Zucchini Bread

Summertime = buying tons of zucchini for cheap, which inevitably leads to zucchini bread, at least for me. This has been true ever since I discovered this awesome zucchini bread recipe at Smitten Kitchen. Baking zucchini bread has become more of a year round thing, because out of all of the baked goods that I make way too often, zucchini bread seems to be the biggest hit. I don’t know if it is because it is so tasty, or maybe because some people see zucchini and immediately think it must be good for you. While the former is true, the latter, not so much – it should really just be called zucchini cake. I’m not going to try to fool myself (or you) into thinking that this zucchini bread is healthy just because there’s a bit of shredded green veggie inside of it (amid the sugar, oil, chocolate, and so on). Similarly, I’m not going to try to fool myself that just because it isn’t health food that I’m not going to eat it (have you seem my other posts?!).

So, I decided that since I will definitely be eating this zucchini bread (and lots of it) when zucchini is so readily available and inexpensive, I might as well at least try to add some sort of health benefits. Seems like a nice compromise, right? So, along with all those horrible things like white flour, sugar, oil, etc, I added some whole wheat flour and ground flax seed. While this might not be the equivalent of eating steamed zucchini, at least there’s some fiber and omega 3’s hidden inside! This was also a nice exercise in using what I had (yay saving $!) – I realized I didn’t have any chocolate chips so I made chocolate chunks from a chocolate bar in my candy stash (yes, I have a target bag filled with all sorts of goodies in my desk for when the stress gets to be too much :/).

So what if I stock up on Halloween candy when it goes way on sale on Nov 1…that candy stash comes in handy at times!

Zucchini Bread (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks!)
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease/flour either muffin tins (enough for about 24 muffins) or two 8×4 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until slightly fluffy with a whisk. Add oil and sugar, mix, then add zucchini and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt, chocolate chips, and flax seed. Stir this into egg mixture (careful not to overmix) and divide batter into prepared pans. Loaves will bake for 60 minutes, plus or minus 10 (I baked mine for about 55 minutes) and muffins take about 20-25 minutes.


Soy Chorizo Stuffed Banana Peppers

So this is my first post in about 3 weeks?! Life has definitely gotten in the way of food blogging – between a much needed week visiting friends and family at home and getting ready to start school again while finishing up summer classes and tying up loose ends in the clinic – there was hardly time for cooking let alone writing about it! But I’m back, although potentially briefly, as I am currently in the midst of a week long hiatus before the chaos of teaching, taking classes, doing practicum in Atlanta, and oh yeah, trying to make progress on that pesky little thesis takes over my life. For now though, I will cook, or attempt to.

A warning before reading this post – this is not going to be your average stuffed pepper recipe (not that I have any idea what that is, which will be apparent as the recipe unfolds). I have never made stuffed peppers or stuffed anything before for that matter, but a friend of mine who basically lives on a farm gave me an awesome bag filled with fresh produce, including a bunch of banana peppers. I had no idea what to do with my newly acquired abundance of peppers, so I decided to do something I’d never done before. While I had all the good intentions of going through recipes with solid reviews to help me create something edible, I got distracted. I’m not gonna lie, I have burnt many a cookie and even rice (should be so simple!) because of cooking while distracted. This is why I no longer go near the kitchen when a Maryland basketball game is on. I guess I am not the best multi-tasker, but oh well. All weekend I have been watching Lollapallooza live-streaming online – until I have the luxury of time and money, pretending I am at music festivals will have to do. I had been enjoying watching live performances from Delta Spirit and The Walkmen, among others, while also reading for my thesis and painting, so I didn’t think twice about bringing my laptop with me in the kitchen for my experiment in pepper stuffing. Mistake! Right as I was gathering all of my ingredients and getting ready to cook, The Gaslight Anthem had to go and start their set.

when Brian Fallon sings, I just can’t help but listen…and burn rice :/

One of my favorite bands…I could not relegate them to background status, so like a fool, I attempted to do two things at once. Fortunately, things didn’t turn out as horrible as they could have. Some rice got burned, some ingredients got forgotten, but all in all, the stuffed peppers turned out pretty tasty. Plus, I made WAY too much filling, but it tastes pretty good on its own, kind of like a veggie chili, so food for the rest of the week. And I got to enjoy another phenomenal Gaslight performance. All is right in the world.

Now, like so many of my other recipes, I was torn between healthy and ridiculous, but I think I managed to stay safely on the healthy side for the most part. I knew that I didn’t want to use pork sausage as a filling, so I bought soy chorizo from Trader Joes (so good!). 1 point for the healthy side!

I also had fresh tomatoes and zucchini from the farm, so the stuffing has a sizeable veggie component. Another point for team healthy!

Things went a little downhill when I couldn’t decide what kind of cheese to add and ended up throwing in a bunch of colby jack and ricotta cheese; but otherwise, these stuffed peppers are relatively healthy.  And to be honest, there isn’t much I’d change (perhaps not burning the rice, or making less filling) when I make them again.

Soy Chorizo Stuffed Banana Peppers

  • 8 large banana peppers*
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 package Trader Joes soy chorizo
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/3-1/2 cup shredded cheese (your preference – cheddar or colby jack would work well)
  • 1/3 cup ricotta cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; once it is boiling, add peppers, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. And tomato and zucchini and saute for another 3 minutes before adding the soy chorizo, rice, and beans. Stir for a few minutes just so that everything is warmed through and add the cheeses. Now comes the tough part – the stuffing. I didn’t really have any type of tool that you would use to stuff things with, so I just used a little spoon. I ended up with quite a few ripped peppers, but oh well. I put them in a baking dish with a little water at the bottom and cooked them for 25 minutes. For next time, I think it would be good to use salsa or enchilada sauce in the baking dish and cover them. Next time!

* depending on the size of the banana peppers there will likely be leftover stuffing. It tastes great on its own OR it could be a fun appetizer inside of a Tostito scoop or something like that. If you only want to make enough to stuff the peppers, I’d cut down the rice, chorizo, black beans, and cheese by half.