Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Summer Squash Orange Cake

My neighbors grind their own flour from whole grain wheat.  (How groovy is that?!)  They shared some recently, and I wanted to bake somethin’ yummy with it.  My squash have been doing what squash do, so I have a bounty of both zucchini and yellow summer squash–both perfect for adding moisture and nutrients to baked goods.  I came across a yummy-sounding recipe in one of my fav cookbooks for summer, The Victory Garden Cookbook, that would use both the flour and squash!

  • 3 cups flour–I used 2 cups unbleached, 1 cup freshly ground whole wheat!
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind (1 orange)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup orange juice (1 orange will provide more than enough)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated summer squash  (I have a horrible time guesstimating how much squash will grate into how many cups, so I put two in the picture.  I only needed the larger one.)

Preheat oven to 350F. 

Grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan. 

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. 

Cream butter, sugar and orange rind.

Beat in eggs.  Slowly beat in the dry ingredients alternately with orange juice.



Stir in the squash, pour into the tube pan.  Bake 50-60 minutes.


Cool in the pan until you can handle it without oven mitts.  Invert over a plate and voila!

I had some glaze leftover from red velvet cupcakes I baked earlier in the day, so I smothered the warm cake with enough to drench down the sides.

By this time I couldn’t stand it any more…I cut a couple pieces of the warm cake.

Mmmmmmm!  Warm spiciness with a clean citrus-y finish.  The recipe states you can use either yellow squash or zucchini, and that you can frost it or sprinkle it with powdered sugar.  I love finding new recipes for summer squash!  This one’s a keeper!

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Garden Green Bean Hummus

Oh how I love garden season!  All the planning and soil amending and bug killing pays off big time with a lush and productive farmer’s market of your very own.  Here’s my harvest from yesterday:

Husky red, green zebra, sun sugar and yellow pear tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, various colors of bell peppers, and royal burgundy “green” beans.  Naturally, because I seem to be thinking about food all the time, I started scheming on what sort of yumminess to cook up with this bounty. 

I decided to start with the beans.  I should have picked them a few days ago and was worried they might be tough–so, maybe some sort of puree?  A friend of mine makes a green bean pate, why not hummus with fresh beans?!

Inspired by a hummus recipe from The Gluten Free Vegan, I commenced to gathering what I needed and snapping my big pile of beans! 

  • A big bunch of fresh green beans, stem end snapped, strings removed and snapped into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces.  I ended up with 8 cups of snapped beans.
  • 5-6 TBSP fresh lemon juice–two small or one large lemon
  • 1/2 cup tahini (or more if desired)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thick and sauted until golden
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • pinch of cayenne
  • olive oil for sauteing garlic and for serving

Snap beans, place in a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes or until tender.

See how the beans are green inside?  They lose their pretty purple color as they cook.  So why grow purple beans?  Because they’re pretty, because they’re easier to find among all the green foliage, just because…  

Let the beans cool a bit and put them in a food processor.

This is a few beans less than I started with.  I just couldn’t resist snacking on a few while I toasted the pine nuts in a hot, dry skillet and sauted the garlic in a bit of olive oil.

Add lemon juice, tahini, pine nuts, garlic (and the oil it sauted in), salt, a bit of ground pepper and cayenne to the beans and process until you achieve the smoothness you like.

Using a chip, a cracker or a spoon, taste the hummus and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Spoon into a bowl (be careful with the processor blade!), drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and sprinkle with fresh-ground pepper. 


I’m lovin’ the fresh green taste of this hummus!  What a yummy solution to green beans that get too big (although perfect green beans will work as well)!  Serve with chips, crackers, bread, fresh veggies, or use as a sandwich or wrap spread.  Store left-overs in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week.

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Filed under appetizer, Garden produce, Gluten-free, recipe, Vegetarian

Celine’s Salt Potatoes

Doncha just love how sweet and tender baby potatoes are?  Doncha just love them chilled with a bit of salt the next day?  Here’s my new fav way to have baby potatoes–no need for the salt shaker the next day!  My mom shared this recipe on a recent visit.  Simple and yummy!

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds baby potatoes (Mom has tried this with every color potato but blue(!) and says yummy no matter!)  The key to the recipe is using baby potatoes only–if you cut bigger ones, they absorb the salt and get TOO salty–NOT yummy.
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup kosher salt (Amount will vary depending on how many little taters you have–keep salt and water proportional.)
  • 1 quart water  (potatoes must be covered by the brine–adjust water and salt accordingly.)

Mix the salt and water, add the potatoes.  Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer.  Boil potatoes until fork tender.  I learned the true definition of fork tender the other day–it’s when you stick the potato with a fork and it slides right off!  I just love cooking–always learning something new!









When potatoes are nice and tender, scoop them out onto a rack sitting over a sheet pan to catch the drips.  Let the potatoes dry–this won’t take long.  They end up with the perfect amount of salt on the skin!  Mom says red potatoes actually show the salt crystals so they get all sparkly–how pretty will that be?!

