Friday, July 31, 2015

Chocolate Chip-Pecan-Zucchini Bread

Need I say more?  This bread is AMAZING!!!  Super extra tasty, moist with the perfect little crunch! Amazingly delicious!  Enjoy!
*this recipe yields 2 loaves
Ingredients:
-3 large eggs
-2 cups sugar
-1 cup vegetable oil
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 large or 2 medium zucchini, grated
-1 cup chopped pecans
-1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
-orange zest from 1 orange
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-3 cups flour
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat 2 9x5 loaf pans with the baking cooking spray (the one with butter and flour).  Set aside.
Beat the eggs until nice and fluffy.  Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended.  Add the oil, vanilla, zucchini, pecans, chocolate chips and orange zest.  Mix very well.  Add remaining ingredients, with the flour 1/2 cup at a time.  Mix very well.
Pour evenly into the 2 prepared pans.
Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let it sit in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Remove from pans onto wire racks and let cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!
Slightly adapted from a Paula Deen recipe.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Zucchini-Beef Casserole

It's zucchini season, for sure!  I absolutely love this wonderful vegetable.  It's super easy to cook with and quite versatile.  I wanted to make something different for my family and I started looking for recipes.  I found this one on the Taste of Home website and knew that I had to make it.  I made a few changes here and there and LOVED the result!  This has quickly become a family favorite!  The flavors are simply amazing.  I served ours with some cheesy garlic bread and they paired up beautifully.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-2 large zucchinis, shredded
-1 tsp salt
-2 large eggs
-1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
-1 lb extra lean ground beef
-1 small onion, finely chopped
-15 oz pasta sauce
-1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F.  Coat a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Sprinkle shredded zucchinis with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes.  After that, squeeze all the liquid our of the zucchinis and place them in a large bowl. **this step is very important; the salt will bring out all the liquid in the zucchini and if it's not squeezed out, you'll end up with a mushy mess**
Combined squeezed zucchinis with the eggs, Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the cheddar and 1 cup of the mozzarella.  Mix very well.  Press on the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown the beef with the onion.  Drain.  Add the pasta sauce, mix well and set aside.
Once the zucchini crust is done baking, remove from the oven and top with the beef mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheeses.  Top with the chopped bell pepper.
Return to the oven and bake for 20 more minutes.
Remove from oven and let it sit for 10 minutes to set.
Slice and enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2015

No Churn Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This is quick, easy and super extra delicious!  The ice cream is very creamy and oh, so tasty!  I can't wait to make this one again and again!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-2 cups heavy cream
-1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
-1 tsp peppermint extract
-1 cup Andes mints chips (found in the baking isle)
-2 drops green food coloring
Directions:
Beat heavy cream with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Fold in the chilled milk.  Add the extract, chips and coloring.  Mix with a spatula until well incorporated.
Pour mixture into 9x5 loaf pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 6-8 hours or until set.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Frozen Avocado Pie

Yes, you read that right!  Avocado pie!  I must admit that I have a certain obsession with avocados.  I absolutely love them and would have them every day, if I could.  Make sure the avocados you use in this recipe are very ripe so that the filling comes out nice and smooth.  Unfortunately, one of the avocados I had wasn't as ripe, so that's why in the picture it looks like there are some nuts in there, but it was just a chunk of the fruit.  That aside, this pie is insanely good, smooth and delicious!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 graham cracker crust (store bought is fine)
-2 medium very ripe avocados
-8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
-1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
-2 1/2 Tbs lime juice
-1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
-a pinch of salt
Directions:
Pit the avocados.  Scoop the flesh out into your mixer's bowl.  Add the cream cheese and beat until nice and smooth.  Add the milk, lime juice, lemon juice and salt.  Mix until fluffy, scraping the bowl as needed.
Pour mixture into crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 6-8 hours.
Thaw for about 15-20 minutes before ready to serve, for easier slicing.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mediterranean Zucchini Cakes

