The Ultimate Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins will rival any traditional wheat-based muffins!  They sport a lovely domed top that is the hallmark of a perfect muffin shape, they are packed full of flavor, and they have a lovely tender, moist crumb.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Like any good quality gluten-free muffins that replicate deli-style muffins, I find that they do take a few more ingredients and thus can be a bit more time-consuming to make than many recipes for traditional wheat-based muffins. But the end result is so worth the effort!  Because mixing up the different flours and opening various spice bottles is the most time-consuming part of the exercise, what I will most often do is mix up the dry ingredients the night before I plan to make the muffins and cover the container. The next day, I simply mix up the wet ingredients and add them to the dry ingredients and that does speed up the process.  In fact, I will often go on a muffin-making frolic and make 5-6 different batches for the freezer on the same day. When I do this, I always mix up the dry ingredients the night before and label each container appropriately.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

A mixture of gluten-free flours will yield better flavour and quality than simply using an all-purpose gluten-free flour as the entire flour ingredient. Quite frankly, I find gluten-free all-purpose flour by itself often has an “offputting” flavour in baked goods. That’s why I use a blend of some all-purpose gluten-free flour, gluten-free oat flour, almond flour, coconut flour (my real favorite!) and potato starch. The potato starch, zanthan gum, and quick oats in this recipe help to give these muffins structure and ‘holding power’ so they don’t fall apart. Muffins with good structure should be able to be broken or cut apart and still stay intact without crumbling to pieces.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves really give these muffins a flavour boost along with grated orange rind which goes very well with zucchini.

The secret ingredient to these muffins is….wait for it….puréed baby food!  I have been using baby food in regular muffin recipes for years. It gives moisture and flavour to muffins. Instead of using applesauce or pumpkin purée, baby food works just great. I like puréed pears in this recipe but have made them with other flavours, such as peach-mango, with great success.

Use freshly grated zucchini, not frozen, in this recipe. Frozen zucchini has too much water in it for these muffins.  Grate the zucchini quite coarsely using the large hole side of a box grater or a flat grater like the one shown in the left in the photo below. I like chopped dates in these muffins although raisins would also work.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These muffins bake well in muffin cups that have a 1/2-cup capacity. I like making them in my square muffin tins.  I am particularly partial to square muffins for a couple of reasons. First, well okay, I just like the overall look of them! And, I find they look nicer when they are cut open – they look like the little mini loaves they are! Second, they are easier to package in plastic wrap and store in the freezer than are round muffins.

Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Preheating the oven to 450F is not a typo! Putting the muffins into a high-heat oven helps them get the “loft” that will form the dome shape. I do this with my muffins, whether they are wheat-based or gluten free and it works.  The key thing to remember, however, is to immediately lower the heat to 400F as soon as the muffins go in the oven. Otherwise, baking them the entire time at 450F will result in dried out muffins.

Take care not to overbake these muffins or they will become dry. Test them with a cake tester at the 18-minute baking point to see if the tester comes out clean. If it doesn’t, continue to bake them, checking them every 1 1/2 minutes or so.

These Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins are a standard staple in my freezer. Because they freeze so well, they are great to have on hand to throw in to the lunch bag on weekday mornings. Serve them with, or without, butter and/or a favorite jam.

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tbsp potato starch
¼ cup gluten free oat flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
1¼ tsp zanthan gum
¼ cup gluten-free quick oats
5½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp grated orange rind

2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
¼ cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
1½ tsp vanilla
1 – 4.5 oz container of puréed pears baby food
½ cup buttermilk or soured milk*
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup grated zucchini (apx. 5 oz zucchini)
¾ cup chopped dates

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.

Combine flours, zanthan gum, quick oats, baking powder, soda, salt, ground chia seeds, spices, and grated orange rind together in a large bowl.  Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.

In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, puréed pears baby food, milk*, and maple syrup. (*To sour milk, pour 1½ tsp vinegar into a ½ cup measuring cup. Fill with milk.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes before stirring and using.) Whisk ingredients well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped dates.

Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients.  With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup.  Let sit for 3 – 4 minutes before transferring to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.  Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

(NOTE: As with all gluten-free recipes, ensure that all ingredients are gluten-free products)

Yield: 12 muffins

Gluten-Free Zucchini Date Muffins

These gluten-free muffins are moist with a tender crumb. Packed full of flavour, it's hard to tell they're gluten free.  Perfect for the lunch bag or coffee break.

Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp potato starch
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp zanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free quick oats
  • 5 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp grated orange rind
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 - 4.5 oz container of puréed pears baby food
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or soured milk*
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup grated zucchini (apx. 5 oz zucchini)
  • 3/4 cup chopped dates

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare 12 muffin cups (each ½-cup capacity) by spraying each muffin cup with cooking spray or greasing individually.
  3. Combine flours, zanthan gum, quick oats, baking powder, soda, salt, ground chia seeds, spices, and grated orange rind together in a large bowl. Whisk ingredients well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In separate medium-sized bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla, puréed pears baby food, milk*, and maple syrup. (*To sour milk, pour 1½ tsp vinegar into a ½ cup measuring cup. Fill with milk. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before stirring and using.) Whisk ingredients well. Stir in grated zucchini and chopped dates.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into well in dry ingredients. With large spoon, mix ingredients together just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Do not overmix.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling almost to the rim of each cup. Let sit for 3 – 4 minutes before transferring to pre-heated oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 400°F. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until muffins are just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Do not overbake or muffins will be dry. Remove from oven and let muffins rest in pans for 5-7 minutes then gently remove from pan and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

NOTE: As with any gluten-free recipe, ensure that all ingredients are gluten-free products

 

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Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins
Gluten Free Zucchini Date Muffins

For other gluten-free muffin recipes from My Island Bistro Kitchen, follow these links:

Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Mincemeat Muffins
Deli-Style Gluten-Free Beet Muffins
Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

Beef Pasta Casserole Recipe

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

I am a huge fan of batch cooking and preparing make-ahead meals to freeze for easy weeknight meal preparation.  I began batch cooking over 40 years ago when I moved away from my family home and began life on my own.  I went in search of cookbooks designed for cooking for one or two and didn’t find much on the market. What recipes I did find took ingredients that either weren’t available locally or the recipes called for sizes of ingredients that weren’t available in Canada.  I also soon discovered it really wasn’t much fun having to prepare a meal from scratch each night for one person.  That’s when I realized I didn’t need cookbooks with recipes sized down to one or two servings; I needed a freezer and I needed to batch cook make-ahead meals!

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

I currently have two freezers plus a deep freezer compartment in the bottom of the refrigerator and all are filled with make ahead-meals.  The entrées are a mix of very basic fare, like baked beans, pasta casseroles, and fish cakes, and more elaborate meals like fillings for vol-au-vents and crèpes for nights that call for something a little extra special.  Batch cooking means you still do the prep work but it is all done upfront at once and it eases the pressure of meal preparation on weeknights, especially on nights where one is late getting home from work.  So long as I have the makings for a salad in the fridge and some rolls, biscuits, or bread in the freezer, I can pull out a frozen entrée and have dinner on the table in 30 minutes or so. Clean-up is super easy, too, since there are no prep dishes or pots and pans to be washed, just the plate, glass, and utensils to be loaded into the dishwasher.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

One of my standby casseroles is this beef pasta casserole.  It’s not hard to prepare and does not take any wild or weird ingredients. This makes a huge casserole so it’s great to take to potlucks or divide into meal-sized servings and frozen.  Use a large roaster or two 2-quart casseroles or, if you have a small household, divide the casserole up into small single serving casseroles or ramekins and freeze them.  I have a ton of ramekins as I find they are the perfect serving size for individual servings of casseroles.  I store these, unbaked, in large plastic freezer containers in the freezer.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole Ready for the Freezer

Easy steps make this casserole.  Brown the ground beef, drain, and set it aside.  Cook the pasta. Next, sauté the onion, garlic cloves, celery, green pepper, and mushrooms.  Then, combine all the liquid ingredients and canned tomatoes. Combine all the ingredients together along with some cheese and, voilà, that’s it!  Top the casserole with some extra cheese and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.   If freezing the casserole, freeze it unbaked and without the cheese topping which is best added at the time of baking.

Serve with your favorite green salad and biscuits, rolls, or bread.

Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

Beef Pasta Casserole

Ingredients:

1½ lbs lean ground beef
1½ – 2 tbsp vegetable oil

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
2/3 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup celery, chopped
¼ cup green pepper, chopped
¾ cup sliced button mushrooms

1 – 284ml can tomato soup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
½ cup beef broth (homemade or commercial)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp basil pesto (homemade or commercial)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 – 398ml can diced tomatoes with juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

400g fusilli (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions and drained (about 5 cups raw pasta)
2/3 cup shredded cheese of choice (e.g., cheddar, or a blend of cheeses)
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded cheese of choice for topping casserole

Method:

In large frypan, heat the vegetable oil and brown the meat over medium-low heat. Drain. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In large saucepan, heat second amount of vegetable oil over medium heat.  Sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper for approximately 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl or measuring cup, combine the tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, maple syrup, basil pesto, Italian seasoning, and ground ginger. Stir well.  Stir in canned tomatoes with juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

In large bowl or pot, combine the cooked pasta, meat, vegetables, liquid ingredients, 2/3 cup shredded cheese, and Parmesan cheese.  Stir gently to combine ingredients.  Transfer mixture to large greased roaster, two – 2-quart casseroles, or divide into individual serving-sized dishes such as ramekins.

