Zucchini, Tomato, and Cheese Pie

Zucchini Tomato and Cheese Pie

I have had this recipe scribbled down for a good three years, and have finally gotten around to trying it out. (I’m glad your birthday falls in the summer when all these ingredients are in season, Kristina, and that you requested breakfast for dinner!  Otherwise this recipe may have gone another three years in my “to try soon” pile…)

It was a tiny bit involved, but was worth the effort. It was stellar!

Pie Crust

  • 10 Tbsp butter
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of salt

Gradually mix butter into flour until butter is broken up into pea-sized bits.  Beat the egg and add to the mixture along with salt.  Mix until it is well-combined.  Wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Roll out on a floured surface.  Place in a buttered/oiled 10 inch deep dish pie plate, working with fingers until it fits evenly. Prick with a fork, and cover with foil. Weigh down with dried beans or rice. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the pastry is set and the bottom is just about cooked through.  It will bake further when filling is added.

Zucchini, Tomato, and Cheese Filling

  • 1 large zucchini or 2 small ones, sliced into rounds (I used my food processor to slice them)
  • salt
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, halved horizontally with seeds removed
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 9 slices Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Salt, drain, and pat dry the zucchini. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp oil. Lightly brown zucchini on both sides.  Drain on paper towels.  Then, lightly brown the tomatoes until they soften slightly but do not become limp.  Cool.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks.  In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites. Fold the whites into the yolks.

Place half of the zucchini into the pie shell.

Lay 3 slices of Swiss on top, along with half of the feta.  Dot with 1 Tbsp butter, sprinkle with salt, pepper and half of basil.

Spread half of egg mixture over cheeses.

Slightly flatten the halved tomatoes and arrange across pie.

Lay 3 slices of Swiss on top, along with the remaining feta and basil.

Top with remaining zucchini slices. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread remaining egg mixture over the zucchini.

Top with remaining 3 slices of Swiss.  Dot with remaining butter.

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until eggs are set. Cover pastry edges with foil if they are getting too brown.


Mom’s Famous Cake Frosting

Okay, so the frosting isn’t actually famous.  And mom says it didn’t originate with her.  She thinks she got it from her mom, but since her mom (my memere) doesn’t make this exact frosting anymore, our family attributes it all to her.

I’ve tried several healthy frosting recipes, but none of them came close to being pleasing to the palate.  So, I’ve resigned myself to using this not-so-healthy (but terrifically pleasing) frosting until I decide to venture into further healthy frosting explorations.  I figure that since I make healthy cakes/cupcakes, a thin layer of this frosting won’t hurt too much.  Plus, I can make it with organic sugar, milk, and butter to lessen the fact that it’s not actually healthy. 😛

Now, in the name of full disclosure, I need to confess that the recipe I have listed here does not produce my moms delicious frosting exactly.  I’ve been unable to get it just right on my own.  There are two reasons for this.  When my mom makes frosting, she uses the whole box of powdered sugar and covers a giant cake with a thick layer of it.  Since I usually make only a dozen cupcakes, I don’t need that much frosting.  So, I’ve tried to reduce her recipe.  (That’s reason number one.) But since her recipe is already ball-parkish in its measurements, that’s been tricky to do. She adds things without measuring precisely.  (That’s reason number two.)

Update: On Anson’s 4th birthday, I finally nailed the frosting.  This amount will make enough delightful frosting to cover a dozen cupcakes. It will produce a much thicker frosting than what is pictured above, which is a good thing, since that thinner frosting always melted away into the cupcakes after an hour or so.

In a small bowl, mix:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons softened butter
  • 1 Tablespoon milk (we use almond milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake/Cupcakes (with a secret!)

This is such a fun recipe!  You do NOT have to be gluten-free to appreciate how tasty it is.  And moms everywhere can feel good about feeding one of these “treats” to their kids. This has been our go-to birthday/special occasion recipe for the last year or so.

I found the recipe on Lauren’s Healthy Indulgences blog, but I’m always paranoid about the original blog/site going down and the recipe being lost forever, so I’m reprinting it here for safety’s sake.  🙂

This recipe includes no flour, sugar, or dairy.

I’ll let Lauren tell you about the secret ingredient in her own words:

“The cake is made out of black beans. Beans, seriously! Even if you’re the fiercest of bean haters (like I am), you’ll fall head over heels for this moist chocolate cake. I haven’t have a flour- and sugar-based chocolate cake in a very long time, so my roommates had to confirm this cake’s rockstar status. Safe to say they agreed with me, and hungrily polished off the slices I provided for them. Served with a cold glass of almond milk, it was all the more refreshing after a day spent soaking up the Carolina sun.”

Makes a single 9” layer cake (can be halved and stacked – see above) or 12 cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

If making a cake: Spray a 9″ cake pan with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray, or just grease it with a thin layer of butter. Dust cocoa all over the inside of the pan, tapping to evenly distribute. Cut a round of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan, then spray the parchment lightly.

If making cupcakes: Put cupcake liners in pan.

In a blender, combine until liquified (no lumps!):

  • 1-15 ounce can of unseasoned black beans, rinsed (or about 2 cups)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon stevia (Note from Erika: I left this out the last time I made them. Erich and I liked the cupcakes even more without the extra sweetness, especially since the icing I often use for this is so sweet.)

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In another bowl, beat:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted organic butter OR extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4-1/3 cup honey

To the butter, add:

  • 2 eggs, beating for a minute after adding each one

Pour egg mixture into blender with bean batter and mix.  Add cocoa mix and blend on high for 1 minute until smooth. Scrape batter into pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to pop any air bubbles.

