Monday, June 30, 2014

Zucchini Overflow?

Good harvest of zucchini lately? Gotten a bunch from people who have been harvesting them? An explanation for the overflow might be from wiseGEEK's "What is zucchini?" site. "Many markets carry this squash in the summer, and it is also a snap to grow at home, although some caution is advised, as the plants can produce way more fruit than one would think is physically possible."

A few times this month, a co-worker brought some gargantuan ones, and I've gleefully partaken of them, and passed on buying any in the store for awhile. I've grated or sliced these homegrown ones for recipes, or bagging and freezing after shredding and slicing, As of a week ago, I've baked two half batches of zucchini mini-muffins, varied by well shapes, and one batch of crustless ham-swiss-zucchini quiche.

For the next few articles, I'll publish three recipes for zucchini mini-muffins and one for the quiche.
The two half-batches of mini-muffins I baked last week had the same ingredients and baking time. The pans differed—aluminum round vs. silicone square—because I wanted to test my theory that one type of pan would yield moister results than the other pan.

My third batch of mini-muffins will again use the same ingredients, but the amount will be a 3/4-recipe batch, using both types of pans. I'll be using zucchini that I grated, froze, bagged, then let thaw. I'll not squeeze, as thawed zucchini is watery when squeezed.

I consider mini-muffin sizes to be a bit more appealing than regular cupcake size—more units that are available for distributing in a social environment. The amount of batter for making one cupcake-sized goodie is the same amount as for three mini-muffins. (At a potluck event, people can more easily pick up a small, self-contained morsel than commit to a larger item or something that requires slicing, particularly a pie.)

The Betty Crocker recipe has lots of details, including baking times for various pans. The Paula Deen recipe includes nutmeg, a spice I'd like to use in more recipes than I do. The most appealing reason I like these two 2-loaf recipes, besides relative ease of the process, is the even number of eggs. Making half-recipes is a lot easier when dividing four eggs than three eggs.

Some additional zucchini links:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Minty Choco Chip Pudding

Look ma, no cooking! Just combine, whisk, stir, and pour ingredients into cups. Ready to eat within minutes. Reasonably lo-cal at a smidge over 200 calories each container.

The idea for the flavor came from a recipe for mint soft-serve ice cream that's in page 20 of the Cuisinart Instruction Booklet (for soft-serve ice cream maker). Having tried the recipe and stirring in grated Wilton Dark Cocoa Mint Candy Melts, I figured the flavors can transfer to a pudding recipe. The ingredients for the ice cream are as follows:
1 cup whole milk, well chilled
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 teaspoon mint extract (may use peppermint or spearmint)
4-5 drops green or pink food coloring
The boxed instant vanilla pudding, which I had on hand, listed the following ingredients for the normal recipe:
1 package instant pudding powder
2 cups of milk [Whisk into pudding powder for 2 minutes.]
In assessing suitable amounts of additions, I considered the following factors:
  • The pudding fluids amounted to 2/3 of the ice cream ingredients.
  • The ice cream contains lots of air, thus, spreading out mint flavoring by volume.
  • The pudding powder already contains sugar.
My pixstrip shows the implements I used (YMMV), the ingredients, and the cups of pudding.
Ingredients
  • 1 package instant pudding powder
  • 2 cups of nonfat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon spearmint extract
  • 4 drops green food coloring
  • 2 ounces grated Wilton Dark Cocoa Mint Candy Melts, replaceable with chocolate chips, minty or otherwise
Instructions
  1. Whisk the powder and milk for two minutes.
  2. Add the extract.
  3. Add the food coloring, one drop at a time. More on that later.
  4. Stir in the grated candy. Otherwise, you can add Hershey's or Nestle mint chocolate chips, which you might find either at your supermarket.
  5. Pour into 4 containers. Sprinkle some candies or chips on top if you like. Eat now or store in fridge for consumption later.
Post-Recipe Thoughts
Good that I guessed right to not put in a whole teaspoon of the extract. As for the food coloring, I wish I had thought earlier to try the blue food coloring, a drap at a time, as the pudding started out vanilla yellowy. Y'know, blue and yellow make green. Oh, well, next time.

I stirred in candy melts, which I had grated and stored in the fridge awhile back. I did experiment with a few regular-sized chocolate chips for bouyancy. I spooned a very small sample of the mixed pudding into a paper cup and stirred in the chips. The pudding had thickened up enough during whisking so that the chips did not sink to the bottom. (Yay!)
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