Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Zucchini Season

If you have a garden and even one zucchini plant is a part of it then chances are you've got more zucchini than you want. I'm here to present you with two ways to get your neighbors to accept your offering of surplus zucchini with no complaints.

The first (and, admittedly, easiest) way is to load your trunk up with the excess zukes on a Sunday morning. Drive to the parking lot of the nearest church building and leave your gifts on the front seat of any vehicle that is unlocked or, even better, has its windows rolled down. You should be able to easily deplete your stash before anyone knows you were even there.

The second (and generally more well-received) method is to turn your zucchini into something tasty and deliver the treats to the homes of your intended recipients. Yesterday I went for option #2 and make my kids' favorite - zucchini muffins.

What's that? You want to know how to make zucchini muffins? Well, then - I love providing recipe posts with more pictures than are necessary. It sort of makes me feel like the Pioneer Woman, only much less popular. And with no awesome giveaways.

Let's get right to it!

First you'll need to go and find your biggest, ugliest zucchini. Even those baseball bat sized ones will work. Here's mine:
If you're lucky enough to have a food processor (how do you like those flowers in the background? Nice touch, eh?)
with a grater attachment
then the next step's a breeze. Just cut the zucchini in half, then quarter each half. If your zucchini is monster-sized you may have to cut it into smaller portions. It just needs to fit into the chute of your food processor. Then grate away and you'll end up with this:
Behold, grated zucchini. For those of you who only have a hand grater, you'll only need 4 cups worth so you can stop the arm workout once you've grated enough.

Put all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. This includes flour,
baking soda,
baking powder,
salt
and cinnamon.
I tend to go heavy on the cinnamon but you do what you like.

Here's what it all looks like in the bowl before mixing the dry ingredients together
and here's what it looks like after mixing. (See? I told you. Unnecessary photographs.)
In a separate mixing bowl you're going to beat the sugar and eggs
for a couple of minutes
and then add some applesauce.
Let zucchini join the party
and a teaspoon of vanilla
along with some nuts. That is, if you like nuts. (I do - and hey, you are what you eat, right?)
Now you're going to pour the wet stuff
into the huge bowl with the dry stuff and stir them together just until there are no flour glops left.
Get your muffin pans ready by spraying them down.
(This picture is totally posed, by the way. The pans were already sprayed but they just looked like empty muffin tins so I took another picture with the spray action. None of the other pictures are posed at all. Nope.)

Fill each muffin pan as full as you want. I've never been good with the whole 2/3 or 3/4 full thing and they always turn out just fine. I made some mini muffins along with the regular sized ones:
because everyone knows that cute, little things are more irresistible.

Put those babies (regular size) in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so. Unless you're making minis - then you'll cut the baking time in half.

Does making muffins ever make anyone think of a joke? Because I think of this one every time:

Two muffins are in an oven. One says to the other, "Is it hot in here?" and the other says, "AHHHH!! A talking muffin!!" Gets me every time. Love it.

Once they're nice and golden you take them out of the oven, talking or not, and set them on a cooling rack.
When they're no longer too hot to handle you can start to eat them.
Or package them up in some recycled container, make them look cutesy and send your kids to the neighbor's place with a batch.
Ziplock bags work, too.

When the neighbors call and ask for your recipe just tell them you'll get it right to them - then fill a grocery sack with zucchini and send it over with the recipe stapled to the front. You'll be their favorite.

It's win-win.


Marvelous Zucchini Muffins
(This recipe can easily be halved if you prefer a smaller batch.)

6 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon (mine are heaping)
4 cups sugar
8 eggs
2 cups applesauce
4 cups grated, unpeeled zucchini
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds (walnuts or pecans are good, too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. Combine sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add applesauce and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add zucchini and vanilla and blend well, adding almonds while blending. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir just until batter is evenly moistened. Spoon into prepared muffin tins. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let stand on cooling racks for at least 10 minutes.

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