Monday, March 31, 2014

Chocolate and Coffee Zucchini Bread

There is no doubt about it that my daily cup of coffee is a BIG part of my life.  It is usually the one of last things I think of when I go to sleep at night (looking forward to my morning cup) and the first thing I think of when I wake up! So yes, a hot cup of coffee is a delight to me.  I also enjoy baking with coffee as it truly accents the flavor of chocolate so well. And yes chocolate is yet another essential in my life.  Coming across this recipe for Chocolate and Coffee Zucchini Bread was a complete delight!  I found the recipe on Shockingly Delicious - a food blog by the lovely and kind, Dorothy.  I have followed Dorothy's blog for quite awhile now and have always enjoyed her recipes and stories. I was delighted to be assigned to her blog this past month through the Secret Recipe Club.
I dove right into my assignment to Dorothy's blog making her Best Onion and Mushroom Burgers.  Such. Delicious. Burgers!!! I highly, highly recommend whipping up a batch of these burgers.  Simple recipe for a family week night dinner or a fun and comforting dinner idea for the upcoming BBQ season.  I had all intentions of making these burgers again and photographing them for my Secret Recipe Club assignment but then switched gears drastically when I discovered this chocolate, coffee and zucchini delight of a quick bread.  What a treat! A perfect quick bread that can be made year round with ready available ingredients.  Easy to put together and lovely to eat.  Perfect!
I added some chocolate chunks and chopped walnuts on top of my bread.   I like to show what may be inside.... :-)
Chocolate and Coffee Zucchini Bread
                  (recipe from Shockingly Delicious)
1cup grated unpeeled zucchini
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp good quality cocoa
1 tsp instant coffee (or espresso) powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup mini (or regular) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups flour
*1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts) - optional
1/4 cup chopped chocolate - optional
1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9x5 loaf pan - set aside.
2. Take grated zucchini and gently roll into 2 layers of paper towels.  This is will help get rid of a lot of the moisture in the zucchini. Set aside.
3. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in eggs, vanilla extract, cocoa and coffee powder, salt and baking soda. Beat all together to combine.
4. By hand mix in zucchini and chocolate chips.  Also by hand, gently mix in flour - just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Top with chopped nuts and chocolate if you wish. Bake for 55-60 minutes.  *Cover bread with tin foil if the nuts begin to brown. Cool bread and enjoy with a hot beverage of your choice and a lovely book. Happiness!
Happy Chocolate and Coffee Zucchini Bread Baking!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Caramel Nutella Crumb Bars

Nutella.  Caramel.  Tender crust with a crumbly topping.  Have I got your attention?  How about putting all THREE of these together to make one lovely decadent bar?  I say YES! AND completely brrrrrrilliant.  That's what you get when you stop over at the Fearless Homemaker's blog by the adorable, Amy.  You can find amazing recipes such as these Caramel Nutella Crumb Bars that feed your visual taste buds to the highest degree in such a strong way that you have no choice but to grab your apron and dive into your kitchen to whip up such a treat.
I have already been a faithful "stalker" to Amy's blog now for quite a while as I discovered her blog through the Secret Recipe Club.  This month I had the complete honor of being assigned to her blog for February's Secret Recipe Club to actually pick a recipe and make it to share with all of you.  What fun!  I wanted to make every single bar, cake, soup and bread recipe on the Fearless Homemaker!  Unfortunately, between working full time, raising two young kiddos and having laundry that really needed to be done I could only make one recipe.  My sweet tooth won over (yet again) and I choose to make the Caramel Nutella Crumb Bars.   Sweet, sweet HEAVEN in a bar I am telling you.  Simple ingredients, quick assembly and delicious outcome.  What could be better?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  So grab your butter, your Nutella and a can of sweetened condensed milk and mix up a batch of these bars ASAP.  It will be well worth it.  And then cruise on over to visit Amy at the Fearless Homemaker to say hi and grab a few more recipes from her fabulous, treasure of a blog!
Caramel Nutella Crumb Bars
(recipe from the Fearless Homemaker)
Crust and Topping Ingredients -
2 Sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
Filling Ingredients -
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon light corn syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Nutella
Directions -
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Cream together 2 sticks of butter,  granulated sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla extract.  Slowly add in 2 1/4 cups flour until dough is smooth and flour is fully incorporated. 
3. Press 3/4 dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Place into refrigerator while you make the filling and crumb topping of the bars.
4.  Add the remaining  1/4 cup of flour to the dough.  The dough will become crumbly and coarse.  Be careful not to over mix the dough at this point. Set crumble topping aside.
5. Spread 1/2 cup nutella evenly over chilled crust.  If need be heat nutella slightly to allow for easier spreading.
6. To make the filling use a medium size saucepan to combine 4 Tbsp butter, corn syrup, brown sugar and sweetened condensed milk.  Heat saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally until mixture comes to a simmer.  Now bring mixture to a boil and  whisk constantly for about 10 minutes so that it thickens in texture and darkens in color.  Remove from heat once you have a darkened and thickened sauce and cool for about 6-10 minutes.  Pour caramel sauce over nutella layer and then sprinkle crumble topping over the caramel layer.
7.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the filling is a dark caramel color and bubbling lightly.  Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares.  Share and enjoy! :-)
Happy Caramel Nutella Crumb Bars Baking!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Broccoli Cheese Bites

