Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread

dark chocolate zucchini breadAs promised.

More zucchini.

More zucchini bread actually.

I really shouldn’t be eating baked goods all the time. No one should really. But I really need chocolate in my life. Intense, deep, dark chocolate is my favorite.

Ok, full disclosure. Dark chocolate is not my favorite. There, I said it! I am a milk chocolate girl all the way. Sweet, creamy, milk chocolate is where it’s at.

But, dark chocolate is better for my health, so if I must have chocolate to survive, I will reach for the dark. 99% of the time anyway. It’s loaded with antioxidants, it’s good for your heart by increasing blood flow, increases HDL (the good cholesterol) and lowers blood pressure, improves brain power and can help protect your skin from sun damage. That’s some pretty awesome news for chocolate lovers.

Don’t go overboard though. It still has a lot of calories and it should be good quality, organic with at least 70% or higher cocoa content.

This bread, actually more like cake than bread has that intense dark chocolate flavor because of the good quality chocolate and also has very little sugar. The coconut oil and loads of zucchini keep it moist and the addition of the dark chocolate chips and espresso powder make it really POP! Let’s not forget the added protein from the Greek yogurt. This bread, cake, whatever you want to call it, is not only incredibly delicious, but incredibly healthy.

You’re gonna want to double this recipe. Trust me!

Win-Win!

I love healthy, delicious baked goods. They are everything that’s right with the world 

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 and 1/2 cups  shredded zucchini, not squeezed
  • 3/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch process)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder (or 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder)
  • 1 c. semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I used Guittard Dark Chocolate chips) reserve 1/4c. to sprinkle on top of cake before baking
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 8×4 loaf pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Place the shredded zucchini on a couple paper towels to absorb some (but not all!) moisture. Press a paper towel on top as well. Set aside until step 4.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, instant coffee, and chocolate chips together until combined. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla together until completely combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Fold in the zucchini. Pour/spoon batter into prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Set on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Slice and serve when bread is completely cooled. Wrap or store in an airtight container at room temperature or freeze (thaw overnight in the fridge and bring to room temp to serve)

Enjoy!

chocolate zucchini bread2Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction (check out her recipe, she has lots of extra helpful tips)

 

Carmelized Kale

carmelizedkale

Welcome to my new favorite thing. Caramelized kale and onions. It has changed my world. I have gone from a self-professed hater of the uber-popular superfood after an attempt at kale chips failed miserably. Oh Lord, I can still taste it. I assumed after brushing my tongue for an hour or so that the greens were bad. Or that they had been watered with poison or cursed by the devil. One of those assumptions is correct. I just know it. There is no other explanation.

After that experience, kale was off the table. Never again was I going to put that in my mouth, no matter how healthy it was for me. Nope. Uh-Uh. No way.

So how is it that this has become my favorite food, you ask? Well, long story short, I stopped at Panera Bread for a quick bite to eat whilst doing errands one day and they gave me the wrong sandwich. I was too hungry to really care to look before I took a bit. I had no idea there was evil lurking inside my Roasted Turkey and Caramelized Panini. I was utterly shocked that it was loaded with kale. It was so sweet. The complete opposite of that horrid vegetable I had eaten previously.

I was hooked. I decided to give it a shot at home. And again, it was amazingly sweet and so so so so good. Did I mention it was so good?

I have been schmearing (smearing?) this stuff on everything. Sandwiches, quesadillas, baked sweet potatoes. Maybe even by the spoonful. Maybe. Ok, totally.

It’s a simple recipe. Actually, I wouldn’t even really call it a recipe.  I used a bag of organic, chopped kale, one sweet Vidalia onion, sliced, 2 Tbls of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. That’s it!

But the secret here is to take your time. I cooked it at medium heat in my cast iron skillet (you could use any skillet really) for a good 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally so it wouldn’t stick or burn. If it was getting too dark, I’d turn the heat down. It’s all about the caramelization, which if done patiently, brings out the sweetness of both veggies and softens and removes the bitterness from the greens.

If you are a kale hater, please please please give this a chance. I promise you good things.

Enjoy!

