Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Bread

You know those giant chocolate muffins from Sam’s Club – that’s what this bread taste like. You can’t even taste the zucchini. We are growing zucchini in our garden this summer so I’m going to need to find more of these recipes.

Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Bread by Wyldflour Blog
IMG_10861 c. flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. shredded zucchini

Shred on zucchini on a grater. Absorb some of water with a paper towel.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine eggs, oil, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Pour into flour mixture and integrate with fork. Fold in chocolate chips with a spatula. Then, fold in zucchini until well combined. Pour into a greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

 

 

Chocolate Chip M&Ms Cookies

Amber Angel

Angel outfit (including a wire hanger halo wrapped in black electrical tape and gold tinsel pre-Pinterest days) created by mother for the church Christmas play. She also made the plastic canvas gingerbread house on the console stereo. The painting was done by my Great Grandpa Reith. The ceramic Christmas tree was created by my Grandma Fletcher. 

M&Ms are the best. When I was a little kid, my family had those Christmas stocking that went from big to small. My stocking was tiniest and all my parents could fit in it was snack sized bag of M&Ms.

As an adult, I’ve always had a jar of M&Ms in my home. We usually buy one of big jars from Sam’s Club. It was getting low in quarantine so we ordered the biggest bag HyVee sells for home delivery. FYI – it is about half the size. For Easter, we bought a box of Christopher Elbow Chocolates through Shatto Home Delivery. I have to say, that has helped me curb my M&Ms eating. For that reason, I spared a few for this cookie recipe. I made some chocolate chips cookies the next weekend and Jeremiah said this cookie recipe was way better.

M&M Chocolate Chip Cookies from Mom Time Out Blog
IMG_08713/4 c. butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg
1 T. vanilla
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 oz. chocolate chips
1 c. M&Ms

Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl, mix flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Gradually mix into butter mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and M&Ms. Refrigerate for at least and hour before baking. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook for 10-12 minutes.

 

 

 

Rhubarb Cherry Crisp

When I was a kid, we had a bunch of rhubarb on the edge of our property by the tree that produced rotten apples. I remember going and grabbing rhubarb for my mom to make a coffee cake. As a teen, we moved to Wayne. We had rhubarb in our little garden. My mom was so busy with work that my great uncle would often come get it and make jam. The good news is that he would share a jar as a thank you. As an adult, I introduced my husband to vegetable making Ina Garten’s delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.

Last week, Jeremiah suggested we inventory what was in our freezers. If you know me, I used to have a running list of what was in my pantry at my old apartment in Lenexa because I was tried of pulling every can out to see what I had. I updated that list by crossing off items when they were gone. It makes grocery shopping so much easier. (He knows me so well.) I have to admit, we had more food than I would have though we had after a month in quarantine. I was surprised to learn we had two packages of rhubarb. That lead me to search for recipes on my Pinterest site with rhubarb. When I found this recipe, I said, “I wonder if we have cherry Jello?” Yep, we sure did. Don’t ask me what I bought it for.

Jeremiah and I like to make smaller batches of foods so we don’t have to eat them forever. This recipe is for a 9 x 13 but we halved it and cooked in a 9 x 9 pan for the same amount of time.

Rhubarb Cherry Crisp by Hot Eats and Cool Reads (from Shenna)
IMG_08734 c. rhubarb
1/2 c. sugar
1 – 3 oz. box of cherry Jello
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. oat
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 c.) of melted butter

Preheat oven for 350 degrees. Spray 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray. Place rhubarb in dish and sprinkle with sugar and Jello. Stir to coat. Mix remaining ingredients and crumb over top. Bake for 30 minutes.

Homemade Brownies

The first week of quarantine, I made a box of brownies. No wine o’clock here. It was brownie o’clock every night. Jeremiah was like, you should make brownies all the time. Of course, I only had that one box. I decided to search my Pinterest page and found this recipe of how to make homemade brownies for $.30. Luckily, I had all the ingredients. I thought they were pretty good and easy peasy.

Homemade Brownies from Pinterest
IMG_08011 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients. Pour into a sprayed 9 x 9 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 24 minutes.

