Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

IMG_2227I love chocolate. I love zucchini. But chocolate AND zucchini sounds like a weird disastrous combo like marshmallows with celery or white chocolate with tomatoes. At least that’s what I thought years ago before I had my first slice of zucchini bread.

Zucchini bread is amazingly moist and lightly sweet, plus, it’s getting you to eat your veggies right?!

They are lovely versatile summer veggies that I absolutely love all year-round, I’ve even made them into pancakes and chips!

For my first attempt at zucchini bread, I followed Chelsea’s Messy Apron blog’s Healthy Greek Yogurt Zucchini Bread. There are many ways to “healthify” your zucchini bread and this recipe does it in every way – from using coconut oil (instead of butter or vegetable oil), dark chocolate chips (instead of milk chocolate), and sneaking in some oats (instead of all white flour).

You will need:

  • 1 bread loaf pan, greased and floured or lined with parchment paper
  • grater
  • blender (if you do not have oat flour)


  • 1/2 cup low fat greek vanilla yogurt (you can use plain to reduce sugar)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (I think I even used less to cut down sugar)
  • 1/2 cup oat flour, measured after blending
  • 1 cup white or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or nuts (optional)

IMG_2208First some of your ingredients require some extra prep work: zucchini needs grating, banana needs mashing, and oats need blending. But the results are well worth the effort.

As you start grating the zucchini, wrap handfuls in a paper towel and squeeze out all the water. You don’t want soggy zucchini bread. Do this until you have about 1 cup of grated zucchini. IMG_2210Pre-heat your oven to 325°F.

If you don’t have oat flour at home, that’s ok! I always have some old-fashion oats at home (mostly for baking purposes, secondly for breakfast!) and I just pulse it in my food processor for a few seconds and I’ll have finely ground oat flour that will give the bread some subtle chewiness. IMG_2215In a large bowl mix all your wet ingredients: yogurt, vanilla extract, egg, melted coconut oil, and honey. Add in mashed banana and light brown sugar.

In a small bowl mix all dry ingredients: oat flour, white flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.

(I know I accidentally switched around the bowl sizes, I always do this!) IMG_2216Add the dry flour mixture into the wet mixture and stir until just enough to blend everything together. Don’t keep mixing unless you like very dense bread. IMG_2217Lastly, gently stir in the zucchini and optional nuts/chocolate chips. IMG_2218Pour into your greased or lined bread loaf pan. IMG_2219 Set your timer for 40-50 minutes. It’s a big time range but you just have to see if the bread looks “done”- when the sides pull alway from the pan and the top gets a golden brown color. I took mine out at about 46 minutes. IMG_2222I was suppose to wait 10-15 minutes for the bread to cool, but I think I waited 5 and couldn’t help but taste test the softest, perfectly sweetened, and most delicious zucchini bread! IMG_2224

Mushroom Goat Cheese Tart

I’m excited to share an original recipe! Well I’m sure a savory vegetable and chicken tart is not really that original, but I did create this without following any recipes and had fun in the kitchen! IMG_2202I went a little overboard at the grocery store when mushrooms were on sale and I needed to figure out what to do with 16 oz of white mushrooms… if you don’t like mushrooms, that’s totally okay- this recipe is versatile and you can put almost any of your favorite combination of toppings on a puff pastry sheet and you’ll get a delicious savory tart!  IMG_2199For this tart I used…

  • about 10 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons of crumbled goat cheese (my fridge is constantly stocked with Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup of diced grilled chicken breast
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, prepare as directed on package
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Tools you will need:

  • pastry brush
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • small pan
  • fork
  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper or a silicone mat

IMG_2180Pre-heat your oven to 400ºF.

Start by lightly cooking the chopped mushrooms in a pan with a little bit of olive oil at medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and let it cool while you prep the pastry sheet. IMG_2182Gently roll out the thawed pastry sheet on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Fold in each side about 1/2 inch in to give it a border. If you want to get fancy, you can press the tines into the edges to create a pattern. Totally optional! IMG_2184This next part is not optional, but really important for the puff pastry to not puff up in the middle. Take the fork and poke holes evenly through the center. IMG_2187Now take the cooked mushrooms and spread it evenly on the pastry sheet. IMG_2188For the next part, if you have ever built your own pizza this is not that different. Pile on other toppings in whatever pattern you want to create.

