Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

You have all probably had as many zucchini recipes as you can handle for one summer, but I HAVE to share this with you. I have been making this cake for several years now, and I just LOVE it. It turns out perfect everytime. Truckin' Man even loves it, but he will never admit to it, because he has to keep up his act of hating all things relating to zucchini, but honestly, you don't know it's in there!

If you really have zucchini haters, just tell them it is a Chocolate Spice Cake. And, peel the zucchini so that they don't find the green pieces in there, and you will have a home run! Trust me!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4  cups sugar
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup sour milk**
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup milk chocolate chips
Powdered Sugar (Optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease 9 x 13 pan, and dust with flour (or extra cocoa)***.  In large bowl mix butter, oil and sugar until creamy. Add in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture, alternating with the milk. Fold in zucchini.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack.

If desired, sprinkle powdered sugar over cake before serving.

**Sour Milk -  Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to milk, and let set for 15 minutes.

***When baking chocolate cakes, I always dust my cake pans with cocoa instead of flour. Looks better, and you just can't go wrong with a chance to add more chocolate.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Grilled Beef Skewers with Green Onions

I found this recipe years ago, but it got pushed to the back of the recipe box, so I thought it was time to dust it off and make them again. I forgot how much I love these, and I really need to make them more often.

Part of the reason for pulling the recipe out was for Truckin' Man and his grilling adventures. He wanted to try making some type of skewer or kabob. As luck would have it, the day we were having these, he didn't have any time for grilling, but they are so quick and easy I took care of them myself. And, much to Truckin' Man's shock, I did not burn them. I don't know where he got this idea that I burn everything on the grill, just because sometimes I forget and walk away and start working on something else...? Oops! I stayed focus this time though, and they were grilled to perfection.  The recipe is very adaptable, too. I have skipped the mustard when I have been out. You can increase or decrease the garlic to your liking. And of course, the red pepper flake. I used way less for Truckin' Mans dining pleasure than I normally would!

Grilled Beef Skewers with Green Onions

1 Lb Sirloin Steak
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
4 tsp fresh minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flake ( if you like spicy, use one tablespoon!)
One bunch green onions

Cut steak into cubes. In large bowl, combine dijon mustard, soy sauce, honey, lime juice, garlic, and pepper.  Stir until combined. Add steak, cover and marinate for 30 minutes.

When ready, cut green onion into one inch pieces.  Thread beef and onions onto skewers. Grill over medium heat for 10 - 12 minutes. Baste with remaining marinade while grilling.


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Cluck Cluck

The new flock of chickens are doing great! We have a little bit of time before they start sharing eggs with us, which is a good thing since we still have to build a roosting box for them!

They are starting to have an appreciation for treats that I bring them!

 This young lady is one of my favorites. She is a little more outgoing, and trusting.

 See that little bantam in the bottom right of the picture? Well, turns out that HE and the other bantam we got are both roosters.  They are cute, but I am sad that we won't have cute little bantam eggs.

King of the Farm keeps an eye on them. But he isn't used to not to having full access to the run. 

 I think the chickens have one of the best views on the farm, don't you?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gardening. The Good and The Bad.

First the good.... Where we moved our garden to this year, we can't water it. Despite that and the lack of rain, we still have veggies coming out faster than we can keep up with them!

I love raising onions. The onions I buy at the store seem to spoil so fast. 

A bowl full of onions puts a smile on my face!

Cherry tomatoes are plentiful. 

I will start picking Brussel Sprouts this week.

I had to go find the pumpkin to show you!

When searching for the green pumpkin, I found this! 
So happy to see that our pumpkins are doing better than last year!

Our little round carrots are so cute!

Several beautiful sunflowers growing from discarded seeds at the bird feeder.

And now... For the bad... The raccoons found our sweet corn and took almost all of it in one night. It was a good thing I picked all the corn that was ready the next day, since the raccoon finished off the patch the next day. Oh well. We got enough to enjoy. Just not enough to make the soup I was hoping to. Farmers market here I come!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

I love when you go to a friends house for dinner, and love the food so much that you know you absolutely have to get the recipe! That is what happened when I tried my friend's Jamaican Jerk Chicken. It was sooo out of this world amazing!

I've been holding on to this recipe for over a year, and had to have it again. Plus, Truckin' Man has been learning all about the grill, and wanting to get more into the prep work, so this was his turn! I got all the ingredients together, and turned it all over to him. Being relatively new to the grilling scene, this was the first time he made a marinade, but he rocked it out, and the chicken was amazing! No doubt, it was the best chicken to ever come off of our grill!

We did skip the spicy peppers my friend used, but if you like heat add them back in! 

Jamaican Jerk Chicken (Source: Diana's Kitchen)

1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon sage
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
Juice of one lime
1 cup onion, finely chopped
2-3 green onions, finely chopped
1 habernero pepper, optional (we did not use this)
4 - 6 chicken breasts

In large bowl, combine all of the spices, and the sugar. Add olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, and lime juice, whisking until all ingredients are combined.  Add in onions, and pepper (optional).

Cut each chicken breast into 3 to 4 equal sized pieces. Add chicken to marinade, and refrigerate for a minimum of one hour.

Remove meat from marinade, reserve marinade. Preheat grill. Grill chicken for about 5 minutes per side. Baste with reserved marinade while grilling, if desired. Remove from grill when fully cooked, and juices run clear.


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Sunday, August 3, 2014

August Already?

Is it really August? The summer is passing so quickly, and I wish time would slow down.... just a bit!
I haven't shared as much on the garden as I should have this summer. It has done well, however a couple things will change next year. We moved the garden this year, which you might remember from this post. It seems to be a good location, so we will continue in this spot. However..... It will be smaller next year! We made the garden much to big, and we just could not keep up with it! To tell you how big it is, I have started mowing between some of the sections with our big lawn mower, just to keep the weeds down! 

We lost our potatoes. Not sure what happened to them, but they challenge us every year. We will try again next year, and if we fail again, that is our final attempt!

But, in abundance this year have been radishes, cilantro, peas, green beans, Swiss chard, carrots, lettuce ( sooo. much lettuce), red and green cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli.  The tomatoes and sweet corn are just starting. Brussel sprouts look to be coming along nicely. Squash, zucchini, pumpkins and gourds are just "eh" right now. No squash bugs like last year, but something is still not right. To many weeds maybe?

Oh, look... I forgot to mention we have beets, curly kale, and flat leaf kale also!

Our dog, is a wonderful dog, protector of our farm, and so good at what he does. But, he is clumsy and not very graceful.  I almost tipped over with laughter in the garden, watching this dog we love so, gently, and ever so daintily pull pea pods off the vine and nibble on them.... one after another. No worries though... Only a couple days later he knocked the vine supports over, pulling most of the plants from the ground.

Since it is to hot to work the garden today, and we needed a little time away, we went into "town". We found the cutest little ice cream store today, on the recommendation of my brother-in-law. Definitely a place we will visit again. Hopefully soon!