A Staple Fall Recipe: Zucchini Bread

zucchini bread in pan

I don’t remember when I realized that I hadn’t baked or eaten zucchini bread in quite some time. But it was within the past couple of months. After that, I wanted some. So when my mom and I visited a farm stand, I was looking for zucchini. And I found it!

Next, the search began for a recipe. The very old recipe I had didn’t seem appealing anymore. Many of the recipes in more recent cookbooks all had a chocolate focus, which I didn’t want. So I searched online and found a recipe on Sally’s Baking Addiction.

It’s rare that I follow a recipe exactly. This time was no exception. When I adapted the recipe, I decided to use all brown sugar and used half the amount of oil and substituted ricotta cheese for the rest. I wanted some extra protein and that’s why I used ricotta cheese. You could also try yogurt or switch up the type of oil. I added nuts for more protein as well. You could use chocolate chips, raisins or other dried fruit. Dates or dried cranberries would be good too.

In case you haven’t used any of my recipes yet and aren’t familiar with my way of baking and cooking, I believe that recipes are merely a guide. In other words, the directions given below for how to combine the ingredients isn’t set in stone. Stir them in the order that you may prefer. This was easiest for me.

Likewise, your oven is different from mine and may run hotter or cooler, so the time needed will vary. You can also use this recipe for muffins. Based on the original recipe and my muffin baking experience, bake muffins for about 20 minutes at the same temperature.

Sally’s recipe has good bones and is perfect for adapting. For example, you could use half the amount of zucchini and use finely chopped apple for the other half or similarly wet fruit or vegetable, like pear, pumpkin or squash.

My version is below. Let me know if you try it!

+ + +

Zucchini Bread (Makes 1 loaf)

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1 medium zucchini (shredded, about 1 cup)
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

Set oven to 350℉. Either grease and flour a loaf pan or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine olive oil and ricotta cheese. Stir in zucchini. Mix in vanilla extract and brown sugar. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Add flour and combine. Do not stir too much. Stir in nuts.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for around 55 – 65 minutes. Test by sticking a toothpick into the center. It’s done when it comes out clean.

Let cool for about 10 minutes. Sometimes I speed cool by sticking the pan straight into the freezer or fridge on a trivet. This bread is nice served warm, so don’t cool too long.

Enjoy!

DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe

My quarantine baking is in full swing. I’ve also found a keeper of a chocolate chip cookie recipe. How can I express the enormity of this?

I’ve been baking since I was a little kid. My mom baked from scratch. She baked a lot. Growing up we literally had dessert every night after dinner.

I was always by her side “helping” or at the very least just licking the spoon and bowl clean. I learned so much watching her over those years. One of the things that she baked most often was chocolate chip cookies. There was nothing like getting a spoonful of raw cookie dough to tide me over until the cookies were baked. It’s still a treat that brings me back. Eventually I was able to make them myself.

Over the years, I’ve probably baked dozens of variations of chocolate chip cookie recipes. The recipes don’t  vary much. For the most part there are no surprises. At least until I saw the recipe for the DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe.

It’s a game changer. I’ve never had their cookies before and now I know why they’re so beloved. This is the most substantial chocolate chip cookie that I have ever baked by far. It’s delicious, gooey, solid and filling.

As an aside, because of pandemic panic buying, I hadn’t seen all-purpose flour on store shelves in weeks, so I bought cake flour and used that. I guess I need to make this recipe with regular flour as well to see if there is a difference.

Anyway, the ingredients in this recipes are different. Along with the standard ones, there is cinnamon, lemon juice, walnuts and oats. Also there’s double the normal amount of chocolate chips. But an even bigger difference is the manner of baking. Most recipes bake for about 10 minutes at 375 degrees. These cookies bake at 300 degrees for 20-23 minutes. That’s revolutionary!

I cut this cookie recipe in half and didn’t add the lemon juice, because it was such a small amount. I might try using it the next time. And there will be a next time. I think this is my new standard chocolate chip recipe.

Here is my adapted version of the recipe below. The original version is supposed to make 26 cookies. Maybe I made smaller cookies than called for, but I baked six yesterday and still have plenty of cookie dough left in the fridge. I guess the amount you get will be based on how much dough you use for each cookie.

+ + +

DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

1 stick butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup and 2 T flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch cinnamon
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put oven on 300 degrees. Take out cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Combine. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the dough onto the cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Keep them socially distanced! Bake for 20-23 minutes, until edges are slightly browned. Enjoy!

Recipe: Caramelized Apple Dutch Baby

Carmelized Apple Dutch Baby on a plate.

Happy New Year! We’re living in the future! Well, actually the present. But that number — 2020. It seems like the future. Like when we were going from 1999 to 2000. It’s really just one day apart, but mentally it feels like a big jump. Going from one century to the next and one decade to the next. Also, now we’re really deep into the 21st century. It feels big.

So I decided to begin this first morning of the year and decade by doing something that I’ve been planning to do for quite some time. I made a Dutch baby for breakfast. These German pancakes were the darling of the food blogger world for many years. As I was reading yesterday, the main character in the novel just happened to make one. That sealed it for me.

A Dutch baby is similar to a popover, which I have made before. The dramatic thing about both is that they puff up without using any leavening. When I made popovers, they puffed up.

The Dutch baby did not puff. I have to admit that I was disappointed. Now I realize that the instructions in the recipe that I used didn’t stress using a blender or electric hand mixer to combine the ingredients. That vigorous mixing would have added more air prompting the puff. I forgot about this until looking at my popover recipe. Next time I’ll remember.

