Orange Essence Zucchini Bread

Zucchini is one of the most abundant fall vegetables here in the US.  And zucchini bread is one of the most popular ways to use it up, especially when your garden produces an abundance of overgrown, deep green squash.  While I don’t have a garden (just a few tomato plants on my patio), one of my associates at work has generously shared this years zucchini crop.

Quick breads often seem more like cake than bread, and I’m ok with that.  Classic zucchini bread is so comforting and delicious!  However, I wanted my zucchini bread to really stand apart, so I started baking.  And baking.  And baking.  I don’t know how many loaves and muffins I’ve given away in my quest for the perfect bread, but it’s been a lot!  However, it has been well worth it because I really do believe that this is the best zucchini bread I’ve ever had.  It’s subtly sweet with just a hint of orange while still maintaining that classic zucchini bread flavor.  If you like to drizzle yours with a sweet glaze, I’ve included directions for a quick orange glaze that perfectly compliments it.  I hope it’s your new favorite!

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
zest from 1 large orange
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts or unsalted pistachios (optional)

Orange Glaze (optional):
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ teaspooon orange zest

Makes about 2 full-sized loaves, 4 mini-loaves, or about 24 muffins.
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Directions:

Prepare your loaf pan or muffin tins.  I highly recommend using parchment if you’re making loaves because, for some reason, this bread seems to stick to my stoneware EVERY time if I don’t.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 C)

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest off the orange being careful to get as little white pith as possible.  Toss the orange peel and the granulated sugar into a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulverize until the peel is very finely minced into the sugar.  Set aside.Orange Sugar 1.jpg

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon together in a bowl.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs, oil, vanilla, brown sugar and orange sugar together.  Add sifted ingredients to the wet mixture and beat will.
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Stir in the zucchini and nuts until well combined.  Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 40-60 for a loaf pan.
Bake approx 30 minutes for muffins.

Test doneness by inserting a toothpick or small tester into the middle.  When it comes out clean, it’s done!

Allow bread to cool in pans for about 20 minutes (not necessary for muffins using liners), then turn them out and let it cool completely.

To prepare optional glaze: whisk sugar, orange juice and zest in a bowl until smooth.  Drizzle over bread.

Enjoy!
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Zucchini Latkas

Every August there is an abundance of zucchini in my father in law’s garden.  I get tired of the same ol sautéed or oven roasted zucchini so I thought I would try something different.  I came up with zucchini latkas.  Latkas are a traditional Jewish dish made from mashed or grated potatoes, flour and egg.  I substituted zucchini for potatoes and added some parmesan cheese and a few spices.  They turned out amazing and it’s basically a full meal in itself!  You won’t be able to eat just one!  Try your own variation!  ~Janna

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Ingredients:

4 cups shredded zucchini (about 4 medium zucchini)
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk (beaten)1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Cooking spray

Method:

In a large mixing bowl combine shredded zucchini, eggs, parmesan, garlic powder, salt and pepper, mix to combine.  Heat an electric skillet to 325 degrees and spray with cooking spray.  Using your hands measure out about 1/2 cup of the mixture and press it into a patty squeezing some of the liquid out.  Cook on skillet until golden brown, flip to brown other side (about 4-5 minutes on each side).  Be careful flipping because these are delicate and will break apart if your not careful.  After they are cooked sprinkle with a little more parmesan cheese if desired. Makes approx. 6 latkas.  Enjoy!!

*One variation I’ve tried and found amazing is topping the latka with a slice of fresh garden tomato and a pinch of sea salt from oldcitysalts.com

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Vegetable Stuffed Portobello’s

I’ve been trying to cook lighter lately, and sometimes that can be challenging when cooking for a man too.  Both John and I love mushrooms, but they are usually “in” something.  This time, I decided to make them the star.  This dish is incredibly simple, with fresh, clean ingredients.  The meaty mushrooms are hearty and filling, and the fact that this dish is primarily vegetables is pleasing to the health-conscious individual.
I’ve included directions for a simple garlic pasta, but there are many things that would pair well with these mushrooms, or even use younger crimini mushrooms and serve as an appetizer.
By the way, these are delicious for lunch the next day!  🙂

Ingredients:

Mushrooms:
●10 (or so) 3-inch portobello mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed
1 zucchini, chopped
●1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
●1 6-oz jar of artichokes in brine, drained and chopped
●1/2 cup onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ cups mozzarella
●1 tsp dried oregano
●sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Garlic Pasta:
●Angel Hair Pasta (about 4-5 servings)
●3 cloves of garlic, minced
●3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

Arrange mushroom caps upside down on a lightly sprayed baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, combine remaining ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.    

Mound the filling into the mushroom caps, distributing evenly.  Try to use all the filling, it will cook down quite a bit.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until heated through and golden brown.

Meanwhile…

Cook angel hair pasta according to package directions.  In a saute pan, cook garlic in olive oil on medium heat until golden brown.  Toss pasta and garlic oil together and salt to taste.  Serve immediately with hot mushrooms.