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The reign of zucchinis has come to an end, but there is a new vegetable in town: tomatoes. The Burt household is currently experiencing a surge—nay—a deluge of tomatoes. Everywhere I look, there are tomatoes looking back at me. This was the scene in the kitchen this morning.

Windowsill #1.

Windowsill #2.

Every day, I come home and there seem to be more. Sometimes, Michael will have them arranged in different piles on the counter. I don’t know the meaning of the piles, and I don’t ask. I’ve learned to just go with the flow when it comes to garden vegetables. In case some of you may have forgotten, NO, we do not live on a farm.

Anyway, with the number of tomatoes in my house, there was no chance of me not making some kind of tomato dessert. However, these types of recipes are few and far between. I found a lot of tomato sorbet-type recipes, but since they don’t involve baking, I’m not very interested in them. My searches also turned up quite a few tomato soup cake recipes, which I’ve always been curious about, but I needed something that called for fresh tomatoes. Finally, I found one that seemed like it might work. This Tomato Spice Cake recipe comes from a blog called Every Day in the Garden. I adapted it a tad.

Tomato Spice Cake

  • 1 cup tomato puree (peeled and seeded) – 4 roma tomatoes got me exactly 1 cup
  • 1 tbs vinegar
  • 5 oz walnuts (I omitted these because I didn’t feel like buying nuts)
  • 1/2 cup AP flour (to mix with the walnuts, if using)
  • 1 cup sifted AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom (I omitted this because I didn’t feel like buying cardamom)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tsp of orange, lemon or lime zest (I used lime)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

1. Prep the tomatoes. Cut a cross into the bottom of each tomato, then place them in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and place immediately into a bowl of cold water. Peel, remove the seeds, and puree the rest. Add the vinegar to the puree and set aside.

2. If you’re using nuts, mix them with 1/2 cup of flour. Sift together the remaining cup of flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Combine this with the nut mixture. OR, just combine 1 1/2 cups of flour with the rest of the dry ingredients.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until they are pale and have thickened. Whisk in brown sugar until the mixture is thick.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the eggs, alternating with the tomato puree, then add the butter.

5. Pour into springform pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Dry, puree, wet.

This cake ended up coming out pretty well. I only had a couple of issues. Number one: I think I was probably supposed to line the springform pan with parchment, but I did not. I greased it with butter, but that didn’t help much when I was trying to get the cake out of the pan. Luckily, I did get it out without completely destroying it. It tastes pretty good—pretty much how you would expect an average spice cake to taste. No hint of tomato whatsoever. The texture is pretty high on the “spongy” scale. I don’t know if that’s because I did something wrong, or if that’s how it is meant to come out. I will admit, I whisked the hell out of my egg/sugar mixture, but I wouldn’t say that it ever got truly “thick.” Maybe that had something to do with it? Lastly, why do all of my cakes always come out so skinny??? The cake on the other blog looks to be about twice as tall as my cake. I have this problem a lot, which is why I usually shy away from layer cakes.

Verdict: this cake is tasty and comes in handy if your goal is to get rid of some tomatoes. But, you could probably substitute in some applesauce, which would take much less time, and it would probably taste about the same.

More confections forthcoming, unless we are hit with a hostile takeover.

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Either I’m just bored from reading the Internet all afternoon, or this is absolutely hilarious. I’m leaning towards the latter. Click to enlarge.

Chocolate zucchini cake is probably the most ubiquitous dessert that comes up when combing the internet for zucchini recipes. As such, I had a number of recipes to sift through and ultimately chose one from a blog called Mostly Foodstuffs. This one swayed me largely because it is a bundt cake, and I am relatively confident in my bundting abilities. So, on we go.

Chocolate Zucchini (Bundt) Cake

  • 3 cups grated zucchini (drained)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups veg or canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted these)

This recipe used a cream cheese frosting, but I made a chocolate ganache instead.

1. Whisk together eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until well combined. In another bowl, sift flour with cocoa, salt and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture, mixing until just barely combined. Fold in the zucchini, breaking up any clumps, and the nuts. Be careful not to over-mix.

