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Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I originally named this blog Grow.Pick.Eat, it referred to gardening and trying out recipes made from the freshly picked berries and veggies.  Now, as summer winds down, I find that it has taken on a whole new meaning:  My ass and waistline have begun to GROW, causing me to PICK out larger sized items from my closet to wear, because all I have done this summer is sit around and EAT the goodies that Bill and I have cooked and baked.

So much for the unintentional–but not unwelcome–fifteen pound weight loss that I experienced last school year.  My feeble immune system was not prepared to fend off  the aggressive and icky germs passed on to me by the six-year-olds in my classroom, so I was sick almost constantly. Also, I have a hard time eating when I am stressed and anxious, and since stress and anxiety were my constant companions for several months, I pretty much subsisted on red wine.  (Admittedly not the healthiest way to lose weight, but it was that kind of year).   Before I knew it, my pants were hanging so low that I felt like a teenage gangsta, which was not a particularly flattering look for a suburban white female who can’t even say the word “gangsta” without sounding ridiculous.  So, I went out and purchased a brand new and much smaller-sized wardrobe–and proudly left all the size tags in.

Now, however, those new clothes are feeling uncomfortably snug.  I am not even sure if I can get into my dress pants (purchased in the Juniors’ section, thank you very much), and with the new school year starting soon, I sure hope I don’t bust a seam when I sit down at our first staff meeting or bend over to tie a little one’s shoe.  And I am afraid to weigh myself on my Wii Fit, because it will yell at me for being a slacker or perhaps make a snide comment about how long it has been since I last exercised.

Therefore, this will be my last post involving baking for a while.  I really need to lay off the carb-saturated baked treats and try to cook more figure friendly dishes until I can button things again.   Tomatoes, broccoli and cabbage are coming in strong right now, and lucky for me, they are not conducive to making breads, cookies and pies.  I will focus upcoming blog posts mostly on those three veggies.  But our shriveled and spent zucchini plant gave us one last monster squash, so I dutifully made up a batch of fluffy and sweet cookies to celebrate the end of its life and the end of summer vacation.    Think I’ll pour myself a glass of red wine and find the recipe for you…

Here it is:

ZUCCHINI CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES:  http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/chocolate-chip-cookies-vi/detail.aspx

Notes:

  • I usually use half brown sugar, half white sugar.
  • Rather than finely chop the zucchini, I shred it.  With my trusty Salad Shooter, of course.
  • 3/4 cup of chocolate chips is not nearly enough.  I put in a whole 6 oz bag of them–at least.
  • This time, I added some Heath toffee pieces, because Bill saw them in the baking aisle and wanted to try them.  Mmmm.

P.S.  I am surprised that my spell check recognizes the word “gangsta.”  That makes me a cringe just a little bit.

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Zucchini on the Grill

Grilled Zucchini with Feta and Chives

If we manage to rescue a zucchini from the garden when it is a manageable size, rather than letting it grow into an enormous monstrosity, one of our tried and true ways to prepare it is on the grill.  Or, rather, one of Bill’s ways to prepare it is on the grill.

I am not a griller.  Although I am a reformed gas-stove-a-phobe, my uneasy trust of flammable gases and liquids does not extend to barbecues.   I have no problem getting in touch with my primitive side and reigning over a big bonfire–as long as it’s not windy.  I just don’t like lighting things that could potentially explode.  Being first time owners of tiki torches this summer, I gladly let Bill handle the job of setting them ablaze for their backyard debut.  But alas, he wasn’t home last night when I had some girlfriends over, leaving me to face the duties of BBQ-ing, tiki torch lighting and campfire-building.  Chicken Shack kindly took care of the grilling for me, and the campfire gods cooperated and gave me a nice windless night.   As dusk approached, I warily eyed the flimsy torches, which appear to be made of dry kindling and paradoxically filled with flammable citronella fluid.  My desire to have mosquito-free air eventually outweighed my fear of a flash fire, so making sure that the hose was nearby, I managed to appear outwardly calm as I fired up each wick.   Success!

