Zucchini fritters with chili lime mayo

It's the time of year for zucchini everything! Our zucchini plants have had a particularly fruitful year and I've been looking for yummy ways to use it up. A friend suggested doing a zucchini fritter, which sounded like a brilliant idea. She has lots of brilliant ideas about food. So I set to work on coming up with my own recipe and they turned out amazing the first time. I made a chili lime mayo to serve them with, and MMM! Those flavours together are frittastic! This recipe makes 25-30 fritters so they could be served as a main course or as a party appetizer.

Here's how I made them:

vegetable oil for frying
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup diced onion
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1 cup prepared mayo
juice of half a lime
1/2 tsp chili powder

I started by pouring the vegetable oil in my skillet so that it was half an inch deep and turned the heat to medium. Meantime, I combined the zucchini, onion, and eggs in a large bowl.

I gave the mixture a good stir to combine. It got all kinda frothy. Awesome. 

Next, I combined the flour, baking powder, 1/2 tsp of chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl and stirred to combine. To finish the batter, I added the dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture and folded it all together.

To test my oil, I dipped a spoon into my batter then dipped the spoon into the oil. Once the oil bubbled in contact with the batter, I knew it was hot enough. I dropped my batter into the oil by the heaping tablespoon, frying about six fritters at a time. They cooked for 2-3 minutes a side. Once the centres were firm, I removed the fritters from the oil and let them drain on a dinner plate lined with paper towel.

To make the dip, I simply combined the prepared mayo, lime juice, and chili powder in a small mixing bowl and stirred it all up. This is a seriously yummy dip! I love limes. And chili powder. And mayo. So this really couldn't go wrong.

These were so yummy that I'm daydreaming of making other fritters now. Mmm... apple... potato... banana...

Are fritters part of your home cooking routine? What do you like to put in them? What are you making with all that gorgeous zucchini?

Blackberry pie

This is where I'm really at home in my kitchen. Pie. It's an old friend to me. Dusting flour on the rolling pin, tossing fruit with sugar in a big bowl, it's me at my most comfortable and most genuine with food. For me, making pie is like returning after a long journey to find the things I love best in life are still right here at home.

The blackberries for this pie were picked in our own neighbourhood. They're coming ripe a little later than usual this year because of a slow start to summer weather. But they're worth the wait. Mr. Feedbag and our 3-year-old did a great job helping me fill a large container while the baby watched from his stroller. It feels good to make a pie from something I picked so close to home. Doesn't hurt that they're free too! Free is the new expensive, afterall. Cheap is chic!

Here's how I made it:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated white sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp cold water

5 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
zest of one lemon
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tbsp milk
1 tsp granulated white sugar

To make the pastry, I started by mixing together the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. To that I added the vegetable shortening in pieces and blended the mixture until crumbly with a hand pastry blender. In a small bowl, I beat the egg with the vinegar and cold water and added the wet ingredients to the flour and shortening mixture, stirring with a fork to bring it all together. I divided the pastry into two balls and set one aside in the fridge. The other ball I rolled for the bottom crust and laid it in my 9-inch pie plate, tucking the edges under for a clean finish.

To prepare the filling, I combined the blackberries and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. In a small bowl, I stirred together the sugar and cornstarch and added the mixture to the fruit, tossing gently to ensure all the fruit was coated. Then I poured the filling into the pie plate.

At this point I preheated my oven to 425 degrees (F) and took my other ball of pastry dough out of the fridge. I rolled it to the same thickness as my bottom crust and, using a small cookie cutter, made about twenty cut-outs, setting them aside on a cooking sheet as I went. I totally borrowed this cookie cutter from my 3-year-old's playdough supplies!

To finish, I brushed the pastry edge of the pie and each cut-out with milk. I assembled the cut-outs over the filling, overlapping them but leaving plenty of gaps for steam to escape. Then sugar was sprinkled over the whole thing.

Sitting on a baking sheet to catch drips, I baked the pie at 425 degrees (F) for 15 minutes. Then I reduced the temperature to 375 degrees (F) and let it bake for another 45 minutes until the juices were bubbling up and the pastry was golden.

Taking a bubbling pie from a hot oven is, well, a super awesome moment. I'm always amazed at what I made! Of course I want to cut into it right away (well, after I show it off to the family), but with most pies, and especially a berry pie, it's really best to let it sit for a few hours so the filling can set and it doesn't make a big soupy mess in the pie plate.

But when the moment comes. Mmm! All that work was worth it.

Have you been making pies with all that gorgeous summer fruit? Got any pastry secrets you want to spill with other readers? Got any pie making questions? Leave a comment and tell me about your baking with summer fruit!

