Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

My son's father-in-law posted this BruCrew recipe on Facebook. He is a great gardener and shares his fresh vegetables.  The recipe calls for three cups of shredded zucchini. That sounds healthy!  It also calls for three eggs. We now have chickens, so that is easy and healthy.  I decided to make this healthy recipe.


Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

(OK!  It may not be the healthiest recipe, but it could be the nicest way to get zucchini in your belly!)

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk*
3 medium zucchini, enough for 3 cups shredded
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350°.  Use a square of wax paper to spread the butter all over the inside of the bundt pan.  Don't forget to butter the flutes of the center carefully.  Place 2 Tablespoons of flour in the pan and swirl and pat until the whole thing is coated.  Dump out the loose flour.


Set the pan aside.

Beat the butter until light snd creamy.  Add the sugars and beat more until creamy again.  A stand mixer works great for this. I use a Kitchen Aid.


Add the eggs and vanilla to the mixer and mix well.


Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a medium bowl.  I used a microplane to grate the nutmeg.

* I couldn't find the buttermilk at our new store.  I didn't have any lemons or I could have put  1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice in some milk and waited about 5 minutes to make a good buttermilk substitute.  So I mixed 1/4 cup sour cream and 1/4 cup half and half and called it buttermilk.

Add half the. buttermilk and half the flour mix to the butter mixture and mix until moistened.


Then add the last of the flour and the buttermilk and mix until everything is incorporated.


I used a Cuisinart food processor with a grating disc to grate the zucchini.  It didn't come out as fine as I wanted, so I dumped them on a cutting board and chopped them finer.


Stir in the zucchini and mini chocolate chips.


Carefully place the batter into the Bundt pan.  Spread it evenly.


Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.


Flip the cake out onto a cooling rack until completely cool.    Place waxed paper under the cooling rack.


Prepare the glaze. It's super easy.  Place the heavy cream and the chocolate chips in a heat proof container, reserving the mini chips.  I used a Pyrex 2 cup measuring cup.  Heat for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir until the chips are melted and smooth.


Let the glaze cool for 5-10 minutes.  Carefully spoon or poor the glaze all over the top of the cake, allowing it to drizzle down inside the hole and outside of the cake.  Sprinkle the mini chips over the cake.


There will be puddles on the waxed paper under the cake.  You shouldn't use your finger to scoop up the chocolate and eat it.

Once set, store in an airtight container.


The zucchini adds a lot of moistness to this Bundt cake.

The chocolate adds the fun!!


For even more fun, serve with vanilla ice cream.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Potato Chip Chicken Bites

I saw a recipe in one of those magazines that show up mysteriously at our house.   In this case, it was My Magazine. It looked good, so I made it. In fact it WAS good, so you should make it too.


Potato Chip Chicken Bites

1 1/2 -2 cups crushed sour cream and onion flavored potato chips
1 egg
1 Tablespoon milk
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Dipping sauces.  I used honey mustard and ranch dressing


Preheat the oven to 350°.


Place the potato chips in a shallow bowl. I placed a paper towel over the pile of chips. then I used my hands to crush the chips.  I didn't measure them.  I made a pile and when I needed more, I crushed more.


Whisk the egg with the milk in a cereal bowl.  Cut the chicken breasts into 1 1/2 inch cubes.


Dip the cubes of chicken in the egg mixture, then roll them into the crushed chips.  Place them on a baking sheet sprayed with Pam or use a Silpat. I used a Silpat.


Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until they turn a golden brown.


Serve warm with a selection of your favorite dipping sauces.


And , maybe, with some fresh fruit.


The sour cream and onion flavor chips added some crunch and piquancy to the tender bites.   Lee really liked them and called them delicious.  He made an interesting suggestion. Perhaps it would be fun to try different chips to get different flavors.  That sounds like a fun idea.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

I'm Stumped

Any time you move, there are things to do to the house to make it suit you. Even a new house needs work. And then any house needs constant maintenance.   Our new house had a nicely mowed front yard. But the back half of the yard was allowed to grow quite tall and then bush hogged a couple of times a year.

