Tag Archives: dessert

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


  • 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.

Fresh Pumpkin Puree to Yummy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins, in one day!

A few weeks before Halloween,  I got it into my head that I wanted to do some cooking with pumpkins.
Pumpkins muffins were particularly on my mind.

In early October, I attended an event with a table of goodies, all made by the attendees. Each dish was posted with the corresponding list of ingredients so people knew what was gluten-free, vegan etc. ¬†The pumpkin muffins I had were delicious! ¬†So flavourful, moist and tender…so I snapped a shot of the ingredients list! Kinda blurry, but there is it!

I spent some time googling those ingredients, trying to find a matching recipe and I came across one that was pretty close, listed at the bottom of this post.

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

Along with my desire to make pumpkin muffins came my desire to make my own fresh pumpkin puree rather than going to the store and buying  the canned stuff.
B suggested I wait until just after Halloween, as all the remaining pumpkins would be on sale.

Yeah. No.

Well, not that they weren’t on sale, but the problem was that they were freakin’ hard to find! ¬†I scoured my whole neighbourhood…hitting a number of small independent veggie markets as well as the large grocery store nearby. ¬†In the end, as I began to consider stealing pumpkins off porches, I came across three of them. ¬†I’m thinking they were probably the last three pumpkins in west Toronto!

During my pumpkin scouting adventure, I learned the difference between sugar pumpkins and other not-sugar pumpkins.  From what I read, it simply refers to the size of the pumpkin. Six to eight inches in diameter is great for cooking.  They bigger they are, the less flavour and texture they have.

Not surprising. Isn’t that the way with every fruit and vegetable out there?

So, I walked home with three sugar pumpkins. Wish I had a picture of that!  The ultimate in awkward!

Instead, I only have this shot:

Trying to get three pumpkins from one room to the other, all at the same time, was challenging ūüėČ

Three pumpkins back to my house, all nicely washed! Okay, two nicely washed. Three pumpkins is difficult. Two is do-able.

I had done some reading on creating pumpkin puree and one of the most exciting things about it? I had another opportunity to use my cleaver!!!

Sssshhhhh, it’s all right. It’ll all be over in minute!

Unfortunately, what the websites didn’t tell me was that a cleaver isn’t the best choice for this job!

Unlike the rutabaga I cleaved to death in a previous post¬†(*sigh* that was SO much fun!), pumpkin doesn’t quite work that way. I assume that’s due to the hollow centre.

I sadly had to return the cleaver to its hiding place and used a regular chef’s knife to get the job done. It was surprisingly easy to halve them.

Next up for pumpkin puree, scrape out the guts. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

….It is at this moment that I would like to pause and recognize the annual sacrifice offered by pumpkins everywhere…pie, muffins, soup, cheesecake, even lattes…we are ever thankful

As Buffy put it many years ago (Eeeek! It *really* WAS  many years ago!!!)
I was just thinking about the life of a pumpkin. Grow up in the sun, happily entwined with others, and then someone comes along, cuts you open, and rips your guts out.”


So yes, you scrape out guts. I didn’t keep the seeds. ¬†Thought about roasting them. Got lazy.

Once scraped clean, I cut my pumpkins into four as they seemed to roast faster that way.

I set my oven to 400 F and roasted the pumpkin until it was tender enough to allow a fork or knife to pierce the skin…about 30-45 mins depending.

Once tender, remove them from the oven, set them out and allow them to cool, just a bit. It surprised me how yellow the flesh was…and the skins darkened up quite a bit.

I removed the overcooked black bits bits and while the pieces were still quite hot, I peeled the flesh from the skin into a bowl. I found that the hotter they were, the easier they peeled.

Once I had peeled all of them, I used my handblender to puree the flesh.  Then I used a strainer to separate the stingy bits from the purée   This took a bit of time but it was worth it to have the smooth consistency at the end.

Pushing my purée through a fine strainer.

Two 8 inch pumpkins gave me about 9 cups of purée.  I used up some and then froze the rest in 2 cup freezer bags.

Freshly made pumpkin purée!

So to finish up this post, I will include my pumpkin muffin recipe! ¬†As mentioned, I looked up the recipe online and found it…although I question the measurements as the muffins I made weren’t as soft and moist as the ones I tried in October. ¬†Suggestions? What ingredient would you increase or decrease?

I will say that I had an interesting time finding the appropriate flours to use. ¬†One store had them all…but first I had to discover that:
1) tapioca starch is the same as tapioca flour
2) garbanzo bean flour is the same as chickpea flour

Prior to making this recipe, I didn’t know either of those things…so I figured I’d share.

I don’t have much to add regarding the muffin recipe as it’s pretty straightforward.
Dry ingredients? Mix. Wet ingredients? Mix. All ingredients? Mix. Muffin tray. Bake. Done.

Recipe #1 Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Gather some pumpkins…6 to 8 inches in diameter.
I found each pumpkin created approx 4 or 5 cups of puree.

Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut pumpkins in half and scrape out the insides.
Then, cut them into fours.
Place them flesh down on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-45 mins.
The  skin will darken and you will know they are done when a knife or fork slides easily through the skin.
Remove from the oven and place upright on either the same sheet or another surface.
Allow them to cool *slightly*. The hotter you can handle, the easier I found it was to peel away the skin. ¬†But be careful and don’t burn yourself!
Gather all the flesh into a large bowl and go at it with a handblender (or a food processor if you have one).

This next step is optional:
For a smooth purée similar to the canned texture you can purchase, use a strainer and separate the puree from the stringy bits.  This will probably take a little bit of time but I found it well worth the effort!

And there you are! Fresh pumpkin purée!
The first time I made it, it took a few hours as I didn’t quite know what I was doing.
The second time, I cut my prep time in half so don’t give up if it takes awhile the first time around! ūüôā

Recipe #2 Yummy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

      • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
      • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
      • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
      • 3 Tbsp flaxseed meal
      • 1 tsp baking soda
      • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
      • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp sea salt
      • 2 cup pumpkin puree?
      • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
      • 1/4 cup applesauce
      • 1 cup brown sugar
      • 2 eggs
      1. Preheat oven to 350.
      2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
      3. Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl and then add to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
      4. Ladle mixture into a muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12 Muffins.

The recipe was found on the internet in a variety of places and has been adapted slightly. The website I used for reference is found here.

Strawberry Sorbet – Abusing Strawberries in Seattle!

While I was in Seattle, we stayed with a friend of B’s, who I now consider a friend of mine as well ūüôā

One night,Betsy asked if I wanted to help make Strawberry Sorbet. A great idea for so many reasons!
Because B is lactose intolerant and some non-dairy ice cream was just a nice thing to do,
because they had an ice cream maker that *had* to be used,
and because ours was a new friendship and how else do you solidify a new relationship than by abusing a bunch of strawberries together!!

The recipe we used came with the ice cream maker so unfortunately, this post refers to equipment that I, and possibly you, do not have.

But I want! After seeing how easy it was to make ice cream, I now covet her ice cream maker! In red, of course!

That is the exact one we used. So pretty! So shiny! So cheap, considering they found it for $15 at a Value Village in Seattle! Guess I’ll start combing our VVs here in Toronto. Meanwhile, this little beauty has been added to my Christmas list. *hint hint* Continue reading

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