Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer baking....just add zucchini!

Normally, in the middle of July, there's not much baking going on at our house.  It's hot. I don't want the oven on. I don't want to be standing guard over the oven. I'd rather be downstairs in my sewing room, away from the heat.
But yesterday and today have been unseasonably cool.  In fact, new record low temperatures of 50 degrees were set last night.  Our high temperature yesterday and today is only in the mid-70's.  So I have taken advantage of this cooler weather, and abundance of garden produce, to get some baking done.
It seems everyone has zucchini from their gardens right now.  Including us.  I keep telling Dave to quit going to the garden, because every time he comes back to the house from being out there, he brings in more zucchini and more cucumbers.  And this is after I've picked things already!  But we love our garden produce.  I chose to plant zucchini this year because of the versatility of it. I love it plain.  Dave likes it breaded and cooked.  I like being able to bake side dishes with it, as well as breads or other treats.
So - due to the high production of my plants in the garden, I'm on a quest for yummy, tasty ways to use zucchini.  This is what I've found so far.
I started last night with Parmesan-encrusted zucchini served with chicken for dinner.  I found the recipe here after a friend posted a link to zucchini recipes on my Facebook page.  The dish ended up similar to lasagna, and was delicious.  Dave said part way through dinner, "You could make this again anytime."  It's a winner.
While I was searching around for dinner ideas, I came across a number of recipes for cookies and brownies and other tasty-sounding treats. I did make two batches of cookies this afternoon: Chocolate fudge zucchini cookies, and Zucchini applesauce oatmeal cookies.
I have to be honest, when I made a chocolate zucchini cake a couple weeks ago, I didn't think the difference in using zucchini would be THAT big of a deal.  Oh.My.Goodness.  I thought wrong!  It made such a rich, moist cake.  So when I saw this recipe for the chocolate fudge cookies, I thought they might end up with a pretty good taste.  Ho.Ly.Cow.  Honestly, I don't know when I've had a cookie this chocolaty, moist, and just doggone GOOD lately.  It has been an exercise in self-control with these bad boys in the kitchen for the past hour or so.
Zucchini Applesauce Oatmeal Cookie Recipe on
The applesauce oatmeal cookies are equally yummy, but in a completely different way.  They are a more coarse textured cookie.  The ingredients include oatmeal, applesauce, and zucchini (obviously!), but also raisins and chocolate chips.  I was telling my mother-in-law about this recipe, and I joked that I think they could almost be considered a health food given what's included.
My 2 suggestions for zucchini:
1.  Blot out excess moisture before cooking/baking.  I've been going through a lot of paper towels, but it definitely makes a difference in how the food turns out.
2. If you live in a small town, lock your car doors when you get out of your car so it won't be as easy for your generous neighbors to dump, er, share their zucchini mother lode with you. :)