Category Archives: Cookbooks

Summer Squash Cake

Just about everyone I know who has a garden grows summer squash. Summer squash usually grows really well, so home gardeners often have an abundance of it. Which is really nice if you have lots of good recipes to use it in, like zucchini bread, for example, or a yummy squash casserole! Here’s another really good squash recipe that I found in my review copy of Farm-to-Table Desserts, which has 80 recipes with seasonal ingredients. If you’re a vegetable gardener or love to shop at your local farmer’s market, you’ll enjoy these recipes for yummy treats that you can make with fresh, organic ingredients. There are a wide variety of dessert recipes included in this book: pies, cakes, cookies, tarts, puddings, sorbet, cobblers, and more. And lots of great color photos of the recipes.

I decided to try this Summer Squash Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. The recipe calls for 2 cups of grated summer squash. I used 1 cup of grated zucchini and 1 cup of grated yellow squash, but you could use 2 cups of one or the other. If you use all zucchini, the cake will probably taste a lot like zucchini bread. I liked including some yellow squash because it adds a nice flavor to the cake. I’m sure it would be great if you used all yellow squash too. The cream cheese frosting is also really good–very creamy and rich! Here’s the recipe–hope you enjoy making the cake this summer!

SUMMER SQUASH CAKE from Farm-to-Table Desserts

Makes one 9″ or 10″ round cake

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated summer squash (I used 1 cup zucchini and 1 cup yellow squash)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil (I substituted light olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (you can add a little more if you want a thicker frosting)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch round pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, squash, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated. Transfer to prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely. (Note: the batter fills up a 9″ round pan pretty much up to the top, so I placed my round pan on a baking sheet before putting it in the oven, just in case the round pan overflowed while baking-but it didn’t!)

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:

Sift the powdered sugar and set aside. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 30 seconds to ensure no lumps remain. Add the powdered sugar all at once and mix on low speed until sugar is just incorporated. Scrape bowl well and beat on high speed for 10 seconds.

Remove cooled cake from pan (you may need to loosen the edges with a knife) and place onto a serving platter. Cut the rounded cake top off, if desired (I kept it on). Spread cream cheese frosting on top in a decorative design (you’ll have plenty of frosting to top the cake–you may even have a little left over). Store cake in refrigerator.

If you’re trying to cut back on calories, you could leave the cake unfrosted or just put a very light amount of frosting on top–or a thin glaze. So keep this in mind if you have lots of summer squash to use! Do you grow your own summer squash or buy it at a farmer’s market?

Sharing at Fiesta FridayWeekend PotluckMeal Plan Monday. Inspire Me Monday.

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Popcorn Cauliflower Nuggets

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This recipe had me at the word “popcorn,” being the popcorn-lover that I am. But it actually doesn’t have anything to do with popcorn; it’s a roasted cauliflower recipe, flavored 61lqkjHsHuL._SX402_BO1,204,203,200_with some spices that really give it some punch–chili powder, cumin, and paprika. I found this recipe in The Quick Six Fix, a cookbook by Stuart O’Keeffe that has 100 easy recipes with six ingredients, six minutes prep time, and six minutes cleanup. That’s my kind of cooking!

The Popcorn Cauliflower Nuggets recipe calls for an 18 x 26″ pan, and the largest size pan I had was 13 x 18,” so I halved the recipe below. I loved the spicy taste of these nuggets! It was hard to stop eating them, they were so tasty. The recipe says it makes 4 to 6 servings, but if you’re really hungry and you really like these, it may just make 2 servings! 🙂

POPCORN CAULIFLOWER NUGGETS from The Quick Six Fix

Serves 4-6

  • 2 medium heads cauliflower, broken into popcorn-sized florets
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place a rimmed 26 x 18-inch baking sheet on the center rack in the oven and preheat oven to 425˚F.

Place all florets in a Ziplock bag along with the rest of the ingredients. Shake and toss well to combine. Let rest for 10 minutes.

Remove pan from the oven and empty the bag onto the piping hot baking sheet.

Return the pan to the oven for 25 minutes, or until cauliflower is browned all over.

I liked these cauliflower nuggets more than I thought I would, and I’ll definitely be making them again! What’s your favorite way to fix cauliflower?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn

Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn @ NancyC

SallysCandyAddicitonWhen I think of autumn flavors, cinnamon is one of the first to come to mind for me. I use cinnamon in quick breads, muffins, cakes, all kinds of treats…and I guess that’s why this Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn stood out to me. I found it in my review copy of Sally’s Candy Addiction: Tasty Truffles, Fudges & Treats for Your Sweet-Tooth Fix. Written by Sally McKenney, the blogger behind Sally’s Baking Addiction, this book has over 75 recipes for wonderful homemade sweets and colorful photos of them that show how irresistible they are.

