Thursday, September 1, 2016

What's Cooking: Zucchini Bread and Applesauce

   If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times: I love simple and quick recipes. Those are my top priorities when choosing things to cook (unless it happens to be a showstopping dessert, and then I relax my standards). It isn't because I can't cook, it just isn't my most favorite activity. There's the whole time-and-effort versus outcome deal. Like you spend forever chopping, stirring, flipping, mashing, etc. *and* you have to clean up the kitchen and it's gobbled up in five minutes, often with nary a thank-you!

   However, I have become distinctly more conscious about food waste, the more I read about it. And, I do appreciate a nice baked good. So, if the mood strikes me or if I have something that needs to be used up, I am more willing to stretch those boundaries. This week I happened to have a pile of soon-to-rotting apples, well past the decent to eat raw stage, and a large zucchini a sweet friend had gifted me with. So, to the Pinterest!

    I thought I would share these recipes with you because I love to hear how something works out for someone else, and I like to know if they made any changes. I won't publish the full recipes, I don't want to deny the original recipe creators their due. But if you get a chance to try these, I highly recommend them! Just click on the recipe titles to go to the originals.

 Homemade Applesauce
This is SO EASY. Truly the most challenging part? Peeling the apples. I do it the old-fashioned way, by hand with my little metal peeler. I don't mind too much, it's rather soothing and mindless. I use Jazz apples from Trader Joe's and as they tend to be pretty sweet to begin with, I don't add as much sugar as the recipe calls for, I also use a ratio of roughly two of these to one regular apple, as they are fairly small. I've made this twice and it has been delicious both times-my kids truly do prefer it to store bought. Besides decreasing the sugar (I probably use between 1/2 and 3/4 the amount it called for, but I am planning on trying to use less than 1/8 of a cup the next time I make it). I also add 1/2 tsp. of vanilla with everything before I boil it, because I pretty much believe that anything sweet is better with vanilla. I don't own an immersion blender but it has worked perfectly fine to dump it all into my Ninja blender jar and puree it that way. I made a recipe and a half this last time (that's how many apples I had) and so we didn't eat it all at once. It seems to save perfectly fine in the fridge, at least for a few days. We haven't had it last any longer than that, and I have no urges to try canning, so I can't say anything about that. I am betting it would freeze just fine, though. Seriously. so good.

Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread
    I appreciate a good "healthy" recipe-especially when it doesn't taste like one. This is one of those recipes. Even my husband, who is quite wary of any "healthy" baked good, ate this. My kids actually thought it was cake. I will say, mine clearly doesn't look like her's, but I did follow the directions pretty closely, so I am guessing it was either my oven temp (it's finicky), my zucchini was too wet (I did blot it, but maybe not enough?) or that my ingredients weren't all room-temp. Whatever the case, it was still delicious. I am definitely going to try it as muffins, though, since it won't take as long to cook that way. My notes: I used honey instead of agave (I guess they are pretty much interchangeable and I don't keep agave on hand) and I used coconut oil. I had never baked with coconut oil before, so I was impressed that it was so easy. I chose to add chocolate chips (of course!) and didn't put nuts in it. She doesn't say how she grated her zucchini, I chose to finely grate mine, just so it would be less noticeable. I also used sweetened vanilla Greek yogurt, so that upped the sugar quotient on mine, but it was worth it. I didn't feel bad about it, since it doesn't have any other white sugar in it. This one is definitely a keeper, my kids are already asking me to make it again. I served it for dinner with quiche and it was a great side, and then we had it for breakfast this morning. Definite win over donuts in my book!

So there you have it! Let me know if you try these, and what you think. Have you tested any recipes lately? Were they keepers?

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