Baked Zucchini Fritters

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Now I know calling a recipe that includes whole milk Ricotta “healthy” is a stretch, but I believe all foods are okay in small doses.  And hey, there are plenty of vegetables in this recipe.  The original recipe called for frying them in oil.  I opted for a light coating of oil on top and baked/broiled in the oven.  It’s a little healthier.  I made a few other small adjustments and was overall pleased with the results.  My new KitchenAid Food Processor shredded the zucchini with ease.  It made me want to shred everything in site.  I may be coming up with quite a few slaw recipes in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, have a baked fritter!

Baked Zucchini Fritters (adapted from Food and Wine Magazine)
Yields about 12 3-inch fritters

  • 2 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 3 green onions, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, whole or low-fat
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt, extra for sprinkling on top
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Olive oil, for spraying (or brushing)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the zucchini, garlic, green onions, ricotta, eggs, lemon zest and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Stir well, add in the Panko bread crumbs.  Stir until combined. Form 3-inch fritters with your hands and place on ungreased baking sheet. Spray(or brush) a light coat of olive oil on top of each fritter.  Bake fritters for about 10 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown.  Move fritters to top rack and turn oven broiler on high.  Cook fritter until tops start to become firm to the touch and edges begin to brown, about 5 minutes.  Allow baking sheet to cool slightly, about 5 minutes, and use spatula to remove fritters.  Top fritters with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt, if desired.  Enjoy!

Can Goofy bake a pie?

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Last weekend I had purchased 3-4 pounds of sweet cherries at the store with the intention of baking something.  I wasn’t truly inspired until my mom told me that pie making was in my blood.  My great-grandmother Bernice was a pie maker.  If she can make pies then I can too(maybe).  It was time to put my pie making skills to the test.

Unfortunately my blender decided to break at some point since these and was no longer usable.  Considering my disaster a week ago I can’t say I was sad to see it go.  This finally motivated me to buy myself a new gadget.  A short trip to Bed Beth and Beyond this morning and I came home with a beautiful Kitchenaid Food Processor and a Cherry Pitter!  This pie was really going to happen.  Tips and tricks discussed after the recipe, at the bottom of the post.

Sweet Lattice Cherry Pie (adapted from Simply Recipes)
yields one 9″ pie

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 Tbsp ice water
  • 7 cups sweet cherries, stems removed, pitted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder (or 3 Tbsp corn starch)
  • 1 Tbsp of butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg, plus one tablespoon milk
  • Coarse sugar for sprinkling

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse once to mix.  Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until only pea-sized pieces of butter are left.  Add the ice water 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together.  Stop every couple of  tablespoons to check consistency.  When pinched dough holds together dough is ready.  Remove half of dough from machine and place in a mound on a clean lightly floured surface. Gently knead dough into a disc.  Do not over-knead. There will still be small chunks of butter in the dough.  Repeat with other half of dough.  Sprinkle a little flour around the discs and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Place dough in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Place the pitted cherries, sugar, almond extract, lemon juice and arrowroot powder in a large bowl.  Toss until the cherries are well coated with the sugar and other ingredients.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

On a lightly floured clean surface, roll out one dough disk.  Form it into a 9 -inch pie pan and trim and edges that extend beyond the pie plate. Place the filling in the pie plate and dot with small dabs of butter.  Place pie in refrigerator while you start on lattice top.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the other dough disk a tiny bit larger than the bottom crust. Cut the dough into even strips (1/2-3/4″)wide using a pizza cutter or dull knife. Lay out enough strips to cover top, leaving space between strips equal to strip width. Fold back every other strip. Place one long strip of dough perpendicular to the parallel strips. Unfold the folded strips over the perpendicular strip. Now take the parallel strips that are running underneath the perpendicular strip and fold them back over the perpendicular strip. Lay down a second perpendicular strip of dough next to the first strip, with some space between the strips. Unfold the folded parallel strips over the second strip. Continue this process until the weave is complete over the top of the pie.  Trim the edges of the strips flush with the dough of the underlying pie dish.  Pinch dough together on sides and crimp with fork. (Step-by-step lattice top pictures by Simply Recipes)

In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a tablespoon of milk(or water). Use a pastry brush(or your finger) to brush over the top crust. Sprinkle the top with coarse sugar.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the pie in the middle rack, with a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any pie drippings.  Bake pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the temp to 350°F and cook pie for 35 to 40 minutes longer.  Pie is done when crust is nicely browned and the filling is thick and bubbly.  Remove from oven and place on cooling rack.  Allow pie to cool completely before serving.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you prefer.  Enjoy!