Serve up your yummy little perfectly salted taters family style with the rest of your meal.  Be sure to sneak a few into a secret hiding place in the fridge for later!

Mmmmm-mmmm-mmmm!  So yummy!  I ate them with my fingers.  Baby potatoes are so moist they don’t need butter or sour cream or anything.  The salt layer on the skin is the PERFECT amount for the potato.  (I keep typing “potatoe”–curse you, Dan Quayle!) 

The potatoes in my garden are just getting to this size.  I hope I’ll be able let a few of them mature so I have some for the winter!

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Celine’s Sausage with Peppers and Onions

We just got back from a visit with my mom and dad in Deming, New Mexico.  Mom is a great cook, always trying new things.  Every time we visit, she has new recipes to share.  (How nice is it to have your mom cook for you, right?)  This is my first visit since starting this blog, so I whipped out a little notebook and started snapping pictures every time she started cooking!  Today, we’re having sausage with peppers and onions–how yummy does this look?!

Gather a sausage and some fresh, colorful ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 lb smoked sausage  (this is turkey/pork)
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 bell peppers–all different colors!
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 roma tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Thinly slice the onion, break into half-rings and add to the pan.









Thinly slice the peppers, add them to the onions.









Saute peppers and onions until they start to soften.  Use a garlic press to add both cloves of garlic. 









Add salt and fresh-ground pepper.  Simmer for a minute or two to let the flavors meld.

Cut sausage on the bias into 1-inch pieces.  Add to the pan and stir to combine.









While sausage heats, rough chop the tomatoes.  (No need to skin or seed them.)  Add them to the pan.









Stir to combine, reduce the heat and let the pan and all of its colorful, fragrant yumminess simmer for about 20 minutes.

While that simmers, I thought I’d share a couple pictures of my mom, Celine.  ❤









20 minutes up?  Time to serve!  Spoon it all into a pretty bowl, bring it to the table and serve family style.  Mom made salt potatoes to go with it this time (recipe coming soon!), but says it’s super yummy over rice or noodles as well.  I’m thinking polenta would also make a yummy accompaniment!

5 of us shared this meal and there were no leftovers!  (Except for a few salt potatoes that I hid in the fridge for later! Hee hee!)  So yummy, so pretty, so good for you!

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Filed under comfort food, dinner, recipe

Rosemary Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

Pour a cup of coffee and enjoy a couple of these tender, chewy, flavor-y, yummy cookies.  Mmmmm.  Not too sweet.  The hazelnuts make them crunchy.  Rosemary’s savory pine-y flavor adds that something special.  But the real topper?  These amazing cookies are gluten-free!!!!!  Who knew gluten-free could be this yummy?!

I have a wonderful friend who happens to be gluten-intolerant.  We get together once a week for coffee out on her patio, and I wanted to bring along a little something for us to enjoy together.  So I bought a cookbook of gluten-free recipes:  the Gluten-Free Almond Flour cookbook.  It’s full of beautiful photographs of yummy recipes!  The recipe for these cookies is on page 105.


  • 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour  (NOT almond meal.  Find it at natural foods stores.)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 5 TBSP agave nectar
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract

I decided to chop the hazelnuts first and then toast them to get a toastier flavor.  I used an impact chopper thingy from Pampered Chef, which made uber-quick work of the nuts.

Toast the nuts in a large, dry skillet over medium heat, stirring every now and then.  I chopped the rosemary as the hazelnuts toasted.  Let me tell ya, the aroma of the rosemary combined with the roasting nuts was absolutely divine!  Try it.  The hazelnuts are toasted when you can smell them and they take on a bit more color.  Turn the heat off and leave them in the pan for now.

Combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, hazelnuts and rosemary in a bowl.

Whisk grapeseed oil, agave nectar and vanilla together in a separate bowl.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined.

Roll the dough into a large log, 2 1/2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in parchment paper and place in the freezer for 1 hour, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 350F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Remove the log from the freezer and cut it into 1/4 inch slices with a wet knife.  I found the knife squished the log and I needed to reshape the cookies a bit. (Maybe I should have left the log in the freezer a bit longer?)  Place slices onto the lined cookie sheets, leaving 2 inches between them.

Bake for 7-10 minutes, until brown around the edges.  Let cookies cool on the cookies sheets for 30 minutes.  You’ll end up with 18-24 cookies.  Serve and savor with a cuppa!  Yummy!

This cup and saucer is another china pattern that belonged to my Great Aunt Katrine.  My mom thinks this is the one Aunt Katrine gave to her sister-in-law, my Grandmother (Dad’s mom).  Katrine ended up with them after Grandma’s passing.  I love having these connections to my past.  I use old china and crystal whenever I can, I deserve the good stuff, right?!  So do you–if you have “the good dishes” hiding out in a box or a closet, go get ’em!  Make an everyday meal or snack special.

