I've been craving some zucchini muffins and picked up a ton of fresh locally grown zucchini the other day at the market for what seemed like nothing. But, the weather had other plans, and with a couple straight days in the triple digits, those tasty muffins were put on hold. Luckily, zucchini is a tough veggie and held up in the fridge until I was able to bear some baking in the kitchen. Yesterday, those lovely green things were grated, and mixed together with another of my favorite ingredients, to make some super yummy (and healthy) muffins.
My daughter isn't so excited about her vegetables, other than peas, so I'm always looking for various ways to mix veg into her meals and foods. She also just started preschool and putting any sort of meat in her lunch isn't a great option. First, by the time she gets to it, the wee chunks of meat are usually not so appealing. And, secondly, if her little group eats outside, the bees are awaiting to get at that meat. No one wants babes eating bees, so I leave it out and prefer other protein options. Ricotta not only offers a protein punch - but creamy and healthy calcium, and total yumminess.
And, I use whole-milk ricotta. Anything else is pointless. Seriously.
These are simple muffins to make and you can add other ingredients along the way to create your own spin on things. I made itty-bitty muffins so my daughter could easily eat (and walk around with) her own little muffin, and a couple regular sized for me to enjoy during my own lunch breaks.
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 4 zucchini)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
A dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
How to make them
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and get out your grater. Give your hands and wrists a couple of good wriggles and shakes to stretch them out before grating to prevent sore muscles later - or just get out your trusty food processor. But, I prefer the sore muscles and grate my own zucchini. It makes me appreciate the muffins oh-so-much more later.
Shred up your zucchini into a large bowl. Add the egg, oil, vanilla, and milk and mix together creating a big slurry mess. If you've got kids, this is a great time to let them do some stirring - just make sure no one does any taste testing and that everyone's washed their hands first.
Add the sugar, dash of salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda giving everything a good mix. Then, slowly add in the flour, mixing gently along the way.
Once the batter has come together, gently fold in the ricotta. This ensures that the muffins are flecked with big chunks of ricotta, which equals total goodness once baked.
Slightly grease your muffin tins with a paper towel dipped into a bit of vegetable oil, or spray them with cooking spray. You can also line your muffin tins with liners if you prefer not having those muffin tins to clean out later (which can be a bit of a pain).
Fill muffin tins with batter until they are just about full and then place into your toasty-hot oven. The muffins need to bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out dry.
Let the muffins cool in their little muffin tins for about five minutes and then remove and allow to cool completely before eating. This will ensure lovely cake-like muffins instead of nasty doughy ones.
These muffins are great packed in your babe's lunch box, for a family gathering, or as a tasty treat after dinner. Because they don't have loads of sugar, you can feel good about sharing them with your kids and not having them climbing the walls later from a total sugar buzz.
If you want to go crazy with these muffins, you could add:
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup silvered almonds
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Yes, you could add ALL of the above listed ingredients for crazy good muffins, or just a bit of this or that. The recipe is easily added upon to make the perfect muffin for your taste.
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