I laid down strips of bell pepper in alternating colors over the mushrooms and sprinkled spoons of crumbled goat cheese and spread the grill chicken pieces over the whole thing.IMG_2191For the final touch, dip a pastry brush into the egg and cover the edges with a light egg wash. IMG_2192IMG_2194The puff pastry box said to bake this for 20-22 minutes, but I needed to bake it for a total of 30 minutes until the edges looked golden brown and the goat cheese had a slightly toasted tinge to ensure that the whole tart was fully baked. IMG_2200Let the tart cool for about 10 minutes and cut with a knife or a pizza cutter. Serve warm with a nice side salad. IMG_2203The puff pastry was flaky and crispy along the edges and the creamy goat cheese balanced out the sweet bell peppers and the umami of the mushrooms. As a meal entree, the chicken definitely helped give it some more fullness.

I always have a pastry sheets stored in the freeze just in case I want to whip up another tart!

Please sir may I have S’more Bars?

What is the quintessential summer food for you? Watermelon wedges? ice cream cones? BBQ grilled corn?

Well for me it’s s’mores.

Rich melted chocolate with fluffy, ooey-gooey marshmallows sandwiched between two squares of crunchy, slightly sweet graham crackers. I never made my first s’more by a bonfire until I was in college, and now it always brings back memories of carefree, warm summer nights by the Pacific Ocean. IMG_2165I wanted to bring dessert to a casual potluck/board game night and I thought this S’more Bar recipe from Averie Cooks would be perfect: transportable, sweet and simple, and doesn’t take itself too seriously!

You will need:

  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • handmixer or standmixer
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • foil and cooking spray or parchment paper
  • 8 x 8 inch square pan
  • 1 stick or 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 packed cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 full sheets of graham crackers, chopped (makes about 2 cups)
  • 1 full cup of mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

IMG_2143Start by pre-heating the oven to 350°F. I love that this is one of those throw-everything-in-1-bowl recipes, by the time the oven is done pre-heating, your batter will be ready to bake.

Best part: you don’t even need to soften the butter (which I always forget to do!).

Cut up the stick of butter into 4-5 slices and microwave in a small bowl for about 1-2 minutes. Pour into your mixing bowl and add in 1 cup of light brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla. Make sure the butter mixture is still not too hot, because you don’t want it to cook your egg.

Add in the egg and beat until well blended. IMG_2145Add in 3/4 cup of flour gradually and mix until smooth. The batter smells heavenly like caramel! IMG_2146Chopping up the graham crackers was not as bad as I expected. I thought cracker bits would be flying all over the kitchen.IMG_2147I left the crackers in fairly large chunks and saved the crumbs and added it into the batter. Now pour in 1 big cup of marshmallows + 1 big cup of chocolate chips. IMG_2149YYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSS.IMG_2151Fold gently until all the ingredients are well mixed and spread evenly on to a 8×8 in. pan lined with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up. IMG_2152It’s ready to go into the oven! The original recipe said “20-22 minutes or until bars have firmed up in the center and edges have set”. All ovens are different and you may have to use some visual judgement on this. For my oven it was not thoroughly baked until 26-29 minutes and the edges had just started to firm up. IMG_2154Let it cool for about 30 minutes. To make it easier to cut into squares, about 15 minutes in, place it in the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.

OR…serve it warm with vanilla ice cream – crazy idea…. I think so! IMG_2156Cut it up into bars for serving. IMG_2160The chunks of crunchy graham cracker, pillowy marshmallows and creamy chocolate give these bars great texture and taste. IMG_2158They will satisfy any sugar junky’s sweet tooth! IMG_2166These bars will make you understand why they are called “S’mores”! IMG_2161Oliver Twist wasn’t talking about gruel when he asked for more….he was taking about these S’more Bars!

Healthier Creamy Wild Rice Chicken Soup

IMG_2140 Has anyone ever made a whole recipe just because of one ingredient? I do that all the time, even when it seems impractical or counterproductive. I made this delicious, creamy hearty wild rice and chicken soup for two reasons:

  1. it’s freaking delicious
  2. because I had a container of sour cream

Seems silly just for sour cream, but I had all the other ingredients and a lot of free time. I loosely followed this Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup from Eating WellIMG_2130Step 1. First things first, let’s cook the wild rice. This will take almost 40 minutes, so best to let it cook while we put everything else together. Prepare the rice as the package instructs. You will need about 1 – 1 1/2 cup cooked wild rice. I never realized how expensive wild rice was until I bought it for the first time I made this recipe. The bag I bought was about $12. Yikes! Definitely a grocery splurge. But so worth it if you consider that wild rice tastes great and has a nutty flavor but fills you up with lots of fiber and essential minerals like zinc and folate.