Just to give you an idea of what you’ll find in this cookbook, here are some recipes that were calling out to me:

  • Southern-Style Pecan Pralines
  • Chocolate-Dipped Cocoa Marshmallows
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Bark
  • Mint Truffles
  • Chocolate Sea-Salt Caramels
  • Salted English Toffee
  • Overloaded Cinnamon Spice Brittle
  • Pretzel M&M’s Puppy Chow
  • Birthday Cake Fudge
  • Crazy Candy Deep-Dish Cookie Cake

So you get the idea…so many yummy things to try!

And as I mentioned, because cinnamon has been on my mind with the arrival of fall, I had to try the Cinnamon Bun Caramel Corn. Inspired by a caramel sticky bun drizzled with vanilla glaze, this caramel corn has a yummy, slightly cinnamony caramel coating and it’s drizzled with melted white chocolate–a combination that’s hard to resist! Here’s the recipe if you want to try it…

CINNAMON BUN CARAMEL CORN from Sally’s Candy Addiction

Makes 7 cups

  • 7 cups air-popped popcorn
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used 1 cup of white chocolate chips)
  1. Preheat oven to 200˚F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Spread the popcorn evenly onto the baking sheets. Set aside.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt in a 3-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until butter has melted. Next, bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. allow to boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the baking soda. The caramel will immediately foam and bubble. Give it a quick stir, then stir in the vanilla and cinnamon. Pour the caramel over the popcorn and toss gently until all of the kernels are coated.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Allow to cool on the pans, then break apart large clusters if desired. Melt the white chocolate,* being careful not to overheat it. Once melted, immediately drizzle over the caramel corn and allow to cool.

Once cooled, store in an airtight container at room temperature in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

*To melt chocolate in the microwave: Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and place the bowl in the microwave. Heat on 50 percent power in 15- to 20-second increments, stirring the chocolate between each increment (It took about 90 seconds for me to melt my 1 cup of vanilla chips). Also, Sally advises: When microwaving, you don’t need to completely melt the chocolate before removing it from the microwave, because the warmed chocolate will continue to melt as you stir it. Always stop early to be safe.

You do have to work fast once the caramel is finished cooking–pour it over the popped corn right after you mix in the baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla; if you don’t work fast, the caramel will start thickening as it cools and won’t be as pourable–and your caramel corn won’t be coated quite so evenly.

Caramel Corn is one of my favorite sweets and I really liked how this recipe tasted. Are you a fan of caramel corn too?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Simply Sundays, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Sunday Features, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Wonderful Wednesday, Wow Me Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Wake Up Wednesday, Whimsy Wednesday, Inspiration Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, Share Your Style, Feathered Nest Friday, Fabulous Foodie Fridays.

Pumpkin Pie Magic Bars

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DessertMashUpsHave you ever heard of a “Dessert Mash-Up”? If you haven’t, it’s simply a yummy creation of two different desserts combined into one! It’s also the name of a new cookbook that has recipes like Blueberry Muffin Waffles, Pumpkin Cheesecake French Toast, Chocolate Cheesecake Sandwich Cookies, Snickers Cake Roll, Almond Joy Dip, and lots more. There’s also great color photos of the recipes that will make you want to start baking right away! Written by Dorothy Kern, author of the blog Crazy for Crust, the book has recipe sections for…

  • Breakfast
  • Candy
  • Cookies, Brownies, and Bars
  • Pie;
  • Cake and Cheesecake
  • Sweet Dips
  • Holiday Recipes.

There are so many yummy recipes I found in my review copy of Dessert Mash-Ups, it was hard to decide what to make! Since it’s autumn, I thought the Pumpkin Pie Magic Bars would be the perfect thing to try. I am a big fan of Magic Bars but never would have thought of adding a pumpkin pie flavor to them–what a great idea! The recipe in the book makes a 9 x 9″ pan of bars–I decided to double the recipe and make a 9 x 13″ pan instead. I had a feeling I would like these so much, I’d want a bigger batch! 🙂 The pumpkin flavor in these bars is pretty subtle–they have more of a gingery, caramel flavor combined with the creamy sweetness of the white chocolate chips in the middle. All-in-all, these are very rich and super yummy–just the thing for satisfying your autumn sweet tooth! 🙂

PUMPKIN PIE MAGIC BARS from Dessert Mash-Ups

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan (I doubled the original recipe; halve these amounts for a 9 x 9″ pan)

  • 48 to 50 gingersnap cookies
  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 10 Tablespoons (or 1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups (one 12-ounce package) white chocolate chips
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup fat-free sweetened condensed milk (or you can use a 14-ounce can, which is a little more than 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9 x 13″ pan with cooking spray or line with foil and spray with cooking spray for easy cleanup.

Grind the gingersnaps to a fine crumb in a food processor; you should have about 3 cups of crumbs. Place cookie crumbs in a medium bowl and mix with the sugar and melted butter. Press into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle the white chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, and toffee bits over the top of the crust.