For Cake: Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

For Cupcakes: Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

After 10 mins, remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Once room temperature, cover in plastic wrap or overturned bowl. For best flavor, let sit overnight.  Frost immediately before serving.

Here’s another bean cake, this one made with white beans instead of black, that I intend to try soon.

Classic Wheat Bread

If you read my menu plan for this week, you know that I was over-budget last week and spent this week making do with things on hand.  You also know that I ran out of my beloved almond flour.  So, when I ran out of the sprouted bread we usually eat, I had to dig out the white whole wheat flour that I had in the back of my fridge.

Classic Wheat BreadI don’t often cook bread just for the joy of it.  I prefer to use my baking moments for healthy muffins, which seem like more fun to me.  But when I run out of bread and don’t want to make a special trip to the store, I’ll make some of my own. Once I pull it out of the oven, I’m always glad we ran out of the regular stuff.

This bread recipe is solidly good and simple.  It goes well with breakfasts and can double as a hearty sandwich bread.

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 3 1/2 cups of either whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup molasses, honey, or maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast dissolved in 2 Tbsp water

Stir until dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl.  Transfer to a lightly oiled surface and knead 6-8 minutes until smooth and supple.  Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for about 60 minutes until puffy, not necessarily doubled.  Shape into a log and place in a lightly greased 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch load pan.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise another 60 minutes or until crowned 1 inch above the pan.  (I don’t always wait for it to get 1 inch above the pan, and it turns out fine.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until brown.  Cool on a wire rack.  To store, place in an empty bread bag (salvaged from the trash for another round of use!) or a ziploc bag and keep at room temperature.

Green Lemonade

The Juiceman Electronic Professional Series 410 Elite Edition
The Juiceman Electronic Professional Series 410 Elite Edition

My mom bought us a used Juiceman Professional Series 410 juicer while back as a “Thank You” gift.  We had been wanting to get into juicing for a while, and she happened to find a never-used one for sale from a lady at her work.  It’s been a gift that we’ve enjoyed on a weekly basis for the past 4 years.

Our all-time favorite juicing recipe is Green Lemonade.  I can’t remember if I made up the recipe or just the clever name.  Either way, it’s a terrifically tasty and healthy way to get a big shot of vitamin C along with all the goodness of raw, fresh apple juice.  Perhaps the best part is that I can also get my kids to ingest the goodness of spinach with this juice, something I can rarely get Madeline to eat and never have gotten Anson to eat yet.  Spinach is loaded with Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Folate. Though it doesn’t cause the juice to taste at all “spinachy,” the spinach adds that unexpected twist of color that gives the juice it’s name.

Anytime we’re on the edge of sickness or have spent time on vacation eating less-than-balanced meals, I serve up a nice glass of this juice to infuse us with good stuff that we’ve been missing out on.

But we also serve it on any-old-days.  The pictures below were taken after Anson got up from his nap when he and I decided to make “special juice” (a name that encompasses any combination of fruits/vegetables we put through the juicer).

You can use apples alone or a combination of apples and pineapple to give the juice a natural sweetness.  Anytime I buy a whole pineapple, I make sure to keep the core.  This otherwise unusable part of the pineapple is perfectly juiceable!

As one last note before I get to the recipe, I always try to use organic apples, lemon and spinach.  Apples and spinach are among the most contaminated fruits and vegetables.  Lemons aren’t, but since we use the rind in this recipe, I get organic so that our lovely juice doesn’t include the wax, preservatives, and pesticides from the rind.   Pineapple, however,  is one of the least contaminated fruits, so I don’t buy that organic.

To make it, juice into a large glass:

  • 4 apples, with core and seeds removed OR
    2-3 apples with core and seeds removed + pineapple core
  • 1/3 lemon with rind
  • A couple of handfuls of spinach, smushed together into a tight ball

This makes just enough for a decent sized shot for all 4 of us.  For a full glass, you’ll have to make more.

If Anson can make Green Lemonade, so can you!  🙂

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Southwestern Salmon Burgers

This is a slightly adjusted version of Elana Amsterdam’s recipe as published in her Gluten-Free Almond Flour cookbook.  Erich said it reminded him of the delicious seafood burgers he always eats on our visits to South Carolina.

Rinse, pat dry and flake into bite-sized pieces:

  • 1 pound salmon filet (I only buy wild salmon, not farmed, with NO color added)

In a large bowl, combine:

  • flaked salmon
  • 3/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions (white and green parts)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Form the mixture into 2-inch patties.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the patties for 4 to 6 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Transfer the patties to a paper-lined plate and serve hot.

These are great served with lettuce, tomato, and condiments of your choice – just like you would dress a regular burger.  Erich and I both like them on sprouted buns.

Banana Blueberry Muffins

Anson is affectionately referred to as our little Monkey.  He alone could consume several bananas in a single day if I allowed it.  (I don’t, just in case you were wondering.  I try to keep it to a single banana per day.)  Sometimes, however, I buy too many at a time.  Some end up getting black before we get to them.  I never throw these bananas away, as black bananas are not actually bad.  The blacker they are, the sweeter they are.  And in this black state, they’re perfect for use in smoothies or banana muffins.  So, when we find ourselves with a few black bananas, we’ll make up a batch of these muffins from Elana Amsterdam’s The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook and enjoy the fruit of our abundance.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 3 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

In a medium bowl, whisk together:

  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 3 large eggs

Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.  Stir in:

  • 2 cups (4 to 5) mashed very ripe bananas

Then fold in:

  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (But I found that fresh work well too.)

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the muffin tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then serve.