Zucchini Squares

 I have a confession to make.
...No, it's not that I have trouble spelling zucchini (true, though. Along with broccoli.)
 I used Bisquick in this recipe. For those who don't know me, I have been called a food snob. Fairly often. That means I don't use cake mix, I don't make microwaved baked potatoes, and that at the age of seven I walked into a family friend's kitchen and correctly identified the process being applied to a pan just emptied of food (answer: balsamic reduction). So Bisquick is a no-no. I had to go across the street to the non-gourmet supermarket to even find it. Did you know Bisquick isn't refrigerated? It just sits there in its yellow jug on the shelf next to the cocoa powder (Not organic? Not fair trade?) and the highly processed white sugar.
 But the recipe was intriguing, because it's kind of a focaccia with whole zucchini on top and inside, instead of the traditional loaf with grated zucchini. And I wasn't in the mood to remaster the recipe to fit my level of food snobbery. So, surprising myself, I went to that non-gourmet supermarket and brought back a container of Bisquick.
I added a lot of parsley though. And it was very good. A bit sweet for something savory, but fluffy and lovely cut into squares to munch on ironically with the friends who make the most fun of your food snobbery and would never expect the recipe involved a buttercup yellow plastic jug.

There was some Bisquick left over. I made pancakes. But I added some buckwheat. Even my father, who raised me up to such a level of whole grains and no sulphates, didn't notice the hint of hydrogenated dehydrated vegetable oil.

Zucchini Squares 
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

note: if you do want to make this and rid yourself of Bisquick madness, I expect you can substitute in 2 cups of flour, 2 tsps baking powder, and 1 tsp salt, fairly adequately. I haven't tried it though, so don't take my word for it.

5 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cups Bisquick
3 cups thinly sliced zucchini medallions
coarse sea salt, for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 pan and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, cheese, parsley, salt, oregano and garlic powder. Whisk in the onion, and then the Bisquick. With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the sliced zucchini, being careful not to break up the slices. Turn the mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, to taste.
Bake until puffed and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool to warm room temperature before cutting into squares. Will last 4-5 days in the fridge.


Chai Spiced Granola

I really like tea-flavored things, like those Chinese Tea Eggs. I especially like things that are chai-infused, like the Chai Spiced Pancakes. So why not give it a go with granola, hmm?
 If you're expecting to make these and eat crunchy chai tea, then you're mistaken. It just uses the same spices that chai does: creating a warm, nestling food that's good to eat while wearing orange and knit scarves.
Well, it's good any time of the year. I love granola so much. This summer I went to a program that was at a college and I basically lived off of clif bars and the bag of granola my step mother gave to me. College cafeterias suck. But Chai Granola rocks. And, as with any granola recipe, you ca switch up the nuts/dried/fruit/add-ins as you like. Enjoy!

Chai Spiced Granola
about 8 cups
adapted from Wonderful Joy Ahead

3 cups old fashioned oats
1/3 cup canola or other neutral oil
1/2 cup almonds (preferably slivered)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp flax seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat your oven to 325 F, and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the almonds and walnuts, stirring every minute or so until you can start to smell them (about 2-3 minutes). Stir in the pumpkin seeds, oats, and oil; continue to toast and stir every minute or so until the oats start to get some color (about 4-6 minutes).

Turn off the heat and add the flax, salt, and wheat germ.

Temporarily empty the oats into a bowl. Add to the skillet the honey, sugar, approximately 2 tablespoons of water, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and pepper. Heat over medium until the sugar is dissolved. Add the honey mixture to the bowl and mix until incorporated.

Spread evenly over the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven when the granola is turning golden brown.

Stir in the coconut and dried fruit. Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you'll need to either spread it out or compact it together to form a 1/2 inch thick granola slab. Let it cool completely. Break into pieces and store in an air-tight container for about a week or two, if there's any left by then.


Pecan Pie Truffles

  That's right. Pecan Pie. In a little ball. Covered in chocolate.
 I know that these would be perfect for one of the holidays just celebrated: Thanksgiving, or Christmas, even. But I still haven't gotten the hang of making the food I want to blog about before the date on the calendar it is best to post them [bad grammar what?! Too lazy to fix that sentence]. So consider this an opportunity to spread the influence of pecan pie through the land of january and onwards.
 Truffles are just too easy to ignore making. C'mon now. Create a ball of something and cover it in chocolate. And you feel a lot less bad about eating one, or even two or three, than you do eating a slice of pie. Ugh. Triangles. 
 Truffles are so great that I've made even more since. In fact, I'm planning on making a whole bunch on valentine's day: maybe I'll even post them on time or something civilized like that.

Meanwhile, there are these. Crushed pecans, graham cracker crumbs, maple syrup, dark brown sugar (and I supplemented my meager supply with light brown sugar, as shown three photos above). And bourbon, if you so wish. I did almond milk instead. It was perfect. These are perfect.

Pecan Pie Truffles
makes 24.
adapted from VegNews via NYTimes

2 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsps maple syrup
1/4 cup almond milk (or bourbon)
1 tsp vanilla
14 oz dark chocolate

Either crush pecans by hand, or, much easier, in a food processor (pulse but be careful not to process too much, lest you make a meal or butter).
In a medium bowl, stir together pecans, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt until well combined.
Add maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla, stirring thoroughly. Using your hands is the best method to make sure everything is fully mushed together.
Form mixture into small balls with hands: press and roll gently. From time to time you'll want to wash your hands because otherwise the balls begin to stick to your palms and fall apart. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 2 hours.
You may have made more than 24 balls, depending on the size you formed them in. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave, using more or less than 14 oz as needed. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip the frozen balls into the melted chocolate, then place onto prepared baking sheet. You may want to do this in batches so that the balls stay cold; if they become warm, they will fall apart in the chocolate. Let sit for 15 minutes or until firm. 
Store in the fridge or freezer to avoid melting.