Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Zucchini Pancakes

Hi! It has been quite a long time since I've posted - I apologize! (I know you were all waiting on pins and needles until I posted again!) ;-)

My husband and I discovered a couple of years ago that we love potato pancakes, but we don't always love how heavy and full of carbs they can be. So we thought up a great alternative - Zucchini pancakes! These little guys are delicious and nutritious, and a good alternative to heavier potato pancakes. Here's what to do:

1 large zucchini
1/2 onion
1/3 - 1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 tsp garlic powder
enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan
salt and pepper

First step - in a large mixing bowl, shred your zucchini up the same way you would potatoes, perhaps using a cheese grater. Mince the onion and add it to your zucchini.

Add the egg, flour, garlic powder and a few shakes of salt and pepper. Stir this until you have a real thick paste. You can always add more flour or egg or even a bit of water until you think the consistency looks good - adding these things won't negatively effect your pancakes, as long as you arrive at a really nice and thick consistency for frying. The mixture should look something like this:

Next, pour enough oil into a large frying pan to generously coat the bottom and set the heat at medium. Let the oil heat up for a few minutes before your start frying. This will prevent the pancakes from absorbing too much oil, and help them to brown nicely. When the oil is ready, dollop the zucchini mixture onto the pan and let the them fry for a good 5 minutes on each side. You'll really have to watch them, though, because every pan and every stove are slightly different! You want a nice golden brown on each side. You'll see the pancake get slightly plump and set as it cooks.

If your batter seems to fall apart in the pan and not stick together to form a pancake you may not have enough flour and egg in the mixture. The thing to remember about cooking a recipe like this is that the term, "large zucchini" is very subjective! SO don't be surpirsed if you need to adjust the ingredients to get the correct consistency. To me, that's what cooking is all about - being flexible and adjusting as you go.

In the end, you'll have delicious zucchini pancakes to enjoy. Serve warm with ketchup or sour cream, or just enjoy with salt and pepper. What a great way to eat your veggies!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My favortie salad

When I was a junior in college I lived in a small apartment with a vegetarian. She was a wonderful, vibrant friend who showed me so many new and exciting things, one of them being tofu. Although I wasn't a vegetarian at the time, I grew to love tofu. It was that year that I invented my favorite salad. Here's my recipe for Asian Tofu Tomato Salad:


2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 block of extra firm tofu
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 fresh tomato, or 1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic (optional)
oil and soy sauce to taste

Its so simple to make. Here's what you do - Put the olive oil in a skillet or wok on med-high heat. Slice up your tofu into bite sized cubes. (A note about tofu - if you drain as much water out as possible before cooking, the tofu will brown better. Wrap the tofu in a clean dish towel and place something heavy on top, like a cook book. Leave it like this for a good 5 minutes or so. This step isn't necessary, but it makes the tofu brown up nicely.) Saute the tofu in the oil until its nice and golden brown.

When your tofu is sufficiently browned, cut up the tomato into whatever shape or size you like. Add the soy sauce and tomato and cook it just until the tomato is limp and warm. If you want, you can add a clove of minced garlic, too.

Spread this tofu over a bed of romaine lettuce. Add extra oil and soy sauce to taste. I love this salad because its nutritious, low calorie, full of vegetarian protein, and best of all its quick and easy to make! As always, you can add your own twist to this delicious salad and ENJOY!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Apple Sauce

I was talking to a friend this week about caning and gardening, and she told me that Paula Red apples are an early apple variety, and are NOW ready to pick! Who knew? So my sister, my son and I went to The Apple Farm in Victor yesterday and picked 18 lbs of Paula Red apples!

I love to make all kinds of things with apples, but as I prepare for the long, fruitless winter ahead I decided to make and can fresh applesauce! I was able to use 8 lbs. of apples to make 9 pints of apple sauce, so keep that in mind when you are planning on how many apples to pick.

I think the easiest, easiest, easiest way to make applesauce is with a Victorio Food Strainer. My parents have one, so I just borrow theirs - however, the Victorio Food Strainer really is an inexpensive and extremely useful tool for making sauces and juices. A new strainer usually runs about $60. I highly recommend picking one up. With the Victorio Strainer, you do not need to peel, core, or even de-stem your apples before cooking them - the strainer does all of that for you. First step, cut your apples. I cut them in half, then cut each half into 4 pieces. Put them in a big pot, add a couple cups of water so the apples won't stick to the bottom of the pot, cover, and put the stove on medium heat,

Let the apples cook for a while - an hour, or so - until they get all mushy and start to fall apart. Depending on the variety of apples you use this shouldn't take long!

When you get your Victorio Strainer it will, of course, come with an instruction manual, so I will spare you all the details of how to use the strainer. But in a nutshell, you dump your cooked apple mixture into the funnel at the top. Turn the crank, and the machine will extrude your fruit through small holes, making a lovely consistency for apple sauce. Any pieces not small enough to squeeze through the holes - i.e. skin, seeds, stems - will come out of the strainer on the other side, and you can later discarded them. Here is the strainer in action:

After that, your apple sauce is finished! SO EASY, right? I put the sauce into jars and cooked them in the pressure cooker. Now I have fresh, natural apple sauce - no sugar or spices added - that will last all winter long.

