Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A new twist on zucchini bread

Time for a true story. Ready? Three years ago at a family reunion, several of my aunts and uncles were sitting around telling old family tales when the subject of zucchini came up. (Don't ask me how!) One of my uncles burst in to laughter saying, "Do you guys remember that mom always had zucchini frozen in the freezer? Who on earth freezes zucchini?" Laughter erupted again. Imagine my uncle's surprise when I raised my hand and said with a slight touch of embarrassment, "I have a bunch of zucchini in my freezer right now." He was shocked. He could not understand why someone would freeze something that is so easy to find at the store...not to mention its abundance once neighbors start to farm out their extra garden bounty.

Fast forward 3 years to this past May. As some of you know, I have a neighbor who graciously offered to share her large garden area with me this summer and teach me the art of gardening. There was no question that zucchini would one of the adventures I'd undertake. With great excitement...and visions of bread, muffins, and cakes...I planted 2 mounds of zucchini with 6 seeds in each mound. I told the seeds that if they'd grow nice and big, I promised to turn their hard work in to lots of yummy things.

Fast forward, again, to about a two months ago. The seeds did their part in producing nice big plants...thank you peat moss! However, because the garden is not right outside my back door, I don't check it as often as I should. What happens, you may ask, to nice large zucchini plants that do not get checked on a regular basis? I give you exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

And exhibit C:

Yes, yes, I know. Someone needs to pick the zucchini more often! Most of those zucchinis are close to 2 feet long and between 5 and 6 inches in diameter.

I realize that for most people who grow zucchini consider those baseball bat size squashes to be complete failures. NOT ME! When I see those monsters, I know it's time to pull out my food processor and freezer bags. WOO HOO! I spent a couple hours a couple months ago shredding up all the giant squashes I had and ended up with 40...YES 40!...cups of shredded zucchini.

And you know where most of it went?

Yes indeed, right in to my freezer! (My uncle would be so proud!)

Even though most of the shredded goodness ended up in my freezer, I did take advantage of my abundant supply by trying a recipe I've had kicking around in my "try this" recipe pile for about two years. Instead of a basic zucchini bread, this recipe is made with a box of butterscotch pudding. I'm not sure where the recipe came from (or I'd reference it for you), but whoever created it deserves two thumbs up!

Butterscotch Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 c oil
2 t vanilla
2 c sugar
2 c grated zucchini
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 rolled oats
1 sm pkg butterscotch pudding
1 c nuts, raisins, or dates (optional)
Mix bread ingredients. Pour in 2 large greased, floured, wax paper lined loaf pans. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

As far as the pudding goes, I've used regular once or twice, but I typically have sugar-free on hand and use it most often. The sugar-free does not seem to impact the bread in any way, so I say use it if that's what you have. I find that butterscotch can often be an overwhelming flavor. However, you don't have to worry about that here. The pudding simply adds a great deal of moisture to the bread without overpowering it with butterscotch flavor. Also, the first time or two I made the recipe I included the nuts. I've stopped doing that. I'm convinced that 99% of the time when a recipe says "nuts optional" they should be used, but not in this instance. The bread is so moist, the nuts get lost in it. With pecans nearing $5.50 a pound these days, they are wasted here.

I've made this recipe as a treat for my neighbors (hence the small plates of slices) and as a refreshment for a class I went to. It's been a huge hit each and every time! If you are fortunate to have a bounty of zucchini from your own garden, if you have to buy some at your local grocery store, or if you need to come raid my freezer, try this recipe. You won't be disappointed!

SIDE NOTE: I gave this recipe out at a class I went to. If you picked up the recipe at that class, I sadly forgot the cinnamon when wrote it down. The recipe really needs the cinnamon, so please add it to the recipe you have!

SIDE NOTE #2: I took 3 huge zucchinis to my family in California last week. My sister, and blog partner, now has 26 cups of shredded zucchini in her freezer! How hilarious is that!

SIDE NOTE #3: With the rest of the 40 cups that I did not freeze, I made mini loaves of pumpkin zucchini bread for Mr. C to take as Christmas gifts to families in the neighborhood he visits. My freezer currently runneth over!