Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Recipe for Moms Creamed Zucchini (a Denny Family secret!)

Denny Family "Creamed" Zucchini
The secret Denny Family "Creamed" Zucchini!

(Updated with better photos and more complete instructions, August 2012.)  Every family has their secrets, don't they?  My family is actually amazingly wholesome, but we do have this secret recipe for "Creamed" Zucchini, using an ingredient that's maybe slightly embarrassing for those of us who try to be healthy eaters.  If you're greatly concerned with not using processed foods, you may turn up your nose at our favorite zucchini recipe, featuring a humble ingredient like powdered coffee creamer. But I can tell you, everyone I've ever made this for has loved it!  And in a family where there are very few coffee drinkers, every one of my siblings has a bottle of Coffee-Mate in the cupboard just to make this recipe. And although powdered coffee creamer could hardly be considered a "healthy" food, when you make this you're eating mostly zucchini and the small amount of creamer that sticks to the squash.  Most of the "juice" containing the dissolved creamer stays in the pan or on your plate.

This is best when made with small zucchini that aren't more than 10-12 inches long, and you must have fresh from the garden or farmer's market zucchini for this to really taste great, so if you only have mid-winter zucchini from the store, pick another recipe. I like to use equal amounts of yellow summer squash and zucchini and even some patty pan or scallop squash when the garden cooperates.

This time I was lucky; I had a mixture of zucchini, yellow straightneck, and scallop squash.

Cut the squash up into medium-sized chunks (all close to the same size.)

Cook the squash in salted water for 8-10 minutes, or until it's soft when pierced with a fork.  (Better to have it a little under-done than overdone at this point, because you're cooking it more.

Drain squash well in a colander placed in the sink. 

After it's pretty well drained, put the squash back into the pan you cooked it in.  Add the butter and roughly mash the squash a few times with a potato masher.  Stir in the coffee creamer until it liquifies; then simmer until most of the liquid is cooked off.  Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve.

And just for fun, here is the original photo from back in 2006.  You can bet my family has made this hundreds of times since then!

"Creamed" Zucchini
(recipe from my sister's mother-in-law, 3-4 servings)

8 cups fresh zucchini, yellow squash, or scallop squash diced in 2" pieces
(I like a mixture of zucchini, yellow summer squash, and scallop squash)
1/4 cup powdered coffee creamer  (Coffee-Mate brand preferred, not low fat or fat free)
1/4 stick butter (or less)
salt or Veg-sal to taste
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Put diced zucchini in large pan and cover with water with about 1/2 tsp. salt added. Bring to a low boil and cook until zucchini is very fork-tender, but not mushy, about 8-10 minutes.

Drain zucchini in colander for 3-4 minutes, then put back in pan you cooked it in. Add butter, then mash zucchini a few times with a potato masher (just enough to release water and break it into chunks, but not enough to get a completely mashed consistency).

Put in coffee creamer and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, stir a few times, then turn heat back on and cook zucchini about 3 minutes more, until all coffee creamer is dissolved and dish is piping hot. Serve immediately.

South Beach Suggestions:
If you make this with 1/4 stick of butter, this would have to be a "once in a while" treat for the South Beach Diet. However, made without butter, or with less butter or a butter substitute like my favorite yogurt spread, you could enjoy this more often. It's even very tasty made with no butter at all. Admittedly, the CoffeeMate is not exactly a healthy ingredient, but if you check the nutritional information, you may be surprised to see how little fat and carbs it actually contains.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Creamy or Cheesy Ideas with Zucchini:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Cream Cheesy Cubed Zucchini with Lemon and Oregano from Food Wishes
Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake from Kalyn's Kitchen
Creamy Penne Pasta Bake with Zucchini from Gluten Free Goddess
Meat, Tomato, and Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Cups from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Boats from Eat at Home
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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This post was originally featured for ARF/5-A-Day at Sweetnicks where I spotlighted summer squash as one of the world's healthiest foods. counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!


  1. So do I just bookmark this to "zucchini EZ" or to a new folder called "make at Dad's where I know there'll be coffee creamer right there on the counter next to the Sanka"?

  2. I love this!!!! An ingredient can come from anywhere. And I agree with Alanna, if you don't have creamer--you will surely find it at other homes. And what a conversation it would cause making a delicious dish with creamer. :):)

  3. I would love to know how this recipe got started--Was it invented by a non-coffee drinker? If so, How did she happen to have coffeemate handy? I just can't imagine she went out and said something like
    --I'll pick up some of this coffeemate; looks like it might go well with zucchini.

    Oddly enough, I just had an incredible craving for coffee, something I almost never make anymore. Ah that was nice.

  4. I am glad to hear that my friends don't think this sounds like a weird idea. I never use coffee creamer, but it's great in this. TCL, I don't know how the recipe got started, but I know that my mother started making it when my dad was having some health problems and couldn't eat much fat. She made it with no butter for a while. Then he started doing better and she started adding butter, which only improved the dish of course!!

  5. I guess I better not say anything.

  6. Was excited to see that creamed zucchini made the famous Kalyn's Kitchen food blog. It's definitely one of my very favorite ways to eat zucchini! How can you go wrong with anything creamy?

  7. Is coffeemate low-fat? Doesn't it have trans-fats? Maybe I am thinking of coffee-rich.

  8. Agua-Fresca, thanks for visiting.

    CC - Hey, the zucchini is local.

    Emily - good to hear from someone who has eaten it. (Ok, she's my niece!)

    Chocolate Lady - 1 tsp. of coffee mate original has .5 grams fat and 1.0 grams carbs. The two main ingredients are corn syrup solids and vegetable oil (not the good kind I'm sure). I'm not claiming it's a health food, and I would not use it every day in coffee, but I don't think this small amount is anything to worry about, and it tastes WONDERFUL with the zucchini.

  9. I am so happy to find someone else who uses powdered coffee creamer instead of cream!! I use the "lite" which has even less fat. I use it to give a nice creamy texture to cream soups, hot dips (like spin & artichoke), and basically any cream-based sauce. Try it out with more stuff! It's a fantastic healthy way to enjoy rich tasting foods!

  10. Anonymous, interesting ideas. I never thought of using it for anything else!

  11. For example, when I make a bechamel sauce, I start with the usual flour & butter (about 3 T each) then add skim milk, only much more than the flour would thicken (probably about 5 cups)- bring to almost boil, then add some disolved cornstarch to thicken it, then a heap of lite non-dairy creamer (I use the generic store brand and find no difference) to give it that same "cream" taste/texture. I use this as a base for spin/artichoke dip to make it more cost effective and healthier, rather than using a base of mostly cheese products. I also use this same base to make cream soups. Have fun experimenting!

  12. Family favorite recipes are the best, no matter how unusual those secret ingredients! Love the variety of squash coming from your garden.

  13. on our house, coffee creamer powder is called "spackle." No matter how many times I try to move over to all real all the time foods, I can't get away from my spackle. :-0

    LOVE this; adore you.

  14. Lydia, there is no shortage of squash aroun here!

    Thanks Stef (it is mutual!)

  15. Kaylyn: I've been seeing your posts for a long time from Lydia. I never saw your last name before today. My Mom was a Denny from near Macomb, Mississippi. Where's the fam from?

  16. Alyce, fun to hear from a Denny but I don't think we have any relatives from there that I know of>

  17. I think the addition of coffee creamer is original and creative - sometimes you stumble upon unusual ingredients when you are improvising. I'm willing to try it!


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