I’m sad to report that our two rockstar zucchini plants fell victim to their nemisis: the vine borer. I’ve started a couple of new seedlings in hopes of being run over by zucchini again soon. Because I really do want more zucchini. But prior to their demise, they teamed-up and tested my love for zucchini. We were harvesting 5-7 gigantic zucchini a week.
When you’re over-run with zucchini, you have few other options than to get creative and deal with it. Or give them to friends and family, when they aren’t avoiding you and your mutant zucchini. We’ve eaten it for breakfast (the Foodie Toddler’s favorite), grilled (my favorite), in pasta (The Foodie Groom’s favorite), and zucchini parmesan (a house favorite). We repurposed that last dish into baked zucchini fries.
The coating on the zucchini fries gets very crispy in the oven while the insides get soft. You know, kinda like a real french fry… only not. Everyone in this house loves them! I prefer them dipped in a little ranch dressing, The Foodie Groom wants a bowl of marinara, and the kiddo? She just wants more. “Muh. Muh! MUUHHH!!!!”
What’s your favorite way to eat zucchini?
Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries
A fun way to serve zucchini - as crispy zucchini fries!
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb zucchini, cut into 4-5-inch sticks
Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment (or whatever non-stick method you prefer).
Place flour in a large zipper bag.
Whisk eggs with 2 Tbsp water and place in a shallow dish.
Place Panko, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish and mix to combine.
Place zucchini in the bag with the flour and shake until well coated. Dip the zucchini into the egg and then into the panko, turning to coat well.
Place breaded zucchini on the baking sheet.
Bake 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce (we like ranch... and barbecue sauce).
They're best the first day, but to store leftovers, store in a single layer on a plate, wrapped with ziploc. Reheat at 375 degrees for 5-7 minutes, until heathed through.
Kids can be frustratingly picky eaters. They can also have highly entertaining quirks. My niece used to ask for pepperoni pizza and then proceed to discard all of the pepperoni. But don’t you dare suggest that she order plain cheese pizza! She did not want plain cheese pizza. She wanted pepperoni pizza. But without the “icky” pepperoni.
But when you wrap pepperoni pizza into a fun, savory, pull-apart style bread, it’s no longer “icky” pepperoni pizza. And it’s quite difficult to un-pepperoni
I’ve had these Pizza Bites bookmarked for ages, so when I finally found an excuse to make them, I wanted to take it in a slightly different direction: a savory monkey bread.
A very light coating of garlicky butter-covered pepperoni pizza bites, piled into a bundt cake pan, makes for a very fun Pepperoni Pizza.
Or Pepperoni Un-Pizza.
Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread
You can take the long route and make your favorite pizza dough and marinara sauce, or the short route and pick up your favorite pizza dough and red sauce from the store.
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp butter
2 lbs pizza dough (I used this recipe because it makes enough for two pizza)
6 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes (you'll need ~48 pieces)
48 slices of Turkey pepperoni (from 1 package)
2-3 cups marinara sauce, warmed, for serving
Heat garlic and butter over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and let sit.
Lightly brush the inside of a bundt pan (or other oven-safe dish) with garlic butter.
Pull off large marble-sized balls of dough and flatten (~2/3 of an ounce, a kitchen scale makes this very easy). Top with a slice of pepperoni and a cube of mozzarella.
Wrap the dough around the pepperoni and cheese, pinching well to seal.
Very lightly brush the pizza ball with garlic butter and place into the bundt pan (I dabbed the pizza balls on a butter-dipped silicon brush to keep butter use low - there will be 1+ Tbsp leftover - and my hands butter free. Buttery hands make it hard to get the pizza balls to seal).
Repeat until all of the dough is used.
Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 400.
Bake for ~35 minutes, until the top is very brown.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes.
Turn out onto a platter and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.
One of our kiddo’s favorite treats are graham crackers. They’re easy to make and they don’t contain anything we don’t want them to.
I went through a couple of recipes before landing on this one. These crackers are crispier and firmer than the boxed variety. And they have a much more pronounced honey flavor. They were my favorite. And definitely hers.
They also make a more wholesome S’mores. Because when you’re toasting marshmallows and chopping a chocolate bar, “wholesome” is the first thing on your mind, right
The batches are pretty generous for a toddler snack so I only have to make the dough once a month. After the dough chills, I divide it into fourths. I bake one batch of crackers and freeze the other 3 portions of dough. I get ~8 crackers per batch and the crackers last about a week in a zipper bag after baking.
Honey Graham Crackers
Crispy homemade honey graham crackers, a perfect snack for adults and kids alike.
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 Tbsp butter, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp molasses
Whisk the dry ingredients together and set aside.
In a mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Add the honey and molasses and mix until incorporated.
Add the egg and mix for another minute.
Turn the mixer to low and add half the dry ingredients and mix. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until the flour is just combined.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325.
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Wrap up three of them and store in the freezer.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to desired thickness (I roll them pretty thin, they'll puff just a little in the oven.
Cut into squares or rectangles and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Use a knife to create break-apart indentions and a fork to create the holes seen on graham crackers.)
Bake 10-12 minutes, until just beginning to brown.
Let cool completely on the baking sheet and then transfer to airtight storage.
Growing up, Nilla Wafers were a big hit snack in our house. They went into mom’s banana pudding and dad’s chocolate pudding. They were smeared with peanut butter and made into sandwich cookies. They were eaten plain, straight from the box, and enjoyed just as much!
I make Homemade Vanilla Wafers and graham crackers (recipe coming soon) so the The Foodie Baby can have something crumbly and messy to go with her afternoon banana snack. Because you can never scrub too many dried food stuffs out of the cracks of your floor!
I have “plenty” of “extra” time since retiring from the world of technical writing and project management to do “crazy” stuff like this. Truth is, I have approximately 21 minutes of free time during the day. I can whip up a batch of vanilla wafer dough and still have a couple of minutes to knock out a couple of moves in Words With Friends.
It might sound a bit much to make Homemade Vanilla Wafers but it’s a super low-maintenance recipe and it makes a ton. I divide the dough into three logs and get ~15 cookies out of each. The two other logs go into the freezer until we’re ready for more cookies. I slice the frozen dough straight from the freezer, bake, and have cookies for the whole family to snack on for the week.
I was a little disappointed the first time I made the cookies. They spread quite a bit and didn’t hold their shape. They were good, but not pretty. I went back and added an extra 1/4 – 1/3 cup of flour to the dough and they didn’t budge on the baking sheet.
Now, these aren’t copycat or knock-off Nilla Wafers. I think these are much better for at least snacking (I haven’t tried them in pudding, yet). These are buttery, vanilla-y, sweet, shortbread-like cookies. No preservatives or stabilizers. No non-sugar sweeteners. Just good, vanilla wafer cookies.
Homemade Vanilla Wafers
Buttery shortbread-like cookies studded with vanilla bean flecks.
2 sticks butter, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
2 1/3 cup flour
Put butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on medium-high 3-4 minutes, until butter is light and fluffy. Set mixer to low and add the egg yolks, vanilla, and beat until blended. Scrape down the bowl, and add flour. Beat until thoroughly mixed.
Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion into a log 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (or freeze until solid).
Preheat an oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment/silpat. Remove the plastic wrap. Using a sharp knife and cut each unwrapped log into 1/4 inch slices. Place the cookies an inch apart on the baking sheet.
Bake the cookies until the edges and bottoms are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.