Attack of the Mutant Zucchini [Bread] of Doom!

Fact: Desserts baked during eXtreme weather are eXtremely good (though maybe everything tastes delicious when you’re just glad to be alive).

Last Thursday, in the midst of tornado warnings, torrential downpours, and freakishly-colored skies, did I hunker down in my building’s basement like a smart person would? If you guessed “absolutely not,” you are correct – instead, I ignored the tornado sirens and baked me up some zucchini bread. I needed to use up the obscenely large zucchinis from my garden, and teh interwebz led me to this scrumptious-looking specimen of a recipe. Despite my way-too-late realizations that 1.) my applesauce was moldy, 2.) the recipe was for 2 loaves, when really I only wanted one, and 3.) I used spaghetti squash for about half the zucchini amount, my oven spewed forth some of the most moist and delicious zucchini bread I’ve had in recent memory.

Eat me up, Scotty!

Okay, I’m gonna say that again – I used spaghetti squash in place of zucchini. And… it wasn’t really on purpose. Yeah, I know. See, I planted some spaghetti squash seeds earlier this year, but only one plant survived the transfer from its cozy potted home to the rough wilds of Wisconsin soil. But then I thought it died because I only saw zucchini growing in the area where I’d planted the spaghetti squash. Except… they weren’t regular zucchini. They were large and spherical, but with the exact same mottling as a regular ol’ zucchini. Instead of accepting the logical solution – that they were immature spaghetti squash from the plant that survived – I instead decided that they were mutant zucchinis, the perfect accompaniment to my monstrously large real-zucchinis. But they weren’t, as I discovered when I hacked one open in search of more zucchini flesh for my bread. Nope, they were straight-up spaghetti squash, just a little green on the outside. Durrr.

I just went with it, though, and guess what? You’d never guess that an imposter is hiding in the loaf or amongst the giant muffins. Nah, it’s all just one smooth, slightly spicy, moist and delicious loaf of yum.

And that, my friends, is the way I like it. :)

Raw Wednesday: A Lack of Novelty

I failed to diversify this Raw Wednesday, by which I mean that I ate the exact same thing I had a couple of weeks ago. Maybe that makes me super lame and boring, but I appreciate a dish I can depend on, one that I know is going to satisfy me and taste delicious. If a raw meal can count as a comforting standby, then that’s a good thing, right? I think so, and Gena‘s Zucchini Marinara is well on the way to achieving that status. My meal tonight was both beautiful and delicious, as ever.

Raw deliciousness.

When I made this dish two weeks ago, I enjoyed mixing avocado slices with my zucchini noodles. Tonight, I used sliced mushrooms instead, and found that the marinara complemented them quite well. I wasn’t extremely hungry, so I had leftover sauce, and my brother ended up mixing it with some bottled marinara sauce and using it over regular ol’ pasta. We both enjoyed our dinners, and now I’m going to wrap up this short ‘n sweet post to go do some shopping with the aforementioned brother. Ciao!

I’m on a [Zucchini] Boat!

The late-summer zucchini lovin’ continues! Inspired by a couple of fantastic-looking recipes I’ve seen floating around the blogworld recently, I made some zucchini boats of my own for dinner a few nights ago.

Using recipes as a vessel for a delicious stuffing is always genius in my book, but somehow I’d never thought of using zucchini in this capacity. How stupid! They make perfectly charming and delicious boats, and you can improvise the stuffing based on whatever veggies/leftovers/grains strike your fancy on a given night. When I served them, I only had two zucchini in the fridge, so I ended up serving quite a bit of the stuffing as a side dish. With a couple of slices of rye bread, this made an excellent dinner.

Zucchini looove.
(Mom photographed the meal again… hehe.)

Although I basically opened the fridge and pulled out random bits of food, I’m going to post a really rough recipe anyway. :)

Zucchini Boats Stuffed with Israeli Cous Cous
Ingredients
3/4 cup Israeli cous cous
A few zucchini
Veggies for stuffing – I used grated carrot, chopped mushrooms, fresh corn, chopped olives, and chopped onions
Spices – I think I used oregano, thyme, a bit of cayenne, and herbes de Provence
Tomato sauce, if you have a jar you want to finish
Whole wheat breadcrumbs

First, preheat your oven to ~375. Next, make your cous cous or grain of choice; I’ve seen rice and quinoa used in different recipes. As your grain is cooking, start choppin’ your veggies and and heat a bit of oil in a pan. Cut your zucchini in half and use a teaspoon to scoop out their innards. Throw all your veggies (including the zucchini innards) into the pan and let them saute up a bit; spice as desired. When they seem properly softened, add them to your grain and combine. Then add tomato sauce (or chopped tomatoes or a bit of tomato paste) and flavor with some nutritional yeast if desired. Add breadcrumbs if you feel like it.

