Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Freezing Zucchini

Yes – it happened to me – we’re Freezing Zucchini today, because I found a zeppelin under the leaves of my zucchini plant. If you read my last post for Chocolate Zucchini Cake, I go on and on about finding a huge zucchini hiding under the leaves of the plant in your garden, and what to do with it. We have a fairly small garden, and we only planted one zucchini plant this year. We’ve tried growing them in the past, and a couple of times we didn’t get ANY zucchini. It was incredibly disappointing! This year we’ve had 3! And one was a zeppelin! I forgot to check (and I swear, it was only a few days later) and lo and behold – a zeppelin. Well, when you freeze the abundant and leftover zucchini from said zeppelin after making the Chocolate Zucchini Cake (from my previous post), or Zucchini Chocolate Cake (they’re totally different – really), you could also make Zucchini Bread, pancakes, muffins, and fritters throughout the winter months. These huge zucchini end up too big to eat (I like them nice and small – they’re more tender) and they have bigger seeds in the middle, so I have made the executive decision to freeze this one. I know that some people freeze them cut in slices or chunks, but I like to shred it. When my family grew zucchini in our garden at the lake, we would plant several zucchini plants and then have a lot to freeze. This is how we did it.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Freezing Zucchini

There really isn’t a recipe, per say, for how to freeze zucchini, so I’ll just show you how to do it using my usual amazing photography. Ha!

He’s a whopper! Almost as big as my cutting board!

The shredder on my food processor is not working, so I had to use a hand shredder. It’s ok since it fits on top of my big measuring cup and I can measure at the same time. Plus, it’s a great upper arm workout. When shredding, I stop at the soft middle part of the zucchini where the seeds are – by that time my knuckles are getting scraped by the shredder and it’s time to stop. Some of these big ones have huge seeds, and I don’t want those in my baking anyway.

I just measured two cups of zucchini per zip top freezer bag – that seems to be how much zucchini is in most of my recipes. There will be some liquid that drains out of the shredded zucchini, so just pour that out before you zip the top. Don’t forget to date and label what’s in the bag! Now just lay them out flat in your freezer, so when they’re frozen and flat, you can fit as many summer and fall harvest goodies in there as possible. That’s it! Except for a few scraped knuckles – simple!

There was enough zucchini in this one big zeppelin to make two (2 cup) bags for the freezer, plus 3 cups of shredded zucchini to make Zucchini Bread, which I will share soon. In the middle of winter I’ll be able to pull it out, thaw it, drain it, and make a delicious Chocolate Zucchini Cake or Zucchini Bread. Try Freezing Zucchini and you’ll be glad you have it to make delicious goodies all winter long!

 

 

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

This is an old recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake that we made when I was growing up – at least I think it is. This one was lost for a while, but I recently found it in my cookbook where you can write out your own recipes. I wrote it in there, and I’m just assuming it was the recipe we used all those years ago. Who knows how long this one’s been around. It’s one of those recipes that we’ve had forever and I don’t even have the original recipe card anymore. We’re heading for the end of summer with everyone trying to get in one last weekend at the cabin, one last run to the lake, or one last day at the beach. I had to share this photo of me when we rented a cabin at a nearby lake. My dad was home on leave from the army, and since his young wife and baby were living with her parents while he was stationed in Turkey, I’m sure they wanted to get away by themselves. It’s not too surprising to me that they chose to be by the lake. You can tell by the look on my face how I felt about summer being almost over. Boo.

I still feel the same these days when the sunlight starts to feel different and have a bit of a different slant, and the fruit and vegetables from the garden are ripening and need to be frozen or canned to preserve the summer sunshine for the long Minnesota winter ahead. I’ll say it again. Boo. Winter comes all too fast in this neck of the woods. Oh well, if summer is ending, we might as well eat cake. How about some Chocolate Zucchini Cake? We all had gardens back in the day – we had one and so did both sets of grandparents. I think my family were the only ones in the group who grew zucchini, and we all know how that goes. By this time of the summer, the garden would be overrun with those huge plants where you couldn’t see all the way under those gigantic leaves and oops, there would be a zeppelin sized zucchini hidden under there. Yep – you missed it and now what are you going to do with it? I say – make cake!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Blend:

1 package of chocolate cake mix (or white)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 cups shredded, unpeeled zucchini (I let it sit in a sieve and drain while I got everything else ready to go)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

Beat at low speed until moistened, then beat 2 minutes at highest speed.

