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Super Bowl snacks!  I know it’s not the typical pizza, buffalo wings, nachos & chips spread, but it’s equally delicious and much healthier!… I know that’s what everyone is looking for when watching the big game! ;)

Fresh Guacamole

Bursting with flavor and healthy ingredients, this guac is as perfect with veggies or crackers as it is with traditional tortilla chips!  I’m pretty heavy-handed with the garlic and lime juice because I love the bold flavors, but feel free to amp it up even more or tone it down if you prefer.

Ingredients:

* 3 avocados
* 1/4 cup salsa, or fresh-chopped tomato and jalapeno
* 1/8 finely chopped onion
* 2 cloves finely minced garlic
* 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (optional)
* Juice from 1/4 of a lime
* Salt & pepper to taste
* Pinch of cumin

Directions:

Scoop out the “meat” of the avocado and mash into a bowl with a fork. Add in the salsa or fresh tomato and jalapeno, and onion. Stir in the garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper, and cumin.

That’s it – simple! Enjoy with chips, crackers, veggies, whatever your little heart desires!

Now for the spuds!

Martha Stewart’s Baked Sweet Potato Fries

These are slightly adapted from the baked fries on the Martha Stewart website here!  They’re more like a thick-cut steak fry than a thin, flimsy fry, in that they’re hunkier and  don’t get crispy all the way through.  Trust me, I don’t usually like fries, and won’t touch a regular potato “Jo-Jo”…and I think these are super delish!

Ingredients:

* 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2″ sections
* 3 egg whites
* salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, & basil to taste (I used Italian seasoning)

Directions:

Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a Silpat. Lay out cut sweet potatoes on a microwave safe plate, and microwave for 2 minutes. Flip and microwave another 2 minutes. Allow to cool while preparing the egg whites.

Separate 3 egg whites into a bowl and whisk until frothy. Once cool to the touch, dip each fry into the egg whites and allow to drain before arranging on lined pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and basil. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and flip the fries. Bake another 10-15 minutes. Test for fork-tenderness, and crispiness, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until brown and slightly crispy. Allow to cool before enjoying!

And per usual, I’m suggesting dessert…..maybe Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Buttercream?

Red Pepper Hummus

If you missed it, my family hosted a Texas-Style Pit BBQ last weekend. In keeping with the spicy, bold flavored theme, I whipped up this red pepper hummus as an appetizer. Pepper predominant as it may be, I have to admit the peppers didn’t come from our garden…Shh!

Green peppers just wouldn’t have had the same effect in the recipe, I don’t think, though maybe eventually I’ll give them a try.

Red Pepper Hummus

Ingredients:

* 1 15 oz. Can Garbanzo Beans
* 2 Tbsp Tahini
* 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
* 1 Medium Sized Red Pepper, chopped
* 3 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, sliced
* 2 Tbsp Chopped Garlic
* 1 tsp Paprika
* 1/8 tsp salt
* Pepper to taste

Directions:

Rinse and drain canned garbanzo beans, and add to the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Add in tahini, lemon juice, chopped garlic, and process again until smooth.

Add the chopped red pepper, processing in between additions. Add in the chipotle peppers and process.

Finally, add the paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.


From the looks of it, you’d think I could eat hummus on just about anything and everything…You might be right!

Some of you may recall this painting I made as a Christmas gift to my pepper-obsessed brother last Christmas.  (Apparently not only do I like to decorate with bananas, but also paintings of vegetables)

What this really boils down to is the fact that our garden this year seems to be primarily composed of peppers, much to the chagrin of, oh, just about everyone else.  Green Bell Peppers, I can do.  They leave a certain tasty essence on a pizza (when picked off), and are deliciously disguised in a big bowl of gumbo, imparting their flavor without imposing too much on my beloved okra.  Try to get me to be on par with a giant pot of green chile, however, and I’m afraid that’s where I draw the line.

Anyway, you can imagine how excited said brother was when the habanero peppers starting popping up left and right, disproportionately large for the still relatively tiny plants.  How they’re still standing, I have no clue, but they certainly are determined little pepps.  You see that giant pepper down at the very bottom?

What about now?  I thought so. Is it just me, or does he look EXACTLY like the pepper in my painting?! You know, if he had eyes, a mustache, and arms with which to turn a roasting basket….:D

Now on to the more important stuff.  Sure, peppers are great and all, but they just don’t seem to have the same potential yield that zucchini do.  I could tell you again about how if you plan on growing zucchini you should probably invest in another fridge, or you could just read about it here. I have some good news, though! I made zucchini coffee cake, and you should, too. Because let’s face it, zucchini bread shouldn’t always get to hog the spotlight (until I make it this week and then post it).


