Thursday, December 27, 2012

Soft Ginger Cookies


I know that autumn and the holidays are mostly behind us, but I had to share this delicious recipe with you. These are soft ginger cookies, full of spice and sweetness, and perfect to eat when the weather is cold outside. One bite of these cookies, and you will be thinking of gingerbread and Christmas and that timeless flavor that we all love during the fall and winter.

I found this treasure of a recipe on allrecipes.com, with just a teeny bit of adaptation. I'd highly recommend you jump over to the original recipe and read some of the tips and raving reviews about these cookies, as I don't do them justice here.


First, you'll want to combine the dry ingredients into one bowl: flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.


What makes this recipe is the perfect blend of so many sweet spices.

Mix them all together and set the bowl aside.


In a large bowl, start with 3/4 cup butter, room temperature.


Add white sugar, one cup's worth.


Blend the butter and sugar together until creamy.


Add one egg and mix it in.


Add a tablespoon of water . . . 


. . . and 1/4 cup of molasses.

Molasses is so rich and flavorful--a timeless taste.


Mix the molasses in.


Then start to incorporate the flour and spice mix, one cup and a time.


If you're mixing it by hand (like I did), your arm will have quite the workout by the end.

But it's SO worth it!


Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and coat them with sugar.

Then bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the centers have set.

Be careful not to overcook!


These are such a treat! 

Eat with milk or hot chocolate.

Soft Ginger Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons white sugar (for coating)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Blend well and set aside.

2) In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar and cream together. Add the egg, water, and molasses and stir until evenly blended. Mix in flour and spice mixture one cup at a time until fully incorporated.

3) Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and coat in remaining sugar. Place an inch apart on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the centers have set. Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing. Store in an airtight container. 

Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Cake


This is one of the best cakes I've ever eaten, hands down. The super moist texture and rich, chocolatey taste alone sold me, but the fact that the eggs and dairy are replaced with shredded zucchini makes it healthier than your average cake, which for me is a definite win!

I found this recipe on allrecipes.com, with over 1,800 reviews and 4 1/2 stars! If you have loads of zucchini to use up from your garden, this is your recipe. Once you use zucchini in your cakes, you won't go back. It's really that good.


First, start with 1/2 a cup oil (or applesauce). 

I've used a few different kinds of oil for this and found I liked olive oil the most.


Add 1 1/2 cups of sugar


And 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.


Mix it together.


Add 2 cups of flour.


And 1/2 a cup of cocoa powder.


Next, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda.


And 1 teaspoon salt.


Mix it all together.

At this point, you will be wondering how in the world a cake will be made out of all these dry ingredients.


But that's where our friend shredded zucchini comes in.

You'll want to use a fine grater to shred up your zucchini. 

You need super fine shreds that are almost a puree.

Using bigger shreds will result in unevenly distributed moisture in your cake, which will make it dry with big strings of zucchini strewn in every bite. Ew.

Fine shreds, my friends.


Mix in 2 cups of finely shredded zucchini.


Voila! Your dry mix has suddenly transformed into cake batter!

(If this doesn't happen, your zucchini wasn't shredded enough!)


Pour the mix into a greased 9x13-inch pan.


Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

The cake is done when a toothpick comes out almost clean.

You'll also notice that the middle of the cake bounces back when you touch it, once it's completely baked.


In my opinion, this cake is best served at room temperature, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

If you like frosting, try my basic frosting recipe with added cocoa powder!

Yum. This is sooooo delicious!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Mildly adapted from allrecipes.com

1/2 cup olive oil (or applesauce)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, or gluten-free substitute
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely-shredded zucchini (almost puree)
powdered sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.

2) In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until just blended.

3) Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Batter will be very dry. 

4) Add finely-shredded zucchini and fold into mix until batter is formed. Pour mixture into pre-greased baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out almost clean and the center of the cake bounces back when touched.

5) Sprinkle with powdered sugar or spread with basic frosting.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Basic Frosting


This is a basic, healthier recipe for frosting that tastes light and settles into a shiny glaze. It makes the perfect amount for a single cake, a dozen cupcakes, or a pan of brownies. You can mix it up in just a couple of minutes, so hopefully you'll never have to resort to the icky canned stuff again!


In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup butter (room temperature).


Add 3 tablespoons milk (I use skim) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (not shown).


And up to 4 cups of powdered sugar. Start with one cup, then work your way up until the frosting reaches desired thickness.


This is a recipe I've always just eyeballed, so feel free to measure it out to your preference.

For chocolate frosting, add 2/3 a cup of cocoa powder before mixing in powdered sugar.


This is super delicious and easy to make!


Basic Frosting

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(Optional: 2/3 cup cocoa powder for chocolate frosting)
3 cups powdered sugar, plus more to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together butter, milk, vanilla, and cocoa powder (optional). Whisk powdered sugar in one cup at a time, until frosting reaches desired thickness. Store up to a week in the refrigerator.

Frosts one cake, a dozen cupcakes, or a pan of brownies

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Freezable Shredded Chicken


So many of the dinner recipes I use regularly call for cooked chicken, which means I have to A) have raw chicken on hand, and B) cook the raw chicken. This recipe for slow cooked shredded chicken has saved me so much time, not to mention icky raw chicken-covered hands (eww).

I found this recipe on Pinterest, which led me to this website. Please check it out!

Using only salt, pepper, garlic and chicken breasts, this recipe is very simple, cooks up to perfection in the slow cooker, freezes beautifully, and can be used in virtually any dish that calls for cooked chicken. That's a win in my book!

I usually stock up on organic (pasture fed) chicken when it's on sale and double (or even triple) the recipe at the beginning of each month. That way, I have a month's worth of chicken stocked in my freezer to be used. 

In short, it's awesome, friends.


First place up to 4 pounds of raw chicken in the slow cooker.


In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup water.


A half teaspoon of salt.


A half teaspoon of pepper.


And a heaping amount of minced garlic.


Mix it all together.


Pour the mixture over the chicken.


Don't worry about even distribution; it will all blend together during the cooking time.
Cook on low for 8-10 hours.


It will smell amazing in your kitchen!

At the end of the cooking time, the chicken will be tender enough to shred itself, practically.


Shred it up and use it immediately or let it cool down for a bit and freeze!


For freezing, label a few freezer quart baggies.


Spoon about 1 pound of shredded chicken into each baggie and let it cool enough to place in freezer.


For defrosting, just place a baggie in the fridge for a day, and voila! 
You'll have shredded chicken for any recipe!

Freezable Shredded Chicken
Mildly Adapted from food.com

2-4 pounds of chicken breasts
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic

1) Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a small bowl, mix together water, salt, pepper and garlic. Pour it over the chicken.

2) Cook on low for 8-10 hours. When fully cooked, shred chicken with two forks.

3) For freezing, place chicken in quart-sized freezer bags and freeze for up to 6 months.

4) For reheating, place frozen chicken in the refrigerator for 24 hours.