2. Pour batter into a greased, floured 9″ bundt pan, and bake 45 minutes to an hour or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert and finish cooling on a rack or plate.

3. When the cake is cool, cover with icing (or ganache).

Things looked pretty promising when it came out of the oven.

After I poured the ganache over it, it looked even better.

Unfortunately, I have no idea how it tasted. I took it to a party that night and things ended up getting a little rowdy. Instead of eating it, I wound up playing numerous rounds of beer pong. Then, I forgot to bring any home to sample. A few other people tried it and told me it was good, but unfortunately I have no personal opinion to add about this cake. If it tasted half as good as it looked, I’m sure it was okay.

Remember this?

Boy, do I miss the 90’s.

Not only is this a great commercial, but it actually makes me want to go shop at the Gap!

My Day at the Cinema

Last week, Michael and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises. However, this post is not a review of the movie, but rather a review of the movie theater that we visited. We went to an AMC Dine-in Theater, and if there is a stupider thing that exists in the world, I don’t know what it is.

I will say, my first impressions of the theater were pretty good. Upon entering, there were no ticket booths or humans anywhere – just three touch-screen terminals for buying tickets. It was cool in a technological, computers-are-taking-over kind of way. Admittedly, one of the three machines was out of order. We were there pretty early in the day, so it didn’t cause a problem, but I could see it becoming more of a hassle when the place is actually crowded.

After picking up our tickets, we went through the doors into what looked like a hotel lobby. Fancy light fixtures, ambient lighting, couches, easy chairs, and flat screen tv’s scattered throughout. On the far wall, instead of display cases of candy, rotating hot dogs, and Slushee machines, there was a giant bar. The place didn’t even smell like popcorn, which seemed amazing (not to say I dislike the smell). Again, very classy. At this point, I was still pretty impressed.

Then, we went into the theater, and that’s where things started to go south. On the positive side, the seats are giant and very comfortable, and there are fewer of them than there are in regular theaters. In front of the seats, there are tabletops for people to eat on. On the edge of the tabletop is a string of yellow lights, like the ones that light up the aisles on the floor of the theater. When I sat down, the lights came right below the screen in my field of vision. Contrary to my assumption that they would eventually go off, they stayed on for the entire movie! That alone was reason enough to never go back to that theater. But, things only got better (read: worse).

So, before the previews started, we perused the extensive menu. Mixed drinks, sliders, Thai chicken salads, blackened tuna, pasta alfredo…basically, if you can order it at Applebees, it was probably on this menu. This got me thinking. What if you hated fish and the person next to you ordered the blackened tuna? Beyond that, there are the logistics of the whole thing. HOW does one eat a giant plate of pasta alfredo when they’re trying to watch a movie? Isn’t it distracting? What if the person next to you is a noisy eater? Wouldn’t that be gross? My questions went on like this for a number of minutes.

Right before the movie started, a guy came into our row and sat down one seat away from me. The attendant came up to him, and do you know what he ordered? THE FISH AND CHIPS. Luckily, I’m not bothered by the fish smell, and his food didn’t end up smelling anyway…but what I realized next was: the simple fact that there was someone next to me eating fish and chips during the movie TOTALLY PISSED ME OFF. There’s just something inherently wrong with the whole situation.

To top it all off, this guy didn’t just eat fish and chips. He started with a small bag of popcorn and a soda. Then, he had his fish and chips. Then, DURING THE MOVIE, he rang for the waitress (there is a little alert button on the table) and ordered two more bags of popcorn and another soda. Not only was it distracting for her to serve him during the movie, but beyond that—I did not come to the movies to watch this shining example of the American appetite gorge himself on food for the entire 2 hours and 40 minutes of the movie. If we were in a regular theater and he had one of those giant buckets of popcorn, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it. But, it was something about the refills (and the fish and chips) that really got under my skin.

Bottom line: there are some foods that work at the movies, and some that don’t. Popcorn works. Candy works. Pretzel bites work. Even a hotdog or one of those gross mini pizzas can work. Thai chicken salad doesn’t work. Blackened tuna doesn’t work. Anything that has to be eaten on a plate with a fork and knife does not work.