Sprinkle casserole(s) with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese.  Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes to heat through.  Serve hot.  Casserole freezes well.

Yield:  12-14 servings

Beef Pasta Casserole

This tasty Beef Pasta Casserole is an easy-to-make weeknight casserole that combines ground beef, pasta, cheese, and a tomato-based sauce. Freezes well.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 - 284ml can tomato soup
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp basil pesto
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 - 398ml can diced tomatoes with juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 400g fusilli (regular or gluten-free), cooked according to package directions and drained (about 5 cups raw pasta)
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheese of choice (e.g., cheddar, or a blend of cheeses)
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese of choice for topping casserole

Instructions

  1. In large frypan, heat the vegetable oil and brown the meat over medium-low heat. Drain. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. In large saucepan, heat second amount of vegetable oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, celery, and green pepper for approximately 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl or measuring cup, combine the tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, maple syrup, basil pesto, Italian seasoning, and ground ginger. Stir well. Stir in canned tomatoes with juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. In large bowl or pot, combine the cooked pasta, meat, vegetables, liquid ingredients, 2/3 cup shredded cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Stir gently to combine ingredients. Transfer mixture to large greased roaster, two – 2-quart casseroles, or divide into individual serving-sized dishes such as ramekins.
  6. Sprinkle casserole(s) with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese. Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes to heat through. Serve hot. Casserole freezes well.

 

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Beef Pasta Casserole
Beef Pasta Casserole

Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

This old-fashioned country farmhouse crumb cake has been a recipe in my family for years. It quite resembles a coffee cake and is a hearty dessert that is tasty and not too sweet. Its crumb topping adds a lovely texture element to the cake.

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Crumb cake is quite economical to make because it just takes basic pantry supplies and draws its flavour from the cinnamon and cloves.  It’s always good to have a recipe that, if need be, can be quickly made without a special trip to the supermarket for ingredients.

I think this used to be a very popular cake in the country because it was a hearty dessert, it was not costly or difficult to make, and it did not require frosting.  For many farm wives who often had large families to bring up while working alongside their husbands on the farm, this would have been a relatively easy-to-come-by dessert. This crumb cake is particularly tasty with a cup of tea or coffee.

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

The cake has a lovely tender crumb with an airy texture. To dress up this cake, sprinkle with a light dusting of confectioner’s sugar (aka icing or powdered sugar)

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

 

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]

Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Ingredients:

1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup cold shortening

½ tsp salt
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda
1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup raisins

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Prepare 9”x9” square baking pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper.

In 1 cup measuring cup, place 1 tbsp vinegar.  Fill cup with milk. Let stand 5-7 minutes to sour.

Meanwhile, in large bowl of stand mixer, combine the flour and brown sugar.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening.  Remove 1 cup of crumb mixture and set aside.

Add the salt, cloves, and cinnamon to the remaining mixture in the bowl. Stir well.

Stir the milk-vinegar mixture and transfer to small bowl.  Add the baking soda and beaten egg.  Stir. Pour over dry ingredients in bowl. With mixer on low/stir setting, incorporate the ingredients for 15 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium low and beat mixture for an additional minute. Stir in the raisins.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. Spread the reserved crumb mixture evenly over cake. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving.  Cut cooled cake into 16 pieces. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (powdered icing sugar), if desired.

Yield: 16 servings

Country Farmhouse Crumb Cake

Old-fashioned easy-to-make crumb cake uses standard pantry supplies. Flavored with cinnamon and cloves and dotted with raisins, this cake has a lovely tender crumb.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Author My Island Bistro Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup cold shortening
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 9”x9” square baking pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper.
  2. In 1-cup measuring cup, place 1 tbsp vinegar. Fill cup with milk. Let stand 5-7 minutes to sour.
  3. Meanwhile, in large bowl of stand mixer, combine the flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening. Remove 1 cup of crumb mixture and set aside.
  4. Add the salt, cloves, and cinnamon to the remaining mixture in the bowl. Stir well.
  5. Stir the milk-vinegar mixture and transfer to small bowl. Add the baking soda and beaten egg. Stir. Pour over dry ingredients in bowl. With mixer on low/stir setting, incorporate the ingredients for 15 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium low and beat mixture for an additional minute. Stir in the raisins.

  6. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. Spread the reserved crumb mixture evenly over cake. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely before cutting and serving. Cut cooled cake into 16 pieces. Dust with confectioner’s sugar (powdered icing sugar), if desired.

 

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Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake

 

Farmhouse Crumb Cake
Farmhouse Crumb Cake