Fiori di Zucca (Stuffed Squash Blossoms)

For those in the Mid-Atlantic, zucchini and yellow squash continue to grow well and you might be experiencing a bumper crop. Squash species will flower continually until continually until the first hard frost.. An oft-overlooked (but incredibly delicious) culinary ingredient are the blossoms of edible squash species.

Known in Italy as fiori di zucca, the blossoms are stuffed with a mixture of goat cheese and fresh basil and lightly fried tempura-style in olive oil.

They make an lovely accompaniment to a caprese salad or as part of an antipasti platter.

 

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sparkling water
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 green onion finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large squash blossom, with the centers removed.
  • Olive oil, for frying
Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water and salt until smooth. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the goat cheese, cream cheese, heavy cream, basil and green onion. Mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons filling into each blossom. Close the blossoms and gently twist the petals to seal.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour enough oil to fill the pan about a third of the way. Heat over medium heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil reaches 350 degrees F. (If you don’t have a thermometer, a cube of bread will brown in about 1 minute.) Dip the stuffed zucchini blossoms in the batter and allow any excess batter to drip off. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Allow the cooked blossoms to drain on paper towels.

Salt while still hot and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis for Food Network

Photo courtesy of Gourmet Magazine

New Product – Zelda The Friendly Witch

As we gear up for fall, we all know how quickly time flies and Halloween will be here before we know it. We would like to introduce you to our newest gourd to add to your Halloween collection – Zelda our friendly witch! She is approximately 6 inches in diameter and comes with an amber light. She has a green head, black raffia hair and a black gourdkin as her nose. Zelda is also our September Product of the Month.

Click photo to purchase!

Send an unexpected gift to a friend this Halloween – Zelda The Witch plus these adorable witch hat cookies from squidoo.com 0r serve them up at your Halloween parties. They are so very easy to make and the kids will love them! The best part, no baking required!

image courtesy of squidoo.com

Here is all you will need:

1 (4.25-ounce) tube orange or red decorating frosting
1 (11 1/2-ounce) package fudge-striped shortbread cookies (32 cookies)
1/2 (13-ounce) package milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped (32)

Directions:

Pipe a small mound of frosting in center of each chocolate-covered cookie bottom; press a chocolate kiss on frosting. Pipe a frosting band and bow around base of each kiss. Taa-daa!

Read original recipe here.

 

Homemade Caramels for Your Pumpkin Gourd Candy Dish

Our pumpkin candy dishes are a great conversation piece for guests. Fill them up this fall with your own homemade caramels! Your guests will be so delighted.

Gourd "pumpkin" candy dishes at Meadowbrooke Gourds

Here is a recipe from about.com for caramels that are soft, chewy and melt-in-your-mouth good!

Watch a helpful video about how to make these caramels!

To make these caramels, you will need:
2 cups of heavy cream
1/2 cup condensed milk
2 cups light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 stick (or 4 oz) of softened butter, cut into pieces

Heat the Cream
Place a small saucepan over a burner set to very low heat, and add the heavy cream and the condensed milk. Basically you just want the cream to get warm so it doesn’t cause the hot caramel to seize when you combine them later, so don’t get it hot enough to boil.

Combine Caramel Ingredients
In a large saucepan combine the water, corn syrup and granulated sugar over medium-high heat. Stir the candy until the sugar dissolves, then insert a candy thermometer and reduce the heat to medium. Take a wet pastry brush and wash down the sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals from forming and making the candy grainy.

Allow the mixture to come to a boil and cook until the thermometer reads 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the softened butter chunks and the warm milk-cream mixture. You will notice that the temperature will go down substantially, about 30 degrees.

Continue to cook the caramel and stir frequently so that the bottom does not scorch. Cook it until the thermometer reads 244 degrees, and the caramel is a beautiful dark golden brown.

Set the Caramel
Once at 244, remove the caramel from the heat and immediately pour it into a 9×9-inch pan lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Allow the candy to set completely.

Cut the Caramel Into Pieces
When the caramel is set and ready to cut, lift the caramel from the pan and place it upside down on a cutting board. Peel the foil layer from the bottom of the caramel. Spray a large knife with nonstick cooking spray, and cut the caramels into small 1-inch bars. If the knife gets sticky, wipe it off and oil it again as often as necessary.

Wrap the Caramels
As you can see, these caramels are wonderfully soft and chewy. Because of their soft texture, they’ll gradually spread and lose their shape if you don’t wrap them after they’re cut.

I like to use squares of waxed paper to wrap my caramels, and the easiest way is just to twist the ends, like a Tootsie Roll. You could also use cling wrap, or dip them in chocolate instead.

These caramels have an amazing, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a lovely creamy, buttery flavor, and they keep for several weeks at room temperature, so you can enjoy them over and over again.

Read more: http://candy.about.com/od/caramelrecipes/r/soft_caramels.htm

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick”s Day is such a fun holiday. We just love all the green decorations, shamrocks,  fun food, beverages, merriment and don’t forget “good luck!”.  Enjoy your friends and family this St. Patrick’s Day and surprise them with some green themed desserts.  They are all easy to make and will definitely put St. Patty’s Day cheer into your day!

These desserts are from BettyCrocker.com.

Click the photos for the full recipes!

Easy Grasshopper Bars: Chocolate drizzle and cool minty cream cheese frosting top indulgent chocolate bars

image from bettycrocker.com

Chocolate Mint Pinwheels.

image from bettycrocker.com

Leprechaun Hat Cookies.

image from bettycrocker.com

Don’t forget to grab a lovely green flower arrangement for your table and perhaps some green gourds for an unique centerpiece. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The Holiday of Love & Dessert

Valentine’s Day would not be complete without the delectable treats that go along with it! We’ve found a great recipe for red velvet cupcakes from Better Homes and Gardens that we think you will enjoy. Not only will this recipe make great tasting cupcakes, but these tasty treats are absolutely adorable as well!

Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

For more information on ingredients and baking directions for this recipe, click here.

Get your home ready for Valentine’s Day with these cute Valentine’s gourds. They are currently available at our retail store in Carlisle, PA.

Hot Cocoa from Around the World

We thought it was appropriate to talk about everyone’s favorite cold weather drink on this snowy evening in Central PA. Hot chocolate – or hot cocoa – is a a staple during this cold months, and every culture has its

Mate Gourd Drink magazine.istopover.com

own unique twist on it.  For instance, there’s Mexican hot chocolate that adds a pinch of cayenne pepper. It sounds odd, but it’s actually delicious!  In our culture today, we have the convenience of instant hot chocolate packets.

Yerba mate is an ancient primarily South American drink that is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Read more about it here. It is traditionally served in mate gourds, which refers to the many small gourds that are recruited for that purpose, such as the roger gourd, or those our miniature witches and hellers are made from.

This drink is just regular yerba mate with cocoa added.  You can use sweetened cocoa or unsweetened and add your own sugar.  It is often made with milk substitutes such as soy or rice milk, so, unlike traditional hot chocolate, it could even be considered somewhat healthy.

What we think of as traditional hot cocoa. gateway.aurorak12.com

If you are like the many of us enjoying a night at home because of the snowy conditions, here is a good ‘ol traditional American hot chocolate recipe for you to try. If you are really adventurous you can make your own marshmallows too. Martha Stewart has a great recipe for that here.

This recipe is for a deliciously creamy cup and from allrecipes.com.

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream

Directions

Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.

Stay warm tonight! :)

Winter Gourds

Winter Gourds image courtesy sheknows.com

For today’s post we wanted to share a recipe with you for winter gourds – the kind you eat, better known as winter squash. :)

These tips and recipes are from wholeliving.com

Winter Squash Tips:

These robust, versatile gourds come in all kinds of quirky shapes, colors, and textures, from the striped carnival squash to the elongated butternut. Winter squash get their incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties from beta-carotene and high levels of vitamin C.

They also provide significant amounts of potassium (good for bone health), vitamin B6 (essential for the immune and nervous systems), and plenty of fiber, making them an especially heart-friendly choice. Folate adds yet another boost to their heart-healthy reputation and, when consumed during pregnancy, helps guard against some birth defects.

Easy Preparation Tip:
Place a halved squash, cut side down, on an oiled baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until you can pierce it with a sharp knife. Or you can remove the skin using a peeler and cut the flesh into chunks for roasting, steaming, or sauteing. Once cooked, mash the squash, puree it for soup, or fold it into pasta or risotto.

