Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread

My garden has kept me incredibly busy this summer. It has been a mild summer, but a little dry. That means I've watered more than I'd like. It's all been worth it though.
I planted one zucchini plant, knowing I've only gotten those to produce once ever. It took forever, but I finally got some. I think I have picked 5 or 6 now. They have all been small, but so flavorful. Besides the goal of growing the veggies, fruit and herbs, I had a goal to not let anything go to waste. I am happy to say that if it made it out of the garden, it got eaten or used in a recipe.
Since neither of us like zucchini plain or by itself, I have used all of them in a recipes and we love them!
Here is one of our favorites.
Ok, so there isn't a zucchini here. In fact, I've failed to get any of the before shots of the zucchini. But this is a picture of my very first harvest of the year. I felt like a total green thumb when I hauled this in before Memorial Day.
Here's the goods! This has to be the most amazing dessert bread I have ever eaten. Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread. Oh. My. Word.
I'll share the recipe, cause it is so good. I recommend making mini loaves or even muffins. I would also recommend baking for longer than suggested or until you can pull a toothpick out clean. I altered the recipe by using Hershey's Special Dark powder. Here you go:
1 1/2 cups shredded raw zucchini

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Grease (spray some Pam on there) a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

Grate the zucchini, using a medium sized grater, and set aside. You do not need to squeeze the zucchini dry. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugars, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended (about 2 minutes). Fold in the grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake a toothpick/cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean (about 55 to 65 minutes). Place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.

Cinnamon Zucchini Bars

Yes, another zucchini recipe. As much as I like dark chocolate, I think this might be my favorite of the two. This makes a huge sheet cake pan full, so I would recommend making this if you have a crowd to please. With the subtle cinnamon flavor and not even a hint of zucchini, it is sure to please.

Most, if not all, of my cooking and baking is done with almond milk. Almond milk used in this frosting does not require refrigeration. It also makes it milk free, which is good for my lactose intolerant tummy. Sometimes almond milk is the tiniest bit thinner than 2% or whole milk and you may have to compensate by adding a touch less or more powdered sugar as in this case.
The original recipe says this should be more dense than it turns out. It really does turn out like cake, but still wonderful! Next time, I will add an extra egg to the batter and double the cinnamon in both the batter and frosting.
Here is the recipe I used:

1 1/4 c. butter, softened

3/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. brown sugar, packed

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 c. flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 c. zucchini, grated

2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 Tbsp butter, melted

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp milk

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Blend in zucchini.

Pour into greased jelly roll pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cool.

Prepare frosting. Add more milk if necessary to get right consistency. Spread over cooled bars.

Sweet Pickles

Canning anything is something that has always intimidated me.  As I started to get an abundance of cucumbers from the garden, I decided to dive in and learn some canning.  My first venture was refrigerator sweet pickles.  They are so easy and I love them!

The recipe can be doubled or tripled or whatever you need to make all the pickles you need.  There is something even better about this recipe.  The pickles are good in the fridge for three months and so is the juice.  That means for three months you can continue to refill the jar with cucumber slices, if you eat them as fast as we do.

Here is what you will need for a small batch:

3 cups cucumber slices (I use a mandolin)
1/2 white or red onion, chopped or sliced
1 cup distilled vinegar
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

Whisk everything together except cucumbers and onions until the sugar has all dissolved.  Put your cucumbers and onions in the jar and pour the liquid mix over them.  Don't worry if the liquid doesn't fully cover the veggies.  They will soften some, bend and you will find it all works out.  Leave in the fridge for 24 hours and eat! 

I love these on burgers, sandwiches and as a snack.  I'll be trying some dill pickles next.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Breakfast Casserole - Crockpot

I've found yet another Pinterest recipe that I altered and love.  This easily makes 8-10 servings, so it's not that great for just the two of us.  However, it freezes well and can be cut in half if you'd like.

