Posts Tagged: baking

Baking Break

Tonight H. went over to the house to work on some things, but I stayed here because I’ve fallen super behind on work. Whoops. And, okay, I did get a lot of work done, but I also took a little break to bake something because…well, because. That’s why. Life’s been pretty full of work lately, and sometimes you just need to step back and bake some chocolate zucchini bread.

Here’s the thing about baking: I’m pretty confident that I can do it. I am not really confident that I’m great at working on a house and my confidence in my writing waxes and wanes, but I know that I can pretty much always turn some sugar and flour into something everyone will want to eat. It’s nice to tackle something you know you can do every once in awhile. Thank God for recipes.

This chocolate zucchini bread comes together super easily, and if you have a lot of extra zucchini hanging out in your garden/CSA box/fridge, it’s the perfect way to use it. I’ve already made zucchini sautés, zucchini & panko bakes, and zucchini, cilantro, and lime stir-fries. Those things are all good, but you know what they don’t have? Chocolate.

I made a few changes to the recipe, mostly because I ran out of white sugar, but I stuck pretty closely to the original.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
adapted from Taste of Home

3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
3 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini

In a large bowl, beat the sugars, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder; gradually beat into sugar mixture until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

While I was baking, I listened to The X-Files Files, Kumail Nanjiani’s new-ish podcast devoted to, you guessed it, The X-Files. It’s pretty amazing if you love the show like I do. And if you haven’t seen the show, the first episode is a great introduction to why it’s so awesome. Mulder + Scully forever.

Make This Tonight: Joy the Baker’s Coconut Pineapple Banana Bread

winter2013 001
Banana bread isn’t always the most interesting baked good. People tend to make it only when they have rotting bananas they don’t want to waste, which isn’t exactly an auspicious beginning. But adding something else to banana bread makes it a little more exciting. Kind of like when a romantic comedy heroine looks frumpy, but then she removes her glasses and lets her hair down and all of a sudden dudes can’t resist her.

So I’ve been thinking a little too much about banana bread. You got me. But, as usual, Joy the Baker managed to make a pretty perfect recipe that’s unusual without being complicated. Adding pineapple and coconut to banana bread gives it a little something extra. Maybe it’s even sexy? Okay, so that might be taking the romantic comedy analogy a little too far. Banana bread is never capable of being sexy. But it is delicious, and vegan, which is great if you realize all the eggs in your fridge expired weeks ago. Not that I would know from experience.

Coconut Pineapple Vegan Banana Bread
adapted from Joy the Baker

makes one 9×5-inch loaf

2 large or 3 small very ripe bananas
1/4 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas really well. Add the sugar, pineapple, and oil and whisk briskly to incorporate.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined. Fold in the coconut.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and sprinkle with extra sugar if you’d like. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes (I did 45 minutes but it was still a little too soft in the middle). The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes before transferring out of a pan and onto a wire rack to cool completely. Ta-da! Delicious!

Make This Tonight: Double Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

coconut oil trader joes
I have some advice for those of you who might be planning weddings: elope.

Okay, so I’m kind of kidding. But also? I’m kind of not. Most people who give me wedding advice say some variation of “Girl, do you!” And I’m trying. But it’s proving a little harder than I suspected, and even though I vowed not to let planning a party stress me out so much, here I go, getting stressed out.

Enter stress-baking.

Sometimes, when you’re annoyed and exhausted, the best thing to do is bake something delicious. You may have noticed that this is my solution to most problems, but you know what? It works.

This week, I whipped up a batch of double coconut chocolate chip cookies. The coconut double shot consists of toasted coconut AND coconut oil. I was late to the coconut oil party, I’ll admit, but now I’m into it. I saw it all over the internet and I ignored it. Then Jordan suggested I try it and I was like, “Maybe!” And finally, Mama W. and I were at Trader Joe’s and she was like, “Look, there’s coconut oil. Didn’t you want to try it?” and I was all, “How did she KNOW?” because I always forget that she regularly reads my blog and then makes no mention of it as if I’m not going to know (Hi Mom).

Long story even longer, I bought that coconut oil and I’ve been using for every. damn. thing. in the kitchen. Sauteeing? Don’t mind if I do! Smoothies? Why not? Opening the jar and just smelling it every once in awhile? Sadly, yes.

And now baking!

