Monday, July 23, 2012

Zucchini Coffee Cake

I find that I am making something with zucchini (or other summer squash) just about every day. The zucchini makes this coffee cake moist - you can barely taste it in there, and since I used yellow zucchini, you can't really see it either!


  • 1/4 C. unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C. skim milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 C. grated zucchini (about one medium)
  • 2 C. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
For the streusel topping:
  • 1/4 C. unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1/3 C. flour
  • 1/3 C. brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. sliced almonds (or use other chopped nuts or substitute rolled oats)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter, sugars, milk, and egg. Add the zucchini, flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir until just combined. Pour into a greased 9x9 pan.

In a small bowl mix the ingredients for the streusel topping: melted butter, flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Use your fingers to crumble the topping over the top of the batter in the pan.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Fresh Melon and Cucumber Salad

We eat a lot of salads, both as a side dish and as an entree. I especially love making salads in the summer since it means I don't have to use the stove or oven, and I can include whatever farm-fresh produce I happen to have on hand.

I love using fruit in savory salads (see this Watermelon Salad) - the juicy, sweet flavor enables you to skimp on the dressing, which can be the most caloric part of a salad.

This salad is meant to be a side dish. I used musk melon, which is like cantaloupe. If you've never had a locally grown summer melon, you have no idea what you're missing. You will never buy one in a grocery store again!

Makes 4 side dish servings


  • 1 small, fresh summer melon, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 small cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste (be generous)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Divide the melon, cucumber, and shallot between 4 salad bowls. Season each generously with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, lime juice, and olive oil. Drizzle the dressing over each salad and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Refrigerator Pickles

Have you ever made homemade pickles? They are so easy to make and taste so much fresher than the store bought variety. It's a great use for the abundance of locally grown cucumbers that are popping up here on the east coast. These can be kept in the refrigerator for 1-2 months, although I doubt they will last that long!


  • 2 C. water
  • 1 C. cider vinegar
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 tsp. pickling spice (or use a combo of mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and black peppercorns)
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp. dill seed
  • 2 medium cucumbers, thinly sliced
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, vinegar, garlic, salt, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the salt has dissolved and the spices are fragrant.

Meanwhile, slice the cucumbers and place them in a quart sized mason jar (or you can use several smaller jars). Take the vinegar mixture off the heat and slowly pour it over the cucumbers, making sure to scrape the spices into the jar. You might have a little liquid left over, depending on how tightly you filled your jar. Allow to cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate.

I think these taste best after a week in the refrigerator, but there's no harm in tasting them before that. :)

Apricot Jam

Summer is in full swing, and that means lots and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables from our CSA. We got a small container of apricots this week, and while they are delicious out of hand, my favorite thing to do with them is make jam.

What's great about apricots (and plums) is that their skins have plenty of pectin, which means that making jam with them is so easy. It's also easy to scale the recipe, depending on how much of the fruit you have. So feel free to double or triple or quadruple, depending on your quantities. One of these days, I'll do some full scale canning and write that up for you, but this time, I only had enough fruit for one jar of jam, which will keep for a few weeks in the fridge (if it lasts that long).

The important thing to remember is that you need 3/4 of a cup of sugar for every cup of fruit.


  • 2 C. diced fresh apricots (leave the skins on, just remove the pits)
  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the apricots, sugar, and lemon juice. When it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 15 minutes. The apricots will mostly disappear as the mixture reduces. It will be nice and syrupy.

Pour the hot jam into a mason jar. Screw on the lid and refrigerate. The jam will set as it cools.

I had a little extra hot jam left, which I used as a sauce for crepes.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Homemade Ranch-Style Dressing

As I have mentioned before, I like to make my own salad dressing. I was never a fan of ranch dressing, at least not the type you could buy at the store. A local restaurant makes a great homemade version, however, and this is my attempt to replicate it. You could easily use fresh herbs if you have them.

Makes 4-8 servings, depending on how much dressing you like


  • 1/4 C. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 C. fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill 
  • 1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. water
Mix the mayo, yogurt, and spices in a small bowl. Slowly add the water to thin the dressing to the desired consistency.

 Keep any extra dressing in a sealed container in the refrigerator. You may need to allow it to sit out for a few minutes, then shake or stir before serving.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Healthy Chocolate "Shake"

This is technically not a milkshake, because there isn't any ice cream in it. It has the consistency of a smoothie, and the peanut butter and bananas make it a filling and healthy snack. Perfect as a cool treat after getting home from an afternoon at the pool!

Makes 2 large shakes or 4 child-sized shakes


  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 Tbsp. smooth peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. chocolate syrup
  • 2 C. skim milk
  • handful of ice
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Serve cold.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

White Bean Cucumber Soup

So sorry I disappeared for a few weeks. First, we had an insane heat wave and a crazy storm called a "derecho", which caused much of our area to be without power for a week! And we just said good-bye to some house-guests yesterday, so I'm now catching up.

Our CSA is having a bumper year, and we have been inundated with so much produce, especially squash and cucumbers. I'm compiling a list of new summer squash recipes to try, so be on the look out for some of those soon. 

In the meantime, I decided to use some of those cucumbers in a soup. It is sort of like a gazpacho without tomatoes, cool and creamy - perfect for a hot summer day!

This makes just 2-3 servings, so you'll need to double it if you're feeding a crowd.

  • 2 regular sized cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and roughly chopped - reserve 1/2 C. for garnish
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, halved
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1 can of white beans (cannelloni or great northern), drained
  • 1 C. greek yogurt or sour cream
  • black pepper, to taste (I don't add salt because I use canned beans)
  • homemade croutons, for garnish
Add the cucumbers, garlic, onion, lemon juice, beans, and yogurt to a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Taste and season with pepper. Chill until ready to serve.

Garnish with the reserved cucumber and with homemade croutons. If it is too hot to turn on the oven, you can use a toaster oven. Or just toast some bread in a regular toaster, then drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

If you can, make it the night before. I think it tastes even better the second day.