Sesame Zucchini Noodles

Hello from sweet California! I am currently enjoying my week of summer break doing all the things I love most in the world: swimming in an outdoor pool, coaching my old summer league youth swim team, and spending time with our adorable foster kittens. I came home and was greeted with 4 rambunctious bundles of fur, named Chai, Chamomile, Earl Grey, and Jasmine (the Tea family). Who can resist these adorable faces? If you’re in the Bay Area, check them out at Companions in Waiting, because they’re up for adoption and looking for a loving home!

Kittens

Such playful little bundles of fun!

Anyway, onto the food portion of this post I made sesame noodles a couple weeks ago, since the weather was so nice and warm. This is a light and healthy meal that requires very minimal cooking, and can be served chilled. This also happens to be a vegan recipe, and would be a great addition to any summer barbecue or picnic as a side dish, or as a main dish on those too-hot-to-cook days. Here’s the recipe!

Zucchini Sesame Noodles

Makes 5-6 servings

Ingredients

8 oz spaghetti (1/2 a package)

12 oz frozen edamame (I use Trader Joe’s)

4 medium or 3 large zucchini, spiralized

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped

1/2 tsp white pepper

Sesame seeds, for garnishing

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and edamame, and bring to a boil, then allow to cook until the noodles are just cooked, about 5-7 minutes depending on your preference. Place the spiralized zucchini in a colander and drain the spaghetti and edamame by pouring it with the hot water over the zucchini. (You can just skip this and just drain the pasta and edamame normally, I just did it to very slightly cook the zucchini noodles.)

Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and white pepper. Toss with the noodles, edamame, and zucchini until the sauce is coating the noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds. Serve room temperature or chilled. Enjoy!

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Shaved Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Hello from home! After a fun 4th of July week on the east coast, I’m back in the comforts of my own home, which means I can cook! I made dinner last night for my family, and since we grow zucchini in our garden, at any given time during the summer we’ve always got a gigantic one (or few) to use up. Yesterday, I decided to make my own pasta out of zucchini!

I don’t have one of those fancy mandolin slicers, but I do have a peeler! So I just used the peeler to shave off long, wide zucchini strips. It worked quite well, and didn’t actually take that long. I was only able to use the zucchini until I reached the soft, seedy part in the middle, but if you use more normal size zucchini you probably won’t run into this problem.

I love being at home with access to our garden, because not only do we have lots of zucchini, but we also have lots of basil! For the pesto, I used walnuts instead of pinenuts, since pinenuts go stale easily and not everyone carries them. I also added a bit of garlic just for a little extra punch of flavor. Storebought pesto is all fine and good, but nothing beats homemade. I cooked the zucchini “noodles” for a bit, added the pesto, threw in some roasted peppers from the pantry, and this pesto pasta was done! I served this dish with a fresh summer salad and garlic bread. Yum!

Shaved Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

Zucchini Pasta

3 large or 4 medium zucchini

1 tbsp olive oil

1 cup roasted red peppers, drained (you could also use fresh red peppers, sundried tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes here)

Parmesan cheese, for sprinkling

Pesto

2 (ish) cups fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

Directions

In a food processor, pulse together the pesto ingredients until well blended. Add more basil to taste, or olive oil for consistency.

For the pasta, slice the ends off the zucchini, stand upright, and use the peeler to shave off long strips of zucchini. Once you reach the soft, seeded part of the zucchini, stop shaving, as this part won’t yield good noodles.

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, and add the olive oil. Add the noodles and toss to coat with oil. Heat for about 5 minutes, stirring, then add the peppers and pesto. Toss to combine all ingredients and continue to cook until heated through, about 5-10 minutes. At this point the noodles should be soft. Cook less if you prefer crisper noodles, or you could even skip the cooking part entirely for a raw pasta salad, in which case you would serve chilled. If you choose to cook your noodles, serve warm. Garnish with Parmesan. Enjoy!

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Whole Wheat Butterscotch Zucchini Blondies and a Fitness Blender Workout

Two posts in one day, whattttt? I’m just so excited to be back home and baking with Shelby I couldn’t wait to post this recipe! We made three recipes tonight, a cookie recipe, this half-baked crumbly bar recipe, and this blondie recipe. I came home today and discovered that yes, our zucchini plant is STILL producing massive squash. We had one the size of a baseball bat in the fridge. Maybe we should consider harvesting these earlier… Oh well, it gives us plenty to work with when trying out new recipes! I took this Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownie recipe and modified it to be a butterscotch recipe. I took out the cocoa powder, traded the chocolate chips for butterscotch chips, and reduced the sugar by 75%. This recipe uses all whole wheat flour, only a quarter cup of brown sugar, and a cup and a half of zucchini! Healthy, healthy, healthy! Ok, maybe not healthy, but certainly much better for you than normal blondies loaded with sugar and butter. By the way, this recipe only uses oil, no butter. Did I mention healthy? One of my new goals is to create healthier recipes which don’t taste healthy, and this one definitely fits the bill. The zucchini makes these blondies extremely moist and gooey, without adding any zucchini flavor, while the butterscotch chips add enough sweetness to cut out almost all the sugar. I don’t like plain butterscotch chips, but I’ve found that they make an amazing blondie base when melted. The oil and whole wheat flour create a large, dense crumb, but the texture still has some fluff to it. Both Shelby and my sister said the texture of these blondies was more like cornbread, so perhaps a better name for this recipe would be butterscotch zucchini cake, but it was adapted from a brownie recipe so I thought they would be more like blondies or bars. The original recipe also calls for two egg whites, but I just used one whole egg. Using only egg whites would cut out more fat and make these even healthier, but would probably affect the texture, as well as leave you with two inconvenient egg yolks. Anyway, here’s the recipe I came up with!