I like having the whole yard mowed for several reasons. When we first moved here there were deer bedding down in our tall grass.  RJ used to run in the grass to chase them.  Tall grass is a perfect place  for ticks to rest until getting on RJ or ME!

Other animals can hide in the grass.  We have a few groundhogs I'd like to move on down the road.  RJ will chase them off, if he can see them.

We saw three snakes in one day.  Snakes can hide in the grass.

These are all good reasons to keep the place fully mowed. But I admit a lot of it is because it just looks nicer when it is kept mowed.

We hired a guy to bush hog the "back 40".

The major obstacle to mowing the grass closely is the many hidden stumps from bushes that were chopped down at some time in the past.  These can tear up a mower.  And our new mower was expensive. We don't need to kill our new mower.

We have been in the middle of a heat wave.  The last few mornings have been cooler so we have taken advantage of the break in the weather to run out and pull some stumps.  We're good for about an hour. Rather, I'm good for about an hour.


Our technique is to dig around the stump with a shovel and pickaxe.  After we expose a large portion of the stump we wrap a chain around it and attach it to our tractor.


Some came up easily.


Others were a struggle, with a lot of digging and chains slipping off.


When we were too tired to continue, but, by no means finished, the section we were working on looked a little like a moonscape.


I came in the house to clean up and Lee was left with the clean up. We'll have some soil to distribute when we scrape the garage location to pour the slab.  It will come in handy to fill all the divots we have made in the yard digging up stumps.

When all stumps are out and the soil replaced we'll add grass seed and when the grass is established, mowing will be a lot faster.  But it may take a few months.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Rachel"s Book

I recently found a book I made for my younger daughter when she was three.  I wanted to make a similar book for our granddaughter, Rachel.  I found a book by Amy Pincock called Quiet Book Patterns and decided to use some of her patterns and templates.  It has a lot of ideas for what the author calls a Quiet Book..


I used felt for the designs.


The leaves and flowers have snaps to attach to the tree.


The blank face has hair, eyes and facial features for both men and women.  These don't have anything to attach them.  They just rest where placed.


There are a lot of them so I made a pocket of tulle fabric on the back of the blank face to hold them.

The robot has two sets of arms and legs and three different heads.


The book had patterns for coins to be printed on transfer paper and then attach to thick fabric and then cut out.


They were thicker than the actual coins and I don't care if Rachel loses them.  I used real coins and used the smallest zipper I could find to make a wallet.

The sock matching page uses velcro to hold the correct sock to the matching one.  The laundry basket holds the socks to be matched.


The ballet slipper uses ribbon to use for practice in tying a bow.

I'm going to visit Rachel soon and I'm looking forward to giving her the book I made.  She has a new baby sister that I am also excited to see.  But now the pressure is on to come up with new patterns for HER book.

I have two years.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Big Blue


One of the first things we bought when we moved to Shenandoah Gateway Farm was a Kawasaki Mule.  It was great for hauling tools, debris and trash cans down our 1/3 mile driveway to the street for pickup.

If you search this blog you can see the many ways in which we used it on a daily basis. In addition RJ LOVED the mule.  He liked riding in it.  He liked running along with it.


When we downsized to a 6.5 acre property, we figured that we wouldn't need the Mule. And Lee really didn't want to make an extra trip to our new place for one more vehicle transfer.  So we sold it to New Freedom Farm at a vastly reduced price, because we believe in the work they do.  This is an organization that seeks to help veterans.  They do that with horses, in particular they are rescuing Mustangs and using them to help rescue the veterans. Check them out and donate if you feel moved by their mission.


On many days I have missed that Mule.  I started looking around for another one. I could find used Mules and other UTVs, but none of them were close to us.  Or they were trashed. We have taken care of our Mule and I really wanted it again.


So I found a local Kawasaki dealer and went to check out the Mules.  They had a BLUE one. it was so PRETTY. The new ones can also be fitted with a roof and a windshield.  I can't tell you the times I had to go out in the rain and snow and wished for both of those things.

When I finally decided I NEEDED to get a Mule, we got the other accessories along with it.  I love it.


So does RJ.