Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This spring I’ve been thinking about all the projects that will keep me busy throughout the (hopefully) warm summer months.  Of course my list is forever growing, but one thing I’m particularly excited about is planting our garden.  Last year we enjoyed fresh vegetables in and out of season.  I froze lot’s of veggies and made a gazillion jars of homemade dill pickles.

I figure somewhere around mid March we ran out of our frozen French cut green beans.  Can I tell you how much I miss them?  My favorite way to cook them is in a little garlic and olive oil with a touch of parmesan cheese  – oh yum!

One thing I haven’t run out of yet is the grated zucchini I froze.  I usually freeze enough to make zucchini bread all winter long.  Since I already have posted my recipe for Quick Zucchini Oatmeal Bread  here before, and today I was in the mood for chocolate, I decided to get a little crafty in the kitchen and come up with a for Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins.  And as luck would have it, I succeeded and these turned out great!

What I like about these muffins is… the zucchini is barely visible.  If you’re trying to pass off some veggies to your picky eaters I can assure you that this is one way to do it.  Also, these muffins are moist, not greasy, and have just the right amount of chocolate to satisfy my taste.  As with most baked goods that I make, I also share, and the recipients of these muffins have given them great reviews.

And now for the recipe…

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

2/3 c. canola oil

2 c.  grated zucchini

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. dark mini chocolate chips, plus some for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 325.  Line muffin tins with cupcake papers (makes 1.5 dozen muffins).

In a large bowl, add eggs, sugars, oil, and grated zucchini; beat with an electric mixer until completely blended.  Add in baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.  Beat in flour, and lastly, fold in mini chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared muffin tins – filling each cup about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Immediately sprinkle some mini chips on the muffins once they are removed from the oven, and cool completely before removing the muffins from the tins.

Do you plant a garden?  If so, what is your favorite veggie to grow? And do you have a favorite?

Willard Tour Date 2014 and Buttery Iced Shortbread Melts

I am often asked by my blog readers when the next tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane will be.  Well, mark your calendar folks!  The next public tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane is scheduled for May 17, 2014, 9AM, at Grandview.  Rain or Shine!  If you want a sneak peak of some of the things you might see on this tour than check out my post, A Day at Willard Asylum for the Insane.  The tour is $10.00 per person.

And since it’s been ages since I’ve baked and shared a sweet treat on my blog, I decided to share what my daughter now claims is her favorite cookie recipe – Iced Shortbread Melts.  These cookies earned their name because they are so sweet and tender that they really will melt in your mouth!

Buttery Iced Shortbread Melts

2 sticks of butter, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Cream ingredients together; add flour. Continue to mix ingredients until everything is blended. Form dough into a ball.

Place  dough on a piece of parchment paper that is coated with a light coating of flour. Roll dough out until it is about 1/4” thick. Use more flour if needed. Cut out cookies using a cookie cutter. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet about 1 1/2” apart. Bake for about 8 minutes. Do not over bake. They will firm up after removing them from the oven. Allow cookies to cool completely on cookie sheet before moving them.

I made a thin batch of buttercream icing and dipped the top of each cookie in the icing.  I used some homemade colored sugar sprinkles to fancy them up.

These cookies would be perfect to serve at a ladies luncheon, bridal shower, or a tea party.

What is the last kind of cookie you made?

One Bowl Corn Muffins for My Dream Restaurant

Order up!  I’ve often thought that I’d like to own a restaurant.  I envision it being a small place known for serving some of the best food north of the Mason Dixon Line.  I’d offer daily specials that could be read off an overtly large antique blackboard and I‘d serve the meals on vintage mismatched dinnerware that I’d scour local thrift stores to find.

The focus would be on good food made from scratch, using local farm fresh ingredients whenever possible.  And while I would offer plenty of healthier choices, there would be lot’s of comfort food to choose from too. 

Daily specials would consist of homemade soups, hand-pulled BBQ pork sandwiches, slow roasted beef and ham, country fried chicken, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and my grandma’s famous coleslaw.  And what is a good meal without delicious homemade dinner rolls and corn muffins?   And let’s not forget the dessert cooler filled with slices of homemade cakes and pies – yum.

Okay, I’m back, no longer daydreaming… 

Since I really don’t see myself going into the restaurant business anytime soon, if ever, I decided to do the next best thing and make homemade The Joy of Caking’s One Bowl Corn Muffins to share with you.

These muffins are moist, sweet, and won’t crumble apart in your hands. And just so we’re clear, these are the muffins I would serve if I ever do open a restaurant. 

The Joy of Caking’s One Bowl Corn Muffins

1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

1/4 c. Chobani Plain (low fat) Yogurt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3 TBSP. olive oil

1/2 c. ground cornmeal

1 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. skim milk

Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, add sugar, egg, yogurt, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oil; mix thoroughly by hand.  Add in remaining ingredients of cornmeal, flour, and milk.  Mix until all ingredients are completely blended.  Fill muffin cups a little over half full and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until toothpick comes clean when inserted into the center.

Cool before removing them from the pan.

The Chobani Yogurt and skim milk helps make these muffins a bit healthier too.  You don’t’ have to feel so guilty when you eat one, or two…

Have you ever dreamed of opening a business?  What would it be?