The internet tells me that coconut oil can be subbed for butter in most recipes, so I decided to use it in chocolate chip cookies. The best part is that you can totally pretend these are good for you because, you know, healthy fats. Just ignore all the sugar and focus on the healthy fats.

These were awesome, and I made some without chocolate chips for H. so they’d be 100% dairy-free. And then I ate all the extra chocolate chips on my own. Don’t judge me. Also, please don’t judge this terrible picture. It’s winter and there’s no light around here.
double coconut chocolate chip cookies

Double Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Cheeky Kitchen

about 1/3 cup shredded sweetened (or unsweetened, whatever) coconut
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspon baking soda
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toast the coconut by stirring it around in a hot skillet until it turns brown. But be careful, because it burns easily! Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together coconut oil, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla until very well mixed. Add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour, mixing together until all are incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips and toasted coconut. Roll into golf-ball sized balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes, or just until the outside of the cookies have browned ever so slightly around the edges. Cool them on a cooling rack (or wherever, if you don’t have a cooling rack) and then make your fiance take them to his friends’ place so you can get them out of the house.

Coconut oil image via The Kitchn

The Joy (the Baker) of Comfort Baking

The months of January through March are always tough for me. It’s cold, it’s dark, and everyone’s taken down their twinkle lights. There are no holidays to look forward to, it seems like winter will never end, and I hate leaving the house. Basically, it’s time for comfort baking.

You all know how much I love Joy the Baker’s cookbook, right? The woman makes a mean apple crisp. It turns out that everything in her cookbook is amazing. These are the perfect recipes to make when you’re snowed in and grumpy, which is a situation I often find myself in.

It’s hard to feel bad when your house smells like cinnamon and there’s something warm to stuff your face with. I mean, that’s just a fact. I’d advise making anything from Joy the Baker’s cookbook or website, but especially her Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies and Baked Coffee Cake French Toast.

Alex and I made the Baked Coffee Cake French Toast one weekend when I was home a few months ago. It wasn’t really in Winter, but whatever…sometimes you need comfort baking even when it isn’t cold outside! It was insanely good, and the recipe isn’t on her website, but you can find it here.

But the real winner is her Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Cookies. There are few foods I love more than sweet potatoes, and I’ll add them to everything that I can. So of course these cookies were one of the first recipes I made from the book. They’re pillowy-soft and perfectly spiced. Adding to the comfort baking factor, they also taste almost exactly like the chocolate chip cookies my grandma used to make when I was a kid. She didn’t add any vegetables to hers, but she did add spices. It was such a wonderful tastebud flashback.

The recipe for these isn’t on the website, but you can find the very similar pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.

If you haven’t purchase Joy the Baker’s cookbook, then seriously, what are you waiting for? It’s January! You have comfort baking to do!

Wednesday Links (on a Thursday)!

-Do you guys read Rookie? I hope so, but if not, you should certainly start. I loved this post on faking it till you make it, they have FANTASTIC playlists that usually end up being my writing soundtracks, and obviously Ask a Grown Man is great (everybody knows about the Jon Hamm one, but they’re all wonderful. Um, Hannibal Buress?!). In case you wondered, why yes, I do want to write for Rookie so badly that it physically hurts sometimes.

This post by the great Kate Spencer is about sexual harassment, unwanted touching, and just the shit that we all have to deal with when people do not respect that our bodies are our own property. “When I’ve explained sexual harassment to men in the past I’ve been struck at their confusion over why it is a big deal. How is someone whistling at you threatening, they ask? Here is what they don’t understand. Those moments, which may seem insignificant and small, create an unsafe environment in which women are forced to live. Last month, after I yelled at some men in a car who made kissing noises at me, I was terrified to then walk down a quiet downtown street out of fear that they’d circle around in their car and hurt me. These moments force us to operate in a state of fear. They define who is in control and who can have their control taken away.”

-Did you know that Modcloth has an online literary journal?

-You Made it Weird is not strictly a Lady Podcast, as it is hosted by a dude, but Pete Holmes often interviews delightful, hilarious ladies. Like Shelby Fero! She is only 18 and she has the work ethic of…someone not 18. When I was 18, I was pretty busy bitching about things, whining, and ignoring my own mortality.

-I really enjoyed this post on The Conversation.

-My parents bought me The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook for my birthday, and I’m in love with it! It’s adorable.

-Some delicious recipes I want to try: Nutella Donut Muffins and Citrus Bars (lemon, lime, or grapefruit)!