HEALTHIER ZUCCHINI BREAD!

zucchini bread textThey’re out there and they’re coming – those overzealous gardeners who plant way too much zucchini. You can hear the pleading in their voices – “You want some zucchini? We have lots!”

Or maybe you ARE the overzealous gardener. Either way, zucchini abounds and it needs to be dealt with. Yes, you can stir-fry, stuff, and spiralize it, but one can only eat so much zucchini.

My suggestion is to make a healthier ZUCCHINI BREAD and freeze the loaves so you can enjoy your bounty months from now.

This recipe is packed with zucchini, but let’s not get crazy – I said “healthier”, not “healthy”. Even though I swapped the vegetable oil for olive oil and the whole eggs for egg whites, there’s still sugar in the bread so bear that in mind when slicing out the portions.

Note:  This recipe makes 20 muffins.  While it’s a little more work to grease, fill, and remove the muffins from a muffin pan, the benefits are portion control, ease of grabbing however many you want from the freezer, and the whole muffin is basically an end piece (my favorite part of quick breads).zucchini bread3

2nd note:  I noted both weight and cup measurements. Weighing dry ingredients is a far more accurate way of measuring than using measuring cups, but I included cup measurements for those of you who don’t have a scale. (Put digital kitchen scale on your wish-list!)

HEALTHIER ZUCCHINI BREAD – make 1 loaf or 20 muffins

  • 7½ oz (1½ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2¾ oz (1/2 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 1 T ground cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1½ pounds zucchini
  • 4 egg whites
  • 8¾ oz (1 + 1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T distilled vinegar
  • optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped & lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit. 

In a medium sized bowl, blend the flours, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and walnuts, if using. Set aside. zucchini bread13Using the large holes of your grater, shred the zucchini. (You can use your food processor or do it by hand.) You’ll have about 5 cups of zucchini. Take a handful of the zucchini and place it in the center of a clean tea towel. Gather the edges together and twist the ball firmly to extract as much liquid as you can. Do this with all the zucchini. (It’s better not to put too much zucchini in the towel at one time.) Discard the liquid, unless you can think of a use for it.zucchini bread15 In a large bowl, beat the egg whites, sugar, oil, vanilla, and vinegar by hand.zucchini bread14 Stir in zucchini.zucchini bread4 Pour in the dry ingredients and gently blend until the flour is incorporated – there can be some flour showing. (Over mixing quick breads can lead to a tough loaf.) zucchini bread5Pour batter into an oiled metal (or glass, if you don’t have metal) loaf pan and smooth top. zucchini bread6Bake 60-70 minutes (mine took 65 minutes), until a toothpick comes out clean.zucchini bread7 Let sit in the pan for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack. zucchini bread8The loaf needs to cool at least 1½ hours to firm up before slicing. Honestly, try and restrain yourself – you’ll get nicer slices if you wait.

 

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You Say Tomato, I Say SALMOREJO!

salemorejo textSummer is the time when vine ripened tomatoes are plentiful. If you’re lucky, these red beauties are growing in your own garden. (I’m so jealous!)

There are many ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes, but I want to encourage you to try this extremely fast and easy Spanish chilled tomato soup called SALMOREJO.

Bonus: No cooking involved!

NOTE: This soup is really not meant as a meal – more of a refreshing something to tide you over, or a starter for the meal. The olive oil makes it very rich, even though the consistency is thin-ish.

SALMOREJO – makes about 6 cups

  • about 3 lbs fresh tomatoes
  • about 5 cups (8 oz) French bread, torn into 1″ pieces (leave the crust on)
  • 1 clove garlic, cut into thin slices
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped, for garnish

Cut washed tomatoes into quarters – no need to remove core or skin. Place in blender.salmorejo3 Purée tomatoes. Place a large sieve over a bowl and pour in the tomatoes. salmorejo4Using a spatula or large spoon, slowly stir the purée until all that remains in the sieve is a pulpy mash – this can take 5-10 minutes. Discard mash into your compost pile or down the drain.salmorejo6 Put about 4 cups of the bread into the empty blender. Pour the strained tomatoes back into the blender. Let set for about 15-20 minutes to wet and soften the bread.salmorejo1 Add in the garlic, salt, olive oil, and vinegar. Blend until puréed. Add in more bread to thicken, as needed.salmorejo2 Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve either chilled or at room temperature, topped with chopped hard boiled eggs.

