Comfort Food Time: Sweet Cornbread Muffin Recipe

Sweet Cornbread Muffin

The other night I was making chili, a less spicy version of Allison’s chili, and I wanted to make cornbread to go with it. I usually go the easy way and use a mix. But I didn’t have one.

I started looking for a simple cornbread recipe to make and came across a recipe posted at peasandcrayons.com. Looked simple enough and I had all the ingredients. I also like to put it in a muffin pan. If you have extra you can wrap them individually and put them in the freezer for the next time you make chili.

Garlic Rosemary Baked Salmon with Feta

Garlic Rosemary Baked Salmon with Feta

The other day, I stopped by the grocery store for a few items…and ended up coming out with an entire cart. They were having amazing sales on items we use often, so no regrets! This actually happens more often than not, causing my boyfriend to shake his head and laugh. What can I say? I love grocery shopping, especially when I get good deals.

He certainly doesn’t complain when I have enough money left over in our weekly budget to buy an extra video game for his new PS4.

Anyway, one item that was on sale was salmon. This is a fish I don’t typically use – we prefer white fish in most cases. But I found a great baked salmon recipe on Pinterest from In Sock Monkey Slippers. I added my own little twist, and the result? It was a hit! I’ll definitely be adding this recipe into my regular stable.

What’s for Dinner: September 2014 Meal Plan

September 2014 Meal Plan

Can you believe that tomorrow is Labor Day already? Doesn’t it feel like we were just dusting off the grill for the first burger of the summer last week? Last month’s meal plan included a ton of grill-friendly recipes. This month, we’re going back to school, so I’m focusing on meals that make great left-overs the next day. Why pack a boring sandwich if you yummy leftovers in the fridge, just waiting to be eaten?

Hope you enjoy this month’s recipes! Remember to sign up for our mailing list (on the sidebar) if you want a reminder when our monthly meal plan is published every month.

15 Perfect Labor Day Recipes

15 Perfect Labor Day Recipes

I’m in denial about the end of summer. I know that most people in the US consider Labor Day to be the unofficial start of fall, but since I live in Southern Virginia where the whether tends to stay warmer longer, I say that it is still summer until October 1. At least.

At least the end of summer marks the start of football season!

Anyway, Labor Day will be here in just a few days, so I wanted to do a quick recipe round-up of some of our favorite dishes for saying goodbye to summer with your friends and family. Without further ado, here are some awesome Labor Day recipes:

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Bread | The PinterTest Kitchen

Summer is here (well, for a few more weeks at least!). Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables are available from the gardens. What do you do with it all if you have your own garden? My mom is supplying me with tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, green beans and zucchinis. We freeze some of the fresh veggies, but we’re always on the lookout for recipes to use them before freezing.

What do I do with all the zucchinis? I’m not much for fried zucchini. I have a basic zucchini bread recipe (boring). So I look for dessert recipes to use the zucchini up, like the fudgy brownie recipe we recently posted or these zucchini cookies.

I found a chocolate zucchini bread recipe. I tried it and it was great – nice chocolate flavor. It’s great to make extra and freeze it for later. I made the smaller 2″ x 4″ loaves.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Makes a great gift. Make a variety of breads to give at Christmas in the small size. The Blueberry Lemon Bread, Pumpkin Bread, and Tropical Banana Bread can all be made in the small size and given as gifts.

You can also shred the extra zucchini and freeze in recipe size containers. After the shredded zucchini is thawed squeeze out the excess liquid before adding it to your recipe.

A great chocolatey twist to traditional zucchini bread!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

This is a great chocolatey twist on traditional zucchini bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce or 1 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 bakers cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Beat together sugar, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until well mixed.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients.
  4. Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until blended.
  5. Stir in zucchini and add chocolate chips if desired.
  6. Pour into (2) 8" x 4" or (4) 4" x 2" greased loaf pans.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes depending on the size of pans. If using the smaller pans, check earlier.
  8. When done baking cool for about 15 minutes, then remove from pans to cool completely.
http://thepintertestkitchen.com/chocolate-zucchini-bread/

Double Chocolate Banana Scones

Double Chocolate Banana Scones

I love a warm scone and tall glass of iced coffee in the morning. And trust me, I don’t love much in the morning. Until about an hour after I wake up, I speak more in growls and grunts than actual sentences, unlike my boyfriend and mother who both have the annoying gene that causes them to pop out of bed fully awake and ready to attack the day.

Weirdos.

It’s worth getting out of bed for these double chocolate banana scones. Plus, like these banana cookies or this tropical banana bread, it’s a great way to use up a banana that’s too ripe for eating.

Hat tip to Marla at Family Fresh Cooking for the original recipe. Her version is vegan, so check it out if you’re interested, or simply substitute coconut milk for regular milk in the recipe below. Her recipe also called for some ingredients I didn’t have myself, so I improvised! The result: Yum…though I have to admit, nothing tops my apple pear scone recipe.

