Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Two summers ago my neighbors gave me a giant zucchini from their garden. I shredded it, used some to make a loaf of zucchini bread, and froze the rest. Fast-forward to today and we are sheltering at home, eating out of the pantry and freezer, and limiting trips to the grocery store due to the current pandemic. Perfect time to pull out that frozen zucchini and make something delicious!

I started with King Arthur Flour’s 100% Whole Wheat Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bread recipe. But I wasn’t really feeling the “100% whole wheat” thing, so I went half and half with some all purpose flour. I also added sour cream just because, and made a few other adjustments. The result: a supremely moist, rich loaf best served as a decadent dessert.

By the way, if you’re looking for more things to make with zucchini, this Yeasted Lemon Zucchini Bread is a fun departure from the usual quick bread.

Makes 1 standard loaf

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini (about 1)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a standard loaf pan and line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, sour cream, oil, honey, brown sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Stir in the zucchini. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on a rack before serving.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-315-B Loaf Dish

Black Bean and Vegetable Stew

Judging by the empty shelves in the dried bean and legume aisle of our grocery store, beans are everyone’s go-to ingredient for cooking in a crisis. I’ve been using them a lot in soups and stews, because one-pot meals are easy, nutritious and comforting — just what we need right now. This black bean and vegetable stew is great ladled over some white or brown rice, but it would also be tasty with fresh tortillas, garlic bread, or just as a stand-alone dish.

If you don’t want to use dried beans, you can substitute 3 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed (reduce simmer time to about 20 minutes). To make a vegetarian version, omit the bacon, use olive oil to saute the vegetables, swap in vegetable broth and add 1 tsp smoked paprika.

Adapted from The Splendid Table’s Cuban Black Bean Stew.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

3 slices thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
3 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1 lb dried black beans
1 cup water
Juice from 2 limes
Salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Soak the beans in about 4 cups of water. You can do this overnight or use the quick soak method: In a large bowl, pour 4 cups of water over the beans, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

In a large pot over medium high heat, cook the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is starting to brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve about 1 tbsp of grease and discard the rest.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and jalapeño and saute until the onions and celery are translucent. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, then deglaze with about 2 cups of the chicken broth.

Stir in the spices, beans, reserved bacon, remaining broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Test beans for doneness. If they have not softened enough, give them more simmer time in 10-minute increments (add water as needed). Cooking time for dried beans varies widely by age and quality, but it typically shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.

Stir in lime juice, salt to taste and cilantro. Serve over rice.

Pictured: Descoware Flame Dutch Oven, Pyrex Spring Blossom 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Grab-It Bowl

Orange Cardamom Blueberry Muffins

It’s Sunday morning and I’m baking on a rainy day. But this is no ordinary rainy day: It’s also day 3 of our new social distancing routine. For the next three weeks, our schools are closed, we’re working from home and we’re trying to limit our contact with other people and places. Doing our part to protect public health during this global coronavirus pandemic!

So, today baking serves two purposes: It’s a stress-relieving activity, and it’s restocking our supply of muffins (my daughter’s favorite breakfast) so we don’t have to go to the grocery store for a while. And the muffins are pretty delicious, too.

Adapted from Food and Wine‘s Blueberry-Sour Cream Muffins.

Makes one dozen muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 heaping cup frozen blueberries, tossed with 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp coarse sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan (or use paper liners).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. In a large bowl, beat the egg, then beat in the sugar and melted butter until smooth and pale yellow in color. Add the yogurt, vanilla extract and orange zest, and beat until well combined. Stir in the dry ingredients a little at a time, then fold in the blueberries.

Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to portion the batter into muffin cups, filling them about three-quarters full. Sprinkle liberally with sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer the muffins from the pan to a cooling rack.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Snack-It Plate

Curry Roasted Potatoes and Cauliflower

When you think of curry, potatoes and cauliflower, the first thing that comes to mind might be aloo gobi, the classic Indian dish (and a favorite in our house). But simply roasting them gets you similar flavors with a lot less prep required. This makes a great weeknight side — doable in well under an hour, even if you are a slow chopper.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1 head cauliflower, cut in florets
2 small red onions, cut in 1/2-inch wedges
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and adjust rack to upper third position.

In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, cauliflower, red onions and olive oil, and toss to coat. Sprinkle in curry powder and a couple generous pinches of salt, and toss until well distributed.

Spread out the vegetable mixture on a well oiled baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are tender, about 35 minutes. Turn on the broiler and brown the veggies for 1-2 minutes more, then serve.

Pictured: Corning Ware April DC-1 1/2-B Designer Casserole

Smoky Vegetable Spice Blend

When grilling vegetables we typically keep it simple: olive oil, salt and pepper. But lately I’ve been in the mood for something different, so I tried adding some smoky spices to the mix.

Try this blend on pretty much any vegetable: asparagus, broccolini, green beans, zucchini, eggplant, cabbage wedges … the possibilities are endless. We usually cook on a gas grill, but roasting in an oven is another tasty option.

Ingredients

1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
salt
pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together chili powder, smoked paprika and garlic powder.

Drizzle vegetables with olive oil, then season with spice mixture, salt and pepper to taste. (Save excess spices for a later use.) Grill on a barbecue or roast in a hot oven.

Pictured: Corning Ware Garden Harvest A-10-B Skillet

5 Instant Pot Recipes to Make Over and Over Again

I was late to the Instant Pot craze, and I never thought anything could replace my beloved slow cooker. But the magic and speed of pressure cooking has really won me over! I’ve tried a bunch of different recipes and experimented on my own a bit, and everything has generally come out pretty good. When it comes to recipes that I’d want to make again, though, only five have made the cut so far. Here they are, in no particular order.

