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Welcome to my collection of recipes and cooking related ramblings. Please don't expect culinary perfection during your time here... for I am a frustrated foodie with very little patience and more than a tendency for often unnecessary creativity in the kitchen. I have a hard time following instructions (Never fear, I can read, I just don't like being told what to do), so cooking is a good exercise in discipline for me. Luckily I have a willing husband to taste test these creations, good and bad, so I don't have to suffer alone in my experimentations.  

If you dare - learn along with me as I try out recipes, tweak them to my liking, learn what NOT to do and share all the mundane details with you! Let's do this... 

Friday
Sep282012

Chocolate zucchini bread - better than brownies!

This bread is so good, I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. Yeah, that's what I said... deal with it. If you have a hankerin' for some serious chocolate but need to assuage your guilty conscience... then this is the "bread" for you. I got your doubly dark chocolate fudgy goodness right here.

Don't tell anyone is chock full of zucchini and they'll never know. I've tricked more than one man into eating his veggies under this disguise. Works on kids too. Go ahead, try it for yourself.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups grated zucchini (I used a little less than 2 medium zucchini)
  • 1 1/4cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/8 cup unsalted butter (3/4 of one stick), melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grate the zucchini (no need to peel) and set aside in a strainer to drain off excess liquid. No need to press out the liquid... just let it drain while you're preparing the rest of the recipe.

In one large bowl, combine the dry ingredients and stir or sift together until incorporated (flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and cinnamon). In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy then stir in the eggs and almond extract. Mix the zucchini into wet ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients (slowly) into the wet ones until well combined. Finally, mix in the chocolate chips.

Pour mixture into a greased 9x5 loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. If you want to make 2 mini loaves, reduce the cooking time to about 35-40 minutes.  If you want to make muffins/cupcakes (makes 1 dozen) reduce the cooking time to about 20 minutes. Cool for a bit before cutting, if you can!

 

Tuesday
Aug282012

Apricot White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, oh my!

THE INCREDIBLE FLOATING COOKIE!

There used to be an eatery/deli/takeout/gourmetfoodieplace called Eatzi's here in Houston. I loved that place and still miss it. We used to trek across town to pick up a loaf of homemade Apricot White Chocolate bread for brunch and ultimately homemade french toast. One of my fondest foodie memories... 

One of my jobs at work is to curate recipes and coordinate recipe photo shoots. It's a hard job, folks... a hard, hard job. There are always recipes that need to be tested or tweaked for our needs, and since I enjoy cooking (and eating) I selflessly volunteer to administer exemplary customer service in the form of culinary quality control. We were working on a series called "Comfort Food CLassics" (real original, I know) and I ran across this recipe. They triggered my long lost Eatzi's love... therefore, I had to make these cookies. TOTAL comfort food to me.

Verdict: I thought they were great, although my enthusiasm is bittersweet as they taste a lot like the bread I'll never have again *weeps a little*. They'll have to do until Eatzi's is resurrected, I guess. My husband says the cookies don't look inviting, but they taste delicious. My response was oatmeal cookies never look inviting, but always taste delicious. Try 'em for yourself and make up your own mind.

Apricot White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2-1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375º F. Cream together butter and sugars until creamy. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix well. Combine the flour and baking soda separately then add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until well blended. Stir in the oats, followed by white chocolate chips and apricots. Form loose teaspoon size balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned around the edges. Cool slightly on the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Be careful not to overdo it on the chocolate chips... too much more than a cup and the dough becomes difficult to keep together in a ball.

 

Wednesday
Jul182012

Zucchini & Corn Cakes - goggles not included.

 


Well... yesterday I made some corn casserole and today I made some chocolate zucchini muffins, so after these culinary adventures I found myself with leftover corn casserole and leftover zucchini... what's a girl to do? Well, this girl decided to channel her inner southern lady and fry up some corn & zucchini fritters, that's right I tell ya!

I make these zucchini cakes all the time - but since I had leftover corn casserole - I threw that in too. It was tasty! So, I wrote up this recipe assuming you didn't have my casserole on hand and modified it for any kind of cooked corn. If for some reason you actually have my casserole stashed in the fridge, just eliminate the milk and dump it in.

This is one of those recipes that you don't have to measure exactly. It's not about the measurement, but about the consistency of the cake "batter". Don't be afraid to adjust the milk, or add additional egg whites if you need more moisture... or increase the bread crumbs if the batter is too wet. Truth be told, I don't measure anything when I make these... I just wing it. The worst that happens is they fall apart when frying. Ultimately, you should be able to shape it into a golf-ball-size ball and flatten it into a patty. Oh, don't be scared... give it a whirl.

Zucchini & Corn Cakes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 medium-large zucchini, grated and drained
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup drained corn
  • 1/4 cup milk (may not use all)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for frying

INSTRUCTIONS:

Grate your zucchini into a bowl and squeeze as much moisture out of it as possible. Drain your corn and add it to the zucchini. Mix in the egg, parmesan cheese and bread crumbs to start. Salt and pepper to your particular tastes. Pour in enough milk to help the batter hold together. If your batter gets wet, add in more breadcrumbs and/or parmesan cheese until it binds together. Form your batter into about 7 or 8 golf-ball-sized balls.

