Calabacitas con Crema (Zucchini with Cream)

There’s a song I learned in my 7th grade Spanish class. Here’s how I remember it (starting from the part I can recall): “cinco de mayo, seis de junio, siete de julio, San Fermin. La, La, La, La, La, La, La. Hien a roto la pagareta. La, La, La, La, La, La, La. Hien a roto la pagara.” I sang this for my Brother-in-law once, who is fluent in Spanish, and he looked at me like I was crazy. After messing around with google translate, I’m pretty sure “hien” should be “quien”, but I am still pretty sure somewhere since 7th grade, the song has become warped. We called this the “Smurf Song”…you can guess why. I still sing it today (incorrectly)…every time I hear the words “Cinco de Mayo”. I live in the American Southwest, so Cinco de Mayo is a pretty big deal. We eat Mexican food on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, but I still love to have a little themed dinner on May 5th, just for funsies. This particular dish is one of my favorites. It takes some prep, but it’s sooooo worth it. Plus, it’s fairly healthy to offset the refried beans, rich meat and stacks of tortillas that is normal Mexican fare. Try it for your Cinco de Mayo dinner this year! It’s perfect with soft tortillas, Garlic Pork Roast and Roasted Red Salsa.

CALABACITAS CON CREMA

2 ears of corn
1 large poblano chile
1 pound zucchini or mexican squash
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced into thin strips
2/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a cookie sheet, place 2 ears of corn, still in their husks and poblano chili. Place in the preheated oven. Cook for 30 minutes, turning chili as needed to get a nice blister on each side. The blacker the skin, the better. While corn and chile are cooking, dice zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes. Toss the zucchini in salt and place in a colander. Put the colander in a larger bowl or over the sink or a towel to catch drips. The salt will draw out moisture, which you want to drain off. Let sit for 30 minutes, then dry zucchini on paper towels. Sometimes I have gotten 1/2 cup of liquid, and sometimes only a few tablespoons. Either way, I’ve noticed a difference in the texture of the zucchini after it’s cooked. Cut onion into thin strips. When corn and chile are done cooking, allow to cool, about 15 minutes. Take a paper towel and rub the chile, removing the blistered skin. The blacker the skin, the easier it is to come off. You may want to wear disposable gloves while you do this, as chile oil does not wash off easily and you will be in pain if you touch your eyes after the chile. Pull off the cap on top and any seeds that come with it. Cut open on side of the chile and flatten it out. remove any seeds and discard. Slice the chile into thin strips. Remove the husk from the corn and cut the kernels off.

When the zucchini, chiles, onion and corn are all prepped and ready, Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. And the zucchini and fry, stirring frequently, until brown and just tender (cooked, but not mushy). Remove the zucchini to a plate, retaining as much oil and butter in the pan as possible. If the pan is dry, add another TBS of oil and wait for it to come up to heat before continuing. Add the corn, onion and chile to the pan and stir-fry until onions are soft and brown. Add the zucchini back in to the pan along with the cream. Heat until the cream glazes the vegetables. Remove from heat and serve immediately. If you don’t plan to serve immediately, after the veggies are cooked, combine with the zucchini and let rest. Right before serving, add cream and heat over medium until cream reduces to a glaze, about 3-5 minutes. This tastes best if made and served immediately, so I would suggest you do all the prep work beforehand, then leave this to be your last dish cooked.

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Adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless.

 

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Sour Cream Blueberry Zucchini Bread

My daughter is a food hummer. Do you have one of those? My niece was one when she was little, too. These joyous kids enjoy their food so much they hum while eating. My curly-topped blondie can’t hold in her joy when eating yummy food. Yesterday I made this bread. I tried to convince her to eat a slice. She was hesitant, she’s weird about certain colors in her food, she wasn’t sure about the big blue blotches. After a while, she decided to give it a go. A few minutes latter I starting hearing a little hum. A cute little tune coming from the dining room. A few minutes later, she toddled over to me to express “Mommy! Yummmmmmm!”. Yep, she’s her mother’s daughter. She loves to express her joy over tasty food.

This tasty, moist bread is a great way to use your bumper crop of zucchini, it makes great gifts (teachers need some love!!) and freezes well.

SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY ZUCCHINI BREAD

2 eggs
2/3 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups zucchini, shredded
1 pint fresh blueberries, washed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 8×4 loaf pans. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Add sour cream. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until almost flour is almost incorporated. It will be thick. Add zucchini and blueberries. Stir by hand just until mixed. Split the batter between the two loaf pans. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a knife entered near the center comes out clean. Cool in the loaf pans on a baking rack before removing from pans.

REAL food alert: Check your sour cream for additives. The ingredients should just be cream, or cream, milk and enzymes.

HEALTH alert: Make this healthier by subbing 2 cups of the flour for whole wheat. You can also choose a healthier sugar, like raw honey or agave, or a less-processed sugar, like succanat. Keep at least one cup of sugar a “dry” sugar, so sub up to one cup for honey or agave. Subbing the sugar or flour will result in a denser, heavier bread. You can substitute fat free sour cream, but notice the increase in additives.

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Coconut Zucchini Bread

We restrict video games in our house. Fridays and Saturdays only. That means, Friday afternoons we typically have a pack of boys in our house glued to various computers, systems and devices. Today I planned to try out a new recipe for coconut banana bread, using the bananas I bought a few days ago. Those of you with sons can probably foresee what comes next…

You see, in a house full of boys, if you don’t specifically designate something as being bought for a recipe, it’s fair game. I went to start the recipe and the bananas were gone. So, I invented something else, after digging through my fridge, eyeing the fruit bowl and taking a gander in the pantry.

Boy am I glad I did.

This may be the best quick bread I have ever made. It’s super moist, sweet and packed with zucchini. It’s a keeper. Both loaves are gone and I’ve been commanded to make more tomorrow.

COCONUT ZUCCHINI BREAD

2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut milk
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
2 cups zucchini, shredded

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 8×4 loaf pans. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Add coconut milk. Be sure you shake the can well before opening. The solids and liquids separate in the can, and you may have to stir it with a spoon before measuring. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until almost flour is almost incorporated. Add zucchini and coconut. Stir by hand just until mixed. Split the batter between the two loaf pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife entered near the center comes out clean. Cool in the loaf pans on a baking rack before removing from pans.

HEALTH alert: Make this healthier by subbing 2 cups of the flour for whole wheat. You can also choose a healthier sugar, like raw honey or agave, or a less-processed sugar, like succanat. Keep at least one cup of sugar a “dry” sugar, so sub up to one cup for honey or agave. You could lower the sugar as well, though it won’t be as, well…sweet. (duh.) But, the coconut’s natural sweetness makes up for some of that.

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Zucchini Chips

I’ve been seeing pictures of zucchini chips floating around pinterest. My sister swears by a baked version, so I tried it. I couldn’t get what I wanted through baking: a crisp, salty, thin slice of zucchini, like a sweeter, greener potato chip. So, I resorted back to deep frying. Yeah, not the healthiest method, and the nutrition factor is questionable, but, MAN! they were tasty. I much prefer them over potato chips.

ZUCCHINI CHIPS

4 cups water
1/8 cup salt
2-3 zucchinis
oil for frying

In a large bowl, add salt to the water. Stir until dissolved. Slice zucchini very thin (think potato chips). It’s easiest to use a mandolin, food processor, or the slicing part of a box grater. Soak the zucchini in the salt water for 15 minutes. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot to 350-375 degrees. I usually throw a slice in to see if it immediately starts bubbling around the food, that’s how you know it’s ready. Oil at a correct temp leaves less oil on the food, so it’s fried, but not greasy. If you put your food in too early, it will soak up oil before getting fried, leading to greasy food and higher calories.  While waiting for the oil to heat, dry off your zucchini slices as much as possible. Water hitting hot oil will spatter, so be sure you are wearing an apron, and keep your distance. I quickly blotted the zucchini with paper towels, and didn’t have a spattering problem at all. When the oil is ready, dump a handful or two of the zucchini slices into the oil. You want them to be able to float individually in the oil. Use a wooden spoon to separate any that are clinging together. You essentially want to cook one “layer” of zukes at a time. Watch your heat, If they are cooking too slow or too fast as you go, lower or increase your burner temp. Once you see that they are starting brown, remove to a plate covered in paper towels using a slotted spoon. My kids loved these, and I wish I had cooked a double batch!

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