Next, stuff your zucchini boats with the grain and veggie mixture; heap the mixture as high as it’ll go without causing your boats to capsize when you put them on a lightly oiled baking pan or dish. Liberally douse the boats with bread crumbs for a nice crunchy top, put ’em on the pan, and pop the pan in the oven. Cook until the zucchini is soft and the bread crumbs are crunchy.

…I told you it’d be a rough recipe. :) If you do try it out, I’d recommend maybe using a higher oven temperature and adjusting as needed during the cooking process.

And this concludes my latest zucchini lovefest. Have a fantastic night, folks!

Zucchini for You, Zucchini for Me…

Given the fact that spiralizers are also known as “saladaccos,” I’ve christened my brand new spiralizer “Sallie.” A few days ago, I tested Sallie’s capabilities by making perhaps the most obvious spiralizer dish possible – zucchini “pasta” noodles.

My spiralizer test started off with a minor hitch. I thought we had a zucchini in the vegetable crisper, but apparently cucumbers are easily confused with zucchinis when viewed through plastic refrigerator drawers, and I got a nasty surprise when I attempted to remove my “zucchini” from the fridge. This minor setback was remedied by an impromptu trip to the grocery store, where I was pleased to discover locally grown zucchinis on sale. Score! I picked up a few lovely specimens and headed home.

The poor little zucchini didn’t know what hit him – Sallie’s blades made fast work of the little devil and reduced the sucker into a surprisingly large pile of gorgeous green noodles. Needless to say, I was quite pleased with the results. Although I’d wanted to make a raw marinara sauce to top my pasta, necessity (and a lack of certain ingredients) proved once again to be the mother of invention and I instead came up with a fairly tame broccoli pesto-type topping for my pasta. Mixed with some fresh cherry tomatoes straight outta the garden, this was one of the tastiest and simplest lunches I’ve had in a while.

Zucchini loveliness.

Holy delicious vegetables, Batman! Doesn’t this look so pretty? And the broccoli-basil pesto was super simple to make. I love having basil plants sitting on the backyard deck; I can go harvest basil whenever the need strikes! :) I’m going to include the “recipe” for this pesto, but it’s super simple and could definitely benefit from any sort of spice you’d like to add.

Super Simple Broccoli-Basil Pesto (makes a large batch, more than enough for one bowl of zucchini noodles!)
Ingredients:
2 heads broccoli
1 large handful basil (adjust to taste)
~1 T olive oil (again, adjust to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

First, steam your broccoli for about a minute or two, just to soften it up a bit and to give it that lovely bright green color. To keep this recipe 100% raw, I’m sure you could skip this step and still have it turn out just fine. Then put your broccoli in a food processor and give it a few whirls until it’s in noticeably smaller pieces. Add your olive oil and basil and process it ’til everything’s pretty finely chopped. Add spices to taste and pulse the whole shebang a few more times to mix it up. And that’s it. Super simple!

Now, you’d think I would’ve gotten my fill of zucchini at lunch time. But oh no, I couldn’t leave well enough alone, especially with those gorgeous local zucchinis sitting pretty in my fridge. So that night I whipped up a batch of the St. Patrick’s Day Zucchini Muffins from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

Muffin love.

Susan never steers me wrong. These were moist, flavorful, and delicious. They’re completely fat free since I didn’t include the crumb topping; I just sprinkled them with a little bit of cinnamon sugar. I also used a flax “egg” in place of the Ener-G, since I don’t have any egg replacer.

These muffins went fast. My decidedly non-veg*n brother was home for the weekend, and when I caught him munching on a muffin after lunch, he told me that he actually prefers my vegan muffins to “regular” muffins! I’m not gonna lie; that made me feel a little melty inside. Three cheers for delicious vegan baking!