Saturday, July 23, 2011

Simple Zucchini Lasagna

Here is a simple dish that helps use up some of those excess zucchini squash that seem to accumulate this time of year. It is even delicious served cold...
Preheat your oven to 350 degress, and spray a pan with oil. (I used a 10" by 10" pan and 3 small (6" to 8" zucchini for this recipe, as well as one onion)

Trim the ends off the zucchini. Dice the onion and set aside.

Using a wide vegetable peeler or cheese slicer, carefully begin at the tip of a zucchini and pull down to cut wide, thin slices of zucchini. These will serve as your lasagna noodles! (It sometimes makes it easier to slice if you quarter-turn the zucchini every so often). Continue slicing thin strips til all zucchini are used. (I do not peel strips once I have reached the center of the zucchini... I just toss the "core" to the chickens.)

Layer the zucchini strips across the bottom of the pan, first one way, then the other til you have about threee thin layers of zucchini on the bottom. Season as desired.... I sprinkle the top of the zucchini layer with salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Next sprinkle with some of the diced onion, and top that off with a handful or two of shredded cheese; I used mozzerella and parmesan.

Carefully spoon on your favorite pasta sauce, spreading gently to cover. Repeat this process three times, and top the final layer of pasta sauce with more cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes, then turn pan in oven and bake 10 more minutes. Then remove foil from top of pan, and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool a bit, then enjoy! As I said, this is very good cold too!

Also, you may decide to add a layer of crumbled, cooked sausage or hamburger to the recipe, either vegetarian or regular. I made this particular batch with Veggie Patch's Jalapeno Cheddar Veggie Sausages... scrumptious!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raspberries are ripening, flowers are blooming...

... and weeds are strangling anything that doesn't move. Oh, July... too hot to accomplish much without feeling whipped after only a few hours in the gardens...ugh! I tell you, I cannot wait for autumn, glorious autumn! Even winter weather suits me better than heat and humidity. But I am grateful for this weather on account of the gardens; both the floral variety and the edible ones! (My apologies in advance for the dark photographs)

It has been a curious gardening season. I still have only a handful of spinach to show for my time and efforts at planting five different times in several different places. I just put in another sowing in the new kitchen garden I made... up next to the house. Time will tell if I will reap what I have sown! Come have a look at my gardens with me... I'll share what's been up.

The perennials are thriving in this hot weather... the rudbeckia and shast daisies are thick and tall this year. The beebalm (monarda) provides enough blooms for the many hummingbirds the flitter about, but they are not as spectacular as in previous years.

The vegetable garden is slow to provide this year... onions are doing well, as are the brussels sprouts, pumpkins and summer squash; but pole beans, peas, and greens are not, so I'm putting my faith in sowing most of these for fall crops. Cucumbers are slowly coming along, as are the potatoes, but I remember now that I planted late this year on account of all the rain we had.

Down around the barn, the shasta daisies are competing with the bee balm and rudbeckia, but they are getting out of hand and will need to be transplanted come fall. I still need to complete the bottom half of the stone wall that I started rebuilding last year.

This is the tiny kitchen garden I built a few weeks ago... I finally got a few things planted in it. I got the stones from a beautiful old stone wall out in the woods. I put this right off the porch near the kitchen out of sheer laziness! It will be so much handier to step out the door to grab that snippet of basil or chives, or a handful of mint, without having to run out to the main garden. (I ought to be ashamed of myself!)

Now here is the pride and joy of my berry garden this week, and will be for several more til I get tired of picking (and eating!) them. One whole length of the garden is full of these beautiful raspberry plants! This year they are stretching towards seven feet tall in places! They are just coming on...

This is the summer-bearing varirty... not as tall as the fall-bearing, but tasty just the same. They are just beginning to ripn well, and with the fall-bearing crop, I will continue to harvest berries daily right up til a hard frost kills them in late autumn. I believe this variety to be Heritage Red raspberries, and I recommend them to all Northern gardeners in Zone 4... they are fantastic producers!

They are good pickins', and my very favorite thing to throw on top of a spinach salad, along with a handful of walnuts and a healthy dollop of Caramelized Balsamic Dressing. if you were here for luch, I'd serve you this. But at least I'll share the dressing recipe with you! I devised this quite a few years back when I had a similar salad at a now-gone diner up north. I couldn't find anything that tasted like that thick, sweet and vinegary dressing, so I came up with this. It's perfect for a greens and fruit salad. I LOVE it with raspberries and blueberries together, but it goes well with any combination of fresh strawberries, peaches, blackberries, mangos, etc. And if you don't care for walnuts, try sliced almonds! For the recipe, you can check in my blog archives from February 25th, 2011, or click here...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Banana Bon Bons

Thought I'd include a simple recipe for a cool summertime treat. I have been making simple banana ice cream for the grandchildren (freeze sliced, peeled ripe bananas til solid, place in food processor along with a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract and perhaps a tablespoon of maple syrup or agave nectar and puree til mixed), but the other day I wanted something with chocolate, so I made these instead!

Just peel and slice two or three ripe bananas, and dip into melted chocolate. I used about a cup of coarsely chopped Callabuet dark chocolate, and melted it for one minute in the microwave til it was soft enough to dip the slices into. I set the dipped slices on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, sprinkled the tops with either chopped walnuts or shredded coconut, and placed the tray in the freezer til they were all frozen, then moved them into to a covered freezer container. This proved to be a fast and delicious treat... good enough for the little ones and elegant enough for the grown-ups! Enjoy!