Stuffed Zucchini Squash Blossoms


Our new local farmer’s veggie basket this week came with 4 zucchini blossoms, which I have eaten before but never cooked for myself.

I made a micro-batch today, it was easy (except for the frying splatter – I always burn myself but that’s what I get for not wearing an apron and long sleeves or just geting a splatter guard) — and they tasted delicious!

I used this recipe from epicurious but scaled it down and made a few slight changes. There was lots of extra ricotta filling leftover, which is good to mix in with pasta and bake off later.


We preferred the darker ones (on right), cooked a touch longer and they had more flavor.

Ingredients (for 12-16 blossoms):

  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped basil [or mint]
  • 2/3 cup grated pecorino romano, divided
  • 12 to 16 large zucchini squash blossoms
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup water [or chilled seltzer or club soda]
  • About 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • kosher salt (to sprinkle lightly on blossoms after frying)


  1. Stir together ricotta, yolk, basil, 1/3 cup pecorino, and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
  2. Put this mixture into a ziplock bag and seal it. Snip off the corner so that you can use it to fill the blossoms easily.
  3. Carefully open each blossom, remove the stamen tip, and fill with ricotta filling, leaving space to close the blosson by gently twisting the end of blossom to enclose it.
  4. Whisk together the flour, remaining 1/3 cup pecorino, and water or seltzer in a small bowl. The batter should be loose.
  5. Heat 1/2 inch oil to 375°F in a 10-inch heavy skillet (I used a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature). You’ll cook about half of the blossoms in the first batch. Dip the blossoms in batter to thinly coat and gently place the coated blossoms in the oil and fry, turning only once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes total.
  6. Transfer with tongs to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Lightly salt the fried blossoms. Then coat and fry the remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Season newly fried batch with salt.
  7. Serve these right away. You can serve them with marinara sauce on the side for dipping but they are so delicious we prefer them plain.




Buckeyes (or Peanut Butter Chocolate Heatwave Relief)


According to Wikipedia, they resemble the nut of the Ohio buckeye tree, the state tree of Ohio. Clearly I didn’t use enough chocolate if they’re supposed to look like the nut!

After a week of this heatwave there is no way that I am going to turn the oven on, so I was searching for something with peanut butter and chocolate that required no baking but wasn’t a weird no-bake dessert — I’m not a fan of “no-bake cakes.” Making these little peanut butter & chocolate truffle-like treats was easy and made Chris very happy (all hail the peanut butter king). I imagine kids would love these. This is not a sophisticated palate kind of treat but it’s fun (especially if you love sweets with PB & chocolate). Especially good straight out of the fridge — they’ll need to stay there in this weather anyway.

The scaries part of this Buckeyes recipe (from The New York Times) was the comments section. People mentioned that old-school versions of this recipe call for parafin wax to be added to the chocolate coating – you know, the wax made from petroleum and used to seal canning jars in the old days — eek!

I had to double the chocolate for the coating because the recipe made more than they said it would (the author said it would make 30 but it made 49 for me using a #100 scoop – it’s a good size scoop for truffles or very small cookies). Chris was willing to sacrifice and eat # 49 since I could only fit 48 on the half sheet pan that went into the fridge.

Buckeyes: makes about 4 dozen


  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif – natural PBs don’t hold together as well)
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (if you’re using salted butter then only add 1/4 tsp salt)
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (chopped, or just use chocolate chips, which I did)


  1. Line a half sheet pan or baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of your mixer beat the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla and salt on medium speed until smooth and uniform, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. Scoop the mixture into 1 teaspoon-sized balls (I used a #100 scoop). Roll the balls into spheres between your palms. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and chill in the freezer until firm, about 30 minutes.
  3. A few minutes before the balls are done chilling, prepare the chocolate. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in short bursts, stirring often. I usually do 45 seconds, then 30 seconds, and that’s enough, but if not try another 10 seconds. I the the chocolate in two batches only because the original recipe called for half the chocolate. If chocolate becomes too thick during the dipping process, it can be liquified again in the microwave (try 10 seconds).
  4. Use a toothpick to skewer one ball at a time, and dip it into the melted chocolate, leaving a small circle of the peanut butter mixture exposed at the top and allowing any excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl. Transfer buckeyes to the prepared baking sheet and remove the toothpick. Repeat with the remaining balls, returning them to the freezer for a few minutes if they become too soft to work with. Smooth over the holes left by the toothpick with a small offset spatula or your finger (Scruffy wanted to help with this part by licking them but I had to refuse him). Chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. (We’re keeping them in the fridge as it’s too hot to leave them out.)

