2011 Super Bowl Party Foods

Need some party food ideas for your Super Bowl Party?  OHC has you covered!

Beer and Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese will definitely be a crowd pleaser!

Spicy Chex Mix is easy to make and even quicker to replenish when the snack attack hits.

Pasta and Lentil salad to get some veggies in on Game Day!

Quick coleslaw, great as a side or as a topping to some pulled pork or a burger!

This Chipotle Glaze would go lovely on some wings!

Chipotle not your style? Try these Garlic Teriykai Wings instead.

Cheddar Beer Bread for carbs so you can party all day long, cheese for staying power!

Just for the Steeler fans, you better get some chipped ham right quick and get a crockpot of Ham BBQ going to make sandwiches.  Have some Iron City on ice too while you’re at it!


Thanksgiving Apple Stuffing

I have been cooking with apples more and more lately.  Before I couldn’t stand the taste and texture of cooked apples and now I’m finding that I can tolerate it a bit more.

I still don’t want any apple pie though!  You all can have that.

I’ve also been toying around with new ideas for some holiday dishes and one I played with was stuffing.  Oh man both Scott and I love stuffing.  Mmmmm!  I love it super seasoned with crispy edges.  My mom made alright stuffing but you know, I used to really like the box mix stuff!  I used to make that for Scott and I all the time.  Then about nine years ago, I started researching how to make stuffing from scratch and I discovered that it’s not hard at all.

From that point on, I started making homemade stuffing.  This allows me to control the ingredients and how much seasoning I want, it’s a win-win for us all!  Plus you know homemade is better than any box of whatever.

Since I was playing around with stuffing ingredients I decided to add in some chopped apples.  I have a bunch in my fridge and I’ve been using them in lots of dishes lately.  I have seen a lot of talk about apples in stuffing before but never gave it a second thought until now.  In went some apples and out came a great stuffing!

Andrea’s Thanksgiving Apple Stuffing

  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 2 Large Sweet Apples (I used a combo of honeycrisp and Macintosh)
  • 2 Large Carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 Whole Grain Baguette, cubed
  • 1tsp Garlic Powder
  • Big pinch of Red Pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2tsp All-Purpose Seasoning (Or poultry seasoning)
  • 1C Chicken Stock (May need additional)
  • Olive Oil for sautéing
  • Shredded Cheddar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a large casserole dish.  In a medium high-sided skillet, drizzle in some olive oil, about 1 TBSP and heat over medium heat.  Add in onions, apple, and carrots.  Coat with oil and season with all of the above seasonings.  Sauté for about 3-4 minutes until all the veggies and apples start to soften.  Add in the bread cubes and combine.  Slowly add in the chicken stock, 1/2C at a time.  Allow the bread to absorb the stock and then add in some more.

The mixture should pull together and start to combine.  If not, add in a touch more stock.  Once everything is combined, remove from heat and place in the casserole dish.  Heat in oven for about 15 minutes until it starts to crisp up.  Then top with shredded cheddar and allow to melt, about another 5 minutes.  Remove and serve immediately!

If I would have had some celery I would have used that here also, but I didn’t have any one hand.  Aside from the missing veg, this stuffing turned out amazing.  It was full of flavor and had plenty of texture from the different ingredients.  The whole grain bread made it way more filling and satisfying.

Of course you can use white bread here if you can’t find whole grain baguette.  The cheddar is optional, I used it because we were having this as a standalone side dish and there was no gravy or sauce to accompany it.  When we have this with Thanksgiving, it should pair really well with the turkey gravy!

If you have turkey stock from your roasting turkey, feel free to use that instead of chicken.

I found a lovely seasoning, called All-Purpose seasoning and it is like a poultry seasoning just with a few extra things tossed in.  Poultry seasoning would be completely fine in this dish if that is what you have available to you.