Notes:

  • Jeremiah thought it needed more chocolate. I’d suggest if you want it more chocolaty to add some chocolate chips. 

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe for cinnamon rolls is super easy and tasty. Perfect recipe for those who love this fall flavor all year long.

Easy Mini Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls by Two Peas & Their Pod Blog
IMG_14071 can crescent rolls (seamless)
1/4 c. pumpkin butter
3 T. brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Icing
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. powder sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 T. milk (more if you need to thin icing)

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Unroll dough and spread with pumpkin butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll into a log and cut with a serrated knife into 9 slices. Place slices cut side down into a greased 9 x 9 baking dish. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cream together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend. After cooling cinnamon rolls for 5 minutes, cover them with icing.

Notes:

  • I used canned pumpkin and it worked just fine.
  • You can use a regular can of crescent rolls but you just have to get rid of the seams to make it into one giant rectangle. 
  • This is a little too much icing so you might want to cut recipe in half. 

 

Peach Crisp

It’s that time of year when fresh peaches are available for picking. Here is a peach recipe Jeremiah and I recently made which was delicious.

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce by Pioneer Woman
img_0931.jpg5-6 fresh peaches
1 c. flour
½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. butter
½ whole lemon
7 T. maple syrup
1 ½ c. whipping cream
3 T. light corn syrup

In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Cut butter into small pieces and fork into dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, peel and cut peaches. Add zest from half a lemon and then squeeze in juice. Add 2 T. maple syrup and stir. Pour peaches into a 9 x 9 baking dish and cover with crumble mixture. Cover with foil and back for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes.

Pour whipping cream into a saucepan. Add remaining maple syrup and corn syrup. Cook over a moderate heat until thickened and reduced by one-third (approximately 15 minutes). Refrigerate mixture until it is cold and thick.

Note:

  • This makes a lot of sauce. I’d suggest cutting the recipe in half. I used the extra though to make some delicious French Toast.

Winter Fruit Salad

I was looking for a new recipe to cook for our company Thanksgiving gathering. This recipe was especially appealing because it required nothing more than pulling out of the fridge at meal time. Since I was working the front desk, this sold me. Additionally, this dish is very visual appealing and vegetarian friendly.

Winter Fruit Salad with Maple Lime Dressing by Julias Album
FullSizeRender (15).jpg2 red apples, cored and diced
2 pears, cored and diced
4 clementine oranges, peeled and separated
3 kiwi fruits, peeled and sliced
½ c. dried cranberries
1 c. pomegranate seeds (one pomegranate)

Dressing
2 T. maple syrup
1 T. fresh lime juice (half lime)

Mix and serve.

Notes:

  • Cut open pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Poke with fork to loosen seeds. Let it sit for a little bit. Then, peel back pomegranate peel and pull out seeds with fork or fingers. Pour bowl of seeds through strainer to remove water.

Cookies with a Twist

One of my first friends in Kansas City was Megan. Like me, she was an old soul in a young body. We met while working on our Masters degrees at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. We also had a lot of fun exploring the city – dinners, plays, and concerts. Megan is so talented and has taught me so many things. I also owe the start of my nonprofit career to this lady. She helped me make a resume that visually popped. Her networking skills also helped me find my first nonprofit job as a grant writer. That job was one of the best teams I’ve ever worked on and a few of those fantastic women are still dear friends.

Megan is Martha Stewart. Not only is she an amazing cook but she and her husband are also master gardeners. They have turned their passion for gardening into a full-scale Kansas agri-business. If you are close, visit their Next to Nature booth on a Saturday morning at the Bonner Springs Farmers Market. They have everything from fresh seasonal produce to products made from honey. I love watching their business adventures on Facebook.

Megan_weddingI was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid for Megan and Chad’s wedding. Like all weddings, they had a hiccup right before their big day. Less than a week before their big day, the building where they were going to have their wedding reception was hit by a car. The good news is that structural engineers determined it was still safe to remain open. Their wedding end up going off without a hitch. And nine years later, they are still happily married.

For our wedding, Megan shared this recipe. I wasn’t sure what to think at first. Orange and chocolate chips? Sure, I’ve seen chocolate covered orange slices but I’ve never eaten them. But I trusted Megan. She’s Martha Stewart, right. I have to tell you, these cookies were so good I wish I had made a larger batch. I hope you love these super soft cookies as much as I did.

