Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If Only They Grew This Beautiful: Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with White Chocolate Ganache

Another zucchini "job well done".

Zucchini is one of the homeliest vegetables of the garden (I think). But they are versatile. One of the most versatile veggies out there.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if zucchini grew as beautiful as this muffin? PPFFSSSTTT....I'd be growing tons of zucchini if they looked and tasted like this.

Don't you just hate it when you make muffins and the batter exceeds the muffin pan by one or two muffins?

Just don't forget: when you have empty muffin cups, make sure you put water in them. Don't bake them empty.

Plus the steam from the water filled cups helps in the baking process.

And they look like this when they are done.

This has got to be one of the best zucchini recipes ever. Especially when dark chocolate is involved.

And the white chocolate ganache.....THE PERFECT TOPPING!

This recipe is linked to:
Lark's Country Heart

AND:



AND:




AND:





AND:

MeAndMySweets

And:



Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins with White Chocolate Ganache

1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 TBS instant coffee granules
1/2 c. canola oil
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. grated zucchini
1 c. Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the coffee granules and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat on low, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time and mix until combined. Add grated zucchini. Stir to thoroughly incorporate.
Slowly begin to add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. When everything is thoroughly mixed, stir in the dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups. I filled mine almost to the top.
Bake muffins 20 - 25 minutes, or until wooden pick checks clean.
Completely cool on wire rack.

White Chocolate Ganache

1 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chips and cream. Microwave on high in 20 second intervals, stirring after each 20 seconds. Do this until chocolate is soft enough to melt and become creamy with stirring.
After muffins were completely cool, I dipped each top in the ganache, and set them back on wire rack to dry.

"Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression."
Psalm 19:12-13

"Please forgive my hidden faults." Do you ever say that in prayer? I am thinking that God will take a great big sponge and soak up all around inside me to keep my hidden faults away. But He does not do that. His way of dealing with hidden faults is to send someone to point them out, or to bring them out through some circumstance in which we are suddenly confronted, and we find that our hidden faults are ugly. That is how we are cleansed from hidden faults. God opens up our secret places.
God knows we cannot see ourselves, but other people can. Others see our faults very plainly. And we can see other's faults better than they can. Have you ever said, "I don't see how that person can be so blind"? Guaranteed, someone is thinking the same thing about you. If we depend upon ourselves, we are acting presumptuously. I am willing to let a someone, or a circumstance help me deal with my hidden faults. I can only hope that God leads me that way. What about you?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Have To Show You: Sweet Corn

I have to show you what was going on in my kitchen last weekend.......

CORN!!

Is there anything more beautiful than pictures of fresh produce?

Okay, maybe there is....pictures of babies, flowers, CAKE, and family.

Since I'm going to be talking about corn, I have got to show you the thief I caught in action in my back yard.

Squirrels love corn.....

I found this little guy hanging up-side down by his back feet on my bird feeder. And I mean literally hanging by his back feet. If his tail wasn't in the way you could see how he is hanging on. But you can tell that his legs are pretty much stretched to the max.

Then while he was hanging, he would twist his body around to get a mouth full of corn and sunflower seeds. Pretty smart squirrel right there.

Another gorgeous picture of fresh corn.

Yes, I spent part of my weekend freezing corn.

I had a Facebook fan ask me how I go about preserving my corn. Since one person asked, I thought I would share the process with all of you.
Good information to know, right?

This is the way I do it:

I boil it like I'm going to eat it. Bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Then I take the ears out of the simmering water with tongs and place them in a sink full of cold water.

These are the tools I use....A large sharp knife (used to belong to my mom for cutting corn), and a cutting board placed in a jelly roll pan.

Since my cutting board is in a pan with edges, I can just keep cutting and cutting while pushing the cut corn off to the sides.
Then when my pan is full, I remove the cutting board from under the corn. I break up the corn with my hands and add some water if it seems dry.

Oh, before I forget, I have to tell you about my freezing corn experience when I was little. My cousins' family and my family would get together during the harvest season and preserve our food.
Well, we were too little to use sharp knives, so our job, as a kid, was to husk. When the husking was all done we got to play. While our moms were cutting corn, us kids would run through the kitchen while snagging a long slice of corn on our way through. We kind of turned it into a game to see who could get the longest piece. I do remember eating so much corn that I would get a belly ache before the day was over.

Now freezing corn as an adult.....I only sneak a few slices.