That’s The Way The Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumbles

Here I was, all excited that I was (finally) going to share a new cookie recipe I’d found with you, and then… I started looking through my archives and I found that this recipe wasn’t quite as new to me as I had thought it was.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that I had made these chocolate chip cookies before – in 2013, as a matter of fact.

What threw me off?  The first recipe I followed came from the blog An Apple A Day, and the second recipe I followed came from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  I never realized the two recipes were identical –  with the exception that one recipe calls for 1/4 cup more of chocolate chips than the other.

I decided to go ahead with my post because these cookies are definitely worth making. 

And I dare say this is my all-time favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe to date.

Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?  Where did it come from?

Hearty Oatmeal Cookies with Mini White and Dark Chocolate Chips

Of all of the cookies out there I think the oatmeal cookie has to be the healthiest.  I mean really, how can a cookie recipe that calls for 3 cups of oatmeal be bad for you?  Talk about hearty, these cookies are just that.

I got this recipe from That Skinny Chick Can Bake.  (Thanks Liz!) I did make a few minor adjustments to the recipe.  I used margarine instead of butter,  increased the vanilla from one teaspoon to two, and used 1/2 cup of mini dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips instead of the butterscotch chips.  I also added a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter.  I noticed Liz’s cookies appear to have a slightly different texture than mine, but let me tell you this, these cookies are delicious!   I love how the white and dark chocolate chips compliment each other in these cookies. 

Hop over to the blog That Skinny Chick Can Bake to get her original recipe.  And take special notice in what Liz dipped her cookies in.  Oh man!

Calling All Caramel Fanatics–Caramel Fudge Brownies

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Calling all caramel fanatics!  I use to think that if you set a plate of peanut butter brownies down in front of me at the same time you set a plate of caramel brownies down,  I’d reach for the peanut butter brownies first.  But these brownies might just have disproved that theory.

These brownies are the rave.  They have a unique buttery/nutty flavor that can be noted even through all of that yummy dark chocolate.  If you’re planning on making brownies in the near future then I suggest you give this recipe a try.

Because these are so rich I cut them into bite sized pieces to serve them.  And then, I watched them disappear!

I modified my original recipe for Triple Chocolate Brownies to create these Caramel Fudge Brownies.

Caramel Fudge Brownies

1 stick of butter, melted

1 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 c. dark chocolate chips, melted

1 tbsp. cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. caramel sauce (plus 1/4 c. for topping)

1/2 c.  mini dark chocolate chips

Line the bottom of an 8”x8” pan  with a piece of parchment paper.  Spray the sides with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and eggs.  Beat in caramel sauce and melted chocolate.  Add cocoa, baking powder, salt, and vanilla; mix thoroughly.  Add flour and mix until all ingredients are well blended.  Fold in mini chocolate chips.  Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely and then turn onto a cutting board.  Cut into desired sizes and drizzle caramel sauce on top.

You know, it’s not too late to whip up a batch of these for your Super Bowl party!

Cheesy Potato Casserole

There isn’t much I’m going to gab about in this post.  Other than how deliciously sumptuous and belly filling this Cheesy Potato Casserole is.

Yesterday was one of those days that I decided to play mad scientist in the kitchen.  And oddly enough, I wasn’t craving sweets like I normally do, I was craving a comfort food.  Maybe it’s because we’ve had such cold and blustery weather for days on end.  Or maybe it’s because I was preparing myself for a night of cozying up in front of the television to watch the latest episode of Downton Abbey.  Whatever the reason, this mad scientist made the best cheesy potato casserole in her history of cooking.

Since I opted to make this dish later in the day I missed the chance to get nice bright photo’s but I went ahead and took pictures anyways.

Cheesy Potato Casserole

1/2 of a 8 oz. brick of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated

1/2 of a 8 oz. brick of Pepper Jack Cheese, grated

2 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. diced onion

2 tbsp. diced red pepper

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 c. skim milk

1 pinch of salt

1/4 tsp. season salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 can of Cream of Potato Soup

5 mediums sized russet potatoes (with the skins on), sliced thin

1 1/2 cups French fried onions

2 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (set aside for topping)

Grease a large casserole dish with butter.  I used a 10” oval dish.

Grate the cheese into a large bowl.

Slice potatoes.  I used my Pampered Chef Mandoline to get the job done quickly.

Melt butter in skillet on low heat and lightly sauté onions, peppers, and garlic.

Add flour to sautéed vegetables and mix thoroughly.  On medium heat, stir in the skim milk making a white sauce.  Stir constantly until thickened.

Add potato soup, salt, pepper, and season salt to the white sauce, completely mix all ingredients.

Remove from heat.

Layer half of the potatoes on the bottom of the prepared dish.  Pour half of the sauce over the potatoes and sprinkle half the cheese over them. Then sprinkle half of the French fried onions on top.

Repeat the process.

Finish the dish by sprinkling the grated parmesan cheese on top.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees until potatoes are tender – about 1 hour.  Remove aluminum foil and bake for about 10-15 minutes more to brown the top of the casserole.

These potatoes are so good.  Cheesy, gooey, and crusty all in one dish!   I regret that I didn’t get a picture of the casserole bubbling and freshly baked.  We dug in before I even gave it a thought.

This would make a great dish to take to any potluck supper.  I can almost guarantee that you won’t have to worry about carting any leftovers home.

What is your favorite comfort food?