Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread


 My brother’s lush backyard garden, which sprouted the above mammoth zucchinis, inspired me to make something with the vegetable while it is at the peak of the season.  While incorporating the zucchini into a nice fresh frittata would have been the healthy way to go, I was in the mood for baking and opted for something sweet.  I halved Paula’s recipe in order to make a single loaf, and omitted the pecans and orange zest.  Though it needed to bake much longer in my oven than Paula suggested, this was delicious!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread:

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup zucchini, grated
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (this was a few too many–next time I would use only 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  Sift together flour, salt, spices, and baking soda.

In a large bowl beat eggs until fluffy.  Add sugar and continue beating until blended.  Stir in oil, vanilla, zucchini and chocolate chips.  Stir in sifted ingredients.  Pour into greased loaf pan.

Bake for 50-65 minutes.  (Mine baked about 62 minutes.)  Remove from pan and cool.


Recipe adapted from Paula Deen’s recipe found here on


Ground Turkey Risotto

I came upon this recipe in a Pillsbury cookbook I found at the grocery store and I am glad I did!  It was delicious!  The beef broth provided a very rich taste and the parmesan cheese offered a very nice creamy texture as well as a kick of fresh flavor.  The chives added some nice color and freshness as well.  This was a satisfying and delicious weeknight dinner and I will certainly make it again.

Ground Turkey Risotto:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (this recipe called for ground beef but I used turkey instead to keep the dish lean)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 cups freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped

In a 12 inch skillet (do not use non-stick) over med/low heat saute onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are tender.  Add ground meat and pepper.  Cookmeat  until it is no longer raw.  Add rice and cook stirring rapidly for two minutes.  Stir in beef broth and bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 10-20 minutes.  (The amount of simmer time depends on the type of rice you chose.  I used a short grain dense brown rice requiring much more cooking time than a white rice would have.)  Add chopped carrot and cook uncovered for an additional 5-7 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.  Remove skillet from heat and stir in parmesan cheese.  Cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes.  Sprinkle with chopped chives and serve. 

Recipe adapted from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks: Hamburger and Chicken shown here.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars


I was assigned to make a dessert for a potluck picnic, and while I love making cupcakes,  I needed something that would travel well.  These bars are delicious!  And who can resist PB&J?  I considered going “old school” by using the tradtional PB counterpart grape jelly, but instead trusted Ina’s suggestion of raspberry jam and it worked out really well.  That said, I don’t think you could go wrong by using different types of jams or jellies, seedless or with seeds.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temp)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberry jam (or any flavored jam or jelly)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

Grease and flour a 9 by 13 glass pan.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar using an electric mixer on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture.

Spread and press 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam.  (This is what will give you the nice crumbly topping!)  Sprinkle with sugar.*

Cool entirely before cutting into squares.

*The recipe calls for sprinkling with coarsely chopped peanuts.  I omitted peanuts and sprinkled with sugar instead.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe found here on

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

The Magnolia Bakery in New York City is known for its cupcakes.  The bakery has received much acclaim and several appearances in pop culture.  (A Sex and the City episode is the first that comes to mind!) Though I have never been in the bakery (though I did walk by once and the line was out the door!) I figured I could trust the simple vanilla on vanilla recipe.  Boy were these delicious!  The cake light was fluffy, with a nice vanilla flavor.  The frosting was so sweet and creamy!  However, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, I warn you against these! 

Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour*
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 sticks butter (softened)
  • 2 cups suger
  • 4 eggs (at room temp)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl combine the flours and set aside.

In a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream the butter until smooth.  Gradually add the sugar  and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes.

Magnolia’s Vanilla “Buttercream”:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 box of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and then the milk and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes until the icing is thick enough to be piped.  After frosting these cupcakes I sprinkled some clear sugar crystals on top of each.

*I am told self-rising flour can be purchased, however, when I did not see it at my local grocery store I went ahead and made it myself without much trouble.  The standard rule is for every one cup of self-rising flour your recipe calls for add 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of all purpose flour and sift. 