After the corn is broken up, and water added, just fill your bags. Easy peasy.....

I ended up with three 1 quart sized bags.

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
Genesis 1:27

We have been seeking expression on the world's greatest mystery - the mystery of what is man. I am sure I am not alone when I say, "I'm sure you recognize that the root of all our troubles, both internationally and individually, is our own content in this matter." No one knows what man is intended to be. Sometimes we are blind to our own purposes, and almost totally unknowing of why we are here upon the earth. Maybe it's because we have lost our sense of direction, we are involved in amazingly complex problems, and we are making the most terrible fumbles, both individually and internationally. As Christians, it is important that we know what we were meant to be, and what, in Christ, we actually can be.
How would you react if you came across a cage with signs saying, "The most dangerous animal in the world", and when you step in front of the cage there is only a mirror with the image of yourself looking back? So, how do we live? What is our purpose?
"I am the bread of life," said Jesus (John 6:35). "He that eats of me shall never hunger." He will never walk in darkness, will never be at a loss to know what is the next step to take to solve the problems with which he is confronted, will not be left wandering blindly through a mysterious universe whose forces he does not understand, but he will know where he is going and what he is doing, and how to do it. What do you think? Do you think that's the answer? The Son of God has given us an understanding.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Like Mother, Like Daughter: Chocolate Cherry Whoopie Pies

This is a chocolate cherry whoopie pie.....

This is my daughter Randi.....

A chocolate cherry whoopie pie......

Randi....

Randi has taken after my own heart. She loves to bake and experiment (usually sweet stuff). And she can make the best fried chicken ever!!

She did some searches on the internet, found some recipes, combined them all, and came up with this creation.

OMG!! I bet you cannot eat just one of these.....

And the sweetness and chocolate flavors are absolutely perfect.

You know how sometimes whoopie pies can be very sickening sweet, with too much filling, and not much flavor in the cookie?

These are not that way. PERFECT! PERFECT! PERFECT!

She is going to make her teacher proud when she starts chef training in a couple weeks.

Also, if I had a crystal ball.....this is what I see....Randi and I opening a cute little Vintage bakery/cafe, with lots of reds, plaids, and great pastries, soups, coffees, sandwiches, and salads.

What do you think? Does it sound like a plan?

This recipe has been linked to:


And:

Jam Hands

AND:

AND:


Chocolate Cherry Whoopie Pies
*Created by Randi

The Cookie:
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. white sugar
1 egg
2 c. all-purpose flour
5 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder (Randi used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease cookie sheets (Randi used baking stones, which didn't have to be greased).
In a large bowl cream shortening, sugar, and egg.
In a separate bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well. Add vanilla extract at the end.
Drop by large spoonfuls on cookie sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes (until tops crack). Let sit on cookie sheet for a few minutes, remove to wire cooling rack. Cool completely.

The Filling:
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese (room temp)
1/4 c. butter (room temp)
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 c. heaping cherry pie filling (Randi ran this through the mini chopper)
4 c. confectioners' sugar

Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and cherry pie filling. Add confectioners' sugar while mixing. Add the almond extract last.

Place a small amount of cream mixture on the bottom of the completely cooled chocolate cookie. Place another cookie on top (both bottoms together).

"He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written; 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men'"
Mark 7:6-7

Those are hurtful words. The Lord plunges right to the heart of the issue. He points out the effect of what the observance of tradition has upon our lives. It produces hypocrites. I am sometimes amazed, while I read the Bible, at the bluntness of Jesus' language. In Matthew it tells us that the disciples said to Him, "Do you realize that you offended those Pharisees?"
He is only pointing out the result of traditional "worship". Sometimes we use the right words, but use the wrong attitudes.
Have you ever heard a young adult make the comment, "I don't want to go to church because churches are filled with hypocrites."? I cannot see where there is any hypocrisy in a thoroughly Bible-centered church such as mine. But what the young adult is saying is, "You use great words - wonderful words - but you don't really mean them." Is that child right? Do we talk about love, but don't love? Do we talk about forgiveness, but don't forgive? Do we talk about acceptance, but don't accept?
That is what tradition can do. It externalizes, making religious beliefs and feelings outward instead of inward. Am I providing Randi with the right words, but wrong attitude? Do I expect her to carry on my tradition of baking without the true presence of love, forgiveness, and acceptance?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Heart-To-Heart: Zucchini Bread

You all know zucchini is in full swing, right?

