Mark loves gardening. He loves everything about it, from tilling the land with his huge tractor (“It’s a tractor, not a lawn mower!”) to kneeling down on the moist earth to sample vegetables that he does not recall planting (“And it was the hottest pepper—EVER—and then I accidentally wiped the sweat out of my eyes and MAN did that sting!”). Like most successful gardeners, when Mark’s garden is in bloom, it produces much more food than his wife, Erika, can prepare. As a result, Mark totes baskets full of home-grown produce to work each week and surprises someone with a bounty of fresh fruits and veggies, typically featuring cucumbers, hot peppers and heirloom tomatoes prominently. This week was my week, and though my boyfriend had painstakingly planned a week of meals designed to use up all of the odds and ends in our pantry, when life gives you cucumbers, well… you get the idea.
Since I love to be creative in the kitchen, Alison asked me to record the cooking spree that resulted from Mark’s garden’s excess. I hope you enjoy the recipes as much as I have.
Savory Cucumber Muffins with Spicy Peanut Butter Frosting
If you’ve ever eaten at a Thai restaurant, you know that peanut sauce is one of life’s little pleasures. These muffins were inspired by a Thai-style garden salad with peanut dressing.
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups cucumber, peeled and pureed (though you could also grate them if you’re really feeling domestic)
3 cups white flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Fill muffin cups approximately ¾ full. Bake at 325 degrees for 22 – 26 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.
Spicy Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
1 cup “The Heat Is On” peanut butter by Peanut Butter & Co.
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Cream butter and peanut butter together. Add half the powdered sugar and blend. Blend in milk and vanilla. Add remaining powdered sugar. Stir until smooth and well-blended. Makes a lot of frosting; if you prefer your muffins with just a bit of frosting, I recommend you halve this recipe.
Perhaps the best part about these cupcakes is the odd looks you get from people when you offer them one. However, once folks take a bite, they’re hooked. The general consensus from my coworkers is that the muffin is a bit like a carrot cake or a real corn muffin, and the spicy peanut butter frosting tastes smooth and pleasant with just a little kick at the end.
If you make these, I’d love to hear how they turn out!