If you know me, you know I love the IDEA of being in the kitchen! The reality is that I do not have much time for it. I was raised by 2 PHENOMENAL cooks...my mom's Christmas cookies & candies will make you think you have stepped into Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Homemade marshmallows...yes, homemade and AHHH-mazing! Need I say more about her? And if you are looking for the perfect venison steak (yes, I said VENISON, not "deer steak"...I am from WI, so I would know what I am talking about) or a riverside breakfast trout, you need to schedule a meal with my father (and a fishing trip)! I was raised on home cooking based on whole foods from my mom's garden and meats from the other end of my daddy's rifle!
Sidenote, look at those cute little lovebirds. Going on 45+ years of marriage! Maybe some ups and downs...but if you want to see what endless passionate love looks like, take a look at these 2!
Fast forward 30 years, I fall in love with a man who was raised by southern chefs...yes, chefs. They have owned their own restaurants and catering businesses and are a staple in their community when it comes to serving the MOST COMFORT of southern foods. So to say the bar was set high, is an understatement.
At my first Thanksgiving with my now in-laws, I was determined to showoff my kitchen skills. I brought homemade cheesecake and dinner rolls made from scratch. Well, that created a overwhelming level of stress to deliver these dishes year after year. If you have ever made cheesecake, you know the struggle to achieve that buttery, crumble graham cracker crust is REAL. I think making cheesecake is like golf, if you do not play regularly you are surely going to have have some flop days on the course and sometimes you will luck out with a birdie or 2. Well, that expectation was one I could not meet every year. Last year I brought a store bought pie...which was never opened. This year, I will start a new tradition that I hope will be requested year after year.
All that being said, I have a thriving small business, 3 busy tiny-humans and a passion for my marriage. At the end of the day, I do not have 2 hours to prepare dinner for our family. Our meals are a constant rotation of the same 11 meals that are easy to fix, quick to clean up and a guaranteed crowd pleaser (most days...LOL). However, I have learned a few extra special recipes that my family loves and I know I can make it perfect every time. The number one on this list is my Zucchini Bread Recipe. This one started for me over 10 years ago when I was newly married to my first husband (yep, divorcee here. My daughters are a bonus to my husband and my ex-husband and I have slowly learned how to co-parent and on MOST days, I think we would agree we are even friends). I wanted a treat that I could feel good about serving to my family...in walks Zucchini dressed up as a piece dessert like it is Halloween! This recipe has become a breakfast favorite and now has earned a spot at the Thanksgiving Table; well, I hope. I am bringing it to that southern chef's Thanksgiving this year...wish me luck!
Below is the recipe with a few side notes. It is a very forgiving recipe, so feel free to let those little hands help (notice the "ish" on the times). They can't screw it up if a little too much vanilla extract gets poured in!
I also recommend being ready to slice it up while it is warm from the oven. Spread some butter (Kerrygold is the best, OBVI) and enjoy! It also reheats very nicely without drying out.
Prep: 20 mins - ISH
Cook: 1 hr - ISH
Additional: 20 mins - ISH Yields: 2 Loaves
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon ground cinnamon (the original called for 1 tbsp but I doubled to offset the additional zucchini)
1 cup vegetable oil (feel free to substitute with apple sauce for a healthier option. It does change the consistency but still DELISH)
2 ¼ cups white sugar (or half sugar, half honey...I don't know if it is actually healthier, but I feel better serving it to my crew)
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3.5 cups grated zucchini (the original called for 2 cups but I am always very liberal with the ZUCC)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional...pecans or your favorite nuts would pair nicely too)
Step 1 Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Step 2 Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl. I don't even sift the ingredients most days. If you have ever had kids help with sifting flour, you know why.
Step 3 Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
Step 4 Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.