Eat Your Veggies

Does zucchini come to mind when you need a dose of chocolate?

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Probably not, but it will after you make this bread.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven to 350.

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup buttermilk (You can substitute with milk and a splash of vinegar.)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup chocolate chips

Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

Add wet ingredients, then zucchini and chocolate chips.

Bake 40-45 minutes in a buttered bread pan.

Strength in Numbers

We need a lot of snacks, yes?

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It’s getting cold; it’s important we keep our metabolisms going strong.

Peanut Butter Bars

1 stick butter + 1/2 stick butter

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (Sifting’s a pain, but makes a big difference here.)

1 cup peanut butter

5 graham crackers, smashed finely

1 cup chocolate chips

Line a square pan with parchment paper for easy removal.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan.

Add the peanut butter and stir til melted.

Remove from heat, add sugar, and stir til combined.

Add graham cracker crumbs and stir til combined.

Press the peanut butter mixture into the lined pan with the back of a spoon.

In the same saucepan, melt the 1/2 stick of butter.

Add the chocolate chips and stir til melted.

Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter and spread to uniform thickness.

Cool in fridge for an hour or two then cut into bars.

Store in fridge.

Good and Ready

Granola bars are a most versatile snack.

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They’re tasty at any time of day, and you can easily switch up the ingredients depending on your mood and what you’ve got in the house.

This is our standby recipe. We individually wrap the bars so they’re ready to go when we are.

Granola Bars

Preheat oven to 325.

3 1/2 cups oats

1 cup rice krispies

1 cup wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup flax seed (optional)

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup honey (approximate)

Combine oats, cereal, flour, baking soda, salt, flax seed, and sugar.

Melt butter and combine with vanilla.

Add butter/vanilla to oat mixture and stir to coat.

Add chocolate chips.

Add 2/3 cup of honey and stir well.You will probably have some dry parts that won’t combine well with the other ingredients. If you do, add more honey, up to 1/3 of a cup, until everything’s sticking together pretty well. It should be pasty, not soupy.

Butter a 9″x13″ baking pan and press the mixture into it firmly using the back of a spatula.

Bake for 19 minutes.

Let cool and then cut into bars. We cut them in thirds the long way and then into the desired width.

These will last at least a couple of weeks in plastic wrap, but you’ll likely eat them sooner.

Sugar and Spice

What happens if you take applesauce and keep cooking it?

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With a few more spices, you’ve got apple butter.

This recipe can be divided or multiplied. I double it for 40 pounds of apples. Well, 40 pounds of apples minus enough to make a pie.

Apple Butter

18 cups unsweetened applesauce

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

2 cups sugar, divided

Fill a crockpot with applesauce. It might not all fit, but that’s ok, you can add more later. If you’ve got 2 crockpots you could get both going – that’s what I do.

Add spices and 1 cup of the sugar.

Prop the lid on your crockpot with a wooden spoon or chopstick so the steam can escape.

Set the heat on low.

Cook for 6 hours, then add the rest of your sugar and more sauce if you’ve got room.

Continue cooking and adding applesauce as needed until it looks and tastes like apple butter. Mine generally takes a total of about 22 hours. (That includes the 6 hours above.)

Prep 12 half pint jars.

Ladle hot apple butter into jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Process in hot water bath for 5 minutes after water has returned to a boil.

Feeling Saucy

Is there anyone who doesn’t like applesauce?

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Never mind, if there is I don’t want to know.

Applesauce

Apples (As many or as few as you’ve got. Don’t forget to ask your local farmer for seconds -you’ll pay half the price.)

Sugar (optional)

Cut the apples into chunks, peeled or not depending on what you like, and put them in a pot.

Add a small splash of water to keep them from sticking before their juice starts to flow.

Cook on medium-high heat until the apples are soft enough to break with the back of a spoon.

Add sugar to taste.

Puree with an immersion blender for a smooth sauce, or leave as is for chunky.

Ladle into clean jars, leaving 1/2″ headspace.

Process quarts for 20 minutes or pints for 15. If you’d rather not can, just store in the fridge.

