Zucchini-cheese Pancakes

Zucchini-Cheese Pancakes

Zucchini-Cheese Pancakes

For everyone who is a gardner growing zucchini, you are probably starting to say “gad zukes, what will I do with it all?”  If you are not inundated with zucchini now, you most likely will be very soon.  So I’m going to feature some recipes that utilize zucchini in the starring role.  Look for them on Thursdays, which I am designating as “Theme Thursdays”.   After zucchinis, I’ll see what other food items there might be that I can do the same thing with.  It’s kind of fun to see how many different ways a particular food can be incorporated into the various categories of dishes.

Last summer at the farm stands near me, I saw a few yellow zucchini, and I tried one.  Except for the color it is the same as the green variety.  This year, I’m seeing a lot more of them.  In fact my neighbor was selling some really large ones for $1.00 each.  Of course, I bought several, thinking how apt they would be to feature on a blog called “Delicious on a Dollar”.  Watch for them to show up in some of these posts.

Yellow zucchini.

Yellow zucchini.

Today we will start with these pancakes that are moist, savory and delicious hot from the griddle;  or warm,  at room temperature….even cold.  They can be for breakfast,  or dinner, whenever you are in the mood for some non-traditional pancakes.

For breakfast with sausages.

For breakfast with sausages.

I have experimented with these pancakes and added an ear of cooked corn, cut from the cob.  They were delicious served with salsa and sour cream.  You can also vary the cheese used and get a somewhat different flavor.   And if you don’t have scallions, try grating a sweet onion instead.   Many recipes that use zucchini have you squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini, but this recipe doesn’t require that as long as you cook the batter just after it is made.  If you let it sit a while the zucchini will add too much moisture and the batter will become wet.  If that happens, just add some more flour to compensate.

Recipe:  ZUCCHINI-CHEESE PANCAKES

Yield:   about 20 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped chives or scallions;  about 1 bunch scallions trimmed and chopped
  • 2 tsp. salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp. dried basil**
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano**
  • 4 cups coarsely grated zucchini; about one 10″ zucchini
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ** substitute 2 tsp. Pizza Seasoning for the dried herbs, if desired. reducing salt to 1  1 /2 tsp.
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, cheddar, Monterey Jack or other cheese  ( or a combination).

Preparation:

1.  Preheat a griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat;  If you have an electric griddle, set the heat to 400*F.

2.  Beat the eggs with the oil, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined.

3.  Add the herbs, scallions, zucchini, and cheese, stirring to combine.

4.  Stir in the flour.  This will be a very thick batter.

A very thick batter.

A very thick batter.

5.  Grease the hot griddle lightly.  Drop the batter in 1/4 cupfuls onto the griddle; spread the batter to about 3 1/2″ to 4″ diameter.

Spread batter to about 4" rounds.

Spread batter to about 4″ rounds.

6.  Cook the cakes for 3 minutes, or until they’re brown on the bottom, and bubbles have appeared on their tops.  The top surface will appear somewhat dry and set.  (My pancakes did not get bubbles on top.  Lift the edges, and peek at the bottom.  If brown, turn them over.)

Turn over when they start to get brown.

Turn over when they start to get brown.

7.  Flip the cakes, and cook them for about 3 – 4 minutes on the second side, or until they’re as moist/cooked as you like when you break one open.

8.  Continue cooking until you have used all the batter.

9.  Serve warm with butter and grated cheese, salsa and sour cream, or applesauce.  Store any leftovers, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator.  Reheat in a toaster or toaster oven, if desired.

Serve with butter and grated cheese.  YUM!

Serve with butter and grated cheese. YUM!

SOURCE:   King Arthur Flour

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Chocolate Fudge Zucchini Cake

This past holiday weekend we had two pot-luck cookouts to go to.  Since I haven’t been baking for Mr. D. and me, I took this as the perfect opportunity to make a baked dessert, and have just one piece.   When I chose this recipe I didn’t foresee  how difficult it would be to have just one piece.   Holy Moly!  Every word in the name of this cake is so true;  it’s definitely chocolate, very fudgey, and there is zucchini (and chocolate chips) in it.  I thought,  I’ll just whip up this easy cake in no time, bake it in a bundt pan, and it will travel well, which it did.

Putting all the ingredients together and making the batter was no problem.  Where I got into difficulty was when I licked some of the batter off my finger.  Ok, Ok, I went a little further and licked the beaters, what can I say, I do that sometimes!  This batter was so thick and creamy,  like chocolate pudding, that I wanted to eat it with a spoon.   I forced myself to scrape it all into the pan, and put it the oven, and was rewarded with a high, beautiful cake.  The recipe suggests an oven temperature of 325 degrees for 40-50 minutes.  My cake took the full 50 minutes before it tested done.   I just know that if you make this cake you will love it.  Besides, it uses up some of that zucchini.

