Category Archives: Muffins

Zucchini Bread & Muffins: Substitutions for the Win!


Don’t be alarmed…but this post contains TWO…yes TWO recipes at the bottom! ūüôā

Recently we were away visiting my partner’s brother¬†on the family farm. ¬†Aside from a lovely piece of land and variety of animals, they also have a fantastic garden that¬†creates more gigantic zucchinis than one knows what to do with!

We came home with four and today I finally used up a couple of them.

A load of bread and a dozen muffins later…I still have zucchini left…

Remaining zucchinis

I think I see a stir fry in our future!

Click here for the recipes or scroll to the bottom of the post.

 

So, to use up the zucchini we had, I decided to make zucchini bread and chocolate zucchini muffins. ¬†The bread turned out awesome! Moist and yet dense enough that it doesn’t fall apart when you cut and butter it.

zucchini bread

The muffins are brilliant too…the only problem is that I left them in 3 or 4 mins too long and the bottoms started to burn. ¬†Luckily they’re slightly crisp but it’s really not noticeable, especially when you’re distracted by the chocolatey goodness!

You can see the crispy bottoms in this picture

You can see the crispy bottoms in this picture

I have to say that I’m extra happy with how they turned out…since I had to substitute ingredients because there were items I either didn’t have or that ran out as I worked. ¬†Substitutions for the win!

Here are the substitutions I made….

  • Subbed in grape seed oil for the vegetable oil
  • Cut the oil needed for the bread in half and added butter instead
  • Substituted honey greek yogourt for sour cream in the muffins
  • Had no brown sugar so used only white sugar for the muffins
  • Added nutmeg to the muffins

 

The bread is lovely and semi sweet whereas the muffins are chocolatey and delicious…no sign of healthy zucchini in them anywhere! (I swear though, I DID add it!)

I have altered the recipes below to include my substitutions since I really like how everything turned out.

 

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

IMG_5686

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp¬†cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup grape seed¬†oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup greek yogourt (I used “honey” flavour and it worked out fine)
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • zest from one orange (optional) (I didn’t use this ingredient but saw it mentioned and am curious how it would taste so I thought I would leave it in. ¬†Terry’s chocolate orange anyone? ūüėČ
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease a muffin tin.
  2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.
  3. Beat together sugars, oil, and eggs until slightly fluffy.
  4. Stir in vanilla and yogourt.
  5. Fold in the grated zucchini (and zest if using).
  6. Add to the dry ingredients. Stir to combine and add the chocolate chips. Don’t stir too much or the dough will bake denser than desired.
  7. Fill your muffin tin, each spot a bit over halfway.
  8. Bake for 15-20 or until a toothpick entered in the center comes clean. (At 20 minutes, my muffin bottoms got a wee bit burnt so check on them at 15 mins)

 Delicious and Moist Zucchini Bread

zucchini bread

 

  • 2 1/4 cups¬†all-purpose¬†flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons¬†baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon¬†ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon¬†baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†freshly¬†ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3¬†large¬†eggs
  • 3/4 cup¬†packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup grape seed¬†oil
  • 1/4 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons¬†vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  1. Preheat oven to 350¬įF
  2. Grease a 9″ bread pan with butter
  3. Mix dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, sugars, oil, butter and vanilla
  5. Fold wet mixture into dry mixture until just combined and then fold in the zucchini.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  7. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly, and give it about 15 minutes before transferring the bread from the pan to the rack.
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Zucchini Cheddar Muffins


It has been a long time coming, but being able to, in a moment’s notice, decide to cook or bake and just KNOW that you can do it…
it’s an amazing thing for someone who, two years ago, didn’t know her way around her own kitchen.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house and we were all waiting for some out-of-town guests to arrive. ¬†About thirty minutes before the scheduled arrival time, my friend’s husband (who is also my friend of course!) commented that “perhaps I’ll make some cookies”.

I checked my watch (okay, my iPhone) and looked at him somewhat surprised. “But they’ll be here any minute.”