Orange Chocolate Chippers by Megan Gilliland
IMG_01601 c. shortening
1 – 3 oz. package of cream cheese
2 T. grated orange peel
2 c. flour
1 (6 oz.) package of chocolate chips
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt

Cream together shortening, sugar, and cream cheese. Add eggs, orange peel, and vanilla. Shift together salt and flour. Then, add to mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool and remove. Makes 4 dozen.

S’more Brownies

Who doesn’t love the flavor of s’mores. How do you like your marshmallows – lightly toasted or charred? On our honeymoon, our resort had complimentary s’mores one night. I told Jeremiah we had to go. He probably could have cared less but indulged my request. We got their shortly after it began and the line was pretty long. We stood in line for probably like 20 minutes to get our s’mores. You would not believe the amount of mosquito bites I got just to eat a s’more.

For our 1st anniversary, I made this recipe to take to my in-laws for July 4th. We ended up not going because of crazy rain. They are pretty tasty but not very healthy so I shared this recipe with my coworkers. Delicious when eaten warm.

Fudgy S’mores Brownies by Mandy’s Recipe Box Blog (via Pinterest)
Smores1 1/3 cup butter, softened
2 2/3 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 T. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 c. baking cocoa
½ tsp. salt
1 c. Golden Grahams
1 ¾ c. mini marshmallows
4 oz. chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, and salt. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. When finished, preheat broiler. Sprinkle with marshmallows and cereal. Broil for 1-3 minutes. Remove and top with chips. Cover with foil and let it stand for 5-10 minutes until chocolate begins to melt.

The Dress

I’m sure you all saw the story on the news last week about Alfred Angelo bridal stores closing last week amid bankruptcy. Probably tens of thousands of brides who have shelled out thousands of dollars for dress are now left hanging. As a somewhat resent bride, my heart just sank for these women. I remember the anxiety of dress shopping. First, there is the fear that nothing will fit when you go to try on dresses. I’ve never been a size 5 and bridal dresses are ever smaller than normal stuff you buy in the store. Then, there is the budget. I just go into shock when I see young women setting budgets for dress on “Say Yes to the Dress” at $3,500-$6,000+. For a dress you will wear only once? How much are you spending on the rest of the wedding?

I was very lucky my mom offered to pay for my wedding dress. Jeremiah and I paid for the wedding ourselves. I tell you what, every couple should have to do that. It really makes you think twice about what you are spending your money on and how many people you invite. Even small weddings aren’t cheap. There is food, a DJ, photographer, hair/make-up, favors, and the list goes on and on. I think we had a nice wedding and were we able to pay for it 100% without taking on debt. (We are both Dave Ramsey grads.) It also taught us some very important lessons in saving for a house. Just a little over a year after our big day, we will have the down payment for our dream home.

collage-2017-07-24

Pictures of dresses that didn’t become “The dress”.

Back to the dress. My mom and I went three stores. The first store was Belle Vogue. Going here first was like when we decided to spend the first two days of our honeymoon at the JW San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa before staying at a HomeAway rental. The service at Belle Vogue was amazing, the lighting was great, and the dresses actually came in sizes that I could try on. Our second stop was Natalie M’s. In this store, the service was still good, lighting wasn’t as good, brides had to share the big mirror, and the dresses weren’t quite as nice material. I did really like an Alfredo Angelo dress in this store. Our final stop was David’s Bridal. Anyone who loves anyone should never let a bride go to this store. The service was terrible, the dressing room was too small, and the dresses are very plain.

IMG_28891

Mom, my sister Stephanie, and I when I picked “The Dress”.

At first, I just couldn’t get past the cost of the dress. I work at a nonprofit and this was the first wedding expense we were figuring out. I only showed pictures of me in the dresses to just a couple of people. Everyone awed when they saw me in the dress I ended up picking. I returned to my first two stores to try on my top three favorite picks. The moment I put back on my Stella York, I knew it was the dress.

