Friday, August 31, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini and Sweet Potato Bread

Sometimes you bite into a cake and you are confused as to what exactly you are eating.  FYI this is one of those cakes.  After one bite you might  find yourself wondering if you are eating a salad or a dessert.  Wow, I am really making this cake sound really appealing...or is it appalling?

No, but for real.  I would not post this recipe if I did not like it.  This cake is surprisingly delicious!  Your traditional zucchini cake recipe calls for a mammoth amount of sugar, usually about 3 cups.  This recipe has one cup of sugar.  The main reason I decided to to try out this recipe was because it called for cooked mashed sweet potato.  I was intrigued by this unusual ingredient, and decided to give it a go.

As an added bonus this cake is lower in fat content, and also quasi gluten free.  I say "quasi" only because most people who have a gluten allergy cannot tolerate buckwheat flour, even though it is technically gluten free.  If you can't eat buckwheat, or if you don't have it on hand, please swap it out for a gluten free flour alternative all purpose mix, or for any other flour you have on hand.  Or if you are on the opposite end of the spectrum you can also use whole wheat flour instead.
To cook the sweet potato I just wrapped in in foil and roasted in the oven for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees until fork tender.  I like to roast them instead of boil them like a regular potato, that way it maintains its natural sweetness better.  Or you can just use leftover cooked sweet potatoes.  : )

Chocolate Zucchini Sweet Potato Bread
adapted slightly from a recipe from the Internet by Sue Ann Gleason
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour, or whole wheat flour, or a Gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini - can shred on a box grater or in food processor
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, or softened butter, or canola oil
  • 1/4 cup mashed, cooked sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup Greek-style plain yogurt, or sour cream, or even buttermilk will work
Preheat oven to 350°. Add buckwheat flour, cane sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chocolate chips to a bowl and stir.

In another bowl, stir shredded zucchini, vanilla extract, coconut oil, mashed, cooked sweet potato, and Greek yogurt.

Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture until well combined. Lightly oil or butter   one 8-inch loaf pan or mini bunt pan and pour in batter. Bake 45-45 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool before slicing.

Although this cake is is deliciously dark and moist!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Granola Bites

Sometimes I make granola, sometimes I make granola bars, and then sometimes I get real crazy and make granola bites.  Oh yeah, I live life on the edge.

Granola bites have a slight advantage over granola bars.

First of all they are circular.  This shape is way more awesome then its rival rectangular granola bar.  Circles are just naturally more fun.  Donuts are circles, the sun is a circle.  Bills are rectangular, and tissue boxes.  Think about it.

They are sturdy.  Sometimes granola bars are crumbly and fall apart like trying to pick up a sand castle and moving it.  Granola bites hold their own, and leave no man behind.

They make good weapons.  If you throw a granola bite with ninja accuracy and skill there is a good chance you could make paper stick to the wall.

They fit perfectly into your mouth.  Of course this statement is based on the fact that all mouths are the same size and shape, which is the direction our country is headed in.

PS.  The only reason I have a blog is to make myself laugh. : )

Granola Bites

from the recipe box located in my head

1 cup puffed cereal (I used Millet, but you can use rice, kamut, or whatever puffed grain makes your heart happy)

1 cup oats
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 TBS coconut sugar, brown sugar, or turbinado
1 TBS Molasses
3 TBS honey
2 TBS butter or coconut oil
3 TBS peanut or almond butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Heat sugar, molasses, honey, oil, nut butter until melted and smooth.  Add vanilla and salt.  Add in the dry ingredients.  Smash down into greased muffin tins.  Press firmly so the bite sticks together.  Bake in 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool completely then the bite should easily pop out, you might need a dull knife to help you get it out of the pan.

Make this healthy snack and Eat your heart out, 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Coffee Cookies and my first "cooking video" : )

I made a cooking video.  It is a lot harder then it looks.  First of all- I did about a million takes before I was some what happy with it.  Second of all, after it was all said and done I realized I rambled on forever about random things.  My brain kept thinking faster than my tongue and so I just skipped some strangely placed words.

I have high hopes for my future videos.  I promise to try and talk less and cook more.

I also messed up on the amount of each ingredient.  So follow the written recipe for quantities, and not the video.

