Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lemon-Thyme Tea Cookies

If only you could smell my kitchen right now! It's been a long time since I've made cookies and since I've also been looking for ways to use the herbs in my garden, I thought these would be the perfect ones to make. The cookies are crisp and delicious and the combination of cornmeal and currants and lemon is perfect with a cup of tea. If you're coming to my kick-off party you'll be able to try them for yourself! If that isn't incentive enough, stay tuned and you'll be sure to see some other goodies I'll be serving...
Lemon-Thyme Tea Cookies
adapted from The Perfect Pantry's recipe for Lemon Thyme Cornmeal Cookies
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup dried currants
1 tsp lemon zest
1 heaping tsp finely chopped lemon thyme
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl whisk together the flours, cornmeal, baking soda and salt. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the currants, lemon zest and lemon thyme.
Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto baking sheets lined with Silpat liners or parchment paper, spacing the dough about 2 inches apart. Flatten the cookies slightly with a dampened flat-bottomed drinking glass and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 10-12 minutes until pale golden color. Allow the cookies to cool for 2-3 minutes before removing them from the cookie sheet.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Zucchini Soup

This soup is an all-time family favorite. I've made it every year since my husband and I got married and my mother-in-law gave me the recipe.  The original called for canned tomato soup, but I have changed the recipe to make it all from scratch so I could use my garden tomatoes.  There's something to be said about a recipe that you never get tired of. I can't tell you how many recipes I've tried and, while it's wonderful the first time, the second and third tries just don't live up to the first. This one is different. It's good year after year and holds up well in the freezer so I know I'll have a quick meal to turn to when kid activities are many and time is short. I used peeled and pureed tomatoes right from the garden but canned ones are just as good. You could easily vary this recipe and add chopped carrots or white beans, although I think it's perfect as written.

Zucchini Soup
Serves 10

2 pounds hot and/or sweet italian sausage (I used sweet)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 red and/or green sweet bell peppers
1-2 hot peppers, chopped, optional
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 quart homemade chicken broth
2 quarts canned tomatoes
2 good-sized zucchini, cubed
3 or 4 fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp fresh parley
salt to taste
Slices of provolone cheese for serving, optional

In a skillet, brown and drain the sausage and set aside. In a large stockpot, saute the onion for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute or two. Add peppers and continue to cook until the peppers begin to soften. Add cumin, pepper and oregano and cook 30 seconds or so. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, zucchini, sausage, basil, parsley and salt to taste. Simmer 2-3 hours. Add water or chicken stock if the soup is too thick. To serve, ladle into a bowl and place a slice of provolone on top if desired.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Colors of Summer


Purple Cabbage from the farm


Russian Sage

Somehow, even the color palette of the hung laundry is pleasing to the eye. Goodbye summer...I'll miss you!

Related post: Colors of Late Spring

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

Thanks to Megan for letting me know about this awesome recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Cake - actually, the recipe (from Allrecipes) is called Zucchini Brownies, but they're not as dense as I would consider a brownie to be - so Zucchini Chocolate Cake it is! The zucchini is undetectable (in fact, Annie, my 6-year-old told me I was mistaken when I talked about zucchini in the recipe), the flavor is awesome, and the leftover cake was still moist after sitting on my counter for 2 days (believe me, it will not last longer than that). Definitely do not skip the frosting because it is simply delicious on these. My daughter thought that chocolate chips would be a nice addition to the batter and I agree. Who can argue with more chocolate? I even froze a few 2-cup portions of grated zucchini so I could make this again when the winter doldrums start to settle in. Just remember to pour yourself a tall glass of milk and you'll be in chocolate heaven!

adapted from Marian's Zucchini Brownie recipe on AllRecipes
Zucchini Chocolate Cake
Yields: 24 servings

For the Cake:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely shredded zucchini

For the frosting:
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2.In a large bowl, mix together the oil, sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. It will be VERY thick. Fold in the zucchini until well incorporated. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
3.Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies spring back when gently touched.

To make the frosting, melt together the 6 tablespoons of cocoa and butter; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, blend together the confectioners' sugar, milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Spread over cooled cake.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

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