What on Earth Should I Plant in My Veggie Garden?

So, here are some tips about what to plant in your veggie garden that we’ve figured out along the way. We hope they will point you in the right direction in deciding what plants to get and what seeds to start.

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Easy tips and strategies for planning your best veggie garden yet!It may be a bit early to think of gardening for some of you and we know the groundhog saw his shadow and all that jazz, but here in California we are getting warmer and warmer everyday.  Winter was very, VERY mild this year and never really held on.  I’m sure this sounds wonderful to some, but we really missed the snow,  rain, and chilly weather that reaches a lot of areas in our state.  After that horrific, record breaking drought and wildfires, we hoped for more than just one wet year (2016-2017).   It wasn’t meant to be apparently, so now it’s time to move on and be grateful for longer days, (and hopefully some spring showers!)  Longer days mean there will soon be new fruits and veggies popping up in grocery stores, farmers’ markets and possibly your own back yard!  Not sure why you should grow your own food?  Check out our post about why you should consider homesteading and why its great for modern families.Morro Bay Overlook Highway 46

“I’ve never grown my own food, what on earth should I plant in my garden?!”

One of the questions we get asked a lot is, “I’ve never grown my own food, what on earth should I plant in my garden?!”  It’s a good question and super complex.  Until we moved to the cottage, we always had limited space to plant or unique gardening circumstances like minimal sunlight, poor soil etc.  As we’ve mentioned before, we both grew up with summer gardens that we loved,  so we knew we just needed to work with what we had and figure out the rest.  We learned that even a small deck can provide a good amount of fruits or veggies if you choose the right ones for you and your family.  You may not be able to grow everything you want, but you’ll know what you can grow successfully and save yourself a ton of money and frustration. Continue reading “What on Earth Should I Plant in My Veggie Garden?”

Falling for Pickles!

The other beautiful part of fall is the abundance of produce that ripens at the end of summer/early fall. Especially cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans. The cooler weather also makes pickling a little less exhausting at the cottage. Pickles are full of vitamins and minerals and are often consumed to aid digestion as well as other ailments.

Simple Cottage Dill Pickles
A classic and tasty recipe perfect for the whole family.

Fall is officially here and it’s starting to show. Our maple tree is turning red, the plum tree is turning too. We love autumn, especially here on the coast.  The weather is mild and sunny and most of the tourists are back home in school. The other beautiful part of fall is the abundance of produce that ripens at the end of summer/early fall.  Especially cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans.  The cooler weather also makes pickling a little less exhausting at the cottage. Continue reading “Falling for Pickles!”

Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney

Our Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney is the perfect match for grilled pork chops, goat cheese flatbread, or paired with your favorite meats and cheeses.

In true punny form, we are ending this series with a bang!  Today we bring you a delicious and spicy condiment in Day 7 of our Summer Produce Series.  Our Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney is the perfect match for grilled pork chops, goat cheese flatbread, or paired with your favorite meats and cheeses. Continue reading “Spicy Stone Fruit Chutney”

Summer Red Sangria

One of our favorite drinks from that restaurant was the House Sangria. It paired so well with the warm and slightly spicy flavors of the dishes. It was light, sweet and refreshing.

We moved to the central coast back in 2012 for a job.  Dave had recently graduated culinary school and the recession hit us pretty hard.  We quickly realized that the jobs back in the mountains would always be seasonal, (at one point in late 2011, Dave worked a grand total of 36 hours in a month…MONTH not week!) and that the competition for each position would be cutthroat.  The recession ended up becoming the best adventure for us.  With only a few weeks notice, we packed up our whole life and moved 4 hours from everyone and everything we knew.

img_2072The job he took was for a new restaurant owned by a local restaurateur.  It was a tapas style restaurant with global and Spanish dishes.  We had never even heard of tapas before and had a hard time pronouncing items on their menu. We quickly learned all about this type of cuisine and what made it unique.  It’s now one of our favorite types of dining because of its unique social aspect. Continue reading “Summer Red Sangria”

Chocolaty Zucchini Muffins

Not exactly the typical summer crop that comes to mind, but once you try this, you’ll be making it late into the fall with that large zucchini crop!

Today, Day 4 of the Summer Produce Series we are bringing you chocolate! Not exactly the typical summer crop that comes to mind, but once you try this, you’ll be making it late into the fall with that large zucchini crop!
img_1961Zucchini is a great crop to grow, even if you have a smaller yard. Each plant yields several pounds of vegetables and the blossoms are delicious to cook with too! The plants are hardy and there are many varieties to choose from.  We like to grill them with a little salt, pepper and olive oil for a dinner side.  When we aren’t grilling them, we’re baking them like this…

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All the spices blend well with the moisture of the zucchini to create a flavor party in your mouth!

The inspiration for these muffins came from a recipe that is often made in Dave’s family. They make a chocolate zucchini cake that is moist and divinely full of chocolate. His great aunt made the cake many times throughout the years and it became a signature dish to bring to potlucks and parties. In fact, we made the cake on one of our first dates. Dave had made it several times for friends and we decided to make it together. So, I guess you could say this started our love for cooking together!
img_1980A cake is a great dish when you have a crowd or large family, but our family is still small and apparently it’s not healthy to devour a whole cake on a regular basis! (Say what?!) So, we came up with these muffins. They are a portable version of the original with a couple twists. A little less dessert and a little more breakfast.
img_1979They will keep in an airtight container on the counter for 4-5 days. Or you can wrap them individually and freeze them for up to a month. Just pull out however many you want and thaw them overnight.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but I promise, they all add to the layers of flavor in these beauties.
img_1974Hope you enjoy them! I promise, your kids won’t even know that they are high in protein and full of green veggies!

Chocolaty Zucchini Muffins

  • Servings: 24 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast? This muffin recipe is full of moist zucchini and protein to keep you full.



Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. plain, Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 c. zucchini, finely grated
  • 1 c. chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Fill 24 regular muffin cups with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar and maple syrup using a hand mixer. (Or the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer.)
  3. Add the oil, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Mix until fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl, blend the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, baking powder and spices.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter in two batches and mix until incorporated.
  6. Fold the zucchini and chocolate chips into the batter.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, fill each muffin cup 2/3 of the way with batter.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then enjoy!