What’s Cooking Wednesday: Zucchini Muffins (in a bag)

Zucchini Muffins

Check out these zucchini muffins for a quick & easy breakfast treat. The secret ‘ingredient’ in this recipe: a plastic bag. …which means super simple clean up & it’s great for cooking with kids!

Zucchini Muffins (in a bag)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 gallon resealable plastic bag

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Crack eggs in bag. Seal and squish to break yolks.
  3. Add sugar. Seal and squish together to mix.
  4. Add oil and vanilla. Reseal bag and shake/squish until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Reseal bag and shake/squish until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Add zucchini. Reseal bag and squish together until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Grease or place paper liners in a muffin tin.
  8. Snip the tip off of one corner of the bag with scissors. Gently squeeze the bag to fill the muffin tin. Fill each one about 2/3 full.
  9. Back for 20 mins until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Throw away the bag & enjoy an easy clean up 🙂

Yield: 12-15 muffins

The Friday Five: A Better Look at Beef

2013 soybeans, landscape

Did you know that yesterday (Aug. 27) was #NationalBurgerDay? Thank you, social media for the heads up.

Coincidentally, there’s also a headline grabbing story floating around this week about the safety of ground beef. Let’s take a better look:

  1. From Food Insights, here’s a few facts and myths to explore about the safety of ground beef. Bottom line: bacteria doesn’t care where your beef came from – wash your hands & cook it to the right temperature (160 degrees)!
  2. For another perspective, check out this article from High Plains Journal. The good news: almost all of the bacteria found in the “study” was not the kind that cause serious foodbourne illnesses
  3. Reading past the headlines is important, especially when it comes to blurbs about scientific studies, as pointed out in this LA Times article.
  4. And here’s an article from Business Insider that looks at some potential problems with the ground beef safety “study”.
  5. For some tips on ways to safely store, handle, thaw & cook beef check here.

What’s your favorite way to eat a hamburger?

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Zucchini Stacks

Zucchini stacks

Layers of veggies in a tasty cheese sauce make this a perfect late summer side dish to pair with pretty much anything. And as a bonus it’s super easy to make!

This is a recipe I grew up eating with veggies fresh from our home garden. My mom always called this ‘Zucchini Side Dish’ but I decided to label it ‘Zucchini Stacks’ because I think it’s a little better description what your dish will look like.

Zucchini Stacks

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium green zucchini, sliced in thin rounds (about 1/4″ thick)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced in thin rounds (about 1/4″ thick)
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced in rings
  • 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
  • About 9 slices of American or mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. basil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
  3. Fill the bottom with zucchini slices (use the bigger slices for the bottom). Usually about 9 slices, but it depends on the size of your zucchini.
  4. Add an onion slice, then a tomato slice and then a green pepper ring on top of each zucchini slice.
  5. Sprinkle with garlic, basil & flour.
  6. Place 1/2 a slice of cheese on each stack.
  7. Add a second layer of veggies: zucchini, onion, tomato, pepper & then a second 1/2 slice of cheese.
  8. Bake for about 20 minutes until veggies are fork tender and cheese is golden brown.
  9. Serve your stacks & enjoy!

As it cooks, the juices from the vegetables combine with the flour, spices and melted cheese to make the tasty sauce.

What main dish will you pair it with?

The Friday Five: Food Labeling

2013 soybeans, landscape

When it comes to food labeling, it seems like there’s a war of words happening…and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with safety or nutrition.

Here’s a few nuggets on labeling from this week’s news:

  1. Would Almond “Milk” by any other name still taste as sweet? A class action lawsuit in California may determine the fate of the name for this dairy alternative, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.
  2. For the skinny on a second milk tale fresh from Florida, check out this story about whether skim milk without added vitamins can be labeled “milk” from the Washington Post.
  3. If a blueberry can’t be grown from a GMO (genetically modified organism) seed why label it GMO free? This story from the Wall Street Journal looks at why some farmers and food companies are paying the price for labels even when their product isn’t one of the eight crops with commercially available GMO seeds currently on the market.
  4. For another look at the marketing motivation for GMO food labels, check out this story from NPR’s The Salt about the “health halo” driving some companies to label.
  5. And when it comes to gluten free food labels, check out this perspective about how the gluten free fad may negatively affect those with celiac’s disease who truly need to eat gluten free, also from the Wall Street Journal.

For more on food labeling and answers from experts, check out www.bestfoodfacts.org

When you shop what do you look for on the food label?

No, I don’t raise Hot Dogs….

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Sometimes words we use on the farm can be confusing….and create funny conversations.

I’m a pig farmer and the other day I was talking to an interested mom who asked me “Do you eat the pork you raise?”

“No,” I replied, “I only raise weaners.” (which she heard as ‘wieners’)

“What!?!” she asked, a little bit shocked. “You only have wieners?”

After some nervous laughter and a bit of embarrassment, we sorted out the confusion. I wasn’t talking about hot dogs, and it wasn’t a euphemism!

Allow me to explain.  On my farm we have mother pigs (called sows) they give birth (called farrowing) to piglets. At 20 days the baby pigs (weighing 12-15 lbs.) are weaned, which means moved from their mother and transitioned to solid feed.

I don’t think it is actually a word in the dictionary but on the farm, we refer to each group of piglets moved from their mothers as “weaners” or pigs that have been weaned.

My farm is a specialized farrow to wean operation, so the piglets go to a different farm to grow to market weight (280 lbs.)  Because we don’t have pigs  ready for market, I don’t have pork (meat) straight from my farm

So if you ask me why I don’t eat my own pork it because I only have weaners, is NOT wieners!! Get it?

And if you ask me for a wiener (hot dog), be sure to be clear or you may get a piglet that is no longer with it’s mother, also called a weaner!

Enjoy pork!

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