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)

Ingredients:

  • 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

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Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

Ahh….Nutella. Pretty much a gift from the gods. The most wondrous thing about this stuff is that you can put it in almost anything: cake, cookies, fruits, toast. And it’s an excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. I wanted to make something more than the usual home-comfort banana bread, so I used Cup of Jo’s Nutella Swirled Banana Bread recipe.

Not only did it taste divine, but pretty too.

2014-06-08 23.38.52I’ll have to work on my knife swirling next time.

2014-06-08 22.08.57I actually cut the recipe in half to make 1 loaf, but here is the original recipe:

  • 3 large or 4 medium (2 cups mashed) bananas, very ripe – for a 1 loaf I used just 2 bananas 
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk – I used unsweetened organic soy milk 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. rum, optional
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup Nutella

Prep work: preheat oven to 350ºF. Line the loaf pans with parchment paper and butter well- makes clean up a lot easier.

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Start by mashing up the bananas with a fork or whisk, mash it until you just have some small chunks left.

In a stand mixer: combine the 1 cup packed brown sugar + 1/2 cup melted butter, 1/2 cup milk, 2 eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla and 1 tablespoon rum.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter mixture, just until smooth. Add the bananas and mix just until they are combined.

2014-06-08 22.31.31Here comes the fun part! Microwave 1/2 cup of Nutella in a small heatproof bowl for about 20 seconds to get it a little more like chocolate sauce. Drizzle about 2/3 cup of it into the banana bread batter.

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Do not mix it into the batter but gently fold the Nutella into the batter, using a spatula scoop under the batter and bring it back up, folding over the top- do it about 3-4 times. At this point if you are making 2 loaves, divide the batter evenly into the pans.

Take the remaining Nutella (honestly, add more of you want!!) and drizzle it in two straight vertical lines down the top of the batter, then run a knife through the lines horizontally to achieve the swirl effects. 2014-06-08 22.49.51

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Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. After taking it out from the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes. Gently lift out with the sides of the parchment paper and cut into thick slices. 2014-06-08 23.57.34The bread is actually not too sweet/sugary, it allows the naturally sweetness of the ripened bananas come out and the rich nutty flavors of the Nutella take center stage. Great with a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. Grab a slice for breakfast, afternoon tea or post-dinner dessert.

A Sweet Thanksgiving

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Last night’s pre-Thanksgiving home made meal: Chicken with Mushroom and White Wine Sauce (Epicurious), Broccolini, Garlicky Red Mash Potatoes (Allrecipes). There was Pumpkin Creme Brulee (William-Sanoma) that followed.

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Yes the two of us ate all four of them….no shame.

A Sweet Thanksgiving

So thankful for my followers and readers! Hope you all have a warm, wonderful Turkey Day full of yummy food and good people.

I made some Delicious Pumpkin Bread last night for tonight’s festivities.

Egg & Mushroom Strata

What’s a strata???

Breakfast strata is in the family of egg dishes like frittatas, quiches, and casseroles. A strata is kind of like a savory bread pudding.

A busy and broke social worker like moi loves meals that can be made once and feed for a week. This egg strata was great to use up odd and ends I had in my fridge. I took the liberty to add frozen spinach and sun-dried tomatoes.

To make it healthier however I can, I scooped out a few egg yolks. The dijon, garlic and pepper makes this mix smell amazing, you know this strata is going to be very flavorful.

I have to admit I do not know if using a certain kind of bread matters, but the buttermilk bread may have been too “soft” and dense. Other strata recipes call for stale bread or hard French bread which could make it less soggy.

If you want to make it “non-vegetarian”- add bacon, sausage or ham to it. Mmmm bacon.

Mountain High Egg and Mushroom Strata