Saturday, June 30, 2012

Zucchini Muffins


Ben brought home a couple of zucchini's from work a couple of weeks ago.  They were grown by a couple of coworkers and they were huge.

I decided to turn my beautiful green vegetables into muffins.  I have absolutely no idea where this recipe originally came from but it's been in my recipe collection for years.  I love these muffins because they're loaded with pecans and cherries and they are perfectly moist thanks to the zucchini.  

 Zucchini Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour             
3/4 cup sugar               
2 teaspoons baking powder      
1/4 teaspoon baking soda          
1/4 teaspoon salt               
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon         
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup orange marmalade
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 zucchini, shredded and drained
3/4 cup dried cherries (I used cherry flavored craisins.)
1/4 cup pecans (optional)

Squeeze all of the liquid that you can out of the zucchini in paper towels.  

Stir together eggs, oil, marmalade, vanilla and zucchini.

Combine dry ingredients.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 additions.

Stir in cherries and nuts.

Spoon into muffin cups

Bake 17 minutes at 400. 

You may never have had a zucchini muffin quite like this one.  These are so good, you'll forget that they're packed with zucchini. 


Friday, June 29, 2012

Lacey Cookie Look Alike

Long gone are the days that I would spend hours pouring over cookbooks in search of new recipes.  Now I turn to google to search out recipes.  My ipad is normally set up on the kitchen counter while I cook so that I can get instant answers to any pressing culinary questions.  (Trust me, I have a lot of questions.)

I have a friend who really likes the Lacey Cookies from Trader Joe's so when his birthday rolled around earlier this month, I turned to the internet in search of a Lacey Cookie Recipe.  (You can find a recipe for almost anything on the internet.)  I found a website called and she claimed to have recreated these delicate cookies in her own kitchen.  I didn't really have anything to lose so I jumped right in and started my own batch of Lacey Cookies.

Trader Joe's Lacey Cookies
1/2 c brown sugar
1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c almonds; coarsely ground
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp milk
1/4 c honey
1 heaping tsp orange; zested
1/2 c dark chocolate (for dipping)

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line two baking trays with parchment paper; set aside. Bring the butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, and honey to a boil, stirring continuously.


Once it reaches a rolling boil, wait one minute and then remove from the heat. Now, mix the flour, almonds, cinnamon and orange zest together and then add them slowly, making sure everything is incorporated well. Let sit for about 20 minutes or until the mixture is cool enough to be handled, even though you won’t be handling it.


 Drop teaspoonfuls of batter onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. 


Bake 6-8 minutes in a 350 oven. If you want them more like toffee brittle leave them in on the longer end. I like mine slightly chewy in the center and crispy on the outside.

Immediately remove the parchment paper from the tray and let them cool on the counter.

After about three-five more minutes, you’ll be able to remove them from the parchment paper without a problem. Any sooner and they’ll still be soft and will break.

Once the cookies are cool, melt dark chocolate. 

Myjerusalemkitchen recommended suggested drizzling the chocolate over the cookies but why would I drizzle when I could COAT the cookies in a layer of chocolaty goodness?  I spooned chocolate onto the flat sides of my lacey cookies.

I put the cookies in the refrigerator to set the chocolate quickly. 

Once the chocolate was set, I could move the cookies to a platter.

Some of the chocolate actually came through the top to make a deliciously, gooey and chocolatey praline cookie. 

I packaged my cookies up into clear plastic containers to deliver as a birthday gift.

My final evaluation of these Lacey Cookies: good but could use some improvements.  First of all, I think I will leave out the orange zest when I make them again.  That proved to be more of a distraction from the flavor than a bonus.   I also think that I would bake my cookies a little longer next time.  The cookies were a little soft (An issue that could be remedied by storing them in the freezer.) instead of crispy like their Trader Joe's counterparts.  By tweaking those two simple things, I think this recipe could produce superb cookies that would rival the Trader Joe's Lacey Cookies. 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Stuffed Mushrooms

I am not a huge fan of red meat so a couple of weeks ago when I fixed steaks on the grill for the rest of my family, I made some stuffed mushrooms for myself.  (My husband thought they were a nice compliment to his steak too.)  Whether you are looking for a great appetizer, a vegetable side dish or a meat alternative, you will not be disappointed in these mushrooms.  They are fresh and hearty and super delicious. 
Stuffed Mushrooms
10 portobello mushrooms (I used baby bella mushrooms instead.)
4 Tablespoon olive oil
2 bags baby spinach
2 slices white bread
2 Tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sherry
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
4 ounces goat cheese (I substituted cream cheese.)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup walnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove excess dirt.

Heat baking sheet in a 400 degree oven.  Cut 1/4 inch slits in a crosshatch pattern on the surface of 8 mushrooms.   

Clean the gills and stems out of the mushrooms.

Dice remaining mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces.  Brush both sides of mushrooms with oil and sprinkle with salt.  Place mushrooms, gill side up on preheated baking sheet and bake 8 minutes.

Flip over and bake another 8 minutes.
Place spinach and 1 T. water in a microwave bowl.

Cover bowl with a dinner plate and microwave 3 minutes.  Remove bowl and keep covered 1 minute.

Remove plate and transfer to colander.  Press water out of spinach with a rubber spatula.

Transfer to a cutting board and chop roughly.  Return to colander and press to release liquid.

Pulse bread in food processor to 1 minute.  Heat 1 T. oil and 1 T. butter in skillet.  Add bread crumbs and 1/4 t. salt.  Toast until golden brown.

Transfer toasted bread crumbs to a bowl.  Heat 1 T. oil in skillet and add chopped mushrooms.

Cook without stirring for 2 minutes.  Stir and cook for another 4 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.  Add 1 T. butter and onions to skillet.  Saute onions 5 minutes.

 Add garlic and sherry and cook 1-2 minutes longer.
Reduce heat to low and stir in reserved mushrooms, spinach, thyme, cheese, cream and walnuts.  Cook until cheese is melted and vegetables are coated.

Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Flip mushrooms, gill side up and distribute filling evenly among mushrooms.

Top each with 2 Tablespoons bread crumb mixture.

Broil mushrooms 1-3 minutes. 

I had 3 of these mushrooms as my dinner and I was absolutely stuffed.  I couldn't believe how full I felt after eating mushrooms!  I really should have quit eating after 2 mushrooms but they were so good that I ended up forcing myself to eat a third.  It was worth it - they were delicious.