it. Uncover and simmer till fruit is very tender.

Sprinkle in cornstarch mixture and stir till thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and distribute topping evenly over filling. Return skillet to heat and cook till filling is bubbling around edges. Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving.

nathalie’s apple squares
Nathalie Lagerstrom was an incredible woman. She spoke fluent Swedish and was a passionate gardener and volunteer. When my mother died, Nathalie brought these to the reception at Faith Lutheran Church. Of course I had to ask her for the recipe, which she knew by heart! Now Nathalie is gone, and we will miss her spirit. This is quick and easy to prepare using stuff you already have around. Apples can be substituted with any other fruit, and this can be doubled to fill a 9×13 pan for a crowd.

Ingredients
1 egg, well beaten with 1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup canned milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup peeled, chopped apple

Topping
2 Tbs sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, place ingredients in order given and mix well. Grease an 8×8 pan. Pour batter into pan. Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle over batter. Bake about a half hour or until golden brown. Cool completely. Cut into squares.

granny cake
This is so delicious. Keep in the refrigerator—IF any is left, that is!

2 cups sugar, divided
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup evaporated milk OR coconut milk
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 20-oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan. Mix 1½ cups of the sugar, flour, salt, soda, eggs, and pineapple in a medium size bowl, pour into the pan, and top with a mixture of the brown sugar and pecans. Bake 45 minutes.

Mix ½ cup of the sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. As soon as cake is out of the oven, pour the mixture over entire cake.

one-dish apple pudding
This is from the Shakers of Sabbathday Lake, Maine. I met these wonderful folks when they came to Caribou to do a history presentation at the Nylander Museum in 1986. Part of the program was a cooking demonstration. It was so much fun. Now you can enjoy this great recipe, which I make often. It’s so easy, but my family thinks I spend hours on it. Yours will, too!

2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
3 Tbs flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla or rose water
Dash of salt
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup finely chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans (optional)
2 medium apples, peeled and finely diced
Plain cream, whipped cream, or ice cream

Break eggs into a 1½-quart casserole and beat well. (Do NOT use a smaller dish as mixture rises and will go over in the oven.) Stir in all remaining ingredients except cream. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes till golden on top. Might take up to another 10 minutes if needed. Serve warm with cream of choice.

Other ideas:
Substitute brown sugar for white.
Top with wheat germ, drizzle with melted butter, and sprinkle on nutmeg or mace for more flavor
Serve with lemon yogurt or sour cream.

blueberry lemon pound cake
Just right for your holiday celebrations, big enough for a crowd, and blueberries are local and fresh right about now. Can be made a day or two ahead to save you rushing around at the last minute. Historical factoid: pound cake recipes go back to before colonial days when a pound of butter, a pound of eggs, a pound of sugar, and a pound of flour was mixed to create a cake. I like the modern measurements much more. And not many of us has a scale in the kitchen anymore nor do we cook over an open fire either!

For the cake:
1/3 cup whole milk
6 large eggs
1 ½ Tbs vanilla
2 2/3 cups flour plus more for flouring baking pan
1 tsp baking powder
1 ¼ tsp salt (double if using kosher salt)
3 sticks (1 ½ cups) unsalted butter, softened plus more for greasing baking pan
½ cup white sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup freshly grated lemon zest
3 cups picked over blueberries, tossed with 1½ Tbs flour (Wild blueberries are preferred and frozen is fine if fresh is not available.)

For the syrup:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup white sugar

TIP: One medium lemon yields approximately 1 tablespoon of lemon zest (rind) and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Be sure your lemons are at room temperature for maximum juice.

Make the syrup while cake is baking:
In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice and sugar, stirring till dissolved. Let cool a bit.

To bake the cake:
Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt or tube pan with butter. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and vanilla. Into another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter with the sugars and zest till light and fluffy. Next, add the flour and egg mixture alternately, beating after each addition until just combined. Fold in 1½ cups of the berries.

Spoon one-third of the batter into the baking pan, spread evenly, and then sprinkle ½ cup of remaining blueberries over it.

Spoon half of remaining batter into pan, spreading evenly over blueberries on top. Sprinkle ½ cup of remaining berries over it. Repeat to finish with last layer of blueberries on top.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour to 1 hour and ten minutes or till golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle of cake is clean.

Remove from oven, and immediately poke top evenly all over with a wooden skewer or cooking fork and brush with the prepared syrup. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, invert on to rack, remove pan, and poke all over with the skewer or fork. Brush with remaining syrup. Yummy!

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