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Cool casserole during hot weather

Recipe: Zippy Zappy Zucchini can be made in microwave

Casserole dish with baked casserole
Zippy Zappy Zucchini can be made in the oven, above, or in the microwave. (Photos: Debbie Arrington)
Zucchini, the butt of countless squash jokes, microwaves well. That's an important attribute when it's too hot to turn on the gas. Steamed in the microwave, zucchini retains its shape and a little of its crunch.
(Boiled, it becomes super-soft "squish.")
I started making this recipe when I got my first microwave -- circa 1978. The original came in a cookbook with that durable Hotpoint, which lasted more than 20 years.
Tweaked through the decades, Zippy Zappy Zucchini outlived the appliance, and sometimes gets made in the gas oven, too. Baked in a conventional oven, this eggy side dish or breakfast casserole develops a golden brown "crust" and top. Zapped in the microwave, the eggs and squash retain their original light yellow and green color.
Either way, it's simple and delicious. And unlike many squash jokes, this dish with a funny name always makes me smile.
Zippy Zappy Zucchini
Makes 4 side-dish servings
Ingredients:
3 cups zucchini, chopped
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup water
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco or similar hot sauce
1/4 cup peppers, seeded and chopped
1-1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
Butter for baking dish
Slice of casserole
In the oven, the casserole develops a golden brown top.


Instructions:
In a large microwave-safe bowl, put zucchini, onion and water. Cover with plastic wrap, vent on one side. Microwave on HIGH for 7 minutes. Drain.
Beat eggs together with hot sauce. Add chopped peppers to zucchini and onions. Then add veggies to egg mixture. Fold in shredded cheese.
Butter an 8-inch round baking dish. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Cover loosely with a paper towel. Microwave on MEDIUM HIGH for 8 to 10 minutes, or until a thin-bladed knife inserted near the middle comes out clean.
Conventional oven method: Steam zucchini and onion together on top of the stove until fork tender. Combine ingredients as directed. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake casserole uncovered for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a thin-bladed knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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