Baked Zucchini Fries

If you have been following along, you know that I decided to plant a garden this year. I posted about it a few weeks when I shared a recipe for Walnut Pesto.  I mentioned in that post that I was hoping to make zucchini fried with the zucchini I was growing. Well, a day or so after picking my first decent sized zucchini another one was ready for picking. So, it seemed like the perfect time to make zucchini fries.

Initially I was planning on frying them. And while I have nothing against fried food, I just don’t like the clean-up involved after frying things indoors. The oil always splatters, and you must wait until the oil cools down before you can wash your pot. I am one of those people who likes to clean as they go while they are in the kitchen. So, I randomly came across a baked option and thankfully I had all the ingredients on hand. And the recipe was super simple, I had them in the oven in less than 10 minutes. And best of all, they didn’t get soggy like fried zucchini fries get and they didn’t need a dipping sauce since they were seasoned perfectly!

Baked Zucchini Fries

Ingredients:

2 medium zucchinis, sliced into fries/spears

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the breads crumbs, garlic powder, dried basil, salt and pepper and set aside.

In another large bowl combine the zucchini with eggs and mix them well to make sure the zucchini is evenly coated by the eggs.

Toss the zucchini in the bread crumb mixture a few at a time and then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Continue doing this until all the zucchini has been coated with the bread crumb mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping the zucchini halfway through the baking.

Recipe from Tasty

Walnut Pesto

I decided to plant a small garden this year. Granted, my garden isn’t your typical one. I opted to plant my herbs and veggies (peppers, tomatoes & zucchini) in pots instead of in the ground. Although, I ended up having to transplant my zucchini plant into the ground when it started to take off and produce a lot of zucchinis, or zucchini flowers which will ultimately turn into zucchinis.

The first thing I ended up picking from my garden was cilantro. I picked this super early, back in the beginning of June.

And decided to make Cilantro Lime Rice with it.

Soon after it got quite hot outside and my cilantro bolted and began to flower. I did a little research and I learned that the flowers would ultimately become seeds and those sees are coriander. So, after letting the coriander seeds stay on the plant for a while they began to brown. I then cut off the stems with the seeds and hung them upside down in a brown paper bag to dry them out. I am planning on crushing the dried seeds into coriander powder.

There’s also some flat leaf parsley in my herb garden that I have been cutting to use in salads.

Also, from my mini herb garden… Basil. I planted three basil plants and while at first it didn’t seem like they were growing, they had a bit of a growth spurt and one of them started to flower. I pinched the flowers off hoping that by doing so the plant will continue to bear leaves.  I ended up picking a bunch of the larger basil leaves off the plants…

And turned them into a delicious pesto sauce, using walnuts instead of pine nuts. Totally random, but did you know there was a condition called Pine Mouth / Pine Nut Syndrome. With it you end up with a metallic taste in your mouth soon after eating pine nuts, it’s not permanent, but it can last a few weeks. This isn’t the reason why I used walnuts, but something I came across that I found interesting and thought I would share.

Here are some jalapenos that I grew as well. Thankfully these will keep in the refrigerator for a few weeks until I decide what to do with them.

And here is a picture of my zucchini plant and the zucchini that I recently picked. I learned that you can’t leave zucchini on the plant too long as they will end up with too many seeds. I am hoping that I will have a few ripe ones at the same time so I can make zucchini fries.

And I also picked some of my tomatoes that have grown to a decent size. I didn’t intend to pick them green. I had one red tomato on the plant that was going bad (it had a huge black spot on the bottom) and when I went to cut it off, two of the green ones came off with it. After doing a little research to make sure that it would turn red sitting on my counter, I went and picked off the other two tomatoes that were also a decent size.

I’m also growing some bell peppers and snacking peppers, but they are not ready for picking yet.

And there you have a tour of my mini garden.

Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:

2 cups lightly packed basil leaves

1/3 cup walnut pieces

2 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper

2/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

In the bowl of a food processor chop the walnuts into fine pieces. Add the garlic, basil salt and pepper and process until the mixture resembles a paste.