Also, just to let you know about the coloring. I keep a mixture of white flour combined with other healthier flours (ingredients) for better nutrition. The current combination is coffee flour and flaxseed meal. So the brown color of the Dutch baby might not be the same if you use plain white flour.

I’ve adapted this recipe from one on the blog Simply Scratch. Let me know if you try it and Happy New Year! 🎉

🍎🍎🍎

Single Serving Caramelized Apple Dutch Baby

INGREDIENTS:

Caramelized Apples:

  • 1 apple cut up
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T brown sugar

Dutch Baby:

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 T butter (for the skillet)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Put the butter in a small skillet on medium heat and coat the sides. Add the apples and brown sugar. Stir and cook the apples for about 10 minutes. They will become tender and caramelized.

While the apples are cooking, combine the ingredients for the Dutch baby in a blender or use an electric mixer in a small bowl. Stirring with a whisk or a spoon is fine, but unless you whisk for longer than I did, it won’t be enough to get a lot of air into the mixture so that it will puff up in the oven.

Put the butter in a medium cast iron skillet on medium heat and coat the sides. When the butter sizzles, pour the batter into the pan and place in oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from the pan with a spatula and place on a large plate. Pour the apples on the Dutch baby. Sprinkle cinnamon and powdered sugar over the top. Enjoy!

Holiday Recipe: Eggnog Ice Cream

Is there one thing that is the epitome of the holidays for you? When I was a kid, that first eggnog of the season, right before Thanksgiving was it. The holiday season was here for real!

Now eggnog is here much sooner, but for me, it’s still a clear signal that the holidays are upon us. As much as I love eggnog, I never made it from scratch until yesterday, when I made this eggnog ice cream for the first time.

While I do enjoy eating raw cookie dough as I bake, I must admit that the multiple raw egg yolks freaked me out a bit. But I got over it. Especially since I added alcohol, which feels like it cleans it up a bit. Maybe?!?

Anyway, as long as you have an ice cream maker, this recipe is pretty simple. The recipe is adapted from an Alton Brown one that I found on NPR back in December 2006. Way back at the beginning of the century! And now, we’re zooming into 2020 in a mere two weeks! But eggnog is timeless.

This recipe was adapted based on what I have at home and my personal taste. I had some half and half that I needed to use up and I happen to have vanilla oat milk. I don’t have bourbon, but I do have vanilla flavored vodka, so that’s what I used. I also added some additional flavor extracts and a bit of salt, because the mixture tasted somewhat bland. The final result is delicious!

I hope you try this recipe and adapt based on what you have at home as well. Happy Holidays!

🎄🎄🎄

Eggnog Ice Cream  (makes 1 quart)

INGREDIENTS:
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2  1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup vanilla oat milk
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup Pinnacle®️ Whipped®️ Vodka

INSTRUCTIONS:
You can use the directions in the original recipe or the way I have done below.

Beat the egg yolks well in a large bowl. Use what you have — a stand mixer, an electric hand mixer (what I used) or a manual hand mixer. Add in the sugar and beat well. Add the remaining ingredients and use a whisk to combine. Chill mixture in the freezer for about 40 minutes. Transfer mixture to your ice cream maker and use as directed. Place ice cream in an airtight container and put in freezer for several hours.

Holiday Recipe: Gingerbread

Gingerbread in pan fresh from the oven.

If you know me in person and see me around the holidays, you’ve probably had my homemade gingerbread.

This past week, a recent work project ended. I baked a couple of loaves and brought it in to thank the firm for the warm welcome.

This morning, I baked another loaf to bring for Thanksgiving dinner later today. Gingerbread has been my signature holiday dessert for over 20 years. At this point, it’s part of my identity. I bake gingerbread.

I first found the recipe in a magazine that my maternal grandmother gave me. It’s called Mother’s Gingerbread and is from the book  Cleora’s Kitchen. Over the years, I’ve adapted it. So it is somewhat different from the original.

It’s one of my favorite things to eat and most other people love it too. So I often give it as a gift. It’s easy to make and maybe you might like to bake it too. Here’s the recipe below.

+ + +

Gingerbread (makes 1 loaf)

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
2 eggs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cup hot/boiling water

INSTRUCTIONS:
Place parchment paper in loaf pan or grease pan with butter, then shake flour in pan until the pan is covered with flour. Dump out excess flour. Set oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Stir in molasses and eggs. Stir in cinnamon and ginger. Stir in baking powder and baking soda. Stir in flour. Stir in water. This should be a very liquid mixture.

Pour mixture into loaf pan. Depending upon your oven, and maybe the pan that you use, bake for 60 – 75 minutes. When the gingerbread is almost done, you should smell it. The scent is amazing! Sometimes I’ll bake it at night, so I can fall asleep to the wonderful aroma in the house.

Use a toothpick or fork, etc., to test it before removing from the oven. It should come out clean. If there is some liquid on it, then put back in the oven.

When it’s finally done, let cool for a few minutes. I usually wrap it in foil and store it in the fridge if I am keeping it. It’s great served warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

It can be frozen as well. Usually I make gingerbread to give away or bring someplace else, so I don’t refrigerate it. Just keep in foil and bring with you or package it well in order to mail. It will remain fresh and moist even in the mail for  2- 3 days. So choose your postage accordingly!

Happy Thanksgiving and all the best to you for this holiday season!