Category Archives: Baking

Zucchini Bread

Meet our new overlords. They are green. Very green.

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It’s my first year growing zucchini and I limited myself to two plants. That’ll be the perfect amount, I told myself. Enough that I can have a few stirfries and try out some breads. Well, those two plants have produced veggies about as fast as our resident rabbits have produced bunnies and I am officially zucchini-ed out.

The problem with many zucchini bread recipes is that they don’t use enough of the vegetable! When you’re growing it– and trying to use it up– one zucchini does not make a dent. So this recipe makes two loaves with about twice the zucchini called for many recipes. BUT HOW? you ask.

Remove the extra moisture. Ta-Da! You end up with succulent bread with a nice crumb, but not too much water. Plus, these freeze great! (Wrap them in foil then plastic wrap or a plastic bag for longest lasting freshness.) I know that in the cold October months when I’m sick of pumpkin muffins, I will want a different squash-y bread option and glad I froze a few of these summery loaves.

Zucchini Bread for Zucchini Growers

(adapted from Eating Well)

Makes 2 loaves

 

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup of canola oil
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 3 large or 4-5 medium zucchini
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Prepare zucchini. First, wash zucchini and slice off ends. Then, shred. I use a box shredder, but I’m sure you could use a food processer if you do so without completely liquefying the zucchini. Take shredded zucchini and put on top of a clean cheesecloth or dish towel. Wring out excess moisture (this will keep your bread moist without making it soggy). Put zucchini aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray two loaf pans with cooking spray.
  3. Mix first four ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in shredded zucchini.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add dry mixture to wet mixture by stirring carefully until few lumps remain. Finally, incorporate chocolate chips.
  5. Pour half of the batter into each loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool in pan for about an hour. Freezes well for up to three months, or lasts in the fridge for a week.

Red and Blue Crumble Pie

I admit it, okay? No need to give me the third degree. I stole it, and I would do it again. I stole the strawberry from the strawberry plant at the greenhouse, the tiny, red one that was almost too ripe. I did it because I couldn’t stand to see it go to waste.

It’s that lovely season where the weather isn’t roasting just yet, berries are cheap, and I’m in a baking mood. All of these factors collide into a mixed berry pie of blueberries and strawberries, just in time for your summer savoring.

Red and Blue Crumble Pie

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups of sliced fresh strawberries
  • 2 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 tbsp of tapioca
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup of white sugar
  • 1 premade pie-crust (or make your own)

Topping:

  • 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour (or a mixture of 1/3 cup oats, 1/3 cup flour)
  • 1/3 cup of butter, slightly chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar

 Directions:


  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients and let macerate for 15 minutes.
  2. In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar and stir well. Cut in the butter until it forms small chunks.
  3. After fifteen minutes, pour the filling into the prepared pie crust and cover with topping. Put pie pan on a rimmed baking sheet (for easier clean up, cover with foil).
  4. Bake in the oven for approximately 50 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Minimuffins

My little girl got her first vaccines yesterday, so we stuck close to home afterward, just the two of us.  We cuddled and she napped a lot.  Fittingly, the day was as rainy and chilled as my mood.  While she napped I decided to make something “back-to-school”ish, to prepare for easy meals when I go back to work in a few weeks.

I LOVE homemade muffins.  I like to freeze them fresh and defrost a few in the microwave for breakfasts for me and the toddler.  He gobbles them up and begs for more!

One of my students in my public speaking class four years ago gave a memorable speech on making muffins, showing how easy it truly was to give up the box mix.  I’ve never looked back.  The biggest secret she shared was not over-stirring.  You want a slightly lumpy batter.

These muffins were based on a recipe from Libby’s Pumpkin, but the original recipe called for 3 cups of flour to 3 cups of sugar.  I had to reread that… 3 cups of sugar? This recipe includes whole wheat flour and a lot less sugar.  Feel free to double the spices, or even add in a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract.  These would be less healthy (but even more delicious) with cream cheese frosting.  If you add frosting, make sure to freeze them “naked” and add it when you defrost the muffin.

Enjoy! Get ready for fall and make some tasty muffins:

“Better for You” Pumpkin Mini-Muffins
(Adapted heavily from Nestle)

Yield: About 60 minimuffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 can (15 ounces) Pure Pumpkin Purée
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat to 350° F. Paper-line or grease minimuffin cups.

COMBINE flour, spices, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin, eggs, oil/applesauce, and juice in large mixing bowl; beat until just blended. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Stir just until moistened… (see pictures below) There will be lumps! Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.

BAKE for 15-17 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store muffins in covered container or resealable plastic bags. Can freeze for up to three months. Great reheated!

step one
Always add the dry ingredients to the wet
step two
Mix slowly
Step Three
There will be lumps. Don’t over beat!

Blueberry Peach Crisp

My toddler, newborn, and I went blueberry picking yesterday at a local patch.  Here’s where I would insert a quaint picture of this “family first” if such a picture existed. Sadly, it does not! I had the newborn in the Moby in front of me, the toddler rolling in the mud, and me, the only one intent on squatting precariously in the muck to pick ripe berries.  The temperature was already almost 90 at 9 AM, and I had to move fast.  Eventually the toddler got interested in picking, but he was more interested in picking the berries from the mud.  I had to take them from his hands before they landed in the bucket.

I had been aiming for a blueberry pie, but with only twenty minutes of newborn’s patience, I got about a cup and a half out of the four I would need… Thank goodness it’s also peach season!

Peach and Blueberry Crumble

(very slightly edited from Ina Garten)

Ingredients

For the fruit:
2 pounds firm, ripe peaches (6 to 8 peaches)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar (less if your peaches are very sweet)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 ½ cups fresh blueberries
For the crumble:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily. Place them immediately in cold water. Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, and cornstarch. Toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the a 7×11 glass pan or small ramekins.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes for ramekins, about 45-50 for a glass pan, or until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crisp in the refrigerator and bake before dinner.

lemons
I love fruit photography

I went searching for a delectable peach-blueberry crisp and broke the sacred rule of hot Julys— I turned on my oven! (gasp!). I hope I can tempt you to do the same.

berries and peaches
Another close up of the stars
batter
The topping ingredients
Blueberry Peach Cobbler
The finished, buttery product

Chili and Cinnamon Apple Cornbread

Yes, this is going to be as delicious a post as the title suggests…

I think we all have those foods that, as a kid, we pooh-poohed without giving them a chance.  For my husband, it was eggplant.  For me, tuna, chicken salad, and chili.  The dislike for chili came from being served it so often that I just couldn’t appreciate it.  Now, my family served up chili with a big scoop of cottage cheese in the middle and sometimes macaroni noodles, but otherwise the flavor was pretty standard fare… except that we were always eating tomatoes my father had canned.  I realize now (older, wiser, blah blah blah) that garden fresh tomatoes can really make the best chili. And so do fresh peppers and fresh onions, if you’ve got them on hand.  I was pretty pleased that all I had to buy for this recipe was the meat! Continue reading Chili and Cinnamon Apple Cornbread

Cheap Peaches

“Going to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches”

Stone Fruit Lattice Pie

,… and plums and nectarines. That’s life right now, and I’m loving it.  This morning’s adventure (every trip outside the house is an adventure to a one-year old) was a trip to the grocery store where bags of over-ripe stone fruits were begging to be adopted.  I just had to oblige.

How can a deal-crazy, pie-hungry woman ignore a bag of plums, peaches, and nectarines for $2.75?  I dare you to try. Continue reading Cheap Peaches