Can you believe it!?!  I am actually blogging about something savory today!  Not sweet but savory! Honestly, I couldn't help myself.  I found the recipe for these little yummy treasure bites on Megan's blog called,  Cooking WhimsCooking Whims was my Secret Recipe Club assignment for this past month.  What fun I have had browsing through Megan's blog!  Megan lives in New England (the Boston area) and it always makes me happy when I find a fellow food blogger from New England.  Megan also has a soft spot for all things sweet.  Hello HAPPINESS!
I almost made her Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies but then realized that maybe I should make something with banana in it as I had a lot of VERY ripe bananas that needed to be used.  I looked closely at her recipe for Chocolate Swirled Banana Bread until I realized that I needed something with veggies for dinner that night.  Thus I ended up making these fabulous Broccoli Cheddar Bites.   Everyone loved them!  The kiddos loved dipping them in Honey Mustard sauce and the adults enjoyed just popping them right into their mouth. These bites can easily be served as an appetizer or a side dish.  No matter what they will disappear fast!
I thank Megan for all her dedicated work that she has put into her food blog.  I thoroughly enjoyed "visiting her" and discovering lots of new recipes that I can't wait to make in my near future!

Broccoli Cheddar Bites
         (recipe found on Cooking Whims)
1 (16 oz.) package of frozen broccoli florets, cooked according to package directions (I used 2 cups of fresh broccoli, steamed and cut up)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 1 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese)
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with foil sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or parchment paper.
2. Prepare broccoli - cool and chop up into uniform small pieces.
3. In a medium bowl combine beaten eggs, broccoli, cheese and bread crumbs with a wooden spoon until well combined. 
4. Scoop batter into balls with a medium size scoop or spoon and place onto prepared cookie sheets.  Flatten slightly with the back of your hand to create a patty or leave as is for a rounder "bite".
5. Bake for 15 minutes and then flip bites.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes.  Cool slightly and enjoy!
Happy Broccoli Cheese Bites Baking!
Enjoy the recipes below that my fellow Secret Recipe Club  members made this past month too!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Old Fashioned Pound Cake

