Ellen’s Most Moist Zucchini Bread

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I love this recipe for zucchini bread. When my children were young, we lived in one of those neighborhoods where there were lots of children, fenceless backyards, car pools, and lots of sharing of recipes. This was one of those recipes. Lucy, our perky neighborhood teen babysitter, used to ride her bike down Sneed Road to our house; believe me, my children were as happy to see her as I was. One day, she brought a loaf of her mother, Ellen’s, zucchini bread. It was unusually moist and dotted with colorful green flecks from the zucchini peel.

The flecks give the bread texture and color that make it visually appealing.
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The only change I made to Ellen’s recipe was to add more zucchini and nuts, and on occasion, to add chocolate chips. One of my sons will not eat zucchini but loved this bread.
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What to do with a baseball bat-sized zucchini?

Like for many of us, I often make zucchini bread when I find one of those baseball bat-sized zucchinis in the garden. If you do that, too, be sure to remove the large seeds before grating the flesh by quartering the zucchini into long strips and cutting out the triangular-shaped seed section. For large amounts of grating, I use the shredder blade in the food processor. Put the grated zucchini in a colander until ready to use. They will start to sweat, and you want that liquid to drain away.

Have no idea how I missed this!  7 pounds 6 ounces
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Yield: 2 loaves or 1 loaf and 2 mini-loaves

Ingredients:

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3 eggs
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 pound unpeeled zucchini (a tad over 3 cups when grated)
1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
⅔ cup chocolate chips (optional — ⅓ cup per loaf)

Mise en Place:

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325º if glass pans, 350º for metal pans. Grease loaf pans.

Coarsely grate the unpeeled zucchini and set aside. If liquid forms at the bottom of the container while it rests, discard it.
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Beat eggs in a mixing bowl for 30 seconds on medium speed.

Add the oil, sugar, and vanilla and mix for two more minutes on medium-low speed. Beating these ingredients together at this point in the recipe is one of the things that gives fruit bread “lift” by incorporating air into the batter.
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Add the dry ingredients: the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Remember, when measuring flour, spoon it into a measuring cup and level with a knife as opposed to packing the flour into the measuring cup by dipping it into a package of flour. You can read more about measuring ingredients in my home ec post.

Mix on slow speed for 30 seconds. Mix gently, you don’t want to stimulate the gluten in the flour to become tough and elasticky.
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Add the nuts and zucchini and mix on slow speed until just mixed, about 30 seconds max.
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If you plan to add chocolate chips, stir them in now.

Pour batter into prepared pans.
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Cook for about an hour, or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 15 minutes and then remove from pan and allow to continue cooling on a wire rack. I usually need to use a knife to loosen the bread from the edges of the pan before turning it over to release it.
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My friend, Patty, describes how she made the recipe gluten free in the Comments section. Patty also substituted 3/4 cup of honey for each cup of sugar. This makes for a darker bread that is delicious, but needs to be called Honey Zucchini Bread because the final flavor left in your mouth is honey instead of zucchini.

I never thought of adding chocolate chips to this recipe until I started making my cousin’s recipe for pumpkin bread: Marion’s Crazy Good Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate ChipsI thought her recipe was great with chocolate chips, and since zucchini and pumpkin are in the same family, I thought, “Why not?” It was delicious! Surprisingly, not too sweet.
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© 2016 Judy Wright. All rights reserved.

Pasta with Fresh Marinara Sauce and Mozzarella

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When I have heirloom tomatoes growing in the backyard that are so ripe, they turn purplely-red,

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I shoot pictures of them. Glamour shots. Ad nauseum. That’s what I was doing when my husband came home from work a few nights ago. No dinner in sight. He gently asked what we were going to do for dinner. I lied and said, ” I was just getting ready to make a marinara sauce. Would you be a sweetheart and run outside and snip some basil [while I take a few more photos]?”

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I hadn’t planned to blog the cooking of this meal. There was no mise en place. No specified amounts. No recipe. Just a lot of gorgeous tomatoes and a long history of making marinara sauce. As my husband walked out the door and saw me start taking pictures, I detected the tiniest of sighs. I told him not to worry; dinner would be ready by the time the pasta was finished cooking.

