Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Cookies

Round two on the zucchini baking front. A simple and delicious recipe for moderately nutritions cookies that don't seem overly healthy - my favorite kind! Full of veggies AND whole grains it's all around a good idea. A touch of brown sugar for sweetness, a little coconut oil for the requisite fat. These little guys are perfectly sized for a little bite, just a snack. One is usually good for me, but if you need a little extra, eat two! They're soft, but not to the point of falling apart which sometimes can happen. The flour and egg hold them together nicely. Give them a go with that excess zucchini I'm sure your swimming in if you're anything like me. You won't regret it!

Like I stated above, I made these little guys bite sized, but feel free to make them bigger if that's more how you roll. You may need to add a minute or two to the baking time if you do, just use your good judgement. If you're feeling a little more indulgent feel free to increase the amount of brown sugar. I don't like my snacks to be too sweet so I cut back, but everyone is different. As written, these cookies don't spread a whole lot during baking. I pressed them down just a little before putting them in the oven so they'd be a little flatter. But again, however you'd like to roll. 

 
 

Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Cookies
Adapted from Little Dairy on the Prairie
Ingredients

  • 1 heaping cup zucchini, grated; approximately 1 medium, or 1/2 a large (I used 190 grams)
  • 1/3 cup (60 grams) coconut oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (40 grams) old fashioned oats
  • 2/3 cup (80 grams) oat flour
  • 1 cup (120 grams) wheat flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chocolate chunks (I used 35 grams, but you could certainly use more)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together egg, oil and vanilla. Add brown sugar and mix again. Add zucchini and mix until everything is well combined. 

Add oats, oat flour, whole wheat flour flour, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to a mixing bowl. Mix until mostly combined, then add the chocolate and mix until everything is combined and there are no more pockets of flour. 

Using a cookie scoop, drop 1½ inch pieces of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Transfer to the over and bake for 14-15 minutes.

Yields: 21 cookies

Zucchini Cardamom Bread

Every year when I see the mounds of zucchini at the farmers market I have good intentions about using it in plenty of baked goods over the weeks. I've found in the past however, I end up just roasting it all up and eating it before it makes its way into anything sweet. This year I told myself that I had to do some baking. And then when I was at the zucchini stall I picked up how much zucchini I thought I would want for the week, and then I bought twice as much! No going back, no choice but to bake!

One of the first things I set out to make was a nice zucchini bread. When I saw a recipe for cardamom zucchini bread (with chocolate!) it sounded like a delightful twist on a traditional bread so I went for it. The cardamom adds a lovely floral note to the bread. The 1 teaspoon called for in this recipe is definitely a hefty amount of cardamom, so if you're not a huge cardamom fan, or you're not sure if you like cardamom, you can always add half the amount to start and see how it goes. But I recommend giving it a try. The cardamom mixed with the dark chocolate chunks is a wonderful combination!

This recipe has a good 1.5-2 cups zucchini (doesn't have to be exact), and is sweetened with a touch of honey. I'm always looking to cut back on the amount of sugar in my diet, so I halved the amount of honey in this recipe and thought it turned out just fine. I didn't find it compromised the quality of the finished product, but if you're not sure if the 1/4 cup of honey will be enough, go ahead and use 1/2 cup honey.

I also swapped out 1/2 cup of the flour for 1/2 cup oat flour because I love oats in my bread, and love how healthy they are. If you don't have any oat flour you can use all wheat flour. Finally, I replaced some of the oil in the original recipe with Greek yogurt. I always have Greek yogurt on hand, and I love baking with it. You can use sour cream instead, or you can just use the full 1/2 cup of oil instead and skip the yogurt. I made all these little changes for myself based on what I like, but you can certainly make it your own based on what you like. It may change the final product slightly, but in the end I'm sure whatever you come up with will be perfectly edible! 

 
 

Zucchini Cardamom Bread
Adapted from Dishing up the Dirt
Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) honey
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated zucchini (about 1 medium-sized zucchini, or 1/2 of a large zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) oat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup dark chocolate (I used 40 grams)
  • A few hefty pinches of turbinado sugar for topping

Directions
Place an oven rack in the middle position of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, yogurt, honey eggs and vanilla, Stir in the zucchini. Mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients (being careful to not over-mix) adding in the chocolate partway through the mixing. 

Pour the batter into a lightly greased 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with the turbinado sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool the zucchini bread in the pan for about 15 minutes, then transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yields: 1 loaf

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers

I really needed to use some sourdough this weekend, but I've been enjoying some absolutely delicious naturally fermented local bread (Field and Fire Bakery anyone? If you're in GR you must check it out) and didn't have any need to make bread. Crackers it was! I have a beautiful rosemary bush outside that is doing great and decided a little rosemary, a little garlic, and a little olive oil baked into a simple cracker was a quick, easy and delicious was to use up a little starter to get me through until I'm ready to bake bread again.  

