Friday, August 15, 2014

Loaded Chocolate Zucchini Bars

In the spirit of summer and for the love of zucchini, I fell prey to a recipe I found on Pinterest for a low-fat brownie that uses zucchini, banana and applesauce.  No egg, no oil.  Original recipe can be found here.

Well, I had all the ingredients laying around, so I thought "what the heck" and gave them a try.  They are delicious, but not a substitute for a real brownie (unless you are seeking dietary substitutes of sorts).  The texture is very fudgy - which is awesome.  My recommendations:  
  • Let cool completely and/or let sit a day before eating.   The first one I ate, I thought was just okay.  The second one I ate (after they had sat a day) was border line phenomenal.  
  • Alter them however you would like.  I added unsweetened coconut and grated milk chocolate to mine.

I think the reason I loved this recipe though, is mostly because I was able to sneak in some veggies and use some of my favorite kitchen tools (I cannot lie:  I love my KitchenAid shredder attachment;  I used it to shred the zucchini as well as shred the frozen banana that I used).   Furthermore, these would be really great for a breakfast on the go.

Loaded Chocolate Zucchini Bars 

1/4 Cup Applesauce
1 Small or Medium Banana, mashed
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Cocoa 
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 Cup Zucchini, shredded
1 Cup Flour
2 oz Mini Chocolate Chips
1/3 Cup Coconut, shredded and unsweetened

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9x9 baking dish.  

Step 2:  In medium sized bowl, mix together the applesauce, banana, sugar, vanilla and zucchini.  Next, stir in the baking soda, salt, cocoa and flour.  Once all is incorporate well, stir in the coconut and chocolate chips.

Step 3:  Pour the batter into the greased pan.  Bake at for 25-35 minutes.  When it begins to pull away from the edges and the middle is set, it is done baking.  As well, you can do the toothpick test (insert clean toothpick into the middle and if it comes out clean, they are done).

Cool completely before eating.  Serves 9.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Hungarian Pork Chops with Pan Sauce

We've been in a dinner rut lately.  Can't lie.  I've had a lack of ambition.  In fact, I've been sooooooo lazy - that I've even been watching tv lately.  I know, I know.  That's so not me.  But something good came out of it:  Hungarian Pork Chops.  
I was watching PBS and Sara Moulton was on.  She made these Hungarian Pork Cutlets and they looked amazing.   Delicious breaded pork, creamy sauce . . .and I love, love, love paprika!  

Dinner rut be gone!  The next night I made my own version of her recipe.  I used what I had on hand, which was pork chops.  I skipped the shallot and used white onion instead (likely a little bolder in flavor) and also added in mushrooms (because we are crazy like that with the shrooms).  Viola!  Yum. Yum. Yum.

Hungarian Pork Chops with Pan Sauce
Serves 4

4 Pork Chops
1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Small White Onion, Diced Fine
8 oz Sliced Mushrooms
1 1/2 Tablespoons Paprika
1 Tablespoon Caraway Seeds
1 and 1/2 Cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1/4 Cup Sour Cream

Step 1:  Season the pork chops with salt and pepper.  
Step 2:  Add the oil to a large frying pan and heat over medium high heat.  
Step 3:  Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl or pie plate, add the flour.  Dredge the pork chops in the flour and place in the fry pan.  Cook until golden brown on the bottom then flip and cook until golden brown on the other side.  Remove from the fry pan and set aside.
Step 4:  Add the onion and mushrooms to the saucepan and cook until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown.  
Step 5:  Add the paprika and caraway seeds to the onion and stir to combine. 
Step 6:  Add the chicken broth to the pan and stir to combine.  Be sure to scrape up all the bits and pieces of flour and pork that are stuck to the pan.  Let simmer for 2-3 minutes so the flavors can combine.
Step 7:  Return the pork chops to the pan, cover and let cook until the chops are cooked through.**
Step 8:  Remove the chops and place on platter.  Add sour cream to the pan and stir thoroughly to combine and form a sauce.  Pour the sauce over the chops to serve.

What should you serve it with?  Well, we served ours with spaetzle and steamed broccoli.  It would also be yummy served over egg noodles instead of spaetzle.

**Pork should be cooked until the internal temp reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.  Then let it rest for 3 minutes before serving.  For more information, click here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lemon Dill Rice

Who needs a new rice recipe?  I did! I did!  Lemon Dill Rice - bright lemon + tangy dill = yum!  I came across this recipe and gave it a whirl.  I tweaked the recipe a bit  because I thought that adding salt + bullion would make it way too salty.  So, I've accounted for that in my recipe below.  Remember, you can always add salt! I've served this with grilled pork chops and it was fantastic.  I imagine it would also go great with fish.  If I had green onion or chives on hand, I would have added those before serving.  This turned out super yummy.

Lemon Dill Rice
Yield:  Approx. 3 Cups

1 Cup White Rice
1.5 Teaspoons Lemon Zest
1 Teaspoons Dill 
2 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
1TB Butter

Combine all ingredients in a large sauce pan except butter.  Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.  Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all water is absorbed.  Be sure to stir occasionally so it doesn't stick to the bottom of your pan.  Add butter, stir and fluff with fork before serving.  This also turns out great using a rice cooker.

