Sweet treat made from garden goodies: Summer Squash Streusel Muffins

summer squash streusel muffins

My oldest daughter has been generously sharing with me the bounty of her garden, especially the abundant zucchini and summer squash. I have a couple zucchini dishes I regularly count on — Chocolate Zucchini Bread and Zucchini Cobbler in particular — but hadn't yet found a pleasing way to prepare summer squash as a sweet treat. (My husband eats squash only when hidden in baked goods... so the need for such was real.) I recently came across a summer squash bread that came close to...

Click for the full recipe in Grandma's Recipe Box...

8 great reasons to bake with grandchildren

My grandsons helped me make cupcakes for our mini-celebration in Mac's honor last week. The fun led me to consider why such a simple — and often messy — activity can be such a great one for grandparents to enjoy with their grandchildren.

8 great reasons to bake with grandchildren

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Some day is now

Like many mothers, things I wanted to do and achieve for myself during the childrearing years were put on the backburner in favor of what my kids wanted, what they needed. In a busy nest filled with babies to birth and bathe and feed and teach how to fly—protecting and doing my best to form them into fine, functioning, happy, kind and compassionate contributors to society—there was no time to consider much less execute my plans for personal goals. So they were set aside, placed on a list of things I'll do some day.

Some day arrived last Saturday. With a nest that's been empty for some time now, I finally—finally, I say—plucked one of the items from my "Some Day I'll..." list, gathered the goods, and accomplished something I had been wanting to do for years.

I made bagels.

Homemade bagels.

From scratch. The kneading, the forming, the boiling, the topping with yummy cheeses and cinnamon (not on the same ones, of course), and the baking to golden perfection. I did it all.

Yes, indeed, I made bagels.

And yes, indeed, they turned out awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that I called Jim out of bed earlier than he wished to be called on a Saturday morning. "Come look at what I made for breakfast," I coaxed him. "I'm so proud of myself! You will be, too!" And he was.

I texted my three daughters with photos of my achievement. They oohed and aahed and said "Yum!" and Brianna texted, "Can I come over for breakfast?" And she did. And I shared.

And I grabbed my camera to share my bagelicious beauties with you, too. 

See what I mean? They look good enough to rival those we spent years and years purchasing from the bakery, the bagel shop. I can honestly say—and Jim and Brianna concur—they tasted as good as they look. So not only will I share with you the photo, I'll share with you the recipe, too.

This is a combined recipe, a melding of one from Taste of Home Cooking School Cookbook and the one included with my bread maker. Yes, I used the bread maker for the kneading, so this recipe is geared toward placing the ingredients in that, but you could surely make them without one.

Homemade Bagels

1 1/4 cups warm milk

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 egg yolk

4 cups bread flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or bread machine yeast

Melted butter, for brushing on tops

Toppings such as cinnamon sugar, cheese slices (I used cheddar, colby/jack, and pepper jack), poppy seeds, sesame seeds, onion bits, if desired

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place all ingredients except melted butter and toppings in machine in order listed, making a well in the flour for the yeast. Let the machine knead the dough one time (about 10 minutes), then turn off machine and let dough rise 20 minutes in the machine.

On floured surface, divide dough into 12 circles. Push your thumb through center of each circle to make the hole, and stretch to form bagel shape. Place circles on a well-greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise for 15 to 20 minutes.

In nonaluminum pan, slightly boil two inches of water. Slowly submerge three or four bagels at a time into the water. Cook for about 30 seconds on one side then flip and cook about 30 seconds on the other. Carefully remove bagels with slotted spoon and place on wire racks to let excess water drip off.

Place bagels back onto well-greased baking sheet. Brush tops with butter then add toppings, if desired. Bake 8-10 minutes or until slightly browned.

Makes 12 medium bagels (though I ended up with 13 because one of the 12 was huge so I divided it)

A little time consuming, yes. But hard? Not at all. And definitely worth it. I kept asking myself—after Should I have another...and another?—why in the world I didn't try making bagels sooner. Like when my bagel-loving daughters were still at home. They shouldn't have been placed on a some day list, they should have been made now, even back when the now seemed so impossibly busy.

Those boiled and baked delights have me looking at my some day list in a new light. In a nest emptied of kids but filled with time and possibility, there's no stopping me now. That's the kind of wild woman I've become, by golly—a wild, homemade-bagel-making woman, that is.

Like I said: There's no stopping me now.

Today's question:

What's your favorite kind of bagel? Have you ever tried making them yourself?

Cookies = Christmas

One major mile-marker on my road to Christmas has been passed: I hosted my family's annual Cookie Swap on Sunday.

The lineup of goodies swapped was impressive:

And the time with family was festive (with a large chunk of it dedicated to football, as expected):

My mom and sisters and I have been swapping holiday cookies for about a quarter of a century now, and Sunday's gathering had four generations of the family in attendance.

Cookie Swap prep time and baking can be quite a chore, but it's one well worth it as I hope the tradition will continue for many more years to come, for many more generations to enjoy.

Today's question:

If you had to eliminate all sweets and treats from your holiday diet except for one, which one seasonal goodie would you keep on enjoying?

Bacon, eggs, and Bubby

When I visited Bubby and Baby Mac last month, one of the things Bubby wanted us to do together was make cookies. Because it was so darn hot in the desert—even in the house—I convinced Bubby that it would be so much more fun to make and eat...well...bacon and eggs!

Believe it or not, it didn't take much arm twisting. Especially once I told him the bacon and eggs we'd be making featured none other than one of his all-time favorite ingredients: "num 'n nums".

Thanks to Grandma Judy, we had an easy recipe for bacon and eggs that required no oven, no stove top. I had made them for Bubby last summer, and he kinda sorta remembered that they were awesome. This time would be even more awesome, though, as Bubby was old enough to help make them.

So he donned his apron and set to work.

First, on a wax-paper lined baking sheet, Bubby carefully laid out double slices of bacon, aka stick pretzels:

 

Then Bubby separated the egg yolks, aka the num 'n nums, aka—for real— yellow M&Ms.

Once Gramma had the egg whites ready (meaning she had melted white chocolate in the microwave; see, no oven or stovetop required!), she poured the egg whites on top of the bacon. Bubby topped off the whites with yolks:

Time for a quick taste, so Bubby sampled a strip of bacon in the whites:

And again:

Heck, forget the bacon and the yolks, Bubby said, and went for every last drop of the whites:

Gramma placed the sheet of bacon and eggs in the freezer for "cooking" then washed up Bubby and his egg-white mustache.

Twenty minutes later, bacon and eggs were done, served, and savored!

One bite and Bubby was more than convinced that bacon and eggs are indeed so much more fun to bake and eat than cookies—especially on a hot summer day in the desert.

Today's question:

What is your favorite no-bake treat? (Recipes welcome!)

Cooking up memories

For many people, regardless of age, their memories of Grandma have her firmly positioned in the kitchen, cooking and baking up goodies that will forever hold a place in the hearts and tastebuds of her grandchildren.

I don't have such memories. I don't recall a single dish made by either of my grandmothers. I'm certain they cooked and baked and canned and did all those other culinary things grandmas do, but I don't remember any of it. I don't remember the taste, the aroma, the aprons worn, the utensils stirring, the old-fashioned appliances whirring.

My one and only food-related memory of a grandmother is the billions of blueberries my siblings and cousins and I would pick for my grandma on my dad's side, handfuls of them dropped into plastic ice cream pails alternated with handfuls of berry goodness popped into my mouth when I thought no one was looking. I clearly recall the buckets upon buckets of berries, yet I remember not a single instance of eating any blueberry goodies once the buckets were turned over to Grandma.

I want things to be different for my grandchildren. I want Bubby -- and Birdy and all others to come -- to have cherished memories of my cooking, my baking, my physical manifestations of love and adoration served up every time we were together.

I want my grandchildren to think of Gramma each time they smell cookies baking in the oven, each time they spread their peanut-butter sandwiches with jelly, each time they order macaroni-and-cheese from their favorite diner.

Bubby is not yet three years old. In those few years, we've been fortunate to share food and fun in the kitchen. I've had him help me bake chocolate-chip cookies. I've gifted him with my Christmas Spritz. I've treated him to jars of my homemade pomegranate jelly. And together we made dinner mints for Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, there's more to come soon. In exactly two weeks I'll be spending five days in the desert with Bubby. While there, I plan to bake for him my version of his current favorite dish: a super-easy, extra-cheesy macaroni and cheese.

For the visit, I've purchased a special grandma apron to throw into my Grandma Bag, and I'm mentally compiling a list of other goodies from my reportoire Bubby might enjoy while I'm there.

As a grandma who remembers very little of her own grandmothers, I say it's never too soon to start cooking up some memories.

Consider the cooking begun.

Today's question:

What food do you most associate with your grandmother?

Oh do you know the pumpkin grandma?

Last Saturday, I decided to make use of the pumpkins I purchased for carving, then never got around to carving.

So this is what I did:

Cut.

Clean.

Bake.Baked!Scrape ... into a food processor.Process.Wonder if it's supposed to look like applesauce. Check the recipe ... Yes, it's supposed to look like applesauce.End up with a HUGE bowl of pumpkin puree.An amount equal to this many cans!Bag it ... and line up for the pumpkin can-can, Rockette style.

"Take us to your leader!"Use one bag to make one of these. Yum!Use the innards to make these: Sweet-n-Salty Pumpkin Seeds.There you have it! That's how I spent 90 percent of my day last Saturday. But it was worth it.

Thing is, that was two pumpkins. I have three more pumpkins to go!

Today's question:

What's your favorite thing to make with pumpkin? Feel free to share the recipe.