Sunflower Zucchini Pie


In honor of my new collaboration with Eggland’s Best, I thought it would be fun to make an egg recipe for dinner!   I found this recipe on Eggland’s Best website.  It was created for Eggland’s Best by The Meal Makeover Moms.  I wanted to use up some zucchini and this recipe did the trick.  It was very easy to pull together and it filled the kitchen with a delicious cheesy aroma as it baked.  I like the addition of sunflower seeds; as promised, they added a pleasant crunch and are loaded with vitamin E.  (Don’t forget to toast them!  This can be done quickly in a skillet on the stovetop.)

For the first time ever I used something called “Whole Grain Brown Ready Rice.”  Though I usually try to steer away from convenience foods, in a weak moment I purchased this product, and I must say, for its purpose in this recipe it worked really well.

Serve slices of this pie with a fresh green salad and you have yourself a delicious and nutritious weeknight meal!  (Leftovers are also great!) 

Sunflower Zucchini Pie:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or a few squirts of cooking spray
  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded
  • 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • a few dashes of dried oregano
  • a few dashes of  dried parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 large Eggland’s Best eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice 
  • 2/3 cup reduced-fat Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat the oven to 375 F.

    Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

    Heat the oil (or a few squirts of cooking spray) in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shredded zucchini, seasonings, and garlic and cook until the zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. 

    In the same skillet saute sliced zucchini about 5 minutes until softened. 

    In a large bowl place the eggs, cooked rice, cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, milk, sunflower seeds, salt, and the shredded zucchini mixture and stir to combine.

    Pour the mixture into the prepared pie plate, top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and zucchini slices and a few sprinkles of cheddar cheese (optional).  Bake until golden brown– about 30 to 35 minutes. 

    Note: The above photo was taken post-baking and the below photo was taken prior to baking .


     Adapted from recipe by Meal Makeover Moms for Eggland’s Best.


    Oatmeal Birthday Cake


    When I made this oatmeal cake for my father-in-law’s birthday back in April, I knew it was well-received but I had no idea that it would become the most requested birthday cake!  MONTHS ago, my brother-in-law requested this cake for his 30th birthday dinner held this weekend.  While we were eating it every single person was ooo-ing and ahhh-ing about how much they loved it.  More than one person claimed they could drink the frosting—and I had to agree!  If you haven’t made this cake yet–I suggest you give it a try!   

    Oatmeal Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:

    • 1 tablespoon  all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/3  cups  boiling water
    • 1  cup  quick-cooking oats
    • 3/4  cup  granulated sugar
    • 3/4  cup  packed dark brown sugar
    • 1/3  cup  vegetable shortening
    • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
    • 3  large eggs
    • 1 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour
    • 1  teaspoon  baking soda
    • 1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
    • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon  ground nutmeg
    • 1/2  cup  buttermilk
    • Cream Cheese Frosting
    • pecans for garnish (optional)

    Preheat oven to 350 F.

    Coat bottoms and sides of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with shortening  and dust well with flour.

    Combine boiling water and oats in a medium bowl; let stand 20 minutes. Beat granulated sugar, brown sugar, shortening, and vanilla at medium speed of a mixer for 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add oatmeal, beating until blended.

    Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

    Pour batter into prepared pans. Sharply tap pans once on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on a wire rack.

    Place one cake layer on a plate.  Pipe one thick circle of frosting around perimeter of cake.  Fill with a layer with frosting (recipe below), and top with the remaining layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of cake.

    Cream Cheese Frosting:

    • Two 8-ounce package of cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter using an electric mixer, until smooth.  Slowly sift the confectioners’ sugar into the butter/cream cheese, about one cup at a time.  Continue to beat until all lumps are gone.  Add the vanilla and mix until fully combined. 

    Oatmeal Cake recipe adapted from Cooking Light.  Frosting recipe adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.

