Saturday, September 24, 2011

Zucchini Cookies with Citrus Icing

Summer is just about over, which means it's time to harvest the last of the warm-weather crops. As always, I'm left with more zucchini than I know what to do with, which isn't necessarily a bad thing yet there is only so much zucchini bread a baker can make.

Gigantic, right?

So I recently made a plan to bake up some zucchini cookies, with inspiration from My Baking Addiction. The original recipe called for baking these in a whoopie pie pan (which I don't own), however I opted for a plain old baking sheet instead. The cookies turned out a bit thinner, but delicious nonetheless. It's all in the combination of tender cookie and delicious icing!

My changes to the recipe included adding almond extract and tweaking the icing glaze by adding some orange juice to it. I would definitely refer to these as muffin top cookies due to their fluffy, near-muffin like appearance and taste.

And again, my taste testers gave these high scores for flavor, uniqueness, and the ability to eat several in a row without realizing it. Enjoy!

Zucchini Cookies with Citrus Icing 
Adapted from: My Baking Addiction 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup finely shredded zucchini
  • tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • tsp baking soda
  • tsp baking powder
  • tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Citrus Icing
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg, zucchini, lemon zest, vanilla and almond extracts.

In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until just combined. Fold in raisins.

Use a medium cookie scoop (1 ½ tablespoons) to drop dough into the center of each whoopee pie well or simply drop them directly onto the prepared cookie sheet. If you are using a cookie sheet, be sure to leave a few inches between each cookie.

Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Make the icing by mixing together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Drizzle the icing over cooled cookies.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Spiced Pear Banana Bread

Last weekend I escaped. No, not from jail. From the monotony of my daily life. And headed for the coast.

Ah yes, the Oregon coast. How I adore thee!

Windy beaches free of crowds, an amazing local aquarium, local breweries - what's not to like?

Of course I had to bring some baked goods for the road. The pear tree out back finally got the message this year and has been producing like crazy! Even after gifting away 10 lbs. of pears, I still found myself with an abundance to use up and fast. So as a treat to myself, I brought along a freshly baked loaf of Spiced Pear Banana Bread.

Try not to drool on the keyboard, which you would be doing if computers had the ability to release scents (omg, did this recipe smell great during the baking process).

Using the pears from the yard, the eggs from our feathered ladies, and a few bananas I had stowed away in the freezer, this was a fairly easy recipe. I adapted it from Banana Bread Recipes, using shredded pears in place of mashed ones and adding almond extract (my secret weapon).

It did brown a bit around the edges, but made for some amazing flavor. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Enjoy!

Spiced Pear Banana Bread
Adapted from: Banana Bread Recipes

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 2 cups shredded pears
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature 
  • 1/4 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract 

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan and coat with flour to prevent sticking.
In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
In another mixing bowl, cream together the white sugar, brown sugar and butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and make sure everything is well incorporated. 
Mash the bananas in another bowl. Shred the pears into another small bowl. 
Stir the banana into the sugar and butter mixture. Then add in the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, stirring well. Next stir in the yogurt, again mixing well. And finally add the shredded pears. 
Slowly pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stirring constantly. Mix really throughly until everything is perfectly blended together.
Spoon the mixture into your prepared loaf pan. You can place a few slices of pear on top and sprinkle with a little brown sugar for decoration if you desire.
Place the loaf pan in the center of preheated oven and bake on 350F for 1 hour to an 1 hour 20 mins. Cooking times may vary, so check if the bread is done by inserting a toothpick or knife into the middle of the loaf. As soon as that toothpick comes out clean, take the loaf out! You don't want to overcook it.  
Allow the banana bread to cool in the loaf pan for about 10-20 minutes. The cooling is important because the loaf will solidify fully as it cools. Then remove it from the pan and let stand for another 20 minutes or so until it has cooled. Slice and enjoy! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Foodie Ode to J

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm sure Mr. Emerson didn't quite mean this quote in the same context I am referring to, however I bet he wouldn't mind much as it is for a good cause. As luck would have it (and I thank my lucky stars each day for such luck), I've had the delightful pleasure of being close friends with my pal, J, for over a decade now. As the years have passed, life has thrown us together in so many unusual and comical situations that I consider her my sister. You know, the kind that you actually want to have around during the holidays. From hiking out of a desert with one shared flip-flop between us to blindly moving to the NW with each other to spending every birthday together for more years than I can count, our adventures never cease to amaze me. She is one of the greatest people I have ever encountered in all of my days.

Now I'm sure you are asking why I'm blathering on about my friend-crush. As life would have it, J is heading out on a walkabout of sorts. To contemplate her navel and find new discoveries. Three cheers for anyone who has the guts to do that! Needless to say I cannot join her on this sort of journey and for the first time in 11 or so years, we will no longer reside in the same great state together. I feel like I am losing my left arm while happily encouraging it to travel away, strange as that sounds. I'll sure miss while she is wandering around the other side!

In my efforts to send her off with a bang, this post is an ode to some the foods J has either helped me create or fell in love with over the years! I wouldn't be the fantastic foodie I am today if it weren't for her taste tests, subjective criticism, and patience with me as I over-fed her throughout our friendship. If you happen to have the luck to have J in your life, give her a giant squeeze next time you see her! The smile on her face is worth it alone.

First up, cupcakes & muffins! J has sampled quite a few of my creations in her day, however these have been a few of her favs:

And she always loved my bread...

And of course a few more of her favorite dishes...

If my luck holds out, I'll be cooking again for her soon enough and our crazy adventures will continue onto the next chapter. Sending much love, happy thoughts and good vibes with J on her upcoming journey!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chicken Update

As some of you know, there have been some gigantic changes in my life the last several months. One of those is the pending separation of my two flocks, the mature layers of the original flock and the younger gals adopted earlier this year. I knew this day was coming, although now that it is almost here I am a bit emotional about it. Yes, poke fun at the crazy chicken lady. I'll give you this freebie only once!

The older flock is going to greener pastures while the barely-laying younger gals (above) will stay here in chicken valhalla (how I refer to my backyard). It is all for the best and the departing ladies will be sorely missed!

In the meantime, I am spoiling my feathered friends as much as possible since our time together is limited. It feels strange to have raised a flock from chick over the past few years only to entrust their fate to another person. I hope that their new digs prove fabulous by chicken standards and they spend the remainder of their days happily pecking about. Do expect a few more updates on the departing ladies in the future!

And in other news...all three of the young pullets are laying! Hats off to Athena, LeLu, and Barney!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On Vacation

Forgive me for the sparse posts of late. It was August, which meant that it was my pseudo vacation month. I firmly believe in the siesta break over some portion of summer, even adults need a summer holiday. Food and recipes are forthcoming, as well as a few other goodies I have up my sleeve. For now, enjoy a few views of the world from the last month...

Happy tomatoes.

The inside of a drum.

A feline companion. 

The beautiful Playground Sports cake.