Pour into greased and floured 9″ x 13″ pan.

Sprinkle with:

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

Cool before cutting.

I shredded the zucchini into my large 4 cup measuring cup, then put the shredded zucchini back into a sieve which I set right back on top of the measuring cup to drain until I was ready for it. I got about 3 Tablespoons of liquid out of it. The recipe doesn’t say to do this, but I thought maybe it would be TOO moist if I just out it in without draining it.

Mix it all up and put on the toppings.

Look how pretty it is right out of the oven!

If the zucchini is over-taking your garden – this cake’s for you. You might also like to try Zucchini Chocolate Cake.

There just isn’t a better way to use up those HUGE zucchini. This cake is so easy to make and is perfect for this time of year with its no-frosting toppings and its tasty spices. It’s a fast and easy recipe, uses up the zeppelins of zucchini, and is also great for this busy back-to-school season. I know, I know, summer has to end sometime. Might as well end it by making cake – Chocolate Zucchini Cake, that is!

 

 

 

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Blueberry Crumble

Today’s recipe for Blueberry Crumble is adapted from one of Grandma’s recipes for Rhubarb Crumble. My husband made a trip to the store for me, and came back with a 2 pound package of blueberries that I didn’t ask for. Since I inadvertently ended up with a huge amount of blueberries with which to do some baking damage, I decided to try to adjust that already delicious Rhubarb Crumble recipe to fit this fruit. It’s basically the same recipe, only instead of rhubarb and orange, it’s made with blueberries and lemon. I think it was fairly successful, if I do say so myself. Oh let’s face it. Who are we kidding? It was enormously successful!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Blueberry Crumble

For topping:

Mix together:

3 Tablespoons melted butter

2/3 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts for this one)

Mix in order given:

1/3 cup margarine (I used butter)

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 Tablespoons grated lemon rind

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 1/3 cup self-rising cake flour (as in the Rhubarb Crumble recipe, I used 2 1/3 cups regular flour and then added a heaping 1/2 teaspoon salt and a heaping 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and then sifted it 5 times to make it lighter)

(The recipe also calls for 1/4 cup chopped nuts in the cake batter, but since not everyone in our family likes nuts, I just put them in the topping.)

Fold in:

2 cups blueberries, washed and drained (I’m sure you could also use frozen berries)

Spread batter into greased 9″ springform pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes.

This is another very easy recipe to make, starting with the topping.

Mix it up and fold in those luscious blueberries.

You can see how full of fruit this crumble is.

On goes the topping and into the oven!

Oh my goodness, the smell of this baking was divine. It was a lot like that smell of Blueberry Pie baking.

This particular crumble went with my family to my mother-in-law’s house for the weekend. It was a tasty breakfast treat.

It really is a quick and easy recipe to make, and while it’s great for brunch or breakfast, it’s also perfect for afternoon coffee. I love a recipe that can be so versatile that you can interchange any kind of fruit that’s in season, and have a delicious, mouth-watering, crumble-topped treat. As long as blueberries are in season now, you’re going to want to make this fruit-filled Blueberry Crumble for your friends or family.

 

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Frozen Peaches

My mom got this recipe for Frozen Peaches from someone she worked with years ago, and it works great! While I love the fact that you can keep some of those juicy, dripping, delicious golden orbs for use in the middle of the bleak Minnesota winter, it did prevent my sister and me from finishing off the entire crate of peaches my mom would get every August. When mom would can or freeze peaches, I always wished she would buy another crate just for us to eat. But one was the limit, and we’d have to eat as many as we could BEFORE she would start using them for canning or freezing. I can’t tell you how much I loved August so we could get those peaches. Maybe it was because I was a kid, but they always seemed REALLY big and REALLY good. They just don’t seem as good as they used to be. I guess the older we get, the more that’s the case with most things. Anyhoo, most of the peaches that I freeze will be used in smoothies or muffins, but you could use them in breads, desserts, cakes, or pies. This is a great way to preserve a little bit of summer sunshine without canning peaches.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Frozen Peaches

Dissolve:

3 cups sugar

in

3 cups water

Heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Add:

1-6 ounce can of frozen orange juice concentrate (I used half of a 12-ounce orange juice concentrate – I couldn’t find orange juice concentrate in that small of a container at my store)

Set aside to cool.