On a completely unrelated note, we just picked up our first basket from Farmer Dave, a local guy who is a chef, a farmer, and sells boxes of veggies, fruit, artisan bread and all kinds of lovely stuff from his home.  It’s just a small batch but it’s awesome (and only $15)! We even got some home made bread and pulled pork. The veggies were beautiful and we even got a pint of delicious blueberries. We gobbled up the bread (still warm!) and pulled pork right away for dinner and I made some walnut/basil pesto – soon I’ll make a zucchini quiche and try making squash blossoms for the first time. Yay!


Yay fresh veggies!

Strawberry Cobbler with Blueberry Sauce (Liberty Cobbler)


Only one thing would make this better. Vanilla ice cream!   🙂

This morning I was trying to figure out what to do with an unused pint of heavy cream and a quart of whole milk. Chris thought of trying to make yogurt (which would have used the milk and not the cream), but all I thought was ice cream!!!

Surprising that Chris hadn’t thought of that. Anyway, I still had some milk leftover after making the delicious vanilla ice cream custard and popping it in the fridge to chill [Thanks to Brian for the custard rescue! I had overheated it just at the end but his suggestion to use the immersion blender when I incorporated it with the cream saved the day and saved us from a curdled custard].

After the custard panic I checked my email, thinking about what to do with the remaining milk and suddenly Sam Sifton’s NY Times Cooking daily email was in my inbox… with the perfect use of the rest of the milk (and the quart of strawberries that was super ripe and the pint of blueberries I had just frozen because they too were super ripe). A perfect recipe for the Memorial Day holiday, Liberty Cobbler was so named by a Nathalie Dupree, a Southern cookbook writer, for the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty back in 1986). Wish we had company today to share it!

My modifications: I made two changes to the recipe on the NYT site —
1. Increased the sliced strawberries to use the full quart that I had in the fridge (it originally called for 1 cup sliced berries). Scruffy, Daisy, and I decided to make the sacrifice and eat the little nub ends of the berries so that the cobbler looked prettier.  🙂
2. I let the butter stay in the pan in the oven until it was browned a bit, which gives a delicious complexity and overall yumminess to the edges of the cobbler. Brown butter makes everything better.

You can serve this with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream – which would melt beautifully around the warm cobbler. Chris and I were too impatient to wait for the ice cream cylinder to freeze so we ate the cobbler with the blueberry sauce alone. So good.

Liberty Cobbler (serves 6 generous portions or 8 if you have self control)

Cobbler Ingredients:

  • 1 quart strawberries, rinsed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Blueberry Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Pour 1/4 cup sugar over sliced strawberries and mix well. Set aside and let macerate for 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put the butter in a 9 in x 13 in oven proof serving dish (I used a 8 x 11.5 pyrex glass dish and it was just fine), and place in the oven to melt.
  3. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar in a bowl, and stir in milk to make a batter – lumps are ok!
  4. Remove the dish with melted butter when it starts to get slightly nutty and brown and then pour the batter right into the hot dish.
  5. Work quickly and arrange the strawberry slices over the batter in a single layer, then drizzle the remaining juices over the top.
  6. Return the dish to the oven and bake until the batter is browned and has risen up around the fruit, about 45 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, as the cobbler is baking, make the blueberry sauce. Rinse and pick over the blueberries. Combine water and sugar in a suacepan, and heat to the boiling point. Place 1 pint of the blueberries (half) in the bowl of a mini food processor. Process until coarsley pureed. Add the blueberries to the sugar syrup and add the lemon juice, stir, and bring back to a boil. Cook about 2 minutes more. Add remaining pint of whole berries, reserving a few for decoration (I forgot to do this part).
  8. Serve blueberry sauce over the warm cobbler, and top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, and reserved berries.

Just poured in the batter and popped on the sliced strawberries… now to bake!


Baked and awaiting blueberry sauce and eating. Eat it warm!

Sour Cherry Muffins

sour cherry muffins

I found this recipe through a Google search. The muffins are tender and tasty but I think they would be better with an addition… perhaps adding toasted slivered almonds to the top or adding cinnamon to the batter or perhaps a crumb topping. I’ll experiment. As they are now, they’re nice for breakfast or brunch, the sweet batter with tart cherries packs a burst of summer and a welcome tartness.

I only made one modification to Sweet Phi’s original recipe, adding 1/4 tsp almond extract.

This recipe used the last of my stock of sour cherries that I had pitted and frozen last summer. Last year was the summer of sour cherry (I made a sweet cordial, a spiced cordial, crumb cake, jam, preserved cherries in syrup, and cherry pit extract). Whew.


  • ¾ cup reduced fat buttermilk
  • ¼ cup water
  • ⅔ cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • zest of 1 large lemon, about 1 heaping tablespoon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups sour cherries (if using frozen make sure the cherries are pitted and defrosted and drained; 2 cups is about 12 oz)
  • 2 Tbs Sanding Sugar for topping (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line muffin pans with liners (18 muffins).
  2. In a bowl mix together buttermilk, water, canola oil, egg, and almond extract. Mix well.
  3. Next add the lemon zest, flour, sugar, and baking powder and stir until well incorporated.
  4. Lastly fold in the cherries and stir until just combined.
  5. Scoop batter into muffins cups so that each muffin cup is about ¾ full. Sprinkle a little sanding sugar on top of the muffin batter, and then bake for 25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Let rest for a few minutes, and then transfer to a wire cooling wrack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before enjoying.
  7. They freeze well in ziplock bags, take the muffin out of the bag to defrost.

Perhaps this summer will be the summer of the peach (we’ll have to wait until July for that).


Thumbprint Cookies Two Ways (Churros & Dulce de Leche, and Butter & Jam)

I was trying to think of a good cookie to bring to our friends’ Cinco de Mayo dinner party last night, and thought of my favorite Mexican dessert, churros! These thumbprint cookies are NOT churros, let’s just get that out there for the churros police. They just incorporate the delicious flavors of churros, cinnamon sugar, and dulce de leche.

The base for my recipe came from the delicious Food Network Butter and Jam Thumbprints recipe. I make butter and jam thumbprint cookies every couple of years for Christmas. They are so delicious. If you make the butter and jam thumbprint recipe, use my modifications, which make it even better (see that recipe at the bottom of this post).


Churros thumbprint cookies with dulce de leche

Churros Thumbprint Cookies

(makes 24 – 36 cookies)


  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 can Dulce de Leche (I use Nestle La Lechera brand)

Rolling ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  • In stand mixer bowl whip the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until just combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing until just incorporated.
  • Scoop the dough using a 100 size cookie scoop (also called a teaspoon size), make the scoops level for 36 cookies, rounded for 24 cookies. Touching the dough as little as possible (to avoid melting the butter in the dough further), roll dough scoops in cinnamon sugar, place on baking sheet, and use a 1/2 tsp measure to press the indentations into the dough.
  • Bake cookies for 8 minutes and then quickly take them out of the oven, and fill indentations with dulce de leche (I put the dulce into a sandwich size ziplock bag, cut the tip off, and use that to pipe the dulce into the indentations. Much cleaner!) Pop the trays back into oven (rotated) for another 7 minutes until the edges are golden.
  • Rest the baking sheets on cooling racks and quickly sprinkle each cookie with a tiny pinch of kosher salt (yum salted caramel). Cool cookies on the baking sheets. Cookies can be sotred in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days. To keep cookies moist, pop a slice of apple into the container.

Butter and Jam Thumbprint cookies

Butter and Jam Thumbprints

(makes 24 – 36 cookies)


  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup raspberry jam


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  • In stand mixer bowl whip the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until just combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing until just incorporated.
  • Scoop the dough using a 100 size cookie scoop (also called a teaspoon size), make the scoops level for 36 cookies, rounded for 24 cookies. Place scoops on lined baking sheet, and use a 1/2 tsp measure to press the indentations into the dough. fill each indentation with 3/4 to 1 tsp jam.
  • Bake cookies for 8 minutes then rotate trays and switch shelves for even baking, then bake for another 7 minutes until the edges are golden.
  • Rest the baking sheets on cooling racks. Cookies can be stored in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days. To keep cookies moist, pop a slice of apple into the container.

Lemon Pound Cake (2 loaves)

I made this in early April but forgot to post it. The recipe makes two loaves, perfect for sharing with two families for the spring holidays!

