When life gives you zucchini…make zucchini bread and zucchini muffins and zucchini pie…

Earlier this year I started a vegetable garden in our backyard. As a novice gardener, I really had no idea what I was doing. I tried to read about gardening, consult gardening blogs, and ask my “garden veteran” neighbor for advice before planting. Nothing can teach you how to do something quite as well as just digging in and getting your hands dirty. I really had no idea what I was doing, but things have turned out fairly well. We have already harvested collard greens, radishes, onion, cucumber, squash and zucchini. One of my biggest learning curves, however, was discovering just how BIG zucchini plants get. They are taking over my garden. I can’t even walk through some of the rows any more. Good gracious, we have zucchini coming out of our ears (of corn that is). I have so much squash and zucchini we do not even know what to do with all of it. We have already vacuum sealed a bunch of it for our freezer. We have been eating sautéed squash and zucchini. We have made squash and zucchini salads. After doing all of these things, we still had a bunch in our refrigerator waiting for some more recipes.

In order to get a few more zucchini out of our fridge, I made a batch of zucchini muffins. They were alright, but did not quite taste the way I wanted them to taste. I added too much flour with not enough egg, and they tasted a bit too dense or something.  My mom gave me her recipe to try out. I used her basic recipe but tweaked the spices and fillings, and they were fantastic. Here is the recipe if you would like to try them.

Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 cup oil (I used vegetable oil)

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup walnuts

1 cup raisins

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Slowly stir together the wet and dry ingredients, and then add the zucchini, walnuts, and raisins.

If making loaves of bread, pour the batter into two greased and floured bread pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. You can also make two dozen muffins instead of two loaves. If you make muffins, they will bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

We had zucchini bread and muffins for breakfast for a week with this recipe. If walnuts and  raisins aren’t your thing, you can just leave them out. I like a little bit of texture in my bread, personally. Plus with the raisins and walnuts it made a much more filling breakfast item. If you want them to be healthier, you can also use 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (instead of using all 3 cups all-purpose flour). Thank you, Mom, for the recipe!

I also made zucchini pie. Yes, you read that correctly. Zucchini Pie. Who knew such a thing existed? I surely didn’t until I was searching for creative ways to use my zucchini, and once again my mom came through with her brilliant ideas. “Why don’t you make a zucchini pie?” she said to me. You can use zucchini to make an apple (like) pie, apparently. My dad and Kev had a piece of the pie, and they didn’t even know that it was not in fact apple pie until I said something. My dad’s comment was something along the lines of, “How did you make zucchini taste like apples?!?” If you peel the zucchini, cut it length-wise, scoop out all of the seeds, and cut it into apple slice size chunks, you can just substitute zucchini for the apple in your favorite apple pie recipe. I would recommend letting the zucchini sit out in a bowl for a few hours before adding the other ingredients to your pie filling. I made the mistake of cutting the zucchini too thin, adding the ingredients, and I did not have the time right then to make the pie. I had to come back to make the crusts later on so that I could bake the pies, and all of the water drained out of the cut pieces. If I had drained the water I would have lost all of the spices, etc. I ended up simmering the pie filling on the stove top and adding more zucchini, some corn starch, and a little bit of flour to make a respectably thick pie filling. If you just let the water drain and then add the ingredients, I am sure you can avoid the soupy hassle I had to deal with.

My apple (and/or zucchini pie) recipe

10 cups of freshly peeled and sliced fruit (once again, if using zucchini, let it sit and allow the liquid to drain off before using in the pie)

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 T butter

In a small bowl mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and fruit.

Pour the mixture into a two pie 9 inch pie crusts. Place small pieces of butter on top of the fruit mixture and then cover the fillings with pie crust tops.

Brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Cut vent holes in the pie crust top so that the steam can escape while baking. It also let’s you make creative designs on top of your pie.

Bake at 425 degrees for 50 minutes.

My very first slice of zucchini pie!

Enjoy! Zucchini pie…who knew!? I have to say, it was pretty darn tasty!

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