Also – it’s International Scone Week! Yum, look at all these awesome scone recipes rounded up on Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

chocolate banana scones

I love the banana flavor in these, because it isn’t too in-your-face. There’s just a little hint in the background that really brings these scones together. Yum! Here’s the printable recipe:

Double Chocolate Banana Scones

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 8 scones

Double Chocolate Banana Scones

The combination of banana and chocolate in these scones is enough to make you want to jump out of bed for this warm-from-the-oven treat.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 large banana
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Grind the oats into a fine powder in your blender or food processor (alternatively, you can use oat flour if you have it on hand).
  2. Mix together the flour, oats, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips.
  3. Blend the banana, milk, honey, and vanilla until liquid and well-combined.
  4. Mix together liquid and dry ingredients until a soft dough forms. Dough will be sticky, but manageable. Add more flour if needed.
  5. Form into a ball and transfer to a baking sheet. Pat into a circle about 1 in thick and cut into 8 slices. Separate the slices slightly.
  6. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.
  7. Allow to cool a bit and sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
http://thepintertestkitchen.com/double-chocolate-banana-scones/

Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

Stuffed Squash Boats

Okay, I’ll admit it. I originally pinned this recipe from Thyme for Cooking for stuffed zucchini because it looked pretty. But after I made it – YUM! This is definitely a winning recipe. The really great thing about this recipe is that you can customize it to your family’s tastes. Add some pepperonis and you have more of a pizza flavor. Some ricotta cheese on top would be delicious too, giving it more of a lasagna taste. You could try it with chicken instead of beef or leave out the meat completely for a hearty vegetarian meal. The original recipe uses quinoa instead of couscous, which would be delicious too.

Oh, and yeah…they look really pretty!

stuffed squash boats ready for the oven

I made about two boats per person in this case, but it really depends on the size of your squash. Instead of summer squash, you could also use zucchini. (That is, if you haven’t used all you zucchini to make these fudgy zucchini brownies.) Depending on the size of your boats, you might need to make more or less of the filling – just adjust the ingredients a bit if necessary, and don’t worry if you make too much – the filling is good on its own too!

stuffed summer squash

Mmmmm…take a bite! Here’s the printable recipe.

Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 boats

Stuffed Summer Squash Boats

These stuffed squash boats are as yummy as they are pretty and can be easily customized to your tastes.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium-sized summer squash
  • 1 small chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheese

Instructions

  1. Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scoop on the center. Place in a baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, while you work on the filling.
  2. Add olive oil to large pan and cook onion and garlic until fragrant and soft. Add ground beef and brown.
  3. Remove from pan carefully and set aside. Do not drain - keep as much oil and juice in the pan as possible.
  4. Add broth to the pan and bring to a boil. While heating, scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to get up any brown bits. Once the broth is boiling, add the couscous and cook until tender and liquid is gone (5-10 minutes).
  5. Add the meat back to the pan and stir into couscous. Mix in tomato sauce.
  6. Spoon mixture into squash and top with cheese.
  7. Cover with foil again and bake for another 15 minutes.
http://thepintertestkitchen.com/stuffed-summer-squash-boats/

Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Fudgy Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Gooey, fudgy brownies are the best. The. Best. I don’t mean to offend those of you who like more cake-style brownies, but you’re wrong.

This recipe is not only fudgy, but includes zucchini, which means it counts as a vegetable side dish. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself to avoid the all-too-appropriate fact that fudgy rhymes with pudgy.

On the plus side, I got new running shoes! So I’m allow to have another brownie, right?

Right.

What’s for Dinner: August 2014 Meal Plan

august 2014 meal plan

We’re back again for another monthly meal plan to help you figure out what’s for dinner! This month, I’m featuring lots of recipes that are excellent on the grill. Time to get some quality grillin’ time in before summer comes to an end! (Don’t have a grill? Almost all of these recipes can be made on your stove top or in the oven instead.)

Without further ado, our recommendations for August:

Freezing Your Extra Vegetables (Plus, How I Get My Green Beans Freezer Ready)

Freezing Your Extra Vegetables

Do you have a garden that is producing more vegetables than you can use at the moment? If you extra space in your freezer start freezing the vegetables. I pinned a site that offers hands on pictures and instructions. It also has instructions for freezing fruits and also for canning fruits and vegetables too. Take some time to check it out!

My mom, Lena, has a big garden and always has extra vegetables. Today she gave me an entire ice cream bucket full of green beans. I decided to freeze them. It had been awhile since I had frozen green beans so I looked on the site linked above to see how long to blanch them.

First start out by washing the beans. Next snap off the ends. Get the kids involved! They don’t need a knife to do this job. Once the ends are snapped, cut the beans into 1 1/2 – 2 inch pieces.

Now you are ready to blanch them. Fill a big pot (or use a blancher if you have one) just a little over halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Once the water is boiling pour in your green beans. Bring them to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Remove from the water and cool.

Freezing Your Extra Vegetables

My husband bought me a vacuum sealer for my birthday so that’s what I used to pack them. (They’re on sale right now on Amazon – it’s a great deal.) If you don’t have a vacuum sealer get some freezer bags and put in the amount of beans your family usually eats. Put in the freezer in a single layer. Once they are frozen they can be stacked on top of each other.

It’s great to go to the freezer and get out vegetables that you froze yourself. And you saved a trip to the store and some money too!

Who else here freezes their veggies? What are your best tips and tricks?