Put prepared peaches in containers (or freezer zip top bags) and cover with juice.

Cover and freeze.

Oh how I love peach season!

Get the syrup ready before you start preparing your peaches so it can cool by the time you’re ready for it.

You can use the boiling water method (dunk peaches into boiling water for 10-20 seconds or so and then plunge directly into ice water) to peel the peaches, but mine were so ripe the peel came off without needing that. I think slicing the peaches works best for freezing.

Don’t forget to label and date what’s in your freezer bags! Don’t count on remembering what’s in that bag later on.

I use zip top bags instead of containers only because they lay flat and take up less room. I slice two peaches per bag, and that’s just enough for a couple of smoothies. If I need more for something, I just take out more bags of peaches. I have also just used orange juice to freeze peaches without the sugar and water – that also works pretty well. When you’re ready to use the peaches, thaw, drain off the juice (unless you want the sugar syrup in whatever you’re making), and use in whatever recipe you need them for. You’re going to love how easy it is to make and use these Frozen Peaches!

 

 

 

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Three-Layer Chocolate Dessert

This recipe for Three-Layer Chocolate Dessert came from my mom (the chocoholic), who got it from someone she knew, who got it from one of those old church cookbooks from the look of it. There’s nothing better than those old cookbooks. If you follow this blog at all, you know how I feel about those old church cookbooks. They’re just the best, and I love them. August always seems to be hot and humid here in Minnesota, so what better to cool us off than a frozen dessert? And it’s not even ice cream!

Technically, this is a four-layer dessert – they left off the fact that you add an extra layer of Cool Whip on top of everything!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Three-Layer Chocolate Dessert

First Layer:

Mix like pastry:

1 cup flour

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used toasted, sliced almonds)

Press in 9″ x 13″ pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Cool.

Second Layer:

Beat well:

8 ounces cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

Fold in:

8 ounce container Cool Whip

Spread on the baked and cooled crust.

Third Layer:

Mix together:

2 packages instant chocolate pudding

1 3/4 cup milk

Spread over second layer.

Top with:

8 ounces Cool Whip

Sprinkle with:

1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used toasted, sliced almonds for this also)

Freeze.

The first layer is the only time you have to turn on your oven for this one.

The second layer goes on pretty easily.

The third layer was thin, but if the second layer shows through, who’s gonna know?

This freezes pretty hard, and my daughter suggested running the knife under warm water first. Genius.

This is technically a four-layer dessert, so don’t forget to buy two 8 ounce containers of Cool Whip (or one 16 ounce size) for this one. Trust me, if you have to wait a day to get the second one, it’s going to turn out ok. Not that I know anything about that. Maybe. I was also thinking that this might be good with chopped Snickers or Heath bars on the top instead of chopped nuts. Hmm. I might have to try this again. Make this Three-Layer Chocolate Dessert and help your friends and family stay cool for the rest of the summer – not that this dessert will last that long!

 

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Peach Upside Down Cake

This recipe for Peach Upside Down Cake (there is no title on the recipe card – I just made up this name) comes from my mom, who must have gotten it from a friend or co-worker of hers. It’s August, and since peaches are in season and plentiful right now, what better time to make this cake? Today would have been my other grandma’s 107th birthday. I absolutely LOVE this photo of her, from what I think must have been about the time she graduated from high school, around the mid 1920’s.

I just love those finger waves! So pretty!

Peaches would have made a wonderful birthday cake, and I wonder if that ever happened since she had an August birthday. I hope so. Peaches are one of the best things about August, and if she were still here with us, I would have made her this delicious cake for her birthday cake!

This delicious cake is a lot like Rhubarb Upside Down Dessert I made last year.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Upside Down Cake

Mix according to mix directions:

1 yellow or white cake mix (I used lemon cake mix because I happened to have one)

On top of raw cake batter put:

4 cups peaches, sliced or chopped (I used 5 peaches to get 4 cups)

On top of peaches sprinkle:

1/2 to 1 cup sugar (I used 1/2 cup sugar and it was “plenty sweet”, but I have made it with 1 cup of sugar and that’s delicious, too)

On top of fruit and sugar add:

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

Sprinkle over top of all:

nutmeg

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes.

