Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mom's Zucchini Bread

Here's another great way to enjoy zucchini! Zucchini is one of those things you don't have trouble finding in August. Our farmer's market has a great selection and is just a block from my house. We picked up some over the weekend and made this quick bread to enjoy after lunch on Sunday. We had to sneak in some baking before the big heat wave hit. Hurricanes get names, blizzards now get names. Heat waves should get names too. This one closed school early for three days in a row. Worthy of a name, I'd say. We do hope it ends soon so we can get back to cooking and baking. Tonight we just might be having root beer floats for supper, just like Mom used to make when it was 'too hot to cook.' I'm hoping to be able to make and share Mom's Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe soon!

Mom's Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 c. oil
2 c. white sugar
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini, unpeeled

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 2 bread pans with pan spray and a dusting of flour. Cream together sugar and oil. Add eggs and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with zucchini. Stir well after each addition. Pour evenly into the two bread pans. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Cool slightly and remove from pans to wire racks.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mom's Zucchini Hotdish

It's zucchini season. It came a little late for us this year but it arrived in its typical green abundance. It is always hot here when the zucchini comes in season so you have to crank up the air conditioner to get this cooking done, though we do enjoy slicing zucchini in half and grilling along with the steak or burgers. One of our family favorites is my Mom's Zucchini Hotdish. It's not the standard Midwestern fare made with condensed soup of some kind or another. (I don't get me wrong, we love and eat plenty of that sort of hotidsh too!) This one has a light tomato base with the awesomeness of fresh zucchini. My daughter loves the zucchini so I add more than my mom's recipe originally called for. I've been eating this every summer since I was a kid. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Mom's Zucchini Hotdish
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large can diced tomatoes*
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. oregano
2 cups zucchini cut into chunks (I use one 10-12" zucchini)
1 bag extra wide egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the ground beef, onion, green pepper, and garlic in a large skillet. Add tomato, sauce, salt, oregano, and zucchini. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until zucchini is soft, stirring occasionally. When zucchini is softened, remove from heat. Stir in noodles and cheese. Allow cheese to melt and serve.

*If you home can tomatoes, 1 quart jars of those are best here instead of the tomatoes and sauce.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mound Bars from the St. George Cookbook

I'm going introduce you all to some classic recipes from the St. George cookbook. This cookbook was published for the 125th Anniversary of the St. George Catholic Church in rural New Ulm. The 125th Anniversary was celebrated in the 1980's but I do not have the exact date. I do know I received the cookbook from my parents for my high school graduation. 

We used the cookbook a lot as I was growing up. Anytime I ask my mom or grandma about a recipe, it's pretty likely they'll say it was from the St. George cookbook and refer to the recipe submitter's name to identify which specific version of a recipe to use. Dill pickles in my family are from the Irene's Dill Pickles on page 170. Smear Kuchen is from Mrs. Leon Wendinger on page 11. Homemade noodles are from M.J. Beranek on page 17. Some recipes are vague, "stir a little flour into butter until brown." It doesn't say how much of either one to use. Buttermilk pancakes and crispy waffles are a couple of our most favorite recipes and the pages show the heavy use with oil and vanilla extract stains. 

And like my mom and grandma before me, I mark a recipe with the handwritten note "Good!" if it is worthy of making again. It's my go-to cookbook for holiday candy recipes. Many of my mom's extended family have submitted the recipes here so they are likely recipes that come from my own great-grandparents and were handed down to generations of Beranek's, Forst's, Wendinger's, and Schwab's and all the families who populated the area around this small unincorporated town named for the church whose steeple rises above the corn and soybean fields.

When I share a recipe from this book, I'll note the name of the person who submitted it to the cookbook.

Mound Bars
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups coconut (sweetened flakes)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 T. peanut butter
1 bag chocolate chips

Mix crumbs, butter and sugar. Press into 9x13 pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350°F. Mix together coconut and sweet milk. (Instead I spread the coconut on the crust and drizzle the sweet milk evenly over the coconut.) Back 15 minutes more. Melt chocolate chips, stir in peanut butter and spread on the coconut layer. Cool completely and cut into squares. 
Annette Beranek Altmann

Friday, August 9, 2013

Thai Chicken Wraps

Hello, friends. I hope you are enjoying summer. I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, but thanks for your patience. End of summer days are busy and time for squeezing in as much as possible. Kind of like a wrap sandwich. I always fill them too full, just like summer. If things spill out, that's okay. Sometimes you can't keep all the goodness inside. That is true of so many things. I have to stop and remember it's okay to be messy. Let it spill out. Fill things too full. Enjoy life too fully. You won't be sorry if you give/live/love too much. There's room for leftovers.

This little wrap is a great way to use leftover chicken breast. When we grill chicken breasts we throw an extra one or two on the fire so we can have some for salads or sandwiches. This is a refreshing summer lunch and a super quick meal. I like to use the Earthbound Organic half and half salad. It's half spring mix and half baby spinach. I love the different flavors and textures and the lovely green colors. You could use any lettuce you like. The rest is pretty simple.

Thai Chicken Wraps
4 tortilla shells or your favorite flavored wrap
1 large grilled chicken breast, cut into strips
2 cups lettuce
1 small can mandarin orange slices, drained
1 carrot, cut into strips like shoestrings
1/2 c. peanuts, chopped
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
spicy peanut sauce

Lay the tortillas flat and put a bit of lettuce in the middle. Evenly divide the chicken and place on the lettuce. Top with peanuts, carrots, cilantro and mandarin oranges. Dress with some peanut sauce, as much or little as you like. Fold up one edge and roll the wrap for easy eating.