Asian Style Zucchini Noodle Pasta

zucchini noodles smallOh the madness! The zucchini madness. It continues. By the end of this season I will have harvested twice my weight in the wonderful green squash. This is the first time I have tried squash pasta noodles. I wasn’t sure that I would like this dish but it was great. I found this recipe as I was paging through some articles I cut out of various magazines over the years. This comes from 1996, I don’t know what magazine. I always like to attribute but unfortunately I can’t do it this time. I added a bit more spice to the recipe because it seems as if dishes were a little bland back then, especially if it was considered “healthy”. I used a mandolin cutter with a shoestring blade to make the “noodles”. I saw a little device in the local dollar store “as seen on TV”. It worked like a pencil sharper. You stick the zucchini it and turn. Voila! Squash noodles! You can also cut a regular knife to achieve the effect but you would probably have to be masochistic!

3 Zucchini, about 10 inches long, sliced into shoestrings
2 tablespoons Green Onions, minced
3 tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
2 teaspoons Sugar
1 teaspoon (or more) powdered Garlic
2 tablespoons Dry Sherry or Scotch
1 tablespoon Rice Vinegar
1 tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil
¼ teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
¼ Sea Salt or Kosher
¼ Crushed Red Pepper
1 tablespoon fresh grated Ginger
2 teaspoon Sesame Seeds (optional)

Steam the zucchini shoestrings for 5 minutes or until tender. Don’t over-steam because they will get mushy. Rinse them under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well and place into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk 1 teaspoon green onions and all other ingredients under the sugar is dissolved. Pour the dressing over the noodles and toss well. Garnish with the remaining green onions. Serves 4-6 as a side.

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

I found this recipe last year on the Foodnetwork website. I had so much zucchini last year that I was looking for new and different ways to use it. I know, I know. This is just an excuse to eat chocolate cake! LOL!! I am not denying that. :-)

Unsalted butter for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour, plus more for the pan
1/2 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (not Dutch Process)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon ground Nutmeg or Allspice
1 1/4 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 large Eggs
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 medium Zucchini, grated and squeezed dry

Glaze:
1/3 cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 teaspoon EVOO
1 teaspoon Honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch square cake pan. Dust pan with flour.

Toss 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl. Mix the remaining flour, cocoa powder, salt baking soda and nutmeg in a medium bowl and then set aside.
Beat the sugar, 1/2 cup EVOO, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed for about 3 minutes until smooth. Add the flour cocoa mixture. Beat on low speed until combined. About 2 minutes. The batter may be thick. Add the zucchini and beat until combined. About 2 more minutes. With a big spoon fold in the coated chocolate chips into the cake mix.

Transfer the batter to the cake pan and bake for 30 -35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from pan and transfer to a cake rack. Cool completely.

Glaze:

Combine the ingredients in a micro wave safe bowl. Micro wave on medium high in 30 second bursts, stirring, until the chocolate is melted. Spread over cake and cut into pieces.

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Okie Ranch Wife’s Tabouli

This is another one of my trial and error recipes. I have tired a lot of different ones for Tabouli or Tabbouleh.
The spelling really depends in which Middle Eastern country you are. I find the preparation I use makes for the most tender bulgur wheat. It does take 2 days, so think ahead. Process the bulgur the first and prep the veggies on the second day. During the summer I make this once or twice a week. It is so good. A couple of reasons why I like it so much is that it is packed with fiber and consists of such good fresh veggies. So I hope you try this and I hope you like it as much as I do.

1 pound Bulgur Wheat #2, cracked medium coarse
1 pound Roma Tomatoes, dice very fine
1 cup Oil, your choice (I use 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive and 3/4 cup Extra Light Olive Oil)
4 bunches Green Onions, cut very fine
1 bunch Parsley, curly or flat leaf, sliced very fine (I only use the leaves and the tender stems and save the rest for veggie stock)
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon Seasoned Salt
2 tablespoons Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
3/4 tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Cucumber, grated with skin on
1/4 teaspoon Hot Sauce

Put the bulgur wheat in a large storage container. Cover with at least 2 inches of water, cover and place in fridge overnight.
The next day strain out any liquid that has not been absorbed by the bulgur. And finish by pressing out by hand. Prep all of the veggies. Combine all ingredients in a very large bowl. Adjust seasonings of salt, pepper, garlic and lemon to your taste. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours. Enjoy!

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Vegetable Frittata

vegetable frittataStarting in the early Spring and continuing through to Fall, my hens happily produce more eggs than I can ever eat and I like to make frittatas for breakfast or breakfast for dinner. You can put anything in them that you have as leftovers. Use what you have and use your imagination. I do like to put bacon in my frittata but I didn’t have any when I made this so I used some of the bacon drippings I keep in my fridge.

3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Butter or Bacon Drippings
2 cloves of Garlic, minced or peeled and pressed
3 Green Onions, chopped
1 large Potato, peeled and grated
2 small Zucchinis, grated
2 sprigs of fresh Thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 can (10 oz) Whole Kernel Corn, drained
8 Eggs
1 cup Cheese, grated (any kind you have)
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh Parsley, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried

Heat the EVOO, butter or bacon drippings in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Saute the green onions, garlic, potato and thyme for about 5 to 8 minutes. Season to taste. Cover. Stir occasionally. Add corn and zucchini and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
In a large bowl throughly beat the eggs. Add cheese and parsley. Mix again. Pour into skillet and mix with the potato mix. Cook about 12 minutes or until the top of the egg/potato mixture is cooked and set.
Position the top rack of the oven under the broiler. Select broil and heat. When the frittata is finished cooking on the stovetop place the cast iron skillet under teh broiler for 2 to 5 minutes. Until teh top of teh frittata is browned. Serve immediately.

