Fresh “Funfetti” Zucchini Bread

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No sugary sprinkles here. Even as a child I did not like what we referred to as “jimmies”. While visually lovely, sprinkles have a weird waxy texture that turns me off and easily ruins a perfectly delicious creamy bowl of ice cream or icing on the cake. So, I created a fresh from the garden “funfetti” with an array of colorful carrots, beets and dark green zucchini. These beautiful vegetables are being harvested from my garden right now. Following a cue from Mother Nature, it just seems right to join them in a moist and not too sweet quick bread with a crunchy walnut topping.

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Start by trimming the ends off of dark green zucchini; grate on that large hole of your box grater. Toss the shreds with a little sugar and salt, weight it down in a sieve and let it drain. Then squeeze it. I ended up with 1/2 cup of slightly salty, sweet zucchini water that got tossed into a gazpacho. It would probably be good in a smoothie, but if your not feeling the goodness just dump it in the sink.

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Next, cut the carrots to size and blanch for 2 minutes in boiling water. The beets get cooked, too, but in retrospect, I think I would skip them entirely as they don’t look as pretty as the carrots after baking. They bleed a bit. Maybe golden or white beets next time.

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Make the quick bread batter. Have you tried avocado oil? I found it at Costco. With a high smoke point, avocado oil is perfect for grilling, frying and roasting. Its mild flavor makes it very good for baking, too.  This heart healthy fat is high in Vitamin E plus it helps the body absorb other good nutrients like carotenoids. Think antioxidants like beta-carotene. Yay-there are carrots in the bread. This quick bread is so super moist and tender. I suspect the avocado oil has a lot to do with that.

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Now layer in the vegetables. I dusted the veggies with dried ginger for some flavor, but also to prevent them from sinking. It worked !

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Bake it for an hour (turn your pan half way through for more even baking) or until you see the tell-tale crack down the center and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers around 205F.

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Let it cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Turn it out and let it cool completely. Don’t be tempted to slice it while still warm. In fact, it’s best served the next day. Enjoy those crunchy sugar coated walnuts on top and then marvel at the pretty colors inside.

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Fresh Funfetti Zucchini Bread

  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 small to medium zucchini (12 oz. after you trim the ends)

2/3-cup sugar, divided

1-teaspoon salt, divided

3 colorful carrots, peeled, cut to size

1 beet, roasted or boiled until a bit underdone, peeled and diced

½ teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups all purpose flour

1-teaspoon baking powder

1-teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

¼ cup sour cream

½ cup avocado oil

½ lime, juice and zest

1/3-cup chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons turbinado sugar

Heat oven 375F. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan with baking spray (or grease and dust with flour). Shred zucchini on the large hole of a box grater. Toss zucchini with 1 tablespoon of sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt. Transfer zucchini to a sieve sitting over a bowl. Press a plate on top of zucchini and weight down for 20 to 30 minutes to drain. Meanwhile, cook carrots in boiling water for 2 minutes; drain and let cool. Dust carrots and beets with ginger; set aside. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and remaining ½ teaspoon salt; set aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs, remaining sugar, sour cream, avocado oil, lime juice and zest; set aside. Squeeze fistfuls of zucchini draining out more liquid then pat dry with paper towels. Using a rubber spatula, stir zucchini and egg mixture into flour mixture until blended and dry ingredients are moistened. Layer 1/3rd of batter over bottom of prepared pan. Top with some carrots and beets in a single layer. Top with another 1/3rd of batter smoothing into an even layer. Top with remaining carrots and beets. Cover with remaining batter smoothing the top. Sprinkle evenly with walnuts and then sugar. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, turning pan after 30 minutes, or until golden brown and internal temperature of about 205F. on an instant read thermometer.There should be the classic quick bread crack down the center. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

My garden is a constant source of joy. Sprinkle some seeds in the dirt and grow funfetti.

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Will’s Meerkats & Pork Sliders

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A couple of blog posts ago I mentioned I found two memory cards among William’s things. The photos I share with you today bring back fun memories of a trip we took to the San Diego Zoo. It was Christmas and William was completing his first corpsman assignment at Balboa Naval Hospital. He was beyond disgusted to be assigned to the OB/GYN department and proceeded to spend the next two years pestering his superiors to transfer him to field medicine at Camp LeJeune. He never gave up and eventually realized his dream of serving his country in the way he wanted to serve.

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The Sentry

Back to the zoo, I remember how much he enjoyed the meerkats. We spent the majority of our time laughing over the antics of this gang. He has more photos of the meerkats than any other animal at the zoo. He loved them. I recall us saying he and his dad were like the sentries; naturally protective of the family and ready to take action against predators.

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And then there are “the 3 lazy bastards”(gosh I hear his voice like it was yesterday). He actually gave these three names, but that info. shall remain classified. The boy just cracked me up then and he sure is making me chuckle now.

