Green Pea Pesto Dip

This is a recipe that had been on my list of recipes to make for at least a year.  (To be honest, there are hundreds of these recipes, so this should not be surprising…)  But, I had wanted to make the dip and had even planned to make the dip a few different times over the past few months, and finally, we had a staff gathering where I thought I should actually make this.  We had our annual fall retreat a few weeks ago and then gathered together at our VP’s house to end the day, with veggies, chips, salsa, and other snacks.  I decided to contribute this recipe from The New Midwestern Table cookbook.

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Green Pea Pesto Dip

1 cup frozen petite green peas
1 clove garlic
1 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
½ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
¼ cup shelled salted pistachios, plus a handful for garnish
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1¼ cups (2½ ounces) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Measure the frozen peas into a mesh sieve and run warm water over them until the ice melts. Drain well. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic and basil and process until finely chopped. Add the peas, ricotta, pistachios, salt, and pepper, and process again until coarsely ground. Add the olive oil and all but 1 or 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, and pulse until just combined. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl. Roughly chop the extra pistachios and scatter them, along with the remaining Parmesan cheese, on top of the dip.


Pumpkin Coconut Bars

Clearly, I haven’t been much in the mood to write or bake a whole lot over the past six months.  I did, however, come across several posts which I had started and not finished posting, so I will be sharing a number of these with you over the upcoming weeks.  I made these pumpkin coconut bars from Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners cookbook.  I had some gingersnaps I needed to use up and this recipe absolutely stood out.  I likely would not make these until the fall — they are such a fall-oriented recipe between the pumpkin and ginger in the recipe.  But, they were great and if you need to bring an unexpected bar to an event, consider this option.

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Pumpkin Coconut Bars

Forty 2-inch gingersnaps
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2 large eggs
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon table salt
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 13 × 9 × 2-inch baking pan. Grind the gingersnaps in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade to make crumbs (about 2 cups). Melt the butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir together the gingersnap crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl; pat the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 5 minutes, until the crumbs begin to darken. Meanwhile, whisk together the coconut milk, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, and salt until smooth. Stir in the pumpkin puree and spread the mixture evenly over the crumbs. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the center has set. Transfer to a rack and let cool slightly. Cut into 12 bars and serve warm; refrigerate any leftovers.

Charlotte’s Peanut Butter Brownies

Some of the neighborhood girls went to volleyball camp in an unconditioned gym during the hottest week of the summer and I definitely wanted to bring them a little bit of a snack for afterward.  Looking through one of the cookbooks, I came across these brownies from the 75th Anniversary WMT Cookbook.  So, a great community cookbook with this super sweet recipe.  They were sooooo sweet.  But also delicious.  If you have a need for really delicious sugary dessert snack, put these together.  I was a bit skeptical because the chocolate is a “glaze” that goes on afterwards, but it definitely held a good chocolate flavor.

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Charlotte’s Peanut Butter Brownies

1 c shortening, part butter
1 c peanut butter
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Mix like any brownie recipe.  Put into a greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes and UNDERBAKE as any brownie.  When they are taken out of the oven, score into serving pieces IMMEDIATELY and pour the following glaze all over


1 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 c cocoa powder

Add enough hot water to make a glaze.

Squash Squares

As I recently mentioned, I came into a patch of summer squash and wanted to use a bunch of it up.  This recipe from The Classic Zucchini Cookbook looked intriguing enough.  So, I took out the food processor, started the grater, and put this together.  The cookie base cooked a little more quickly than I expected.  I greased the pan with spray, rather than taking the time to actually butter it.  In hindsight, I wish I would have actually buttered it.  These taste a little bit like pecan pie and pumpkin pie mixed together  And, the folks I brought them to had no idea there were vegetables in the bars they were eating.  I’m not sure if I slightly undercooked them or if they should always be refrigerated, but I found they needed that to hold together.

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Squash Squares

Cookie Layer
1/2 c butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 c flour

2 large eggs
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 c slivered almonds
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
2 c grated yellow summer squash
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter a 9×13 pan.  To make the cookie layer, cream together the butter and sugar by hand, with a stand mixer or in a food processor.  Add the 1 c flour and mix until the dough comes together.  Transfer to the baking pan and pat down the mixture to cover the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 15 minutes.

While the cookie layer bakes, make the topping.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Add the brown sugar, almonds, almond extract, and vanilla.  Stir in the squash.  Add the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix thoroughly.  When the cookie layer is done, spread the squash mixture evenly on top.  Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.

On a wire rack, cool completely before cutting into small squares.

Summer Squash Lemon Poppyseed Bread

One of my friends in the neighborhood came into a wealth of summer squash and left some under my mailbox last week.  Since we are in the midst of orientation and welcoming folks back to campus, my ability to be at home consistently is in question, especially around mealtimes.  But, on Saturday morning, I had a few hours when I could do some baking and prep some meals, some thank yous, and generally be ready for the week ahead.  I went looking for recipes to use the summer squash and had found one recipe in the zucchini cookbook for summer squash bars — recipe forthcoming, and a recipe for squice cake — a squash spice cake.  I didn’t want to take the time to make cupcakes and a cake seemed like too much for a few of the needs, but after exploring a few different squash bread recipes online, the one at The Wanderlust Kitchen was just what I was looking for.  I followed the recipe almost exactly.  I ran out of almond flavoring part way through and substituted extra vanilla.  The recipe is below in case the Wanderlust Kitchen website disappears some day.

Summer Squash Lemon Poppyseed Bread

Summer Squash Lemon Poppyseed Bread

1 c melted unsalted butter
2 c sugar
juice and zest of 2 small lemons
1 tsp almond flavor
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 c flour
2 c grated summer squash (2 small squash)
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease the equivalent of 2 loaf pans (I used smaller pans and so each recipe made about 3 smaller pans).  Place the melted butter, sugar, lemon juice and zest, almond flavor and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl.  Cream together until fluffy.  Add the eggs, salt, baking soda, baking powder and mix well.  Add in flour, and fold in summer squash and poppy seeds.

Divide the batter between the greased loaf pans.  Bake for 45 minutes — 1 hour 15 minutes (depending on the size of your loaf pan, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.