CHOCOLATE FUDGE ZUCCHINI CAKE 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix with Pudding in the mix.
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded  ( about 1 & 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional

PREPARATION

1.  Grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan or 10-inch tube pan.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  ( 350 degrees for light colored pan ).

2  In large mixer bowl, beat butter till light and fluffy, beat in eggs one at a time, then flavorings.  Beat in sour cream and cinnamon, then slowly beat in cake mix.  Remove from mixer.

3.  Stir in zucchini, chocolate chips, and nuts if using.

Ready for the oven.

4.  Spoon into prepared pan.  Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until tester comes out clean.  Cool on cooling rack for about 15 minutes.  Invert onto serving plate to cool completely.***  Frost or dust with confectionery sugar.

Just out of the oven.

***This cake is likely to break if you try to remove it from the pan while it is still warm.  Ask me how I know!    I made a simple frosting of cream cheese, confectionery  sugar and milk, in a thin consistency to drizzle over the top.  I first used some to glue the cake together where it broke, and then poured the rest over the top and let it run down the sides.

SOURCE:   Duncan Hines website:  Cakes

Italian Style Stuffed Zucchini

At this point in the summer season there is an abundance of zucchini, with many gardeners looking for ways to prepare it, or friends and neighbors to share with.  I am fortunate in being a neighbor to a gardener, and he is kind in sharing his over-flow with us. Soooo, zucchini is on the menu!  I spent some time on a recent afternoon browsing through cookbooks looking for some different ways to prepare it. I had a secondary reason to look at recipes; my husband and I are starting a low-carbohydrate eating plan, and so low-carb. recipes was the second objective.  Zucchini fits the bill on this count:  low calorie and low carbohydrate.  I reasoned that by stuffing it with a meat mixture, I could maintain that low carbohydrate profile.

Italian Style Stuffed Zucchini

My search turned up a recipe for meatballs using Italian sausage and ground pork. Since I did not have any ground pork readily available, I substituted ground turkey instead and paired it with hot Italian sausage.  I mixed up the whole recipe which was more than what was needed to stuff my zucchini, so I formed the  remainder into meatballs and froze them, ready for another dish in the future.  Once I had the zucchini stuffed, I put them into a baking dish, poured some of my fresh tomato marinara sauce over them and baked till the squash was tender. The final step was to sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, let it melt in the hot oven, and serve this dish with a salad.

On a more personal note,  my motivation for starting a low-carbohydrate diet is obviously to loose a few pounds.   I’m clearly not overweight, but there are a few extra bulges here and there, and since  I am planning on competing in November in a Ballroom Dance Competition,  the time to begin a weight loss program is now when there are so many vegetables available.  I have followed a low carbohydrate plan in the past and it has proven to be a good one for me,  because once I go a few days without carbs, I no longer have a desire for them and I am perfectly satisfied with all the other foods I can have.   After about two weeks of eating like this you can start to add carbs back into your diet slowly, in small amounts so you do not feel totally deprived.  My goal is to lose 5 pounds.  I’ll keep you posted on how I do.

ITALIAN STYLE STUFFED ZUCCHINI

SERVES   4

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium sized zucchini, halved lengthwise.   (If you use large zucchini, you will need to pre bake them a little in advance of stuffing them.
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese  (This helps keep the meat mixture moist)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces lean ground pork, or ground turkey
  • 2 ( 4 oz. ) links hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large jar prepared spaghetti sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1.  Prepare a shallow baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pour a small amount of spaghetti sauce in the baking dish as a base for the zucchini.

2.  Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat;  swirl to coat.  Add garlic and shallots to pan; sauté  3 minutes or until shallots are softened, stirring frequently .

3.  Combine shallot mixture, ricotta, and next 8 ingredients (through egg) in a medium bowl.

4.  Prepare zucchini for filling by creating a “boat”;  i.e., scoop out seeds and some of the flesh.  I used a melon-baller, and  it was easy to do.  Leave enough flesh, so zucchini will support itself, and maintain its shape.

5.  Fill each zucchini half with a generous portion of the meat filling.  Arrange in baking dish, and pour marinara sauce over the top.  If you have extra meat filling, either make more zucchini, or freeze for later use.

6.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  Pierce zucchini for doneness: they should pierce easily and be tender.

