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Eating Well: Versatile zucchini has variety of baking, cooking uses

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There is no getting around it. The zucchini is a mass producing plant now running wild in most backyard gardens.

The smaller ones are great for sautéing with all your favorite vegetables and cheeses and the larger ones are ideal for those breads, muffins, and cake recipes that are either perfect baked fresh and eaten or popped into the freezer for later use. Baked items with the shredded zucchini are always moisture laden and consequently freeze up well, and when thawed are just as good or even better than the freshly made. If you like, you can peel them but they are also great skin on, adding a little extra color to whatever you are preparing.

Zucchini is also extremely good for you - one cup has 20 calories, and 35 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin C and 14 percent of Vitamin B6, plus other good nutrients.

It is also fairly bland, taking on the flavors of whatever you cook it with. That means you can hide it in a number of dishes and if your guests are not big zucchini fans, they won't even notice you're cooking with it.

Because zucchini produce so fast and furiously, people who like to cook and bake with the vegetable, usually get sick of them before the season is over.

That's why it's important to continually refer to your zucchini recipe file. The following are an excellent sample of the thousands out there that rely on the vegetable as a main ingredient. I feel like through the weeks, I've overworked the word easy, but all are truly very simple to put together from start to finish and equally as delicious to enjoy.

I can vouch for all the recipes, having personally prepared or tasted them all. The Skillet Zucchini has been in my personal collection for quite some time. The really nice thing about this recipe is you can toss in pretty much what you like when it comes to additional vegetables. I many times eliminate the yellow squash and will add an onion or a red or green pepper. Fresh mushrooms are also wonderful sautéed into the mix. Anything is basically fair game, when it comes to additions. I also like to throw in a little extra cheese, but it all boils down to personal preference and in that regard this recipe is certainly flexible and can be custom made.

Until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Zucchini Cupcakes

½ cup butter

½ cup oil

1 ¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups grated zucchini

1 tsp. vanilla

2 ½ cups flour

¼ cup cocoa

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. soda


¾ cup chocolate chips

¾ cup chopped walnuts

Mix all ingredients together and fill cupcake papers ¾ full. Sprinkle chocolate chips and walnuts on top. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Zucchini Bread

Mix together:

3 eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar


3 cups grated zucchini

½ tsp. salt

2 tsp. soda

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ tsp. cinnamon

3 ½ cups flour

½ tsp. vanilla

Optional add:

1 ½ cups raisins

1 cup chopped nuts

Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Skillet Zucchini

2 zucchini, sliced

2 yellow squash, sliced

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp. olive oil

½ cup mozzarella cheese

2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

Cook zucchini and squash in hot oil in skillet for about three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook three minutes loner. Remove from heat and stir in mozzarella and basil. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve hot.

Oven Fried Zucchini

4 medium zucchini

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large egg

½ cup Panko bread crumbs or regular bread crumbs

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash, trim and slice zucchini into ½ inch thick rounds. Drizzle one tablespoon of the olive oil over a baking sheet to evenly coat. Set aside. Beat egg in small bowl. Spread bread crumbs out in a shallow dish. Stir Parmesan cheese, salt, basil, and pepper into bread crumbs. Dip 5-6 zucchini slices into the beaten egg. Transfer to the bread crumb mixture, pressing on both sides to coat. Shake off excess, and placed on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices. Drizzle remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the zucchini. Bake in preheated oven 8 minutes. Using tongs, turn zucchini so the other side gets crispy. Bake another 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Ranch is always good.