Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yum Yum. Zucchini Bread!

Mmm mmm mmm. Zucchini Bread.. Truly, it sounds like one of those foods that would make you turn up your nose... a summer squash in a cinnamon based bread? Why?! Now, I actually love zucchini, so adding it to bread doesn't seem all that bad. But you don't even taste it! It just makes it super moist and best of all, a little healthy. However, there was one aspect that made me cringe a little. And that was adding chocolate chips into the mix. Now chocolate and zucchini definitely doesn't sound like a match made in heaven. But I couldn't have been more wrong. I actually prefer the parts with tons of chocolate chips in it (semi-sweet chocolate, not milk chocolate chips. I made that mistake once.).

I found multiple recipes for Zucchini bread on the internet and found it very hard to choose just one. So I ended up combining a bunch of them and making my own (and found a recipe for a wonderful crunchy topping!). So...
Here's the recipe I use for Zucchini Bread.

Ingredients for bread:

* 3 eggs

* 1 cup vegetable oil

* 2 cups white sugar

* 2 cups grated zucchini

* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

* 3 cups all-purpose flour

* 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

* 1 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Ingredients for topping:

* 1 cup brown sugar

* 1 cup all-purpose flour

* 2 tablespoons butter

* 2 teaspoons cinnamon


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

2. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Mix in oil and sugar. Stir in the shredded zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips. Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide batter into the prepared pans. Mix all topping ingredients together and crumble on top of the batter prior to baking.

3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until done.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

85 Cupcakes, 120 Cookies, and 25 Oreo Truffles later...

Finally.. someone asked me to bake for them again! Yay!
My neighbor asked me to bake for her daughter's graduation party, she wanted cupcakes, cookies and oreo truffles. Her school colors were maroon and gold (except sadly, maroon wasn't really happening.. so I ended up with red and yellowish). But the flavors and decorations were all up to me.
This was the third grad party I baked for, including my own, so I already had graduation themed cookie cutters from last year. Except sadly, the caps apparently look like Texas and the shooting stars look like chubby Lisa Simpsons.
(Shooting star cookie or Lisa Simpson? You decide.)
I love baking for other people, I suppose it's nice to hear from people other than your family that your baked goods are really good.. (Your family has to say that they like your food, right?)
I ended up baking White, Chocolate and Red Velvet flavored cupcakes topped with Confectioner's Sugar and Chocolate Fudge Frosting. I had never made Red Velvet cupcakes (or even ate one.. so this was very new to me.. cupcakes with no butter? eek! haha) Therefore, I decided to use Paula Deen's Red Velvet Cupcake recipe. I figured, Paula Deen is always synonymous with yummy tasting food because of the copious amounts of butter she uses, so her cupcakes must be good!

Here's the recipe:


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (I ended up using a lot less...)
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

- In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Berry Picking

A few years ago my family discovered this wonderful "Pick Your Own" farm nearby, Highland Orchards. I simply adore it! Their prices are reasonable and they have the cutest store as well. The last few times we have gone, we only picked strawberries.. not because we all particularly love them, but we always end up going during the strawberry season. Therefore this year I finally kept track of when the raspberries and blueberries were in season.
I might just be a tad crazy, but I always feel that fresh, really fresh fruit just make better pies, smoothies, etc. Granted, when I take the time to go pick the berries myself, I tend to use better ingredients overall.

With the red raspberries we made a wonderful pie (from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook). And well, with the blueberries, we made what could be the best thing I ever ate. While browsing through foodgawker (my favorite website) for blueberry recipes, I found a recipe for Maple Blueberry Crumbcake. And it's just as good as it sounds, if not better.
We had to make some substitutions though. We never keep any buttermilk on hand, because it goes bad faster than we can use it and it is so simple to make a replacement. Just fill a 1 cup liquid measuring cup with 1 tablespoon white vinegar and fill the rest with milk and wait about five minutes and it's ready to use. Also, we didn't have any maple extract on hand either. Instead we put a couple tablespoons of the maple syrup in the microwave for about 10 seconds until it was a little thinner. (I also did the same thing when I made the glaze, my maple syrup was too thick to stir into the powdered sugar.)
(not the best picture ever.. but hey, Paul McCartney liked it!)