Daily Rebecca - dishing up a little bit of everything.

Lemon Cranberry Zucchini Bread

September 17th, 2014

As you may have gathered, I’ve been working my way through some garden veggies I was recently given by my Aunt Becky.  So far they’ve inspired two dinners (found HERE and HERE) and now this yummy treat!

Lemon Cranberry Zucchini Bread Closeup

I wanted to use up the zucchini in some savory and sweet ways, so this bread recipe caught my attention immediately!

At Christmastime I traditionally make a couple loaves of Cranberry Poppyseed bread that is similar to this, but that recipe may get the boot now that I’ve made this one!  This bread is so much lighter and cakier. Cakey-er?

You get what I mean.

I think the zucchini is what takes this bread over the top and makes it so wonderfully moist.  The cranberries and lemon zest give a tart punch to offset the sweetness.  It’s just delicious.  Trust me :)

If you have any zucchini haters in your house, I suggest peeling the zucchini before you grate it…they won’t see the green flecks throughout (which I think are so beautiful!) and will be none the wiser about your sneaky veggie ways.

I found the original recipe on Pinterest and modified it a little to use what I had on hand (cranberries in place of raspberries and coconut oil in place of vegetable oil).

It was also my first time using a silicone loaf pan and I’m sold!  Once the bread was cool, I just twisted the pan a little and the loaf popped right out.  Easy peasy.

Bye bye metal loaf pans and all your headaches!

But I digress…

Here’s the recipe the way I made it.  I hope you try it and love it as much as we did!

Lemon Cranberry Zucchini  Bread

Lemon Cranberry Zucchini Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted or at least soft)
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (this is one medium to small zucchini)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I stock up on a few bags in December and freeze them for use later in year)
  • GLAZE
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (leftover from the lemon you used from the bread)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 ⁰F. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan, set aside.
  2. In large bowl, blend flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer/medium-sized bowl, beat 2 eggs well. Then add oil and sugar, and beat on low until well combined. Add the milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest; blend everything well.
  4. Gently mix in the zucchini until just evenly distributed in mixture.
  5. Add dry ingredients and fold everything together, but don’t over mix.
  6. Fold in the cranberries.
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes (it took 50 minutes in my oven) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
  8. While the loaf is cooling, in small bowl, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended. Spoon the glaze over the cooled loaf. Let the glaze set prior to slicing and serving.

 


Preschool – The Great Debate

September 15th, 2014

Last week my little Boo Bear started preschool.

first day of preschool with chalkboard

 

As a gal who was homeschooled from 3rd grade through graduation, it was kind of a big deal to decide to send Grace to preschool this year.

Let me also say, I was a gal who was homeschooled almost all the way and I enjoyed it.

Sure I had moments of feeling left out, but for the most part I loved the flexible schedule, working at my own pace and graduating early.

I was involved in an incredible church youth group, so I had a solid group of friends and lacked nothing in the socialization department.  I’m so grateful for all the fond memories with those dear pals.  Because of them I went to dances, football games, homecomings and proms.

No missing out there.

But…the Senior Class All Nighter that I couldn’t be a part of was quite devastating for me.  I remember that evening well…I drove around in my 1980’s Light Blue Chevrolet Celebrity, listening to emo 90’s music and eating the biggest Dairy Queen Blizzard I could buy. (Chocolate ice cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, if you were wondering)

The next day my friends told me the party was super lame and I felt a little better :)

The senior party aside, homeschooling was a very positive experience for me, and one I was convinced I’d replicate with my own children.

I worked as a teacher from 2000-2001 and besides the fact that I had extremely difficult students (at risk boys – 8th grade) and no formal curriculum (I created it as the year progressed), I loved teaching.

I still love teaching and find great joy in whatever capacity I’m currently able to teach.  Sometimes it’s as simple as showing someone how to use their iPhone, or set up a blog, or make a recipe.

I think God created me to enjoy teaching, and I really think I’ll have more opportunities to do it as the years go on.  Perhaps even in homeschooling my children.

But this year, after much prayer and consideration, we decided to send Grace to a local Christian Preschool (Christ the King).

SHE ABSOLUTELY LOVES IT.

