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Zucchini Bread – Made with Spaghetti Squash!

Hi Everyone! I know I’ve been pretty absent here this summer, but I promise I am getting back to baking and will be bringing you lots of new recipes soon! I am so ready for fall – fall weather, fall flavors, fall color. It’s my favorite time of year. 🙂

But for those of you still clinging on to summer, and the bounty of your vegetable garden, I have one more summer recipe for you. Actually, with the cinnamon, it tastes like the start of fall, but it’s a great way to use up your squash.

This was originally my mom’s zucchini bread recipe, and people LOVE this bread. It’s got a nice strong cinnamon flavor and is super moist because of the zucchini. I was gifted a spaghetti  squash from a co-worker, and of course I was immediately challenged to bake something with it. I wondered if I could use it in place of zucchini in baked goods. So I did a little research, crossed my fingers, and went for it. 

This is the second recipe I’ve tried using that substitution, and I can’t tell the difference between the original and the spaghetti squash version. Yes – it works! The only difference is that you have to cook, and shred, the spaghetti squash first, whereas the zucchini is shredded and added to the batter raw. Also, you need to measure the squash by weight, since it is much more dense than shredded zucchini. 

Yes, you can absolutely use zucchini as originally intended. And while I used walnuts in mine, as always, the nuts are optional or changeable. Pecans are always delicious in sweet breads. Hazelnuts or macadamia nuts would be really interesting too.  This recipe uses only cinnamon, but you could change that up too. Add in a little bit of nutmeg or cloves for more of a fall flavor. And you can absolutely bake this in standard 8″x4″ loaf pans. I couldn’t resist trying out this beautiful new swirl pan I just got. And I have to say that I am loving it.

Serve this warm or at room temperature. Or toast it and spread on a little butter. Or cream cheese. Or, if you want to go all out, drizzle on some cream cheese icing for a decadent treat. I think I need to go make another batch of this and do just that….


Print Recipe
Zucchini Bread - with Spaghetti Squash!
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings
Loaves
Ingredients
Course Breakfast, Dessert
Servings
Loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick and very light yellow in color.
  2. Whisk in oil and vanilla until combined.
  3. Stir in shredded zucchini or squash.
  4. Combine dry ingredients and stir into batter along with nuts, if using, just until combined.
  5. Pour into two 8"x4" greased loaf pans.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F for 60-70 minutes. (See notes).
  7. Cool 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or room temperature.
  8. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days at room temperature or a week refrigerated.
Recipe Notes
  • Zucchini should be grated raw, with or without the peel.
  • Spaghetti squash should be cooked (steamed or baked) and shredded before adding to batter.
  • If you are using larger loaf pans (like the pan I used, or a 9"x5" pan) the bread will cook faster. Start checking after 35 minutes.
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Coffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking you don’t need another chocolate chip cookie recipe. But you’re wrong. Because not only is this cookie delicious and different than most of your chocolate chip cookie recipes, this one doesn’t have to be a chocolate chip cookie.

This recipe is based off of a recipe we made all the time as kids. We always had homemade cookies in our school lunch. Always. (My mom is the best. 🙂 ). The oatmeal chocolate chips cookies were a regular and a favorite. I was thinking about them the other day, and I thought they might be improved with a bit of coffee. (I was right). I made a few other changes (took out one egg white, used all brown sugar, melted the butter) to make them even chewier. Also a good idea.

But as I said, these don’t have to be chocolate chip cookies. In fact, the original recipe called for either chocolate chips OR shredded coconut. You could absolutely make that substitution here. Or add chopped nuts. Or dried fruit (you know, like raisins, if you’re in to that kind of thing). Or any combination of the above. The coffee is not an overwhelming flavor, but it really does add an interesting element to the cookie. Yes, you can leave it out. Or, if you want a real coffee punch, use up to twice the amount I’ve called for.

One thing you shouldn’t do is skip the chilling the dough step. Especially when using the melted butter, you really need to chill the dough to get a thicker, chewy cookie. Unless you want a thinner, crispier cookie. In which case, you should bake these as soon as they are mixed. (But seriously, why would you want that??) Whatever way you make these, you should definitely make them soon. I was informed that these are “husband approved”, and that I didn’t need to bring these in to the office to share. (Sorry guys!) 🙂

Print Recipe
Coffee Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine melted butter and brown sugar and mix well.
  2. Add egg, egg yolk, coffee (dissolved in water), and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips or other mix-ins.
  5. Refrigerate dough at least 30 minutes.
  6. Scoop chilled dough by heaping tablespoons onto cookie sheets.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown and just set. Do not overbake.
  8. Cool completely on wire rack. Store in airtight container up to a week.
Recipe Notes
  • Use any flavor chips you like.
  • Substitute chopped nuts, shredded coconut, and/or dried fruit.
  • Use any combination that sounds good to you!
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Cherry Chocolate Chip No-Churn Ice Cream

Is it warm enough for ice cream where you live? It’s been warm off and on here, but the truth is we will eat ice cream all year long. 🙂

Do you remember the cherry curd I made? I mentioned at the time that you could swirl it into ice cream, and that’s exactly what I did with it! I have made a few no-churn ice creams over the years, and I have to say that I love them. I have an ice cream maker as well, and have made traditional ice cream too, but I really do love the simplicity and texture of the no-churn varieties.