7.  Remove foil, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Return to hot oven just to melt the cheese.

I found that the juices from the zucchini and meat added to the volume of sauce,  so I think this dish would go well with some pasta to put all that sauce over.   If I were eating carbohydrates now, that’s what I would do. 😦    Instead we had this dish with a  spinach salad, and it was very satisfying.

SOURCE:  adapted from a  recipe from Cooking Light Annual, 2008

Summer-strone-zpacho

A regional farmer’s market has opened nearby, and I couldn’t wait to go and browse all the stalls.  I just love looking at all the fresh produce, herbs, cheeses and baked goods.  My creative juices start to flow as I imagine what I could do with it all.   Everything was so tempting, that I had to exert great self-restraint, and therefore brought home mostly vegetables.

Using some of that bounty I put together this soup that bears some resemblance to Minestrone, except there are no beans, and instead of the usual ditalini I used Israeli couscous.  It is also a little like gazpacho except there are no peppers. It does contain cucumbers,  part of it gets pureed, and it can be enjoyed warm or cold.  Its a great summertime soup for a light lunch, or perhaps combined with a sandwich or salad for a light supper.  I’m not sure what to call it so let’s just say  —-  Summertime  Vegetable Soup.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

  • 1/2 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Kirby cucumbers (3 med.size), peeled and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • one 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 small jar basil or mixed herbs pesto

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the couscous until al dente, 8-10 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat.  Add the cucumbers and cook stirring occasionally.  As they soften and become translucent, add the chopped onion and continue cooking another 4-5 minutes.  Don’t let them become too browned.  Stir in the tomatoes, paprika and vegetable broth.

3.  Using an immersion blender,  regular blender or food processor,  puree this mixture.  You may need to work in batches.  Return to the pot and stir in the couscous and shredded zucchini.  For cold soup refrigerate at this point.

4.  To serve warm, return the soup mixture to the stove and reheat, so the new added ingredients become warmed through.

5.  Serve the soup drizzled with the herb pesto.****

 

P.S.  This soup tasted even better the next day after flavors had time to meld.

 

****Stay tuned this week for my recipes on making your own pesto(s).

Source:  a Carolyn Original

Summer Squash, Bacon and Mozzarella Quiche

At this time of year I try to take advantage of summer’s bounty of fresh vegetables as much as I can.  Summer squash and zucchini are two vegetables that seem to grow in great abundance for anyone who gardens.  Several of my friends tend small garden plots and are generous in sharing ” the wealth” with me.

The recipe for this quiche was in Cooking Light Magazine last July and I made it several times last summer and already this summer I’ve made it again because we like it so much.  Except for the inclusion of some bacon it is almost meatless, so if you choose to omit the bacon the quiche will still be very good.  It’s also a good way to get children to eat some vegetables by surrounding them with eggs and cheese and calling the dish “pie”.

When I make this I usually serve it with just a green salad along side for a light summertime supper.  It is also a very good dish to serve for a brunch.

SUMMER SQUASH, BACON AND MOZZARELLA QUICHE

SERVINGS:  8

Crust:  You may choose to make your favorite pie crust recipe,  use a refrigerated pie crust such as Pillsbury, or a frozen premade crust from the frozen foods isle of the grocery store.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees  Pierce the crust bottom and sides with a fork.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  Watch carefully to prevent bubbles from forming, by pricking with a fork.  Cool slightly.

Filling:  

  • 4 slices smoked bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled.   Save about 2 Tablespoons of drippings in the pan.
  • 2 cups zucchini, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  • 2 cups yellow squash, sliced about 1/8 inch thick
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion or shallots
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme,  or about 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk  ( I used skim milk, and it was fine.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup egg beater product, or one more egg
  • 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella

To prepare filling:  Saute the two squashes and the chopped onion in the bacon drippings, sprinkling with the thyme.  Cook for about 5 minutes or until squash becomes tender.

Combine the milk, salt, pepper and eggs in a large measuring cup, stirring with a whisk.  Arrange the squash mixture evenly in the pie crust, sprinkle with the bacon and mozzarella cheese.  Pour egg mixture over all.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until filling is set.

When you write a food blog like this the photos taken usually show off your dish to good advantage, and the reader gets the impression that everything goes smoothly and comes out looking ‘picture perfect”.  Not so!  Sometimes everything goes wrong and the dish looks horrible.  Those I don’t write about.  But sometimes funny things happen which was the case with this quiche.

