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.

Zucchini Chickpea Risotto

One of our guests recently gave me a bunch of young zucchinis from her garden. (Thank you, Madonna!) After serving Zucchini Pancakes, Zucchini & Roasted Chicken Omelettes, and Zucchini Bread for breakfast over several different mornings, I decided that it was time for zucchini at a different meal. For lunch today,  I made Zucchini and Chickpea Risotto. It was a sunny and delicious dish for a gray, humid day.

Ingredients: Arborio Rice, Olive Oil, Minced Shallots, Vegetable Stock, Chickpeas, Zucchinis, Red Pepper Flakes, Dry White Wine, Butter, Lemon Juice, Grated Parmesan Cheese. For instructions on making risotto, see my earlier post Ah … Risotto. Have fun making your own risotto! Feel free to be creative!

One of my go-to wines for making risotto, and serving with it, is Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp, citrusy white wine from California. Enjoy!