 

Cinnamon Chip Zucchini Bread

cinnamon chip zucchini bread2

First let me tell you, this week sucks. there, I said it. Sucks with a capital S. And it’s only Wednesday. Hump Day! I am saying this in my best Caleb (the Geico commercial camel voice, you know him, right?).

This bread is going to get me over the hump. I feel I need to tell you this so you know my state of mind. I am in a sweet eating, carb loving, caffeine driven, no motivation to do anything but feel bad that my yoga pants are too tight, give me more dessert state of mind. Just keepin it real. I’ll snap out of. Just gotta get over the hump.

At least the ingredients in this bread won’t make me feel too guilty. And,  I’ve got to say, this is the best zucchini bread ever. Cross my heart. Best ever.

It is super dense and moist, you’d never know that it wasn’t loaded with fat. The flavor combination of the zucchini and cinnamon was wonderfully different. I found it a tad sweet from the chips for my taste. I may actually go a little lighter on the chips the next time and cut it down to 3/4 of a cup instead of an entire cup. They made the loaf look a bit orange too. Not a big deal, just a little detail not usually found in zucchini bread. Carrot cake, sure. Not zucchini bread.  I also added walnuts because well, I love walnuts in baked goodies. They taste great and add health benefits too. Obviously feel free to leave them out if you choose. But that would just be plain wrong. I’m just sayin.

Of course my favorite part of this bread is that it comes together in no time. It’s all mixed by hand, no mixer required. I love that!

Oh, and it uses up some of those extra zucchinis you have lying around. Can’t beat that right?

Let me know how you liked it! I love to hear your reviews.

Cinnamon Chip Zucchini Bread 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/3 c. coconut  oil, melted
  • 1/4 c. plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 c. shredded zucchini (not squeezed dry)
  • 1 c. cinnamon chips (Hershey’s)
  • 1/2 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 T. sanding sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×5-inch baking pan; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, coconut oil, Greek yogurt, buttermilk, and vanilla.
  3. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon; stir until just incorporated.
  4. Stir in the zucchini and add cinnamon chips and walnuts (if using) and mix until combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and sugar.
  7. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then remove from pan and set on wire cooling rack to finish cooling.

Enjoy!

Original recipe slightly adapted by I Heart Eating

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Ratatouille

ratatouille

So yeah, I came from school shopping this weekend to the most amazing smells wafting through the house. And this. This gorgeous, edible work of art. Thoughtfully and meticulously put together by my husband. I say thoughtfully because he made this, this beautiful thing, just for me. I’m a pretty lucky girl, although I did have to clean up after him.

I love my veggies. Not quite like I love my cheesecake, but nevertheless, I love my veggies. Especially during the summer when they are abundantly fresh from the farm. How many of you can’t give all that zucchini away these days? So, you know what I mean then? I still have four more sitting on the counter. You know that means there will be more zuke recipes coming your way, right? Okay, just wanted to make sure you were well aware.

This is a fairly involved recipe as there is lots and lots of slicing and chopping and cutting, honestly I don’t think I would have attempted it. I kinda like the quick and easy recipes, you know that though. It was was made much easier with a mandoline. They really make beautiful, perfect slices quickly. FYI those things are lethal if you aren’t careful.

It really wasn’t that difficult, but it looks like it was. This is definitely a dish to serve at a summer get-together as it has a real “wow factor“. It really is a beautiful, impressive dish using the bounty of summer.

I have copied the recipe for you below, but you can check out the Youtube video here.

Ratatouille

1 ea. (200g) onion, chopped
2 ea. (200g) carrots, washed, unpeeled and chopped
2 ea. (100g) celery ribs, washed and chopped
1 Tbsp (30g) butter
1 Tbsp (30ml) olive oil
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, charred, peeled, seeds and ribs removed
1 poblano pepper and 2 jalapeno peppers, charred, peeled, seeds and ribs removed
1 (28 ounces / 850g) chopped Roma tomato or can crushed tomato (preferably organic fire roasted)
1 tsp herbes de Provence*
Salt, pepper to taste
6 fresh basil leaves
*These mixtures typically contain savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and, for the American market lavender, and other herbs.

