Friday, August 31, 2012

Zucchini Brownies

I never thought about trying zucchini brownies. But again Six Sisters recently shared a great recipe and I gave it a try this week. You blend up the zucchini so it has a nice smooth texture. This recipe also does not use eggs, which is great if you know someone with an egg allergy.  

I made the first batch exactly as they suggest, and the brownies were fluffy and rich. However, next time I make these I do plan to make a few alterations. Here's a little cooking math for you, because I know you are looking for more ways to incorporate math into your daily life : ) 

1/4 cup vegetable oil = 480 calories
1/4 cup applesauce = 25 calories

These are interchangeable when it comes to baking brownies and cakes. My mom always uses applesauce for her cakes and saves 900 calories on a cake! I can never taste the difference. Now I'm not a calorie Nazi or anything, but why would you want to eat calories that you can't even taste?

I do not like frosting on brownies, just a personal preference, so I didn't make any for these, but I do think they would be even better with chocolate chips. If you use applesauce and chocolate chips you would still come out ahead.

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips = 320 calories

It's fun to find a new recipe, and then to play with it a little. I hope you enjoyed zucchini week.  Have a great Labor Day weekend! 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shredded Zucchini Salad

Once I have a bowl full of shredded zucchini in the fridge I am more motivated to use it. After all, it's already all shredded up and waiting to be used. 

So I know it's not earth-shattering to put zucchini on a salad, but have you tried shredded zucchini?  It a totally different texture and I can almost trick myself into thinking that it is cheese. In my opinion good cheeses are the only redeeming part of a salad, so when I was out of cheese I almost didn't bother making one, but then I saw this shredded up stuff and gave it a try. This salad had mixed greens (from the garden), hard boiled egg, yellow bell pepper, snap peas (also from the garden!), shredded zucchini and grilled chicken (and later ranch dressing). Lean, mean and green, and a great way to watch that shredded zucchini disappear a handful at a time.

See you tomorrow for Zucchini Brownies!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Zucchini Fries

I really, really like mozzarella sticks. When I saw these zucchini fries at Six Sisters I thought they looked like a yummy mozzarella stick-french fry-vegetable hybrid. And they are : )

I made a lot of modifications to the recipe though. I never buy panko bread crumbs. I figure why should I spend money on breadcrumbs when I have perfectly good stale crackers in the pantry. Ok they aren't stale, but they were running up on the expiration date. So I crushed up a bag of Cheez-Its (giving me a cup of finely crushed crackers) and then added about 2 Tbsp of grated parmesan. Make sure to crush them pretty finely if you want them to stick well to the zucchini strips

I followed some of the Sisters' directions; slicing the zucchini like fries, dipping in the egg and then the cracker crumbs. I didn't add the crumbs a little at a time like they suggest though I just had them all in the bowl. The crumbs didn't start to get sticky until the very end, so I think that worked just fine.

I didn't bother spraying the pan since it was already lined with foil. They didn't stick. I did however spray all the fries with cooking spray once they were arranged on the pan. This helps them "fry" without really using oil. I use this trick to fry other foods (like chicken strips). I baked them at 425ยบ for somewhere between 10-15 minutes, but I didn't turn them over. They still turned out nice and crispy.

We ate them with marinara sauce and they were delicious! I felt like I was eating mozzarella sticks, but WAY less calories. Even Thing One liked them and didn't think they tasted like zucchini at all. He liked his dipped in ranch. I will definitely be making these again.

Here's to healthy fries!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zucchini-Oatmeal Cookies

It's amazing how far a zucchini stretches when you shred it up.  I have a salad shooter so it's a super quick and easy process. I will shred up the whole giant zucchini and use it as needed. It stores well in the fridge if covered tightly with plastic wrap or in tupperware.

Now I ask you, does this look like a cookie?

No way, it's totally a health food. Maybe they should be called Zoatcan cookies. : )

 I guess it's both. It tastes pretty great, and it's good to know there's healthy stuff in there. Plus it's a nice change from chocolate chip. Totally different texture and flavors. In a good way. No offense, Nestle Tollhouse, you are also loved.

Once you've baked up your little Zoatcan cookies you whip up the delicious cream cheese filling. Sometimes I try to use a little less sugar than it calls for. I'd say "sweeten to taste" : ) It's weird I don't really love these cookies by themselves or the frosting alone, but you put them together it's a whole 'nother story.

Put a big dollop on one and squish another on top.

I keep these guys in the freezer and just pull them out as we want them. It keeps the cookies from getting soggy.

Ready to make them? The recipe for these cookies comes from Martha Stewart Living. You can find the recipe here. 

Enjoy your Zoatcan cookies!
- Haley

Monday, August 27, 2012

Zucchini Favorites

It's hard to keep up with myself sometimes. I really wanted to post these in time for Sneak a Zucchini on Your Neighbor's Porch Day, but I'm a few weeks late. Oh well. If you planted zucchini in your garden, chances are you are being over-run. Fear not, these recipes will have you using up those squash monsters in no time. Here's a quick peek at all the recipes I want to share with you this week. I have made all of these so far already this year. 