It only takes a few ingredients for the base, and it is endlessly customizable. And there is no chill time, then churn time, then freezer time like traditional ice cream. You mix the ingredients together and stick it in the freezer for a few hours to harden. That’s it. Homemade ice cream in six hours or so. You really can’t beat that!

So the base starts with just a can of sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. Whip the cream to firm peaks and fold it into the condensed milk. For vanilla ice cream, just add some vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. Or go crazy with your add-ins. Choose any other extract that sounds good to you. Stir in nuts or chocolate pieces, or drizzle in fudge sauce or caramel. Or do like I did and fold in cherry, or any fruit, curd. You can stir in some cocoa powder to the sweetened condensed milk before adding the whipped cream. I made one that called for a melting peanut butter into the condensed milk before adding the whipped cream.

For this particular recipe, I folded about a cup of the cherry curd into the base along with about a half cup of mini chocolate chips. I prefer the mini chips in ice cream because they aren’t as hard to eat when frozen as a larger chip is. I stirred the curd almost completely into the base, but you can leave it as streaky as you’d like. Place the mix into a freezer-safe container, and add a drizzle of curd to the top. Cover tightly and freeze for four to six hours, or until the ice cream is hard.

This no-churn ice cream is so smooth and creamy, I really do prefer it to regular ice cream any more. And it’s so easy to make, there really is no excuse not to try it! 


Print Recipe
Cherry Chocolate Chip No-Churn Ice Cream
Course Dessert
Servings
Course Dessert
Servings
Instructions
  1. Beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until firm peaks form.
  2. Fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk until almost fully combined.
  3. Fold in the cherry curd and chocolate chips until well distributed or fully incorporated, depending on your preference.
  4. Place into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 4 to 6 hours, or until ice cream is firm.
Recipe Notes

Variations:

Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla or any other extract to the sweetened condensed milk before folding in the whipped cream.

Stir in any nuts or candies of your choice (about 1 to 1 1/2 cups total) after folding in whipped cream.

Melt 2/3 cup peanut butter and mix into the condensed milk before folding in the whipped cream.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup cocoa powder to the condensed milk before folding in the whipped cream.

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Mocha Irish Cream Cupcakes for St. Patrick’s Day

It snowed this morning!! We have had almost no snow this year, and actually hit 80 degrees last week, and I was missing winter. But I woke up this morning to big wet snowflakes! That has absolutely nothing to do with these cupcakes, but I was so excited I just had to share. 🙂  

Anyway, on to the cupcakes! Do you guys do anything special for St. Patrick’s Day? Do you attend a parade, or bake anything special? I’ve never really celebrated it much, but a few weeks ago I was in Michaels, mostly just browsing, but with my Cherry Chocolate Chip Rolls in mind. I was supposed to be looking for something Valentine’s Day related while I was walking down the baking aisle, and then I spotted these St. Patrick’s Day sprinkles.

 

I decided I had to have them, but then I had to figure out what to do with them. Cupcakes sounded like a good idea, but what kind? So I started searching Pinterest for St. Patrick’s Day ideas. It seems like Irish cream is pretty popular right now. And since Irish cream has a lot of the same flavors as mocha, I decided to incorporate in into a favorite mocha cake of mine. And make them cupcakes, because cupcakes are just more fun.

I thought it might be easier (and cheaper!) to use an Irish cream coffee creamer. Since I don’t drink coffee, I had never tried the creamer before. Before I started trying to add it to my cake recipe, I tried it straight. Oh my goodness, you guys, it is SWEET. So I knew immediately I would have to reduce the sugar in the recipe. Thankfully, it turned out perfectly on my first attempt, but I sure am glad I tried the creamer first!

To top the cupcakes, I figure I might as well go all the way and make an Irish Cream buttercream. It was a good idea. The cupcakes aren’t overly sweet, so a nice big swirl of buttercream compliments them nicely. And it gives the sprinkles a pretty place to land. 🙂

If you aren’t a fan of Irish cream, or coffee in general, you can make some adjustments to this recipe pretty easily. Try any flavor of creamer that sounds good to you. And if you are using a non-mocha flavoring you can leave the instant coffee out of both the cake and frosting. Amaretto would be fantastic (I LOVE chocolate and almond together!). You can amp up the flavor by adding a little bit of almond extract. Or what about the salted caramel mocha? I might add some salted caramel into the buttercream for that one. A peppermint or peppermint mocha version would be fantastic at Christmas! For now, I’m going to stick with the Irish cream, but I definitely have other ideas brewing! 😉


