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

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!

2 (okay more like 4) Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

I’ve been wanting to try these “mug recipes” that pop up on my Facebook newsfeed- amazing meals and treats that you cook and eat in your friggin’ mug!! Good news for those college students in dorms! No excuses- all you have to do is mix and let your chef microwave do the work!

Plus- keeps the clean up to a minimum.

I borrowed this super-easy recipe from I Am a Food Blog: 2 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake Recipe. Doubling the recipe because I have a feeling I won’t be sharing!

2014-06-16 21.18.37First find a slightly larger microwavable mug (you want a bigger mug because the batter does rise and could spill over a little.)

Stir together 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of milk, 3 tablespoons of oil (coconut, vegetable, canola, etc.)

2014-06-16 21.28.39Mix in 3 tablespoons of flour, 1/4 cup sugar (I know it’s a LOT of sugar proportionally- so I’d say you can use less), 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Stir until well mixed. Lastly, add a splash of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Give it a few good stirs.

2014-06-16 21.28.49Depending on your microwave’s power-you’ll “bake” it in there for 2-4 minutes. I had to do 4 minutes because I have a dinky cheap microwave (that I need to clean…..I know I know.) At 2 minutes it still looked really softed, so I left it in longer. It was pretty firm, so maybe next time 3- 3 1/2 minutes would have been good too. Place a plate underneath to ensure no messy spillage in the microwave.

2014-06-16 21.36.31There it is, my first mug cake! It’s hot, definitely use mitts and let it cool for 5 minutes.

2014-06-16 21.52.48Enjoy it any way you like, this is a very basic chocolate cake you can eat straight from the mug with a spoon. Or you can jazz it up in all sorts of ways. Consider adding:

  • sprinkles (can’t go wrong with sprinkles)
  • whip cream
  • a scoop of ice cream
  • caramel sauce
  • banana slices/ fruit
  • nutella
  • walnuts
  • bacon bits
  • sea salt
  • All of the above.

2014-06-16 21.51.49It falls out pretty easily from the mug if you want to put it on a plate. It’s almost like an upside-down cake with the melted chocolate chips that fell to the bottom giving the top an extra creamy sweetness. The cake is very dense and fudgy. I’m so intrigued by the idea baking with oven-alternatives!

2014-06-16 21.53.11-1All good things come to those who wait, but no need to wait long for chocolate cake!

Choco-mint Cookies

It’s been awhile since I made some good ol’ cookies…first time and only time I ever made this was years ago in college and it turned out great, I just don’t know why I never made it again! These cookies are fun to make, easy, and delicious! Anyone a fan of mint and chocolate (like my boyfriend) will love these.

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For Chocolate Mint Cookies I you will need:

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • mint wafers –> for some reason I couldn’t find Andes Mints at Safeway so I got Dove milk chocolate mint candies (awesome substitute though less of the minty flavor I think)

Let’s get to it! Start by melting the butter, sugar and water on low heat.

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Add chocolate chips and stir slowly until it’s partially melted. Turn off the heat and keep stirring until the mixture is all melted and smooth. Pour into a heat proof bowl and cool for 10 mins. 2014-01-19 21.04.45

In my trusty stand mixer I beat the in eggs (one at a time) into the chocolate mixture at high speed. Reduce speed to low and start adding in flour, baking soda and salt, beating until blended. Cover with saran wrap and chill dough for about 1 hour.

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Preheat the oven for 350 degrees F.

Start rolling the dough into balls (I used my 1 tablespoon measuring spoon to make perfect equal balls) and placing them 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. I used my Silpmat, if you guys don’t have one- get one it will change your baking life. Bake the cookies for about 8-10 mins.
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I had to resist popping these into my mouth as I unwrapped them! I chopped them in half and it’s definitely enough to cover one cookie.

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The minute the cookies are out of the oven, while they are still piping hot, plop a chocolate mint candy on each cookie and just let it sit for about 3-5 mins. Use the back of a spoon and spread it evenly over the cookie like frosting. 2014-01-19 22.59.54

Allow the cookies cool and the “frosting” to harden. You will know when the chocolate frosting is not shiny anymore. 2014-01-19 23.08.03
Okay last step, taste test one or a few to make sure they are good.
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This is a huge recipe, I made almost 3 dozen, so I took some to a girls’ night party and brought vanilla ice cream to make some ice cream sandwiches. Yums! 2014-01-24 21.12.21

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.

Mmmmm….Brownies

It’s 11pm on a Wednesday night and I had to whip up something quick for (another) work potluck a few weeks ago and luckily this quick, simple, yet delicious brownie recipe came to the rescue. This MMmm…Brownie recipe is pot to pan – less clean up!

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Start by melting the sugar, butter, and water in a medium pot (make sure it’s big enough for the ingredients you will add later). One of the best things about this particular recipe is that it does not require soften butter- so if I did not plan ahead and leave my butter out at room temperature that’s okay!

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Stir in 1 1/2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips which helps it melt faster). These brownies are super-rich and moist because it uses chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder like some brownie recipes.

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After adding in the rest of the wet ingredients: eggs and vanilla, combine the dry ingredients and add to the pot.

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I think at this point of the night I started getting tired and randomly added whatever I could find in the kitchen- I wanted to give these plain brownies I little something-something. I stirred in marshmallows and walnuts for a Rocky Road twist.

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Maybe it was the intention of the orginal recipe to make really rich, chewy brownies, but the time I baked the brownies was no where long enough. I baked it for an additional 15-20 minutes so when I poked a toothpick in the center it finally came out clean.

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These brownies certainly live up to the name “MMmmmmm!”

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Now I just need a big tall glass of (soy) milk!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

Last weekend I went camping with old co-workers at Lake Folsom, northeast of Sacramento. It was so great to get away from checking emails, facebooking, and texting and just live in the moment with nature.

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The night before I wanted to bring some snacks and threw together these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins they were yummy, filling, and, best of all, portable!

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I did not have quick-cook oats, so I used regular oats and it definitely was good to soak it for a little while in the milk. The muffin texture was a bit more chewy and you could still taste the oats. Made it a bit more “rustic” I suppose.

  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 1/4 cup milk (soy/almond/coconut/hemp/rice milk works too!)

Soak for at least 15 mins if you are using regular oats. In the meantime, pre-heat your oven to 400 and grease the muffin pan.

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Add these ingredients into the milk-oats mixture:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips (I used a mix of semi-sweet, dark, and milk Ghirardelli chocolate chips just for fun!)
  • 1/2 cup of the pecans

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Combine the two mixtures together until it looks like this.

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Pop them in the oven for about 20-25 mins. I did not sprinkle brown sugar on top like the original recipe because it was really sweet enough with the chocolate.

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I tried one right out of the oven with the chocolate chips melted. Oh man, I had to remind myself to save some for camping!

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