What came out of the following conversation was the point that once you’d made a food enough times, you could do it effortlessly and quickly…at any time. ¬†He had so much experience making cookies that he could throw the basic recipe together in minutes and simply add whatever cookie…accessories, shall we say….that he had on hand.

I haven’t gotten to that point with cookies yet. I have worked with substitutions but ¬†I still need a recipe.
I’m sure B would argue that means I simply HAVE NOT MADE ENOUGH COOKIES! So, I’ll fix that…eventually. ūüėČ

But yesterday, I had a similar moment with muffins. ¬†I had company coming over and shortly before arrival, not 30 mins I admit…more like an hour and a half ahead of time, I suddenly decided to make muffins. ¬†Again, I don’t necessarily have a basic recipe memorized, but I have mixed the base ingredients enough times now that it felt do-able.

It was an awesome feeling!
To feel confident enough to start making a mess in the kitchen as company were on their way, knowing that you could finish and even have the dishes done before they arrived!
It has taken a long time to feel that kind of comfort in my kitchen.

I like it.

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 So, yes, this recipe was simple.  The hardest part was grating the zucchini and cheddar, but put on some good music, start singing along and enjoying yourself,
and suddenly every vegetable in your kitchen has been grated while you were zoned out dancing to Peter Murphy!

Dry ingredients in one bowl…wet in another.

Fold the wet into the dry and then add the zucchini and cheddar.

Could it be any easier?

Mixed dough, ready to be baked!

Mixed dough, ready to be baked!

I changed a few things in the recipe. Partly because I like applesauce in baked goods and also partly because I feel proud of the fact that I can confidently substitute and NOT follow the recipe exactly. (This is notable. ¬†I am a Capricorn and, when I began cooking, I REQUIRED a recipe. ¬†Read the conversation at the beginning of¬†this¬†entry¬†to see how to make a Capricorn’s head explode.)

So, for the 2 eggs, I substituted 2/3 cup applesauce.

For the buttermilk, I made my own using lemon juice: 1 1/4 tbsp lemon juice in a measuring cup, followed by enough milk to have 1 1/4 cups.

Then, I lightly coated my muffin tray with some butter, filled the cups? (Is that what you call them?) and placed the tray in the 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

These muffins didn’t rise very much so you can really fill the tray. ¬†I left 1/4″ or less at the top of each and that worked out well.

Simple, straightforward and delicious.

Make them just before company arrives. I dare you!

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Zucchini Cheddar Muffins

 

photo (5)

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (I used 2/3 cup of applesauce)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I used 1 1/4 tbsp lemon juice plus enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups of “buttermilk”)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and soda, sugar, salt.
  3. Mix eggs OR applesauce, buttermilk, butter in another bowl.  Gently fold that mixture into the dry mixture.
  4. Fold in  the zucchini and cheddar.
  5. Prepare a muffin tray, I added a light coating of butter. ¬†These muffins didn’t rise too much so I was able to fill my tray, leavning the slightest bit of room at the top of each.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
  7. Allow to cool for 10 min before removing from tray.

Makes 12 muffins.


Chestnut Sweet Potato Muffins


Unlike many of my foodie friends, ¬†I spent much of my holidays not cooking. ūüėČ

Instead, I enjoyed food made by others, mainly family members…including an awesome chicken noodle soup made by B that was heavenly!
Who knew that plain macaroni used as noodles would be so yummy….or so fun!

Just prior to the holidays however, I experimented with a new recipe and a new ingredient: chestnuts!

So sort of pre-holiday cooking that was sort of related…Chestnuts roasting on an open fire anyone?

I was out at one of our local markets to pick up some veggies and I noticed a huge bag of “Italian Chestnuts”. They were shiny, round and a beautiful “chestnut” brown.
I put my hand in the bag and they felt so smooth and sleek…soothing even…like when you pick up a stone on a beach that has had its edges smoothed by the sea and you find yourself holding onto it and rubbing it like a worry stone. ¬†(Worry-chestnut!)

I had no experience with chestnuts.  I had never roasted them or really used them in any way.  I was curious, and they were pretty, so I bought a bag.