Note: I use the 8-qt Instant Pot Duo Plus, but I think all of these recipes would work in the 6-qt size Instant Pot or other similar pressure cookers.

Instant Pot Perfect Brown Rice Pilaf
This is my new favorite way to cook brown rice. It comes out nutty and flavorful, with just the right texture, and goes well with just about any entree.

Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Masala
This curry tastes complex but is truly no-fuss. I like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, which changes the pressure cooking time to 8 minutes. I also prefer to stir in the spinach at the end, rather than pressure cooking it as the recipe directs.

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
This rivals the brown rice pilaf as the recipe I’ve made the most. It’s super easy, infinitely customizable, and smoky-spicy-delicious.

Instant Pot Korean Ground Beef
One of the fun things about this recipe is that it employs the pot-in-pot method, where the rice cooks in a separate bowl at the same time as the beef. The beef is really yummy on its own, but also makes a great taco filling.

Easy Pressure Cooker Pork Chile Verde
Just wow! Besides being both easy and delicious, this recipe is fascinating because it does not call for any liquids up front. The onions, chiles, tomatillos and pork release enough moisture to attain pressure in the cooking process, and provide ample sauce. So much sauce, even, that I think I will try using 5 lbs of pork next time rather than the 4 in the recipe.

Pictured: Corning Ware Grab-It Bowl, Corning Ware Grab-a-Meal Bowl, Pyrex Salad Bowl 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Gold Wreath 043 Oval Casserole

Any Bean Hummus with Miso

One of my favorite things to do is cook with pantry staples — I love it when all the ingredients I need are already in my kitchen. So recently when I was in the mood for hummus, I decided to make my own. Since I didn’t have any chickpeas, I used black beans instead. Also I’ve been experimenting with making my own miso (and using it to add umami to lots of different dishes), so I threw that in too. The hummus turned out great, and I’m convinced the recipe would work well with just about any type of bean.

Admittedly, miso and tahini may not be staples for most people, but they are great to have on hand, if only to make more hummus!

Ingredients

1 can beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp tahini
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp lemon juice (about one lemon)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white miso
1/2 tsp cumin
salt

In a medium bowl, combine beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, miso and cumin. Use an immersion blender (or food processor) to puree until smooth. Add more oil or a little water if needed for desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

Pictured: Pyrex Butterfly Gold 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Wheat W-43-B Petite Pan, Corning Ware Wheat W-1-B Casserole

Easter Dinner 2019

We had a phenomenal Easter feast this year, but it sadly did not involve very many vintage dishes! Still, I’m making a record of it because I want to remember the recipe I used for our ham: The bourbon orange glaze was excellent. It was my first time doing a ham, and it came out super moist and seasoned just right. I added a spoonful of homemade miso to the glaze for extra umami, so perhaps that’s what made it!

Overall it was a great meal with family and friends.

Menu:

  • Bourbon Orange Glazed Ham (recipe)
  • Grilled Tri-Tip
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Mashed Potato Casserole with Cheddar and Green Onions (recipe)
  • Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing (recipe)
  • Caesar Salad
  • Individual Yorkshire Puddings

Pictured: Corning Ware April DC-1 1/2-B Designer Casserole

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner 2019

Corned beef and cabbage is a must for any St. Patrick’s Day feast. And if haven’t cured your own corned beef, you’ve gotta try it! It really is pretty easy if you plan ahead — like brining a turkey, but for 5-7 days. The one special ingredient you need is curing salt (sodium nitrite), also known as prague powder or pink salt (not the same as Himalayan pink salt). It’s easiest to purchase online — I bought this one a couple years ago and it will probably last me forever.

Typically corned beef is made from brisket — but any tough cut will do (must be suited for long, slow cooking, like a pot roast). So this time I’m trying it with a chuck roast. That has led to a slight hiccup in my menu planning: Because the roast is thicker than a brisket, there’s no room for cabbage in my slow cooker! Consequently I’ve added a mustardy coleslaw to the lineup, which I think complements the corned beef pretty well.

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day menu:

  • Home-Cured Corned Beef (roughly based on this curing recipe and this cooking recipe)
  • Mashed Potato Casserole with Cheddar and Green Onions (recipe)
  • Braised Collard Greens (recipe: Braised Winter Greens from Cook’s Illustrated‘s More Best Recipes)
  • Mustardy Cabbage and Apple Slaw (recipe)

Pictured: Corning Ware Green Macrame P-332 Roaster, Corning Ware April DC-1 1/2-B Designer Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 043 Oval Casserole, Pyrex Verde 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl

Mashed Potato Casserole with Cheddar and Green Onions

Sure, regular mashed potatoes are tasty. But with a couple of extra steps, you can turn them into something even more delicious — mashed potato casserole! I must admit that another motivation for making this dish was to use a vintage casserole dish from my collection. Corning Ware is a particularly handy choice, because you can assemble the casserole ahead, refrigerate it overnight, then pop it in the oven with no risk of thermal-shock-induced breakage.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
8 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 green onions, chopped fine
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 1 1/2-quart baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

In a large pot, combine potatoes with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cook until softened, about 15 minutes.

Drain the potatoes, then put back in the pot. Add 7 tbsp butter, cut into smallish pieces. Mash with a potato masher until butter has melted and is mixed in. Add sour cream, milk, garlic powder and salt and mash until smooth. Stir in green onions and 1 cup of the Cheddar.

Transfer the potato mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly. (At this point the casserole can be covered and refrigerated overnight, if desired. Leave out at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking, and extend cooking time as needed.)

Melt 1 tbsp butter. In a small bowl, combine with bread crumbs and stir until butter is evenly incorporated. Stir in 1/2 cup Cheddar, then sprinkle the mixture over the potatoes.

Bake, uncovered, until topping is lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes.

Pictured: Corning Ware April DC-1 1/2-B Designer Casserole