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Oh, William. I sure do miss you. I am grateful to have such great memories and to be able to preserve them in this blog. Thank you, son, for these fun meerkat photos and that winning smile of yours.

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Here is one of my recent winning recipes. It’s an Asian inspired juicy pork slider topped with 2 kinds of pickled vegetables served on a soft Hawaiian bun. Perfect for a summer party, get ready for some flavor in your mouth and a smile on your face. While I did not win the top prize I was happy to be among the top 10. Check out Smithfield’s Hog Wild recipe contest site for all the other winning recipes from backyard barbecuers to pittmasters.

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Maple Smoked Pickled Pork Sliders

  • 16 to 24 Ounces Smithfield Fresh Pork Tenderloin
  • 1/2 Cups low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 1 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 Teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 fresh cucumber, peeled 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1 Cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup, divided
  • 1 Teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1/4 Cups bottled red raspberry vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 fresh red onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 slider rolls, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1/4 Cups hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 Cups fresh cilantro leaves

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place pork in a zippered plastic bag. In 1-cup measure, mix soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil; pour over pork. Seal bag squeezing out as much air as possible. Let pork marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or for as long as overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. In small bowl, combine sesame seeds, brown sugar and ginger; set aside.
  3. Prepare Maple Smoked Pickled Jalapeno Cucumbers:  Place cucumber and jalapeno in a heat-proof bowl. Bring ½ cup water, vinegar, 1/3 cup maple syrup, salt and liquid smoke to a boil stirring to dissolve salt. Pour liquid over vegetables. Let stand 30 minutes. Cover and chill until ready to use.
  4. Prepare Red Raspberry Pickled Onions:
  5. In small saucepan bring ½ cup water and vinaigrette to the boil. Add onions and turn off heat. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
    Chill until ready to serve.
  6. Heat 1 side of grill to high heat. Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Remove pork from marinade (discard marinade). Pat pork dry with paper towels. Sear pork on hot grill on all 4 sides, turning after 1 minute per side.  Transfer pork to a plate; brush all over with remaining maple syrup and then coat on all sides with sesame seed mixture. Return pork to cool side of grill for indirect cooking. Cover grill and continue cooking pork for 4 to 6 minutes or until it registers 140°F to 145°F on an instant read thermometer.
  7. Transfer meat to a cutting surface, cover with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting into thin slices.  During last few minutes of grilling time toast slider rolls, if desired.
  8. Spread bottom half of each slider roll with hoisin sauce. Layer with pickled cucumbers, pork, jalapeno, pickled onions and cilantro.
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photo by Will Keys

 

A Real Sweet Week

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For the best baked cookies use a light colored not a dark metal cookie sheet 

It’s been a real sweet week in the kitchen, but not without a few mishaps. Social media has a way of making one believe that all recipes look and come out perfectly, but for me that is far from the truth. On many occasions I have some real blunders. Like with Leena’s Finnish Slice Cookies from the blog Culinary Cellar. I got distracted by a phone call and over-baked them and then neglected to slice them while still warm as instructed. Instead of tender beautiful slices I had shards of brittle. Trial 2 gave me the perfect buttery delicious slice. These are the best cookies on the planet declared by my family. Bake them.

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Speaking of family the week was extra sweet because I got to spend it with, well, lots of family. We spent 4th of July with my daughter’s in-laws and their extended family and then my brother and sister in-law came to visit. Here is what I made for the 4th.

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Don’t those mini vanilla cheesecakes look grand. They look perfectly delicious, NOT. I had to fix them. The recipe was a little too sweet and after baked the cheesecakes were a little sunken in. Here is a hint…always bake extra so you can taste and adjust as you go along. The truth about cheesecake is that all it takes is some ingenious toppings to fix the defects. I filled the sunken in part with a dollop of sour cream to cut the sweetness and then topped with fresh seasonal fruit. The glaze is melted orange marmalade which adds just the right touch of bitter-sweetness to the tart fruit. It was a real joy to watch all the guests enjoy dessert.

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Annabelle’s first selfie

As much as I love to bake, the sweetest part of my week is spending time with these two ladies. KiKi is in her glory being a grandmother. Annabelle is a beautiful mix of her mom and dad. She is just beginning to discover her hands and give us a true smile. She completely melts my heart. The greater joy comes from seeing a daughter be a mother. I am inspired by how calm and nurturing my Caitlin is. She has incredible instincts and I could not be more proud to call her my daughter. A long time ago she told me, “mom, one day we will be happy again” and she sure made it happen. I love my family.

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But I am not loving my latest sweet treat. I think my fresh blackberry pie with a touch of orange is a little runny. Back to the kitchen.

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A clear glass pie plate makes testing a pie crust for doneness easier