Step 2. You will need:

  • a small pot
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoon
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots (I had to make due with baby carrots and extra shredded carrots)

IMG_2131Heat up the olive oil over medium heat in the pot. Add in all the vegetables and cook until softened, for about 5 minutes. IMG_2132Step 2. You will need:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • pepper

Add in the flour and coat the cooked vegetables until browned. Sprinkle salt and pepper in for flavor. Cook everything for about 2 minutes. IMG_2133Step 3. Add in:

  • 32 oz of reduced sodium chicken broth (4 cups)

Bring the broth to boil and lower the heat to simmer. IMG_2134Step 4. Add in:

  • 3 cups of shredded chicken (or turkey if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley or dried parsley

Add in the chicken and stir. IMG_2136Step 5. Add in the sour cream and parsley and stir until all ingredients are combined.       Once the soup is heated through, lower the heat enough to just keep the pot warm. Your wild rice should be done soon. Once the rice is ready, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups to the soup and mix well. IMG_2139

IMG_2141Just in time for a rainy day (on the third day of summer, of course, Seattle!)…that’s okay, I got my Netflix and a bowl of this yummy warm soup!

Vanilla Custard Cream Puffs

I whipped up these decadent little cream puffs for a fancy champagne birthday party a while ago, I love how impressive cream puffs look but how insanely easy they are to make! The whole process does take some time so to prevent me rushing around the kitchen before the party, I made the shells the day before and filled them with the sweet, rich “custard” filling right before the party.

I reused the Choux a la creme recipe from the first time I made cream puffs. To make the shells more uniform and neat, I actually filled a large ziplock bag with the batter and piped them in about 2.5 inches diameter filled circles.


I’ll admit, I used the cheat-version of this because this cream puff filling calls for instant pudding mix. I couldn’t resist the short cut and the surprisingly delicious results. I followed this Cream Puffs recipe from All Recipes.

You will need:

  • a piping bag/ large zip lock bag
  • large mixing bowl
  • whisk
  • spoon
  • measuring cup for liquids
  • 2 (3.5 oz) boxes of instant vanilla pudding  (I got the French Vanilla flavor!)
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 cup 1% milk

Add the 2 boxes of pudding to the large mixing bowl, slowly pour in the cream while whisking. Then add in the milk. You should already start feeling the pudding thicken. Leave in the fridge for 1-2 hours, it will have a thick, custard-like texture.

When you are ready to fill the shells, spoon the filling into a piping bag or large zip lock bag. Squeeze out all the air and make sure there’s no air bubbles and the filling has fallen all toward one corner of the bag.

You can slice off the tops of the shells completely and give them little “hats” or I actually like to only cut a slit near the top and fill it in that way. When you are ready to start filling, cut a small tip of the filling bag and start piping in the custard.

Dust lightly with powdered sugar if you’d like.



Healthy Protein Balls


This is my first post as a post-grad! Blame my thesis and the race to the graduate finish line for the lack of updates. Most days I was lucky to have time to eat, much less try new recipes or write blog posts.

At the beginning of this year I did make a real effort to make time to work out and to eat healthier – which meant a lot of meal prepping and healthier snacking. I wanted to up my protein intake, but from non-meat sources.

I absolutely had to try these no-bake protein balls from The Healthy Maven. This is my first time making and eating “energy balls” and this one had all the ingredients I love. There are endless versions out there of these little protein-packed snacks in tons of flavors from carrot cake to chocolate chip. Try ’em all and find your fav!


You’ll need:

  • mixing bowl
  • measuring spoons
  • liquid measuring cup
  • dry ingredients measuring cup
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup vanilla whey protein powder (*I used a vegan protein powder that I had at home)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup smooth nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, whatever you like!)
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup add-in (e.g. chocolate chips raisins, etc.)
  • 2-4 tablespoons of liquid (I used almond milk, but you can use water, soy, regular milk)
  • air tight container

In your large mixing bowl add in the oats, protein powder, cinnamon, and chia seeds. Mix. 25901572902_86c4a35835_z

Next add in the nut butter, honey and vanilla. Stir, stir, stir! 25901667012_4139594f84_z

After everything is thoroughly mixed, it should be sticky but still dry and crumbly. Add in your raisins, chocolate chips, or other add-ins you desire. This gives it some extra flavor and texture.

