Counter Action: Chocolate-chip zucchini bread

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I have only two photos of this zucchini bread. Like Sasquatch, it disappeared before better documentation could occur. Unlike Sasquatch, its appearance at a party will incur oohs, aahs, and offers of friendship.

I guess Sasquatch might do that too, at a very specific kind of party.

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Or any day in Seattle.

When it comes to baked goods, I have to keep a firm eye on myself. I have a sweet tooth the size of Manhattan, and if I’m not careful, my production of sweet baked things will quickly outpace my creation of … you know … anything based on vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Earlier this month, I was a steady stream of praises for Joy the Baker’s amazingly moist vegan pumpkin–walnut bread. The week after that, I was reveling in this healthy(ish) chocolate cake (zucchini, applesauce, and whole-wheat flour, folks!) from Yammie’s Noshery. Last week I made a gingersnap apple crisp for a potluck, and while I didn’t get any in the end, it sure smelled good in the oven. Now the only thing holding me back from these zucchini bread bars with browned butter frosting is the lack of powdered sugar in the house. That’s probably best for everyone, I think.

If Mrs. Weasley can have a clock to keep track of her family, I see no reason why I can't have a clock that tells me when to eat biscuits.

This is my version of the Weasley family clock. “What time is it? Twelve minutes late for biscuits.”

I’ve halved the sugar in this zucchini bread, as I often do in my baked goods. Sugar and butter are too often used to cover up deficiencies in flavour and texture, and while this bread is pretty simple, it does have some great features that deserve to be shown off. The zucchini makes it moist and a little colourful, the crumb is firm yet tender, and the chocolate chips make it a little more festive. This would be a great bread for a shower or a special brunch — or as dessert at a low-pressure, no-frills dinner.

zucchini bread ii

Chocolate chip–zucchini bread

(based on Paula Deen’s recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 c. grated zucchini (about 1½ small zucchini)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda.
  2. Beat together eggs, sugar, and oil. Add vanilla and zucchini.
  3. Combine dry and wet ingredients.
  4. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour into two greased loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for about 50 minutes. Keep in sealed container at room temperature for 3–4 days.

Ideas for variations:

  • Substitute 1 c. pumpkin puree for the zucchini.
  • Swap out 1 c. flour for 1 c. whole-wheat flour.
  • Add ½ c. toasted chopped almonds at step 4.
  • Substitute browned butter for the vegetable oil.
  • Add the zest of 1 orange at step 2.
  • To add a little extra greenness, replace the oil with 1 c. mashed avocado.
  • Replace half the sugar with maple syrup, replace the zucchini with applesauce, and use maple chips instead of chocolate chips. (For bonus points, drizzle with a simple maple glaze like this one from Taste of Home — or go all-out and use the Pioneer Woman’s maple frosting.)

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Photo credits: Sasquatch from Wikimedia Commons; clock from PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

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Counter Action: Zucchini–basil–feta muffins

zucchini muffin

I know it might be hard to believe after last Thursday’s post, but I really try not to complain much. Too hot in the office? I’ll drink more water. Too cold in the office? I’ve got a blanket. Man yelling obscenities outside my bedroom window for half an hour? LOL, #citylife, what can you do.

But there is one thing that I will happily complain about for hours. I’ll gripe and grouse and whinge like there’s no tomorrow, given the chance.

What is that topic?

Is it malnutrition? Malaria? Corrupt regimes? Orphan drugs? The political situation in Burma?

Nope.

It’s moving.

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No, not that kind of moving. I like that kind.

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Yeah, this kind. The boxes/tape/strained back/jammed thumb/lost keys/lost tempers/horrible weather kind of moving. Always a fun time all around.

What’s that you’re saying? “Sonya, what do you think is the very worst thing about moving?”

I am so glad you asked.

The very worst thing about moving is that when you start packing your things, you look around and say to yourself, “I don’t have that much stuff. This should go pretty fast.”

This is where you’re wrong, my friend. Beef-in-the-trifle, the-sun-orbits-the-Earth, Iraq-has-WMDs wrong. Your cupboards and drawers are actually a Pandora’s box of files and socks and the tiny hotel soaps you always thought you’d use. You’ll put tape on what you think is the last box, do “one last check” of the kitchen cabinets, and oh, just kidding, you’ve got another cubic meter of Tupperware to squeeze in between Box o’ Books #27 and Why Are We Bringing This Chair, It’s Super Uncomfortable.

Hint: It might not really be  a chair.

Hint: It might not be a chair.

Every time I move, I swear I’m going to downsize my possessions until I can fit everything into two steamer trunks. I will then move into a Tumbleweed Tiny House and live a frugal, minimalist life, surrounded only by things I truly care about.

Then another friend posts an offer of free books on Facebook, and all bets are off. (Incidentally, welcome to the family, Lord of the FliesGood Omens, and The Magicians.)

During the Time of Moving, I find that it helps to have quick, tasty, easy-clean-up meals and snacks all prepared and ready to go (preferably with no heating required, since the microwave will inevitably be the first thing to go in the van). These muffins qualify as a good moving snack: they’re hearty and filling, with rich flavours to keep you and your crew happy … or less snarky, anyhow.

What’s your favourite moving meal or snack?

Zucchini–basil–feta muffins

(Adapted from Running to the Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 T. chopped fresh (or 1 T. dried) basil
  • 1-1/2 c. grated zucchini
  • 1/2 c. feta

Directions:

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper.
  2. In separate bowl, combine milk, oil, eggs, and basil. Mix well.
  3. Mix wet and dry ingredients until barely combined.
  4. Stir in zucchini and feta.
  5. Spoon batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 18–20 minutes. Makes 12 muffins. Store in sealed container at room temperature for 3–4 days.

Ideas for variations:

  • When you’re mixing in the zucchini, add half a chopped fresh jalapeño, half a cup of fresh corn, and/or a third of a cup of diced sundried tomatoes.
  • Add three tablespoons of cornmeal to the dry ingredients for some extra crunch.
  • For added heartiness, leave out up to half a cup of the all-purpose flour and use whole-wheat flour to make up the difference.
  • Substitute Parmesan, mizithra, or cotija for the feta. Alternatively, use a blend of cheeses.

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Photo credits: Runner from Picography, Navy men from tpsdave, and cacti from charlemagne49 on Pixabay.