Well, yesterday I decided to have a little heart-to-heart with two zucchini.

The prep talk, comforting, and inspiration worked wonders, because these two zucchini performed very well in my kitchen.

Have I told you lately how much I love my salad shooter?

I'm going to tell you again; I LOVE MY SALAD SHOOTER!

I have spent a lot of time (years) tweaking, changing, and searching for the perfect zucchini bread recipe.

BY GEORGE!! I think I have finally mastered it.....

This is a fantastic looking, delicious, moist, zucchini bread.

My mom used to make zucchini bread when I was a kid. Do you know how we ate it?

We would put it in the freezer, slice it frozen, and then top it with grape jelly.

GRAPE JELLY?????

What can I say? It was good. And on a hot summer day.....a slice of frozen zucchini bread with grape jelly hit the spot.

I added a little treat to this zucchini bread. I had some left-over white chocolate ganache from another zucchini recipe (which you will be getting in a couple days), and I drizzled it over the top.

I took this to a church luncheon, and this is what I heard when I was eves dropping: "I don't know who made this, but it sure is good."

One huge pat on the back for me.....

This recipe is linked to:


AND:





Zucchini Bread

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. canola oil
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. grated zucchini, washed and unpeeled
1 c. chopped walnuts
1/2 c. golden raisins

Grease and flour two 8x4 pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, applesauce, vanilla, and sugars together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini, nuts, and raisins until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pans, and continue to completely cool.

White Chocolate Ganache

1 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. heavy cream

In a microwave safe bowl, combine your chocolates and cream and microwave on high in 20 second intervals, stirring after each 20 seconds. Do this until chocolate is just slightly softened and then stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Drizzle ganache onto the cooled zucchini bread loaves.

"The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day."
Genesis 18:1

God tests Abraham's heart to determine whether he is a believer. God appears in such a commonplace way that Abraham is not aware of His identity. Tests that are used in Bible schools and seminaries only reveal the amount of information that a student has collected. The tests do not reveal the real spiritual achievements of life.
Most humans have not been able to devise any such test, God is always testing us, and His testing does not come when we are warned and ready. Anyone would be able to pass the test if we were warned. If you were told that God is going to test you to see if you exhibit love under pressure, whether you can keep your temper when you are being irritated, and if you can be sweet when things are going wrong, you would be likely to pass if you were prepped.
But God never preps us. His catches us unprepared, off-guard. The tests of life come when you are relaxing at home. When the phone rings and suddenly you are confronted with a call for help or a demand for response - and you had planned to relax and enjoy yourself all afternoon - what happens then? That is God's test.
The test comes when some situation occurs in daily life that forces you to face the question: Is my body really available for Him to do what He wants? Am I ready to respond to the need of the human heart right there in front of me? Am I ready to give of myself without limitation to meet a demand that comes suddenly in the course of my busy life?
Here I am, Lord, I give my life to you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Am I Really Faithful? Sauteed Summer Squash

The question today is:

Am I really faithful to the blogging world?

I have been taken over by fresh produce.....tis the season!

Summer squash is one of my favorites.

I entered my kitchen with an idea in mind.

And as I entered the kitchen my son called and asked if him and his fiancee could come for dinner. Of course, a mother never turns down dinner with her children.

I was in such a rush to prepare dinner, that I totally forgot about my camera, taking notes, and preparing for my faithful audience (YOU).

So since I don't have a picture of my creation, I will describe it the best way I know how.

I sliced four small/medium summer squash (about 1/4 inch thick), (washed and unpeeled)
(keep in mind that I am cooking for 5 people. You can make the amounts smaller)
I sliced a ring of smoked sausage the same way
I chopped (1/4 - 1/2 c.) fresh cilantro
1/2 purple onion, sliced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. season salt
crushed black pepper

I heated 2 TBS of olive oil in a skillet on med/high heat. When the oil was heated, I added the above ingredients. I don't like my squash mushy, so I sauteed it til the squash was crisp/tender (just before it turns glassy looking).

I am kicking myself, punching myself, and leaving bruises, because I am so upset about not having pictures for you. This creation was fantastic.....

