Zucchini Bites

002We enjoy zucchini in a variety of ways because I think this squash is one of the most versatile as well as easy to prepare vegetables. Usually I slice the zucchini lengthwise before adding some toppings and baking. Here I have simply applied the principle “less is more” by making it a finger food.  These bite sized rounds (well maybe 2 bites) are a perfect appetizer as well as a side.  I think they would make a nice addition to a holiday dinner.

Zucchini Bites

2 medium zucchini squash

1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce – your choice.  We like spicy!  Save the rest of the jar to add to spaghetti sauce or chicken parmesan!

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

shaved parmesan cheese

Panko bread crumbs

Italian seasoning blend – I use Penzey’s Tuscan Sunset, or you can buy Italian Seasoned Panko

Heat oven to 375. Wash zucchini and pat dry.  Trim ends and stems, then slice into thick rounds (an inch or so).  Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a lined baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Top each round with marinara (a little goes a long way).  Add a few parmesan shavings and sprinkle Panko crumbs on top. Bake for around 20 minutes, until squash is tender but not mushy.  Tops should be golden brown.

Braided Pastry with Chicken, Cheddar, and Broccoli


007I have used cans of crescent roll dough for many recipes, including one that looked like this but was filled apples.  I don’t usually plug brands, but I particularly like Immaculate Baking Company’s baking products because they contain non-GMO ingredients, so this braid is made with Immaculate Crescent Rolls.  It looks difficult, but really isn’t, is quick to prepare and a very creative way to use leftover rotisserie chicken and those leftover bits of broccoli in the crisper!  Why not try it with kale instead of the broccoli, different cheeses, or with all vegetables?   There are many variations of this recipe online.

  • 2 cans Crescent roll dough
  • 2 cups chopped chicken
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli florets cut in bite size pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten and set aside for brushing the pastry before baking
  • fresh rosemary
  • cracked pepper
 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread both cans of crescent rolls  length wise side by side, making a long rectangle. Press each of the seams to form a single layer of dough. In a  bowl, combine chicken, cheese, broccoli and mayonnaise. Spread mixture down the center of the dough as evenly as possible.
Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut horizontal strips 1 inch apart down each side of the crescent dough. Beginning at the top fold the dough strips over the top of the chicken mixture, alternating left and right to create a braided pastry top. Brush the top of the braid with  beaten egg yolk and sprinkle fresh rosemary on top. Finish with a sprinkle of freshly ground pepper. Bake for 25– 30 minutes until golden brown. Slice and serve.  This is a meal by itself, but especially nice with a tossed green salad or seasonal fruit.


Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette




Although temperatures have only slightly dropped from triple digit summer heat, this time of year begins to whisper that Fall is just around the corner, and around here that means pumpkins!  Last year one of my Kitchen Keeper posts was titled Pumpkin Everything*  so it is not surprising we begin to make pumpkin bread and muffins as well as pies, cornbread and pumpkin bread pudding.  Thanksgiving 2012 I made a tasty pumpkin soup, and we have already decided that this wild rice dish will be part of our 2013 holiday table. It combines flavors that just sing Happy Thanksgiving:  green onions, celery, cranberries, and of course, pumpkin. It can be made ahead which is a bonus as well.

Very easy to prepare and ranking high in both nutrition and flavor, Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette is one more way to love cooking with pumpkins!  I like to double the vinaigrette ingredients so that I have leftover dressing to use for a spinach salad or chopped romaine with apples.  More than a side dish, this is a wonderful main dish that you can add to with some grilled chicken strips. This one truly is a Kitchen Keeper.

Harvest Wild Rice Salad with Pumpkin Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (6 oz.) box long-grain and wild rice mix
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. dried thyme
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant.
  2. Prepare rice according to package directions; let cool completely (about 25 minutes). Stir in cranberries, celery, green onions, and toasted pecans.
  3. Whisk together canned pumpkin, next 5 ingredients, and 2 T. water. Gradually whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until blended.
  4. Pour vinaigrette over rice mixture; stir gently to coat. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Source:  Southern Living, November 2009

Salted Peanut Cookies

002Oatmeal cookies are a favorite in our house.  I don’t make cookies as often as I used to, and not nearly as often as Joe would like for me to, but I have tried a variety of recipes besides the tried and true Oatmeal Raisin.  This batch of cookies disappeared so fast I am glad I took the picture as soon as they were taken from the oven!  They are a smaller, crispier cookie than most Oatmeal cookies, and the addition of salted peanuts is definitely a taste treat. Of course, for those who have members of their family with a peanut sensitivity, the recipe works fine if you omit the peanuts.

Salted Peanut Cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups oatmeal

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup salted peanuts (I used large Virginia peanuts)

Cream butter and sugars, add beaten eggs, and mix well.  Sift flour, soda, and baking powder together and add to creamed mixture.  Add oatmeal, vanilla, and peanuts. Mix well.  Drop by teaspoonful on greased cookie sheets.  Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from baking sheet to wire rack to cool.  Makes at least 7 dozen cookies.

This recipe is found in the cookbook published by the Richardson, Texas Woman’s Club – The Texas Experience, Friendship & food Texas Style given to me in 1984 by my dear friend Sondra Skaggs.