I put a pot of salted water on the stove for the pasta and started chopping the garlic and tomatoes. By the way, there is no reason to peel or seed fresh ripe tomatoes. You wouldn’t do that if you were eating them over the kitchen sink with a salt shaker in your hand like my grandfather used to do (“before my heart attack,” he always lamented) so why do so with a marinara sauce that is only going to cook for ten minutes?

Garden Fresh

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Yield: Approximately 2 quarts of sauce

Ingredients:

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
About 3½ pounds of very ripe tomatoes, rough chopped
Salt and cracked pepper to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
Leaves from 5 stems of basil, rough chopped
8-12 ounces mozzarella, cut into one-inch cubes
1 pound pasta, cooked al dente
Grated Reggiano Parmesan cheese, to pass

Instructions:

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.

While waiting for water to come to a boil, start prepping the tomatoes, garlic, and basil: core tomatoes and chop into 2-inch chunks, peel and mince the garlic, and snip the basil leaves off the stems. By this time, the water should be boiling, and it’s time to add the pasta to the water.

Next, heat the oil and garlic together and, when hot, add the chopped tomatoes. Do not brown the garlic. It will soften with the tomatoes. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook the tomatoes on medium-high heat for about 10-12 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.

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Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Al dente is the goal; do not allow pasta to overcook. If all goes according to plan, the pasta, and the tomatoes will be ready about the same time.

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Add cooked pasta to a serving bowl. Add the mozzarella chunks. Add the basil to the hot tomato sauce and stir it in just before you are ready to add the sauce to the bowl of pasta. Mix it all together and serve hot.

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Pass the grated Reggiano. Buon appetito!

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To see which varieties of tomatoes I am growing this year, check out this post.

To see which varieties of cherry tomatoes I am growing, check out this one.

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A note to readers:

Thank you for reading my blog! Please consider subscribing. It’s free! If you are reading this post on a laptop, the FOLLOW  button can be found in the sidebar on the right side of the page. If you are following on a mobile device, you’ll need to scroll down a few posts to get to the button. If you do sign up, please be sure to complete the next step of checking your email for a confirmation letter that requires you to push one more button.

Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram: @JudysChickens

© 2016 Judy Wright. All rights reserved.

 

Sliced Beet Salad

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Last week, I returned home from a long vacation to a garden filled with produce and also lots of weeds.  As I cleaned each bed, I made one pile of weeds and withered plants, destined for the compost, and another pile of spring root vegetables.  After washing the veggies, I laid them out to dry. They begged for a photo. IMG_9567

All of these veggies were planted around March first. The “Scarlett Nantes” and “Calliope Blend” carrots and the “Hakurei” turnips were started from seed, the “Red Ace” and “Bull’s Blood” beets from seedlings, and the “Pontiac Red” and “Yukon Gold” potatoes, spring onions, and garlic from sets.

When you have such a sizable haul at one time, you need to divide and conquer in terms of prepping and cooking. I started with the beets because I love a beet salad and hadn’t prepared one yet this Spring.
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Ingredients:
fresh beets
@judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400º

Wash and dry vegetables. Do not peel. Place on a sheet of parchment paper for easy clean up later. Cover with foil and roast for one hour, then turn oven off and let them stay in oven for 30 more minutes.
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When the beets are cool, peel with a paring knife.
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Slice the beets and toss with vinaigrette. You may wish to add a little salt. You can serve as is at room temperature as a side dish, or serve them chilled. Either way, they are delicious and a cinch to make. I love the color tone and pattern shifts in the different varieties of beets.
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Another way to eat them is in a cold salad. Here, I prepared a bed of arugula, and topped it with the marinated beets, crumbled goat cheese, and chopped walnuts, all of it tossed in a little more vinaigrette. Alternatively, you could use feta and sliced almonds.
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If the beet greens are fresh and perky,

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I cut them off the beet and sauté them in olive oil and minced fresh garlic for a few minutes.
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Before serving, while they are still in the pan, add salt and pepper and squeeze a little lemon juice.

Dinner is served!

A note to readers:

Thank you for reading my blog! Please consider subscribing. It’s free! If you are reading this post on a laptop, the FOLLOW  button can be found in the sidebar on the right side of the page. If you are following on a mobile device, you’ll need to scroll down a few posts to get to the button. If you do sign up, please be sure to complete the next step of checking your email for a confirmation letter that requires you to push one more button.

Follow me on Pinterest and Instagram: @JudysChickens

© 2016 Judy Wright. All rights reserved.