"I put Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Levite named Pedaiah in charge of the strorerooms and made Hanan son Zaccur, the son Mattaniah, their assistant, because these men were considered trustworthy."
Nehemiah 13:10-14

There is a priest, a scribe, a Levite, and layman. All four represent various aspects of the life of Israel and share one great quality: "These men were considered trustworthy."
I have noticed today that faithfulness is a quality not highly esteemed. It is disturbing to me at times to see how few people take seriously the responsibility to carry through faithfully what they have undertaken.
Faithfulness is a quality that God admires, and one of the primary things God looks for (the ability to hang-in with an assignment until it is fulfilled, the willingness to take on responsibility year after year, not needing to be praised or thanked or publicly encouraged in order to perform, to work unto the Lord).
I look for four qualities in leaders.
1. I look for a searching mind: A person who is mentally alert, who has curiosity about life, who wants to learn all the time. This type of person is reading, always listening, always thinking about what he or she hears, and trying to reason out what is behind it.
2. I look for a humble heart: Someone whose ego is not on the line all the time. I look for someone who understands that service is a privilege; that power is not conferred upon a person by an office, but by serving people.
3. I look for a gift: God's people are gifted people. When Christians know what the gift is, they always enjoy doing it. It is not a burden, it is a delight. I look for people who have the gift for what we are asking them to do, because they will stay with it and enjoy it to the end.
4. I look for "bracing up" all of thee above and making them possible: Someone who will not quit, who sees his/her work as a ministry of service, who has undertaken it out of gratitude in his/her own life and heart, and no matter how tough things get, that someone will not quit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

This Cannot Wait: Adjusted BLT Panini

This sandwich was absolutely perfect.

And THEY say that there is no one or no thing that is perfect.

Ha!! I have proven THEM wrong.

What is the number one sandwich served during the summer?

Of course, the BLT.

Well, I placed in my stubborn mind that there has got to be a way to transform the traditional BLT into a panini.

And I succeeded at making the transformation.

I don't have a written recipe for this sandwich, so you will have to cook with pictures.

But that is so much more fun, right?

The picture above was taken by my daughter. My camera was sitting next to the platter I was working on, and she snapped the picture button. That is when I clicked my tongue, shot her daggers, and ordered her to leave my kitchen. But as I am setting up my blog post, I realized that the picture she peskily took turned out pretty cool....

Now I feel bad.....

For the sauce on this panini I used Bolthouse Farms classic ranch. Every panini has to have a sauce of some kind. And what goes better with BLT's than ranch?

That's what I thought.....nothing.

Okay, here we go.....

I buttered one side of six slices of wheat bread, and laid them butter side down on a platter.

I then topped one slice of bread with shredded Colby Jack cheese (a good handful).

I had cooked my bacon beforehand, so it was ready to assemble on the sandwiches.
I placed three slices bacon on top of the cheese.

I topped the bacon with spinach leaves.

Dotted the spinach leaves with ranch dressing.

Placed a tomato on top of the spinach and ranch.

Yes, there is one sandwich that is minus the tomato.....Sean doesn't like tomato!

I sprinkled the tomato with dried oregano, and topped with more cheese (a good handful).

I placed the empty buttered bread pieces on top of the assembled BLT (butter side up), and placed them in my George Forman grill.
And I don't have a time on grilling them. Just brown them to your liking....
If I had to guess, I would say 5 to 7 minutes.

There you have it....an Adjusted BLT panini

A piece of advice....be very careful when you take the first bite. The spinach and tomato get very hot.

This has been linked to:

Mandy‘s Recipe Box
AND:

Lark's Country Heart


"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."
Ephesians 6:10-11

Prayer and the armor of God; it is impossible to divide these two. As we have been attempting to see, putting on the armor of God is not something merely figurative, it is an actual thing you do. The armor is remembering what Christ is to you, and thinking through the implications of it in terms of your present struggle and experiences. Putting on the armor is something that is done in the realm of your thought life. Your thought life is an adjustment to the attitude of your heart to reality, to things as they really are. Your attitude is thinking through the implications of the fact which revelation discloses. Thinking is always the necessary thing to do in trying to face life.
The problem with our lives is that we do not see them as they are. We are so led on by life, we suffer from such strange illusions. Because of the illusions we must have scripture. Reading scripture and prayer is part of putting on the armor, allowing Christ in your life in terms of your present situation. It is all done in the realm of the thought life.
Prayer releases in our own lives and in the lives of others the immense, the enormous resources of God to strengthen the spirit and give inner stability and power to meet the pressures and problems of life.
Do you put on the armor daily?


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