You have to have an arsenal of zucchini recipes because shredded zucchini goes a long way. What, this only uses one cup?! I only have patience to bake so many loaves of zucchini bread... 
Here's Thing One holding a zuc. we got from my parents' garden. I made all four of these recipes with just this one squash. Yeah. A LONG WAY. 

Sorry to tease, but I'll be back tomorrow with the first recipe. I'll link them all here when I'm done so you can find them in one place.

Oatmeal-Zucchini Cookie Cream Pies
Zucchini Salad
Zucchini Fries
Zucchini Brownies

See you tomorrow!
- Haley

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Owl Puppet Tutorial

I promised some how-to info from the owl party, so here's how I made the owl finger puppets and the favor bags. The party was inspired by this book, which is Thing Two's favorite. 

He especially likes the owl finger puppet, and looking at it I thought it looked easy enough to make. I used felt from Hobby Lobby, just the kind you buy in sheets (usually 4/$1).  I decided to make some the same as the book--facing sideways, and some facing forward. 

*If you would like to use my patterns for the two owls, go here to download and print.*

You need to cut out two body pieces, but make sure to sew everything to the top piece before putting them together. I did decide to glue on the eyes, so I left those off until the end. You could also use googly eyes if you wanted to. I'm paranoid about those being a choking hazard, since my sister knows a child who just have to have a procedure to remove a goole eye from his throat after he ate if off a cupcake. yikes! If you are making several you can play with your color combos. I love the colorfulness of these guys.

For the side-facing ones: on the top body piece only, sew on the top and inside of the wing and feet. 

Then put the front and back together and sew around the owl from where you left off. This should leave the bottom open, but it will look like you sewed all the way around because yo did that part before adding the back.

Use tacky glue or hot glue to attach the eyes and beak.

The other owls are basically the same, just sew on two wings instead of one.

Then sew from the bottom of one wing, around the top and to the bottom of the other, again leaving the bottom open.

Glue on eyes and beak. I used tacky glue the first time, and some were fine, but some of the beaks did come loose, so I think hot glue might be the better option.

The back looks like this. No stitching where the feet are, so you can use as a puppet.

For the pupils I dipped the end of a small paint brush in some acrylic paint. You can test it out on another piece of felt so you can see how big you want them to be.

And there you go-- little owl finger puppets.

To make the tree for them I just found a dead branch outside and clumped up some play-doh (that was already getting dry) around the bottom.

I stuck it to the bottom of a small terra-cotta pot

and covered with river rocks (also from Hobby Lobby)

Nice little owl tree.

I saw these bags on Pinterest in a few different places actually. So I started making them as directed, and then realized that if you fold the back of the top behind you can get little owl ears. Just cut off the sides to make the top a pyramid.

Fold the back piece backward and the front piece forward. Then you are left with these little inside triangles.

 Fold those down flat and then bend them over the front and back of the bag.

Then the ears should look like this.

That's all my how-to. Hope I didn't bore you too much, or give you carpal tunnel from scrolling.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Owl Party

So we recently had a birthday party here for Thing Two. He has this little owl book that he loves so we decided to go with an owl theme. 

 Here's some of our party details.

I made the invites using my Silhouette and some scrapbook paper I already had. 

I made owl shirts for Thing One and Thing Two using iron-on transfers I found at Hobby Lobby. It's amazing how much owl stuff you see once you start looking. Now I see owls everywhere!

I made some felt owl finger puppets to give the kids as favors, but used them first as decorations. I'll post the how-to later this week in case you want to make some.

I also made these owl bags to hold favors and ended up just setting them around as decorations too, because I thought they were pretty cute. 

 I made a mini cake for Thing Two. I used melted almond bark to make the tree and branches, and chocolate covered sunflower seeds for the leaves. The owl was a cake pop, my first attempt at those time-consuming little boogers.

Here's the rest of his friends. I made a whole batch of eyes before I started decorating them because you have to stick the details on them so fast before they harden up. The eyes were two piped dots of melted white almond bark with two black confetti sprinkles in the middle (you could also use mini chocolate chips). The beak was an orange chocolate-covered sunflower seed and the feet were star shaped sprinkles.

I made some regular cupcakes and decorated them with little owl picks. 

These were made out of buttons I found at Hobby lobby. I just hot glued a tooth pick to the back of each one.

 And because three kinds of cake didn't seem like enough work I also made these owl cupcakes I had seen on Pinterest.

This was kind of quirky, but I thought it was fun. I found these bath tub stickies at Target on clearance for like $1.40 so I bought two packs and stuck them to our sliding glass window. I used a regular washable marker to draw a tree in between to make them look like leaves and then added a few 3-D owl stickers. 

My sister gave us a pack of punching balloons, so we decided to turn those into owls too. I just used scrapbook sticky squares to stick on the paper eyes and wings. The beaks I cut on the Silhouette and used some self-adhesive card stock that my husband got me for my birthday. I've been saving it for a special project.

Thing Two liked these bouncing friends and overall I think he really liked the party--he loved seeing the owls everywhere, and that makes it worth it to me. We are so happy to have had a wonderful year with our very sweet little guy.

That's our owl party. I have a few more how-to details to share later in the week. Until then, owl be here. ; )

Thanks for reading.
- Haley

sharing this party @: Bloom Designs
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