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.
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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 032014
 

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I had some free time and our garden was exploding…I decided to make good use of my time and take care of all those jalapenos! We planted 18 plants this spring. I know, that sounds like a lot, right? Yeah, it kind of is a lot. Michael panicked though. Last year we had a bunch of jalapeno plants and we ate poppers and pickled the jalapenos and gave a bunch away. Mid-winter we actually ran out of our pickled jalapenos (which has never happened before). So Michael was determined not to run out this time. Hence the 18 plants (and the one random plant that turned out not to be a jalapeno).

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I picked a bunch of peppers and a few of the ripe tomatoes. I learned my lesson from last time I cut up the peppers. I used latex gloves this time! I ended up using the following recipe as just a guide. I think I tripled it because I had over 2 pounds of peppers. And that’s not even all the peppers! There are still tons out on the plants. Here is the recipe:

Pickled Jalapenos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
From: http://www.simplyscratch.com/2013/05/easy-homemade-pickled-jalapenos.html
Ingredients
  • 15 large Jalapenos, stems trimmed {discarded} and sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 cup Distilled White Vinegar
  • 1 cup Filtered Water
  • 4 tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium sauce pan combine the garlic, water, vinegar, sugar and salt.
  2. Heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once at a boil; add the sliced jalapenos pressing them so they are submerged under the pickling liquids. Remove the pot off of the heat and let them sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Use tongs to transfer the jalapenos into a clean jar. Ladle the pickling juices over top until you've reached the top of the jar. Let cool at room temperature before securing a lid and popping them into the fridge.
  4. I personally, would treat these as I would any opened jar of jalapenos. They should last a long while if kept refrigerated in the airtight jar.
  5. Enjoy!

I’m excited to try these jalapenos because I think doing it this way (instead of just putting them in a jar with vinegar in the fridge for months) is much faster. I imagine these babies will be ready to eat soon! Look at these–the color was already different than the way we usually pickle them. I used a ladle to get the liquid and pepper rings into a big jar.

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In the jars with the liquid and peppers are some peppercorns and crushed garlic cloves. I tried to put as many of the jalapeno seeds in there as I could. I let the jar cool before sealing it and putting it in our spare fridge. I planned on testing them every week or so until I know they are ready to eat. Who knows, maybe they will be ready right away. We’ll see!

The peppers didn’t take much time so I decided to try my hand at pickling some other things. Next up: red onion. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time. I absolutely LOVE pickled things. No matter what it is, if it’s pickled, I’ll like it.

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The recipe I found was for quick pickled red onion–which was perfect because I didn’t want to pickle it and can it for real, I just wanted a quick version that could go in the fridge and be ready soon. This recipe claims to be ready within a few hours of making them. I doubled the recipe for the onions because when I weighed them on my food scale it was closer to 12 ounces instead of 5 ounces like the recipe says.

Quick Pickled Red Onion

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

From: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-quickpickled-red-onions-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-193247

Ingredients

  • 1 firm red onion, about 5 ounces
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar, white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Flavorings (optional):
  • 1 small clove of garlic, halved
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 3 small springs of thyme
  • 1 small dried chili
  • Equipment
  • Kettle for boiling water
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Sieve or colander
  • Clean jar or container

Instructions

  1. Slice the onions: Start 2 or 3 cups of water on to boil in a kettle. Peel and thinly slice the onion into approximately 1/4" moons. Peel and cut the garlic clove in half.
  2. Dissolve the sugar and salt: In the container you will be using to store the onions, add the sugar, salt, vinegar and flavorings. Stir to dissolve.
  3. Par-blanch the onions: Place the onions in the sieve and place the sieve in the sink. Slowly pour the boiling water over the onions and let them drain.
  4. Add the onions to the jar: Add the onions to the jar and stir gently to evenly distribute the flavorings.
  5. Store: The onions will be ready in about 30 minutes, but are better after a few hours. Store in the refrigerator. They will keep for several weeks but are best in the first week.
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I’ve never par-blanched something before but it was super easy and I could tell the difference in the onions immediately after pouring the boiling water over it. After it cooled, I put the lid on tight and then shook it up a little to mix the peppercorns and garlic slices around in the liquid. I also added a little bit of red pepper flakes, but not tons.

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For dinner that night I made bratwursts with some sauerkraut (from Trader Joe’s–which is awesome) and I tried some of my pickled onions! I also roasted some zucchini in the oven with a little grapeseed oil, salt, pepper and parmesan cheese.

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My pickled onions were AMAZING. They were so good I couldn’t stop eating them! I even had some with a snack of crackers, cheese and tomatoes the next day at work. Love love love these onions. I will definitely be making more and will can them so I can make a bunch of store it in the pantry. Seriously, make this recipe!

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