On the plus side, the movie was great. But I’ll die before I ever go back to another dine-in movie establishment.

Another day, another zucchini dessert. This time around, it’s a zucchini pie. I got the recipe from Food.com, via Pinterest.

Zucchini Pie

  • 1 9-inch pie crust
  • 2 cups pureed cooked zucchini
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup evaporated milk, warmed
  • 2 eggs

1. To make the puree, skin the zucchini and cut it up into 1-inch chunks.
2. Microwave on high, until easily pierced with a fork, about 9 minutes.
3. Pour off any water (very important!).
4 Puree in a food processor.
5 Mix zucchini puree, honey and dry ingredients together.
6. Warm milk and add, with eggs, to zucchini mixture.
7. Use hand mixer to blend well.
8. Pour into unbaked 9-inch pie crust.
9. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350° and bake for 40-45 minutes longer—or until knife inserted comes out clean.
10. Cool for about 2 hours and then chill for several, if desired.

To reiterate in photo form, here are the ingredients.

Here is the zucchini puree.

Now, it is important to note that I actually made this pie twice (first was a test, second was for a family function). The first time, it came out pretty well, but I had a couple of small issues. The biggest problem was that I decided to try and bake it in a deep-dish pie dish, even though there wasn’t enough filling or crust. Little did I know, baking a small pie in a deep dish would have detrimental effects on the crust. Even after baking for the full time allotment, the crust still wasn’t very brown. But, the rest of the pie was done, so I had to take it the way it was.

Just as I had read, the pie tasted just like a pumpkin pie. It was delicious! However, the first time I made it, the filling was a tad grainy, and it was also a little bit runny. So, on the second attempt, I aggressively drained the chunks of zucchini before pureeing them. I put them in between a few sheets of paper towel and smashed them with a slotted spoon until all of the water drained out, and that seemed to work pretty well. On the second try, I pureed them for a bit longer until everything was smooth. I also baked the second pie in a regular, 9-inch disposable pie dish.

It turned out that all of those changes made a pretty big difference. The second pie tasted the same, but the texture had improved exponentially. I didn’t take pictures of the second pie, but it looked pretty identical to the first one.

So, if you’re a fan of pumpkin pie, this zucchini pie will definitely be a big hit.

Footnote: I made my own pie crust instead of using one that was store-bought. It’s easy and completely foolproof. This my adaptation of the original Good Housekeeping recipe.

9-inch Pie Crust

  • 1 1/3 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 4-5 tbs ice water

1. In food processor with knife blade attached, blend flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle in ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition, until large moist crumbs just begin to form.

2. Shape dough into disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. If chilled overnight, let dough stand 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling. Roll out and fill!

The garden is still providing us with a number of zucchinis, so I’ve moved on to a new zucchini bread recipe. This one is a Carrot Zucchini Bread, from Fitsugar.com, and is a bit healthier than the Lemon Zucchini bread that I made last time. I also liked this recipe because it allowed me to use some of the many carrots that we’ve also harvested from the garden.

Carrot Zucchini Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots

1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, beat egg and add sugars. Then add oil and vanilla and mix until smooth.
3. Stir in vegetables, then mix in dry ingredients.
4. Pour into greased bread pan. Bake 45 to 55 minutes at 350° until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

I have to say, as much as I enjoyed the Lemon Zucchini bread, I think I prefer this recipe. First of all, it’s big on fall flavors with the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg. This bread came into my life at the right time, since I’m just starting to think about fall and how nice it’s going to be when the leaves change, and when I start wearing sweaters, and all that other good fall stuff.

The other reason I like this bread is because it’s relatively healthy. It actually came out surprisingly sweet, so I think I’m going to make it again with a few alterations to make it even healthier. I would start by cutting the sugar from 1 cup to 1/2 cup (leaving the brown sugar the same), and I would also cut the 1/2 cup oil down to 1/4 cup, and substitute some applesauce to make up the difference. Then, I think the bread would be pretty much guilt-free.

Next up: Zucchini Pie. Spoiler: It’s really good!