For my crust I used one which was frozen from my freezer.  Some how I failed to notice there was a crack in it.  Look closely, you can see it!   So after I filled it with the veggies, bacon and cheese, I poured in the milk mixture, which ran out the crack, over the side of the pie pan and onto the baking sheet underneath.  I discarded as much of the overflow as I could manage, then put the whole thing in the oven and hoped for the best.  Needless to say it continued to leak in the oven.  When the quiche was cooked and I removed it from the oven there was a hugh bubble of cooked egg mixture attached to the side of the pie pan.  Sort of like a pop-over attached to a quiche!  It deflated quickly so I didn’t get a good picture of it, but you can see remnants of it in the  pictures below. 🙂  In spite of this the quiche tasted very good, and we really enjoyed it.

   

SOURCE:  Cooking Light Magazine,  July, 2011

Chicken and Tortellini with Asparagus and Zucchini

Most of us love pasta with red sauce.  They go together like peanut butter and jelly, or iced tea with lemon.  But let’s face it when the days are beautiful and warm we’d much rather be outdoors than in the kitchen making the sauce, cooking pasta and eating a heavy, hot meal.  Right about now I’m lightening up our meals, and including as many fresh,  seasonal, vegetables as I can work into our diet.  Pasta(s) still have their place, but are used a little differently.  The pasta assumes a secondary role rather than being the main focus.  In this recipe chicken and vegetables are the main focus and tortellini helps round out the meal for an all-in-one-pan entree, quick and easy to prepare.

Chicken and Tortellini with Asparagus and Zucchini

SERVES   4-6

  •  1 pound chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
  •  1  9oz.package refrigerated tortellini ( herb and chicken or any other flavor of choice)
  • 1  lb. fresh asparagus
  • 1 small-medium zucchini, cut into half-moons
  •  1/4 cup chopped green onions
  •  2 Tablespoons olive oil
  •  1 med. size red pepper, cut into thin strips
  •  1  8-10 oz.jar basil pesto (pictured here, homemade pesto)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 Tablespoons sliced black olives (optional)

1.  Prepare tortellini according to package directions.  Meanwhile, snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus, and cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces.

2.  Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Saute in hot oil in large skillet over medium-high heat 6-7 minutes or until almost done. Remove to a platter and keep warm.

3.  In the drippings remaining in the skillet, sauté the onions  and red pepper over medium heat 1-2 minutes or until softened.  Increase heat to medium-high, add asparagus and  zucchini  and sauté 5-6 minutes.

4.  Stir in pesto,  and return chicken to skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Save aside about 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.  Drain the tortellini and add to skillet with additional cooking water to loosen the sauce as desired.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and sliced black olives if desired.  Serve immediately.

SOURCE:  adapted from  Southern Living Magazine

Poached Eggs on Polenta with Vegetable Sauce

This is a neat little recipe to have handy for when any of these situations might occur:  a)  You forgot to take something out of the freezer for supper, b) You thought you were having dinner alone so you were going to just make a salad, but suddenly everyone’s plans changed and they will all be home for dinner, or c) Its the end of the week and the cupboard is bare, except for a few bits of leftovers.  Fear not!  This recipe will come to your rescue as long as you have a few basics in your pantry.

Poached Eggs on Polenta with Vegetable Sauce

Serves 4

  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal or instant polenta
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, plus extra for greasing dishes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt
  • 4-5 slices bacon cut into 1 inch pieces (can be omitted for a vegetarian entree)
  • 2/3 cup grape tomatoes (about 16) halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • freshly ground pepper
  • chopped chives, optional
  1. Generously butter 4 gratin dishes or creme brûlée  dishes, about 4-5 inches in diameter.  Any similar dish will do.
  2. For polenta, place chicken broth in a  medium size, heavy saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, and gradually in a thin stream whisk in the cornmeal.  Stir constantly, until mixture starts to thicken, 3-4 minutes.  Add 3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and butter, and stir until melted.  Stir in milk.  Taste and add salt if needed.
  3. Divide polenta evenly among the dishes and smooth the top.  Cover each dish with foil to keep warm and set aside.  I place in a 200 degree oven to achieve this.
  4. For vegetable sauce, heat a skillet on high heat and cook the bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Drain excess bacon fat and discard, leaving a small amount in the pan. (substitute vegetable oil as needed)  Add the tomatoes, zucchini and green onions to the bacon drippings and sauté just until crisp tender. Add the bacon to the vegetable mixture.
  5. For the eggs,  use an egg poacher if you have one, otherwise prepare poached eggs as you normally would.
  6. To serve,  Place a poached egg on top of each dish of polenta. Salt and pepper eggs, then divide the vegetable and bacon mixture evenly among the 4 dishes.  Garnish with more grated Parmesan cheese and chives.

Additional notes:  I have prepared the sauce for this dish with whatever vegetables I have on hand.  Some others that are good are:  mixed red and green peppers, asparagus, spinach and fennel.

SOURCE:  A Carolyn Original