So You Grew a Garden… Now What? 10

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

It’s time for another zucchini recipe! This recipe comes courtesy of Pastor Ryan via the Pioneer Woman blog. It is another recipe that I knew I would make the moment I saw it, almost a year ago. At the time our zucchini plant wasn’t producing very much but I kept the recipe in a little file in the back of my brain. When I decided to do this garden series I knew without a doubt that this would be a part of it. I am so happy that I didn’t forget about this little gem because they were SO GOOD. If you have zucchini in your garden right now, you.must.make.these.

Zucchini Cakes
(Slightly adapted from Ryan Dretzel via The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

1 large zucchini
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 – 3/4 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
2 eggs (add 1 first then if the mixture is too thick add the 2nd)
1/2 tsp thyme
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and Freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil

Directions

Shred a cleaned and dried zucchini with the large holes of the cheese grater. Squeeze the shredded zucchini using a clean kitchen, removing as much liquid as you can. (I was surprised how much liquid came out!)

In a medium bowl, stir together the shredded zucchini, garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, salt, pepper and thyme. Check the texture. It should be batter like and not “crumbly”. Add the second egg if needed.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot enough, carefully drop the batter into skillet (about 2-3 tbsp of batter) and flatten a little with a fork. Cook for two minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with ranch for dipping.

Southwest Pasta Salad

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

This is a recipe that has been talked about a lot on the cooking message board that I frequent. I knew the first time that I heard about it that I would love it, but for one reason or another I kept putting it off. Last week I finally had some fresh tomatoes from the garden (not big juicy red ones but little yellow pear ones) so I decided it was finally time to make this pasta salad. This is definitely a great way to use up some of the tomatoes that most gardens are growing (I’m still in mourning over my tomato plants which have been obliterated by the deer, thank goodness one survived!) I really enjoyed it!

As for changes I only made a few and mostly because I was using what I had on hand. I didn’t have red tomatoes so I cut the yellow pear tomatoes into quarters and used those. I also subbed flat leaf parsley for cilantro because the store didn’t have any and I am growing my own parsley and I omitted the avocado because I’m not a huge fan (though if I were making it for a crowd I would probably use it) Finally, I cut the recipe in half and in doing so I think I screwed up the “sauce” measurements because mine was a little on the dry side. If that happens I recommend just mixing a little more salsa and olive oil together and tossing it in. I also want to mention that this recipe would be perfect for a summer cookout because it does not call for any mayonnaise so it would be OK to sit out.


Cara’s Wagon Wheel Pasta Salad
(Source: Cara’s Cravings)

Ingredients

1lb wagon wheel pasta
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10oz package frozen corn
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced – I used yellow pear tomatoes cut into quarters
8oz shredded Mexican-blend cheese
1 1/2 cups salsa
1/2 cup olive oil
3-4 tbsp lime juice – fresh is a must!
1 tbsp cumin
1-2 tsp chili powder – I went on the heavier side of the chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro – flat leaf parsley can be subbed if you don’t have fresh cilantro on hand
1 avocado, diced

Directions

Cook the pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large bowl, combine the black beans, corn, tomatoes, salsa, and cheese. Add the cooled pasta and mix well.

In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Pour over the pasta salad, add the cilantro, and mix well. Season to taste with salt & pepper.

Just before serving, stir in the diced avocado.

Honey Peanut Butter Cookies

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

I usually think a peanut butter cookie is a peanut butter cookie. I love them, but I never really feel like one recipe stands out a whole lot more than another (though the addition of chocolate chips makes me want to sing and dance). This cookie, however, is in a league of it’s own. It is one of the chewiest cookies I have ever had, the texture is just amazing. As for the taste, you can definitely taste the peanut butter but it is the honey that really makes it. I also have to admit that because of the combination of peanut butter (read – protein) and honey I decided that these make a great breakfast food and had some while we were waiting for the plane the morning we left on vacation. 🙂

Honey Peanut Butter Cookies
(Source: Bake Me More)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup honey
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sugar for rolling -original recipe called for powdered sugar, but I like granulated on my PB cookies

Directions:

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a mixing bowl and hand mixer), beat the shortening, peanut butter and honey. Then add the eggs and mix well. Next add the dry ingredients to the peanut butter mixture and mix well.

Round dough into 1″ balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on un-greased baking sheets and bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on cookie sheets. Remove and place on paper towels or a brown paper bag to cool completely. Store tightly covered.

