the zucchini harvest

Zucchini is taking over my life (with squash in a close 2nd).  This summer, zucchini has been harvested early and often.  Although we harvest a bunch at one time, it has averaged one a day.  Ironically I couldn’t find one zucchini last year.  We didn’t grow any nor did I see them at the farmer’s market.  I suppose we’re making up for lost time this summer.  My thoughts and research are consumed with zucchini and different ways to cook and eat it.  I refuse to waste any of it and giving it all away is just too easy at this point.

I’ve challenged us to eat zucchini at least twice daily.  And you know what?  It hasn’t been as difficult as I thought. There is the obvious choice: Grilled Zucchini.

the great zucchini harvest of 2015

And the most pleasing choice: Zucchini Bread… and muffins… and mini muffins.  We’ve had our share but I’ve also found healthier ways to utilize the harvest.

Zucchini muffins

 

Zucchini Soup

Last week, I made zucchini soup.  Yes, soup!  It was very tasty as a gazpacho as well.  Unfortunately I do not have a formal recipe to share as this is a work in progress but I can explain the process.  Almost all of our zucchini goes through the food processor for shredding, aside from those that we slice up and grill.  I used about 4 cups of shredded zucchini for our soup.  After sauteing onion and garlic in a large pot, I added the zucchini and 2-3 cups of water to boil.  Plus all of the fresh herbs I could get my hands on.  Namely, basil.  About 2 cups.  Plus oregano, marjoram and chives all snipped fresh from the garden.  I seasoned with salt & cayenne pepper.  I reduce to a simmer and used my immersion blend to puree the combination.  We ate it just like that but decided the smooth soup would make a great base for shrimp.  Next time!  There will definitely be a next time to continue to tweak zucchini soup.

Shredded Zucchini

Zucchini Juice

We also tried juicing zucchini which I am not a big fan of on its own.  It tastes like, well, zucchini water.  But with the addition of lemons, it was much sweeter.  Zucchini-ade anyone?

Heirloom Zucchini seeds

Zucchini Smoothies

I’ve found the easiest way to use up all of the zucchini is in smoothies!  I fill the blender with the shredded zucchini as a base for the smoothie.  I’ve cut out yogurt and banana completely so this smoothie is lower in fat than our usual.  Once the zucchini is blended, I added in berries which completely dominate in flavor.  As an added bonus, I’ve been blending fresh mint from the garden as well.  When blended, like in the soup, zucchini takes on a creamy texture.

cocozelle zucchini harvest

Summer tastes so good!  What is your favorite zucchini recipe?

 

 

farmers market roundup

I’m usually that girl who plants mums in August and has pumpkins out for Labor Day.  This year, however, I have been reluctant to say goodbye to summer.  I’m simply not going to do it ’til summer is really over.  At the end of September.

But I can’t deny the crisp air and winding down humidity so I have been thinking about switching out my seasonal decor and introducing some late summer favorites.  I love this time of year at the farmer’s market.  The colors, textures and pickins’ are in abundance.  Not only do I want to eat the season’s harvest but I want to decorate with it!

fall bistro table

Here are a few decorating ideas that will bring the changing season in without breaking your budget.  If you’re lucky, you might already have these crops growing in your own backyard garden.  If not, you know where to go!

Indian Corn Wreath:  Husks of Indian corn aren’t just for the lamp-post.  Pick up clusters of mini Indian corn which show a variety of colors.  Attach them to a wire form and you have yourself a new wreath plus a squirrel’s feast.  These are best hung between a storm door and front door or you won’t have anything left in a matter of hours!

mini Indian corn fall harvest wreath

Hot Pepper Wreath:  Pick up some hot peppers next time you’re at the market.  If you can find a surplus of them, you’ll get a better deal.  Wire them up to wreath form for new door decor.

hot pepper wreath

Farmers Market Vignette:  This vignette is nothing more than colorful, seasonal squashes and a pumpkin mixed with locally grown flowers that are drying out.  Arrange them amongst some other items that are already on hand like a rusty old scale and homemade pumpkin for instant impact!  When you’re not sure about what’s for dinner, slice open that squash and steam it.

fall vignette

Mumkin:  There is always the classic pumpkin planter stand by.  Grab a large pumpkin and 6 inch mum at the market.  Carve and hollow the pumpkin.  Plant the mum, pot and all, directly into the pumpkin planter.

Mumkin

Seed Packet Art:  If you can’t bring the freshness of the harvest inside, you can always create your own original seed packet art.  I duplicated a few vintage seed graphics last fall with paint and reclaimed wood.

vintage sunflower seed pack reproduction sign

beet stuffed peppers

I’m back with another food post, friends.

I’m talking about beetroots today.  They are said to be a natural anti-inflammatory vegetable which is what we are after in our house.  But what can be done differently with beets?  Well, this is one of my new faves that I like to think I made up because I’ve never heard of a Beet Stuffed Pepper before. About a week ago I posted a prep picture of this entree on instagram and got a lot of inquisitive likes.

Beet Stuffed Pepper

So I’m sharing the deets but hold onto your seats because there’s really only one thing you need to know about making this deliciously, filling vegetarian dish.

Are you ready for it?

The secret to Beet Stuffed Peppers is to follow your favorite traditional stuffed pepper recipe and then subtract the ground beef and add ground beets.

That’s it. Earth shattering, I know.  It kind of rhymes too: Subtract the ground beef and add ground beets.