I never thought I would be eating apples in a stuffing and yet here I am and I can’t get enough!  I’m now desperately excited for Thanksgiving so that I can make this again!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Tuesday Tip: Homemade Croutons

Ever since I started eating salads as a wee lass, I have loved croutons.  No scratch that, I adore croutons!  Crispy crunchy little bits of bread that are loaded with flavor adding a nice texture to salad.  Sometimes they’ll soak up a bit of the dressing acquiring even more flavor!  I prefer smaller bite sized pieces but I won’t turn down a crouton when presented to me.

I used to buy croutons all the time at the store.  I had my favorite brands and favorite flavors.  Garlic was a must and cheese was optional.

Croutons that came on salads from a restaurant seemed even more special.  No doubt they were the same croutons I was buying myself but when you’re out to dinner everything always seems a little more decadent and special.

I rarely meet a crouton that I don’t like.  Oh it happens, just not often.

For some reason it never occurred to me to make my own until I saw Ina do it several years ago.  Then the lightbulb went off, “I can do that too!”

The best part about making your own croutons is that you are in control of what goes on them and how much you use.  If you are using bread that you made yourself, bonus points because you have even more control of what goes into your food!

While I love all bread, I prefer a nice whole grain for eating.  Yet when it comes to making croutons, a good old French baggette does the job nicely.  I love the baguette because it’s got a nice texture to work with.  The day of purchase it’s crusty with a softer inside, perfect for dipping and making bruschetta.  The next day?  It’s hard enough to knock one out of the park or defend yourself against an intruder.  Perfect for making croutons.  You have to love versatility.

I’m also going to let you in on a little secret, you do not have to use day old or stale bread to make croutons.  You can use fresh bread.

Totally true!

All you need is some bread of your choice and then cut it up into bite sized pieces.

Here’s how to make croutons at home.  Keep in mind that I’m passing along a concept and not an exact recipe.  Amounts depend on your taste preferences and how much bread you have.

Andrea’s Homemade Restaurant Style Croutons

  • 1 French Bagguette, cut into bite size pieces
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Garlic Powder
  • Italian Seasoning ( I use Mrs. Dash)

Preheat oven to 350 and line a large baking sheet with foil.  Spray with olive oil or non-stick spray.  In a large mixing bowl add the bread cubes, drizzle olive oil and vinegar on top, toss using your hands or using a large spoon.  Add in garlic powder and Italian seasoning, again, toss using your hands or a large spoon.

Place bread pieces on the baking sheet and into the oven for about 10-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on the bread to make sure it doesn’t burn.  Stir it occasionally and test the bread to see if it is hard and crispy.  When it has reached that stage and it picked up some golden brown color, remove from oven and allow to cool.  Add to soups and salads!

I told you it was easy to do!  The trickiest part is to make sure the bread doesn’t burn which is really simple.  You just have check the bread every few minutes to make sure it isn’t toasting up too far.

This works for both fresh and stale bread.  Fresh bread will still toast up and get crispy in the oven.  Use what you have on hand, and if that means stale or day old bread, go for it!  You can even do this with cornbread!  Cornbread will require a gentler hand because it can be crumbly, but will make croutons for you.

The balsamic gives the croutons a little bit of a darker color and also adds some tang to the taste.  Totally optional though, if you would rather straight olive oil that’s okay too!

If you want to get even fancier, you can grate some parm on the croutons before baking to give them a little hint of cheesy goodness.

For me, it’s like having mini garlic bread bites in your salad!

Now who’s going to make some croutons this week? :D

Cheddar Dill Buttons

The first time that I came across the concept of cheddar and dill, I was watching an episode where Ina made some cheddar dill scones.


I love dill very much.  It is probably my very favorite herb and no I’m not kidding you.  I also love really great cheddar and combing the two seemed like a great concept.  While I didn’t really want a scone to snack on, I did think that this could be transferred to a great biscuit.

The first time I made this was years ago using a drop biscuit method.  I used really poor cheddar, factory farmed milk, and some Bisquick.  Oh yeah totally not something that would be considered healthy but instead more likely to be found as an option at The Red Lobster.   You know what I mean.

