Sep 092014
 

More zucchini…zucchini…zucchini! Everywhere! Recently Michael and I received a wedding gift from a very lovely friend who sadly can’t make it to the wedding. One of the items was a mini muffin baking pan. I was really excited to use it (and I was also doing some research on making some “dog” muffins that Bella can eat). But I had so much zucchini I decided to make some human muffins first and use up some zucchini. Here is the recipe:

Banana Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins (vegan)

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Adapted From: http://www.averiecooks.com/2014/07/banana-zucchini-chocolate-chip-muffins.html

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted (vegetable or canola oil may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk (coconut, soy, rice, cow's milk may be substituted)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup ripe mashed bananas (about 2 small/medium bananas)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded zucchini, measured loosely laid in cup (not packed in or squeezed; about 1 medium zucchini, I didn't peel it)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • about 11 teaspoons mini semi-sweet chocolate chips divided, about 1 teaspoon for each muffin (regular-sized chips may be substituted)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a Non-Stick 12-Cup Regular Muffin Pan very well with floured cooking spray or grease and flour the pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the bananas and whisk to combine.
  4. Before adding the zucchini, put it in a paper towel and squeeze tightly for about 10 seconds to remove some moisture. After squeezing, you should have about 3/4 cup of compacted shreds. Add zucchini to bowl and stir.
  5. Add the flour, baking powder, optional salt and stir until just combined; don't overmix.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop turn batter out into prepared pan. Each cavity should be filled to about 3/4 full, but not exceeding or batter could overflow.
  7. Sprinkle the top of each muffin generously with mini chocolate chips, about 1 teaspoon each.
  8. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes (for mini muffins) or until muffins are set, domed, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
  9. Allow muffins to cool in pan for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until they've firmed up and are cool enough to handle. It's normal for muffin tops to be flatten as they cool.
  10. Muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=43945

I used the recipe as a base and adapted it. So the changes I made…

I used real milk (1%) instead of almond. I also used the Trader Joe’s gluten free flour. To make this a little healthier and reduce the amount of sugar,  I made another substitute. When you bake with Splenda it’s a 50-50 mix. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, you use 1/2 cup of Splenda instead. For this recipe I halved the sugar and used splenda and I also included 1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce. I probably could have skipped the Splenda/Sugar altogether honestly.

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I wanted to use the mini muffin tray, which was 24 mini muffins but I had a ton of extra batter after filling those so I did a few regular sized muffins as well. Because of that it kind of made the calorie count impossible to calculate but I’d say that the mini muffins are probably around 75 calories each and the regular muffins are around 100 calories, maybe a little less.

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These muffins were awesome! And addicting! And because they are so tiny, bitesize really, it’s easy to just keep popping them in your mouth. The muffins were definitely DIFFERENT than any I’ve ever done. They were very moist and gooey which I attribute to the addition of the applesauce. I think maybe using the melted coconut oil also did that. I’ve never baked with coconut oil before. It gave it a richer flavor I think. Each muffin had maybe 2-3 chocolate chips in it and so the chocolate flavor wasn’t overpowering at all. Just the perfect amount of sweetness.

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I would say that these tasted more like banana muffins than zucchini. Every once in awhile I’d get a bite of zucchini and really taste it but the most dominant flavor was the banana. These were great and I will make them again for parties. I ended up taking a bunch to my book club group and then I took some to a friend’s house the next day when Michael and I went over for dinner.

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The muffins were a hit at the book club. I really, really liked them, too. They had such a different texture than I’m used to with muffins but it was pleasant. I think this is a great “base” muffin recipe. You could make some really interesting alterations…like maybe shredded carrots instead of zucchini or maybe dried cranberries instead of chocolate chips. I think the mini muffins were too small for nuts, but maybe with bigger muffins it would work well. Depending on how you end up changing the ingredients in the recipe, these muffins could be dessert or could easily be a breakfast treat.

I’ve never baked with coconut oil before and I have to say, I kind of love it! Will definitely be using coconut oil instead of vegetable oil in more future baking experiments.

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Sep 082014
 

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Michael and I met with the wedding coordinator and caterers at the venue. It was for the final walk-thru and planning session. It was a lovely, sunny day and we had so much fun! We figured out the placement for everything and finalized all the details. The venue was set up for another wedding and it looked similar to what we plan on doing for the layout (with a few changes). It was cool to see it set up and not just a big empty room. It made it feel more real somehow.
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I have to admit, I got a little nervous standing in the middle of the room there, imagining how it will look in a little less than two weeks with all our friends and family around us. Butterflies!

The next day, I went to the gym and did my old traditional workout. Most Saturdays I’ve been hitting the Warrior Room for my workout but this weekend the ladies were off on their bachelorette party  so the Warrior Room was closed. I got in my own kettle bell workout at my gym, did a bunch of other body weight exercises and free weights. Then I went up to the cardio room and ran on the treadmill. It wasn’t a great run. My legs felt heavy and I finally called it quits after a little over a mile.

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After that, I had a ton of kitchen stuff to do! Our garden exploded with the hot weather lately. So many jalapenos, so many tomatoes. I spent the afternoon making jalapeno jelly and then canning tomatoes. First, the peppers. I found a recipe that used a pound of jalapenos, which was good because we probably have about 6 pounds right now. And that is after we pickled half a dozen jars of them!

