Sunday, April 24, 2016

Extra Chocolate Zucchini Bread


If you’re from the Midwest, you know that zucchinis are abundant in the summer. Most everyone I knew grew them in their gardens. They start popping up in June and they keep on coming until late August and even September. My family would eat zucchini every which way, but my favorite way to eat them was in zucchini bread.

For anyone who has never had zucchini bread, I just want to let you know that zucchini's role in the bread is a functional role. It helps keep the bread moist for days after baking without contributing much flavor. Minus the green flecks in the bread, you wouldn’t even know that there was zucchini in it.

Zucchini bread falls into the “quick bread” family. Quick bread is bread that is made with a leavening agent other than yeast. Yeast breads can take hours to rise and they can sometimes be finicky and tricky to make. On the other hand, quick breads are made with chemical leavening agents (baking soda and/or baking powder). Chemical leavening agents are very reliable and quick and yield uniform results.

But it is very important to note that chemical leavening agents start reacting immediately once they are mixed with liquid and because of this you cannot make the batter ahead of time. You must bake the batter immediately after mixing it.

The recipe below is a chocolatey version of the recipe my mom has been making for years. However, as you take a look at the ingredients, you'll notice that there really isn't much extra-added sugar and fat. That's because I cut the amount of sugar in half from the original recipe and I replaced half of the butter with applesauce. You could also replace half of the white flour with whole wheat flour, but I wouldn’t recommend substituting more than half because it could significantly change the taste.

Feel free to add mix-ins like chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, dried pineapple, or coconut to the batter as well! And of course, I recommend spreading a thick layer of Challenge butter on the bread. Challenge butter is 100% natural, without the use of the synthetic hormone rbST.



Extra Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Yield: 1 large loaf (9in x 5in) or 2 small loaves (5.75in x 3in) or 12 regular-sized muffins

Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour (125 grams)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (60 grams)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (103 grams)
  • 1/2 stick Challenge butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (62 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium-large zucchini, 150 grams)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit; prepare loaf pan with non-stick spray
  2. Combine flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium-seized bowl; set aside
  3. Combine eggs, brown sugar, butter, applesauce, and vanilla extract in large bowl; fold in shredded zucchini
  4. Pour dry ingredients into bowl of wet ingredients; stir until just combined
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips
  6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes for large loaf pan (Or about 35 minutes for small loaf pan; or about 15 minutes for muffins)
  8. Store leftovers in airtight container for up to 5 days



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Pineapple Upside Down Monkey Bread



I think two of the biggest appeals of monkey bread are that you can eat it with your hands, and it’s an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast. What’s really fun is if you just put it in the center of the table and let everyone grab from it.

Why dirty plates, knives, and forks when it’s unnecessary? Also, I like to do that thing where I don’t feel guilty and don’t count the calories if I don’t actually put it on a plate. Anyone else do that?

Today’s monkey bread recipe was created specifically for Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day. In the past, I’ve made classic pineapple upside down cake and slow cooker pineapple upside down cake, so this year I wanted to try something a little more unique.  I decided to make pineapple upside down monkey bread because monkey bread is kind of the same concept as pineapple upside down cake in that you invert the final product onto a plate so that the bottom becomes the top.

What I really love about this specialty monkey bread is that the dough seems to soak up the pineapple juices and it gives it a really unique taste – almost as if it’s a Hawaiian treat! And it looks so pretty with the pineapple and cherries on top!

Pineapple Upside Down Monkey Bread
Ingredients
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans refrigerated biscuit dough
  • 1 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) Challenge butter, melted
  • 1 cup maraschino cherries
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained (or 3 cups fresh pineapple)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare tube pan or Bundt pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Open biscuit package and cut each biscuit into quarters.
  3. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon in gallon size plastic bag.
  4. Add biscuit dough to bag, seal it, and shake vigorously until dough is evenly coated with cinnamon sugar. Set aside.
  5. Combine melted butter and 3/4 cup brown sugar; pour 1/2 mixture evenly into bottom of pan.
  6. Distribute cherries on top of melted sugar mixture and then add pineapple chunks. Top with the cinnamon sugar-coated biscuit dough.
  7. Pour remaining butter-brown sugar mixture over biscuit dough.
  8. Place in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Invert monkey bread onto cake stand or large platter and serve.
Recipe adapted from Carla Hall of The Chew


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Microwave Brownie in a Mug


As I’m lying on the couch watching TV, it hits me. It’s so strong; I can’t escape it! It’s all I can think about.

Guys, the brownie craving is REAL!

But I don’t have time to make an entire batch of brownies. I’m trying to watch Grey’s Anatomy, and the commercial break is only three minutes long! And also, normal people don’t make themselves entire batches of brownies.

Thankfully, I have discovered the most life-changing recipe ever: Microwave Brownie in a Mug.

All you need is a mug and a handful of ingredients. Mix together and stick in microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds and VOILA! You now have a warm, fudgy brownie. And if you know what’s good for you, serve it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I can practically hear the angels singing the Hallelujah chorus when it hits my tongue.