I halved the recipe for these crackers and it was perfect. Just the right amount of dough for one baking sheet. I actually used my pasta roller to roll out the dough to an even thickness. I went to setting 3 on my Atlas pasta roller and thought it was the perfect thickness. But a rolling pin and a little arm strength work just as well. Just keep an eye on the crackers while they are baking to ensure you don't burn some of the thinner crackers. 

 
 

Rosemary Olive Oil Crackers
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 grams) unfed sourdough starter
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1/2-1 whole garlic clove, finely minced
  • oil for brushing
  • coarse salt for sprinkling on top

Directions
Mix together the flour, salt, sourdough starter, olive oil rosemary and garlic to make a smooth(not sticky), cohesive dough. If dough is too wet add a few extra tablespoons of flour. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a small rectangular slab. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a couple of hours, until the dough is firm.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Very lightly flour a piece of parchment, your rolling pin, and the top of the dough. Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough to about 1/16" thick. 

Transfer the dough and parchment together onto a baking sheet. Lightly brush with oil and then sprinkle the salt over the top of the crackers.

Cut the dough into 1 1/4" squares; a rolling pizza wheel works well here. Prick each square with the tines of a fork. Bake the crackers for about 20 minutes, until the squares are starting to brown around the edges. When fully browned, remove the crackers from the oven, and transfer them to a cooling rack. Store airtight at room temperature for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.

Vacation at Lake Macatawa

Intern year is over! In some ways it went super fast, and in other aspects it was incredible slow. Regardless, I can hardly believe it's over. I'm ready to start year 2. It's crazy to think that by the end of this next year I'll be 2/3 done with residency, with only 1 year to go. To celebrate, Lara and I were able to get a few days off and we decided to spend these rare days off at the lake. My aunt and uncle generously allowed us to stay at their lake house in Holland, MI. Although the weather wasn't the most ideal for a lakeside vacation, some a little rain, a lot of clouds, it was still about as relaxing as possible, the perfect way to end out the year. Enjoy the pics!

 
 

 

Our first day included a trip to the local farmer's market after which our kitchen was overflowing with produce. Subsequently we ate very, very well! 

 

Lavender Honey Buckwheat Cookies

Once again it's one of my favorite seasons; lavender season! I love lavender so much, the sight of the elegant little purple flowers, the fragrance that heralds early summer, and of course, the delicate floral notes that add a little extra something special to baking when lavender buds are part of the mix. Of course, you don't want to go overboard and add too much lavender which can make you feel like you're eating a mouthful of potpourri, but in just the right amount in the right thing, lavender can really make your baking a little extra special; especially when using your own home-grown or home-foraged lavender. Last year I made some fantastic lavender cupcakes. This year one of my projects was these yummy little buckwheat cookies. A perfect couple of bites of sweetness balanced with the bitterness of the buckwheat and the floral lavender, a perfect combination. 

If going gluten or wheat free is something you're into, these cookies are a great option. In case you're wondering, buckwheat is actually not wheat, they're not even related. Buckwheat is the seed of a flowering plant that is related to rhubarb and sorrel. It has an unique flavor, somewhat bitter, but in a good way. I personally have no problem with wheat in any shape or form, but I still love these cookies. They use oat and buckwheat flours, softened butter, a little sugar and an egg. And of course, lavender. Because, tis the season!!

 
 

Lavender Honey Buckwheat Cookies
Adapted from Dishing Up The Dirt
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (60 grams) oat flour
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried lavender leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons (42 grams) honey
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) buckwheat flour
  • pinch of kosher salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside. 

Beat the butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes, until creamy and light. Add the lavender and honey and beat until well combined. Add the egg and mix well.

Add the oats, flour, and salt to the butter mixture. Mix until it forms a cohesive mixture. Divide the dough into 10-12 equal size balls. Place on baking sheet and press down gently with your fingers, or the bottom of a glass. (The cookies will not spread a lot when you bake them, so flattened them to the thickness you would like the finished product to be.)

Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Yields 12-14 small cookies, depending on how big you make them

Chocolate Coconut Crunch

ALERT: Highly Addictive Recipe!!! Be forewarned, you may end up eating the whole batch at once! If you're looking for something new and delicious to snack on, this is the recipe for you. Puffed kamut or rice (or other puffed grains) combined with coconut, cocoa and chocolate along with a little butter (mmmm!!) and maple syrup for sweetness and then baked turn out this addictive and delicious snack that you may not be able to stop eating! Don't say I didn't warn you!