Becomes…

Zucchini Coffee Cake

Ingredients:
(Makes a single batch, for an 8″ pan)

* 1/4 cup butter or margarine
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 3/4 cup milk (any kind)
* 1 egg
* 2 cups flour
* 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 3/4 tsp salt
* 2 cups zucchini, grated

Crumb Topping:
* 1/2 cup butter or margarine
* 2/3 cup flour
* 2/3 cup granulated sugar
* 1/4 cup brown sugar
* 1 tsp ground cinnamon
* 1 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375* F. Grease or line a, 8″ square pan, or a 9 x 13″ pan if you want to double the recipe. If you’re growing zucchini, you will probably want to do this. I did!

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or by hand) cream together the margarine, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Add the egg and the milk, and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until incorporated. Add in the grated zucchini and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

For the crumb topping, add all of the ingredients to a bowl, and use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut the margarine into the mixture. It should resemble course meal when you’re done. (I didn’t do it this time, but adding rolled oats to the crumb topping is also delicious and adds another level of texture!)
Sprinkle the topping over the batter evenly.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean and the topping is golden brown.


I know I mentioned doubling this recipe in order to use up more of the zucchini that’s growing like a weed, but really I should have quadrupled it. This is a start, I haven’t given up yet!

Zucchini Bounty

I knew the day would come.  It was inevitable.  Once a zucchini plant (or 3) is set into motion, there’s no turning back, it has to run its course.  No amount of preparation can ease the transition from barren, baby zukes to the understatement of a bountiful crop.  Your first go around, you really have no idea what to expect…and I’m here to tell you from personal experience, even if it’s your 2nd or 3rd go around with zukes, you still never know what to expect.  Even if you try to expect the unexpected in a futile attempt to just “go with it.”  Give in now.  Stockpile the recipes, clear out your fridge.  Maybe buy another one.  Whatever will help ease your mind.  Just keep this in mind:  the zucchinis always win.

Yellow squash don’t always win on their own, but once you’re buried up to your ears in zucchini screaming “I give up, just take the house!” these little guys might just be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back.  I’m talking you.  And by you, I mean me.

Pretty, pretty, deceptive flowers.  Cute.  Bright.  A sign of impending doom.  And by doom I mean you will be so awesomely sick of zucchini by the end of the summer you may not look at anything green until next summer when you convince yourself you’ll be prepared.  YARIGhtttt…:D

Contrary to how it might seem, I actually really do love zucchini, and encourage them every step of the way.  I’m just a realist.  Also, there are 5 zucchinis staring me in the face every time I open the fridge, daring me to use them all up before the next dozen roll in.

I like a good challenge as much as the next person, but when it comes from my vegetables it’s slightly more unsettling.  I think you can guess what my next recipe might involve…

 

Stay tuned!

 

Can someone tell me what’s up with this weather?  I’ll wait.

I mean, I guess it’s technically still spring, being May and all, but apparently no one told the weather it’s in California.  Not Seattle.  Or like, somewhere else really rainy with unpredictable cloud cover.  The only saving grace is that all the little garden spriggies and leafies seem to love it!  Dare I say they’re growing like weeds?

Not actual weeds, though…there are plenty of those around, believe me.  While I’m on the topic of weeds, let me just say, my biggest beef is that they’re always something you don’t want.  And also, that whatever you plant and actually want never grows as much like a weed as real, unwanted weeds do.  All of this is in addition to the fact that I believe, deep down, that weeds grow just to spite me.  End scene.

Non-weeds!  Super yummy leafies and atomic carrots.  I’ll never eat a plain old orange carrot again with these bad boys around, what would be the point?

Zukes!  You still look pretty innocent and cute, but I’ve got your number.  I remember the days of choking back sparkling zucchini lemonade to wash down my zucchini stuffed baked zucchini in a light zucchini sauce.  With a zucchini foam?  Wait, that was Marcel.

And you, yes you…already look like a glorious loaf of zucchini chocolate chip bread straight from the oven.  You sorta just look like a zucchini plant without any actual zucchinis yet, too, though.  Potato, potatto.

You grow, little beans!  Look at you, tendrils and all.  You’re too cute to look like food to me just yet.

Little leafies, however, always look like a salad, right from the ground.  Next time I’m skipping the middle man and bringing a salad dressing spritzer and a fork straight to the garden.

Blueberries, of course, last but certainly not least.  My favorite of all.  If you look really closely, they have “blueberry cobbler” written all over them.  It’s the darndest thing :D

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