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Venison Breakfast Bake

Venison breakfast bakeI really love to look in my deep freezer and see venison that was taken from my own land. I do like to watch the deer cross my pasture in back of my house but I also like the self sufficiency of having a freezer full of meat that I didn’t buy at the store. Contrary to popular opinion, venison doesn’t taste “gamey”. But that is only my humble opinion. If you are concerned about the taste, you can soak any slice of meat, even ground burger, in milk before cooking. This recipe is only slightly different from my venison Breakfast Strata. I used what I had as leftovers in the fridge.

11 slices of Bread (any kind that you have) torn into 1 inch cubes
1 pound of Venison
dash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) or even Bacon Drippings
1 meduim Sweet Onion, chopped
5 New Red Potatoes, skin on and grated
1 cup Succotash (mix of Sweet Corn and Lima Beans)
4 ounces Cheese, shredded (any type you have) Today I had Extra Sharp Cheddar.
6 whole Eggs
2 cups Whole Milk or 1/2 & 1/2
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Paprika, Regular or Smoked Hungarian

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray or oil a 13×9 baking dish. Put the bread cubes in the baking dish and evenly cover the bottom. In a large skillet, I use cast iron, heat the EVOO or bacon drippings over medium heat. Cook the meat, onion and potatoes for about 10 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink. Add the succotash and mix. Season to taste. Place the meat mixture on top of the bread. Spread the cheese on top of the meat.
In a large bowl beat the eggs. Add the milk and mix well. Pour over the cheese. Sprinkle the paprika over the top. Bake for 35 minutes. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

This is a great make ahead breakfast dish when you have company or a breakfast for dinner meal for the family. Assemble all ingredients except the eggs, milk and paprika. Cover and refridgerate overnight. Before baking allow the dish to come to room temp, about 30 minutes. Add the egg and milk mixture to the dish sprinkle paprika and cook.

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Homemade Mayonnaise

There is nothing as good as homemade mayonnaise. It is so easy to make that I don’t use store bought mayo anymore. And bonus, I know exactly what I am putting into this condiment. Since I have an abundance of fresh, free range chicken eggs that my girls produce I don’t worry about salmonella so frequently seen in commerically produced eggs. I believe that my girls are happy hens and lay happy eggs. :-) One warning though, if there are young children or expectant mothers in the household they may want to avoid the homemade mayo.

1/2 cup Vegetable Oil (I personnally don’t use Canola Oil)
1/2 cup Extra Light Olive Oil (NOT Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 whole Egg
1/4 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/4 Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
1 tablespoon or more Lemon Juice, fresh or bottled, as needed

Combine the oils in a measuring cup. In a blender add the egg, mustard and salt. Blend on high until the egg mixture is thick about 3-5 seconds. Add lemon juice and blend for about 10 seconds. With the blender on high start adding the oil a drop at a time then in a slow stream until it is all blended. If the mayo is thick add a bit more lemon juice. This will keep in the fridge for about a week, but I doubt that it will last that long.

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Navy Bean and Beer Soup

Here is another soup recipe that just takes me back to my childhood in the Northeast. I grew up in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. During the summer all of us kids looked forward to the many picnics put on by the fire companies and churches. My favorites the Polish Church picnic and one of the fire companies. They were called “hoses” and pronounced “hosiees”. I don’t know why. Maybe because they were fire hose stations. It is part of the local lingo of the coal region. Anyway, even in the heat of the summer soups were the most popular food at the picnics. Other food included perogies, halupkis, haluskie and so on. Being of various Eastern European ethnic backgrounds anything made from cabbage, potato and onion were a staple food for my people.
Last week I just got hungry for good old fashioned bean. Nothing fancy, just peasant food. My brother agrees that this recipe has the flavor of picnic bean soup from our childhood. I teamed this cheddar buttermilk biscuits but you can use a hearty, crusty bread just as well. I hope you enjoy.

1 pound dried Navy Beans or Cannellini Beans.
Water enough to cover by 3 inches to soak overnight
2 cans (12 ozs each) Beer. I used Strohs. Anyway lager type will do
12 cups Water
2 Smoked ham hocks or ham bones
6 slices of Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme or 4 sprigs fresh Thyme
3 Carrots, peeled and medium size diced
2 Celery ribs, medium size diced
1 Onion, medium size dice. Type is your choice. I like sweet but any kind will do
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 cup of diced Ham, style is your choice. I have used thick sliced lunch meat, canned ham and cooked smoked ham. All are fine.

Put the beans in a large bowl, rinse and check for stones. Then cover with the soaking water. Let them soak overnight or at least 8 hours. When soaking is complete drain the beans and set aside. Put the beer and 11 cups of water into a soup pot. I like to use my cast iron Dutch Oven for this. Put the ham hocks or bones and the bacon into the beer/water mixture. Over medium high heat bring it to a boil. Reduce to simmer, uncovered for an hour. Don’t worry if it goes over an hour. It’s all good.
Add the beans and the thyme and simmer for another hour at least.
After simmering for an hour add the carrots, celery and onion. Add salt and pepper and season to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour.
Remove the ham hocks and bones. Allow to cool so you can get the rest of the meat off the bones. Now some people throw away the skin and bones. I give them to my dogs. It adds some good fat to their diet and the bones clean their teeth. Plus they love it. It a home cooked treat.
Using an immersion blender, food processor, blender or even a good old fashioned potato masher, puree half of the beans and veg. This thickens the soup nicely giving you that hearty food feel. Add in the rest of the ham. Season again to taste and serve. This soup did not last long in my house. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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