Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Do you want a zucchini?

This time of year it's hard to find someone NOT trying to give you a zucchini or three! It's getting to be harvest time in the gardens and zucchini's are one of those veggies that just seem to produce a ton. Unless they live in my garden. This was year two of our garden not producing well (part to blame was me with growing bacon bit, I couldn't get out and work in it as much as I would have liked to, the other parts to blame is the soil and the the darn potato beetle we had in our garden). We'll have to try some new tricks in it next year. But I'm thankful I have friends who had a great harvest and are willing to give me those wonderful zucchini, among a lot of other great veggies!

I had several zucchini just starting at me on my counter and I knew i had to do something with them. Some will get shredded and go right into the freezer for another time. Some went into the homemade spaghetti sauce I canned (Shhhh... don't tell the bacon kids, there's also shredded carrots and mushrooms in there too!!) And then I decided to make some of these little muffins with the zucchini too.

Zucchini Chip Muffins:
1.5 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg slightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup milk
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded apple
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4c walnuts (optional)

Mix egg, oil, applesauce, milk, lemon juice & vanilla in bowl. Add in sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flour. Mix well. Add in zucchini, apple, chips and nuts. Once all mixed together spoon into greased mini muffin cups. Bake 350* for about 18 min until tops are golden brown. (if using regular sized muffing cups, increase baking time to 22-25 min) The mini muffins made 4 dozen for me.

The kids LOVED these. Of course anything with chocolate in it they will eat. And thankfully they don't realize it's good for them. This is doubly good for little miss bacon since she doesn't like her veggies. I did make a second batch of these and left out the chips and nuts. Mr. Bacon said the chocolate chips were good, but he preferred the muffins without the chips (omitting the chips/nuts we got only 3 dozen muffins). They are still super yummy!

A few tips. I did peel and scoop out the seeds on the zucchini. You don't have to do this, you can just grate it. However for my kids, if they find something green in a muffin, you can bet they won't eat it because it means there's something healthy in it! If you don't have applesauce, no problem, increase to 1/2 c. oil. You can even go healthier and just use 1/2 cup applesauce and no oil! You can replace up to 1/2 the flour with whole wheat flour as well. These muffins can also be place on a cookie sheet (don't stack them, they are a bit sticky and they will stick to each other if you do) and froze for a few hours until firm and then put in a bag or container in the freezer for a great breakfast or snack another day.

So next time someone offers you some zucchini, don't pass them by. There are a lot of things you can make with them.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

mmmm....Donuts for cheap

So I was lying in bed this morning and I just couldn't get donuts out of my mind. Crazy, but I guess that's what being pregnant with bacon bit does... Oh the fun cravings. So I got up early (we're talking 5:30 am here!) and was going to make some, but I'm out of oil. Bummer. SO I decided to write about them for everyone else to enjoy! (I'm off to the store later for some oil though!!)

Here is the recipe for homemade yeast donuts:

Yeast donuts:

2pks yeast (5tsp)
1/2 cup warm water (110-115*)
1/2 c warm milk
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
4.5-5 cups flour
oil for frying

* I make this in my kitchenaid mixer with dough hook but you can make these the old-fashion way with a bowl, spoon and hands.*

In mixing bowl place water, yeast and 1tsp sugar. Let it sit for 5 min or until bubbly. Add in milk, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt and 2 cups flour. Mix on LOW ( I use splatter shield attachment too) Mix in enough flour until dough pulls away and forms ball. Mix another 4-5 min on 2-3 speed. Turn on floured surface and kneed it a few times (I usually do about 8-10 turns- probably don't have to do this since the machine does a lot) Grease bowl - place dough in it and turn once. Let rise 1hr in warm spot.
Here it is after it's first rise
Punch down, just as it says, shove your fist in the middle and push down. You don't need to take any frustrations out on it though! One punch is all you need. Cut dough in 1/2. roll out 1/2 dough to 1/2" thickness and cut into donuts with donut cutter (or round cup, cookie cutter ect all work). place on greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel (flour sack dish towels work great) and let rise for 30min or about double in size in a warm spot. Finding a warm spot can sometimes be tricky. I normally put them in the sun, but on cool days I will pre-heat my oven to 200*. TURN OVEN OFF! Then set the pans in there to rise.
These were cut with a 3" donut cutter
Doubled in size and ready to fry
In electric skillet or pan, place enough oil for frying and let warm to 375 -(I bought an electric skillet at walmart for $20 and it works awesome- has temp control too so I don't have to worry about a thermometer) GENTLY place donut in oil, or their 'bath' as Little Miss Bacon likes to call it! If the kids are around, make sure they stay back and just watch this step. And be careful yourself, make sure not to splash the donut in and watch for oil spatter when frying so you don't get burnt. Because it hurts... I know I've done it! Fry until light brown, flip and brown other side.

Take out and drain on paper (i use brown paper bag and paper towels) and let them Cool.
Don't forget the donut holes too!
Look at how many one batch makes!! I got about 3 dozen donuts and 3 dozen donut holes! And you were thinking of spending $5 on a dozen!!
I spent under $5 on all of these.
Now the YUMMY part... Top with frosting/sprinkles ect. This is always fun for the kids to help out. Sometimes you get a sprinkles overload (and yes the floor will be covered in them too!) but as long as they are having fun right?! The frosting I make is just powder sugar, milk and almond extract. Honestly I just wing it, but it's something like this:
3 cups powder sugar
2 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp almond extract (you can use vanilla or any other kind you have on hand.... you can even omit this if you don't have anything)

Mix it all together, if it's too thick, add more milk. Thicker frosting can be spread on top and sprinkles added. If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar. Runny frosting, donuts can be dipped in it for a glaze. Once I frost my donuts, I usually place them on a wire rack so the extra frosting can drip off and get hard.
If you prefer chocolate you can make a ganache frosting for them. Or just add cocoa powder to the recipe above.

Chocolate Ganache:
9oz chocolate chips (1.5 cups or 3/4 of a standard bag)
1cup heavy cream

Put chocolate chips in a bowl. Warm cream on stove in sauce pan until it boils. Watch this closely as it happens fast and if not watching it will boil all over the place! Once it boils, pour it over the chocolate chips and stir with a whisk until smooth. Let it cool for a few minutes before frosting donuts. You can also whip this with an electric mixer or whisk once cooled for a nice thick chocolate frosting!

I know it looks like I spent a lot of time making these. And if you've never made homemade breads before it can seem really scary at first. But these are really easy. The part that takes the longest is waiting for everything to rise! Mixing the dough is really fast. And it doesn't take much time to cut them out or fry them up. So give it a try. They are SO DELICIOUS and worth it! And invite some friends over to help you eat them because they make a TON!