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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Zucchini Pinwheels

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Zucchini pinwheels may not be pretty, but they sure are yummy!

The yearly avalanche of zucchini is in the near future at our place.  Right now, we’re getting about one every other day, but we will soon be finding six or eight every time we walk by the garden!

So, to battle Zucchini Boredom, I am always on the lookout for new recipes.  Plus, variety is the spice of life…right?

4 zucchini (6-7 inches in length), sliced lengthwise as thinly as possible
salt & pepper to taste
1 bar cream cheese, softened
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
a smattering of your favorite herbs, fresh or dried
oil for brushing on zucchini
toothpicks (if desired)

Brush zucchini with oil, then sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Grill or roast until very soft (but not falling apart).

Put cooked zucchini slices on towel so that moisture is absorbed while zucchini cools completely.

Combine cream cheese, garlic and herbs.  Spread along length of one side of each zucchini slice.  Roll into pinwheel and secure with a toothpick.  Or, if you’d like to skip the toothpicks, just pop them into your mouth as soon as they’re rolled (like my friend, Sarah, and I did last night).

 

Corn and Zucchini Medley

Yum, yum and YUM!

2-4 sliced bacon, sliced
2 c. diced zucchini
2 c. corn
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. shredded cheese
pepper to taste

Fry the bacon in large skillet until cooked.  Drain and set aside, reserving  1 T. of drippings.

In reserved drippings, saute zucchini, corn and onion until tender-crisp.  Add garlic and saute for additional minute.  Season with pepper, if desired.  Top with bacon and cheese.

Better-with-Bacon Summer Squash

Summer squash is often the gift that keeps on giving in our neck of the woods.  And, even though I have dozens of tried-and-true recipes on-hand, I find myself looking for new ways to prepare it.  This is especially true because one of my kiddos pretty much loathes the stuff.  She will eat it when it’s served, but only because she’s hungry.

Since so many things are better with bacon, we’ve added it to our summer squash this year in the hopes of finding another recipe that we can all get excited about.  Even if it doesn’t pass muster with her, I look forward to having this with some fresh corn on the cob and thick-sliced heirloom tomatoes.

You can use any type of summer squash in this recipe:  zucchini, yellow squash, patty pan or even 8-ball zucchini.  It really doesn’t matter.  This can even be served with rice or over pasta if you want to bulk it up a bit.

4-6 strips bacon, diced
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, if desired

In large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon and carefully drain grease, keeping 2-3 tablespoons in skillet.

In the bacon drippings, saute summer squash and onion for 6-8 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Add minced garlic and stir for 1-2 more minutes until garlic is cooked.

Sprinkle with cheese if you want (and why wouldn’t you?).

Shredded Zucchini Saute’

6-ish c. shredded zucchini
1 T. cooking oil
1 T. minced, fresh basil
salt & pepper to taste
2 t. butter
2 T. grated Parmesan cheese

Squeeze moisture out of zucchini by wrapping in a cotton towel and twisting to remove moisture.  Scrape zucchini into a bowl.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini, basil, salt and pepper.  Saute’, stirring often until crisp-tender–maybe 5 or so minutes.

Dot with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

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.

Putting Up Pie Pumpkins

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Pie pumpkins are those cute little pumpkins you often see piled up in baskets at Farmers’ Markets.  They are usually fairly dark orange and have thick stems.  This variety is very thick-walled and slightly sweet in flavor, which makes them perfect for using in soups, breads and pies.

I like to wash, seed and cut up my pie pumpkins, placing them in a 22-quart roaster for cooking.  You can certainly just cook one at a time, though, either in the oven or in a pot on the stove.  Pumpkins are a winter squash, so you cook them just as you would butternut or acorn–cut side down in a baking dish with about 1/2″ of water, tightly covered with foil at 400 degrees or so for about thirty minutes until soft.  The whole idea is to be able to scrape the pulp from the outer skin.  Sometimes, I will puree the pumpkin pulp with my KitchenAid attachment or even a blender to make it super smooth.  It’s totally up to you.  I don’t mind the added texture in breads and muffins, but I think the smoothness that the pureeing accomplishes is nice for pies and soups.  Once you have the pulp ready, you measure it into amounts that you would like to use for your favorite pumpkin recipes and put it in freezer bags, double-bagging against freezer burn.  Pumpkin is very easy to preserve in this manner.  My only caution is that you do not cook it in a whole lot of water; the pulp can become soggy and lose its thick texture that makes it so nice for cooking and baking.

I was somewhat shocked the first time I did this, because my pumpkin puree was not dark orange like canned pumpkin.  However, the flavor and texture is greatly improved over the store-bought options–even though my breads and pies looked a bit “anemic” to me.

On a side note, if you have no interest in cooking with these early pumpkins, you can always wash the outsides with a diluted bleach solution and cure them in the sun with the hope that they will last for your fall decorations.