Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Let me tell you something about this cake.

You might want to make it … and soon. Really soon.

It’s that good.

It’s so good, in fact, it converted a vegetable-hating teenager into a vegetable-tolerating teenager. Vegetable-tolerating in cake form, that is. And this is the same teenager that tells me he isn’t much into sweets. Of course, he has repeatedly asked me to make him Tirasmisu again (which I just realized I haven’t posted yet), because he loved it so much when he had it at our house for our Easter dinner.

And they say women are contradictory?

As if…

And for your viewing pleasure, we have two views today…

Bad light:

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Better light:

P1000411Chocolate Zucchini Cake – adapted from Mother/Daughter Dishes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini, packed
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

 

Place a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a Bundt pan then set aside. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a large bowl to remove any lumps, then set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, add eggs and beat on high speed for about 2−3 minutes with a hand mixer while gradually adding the sugar. The mixture will be pale yellow in color and have a thick, creamy consistency. Next, add the oil, applesauce and melted butter and beat thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and the shredded zucchini to the egg mixture and fold gently by hand until combined.

Pour the batter evenly into prepared Bundt pan. Bake for 1 hour before testing for doneness. The cake may take up to 75 minutes to bake but you’ll know it’s done when a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for approximately 20 minutes before removing it from the pan. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

 

Some really great dinner recipes…and two desserts

If you remember (and I’m quite sure your memory is much better than mine these days), a few weeks ago I mentioned that I have been cooking and baking every.single.night, but also have been seriously lax in procuring photographs of the finished product.

And I just realized, seriously, that we have not eaten out in three weeks. I even asked the posse for verification.

They verified.

Astounding.

Well, I finally got my act together and made my list.

I even checked it twice :)

Vegetable Strata – gourmet magazine via epicurious

  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup finely chopped scallion (I used shallots)
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips (about 2 cups)
  • enough Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes to measure 9 cups (about 1 1/2 loaves)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • Tabasco to taste

In a large skillet cook the onion, the scallion, and the mushrooms in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the bell peppers pepper to taste, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated and the peppers are tender. Arrange half the bread cubes in a buttered large shallow (4 1/2-quart) baking dish, spread half the vegetable mixture over them, and sprinkle half the Cheddar and half the Parmesan over the vegetables. Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the cheeses, top them with the remaining vegetables, and sprinkle the remaining cheeses over the top. In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, the mustard, the Tabasco, and salt and pepper to taste, pour the egg mixture evenly over the strata, and chill the strata, covered, overnight. Let the strata stand at room temperature for 15 minutes and bake it in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is puffed and golden and cooked throug

Sesame Noodles with Chile Oil and Scallions – Bon Appetit

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped (I used regular black peppercorns)
  • 12 ounces spaghettini
  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar

Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12-15 minutes; let chili oil cool in saucepan.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente; drain. Rinse under cold water and drain well.

Whisk tahini, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 2-3 tablespoons chili oil (depending on desired heat) in a large bowl; season with salt. Add noodles and toss to coat. Top with scallion greens and drizzle with more chili oil.

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja – serious eats

  • 2 pounds flank steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large red pepper, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup sliced, pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive brine

Season meat generously with pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the meat in a single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is well browned, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer meat to slow cooker.Add broth, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, onion, red pepper, garlic, and cumin to slow cooker. Season with pepper and stir to combine. Cook on low until tender, about 8 hours. Shred meat using two forks. Add olives and olive brine and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with pinto beans and rice.

Mario Batali’s Chicken Saltimbocca – Food and Wine

  • Eight 3-ounce chicken cutlets, pounded 1/8-inch thick
  • Ground pepper
  • 16 sage leaves
  • 8 slices of prosciutto
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vin santo (I used white wine)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Season the cutlets with pepper and place 2 sage leaves on each cutlet. Wrap each cutlet in a slice of prosciutto, pressing to adhere. Spread the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in flour, dusting off the excess; transfer to a baking sheet.
Set a rack over a baking sheet. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the rack. Repeat with the remaining olive oil and chicken.
Add the vin santo, stock and lemon juice to the skillet and boil over moderately high heat until the liquid is reduced by half, 4 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Pour half of the sauce into a bowl. Add half of the chicken to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until hot, 2 minutes. Season with pepper; stir in half of the parsley. Transfer the chicken to plates and pour the sauce on top. Repeat with the remaining sauce, chicken, and parsley.

Dark Chocolate Brownies – Pioneer Woman
  • 1 cup butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, whisking occasionally until smooth and melted. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and whisk to combine. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.

Stir in sugar and vanilla until just combined. One at a time, stir in the eggs. Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir just until combined. Pour batter into a greased 8 x 8 or 9 x 13 baking pan. (Square pan will result in thicker brownies.) Spread to even out the top and place in the oven.

Bake for 40 minutes, then check the brownies with a toothpick. If it is overly gooey/messy, return to the oven for 5 to 10 more minutes.Allow to cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into small squares.

 

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake – adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for pan
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 8 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour Bundt pan; set aside. Whisk baking powder and 3 cups flour in a medium bowl. Combine sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl; using your fingertips, rub together until lemon sugar is well blended.
Add 1 cup butter to lemon sugar. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula, until mixture is light and very fluffy, about 4 minutes longer.
Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake cake until golden brown and beginning to pull away from sides of pan, 60-70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; remove pan and let cool completely.

Cinnamon Cocoa Coffee Cake

83 days and counting….The moving day countdown, that is.

Actually, it shifted into high gear this week (which is why I haven’t been posting) when the very first couple that looked at my house put in an offer two days later, and subsequently the house went into escrow Tuesday morning.

Gulp.