I have quite a few tips and tricks for this recipe.  I wasn’t all that pleased with the visual outcome.  I’m trying not to beat myself up too badly since it was my first pie.  I think Bernice would have been proud, but had a few words of wisdom for me.  I ended up adding 2 more cups of pitted cherries to the recipe above (I only used 5 cups, not 7).  The filling, while very tasty, didn’t fill up to the top of the dish.  If your dish is smaller or larger you may need to adjust accordingly.  I just think a pie needs to be filled to the top so it’s almost “bursting” with filling.  I also chose to use arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch. I’m not a fan of highly ingredients and arrowroot is much more natural than cornstarch.

Of course my last comments are all about the dough.  I think the consistency and flavor came out great, but I need to work on my rolling skills.  I had trouble getting the dough to stretch enough while still maintaining its shape.  It took rolling out a couple of times before I was able to get the bottom piece large enough.  As for the lattice top, I think practice makes perfect.  For my first attempt it’s not bad, but being a perfectionist I strive for more.  I decided my mantra will be: “You live, you learn, and you bake more pies.”  It can’t have been all bad if it’s already gone.  Happy Sunday!

Review: Progressive Multiple Cherry Pitter

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While purchasing a KitchenAid Food Processor this morning, I also stumbled upon the Progressive International Multiple Cherry Pitter and was instantly sold.  I can pit four cherries at once.  From this moment on baking with cherries could(and would) be so much easier.

The top of the pitter has a lock which you can slide into place when closed.  That way you won’t accidentally reach into it and cut your hand.  I’m not sure how that could happen, but better safe than sorry.

Pitting is super easy, you set the four cherries into the tray(which can be reversed for smaller cherries or olive) and push down on the top until it punches out those pits.

The container underneath holds the pits, which only needed to be dumped out once every 24 cherries.  There is also a handy little scoop on the sides of the removable tray that help scrape out the pits.

Overall a very worthwhile gadget.  I didn’t have any complaints, other than size.   It was easy to clean; just place it in the top rack of your dishwasher.  Being a littler larger than a normal single cherry pitter it doesn’t fit in my kitchen drawer, but is easily stored in a cabinet/pantry.  Not sure how often I will need to use it, but it certainly cuts down prep time.The last time I made a cherry crumble I pitted each individual cherry.  I think my fingernails were stained purple for a week.  Whether you pit by hand or use a pitter, it’s worth the effort for a tasty cherry pie!

Review: KitchenAid 9-Cup Food Processor

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Today I purchased a long desired gadget, the KitchenAid 9-Cup Food Processor with 2 Bowls.

The first thing I did was clean all of the pieces.  I then set out to understand how I would use each gadget.  The instruction booklet was quite helpful.

As it says in the name, the food processor comes with two bowls.  A 9-cup bowl and a smaller 4 cup bowl.  It also came with two blades for fitting each bowl.

Aside from the two blades there is also a dough blade (would have been perfect for yesterday’s pizza), a grater disc, and a slicer disc. Both which are good for fruits, vegetables, and hard cheeses.

I just think it looks beautiful in my kitchen, I can’t wait to use it for making everything!  I even want to try making these again to see how they turn out differently.

My only complaint was during today’s pie making.  The flour actually went up and out of the food processor while pulsing.  I wish the lid sealed in the ingredients so things like that didn’t happen.  After the one incident I didn’t have any other problems.

I will say this is one of the best kitchen purchases I’ve made in awhile.  It’s going to make cooking/baking much easier for me.  Aside from the base being quite heavy and a little spillage I was very pleased with my purchase.  You can tell KitchenAid makes very high quality products.  It was a little on the pricey side, but worth every penny.  It certainly helped make this delicious Sweet Cherry Pie recipe.

“I ‘knead’ homemade pizza”

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I love pizza.  It’s up at the top of my favorite foods list,  right next to spaghetti and ice cream(although not together — that’s gross).  For years I’ve been saying “when I get a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer I’ll make homemade pizza.”  Well years have gone by and I still don’t have one.  It was time to bite the bullet and give it a go by hand.  While my hands are aching, it was very satisfying kneading the heck out of that dough.  Most of the recipes I looked at were similiar, but I decided to try this pizza crust from Annie’s Eats with this sauce from Brown Eyed Baker.