Sliced Veggies
2 yellow squash, sliced into 1/16-in. (2mm) rounds
2 zucchinis, sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
2 Japanese or Chinese eggplants, sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
6 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-in. rounds

Seasoning
2 Tbsp (30ml) olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

Recipe very slightly adapted from Bruno Albouze of The Real Deal cooking channel on Youtube

 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

cookie collage

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! There are so many varieties of chocolate chip cookies. Crispy, chewy, cakey, “Nestlay Toolhouz” (for all you Friends fans out there).

Mine is definitely a chewy cookie loaded with chips and walnuts. Lots of walnuts. Here are a few of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes on the blog.

What’s your favorite chocolate chipper?

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Walnut Cookie

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie

Enjoy!

Cookie of the Week: Puppy Chow Cookies

puppychowcookie
 Every week we try to make cookies to put in lunches. There is only so many times you can make a Toll House Cookie before you want to puke. I usually ask Nina what type of treat she wants and she almost always comes back with some super involved fancy-schmancy type cookie. I only make fancy-schmancy cookies at Christmas. And sometime not even then. Definitely not for lunches. They’ve gotta be easy and sturdy. Those backpacks get knocked around an awful lot.
Nina is at cooking camp for two weeks and she is more than willing to help out in the kitchen. This week she picked out a pretty easy cookie. Since she was the one who had to bake them, she had to find a recipe that she could follow without a lot of direction from me.
She with my blessing chose Puppy Chow cookies. If you’ve never had puppy chow or muddy buddies or whatever you might call them, then you don’t know what you’re missing. A sweet snack made with Chex cereal, coated in chocolate and tossed in powdered sugar, and can be eaten by the handfuls, these things rock! These cookies are just like them, maybe even better, You must get these started immediately. They have a not so sweet, peanut butter cookie and a chocolate peanut butter coating, and in true puppy chow style, covered in powedered sugar. Drool!
Oh-Em-Gee these are so good. Of course, who can resist the lure of peanut butter and chocolate?  I know I can’t. Neither can Nina. I’m not quite sure these are going to make it into every lunch this week. I’m thinking we may run out.
puppychowcookie2
Cookie
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1¼ cup flour
Chocolate Frosting/Coating
  • 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment, set aside.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer cream butter and peanut butter together until smooth. Add both sugars and beat for 2 minutes.
  4. Add in egg, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Mix until combined.
  5. Turn mixer to low and add in flour.
  6. Portion out dough by in tablespoon amounts. Roll into a ball and then flatten to approximately ½ inch thick. Place on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake for 8-9 minutes until the edges are golden.
  8. Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Coating
  1. In microwave safe bowl combine chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Heat on high for 2 minutes and stir until smooth and thickened. (see note*)
  2. Place powdered sugar in bowl.
  3. Frost each cookie with chocolate/peanut butter mixture and immediately toss into powdered sugar to coat.
  4. Place back on cooling rack to until chocolate is set.

*Note: If you cook the chocolate/peanut butter mixture for only 1 minute until smooth, it will be thin enough to dip the cookie instead of frosting it. Once dipped, toss in the powdered sugar.

 

Recipe from Cookies & Cups

How do you feel about Back to School?

I don’t know about you but we are totally ready to head back to school. By we, I mean “I” am totally ready for the kids to go back to school. We need structure! “ALL HAIL THE ROUTINE!”  I don’t know whether I’m coming or going. Who’s going where and with who and at what time!It’s chaos around here!

I’m pretty sure Andrew isn’t thrilled about heading to school, it being his first year of high school and all.

Nina is anxiously waiting to go back. She loves school. Maybe I should say, she loves hanging out with her friends all day with a little bit of learning thrown in. She is Julie McCoy. Please tell me you remember who that is, so I don’t have to feel as old as I do all by myself.

Even more than being the social director at school, she loves school shopping. Actually any kind of shopping. Shoes, furniture, groceries, whatever. She’s always game for a shopping trip. My girl . Sorry, I had a momma moment there.

She came to me the other day to tell me what was “in” for back to school this year. It is all about emojis and lots of color. This trend is right up Nina’s alley. She is the 2016 Punky Brewster. There I go again, dating myself. You do know who that is right? That’s what my friends call her. But, they’re old too.