Zucchini Butterscotch Blondies

Makes 16 squares

Ingredients

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

3/4 cup butterscotch chips

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups shredded zucchini

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease a 9×9 pan.

Melt the butterscotch chips in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in the oil and sugar and set aside to cool. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Add the egg and vanilla to the butterscotch mixture and mix until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the zucchini and stir to combine. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don’t overbake, as it will dry these out! Allow to cool before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

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I am quite pleased with myself for developing this recipe. This was my favorite of the three we made tonight!

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Reunited with my baking buddy!

Of course, in preparation for tonight’s baking fiesta, of course I did a workout! At home, I don’t have a gym membership or access to heavy weights of any kind, so I do a lot of bodyweight workouts. I discovered this great site, Fitness Blender, which has a ton of full length workout videos for free! They have workouts of all types, for all body parts, with and without weights, of all lengths and all intensities. I love it. I do a lot of these when I’m at home, so I chose one for today. I didn’t have too long, so I picked a short half hour workout, the When I Say Jump HIIT Workout Round 2. I like HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts, since they get my heart rate up high very quickly, and I always feel tired afterwards, no matter the length. After doing one of these, I never have any doubt in my mind that I just worked out, and I enjoy that feeling. I haven’t tried Round 1 yet, but I liked this workout, so I will probably go back and try Round 1 at some point. My one pet peeve is that not all the workout videos include a warmup and cool down. This one does, but others I have to supplement with my own. They also have a couple warm up and cool down videos, which I’ve used a couple times as well. I just thought I’d share this cool site with you, so I hope you enjoy it!

Stuffed Zucchini and a Swim Workout

Welcome to my second day of apartment life! Since I don’t start work till tomorrow, I have the entire day to settle in, work out, and cook! This morning I got up and decided to cook dinner, since it’s supposed to be served chilled, or at least room temprature. I made my favorite Quinoa Salad, except I used spinach instead of swiss chard, and I left out the squash, since I like it better without it. I finished making this around 10:45, which was perfect since my favorite pool here opens at 11. I haven’t been in the pool since Friday, which for me is a long time. I like to swim at at least 3 or 4 days a week, preferably 6 or every day if I can.

For the month that I’m subletting this apartment, I’ve decided I’m going to take a hiatus from baking. Partly because It’s hot here and I don’t want to heat up the kitchen every day, but also because I want to get back in shape before the school year starts and I find myself too busy to work out. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but if it does, I want to be in peak fitness before it all goes down the drain. Makes sense, right? Anyway, as part of that, I’m going to start posting my swim workouts, and maybe my lifting/dryland workouts as well. Here’s what I swam today. For reference, this is in a 25 yard pool, and my intervals are based off the fact that I can do 10 100s free on the 1:25 with about 5-8 seconds of rest. If you’re a swimmer and would like to use these sets, adjust the intervals according to your own speed.

Warm up: 200 SKIP (swim, kick, IM, pull)

Warm up set: 4×100 first 75 rotating IM, last 25 kick of the last stroke of the 75, @2:00

1) fly, back, breast, breastroke kick by 25

2) back, breast, free, flutter kick

3) breast, free, fly, dolphin kick

4) free, fly, back, flutter kick

Main set: 4 rounds of the following

200 IM @3:30

4×50, 3 kick/swim by 25 @:50, 1 easy free @1:00

Pull set: 2 rounds of the following

300, breathing between the 15m markers @4:30

200, negative split (the second half should be faster than the first, so I do 1st 100 moderate, 2nd 100 fast) @2:50

100 fast pull @1:20

Warm down: 200 choice easy

Total: 4200 yards

Time it took me: 1 hr 20 min

Now for the food! After that swim, I was nice and refreshed (and a couple shades darker) and I came back to the apartment and decided to make stuffed zucchini. I’m used to cooking for my family at home, so I usually make portions big enough for four people plus leftovers. It’s going to be an adjustment cooking for just one. Either that or my roommates are going to get a lot of free food. However, stuffed zucchini is super easy to adjust for one person or more. I ate both halves for lunch and this was my main dish, but it could also be made as a side dish. Sadly, moving away from home means losing access to our lovely garden, which is bursting with zucchini, so I had to *gasp* buy zucchini, but if you’re lucky and have tons of zucchini in your garden like I did at home, this is a great summer dish to use it up. It looks relatively fancy, but it’s super easy to make, and can be adjusted to your tastes!