 Coffee Cookies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoon finely ground coffee
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1.  Grind the coffee in a coffee grinder until super fine and it begins to clump together.
2.  Dissolve the coffee powder in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
3. Cream the butter and sugar.  Scrape the bowl and mix again until smooth and creamy.
4.  Add the vanilla, coffee/water and mix until combined.  Scrape the bowl and mix again.
5.  Add the flour and salt.  Mix,scrape,mix.
6.  Grind the chocolate chips in a food processor until turned into a powder.  Add to the dough and mix until combined.
7.  Divide dough into 2 equal parts and roll into logs on parchment paper (see video for visual directions)
8.  Chill in freezer 1 hour.  Remove from freezer brush each log with egg white and roll in raw sugar or regular sugar.
9.  slice and place on parchment lined pan.
10.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until slightly golden.
11.  Cool and eat!  Should keep for about 1 week if kept in sealed container.  These cookies ship very well.

*you can also keep this dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the freezer for a few months, and just pull from the freezer whenever you need to bake off some cookies.

Let me know what you think of my video and Eat your heart out!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberry Coulis

Look...I finally got another camera!  Of course now I have to learn how to use it!

I don't usually make things that involve berries, mostly because I am not too fond of them, but in this case I made an exception.  There is a dear Vietnamese man who has been working with my Dad for the last 12 years.  When we were younger he would always hand us candy when we visited the office.  Now that we are older he treats us to lunch, and gives us apples and snacks.  He is a kind soul, and always has a smile and friendly word for anyone he meets.  For this reason I decided to make him a birthday cake.  He said he liked strawberries, so this is what I came up with.

Simple ingredients, delicious results!

The cake has cream cheese.  The coulis is super simple.  The berries are fresh.  The cream is straight up divine.  Together they come together and form a luscious summer dessert worthy of the Queen Mother herself.  Speaking of the Queen Mother, she is probably so exhausted from all the Olympic festivities...I think she needs a vacation.

Did you watch the Olympics?  I have to admit, I barely watched at all this last week.  My parents kept watching the soccer games, and I really have no interest in watching the sports that are always on TV year soccer, basketball, and volleyball.  I watch for the random sports, and the stories of awesome people like Oscar Pistorious - the double amputee who competed in the Olympics sprinting this year.  Crazy awesome!  How inspiring!  Or the sweet little Gabby Douglas who captured gold in the Women's all around gymnastics.  The determination of these people is amazing!  They are all examples of what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it!  I have decided to set my mind to the task of electing Romney and Ryan!!!!  Of course that deserves an entirely different post and different recipe!


Is that acceptable that I express my personal political views on my blog?  I better be careful Blogger might shut me down, or maybe people won't be able to access my posts in certain States...*insert cough* Massachusetts *insert cough* : )

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
from Martha Stewart

  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. With mixer on low, add flour and salt in two additions, beating until just combined.
  2. Generously coat two loaf pans or one bunt pan with cooking spray; immediately pour in batter (pan will seem full). Tap pans on work surface to eliminate any large air bubbles.
  3. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out almost clean, 55-60 minutes (if the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil).
  4. Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Turn out the cake (s) ; cool completely
I take birthday celebrations very fake whipped cream here : ) 

Strawberry Coulis
(pronounced "cool-ee")
from Smitten Kitchen Blog

2 cups quartered hulled strawberries (about 12 ounces)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine strawberries, water, sugar and lemon juice in blender. Puree until very smooth, then press through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Coulis can be prepared one day ahead.

I plate in style!  Dixie plates all the way!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bacon Egg and Cheese Baskets and Opening Doors

Do you ever feel stuck?  Or maybe you feel like a plastic bag?  Yes, those are actual words to a song...this generation of song makers really hit a gold mine with these lyrics.
No, but for realz.  Do you ever feel stuck?  I do.  Especially yesterday.  I was at work and we just got a new  fancy dancy elevator...I stepped into the elevator and said "I don't like elevators they always get stuck when I am in them."  Fortunately it didn't get stuck this time.  Fast forward 6 hours and I am once again stepping into an elevator in the evening in a pretty quiet parking garage.