SO GOOD.



Microwave Brownie in a Mug
1 serving

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons melted Challenge butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Directions
  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, and unsweetened cocoa powder in mug
  2. Add melted butter, milk, and vanilla; stir until combined
  3. Microwave for 1 minute 30 seconds

Recipe adapted from Eugenie Kitchen




Monday, April 11, 2016

Best Peach Cobbler


The calendar says it’s April, but Mother Nature says NOPE! This has probably been the coldest start to spring I can ever remember. And it’s really bumming me out!

This picture of real life snow on my real life car was taken April 9. That is NOT OKAY.


All I want is a warm summer day, a bike ride, and a bowl of fresh fruit. Is that too much to ask for? So instead of wallowing in my misery, I’ve decided I’m just going to pretend it’s summer by making a fresh fruit dessert.

Fruit cobblers are the quintessential summer dessert. Cobblers are what I like to call “deliciously messy.” It doesn’t come out in a clean serving like a pie. But that’s the beauty of them. Because also unlike pies, they are much simpler to make. And I like simple.

In my opinion, peaches make for the best cobbler. And fortunately, I come from a family where we always have peaches in the freezer.

Every year my mother buys a bushel of peaches when we visit South Carolina. She then peels, slices, preserves, and freezes the peaches. I help of course (with the eating part.)

So why go through all the effort when you can buy peaches in a can? Because my mother’s peaches taste one million times better than canned peaches. In fact, I’m not so sure canned peaches are real peaches. That’s how different they taste.

The cobbler recipe below is the easiest cobbler recipe I have ever made. If you’re worried it won’t work out because the batter is on the bottom and the peaches are on top, do not be afraid. The batter rises above the peaches and soaks up the peach juices in the process.

Also, I want to add that the style of cobblers vary depending on your region of the country. Some areas of he US think cobblers should only be made with a drop biscuit dough. Other areas of the country make it with more of a batter. Personally I prefer the batter. But everyone has their own personal preferences!



Best Peach Cobbler
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup (or 1/2 stick) Challenge butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (63 grams)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, divided into two halves (103 grams per half cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups peach slices
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Add melted butter to 8 x 8-inch or 7 x 11-inch baking dish
  3. Combine flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and baking powder in bowl
  4. Add milk and stir until just combined
  5. Pour batter on top of butter (do not stir)
  6. Bring remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar and peach slices to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly
  7. Pour mixture over batter (do not stir)
  8. Sprinkle with cinnamon
  9. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown
  10. Serve cobbler warm with ice cream or whipped cream (if desired)
Recipe adapted from Southern Living






Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Slow Cooker Apple Crisp Coffee Cake

























Last year at Starbucks I found a little pamphlet of recipes with suggestions for coffee pairings. There were several coffee cake recipes, including a slow cooker coffee cake. Intriguing, right? I’ve wanted to try the recipe for a while, and I finally did this past weekend.

Just like the pineapple upside down cake I made last year, when making the coffee cake you layer the fruit on the bottom of the slow cooker and then you add the cake batter on top. Once it’s done cooking, you invert the cake onto a plate. Every time I do this I think, “It’s not going to work.” But it does! It’s magic!

The reasons for cooking the cake in the slow cooker are that it frees up space in the oven, you can leave your house while it’s baking, and it’s fun to experiment!

Tip 1: I know that some people first line the bottom of their slow cooker with parchment paper or foil. Feel free to do that if you feel it’s necessary! Personally, I haven’t had issues with the bottom of the coffee cake sticking as long as I prepare the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

Tip 2: Make sure you use a 3 to 3 1/2 quart slow cooker. Anything smaller than that will not cook properly because the surface area isn’t wide enough to properly cook the center of the cake.


Slow Cooker Apple Crisp Coffee Cake

Ingredients
For the apple mixture
  • 1 can (21 ounce) apple pie filling
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the crumble mixture
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Challenge butter, room temperature and cut into chunks

For the cake batter
  • 1 box Betty Crocker yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Challenge butter, melted
  • 2 eggs

Directions
  1. Prepare slow cooker with non-stick spray or grease well with butter

For the apple mixture
  1. Combine apple pie filling, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla; set aside

For the crumble mixture
  1. Combine oats and brown sugar. Use pastry cutter or fork to cut butter into mixture. Set aside.

For the cake batter
  1. Mix yellow cake mix, sour cream, butter, and eggs; set aside.

Assembly
  1. In bottom of slow cooker, spread the apple mixture
  2. Top with the crumble mixture
  3. Pour in the cake batter
  4. Place folded, clean dish towel on top of slow cooker and cover with slow cooker top – this will prevent condensation from dripping on top of cake
  5. Cook on high heat for 3 hours, or until cake is set in center
  6. Turn off slow cooker, remove cover and transfer ceramic insert from slow cooker to cooling rack; let stand 20 minutes
  7. When ready to serve, invert coffee cake onto serving plate
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker





Pin It button on image hover