It was this purchase that led me to this chestnut recipe, which I found online. But prior to actually attempting the recipe, I had to research the process of getting the nuts out of the shell!

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.

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This was a fairly long process, so be sure to start this a while before you plan to make the muffins.

First step was to slice an X into each nut.  This was the fun part as I used a good-sized knife and found it cathartic to slash at them!

018 (Medium)

Then I boiled them for about 25 minutes.

I question the amount of time…I also question the method. ¬†My muffins turned out well, but there were pieces of chestnut that were hard to chew through, if you could at all.
They seemed to be overcooked, with the boiling and then the baking.

If I were to redo this, I would boil them for half the time, around 10-15 mins and then check to see if the shells were ready to peel. I think 25 minutes was too long.

020 (Medium)

At the end of it, the shells had started to lift and open…as predicted!

025 (Medium)

Everything I read mentioned that the hotter they were, the easier it would be to remove the shell so I started peeling them right away.
Um…ow! ¬†And also, LIE.
Most of the shells came off in little strips.  It was a messy, somewhat annoying and fingertip burning adventure, but I stuck with it.

  

The shells coming off in strips and in layers of strips  was probably the most annoying part of the process.

The shells coming off in strips and in layers of strips was probably the most annoying part of the process.

Processed chestnuts!

Processed chestnuts!

Once the chestnuts were ready to go, I was finally ready to start following the recipe.

At this point, pick out 12 nice looking chestnut pieces. ¬†You’ll use these to top the muffins just before baking.

Oh and also….during the chestnut peeling, I also put my sliced sweet potatoes on the stove to boil.

Yep, multi tasking queen am I! ūüėČ

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So, on to making the actual muffins!

Dry ingredients first…no surprise there….

034 (Medium)

Wet ingredients mixed secondly…and separate….

035 (Medium)

I constantly have issues with my butter…although it’s usually my own fault because I have forgotten to remove it from the fridge and bring it to room temperature. So, I end up microwaving it.
And it doesn’t matter how short I time span I use, I end up with a severely softened (um..melted) centre and a maybe slightly softened exterior.
This explains the picture above and why my butter is in bits.

But it still worked! ¬†So onward we go…gently mix the two bowls together…

036 (Medium)

…and then add the remaining ingredients…

038 (Medium)

Adding the sweet potatoes, chestnuts and raisins…

The mixture made 12 good-sized muffins which I topped with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, as well as a large piece of chestnut.

040 (Medium)

35 minutes later, I had a tray of lovely muffins!

042 (Medium)

These were definitely worth trying and they turned out quite well! ¬†I enjoyed the creaminess that the chestnuts added to the muffins which was nicely balanced by the light sweetness of the potatoes. ¬†As mentioned before, I would reduce the boiling time of the chestnuts or I would change the method altogether as it resulted in hard, and what I assume overcooked, pieces of chestnut. ¬†These were few and far between, but they were there and they tainted my muffin-enjoyment! ūüėČ

Chestnut & Sweet Potato Muffins

042 (Medium)

  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes mashed ( baked & peel )
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons¬†canola oil
  • !/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¬†2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup¬†golden raisins
  • 1 1/3 ¬†cup chestnuts ¬†chopped ( pre cooked ¬†and de-shelled )

Topping

  • ¬†mixture of brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon
  • a few whole chestnuts for topping ( optional )

NOTE: The instructions do not include the mashing of the sweet potatoes nor the prepping of the chestnuts. ¬†Getting those two ingredients ready beforehand is…well…ideal. ūüėČ

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350  degrees
  2. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients,  flour,  sugar,  salt,  baking soda , baking powder,  cinnamon. Set aside
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, butter,  oil, water,  and vanilla.  Mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture and whisk gently.
  4. Add the cooked sweet potatoes,  chopped chestnuts and golden raisins.  Mix lightly.
  5. Spoon mixture into muffin pan.
  6. Sprinkle topping mix on the muffin before baking.  Top the muffin with a whole chestnut.
  7. Bake until golden brown.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 muffins

Recipe taken from: http://sugarbaking.blogspot.ca/2011/07/sweet-potato-chestnut-muffins-japanese.html


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