I press level 2.  The elevator goes up.  Stops at level 2 and freezes.  The doors will not open.  So I press level 3.  Nothing.  Still frozen.  So I press the open door button.  No go.  Then I do the next logical thing and press all the buttons on the keypad.  Of course, brilliant idea.  Now all the buttons are lit up and the elevator still won't open.  I begin to panic thinking at this point I will most likely die in this well lit elevator.  Water, do I have enough water to get me through the night?  Food...I can make that 1/2 eaten granola bar last me a few hours at least.  Right?  I have to step back and laugh at my predicament and I think back to my earlier statement of the day about elevators always getting stuck when I am in them.  Wish I had a video camera to document this predicament.  I heard once that if you jump the elevator will be tricked into thinking it is empty and the doors will open.  I try this tactic and the only thing I get is winded.  I decided at this point to try and manipulate the elevator buttons with my Jedi powers and I stare intensely at the panel of flashing lights.  Apparently I am very gifted because this works.  The elevator begins moving. 

This time it lands on the 3rd level.  I decide if the doors open I will just exit here and walk down one level to my car.  The door does open I step out into an abandoned floor of a parking garage. Completely empty.  I can't even see where the stairs are.  I stop and realize this is an ideal location to get mugged, or abducted.  Suddenly the broken elevator is looking very appealing.  I weigh my options and decide that getting back into the possessed elevator would really be the lesser of 2 evils, and this decision would probably make my parents a lot happier.

I step back into the elevator cab from hell and pray that this time it works.  I press level 2 and does the elevator.  It just sits there suspended in the air.  Finally it moves and this time it passes level 2 and goes back to level 1.  The doors open this time and I step back out to exactly where I started.  I decide that walking is my best option at this point, and vow to never cheat by taking an elevator again.  Serves me right.

This brings me back to my first point.  Do you ever feel stuck?  Stuck in your life?  Stuck in a relationship?  Stuck in a job you dislike?  Stuck with a car that has no air conditioning? (This last one applies to me : ) )

What can you do?  Do you find a friend with a crowbar to help get you out?  Do you use Crisco to try and wiggle your way out?  Do you try to escape? 

 "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." 
 - Matthew 7:7-8 

What do you want from your life?  Have you tried asking for it?  Looking back on my elevator debacle I realize that in my state on panic I forgot to do the one logical thing.  Pray.  I skipped that step and moved right into the seeking and knocking phase...How much simpler it would have been if I had just asked God to open that darn door for me first.  I think that in the chaos and insanity of life we often forget to first step back and just ask for what is nagging at our hearts.  Another thing about this quote that stands out to me is that it tells us to do things in this order:

1.  Ask - ask for directions, pray!
2.  Seek - actually get up and look around for what you want to find
3.  Knock - take action!  Don't just stand in front of that door waiting for something to happen...knock, knock like your life depends upon it. : )

Then I recommend making this for breakfast.  If this breakfast awaited me every morning upon my rising I would have no need for the snooze button and would never be stuck in bed.  Unfortunately, in the real world where time exists this is not possible.  However, our little brains can make a compromise and come up with an alternative solution.  Make these on a Sunday, and then reheat them the rest of the week.  Problem solved.  Boom!
Did that make me sound like a superhero?  I hope it did, because lets face it - we are all super hero's in our own right.  That is why from now on I will be saying "Boom" after each genius thought escapes my fingers.  

Eat your heart out,


Bacon Egg and Cheese Biscuit Baskets

Step #1:  Make the biscuits:

In large bowl whisk together the following:

4 1/3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 TBS salt
3 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder

With mixer running add the cold butter and mix until butter is small and pea sized. If you don't have a mixer you can cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or your fingers.

1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

With mixer running quickly add the following and mix just until batter comes not over mix!

1 1/2 cups cold milk

Step#2:  Assemble the breakfast cups

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Spray 2 - 12 count muffin tins.  Take about 1 1/2 TBS of biscuit dough and press into pan.  Be sure to have the dough go slightly above the muffin tin to create a lip of sorts.  Press dough evenly.

3.  Place in oven and bake for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from oven.

4.  For each muffin tin that you filled with dough crack one egg into a bowl.  So if you filled 12 muffin slots, crack 12 eggs.  Whisk together with a little bit of milk until smooth.

5.  In each muffin tin place one slice of cooked bacon.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Pour egg into tin.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cheese of choice.  I don't like a lot of cheese, so I put very little, but if you like cheese - go to town!

6.  Bake in preheated oven 10-12 minutes until eggs are barely set and biscuit dough is slightly toasted.

Please note:  I used about 1 pound of bacon for all the biscuit dough.  Also, you can use any filling you like...add veggies, maybe some cream cheese, or any cheese you like, sausage, some salsa, etc...go to town!