Monthly Archives: August 2017

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

I think zucchini may be the most popular vegetable to grow here in the USA.  I have lived in two different locations where I had room to have vegetable gardens and zucchini was always included as part of my garden.  I always got excited when I saw the first golden blossoms.

Photo credit hgtv.com.

Although early zucchini plants were native to the Americas, it was the European colonists who brought them to Europe.  Then, in the early 20th century zucchini found its way back to North American, by way of Italian immigrants.  Zucchini is the Italian plural diminutive word for squash, “zucca”.  It is also known as “courgette” which is the French word for this vegetable.  For more facts about Zucchini, see this interesting article from Rutgers Cooperative Extension on the history, growing, preparation, and recipes for this wonderful plant.

Unless someone gives you a sack of really large zucchini, remember that biggest is not always the best.  The most flavorful zucchini is the small to medium-sized.

If you have been blessed with an abundance of zucchini, these Cheesy Zucchini Bites are a good way to use up some of them.

They can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish.  They are crunchy, cheesy and bite-size, with the sweet taste of the zucchini shining through.

Cheesy Zucchini Bites

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 medium zucchini, grated on large holes of a box grater and squeezed of excess liquid
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 cup sharp shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray a mini muffin pan with a nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Place the grated zucchini in a colander over the sink and let the zucchini sit for about 5 minutes before squeezing out the excess liquid.  Transfer zucchini to a large mixing bowl.  Add breadcrumbs, cheddar and parmesan cheese, eggs, chopped onion, salt, pepper and onion powder.  Mix the ingredients together until fully combined.  Use a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop to spoon the mixture into the wells of the mini muffin pan, about a tablespoon each.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.  Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

Makes 24-30  mini-bites.  

Notes:
1.  After grating and pressing water out of the two medium sized zucchini, I had 2 cups of grated zucchini.
2.  In place of a mini muffin pan, the Bites can be baked on a parchment lined baking sheet.
3.  Leftovers can be reheated in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

You know summer is almost over when the Bee Balm starts to fade.  But the butterflies are still around and don’t seem to mind.

 

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Summer seems to be going by too quickly.  Even though I love the fall season, I still want to enjoy every bit of our summer.  And that means visiting the local farm markets here in West Michigan.  Also, it means enjoying the beautiful tomatoes that are available.  Whether it is the red juicy ones or the odd shaped heirloom tomatoes, it is their prime season.

Since I don’t have a vegetable garden, I rely on the local farm markets and farm stands for my tomatoes.  I have another favorite farmers market that is located not too far away.

It is the Rockford Farmers Market located in the heart of downtown Rockford, MI.  Rockford is a small town that is a quaint and charming place to visit.  It is situated on the beautiful Rogue River and the very picturesque Rockford Dam is right downtown.

The Rockford Farmers Market was voted “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” in a 2011 nationwide contest.  I think it is a very well deserved title.  You will find “just picked” produce, seasonal fruit and berries, flowers and delicious baked goods.  Stalls arranged with brightly colored vegetables remind me of farm markets I have visited in Europe.

It is a fun and festive market to visit and if you have a well behaved dog, you are welcome to bring it to the market.

My daughter and I make a special day of going to the market.  After buying produce and flowers, we will go to one of the local restaurants for lunch.  This past visit, we had lunch at The Green Well.  It is located on the Rogue River with a beautiful view.

I can recommend their Mac and Cheese and the Truffle Fries, which are addictive.

I love all of the summer tomatoes.  But when the heirlooms are available, I make sure to buy them for this tomato tart.  Heirloom tomatoes are tomatoes that the seeds have been passed down through generations of farmers.  They come in many colors and unusual shapes.  Some of the ones I bought at the Farmers Market are called Tie Dyed Heirlooms.

Usually, I use Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry but I recently found a new brand that is available at my local super store, Meijer.  It is also available at one of our local Walmarts.  It is Wewalka Puff Pastry and is refrigerated, not frozen.  It has 64 layers of dough, brushed with butter and then rolled in parchment paper.  This is an excellent puff pastry and easy to work with.  I have used it several times, and I love it.

Heirloom Tomato Tart

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 sheet of puff pasty, defrosted if frozen

2-3 large heirloom tomatoes
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded fontina cheese
shaved parmesan cheese
fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat the oven to 400° degrees.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices.  Place on a large baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels.  Lay the tomato slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and cover with additional paper towels.  Let sit for 10 minutes.

Combine the mayonnaise and parmesan cheese and set aside.

Unfold the puff pastry and place in an 11 inch x 7 inch loose bottom rectangular tart pan (or to fit whatever size pan you are using).  Place over the fluted tart pan and press the dough to the bottom.  Cut off any excess dough from the sides of the pan.  Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing.

With a pastry brush, brush the bottom of the crust with the mayonnaise and parmesan cheese mixture.  Sprinkle the fontina cheese on top of the parmesan cheese mixture.    Remove the paper towels from the tomatoes and layer them on top of the cheese mixture.  Top with a small amount of salt, pepper and shaved parmesan cheese.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest on a wire rack at least 15 minutes.   Top with the chopped fresh basil.  Then, slide on a cutting board and cut into serving size pieces.    

Note:
I used the Wewalka Puff Pastry for this recipe.