This is our back to school list. It had to be ordered immediately because, as I was reminded ever so thoughtfully not, that you can’t find the coolest stuff if you wait too long, ergo the Disney Frozen backpack saga of 2015.

Click on the images to take you to the link.

Don’t wait! You don’t want your kids to be  assortment of smiley face expressions including very happy, smug, happy, mild surprise, shock, neutral, chagrin, sad, dead, skull with teeth

 

Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links used in this post

 

doodlescents BBW backpack scissor sketcher h2obottle eraser rulerbracelet

Perfect Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

iced coffee

 

First let me say, I just spent three days with some of the most UH-MAZING, talented, generous, hysterical group of women ever. For realz.

I went to Blog Life University  in Marietta, Georgia. My very first blogging conference. It was a wonderful experience, and I am already penciling it in for next year. I learned more in those three days of lectures and casually hanging out with other bloggers than I have in five years of sitting down in front of my PC.  They were all so willing to share their stories and strategies, how they got where they are now and what it took to get there. They were genuine about wanting others to be successful as well. It was true sisterhood.  I am missing them already.

One of our speakers said “You need to surround yourself with people who will truly celebrate your successes”. I really believe these women are those people. It was an honest blessing to be able to attend and make those bonds.

Most of them were Southern Gals. By the end of the three days, they had me saying “Y’all”, eating Chick-Fil-A, and drinking sweet tea. But don’t be fooled by their sweet, southern drawls folks. After learning what “Bless your heart”  really means, I think they have a dark side we “yankees” were unaware of.

On the other hand though,  I taught them to say “wicked awesome”, “lobstah” and informed them that I didn’t think “Hahvahd has a yahd to pahk a cah” in at all.

I’m going to share more about BLU later, but for now it’s all about coffee. I say that because I learned so much and want to implement all of it right now, that I have decided sleep is overrated. Therefore, I will need more coffee.

Those that know me are aware that I always drink iced coffee. It doesn’t matter how cold it is, that the snow is whipping or that I am standing in an ice skating rink. It’s always iced coffee. I also refuse to drink Dunkin Donuts coffee. Sacrilege, I know! “New England runs on Dunkins!” No thanks, I’d rather drink dish water. I’m a Starbucks girl all the way!

My Starbucks habit can get rather pricey and since there isn’t one every five feet like DD, I make my own.

It does take some time and patience, so a little planning ahead is required, but it is soooooooooo worth it. For $12-$13 for a bag of ground Starbucks coffee, I can have several coffees a day all week long. In the long run, it save time and money. Quite a bit of money actually. At $3.50 a pop, it really adds up.

Let’s not forget because it is cold brewed it doesn’t get bitter and the taste is fresh, robust and delicious all week long, and even longer if you don’t need to have it flowing through your veins 24/7 like I do.

If you are an iced coffee junkie like me, or you want to serve a large group, this is the best way to make it. You’ll thank me.

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee

8-10 qts filtered water
1 lb medium or dark roast premium coffee, coarsely ground (this is my favorite)
2 large containers, 10-12 qts and one needs a cover

In a very large container, I use a 12 qt food storage container from a restaurant supply store, fill with 8-10 qts of cold, filtered water. I use 8 qts and a Starbucks medium roast and I would say it’s fairly strong, but I love my coffee on the dark side.

Pour the entire pound of coffee in and mix it all up good, making sure all the grounds are saturated.

Cover it. Throw it in the fridge and let it steep for at least 12 hours, but no more than 15 or the bitterness will start to come through, and you don’t want that.

When the time is up, pour the coffee sludge slowly through a cheesecloth lined fine sieve over the second container.

Discard the coffee grinds. They can be used in the garden to add nitrogen for plants or turn hydrangeas a gorgeous shade of blue. Don’t just toss them in the trash.

Rinse out the first container and repeat the straining process again with clean cheesecloth or paper towels to get the finer grounds.

Cover and store in the fridge to enjoy whenever, however you want.

Enjoy!

 

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Back to Reality

4th

This is what I did this weekend.

There was drinking.

There was fireworks.

There was a waterslide.

There was a pie eating contest.

There was even bull riding. Yes, you read that right.  Bull riding.

Oh, and did I mention drinking?

