Not Your Mama's Zucchini Bread and Other Zucchini Things

Frozen cup of shredded zucchini - makes life easy and fast!
I got a wild hair the other day.  I was looking at my out of control zucchini and was wondering how I could save some for winter.  It would be so nice to have fresh zucchini bread or muffins on those cold mornings.  I thought about freezing it, but the problem is how.  I could shred it and freeze it, but it's hard to measure when it is frozen.  So, I came up with this wild's radical...can you handle it???  I shredded some of my larger zucchinis in my food processor and then pressed them into a one-cup measuring cup and inverted it onto a parchment lined pan.  Very carefully, I lifted the cup to leave a beautiful little formed mound of zucchini.  I popped the pan into the freezer and froze them.  After they were frozen, I carefully placed the premeasured little zucchini towers into plastic bags and placed them in the freezer.  Now I can just reach into the freezer, pull out a cup of zucchini and go to town. 

Packed up and ready for the freezer.
I can't wait to use these through the winter.  It will be easy and mess free...leaving me more time to ski and have fun in the snow with my kids!

Nothing says end of summer like zucchini bread
While we are on the subject of zucchini, I made the most amazing zucchini bread this morning.  It is absolutely glorious, it redefines zucchini bread!  I got the recipe from one of my favorite blogs: 101 Cookbooks.  This blog is all about healthier eating, beautiful and flavorful recipes and is so well done.  Heidi Swanson is the name of the girl that writes it, she is also the author of a recently published cookbook and writes periodically for Gourmet Magazine.  I have loved reading her blog over the last few years.  It is packed with wonderful ideas and I love that she eats and cooks natural healthy foods and uses a lot of fresh ingredients.

This recipe is absolutely amazing.  A lot of the ingredients are listed as optional, but if you want an amazing experience for your taste buds, I recommend that you go all the way with this one.  The flavors of the spices all play on one another, and the whole thing comes off more as a cake than a bread.  I love the nutty flavors of the poppy seeds and the brightness of the lemon zest mixed with the sweetness of the cinnamon.  The coriander and cumin really develop the flavor and round it out.  I am so in love with this!!!

Crystallized ginger

I slightly modified this from the original version.  I didn't have a particular spice blend, so I made my own.  Ingenuity never hurt anyone!  I will give you the recipe as I made it and a link to the recipe on Heidi's site so you can look at the original recipe.

Make this in the morning and your house will smell fantastic all day!!!  My three year old son declared after tasting a warm slice of bread covered in butter, "this is the bestest blead eva"!  So, it must be pretty tasty.

Adapted from: 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top of bread
1/3 cup poppy seeds (optional)
zest of two lemons (optional)
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fine grain natural cane sugar or brown sugar, lightly packed
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups grated zucchini, skins on, if it is really moist then squeeze a little moisture out and fluff it back up again.  I didn't squeeze out any moisture from mine and it was perfect.

3 cups all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 scant tsp coriander
1/2 scant tsp cumin
1/4 scant tsp ground cloves
1/2 scant tsp ground ginger

Preheat your oven to 350ºF.  Butter two loaf pans, dust them with a bit of flour and set aside.  Alternately, you can line the pans with a sheet of parchment.  Leave a few inches of overhang to make "handles" to remove the loaf from the pan after baking.  

In a small bowl, combine the walnuts, poppy seeds, lemon zest and crystallized ginger.  

In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy.  Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer crumbly.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition.  Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini (low speed with the mixer).

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, cumin and ground ginger.  Add these ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition.  

By hand, fold in the nut, poppy seed, lemon zest and crystallized ginger.  Avoid over mixing the batter, it should be thick and moist, not unlike a buttercream frosting.  

Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans.  Make sure it is level in the two pans, by running a spatula over each loaf.  Top with a few nuts.  Bake for about 40-45 minutes on the middle rack of the oven.  Underbaking zucchini bread slightly will keep it moist.  Keep in mind that it will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven.  Remove from the oven, cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Turn out onto wire racks to continue cooling.  If you leave them in their pans they will get sweaty and moist as they cool (think about that sweaty guy next to you at the gym...sweaty...moist...not good), wire racks are a must.  

Makes 2 loaves.

Little slice of heaven


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