Here’s exactly what I did to make this simple yet tasty dinner.

  • Take 3 average size beets, wash and peel the epidermis.  Grind the beets in the food processor.  Next, mix seasoned bread crumbs into the ground beets.  I used about a 50/50 ratio of bread crumbs to beets.  The bread crumbs absorb the moisture that the beets cook off.
  • Wash and core 2 green peppers.  A tip I learned from a friend when baking stuffed peppers is to briefly cook the peppers in boiling water to soften them.  This way they are more pliable and do not tear when you stuff them.
  • Next, you guessed it, stuff the peppers with the beet mix.  I sprinkled fresh shredded parmesan cheese to the top along with more bread crumbs.  Also, a dollop of raw honey (my favorite sweetener) on top complements the beet flavor very well.  The honey will cook into the stuffed pepper.
  • Bake at 325 for about 50 minutes and enjoy!

Beet Stuffed Pepper

These stuffed peppers are so filling that I couldn’t even finish mine!  Let me know if you give it a try.  And again, try this with your own stuffed pepper recipe and just substitute the beef for beets.

P.S.  Doesn’t the color remind you of red velvet cake?

summer peachza

I’ve never been much of a cook.  At all.
Until recently. I’ve suddenly tapped into this whole healthy eating thing, knowing where my food comes from, etc. and it’s made me incredibly interested in cooking. I’ve spent the better part of my adult life with a strong preference to eating out or at least having someone else cook for me.  I simply thought cooking was dull and that I was just too busy for the task.

Until recently when I had my aha moment.  Get creative in the kitchen.  Why not?  Do what I want.  Not follow a recipe per say but make it up as I go.  Creativity is something I’m into so if I can pull it off in the kitchen, I’m in.  I’m still focusing on simple recipes yet they’re totally interesting and tasty in my opinion.  I’m not onto, say, making dough from scratch or anything like that.  But I’m trying to keep it as healthy as possible.

But don’t worry, I’m not ready to jump ship from vintage and furniture into food blogging here.  However, when I reviewed the pics I took last week, I realized there were many more food photos than any of vintage treasures and furniture.  So without further adieu, I share with you my nearly famous Summer Peachza recipe.

delicious seasonal peach fruit pizza - peachza recipe

Yes, it’s a Peachza!

slice of peachza pie - delicious seasonal fruit pizza recipe

This is so easy to make and my favorite dish of the moment.  Peaches are abundant this time of year.  I seriously can’t get enough of their juicy flavor.  We’ve had peach smoothies, peach sangria, warm peaches and ice cream and now Peachza.

To get started, take two peaches and cut them into thin slices.

delicious seasonal fruit pizza recipe - sliced peaches

On a cookie sheet or pizza stone, roll out your secret ingredient…are you ready for it?

Crescent rolls.  Pop open a can of crescent rolls and arrange them in your best circle.  Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfectly touching as they’ll bake together.

delicious seasonal fruit pizza- peachza recipe

Now arrange your peach slices on the pie sprinkling with blue cheese and rosemary as you go.  I also opted to drizzle some honey on top – can’t get enough of that.  Fold the edges up a little to create a crust.  You’re ready to bake your Peachza pie.

peachza recipe: delicious seasonal fruit peaches pizza

Follow the instructions on the crescent roll package.

Boom.  You have 8 servings of Peachza in about 20 minutes.

peachza recipe: delicious seasonal fruit pizza

Enjoy!  This is a perfect for a late summer soiree appetizer or lunch.

peachza recipe - delicious seasonal fruit pizza

Now if anyone has an alternative to crescent rolls, I am all ears!  I haven’t been able to find a pre-made whole grain crescent roll at the very least.  Maybe I will have to venture into dough making after all…

Linking to Home Stories A to Z

the CSA way

This summer we joined a CSA for the first time. All I can say is, why didn’t we do this sooner?

csa (10 of 10)

We love everything about the experience!  We’ve been introduced to so many new varieties of vegetables which is right in line with our new healthy diet.

Raise your hand if you know what kohlrabi is.  Two months ago, I had never heard of it and I went to an agricultural college in the area!  Now it is one of our new favorite vegetables.  Unfortunately, they’re pretty much done for the season but that’s ok because we’ve moved onto tasty summer squashes.

csa (1 of 10)

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In the spring, we paid a membership fee to Pennypack Farm and as a result we pick up 6 shares of locally grown produce & herbs weekly during the summer harvest season.  It has quickly become my favorite day of the week!

The shares offered weekly change as the growing season changes.  It’s like Pandora’s box of produce.  Being part of a CSA also challenges us in the kitchen because you have to work each week’s offerings to create delicious meals.  My latest concoction was beet stuffed peppers with a dollop of local honey.  Delish!

csa (3 of 10)

This week we got to pick our own string beans which we took right home and had for dinner.  It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

csa (4 of 10)

We go very few places without Wilson.  So its awesome that dogs are allowed on the farm too!

csa (5 of 10)

As a bonus we get to harvest flowers from the cutting garden.

csa (7 of 10)

csa (8 of 10)

Summertime and the livin’ is easy….

csa (2 of 10)

If you have the opportunity to join a CSA next year, I highly recommend it.  It will expand your palette and culinary skills as well as support local farms and farmers.  I have to thank Karen, a blog reader, for referring us to our CSA!