Applesauce fruit blends

Applesauce is a great thing. It's healthy, it's handy for baking, and kids dig it. Okay, so do I. I've been feeding a lot of it to the baby since our apples started coming ripe earlier this month on our old apple tree. But even a baby likes a little variety, right? So I've started making applesauce fruit blends - combining our sweet apples with strawberries, blueberries, and peaches - and canning them in jars so the whole family can enjoy them in the autumn and winter months to come. There's no added sugar and these sauces can be frozen in freezer containers if you don't want to can them.

To prepare for canning, I heat 5 pint/500 ml mason jars in boiling water and left them in the hot water until ready to be filled. The sealing discs and ring bands were also warmed in a small pot of boiling water and left in the hot water until ready to use.

The water amounts in these recipes range so the sauce can be made thicker or thinner. Generally, you want the water to come about half way up your fruit in the stock pot.

Here's how I made them:

5 lbs apples, cored, quartered (skins on)
2 cups blueberries
2-4 cups water

5 lbs apples, cored, quartered (skins on)
3 cups strawberries, hulled
2-4 cups water

5 lbs apples, cored, quartered (skins on)
2 lbs peaches, pitted, sliced (skins on)
2-4 cups water

For each recipe, I combined the fruit and water in a large stock pot and brought it to a boil over high heat. I reduced the heat to medium and stirred occasionally while the sauce simmered, uncovered, for 25 minutes. This is where the kitchen starts to smell dreamy and delicious. 

Each sauce was then ladled into my chinois and pressed using the wooden dowel (the sauce could also be run through a food mill, food processor, or blender, skins and all). The sauce was then ladled into the jars, leaving a half inch of head space.

Each jar rim was wiped with a clean cloth, and the sealing discs were secured in place with the bands. The jars were processed in the water bath canner, with the tops resting one to two inches inches below the water surface, for 15 minutes. They were removed to cool on the counter and reward me with their POP! I've come to love the sound of a perfect seal. Generally, I leave my jars on the counter for about 12 hours to make sure they seal.

Lately we've been going through a couple jars of applesauce a week, so the couple dozen jars made so far won't last as long as I'd like. S'okay though! There are a lot more apples to come off the tree.

I've been really busy in the kitchen lately. Between the apple tree and the giant zucchinis I'm still trying to use up, I've been at the stove several times each day. I could complain, I suppose, and I do sometimes. It's hard devoting a big chunk of time to canning while taking care of two small kiddies! But I love it. And I love them. Mr. Feedbag gently reminded me this week that they're just apples, and if a few get wasted (or dropped down the side stairs or used as a hockey puck) that's okay. If the baby is crying he needs me in that moment more than he needs homemade applesauce.

Do you find it nearly impossible to commit a chunk of time to a big kitchen project while caring for your kids? What do you do with the kids to get your projects done? What big kitchen projects do you love to take on when you get the chance?

Spaghetti with chicken in white wine parmesan sauce

Sometimes I want pasta but I don't want a tomato sauce. When creating this recipe, I figured white wine would be lovely with mushrooms and chicken, and I had some fresh snow peas from the garden. The result was this light and summery pasta dish in a delicate white wine parmesan sauce.

Here's how I made it:

3/4 lb dry spaghetti (4 servings)
1 1/2 cups snow peas
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cooked chicken breast, sliced

I cooked the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water for 10 minutes, adding the snow peas in the last couple minutes, then drained it and returned it to the pot. In the meantime, I melted the butter over medium heat in a large skillet and cooked the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for about five minutes. The wine and chicken were added next and allowed to simmer for a couple minutes. To finish the sauce, I removed it from the heat and stirred in the parmesan. The sauce was poured over the spaghetti and peas and tossed to coat.

The wine in this dish could easily be substituted with 1 cup of chicken stock and a squeeze of lemon juice. But Mr. Feedbag and I didn't share this with kiddies, so I gave it lots of wine!

How do you like to use wine in cooking? Do you have some favourite wines? Are you making any light and summery pasta dishes?

Canning - Pink applesauce

This is applesauce the way my grandmother used to make it: pink and hand pressed through a chinois using a wooden dowel. It gets its pretty pink colour from leaving the apple skins on during cooking, then the skins come out during the press. I didn't add any sugar to this batch because I'll be feeding a lot of this to the baby, but these apples from our backyard are naturally sweet and don't really need any added sugar anyway. The 6 lbs of apples in this recipe makes six pint-size jars/500 ml of sauce.

Prior to prepping the apples, I heat my jars in boiling water then left them in the hot water until ready to be filled. The sealing discs and ring bands were also boiled and left in the hot water until ready to use.

