Knitting Day

Saturday.

I usually work one Saturday a month, unless my boss is out of town or I have additional classes scheduled. Today is the fourth and last session of a class I’m teaching on the Harvest Sweater (Ravelry link). It’s a great sweater- the slightly dressier wooly knitwear version of a hoodie sans hood. It’s something you can toss over what you’re wearing for extra warmth. What my sisters and I called “Teacher Sweaters” when we were young, after the long, cream-colored, toggle-button cardigans most of the teachers at our elementary school seemed to have hanging on their closet doors.

A couple of the women in class have to miss today’s session, so there will be 3 students, plus me. We all have different sizes in process. I’m making the newborn/3 month size as my working sample, though I’ll be wearing the one I just finished knitting yesterday. There’s an infant size, toddler size, and adult 3X represented by the other students. I just love that this pattern, which is a seamless top-down knit, includes such a range of sizes. When BossLady and I started planning the class, we thought everyone would knit the smallest size so they could learn the techniques with less work (and less yarn!) than the larger sizes require.

Car Guy is still in bed. Once he gets up, we’ll head to the gym. It’s still too cold out in the mornings to do an outdoor walk. I’m on track to hit 900 miles walked since January 1 as part of Run the Year. Then it’s back to the house for breakfast, shower, gather my things and head to class. I’ll let you know how the muffin bars go over.

Carrot Banana Zucchini Muffins

You’re probably thinking, “Woah. That’s a lot of stuff in a little muffin.” And you’d be right. But they all play so nicely together.

This is a modified version of a recipe from a cookbook I have. I tweaked a few things, and make muffins instead of the quickbread loaves the original specifies for easier portion control.

These are delicious with homemade jam, conserve, or fruit butter. (Did I mention I’m a canner, and there will be canning recipes included on this blog eventually?) Store them in the fridge – the high moisture content means these mold easily at room temp. If you don’t like eating cold muffins, just peel the paper back and pop one in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up.

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Carrot Banana Zucchini Muffins

makes 24 muffins

3 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon Penzey’s Cake Spice blend
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil (canola, corn, etc.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup golden raisins

Heat oven to 325°F. Prepare 24 muffin cups by lining with paper liners and spraying bottoms only with cooking spray.

In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, Cake Spice (or 2 additional teaspoons cinnamon), salt, baking soda and baking powder.

In medium bowl, whisk together banana, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients; mix well. Batter will be very stiff.

Stir in zucchini, carrots and raisins.

Portion batter into prepared muffin cups and bake 18-22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with only moist crumbs. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely. Warm muffins will stick to the papers. Store in an airtight container. Refrigeration recommended, due to high moisture content.

NOTES:

  • As always, I love me some King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour.
  • If you want to add some different color and flavor to these muffins, go ahead and use other small dried fruit instead of the golden raisins: standard Thompson raisins, cranberries, blueberries, or cherries.
  • Not zucchini season? Use frozen shredded zucchini, thawed, but give it a little hug in  a tea towel to remove some of the excess moisture.
  • As of this writing, I have a jar of Penzey’s new Pie Spice sitting on my counter. I intend to make a batch of these (as bars, not muffins) using Pie Spice instead of Cake Spice. They’re similar but different.
  • Go bananas! If you have bananas that have gone a little too brown for your preference, peel them, wrap in plastic wrap, and stash them in the freezer for recipes like this. I take out the required number, unwrap them, and microwave on medium for a minute or two to soften and thaw most of the way through. They mash quite easily after being frozen.

EDIT: I made a 9×13 pan from one recipe, baked about 42 minutes at 325°F. They will head to work with me tomorrow for my knitting class. I used the Pie Spice, but haven’t tasted the bars yet.

    Zucchini Brownies

    I know, yuck, right? Chocolate and vegetables?

    Ew.

    Sorry, that assumption is completely wrong. These brownies do not taste like vegetables. The zucchini adds body and moisture to them without adding a lot of fat or calories.

    Plus, it’s something to make from enormous harvests of zucchini that’s not bread or yet another batch of Ratatouille. I know it’s only March, and therefore not zucchini season here in the northern contiguous US, but you can totally make these with frozen zucchini. Last summer, when I’d happen upon zukes at amazing prices, I’d snap them up, wash them, shred them (thank heavens I finally got a food processor) and then freeze the shreds in 2-3 cup bags. If you use frozen, let your bag thaw, then put the shreds in a non-fuzzy tea towel and give it a squeeze to get most of the excess water out.

    This recipe was shared by a member of a forum to which I belonged that is, sadly, no longer. And I don’t have the link saved anywhere. But this is my slightly modified version.

    Notes: I increase the applesauce a bit from the original, because 1/2 cup is one of those lunchbox portion cups. No waste! My preferred flour is King Arthur Flour Whole Wheat or White Whole Wheat; cocoa is King Arthur Flour Triple Cocoa Blend. I use spices and extracts, including double strength vanilla, from Penzey’s Spices.

    Zucchini Brownies

    2 eggs
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt (I use table salt or fine sea salt because it dissolves a little more evenly in batter)
    2 cups peeled and grated zucchini, drained if thawed from frozen
    Optional: 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

    Heat oven to 350˚F and line an 8″x8″ baking pan with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, vanilla, sugar and applesauce.

    In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Make sure there are no lumps.

    Add the dry mix to the wet and gently stir until combined. Do not overmix, as the brownies will get tough. The batter will be very, very thick at this point. Do not panic. Fold in the zucchini shreds and optional chocolate chips. See? The moisture from the zucchini loosens the batter right up! Pour the batter into the prepared pan and even the surface with a spatula.

    Bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick or tester inserted in the middle doesn’t come out gooey. Moist crumbs are OK, but raw gooeyness is not.

    Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the whole brownie up from the pan. Cool completely, then cut into 16 pieces.

    Store in an airtight container. Refrigeration is highly recommended, as the high moisture content means these mold easily.