WeeklyPhotographyChallenge: Near and Far

The Big Blue River, which runs from central Nebraska into Kansas where it intersects with the Kansas River east of Manhattan …

Named the Great Blue Earth River by the Kansa Indians, the Big Blue must in recent history have actually ran blue instead of murky brown-green. In the shadows, one can still see what it may have looked like.

A freight bridge, crossing the Big Blue … where do those trains go?

Just feet away, one can look skyward and get lost in the trees.

I took these pictures on one section of the Linear Park Trail which circles Manhattan. There are a few places on the trail where one thinks, “I can see the trees and trail before me, but where does the path lead? Will it take me far?”

Two Little Chefettes Monthly Cooking Challenge: Zucchini

Once again, thank you to Bebe and Ridha for putting together this month’s cooking challenge! Visit Two Little Chefettes to check out other entries and also to view the rules if you are interested in participating.

I thought about trying to come up with an exotic and creative way to use zucchini for the challenge; but since these muffins are such a nice way to start the day, I decided to  use this recipe instead. Basically, a variation on zucchini bread, these moist and flavorful muffins are best served warm and can be eaten with butter or cream cheese, though no further adornment is needed.

Lemon-Glazed Zucchini Muffins

Makes 10 – 12

2 c. all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour

1/2 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 1/2 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. ground Vietnamese cinnamon

1/4 t. ground ginger

1/4 t. ground aniseed

1/4 t. ground allspice

1/4 t. salt

pinch of ground cardamom

1 c. lowfat buttermilk

1/2 c. canola oil

2 lg. eggs

2 t. lemon extract

1 1/2 c. coarsely grated zucchini

1 c. chopped pecans

1 c. confectioner’s sugar

2 T. fresh lemon juice

(1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare 12 standard muffin cups or 10 one-half cup ceramic ramekins with baking spray, or with butter and flour, or by lining with muffin papers. (For gluten-free use butter and gluten-free flour or use muffin papers.)

(2) In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder and spices. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs, and lemon extract until well combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until the dry ingredients have been absorbed. Do not overmix. Fold in zucchini and pecans.

(3) Divide batter between prepared muffin cups or ramekins. (If using ramekins, divide them between 2 baking sheets.) Using the back of a spoon, smooth muffin tops. Bake until muffins are firm to the touch, about 15 – 17 minutes for 12 standard muffins, about 20 – 23 minutes for 10 ramekin-size muffins.

(4) While muffins are baking, make glaze by slowly stirring lemon juice into confectioner’s sugar and beating with a spoon until perfectly smooth. Spoon glaze over muffins as soon as muffins come out of the oven. Place on wire cooling racks until muffins are cool enough to handle. Then unmold.