Saturday, July 19, 2008

First Pickings

Our first pickings were lettuce and raddishes. I was so excited! I did take pictures...of the first things coming out of the garden...the past month I have been very slack about it...which is sad..because my counters have literally been over run with vegetables and I forget to take their pictures. So please enjoy my garden salad pictures since I'm stingy on sharing the rest of it..LOL

Growing, growing GONE!

It seems like our garden grew overnight....we waited patiently and then BAM...everything started getting huge!! (must have been when the rain finally came in...ya think?)
squash and zuchini

Lettuce (below)

Houston, we have sighted a tomato!

Green beans running!

Mary Mary, How does your garden grow?

These pictures were taken mid-late May...the plants had taken root and begun to grow. We had added zuchini, squash, tomatoes, eggplans, corn, cucumbers, peppers and mulched around the plants in part of the beds.

As a side note: I had read somewhere that petunia's give greenbeans a stronger flavor so I always plant them together....a side benefit is it makes that garden pretty!

Garden Beginnings

I have taken several pics of my garden through the planting and harvesting process. I am going to try and post them in order. This first post is a few weeks after planting. The first things in the ground were radish, cabbage, lettuce and greenbeans.

Stuffed Zucchini Parmesan

This recipe is fantastic and excellent warmed up the next day for lunch. I found this on and followed someone else's adaptation plus adapted it myself to creat a completely new recipe. This is how I MADE it.

Stuffed Zucchini Parmesan
2 LARGE zucchini (I'm talking baseball bat size here...or 4-5 small zuchini for a gathering of people or side dish).
1/2 cup of Pepperidge Farms Seasoned Stuffing mix
1 lb hamburger, browned and chopped
1 tbs melted butter
1/4 stick butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper, to taste
zucchini pulp
Ragu Pizza Quick Sauce
1 cup Mozzerella Cheese
Parmesan cheese

Drop whole zucchini into boiling salted (about 2 tsps salt per 5-6 quart pot) water. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender.
Drain; cover zucchini with cold water to stop the cooking. When cool, slice in half lengthwise; scoop out meat from centers ( I used an icecream scooper) leaving a hollow shell. Reserve zucchini pulp and set aside.
Mash zucchini pulp using a potato masher or a fork.
In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 stick butter. Blend in the flour until no lumps remain; add sour cream. Combine with salt, hamburger and zucchini pulp, mixing ingredients until well blended.
Fill the zucchini shells evenly with the stuffing.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in microwave. Stir in 1/2 cup Pepperidge farms stuffing crumbs, mixing until all are coated. Sprinkle a layer of buttered crumbs on top. Drizzle Ragu Pizza Quich Sauce over the top and Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella and bake for 10 minutes more.

Zuchini Casserole

For some reason our zuchini plants have done fabulous this year while our squash plants (which are planted with them) have done horribly. Most of my recipes use both but since we only had a bunch of zuchini, I had to find some new recipes. We did some simple grilling which everyone seems to like but I am just not that crazy about grilled zuchini. Here is a recipe I found for a zuchini casserole off of Stephen says it tastes a lot like the Calico Squash casserole recipe. It does but it has a great texture to it. I'm going to post the recipe in its original form and then post what I did so you can choose how you would like to make it. I'm going to make this again soon and hopefully I will snap a picture of it this time. It completely slipped my mind the other night.

Zuchini Casserole
4 cups zucchini, peelede, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes (I leave my peels on and didn't de-seed it: mine is from my garden and the peels have not been waxed and deseeding takes to long!)
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 small to medium onion, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots (I chopped mine)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup of sour cream ( I think I used a bit more)
1 box of Pepperidge Farms seasoned croutons (I couldn't find these so I used a half of bag of Pepperidge Farm seasoned stuffing mix)

Boil zucchini just until tender and drain. In a large skillet, melt butter. Add carrots and onion and saute until tender. (3-4 minutes over medium-high heat)

Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, soup (undiluted), zucchini and half the croutons (or 3/4 of the stuffing). Pour into 3 quart baking dish. Top evenly with remaining croutons (or stuffing mix). Cover with foil (I didn't do this) and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. (I baked at 400 for 15-20 minutes.) I also used a bit more zucchini then called for (not sure how much as I didn't measure ;).

Zucchini Casserole

To Die for Blueberry Muffins

We went to the farmer's market a few weeks ago and bought some blueberries. I have no idea what possessed me because I rarely buy or eat blueberries. So we bring them home and I'm like...what do we do with them now? I decided from scratch blueberry muffins would be the answer. I found a recipe that had some Fantastic Reviews and had been tried by over 2000 people. It looked easy so I tried it. I could not get pictures of the darn things because they disappeared so fast!!! I'm using the picture from allrecipes (I hope I can do that) and including the link to the original recipe as I used it exactly. I highly recommend this recipe...its simple, its sweet, and it is comforting. One of these days I'll be able to have some for breakfast...if they will ever last longer then 10 minutes once I make them!!

To Die For Blueberry Muffins:


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Strawberry Cream Puffs with Strawberry Sauce

I found this recipe on Epicurious and thought it would be great to try with the fresh strawberries my parents brought me. I read the reviews and most people raved about cream puffs, how easy they were etc. Mine were more like pancakes....they just...spread out and didn't my "puffs" are more like strawberry stuff cookies with sauce....which still tasted good...they were light and airy with a rich sweetness that glided over the tongue....but they definately weren't puffs. I'm not sure what I did wrong....but I was cooking fifty million things that day so it may just be something I DID or DIDn't do versus the recipe. If you try it, please do share your results!!