Try this delicious recipe for Butternut Squash Curry!

image courtesy of wholeliving.com

Ingredients:
Serves 4

  • 2 medium butternut squashes (about 2 pounds), peeled, halved, and seeded
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 two-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, for serving
  • Lime wedges, for serving
Directions:

  1. Cut solid sections of squashes into large chunks and seed-pod sections into 3/4-inch-thick wedges. Puree onion, garlic, and 1 tablespoon water in a blender until smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, fennel seeds, and coriander, and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in onion paste and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until caramelized, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste, scraping bottom of pot if needed. Stir in remaining 3 cups water, the salt, and crushed red-pepper flakes. Add squash, and cover partially. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently until squash is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve over brown rice with cilantro and lime wedges.

Read more at Wholeliving.com: Butternut Squash Curry

Healthy Holiday Snacks

Mixed nuts make great holiday snacks.

A lot of people set out bowls of nuts and seeds when they entertain.  They’re a healthy snack that most people like, and can take no more preparation than opening a can and putting them into a bowl.  With just a little more effort, you can produce some wonderful snacks that are still pretty healthy and even more tasty.  The November issue of Real Simple magazine has some good recipes.  One of them follows, and here is a link to one for Rosemary Pecans.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts:
In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 large egg white, ¼ cup packed brown sugar, 2 teaspoons paprika, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper.  Add 2 cups of lightly salted roasted mixed nuts and toss to coat.  Bake at 350ª on a parchment-lined baking sheet until the coating is set, 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool.

Now, serve these nuts along side some wrapped candies displayed in one of our Winter Candy Dishes? Your snack display will be tasty and lovely!

Two of our Winter Candy Dishes

Quick, Easy, and Gross Halloween Punch Recipes

Got some real quick last minute party treats for you for Halloween night tonight: Two Halloween punch recipes. The first one is great for the kids.  Just combine all of these:

  • 1 envelope each unsweetened grape and orange soft drink mix, like Kool-Aid
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1 liter ginger ale

image courtesy of aboutmyarea.co.uk/

To make it really gross, float a hand on top.  Fill a clean rubber glove with water and freeze it.  When you’re ready to serve the punch, give the ice/hand a quick dunk in warm water and the glove will peel right off.

When the kids have gone to bed, you can spike the punch.  Or use this recipe for a really disgusting-looking adult punch called Sewer Water.

  • 1 bottle (700mL) vodka or vanilla vodka
  • 7 C. fresh orange juice with pulp
  • 1.5 liters (3/4 of a 2 liter bottle) Dr. Pepper

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butter Pecan Crust

en.wikivisual.com

Ahh! The nip of fall is in the air. Unless you live in Florida or southern California, it’ll soon be time to rake the leaves into a pile and jump in them.  And hot cocoa in front of the fireplace.  It’s also the time of cornucopias, dried corn, apples, ornamental gourds and, yes, pumpkins.  With that comes wonderful pumpkin recipes! We’ve got a good one for you: Pumpkin Cheesecake.  This cheesecake is not as sweet as cheesecake often is, it’s got a much more delicate flavor.  We’ve found that even children love this cheesecake! You can make it gluten-free by using gluten-free graham crackers – which can be found at many supermarkets these days – for the crust, which is a nice twist on the standard one.  So, here you go:

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Butter Pecan Crust – from Carolyn Mann.

cookingandblogging.com

Preheat oven to 350F.

Crust Ingredients:
1¼ cup finely crushed graham crackers
½ cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons melted butter

Crust Directions:
Combine graham cracker crumbs,pecans and butter in a bowl and mix well. Firmly press mixture into the bottom of a 9 inch spring form pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Place crust in freezer while preparing the filling

Filling Ingredients:
2/3 cup non-fat plain yogurt
2 (8 oz) packages light cream cheese softened
1 ¾ cups canned pumpkin
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cups nonfat evaporated milk
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Filling Directions: In a medium bowl, beat yogurt and cream cheese until creamy. In a separate bowl, combine remaining filling ingredients and beat until creamy. Stir into cream cheese mixture and beat until well mixed and creamy. Pour filling into crust and bake for 2 hours, or until middle slightly jiggles when tapped. Cool on rack, and then cool in refrigerator at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish with whipped topping and a sprinkle of cinnamon (optional).