Harvest Chicken Apple Stew

This fall has been complete with a trip to the apple orchard.  Last week, my parents stopped through between different events in Iowa and Missouri and I wanted to treat them to dinner at my place.  But, it was a pretty busy week and I assumed I would be in meetings until the end of the work day on the day they came over, so I decided to use my beloved crockpot.  I ate the leftovers through the weekend, but made Life as a Plate‘s Harvest Chicken Apple Stew, which I had pinned months ago and was anxious to try.  I thought it needed a little more salt than the recipe called for, but otherwise, it was a great meal to prep the night before and throw in the slow cooker over lunch.

Harvest Chicken Apple Stew #harvest #stew

A photo posted by Gwen Schimek (@gwenschimek) on

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Tomato Cabbage Soup

It seems like it will be a week of soup and stew here in Iowa.  Continuing to use the vegetables in my fridge, I found a cabbage.  It seemed like a great time to make this cabbage soup recipe I found in the Serving Up the Harvest cookbook.

Tomato Cabbage Soup. On the blog. #tomato #cabbage #sausage #soup

A photo posted by Gwen Schimek (@gwenschimek) on

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African Pineapple Peanut Stew

Fall is officially here in Iowa.  And, with the CSA coming to a close, we were getting the last of our kale — and I was getting pretty tired of it.  So, last night I went looking through cookbooks to find something to use up what was left of the kale and swiss chard.  In the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook, I was ready to try something else out.  I found African Pineapple Peanut Stew and it combines some unexpected flavors in an intensive and wonderful way.

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Zucchini Carrot Cake

Last weekend, I went to a wedding which was beautiful!  My friend Minda, who lived here for a few months, married Dan and the wedding was authentically them.  The food was delicious, and even more delicious were the cakes.  That’s right.  Cakes.  Each table had it’s own cake and then guests were able to mingle around and find other cakes, the varieties of which I loved — White Chocolate, Chocolate with Salted Caramel, Lemon with Raspberry Filling, etc.

As we were talking, my friend Kara and I both suggested we made the best carrot cake and I decided to proceed with making mine — also because we’re in the season of the zucchini, and my carrot cake calls for a little zucchini in it.

Taken from the aptly named The Classic Zucchini Cookbook, they also share this could be called a “garden” cake because of the zucchini in it.  I modified the recipe a little bit, but overall, it matches with the recipe in the book.


Zucchini Carrot Cake

  • 2 c grated zucchini
  • 1 c grated carrots
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 c sugar
  • 2/3 c canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans
  • 1/2 c raisins

In a colander, combine the zucchini, carrots, and salt.  Toss to mix and set aside to drain for 30 minutes.  Put the raisins in a bowl and cover with bourbon.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9 inch square baking dish.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Using an electric mixer, combine the sugar and oil in a mixing bowl.  Beat until well combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the flour mixture and beat at a high speed for 4 minutes.

Squeeze the zucchini and carrots to eliminate any excess moisture.  Drain the raisins.  By hand, stir the vegetables, raisins, and nuts into the batter.  Pour into a prepared baking pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched and a tester inserted near the center comes out clean.

On a wire rack, cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 package (3 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 3 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter.  Add the sugar and vanilla.  Beat until smooth and spread evenly over the cooled cake.


Wonky Log Cabin Finished!

Just before leaving for break, I finally finished the top of the Wonky Log Cabin quilt I had been working on over the past several years (see blocks here, here, here, here, here, and here).  As I was looking to finish it up, I was hoping it would be an oversized lap quilt and oops, it turned into a queen-sized quilt.  Needless to say, adding some sashing greatly expanded my need to have 54 12 inch blocks as some quilting chart guides suggest.

wonky log cabin 9 patchesI started with the wonky log cabin blocks and when I realized I would need more fabric (or would have needed to approach the way I used my fabric differently), I decided to add some “solid” fabric blocks as well from some of the fabric lines I had chosen.  This particular quilt has a lot of Andover Folklorika fabrics in it, so I chose fabric from those lines to be a major component of the quilt.  Although I didn’t have the right amount of fabric (length) to complete more wonky log cabin blocks, I was able to make as many 9-patch blocks as I needed for the sashing.  Those were almost as much fun to make as the wonky log cabin blocks were to make.

wonky log cabin sashingOnce I added the sashing and the fill blocks, I tried to lay it out and the only place I could put it and see the whole thing was my queen sized bed.  So, now I need to sew some backing together — does anyone have great ideas for what the back should look like?  I think I’ll have this one quilted and am excited to get this on my bed!

Wonky Log Cabin top

Christmas Egg Bake

I’m just now catching up on the holiday baking and crafting that occurred, so watch for a few more posts coming up.

Somehow, perhaps because I’m not a fan of bread in an egg bake, I’ve become the egg bake maker in the family.  We decided to celebrate Christmas this year by hosting my aunt and uncle and serving fruit, veggies, egg bake, ham, and other items, to keep it somewhat low-key and relaxing for everyone.

Knowing that the holidays can be full of a number of different snacks and sweets, one of my goals was to have some veggies and not going over the top with cheese and other items in the egg bake — that stuff will all make its way into our diets when we’re spending time with family, so this seemed like a good way to have some protein.

Egg Bake post-baking

Christmas Morning Egg Bake

1 bag frozen shredded potatoes
1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 green pepper, sliced and diced
10-15 cherry tomatoes, sliced
diced ham
12 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp parsley
1 c mozzarella cheese
1 c cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a 9×13 glass pan and spread the hashbrowns along the bottom of the pan.  Next, sprinkle the cheese over the hashbrowns.  Layer the vegetables (feel free to adapt and add as you would like).  Whisk together eggs, milk, parsley, salt, pepper, and basil.  Pour over the vegetables and potatoes.  Place in the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the eggs have set.  Let sit 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Egg Bake pre-baking