Chocolate Zucchini Mini Muffins

This post is sponsored in conjunction with #Choctoberfest . I received complimentary product from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the #Choctoberfest recipes. All opinions are mine alone.

Raise your hand if you’re raising a strong-willed child! I love my daughter immensely, but sometimes I swear she just wants to push my buttons.

For example, her 3-year-old preschool class lets you sign up to bring a snack on Fridays. What did she insist she wanted to bring? Spicy pizza muffins.

Chocolate Zucchini Mini Muffins 2

For the record, I have never made any spicy pizza muffins. Nor do I think she would eat them – never mind serving them to a group of 3-year olds.

After much, much negotiation, we settled on chocolate muffins instead.

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Pecan Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Is it even summer if you don’t end up drowning in zucchini at some point? I think not.

Between our garden and our CSA, we always have plenty of zucchini around. I have, of course, been experimenting with lots of new, fun recipes – but I just keep coming back to zucchini bread. It’s a classic.

Chocolate Chip Pecan Zucchini Bread 1

This loaf is our favorite. It’s a little heavy on the nutmeg which gives the loaf a nice spice. Pecans and chocolate chips are mixed in, too, to add a little sweetness and texture.

This recipe does make a big batch, so it’s great to share with neighbors – or freeze a loaf for later!

And if you’re looking for more ways to use up your garden zucchini, I suggest Zucchini Scones, Zucchini, Chile & Red Onion Frittata, or Cheesy Zucchini Enchiladas – all family favorites!

Chocolate Chip Pecan Zucchini Bread 2

Thanks Ellen from Family Around the Table and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures for hosting our Farmer’s Market Event!

Thursday Farmer’s Market Week Recipes

 

Chocolate Chip Pecan Zucchini Bread 3

Chocolate Chip Pecan Zucchini Bread

Makes 2 large loaves or 5 small loaves

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and baking powder.

In another bowl, beat the eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla together. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the zucchini, pecans, and chocolate chips.

Divide batter between loaf pans. Bake until a knife inserted comes out clean – about an hour for large loaves or 35-45 minutes for smaller loaves.

adapted from The Taste of Home Baking Book

Chocolate Chip Pecan Zucchini Bread

Summer Vegetable Pasta Bake

We have a few more weeks of summer here, so I haven’t quite wrapped my head around back-to-school. We’re entering a brave new world this year – Kindergarten! – and I’m not ready to give up our relaxed summer schedule.

I know a lot of our friends are starting to head back, though, and I’ve gotten quite a few requests for easy back-to-school dinners. This dinner is perfect – easy, but still full of the fresh flavors of the season.

Summer Pasta 3

This dump-and-bake pasta couldn’t be easier – you don’t even have to pre-cook the pasta! We used leftover grilled chicken, but you could use a rotisserie chicken too. This is also easily made vegetarian by skipping the chicken and using vegetable broth instead.

A few minutes to chop and assemble and then your hands are free to help with homework or spend some quality time with the little ones who have been at school all day!

Summer Pasta 1

Thanks Ellen from Family Around the Table and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures for hosting our Farmer’s Market Event!

Wednesday Farmer’s Market Week Recipes

 

Summer Pasta 2

Summer Vegetable Pasta Bake

Serves 6-8

2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
12 oz. uncooked uncooked penne pasta
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9×11″ pan with nonstick spray.

Set aside 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup basil.

Pour the rest of the ingredients into the pan and stir to combine. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Uncover and stir. If pasta is not al dente, cover and cook for a few more minutes.

When pasta is al dente, sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the top and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Remove from oven, sprinkle with basil, and stir.

Summer Vegetable Pasta Bake

Grilled Vegetables with Whipped Avocado Feta Dip

You know what I’ve noticed? Almost no one brings vegetables to a barbecue – but, when someone does, they always seem to get gobbled up.

Grilled Vegetables 1

I think a large part of their scarcity is that vegetables don’t have a great reputation for being an easy dish to take along. Let this one change your mind.

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Baked Vegetable Tacos

Today is the first Friday of Lent, so I’m kicking off my annual Lenten project – sharing meatless meals every Friday. What began as simply a way to keep from eating plain spaghetti and pizza every Friday has grown into one of my favorite yearly blog projects.

Baked Veggie Tacos 1

But, nine years on, how do I keep this series fresh? I’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about our family’s current needs and how to get them to reflect in my meatless Friday posts.

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Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

In the food blogger world, we’re often working ahead. Like, I’m currently working on Christmas cookies, as absurd as that sounds on this 80 degree summer day. Sometimes I feel like I’m living three steps ahead, not in the moment, so I was super excited that more than 80% of you were still up for summer recipes when I asked on Facebook this week.

Hurray, summer!

I feel like I’ve missed most of it, honestly. The move chewed up so much of my time that I feel like I’m frantically playing catch up now before school starts.  Grilling is something I’m catching up on – we finally got our grill ready to go this week. This was the first thing I made.

This “recipe” is really flexible – it’s more of a method. You can use any vegetables you have on hand. Want it to cook faster? Cut the pieces smaller. Want the veggies to caramelize a little more? Don’t stir as often. Sub the balsamic for fresh Parmesan. Add a nice, crusty loaf of bread and serve it as a meal. So many options!

It can also be served warm, cold, or at room temp which makes it so flexible for potlucks or entertaining.

