Zucchini Relish

Zucchini Relish, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
With summer arriving, someone inevitably gives me their extra homegrown zucchinis which I use for zucchini bread and zucchini relish.  This relish recipe was given to me by an elderly lady from a bridge group I belonged to back in the late 70's.

She had a garden and invited me and my then primary-grade girls over to help her, and show me how to make this relish.  It was a pleasant afternoon, and of course we came home with several jars as a reward.

This relish is great on sandwiches or hot dogs.  I've made it with and without green peppers.  The pleasant sweet and sour taste with a bit a crunch is delightful.  

If someone offers you their extra zucchini this summer, or you see them at the farmer's market, don't hesitate to snap them up and make relish.  This recipe makes a lot, but can be easily cut in half.

And for that baseball size zucchini someone inevitably tries to give away, take that too!  It can be shredded for relish, or shredded and frozen for later use in soups or breads similar to banana nut bread.

Zucchini Relish
5 cups raw grated zucchini, skins on or not
2 cups grated onion
1 to 2 grated green peppers depending on size; 1 large or 2 medium
2 -1/2 Tabs. salt
3 cups sugar
1-1/4 cups vinegar
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 Tab. nutmeg
1/2 Tab. cornstarch
1/2 Tab. turmeric powder

In large container mix grated zucchini, onion, peppers & salt.  Let stand overnight and drain well.  In large kettle mix remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, dissolving sugar.  Add veggie mixture and cook 30 minutes.  Seal in canning jars or freeze in pint containers.  Makes 10-12 pints.

Estimated cost: $4.00 or less if buying zucchini; .40 cents a pint or less.  Practically nothing if zucchini is free!

Onion and Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Stuffed Chicken Breast, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
There's a gazillion ways to fix chicken, an economical meal whether using for an every day meal or planning a fancy presentation for guests.

Watching for sales, I buy thighs and legs in bulk and repackage for the freezer.  Most often I use them for baking or frying, and especially using thighs for making soup.

With skin on or skinless flash-frozen breasts go on sale, I snag a bag or two and often make them the star of my meal by making a slit and stuffing them, or pounding, layering the filling, and rolling them up.  Sometimes the breasts are so large, one will serve the two of us.

I've stuffed them a variety of ways:  cheese, bread stuffing, or spinach mixtures. Most recently I stuffed with a caramelized onion mixture I had left over from making burgers with caramelized onions and added blue cheese.

Onion and Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
4 chicken breasts, plump enough to make a pocket
salt and pepper
1 cup of Caramelized Onions (recipe below)
4 Tabs. of Blue Cheese
Mix Blue Cheese with cooled caramelized onions.
Stuffed Chicken Breast, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Stuffed Chicken Breast, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Make a slit in wide side of chicken breast, deep and wide enough to stuff about 1/4 cup of onion, blue cheese mixture.

Press to close, may need toothpicks to close slit. Or tie.  I use silicon ties.

Salt and pepper both sides, and saute on medium-high heat to brown each side, about 3 or 4 minutes each.  Finish cooking by placing pan in 350 oven for about 15 minutes, depending on thickness.  Internal temperature should read 180.  Gravy can be made from drippings, if making potatoes as a side, or drizzle gravy over chicken when serving.
Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Balsamic Caramelized Onions 
1 medium onion cut in half, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 Tabs. of butter
2 Tabs. olive oil
1/2 tsp.salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh, sun-dried or salsa)
1/3 cup chopped bacon, (2 or 3 strips)
4 Tabs. balsamic vinegar

Saute all ingredients slowly until onions are soft and golden brown, (about 30 minutes) adding vinegar at the end and cooking a few more minutes.

Estimated cost: $2.80; .70 cents a serving or less.

Carrot Cupcakes

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
This recipe is very similar to the recipes I use for banana bread or zucchini bread but has added spices and tastes much moister due to the carrots and more eggs.

With just the two of us, I make a batch and freeze, then frost as needed, taking out several to have on hand for a few days for a dessert, or to eat as  breakfast muffins.  With nuts, carrots and raisins, it makes for a healthy morning treat! 

I bake them in two sizes:  muffin size and mini-size, so this recipe made a dozen muffins and 24 mini-size.  Or the batter could be made into a 9x12 cake; or made as 24 muffins, or as 48 mini-muffins.

Carrot Cupcakes, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppCarrot  Cupcakes
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
4 eggs
1 -1/4 cups oil
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped nuts like walnuts, optional
1 cup raisins, optional

In a mixing bowl whisk first 6 dry ingredients.  In another bigger bowl whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla until blended.  Add dry ingredients to egg mixture blending well; stir and blend in carrots, nuts and raisins.

Line muffin cupcake size tins with paper cups. Scoop batter into cups until 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack before frosting. Makes about 24.
Line mini-cupcake size tins with paper cups. Scoop batter into cups until 3/4 full. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack before frosting. Makes about 48.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until creamy. Add vanilla and mix in, then gradually add powdered sugar beating for another minute.

Estimated cost for cup cakes: $4.00 or less
Frosting: $2.00 or less