I know the picture doesn't make these little treasures look appetizing, but trust me, they truly are.  I love the combination of the zucchini with the feta and pine nuts.  Super delicious!  They make the perfect side dish for your protein.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 lb zucchini, grated
-1 tsp salt
-3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
-2 large eggs, slightly beaten
-3 green onions, sliced
-4 Tbs flour
-1/4 cup pine nuts, chopped
-1 tsp dried dill or 1 Tbs fresh, chopped
-1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
-1 garlic clove, minced
-1/2 tsp ground pepper
-extra virgin olive oil, for frying
Directions:
Combine the grated zucchini with the salt and let it sit for 5 minutes only.  Rinse, then squeeze dry.  It's really important for the zucchini to be really dry, otherwise the cakes will be a mushy mess!  Set aside.
Combine the feta, eggs, onion, flour, pine nuts. dill, oregano, garlic and pepper in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Fold in the zucchini.
Heat some oil in a large skillet.
Form zucchini mixture into cakes, then drop into hot oil.  Turn once until browned on both sides (cook for about 3 minutes per side).  
Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Seared Scallops with Beans, Spinach and Zucchini

Quick, simple, light and absolutely delicious!  I served ours with some yummy garlic bread to absorb that delicious sauce.  Enjoy this beautiful dish!
Ingredients:
-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, divided
-12 oz sea scallops, drained very well on paper towels
-salt
-1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
-1 small zucchini, chopped
-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 (15 oz) can white beans (cannellini, great northern, navy, whatever you have), rinsed and drained
-6 oz baby spinach
Directions:
Heat 1 Tbs of the oil in a large skillet.  Season the dried scallops with salt on both sides.  Add to hot skillet and sear on both sides for a couple of minutes per side or until beautifully golden brown.  Remove onto plate and cover with foil to keep oil.
Return skillet to stove and add remaining oil.  Add the onion and zucchini.  Saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add pepper flakes and garlic and cook for 20 seconds.  Stir in the broth and beans. Cook for 2 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes or until spinach wilts.
Remove from heat and add a generous portion of spinach mixture onto plate.  Top with a few scallops.  Serve with garlic bread to enjoy the delicious sauce.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl Brownies

These beauties are super rich and quite decadent.  Every bite is absolutely perfect!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-2 cups fresh raspberries 
-1 cup unsalted butter
-11.5 oz dark chocolate chips (60-72 % cacao)
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-5 eggs, at room temperature
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp salt
-2 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
-1 1/4 cups flour
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with baking cooking spray. Set aside.
Place cleaned raspberries into your food processor.  Blend until smooth. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the butter and dark chocolate chips over medium-low heat.  Stir often until melted and smooth.  Add the sugar and brown sugar and continue stirring until melted.  Remove from stove and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Add 3 of the eggs and stir with a wooden spoon.  Add remaining eggs and vanilla extract. Stir until well mixed.
Stir in the salt and cocoa powder.  Add the flour and mix very well.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Top with the processed raspberries.  Using a knife, swirl raspberries into the batter.
Bake in preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  
Remove from the oven and let it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes.  Move the pan with the brownies onto a wire rack and let it sit until cooled completely.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Romanian Eggplant Spread (Salata de Vinete)

This dish signifies the beginning of summer for me.  It is simple, fresh and so delicious!  The roasted eggplants are mixed with a little onion, salt and oil.  The taste is out of this world.  I like serving mine with some sliced tomatoes.  Some choose to hole some tomatoes and fill them up with the spread.  However you choose to serve it, it is still delicious.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-3 large eggplants
-1/4 onion, cut into large chunks
-1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
-2 tsp salt
Directions:
Wash and dry eggplants.  Place them onto grill and cook until charred on all sides.
Place them in a colander and slice them lengthwise half way.  Let them rest for at least 30 minutes.  This allows the bitter juice to come out of them.