Move over Sara Lee there is a new pound cake in town!  That's right folks I have for you today THE. BEST. POUND. CAKE. EVER!!!!  All the credit for this recipe goes to the brilliant Carole Walter's of Great Cakes.  I am baking my way through this cookbook along side a beautiful group of fellow bakers called, The Cake Slice Baker's.  
This pound cake not only has the perfect texture - dense with a soft crumb - but the flavor was just divine. The crust that  surround the cake was also perfect.  It was like a thin cookie surrounding the cake.  My oldest daughter called it a "pound of yumminess".  I think she's got the right idea. :-) 
As with every other recipe from Great Cakes that I've made so far I loved how this recipe came together.  It may take a little bit longer to put the batter together for this cake but the final result is just perfect.  The butter is beaten until light and fluffy and then sugar is added in slowly, one tablespoon at a time. Eggs are also beaten in one at time to ensure complete incorporation into the batter.  I chose to add in 1 tsp of almond extract along with the vanilla extract.  I loved this addition of almond extract as it added just a hint of almond flavor to the cake.
As I sliced into this cake I began to think of all the delicious treats I could make with it.  I envisioned a beautiful truffle or parfait layered with cubes of pound cake, fresh berries, custard and whipped cream.  Or for a simple version I could serve sliced pound cake with a lovely berry sauce drizzled over it.  Hot tea to dip my pound cake slice in would be just fine too. 
 I took a couple of slices and cut hearts out with a cookie cutter.  I then presented my girls with a plateful of pound cake hearts and little bowl of Nutella for them to spread on top of the yummy hearts.  What delicious fun for all of us! 
Old Fashioned Pound Cake
recipe from Great Cakes by Carole Walter
2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (don't have cake flour on hand? you can make your own HERE)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup superfine or strained sugar (I used regular granulated sugar and it worked great)
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (my addition)
1/4 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray loaf pan (9x5) with baking spray and set aside.
2. Sift together sifted cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside flour mixture.
3. Cut butter into 1" slices.  Toss butter slices into a large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on low to soften.  Increase speed of mixture to medium high to cream butter until light in color and smooth - about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes.
4. Add in sugar 1 Tbsp at a time. This will take about 6-8 minutes to complete. Scrape sides of the bowl occasionally.
5. Add the eggs, 1 at a time at 1-minute intervals.  Add in vanilla (and almond extract if you wish) and blend well. At this point the batter may appear curdled.  Not to worry as the addition of the dry ingredients will remedy this.
6. On low speed add in 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by 1/2 the milk.  Then again another 1/3 of the flour and the remaining milk ending with the last of the flour. Mix only until incorporated after each addition.  Scrap the sides of bowl to make sure all ingredients have been included.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon. Bake in middle of the oven centered on the rack for 60-70 minutes.  If cake appears to be getting dark too fast cover lightly with tin foil. Cake will be done with toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean.
8. Cool cake in pan for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto a platter to serve. Enjoy!!
Happy Old Fashioned Pound Cake Baking!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Cake Slice Baker's November Cake ~ Applesauce Spice Cake