Print Recipe
Mocha Irish Cream Cupcakes
Adapted from the Mocha Coffee Cake at Health.com. http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,50400000112136,00.html
Course Dessert
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Course Dessert
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners and spray lightly with non-stick spray.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Dissolve instant coffee granules in the coffee creamer and set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar until very well combined, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  6. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with first the sour cream and then the creamer. Mix just until combined after each addition.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the cupcake tins, filling each about 3/4 full.
  8. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  9. Cool completely before frosting. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Frosting
  1. Combine creamer and instant coffee. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter, shortening, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until well combined.
  3. Add half of the powdered sugar and beat until creamy. Add half of the creamer mixture and mix again.
  4. Add the remaining powdered sugar, followed by the remaining creamer mixture. Beat until combined.
  5. Turn mixture on high and beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time or creamer 1 tablespoon at a time to adjust consistency if necessary.
  6. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.
Recipe Notes

Buttercream makes enough to generously frost 24 cupcakes. If you prefer a smaller layer of frosting, cut recipe in half.

Substitute any flavor creamer for the Irish cream, eliminating the instant coffee granules if preferred. Enhance with extracts if desired. Almond in Amaretto, peppermint in peppermint mocha, etc.

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Mardi Gras Cookies, and Let’s Talk about Archaeology

Hi everyone! I’ve been kind of under the weather this week, so I decided to make a pretty simple cookie. They take almost no time to put together, they are delicious, and you can totally customize the colors to suit any occasion.

Since it’s a short and sweet recipe, I thought now would be the perfect time to talk a little about archaeology, and to show you some pictures from past projects I’ve been on. If you’re just here for the recipe, go ahead and scroll down to the bottom of the post – I won’t be offended. 🙂

For those of you who are interested in my “other” job, let’s run through a quick FAQ.

First, What is archaeology? Well, the biggest misconception is that archaeologists dig up dinosaurs. In fact, paleontologists deal with dinosaurs, while archaeologists deal with the human past. Specifically, the material remains left by humans. This includes everything from arrowheads and other stone tools to foundation remnants and broken plates and glasses.

Second, Why do archaeologists do what they do? There are a lot of ways to interpret this question, but here I am getting at the reason my job exists. Because of the Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and specifically Section 106, all federally funded or permitted projects have to undergo a historic and archaeological review to determine the impact that the project will have on any historic sites. That means if federal funds or permits are involved, archaeologists and/or historians have to survey the area to be impacted to determine if there are significant historic or archaeological sites that may be impacted. If there are, the project is either re-routed, or the site is excavated to retrieve any data possible.

So, finally, What do I actually do? The vast majority of the fieldwork that I do involves archaeological survey. In other words, I am out walking across the project area. In plowed fields, we simply look for artifacts that have been brought to the surface by the plowing. In pastures and other where the ground surface isn’t visible, we dig small holes at regular intervals, and pass the dirt through a mesh screen to look for artifacts. When we find artifacts or structure remnants like foundations, we record the site and report it’s location and any information we can gather to the state. If the state determines the site may be significant, we may have to return to do further testing on the site, and perhaps even full excavation, but this is rare. Many sites are not considered significant, that is, they won’t provide us new or important information. And those that are, or may be, or often avoided by the project by a re-route.

Ok. I’m sure I’ve bored you completely by now. 🙂  But now, its time for cookies. These really couldn’t be more simple. It’s a quick and easy dough to put together. Then you divide the dough in half, roll each half into a rectangle, and add sprinkles. Roll it up, chill it, slice it, and bake it. And like I said earlier, if you’re not celebrating Mardi Gras, or want to use the recipe for a different celebration, you can just change up the sprinkles. Think red, white, and blue for July 4th…or red and green for Christmas…or brown, yellow, and orange for the fall…or school colors for graduation. I could go on and on with all the ideas I have for this, but I’m sure you’ve got ideas too, so I’ll just give you the recipe so you can get baking!


Print Recipe
Mardi Gras Cookies
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Course Dessert
Servings
cookies
Instructions
  1. Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg and vanilla, and mix well.
  3. Add salt and flour, and mix until combined.
  4. Divide dough in half. Place one half onto a lightly floured piece of waxed paper. Dust lightly with flour and cover with another piece of waxed paper. (Or chill until firm enough to roll without sticking to the rolling pin.)
  5. Roll into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle, about 1/8-inch thick.
  6. Using one color of sprinkles at a time, coat the dough with a long "stripe" of sprinkles, covering about a third of the rectangle. Repeat with the remaining colors, lined up next to each other.
  7. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the long end.
  8. Wrap the dough cylinder in the waxed paper and refrigerate 1 hour, or freeze 15-20 minutes.
  9. Repeat with remaining half of dough.
  10. Remove waxed paper, and slice dough into 1/4-inch slices. Place on Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  11. Bake at 350 degress F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  12. Remove from baking sheet to cool completely. Store in airtight container up to one week.
Recipe Notes

Change the sprinkle colors to suit the celebration. For example, red, white, and blue for July 4th. Red and green for Christmas. School colors for a graduation, etc.

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