Monday, September 30, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Is it bread or is it cake?  The addition of the chocolate, coconut and chocolate chips adds a little something special to regular zucchini bread.  This bread freezes well.  I like to bake a few batches and enjoy it during the winter.   


3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp vanilla
1 cup oil
2 cups shredded zucchini (with skins)
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut
1 (3 oz) box instant chocolate pudding
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs until light.  Add sugar, vanilla and oil; mix well.  Stir in zucchini.  Stir together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.  Blend with creamed mixture.  Fold in coconut, dry pudding, nuts and chocolate chips.  Pour into 2 greased loaf pans.  

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  When cool, you may sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes 2 loaves


One-Pot Orecchitte with Sausage, Kale, and White Beans

When I work late it's often difficult to get dinner on the table at a decent time.  By prepping the vegetables the night before, you can have this fast, hearty and healthy meal on the table in about 30 minutes.  Also, there are not many dishes to wash after dinner is done!  I served this dish with the Easy Parmesan Knots. 

Orecchitte is a small pasta meaning ''little ears".  I used Cavatappi pasta since the store I was at didn't carry the Orecchitte.

2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed, sausage broken into 1/2 inch pieces.  (I used a mild sausage)
1 white onion chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed (I used 2 cans)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (I omitted)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 pound orecchitte pasta  
12 ounces kale, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (1/2 cup), plus extra for serving
Salt and pepper

Heat 1 TBS oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5-7 minutes.

Add onion and beans and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, fennel, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in broth and water and bring to a boil.  Stir in pasta and half of kale.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until pasta begins to soften, about 4 minutes.  Without stirring, add remaining kale on top of pasta.  Cover, and continue to cook until pasta and kale are just tender, about 4 minutes longer.

Uncover and stir kale into pasta.  Simmer, uncovered and stir occasionally, until most liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.  Off heat, stir in Pecorino and remaining 1 tablespoon oil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with extra Pecorino cheese.

Source:  Cook's Country


Easy Parmesan Knots

So simple...yet delicious.  No one will know they came from a can.

1 tube (12 oz) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (I used Pillsbury Golden Layers Refrigerated Buttermilk Biscuits)
1/4 cup canola oil
3 TBS grated Parmesan cheese 
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano (I used dried basil)
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Roll each biscuit into a 12 inch rope and tie into a knot; tuck ends under.

Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; brush the warm knots with the butter mixture.

Makes 10 knots


Pasta with Pesto and Vegetables

Using my homemade pesto, I made this delicious and simple pasta dish. You can add any vegetables you like to this pasta. I used what I had in my fridge.

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 small zucchini, sliced about 1/4" thick
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup - 1 cup roasted tomatoes (or you can use sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained)
1/2 cup pesto
1 lb pasta, boiled and drained
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Saute mushrooms and zucchini in butter and olive oil until tender. Add roasted tomatoes to mushrooms and zucchini to heat through. Stir pesto into hot pasta; stir in vegetables and top with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4


Basil and Spinach Pesto

I had so much basil in my garden this summer that I was able to make several batches of this pesto. I froze my pesto so I can enjoy it all winter long. Pesto is great on pasta, chicken and even on pizza!

1/2 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups basil
1 1/2 cups spinach, chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toast walnuts in a dry skillet until lightly browned; let cool. Pulse walnuts in a food processor until finely ground. Add basil, spinach, garlic, red pepper flakes and kosher salt to processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add Parmesan cheese to processor and pulse to combine. Slowly pour in extra-virgin olive oil, pulsing to incorporate.

Makes 1 cup (use 1/2 cup of pesto per pound of pasta)

Source:  Food Network Magazine - September 2013


Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Filling

Turn a ho-hum cupcake into something special by adding a cream filling. Watch the little kid's eyes light up when you serve them one of these!  My friend Judy gave me this recipe years ago and it quickly became a favorite.

Bake cupcakes according to the cake mix package.  I like to use Chocolate Devil's Food.

With a knife, cut out a little piece of the cupcake center.  You may also poke a hole in the cupcake with the end of a wooden spoon.  Mix together the cream filling.

Cream Filling:

4 TBS butter, softened
1/4 cup Crisco shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 TBS flour
1/3 cup milk - room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

With a mixer, cream the butter, Crisco and sugar.  Gradually add flour a little at a time.  Beat in the milk.  Beat well until creamy.  Add the vanilla. 

Using a pastry bag with a decorator tip, generously fill each cupcake with the cream filling.

Place an opened can of Pillsbury Creamy Supreme Dark Chocolate frosting in the microwave for about 10 - 15 seconds or until smooth and creamy, stir.  Frost cupcakes.
Makes 24 cupcakes


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Spicy Soba Noodles with Sriracha

If you are looking for a quick, healthy and filling meal, this one is for you. There are only 313 calories per serving. If you add the broccoli, it will add additional calories. Do calories from vegetables really count?

12 oz soba noodles
1-2 cups frozen broccoli (this is my addition)
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp Sriracha hot sauce, or more to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Five minutes before the noodles are done, add the broccoli to the pasta. Drain the pasta and broccoli; return to the pan. Add the broth, sesame oil and Sriracha sauce and set pan over medium heat. Cook for 1-2 minutes to heat through. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

Source:  Robin Takes 5 - Robin Miller


Margherita Pizza

I made this pizza using my homemade pesto and tomatoes from my garden.  This is a quick weeknight meal.

1 Whole Grain Ultra Thin Prepared Pizza Crust (I used Golden Home)
1/2 cup part-skim Ricotta cheese
1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic salt
3 TBS basil pesto
1/2 cup thinly sliced and chopped tomato
1/2 cup part-skim Mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven according to pizza crust directions.  Spread Ricotta cheese over crust; sprinkle with garlic salt.  Spread pesto over the top of the Ricotta cheese. Arrange tomatoes over pesto and top with Mozzarella cheese; sprinkle garlic powder over the top.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Serves: 4