Now I have several years of baking under my belt which has given me more experience and new techniques that can be applied to many different things.  My outlook and choice of ingredients have also greatly changed since the early days.  Now I like to keep things simple, more homemade, and incorporating more whole grains into the mix.

It wasn’t long until that same cheddar dill scone recipe cycled back around and it sparked me to try out the biscuits again making them more healthy yet still totally delicious.

Andrea’s Cheddar Dill Buttons

  • 1C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or regular WW flour)
  • 2tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2tsp Baking Soda
  • 1tsp Organic Cane Sugar
  • Pinch Salt
  • 1tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 1/2 TBSP Dried Dill
  • 1C Shredded Cheddar (I like Cabot. Use a good cheddar)
  • 1 1/4C Plain soymilk (unsweetened if you can get it)
  • 2TBSP Light olive oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine everything except the oil, soymilk, and cheddar.  In a smaller bowl, combine the oil and soymilk.  Place both bowls in the fridge for at least 1/2 an hour.  An hour is better if you can swing it.  Also keep the cheese chilled.

Preheat your oven to 375 once you are sure all ingredients are adequately cold.  Add the cheddar to the dry ingredients and then slowly add in the liquid.  Stir and mix gently until all ingredients are well combined.  The dough will be very thick.

Drop by spoonfuls on a baking or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  These are called “buttons” so you want them small, about two to three bites once baked.  They will puff up as they cook.  A heaping tablespoon should give you the right amount.

Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Yields about 32 biscuits.

These biscuits are light and fluffy and full of flavor!  The dill totally shines while being complimented by the cheddar but not overpowered.    By chilling the ingredients, this helps the biscuits to be light as air instead of being dense and overly chewy.

The are great as snacks or accompanying a meal.  We’ve had them with soups, grilled foods, and also as part of an appetizer mix.  I eat them as is but if you want to sneak a smidge of butter on there who can blame you?

These little cuties are perfect to take along to your next potluck or BBQ.  They go great with everything and can sit out for extended periods of time without being compromised.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Chocolate Quinoa Bread

It’s the end of the month which means we are wrapping up Quinoa Month!  What better way to end the month than with some chocolate!

I originally set out to make brownies but this experiment turned out a lot more quick bread-like and not so brownie-like.  However it’s still super tasty and full of chocolate goodness!

Andrea’s Chocolate Quinoa Bread

  • 1C Whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2C Unbleached All-Purpose flour
  • 1 1/2C Cooked quinoa
  • 1/4C Cane sugar
  • 1/4C Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2tsp Baking powder
  • 1tsp Baking soda
  • 1/2tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1TBSP Ground flax
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2C Crushed walnuts
  • 1/2C Dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4C Soymilk
  • 1/2C Coffee
  • 2tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a brownie pan or 8inch square casserole dish with nonstick spray, set aside.   In a medium size mixing bowl combine the soymilk, vanilla, and coffee.  In a large mixing bowl combine all other ingredients except the walnuts and chocolate chips.  Whisk to get all ingredients combined and fluffed.  Add in the nuts and chocolate chips, then add in the soymilk mixture.  Gently stir until everything is combined and then add the mixture to the baking dish.  The batter is a bit thick so make sure that you even it out with a spoon once it’s in the baking dish.  Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I would try but words really can’t describe the chocolate gloriousness of this cake.  It’s rich and decadent but not so heavy that you feel weighted down by dessert.  It’s full of whole grains, quinoa, and nuts making it packed with protein and lots of good stuff for you body.  Along with the antioxidants of the dark chocolate of course!

Even though this did not turn out like brownies, it still turned out and I’m really happy with that!  Sometimes I think a lot of us might be afraid to experiment in the kitchen because we are afraid of failing.  But sometimes those failures will turn into surprises successes!  You just never know until you try.

