Chocolate Zucchini Sheet Cake

 

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Lots of zucchini + 2 upcoming pitch-ins = a need for this sort of yumminess

I have a serious problem with using other people–often people I don’t even know–as my guinea pigs for new recipes.  This weekend is no exception.

I have two pitch-ins this weekend (one last night and one today).  When deciding what to make, I wanted something that would travel well, something that used summer squash and something that utilized on-hand ingredients.  Voila!  I made two of these cakes, which I had never made before.  Such a risk-taker!

The bad news is that the batter for this cake really filled my jellyroll pan.  So, when I put on the icing, there was some drippage.  My recommendation to you is to either cut back by one egg or ice to within half an inch of the edge of the cake with the understanding that the warm cake will naturally move it closer to the edge.  Or, be like me and let it drip!

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The good news is that nary a crumb remained from last night’s first round of guinea pigs.  Let’s hope round 2 is equally successful today!

2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
3 eggs (or 2 eggs to reduce the amount of batter a bit)
2 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. milk
2 c. grated fresh zucchini (or any summer squash)
2 t. vanilla

Frosting
1/2 c. softened butter
1/4 c. cocoa powder
6 T. evaporated milk or half-and-half
1 lb. (4 cups) powdered sugar
2 t. vanilla

In large bowl, combine sugar and oil.  Cream in eggs, one at a time.

Combine dry ingredients.

Gradually add dry ingredients, alternately with milk, to creamed mixture.  Stir in grated squash and vanilla.

Pour into greased jellyroll pan (15x10x1).  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until cake is done.

While cake is baking, combine all ingredients for frosting; mixing until smooth.  Spread frosting on cake while still hot.

Cool on rack.

 

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Chewy Granola Bars

 

Many moons ago, my friend, Tiffany, gave me this recipe.  I went through a season of making them a couple of times a month…and then we greatly reduced our grocery budget.  (Sigh.)  Fortunately, there is now a bulk foods store nearby that sells most of these ingredients well below grocery store prices.  Yay for us!

These bars will not taste at all like the chewy granola bars that you can buy.  They are heartier and less artificial in taste and texture.  A pan of these can last our hungry family for several days–unlike a pan of brownies.  The ingredients are super flexible and easily altered to accommodate preferences and pantry supplies.  For instance, the ones I’m making this morning have almonds and flax seeds instead of sunflower seeds and wheat germ.  As long as you get a reasonably-right combination of wet and dry ingredients, your chance of success is fairly solid.

1/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. peanut butter
3/4 c. honey
2 T. hot water
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 c. rolled oats
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 T. sesame seeds
1 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. shredded coconut

Mix thoroughly and press into buttered 9×13″ baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes before cutting into bars.  Allow to cool completely before storing.

Tightly wrapped, these store very well for a week.  Or, feel free to tuck them into the freezer for anther day.

 

Glazed Pears

I have watched television chefs make one version or another of glazed pears for years.  I don’t know why, but they’ve never really piqued my interest.  Last spring, though, I watched Jacques Pepin make some apricot-glazed pears, and they grabbed my attention.  (I don’t know.  Maybe it was his French accent?)

Anywho, I decided to make a simpler version, sans apricot preserves, and they were a huge hit for my hungry crew…and so simple to make!

This could certainly be prepared with fresh pears and a honey or maple syrup glaze, but I opted for a simpler route this time.

2 T. butter
1 (15-oz.) can pears in light syrup
1 cinnamon stick

Melt butter in saute pan.

Add pears and about 2/3 of the juice, along with cinnamon stick, to melted butter.

Drink remaining pear juice before the kids come in and start fighting over it.  (Learn from my mistakes, people.)

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, gently stirring and basting, until liquid is reduced to syrup consistency.

Eat these sweet gems plain, over ice cream, on pancakes and waffles or with a biscuit.  Delightful.

 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I was recently reminded about this delightful treat by a friend.  This cake is so moist that it doesn’t need icing.  You can even dress it up a bit by sprinkling powdered sugar on top.  However, if you insist on making one, a cream cheese version would be lovely.

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2  t. salt
3eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 c. oil
3 c. grated zucchini

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 9×13″ pan.

Blend eggs, vanilla and oil, whisking well.

Combine all dry ingredients and add to egg mixture.

Stir in zucchini and combine well without over-beating.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Farmgirl Chocolate Chippers

Don’t worry.  You don’t have to be a farmer…or a girl…to enjoy these cookies.  Their delightfulness surpasses every demographic, which is a good thing…because this recipe makes a LOT.

2 c. butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 c. brown sugar, packed
4 eggs
2 t. vanilla
5 c. regular rolled oats
4 c. flour
1 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
2 t. baking soda
1 12-oz. pkg. chocolate chips
1 7-oz. chocolate candy bar, broken into several pieces
3 c. nuts, chopped (I especially like almonds.)

Cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.

Process half of oats in blender until powdery.  Process remaining half of oats until coarse, then add broken chocolate bar and process until oats are powdery and chocolate is chopped.

Add oats, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, then stir into butter mixture.

Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.

Form into golf ball-sized balls and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 10 or so dozen.

NOTE:  These cookies freeze very well.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

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A tried-and-true favorite at our house this time of year!  Our oldest daughter made two of these for our small group Bible study Friday night; they didn’t last long!

1 c. sugar
3 T. flour
3-4 c. sliced, fresh or frozen, strawberries (If using frozen, be sure to include juice.)
3 c. diced rhubarb

Combine sugar and flour, then stir in fruit.  Spread evenly in 9×13″ baking dish.

1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. cold butter, grated
1 c. rolled oats

Combine until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over fruit mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling and topping is lightly browned.

Fresh Cranberry Scones

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I really enjoy fresh cranberries, but they’re tough to find outside of the holiday season.  I will often buy a bag or two for the freezer when they’re available.  These scones are a refreshing treat—and especially tasty with a hot cup of tea.

2 ½ c. flour
½ c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
½ t. ground cloves (or the zest of one lemon)
¼ c. cold butter, grated
1 c. whipping cream
¾ c. fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
2 t. milk
2 T. sugar

Combine first 5 ingredients.

Add butter, mixing until crumbly.

Add whipping cream and cranberries, stirring just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto lightly-floured surface; knead 5 or 6 times—basically until mixture holds together well and can be shaped into 8” circle.

Cut disc into 8 wedges and place on lightly-greased baking sheet.  Prick wedges 3-4 times each with fork.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 425 for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

These are especially good warm.  They freeze well when wrapped tightly.