Five ways to use up zucchini

If you’re a gardener or subscriber to a community-supported agriculture farm, you probably have an abundance of zucchini or other summer squash. The classic Fifty Ways to Cook Everything by Andrew Schloss and Ken Bookman has a whole chapter on zucchini. They start with a “basic zucchini mixture” that you are supposed to cook and freeze in 1-cup or 2-cup amounts, for use later in a variety of dishes.

I’ve never been that organized about putting up food, but after the jump I’ve posted my strategies for using up summer squash before it goes bad. You’ll have to click through to learn the secret ingredient of my favorite zucchini bread.

Yellow summer squash of any shape can be substituted for zucchini is any of these recipes.  Most of the time there’s no need to peel summer squash, but you should cut away the ends and brown spots. I prefer to slice the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds, unless you’re dealing with a If you’re shopping for zucchini at the store or farmer’s market, try to pick small ones. The huge ones can be watery or have a woody texture.

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Favorite burger recipes thread

I don’t cook hamburgers at home, but every so often I like to make veggie burgers. My recipe doesn’t contain eggs, because while I love them, I eat plenty of them in other dishes. I’ve adapted this dish from Moosewood’s Low-Fat Favorites. I prefer them with cannellini (white kidney) beans, but you can also use pinto beans. All quantities are approximate; I don’t measure carefully, and this recipe is flexible.

Veggie burgers (suitable for vegans)

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon mustard (I like coarse-ground, but dijon or other smooth kinds work well too)

1 tablespoon tomato paste (or ketchup)

1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari

1 medium or two small onions

1 large or two regular cloves garlic

1 carrot, shredded

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

about 3/4 cup rolled oats

In medium bowl, mash beans with potato masher. Add mustard, tomato paste or ketchup, and soy sauce and mash together.

Chop onion and saute in vegetable or olive oil. After a few minutes, add the shredded carrot. When onion and carrot are soft, add cumin, chili powder and pressed garlic cloves. Stir for another two minutes or so, adding a tablespoon or two of water if you need to prevent sticking. Stir sauteed vegetables into bowl with bean mixture. Add rolled oats and mix well. I like to leave this to sit in the refrigerator for a while to let the oats soften.

At dinner time, heat a little oil in a frying pan and cook on both sides for 5-8 minutes.

Share your own favorite burger recipes–vegan, vegetarian or carnivore–in this thread.

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Orange Bowl and citrus fruit open thread

I’m no college football fan, but I was glad to see that Mediacom and Sinclair Broadcast Group reached a temporary agreement on New Year’s Eve so that thousands of Hawkeye fans who are Mediacom subscribers will be able to watch tonight’s Orange Bowl game between Iowa and Georgia Tech.

This thread is for Bleeding Heartland readers to discuss the game. Cyclone fans, please accept my belated congratulations for Iowa State winning the Insight Bowl.

Alternatively, feel free to post any favorite dishes involving citrus fruit. I like oranges and grapefruit so much that I almost always eat them plain. However, I’m interested to hear other recipes for using them in salads, side dishes or desserts. I use a little lemon or lime juice frequently in Indian or Thai cooking, but the citrus isn’t the centerpiece of the dish.

After the jump I’ve posted a recipe for lemon-sesame salad dressing and a cake with lemon syrup that I haven’t made since before I had kids. It’s not even that time-consuming, but making the syrup seems to be one step too many for me these days.

UPDATE: Congratulations to the Hawkeyes for beating Georgia Tech 24-14.

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Winter comfort food thread

What do you like for dinner when winter just dumped more than a foot of snow on your house? My first choice would normally be home-made soup, but we’re out of bread, and I just made curried pumpkin soup over the weekend.

We had tomato and olive wild rice casserole, and I’ll be enjoying the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Yesterday I baked brownies while the kids were playing in the snow, and I finally tried my friend’s trick of stirring a can of black beans, pureed, into the brownie mix (instead of oil, butter, eggs or water). They turned out great, and my kids never suspected a thing. Good way to sneak protein and fiber into a treat.

This thread is for any comfort food recipes or inspiration.

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Something for vegans, something for carnivores

I watch the Food Network sometimes while I’m exercising, and in the past two weeks I’ve seen Giada and the Barefoot Contessa make risotto on their shows. They both insisted that you “have” to put cheese in your risotto, and I think they added cream as well.

I couldn’t disagree more, so I’m re-posting one of my favorite food substitutions:

To make risotto with no milk or cream, I use a tip from the Moosewood Collective’s Low-Fat Favorites cookbook. In a food processor or blender, combine a cup or two of frozen corn kernels with whatever kind of stock you will use to cook the risotto. This creates a creamy consistency, but without being as heavy as risotto with cream. It’s good for vegans or anyone cutting back on calories.

I like to stir basil pesto into my risotto right before serving, but you can make that without cheese as well.

For the carnivores in the Bleeding Heartland community: on Thursday I cooked a flank steak (local and 100 percent grass-fed) using a recipe from Cynthia Lair’s article on grass-fed beef in the March-April 2009 issue of Mothering magazine. It comes from her book Feeding the Whole Family. You use a little of the dressing as a marinade; the rest is supposed to go on a noodle salad, but I saved it to pour over the leftover meat:

2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, 3 Tbsp tamari, 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 1 Tbsp hot-pepper oil.

It only took a minute to stir together the ingredients, and if you don’t eat meat, you could use this dressing for a vegetarian or vegan stir-fry or noodle salad.

What have you been eating or cooking lately? I am not a big salad eater for most of the year, but I am loving the fresh mixed greens I’ve been getting from One Step at a Time Gardens this month.

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Open thread on favorite food shortcuts

It’s been too long since I posted a food diary. A while back I wrote about my favorite food substitutions. Now I would like your input on favorite shortcuts in the kitchen.

I’m not talking about picking up take-out or eating a peanut-butter sandwich instead of a hot meal. For the purposes of this thread, I am seeking ideas that save preparation time or cooking time when you are making the meal.

After the jump I’ve posted my chili recipe, which incorporates three shortcuts. This won’t win you a prize at the chili cookoff, but it is tasty and highly adaptable to your own preferences or what you have in your kitchen. I’m all for cooking with what you have rather than slavishly following recipes.

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