Have fun guys and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Quinoa Cornbread

I love cornbread and I mean LOVE it.  Like real love and not just like-like, you know?  I’m also really picky about my cornbread.  I like it sweet, not too sweet, but it definitely needs to have some sweet background to it.  I also do not like things in my cornbread.

Things include:

  • Corn
  • Jalapenos
  • Bacon
  • Green onion

And any other variety of “things” that have the potential of throwing off the texture of the sweet divine bread.  Also?  Do you know when I like to eat cornbread?

For breakfast or for dessert.  Although if you ask me to pick a favorite time, it’s going to be with breakfast because sweet cornbread goes amazingly well with morning coffee.

At least in my world it does.

When I discovered that I could make cornbread on my own, goodness I was ecstatic! We rarely had cornbread at my parent’s house growing up.  In fact the best memories I have of eating cornbread were the little mini loaves that you got with your Boston Market meal.  I know, isn’t that totally sad?  What a bummer of a memory!  The upside is that the majority of the time that I ate Boston Market were with Scott because we didn’t have a Boston Market in my little rinky-dinky town I grew up in.  We didn’t even have a Boston Market where I went to college.  Boston Market didn’t become a common establishment known to me until Scott and I moved in together after college.  Our first apartment in the very first town we lived in together had a Boston Market.

And some of the best memories one can have are of your first apartment, am I right?  You know it!

Okay, and bringing it back to cornbread.  I had some leftover quinoa and pondered if I could make cornbread out of it.  Well I wouldn’t know till I tried!

Andrea’s Quinoa Cornbread

  • 1C Cornmeal
  • 1C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 1/2 C Soymilk
  • 1/2C Cooked Quinoa
  • 1TBSP Ground Flax
  • 1TBSP Cane Sugar
  • 2tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2tsp Baking Soda
  • Pinch Salt

Preheat oven to 375.  In a small mixing bowl combine soymilk and ground flax.  In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix.  Slowly add the the soymilk mixture to the dry ingredients.  Gently stir until everything is combined.  This will be a thicker batter.  Pour batter into a greased baking dish.  The one I used is roughly a 8×12 dish.  Spread the batter out to make sure it is forms an even layer in the dish.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 10 minutes or so.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for about five minutes.  Slice and serve.

Ultimately I would have used more quinoa but that’s all I had as leftovers.  The cornbread turned out really tasty and the quinoa melts right in.  You don’t even notice that there is something else added to the bread.  This bread came out light and dense at the same time.  I know that sounds totally strange but when you hold a piece, it feels like a hefty slice of bread.  However as you eat it, it is light and slightly crumbly.

If you are the type who can dig on things in their cornbread, then go crazy and add in jalapenos and so on.  This bread can definitely handle whatever you want to throw at it!  Some pepperjack cheese maybe?  Or some honey or maple syrup drizzled on top?  Mmmmm!

The bread freezes and reheats well.  And is also perfect for dunking into your favorite chili or accompanying that morning mug of coffee.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Cranberry Irish Soda Bread

I used to buy Irish Soda Bread at Whole Foods all the time when they had it out.  It was fantastic! It was also the first time I had tasted it before.  Irish Soda Bread wasn’t something I grew up with nor heard of until I saw it at Whole Foods.  I guess I just didn’t run around in circles where it was mentioned.

At some point I think Whole Foods might have changed their recipe because I don’t care for their version anymore.  Something about it just tastes off and I can’t quite put my finger on it.  I never really thought about soda bread again after that until I came across Happy Herbivore’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread.

It was her recipe where I learned that one could curdle non-dairy milk with a little bit of acid, either lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar.  Did you know that?  I didn’t so I was excited to learn something new!

Why curdle non-dairy milk? Because traditional soda bread calls for buttermilk but if you are looking to keep things vegan you need an alternative.  I remembered from my smoothie making that cranberry juice will also cause soymilk to curdle, although you need equal parts of cranberry juice and soymilk.  I decided to run with that concept and make my own version of Irish Soda Bread.