I used the Barefoot Contessa’s recipe (with slight modifications). Her original recipe can be found on the Food Network website.



  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make your own buttermilk, for each scant cup of whole milk add 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice. That’s what I do, as I never have buttermilk in the house!

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp grated lemon zest (1-2 lemons depending on how much zest you like, I like it super lemony)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans.

Cream the butter and 2 cups granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cakes are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pans and set them on a rack set over a tray or sheet pan; Pierce the cakes with a long BBQ skewer (almost all the way to the bottom) and slowly pour the lemon syrup over them so that they soak up the syrup (I also like to put the cakes on plates so that the extra syrup soaks in). Allow the cakes to cool completely.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar, zest, and the lemon juice in a bowl (add lemon juice in stages), mixing with a wire whisk until smooth, try to keep the glaze thicker so that it can spread all over the cake but not drip off the higher parts of the cake. Pour or spread glaze over the tops of the cakes and leave out to dry.

Bread: One Batch Two Ways (White & Cinnamon)


Just out of the oven (white on left, cinnamon on right). White always rises higher (I think additions change the way it bakes).

I never posted this bread recipe although I have made it a few times now. Letting it rise for the full amount of time really matters, and takes the yeasty taste away from the white bread. I’m still working out how to make the cinnamon bread without air pockets after a long rise and bake, but both are totally delicious. Because of all of the cinnamon/sugar/butter in the cinnamon bread, it doesn’t have as long a shelf life, but it won’t be around long enough for that to be a problem!

Both variations are from Betty Crocker Breads (published in 1974!). A friend recommended the recipe and I found a used copy online. I have modified the cinnamon bread recipe as we like to have a bread with lots of cinnamon.

This dough recipe makes two loaves, so you can split the dough – I make one cinnamon loaf (for Chris), and one white loaf, which will last us all week.


  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water (between 105 and 115 F)
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (orig recipe calls for shortening), plus more melted butter for brushing tops of loaves
  • 6-7 cups bread flour (all purpose flour is fine too)

Cinnamon bread option: you’ll need 1/2 cup sugar, 4 tsp ground cinnamon, plus 2 tbsp melted butter.


Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup warm water in bowl. Stir in 1 3/4 cups warm water, sugar, salt, butter (2 tbsp), and 3 1/2 cups of the flour. Beat in stand mixer with paddle attachment until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle, then switch to a dough hook, and knead until smooth and elastic (5 minutes in a stand mixer, 10 minutes if you’re kneading by hand).

Place in a large greased bowl (I brush bowl with a little canola oil – using a paper towel), and then turn the ball of dough right side up (so that dough has a light coating of oil all around). Cover with a oiled piece of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour. (I let the bread rise in my oven – when it’s off and is room temperature). The dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched.

Punch down dough, then divide it in half. Flatten each half with your hands or a rolling pin into a rectangle, 18×9 inches.

At this point, if you’re going to make 1 loaf cinnamon, add this step: Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 4 tsp cinnamon, plus 3 tbsp melted butter. After rolling dough into rectangles, spread cinnamon/sugar/butter paste over the rectangle, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch border all around.

Both loaves: Fold rectangles crosswise into thirds, overlapping the two sides. Roll dough tightly towards you, beginning at one of the open ends. Press with thumbs to seal after each turn. Pinch edge firmly to seal. With side of hand, press each end to seal; fold ends under.

Place loaves seam sides down in 2 greased loaf pans (9x5x3 or 8 1/2x 4 1/2x 2 1/2 inches). Brush each loaf lightly with melted butter. Let rise until double, about 1 hour.


Heat oven to 425 F. Place loaves on lowest rack so that the tops of the pans are in the center of the oven. Pans should not touch each other or the sides of the oven. Bake until loaves are deep golden and sound hollow when tapped, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove loaves from pans right away. Brush with melted butter (again), and cool on wire rack.

Note: if you’re using self-rising flour then omit the salt.

Variations: if you are adding things to the loaves, follow these guidelines. For sweet breads, add 1 cup raisins (pre-plump them in hot water first and then drain) which can be stirred in with the second addition of flour. For savory options, stir in shredded cheese or dried or fresh chopped herbs before the last addition of flour.


Next project: how to stop the cinnamon bread from having big air gaps! – the white bread is perfect, so it must be something about adding the cinnamon/sugar/butter paste that changes things.