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!

Crab Artichoke Dip 3

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.

Crab Artichoke Dip 1

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.

Coconut Zucchini 2

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!

 

KFC – Korean Fried Cauliflower

KFC

Slightly spicy, slightly sticky and a world of deliciousness.  Welcome to KFC.

I can tell you right now, this is worthy of the time investment.  Hayley had mentioned this dish to me years ago, when she and Andrea had it in Vancouver.  I was intrigued at that point, and tried it in a few restaurants, without feeling the love.  (at least not the love Andrea and Hayley expressed)   We finally did experience that, in Mexico City of all places!  Fat Boy Moves is the name of a Korean restaurant there, and it had such amazing reviews we had to try it out.  We went twice.  This cauliflower is the one item that makes Grant say he could be vegetarian … me too.  Once we got home I went on the search.  There are lots of recipes out there, but none of them had the steps or the ingredients I thought it would take to get that taste experience you just can’t get enough of.  Finally, with a recipe sourced out of “Carbon Bar” (restaurant in Toronto) I think I’ve nailed it.  The sauce makes more than you will need, so just enjoy that, and use it on whatever you feel like.

(sidebar here …. I have no idea if this is authentically Korean, but we had it in a Korean restaurant, so I’m calling it Korean!)

1 head cauliflower

green onions (for garnish)

Cauliflower

BUTTERMILK MIXTURE

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 sprigs finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

FLOUR MIXTURE

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder

KFC SAUCE

  • 1 cup gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste)
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

 

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it and add cauliflower florets.  Cook for only 1 minute, then shock in ice water bath and allow to drain completely.

To make the KFC sauce, combine all ingredients in heavy bottom saucepan and stir until it comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and continue to stir occasionally until it reduces slightly and becomes somewhat like a syrup.  (Should take about 15 min) Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  This keeps well in the fridge for 10-14 days in a covered container.

KFC Sauce

Whisk buttermilk with cayenne pepper, nutmeg and thyme.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 4 days to allow seasonings to permeate buttermilk.

Whisk flour and dry ingredients together.

If you have a deep fryer, set it to 350, if not use a heavy bottom, deep saucepan and about 8 cups of vegetable oil for frying.  If you don’t have a thermometer, stick a chopstick into the oil … if little bubbles form around the chopstick you are ready to go!

Put your buttermilk mixture, and your flour mixture into separate large bowls.

Toss handfuls of florets into flour mixture and shake off excess flour.  Using a slotted spoon, dip cauliflower into buttermilk and again, let excess drip off.  Roll wet cauliflower back in flour mixture again, to coat.  Place on plate.  Repeat until all florets have been coated.

In small batches, carefully place florets in hot oil.  Do not overcrowd your pot or the temperature will drop and the florets will stick together.  You don’t want either to happen!  Fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel line plate.

In large bowl toss fried cauliflower with about 3/4 cup of the KFC sauce until each is covered lightly and evenly.  Garnish with the green onions and serve immediately.

Prepare to be licking your fingers, looking for more, and already planning the next time you’ll make it.

Messy kitchen

Sadly, this is what my kitchen looked like by the time I finished. Was it worth it?  You bet, a thousand times yes, and I’ll be doing it again soon.  (and, I have no idea why the reflection out the window looks more like an apartment building and not like the tomato field it is …..)

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Drop Cookies

These buttery little morsels are a great combination of shortbread richness with the tart hint of cranberry and lemon.  When I had the first one I thought …. Hmmmm, okay, they are good but maybe not my favourite cookie  –  however, next thing I knew I was reaching for a second cookie and now I just can’t stop.

Cranberry Lemon cookies 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, diced finely

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1/3 cup powdered icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl rub the lemon zest into the sugar until moist and fragrant.  Add the butter to the lemon sugar and beat until light and fluffy, go for at least 3-5 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until smooth and creamy.

Add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.  Fold in the cranberries by hand.

Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Gently form the dough into small balls and bake for 13-15 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets.  They spread out a little but not too much so you can put quite a few on each cookie sheet.

Cranberry Lemon 2

Diced fresh cranberries give these little lemon balls a pretty pop of colour.

Let cookies cool slightly before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together and drizzle over completely cooled cookies.  I used a pastry brush for this step to allow the whole top to get a shiny finish.  Watch your glaze mixture carefully, you just want it loose enough to brush or drizzle with either clumping or just running off the cookie.

Pretzel Bark

 

You might want to call this pretzel crack, because it is totally addictive!!  We make it for a Christmas treat to share with family and friends, but I’d advise you to make enough to keep for yourself too …

Pretzel bark

INGREDIENTS:

  • About 8 ounces (half of a 1-pound bag) mini pretzels, broken into smaller pieces, more or less to cover the pan
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups (one 12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 11X17-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cover the bottom of the pan in a layer of broken mini pretzels. Set aside.
  2. In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and brown sugar. When the mixture starts to gently simmer and bubble, let it cook for 3 minutes without stirring. Immediately pour the hot caramel mixture over the pretzels in a back and forth motion to cover most of the pretzels (a few empty/dry spots are ok as the caramel will fuse together during baking).
  3. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the hot caramel and pretzels. Let the chocolate chips sit for 2-3 minutes until they melt. Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to gently spread the melted chocolate over the toffee. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Let the toffee cool completely at room temperature then refrigerate if needed to help the chocolate set up. Break the toffee into pieces and try not to eat the whole batch.

(I found this recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Grilled Shrimp and Cauliflower with Romesco Dipping Sauce

Cauliflower & Shrimp with Romescu
The first thing you need to know is that this sauce is A M A Z I N G.  Put it on your sandwich, toss hot pasta with it, fresh veggie dip or meat skewer dip …. it wins every time.  Today’s appetizer included these grilled cauliflower florets, lightly marinated shrimp and green onions.

Ingredients for Romesco

1 1/2 CUPS SERVINGS

  • 1 large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Pulse first 8 ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add oil; process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Romesco can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

romescu

To use as a dipping sauce, heat through until easy to stir and warm.

 

Shrimp and Vegetables

  • 1 head of cauliflower – cut into florets
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp – tails and shells on
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1 bunch green onions

Lightly steam cauliflower until just tender crisp – be careful not too overcook it.

Season with salt.

In a large bowl, toss shrimp with vegetable oil and lime juice.  Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes.

Grill cauliflower, shrimp and green onions just until heated through (and shrimp is fully cooked) – try to get some pretty grill marks on there!

Arrange on a serving platter with the Romesco and dip merrily away.