Andrea’s Cranberry Irish Soda Bread

  • 3C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1C Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1C Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
  • 1C Soymilk
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1C Dried Cranberries
  • 2TBSP Organic Cane Sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  In a small mixing bowl, combine cranberry juice and soymilk, set aside for about five minutes.  The soymilk will start to curdle and separate.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all the other ingredients and whisk together.    Slowly add in the liquid mixture and stilr until everything is combined.  The dough will be sticky but will come together to form a heavy dough.  If needed, a splash more soymilk will help the dough form if there is still some flour not incorporated.

Sprinkle flour on a flat surface and kneed the dough for about a minute.  Dough will still be sticky.  Form into a large round loaf and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  You can make a large X across the top of the dough with a knife to create the look of four sections.

Bake for about 40 minutes (could be longer) or until the bread has set.  A toothpick should come out clean.  Allow to cool before slicing.

I expected the bread to be tasty but didn’t quite expect it to be amazing, which it is.  Both of us love this bread!  It has just the right amount of sweetness to it that makes you want to keep eating and eating.  I used cranberries because I like them over raisins in baked goods.  Plus they have a great color which leads well to presentation.  Raisins don’t have a lot going for them in the aesthetic department.

The Irish Soda Bread that I’ve had before had been really dry.  This bread is not.  It is not a super moist bread like a quick bread but it is not dry like a biscuit.  It holds together well and has a nice soft chewy bite to it.

It’s great at room temperature and also slightly toasted.  Goes well with coffee and a nice accompaniment with yogurt and granola.  I sliced mine up and froze the slices for easy access when the mood strikes.

Now that I have the method of curdling soymilk under my belt, who knows what else is in store!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Spelt Pizza Dough

Pizza!!  I don’t know why it took me so long to finally post my dough recipe but here we are, woo!

Scott and I started Pizza Thursday I think in early 2009.  We love pizza and we decided that if we have it every week then we would be more open to playing with toppings and sauces.

Also because we have had trouble finding pizza we like in Columbus.  I know everybody has places they like but some of them are a little too far for us to travel for pickup for a Thursday night.

In order to satisfy our love for pizza we had to make our own.  I originally started out buying pizza dough from Whole Foods which was fine but it wasn’t awesome.  Plus it was pricey.  Yes it was still cheaper than buying a pizza out but if I made my own crust, I could save us loads of cash.

I searched around for dough recipes and started playing around with what I found.

It took me a few months to fully develop this dough and find out what worked for me and what flavors we really liked.  Once I got this down, I haven’t even looked at any other dough.

Andrea’s Spelt Pizza Dough

  • 2C Spelt Flour
  • 1C Unbleached All-purpose flour
  • 1C Warm water + extra
  • 1TBSP Active Yeast
  • 1TBSP Cane Sugar
  • 1TBSP Olive Oil + extra

You need a stand-mixer for this, it makes life a lot easier.  If you don’t have one, you can probably mix this by hand but I haven’t tried that so I cannot make any promises!

In a small non-reactive bowl (like glass) pour in the cup of warm water.  Slightly warmer than room temperature but not “hot”.  You should be able to stick your finger in the water and keep it there without feeling like the water is too hot.  To the warm warm add in the yeast and sugar, gently stir.  Allow yeast mixture to sit for about five minutes so it can bloom.  The picture above is that of bloomed yeast.

Fit your stand mixer with the dough hook and add in the yeast mixture to the mixing bowl.  Add in the unbleached AP flour and gently mix for about 2 minutes.  Stop mixer and add in the spelt flour and 1TBSP of olive oil.  Continue to mix on a low speed.  At this point you will notice that more water needs to be added to help the flour bind and stick together.  Again with warm water, slowly add some to the mixture as it mixes.  About 1TBSP at a time.  Some days you might not need much and other days you might need a few.  Keep an eye on it as it mixes.  You’ll see the dough start to pull together and form a ball. You should be able to touch the dough and it shouldn’t stick to your fingers.

