Zucchini Pecan Muffins

Zucchini is so versatile and using it in baked goods is just one way I like to cook with this beloved summer vegetable. Pecans add a nutty flavor, crunch and protein to this grab-and-go-breakfast. An ice cream scooper with a release lever works wonders to fill the cups without making a mess. When I have extra zucchini on hand, I like to double the batch and freeze these tasty treats for a quick reheat breakfast on a busy morning.

Ingredients:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 cups grated zucchini (1 large or 2 small)
½ cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with oven-safe paper cups or coat with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil and eggs until the mixture turns light yellow and slightly frothy. Stir in the applesauce and yogurt. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in small batches until combined.
  4. Fold in the zucchini and pecans. Spoon mixture into the prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When done, tops will be golden brown and a toothpick will come out clean when inserted in the center.

Servings: 12

SUMMER VEGGIE AND STEAK KEBABS

Summertime meals should be easy, delicious and fun to make. Nothing says fun like food on a stick, and the aroma of grilled kebabs will make everyone thrilled to eat their veggies. Light on the meat and heavy on the vegetables, my Summer Veggie and Steak Kebabs are a great way to use seasonal produce. Substitute the squash and tomatoes for zucchini and bell peppers or use all to add even more color your plate. Serve with whole grain rolls and a simple salad for a quick and well-rounded meal. Cheers to outdoor cooking and making simple meals with fresh produce.

Marinade Ingredients:
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

Kebab Ingredients:
1 pound sirloin steak
2 medium zucchini or summer squash (or one of each)
1 small red onion
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Directions:

  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for 30 to 60 minutes before assembling to prevent charring.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Cut the steak, squash and onion into bite-size pieces. Thread steak and veggies through skewers and set aside on a large platter or baking sheet. Brush the marinade evenly on the kebabs and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Prepare a grill to medium-high heat. Place the kebabs on the grill and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.

Servings: 4

Grilled Squash Blossom and Roasted Garlic Pizza

Edible flowers? Yes, please! Squash blossoms are, as you guessed it, flowers from squash plants. These delicate flowers have a light and crisp flavor with a subtle taste of summer squash. While they can simply be used as garnish, they make a delicious and beautiful addition to your meal. You don’t need decorations on your plate when your meal is this colorful. Roasted garlic adds a sweet and mellow garlic taste that compliments mildly sweet dollops of ricotta cheese and roasted summer vegetables.

Ingredients:
1 medium head garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small zucchini, sliced
½ cup cherry tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball (about the size of a grapefruit)
8 squash blossoms, stems and stamens removed
⅓ cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
⅓ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
8 to 10 basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice off the top of the garlic head, so you can see the tops of the cloves, and place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle the garlic head with ½ tablespoon olive oil and wrap tightly in the foil. Roast for about 30 minutes, until cloves are tender. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Pace zucchini and cherry tomatoes on a medium backing sheet. Drizzle ½ tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and tender.
  3. Roll and stretch pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  4. Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel is handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom. Remove crust from grill.
  5. Separate cloves from garlic head. Top cooked side of crust with roasted garlic and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread with a knife or spatula to evenly distribute oil and spread soft garlic cloves into the crust like butter.
  6. Add zucchini, tomatoes, squash blossoms and dollops of Ricotta evenly around the pizza crust. Sprinkle with mozzarella and return pizza to the grill.
  7. Cook for about five minutes, until cheese has melted, squash blossoms have slightly wilted, and the bottom of the crust has light brown grill marks. Remove from grill and top with fresh basil before serving.

Servings: 4

Steak and Zoodles with Blue Cheese Sauce

Sautéed zucchini makes an excellent side dish for a steak topped with blue cheese butter, but this dish goes a step further by combining all of those delicious flavors. Steak and Zoodles with Blue Cheese Sauce is a perfect summer meal when you are in the mood to fire up the grill and use your farm-fresh zucchini. Zoodles, made from zucchini noodles, are as fun to make as they are to eat. There are a lot of spiralizers on the market now, and having this kitchen gadget leads to endless possibilities for new takes on vegetables.

Ingredients:
4 medium zucchini, green or yellow
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
4 ounces and 4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, divided
¼ teaspoon white pepper
16 ounces sirloin steak, grilled to desired degree of doneness and cut into thin strips

Directions:

  1. Spiralize zucchini into thin noodles. Place zoodles in a colander over a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and cook another minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking as the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to lowest setting and add 4 ounces blue cheese and white pepper. Whisk together until cheese has melted.
  3. Place zoodles in a tea towel and gently squeeze over bowl to remove excess water. Place zoodles in skillet with blue cheese sauce and gently combine with the sauce. Cook for about two minutes, until heated through.
  4. To serve, top zoodles with equal amounts of steak and remaining blue cheese.

Servings: 4