    Vanishing Oatmeal Coconut Cookies


    A co-worker is getting married in a few weeks so the office threw her a bridal shower.  I offered to make cookies and I got wind that she likes coconut, so when I spotted these Vanishing Oatmeal Coconut Cookies on Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen, I figured they would be perfect! 

    I was very pleased with the texture: somewhat thin cookies with a chewy middle and crisp on the top and bottom.  Since I am a lover of chunks, I think next time I will add some mini-chocolate chips and bump up the amount of coconut.  That said, these cookies were great the way they were.  The almond extract added an interesting yet subtle flavor and the addition of the coarse sugar jazzed them up! 

    Vanishing Oatmeal Coconut Cookies:

    • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature 
    • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal
    • 3/4 cup of sweetened flaked coconut
    • sanding sugar (optional)

    Preheat oven to 350 F.

    In large bowl, beat butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each.  Add almond and vanilla extract. 

    Combine flour, baking soda and salt together in small bowl and mix well.   Slowly add flour mixture to butter/sugar/egg mixture until thoroughly incorporated.  Stir in oats and coconut.

    Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Slightly flatten each using the bottom of a glass and top with sanding sugar.

    Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool for one minute on cookie sheets and then remove to wire rack. Cool completely on rack. Store tightly covered.

    Adapted from Blonde Ambition in the Kitchen.

    Escarole Soup


    Wow–it has been a while!  It has been a whirlwind of a summer and the reason for my recent absence is that my husband and I just returned from a fabulous vacation in Spain.  We had a really fantastic time and I have returned so inspired and excited to get cooking with some newly acquired Mediterranean perspective!   We ate so much delicious food and I cannot wait to recreate some of the dishes.

    With so many family birthdays and exciting celebrations of all sorts during the summer, I spent quite a bit of my time baking, as you can tell:

    Yikes!  Though it seems counterintuitive to spend so many hours indoors baking in a hot kitchen during the peaks of summer heat, in an odd way, it makes some sense.  Summer tends to be a time of indulgence.  Ice cream becomes a priority and my husband plays on 2-3 softball teams each summer, which prevent regular balanced sit-down dinners each night.  Also, when the weather is nice and there are more hours of sunlight we are less likely to sprint home immediately after work to settle in and eat dinner.  Now that fall is here (man do I love fall) it is time to get back into a routine and return to the table for long warm meals.   

    In addition to the overabundance of sweet treats, you may have also noticed some changes on!  Yes–we got a facelift!  I’d be happy to hear your thoughts about the new design.  Please email me with any suggestions or feedback: kitchenbelle at ymail dot com.

    And now, onto the soup!  I did some major food shopping immediately upon returning from vacation. In Whole Foods, I picked up a leaflet advertising meals for under $15.  This escarole soup caught my eye.  In need of something easy, filling and nutritionally sound to make for dinner–something that could sit on the stove while I continued to unpack and restore order to the apartment–I settled on this soup.

    The moment it began simmering our place smelled like my grandmother’s!  She used to make escarole soup all of the time when I was a child, yet I didn’t realize it until the smell evoked the memory.  The sense of scent is a wonderful thing.

    I adapted the recipe by cooking the garlic and olive oil with just the smallest pieces of bacon fat.  I was incredibly and pleasantly surprised by how unbelievably flavorful this soup turned out.  What I found especially strange is that I did not even use any salt AND I used low sodium broth–something I very rarely do. 

    Escarole Soup:

    • 3-4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
    • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (less or more depending on your preference)
    • 1 very thin strip of bacon or bacon fat
    • One large bunch of escarole, rinsed, dried and chopped
    • One 48-ounce can of chicken broth
    • Two 14-ounce cans of Pinto beans, drained and rinsed

    Heat oil on medium-low and add garlic, bacon, and red pepper flakes.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the chicken broth and escarole and  bring to a boil for about 15 minutes or until the escarole wilts.  Add the pinto beans and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  Remove bacon.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

    Adapted from Whole Foods leaflet.