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Filed under dessert, Gluten-free, recipe

Sweet Tooth Saturday: Lemon Basil Snaps

Yup.  It’s Sunday, not Saturday.  I DID make these uber-yummy little cookies yesterday, though, so technically….well, no matter.  This recipe came from a little stack of cards in which each recipe uses herbs.  Fresh off my Basil Lemonade binge, this one caught my eye.  They are now my official favorite cookie–absolutely as yummy as chocolate chip, but in a fresh, light, summery sort of way.  The sort of cookies you might serve with tea….while wearing a pretty hat.  Or perhaps the sort of cookie you just make and eat because they’re just so amazingly yummy.

Convinced?  Then round up a few things from the pantry and run to the garden for a big handful of basil:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TBSP grated lemon zest (One lemon, just the pretty yellow outside–the white part is bitter!)
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice (From the same lemon–grate the zest first, then juice it, straining off the seeds.)
  • 1/3 cup minced basil leaves
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the “topping”:

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios
  • 3TBSP sugar

Be sure your knife is sharp (a dull knife will bruise the basil–turning it black).  Finely chop the basil by first stacking the leaves, then rolling them tightly into little sticks, then making thin slices of the stick (this creates a chiffonade), then cutting through the chiffonade crossways to make tiny basil confetti.  Set aside.

(I just do NOT know why the center photo will not align with the others when there is obviously plenty of room and the editor allows for left-center-right alignment.  I just spent the last hour trying to fix this.  Alas, it is beyond my skill set.  Grrrrrrr!  Breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.)

Grate the zest from the lemon and juice it.  Set the zest and juice aside.  Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and beat well.

Add egg, lemon zest, lemon zest and basil.  Mix to combine.  Add flour, soda and salt.  Mix until completely combined.

The dough will look like this.  Cover and chill one hour.  Just before the hour is up, preheat oven to 350F.

Finely chop pistachios and combine with sugar.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls.  I use a cookie scooper to help keep them uniform.  Roll each ball in the sugar–nut mixture.

Place balls two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and flatten slightly with your hands or a glass.

Place in oven, bake 9-12 minutes until golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

Cool completely and enjoy the tender, ever-so-slightly-sweet lemon cookies with a hint of basil spice.  I piled a few up on one of the square dessert plates from my Great-Aunt Katrine’s china–pretty!

The recipe says you’ll end up with 3 dozen.  I ended up with a few less, perhaps being a bit too generous with my cookie scoop.  It’s difficult to eat just one.  We did share with friends, but both Michael and I love them so much, we’re down to just over a dozen already!  I think Lemon Basil Snaps would make a lovely and unusual gift from your garden.  (Especially when your friends will no longer accept the “gift” of an over-sized zucchini!)  Can’t you just see them in a pretty box with some pale yellow or green tissue paper?! 

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Raspberry Mango Sangria

“Summertime….and the livin’s easy….”  and all the more enjoyable with a cold, refreshing glass of fruity sangria!  The recipe is from this month’s Everyday Food.  As soon as I read it, I knew I HAD to make some!  It uses a rosé instead of the traditional red wine, and I happened to have the fabulous Land’s End Wild Rosé from Reeder Mesa Winery on hand.  With it’s pretty color and berry notes, I felt it was the perfect choice.  Have a look at this picture and just try to resist….I dare you!  😉

 I made the sangria pretty much as suggested in the recipe (I used half a mango instead of a whole mango) and also adapted it to a non-alcoholic version for teens and friends who don’t drink.

What you need for regular sangria:

  • 1 bottle (750 ml) of your favorite rosé
  • 32 oz  lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • 3 TBSP raspberry liqueur
  • 1/2 mango, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup raspberries

For the non-alcoholic version:

  • 4 cups (32 oz) white grape juice
  • 32 oz lemon-lime soda, chilled
  • 3 TBSP raspberry syrup–the kind used to flavor coffee or Italian sodas
  • 1/2 mango, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup raspberries

Cut the mango lengthwise, approximately 1/8 inch from the stem.  Cut around the edge of the skin to remove it from the pit section and glean whatever mango you can from the outside of the pit.  In each half, make long, thin slices that go to the skin, but not through it.  Turn the half inside out and cut the slices from the skin.

I selected two very different pitchers for the regular and non-alcoholic pitchers so mistakes would not be made. 

In a pitcher, combine mango, raspberries, raspberry liqueur (or raspberry syrup), and rose (or white grape juice).  Stir to combine and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to overnight).

To serve, add chilled lemon-lime soda and ice.  Pour to allow ice and fruit into each serving.  (Serves 8.)

Oh, yeah….that’s the ticket!  If you’re having people over for the Fourth or any other summer celebration, you might want to make more than one pitcher!  There will most likely be fruit that doesn’t get poured into a glass.  Save it and serve it with ice cream or eat it as is, you don’t want to miss out on that wine-marinated yumminess!

There were other sangria recipes in the Everyday Food.  Hmmmm….should I try some (or all!) of the others?!  If I do, you’ll find the recipes here! 

Cheers!  Here’s to a fabulous and refreshing summer!

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Filed under drinks, Holiday foods, recipe, wine