In a large mixing bowl, drizzle it with some olive oil and smear it around the bowl.  Once the dough has reached the ball stage, put it in the mixing bowl and turn it so that it’s coated in oil.  Drape the bowl with a warm damp towel and let it do it’s thing rising and going.

Let it rise for at least an hour and a half then do as you please with it.  Roll it out and start topping it for pizza!

You don’t have to use spelt, you can use whole wheat, whole wheat pastry, or all AP flour if you want.  We just prefer the taste and texture of spelt.

You can also flavor the dough.  I’ve added herbs, hot sauce, and loads of different seasonings.  You will want to add those when you add in the spelt flour.  Not too much, you just need a bit to season the dough.

This makes a good bit of dough, enough for me to roll out to a rather large pizza.  It provides enough that I can have three pieces, Scott has four, and then there are four to five slices leftover for Scott to have later.  You can split it and make smaller pizzas.

Sometimes I let it rise for an hour, turn it over punching it down and let it rise again.  Sometimes I let it rise for hours before pulling it out to start the pizza.  It’s really forgiving and very easy to play around with.

Once you get used to making dough it literally takes at most 10 minutes and you’re done.  Easy peasy!

Just a tip, for those that are vegan, you don’t necessarily have to look for vegan specific dough recipes.  Most straight pizza dough recipes are already vegan because there’s no dairy or animal products in the dough.

Now there’s no excuse for you to not try making pizza at home!

Have fun guys and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Zucchini LoafNot that long ago I had a hankering for some chocolate zucchini bread.  Or at least I assumed this was the case, as I had never actually had chocolate zucchini bread.

Zucchini bread, yes.  But it was always the same way, spicy and more along the lines of like a carrot cake, spice cake kind of taste.  Lots of cinnamon, clove, and allspice in the mix.

That wasn’t exactly what I envisioned.  I wanted a dense chocolate quick bread with some zucchini in it.  I started looking around for recipes to see what I could find.  There were loads out there!

But they all had tons of sugar, white flour, and a load of eggs in them.

This is where my knack to never follow a recipe comes in handy.  I looked at the recipes to get an idea of the basic ingredients and then I created my own chocolate zucchini bread recipe.

Andrea’s Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2C shredded zucchini
  • 1/3C light olive oil
  • 1 egg white (or 3 TBSP of egg whites from a carton)
  • 1C soymilk (plus a few extra splashes at the end)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2C Whole Wheat Pastry flour (or regular WW flour is fine)
  • 1C Unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2tsp Baking soda
  • 2tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4C Cane sugar
  • 4TBSP Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Powder
  • 2TBSP Ground flax
  • 2tsp Ground cinnamon
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (about 1/2tsp)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper (just a small, very wee pinch)
  • Pinch kosher salt (very small amount)
  • 1.5C Dark chocolate chips (can use milk if prefer)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients, making sure everything is incorporated.  Then slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring gently to combine everything.  You want to fold everything together, easily as possible.  This is a very thick and dense mixture.  You may need to add a few splashes of soymilk in to help the ingredients combine and move along.  However do not add more than an extra 1/3C.  Add in the extra amount a tablespoon at a time.  This will help keep the mixture thick and dense.

Once everything is combined, place mixture in a loaf pan (I used a 9x5x3 loaf glass pan) that was sprayed with nonstick spray.  Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.  Or until a toothpick inserted in the center (highest peak) comes out clean.

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes or so, then slice and enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread slice Let me state right up front that this is not a very sweet bread.  You can see from the ingredients, I’m only adding in 1/4C of cane sugar.  I don’t care for sweets much and most recipes called for something like 2C or so of sugar.  Holy crap that’s a lot of sugar!  Not for this sister!  A quarter cup of sugar is plenty.  This is a decedent and rich chocolate zucchini bread and beyond amazing.  I was so pleased with the way this came out and both Scott and I adore it.

