Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread – a family favorite

wpid-20150824_213735.jpgNot sure what to do with all that zucchini from your garden?  You can make bread out of it, or freeze the zucchini after grating, and make bread all winter long.  I am sure these would make great teacher gifts too!  My favorite recipe that I like to use is this one at Simply Recipes, and then I modify as you see below.

I like how this is the one recipe that tells you to drain the zucchini after grating.  I didn’t realize how much water was in this stuff, and you do not need all the water, although maybe my bread would not be so dry if I left it some of it in – I will try that next time.  All I know is that this bread tastes super yummy and with some icing on top, the veggie properties of this bread can easily be shielded from prying young taste buds.

wpid-20150808_105128.jpgI base this recipe on needing 4 cups of shredded zucchini, but lots of others out there only call for 2 cups and split the instructions from wet mix and dry mix and keeping the zucchini separate.  You can cut this recipe in half if you choose to do so or have a small zucchini.  I like to add chocolate chips to the entire batter, and for my husband and I, I like to add in chopped walnuts- yum!

  • 4 cups grated zucchini – I recommend a food processor to shred/grate.  I did it by hand the first time, it was a nightmare and messy.  When I used the food processor, it was done in 5 minutes, and less messy.  If you only have a small zucchini to yield 2 cups of grated zucchini, cut the rest of the recipe in half.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (white granulated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)- melt in microwave safe container
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (natural unsweetened cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (not milk chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans) – optional, or add to your batch
  • 1-2 or more greased pans- whatever size you want (loafs, square, or cupcakes) –  I like to make a combination of all
  • preheat your oven to 350 degrees at this time

Zucchini

Shred it, and put it in a colander over a bowl or over the sink so it drains a bit while you do other things.  I have shredded it by hand or by food processor, and a food processor takes the cake (pun intended)!

Wet mix

You need a larger bowl for this because you will end your mixing in this bowl.  Beat together the eggs, the sugar, and the extract – use a mixer or your hand.  I have tried both ways, and it is fine either way.  Make sure to get the consistency to where it is a smooth mixture and not lumpy.

Dry Mix

In a smaller bowl, you can mix together the flour, cocoa, the baking powder (or soda), salt, and cinnamon.  Mix it together so it is not lumpy – I use a small egg whisk to just mix it all up.  I also add in the chocolate chips here, but it is optional. You can add nuts too, or add them later if your kids do not like them.

First, put the Zucchini into the wet mix, then slowly (about a quarter of the mix each time), stir in the dry mix.  Stir and put in the dry mix fully until mixed in well.  You do not want to put it in all at once or it creates giant lumps.  But, fermenting apparently has begun the minute you mixed wet and dry, so get the pans ready, and scoop in the right portions for the pan you chose.  I generally leave enough for the “adult” pan or loaf of this bread and then mix in the nuts into that smaller portion.  Then, scoop it into the pan.

wpid-20150824_213649.jpgBake

Bake for 50 minutes (if at lower altitudes) at 350 degrees, depending on size of pan, but in Colorado, you need only bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  I like to check it after 30 minutes for cupcakes, 35 minutes for a loaf size pan, and 40 minutes if you go 8×8 brownie pan.

Happy baking and yum!

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Am I cheating?

Am I cheating? I sure feel like I am.  We just had our 10-year anniversary and ever since that day, I am thinking about and looking at others.  I am with another, and yet, daily I am thinking about them, the other ones, analyzing them, studying them.  Each day, I am trying to figure out when I will have time to go test them out to see if I enjoy the ride, to see how they feel as I clench my hands, and let it rev. That may help make my decision easier, but each day, I feel super guilty.  It feels like I am cheating emotionally and mentally on my 10-year, dependable love.  But each day, I see the others and I can’t look away, I admit, I am totally checking them out!  The decision is not made yet and I hesitate, I feel like all is fine, and I don’t really need to make the leap yet.  But I know soon I will need to decide which one I will choose to spend my next 10 years with.  That will also be the day I will need to say good bye to her- my faithful Subaru.

When hubby and I got married over 10 years ago, she was there, and we took many road trips with her.  She saw me through the Colorado Bar exam and I commuted back and forth to and from Colorado Springs and all those AF assignments.  So many life and career changes, and she was there each step of the way.  We safely brought home both babies in this car for their first ride and she protected them each time we rode thereafter.  Sounds cliche like the commercial but both girls grew from infants to toddlers, to the girls they are today in my Su.  I know she is just a material object, and I am not one to dwell on material objects, and after all, she’s just a car.  But there are so many special memories with my Subaru that I have never had as hard of a time car shopping as I do today.

Dedicated to you, Su.