Hot Stuff

Apologies if you end up burning your tongue, but I think this jelly delivery system is worth taking the risk.

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Jammy Biscuits

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 Tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup milk

Jam or jelly

Preheat oven to 425.

Mix the dry ingredients, then cut in the shortening with a knife.

Add the milk, and knead just until the dough comes together.

Press dough out about 1/2″ thick, and cut circles from it with the rim of a cup.

Make a well in the middle of each biscuit and fill it with jam.

Bake 12 minutes.

Delicious while still hot, or will keep for a few days.

Use as Directed

So, grape jelly.

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This is one of those cases where using the recipe in the box is just fine. In general I have no complaints about sugar, but for jelly I want to taste the fruit, so I went with a low sugar pectin from Ball. This recipe could more accurately be called ‘lower sugar’, because there’s still quite a bit, but the grapes are not overpowered and that’s what I was going for.

Grape Jelly

5 1/2 cups grape juice

3 1/2 cups sugar

1 box low or no-sugar-needed pectin

Prep 6 half-pint jars.

Mix pectin with 1/4 cup of the sugar.

Combine pectin and juice in a large pot, along with a small bit of butter. (The butter will keep everything from foaming too much. I skip this step when making jam, but it really helps to make a nice, clear jelly.)

Bring to a boil.

When you can’t stir the boil down, add the rest of the sugar.

Bring back to a boil, and when you can’t stir it down cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat.

Skim any foam.

Ladle into jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.

Process 5 minutes in water bath.

Yield: 5-6 half-pint jars.

Hip To Be Square

Who says english muffins have to be round?

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Here’s another recipe that can help cut down on grocery spending. The cornmeal gives the crust just the right english muffin crispness, and as you can see, you will not sacrifice any nooks and crannies by making your own.

English Muffin Bread

1 cup flour + 1 3/4 cups flour

2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups warm water

Cornmeal

Combine 1 cup flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and warm water. (In a stand mixer if you’ve got one.) You want the water to be about body temperature – hot enough to wake the yeast, not so hot you kill it.

Mix 3 minutes.

Add remaining flour and mix til incorporated.

Butter a pan very well. What size pan? Well, it’s up to you. The dough is going to rise to basically the shape of your pan. You could use a loaf pan, and have more of a slicing bread. Or you can do as I did for the muffins pictured above and use a shallow casserole dish. Whatever you use, make it big enough for the dough to rise in.

Give the pan a good dusting with cornmeal.

Add the dough and sprinkle with more cornmeal.

At this point the dough will be very wet and will not fill your pan. Cover it with a towel and let it rise for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Bake 30 minutes.

Falling

I hate to do this to you, but I’m calling it.

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It’s time for soup.

Or at least time to make soup for your freezer. Multiply this recipe by as many tomatoes as you can get your hands on and freeze in pint jars with airspace on top for expansion. You’ll thank me in a few weeks.

Roasted Tomato Soup

7 or 8 tomatoes, cut in quarters

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 onion, diced

8 cloves garlic, peeled

1 Tablespoon sugar

2 cups vegetable stock

1/2 pint heavy cream

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Lay cut tomatoes in foil-lined roasting pan, cut side up.

Add peeled garlic.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast 45 minutes.

Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan.

Add onion and cook til translucent.

Add sugar and stock and bring to a boil.

Add tomatoes and garlic.

Puree til smooth.

Add cream, and blend again.

Yields about 7 pints.

Save Some Bread

This bread goes fast at our house.

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All bread goes pretty fast, actually. When I began tracking our groceries to see where our money was going it wasn’t too surprising to see that bread was one of our biggest grocery expenses. Coming up with some easy, delicious recipes caused a nice dip in that spending, with the added bonus of getting to eat much better bread than we can buy at the local supermarket.

Cinnamon Bread

Preheat oven to 350.

1/2 cup sugar + 1/3 cup sugar, divided

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

2 cups flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and oil.

Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.

In a buttered bread pan, layer 1/3 of the batter, then 1/3 of the sugar/cinnamon. Repeat until you have 3 layers of each, ending with sugar/cinnamon.

Bake for 40 minutes.