Although I have now conquered fire in two different backyard situations, I am content to let Bill continue on as the grillmaster.  He is good at it, and most importantly, he is not afraid of applying fire to an apparatus attached to a tank of gas.  Here are a couple of easy and fuss-free ways that he has cooked zucchini on the grill.  The Zucchini with Feta and Chives is a recipe I found in  this month’s issue of Women’s Day magazine, where it was shown paired with lemon chicken skewers.   We chose to serve it with burgers.  The Parmesan Zucchini is our go-to zucchini side, and we usually have it several times each summer.

ZUCCHINI WITH FETA AND CHIVES

Slice zucchini in half lengthwise and season with salt and pepper.  Brush with olive oil or spray with cooking spray.  Place pieces on grill for approximately 10 minutes, turning halfway through.  Cut into slices, squeeze some fresh lemon on top and sprinkle with feta cheese and chives.

PARMESAN ZUCCHINI

Slice zucchini into rounds.  Season with salt and pepper and place on a sheet of foil.  Add a bit of parmesan cheese and fresh minced garlic to taste, and drizzle with olive oil.  (Or,  use pats of butter instead of the olive oil, which is Bill’s preference).   Form foil into a packet and place on the grill.  Remove when your meat is done, and sprinkle with more parmesan cheese, if desired.

Cheater, Cheater, Greek Orzo Salad Eater

Greek Orzo Salad

One of the reasons for my starting this blog was to share recipes using ingredients from my own garden. The downside of using seasonal ingredients is that sometimes my desire to make a certain dish is not in sync with my garden’s production schedule. This necessitates cheating and using store-bought veggies instead, which was the case with the Greek Orzo Salad that I made for the Fourth of July shindig that we had last night. I was looking for something that could feed an undetermined number of people, go well with burgers and hot dogs, and be okay sitting out for a while. So, despite its ethnic name and ingredients, I found this to be the perfect side dish to help celebrate our country’s birthday. A trip to Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace took care of the produce this time around. I plan to make this again when our own cukes and tomatoes are ready, but I’m posting the recipe now, because people asked about it and eagerly took home almost all the leftovers –I made a bit much!

There are several variations on this recipe out there, so modify it however you see fit. I began with one that I found on AllRecipes.com a couple of years back and put my own little spin on it. Here is the link to the original, and below is how I tweaked it to my own taste in an attempt to feed possibly 15-20 people: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/greek-orzo-salad/detail.aspx

GREEK ORZO SALAD

Ingredients:

• 2 cups uncooked orzo

• 3 tbsp butter or margarine

• 29 oz water

• 2 (6.5 oz) jars marinated artichoke hearts

• 1 tomato, seeded and chopped

• 2 cucumbers, seeded and chopped

• ½ large red onion, chopped

• 1 ½ cups feta cheese

• 1 (2 oz) can black olives, drained

• ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

• Juice of ½ lemon

• ½ tsp dried oregano

• Approx. 3 oz Italian or Greek salad dressing (I had some left over from lunch at a local pizzeria and decided to toss it in)

Directions:

1. Melt butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in orzo and sauté until lightly browned.

2. Stir in water and bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. Take off heat, fluff with a fork, and set aside until mostly cooled.

3. Drain and chop artichoke hearts, reserving marinade.

4. In a large bowl, combine artichokes, tomato, cucumber, onion, feta, olives, parsley and lemon juice. When orzo has cooled, add it to the mixture and toss everything together.

5. Chill for at least an hour in the refrigerator.

6. Just before serving, drizzle about 3 oz of artichoke marinade and the Italian or Greek dressing over salad and toss again.

Growin’, Growin’, Growin’

We have a bit of a lull in the garden at the moment, as most of our veggies are in the flowering or just-beginning-to-ripen stages.  Thought I’d post a few pics that I took today instead of a recipe…a little snack for the eyes, rather than the tummy.