Zucchini Spice Bread

Hmmm... what to do with all your extra zucchini?  If you have a garden, you know what I mean.  I don't have one, but my mother does and on a visit this last weekend she arrived with about 8 pounds of tomatoes and 3 giant zucchinis.  Awesome.  The tomatoes you'll see in sauce and soup form soon.  Cameron isn't crazy about zucchini squash but doesn't everyone like zucchini bread?  I know I do.  

Other things you can do with your zucchini?  Shred it, bag it, freeze it.  Make noodles out of it, sneak long thin slices into lasagna, grill it and sprinkle it with vinegar, make a gratin, make a pizza, ratatouille....  Not that any of these suggestions matter because you're just going to make it into this bread, aren't you?  

This quick bread is well spiced, mild on the zucchini flavor with a moist crumb.  It's not too sweet.

Makes 1 loaf. 

Zucchini Bread

3 cups grated zucchini  + 1 tablespoon sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons grape seed oil

1/2 cup buttermilk

zest of 1 lemon

Toss grated zucchini with the tablespoon sugar.  Place it in a strainer set over a bowl.  You will be amazed how much water this gets out.  Leave it there while you do everything else.  

Heat oven to 375.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly oil.  Set aside.  

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.  In another bowl, whisk oil, butter milk and lemon zest.  Press out any extra water from zucchini.  Combine zucchini and buttermilk mixture with the dry ingredients until flour is hydrated.  Do not over mix.  Smooth into loaf pan.  Bake 55-60 minutes.  (When cake is done, it will feel firm and springy and an inserted toothpick will come out clean.)  Let cool.  

Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken + Quick Gravy


Frying chicken, or anything, is kind of a big deal around our house, mostly because it's a little messy and we don't eat a lot of deep fried foods.  But sometimes I have a hard time saying no to the idea of fried chicken.  Of course steamed corn, mashed potatoes and gravy are part of the package, too.  (I stopped myself at biscuits.)

The buttermilk soak adds moisture and tangy flavor to the chicken.  Adding the hot sauce to the buttermilk and cayenne powder makes it spicy.  If you're not into spice, omit these two ingredients.  Also, I dislike meat on the bone, so I used 1 1/2 lbs white skinless, boneless chicken breast but traditionally, one would use a whole 3 lb chicken cut into 8 pieces.  Ingredients will need to be increased by 50%.  

Since we are frying and have no drippings to make a proper gravy, stock, butter and flour can be used to make a quick, basic gravy.   

Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers

Spicy Buttermilk Fried Chicken

1 1/5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thirds

1 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons hot sauce

1 cup self rising flour

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1-2 liters frying oil (canola, veggie...)  amount depends on pot size


Quick Gravy

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup chicken stock

s + p

For the Chicken:

Place chicken in a bowl with buttermilk and hot sauce.  Cover and place in fridge for 6 to 12 hours.  Mix all dry ingredients together and set aside for later.  

When you're ready to fry, place a large cast iron skillet on the stove and fill with about 2 inches of oil and heat to 350 degrees. Remove chicken from fridge and buttermilk soak.  Working in batches if needed, toss chicken pieces in prepared flour seasoning mixture, until coated and carefully place in skillet.   Fry 6 minutes, flip and fry 4 minutes more.  (Dark meat will take a couple minutes longer.)   Transfer to towel to drain and serve hot.  

For the Gravy: 

While your last pieces of chicken are frying, melt butter in small pan over medium high heat and add flour.  Stir continuously until mixture becomes golden.  Add stock, stir until thickened.  

Blackened Fish Dinner


February hasn't included the healthiest of foods here on Meats and Sweets so here's a dinner idea to lighten things up.   

I used tilapia for this recipe but have decided that tilapia isn't my favorite fish.  Use any thin, white fish filets, like red snapper, bass, sole, founder... it's really up to you.   

To help ensure you're making ocean friendly choices in your seafood shopping take a peak at the Monteray Bay Seafood Watch Guide.  There is also a free app.   

Serves 2. 

Blackened Fish

2 fish filets

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

pinch fennel powder

Lemon wedges, for serving

Combine all ingredients except fish, butter and lemon to make seasoning.  

Dredge fish filets in melted butter and sprinkle over both sides of each with seasoning. Cook in a skillet at high heat about 5 minutes on each side until blackened. 

Serve on sandwiches or with a side of vegetables.  I needed something fresh tasting so I served the fillets with vegetables packets.  It was carrots, yellow squash and zucchini folded into parchment paper with olive oil, thyme sprigs, lemon slices, salt and pepper.  Then it was baked in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 -12 minutes.