Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf

Still trying to use up zucchini???  Here is a winner, hints of my Mexican Chocolate cake in this loaf, with a bit of cinnamon added to the chocolate and coffee flavours.  If any loaf recipe uses up 2 cups of zucchini it has to be healthy, right??

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf 2INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder (instant)
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (squeeze all the moisture out)
  • 1 cup good quality chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.  (you don’t have to do this step but I like the way it helps remove the loaf from the pan cleanly)

METHOD

Grate your zucchini and allow it to sit while you do everything else, so important to remove the excess liquid.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf

In a large mixing bowl stir the brown sugar into the melted butter and mix until all the sugar has dissolved, then add the eggs one at a time.  It is really important to add the butter before the egg so you don’t cook the egg!  Stir in the vanilla and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, espresso. Whisk to make sure it is all blended together.

Stir dry ingredients into the brown sugar mixture until just combined.  Gently fold in the zucchini and the chocolate.

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Loaf 3

 

This makes a VERY thick mixture, but don’t worry, it will be moist and delicious.

The BEST Crab Artichoke Dip

I’m not kidding you guys.  This dip is delicious, so make sure you get in there before your guests have consumed it all!

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If you want a little “kick” stir in finely diced jalapeño chilies or chili flakes.

  • 1 8 oz block cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tin good quality crab meat
  • 1 diced roasted sweet red pepper
  • 1 14 oz container artichoke hearts (diced)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (I like white)
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onion or chives
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together the cream cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream … then add the Old Bay seasoning, Worcestershire, & horseradish.  Give this mixture a good blend, I like to use my hand held blender for this to make sure it is all smooth and creamy.  If you do this before you add the rest of the ingredients all your flavouring will be evenly distributed before you stir in the rest.

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Gently fold in the diced roasted red pepper, diced artichoke hearts, shredded cheese, sliced onion and lemon juice.  Stir carefully at this point so you keep all the distinct colours and textures.  Lastly stir in the crab meat and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Crab Artichoke dip 2

 

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes until it is bubbling.  Serve with crackers or sliced baguette, and stand back …. watch the crowd go wild.

 

Coconut Zucchini Bread

Looking for a new way to use up some of that never ending zucchini that keeps showing up in your garden?  This is it … so moist and tender with enough coconut that you get a bit of crunch in every bite.

Coconut Zucchini 3

I keep a cinnamon/sugar mix in a jar – sprinkle it over your loaf before baking and you will be guaranteed an extra crispy loaf top.

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (make sure to drain well and squeeze out extra moisture)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  I like to set in parchment paper also for easier removal.  Run it the length of the pan with a little sticking out each end – easy to grab and keep the loaf whole as you lift it out to cool.

In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In another bowl combine sugars, coconut oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla.  Blend and stir in zucchini.

Coconut Zucchini 1

Add the wet ingredients to the dry bowl, and stir JUST until combined.  Do not overmix.  Gently stir in the coconut.

Pour batter into loaf pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Use a toothpick to test, make sure it comes out clean before you remove the loaf from the oven.  Let your zucchini bread rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes before removing and setting it on a rack to completely cool.

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The combination of yogurt and coconut oil makes this loaf so moist you won’t even notice there isn’t any butter in the recipe, or need to put it on after!

 

Thai Grilled Chicken

Thai grilled chicken should be moist, flavourful, and make you want more …. this is it.

Thai Chicken

This chicken.  So moist and delicious.  The dipping sauce takes it over the top!

 

  • 2 lb / 1 kg chicken thigh fillets (skinless, boneless) 

 

  • Use whatever chicken you have, or prefer, this amount of marinade worked with 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into pieces and pounded equal thickness.  I reserved some of the marinade and kept it to serve as a dipping sauce, it was incredible.
Marinade
  • 1 large lemongrass stalk , white part only very finely chopped (about 2 tbsp) If you live in an area like we do, fresh lemongrass is not always easy to come by, and in that case, I use 1 tbsp lemongrass powder)
  • 1 tbsp garlic , minced
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar or palm sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

Mix all marinade ingredients together, reserve 1/2 of it, and and add chicken to the rest.  Marinade overnight, or for at least an hour …. (I had an hour and it turned out really well!)

Serve the chicken with the reserved marinade.

Thai chicken

put all the marinade ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and give it a good whiz ….

 

Grill chicken until just cooked through, and serve with dipping sauce.

Indian Spiced Chicken Korma

This rich Indian sauce is packed with enough spices and layers of flavour, you will want extra rice or naan bread to mop up every bit of sauce left on your plate.
Korma 8
  • 2 white onions, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root
  • 1/2 cup ground raw almonds
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 a small red chili, de-seeded and minced (dried or fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (packed)
Korma 7

Key to making a dish like this is to have all your ingredients ready at hand.  Here I’ve blended all the dry spice together so it is ready to be stirred in at the moment I need it.

Korma 2

Chefs call this “mis en place”, which simply means having everything ready to go, BEFORE you start cooking at all.  It sure does make things smoother!

Instructions

  • Place the onions, garlic, and 1 cup of water in the bowl of a blender. Puree until smooth.
  • Measure out the spices (curry powder through nutmeg) into a small bowl.
  • In a large saucepan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the pureed onion mixture and cook for a 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it begins to darken in color.

Korma 6

  • Add the tomatoes, ginger, ground almonds, coconut milk, yogurt, red chili, pre-measured spices, and brown sugar. Stir well.

Turn the heat down to low and simmer 30 minutes. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan; simmer for an additional 15 minutes. 

