My mom’s been away for about a month and a half now (Korea. Knee surgery. All is well, thank you!) and I’ve made it my personal mission to keep my dad alive and well-nourished. It was really fun, the way playing house is fun, for approximately 2 days and then it got pretty overwhelming. I feel like I’m taking care of a small child who smokes and drinks.
I don’t know how my mom manages to make three delicious and nutritious meals everyday on top of keeping house and praying the rosary 5 times. Five times a day is an estimate but I’m not far off. She the real MVP.
These days, my dad and I have fallen into a rhythm of sorts – I try to cook as much as I can, take him out when I can’t, when he goes out for his super early morning walk with a friend he grabs breakfast, I stock the house with fruit and veg and relatively healthy snacks. And yet, I still catch him reaching for instant noodles. Did I tell you he’s like a small child?
He really likes the stuff obviously (the Korean ones are pretty darn tasty, I have to say) and he’s too old to let anyone tell him what to do so these zucchini almond muffins are my attempt at giving him better options I suppose. His breakfast at home is usually some kind of bread with a glass of milk anyway.
This is a modified version of a chocolate chip zucchini muffin recipe from the book Silver Linings Cookbook. (Thank you again for sending me a copy, Nixie and Therese!) I changed things up a bit to make it a little healthier but I’ll include the original version next to my modifications so you can try both. To make 14 medium-sized muffins, you’ll need:
2 cups grated zucchini, drained of excess water
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup plain yogurt (original recipe uses 1 cup oil)
1 cup sugar + 2 T honey (original recipe uses 2 cups sugar)
2 t vanilla
3 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 baking powder
1 t salt
1/3 cup almond slivers (original recipe uses 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips)
The first time I made this, I halved the chocolate chips and added a cup of toasted walnuts and it came out like a dessert muffin which was delicious but I wanted something less sweet this time to have for breakfast hence the changes.
1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. While doing this, I popped in my slivered almonds to toast. You don’t have to toast your nuts when you bake but doing so intensifies flavors and the added smokiness is quite nice. Building flavor is well worth the effort.
Just make sure to keep an eye on it because I find that it’s almost always burnt by the time I notice the toasty smell. Set aside when done.
2. Grate zucchini and set aside. Before grating my zucchini, I scraped out the center with a spoon because I don’t know about seeds and membrane and stuff in my muffin mix.
3. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. I like to mix my dry ingredients with a fork because it has a sifting effect. Set aside.
4. Lightly whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add in sugar, honey, vanilla and mix. Squeeze grated zucchini to rid of excess water and add to the bowl. Stir to mix well.
5. Add flour mixture into this bowl and stir gently until there are no patches of dry flour.
6. Gently fold in toasted almond slivers.
7. Pour batter into lined or greased muffin tins, about three-fourths of the way. If you’re using silicone muffin molds, you can go right ahead.
Lightly tap the counter with the muffin tin to help the batter set evenly then bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.
Cool when done. Look how mine appear windswept. I read somewhere that this happens when you use a convection oven which I do. Reminds me of the time I made Chocolate Guinness cupcakes and they looked like something that came out of my backside.
While we’re talking body parts, check this one out. WELL HELLO THERE, BOOB.
I couldn’t have baked it this way if I tried my hardest.
OK pervs, show’s over. Let’s take a look inside. Oh yes, ribbons of zucchini and slivers of toasty almond. It’s slightly sweet, nutty when you get almond in a bite, with no discernible zucchini flavor.
This came out a little drier than I would’ve liked though. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have squeezed my grated zucchini. The recipe says to ‘drain’ and not ‘squeeze’ after all. I got a little too enthusiastic there. With the centers spooned out, I probably won’t even drain it next time.
So that’s the man-child’s breakfast this week. I’m immensely satisfied at the thought of sneaking vegetables into my dad’s muffin. I guess this is how moms feel when they trick their kids into eating vegetables disguised as cookies or something. Are you into that? Because here’s a pasta recipe that’ll have them unwittingly eating, GASP, cauliflower.
Will check back soon to report if my dad is sustaining life.
Fun Food Fact: Big is not always best – the most flavorful zucchinis are small- and medium-sized. But that’s zucchini, boys.