Stuffed Zucchini for One

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I love this Beef-less ground beef from Trader Joe’s!

Ingredients

1 zucchini

1 slice (about 1/4 inch thick) of a large white onion, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

3 tbsp cup ground veggie beef

1 tbsp olive oil

Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Cut the zucchini in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the insides with a spoon, leaving the rind about 1/4-1/2 inch thick, and leaving the ends intact, making a boat. Roughly chop up the insides.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, until it starts to turn transparent. Add in the peppers, zucchini insides, and ground veggie beef and cook for a few minutes, until the peppers and zucchini begin to soften and the veggie beef is nicely browned. Divide the mixture evenly between the two zucchini halves, and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the zucchini is easily pierced by a fork. Enjoy!

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Yum!

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Quinoa Salad with Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, and Sweet Potatoes

I love quinoa. It’s like pasta, except healthier. It also absorbs sauces, a bit like rice, so I can add an Asian flair to some quinoa recipes as well. I cooked dinner for my family again, and I decided to make another quinoa dish. This dish is adapted from one I made last summer, Quinoa Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Kale, Dried Cranberries, and Red Onion from Two Peas and Their Pod. My family doesn’t like kale, so I used swiss chard from one of our friend’s gardens instead. I also had a squash from their garden, and several huge zucchinis from our own garden, so I threw those in as well. We didn’t have a red onion, and white onion has a milder flavor anyway, so I used that instead. The dried cranberries in this salad give it a nice touch of sweetness and a bit of chewy texture with every bite. I also crumbled some goat cheese on top for an extra kick of flavor. To round out the meal, I still have buttermilk to use up, so I made whole-wheat buttermilk biscuits (trying to be a little healthier) to accompany this dish. Everything was delicious, and earned the approval of my sister, something that I strive for. Here’s the recipe with my adaptations!

Quinoa Salad with Summer Squash, Swiss Chard, and Sweet Potatoes

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa

1 ¾ cup water

2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped

½ medium white onion, sliced

1 medium yellow squash, chopped

1 medium zucchini, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

3 cups swiss chard leaves, chopped

5 tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided

½ cup dried cranberries

goat cheese, for serving

Directions

Rinse the quinoa and put in a pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400˚. Place the sweet potatoes and onion in a baking pan, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with half the olive oil and toss to coat. Bake for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the squash and zucchini, drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and toss to coat. Bake for 12 more minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Spread the swiss chard on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Place in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until the swiss chard is wilted.

Let all vegetables come to room temperature, then combine with the quinoa. Add in the dried cranberries and the rest of the balsamic vinegar, toss to combine. Crumble goat cheese on top and serve. Enjoy!

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Shared on Totally Tasty Tuesdays at Mandy’s Recipe Box.

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The Best Zucchini Bread Ever

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread with Cinnamon and Chocolate Chips

This is the best zucchini bread I’ve ever made. It always turns out extremely moist and delicious. It is also a very forgiving recipe, and I have made many variants of this recipe, with different amounts of zucchini and different proportions of all-purpose to whole wheat flour. For those of you who shy away from vegetables in baked goods, don’t! The zucchini is very finely grated, so you don’t taste it at all, and it doesn’t really affect the texture either, it simply adds moistness. It also is delicious in either loaf form or muffin form. I usually make one 8×4 or 9×5 loaf and about 12-16 muffins with this recipe.

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The original recipe includes chocolate chips, and half and half mixture of all-purpose and whole wheat flour, and full-fat yogurt, but like I said, this recipe is very forgiving and adaptable. I have used all whole wheat flour and gotten a denser, nuttier, healthier, but only slightly less tasty bread. I have omitted the chocolate chips and still loved the recipe. I have never used full-fat yogurt, only low fat plain yogurt or non fat greek yogurt, and it is moister with the low fat plain yogurt, but both still yield a deliciously moist bread. I have also never really measured the 2 1/2 cups of zucchini exactly, I usually just eyeball it, and I’ve probably made this recipe with anything ranging from 2 to 3 cups of zucchini, depending on the size of the zucchinis we’ve had in the garden and how desperate I am to get rid of them. I have also reduced the sugar to make it more of a breakfast bread, or just enjoyed it with all the sugar and chocolate chips as a dessert. Like I said, this recipe is great not just because it tastes wonderful, but also because it is versatile! With that being said, here’s the original recipe.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread with Cinnamon and Chocolate Chips

from Simple Bites

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup plain yogurt, low-fat, or Greek yogurt, low or non-fat

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups grated zucchini

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚. Grease a 9×5 or 8×4 loaf pan and 12-16 muffin tins.

Sift together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy, beat in yogurt, buttermilk, oil, sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the grated zucchini and chocolate chips. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Pour batter into loaf pan until 2/3 full. Spoon the rest into the muffin tins.

Bake the muffins for about 20 minutes, checking until done. Bake loaf for about 45-50 minutes. Let cool before loosening and removing from pans.

Enjoy!

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Sorry for the terrible pictures… my camera was having a bad day and the lighting was less than ideal.

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It’s great as muffins…

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… or bread!

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