Now let’s talk about the ingredients a bit.  To me, this is a very healthy snack.  I like to snack every so often and I like to indulge my wild side but at the same time, I like keeping things healthy.  It’s how I prefer to be, and this bread makes for a nice healthy treat.

Do you have to use whole wheat flour?  No, if you want to use all purpose for the whole thing, knock your socks off!  If you want to add more sugar, go for it. If you don’t have ground flax, don’t sweat it!  You can also use regular milk too if you like.

I like organic cane sugar because it’s healthier but if you have white sugar on hand, you can use that.

I also use olive oil because if I have to add oil to a recipe, it’s going to be a good oil.  If you have vegetable or canola, feel free to use that.  I like olive because of it’s added health benefits.

This is my vision of what a perfect chocolate zucchini bread is like.  The beauty of recipes is that we can play around with ingredients!  So you can do whatever your little heart desires.

I encourage you to not forget the cayenne though because it adds such a nice warmth to the flavor.  Cinnamon is very spicy and provides a nice heat.  The addition of cayenne takes that heat a little bit further and gives it some depth as well.  Trust me on this, go for the cayenne!

I have used vanilla and plain soymilk in this recipe and both work very well.  I also have used milk and dark chocolate chips, and again, both work really well.  My preferred chocolate powder is Ghirardelli but use whatever you have on hand.

chocolate zucchini muffin I’ve also made this into muffins instead of a loaf, and they also came out great!  Makes just shy of 24 muffins.  Cook time is reduced to about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

This also makes for a great prerun snack the night before a morning run. :D  It’s carblicious and dense so it sticks with you.  I can also tell you that the chocolate zucchini bread goes great with red wine, white wine, and beer.  Pumpkin beer is a fabbo accompaniment!

If you’re craving some chocolate, give this bread a try and tell me what you think!

ETA: I also wanted to mention that this bread freezes very well.  Stick in a freezer bag and forget about it till you need a little chocolaty snack. :)

Remember guys, have fun and always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Tuesday Tip: Olive Oil dipping sauce

Olive oil and spices The first time I’ve ever had bread and oil as part of a meal was back in North Carolina, about 7 years ago.  Scott and I had just purchased our first house and we were out having a celebratory lunch.  The server brought out a basket of warm bread and a little dish that she poured seasoned olive oil into, then quickly scurried away.

Me: What do we do with this? Do I just dip the bread into the oil?

Scott: I think so. I’m not sure what other options there would be.

Me: Okay. Although dipping bread into oil and eating it is a little odd.

Scott: Totally weird.

The concept was so foreign to me.  “You want me to what?! Dip this bread into some fat and munch away?”, was my thought process.

But you know what? It was fabulous.  And of course olive oil is full of good heart healthy fats, so it all worked out!  From that point on I started looking more at flavored olive oils and olive oils labeled as “dipping oil”.  And you know what I found?

That stuff is flipping expensive!  Most were over $10 for a very small bottle of flavored oil.

Um, no. I’m not spending that much unless it’s also going to wash the dishes when I’m done eating.

At this point I realized that I could make my own.  I like having oils and vinegars multi-task at the HQ.  Because of that I don’t flavor a whole bottle of oil.  I do a quicker trick that is just as tasty and beautiful!

I pour a good quality olive oil onto a small plate.  An oil that I would also use in salads specifically for the flavor.  Then I sprinkle in some seasonings, whatever floats my boat that day.  Typically they are:

  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Italian Seasoning (salt free, Ms. Dash is the best in my opinion)
  • Chili powder or a pinch of cayenne for extra heat
  • Fresh ground black pepper

All of those to taste. I’m usually more heavy on the garlic and red pepper flakes.  Give it a quick stir and surround the oil with your favorite type of bread.  It’s unbelievably tasty and a very quick appetizer to put together.  Since oil can be stored at room temperature, you can make this ahead of time for guests and the flavors will just mingle and increase the longer it sits.

Try making your own olive oil dipping sauce for bread! It’s quicker, cheaper, and darn tastier!