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I followed the instructions to the letter because this is the first time I’ve ever made jelly before and the first time I’ve ever worked with pectin. You know what else is scary? Measuring out 6 cups of sugar.

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Yikes! Slightly terrifying seeing that much sugar for a recipe! It’s a shame you can’t use sugar substitutes for stuff like this. But I know that’s a no-no when making jam.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
From: http://www.diaryofahumblechef.com/jalapeno-pepper-jelly/
Ingredients
  • ¾ to 1 pound jalapeno peppers
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 packets liquid pectin (measure out 2½ packets and have ½ packet ready to go if needed)
  • ½ teaspoon butter, if desired
Instructions
  1. Sterilize jars by running though the dishwasher or boiling in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Wash lids and rings in hot, soapy water.
  2. Combine 2½ packets liquid pectin (4 oz) with ½ cup sugar. Set aside.
  3. Rinse, deseed and rough chop the jalapeños.
  4. Puree jalapeños in a food processor or blender, adding about ¼ to ½ cup cider vinegar to smooth out.
  5. Combine jalapeño puree, remaining sugar, vinegar and butter in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly so as to prevent burning.
  6. After boiling for 10 minutes, add sugar/pectin mixture.
  7. Bring to a hard boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  8. Skim foam if any.
  9. Test for thickness by scooping a half a spoonful of the jelly with a cold spoon that has been resting in ice water. If it is to your desired thickness after coming to room temperature, then proceed to the next step. If not, add the remaining ½ pouch (1½ oz of pectin) to the sauce pan and bring back to a hard boil for one minute.
  10. Carefully ladle jelly into jars, leaving about ¼ inch at the top.
  11. Secure the lids and rings to the jars then add the jars to boiling water using tongs or a canning basket. Make sure there are at least two inches of boiling water covering the top of the jars.
  12. Process (boil) for 10-12 minutes.
  13. Carefully remove the jars to dishtowels to cool (you will probably need to process a couple of batches, depending on the size of your canning pot or basket).
  14. After cooling for a couple of hours or overnight, check the seals on the jars by pressing the middle of the lid. If it springs back, it is not seal properly. Refrigerate and use within a few weeks. If it doesn’t spring back, then it is sealed properly and can be stored in your pantry for 12-18 months.

I added the other 1/2 packet of the pectin like the instructions said and the consistency still wasn’t quite right. I added a little bit more, but alas, my pepper jelly wasn’t to be. :(  I still sealed the jars just in case it took awhile for the pectin to set?! Yeah, still didn’t. :(

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While the jars were cooling I got started on the tomatoes. I picked about four pounds of tomatoes and did a quick method of peeling the skin off, similar to what I did when I made the salsa a few weeks ago. I boiled it for like 30 seconds and then put the tomatoes in ice water. The skin came off so easy. Here is the tomato recipe:

RAW-PACKED TOMATOES WITH NO ADDED LIQUID

From: http://www.freshpreserving.com/recipes/raw-packed-tomatoes-with-no-added-liquid

Ingredients

  • 3 lb whole, halved or quartered tomatoes per quart jar
  • Ball® Citric Acid or bottled lemon juice
  • Salt, optional
  • (32 oz) quart or (16 oz) pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Instructions

  1. PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
  2. WASH tomatoes. Dip in boiling water 30 to 60 seconds or until skins start to loosen and crack. Immediately dip in cold water. Slip off skins. Remove cores and any bruised or discolored portions. Leave whole, halve or quarter.
  3. ADD ½ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 2 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot quart jar. Add ¼ tsp Ball® Citric Acid or 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each hot pint jar.
  4. PACK raw tomatoes into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Press tomatoes into the jar until the spaces between them fill with juice leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon to each pint jar, if desired. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding tomatoes. Wipe rim. Center hot lid on jar. Apply band and adjust until fit is fingertip tight.
  5. PROCESS filled jars in a boiling water canner for 85 minutes for both pints and quarts, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=44181

I wanted to do it this way so that I have whole tomatoes this winter to make different sauces and stuff. This was a very fast, easy way to preserve the massive amounts of tomatoes we have! It was seriously so fast and easy. I’m glad I did this recipe because if it works well when I open one of those jars in January to make homemade spaghetti sauce, I will be one happy camper. That means next summer I will most likely get the bigger jars and can more tomatoes for sauce.

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I thought it was a little weird that the tomatoes “shrank.” Anyone experienced with canning have this happen? I suppose I should have shoved as many tomatoes in as I could since they would shrink in the jar. Oh well, live and learn!

On Sunday after yoga I checked the jelly. It was better than the night before but still not set all the way. I looked around online to see what I could have done differently or what I did “wrong” and came across this website. It actually gave instructions about how to fix runny jelly. I followed the instructions the next day to see if it would work. I had about 1/2 an envelope of pectin leftover so I used that.

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And it worked! I am glad I took the extra time to fix the jelly. I added the rest of that pectin packet and resealed everything. It was a bummer I had to throw away all the lids and use new ones but I am glad I did it. The jelly set perfectly and I had a little sample…it was DELICIOUS and perfect! And spicy!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing little details for the wedding…making name cards, programs, finalizing stuff and packing things I will need that day!

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