Thursday, September 20, 2012

White Asparagus - Bad; Zucchini Muffins - Good; the rest was In-Between...

The Good:
These zucchini, chocolate chip, and roasted salted sunflower seed muffins I made were a nice surprise. I was going to buy raw seeds like I usually do and at the last minute I threw in the roasted salted version.  Good choice it gave the muffins a little salt kick finish.

Zucchini, Chocolate Chip, Sunflower Seed Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup zucchini, unpeeled and grated
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
Zest from one lemon
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, sugar, zucchini, oil, egg, lemon zest, and chocolate chips in a bowl and stir until combined.

Spray a mini muffin pan generously with no-stick spray and divide the batter between the 24 cups, sprinkle each muffin with some of the sunflower seeds.

Bake 12-15 minutes.

Adapted from my ancient Better Homes Cookbook.

The Bad:
White asparagus have been on my must try list forever it seems.  I've seen dazzling dishes with them on the internet.  While I do enjoy reading some of these recipes, I somehow end up feeling like I'm the only one of the planet that doesn't consume 5-star meals every night performed in French precision.

I spotted bundles of white asparagus at my market the other day and my eyes popped out of my head, "yesss", was all I could think.  Some brussel sprouts were sitting in the adjacent bin giving me a little wave, "Take me, take me - I'll be good."

I washed the white asparagus and prepped them as I would green asparagus, except I used a peeler and took off a bit of the outer peel.  Placed them in my steamer for about 7 minutes and fixed the topping while they were steaming.

I had 8 brussel sprouts; I cut them in half starting at their stem and cutting down.  Then I sliced off the tender part of the leaves.  I turned the fire on and heated up my skillet and tossed in 2 ounces of diced pancetta, after the pancetta browned I added a couple of tablespoons of white wine and then I tossed in the shredded brussel sprouts, sprinkled them with a little salt and pepper and a couple of minutes later I plated the white asparagus and poured the brussel sprouts over the top.

Long story short, the topping was delish, both me and my hubs looked at each other and said the white asparagus were not so good, downright bland and a touch bitter to be more exact.  I'm going to chalk this up to the overhyped category.

The In-Between:
We buried another family member this week; he was only 1 year older than me.  He went to sleep and didn't wake up.  There is nothing worse in life than attending the funeral of a child who has gone before their parents; it's just not fair.

The homecoming game and dance is this weekend.  My daughter has invited everyone over for pictures and basically room and board for the weekend.  I'm sure food will be involved; teenagers can literally eat you out of house and home.  So I'm trying to get my energy back up.



  1. One - those muffins look great!
    Two - I have always been afraid to eat white asparagus, because they remind me of some kind of alien food....weird color, am I right?
    Three - my condolences to you on the loss of your family member. never easy, especially when they are close to your own age.
    Four - keep up the nice work on your blog - I enjoy it!

  2. Your muffins and delicious use of white asparagus have me my friend :D
    Love it!
    I am also very sorry to hear about this death my friend, you are in my thoughts.


  3. I had white asparagus on a trip recently and it was no good. You are not the only one!

    And I also extend my sorry about the death in your family.

  4. Gina,
    Your muffies are so cute, and I'm sure that they taste good, too. I have never had white asparagus, either, but now I will pass on it in the future.

    So sorry for the loss of your family member. I will keep your family in my thoughts and prayers.

    Even when you are rambling and ranting you make me laugh. I am amazed at your fortitude, and positive outlook, after all you have gone through this year.


  5. Hi Gina, So sorry to read about the loss of one of your family members, I'll be thinking of you;-)
    Thanks ahead of time for all your creations, both culinary and in any and all other categories(costume making?)
    The muffins looks amazingly good and your photo is fantastic! I've tried white asparagus and like it, I wonder if you bought a weird batch???

  6. i'm so sorry to hear about the funeral. there are few things harder to cope with than unexpected death. or expected, really. i hope your family is doing okay.

    your muffins sound great and your white asparagus looks beautiful! if you hadn't told me it was less than perfect i never would have known...:)

  7. Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts. Patty maybe I should give them another try, maybe with a heavier sauce.

  8. Hi Gina! First of all I am very sorry to hear the loss of your family members. It is scary when someone close to your age passes away, and if it's before her/his parents. I cannot imagine losing my own child first. I'm sorry to hear.

    You and Patty will have an awesome time, and do update with lots of pictures please! :) I've never tried white asparagus but it's quite popular right? I just want to try one day at a restaurant as I'm not sure if I can cook it right. And lastly, your muffins look healthy and delicious. I never had muffins that has seeds (besides poppy seeds). You can tell I don't eat "homemade" muffins often... lol. Have a great weekend Gina!

  9. Gina I am SO sorry for your loss. My grandfather passed in his sleep and I like to think that at least the passing, which we all have to do at some point, was peaceful.

    Onto cheerier topics, those muffins look AMAZING and I think I will try them while the hubby is away the next two weeks! I hate white asparagus too. I always thought it was just a bad batch since I only tried it once. I guess not!

    Hugs to you. Hang in there girl!

  10. Gina, so sorry for your loss. I hope the yummy looking muffins you made helped put a smile on your face. There is certainly no right way or wrong way to fit in to the food world. I am starting to learn that. Keep up what you are doing. I feel like I can truly connect with you through your blog!

  11. So sorry to hear of your loss - my condolences. White asparagus can be pretty good, but often it's just so-so. But maybe it's my (and your) market. The stuff I've had in restaurants has been great. The stuff I've bought? Let's just saying I'm not buying it anymore. And your muffins look terrific!

  12. Tried to edit to tell you that I'm sorry to hear about your cousin...and whatever other negative stuff has been going on. Hopefully things are looking up a bit now! Great muffins...I'm always trying to sneak more veggies into Michael's daily diet. Sounds like I'm talking about a kid and not my hubby, huh? Looking forward to finally meeting in person in SF next month!

  13. I am so so sorry to hear about your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you. The zucchini muffins look so good. Ryan and I were just talking about baking some this afternoon. Thank you for sharing, my friend.

  14. Such yummy muffins...I love sunflower seeds!!! Your asparagus looks like it came from a top restaurant...sorry it was disappointing...I haven't been impressed myself.

    I'm so sorry to hear of a life gone too early in your family. How tragic :(

    PS...I hope to get to a FB festival one of these years!!! I'd love to meet you (and Patty)...can't wait to hear all about it.

  15. I love coming here - I feel as though I had a good sitdown and chat. The muffins are on my list - the asparagus - not so much. I like tender and green! I have lost track of Foodbuzz - so what is the Foodbuzz Festival? Is that what their conference once was?

    I am sorry you experienced a loss - it does make you stand up and wonder when they are younger than you. Life throws in their challenges. And then I try and remember how lucky I am to have this day - but there are days I wish I had stayed in bed!

  16. Hi Gina, thanks for visiting my blog. Your muffins look scrumptious and I'm loving the addition of the sunflower seeds and chocolate chips!

    I'm so sorry about your loss - it is always difficult to lose someone we love.

  17. I'm so sorry for your loss sweetie. If there's something I can help you with, don't hesitate to ask. You've always been a wonderful friend to me.

  18. Gina,

    I am so sorry for your loss. It has been a tough year for you but I know it in my heart that it will get better. Sending you big hugs and warm wishes. You know I'm here for you.

    The muffins sound really good as does the asparagus topping. My husband feels the same about white asparagus. The "hype" is why I don't follow food trends. But hey at least you tried them now. xo