Cream Puffs:
3/4 cups water
3 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tsp plus 3 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp clear cherry brandy (I used rum)
1/8 tsp vanilla extract (I used a bit more)
6 large strawberries, hulled
Strawberry Sauce:
2 1-pint strawberries, hulled
3 tbs sugar
Powdered Sugar
Shaved white chocolate (I added's not really needed but oh so good).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring to melt butter. Add flour; using wooden spoon, stir vigorously until mixture clumps together, forming ball. Stir 1 minute longer. Remove from heat. Transfer dough to medium bowl. Using electric mixer, add eggs 1 at time, beating until dough is smooth after each addition (dough will be slightly soft and shiny).
Using 1 rounded tablespoon dough for each cream puff, spoon dough onto prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart and forming mounds about 3/4 inch to 1 inch high and 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Using moist fingertips, gently press tops of cream puffs flatten any peaks. Bake until golden brown, about 37 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to rack; let cream puffs cool. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)
For filling:Beat cream, 1 teaspoon sugar, kirsch and vanilla in medium bowl until stiff peaks form. Combine 6 strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar in small bowl. Using fork, crush berries. Fold crush strawberry mixture into cream.
Cut top third off each cream puff. Place cream puff bottoms, cut side up, on plates. Spoon filling into bottoms, mounding slightly. Ladle sauce over, allowing sauce to spill onto plates. Top with cream puff tops. Dust with powdered sugar.
For sauce:Puree 1 basket strawberries in processor. Transfer to bowl. Stir in sugar. Quarter remaining strawberries; add to sauce.
Makes about 2 1/3 cups.

Pineapple-Chicken Salad

This recipe is fantastic. It is a BEAUTIFUL presentation and impressive to everyone. It also fills you up and is just a satisfying dish all around. Another recipe from the old WW cookbook except I don't believe I changed it much if any.

Pineapple-Chicken Salad
1 Small Pineapple
6 ounces diced cooked chicken ( I used one large chicken breast I believe)
1/2 cup of cubed or julienned Cheddar Cheese.
1/4 cup each: sliced celery, sliced carrot (or coined), green bell pepper, scallions, and golden raisins.
3 cups torn lettuce leaves (a mixed lettuce works best)
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I used vanilla for a slightly sweeter flavor)
2 tbs plus 2 tsps mayonnaise
1/4 tsp salt
Dash pepper.

Cut pineapple in half lengthwise leaving stem and leaves in tack. Using a mellon ball scooper or icecream scoop, hollow fruit out of each half leaving a 1/4" thick shell. Dice pineapple and use One cup of it for the salads. (I used a bit more as I love pineapple...the rest was fought over by my father and husband like rabbid was hillarious!!)

In medium bowl combine pineapple, chicken, cheese, vegetables and raisens. Line the pineapple shells with the lettuce (approx. 1 1/2 cups each) and distribute evenly the chicken mixture between the two.

In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients and drizzle evenly over pineapples. I chilled them for 30 minutes before serving. Each shell is 2 servings but my husband and I agreed that it would make a great lunch out doors by the pool in which case we could probably eat one half each...but four our dinner party with my parents we ate half of one each and it was a great amount served with other dishes.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

This recipe was adapted from a recipe on with a little help from a recipe in an Old Weight Watchers Cookbook. It is a very pretty dish that looks like you worked your butt off, so it is great for entertaining. It is also very light and rich all at the same time so you don't want too much of it. Another great for entertaining. Serving size is 4 shells each but honestly 2 would be plenty if you have several dishes available.
Stuffed Pasta Shells
16 jumbo macaroni shells cooked according to package
1 cup Ricotta Cheese
1 1/3 cup cottage cheese
1 cup mozzerella
1 egg
4tbs parmesan, grated
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp parsley
2 tsp lemon juice
Chopped mushrooms (optional)
1 can of tomato sauce (preferably the ones seasoned with italian spices) or you can use spaghetti sauce with or with/out meat....I wanted a lighter flavored meal so I used just the seasoned tomato sauce.
In small bowl combine all cheeses with the egg (already beaten) and mix in seasongings. Gently stuff shells and pour tomato sauce over the top using a large casserole dish. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes....serve warm.

Generation Slacker

.....that would be me!! So many things have happened in the past two months that I can not even believe I have not updated my blog. The summer is the busiest time of year, there is no getting around it. While everyone looks forward to fresh produce, days in the sun, family vacations...Steve and I partly dread it: hot days, troublesome flies and bugs, cleaning the pool, yard mowing, etc. This summer, I have been working two jobs on top of everything else so I've been tired and not had nearly as much time to garden and cook. My yard and flowerbeds look terrible. I admit it freely. Our beautiful garden that we were taking so much loving care...yea...well....the weeds are terrible, and we have had some issues. We had such a heat spell at the end of may when all the plants were babies...and it was so dry.....and then a month later we got a deluge of rain...just constant and cooler temperatures that it really did a number on everyone's plants around here. More on that later.

Have no fear though, just because I wasn't posting like a good girl, I was taking pictures of garden and recipes and trying out some new dishes. okay okay, so I few of them I forgot to snap pictures, but I didn't have pictures to go by when I created the recipe so I'm sure you will be fine ..LOL

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and finding wonderfully cheap easy recipes using local fresh produce! A summer picture for you: Tedda and Snickers in the yard.