zucchini bread

Fall is almost here and I couldn’t be more excited about it.  However, before I bring you all my favorite apple, pumpkin and cranberry treats, I thought I would share this little gem of a recipe.

With a generous three cups of grated zucchini as the base, it is the perfect salute to the end of summer harvest.

But with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg, this bread also offers a hint of the warm spices that will be front and center so very soon.

It’s warm and spicy, it’s crust is crunchy and it’s something I look forward to making at the end of every summer.

want more zucchini?  try these zucchini cakes

zucchini bread
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yield: 2 8×4 loaves

I love the recipe because you get two loaves of bread out of it.  Which means you can make two and share with many people – or – make two and freeze one.  To freeze, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and place in freezer bag (up to three months?).  Thaw on the counter-top.

Also of note – after mixing the egg/sugar mixture with the dry ingredients the batter may seem very tough and dry.  Don’t worry.  Once you add the freshly-grated zucchini it will become moist again.  Finally, regarding the cooking time – my loaves have never finished in 50 minutes.  They tend to bake for an additional 10-15 more minutes but I have yet to remember to actually time it.  So – I would recommend checking the loaves at 50 then every so often until a tester comes out clean.

3 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup of vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/4 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups of grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans or coat with cooking spray.

2.  Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.  Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine thoroughly.

3.  Whisk together oil, eggs,white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy.  Add flour mixture to the egg/sugar mixture and mix well.  Gently add the zucchini and walnuts until well combined.

4.  Pour into greased bread pans and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife is inserted in the center comes out clean (see note, above).

Source: For the Love of Cooking

Banana Pecan Coconut Muffins

Good morning, lovelies.  May I interest you in a muffin?

It is a banana muffin (of my favorite muffin base) filled with plenty of coconut (for sweetness) and pecans (for crunch).  And it goes splendidly with a hot cup of coffee on a chilly, but sunny, spring morning.

Make some muffins, share with others.  But more importantly, have yourself a lovely Wednesday.

Banana Pecan Coconut Muffins
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Yield: about 12 muffins

I always source my bananas for muffins from the freezer.  I freeze them in their peel then take them straight from the freezer to a microwave safe bowl and nuke them for about 1-2 minutes.  Then, I simply cut the top and the peel slides right away from the banana which, by now, is in a perfect state for mashing.

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large, very ripe bananas, fresh or frozen*
1 cup sweetened coconut
3/4 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a muffin tray with cooking spray or line with paper cups.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, white sugar and brown sugar until well combined.  In another bowl, mix the egg, oil, yogurt, vanilla and mushed bananas until mixed thoroughly.

3. Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients without over mixing.  Add the walnuts and fold them into the batter.  Using an ice cream scooper, scoop uniform amount of batter into each baking cup.

4. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and a tester inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Source: adapted from For the Love of Cooking

Whole Wheat Molasses Bread

Remember that vegetable barley soup?  Meet it’s perfect match.

Like the soup, it’s hearty, it’s easy to make and it’s unbelievably good.

What I like to do is get the soup on the stove then whip up the six ingredients that go into this bread, let the soup simmer while the bread bakes, busy myself with important things for awhile (like dog-walking and blog-writing or laundry-folding and floor-sweeping if it must be done), then enjoy the two side-by-side.

Then the next morning (if there’s any left), I like to toast it then spread a thin layer of butter across the top.  Joy suggests cream cheese, nutella or jam.  Peanut butter would be amazing, as well.

Whole Wheat Molasses Bread
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Yield: 1 loaf

1 2/3 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup molasses

1.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour (or use non-stick cooking spray) an 8×4 or 9×5-inch loaf pan.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda.  In a small bowl whisk together buttermilk or yogurt and molasses.

3.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold to combine.  The batter will be slightly thick, but not dry.  Spoon batter into prepared pan and place in the oven.  Bake loaf for 45 minutes to an hour.  Depending on how evenly your oven bakes, you might want to rotate the loaf in the middle of baking.  Be careful though.  Don’t manhandle it too hard or it might deflate.

