Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This spring I’ve been thinking about all the projects that will keep me busy throughout the (hopefully) warm summer months.  Of course my list is forever growing, but one thing I’m particularly excited about is planting our garden.  Last year we enjoyed fresh vegetables in and out of season.  I froze lot’s of veggies and made a gazillion jars of homemade dill pickles.

I figure somewhere around mid March we ran out of our frozen French cut green beans.  Can I tell you how much I miss them?  My favorite way to cook them is in a little garlic and olive oil with a touch of parmesan cheese  – oh yum!

One thing I haven’t run out of yet is the grated zucchini I froze.  I usually freeze enough to make zucchini bread all winter long.  Since I already have posted my recipe for Quick Zucchini Oatmeal Bread  here before, and today I was in the mood for chocolate, I decided to get a little crafty in the kitchen and come up with a for Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins.  And as luck would have it, I succeeded and these turned out great!

What I like about these muffins is… the zucchini is barely visible.  If you’re trying to pass off some veggies to your picky eaters I can assure you that this is one way to do it.  Also, these muffins are moist, not greasy, and have just the right amount of chocolate to satisfy my taste.  As with most baked goods that I make, I also share, and the recipients of these muffins have given them great reviews.

And now for the recipe…

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

2/3 c. canola oil

2 c.  grated zucchini

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. dark mini chocolate chips, plus some for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 325.  Line muffin tins with cupcake papers (makes 1.5 dozen muffins).

In a large bowl, add eggs, sugars, oil, and grated zucchini; beat with an electric mixer until completely blended.  Add in baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.  Beat in flour, and lastly, fold in mini chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared muffin tins – filling each cup about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Immediately sprinkle some mini chips on the muffins once they are removed from the oven, and cool completely before removing the muffins from the tins.

Do you plant a garden?  If so, what is your favorite veggie to grow? And do you have a favorite?

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Quick Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

While most of you are busy creating deliciously crazy desserts with some of my most favorite summer fruits, I’ve been busying myself in the kitchen trying to make good use of our garden veggies.

So far, we’ve had fresh spinach salads, I have packaged frenched yellow beans, grated zucchini, and diced green and purple peppers for the freezer.  I’ve made sweet refrigerator pickles and preserved 4 quarts and 2 pints of dill pickles, and I still  have a quart of sweet banana peppers that I have to do something with.  And if that’s not enough, I made a chocolate zucchini cake, and of course, this deliciously moist zucchini bread.  Our garden is bountiful and I’m thankful.

This bread is awesome.  It’s not overly sweet and it’s super moist.  The oatmeal in it makes it slightly hearty and will leave you wanting just one more slice.  If you have an abundance of zucchini and you’re asking yourself what to do with it; this is the answer!

Quick Zucchini Oatmeal Bread

2 c. grated zucchini

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. granulated sugar

2/3 c. olive oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. old-fashioned oatmeal

(Makes 4 mini loaves)

Grease mini loaf pans.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, add all ingredients except flour and oatmeal; mix with electric mixer.  Stir in flour and oatmeal and beat on medium speed until all ingredients are completely blended.  Pour batter into prepared pans.  Bake for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pans before removing. 

Do you have a garden?  Or, do you give the farmers market your business?

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

If you’ve ever grown a garden then you know all too well how quickly zucchini squash can take over your life.  This year we bought one little plant to put in our garden.  One little plant!  Five zucchini’s later, with more on their way, and I’m asking“what the he– are we going to do with all of this squash?”  We are still trying to get rid of bags of shredded zucchini in our freezer (from year’s past) by feeding it to our chickens.  And yet, we planted more?? 

Did I mention that I don’t really love zucchini either?  It is a veggie that (in my opinion) is pretty tasteless.  I’ve never known it to be the star of the show.  Spaghetti sauce makes it taste better, batter and butter make it taste better, and then of course there is chocolate which makes everything taste better. 

Optimal picking of zucchini is when they are small and don’t have gigantic seeds in them, similar to cucumbers, but you have to watch them closely because they can literally grow too big overnight.  I might add that I’m not always good at picking them in their prime either. 

The best way to use up those slightly bigger than you had planned on zucchini is to grate them up and make a nice bread or cake with them.  And that’s exactly why this Chocolate Zucchini Cake came about.

This cake is super easy to make.  It’s also super moist, on the sweet side, and the reason I skipped the frosting.  Other than seeing a fleck of green every now and then, you will even forget that there is squash in it.  If you have kids and want to sneak some veggies into their diet then this is one way of doing it.  Just maybe not the best way.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

1 stick (1/2 c.) margarine, melted

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

3 eggs

1/2 c. sour cream

1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. grated zucchini

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Generously grease a 16×10 cake pan.

Put all ingredients (except flour) in a large mixing bowl.  Mix thoroughly with electric mixer.  Add flour and mix completely.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.  Cool completely before cutting.  Sprinkle confectionary sugar on top and serve.

Any suggestions on how to use up all this zucchini?  What is your favorite zucchini recipe? 

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Bow-tie affair

Walking through the grocery store the other day I stumbled across boxes of different kinds of pasta.  Call me a pasta obsessed if you will, but I couldn’t help it that this Farfalle was calling my name.  Such cute little bow-ties.   I figured I could justify my purchase of them by making a pasta salad I  had lingering in the back of my mind for a while now. 

 

The salad is so simple.  I call it my Greek pasta salad. Cook the pasta according to the package.  Dice up red onion, cucumber, and tomato.  Add the veggies to the cooked pasta, along with crumbled feta cheese, a bit of parmesan,  halved black olives,  Italian seasoning, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.   That’s it… Enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Bake

We have a small garden and some things grow successfully (like our cucumbers and radishes), and some things don’t grow well, or at all.  This year there is no sign of the green peppers we planted, or the brussel sprouts that I got all excited about growing.    So when our neighbor came over bearing yellow squash, zucchini, red onions and green bell peppers I graciously accepted them.         

      

I don’t think I’ve ever made anything with zucchini other than breads, or a chocolate zucchini cake.  This year I decided it was about time to live on the edge.  Maybe, I should actually use the vegetable in a vegetable dish – a novel idea.  And here it is – Summer Vegetable Bake.      

1 zucchini, 1 yellow squash and some baby carrots cubed – (approx 1 large) onion, diced – 1 green bell pepper – 1 tsp. Italian seasoning – fresh garlic, crushed -1/2 c. margarine -1 can of diced tomatoes – grated Parmesan cheese      

Bring the squash and carrots to a boil for 3 minutes in salt water and then drain.  Melt margarine in skillet.  Add onion, green pepper and garlic and simmer until soft.  Add diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning and squash to skillet.  Cook until mixed well, and tomatoes start to soften.  Pour into a greased baking pan and cover liberally with parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (veggies should be tender but not mushy)       

Squash and carrots after bringing to boil

 

Onions, peppers and garlic cooking in skillet

 

All the veggies in the skillet

 

In the pan ready for the oven

 

Out of the oven

 

Served and ready to eat!

 

With all said and done I would have to say this is one light and tasty summer vegetable dish.  I’m not a vegetarian but with a dish like this I might change my mind.  No disappointments here.  Enjoy!
 

Side note

Last minute decisions on what to have for dinner are pretty common in our place of abode.  It usually boils down to what’s on hand.  Once we narrow that down we go from there.

Last night was no exception.  After deciding we’d grill a couple steaks, the second question was – What to have with it??  Now, it should be noted that my husband does all the grilling and he is very good at it, so that usually leaves me with the task of preparing the side(s).

One of my more recent concoctions (which we have quite frequently now) resulted from having the lack of ingredients in the house. After scouring our cupboards and the fridge I came up with this:   First, I boiled some pasta (your choice).  I’ve used linguine, angel hair, and spaghetti.  When the pasta is ready, I throw it in a pan with some olive oil and a little crushed garlic.   Next, I add whatever veggies I have on hand – last nights dish ended up with a small sprig of  broccoli (par-boiled) from our garden and a few black olives.  Lastly,  I add some black pepper, some parm cheese, and Italian seasoning.  

Of course the beauty to this is you can use whatever pasta, veggies and herbs you have on hand.  It’s on the lighter side, and is quick and easy. 

Give it a try.  Let me know what ingredients you favor.  Enjoy!

“Try it you’ll like it”

Brussel Sprouts Galore

“Try it, you’ll like it.”  Who hasn’t heard that line before?  My parents tried desperately to get me to try new foods.   There wasn’t any amount of convincing that was going to get me to taste or eat certain foods as a little girl.  Specifically, vegetables.  Sure, I liked potatoes and corn but forget the cauliflower, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts, artichokes,  and asparagus.

As I’ve aged so have my taste buds (thankfully).  Veggie recipes have come a long way too.  What I remember about  brussel sprouts?  The strong odor they produced as my mother cooked them.  What I’ve learned since then?  She probably was over cooking them creating glucosinolate sinigrin, a sulfurous acid to emanate from the pot convincing me they were horrid long before she set them on the dining room table.

Slowly, over the years, I have come to like all of the vegetables I disliked as a child. It wasn’t until my husband and I took a recent trip to Charleston SC  that I was brave enough to try brussel sprouts.  A restaurant where we dined served pancetta braised brussel spouts.

These sprouts were so tasty.  When we got home I bought some on my first trip to the supermarket.  Winging their preparation without a recipe, my husband who is an awesome cook, whipped up a special marinade of olive oil, red wine vinegar, herbs, and garlic to brush on them as he grilled them.

These little beauties were to die for.  I’m now looking for plants or seeds to put in our garden so we can grow enough to stock our freezer for next winter.

Does anyone have a good veggie recipe to pass on?  I’m game…