With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube.

Add the parmesan cheese, and process for an additional minute until well combined.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. Add olive oil as needed so the pesto does not dry out. Alternatively, you can divide the pesto among an ice cube tray to freeze and once frozen transfer to a resealable bag to have on hand when needed.

Slow Cooker Sunday: Zucchini Bread

I recently started using my slow cooker again. Ideally it is the perfect appliance to use in the warm summer months to avoid turning on the oven, but, I just find that the meals it produces are bit heavy for the dog days of summer. Granted, I should have been looking for recipes for desserts as there’s never a bad time of year for a sweet treat. This recipe today, Zucchini Bread, is perfect for the summer months with the abundance of zucchini available at the supermarket and at your local farm stands, but, thankfully zucchini is one of those vegetables that is available year round and always seems to taste the same.

To start I made the batter. Using my food processor I grated two small zucchini and squeezed out the excess water. In one bowl, I whisked together the dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl I whisked together eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil. I folded in the zucchini and then whisked in the flour mixture. I then transferred the mixture to my 4-quart slow cooker that I brushed with oil.

I covered it and set it to cook on high. Now, the directions said to leave the lid slightly ajar, I did this and after about 2.5 hours my bread was still undercooked in the middle. So, I decided to completely cover it and let it cook and it was done in about another 20 minutes. I turned off the slow cooker and let the bread sit uncovered for thirty minutes. I carefully removed it and let it cool completely.

I then sliced and enjoyed a piece. It was good, but, I think next time I make this I may use less cinnamon.

Slow Cooker Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

2 cups grated Zucchini, about 2 small zucchinis

9 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Brush the inside of a slow cooker (4 – 6 quarts) with 1 tablespoon of oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and the remaining oil until well combined. Fold in the zucchini. Add the flour mixture to the eggs mixtures and stir until just combined.

Transfer the batter to the greased slow cooker and spread in an even layer. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Uncover and let the bread cool in the slow cooker for 30 minutes. Loosen the edges of the bread and then carefully remove using a large spatula. Slice and enjoy!

Recipe from Savory Online

Slow Cooker Sunday: Vegetarian Minestrone

While spring may be a few days away the weather is still cold enough for some hearty soup. And while this soup may not have any meat in it, it’s still filling thanks to the array of vegetables. I was a bit intimidated by the amount of ingredients – I tend to avoid recipes that have too many ingredients – but, they are all pretty simple and some I actually had on hand.

I added most of my ingredients to my slow cooker and then set it to cook on low for 8 hours. I began checking on it after 5.5 hours as I didn’t want my vegetables to over-cook and break down, especially the zucchini. Ultimately my soup was ready in 6 hours, my vegetables were tender and still intact.

I then cooked the elbow macaroni in pot of boiling salted water and added it to the soup along with chopped baby spinach. I cooked it on low for an additional 15 minutes and it was done.

The Minestrone was flavorful and as I said earlier hearty and, the leftovers tasted even better the next day and even better the day after that.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Minestrone

Ingredients:

6 cups vegetable broth

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 large onion, chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

2 large carrots, diced

1 cup frozen green beans

1 small zucchini, cut into quarter moons

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoons thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup elbow macaroni

4 cups chopped fresh spinach

Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Combine all ingredients from the broth through the black pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until vegetable are tender.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the elbow macaroni for about 8 minutes, until cooked through but still firm, drain.

Add the macaroni and spinach to slow cooker and cook for another 15 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.

Recipe from allrecipes

Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir-Fry with Chicken

Quick and delicious meals are something I am always searching for. And, meals that aren’t written for 6 or more servings. Since I cook for just myself 4 or less is perfect. It gives me enough for leftovers for the following day. While you can find quick to prepare food at the supermarket, you know those flavored rice’s and pasta sides, have you ever noticed how much sodium is in them. I am by no means a health nut, but, I do try to avoid certain things whenever possible. Sodium being one of them. Today, I am bringing you a quick dish that can be made with tofu, chicken or shrimp and has a healthy amount of vegetables… A Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir Fry. What’s really nice about this dish is that there are no sauces that are giving this dish a flavor. Just some salt, pepper, garlic, onions and basil. Yum! And, it’s written for 2 servings… Perfect for me.

Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir Fry

Ingredients:

8 ounces tofu, chicken breast or sausage, or shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

3 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into half-moons a 1/2 inch thick

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off*

1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into ribbons

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes, optional

*This is approximately 3/4 cup of corn if you want to sub frozen or canned corn

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, season the oil with salt and pepper. Cook your chosen protein to your liking, fully cooked if chicken or shrimp. Set aside.

In the same skillet, add more oil if necessary, add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the zucchini, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the zucchini is golden, stirring frequently.

Add the garlic and corn and cook for an addition 2 minutes, stirring. Add more salt and pepper.

Cover the skillet and let it steam for 3-4 minutes. Check the zucchini with a fork for doneness. When the zucchini is ready add the basil and adjust the salt.

Add the red pepper flakes, if using and return your protein the skillet and heat through.

Recipe from Feasting At Home

Slow Cooker Frittata with Zucchini, Tomato and Feta

Yes, I made a Frittata in my slow cooker. It may seem a bit odd to make something that can easily take 10-15 minutes in the oven for almost 3 hours in a slow cooker, but, I will say this, this frittata came out super fluffy and was evenly cooked. And reheated a lot better than your traditional frittata. I share this recipe with you this week as it may be a welcomed addition to your meal if you are planning an Easter breakfast or brunch next Sunday.

I began by grating 2 zucchinis into a colander and sprinkling it with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. What I did was grate one zucchini and then sprinkled it with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and then repeated that. After letting it sit for a bit, about 20 minutes, I squeezed the excess juices out of the zucchini. After all the squeezing was done I was left with about a cup of grated zucchini.

After brushing the insert of my slow cooker with olive oil I continued on with making the frittata. I beat 6 eggs with paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and parsley. I then added in the grated zucchini, halved cherry tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese.

I then poured batter into the slow cooker, covered it and set it to cook on low for 3 hours.

I checked on it after about 2.5 hours and it was ready; when I inserted a knife in the center it came out clean.

I tried using a spatula to get the frittata out, but, had much better luck inverting it onto a plate and then flipping it once again.

Slow Cooker Frittata with Zucchini, Tomato and Feta

Ingredients

2 zucchinis, medium sized, coarsely grated with a 1/2 teaspoon salt

6 eggs

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (about 10-12 cherry tomatoes)

Olive oil for slow cooker

Directions:

Place the grated zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let the juices drain for a while and then squeeze out the excess juice with your hands until you are left with one tightly packed cup of grated zucchini.

Grease the insert of the slow cooker with the olive oil.

In a large bowl beat the eggs with the paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and parsley. Add the grated zucchini, the tomatoes and feta cheese. Mix well and then pour into the prepared slow cooker.

Cook on low for 3 hours. Check the frittata after 2 1/2 hours. Frittata is done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Recipe from The Foodie Corner Blog

Slow Cooker Sunday: Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

This is probably the best I have ever made and tasted, well, there was this French Onion Soup I had years ago at a restaurant that I still compare all French Onion Soup’s I have had to this day. Maybe I should try making that soup one day. But anyhoo, I digress, as usual. Back to the soup at hand, an Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup that best of all is made in a slow cooker. There’s nothing better than dumping everything into your slow cooker and then coming back a few hours later with a great meal waiting for you.

I began by adding all of my vegetables to my slow cooker: corn, chopped onion, chopped carrots, sliced zucchini and garlic. I wasn’t sure if garlic could be considered a vegetable, but, adter a little research it turns out it can be.

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Next, I stirred in broth, tomato paste, salt and basil until the tomato paste had completely blended into the broth. I used tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano. I advise using this blend of tomato paste since it adds more flavor to the soup.

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I opted to cook it on the high setting for about 3 1/2 hours and then added in dried shell macaroni and a bag of frozen green beans and cooked it for an additional 45 minutes.