Here’s the fun, messy part. Start with 1 tablespoon of the liquid and mix everything with your hands. If the mixture is still pretty crumbly and not holding shape, then add another tablespoon of liquid. Repeat this until it is the desired texture and you feel like you can shape it into balls. If it’s too dry, it will fall apart, if there’s too much liquid it will be very messy and won’t hold it’s shape. 25393375863_90d61dd5ca_z

Roll into bite-size balls and place in a container. Put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

The 30 minutes felt like such a long time, I couldn’t want to try it! When I finally did, I was so excited to find a recipe for a delicious, healthy, super-filling, and protein-packed snack! These are easy to take anywhere, great for a mid-afternoon snack to carry you over to dinner. The energy balls look small but are so dense with nut butter and oats that just one will make you feel pretty full. I added raisins and they were the perfect touch of sweetness! These should keep for about 2 weeks in the fridge. 25393600673_b87260bc89_zNow that school’s out (forever!), I hope I have more time to try and share new recipes. Don’t worry, I may be trying to eat healthier, but that does not mean the end of desserts and decadent sweets for Sweet Therapy.

Cranberries & White Chocolate Cookie Bars (“Ruby & Pearls Bars”)

Hello! It’s Christmas Eve (how did that happen?!) and I’m whipping up some last minute edible gifts for family and friends…because quite honestly I’m a broke grad student with no time to shop or money to do so.

I just realized exactly a year ago I made Cranberry White Chocolate Walnut Cookies, I guess the tradition continues! The tart cranberry + sweet white chocolate pairing is perfection and this time it comes in bar form. 23952780785_caa95401fa_zI followed the White Chocolate Cranberry Cookie Bars recipe from WonkyWonderful. Like a cross between a brownie and a cookie, these are soft and chewy, bursting with flavorful sweetness!23870283231_ed5b04cbbc_zI could have just made last year’s recipe again, but I really wanted to try something different and I’ve never made cookie bars before! I love the idea of not having to roll dough or scoop cookie balls over and over again. What can I say- I’m a lazy baker!  23926582236_c9540e3ed8_zI’m finally on holiday break after a super-stressful Autumn quarter, so I was really looking forward to taking the time to just enjoy baking and being in the kitchen with some Pandora music. Also, since these were going to be gifts, I wanted to make sure I did not rush it and took my time to do everything carefully. I even remembered to leave the butter out to soften hours before!

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

What you need for the bars:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I roughly chopped them)
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

What you need for the glaze (optional):

  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

In one large bowl, mix sugar, butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth and well blended.

In another smaller bowl mix: flour, baking powder, and salt together. Slowly add the dry mixture into the wet mixture, and it should start getting pretty thick with a cookie dough texture. 23325904713_013bcfa6d4_z

Add in the cranberries and white chocolate chips. 23324433624_9c16a39499_z

Spread the dough into a greased 8X8 inch square pan with a spatula. Yes, I know you see a circle cake pan…I threw away my old 8×8 pan because it was rusting and I didn’t buy a new one yet. Clearly, I’m not the most prepared baker, but at least I’m a creative problem solver! Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Mine came out perfectly with slightly crispy edges at 27 minutes. After letting it cool completely – since it’s really cold in Seattle right now, took about 1 hour. I flipped it over on wax paper and decided to pre-cut the bars BEFORE the glaze. 23324482834_552d632090_kMy boyfriend taste tested the bars and said they tasted great and didn’t see the need for the glaze. I think the glaze completes the look and doesn’t necessarily add anything in terms of taste. 23326016623_3a084e8af3_z23324562884_0ba6d7fb81_zI microwaved and stirred the chocolate with 10 second intervals until it was completely melted and smooth.

I spread out the bar pieces so the glaze would drizzle down the sides of the bars too.

23870286771_5dea68a4e8_zWith a spoon, steady hands, and no hesitation I started “drawing” diagonal lines back and forth over the bars and wax paper. 23326014463_1a73d14e6c_zAnd voila! You have lovely glazed cookie bars! 23952784295_39077ac1b0_zThey will disappear faster than Santa up the chimney I promise. 23324551214_5dfb181339_zPack these in a pastry box or throw a few in clear gift bags, tie it off with festive ribbon and there you have a cute, homemade gift. 23952779045_3509047991_zAfter this posting this blog entry, I may have to go and make a second batch…might have done a little bit too much “taste- testing”! 23326001243_b6826eab4a_z

Hope you all have warm, safe, happy holidays…

sharing good eats with good people!