MUSHROOM CARBONARA: Deliziosa e Facile!

mushroom carbonara textPasta Carbonara is a delicious meal, but is often overlooked by vegetarians since it generally contains pancetta or bacon. Also, it contains raw eggs, which can cause salmonella fear.

Not to worry! Simply replace the meat with mushrooms, and use pasteurized eggs to avoid any salmonella. Pasteurized eggs can be difficult to find, but it’s quite easy to pasteurize eggs yourself. Instructions follow Mushroom Carbonara recipe.

NOTE: As Queen of Freeze, I would be remiss in my duties if I failed to remind you (some might say, ‘nag’) to freeze the unused egg whites for future use.

MUSHROOM CARBONARA – makes about 11 cups

  • 1 lb orecchiette pasta (or whatever pasta you prefer)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1½ lbs common white mushrooms, chopped into quarters
  • 1/2 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped into quarters
  • 2/3 cup chopped shallots (about 2 large)
  • 1 T pressed garlic (about 10 cloves, depending on size)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 5 yolks, pasteurized
  • 1 whole egg, pasteurized
  • 1 – 1½ tsp ground black pepper, depending on preference
  • 4 oz Pecorino-Romano, grated
  • 2/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped

In a Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts of water and 2 T kosher salt to a full boil. Cook the pasta until it’s almost done – about 2 minutes less than package calls for (it will continue to soften). Place a bowl under a sieve and drain pasta, making sure to capture 2 cups of pasta water. (Pasta water is a great thickener.) Set this water aside – you’ll need it later.

Into the now empty Dutch oven place the olive oil and mushrooms. Over medium heat, briefly stir the mushrooms to cover with the oil. Then continue to cook, uncovered, WITHOUT further stirring for 5 minutes in order to draw out the liquid. mushroom carbonara6After 5 minutes, begin stirring now and then until liquid has evaporated and mushrooms have browned – about 5 minutes. mushroom carbonara7Add in shallots and garlic, cooking another few minutes – just before shallots begin to brown. mushroom carbonara8Stir in the 1 tsp kosher salt, cooked pasta, and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water. Remove pot from heat source and let cool about 5 minutes.mushroom carbonara5 Separate the yolks from 5 of the eggs and beat these yolks together with the whole egg. As you’re beating the eggs, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the pasta water, stirring constantly – this will temper the eggs. mushroom carbonara4Then slowly pour the eggs into the pasta mixture, stirring constantly. mushroom carbonara3Stir in the pepper, Pecorino-Romano, and the parsley. mushroom carbonara2Turn burner to very low and continue to stir in order to heat pasta for serving, taking care not to scramble the eggs. If mixture is too thick for your liking, loosen it up with remaining pasta water.

Buon appetito!!!

PASTEURIZING EGGS

Note: I’ve watched many videos and read many sites about pasteurizing eggs. Plus, I’ve done it myself with no ill effects.  HOWEVER, you should do your own research, just to be sure.

About 20 minutes before beginning, remove eggs from refrigerator to bring them to room temperature.

Have a bowl of ice water ready.

Place room temperature eggs (still in their shells) in a saucepan and cover with about 1″ of water.pasteurizing eggs1Heat saucepan until water reaches 140º Fahrenheit. Maintain 140º for 3 minutes for large eggs and 5 minutes for extra large eggs. (You’ll probably have to turn off burner all-together to maintain the temperature.) pasteurizing eggs2Remove pan from heat source and immediately remove eggs to the ice bath for about 5 minutes. This will stop the cooking process.pasteurizing eggs3Remove eggs from ice water and refrigerate until needed. Make sure you mark them somehow so they don’t get confused with unpasteurized eggs.

You may notice the whites have become slightly cloudy – this is fine.  Also, beating the whites into a meringue may take longer, although I haven’t had any problem with this.

PIMENTO DIP: Bring Something New To The Party!

pimental dip textIt’s summer party time and that, of course, means food – particularly finger foods to snack on. Yes, we all love our onion dip, guacamole, salsa, and bean dip. But isn’t there room for something new?

Pimento Dip can be made in minutes if you have a food processor. If you don’t have one, then it will take a little longer since you’ll have to shred the cheese. (I keep my machine on the counter, so it’s nice and handy.)