Like head-over-heels, over-the-moon, cried-on-Friday, LOVES it.

She’s in a four year old class that runs part days Monday – Thursday, so Friday was a real bummer when she realized she wasn’t going to school.

Fortunately Andy was off that day and my mom was coming the following day so she had a really fun weekend to take her mind off it :)

Buying school supplies, choosing a Frozen backpack, brainstorming snack ideas and picking out her first day outfit, all made her so excited for her new venture.

The first day I dropped her off, she happily skipped into the classroom, found a My Little Pony playset and a new friend named Kate.  She never looked back and is all smiles every day when I drop her off.

This was the right choice for her this year, and I’m so glad I was open-minded enough to consider it.

Homeschooling is such a passion for the families who believe in it.  In fact, I used to find myself thinking it was the best way to educate a child.  The older I get though, the more comfortable I become with shades of gray.

There isn’t usually a best way.  Often times there are many best ways and they’re different from person to person.

Crazy, I know! ;)

I’m not sure what next year will hold for us.  We don’t live in school district that I feel comfortable utilizing, especially at her young age.  Many of the local private schools are VERY expensive.  So maybe we’ll homeschool for Kindergarten or maybe we’ll find a school that works for us.

Either way, I’m open.

I want school to be a very positive experience for each of my children, so I’m willing to do different things based on each child’s personality and needs.  That may mean a combination of methods, which is kind of overwhelming but for now I’ll take one year at a time :)


Frozen Ravioli & Summer Vegetable “Lasagna”

September 11th, 2014

Yesterday was one of those days without a dinner plan.  My meal plan suggested quesadillas with the leftover Taco Chicken Bowls we had a few days ago, but there wasn’t enough to go around and I wanted to eat the leftovers over rice for lunch this week anyway.

What to do…

Usually on a day like that, I’d pull some meat out of the freezer, marinade it and broil it to serve with sweet potatoes and veggies but we were out of sweet potatoes.

What’s a girl to do?

Last week we loved the Shepherd’s Pie featuring Aunt Becky’s homegrown potatoes, and I remembered I still had some garden loot leftover!  A big bag of summer squash and zucchini was awaiting me :)

I have a few go-to recipes for those veggies (like this one and this one) but I was feeling creative.  I poked around the freezer and pantry and ended up with this Frozen Ravioli and Summer Vegetable “Lasagna”!

Costco has great buys like this Organic Spinach Ravioli:

ravioli
 

It comes in a 2-pack and I used the first one right away by serving it with a simple marinara sauce.  I froze the second pack until I had use for it.

I’m glad I had it tucked away in my freezer because it inspired this dish!

Frozen Ravioli and Summer Vegetable Bake

Frozen Ravioli and Summer Vegetable "Lasagna"
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish/Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 jar Marinara Sauce
  • 1lb package frozen ravioli, thawed or partially thawed so that you can separate the individual pieces
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium to large summer squash, diced
  • 1 medium to large zucchini, diced
  • 1 small to medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 slices of cheese (I used provolone and colby jack but would have used all provolone if I had enough - mozzarella would also be delish)
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375*F
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in 1 tablespoon olive oil until they are tender. Add minced garlic and continue to sauté for 1 minute. Add diced summer squash and zucchini to the skillet as well as an additional tablespoon olive oil if the mixture looks dry. Sprinkle oregano, salt and pepper over everything and continue to sauté, stirring regularly, until veggies are tender (approx 10-12 minutes).
  3. Into a 13x9 glass baking dish, pour ⅓ jar of marinara sauce and spread to coat the entire surface. Once veggies are tender, pour them over the sauce and spread to create a single layer.
  4. Arrange ravioli in rows to cover the entire surface of the dish in a mostly single layer. Pour remaining ⅔ jar marinara sauce over ravioli and spread to evenly coat.
  5. Lay cheese slices across the surface of the pan, covering as much area as you can (shredded cheese would work well too!).
  6. Shake ½ cup parmesan cheese over the whole dish, focusing on areas not covered by cheese slices.
  7. Bake at 375*F for 20 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes and serve!

This was a pretty random assortment of items from my kitchen, but it turned out to be very tasty!  Both girls gobbled it up without a single complaint.  That’s a major victory!

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