Quick Breads

As a kid, I loved the shape of muffins; breaking the cap from the base was my version of twisting open an Oreo. These days, I prefer quick breads for one reason: the freezer. A stack of zucchini, pumpkin, banana, and cranberry breads takes up far less space than the same four batches of muffins. Besides, toasting is the only way to reheat; a microwave is just not the tool for defrosting baked treats. If you have a toaster oven (which I recommend for many reasons), there’s no bread vs. muffin argument. But if you’re a traditional toaster owner—well, you can imagine the mess of slicing a frozen muffin to fit.

Fortunately, you can easily convert your favorite muffin recipe to a loaf: They’re the same product, just in different pans. Even better, you can base them on a ratio and change the flavors to match your mood or the season. Learn to make Ratio Quick Bread and Quick Cranberry Bread

Sweet Peppers

My love for grilled flavor in frozen and canned vegetables grew from a love of freshly grilled garden goodies. Long before the technique became essential for frozen eggplant puree and jars of pasta sauce and tomatillo salsa, we were grilling vegetables and immediately stuffing them into our mouths.

Although the grilled food I encountered as a kid was mainly meat, one summer treat at the family home consisted of sticks of shish kebabs. Unlike the traditional Middle Eastern meat sticks, these were mainly veg. Perhaps it was just a ploy to get little girls to eat vegetables: let them choose food to thread on sticks and spin on the grill grate until charred. I’m pretty sure my early choices were black olives, potato, and pineapple, but I eventually developed a taste for anything cooked over coals. I still rely on a version of my mom’s marinade—and grill an extra bell pepper for the next day’s munchies. Learn to make Shish Kebabs with Garlic–Soy Marinade and Corn, Bean, and Pepper Salsa

Zucchini

Zucchini and yellow summer squash—if you don’t grow it, you’re bound to know someone who does. It’s as versatile as it is prolific: grilled, baked, pickled, fried, sautéed—the list goes on.

But besides pickling it, how do you save it? Grate and freeze is my choice: you won’t want to feature it on a plate, but it can be used in a range of recipes year-round. Grating is particularly ideal for zukes that seem to go from inches to feet long overnight. The recipes here use fresh ingredients for a light in-season meal featuring zucchini pancakes and cucumber-and-tomato salad. You can as easily adapt it for winter using frozen produce and different preserved accompaniments. Learn to make Zucchini Pancakes and Fresh Asian Salad