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Once it was done I served myself a bowl and topped it with shredded parmesan cheese. YUM!

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Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

Ingredients:

1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped carrots

1 small zucchini, sliced into half moons

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1 6-ounce can tomato paste blended with basil, garlic and oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 9-ounce package frozen green beans

1 cup dried small shell macaroni

Shredded parmesan cheese, for topping

Directions:

In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow clooker combine the frozen corn, onions, carrots, zucchini and garlic.

Stir in the broth, salt, basil and tomato paste until the tomato paste is completely blended into the broth.

Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours (or on low for 7 to 8 hours). Add the macaroni and green beans and cook for an additional 45 minutes. Please note, if you cooked the soup on the low setting, set it to high once you add in the macaroni and green beans.

Serve in bowls topped with shredded parmesan cheese.

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

 

 

Chicken Pad Thai

Whenever I go to a Thai restaurant my go-to dish is always Chicken Pad Thai. It’s pretty much foolproof and always delicious. A few years ago I attempted to make it myself and was happy with the outcome – it was super simple and tasted awesome. I recently dug out the recipe I used and whipped it up for dinner.

To begin I prepped all of my ingredients; minced garlic and ginger, sliced three thinly sliced chicken breasts into strips and julienned 2 carrots and 1 zucchini.

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Two of my other ingredients were rice noodles and Asian chili paste.

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Next I whisked together soy sauce, water, peanut butter and the chili paste until it was smooth.

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To cook the vegetables and chicken I began by sautéing the garlic and ginger for about a minute and then adding the vegetables and chicken and cooking everything until the chicken was cooked through.

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While I was cooking the vegetables I prepped the rice noodles by soaking them in warm water (I brought a pot of water to boil and then removed it from the heat). Luckily the rice noodles now come in these individual packets (there are four in a box) so I knew exactly how many noodles I needed – 2 packets. The last time I cooked with rice noodles – granted it was some time ago – they didn’t come in these nifty packages so I had to use my best guess as to what was half of the package.

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The noodles soaking…

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Once the noodles were ready (I followed the directions on the package and soaked them for 5 minutes) I added them to the pan with the vegetables and then added in the peanut/soy sauce I made along with light brown sugar and cider vinegar. I tossed all of the ingredients together to distribute the sauce and let everything cook for a few more minutes and then it was time to enjoy my homemade Chicken Pad Thai and it was delicious!

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Chicken Pad Thai – Modified from here

Servings 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons water

1 1/2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

2 teaspoons Asian chili paste

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 zucchini, julienned

2 carrots, julienned

8 ounces chicken breast, sliced into strips

1/4 pound rice noodles, follow directions on package to prepare

1 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoons cider vinegar

Optional for garnish:

Lime Wedges

Chopped Peanuts

Bean Sprouts

Directions:

1. In a bowl whisk together the soy sauce, water, peanut butter and chili paste.

2. Heat a large sauté pan (or wok) over medium heat and add the canola oil. Once the oil is hot add the garlic and ginger and cook for about a minute. Add the vegetables and chicken and cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Add the noodles and toss to coat them.

3. Add the peanut/soy sauce, brown sugar and cider vinegar and toss to distribute. Cook until heated through.

Pesto Chicken Packets

As I mentioned in a previous post I was rained-in last week and went on a bit of a cooking binge making a Chicken Corn Chowder, a Meyer Lemon Yogurt Cake and a Pesto Sauce; the latter of which I finally put to good use and made Pesto Chicken Packets – a recipe I came across in an issue of Rachael Ray Magazine a few years back. Let me take a few steps back though and go over how I made the Pesto Sauce.

To make the sauce I combined 3 cups of basil, 1/4 cup of pine nuts, a garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper in the bowl of a food processor.

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I pulsed the ingredients until they were combined.

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And then let the machine run while I drizzled 2/3 cup of olive oil into the mixture.

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After transferring the mixture to a bowl I stirred in a 1/4 cup of freshly grated of Parmesan cheese.

