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.

 

Zucchini Pizza Pie

Since our summer months are usually inundated with zucchini, I try to prepare it in a wide variety of ways.  Most of my family agreed that this recipe is a keeper.  Once the crust in established, the rest of the dish is very flexible, so it’s a great option when trying to use what you already have on-hand.

4 c. grated zucchini
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan
2 c. grated mozzarella or provolone
1 c. grated cheddar
1 lb. ground beef or pork sausage or chorizo, or whatever
1 onion, chopped
2 c. marinara sauce of your choice
1 c. bell pepper, chopped (or mushrooms, black olives, more zucchini, tomatoes, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400.

Put grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt.  Let stand 10 minutes, then squeeze out moisture.

Combine zucchini with eggs, Parmesan and half of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses.  Press into greased 3-qt. baking dish.  Bake 20 minutes.

In large saucepan, cook ground meat and onion over medium heat until done.  Add marinara sauce.

Spoon sauce/meat mixture over baked zucchini crust.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with veggies of your choice.  Bake another 20 or so minutes, or until heated through.

NOTE:  This casserole freezes really well.

Stuffed Zucchini

About this time every year, I am looking for new ways to use zucchini.  This recipe is easy and tasty, and it uses another veggie that I have plenty of right now–Swiss chard.  If you don’t have Swiss chard, feel free to use spinach.

6 smallish zucchini, halved lengthwise
4-5 c. Swiss chard, sliced and packed
1/2 c. onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. oil
1 T. fresh basil (or 1 t. Italian seasoning blend)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 T. dry bread crumbs (or cracker crumbs)
4 T. grated parmesan, divided
2 T. butter

Scoop out the pulp of the raw zucchini halves.  Chop the pulp coarsely.

Cook the Swiss chard, then drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil until soft.  Add the spinach, zucchini pulp, herbs, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and half of the cheese.  Mix well.

Place the zucchini shells in a baking dish and stuff with spinach mixture.  Melt the butter and drizzle over the top.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

NOTE:  These can be completely cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap or wax paper, then placed in a freezer bag for freezing.

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joes

Need a new idea for a pound of ground beef?

This is a fun, easy twist on the standard sloppy joe.  You can even make a big batch and tuck some in the freezer for another night.

1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. ketchup
1 4-oz. can chopped green chilies
1/2 c. beef broth, tomato juice or even water
1/4 c. chili sauce or salsa
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cumin powder
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes (or a pinch of cayenne pepper)
salt & pepper to taste

Brown ground beef with onion until meat is cooked through.

Add remaining ingredients; allow to simmer 15 minutes or so.

Flour Tortillas

My friend, Tisha, introduced me to this recipe several years ago.  Homemade tortillas seemed like quite a hassle at the time, but once we made them, we were hooked.  Instead of just being the vessel for the “real food” in a taco, the tortillas become center stage to whatever other tasty ingredients you add.  I find myself especially hungry for these when we have ripe, flavorful heirloom tomatoes in our garden.  Mmmm!

When we make tortillas, we make a huge batch to last for at least three meals.  We eat the first round fresh that day and put the rest in the freezer for later.

These tortillas are best served warm, so take the time to heat them before proceeding with your tacos.  They are also really yummy when brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
2 t. oil
3/4 c. warm milk

Mix the first four ingredients until well-blended.  Slowly add warm milk.

Stir until a loose, sticky ball forms.

Knead for two minutes on a floured surface until dough is firm and soft.  (You can do this part in your KitchenAid, if you have one.)

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover for 20 minutes.

Divide dough into 8 equal parts and roll each part into a ball.  Cover and let rest 10 more minutes.

After dough has rested, pat out each ball into a 4″ circle and roll out until 6-8″ in diameter. (Keep tortillas covered until ready to cook, because they dry out quickly.)

In DRY skillet (as in, without oil), cook tortillas on high 20-30 seconds per side.  The tortilla will begin to puff a bit when it’s done.  Keep cooked tortillas covered until ready to eat.

Use as you would any other tortillas.  Store in fridge, tightly wrapped, until ready to eat.

Chocolate Cupcakes

These chocolatey treats didn’t take much more time than a cake mix to make, and the flavor was so much better.  They were part of the cupcake lineup for my oldest daughter’s Sweet 16 Open House, and they were gone well before the party-ing was over.

The cupcakes freeze very nicely, and they taste delightful with almost any icing you choose.

1 1/3 all-purpose flour
1/4 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. baking cocoa
1/4 t. salt
3 T. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature, if possible
3/4 t. vanilla
1 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together dry ingredients; set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.  Stir in vanilla.

Alternately add flour mixture with milk; stirring until incorporated.

Line muffin tin with 12-18 liners.  Fill tins 3/4 full.

Bake 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool completely before icing.

Lemon Cupcakes

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I made these tasty treats to celebrate by oldest daughter’s Sweet 16 Cupcake and Ice Cream Float Open House.  They were a hit with almost everyone.  (One guest gasped and puckered and handed her cupcake off to her son.  Too tart, maybe??)  I was especially tickled that these cupcakes pleased my lemon-loving friend, Emily, who sets a high bar for all things lemon.  Plus, my hubby really, really liked them, too.

This recipe makes about 30 cupcakes, so it’s basically a double batch.  Before icing, they freeze wonderfully.  I frosted them with a lemon cream cheese frosting that was a basic cream cheese icing recipe with lemon juice and a couple of drops of lemon oil added.  I could’ve eaten it with a spoon.  (Okay, okay.  I confess!  I did eat it with a spoon!)

3 c. all-purpose flour
3 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
4 eggs, room temperature, if possible
1 t. vanilla
2 T. grated lemon zest
1 c. buttermilk or whole milk
3 T. lemon juice
3-4 drops lemon essential oil, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift dry ingredients together and set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one.  Stir in the vanilla and lemon zest.

Gently beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with half the milk and half the lemon juice.  Add essential oil.  Beat until just combined; do not over-mix.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cupcakes cool in pan about 10 minutes before removing to rack.