I used a lemon cake mix for this cake and it was delicious, but I think a white or yellow cake mix would lend itself to a more peachy flavor. You can chop the peaches, but because I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen with this cake, I sliced them. I also used much less sugar than called for. 1 1/2 cups of sugar sure sounded like a lot.

It really didn’t look like this was going to work out ok. This really seemed like A LOT of cream. We’ll see what happens.

This is what happened. Where did the peaches go?

The peaches and cream went to the bottom of the cake and made a peachy, creamy topping for this upside down cake. It’s just like the rhubarb in the Rhubarb Upside Down Dessert!

We enjoyed this cake warm with a bit of whipped cream on top, but it was just as good a couple of days later cold (after being stored in the refrigerator) with some Homemade Ice Cream on top. I think this might work well with most kinds of fruit. If you have a lot of peaches and you want to make a very special treat – birthday or otherwise – you’ll love this Peach Upside Down Cake!

 

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Peach Smoothie

When peaches are in season, a Peach Smoothie is a great way to enjoy them while they’re here. In Minnesota, we get “crates” of them shipped here from other states where peaches are much more apt to grow, like Colorado or California. Peaches don’t grow so well here in this climate, although my husband swears that they had a white peach tree in their yard when he was growing up. Grandma and my mom always got boxes of peaches every August, and I have very fond memories of me and my sister eating peaches until we were sick. They were so good and they only showed up in August, so we had to enjoy them while we could. The crates are now made of cardboard, but the boxes that the peaches came in used to be made of wood, and Grandma’s family would get one of those crates every year and then preserve them for the winter by making things like Peach Jam, Canned Peaches, Peach Pie, Glazed Peach Pie, Peach Crisp, Peach Cake, the list goes on and on. They were also able to re-use everything about those old wooden peach crates. The crates themselves were used for storage in the garage or as a side table, because they had two separate sections that acted like shelves. We had two peach crates used for tables in our playhouse when we were growing up – they had been painted brown and came in handy for storing all kinds of necessities like doll clothes or books. One other thing – back then, the peaches that came in those crates were wrapped in pink tissue paper, and I think we all know what that was used for back in the days of the Great Depression when people used outhouses and couldn’t afford toilet paper. I have heard that for that reason alone, people would look forward to August and peach season!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Peach Smoothie

Put into blender:

1 peach, cut up

1 small container of vanilla greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk

6 ice cubes

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon honey

2 whole graham crackers, crushed (reserve half for putting around rim of glass)

Blend.

Put reserved graham cracker crumbs onto a small plate.

Wet the rim with a slice of peach and then put edge of glass into graham cracker crumbs.

Pour smoothie into glass, add a squirt of your favorite canned whipped topping and a straw.

Oh, how I love peach season!

I still use my old blender from the late 1970’s.

The graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon help to make this smoothie taste like you’re enjoying one of those above-mentioned recipes like Glazed Peach Pie or Peach Crisp!

This really is a healthy, delicious, and very pretty snack. While there are many, many things you can and SHOULD make with peaches right now, this is just one more way to use peaches. Your family will love this Peach Smoothie – I guarantee it!

 

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Chocolate Chip Scones

This recipe for Chocolate Chip Scones has been around since I ripped the section for scones out of an old magazine I had years ago. I can’t find a name on the pages I ripped out, and I can’t find a year, but I think it could have been an old issue of Country Living Magazine. There are several recipes in these pages, all perfect for breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea. This photo of my great-grandmother reminds me of afternoon tea (or coffee). Look at that dress! She came to this country all alone from Norway when she was 18 years old. A doctor from a small town up north sponsored her and she worked for him for several years to pay that off before traveling to Minneapolis to work as a housekeeper. There she met her husband, they married, and moved to a farm in the area where I grew up. They had 6 children before her husband died when my grandpa (the youngest) was 2 years old.

She met the challenge of running a farm and raising their 6 wonderful children all by herself. I’m sure she didn’t have much time for afternoon tea, but I hope she took the time to do that once in a while. Just a few years ago my oldest daughter did a college art video project about her life, so we learned a lot and now know that their farm is still there. I love that she was smart and is reading in the photo because my Grandpa was also very smart but had to leave school after 8th grade to help run the farm. So many great stories – so little time to tell them all!