1 lb crumble bacon or sausage or combo of both (I cheated and used precooked)
4 cups shredded cheese, cheddar or other
12 eggs, whisked
2 lbs shredded potatoes, I used preshredded from a bag and you can use frozen
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper

Start by spraying the crockpot or putting in your liner.  Layer in potatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper, with meat and cheese sprinkled on top.  Repeat the layers twice more.  In a bowl mix together the remaining ingredients and pouring over potato layers in the crockpot. 

Cook on low for 7-8 hours. 

If you like more egg in with the potatoes, add a couple more eggs or 1 cup of egg whites.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cheesy Chicken Pot Pies

Ok, another steal and alter Pinterest recipe.

This one was amazing!  I'm not a fan of your typical chicken pot pie.  No, no, no!  Mushy peas and carrots with tiny chunks of chicken surrounded by dough is not my thing.  But I LOVE this recipe.

2 grilled or cooked chicken breasts, diced
1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
1/2 package of frozen broccoli, carrot and cauliflower mix
1/2 tsp garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
1 can Homestyle biscuits (I used jumbo)
2/3 cup shredded cheese

Heat the oven to 400.  In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together.  Make sure you've defrosted or thawed your veggies.  Using a muffin tin, spray one cup for each biscuit.  Pushing the biscuit into the greased muffin tins, press and pinch the dough forming a hallow cup and pushing the dough over the edges of the cup. 

Fill evenly each of the cups with the chicken mixture.  Pop in the heated oven for 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. 

These are a full meal in themselves!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bacon Cheeseburger Egg Rolls

I saw a picture of these on Pinterest and decided it was a must try.  I'm not unhappy about that decision either.  I'm not sure what the actual recipe is, but I'll give you mine.

1 package of egg roll wrappers
1 lb ground beef or turkey
2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 lb cooked, crumbled bacon (buy this by the bag at Costco if possible)

Brown the meat with a 1/4 tsp of each salt, pepper, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder and any other season you enjoy in your burger.  Drain grease and set aside.

Laying out your egg roll wrappers, sprinkle generous helpings of bacon, cheese and meat into the center of the wrapper.  One lb of meat will make 12-15 egg rolls.  If you like onion on your burger, add diced onion to your mixture.

Once all ingredients are laid out, get a cup of water and pastry brush if you have it.  If you have no brush, your finger will work well.  One at a time, brush water about 1/2 inch along the outside edges of the wrapper.  Fold the top and bottom in 1/2-3/4" and then fold over one of the sides.  Press the edges gently, sealing them to the wrapper.  Gently roll the wrapper to the other side until it is completely sealed.  If the outside seam is not sealed, rub a little water on the outside of the seam, creating a sticky seal. 

After all the wrappers are sealed, heat a 1/2" of oil in a frying pan on medium heat.  Higher heat will cause the wrapper to burn quickly.  Fill the pan with egg rolls, flipping after the sides get golden brown. 

Serve with some pickle slices, mustard and ketchup or your favorite burger condiments.

This is a simple process that can be used for many things.  A super easy dessert idea is to use canned pie fillings, following the same process for chimichanga style pies.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chocolate Oatmeal

It's been a while, hasn't it...

The last couple years have been full of new recipes, but no new posts.  Someone told me that the posts are boring without pictures, so I stopped posting.  My goal was to take pictures along the way.  But seriously...by the time you cook the meal, you're hungry and just want to eat it. Besides, I'm not the best food photographer.

So here is the first of a few new ones.  I may not always have pictures, but when I can I will.

This definitely tastes better than it looks.

Mix together in a bowl:

5 cups water
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Special Dark)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups oats (1 cup if using steel cut)

Whisk the ingredients together.  Using a crockpot liner or not, spray the inside or inside of bag with cooking spray.  This helps keep the oats from burning to the side and getting a bitter taste.  Pour mixture into the crockpot and cook for 8 hours on low.

In the morning, stir the oatmeal and add 1/2 cup hot water if the oatmeal is too thick.  This oatmeal does not come out super sweet, so the topping choices are endless.

Chocolate chips
Any other item you love with chocolate...

This recipe will feed approximately 4 people.