Carefully peel the charred skin.  Place only the flesh of the eggplants into a blender or food processor.  Add the onion, oil and salt.  Mix well.  Season with more salt if desired.
Spread on bread, top with sliced tomatoes, and season with a bit of salt.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Apple-Poppy Seed Coleslaw

This is such a wonderful companion for some succulent pork chops or even grilled chicken or whatever protein you enjoy.  The flavors are so wonderful and tasty together.  Great side dish!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-16 oz slaw mix
-2 medium apples (Gala, Fuji, etc), grated
-4 green onions, cleaned and sliced
-1/2 cup mayonnaise
-2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbs poppy seeds
Directions:
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix very well.  Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Grilled Chicken with Strawberry-Jalapeno Salsa

This is super fresh, light and delicious!  The flavors are amazing together!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
For salsa:
-1 lb strawberries, cleaned, hulled and diced
-1/4 small red onion, finely diced
-1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
-1 lime
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp ground cumin
For chicken:
-4 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in
-salt
-pepper
Directions:
Make the salsa first, by adding the strawberries, onion and jalapeño to a large bowl.  Zest and juice the lime and add it to the bowl.  Add salt and cumin.  Mix very well and let it sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes so that the flavors blend really well.
While the salsa sits, season the chicken generously with salt and pepper.  Grill until nicely done.
Serve with a generous scooping of salsa on top.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Brown Sugar, Garlic and Herbs Chicken

Simple and delicious!  The flavors are wonderful together and the chicken is cooked to perfection.  Enjoy it with some rice and veggies.  Very yummy!  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-4 Tbs salted butter
-8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
-salt and pepper
-6 garlic cloves, minced
-1/4 cup packed sugar
-1 Tbs honey
-1/2 tsp dried oregano leaves
-1/4 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp dried basil
-1 tsp dried parsley
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Melt butter in large skillet.  Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.  Working in 2 batches, brown chicken on both sides in melted butter (about 3 minutes per side).  Place browned chicken into 9x13 baking dish.
Once all the chicken is cooked, add the garlic to the hot skillet.  Cook for 30 seconds and remove from stove.  Stir in the sugar and mix until dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed.  
Pour mixture over chicken.  Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Serve hot over rice with a side of veggies.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Broccoli with Spicy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

This cheese sauce is to die for!  It goes very well on steamed veggies, as well as a dip for chips.  If you don't like the heat, just skip the crushed pepper flakes.  Enjoy!
Ingredients:
-1 head broccoli, cleaned and cut into florets
-salt and pepper
-2 Tbs salted butter
-2 Tbs flour
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 cup whole or 2% milk (no lower than that!)
-1 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 cup shredded buffalo cheddar cheese OR 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar + 1 Tbs crushed red pepper flakes
Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes.  Drain, rinse with cold water and drain again really well.  Place in large bowl.
Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan.  When bubbly, add flour and whisk until smooth.  Still whisking, add the cream and milk.  Season with the salt and pepper.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.  Add the cheese and stir well until melted and smooth.  Pour over cooked broccoli.  Enjoy!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Patriotic Chocolate Pudding Ice Cream Pie

Yes, that's quite a mouthful, but it does have chocolate pudding and ice cream and pie in it! :)  It is super delicious and extremely easy to make.  I made ours in individual pie crusts, but you can make a big one by tripling the recipe, so that you can share you those around you.  However, you choose to enjoy it, you'll LOVE this one!  Enjoy and Happy 4th of July!!!
Ingredients:
-1 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream, melted (make sure the melted ice cream is actually 1 1/2 cups, not the frozen one)
-1 (3.4 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix
-6 mini graham pie crusts
-whipped cream
-fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and cherries (pitted), sliced, to decorate
Directions:
Mix the melted ice cream with the chocolate pudding mix.  Whisk for about 2 minutes.  Pour evenly into the pie crusts.  Freeze until set (at least 4 hours).  ****  If making a full size pie, you'll need to freeze it for about 8 hours.
When ready to serve, top with some whipped cream and decorate with the sliced fruit.  YUM!  Enjoy!

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