Giving the dough time to rise gave me plenty of time to grate fresh Mozzarella, dice veggies, and cook some bacon.  I was completely prepped and ready to assemble.  J made some delicious strawberry basil margaritas(recipe coming soon) and we dined all’interno due to the heat.  Not too many tips and tricks for this one.  Make sure you completely knead the dough until smooth.  I ended up with a few air bubbles and breaks in the dough.  It didn’t affect the taste, but my perfectionist side wasn’t pleased.  Sliding the pizza onto the stone was tricky.  We used a spatula and slid it off of the parchment paper and onto the stone.  Luckily we didn’t lose any toppings, they just rearranged themselves a tad.  Overall a resounding success on my first homemade pizza.   Enjoy!

Basic Pizza Dough (adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Yields two dough balls

½ cup warm water (about 110°)

pinch of sugar

1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast

1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting

1 ½ tsp. salt

non-stick cooking spray

cornmeal for dusting

Heat 1/2 cup of water to about 110 degrees (microwave or stovetop).  Add pinch of sugar and packet of yeast.Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Allow mixture to rest 5-10 minutes until yeast activates.  Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

Whisk flour and salt in a large bowl.   Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until dough begins to form. Remove dough from bowl and place on lightly floured surface.  Knead by hand until the dough is smooth. Form the dough into a ball, put it in bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow dough to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 -2 hours.

Press the dough to deflate it.  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two equal pieces.  Form both pieces into smooth round balls and cover with a damp cloth or paper towel.  Allow the dough to relax for at least 1o minutes, but no more than 30.

Meanwhile, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven and heat oven to 500 degrees.  Once oven is preheated allow pizza stone to heat up for 30 minutes.

Turn one ball of dough onto lightly floured surface and roll out into desired shape and size.  Transfer to parchment paper dusted with cornmeal.  Top pizza with sauce(recipe below), leaving 1/2″ border on the outside.  Top with desired cheese(8 oz block shredded) and toppings.  Slide the dough onto the pizza stone(still trying to figure out how to do this easily) and bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Allow pizza to rest on stone for 5-10 more minutes before removing and slicing.  Remaining ball of dough can be rolled out using the same technique or frozen for later use.  Enjoy!

Pizza Sauce (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
Yields two cups of sauce (one cup her pizza dough)

15-oz can tomato sauce

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (grated, or finely chop shredded)

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon diced fresh basil

Pour tomato sauce into large bowl.  Mix in Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and sugar.  Stir in parmesan cheese.  Roll up basil leaves and thinly slice, working your way from one end to the other.  Chop slices into smaller pieces.  Add diced basil to mixture and stir until combined.  Put in an airtight container.  Store in refrigerator until 30 minutes before use.  Remove from refrigerator and allow sauce to warm to room temperature (about 30 minutes).  Enjoy!

Afternoon Delights

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While perusing my Google Reader this morning I came across these delicious treats from Love Veggies and Yoga.  I bookmarked the recipe this morning not really planning on making them today.  However as the day grew longer I couldn’t get them off my mind.  Inspired by Averie’s recipe, I decided to make my own version.

Almond Butter Cups
(yields 6 large cups)

  • 8 ounces of semi-sweet bakers chocolate (any chocolate will do)
  • 3/4 cup almond butter (sugar added)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a small saucepan melt chocolate over low heat, stirring into all pieces are melted.  Combine almond butter, salt, and vanilla.  Stir until mixed.  Line a cupcake tin with six paper liners.  Pour half of the chocolate into the paper cups.  Dab tablespoon sized almond butter balls in center of chocolate.  Pour remaining chocolate over almond butter.  Use spoon or small spatula to smooth chocolate.  Allow cups to harden in refrigerator for at least one hour.  Remove cups from cupcake tin, peel off paper, and enjoy!

These were definitely yummy!  I love peanut butter cups, but hate all the nasty additives they bring to the party.  You could easily substitute peanut butter, sunflower butter, or any other nut butter that tickles your fancy.  I did end up with a little extra almond butter mixture leftover. Instead of throwing away good almond butter, I decided to roll them in some sweetened coconut flakes and pop in the fridge.  They look equally delicious, I’m waiting for them to harden up before tasting!