Back to the scones. I originally made these for my chocolate loving mom, but found out that they are ridiculously delicious and my whole family loves them, too. Oh oh.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Chocolate Chip Scones

In a large bowl, combine:

2 cups self-rising flour (if using regular flour, add 2 t. baking powder and 1/2 t. salt)

3 Tablespoons sugar

With pastry blender or knives, cut in:

1/2 cup vegetable shortening (I used butter)

Cut in until shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, combine:

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Add to dry ingredients.

Add:

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix with fork until mixture clings together and forms a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently a few times, if needed.

Use a rolling pin (or use hands) to roll dough into a 7 inch round.

Cut into 4 wedges (I cut it into 6).

Place scones onto greased baking sheet and pierce tops with times of a fork (at this point I also used a little cream brushed on top and then sprinkled tops with coarse sanding sugar).

Bake at 425 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm.

I used my trusty blender to get started.

Mixing everything with a fork help bring it all together.

I used my hands to pat out the dough and then cut it into 6 wedges.

I used coarse sanding sugar to make the scones sparkle, but regular sugar works, too. I love the sugary crust it makes on the top of the scones.

Oh yum.

Out of the oven and best warm with butter. Maybe also some homemade jam?

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious treat for your breakfast, brunch, or afternoon tea (or coffee), this is definitely it. These Chocolate Chip Scones are ridiculously good, and you and your guests are going to love them!

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Limoncello Cake

Today’s recipe for Limoncello Cake is a lot like a Rum Cake that I’ve made in the past. This makes a delicious lemon cake that soaks in Limoncello instead of rum, and sits in a buttery, sugary, boozy, lemony puddle of sauce. How bad can that be? My oldest daughter just graduated with her Masters Degree in Art Education, and we just HAD to celebrate (as if this family needs a reason to celebrate)! She is a chocolate freak (like her Grami – my mom), but when I needed an idea for a cake to celebrate, I asked her, “How do you feel about Limoncello Cake for the celebration?” She said, “I feel good about it!” Well, that’s all I needed to get started. We decided that this cake is both celebratory and boozy – all at the same time! Nice!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Limoncello Cake

For the cake:

Mix all together on medium speed for 3 minutes:

1 lemon cake mix (the kind with no pudding included)

1 small box of vanilla instant pudding

4 eggs

1/2 cup cold water

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup Limoncello

Grease the Bundt pan with butter and coat with sugar (for easier removal from the pan).

If desired, you can put 1 cup chopped nuts in the bottom of the pan (I didn’t use nuts in this cake).

Pour batter into Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Use a skewer or toothpick to poke holes in cake while it’s still warm and in the pan.

Pour half of the glaze over the cake and into the holes.

Turn cake onto plate, poke holes in top with skewer or toothpick, and pour rest of glaze over top and into holes (make sure the cake is positioned where you want it on the cake plate as you wont be able to move it very easily after – it will be too soaked with the yummy glaze).

There will be some glaze running over sides of cake and it will puddle onto cake plate and sometimes over the edge (it’s a lot of yummy glaze).

For the glaze (make this about 10 minutes before cake is to be done and set aside in something easier to pour out of, like a large measuring cup):

Bring to a boil:

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

Remove from heat and add:

1/2 cup Limoncello

Luckily I had a bottle of Limoncello left from when my youngest daughter went to visit her college roommate in California and brought home a suitcase of lemons for me to use to make lemon goodies! Perfect – I just used that! You can go ahead and buy Limoncello if you want. I mean, if you want it to be store-bought, I guess. Ha.

The first time I made a Rum Cake like this Limoncello Cake, it stuck in the pan. Coating the pan with butter and sugar is not only tasty, it really works to release the cake better!

Yum – here we go!

Here we are – out of the oven, covered with holes, and half of the glaze already soaking in to the delicious lemon cake.

Here is the cake out of the pan and ready for the second half of the glaze to be poured over top. No kidding – the cake will be sitting in a puddle of that luscious sauce. Oh my goodness.

Just make sure to get the cake in the middle of the plate before turning – at least sort of – because it will be so soaked with the saucy goodness, you can’t move it very easily after.

This is a very appropriate celebration cake. It’s so lemony, so buttery, so boozy, and so sweet. Serve it with some whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream – heaven! You and whomever you’re celebrating with are going to absolutely LOVE this very celebratory and boozy Limoncello Cake!

 

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