Korma 4

I had roasted a whole chicken the day before and felt like this Korma would be the perfect way to eat it all up the next day.  Use a rotisserie chicken for a quick dinner if you don’t have leftover chicken on hand.  Honestly, when we eat out, we usually order lamb korma, so you could just as easily use any protein of your choice – or go vegetarian and stir a bunch of fresh vegetables in.

Korma 3

Served today with homemade naan and the best crispiest crunchiest vegetable pakora!

Indian Vegetable Pakoras

Don’t even think twice about giving these a try – super easy and more flavour in every bite than you can imagine.

Pakoras 1

Look at the bits of craggy onion strips, potato shreds, broccoli bits and moist zucchini – how can you not love this?

I’ve been wanting to try making pakoras for some time now, they are one of my top five Indian dishes to order in a restaurant.  These hit it out of the park on my first try!!  So delicious, full of intense flavour, you can use as much or little of the spice as you like.  Crispy, craggy and loaded with fresh vegetables, you can make it just the way you like.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chickpea flour or besan
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

 

  • potatoes, cut into thin, small fingers/chips/cubes and washed
  • cauliflower, or broccoli, broken into small florets or chopped (or other vegetables)
  • onion, peeled and chopped
  • spinach leaves, washed and chopped
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp fresh fenugreek or methi leaves, chopped (or use 1/2 tbsp. dry methi leaves)
  • 1-2 green chillies, chopped finely. Omit if you like the pakoras to be mild

Use your imagination for the vegetables, these are only suggestions.  For this amount of spice, and the chickpea flour you will need a total of 4 cups vegetables.

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp  chili powder, adjust to taste
  • 1/4 tsp coarsely crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander powder or the spice blend, Chat Masala
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • Oil for deep frying
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Todays mixture included broccoli, zucchini, potato and onion – use whatever is fresh (or you need to use up). :o)

Instructions

  1. Place all vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle salt, as well as all the spices over the vegetables, and toss to combine.  Allow to sit for about 30 min so the water drains out of the vegetables.
  2. Add sifted (sift to remove lumps) chickpea flour/besan & baking powder slowly and make a slightly stiff mix of vegetables and besan, just enough to hold the vegetables together.  Usually, no additional water is required, as there is enough water released from vegetables. If the mix is too stiff, sprinkle a little water, so that all vegetables are bound lightly by besan.
  3. Heat oil in a wok. The oil is correct temperature, when a test pakora dropped in it sizzles and rises to the top of the oil quickly. The oil should not be smoking hot. Pakoras are crisper when cooked in medium hot oil.
  4. Drop small blobs of this mix into the hot oil gently, about 1- 1 1/2 tbsp. at a time. Wait until they sizzle to the surface and then turn them over. Continue turning intermittently, until all Pakoras are evenly golden brown and crisp on all sides.
  5. Rest to drain on an absorbent kitchen paper.
  6. Continue this way until all pakora mix is used up.
  7. If you need to keep them warm, put them in your oven at 200, perfect temp to keep them crispy and not overcook them.
  8. Serve immediately with chutney.
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Served tonight with chicken korma over rice, homemade naan bread (surprisingly easy) and these intensely flavoured pakoras.

Sparkle Birthday Cake

It is Stella’s 5th birthday today and she wanted a horse cake.  Hmm.  A horse cake?  Well, Hayley found a photo to work with, and I found an amazing cake recipe on “smittenkitchen”, so we were off to the races.  A few hours later and I think we are all really happy with the results!

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Our original inspiration photo had more of a smooth finish, but we wanted this to look like the horse Stella rides – Artie.  Pretty confetti sprinkles inside and it’s a perfect 5 year old birthday cake for a very special grand daughter.

If you haven’t been to the Smitten Kitchen website yet, do yourself a favour and hop on over for a visit.  Deb Perelman has great recipes, both her own and sourced from other cookbooks, they never fail.  She calls this one confetti birthday cake, and it is easy to see why.  Those little bursts of colour just make the cake look like a party already!

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So hard to believe Stella is 5 already!

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Even the bridle turned out really well!

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We were suitably impressed with how well Hayley created the mane.

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It’s working, this is looking pretty good!

 

All right, sorry, enough of the horse cake photos, you are no doubt looking for the recipe! We just had so much fun creating it.  One of the joys with this recipe is that you only use one bowl, and it takes about 5 minutes to put together.

 

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This time, I used 1 whole egg instead of egg whites, and used the batter for filling ice cream cone cups, they bake up perfectly into 9 hand held cake cones.  Gently fold in the sprinkles.

CAKE
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cups (130 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons (16 grams) cornstarch
  • 1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven: To 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8×8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and coat the bottom and sides with nonstick spray or butter.

Make cake: Beat butter, sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating until combined and slightly fluffy. Add vanilla and buttermilk and beat to combine. The mixture will instantly look like cottage cheese and you will be sure it’s ruined but I promise it is not. Add baking powder and cornstarch and beat very well to combine. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat one second more. Add flour and mix just until it disappears. Use a rubber scraper to gently fold in sprinkles.

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It’s definitely a help to have a baker as cute as this 5 year old.

 

Bake cake: Spread batter in prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. Let cool in pan on cooling rack for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the side to loosen the cake, flip it out onto the cooling rack, and slide the cooling rack into the freezer until cake is cool, about 10 to 15 minutes.

(If you don’t have buttermilk, just put 1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar into a 1/2 cup measuring vessel and fill to that mark with milk – allow to sit for 10 min and gently stir.)

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I used a whole egg for these instead of egg white, just because I wasn’t really concerned about pure white batter.  Simply stand the empty cones in a muffin tin and scoop in the batter.  Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350.

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Look at them puffing up so nicely in the cones – kids love these and they are perfect for a birthday party.

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All baked up and ready to be topped with either icing or ice cream, a hit with the kids either way.