Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

Happy Anniversary!  Last November I stared this little cooking blog focusing on all the recipes I have floating around my kitchen.  I’ve shared some of my favorite recipes, found a few that didn’t really cut the mustard, and have had so much fun sharing wonderful food with you!  To celebrate, let’s have some chocolate cake!

This recipe is from a Penzey’s Catalog.  (Unfortunately, I’m not sure which one..)

No substitutions were made, but I did half the recipe.

choc zuc cake 1

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

1/2 c butter, softened
1 3/4 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tblsp cocoa powder (natural or dutch)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c buttermilk
2 c peeled, shredded zucchini (1 medium)
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

choc zuch cake 2

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in the oil, eggs and vanilla.  Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Stir in the zucchini.  Pour into a greased 9×13-inch pan.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

choc zuch cake 3

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choc zuch cake 4

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a very light, moist cake, and the zucchini is not noticeable at all.  This cake would be an easy way to sneak some veggies into a child or husband’s diet. 😉

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

I. Miss. Mexican. Food.

Don’t get me wrong, I love living here in Tennessee.  This summer has been beautiful.  We have wonderful friends.  My home is more than I ever dreamed I would have.  But California has some of the best Mexican food on the planet.  I miss it – A LOT.

This recipe is from the Penzey’s catalog, I’m not sure which edition.

Substitutions made, noted below.

sweet potato enchiladas 1

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

5 to 6 large tortillas
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled if desired
1/4 c soy sauce, regular or low sodium
2/3 c apple cider vinegar, divided
2 leeks, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 dried hot chili pepper, crushed – I used chili powder
1 15 oz can black beans
3 c grated sharp cheddar cheese – divided – I used Trader Joes 3 cheese blend
vegetable or corn oil

Optional:
1/2 lb. chorizo
1 to 2 c salsa
1/2 to 1 c sour cream
1 to 2 tblsp fresh cilantro

enchilada Collage

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash and cut the sweet potatoes into bit-sized chunks.  Put the potatoes, soy sauce and 1/3 c of the cider vinegar into a large pot and boil until the potatoes are very soft and the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 30 minutes. – After 30 minutes my potatoes were still somewhat firm and the liquid was absorbed.  I added about a 1/2c of water and covered.  It took another 15ish minutes for the potatoes to soften.

In the meantime, saute the leeks, chorizo (if using) and garlic (if using fresh) over med-high heat in a little oil with the cumin until you can smell it halfway out the door.  Then add the remaining cider vinegar, chili pepper, the black bean and the garlic (if using dry).  Turn the heat down to medium, cover the pan and take a break until the potatoes are done.

When the potatoes are finished, mash them, leaving a fair number of lumps.  Fold the beans and 1 cup of the cheese into the potatoes.  Fill the tortillas with about a handful of filling, roll and pack tightly into a lightly greased 9×13 pan.  Top the enchiladas with the remaining cheese, and bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble.  After it’s finished baking, broil for about 5 minutes, to get the cheese really golden brown and toasty.  – Mine baked and was golden in the 25 minutes flat.  I didn’t need to broil at all.

Serve hot with lots of salsa, sour cream, cilantro and napkins.

sweet potato enchiladas 2

cartoon-strawberry-9This was a little less enchilada and a little more baked flauta.  As you can see from the picture, I used a whole package of tortillas, 11 total; with another scoop or two of filling left over.  The sweet potato and the oniony leeks are a great combo.  The taste had melded much better the next day.  In the future making this exact recipe, I’d make the filling the day before and roll the enchiladas the next day.

What I think I’d do in the future is cut down to 1 large sweet potato, add in a cup to cup and a half of shredded chicken and cover the enchiladas in the ranchero sauce from the Black Bean & Enchilada recipe, then cover with the 2 cups of cheese.

Cinnamon Graham Cracker Ice Cream

Husband got me the ice cream maker attachment (for our Kitchenaid Mixer) for my birthday!!  We’ve been wanting one for awhile and what better occasion than my birthday?? 😉  My first batch was pretty bad, I hate a learning curve.  This is my second attempt.

This recipe is from the Penzey’s catalog.

No substitutions were made.

cinn graham ice cream 1

Cinnamon Graham Cracker Ice Cream

1 3/4 c heavy cream
12 oz nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 tblsp honey
4 tblsp maple syrup
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 large rectangular graham crakers, broken into pieces
2 1.4 oz bars chocolate-covered toffee, broken into small bits

Beat the heavy creak in a large bowl until thick (2 to 3 minutes).  Fold in the yogurt, vanilla, honey, maple syrup and cinnamon.  Pour into your ice cream maker.  Add the remaining ingredients a couple of minutes before the ice cream is fully thickened.  Pour into a 1.5 quart freezer safe bowl with a lid and chill until hardened.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can put the original mixture into the freezer-safe bowl and freeze for 2 hours.  Then, stir the mixture and add the graham cracker and toffee bits.  Continue to stir it every 2 hours, for up to 6 hours.  Then chill until hardened.

cinn graham ice cream 2

cartoon-strawberry-9My second batch came out better than the first.  I love the consistency and texture of this recipe, but the tartness from the yogurt is pretty strong.  I’m thinking its because of the brand?  Third batch is coming soon!

