Sunday, August 24, 2014

Zucchini Pineapple Bread with Pineapple Glaze

Here is yet another favorite zucchini recipe. I grew up eating (and still love) spiced zucchini bread with pineapple and sometimes raisins or dates in it, but I love the simplicity of this recipe. It is so moist, like most other zucchini recipes, but the pineapple really shines through in this sweet bread. The pineapple glaze also adds another pop of pineapple flavor that is just perfect! This bread is best a day or two after being baked (if you can keep it hidden that long)- store in a plastic bag and then glaze it an hour or more before serving, allowing the glaze to dry some and not be so sticky. The other thing I love about this recipe is that it makes 2 loaves- and you will find that both are eaten so quickly that you will be glad you made 2 loaves since nobody is going to stop at one slice! 

Makes 2 loaves - about 20 servings
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oil (coconut oil is great)
  • 3 cups flour (I used ½ white wheat flour and ½ all purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 15 oz. can of crushed pineapple, juice drained and reserved
  • ¾ - 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (I peeled mine)- seeds also removed if large
  • ¾ cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tbsp pineapple juice

  • Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease and flour 2 bread loaf pans; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients. 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla and oil- or use mixer on low until combined, then increase to medium speed for 1 minute.
  • Add in pineapple, zucchini and nuts and mix together until completely combined.
  • Gradually add in dry ingredients.
  • Divide half of batter between the 2 prepared bread loaf pans. Drop pan on hard surface a few times to even out the batter and help bubbles come to the top. 
  • Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. 
  • Cool breads in pans on cooling racks for about 10 minutes, then carefully turn out onto cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • To prepare the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Add in reserved pineapple juice, adding the juice gradually, 1 tablespoon first and then 1 teaspoon at a time. If you want the glaze firmer to stay on top of the bread more, do not add as much liquid. Combine well and pour part of glaze over top of the cooled loaves and wait about 10 minutes for the glaze to thicken some. After glaze has dried a little on the bread, add any remaining glaze to add another layer, also scooping up any glaze that has drizzled down over the sides. This will be thicker and can be spread over top of the loaves again. Let loaves set until glaze is not sticky wet. Slice and serve or store in a covered container (if putting in a bag or covering with plastic wrap, the glaze will soften and stick to the plastic). I wait to apply the glaze until before serving as it becomes very wet and sticky in the bag/storage container.
*If you desire to make it a piƱa colada sweet bread- add ½- ¾ cup of sweetened shredded coconut into your batter with the shredded zucchini, but the coconut will make the loaf a little more dry. So adding a couple Tbsp's of pineapple juice may help the loaf still be moist. Otherwise, remove the loaf from the oven immediately- may be finished sooner.

**This bread is wonderful frozen and later thawed, glazed and served.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

While I am not a chocolate cake fan (I like cakes with fruit and other add-in's), this cake has changed my mind. It has a moist and fudgey consistency, unlike many chocolate cakes that I find are more dry and lacking in flavor. Of course, the moisture comes from the zucchini that totally disappears in the cake, especially if you peel it before shredding it. What sets this recipe apart from other chocolate zucchini cakes is that is uses more zucchini and includes vanilla and cinnamon, which adds something special to round out the chocolate flavor. 

I found that 4 cups of shredded zucchini equals about 1 large zucchini or 3/4 of a super-large one, minus the center pulp area with the seeds. If you are using smaller zucchini, you probably do not need to remove the seeds unless they are large. Since we are often finding those big zucchinis that have somehow been missed until they are enormous, this is just about the tastiest way to use up one of those over-sized veggies. There have been a couple people that tell me adamantly that they do NOT like zucchini, but when they tried this cake (through a little deception) they were amazed that something this good would have THAT in there-- and even went back for more. (I just love tricking people into eating veggies that they thought they didn't like!)

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 cups peeled, grated zucchini (I let the zucchini drain in a colander while preparing the cake but did not press the liquid out of it.)
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 3/4-1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 of 11 oz bag)

  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 6 Tbsp milk, half and half or cream
  • 1 lb box or package of confectioner's (powdered) sugar (sifted or it clumps up later)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional) 
  • Grease 9x13 inch baking pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. 
  • Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet ingredients and then fold in the grated zucchini and chocolate chips (nuts also if including).
  • Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 45-60 minutes- time depends on how wet the zucchini is. So start checking about 45 minutes but may need to go as long as 1 hr.
  • When toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out pretty clean, remove cake to cooling rack and begin preparing the icing.
  • Boil butter, cocoa, milk and cinnamon in a medium saucepan, whisking constantly. (Don't worry if the butter fat separates some. Just keep stirring and then move on to next step- it will all come together in the next step.)
  • Whisk in sifted sugar while stirring and then vanilla. Stir well to combine.
  • Allow to sit and thicken for a few minutes off the heat, then pour slowly over the warm cake. (If it has thickened too much to pour, then use a spatula to spread over the cake.)
  • Garnish with nuts if desired.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Greek Inspired Pasta Sauce

We have had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year and this was yet another recipe born out of necessity. In addition, we were given lots of eggplant and also had zucchini overflowing our kitchen counter. While I have plans for the extra zucchini, I wanted to make something that would use all of these vegetables. Today I was feeling in the mood to make something Greek. So after looking through my Greek cookbook, I saw a recipe for Eggplant Meat Sauce, which became my inspiration for this dish. This dish requires a little chopping but really comes together quickly and is so rich and flavorful. One of the things I love about Greek meat dishes is the addition of cinnamon. It adds a unique flavor and warmth that to me is simply addicting. This dish is also wonderful if you make the sauce ahead of time, refrigerate and then reheat, adding in cooked pasta when ready to serve. The flavors will be even better! Also, if you don't have fresh tomatoes, just use a large can of diced or crushed tomatoes with their juice.

Serves 6-8
  • 3/4 pound of ground meat- lamb, beef (I used venison, which worked very well)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced or minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, cubed
  • 1 large green or colored pepper, diced
  • 4 Tbsp butter/olive oil mixture (I used half butter and half olive oil)
  • 2-3 Tbsp dried parsley, or 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano, crushed before adding
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pepper to taste
  • salt to taste (I used Goya's brand Adobo seasoned salt mixture)
  • 3-4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups diced fresh tomatoes (including juice)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 pound #2 ziti or pasta of choice, cooked for about 2 minutes less than directions state on package
This pot is almost full with all the veggies and meat, but everything will cook down.
Adding in the tomato paste- When I open a can, I freeze any extra paste for use later.

  • In a large covered pot, brown the meat with the chopped eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini, pepper, butter/oil. As the meat begins to brown, add in the seasonings and tomato paste. Stir around until the paste becomes fragrant. 
  • After all the meat and vegetables have browned/softened, then add in the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and sugar. Cook covered over medium high heat for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down, then simmer for another 15 minutes uncovered to thicken the sauce. 
  • Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed. Cook the pasta as instructed above in salted water. When pasta is ready, use a hand strainer and put directly into the sauce pot. (Don't worry about some pasta water being added- it will thicken the sauce somewhat.) Lift and fold the sauce around the pasta and then allow to simmer for another 5 minutes to further meld the flavors.
  • Garnish with feta cheese and/or a shredded hard Greek cheese, or may use grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Also optional is red pepper flakes.
This is good with a Greek salad or a simple side of sliced cucumbers, a dip made of lemon juice, a little mint, parsley and dill (or tzatziki sauce) and some olives.