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables

Balsamic Grilled Vegetables
(adapted from Stop & Shop)
Serves 6-8 as a side

1 eggplant
2 zucchini
1 red pepper
1/2 red onion
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, julienned
2 Tbsp. balsamic glaze

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil and season with slat and pepper.

Add to a grill basket. Grill for 20-25 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

When done, transfer to a serving bowl. Top with fresh basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze.

Fresh Corn Salsa (4)

Zucchini Scones #farmersmarketweek

If there’s one piece of produce synonymous with summer, it’s got to be zucchini. I feel like everyone knows someone that has waaaay too much zucchini in their garden and is trying to pass it off on everyone. (PS, if you’re that person, I’m happy to take it!)

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These scones were something I made for myself. I figured vegetables in a not-overly-sweet pastry would be a hard sell, but as soon as these came out of the oven, the kids were BEGGING for them. They requested them for snack twice that day, and were thoroughly bummed when I informed them they weren’t allowed to have them again for dinner.

To be fair, they really are delicious. The buttery, flaky layers here are so on point! There’s just enough sweetness in these to make them perfect, but not overly sweet, and they’re a great way to use up some of that zucchini that I know you have hanging around!

ZucchiniScones

Zucchini Scones
(from Baker by Nature)
Makes 8

2 and 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 stick (unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream (full fat)
2/3 cup zucchini, grated and drained
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated, divided

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. Cut in the butter until it forms a course meal.

In a smaller bowl, combine the egg and sour cream. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup cheese.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and work it into a round loaf shape. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut like a pie into 8 wedges.

Carefully transfer the wedges to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with remaining cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

These are best served the same day.

 

Fresh Corn Salsa (1)

Looking for more farm fresh inspiration? Here’s what other bloggers have cooked up for you today as part of #farmersmarketweek!

 

Wednesday #FarmersMarketWeek Recipes

Crispy Parmesan Garlic Chicken

 

Julie’s now 7 weeks old and I’m just getting into enough of a rhythm with the kids that I can actually stand over the stove and cook some nights. Up until this point, dinner has been something I can throw in the crockpot or oven between diaper changes. It’s been nice to do some hands-on cooking for a change!

Still, dinners haven’t been anything too involved – this easy, one-pan meal was a recent favorite. I added a loaf of crusty bed and dinner was on the table in a half hour. Mom win!

ParmGarlicChickenZucchini

Crispy Parmesan Garlic Chicken
(from The Recipe Critic)
Serves 4

2 chicken breasts, cut in half and slightly pounded out
8 Tbsp. butter, divided
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium zucchini, coin-sliced

In a large skillet, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat.

In the microwave, melt 4 Tbsp. butter in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the bread crumbs, 1/2 cup parmesan and flour. Coat the chicken in the butter then in the bread crumb mixture and add to the skillet.

Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked through and the breading is golden. Remove chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the remaining butter to the skillet. When melted, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add in the zucchini and cook until tender. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Add the chicken back and cook until heated through.

Chicken Sausage and Marinated Summer Veggies

Current craving: all the veggies. I’ve eaten more salad and grilled vegetable sandwiches recently than I ever have in my life. I’m not sure if it’s a pregnancy thing or just the mid-summer bounty, but it’s been delicious.

While aimlessly flipping through Pinterest, this recipe caught my eye because of all of the veggies. I adapted it slightly to fit what we had in the garden/what looked best at the store, but you could really do this dish at any time of the year with whatever produce is in season.

I served it along with a loaf of warm, crusty bread – it was an awesome summer dinner.

ChickenSausageSummerVeg

Chicken Sausage and Marinated Summer Veggies
(slightly adapted from Beachbody)
Serves 4

2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, taste
2 zucchini, coin sliced
2 yellow squash, coin sliced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
4 cooked chicken sausages, coin sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss all the veggies with the balsamic mixture and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring halfway.

Preheat your broiler to high.

Stir the chicken sausage into the veggies and transfer to a sheet pan. Broil for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are soft, turning halfway.

Chicken Piccata with Zoodles

Every once in a while, we end up with a really healthy week of dinner plans. I don’t usually do it consciously – it seems that after a week of celebrating or heavy eating, I naturally go for something lighter. And, really healthy meals are always a bit of a gamble around here. Something drowning in cheese and butter? Sure to be a hit. Something naturally gluten free and heavy on the veggies? Maybe – or maybe not.

Luckily, this was a huge hit. Zoodles as a side dish were great and the chicken was super easy but super flavorful. I was really impressed on how quickly this meal came together – and how satisfying it  was.

ChickenPicattaZoodles

Chicken Piccata with Zoodles
(adapted slightly from Primal Palate)
Serves 2

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2″ thickness
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsps.. olive oil
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. capers
2 Tbsp. white wine
1 Tbsp. butter
2 zucchini, ends cut off and spiralized

Whisk together the almond flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl and add chicken, one at a time, turning until thoroughly coated.

Cut half of the lemon into slices and juice the other half.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.

Add garlic to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in the chicken broth and lemon slices and cook several minutes, until the lemon gets soft. Add the capers, lemon juice and white wine and cook until it’s thickened a bit. Remove from heat and stir in butter until well combined. Pour into a bowl and cover with foil.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil in the skillet. When shimmering, add zucchini noodles and cook a few minutes, tossing occasionally, until they’re al dente. Sprinkle cooked noodles with salt.

Serve the noodles topped with a chicken breast topped with the sauce.