It’s a very, very good thing, believe me. It just all happened so fast, I wasn’t 100% ready for it. But now, thanks to my superior organizational skills (and a few sage words of advice from my parents), I am prepared.

Sort of.

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Cinnamon Cocoa Coffee Cake – adapted from martha stewart

  • 2 tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 8 tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa.

Separately whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add one egg at a time, beating until just combined. Beat in one third of the flour mixture, then half of the sour cream, then another third of the flour mixture. Beat in the remainder of the sour cream and the last third of the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and mix for another minute or two, scraping the sides of the bowl well with a spatula.

Pour one third of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle half of the filling on top. Pour in another third of the batter and sprinkle the remainder of the filling on top of that. End with the last third of the batter. Run a dinner knife down through the batter and swirl the knife gently to marble the batter in about six places.

Bake for 50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or onto foil. The cake can be frozen while still warm.

Cinnamon Roll Bundt

I cannot begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed getting back into my blogging groove this week. I find the entire process of cooking and baking, photographing (which has included racing into the backyard to capture the last bit of natural light before the sun sets at 4:30 p.m.), and writing very curative and cathartic.

Which, of course, brings everything full circle for me. 

Does that make sense? I think so. I’m doing what I love for me, and that’s an extremely important part of life. Every morning, when I wake up, I say to myself, “How am I going to make myself a better person today?”

Short answer? Doing something that I enjoy.

Or, as my wise mother so succinctly puts it, “If you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will”.

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Side note: I would have offered her a piece of this delicious cake, but she abhors the taste of cinnamon…….

One year ago: Creamy Tomato Soup and Fluffy Sunday Morning Biscuits

Cinnamon Roll Bundt – adapted from Beantown Baker

For The Cake
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups sifted cake flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1 tbs. vanilla extract

For The Swirl
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbs. flour

For The Cream Cheese Glaze
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk or more if needed
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine butter, oil, and sugar and beat on medium high until light and fluffy – about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add half of sour cream to mixer and combine. Next add baking powder to cake flour and pour half of flour mixture into cake batter and beat until incorporated. Again, repeat steps and add the remaining sour cream to batter followed by the rest of the cake flour and baking powder mixture. Lastly, add vanilla extract and mix until well combined but don’t over mix.

For the Swirl
In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar, ground cinnamon and flour until well mixed.

Spray a 12 cup bundt pan with baking spray. Pour 1/4 of cake batter into bundt pan. Next drizzle some of the swirl mixture over batter and use a knife to create a swirl pattern. Repeat these steps, with first the cake batter then the swirl until all the cake batter is transferred to the bundt pan.

Bake for 1 hour and 10-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in bundt pan for 10 minutes then remove from pan and allow to cool.

For the Glaze
In a mixer bowl, beat together cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth and pourable. Pour the glaze over the pound cake and serve.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bundt Cake

Happy Labor Day!! I’m spending today recovering from jet skiing yesterday (and acquiring a bit of a sunburn in the process – ouch!), catching up on a laundry/housework, and getting organized for the week.

I guess that’s why it’s called “labor day”.

** no joke **

Anyway, I have a fun fact for you this morning. Actually, two facts.

One: this my 350th post… (dang….. I talk a lot)

and

Two: exactly one year ago, I posted a chocolate zucchini cake as a “pre-birthday” cake for myself.

Because just in case you didn’t notice, I have a nifty little widget on the right side of the blog counting down the days until my birthday. Because it’s rapidly approaching.

Rapidly.

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One year ago: Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bundt Cake – adapted from barbara bakes

2 cups flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sour cream (or yogurt)
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup bundt pan and set aside.
Combine flour, cocoa powder and baking soda in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In large mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Add sour cream and beat until well blended.
Add dry ingredients and mix just until combine. Mix in zucchini and chocolate chips.
Divide batter between pans. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
Cool 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.

Lemon Ginger Bundt Cake

You know, every now and then, I surprise myself with really, really good ideas.

Unfortunately, they are far and few in between….

However, in this case, not only was my idea stupendous, it was also scrumptious.

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The original recipe for this cake called for crystallized ginger – which, in my opinion, can be tooth-achingly sweet. In a last minute flash of genius (translated: I only had fresh ginger in the fridge), I grated up the large piece in my possession and used that instead.

Brilliant, simply brilliant.

One year ago: Chai Banana Bread

Lemon Ginger Bundt Cake – adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
2 tbs. finely grated lemon zest and 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1/3 cup grated fresh ginger
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a standard 12-cup bundt pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, lemon zest, and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, fresh ginger and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; mix in lemon juice.
  3. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and sour cream in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until incorporated (do not overmix). Spoon batter into prepared pan, and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Firmly tap pan on a work surface to level batter.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes (if cake browns too quickly, tent loosely with aluminum foil). Let cake cool in pan 30 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. (To store, wrap cake in plastic, and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days.) Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Blueberry Banana Bundt Cake

My bundt pan is evil…….. and between you and me, I think it’s secreting plotting my demise.

No matter how hard I grease it, no matter what I use, the cakes always stick.

I am thisclose to tossing it.

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Based on the previous statement, I think that at this point, it would be safe to say that I’m secreting plotting it’s demise.

Thankfully, powdered sugar covers a multitude of sins….

Blueberry Banana Bundt Cake – adapted from bad day be gone

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 cups mashed bananas
4 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
3 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups blueberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease & flour a Bundt pan.

Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in the mashed banana, the eggs (1 at a time), and then the vanilla and the buttermilk.  The batter may look lumpy and curdled, but it will come together when you add the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients 1 cup at a time.  Mix on low until everything is thoroughly incorporated, but don’t overbeat it.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes until a toothpick sticks cleanly.  Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.