FYI - you can easily double this recipe and freeze half to serve at a later date.  Just let it thaw out and then heat in the microwave.  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant:  do you love it as much as I do?  Or, are you a little skeptical?  Well, this recipe is a sure winner for you skeptics out there.  You slice up the eggplant, bread it and then bake it.  From there, you can serve as is or you can layer it with some red sauce and mozzarella (much like Eggplant Parmesan).  Give it a try . . .tender eggplant, crispy coating . . .mmmmmm.  This recipe is my take on Eggplant Parmesan . . .which is a little different than the traditional version.  I like my eggplant to have a crispy coating; so I assemble the eggplant and bake it first and then top with creamy mozzarella and marinara sauce.

Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 3-4 as a Side Dish or
2 as a Main Dish

1 Large Purple Eggplant
1 Cup Breadcrumbs
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 TB Italian Seasoning
2 Eggs
1 Cup Flour
2 TB Corn Starch
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella or Sliced Mozzarella
1 Cup Marinara Sauce
Olive Oil

Step 1:  Slice off the ends of the eggplant and then slice into 1/2 inch - 3/4 inch pieces.  Peel and place in colander.

Step 2:  Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and place the colander in the sink or into a bowl.  The salt will help release the excess moisture.  Let stand for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Step 3:  Rinse the eggplant and pat dry.  Set aside.

Step 4:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a large baking by spraying it with nonstick spray.

Step 5:  Gather three shallow dishes.  In the first dish, add the flour and cornstarch.  Blend well with a fork.  In the second dish, place your eggs slightly beat.  In the third dish, place the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning;  mix together.

Step 6:  Dip an eggplant slice first into flour mix, then the egg and then dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture.  Place on the baking sheet.  Repeat this until all eggplant slices are coated.

Step 7:  Drizzle the coated eggplant slices with olive oil.

Step 8:  Bake in oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, flip all slices and return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on the outside and soft on the inside.

To Serve:  Top each eggplant piece with mozzarella and marinara sauce.  Basil and parsley garnishes are optional.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Butter Brickle Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

I was struggling with what kind of birthday cake to bake for myself this year.  Usually, chocolate is the winner (or some variation).  However, I kept thinking about how when I was a kid . . .the big treat was that we got to pick out what kind of ice cream we had with our birthday cake.  And I always picked Butter Brickle.  That flavor seems to be pretty elusive these days, so I tried to tackle it in the form of a cake.  And the the flavor of the cake was right on.  The density of the cake is much like a pound cake - a little heavy.  But it baked up beautifully and the browned butter frosting is to-die-for (the frosting recipe is a Southern Living recipe).

Butter Brickle Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

Cake Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
5 Eggs, room temperature
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Toffee pieces (I used Heath Bits without the chocolate, which can be found by the baking chips in our grocery store)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 325 degree Fahrenheit.  Prepare two 8 inch round pans (grease and flour).  Set aside.
Step 2:  Cream the butter and sugar together until well blended.  
Step 3:  Continue to beat and add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next.  Be sure to scrape down your mixer bowl every now and then.
Step 4:  Add the vanilla.
Step 4:  In a separate bowl, measure out your flour and add the baking powder.  Stir to combine.
Step 5:  Slowly combine the flour mixture to the sugar/egg mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.
Step 6:  Add the toffee bits to the batter and stir in.
Step 7:  Divide the batter between the baking pans.  The batter will be thick - you may need to spread it out with a spatula.
Step 8:  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, tops will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted will come out clean.
Step 9:  Let cool completely before frosting.

Browned Butter Frosting Ingredients:

1 Cup Butter
16 oz Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Milk

Step 1:  Place the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove pan immediately from heat, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.
Step 2:  Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with sugar. Beat at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers . .. however you slice them, they are perfect for summer salads and snacking!  The crisp texture and light flavor can be amazing when complimented with the right seasonings.  My favorite way to eat cukes is to have them bathed in a creamy dressing with onions and dill.  Enjoy the recipe!

Creamy Cucumber Salad
Serves 4 - 6

3-4 Cucumbers, medium to large in size
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Mayo
1/4 Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Dill
1 Small White or Red Onion, sliced thin
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Step 1:  Peel and slice the cucumbers and place into a large bowl.
Step 2:  Peel and slice the onion and add to the cucumbers.
Step 3:  In a small bowl, combine the mayo, sugar, vinegar, dill  and milk.  Stir until well combined.  
Step 4:  Pour the dressing over the cukes/onions.  Cover the bowl and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.  
Step 5:  Before serving,  add salt and pepper to taste.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Let me start by saying:  I do not like cauliflower.  Here is a conversation from our house yesterday:
Me:  What do you want with the meatloaf tonight?
Hubby:  mmmmm.  I don't care.
Me:  I was thinking baked potatoes..?
Hubby gives me a discerning look. And then says:  Cauliflower?
Me:  Eww.
And then I decide to make myself a baked potato and him cauliflower.  But then I forgot to grab a potato from downstairs and I didn't feel like walking back downstairs.  So, cauliflower it was!  And boy, oh boy, it turned out fab.u.lous!  I've made mashed cauliflower before and I wasn't impressed.  However, I went with the clean-out-the-fridge route and mixed in a little Parmesan and cream cheese when I mashed it.  Swooooooon!  All that was left was one big spoonful . . .so I know it well received :)

Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 4

1 lb Frozen Cauliflower
1 TB Cream Cheese
1 TB Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Garlic
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Step 1:  Cook the cauliflower per the instructions on the container.  I microwaved mine.  Drain well.
Step 2:  In a food processor, add the cauliflower + the remaining ingredients.  Pulse until smooth.  Taste, adjust salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately.  Nobody likes cold cauliflower puree.