Dah dah dah dah… It’s Elmo Time!!

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

About a month ago a friend told me that she was throwing an Elmo themed birthday party for her sons second birthday. I have seen a few Cookie Monster cupcakes and Elmo cupcakes on various blogs in the past and I was always wishing that I had a good excuse to make them. This party was just the excuse I was looking for. So I jumped on the opportunity and offered to make the cake/cupcakes. They wound up being a huge hit and the birthday boy was definitely loving the Elmo theme.


Most of the blogs that I have seen have used frosting to make the eyes and the nose but I wanted to do something different. I also knew that I would need to spread the work out over a few days and using all frosting wouldn’t work for that. So I decided I would make the eyes and nose out of Wilton candy melts. A week before the party I did a test run on my idea for decorating the cupcakes and I was so excited when it worked. The week of the party I spread the work out over three days. On Wednesday I baked the cakes and cupcakes and then covered them will saran wrap and froze them. Thursday night I made the eyes and nose. Friday I took the cupcakes out of the freezer in the morning and then in the afternoon I did all of the decorating except for the mouth (didn’t want the gel icing to spread/melt). Saturday all I had to do was put the mouths on the cupcakes and get them safely to the party. I do think that you could do all of this work in one day. It would take several hours but it is doable. I am listing step by step instructions with some pictures below!


Elmo Cupcakes

Supplies

20-24 cupcakes (I used this recipe and this recipe)
Wilton candy melts in white and orange
Candy melting squeeze bottle (follow instructions for melting the melts)
Chocolate chips
Tooth picks
1 large bowl of hot water
Paper towels
2 cups buttercream frosting
Red food coloring
1 piping bag fitted with tip #18
Black decorating gel in .68 oz tube

To make the eyes and nose:

  1. Melt the candy melts and chocolate chips in squeeze bottles by filling a bowl with hot (but not boiling) water and placing the squeeze bottles in the water. I kept the bowl next to my work station so when I wasn’t using a bottle it was staying warm. Replace the water as necessary and keep paper towels by your side to dry of bottles as needed.
  2. Print a picture of Elmo and place the picture under a sheet of parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet.
  3. Start by outlining the eyes in white, leaving a space for the chocolate eye.
  4. Fill in the whites and use a toothpick with small, light circular motions to smooth.
  5. Fill in the spot for the chocolate by squeezing a small amount of chocolate into the space. Then wet your fingertip and lightly press down on the chocolate to fill in the space and smooth it out.
  6. Outline the nose with orange. Fill using the same circular motions with a toothpick.
  7. Move the template to a new spot on the parchment paper and repeat until you have all of the eyes and noses that you need, plus a few extra just in case.
  8. When you finish making all of the eyes and noses put the cookie sheet in the freezer to set the candy.

Assembly

  1. Fill a piping bag, fitted with tip #18, with the red buttercream frosting. Be sure to twist the top of the bag so frosting doesn’t squeeze out while you decorate
  2. Outline the edges of the top of a cupcake by holding the piping bag perpendicular to the cupcake. Lightly squeeze the bag and use a small down then up motion to make a star.
  3. Once the top of the cupcake is outlined fill in the middle using the same motions, be sure to make the stars close together and not to leave empty spaces.
  4. After the cupcake is frosted, place candy eyes on the cupcake letting them hang over the edge about 1/2 inch.
  5. Using the black decorating gel, draw a mouth below the eyes and nose.

Tips:

  • To decorate a cake, use the same method for the eyes and nose but on a larger scale. It was easier to outline the eyes/nose and then use a warm spoon to fill in the space. For the cake I used chocolate for the mouth instead of decorating gel. To pipe the frosting I used a bag fitted with tip # 2D. I used a total of 4 1/2 cups of frosting to make 20 cupcakes and one cake (it was 2 thin layers)
  • If you do not have a piping bag you could simply frost the cupcakes using a spatula and then put the eyes and nose on. It wouldn’t have the textured look but it would have the same overall feel.
  • Make sure the eyes and nose are fully set before trying to transport them to the cupcakes.
  • If you are pressed for time just use a boxed cake mix and store bought icing.
  • Wait as long as you can to use the decorating gel because it will eventually start to run/spread.
  • I hope these directions help, but if anything is unclear feel free to leave a comment or email me (orangekitchencooking @ gmail.com). I will try to clarify anything that doesn’t make sense!
  • And last but not least, don’t worry, these cupcakes are “Birthday Boy Approved”