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Volume III
October, 2011

Zucchini Houdini

By Megan Anderson

We are getting to the end of the zucchini season, so odds are, you are getting to the end of your zucchini rope! I mean, zucchini is great for a while, but after your third loaf of zucchini bread, and eating it with who knows how many salads, we could all use some new ideas on what to do with our never ending supplies of this vegetable!

This veggie grows like magic, you plant one or two plants and suddenly you are up to your ears in zucchini. Well, with a little "magic" of our own, we can magically make this vegetable disappear in a variety of delicious, healthy ways. As you experiment with your own zucchini and create some of your own recipes, don't forget to use Cook'n's nutritional analyzer to see what healthy meals you are serving up to family and friends!

The inspiration for this article came from a few recent meals my husband and I shared. When I came home from the hospital with our new baby a few weeks ago, several of my neighbors came by, offering to bring in dinners for us for a few days while I tried to figure out this whole motherhood thing. We gratefully accepted, and we got several meals from our lovely neighbors. I thought it was funny when EVERY single meal brought in to us, all from different people, all included something with zucchini! You could really tell that everyone had some of this veggie to spare. I have always made zucchini bread, but I admit, I had never really experimented with zucchini until we had these meals brought to us.

The first night was not something I would have ever thought to make. It was like a lasagna type of dish with hamburger and tomatoes and parmesan cheese, but layered over sliced zucchini instead of noodles. It was very interesting, and very creative! The second night was delicious, and simple, just steamed zucchini with a little bit of lemon butter on it. We added a little black pepper and ate it with cottage cheese. This was a light summer meal, or would go great on the side of a heavier main dish. The third night we had zucchini dipped in beaten eggs and then dipped in cracker crumbs and fried on a griddle like French toast. Also delicious and innovative! I got to thinking, maybe there are other great ways to enjoy zucchini besides bread!

Zucchini gets a bad rap sometimes, and it's kind of the vegetable scapegoat for jokes. I have heard things like, "Don't leave your car unlocked this time of year, someone will fill it with zucchini!" I have also heard of people leaving boxes of zucchini on the front porch of a neighbor, ringing their doorbell, and making a run for it! One of my neighbors holds the belief that if we planted zucchini plants in places with famine, we could solve world hunger! Not everyone has a dim view of zucchini however. In researching zucchini on the internet, I actually found several towns across the country that have whole fairs around zucchini! Art fairs, cook offs, and even a Zuke King and Queen leading a parade were common in several places all across the USA! So, short of ditching your produce on your neighbors, I thought I would provide a list of ideas of what to do with your zucchini, particularly as we wind down the zucchini season for the year.

•  For Halloween, carve a large zucchini instead of, or in addition to, your pumpkins! It's not hard to find a zucchini that was hiding under the leaves and is now the size of a baseball bat! Or, if you were really good this year and stayed on top of your zucchini harvest before they got that big, just leave one on for a day or two and you will have the perfect zucchini to carve! Make sure when you carve it that you leave about a 3/4" rim to carve into so that the zucchini can stand up on its own. I recommend carving them with a vertical face instead of a horizontal one.

•  Scoop out the seed cavity and then stuff the zucchini with bread crumbs, rice, and your favorite meat like hamburger or sausage, and then bake it in the oven. Get creative with your stuffing choices, the zucchini will take on whatever flavors you stuff it with.

•  Don't forget to add zucchini to your kebabs on the grill! Zucchini actually marinades really well, and grills beautifully. This will add even more nutrition to your kebabs! Cut into chunks or circles and grill with chicken or steak and other veggies of your choice.

•  Zucchini sautes really well, try sauteing it in a little bit of butter (add a pinch of seasoning, like Mrs. Dash) until a little translucent. Then, dice into your favorite pasta! It goes great in spaghetti, lemon basil, or alfredo sauces.

•  Zucchini will also freeze really well! I recommend freezing it already shredded so you will have it on hand when you want to start into your holiday baking later in the year. This will be perfect for cakes, breads, and cookies later on. Steam small quantities at a time of the shredded zucchini for about 3 minutes a batch, then place into containers. Immediately after placing in containers, place the container in ice water. The ice water will slow the cooking process down so that your zucchini will stay fresher. Once completely cooled, seal tightly and freeze. Frozen zucchini later on will be mushy once thawed, so it's not usually very good raw after being frozen. If you are using it for cooking, sauteing, or baking however, you can use it frozen! Just add it to your recipe straight from your freezer. You can thaw it in your refrigerator or using your microwave's defrost settings if preferred.

Be sure to check out the Trick Banana Bread that is one of the featured recipes this month as well, it is a great recipe for a healthy bread that has bananas, carrots, and zucchini in it!

As you do your grocery shopping to help you add ingredients to your zucchini stash, check out Cook'n's new mobile apps! You can now compile your grocery list at home, send it to your phone, and have your itemized grocery list right on your phone in the grocery store! I LOVE this feature, it saves so much time and money by keeping you on budget and on track. I am a big fan of lists and I never go to the grocery store without one, but it's much easier to have it on my phone broken down by category than to have to write everything on a piece of paper and then wander through the store trying to find everything I need.

Don't have Cook'n yet? Click here, Cook'n Recipe Organizer, to find out more about it! Happy cooking!

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