 Hello and Happy November!!
I have recently joined a baking group called The Cake Slice Baker's and I couldn't be more excited!  Not only have I been able to meet a group of lovely bakers but they are also extremely talented and oh so, very friendly.  For the next year the Cake Slice Baker's will be baking from a cookbook called, Great Cakes by Carole Walter.   Each month we will choose a recipe from this book based on a poll and present it on-line on or after the 20th of each month.  This month everyone baked an Applesauce Spice Cake from Great Cakes.  I was delighted with this recipe as the cake was delicious!
I found this cake to be full of warm Fall flavors.  Lots of good spices, chopped fruit and nuts all surrounded by a tender and moist cake.  And then because I just love a good icing I whipped up the suggested topping of a Brown Sugar Glaze and drizzled it over the cake.  Perfection! 
I did change a couple of things slightly from the original recipe.  Unfortunately, I did not have any nuts in my pantry so instead I added raisins and dried cranberries which I plumped up in some boiling water for a couple of minutes. I also omitted the allspice that the recipe called for as I was in the  mood for just nutmeg and cinnamon. 
  The steps that were required to create this cake were put together with great thought and care. Such as sifting the dry ingredients a couple of times before adding them into the wet ingredients.  I also found it nice to add the granulated and brown sugar by the tablespoon mixing well in between each addition instead of all at once.
A perfect Fall cake to share a gatherings or to enjoy simply with a cup of delicious hot tea.
Applesauce Spice Cake
Cake Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 cup pecans, lightly toasted and chopped
1/3 cup (2/3 stick) butter
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 large eggs
1 medium-sized tart greening or Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped medium small (about 2/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sweetened bottled applesauce
Brown Sugar Glaze Ingredients:
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
3 Tbsp heavy cream
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a fluted or bundt pan.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a triple sifter a couple of times.  Stir in chopped nuts and set aside.
3. In a large bowl of  mixer cream together butter and lemon rind. Beat at medium-high speed for 1 minute and then add in shortening.  Mix for an additional minute.
4.  Add in granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time.  This will take 3-4 minutes to complete.  Next add in brown sugar the same way and scrape sides of the bowl occasionally.
5. With the mixer on medium-low speed add in eggs one at a time in 1 minute intervals.  Add in fresh chopped apple (and dried fruit if you wish) along with vanilla extract.
6. Keeping the mixer on low speed add in flour mixture alternately with applesauce - starting and ending with the flour mixture.  Only beat batter until flour is just incorporated after each addition.  Scrape sides of bowl occasionally.
7. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake in the center of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.
8.  Cool cake for 10-15 mintues before inverting onto a serving plate.  While cake cools prepare glaze. 
9.  In a medium size sauce pan melt together brown sugar and butter over low heat.  Stir in heavy cream.  Cook until mixture comes to a gentle boil and then allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat to add in sifted powdered sugar - whisking until smooth.  Add in vanilla extract.  If the glaze is too thick add in more heavy cream, 1 Tbsp at a time.  Pour glaze over warm cake. 
~Store cake at room temperature under a glass dome or in an airtight container for up to 2 days.  If you store in refrigerator cake will store up to 10 days.  Cake should be wrapped tightly and unglazed.
Enjoy!  And be sure to enjoy the links below for all the beautiful Applesauce Spice Cakes that my fellow Cake Slice Baker's made too!
Happy Applesauce Spice Cake Baking!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Maple Cornbread mini Loaves

Today I bring you a VERY special treat from my monthly assignment of the Secret Recipe Club.  I discovered a delicious recipe for Cornbread Muffins on the blog called, Enriching your KidsShirley, who writes and creates this blog, is full amazing ideas for healthy and nutritious meals for her children.  I  loved exploring through her blog as I read all the different (and foreign to me) names of her dishes and ingredients that originate from India. 

I came upon this recipe for cornbread muffins and decided to make it but with a little twist.  I had just bought a 1/2 gallon of REAL maple syrup from a friend of mine and thus I was just itching to open it for a taste.  No better way than to do so by baking with it! So, I switched out the honey that was called for in the recipe for maple syrup.  Delicious!
And then to take it just one step further I made the cornbread into mini loaves instead of muffins. I pictured wrapping up a little loaf of this bread along side a bottle of maple syrup. Both could be tucked away in a sweet basket as a homemade gift for the up coming holiday season.  There is nothing better than a gift from your kitchen in my book!
I definitely encourage a visit to Enriching your Kid as I am sure you will enjoy your time there just as I did.  And, be sure to check out all the scrumptious creations in the links found below as these are all from my fellow Secret Recipe Club friends! :-)
Maple Cornbread mini Loaves
(original recipe found on Enriching your Kid)
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour (Shirley's recipe called for whole wheat - I used white)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup (or HONEY)
1 Tbsp butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease desired pans (2 mini loaf pans or 12 regular size muffin tins).
2. In a large bowl combine and mix well all together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and soda. 
3. Mix together egg and milk and pour into a well of the dry ingredients.  Add in melted butter and maple syrup too.  Stir just until combined being careful not to over mix batter.
4. Pour into prepared pan and bake.  20-22 minutes for mini loaves or 15 minutes or muffins.  Cool slightly before serving.  A little drizzle of warmed maple syrup over the top would be delightful!
Happy Maple Cornbread mini Loaves Baking! 