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Brick Fest Live is coming Aug 28-30 to the Denver Merchandise Mart

bfl-denver-120x90Do you love Lego bricks as much as we do?  Then don’t miss this!  Brick Fest Live is coming to the Denver Merchandise Mart August 28-30.  Get inspired, educated and entertained with LEGO bricks!  Play with huge attractions built to set your imagination free and witness mind-blowing creations made entirely of this timeless toy at the Brick Fest Live.  Save $2 with code:  DENFAMGUIDE, or http://www.coloradokids.com/coupon.php?id=23051018 #brickfestlive  brickfest2index

Come and build with us!

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Easy Vegetarian Quiche Recipe

I absolutely love this recipe (source:allrecipes.com), which is my go-to vegetarian Quiche recipe to refresh my memory on what I need and steps, but for months now have created my unique loaded vegetarian Quiche recipe, and wanted to share; even added some cool photos.  I truly love the taste and texture of this Quiche and it is a huge hit with hubby and anyone else who tried it (I am rather selfish with it).

Because I am picky and do not like mushrooms or onions, it is always best for me to make my own recipe at home.  I know what I like, and this Quiche encompasses most of the ingredients I love, well, except for chocolate.  I’ll save that for another recipe.  The crust is yummy too and the Kroger brand comes with a pack of two rolled crusts.  This is an easy recipe, except for cutting.

INGREDIENTS:  Note: I use these, but you can modify any of these, or add onion and mushroom if you like those ingredients.  I do not like them.  You can also add zucchini, different color peppers, green chile, and whatever other veggies your heart desires.

Pie Crust (I use the Kroger-brand pie crust and it is great), 1 green pepper, 1 roma tomato, fresh spinach, broccoli florets (fresh), 4 leaves basil (chopped), cauliflower (optional), 1 clove garlic, onion salt, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper (or to taste), 4 eggs, heavy whipping cream, olive oil, and shredded sharp cheddar cheese (1 cup or to taste).

Here are the steps and some photos to go along with them:

1.  First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Thaw your pie crust outside the fridge for 10-15 minutes – do not, I repeat DO NOT thaw in microwave.  Made that mistake before, and it got ugly.  While thawing, cut up your vegetables and get ready to cook.

2.  I dice up one fresh tomato, about 1/4 of a green pepper (small cubes), spinach leaves (fresh), cut the basil, broccoli, cauliflower florets and any other vegetables of your choice.

20150726_1332063.  Put olive oil in pan -about 2 tablespoons, I use a garlic crusher and crush one clove in the oil, while it is over low to medium heat.  Then throw in the vegetables and cover to sauté them – salt to taste, or put onion salt, and pepper/creole seasoning, etc.

20150726_1332134.  Unroll the pie crust into a glass pan (preferred over metal) because it seems to cook more evenly, and bake for 5 minutes (NO MORE) so the crust gets a little cooked.  Pull it out, and gently pop any bubbles.

 

5.  Place20150726_134213 about 1/4 of the cheese or more on the bottom to coat it.  Then put veggies mixture on top.  I like the cheese on bottom because it coats it and prevents the vegetables from making the crust too soggy.  If you want to make no – crust muffins in a muffin pan, put the veggie mixture into the cups, sprinkled with cheese on top.

20150726_1342166.  Take the eggs and mix them with 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, and then whip vigorously for about 2 minutes.  If you do not beat the eggs well, you will end up with an omelet or fritata – you need to beat the eggs well to get the Quiche consistency.  You can use milk in place of whipping cream.  Pour the egg mixture on the top of the veggies.

20150726_1414537.  Bake for 30-35 minutes (depends on altitude), and once the middle is heated throughout or toothpick inserted comes up clean.  I also made the no-crust muffins and those cook for only about 25 minutes.  20150726_141446

 

8.  Let sit for about 5 minutes and then cut, and enjoy!  Yummy!

 

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Laurie Berkner in concert at the Arvada Center

20150711_160513(0)We saw and heard Laurie Berkner with special Guest Susie Lampert at the Arvada Center, as part of the summer stage concert series on July 11.  How awesome!  We had a blast and our reserved seats were covered and very close. Honestly, before this concert, I had seen videos and heard her name but didn’t really know how popular she was.  20150711_160518Most parents knew every word by heart and kids were yelling out song requests. I have to say, we have been living under a rock! We even ran into several families we knew!  Her music may be geared towards children and safe for all audiences, but the humor was not lost on us adults.  She gets children and their attention span and beach balls were tossed around at one point during the concert- it was so much fun for kids and the the adult-kids too! What fun music! We had a good time and also loved the venue.

The2012arvadacentersummerconcertamphitheater Arvada Center is so close to our home, and a perfect, cozy venue for all!  Kid-approved and parent loved, you simply must get to know the music and tunes of Laurie Berkner if you have young children.  If you want to check out more events at the Arvada Center, see this link, and check out all their great summer concerts.  The box office is at 720-898-7200, or you can purchase online at : summeratthecenter.org

Disclaimer: I was provided with four free reserved seats at the arvada center in exchange for posting requirements before and after the show.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

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