Recipe adapted from Magnolia’s Vanilla Cupcake and Buttercream recipe found here on

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Icing


I was set on making fruit-flavored cupcakes and I hemmed and hawed over which fruit flavor for longer than anyone should hem and haw about fruit-flavored cupcakes, or anything fruit-related for that matter.  I considered orange, lime, pineapple, apple, watermelon and even grape.  I even considered different combinations of frosting and cake–lemon cake with lime frosting, orange cake with lemon frosting, vanilla cake with pineapple frosting.  I think the heat was getting to me–I almost forgot I do have more important things to think about!   Before spiralling too far into a fruit-salad hysteria I took a cold shower.  It was then that I settled on crisp, simple, refreshing: lemon.  And I am happy with the decision.  The cake was nice and fluffy with just the right amount of lemon flavor.  The icing was smooth and sweet–nicely balanced by the tartness of the lemon.    


Lemon Cupcakes:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • lemon zest of 2 lemons
  • lemon juice of 2 lemons

Preheat over to 325 degrees.  Insert liners into 2 cupcake pans.  In a large bowl cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time to creamed mixture, beating 1 minute after each addition.

In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixure, alternating with the milk.  Add the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Mix until incorporated.

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Lemon Icing:

  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon

In a large bowl cream together sugar and butter with an electric mixer until smooth.  Mix in the lemon zest and lemon juice.  Spread over cooled cupcakes. 

Lemon cupcake recipe and lemon icing recipe adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella.

Irish Cream Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Glaze

 I would not be honest if I didn’t tell you I was in quite a rush when I made these cupcakes!  They were a last minute decision and I made them using ingredients already in my cupboards.  Nonetheless, I think they came out pretty well.  The Irish Cream flavor was strong but not overbearing.  Next time I think I will try frosting with a vanilla buttercream instead of the chocolate glaze, but time was not on my side (that seems to be a theme on this blog!) and I went with a simple chocolate glaze. 

I think these would be great for St. Patty’s day, especially with some shamrock embelishments.   

Irish Cream Cupcakes:

  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (I used salted)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/3 cups Irish Cream Liquor (I used Bailey’s)
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Insert liners into cupcake pan.  In a large bowl cream together sugar and butter.  Add the vanilla and eggs.  Beat well.  In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  In a third bowl mix Irish Cream with milk.  Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternating with the liquid mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Beat on medium speed for two minutes.  Fill the cupcake papers 3/4 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  Cool cupcakes in pan.  Makes 24 cupcakes.

Milk Chocolate Glaze:

  • whipping cream
  • coarsely chopped milk chocolate*

Heat the whipping cream until it is bubbling but not boiling.  Remove it from the stove and add the chopped up chocolate.  Whisk cream and chocolate together.  Add more cream or chocolate to reach desired consistency.  After the cupcakes cooled I drizzled the glaze over each.

*I was low on milk chocolate chips so I used a solid Godiva chocolate bunny that I have been holding on to!  Talk about improvising–haha!  I did feel bad watching his paws melt, but there was no time to run to the store!

Irish Cream Cupcakes adapted from Crazy about Cupcakes by Krystina Castella

Milk Chocolate Glaze adapted from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans

Chicken Sausage Burgers

I thought these burgers were delicious!  Because of the fennel seed and other spices, they tasted very much like sausage patties, but fresh, and without all of that fat.  Also, the red pepper gave them a nice kick!  I found them to be much more interesting than traditional burgers–a nice way to add some depth to typical cookout food.

Chicken Sausage Burgers:

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 pound ground turkey (package actually contained about 1.5 lbs of meat, which was fine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • juice of one orange
  • 2 generous handfuls of grated parmigiano cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Place the ground meat in a bowl and add the fennel seed, red pepper flakes, allspice, orange zest, garlic, salt and pepper.  Using your hands, mix the meat with the seasoning and form about seven patties.   Make a shallow dent in the top of each burger to prevent the burger from bulging as it cooks.  Place burgers on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Drizzle burgers liberally with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on the top of each.  Layer wax paper between layers of burgers.  Cook on low heat on the grill (about 10 minutes on each side) until there is no longer pink in the center.  Be careful not to overcook.  Serve on fresh crusty rolls slathered with sweet BBQ sauce. 

These were juicy and delicious!

recipe notes: makes about 7 medium size burgers, recipe called for orange zest, which I omitted, recipe only used chicken, but I used half turkey half chicken to make the burgers a little tastier and less dry, I doubled this recipe, which is why there are 14 burgers in the photo.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray’s recipe found here on