Thursday, April 25, 2013

My New(est) Favorite Recipe x2

I have a couple recipes that were a huge success lately. Well, huge success with J. 

I don't know what order to put them in. So let's pretend this is dinner. For dinner, we are having Shepherd's Pie. Then, for dessert, Tropical Zucchini cake, with vanilla ice cream. 

I don't know what I was looking for when I found this Vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe. It intrigued me, and I decided to try it. I used the cool allrecipes feature to slim down the recipe to 4 servings, since J was deployed and I was only feeding myself. Also, I have yet to follow the exact recipe. 

First, I don't like celery. So I never use it. I will sometimes add celery salt instead. Second, I used real dairy. I wasn't going to go buy a bunch of stuff just for one recipe. BUT, I loved it. I gobbled that shit up! Really, it was amazing. I used Smartground meat substitute. 

I used the same recipe when my MIL came to visit to make a Cottage Pie. 

Ok, ok. let me 'splain. Gordon Ramsay done taught me that there is a difference between Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie. See, a shepherd herds sheep, and therefore his pie would be made with lamb. A cottage would have a few cattle, and their pie would be made with beef. SO, if you use beef, it's a Cottage Pie, and if you use lamb it's a Shepherd's Pie. 

ANYWHO....

I made cottage pie for Dora, and also used sweet potatoes instead of russet potatoes. It. Was. Awesome. Seriously, we loved it. 

I made it again yesterday for J. A real Shepherd's Pie this time. Lamb, but no carrots or celery. I had some fresh zucchini and chopped it up in there instead. It was freaking amazing. Again. 

So no, this is not about my cooking. I really think this recipe is amazing. It's a very basic recipe and is easily adaptable to whatever dietary needs or wants you have. Aside from the servings feature, you can easily make it carnivorous, vegetarian, or vegan. It takes a little work, but you can do most of it ahead of time, like I did yesterday. I cooked everything and put it all in the casserole dish, then in the fridge until we were ready for dinner. It took an extra 10 minutes in the oven. I bet you could freeze it and bake it from there. I might have to test that.

Now time for dessert. 

My Grandma Millie (the crazy one) used to make zucchini cake. I loved it. I think I may have been the only one in my family that liked it, but I have fond memories of that cake. It was moist and sweet without being too sugary sweet. She had some kind of white frosting on it that I can't quite duplicate. Yet. 

While Mom was cleaning out Grandma's house, she found the recipe for Tropical Zucchini cake, and emailed it to me. It calls for coconut, which Grandma never used, probably because I don't like coconut. So I obviously didn't use it. She never used nuts either. Same here.

Here's what I had to work with:
2 cups sugar (1 1/2 c. brown sugar)  
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs or 6 egg whites 
1 cup oil 
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda                                                  
3 cups flour                                                
1 medium #2 can crushed pineapple (drained)
1 cup nuts                                                   
3 cups grated zucchini
1 1/2 cup coconut-optional                        
1 tsp. cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
 
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

I know it went in a 9x13. I decided to mix everything by hand, which I will not do again. I used the brown sugar and whole eggs. I mixed all the wet ingredients and sugar, then added the dry. By the way, a #2 can is the small can of pineapple, about 8 oz. My oven tends to take the full baking time or a little longer, and it did. I chatted with Mom and decided to make a cinnamon roll frosting from the Better Homes & Gardens big red checkered cook book (you know the one). It wasn't as thick as what I remember Grandma using, but it was nice. 

And J approves. He told me that it is not cake, it is awesomeness. He calls it zucchini awesomeness. It's awesome with some simple vanilla ice cream. 

It really makes me happy that he likes it as much as I do. I don't really know why, but it does. Maybe because it's a happy memory of Grandma, before she started being so crazy. She used to cook and bake all the time. She would make pancakes in animal shapes and she was awesome at it. As we all got older, she started trying to make everything "healthy" and her food went downhill. Like an avalanche. But I remember this cake and how much I loved it. And now I get to share that with J, just a little. /mushy moment

So anyway, these are my latest successes. I might think about trying a cream cheese frosting next time. I think it would go well, just like it does with carrot cake. And no, sorry, I don't have any pics of any of this food. But trust me, it's tasty.

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