Stuffed Sausage & Spinach Loaf

A couple of Fridays ago me, husband and another couple had made plans to go to an outdoor screening of The Sandlot.  (Best baseball movie – EVER.)  The problem was it had been raining for about 3 days straight here with no signs of letting up.  Instead we decided to hang out at home and try something new.

This recipe is from the Early Summer issue of the Penzey’s catalog.  2013 issue, I think.

No substitutions were made.

sausage spinach loaf 1

Stuffed Sausage & Spinach Loaf

First is the recipe for the White Bread.
1 1/4oz package dried yeast, regular or quick rise
2 tblsp warm water (110 degrees)
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp salt
1/3 c butter, softened
1 c hot milk
3/4 c cold water
1 egg, beaten
5 1/2 to 6 c all-purpose flour

Grease and set aside 2 standard loaf pans.  – Skip this if you are making solely for the Sausage & Spinach Loaf.  In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water.  Stir to blend and set aside.  Combine the sugar, salt and butter in a large bowl.  Add the hot milk and stir until the butter is melted.  Add the cold water and let cool until the mixture is lukewarm.  Add the yeast mixture and the beaten egg to the milk mixture.  Gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough.  This will take about 5 cups; the other 1/2 – 1 cup can be used to flour your kneading surface.  Use your hands to mix the dough in the bowl and incorporate as much of the flour into the dough as possible.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Do this by folding the edges of the dough toward the center and pushing the dough away from you with the heel of your hands and rotating it on the board as you continue to knead.  This should take about 5 to 10 minutes.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  This is the point to wrap half in plastic wrap and freeze if desired.  Use the other half for the Stuffed Sausage & Spinach Loaf.

sausage spinach loaf 2
Sausage & Spinach Loaf:
1 lb bread dough
1 lb bulk Italian sausage, hot or sweet
1 10oz box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp oregano
1/2 garlic powder

Thaw bread down on a greased baking sheet, let rise until doubled. – I put my dough into a greased bowl and let rise.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the sausage until nicely browned and crumbly.  Drain and cool slightly.  Roll the loaf of dough into a large 14×12-inch rectangle.  Doesn’t need to be perfect.  Spread the sausage mixture lengthwise down the rectangle, about 1/3 of the way from one of the long ends.  Top with spinach and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Roll up jelly-roll style, staring with a long side; pinch seams to seal and tuck the ends under.  Place on a baking sheet, seam side down.  The the ends under and form in a crescent shape.  Brush with egg.  In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan cheese, oregano and garlic powder, then sprinkle on the loaf.  If the egg drips all the way to the bottom of the loaf, be careful removing the loaf after baking because it could be stuck.  Carefully run a spatula underneath to loosen it.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Let rest a few minutes before cutting.  Serve warm.

sausage spinach loaf 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Well.  This calzone/loaf  monster tastes amazing.  Totally worth the time and effort involved.  BUT I would love to meet the person who can jelly roll a pound of sausage, 10 oz of spinach and 2 cups of cheese.  IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!  I just folded the ends up over themselves and prayed for the best.

Brown Sugar Applesauce Cookies

My mom first introduced me to Penzey’s spices a couple of years ago.  And now any trip home includes an afternoon spent browsing the aisles of spices and dreaming up all the wonderful things to be cooked and baked.

This recipe is from the Penzeys ‘Back to School’ catalog.

No substitutions were made.

applesauce cookies

Brown Sugar Applesauce Cookies

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c applesauce
1 egg
1 1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Beat together the brown sugar, shortening, applesauce and egg.  Stir in the remaining ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or more.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Drop the dough by the rounded spoonful about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until browned.  Immediately remove from the cookie sheets.  Cool, and then spread with frosting.

Frosting

1/4 c butter
2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tblsp milk

Heat the butter over medium heat until delicate brown, usually 2 to 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat in the milk until smooth.  Spread over cooled cookies.

cartoon-strawberry-9The first thing to do with any new recipe is to read it all the way through, BEFORE you start.  Setting out to bake some cookies and then BAM, add an hour for refrigeration.  Other than that, these are good cookies.  Next time I might add in some diced apple, or a little cinnamon in the frosting…

Confetti Chili

As the weather cools I turn to soup, chili and stew as a staple in our diet.  When I make chili, it’s a Crockpot, whatever is on hand kinda thing.  Below is my basic recipe, please alter with whatever you may or may not have in your kitchen.

Oh, the blue Crockpot. It’s fugly, but it works.

Confetti Chili

Veggies/Beans:
Trader Joes Mirepoix
1 cup frozen corn – I like the TJ’s fire roasted corn
2 cans diced tomatoes – OR – 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can tomato sauce
1 can black beans – rinsed – OR – 1 can refried black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can white kidney beans

Meat:
1 lb. stew meat – browned
1 lb. ground beef – browned
1 lb. ground turkey – browned
2 links chicken andouille sausage – cut into bite size pcs.
1 or 2 links smoked sausage – cut into bit size pcs.
1 heaping cup of diced rotisserie chicken
** I will only use 2 of these options.

Seasonings – these are all to taste:
Garlic
Chili powder
Cumin
Smoked Sea Salt – another TJ’s find
Pepper – it don’t matter if it’s black or white
Celery Salt or Celery Seed
Onion Powder – Penzeys has a great Toasted Onion Powder
TJ’s Black Pepper Sauce
TJ’s Habanero Hot Sauce
TJ’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend

If needed, add a little water to cover everything.

Everything goes in the Crockpot on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8.