Here's how I made it:
6 lbs apples, cored and quartered (skins on)
8 cups of water

I brought the apples and water to a boil in a large stock pot. I reduced the heat to medium and let the apples cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using a ladle, I scooped the mushy apples into the chinois in batches, churning it through the sieve with the dowel, and transferring the sauce to a large heat-proof bowl. Using a canning funnel, I ladled the applesauce into the jars, leaving 1/2 an inch of room at the top of each jar. The jar rims were wiped with a clean cloth dipped in sterile (boiled) water, then the sealing discs were secured in place with the bands.

Using the rack in my waterbath canner, the jars were lowered into boiling water, with a couple of inches of water above them, and processed for 15 minutes. The jars were removed from the canner and left to cool for 24 hours (sometimes I just leave 'em for 12 hours, as long as they've sealed). Lucky for me, they all made that satisfying POP and sealed nicely!

Unsweetened applesauce is perfect for feeding to the baby and for use in baking where sugar amounts are added separately. It also just makes me feel good to see it sitting there on the shelf, all backyardy and homemady 'n stuff!

Are you doing any canning this year? What sorts of things would you like to make in jars? Tell me all about it!

Dishwasher art

I've mentioned it before. I love turquoise. I knew I had a lot of turquoise kitchen stuff in drawers and cabinets, but I was surprised to find I can actually stuff the dishwasher pretty full with all of it. I do adore turquoise, but somewhere not too deep down I worry that one day I'll be one of those old ladies who always wears the same colour. Don't let me do that.

Yes, okay, I know this makes me look like I have loads of time on my hands. The reality is this dishwasher art was done in the time between picking my oldest son up at space camp and meeting some other moms and kids at the playground down the street. I probably should have been cleaning the kitchen or doing some laundry or something. But taking some time, even just a moment each day, to do something creative keeps me happy.

Your turn. Which one of these dishwashers makes you most happy?

Raspberry cupcakes with lemon glaze

If fruit were celebrities, raspberries and lemons would be Seal and Heidi. One's sweet, the other a little tarty (in a fabulous knickers kinda way), and you just WANT them to be together. These cupcakes are delicate, loaded with raspberry flavour, and full-on pretty.

Here's how I made them:

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries plus 12 for garnish
1 cup icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

While the oven preheated to 350 degrees (F), I creamed the butter and sugar (I used my stand mixer, but this recipe could be done by hand too). Next I added the oil, milk, egg, and vanilla and mixed well. In a separate mixing bowl, I mixed together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and gradually added the dry ingredients to the batter, mixing thoroughly. To finish the batter, I mixed in the raspberries so that they broke down and turned the batter a smashing pink colour!

I greased a king size muffin pan and filled each cup two-thirds full, ending up with 12 cupcakes. They baked until a toothpick poked in the centre came out clean (that was 25 minutes in my oven), then they cooled in the pan for about 15 minutes and finished cooling on a wire rack.

To make the glaze, I stirred together the icing sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl and poured it over the almost cooled cupcakes by the heaping tablespoonful, using a cutting board underneath the cooling rack to catch the drips. Then each cupcake was topped with a fresh raspberry. Hello, pretty.

This is the time of year for fresh raspberries, so eat 'em while you can get 'em, I say! We've been eating loads of them around here because, as Mr. Heidi says, you're never gonna survive unless you get a little crazy.

What are you doing with all those gorgeous raspberries?

Rule of Three dilly potato salad

(EDITED: This photo was named Pic of the Week by Food Network Canada!)

The Rule of Three makes things more interesting. Just ask Goldilocks' furry housemates or the little pigs being huffed and puffed at. Then there's Larry, Curly, and Moe. So to keep dinner interesting this potato salad follows The Rule of Three, getting its dill flavour from three sources - pickles, pickle brine, and the herb itself. Even the potatoes are a trio. I found a bag of mixed mini potatoes at the grocery store in red, yellow, and blue!

Here's how I made it:

2 lbs mini potatoes, skins on (I used red, yellow, and blue)
1 cup mayo
1 cup dill pickle, chopped
1/4 cup pickle brine from the jar
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 tsp salt
pinch pepper

I started by boiling the mini potatoes whole in a large pot of water for 15 minutes. They were drained and set aside to cool. Meantime, I mixed together the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Once the potatoes were cool, I chopped them into small chunks and stirred them into the mayo dressing and gave the whole salad a toss to coat.

I couldn't believe the colour of those blue potatoes! I had never seen blue potatoes before, but I threw them in my shopping basket as soon as I did. I love stumbling across finds like that, and I knew they'd look fab in a potato salad.

In case you're wondering, the blue potatoes taste the same as the red and yellow ones. And, in this case, that taste is fresh and dilly and bright!

Have you ever used blue potatoes before? What would you use them in? Show me your potato salad links!