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Tomato & Zucchini Casserole


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Appetizers & Sides, Casseroles | Posted on 15-09-2009

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DSC02112I made this dish for my book club last week. Our book was The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. This book is about the way Americans eat and the food chains that sustain us, from industrial down to organic. This dish is in the hyper-local organic category (my terminology) because it features veggies from my neighbor, Kristin’s,  garden and the farmer’s market. The cheeses come from our local dairy outlet, Hansen’s Dairy.

During our discussion, we talked about the difficulties of cooking and eating the hyper-local, organic way. It’s true — this is time consuming and not what most of us are used to. However, the benefits to the environment, our health and our culture outweigh the monetary costs, especially in the long-term. So head out to your garden or farmer’s market and enjoy a dilemma-free meal with your loved ones while these great veggies are still in season!


2 large zucchini (approx. 8” each, or 3 medium), thinly sliced
1 small onion, sliced into thin rings
3 fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup feta cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade


1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180 ºC). Spray a deep 8 x 8 baking dish (2 quarts) with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cheeses.

3. Layer the veggies and cheese like this: zucchini rings first, then garlic, then tomatoes, then onions, then basil, then cheese. Repeat until you’ve filled your dish and the last layer is cheese. Top with dried basil or rosemary.

4. Cover and bake until zucchini is tender; about 45 minutes.

5. Uncover and bake until cheese is melted and golden, about 10 more minutes.

NOTE: This recipe will be “juicy” from the veggies, there’s no getting around it. The book club members didn’t seem to mind, and I saved the “juice” to use in a soup later.

Zucchini Birthday Surprise


Posted by Mariah | Posted in Desserts | Posted on 06-08-2009

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Sophia's Birthday Cupcakes

What better way to celebrate a late July birthday than with fresh from the oven/garden chocolate zucchini cupcakes! Because I knew I was catering to LOTS of kids, I made this cake with (gasp) processed, granulated sugar! The next day, I learned from Nita from the Cedar Falls farmer’s market that you can get raw sugar locally (at Roots Market in Cedar Falls for those Cedar Vallians) and also use other sweeteners such as sorgum, molasses and agave as a sugar substitute. But, the point here is that one of the primary ingredients in this cake was zucchini grown and nurtured by our neighbors, Kristin and Jesse. And, incidentally, the eggs and milk also came from local producers.

Here’s the recipe, which combines the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe with some of my own modifications and, zucchini, of course!

Birthday Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes


2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini


1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with cake papers.

2. Combine all dry ingredients

3. With a mixer, beat together the butter and the sugar until they are smoothly blended. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. With a spoon, stir in the vanilla, orange peel, and zucchini.

4. Alternately stir the dry ingredients and the milk into the zucchini mixture, including the nuts with the last addition.

5. Bake 17 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Butter Cream Frosting
I used this recipe from Wilton.