I know this sounds a little crazy but one of the reasons I liked it was because this dress was handmade in Australia. I knew how well they paid their workers and that my dress was less likely to get caught up in customs. Even then, I nervously waited for a phone call throughout the month of March to tell me my dress was here. Patience isn’t my best virtue so I asked while picking up my bridesmaid dresses. The good news is that it had just arrived in the shipment that day. Since Jeremiah was with me, I scheduled a time to come back later that week and asked a dear friend to join me as my mom lives so far away.

Almost a year and half later, Alfredo Angelo files bankruptcy. I think about all those women who don’t have dresses and are out the tons of money they spent on the dresses. You know best case scenario is that they will get back pennies on the dollar. But it also made me think back to my friend Jen’s wedding.

Jenny and I are friends from college. Roommates by Residence Hall chance, we have lived together in three different places and remained friends (miraculously) for 20 years. God, I feel old as I realize this. Jen officiated my wedding. I was lucky enough to stand up for her 12? years ago. But Jen’s wedding also had a dress fiasco.

1930642_24512892725_8586_n

Bridesmaid bonded forever

Jen hired a small local businesswoman to make her dress. This same woman was also making articles of clothing for her mother, bridesmaids, flower girl, ring bearers, and candle lighters. The day before Jen’s wedding, I arrived in small town Nebraska. I went to pick up my dress and my jacket still wasn’t done. I thought this was odd but the seamstress said she’s have everything ready the next morning. The morning of Jen’s wedding, Jen got a call while we were at the hair studio. It was the seamstress. The dresses weren’t ready yet but they would be ready at Noon. Jen left us bridesmaids to go get her hair done at another salon. All five bridesmaids started talking and figured out that three of our dresses weren’t done. When the dresses weren’t at the auditorium at 12:45PM, we deciphered a plan to get and finish them. We are so lucky that Jen has a cousin who owns a sewing machine store. (Thank you small town Nebraska). Two bridesmaids went to get the clothes. The rest of us hopped in a van heading over to her cousin’s house. Luckily, she has three sewing machines in her basement. We also took Jen’s mom and another bridesmaid’s mother as none of us bridesmaids had sewing skills. When the other bridesmaids arrived with the items, we discovered the problem was bigger than we through. The only things that were done was Jen’s dress, the flower girl’s dress, and two bridesmaids’ dresses. My dress was almost completely done. We decided to scrap the jackets and focus on finishing the dresses. One bridesmaid’s dress was literally still in pieces. But first, we had to finish Jen’s mom’s dress so we could send her back to the house to help Jen get ready. The next few hours were a whirlwind in which the boys’ vest became just bow ties. You’d be amazed how good the bridesmaids became with scissors and hand stitching. The bottom of dresses were sergered instead of properly hemmed. But we got it done. And thank goodness because the nicest thing I had packed was a black cardigan and the nearest major city to find something had a home football game so traffic would have been crazy.

1607-BourekWed-2121

Photo by Joseph Sands Images

I am happy to report, Jen and Brad had a great Muppet themed wedding. In fact, their Muppet character Pez dispensers for kids are the reason Jeremiah and I had Minion Pez dispensers for kids at our wedding. My nephew Brock still talks about those Pez dispensers from Jen’s wedding. The cake was delicious and who could forget every possible flavor of pie. Although I wish I could have been there to help Jen get ready, I hope she had as much as fun as I did at the reception.

Here’s hoping all those brides currently in distress look back on this moment as just a little hiccup in planning the biggest day of their lives. The years of marriage is what’s most important, right?

Today, I share recipe from our wedding cookbook from these dear friends. Since Jen and the kids have allergies, I think you will enjoy this spin on Rice Crispy Treats. It’s corn syrup free.

Brad’s Rice Krispie Bars
1 c. sugar
1 c. peanut butter or Sunbutter
1 c. cane sugar syrup (Lyle’s Golden Syrup)
6 c. Rice Krispies
6 oz. chocolate chips
6 oz. butterscotch chips (optional)

Combine sugar and syrup over a medium heat to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. Stir until blended. Pour sugar mixture over Rice Krispies. Mix until well coated. Then, spread into a greased 8 x 8 pan. Microwave chips until melted and spread over bars. Refrigerate until set.