Cover the bottom of a skillet with olive oil and heat oil. Drop balls of batter into oil and flatten out with the back of a spatula into patty form. Cook until browned on each side - about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels before serving.Tastes great with a little ranch dressing!

NOTE: I had a small problem with the loose corn popping in the oil and flying all over my kitchen. If you're fritters are a little heavy on the corn, you may want to fish any loose kernels out of the oil in the pan before they get pop-worthy. Or you could just wear goggles and watch the show... it's up to you!

Tuesday
Jul172012

Fresh creamed corn casserole... yummo.

It's summertime and when I'm trolling the produce aisle at the Shop-Rite, bright, sunny, golden ears of corn keep calling my name. Okay, maybe it's just the voices in my head, but they're compelling me to make something corny with that corn. Something really really really corny. It just sounds like summer. Anyway, it's important for you to understand that I am not a natural corn lover. I ate a lot of it as a kid either out of a can or frozen cobs boiled within an inch of any beneficial nutrient. (Sorry Mom!) Not to mention the 5 year stint of braces during the 80s that made this little starchy staple my mortal enemy. Corn on the cob? Yeah, right! You can see why my memories are not exactly fond... Over the years, I've learned to love sweet summer corn, carefully trimmed off the cob and dotted with some cold butter. Building new memories that are slowly taking over the old ones.

On another note, this post triggered a long-suppressed memory of some weird corn casserole my mom made all the time when I was a kid. I HATED it. It had ground beef, egg noodles, ketchup, shredded cheddar cheese, canned corn and most likely a can of cream-of-something-or-other soup dumped in to hold it all together. Pure torture if you ask me. Shudder.

Anyway, sorry about that unfortunate culinary tangent... back to better things. Here's the casserole recipe - it makes about 6 smallish servings. Who am I kidding - in our house it serves about 4. Too good to skimp!  I found this original recipe at The Pioneer Woman... made just a few tweaks mostly based on what else was in my pantry... and on my mood, of course, always my mood. On this day, my mood was a little bit southwestern. Yeehaw, y'all. : )

I forgot to sprinkle the paprika on top, whoops!Fresh Creamy Corn Casserole

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 ears fresh corn
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers (or green chiles)
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, scant
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, salted
  • sprinkle of paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350F. Slice kernels off of cob into a deep bowl. Once kernels have been removed, place the cob down in the bowl and using the edge of a spoon scrape any pulp and milk left in the kernels. Be ruthless! Pour heavy cream over corn, mix and salt to taste... about 1 Tbsp or so. Crack fresh black pepper over the top - use quite a bit, don't be shy... something about the pepper gives this dish a little, and much needed, kick. Mix in the sour cream and red peppers until combined. Pour into a lightly greased baking dish, dot with chopped up pats of butter, sprinkle  paprika on top, and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Let dish sit for 5-10 minutes, garnish with some chopped chives if you're feeling fancy, and serve.

Friday
Jul062012

Creamy Artichoke Chicken - nice enough for company, easy enough for Tuesday night.

Yes, yes, I know it's not Tuesday...

Before we get started talking about my yummy dinner idea, I'd like to nominate my picture of said dinner to the "amateur dinner blogger hall of fame for bad food styling". I forgot to take a picture of the food until I was sitting at the table, and then I sadly realized I made all the wrong visual choices to accurately capture the creamy sexiness of this dish. It's kinda hard to tell where one things ends and another begins - I promise, there is a piece of chicken under all that stuff! Oh well, you'll just have to trust me.  

Although it's quick and easy enough to make after work on a weeknight it tastes fancy enough for Sunday dinner. Offset all richy richness with a green salad and serve on top of some noodles or rice... whatever floats your boat. Okie dokie artichokie? Sorry, I couldn't resist. Anyhoo... on with the recipe! This isn't really one of those recipes where you have to measure precisely. You can vary the amounts of the sour cream, mayonnaise and parmesan cheese to your particular liking. I prefer it to be about 1/2 mayo and 1/2 cream - using lowfat options for both. 

Creamy Artichoke Chicken Bake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 14-15 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (I used purple for color - because It's my perogative : )
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Generously salt and pepper your chicken breasts and lay them in a baking dish, then set aside. Saute in melted butter, or olive oil, your minced garlic for about one minute until it becomes fragrant. Add in the onions and continue to cook until onions are tender, remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, drain artichokes and roughly chop, then combine with onions. 

Mix the sour cream, mayonnaise and 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese together in a bowl. Stir in artichokes and onions before evenly spreading the mixture over the chicken breasts, letting it settle down in between the breasts in the dish. In a separate small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and remaining parmesan cheese. Sprinkle evenly over the chicken and bake for 35-40 minutes until top turns golden brown and chicken is cooked completely. If you have really thick breasts - this may go for another 10 minutes.... use a thermometer if you're not sure. Mine usually takes right about 35. Let cool for about 5 minutes and serve.