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Since I wasn’t using the Pesto Sauce immediately I stored it in an airtight container in my refrigerator. After being in the fridge for a few days I added a little more olive oil to the top of it to make sure it would stay fresh. And when I was ready to use it was perfect.

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On to the Pesto Chicken Packets…

Along with the chicken and pesto, I also needed zucchini, plum tomatoes and scallions for the recipe.

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I prepped the vegetables by slicing the zucchini, chopping the tomatoes and trimming the scallions.

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Then it was time to prep the chicken packets for the oven. I drizzled about a teaspoon of olive oil in the center of a 12-inch long sheet of aluminum foil and placed a thin-sliced chicken breast seasoned with salt and pepper on top of it. I then spread about a tablespoon of the pesto over the chicken.

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Next it was time to cover the chicken with about a handful of the sliced zucchini and chopped tomatoes and a few of the scallions. Prior to closing the packets I also dolloped about two tablespoons of the pesto on top.

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I placed all of the packets on a baking sheet and baked them in a 355 F preheated oven for 40 minutes.

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And voila, they were perfectly cooked in that time. This is definitely a great recipe for chicken as the juices of the zucchini, tomatoes and of course the pesto produces a chicken breast that is perfectly juicy and flavorful. I served them with brown rice and no worries I did take the chicken along with all of its components out the aluminum packet prior to eating it. How else was I going to be able to mix all the wonderful juices in with my rice?

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Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

3 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, washed

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

1. Place the basil, pine nuts, basil, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine.

2. While the machine is running drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.

3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the Parmesan cheese.

 

Pesto Chicken Packets

Ingredients:

Extra-Virgin olive oil, for drizzling

5 Thinly sliced skinless and boneless chicken breasts

Salt and Pepper

1 cup Pesto

2 zucchini, thinly sliced

4 plum tomatoes, chopped

10 scallions, trimmed

 

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 355 F. Cut five 12-inch long sheets of heavy-duty foil. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil in the center of each sheet.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay 1 piece of chicken in the center of each sheet and spread 1 tablespoon pesto on top.

3. Mound a handful of the zucchini and tomatoes over each chicken breast along with two pieces of scallion. Dollop a few tablespoons pesto over each mound. Fold the foil over the chicken and vegetables; pinch the edges to seal.

4. Place the packets on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes.

Zucchini Spice Bread

Another mini road trip meant it was time to bake another dessert that wouldn’t require refrigeration. This time I went with a Zucchini Spice Bread. If you are not a fan of zucchinis, or vegetables for that matter, no worries the addition of some warm spices masks the fact that a vegetable is the main ingredient in this delicious loaf cake. Luckily for me, I love all vegetables – even those bitter Brussels sprouts. Trust me; they can be delicious when made the right way.

I began by grating a medium-sized zucchini. While the recipe called for the zucchini to be coarsely grated I opted to finely grate it which I think added to the moisture of the bread.

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Next I whisked together the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and the spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and ground cloves.

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In another bowl I used a hand mixer to mix together canola oil, light brown and granulated sugar, two eggs, vanilla extract…

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And finally the zucchini.

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I then added in the flour mixture and mixed it until it was just combined.

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After pouring it into my prepared loaf pan – I sprayed it with baking spray – I baked it in a preheated 350 F oven for about 50 minutes.

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The cake smelled delicious right out of the oven and I couldn’t wait for it to cool so I could try a piece.

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After letting it cool for a half hour in the pan and then transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely I was finally able to slice into the loaf and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. It was incredibly moist and the spices were a perfect touch. Next time I make it though I will probably add in some walnuts for a little texture and added flavor.

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Zucchini Spice Bread

Ingredients

1/2 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

A pinch of ground cloves

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 medium zucchini, coarsely grated (about 1 1/2 cups)

Directions 

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan (I used a 9 1/4 x 5 1/4 inch pan.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, light brown and granulated sugars, eggs and vanilla; mix in the zucchini. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not over mix.)

3. Spread the batter in the prepared pan bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.