This recipe has just the right amount of coconut to add richness and a hint of coconut flavoring without overwhelming the whole batch. Next time I make this I plan sprinkle some flake salt over the whole thing right before it goes in the oven for that wonderful salty/sweet combo. I used butter instead of coconut oil which is what the original recipe called for, and cut back just a little on the amount. I also decreased the maple syrup from 1/2 to 1/3 cup maple syrup and thought it was still plenty sweet. With the chocolate in there too I don't feel the need for as much maple syrup, but to eat their own! 1/4 cup? 1/2 cup? It really doesn't matter. What matters is how do you like it? I guess you'll have to try it and find out!

 
 
 
 

Chocolate Coconut Crunch
Adapted from Alexandra Cooks
Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup (120 grams) oats
  • 2 cups (30 grams) puffed kamut, alternatively you can use brown rice cereal or Rice Krispies
  • 1/2 cup (35 grams) shredded coconut
  • 3 tablespoons (15 grams) cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) butter or coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 ounces chocolate
  • 1/3 cup (110 grams) maple syrup

Direction
Preheat oven to 275ºF. In a large bowl, combine oats, puffed kamut or rice cereal, coconut, cocoa powder, and salt. Toss to combine.

Place the butter or coconut oil and dark chocolate together in a small bowl and microwave until completely melted. Stir to blend; then add to dry ingredients along with the maple syrup. Stir until well combined.

Turn mixture out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread into an even layer. Cook 35-40 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. To maintain large chunks, do not stir the mixture. Remove from oven and let cool. Break into shards or into small pieces.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins

For the last few weeks I've been resisting the rhubarb at the farmer's market for no particular reason. I didn't have anything specific in mind for what to do with it, so I kept walking right on by. However, this past week I realized that if I didn't pick some up it would soon be gone, and then I would be very sad that I didn't enjoy this lovely spring vegetable (?) when I had the chance. First thing up, some baking with the classic strawberry rhubarb combination. I couldn't resist. Why mess with success? 

I recently ran across this simple bran muffin recipe and thought it looked like a winner. Sweetened with molasses and a little honey as well as a some applesauce, it's definitely more on the healthier side of the muffin spectrum. Since I almost never have applesauce around, I replaced it with mashed banana making these strawberry rhubarb banana bran muffins. Yes, the banana adds some of it's characteristic flavor to the muffin, but with the deep flavor of molasses as well as the strawberry and rhubarb it's really not that noticeable. Plus, I love bananas so it didn't matter that much to me. If you prefer a more neutral flavor, stick with the original applesauce. 

I halved this recipe and ended up making 8 muffins. I was going to make 6 but there was too much batter for that! This may be due to the fact that I just threw in a banana that had been hanging out in my freezer for far too long without measuring it. The batter was likely a little wetter than it was supposed to be, but it all worked out deliciously in the end!

These muffins turned out moist and sticky, strongly flavored with molasses so if you're not such a huge molasses fan just be warned. I'm guessing you can replace some of the molasses with a little more honey, but I haven't tried that yet. However, these muffins were so easy and nutritions that I know I'll be experimenting with them more in the future. 

 
 

Strawberry Rhubarb Bran Muffins
Adapted from Food 52
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (30 grams) wheat bran
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup of a mix of chopped rhubarb and strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup (85 grams) molasses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400° F. In a large bowl, whisk together the wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the strawberries and rhubarb to the flour mixture.

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, molasses, honey, egg, banana, and oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Place 12 paper cups in a muffin pan, or grease the cups. Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cups. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Butcher Dinner on the farm: A Southern Style Barbecue Picnic

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be part of an absolutely amazing dining experience. My favorite local butcher held a farm dinner on one of the farms that they source their meet from. Lara and I took a little drive out to Coopersville and arrived at Hehlden Farm last Sunday night, where we experienced real farm to table eating. The whole meal was styled after a southern BBQ picnic, and it all centered around an entire smoked pig that was raised right there on the farm. Words cannot describe how delicious this meal was. We ate right there in one of the barns, enjoyed appetizers on hay bales, and got to walk out into the fields and meet the chickens. The food was amazing, the atmosphere could not have been better, and the entire experience was one to remember. Anyone who lives in Grand Rapids, or is driving through, should check out Louise Earl Butcher on Wealthy St to get a little taste of the amazing work they do. Until you do that, enjoy some shots of the wonderful night!

IMG_0723.jpg

Apps! House made charcuterie, local bread, and a lovely selection of wine and beer. 



<-- Checking out the chicken coops


The Menu:

Pig Roast, mopped with a Carolina BBQ sauce, mac & cheese, collards with tasso ham, red beans & rice, fried gizzards, and cornbread with cultured butter and honey. 
 

 


So excited to eat!! Bring on the pig!!

A big thank you to Matt and Cindy and the rest of the gang from Louise Earl Butcher for putting on such a wonderful event, and Matt and Amy from Hehlden farms for hosting! It really was a special night!