Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Sweets From the Garden

So, in February I moved to my new house in the mountains with a lovely-sized backyard and high hopes of planting fruit trees and a garden. I guess we'll have to try again next year, but my garden didn't do so hot. When I asked one neighbor what kinds of fruit trees or plants for a garden grew well up here, her response was "You should get a buddy in the valley because you might as well just spit in the wind as try to grow anything to produce any food up here."  :(

I have one little raisin tomato plant (kind of a mix between a grape and cherry tomato) that has produced valiantly. I also have one little beefsteak tomato plant that will probably yield a total of 5-10 tomatoes (over 5 if I'm lucky). I think I'll be searching for a lot of green tomato recipes this year. I also planted some zucchini up here with the thought that zucchini is like a weed...it will grow and flourish anywhere, right? Well, not so much. My two zucchini plants have so far produced one edible zucchini...and a bunch of little zucchinis that died before they reached their edible potential (meaning they got to the length of my middle finger and then shriveled and died).

I'll try again next year (planting earlier, buying bigger plants, watching the weather to cover my plants, etc.). But I don't have super high hopes. It's kind of a let down because I always had visions of canning pears from my own pear tree, making applesauce from my own apple tree, feasting on caprese salad all summer long, and making enough zucchini bread to choke a goat.

But maybe I'll have to buddy up with my Mom in the future and enjoy the excess fruits of her garden!

At any rate, while my little zucchini plant didn't produce much, my Mom's zucchini plant produced enough to choke a whole herd of goats. So, I'm going to share a few of our favorite ways to sweeten up zucchini (two new recipes and an old favorite).

I hope you enjoy them and may your garden produce more bountifully than mine!

Zucchini Brownies



1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional


6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended.

Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Fold in the zucchini and walnuts, if using. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched.

To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and margarine; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread frosting over cooled brownies before cutting into squares.

Nutrition information: Makes 24 brownies. Per serving: 209 calories, 8.6 g fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 1.6 g fiber, 2.3 g protein.

Above: You can never have too much frosting.

Source: Allrecipes.com, submitted by Marian.

Notes: I had never tried this recipe before Sunday, but with 4 1/2 stars and over 1,800 reviews I figured it was most likely a good recipe. Well it is a FANTASTIC recipe! You would never know that there is zucchini in these brownies. The zucchini makes them so moist and sneaks in some veggies into your dessert! These are as rich and tasty as any brownies I've ever had. Oh, and this frosting recipe is my new favorite for brownies!

Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with Lemon Glaze by Nancy Creative (find the original post here)


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup grated zucchini (you don't need to peel the zucchini before grating it)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5" loaf pan; set aside.

In large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In medium bowl, beat two eggs well, then add canola oil and sugar, and blend well. Then add the buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest and blend everything well. Fold in zucchini and blend until evenly distributed in mixture.

Add this mixture to the dry ingredients in the large bowl and blend everything together, but don't overmix.

Pour batter into prepared 9x5" loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (if your oven tends to run hot, check the loaf after 40 minutes; also, if you make this in an 8x4" loaf pan, your baking time may be a little longer...about 5-10 minutes more). Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely. While loaf is cooling, you can make the glaze (recipe found below).

Lemon Glaze


1 cup powdered sugar
Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 tbsp lemon juice)


In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended. Spoon glaze over cooled loaf. Let glaze set, then serve.

Source: I found this recipe on Pinterest. As noted above, it is from a fantastic blog/website called Nancy Creative. You can find the original post of this recipe here.

Notes: Not only is this one of the most delicious and different zucchini bread recipes I've ever tried, it is also one of the prettiest. It makes an absolutely gorgeous light yellow loaf with beautiful specks of green throughout from the zucchini. And the glaze is equally beautiful and delicious.

Pineapple Spiced Zucchini Bread


3 eggs
1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts, optional


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend first 6 ingredients. Sift dry ingredients together. Combine the two mixtures. Add nuts, if using. Pour into greased and floured pans (4 small or 3 regular 9x5" pans).

Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Source: This is a recipe that my Mom has been making since we were kids. I'm not sure where she got it from.

Notes: This is your classic zucchini bread recipe. Nothing glamorous. Just a good, old-fashioned zucchini bread.

And as a bonus...

Cucumber Bread!  My Mom made this one and has the recipe, so I will let her add it to this blog post when she gets some time. But this was a wonderful bread. The cucumber flavor is so subtle...but it's very soothing and delicious.

Earlier in the summer, we had a plethora of cucumbers.  Oh, if only some of these could be saved in their fresh state.  I did a web search and found this recipe submitted by Marcella on Allrecipes.com.  It has a surprisingly fresh taste.  I really liked it.  Of course, we left out the nuts per grandson's allergies.

Cucumber Nut Bread


2 c. peeled, seeded, and shredded cucumber
3 eggs
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans, optional
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 t ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


Preheat over to 325.  Spray 2 5x9 inch loaf pans with cooking spray.

Place shredded cucumber into a colander and let drain for about 30 minutes.

Stir eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, vanilla extract, drained cucumber, and pecans together in a large bowl.  Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves in a separate bowl.  Stir dry ingredients into the cucumber mixture until batter is thoroughly combined.  Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.

Bake loaves in the preheated oven until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of each loaf comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Let loaves cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing from pans to finish cooling on wire racks.

Source: I'm not sure...I'll have to check with my Mom. She's the one who found this recipe.

Notes: We left out the nuts due to my son's tree nut allergy and the bread was just as delicious without them.

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