We had quite a neighborhood shindig. Truly amazing. Thanks to all my wonderful new neighbors who organized this. It was unlike any other party I had ever attended. Well, not high school. We won’t talk about high school. This is a family blog.

It was like we dialed up the weather. Sunny and in the low 80’s and a beautiful, cool, clear evening for the fireworks display, that rivaled any I have seen. It couldn’t have been more perfect. And my new neighbors are all so generous and wonderful and fun. Like one big, happy family. Minus the crazy and dysfunction.

Ok, maybe still crazy. But in a good way.

Then today I had to go back to work. Bluck. Not that I don’t love the girls I work with, cuz I do. But having to wake up before 9:30 and actually have to brush my teeth and shower, really kinda sucked. Just keepin it real people. You know how it is going back after vacation. Getting back into the swing of things is tough.

Coming home to the upstairs toilet that overflowed into my kitchen was tougher.

Ok, I’ve cleaned, sterilized, cleaned some more and have had my meltdown and my WTF moment. Time to move on. And by moving on I mean sitting down to a drink. I think there may be leftovers from this weekend hiding somewhere.

I’ll catch ya later.

July 4th Jello Shots

4th of july jello

Happy 4th of July! Ok, I know it’s only the second, but today is our neighborhood 4th party, so there ya have it.

Since nothing says “God bless America” quite like slurping red, white and blue gelatinous booze from a teeny cup like a jello shot, these are my contribution to the partay.

They are totes adorable, if I do say myself and tasty too. I know this because I sucked up a couple while taking their pic totally forgetting they are loaded with vodka. Hey, people drink mimosas at breakfast. There really isn’t a big difference.

These are super easy, just a bit time consuming waiting for all the layers to set up before pouring the next one. You could speed up the process a bit by only doing one thicker layer of each color, which would also be awesome and totally acceptable. You’ll still get oohs and aahs from the crowd, and not just because of the fireworks.

 

These made 50 2 oz. shots. The little cups came from Walmart and since they are individually covered, I can throw them easily in the cooler and people can grab them at their leisure. By people I mean grown ups. These are super boozy folks. 

 

I did have to warn the kids.

“DO NOT TOUCH THESE! YOU WILL GET SICK AND I WILL GO TO JAIL! COMPRENDE?”

I think they got it. Let’s hope.

Since you still have the rest of the weekend to get these made, may I suggest you get started?

Have a safe and happy weekend!

Layered Jello Shots

2 boxes cherry Jello (or any red)
2 boxes Berry Blue Jello
2 boxes Knox unflavored gelatin
2 c. Smirnoff Red, White & Berry flavored vodka (or any type of vodka will do, but this one is yuuuuuuuuumy)
2 oz. disposable cups

1. Prepare cherry and berry blue Jell-O according to “fast set” instructions; set aside.
2. Measure out ½ cup water into a bowl and sprinkle 2 packets of gelatin on top and allow to bloom for 2-3 minutes. Pour bloomed mixture into a saucepan over low heat. Stir mixture constantly until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat and pour dissolved gelatin into cherry Jell-O.
3. Add ½ cup of vodka to cherry Jell-O mixture and stir to combine.
4. Repeat step two for the berry blue Jell-O.
5. Empty sweetened, condensed milk into a bowl; set aside. Measure 2 cups of water into a bowl and sprinkle 4 packets of gelatin on top and allow to bloom for about 2-3 minutes. Pour bloomed mixture into a saucepan over low heat. Stir the mixture constantly until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat and pour the dissolved gelatin into the sweetened condensed milk and stir gently.
6. Add 1 cup vodka to mixture and stir to combine.

To assemble:

1. Measure and pour out 1 tablespoon of cherry Jell-O into cups. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for about 8-10 minutes to set.
2. Remove the pan from the refrigerator. Measure and pour 1 tablespoon of sweetened, condensed milk on top of cherry layer. Return pan to refrigerator and chill for 8-10 minutes to set.
Remove the pan from refrigerator. Measure and pour 1 tablespoon of berry blue Jell-O on top of the sweetened, condensed milk layer. Return to refrigerator and chill for 8-10 minutes to set.
Repeat steps 1-3 until the cups are filled.

Enjoy!