Whisk together the pumpkin puree, sweetened condensed milk, and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl or measuring cup and pour over the top of the bars. The mixture will just barely cover; use a spatula to carefully spread it to the edges.

Bake for 29 to 35 minutes, until the edges have started to brown. Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Tip: Different brands of sweetened condensed milk come in different thicknesses. If it’s too thick to be pourable, you can transfer it to a microwave-safe bowl and heat it on high for 10 to 20 seconds until it becomes a little thinner.

These bars are definitely a treat–the sweetened condensed milk and the toffee bits combine to make a yummy caramel-like topping that really tastes great with the gingery crust! I think I’m going to have to try more of these dessert mash-up ideas–have you made any yourself?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday at Create with Joy and Thursday Favorite Things at Katherine’s Corner.

Easy Pantry Minestrone from Weight Watchers What To Cook Now-and a Giveaway!

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51NVSI2WbxLLike so many people I know, I’m trying to eat a little healthier during this new year. So when I heard about the new cookbook, Weight Watchers What To Cook Now, I was definitely interested in reviewing it! Not only did I receive a review copy, the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, is also providing a giveaway copy! I’ll tell you a little about the book and share a recipe from it with you, and then be sure to enter the giveaway by leaving a comment–see the end of this post for details on how to win!

This cookbook has more than 300 new recipes and lots of color photos. There’s a wonderful variety of great-sounding recipes to choose from–meals and desserts that your whole family can enjoy. And they look easy to prepare, too. All recipes include nutritional information and the Weight Watcher PointsPlus® values so those of you in Weight Watchers can easily keep track of your points. Even if you’re not in Weight Watches, though, I’m sure these recipes would appeal to any of you who are wanting to eat lighter and healthier.

The book starts out with tips and helpful information on good nutrition, the well-stocked pantry, must-have kitchen tools, food safety, and choosing and preparing fresh fruits and veggies. Then you’ll find recipes organized in the following chapters: Breakfasts and Brunches; Lunches; Appetizers and Snacks; Main Dishes–Beef, Pork, and Lamb; Main Dishes–Poultry; Main Dishes–Seafood; Main Dishes-Vegetarian; 20-Minute Main Dishes; Side Dishes; and Sweets. So there’s lots to choose from! Here are some recipes I’d like to try…

  • Coconut-Almond French Toast with Tropical Fruit
  • Asian Burgers with Honey-Lime Slaw
  • Spinach and Endive Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
  • Italian Beef and Mushroom Meat Loaf
  • Brown Sugar-Dijon Glazed Ham with Sweet Potatoes
  • Maple-Glazed Grilled Chicken
  • Pan-seared Tuna with Citrus-Avocado Salsa
  • Warm Mozzarella and Tomato Flatbreads
  • Gingery Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry
  • Garlicky Spinach and Fontina Pizza
  • Chocolate Brownie Ice-Cream Sandwiches

For this post, I decided to try the Easy Pantry Minestrone from the Vegetarian section, since I had been wanting to make minestrone this winter. It’s a good, healthy soup with lots of veggies (carrots, onion, celery, zucchini), red beans, and chickpeas. Dried basil also flavors the soup, and you serve it with a teaspoon-size dollop of pre-made refrigerated pesto which also adds nicely to the flavor!

EASY PANTRY MINESTRONE from Weight Watchers What To Cook Now

Makes 6 servings

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 7 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup whole wheat macaroni or other small pasta (uncooked)
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons refrigerated basil pesto

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds.

Add broth, kidney beans, chickpeas, macaroni, and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and zucchini and simmer until pasta and vegetables are very tender, 10 minutes longer. Ladle into bowls and top each with 1 teaspoon pesto.

PER SERVING (1 bowl): 307 Cal, 6 g Total Fat, Og Trans Fat, 1 mg Chol, 876 mg Sod, 53 g Carb, 10 g Fib, 14 g Prot, 120 mg Calc.

PointsPlus value: 8

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I really like the dollop of pesto–it gives the soup an extra little zing of flavor when you stir it in!

 

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED! Congratulations to commentor #8, Aline, for winning the book!

Now for the Giveaway…if you’d like to enter to win a copy of Weight Watchers What To Cook Now, leave a comment on this blog post between now and Wednesday, January 22, at 10 p.m. (CST)–the random drawing will be made from the comments on this post only! The winner will be chosen randomly via Random.org and announced on Thursday evening, January 23. Winner will be notified via email (if winner does not respond in 3 days, I’ll do another drawing). Giveaway limited to readers in the Continental U.S. and Canada.

First entry: Leave a comment on this post–it would be great to hear what your favorite healthy dish is!

Bonus entry: If you are a new or existing follower or subscriber, you can leave one extra comment telling me the way (or ways) you are following.

Note: If your comment doesn’t show up right away, it just means I need to click on it to approve it before it’s visible–I do this because of spam comments that sometimes come through!