If you DO NOT have a Victorio Food Strainer and you still want to make apple sauce, it is actually still very easy. You just need to add an extra step to the process. Before you put your apples into the pot on the stove you will need to peel and core them. This is not hard, of course, but definitely time consuming. Cook them on the stove in the same way, and they will just fall apart. You can use a potato masher to finish the job, and TA-DA, fresh, delicious, natural apple sauce for you, too. :-)


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

More Water, Please!

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service recommends that adults drink between 8 and 12 8 oz. servings of water daily for optimum health. I think that's a great suggestion, but let's be honest here - who wants to drink 12 glasses of plain water a day? Water is boring! If you're anything like me, you need to find ways to jazz up your water in order to reach your H20 intake goals. There are so many easy ways to naturally flavor your water without using artificial ingredients or sweeteners. I'd like to share some of my favorites with you...

#1 - Citrus water! Just slice up some of your favorite citrus fruits and put them in the bottom of your water pitcher. Let it sit there for a few hours in the fridge - the longer you let it sit the more citrus flavor you'll get in your water. Personally, I like to cut up 1 small lime, about 3/4 of a small lemon and 1/2 an orange.

Here are the fruits before the water (in an awesome old glass milk jug I found at a barn sale):

And after the water:

#2 - Cucumber water! I learned this one at a small coffee shop in Illinois. You can do the exact same thing that you did with the citrus water, only slice up about 1/2 of a medium sized cucumber instead of citrus fruits. This water has a much more subtle flavor, but its very clean and refreshing.

#3 - Lemon and mint water. This is a refreshing variation on the citrus water that's especially good on hot summer days. Slice up 1 lemon and throw in about 8 fresh mint leaves. Let it sit over night and in the morning enjoy a cool, delicious, calorie free drink!

#4 - Decaffeinated clear tea. This is my favorite water to drink in the winter. If its decaffeinated and clear (so don't add any milk or cream) then it counts as a water serving. I use this all the time on cold winter nights to keep myself from snacking. For added health bonus try decaf green tea, which is loaded with antioxidants - cancer fighting agents. Celestial Seasonings and Bigelow teas have lots of flavored decaf green teas for you to try.

So jazz up your water and start drinking! And don't just stick to my suggestions, try infusing your water with all kinds of different natural ingredients - citrus, cucumber, mint, fresh ginger - go crazy! Let me know what combinations you like best. So raise your glass and give a toast to good hydration. Cheers!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Just wanted to do a quick little post and give a shout-out to my garden. Let me be perfectly clear about my garden, here: I have a toddler... a boy toddler, who requires about 95% of my energy. SO needless to say, my garden is not weeded, the plants are quite overgrown and running into each other, and its not the kind of garden you would see posted in "Better Homes and Gardens." BUT it does give us fresh produce that is virtually free and organic. Here is what we are feasting on this week:

And if you really want to enjoy your garden all year, you may can tomato sauce, pickles, jams and jellies, or so many other things. Canning, btw, is not as hard and complicated as you think. I'll have to post about canning some time soon. Here are some of the things I have canned this summer:

So the next time you think you can't garden, ask yourself this - can I dig up a small portion of my yard? Can I stick a couple plants in a couple of holes in that ground? Can I sit back and watch it grow for the summer? If you answered YES to at least 2 out of 3 questions, chances are you can garden. :-) Remember your garden does NOT have to be picture-perfect to produce healthy, fresh food for your family. So get out there and start planting!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pie Crust

Most people I know give me major praise for making my own pie crust, but I am here to tell you that really, its very easy! Anyone can do it. To prove it, I will take you step by step through my crust-making journey.

First, mix 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. salt together in a bowl. Next you need to cut in one cup of some sort of shortening. Personally I think 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup REAL butter works the best. However, 1 cup of pure shortening works too, or 1 cup of real butter, OR you can throw some margarine in the mix, too.

Whatever you use, cut it in until you get pea sized crumbs. If you don't have a handy-dandy pastry blender, you can use a fork or a couple of knives.

Next, add 1/3 cup of ICE water. Here is a little trick I've discovered - the colder the water, the better - this helps the dough stay stiff and easy to work with. Mix this together with a spoon of some type (or your hands, which is what I usually do) until the dough sticks together to form one large ball. You may want to add up to a tbsp more water if the dough is too crumbly.

Cut your ball of dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least a half hour. I think a lot of people skip this step, which makes the dough soft and hard to work with - hence the myth that making your own crust is hard.

Now, on to making the pie! In my experience, 2 main tricks really make the rolling process easier: using chilled dough, and using enough flour on the rolling surface. Flour your surface AND rolling pin, and roll your first ball out. When you have rolled the dough out thin and you are ready to transfer it, fold it into a triangle - this will help you transfer the dough without ripping it. Unfold it, cut off all but about an inch of overhang, and fill that baby with some fruit!

Follow the same steps for the top crust. Roll the edges of the dough under and together, then crimp the edges by pinching the dough between your fingers. Make sure to finish it off by cutting a vent hole in the top crust to allow some steam to escape.

THERE YOU HAVE IT - a pie crust. I hope you can see how truly uncomplicated it is. Try it out and let me know how it goes OR share your own pie crust experiences and tricks. For truly, there are as many pie crust recipes and methods as there are stars in the sky. :-)

Funky Junk's Sat Nite Special