Monday, October 28, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake

I don't know who invented the cheesecake but gosh all mighty I would just LOVE to give that person a big hug of gratitude for such a creation.  What a truly brilliant and delicious concept of a dessert! So versatile.  So elegant. Completely the best.  And always at the top of my list for dessert, a treat or even for breakfast for that fact.
Each month, receiving my assignment from the Secret Recipe Club is like opening a gift.   I have no idea what will be inside the link (a present in my eyes) that has been provided to me. And then with a quick click of my computer suddenly "the gift" of my assignment is revealed.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I discover the blog I am to treasure for the next month I feel honored and excited.  I not only get introduced to amazing people who also share their love and passion for food but I also get free rein to pick ANY recipe of my liking from their collection of recipes.  And yes, most often it is a dessert of some kind as I tend to always steer towards such a option.  This past month I stayed true to my usual path and choose a recipe for a cheesecake from the beautiful Bobbi of Bobbi's Kozi Kitchen.  A Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake.  A gift of a gift! 
I loved having the opportunity to explore Bobbi's blog.  She shares her incredible journey of weight loss and teaching herself how to make delicious, healthy and quality food straight from her own kitchen.  She is a hero in my eyes! She has a great out look in life and her taste in food is completely divine.  I drooled over her Pumpkin Applesauce and salivated over her Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Cream and I even whipped drool off my lips for her Blackberry Custard Pie but yet my love for cheesecake won over all the above recipes when I discovered the recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake.  I had never seen such a recipe for a cheesecake! I had to make it. 
What a gem of a cheesecake recipe! DELICIOUS!!! Yes, there are quite a few steps to make this cheesecake come alive but nothing that you can't handle.  I enjoyed every moment of this recipe.  I took my time, read the recipe to the "T" and finished with a unique and scrumptious dessert.  My family loved it and complimented me over and over again.  At one point I heard Jeff say, "wait is this a cheesecake or is it a cinnamon roll?"  That's right Honey Pie, it's BOTH!!! Oh, and the cream cheese frosting was also a huge hit!  Yummy raves from everyone!
Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake
      (recipe from Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen)
Ingredients for -
Cinnamon Roll Batter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
1 egg, at room temp
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Ingredients for -
Cheesecake filling
16 oz. (2 8oz. packages) cream cheese, at room temp
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp flour
3 eggs, at room temp
Ingredients for -
Cinnamon Filling
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon
Ingredients for -
Cream Cheese Topping
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
milk (if needed to thin out the topping)
1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 9" spring form pan with non-stick spray.  Line bottom with parchment paper if you wish (as I did).
2. Make Cinnamon Roll Batter - cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in egg, vanilla extract and milk.  Beat well all together. In a medium size bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture into the wet ingredients until combined.  Batter will be thick.
3. Carefully spread 1/2 of the Cinnamon Roll Batter into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan.  I used an off set knife for this process as it takes a little patience to spread the thick batter.  Set pan aside.
4. Make Cheesecake Filling - Beat together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add in eggs, one at a time. Add in vanilla extract and flour - beat all together for a good minute.  Pour filling into pan.
5. Make Cinnamon Filling - Mix together melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Drop filling by the spoonful evenly over filling.
6. Drop remaining 1/2 of Cinnamon Roll Batter  by the spoonful over the Cinnamon Filling and then swirl together with a serrated knife. It will feel thick to swirl but just do your best, it will be fine! :-)
7. Bake cheesecake for 50-55 minutes.  Cake will be puffy and lightly browned when done.  Cool cake completely before refrigerating for at least 4 hours - over night is best. 
8. Make Cream Cheese Topping - beat together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Add in lemon juice, vanilla extract and powdered sugar.  Beat all together for at least 1-2 minutes. If topping is too thick add in 1 Tbsp of milk at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Spread over cooled cake and serve.  Refrigerate any left over cheesecake.

Happy Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake Baking!


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