PIMENTO DIP – makes about 1 2/3 cups

  • 8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch garlic salt

Using the shredding disc of your food processor, shred the cheese and leave it in workbowl. Change out the disc for the steel blade and add in the remaining ingredients.pimental dip1Pulse until blended, but not pureed – you want some chunkiness to the dip. Scrap down sides of bowl, as needed when you pulse.pimental dip2You can serve dip as it, or heat it in the microwave for a total of 2 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Serve with a substantial chip such as bagel or tortilla chips.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COFFEE CAKE: An Old Favorite!

coffee cake3 textMy mother used to love to buy lady’s club cookbooks. You know the ones – they’re made up of the members favorite recipes. Once I left home, she would buy them for me, too. This was years before the internet. Back then, we had to rely on cookbooks, magazines, and recipes passed on from friends and family.

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake became an instant favorite of mine. Not only is it delicious, but it’s made in a bundt pan, which makes serving easy.

I feel obligated to disclose that back when I was very young and could afford the calories, I would top my serving of Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake with vanilla ice cream, followed by chocolate sauce. Amazing!!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COFFEE CAKE

  • 1/2 cup + 1 T butter at room temperature, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups + 1 T all-purpose flour,  divided
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)
  • 1/3 cup dark or light brown sugar (I use dark)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped & lightly toasted
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

Prepare the bundt pan by melting 1 T butter and stirring in 1 T flour. lemon cake11Using a pastry brush, paint flour/butter thoroughly on bundt pan – getting into all the crevices. coffee cake8In an electric mixer, cream together 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar for 3 minutes (don’t cut this time short).chocolate chip cookies5 Beat in eggs and vanilla. coffee cake9In a separate bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.bundt2 On low speed of mixer, beat in 1/2 of sour cream (don’t worry about being exact). coffee cake10Beat in 1/2 of flour mixture, then beat in remaining sour cream, followed by remaining flour. Stir in chocolate chips. (The picture below shows vanilla being added now – I forgot to add it earlier with the eggs.)coffee cake11In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, powdered sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. coffee cake5Spoon half of batter on bottom of bundt pan, gently spreading it out evenly.coffee cake4Sprinkle on half of brown sugar mixture, then spoon on remaining batter, spreading it evenly. Finally, sprinkle on remaining brown sugar mixture. coffee cake6Bake at 350º F for 45-60 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean (it’s okay for there to be chocolate from the chips).coffee cake7 When done, remove from oven and let cake sit in pan for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to completely cool. coffee cake1Sprinkle on powdered sugar, if desired.

 

BELIZEAN RICE AND BEANS: A One-Pot Wonder!

Belezian rice and beans textThis is probably the easiest meal you’ll ever make. Simply chop the onion, cilantro, and red pepper, then throw everything into the pot and cook for 30 minutes.

This recipe is a lovely combination of subtle flavors. Try not to leave out any of the spices – I know most are only 1/8 tsp, but they’re important for the overall effect.

NOTE: Belizean Rice & Beans is super good topped with Avocado Sauce!

BELIZEAN RICE AND BEANS – makes about 5 cups

  • 1  15-oz can pinto beans, including liquid
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 2 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 T butter
  • 1  15-oz can coconut milk (or 1/2 cup powdered coconut milk plus enough water to make 15 oz)
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Belezian rice and beans3Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for a total of 30 minutes. At first, stir now and then – until it’s been cooking for about 20 minutes. At this point most of the liquid will have been absorbed into the rice. Stir more often now to prevent burning. If all the liquid has been incorporated before the 30 minutes is up, turn off the heat and let the covered pot sit on the hot burner. This is to make sure the rice is completely cooked. belezian rice and beans2Eat as is, or do something crazy (like I do) and serve as an open faced sandwich on a homemade English Muffin or arepa, topped with avocado. Yummmm!

AVOCADO SAUCE: Add A Creamy Tang To…Well, Everything!

AVOCADO SAUCE textAvocado Sauce is a quick and easy topping for tacos, salads, quesadillas, or anything else you want. As opposed to guacamole, which is usually chunkier, it’s meant to pour – thus covering more territory.

Queen of Freeze Bonus:  This sauce can be successfully frozen!!! So take advantage of avocados when they’re at bargain prices in the market (or if you’re lucky enough to have your own tree). Make up large batches (make sure you try the recipe first) and freeze in portion sized containers.

AVOCADO SAUCE

  • 8 oz tomatillos
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1 tsp garlic, pressed
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Remove and discard papery wrap from tomatillos. Wash thoroughly and cut into quarters. Place all ingredients in food processor.avocado sauce4Pulse until creamy – scraping down sides as needed.avocado sauce3 Adjust seasoning to your preference.