4.  When a skewer inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, remove the loaf from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the loaf pan.  Run a butter knife along the sides of the pan and carefully invert onto a wire rack.

Notes:
– Loaf will keep, well wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days.
– It also freezes well, after it’s baked.  I like to slice it, store it in the freezer (well wrapped in a freezer bag), then defrost a slice or two overnight on the counter to enjoy for breakfast the next morning.

Source:  Joy the Baker, originally from the New York Times (there is a lighter version of the bread on the nytimes website that looks delicious and I would love to try someday…let me know if you do!)

Banana Walnut Muffins

This past Saturday morning I found myself woken up by sunlight instead of an alarm clock and with absolutely nothing (well, nothing immediately) to do except throw on a sweatshirt and boots, brew a cup of coffee and sit outside to enjoy one of these muffins.  I had made a batch on Thursday to bring to work on Friday and, planning ahead, reserved two for Jon and I to enjoy on Saturday.  I’m sure glad I did.

Of all the muffins I have ever made these are my absolute favorite.  They are simple to make, have the most perfect texture, and are packed full of banana flavor.  They are amazing right out of the oven, with a slather of butter and a tall glass of milk.  And they are equally enjoyable two days later with a cup of coffee on a brisk fall morning.  So, whether you find yourself waking up to an alarm clock or not, to run out the door or to sit on the deck, I guarantee one of these muffins will be a delicious start to whatever your day may bring.

Banana Walnut Muffins
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Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large, very ripe bananas, fresh or frozen*
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted if you’re feeling fancy

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a muffin tray with cooking spray or line with paper cups.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, white sugar and brown sugar until well combined.  In another bowl, mix the egg, oil, yogurt, vanilla and mushed bananas until mixed thoroughly.

Slowly combine the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients without over mixing.  Add the walnuts and fold them into the batter.  Using an ice cream scooper, scoop uniform amount of batter into each baking cup.

Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and a tester inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Note on storage: Store at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator longer.  To reheat, you may microwave for 10-20 seconds or place in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes.  These muffins also freeze well.  Simply place a bunch in a freezer bag, label it and stick it in the freezer.  Defrost on the counter or in the oven at 350 degrees, they will just need longer than the 5-7 minutes to reheat.

*If using frozen bananas, simply defrost in the microwave for 1-2 minutes (with peels on).  Remove from microwave, squeeze banana out of peel and into bowl.  I almost always use frozen bananas so I haven’t had these muffins with fresh ones recently but I am pretty sure the microwaving of the frozen banana brings out something extra special to make the flavor remarkable.*

Source: adapted from For the Love of Cooking

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

There is a chill in the air, Halloween costume are showing up in stores and there are pumpkins for sale everywhere.  Now, I can’t say that I’ve bought any pumpkins yet but I have loaded up on canned pumpkin puree.  Annie offers a great post on homemade pumpkin puree which I would love to try some day.  But for now, convenience is a priority and since Dorie gets her pumpkin right off the supermarket shelves I figured it was o.k. for me to do, as well.

I’ve come across many pumpkin muffin recipes that have cinnamon streusel, cream cheese and pecans but hadn’t found one that called for chocolate chips.  And I do love the combination of pumpkin and chocolate.  So, I adapted Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for Pumpkin Muffins, took out the raisins and nuts and added semi-sweet chocolate chips.  The pumpkin flavor could have been stronger and I may add more pumpkin and/or spices next time.  All in all, they were a good muffin.  And a perfect quick breakfast before running outside to play with this guy:

His name is Franklin.  He’s our newest addition.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
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Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground allspice
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (though dark chocolate would be great, too!)

Directions

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.  Butter or spray a regular-size muffin pan or fit with paper cups.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

Working with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until soft.  Add both the sugars and continue to beat until light and smooth.  One by one, add the eggs, beating for a minute after the eggs are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla.  Lower the mixer speed and mix in the pumpkin and buttermilk.  With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing only until they disappear.  To avoid overmixing, you can stop the machine early and stir any remaining dry ingredients into the batter using a rubber spatula.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups (an ice cream scoop is great for this part).

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove each one from its mold and finish cooling on the rack.

Source: adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours