What I Ate Wednesday #3

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Happy Wednesday! As always, thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for hosting WIAW!

I also have to thank Jenn for her recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Zucchini Brownie Bread (or in my case, muffins)! They have been an absolute hit with everyone who has tried them so far! They are moist, delicious, and oh yeah…they’re CHOCOLATE! 🙂

I didn’t take pictures of everything I ate today, but I did eat two things that I’ll talk about… One is this:

This is the empty package after I had already started cooking. It’s Mushroom and Herbs Farro from Wholesome Kitchen. I found it at Whole Foods one day, and thought it would be an interesting alternative to rice. Farro is a grain – kind of a cross between brown rice and wheat berries. The New York Times had an article a while back that called it “The Little Grain That Could.” The directions couldn’t have been simpler – sauté the farro grains in a little olive oil, add stock or water, and simmer for 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. I added a little garlic, onion, and some shiitakes to the sautéing part, but the rest I did exactly as directed. It took about twice as long as it was supposed to, and I actually had to bring it to a boil for a while toward the end to get it to absorb the water. It tasted really good – has kind of a kick (there is cayenne pepper in there somewhere). Here’s the finished product with a piece of grilled chicken…

Okay…before you say anything, I know. I should have made a veggie, but by the time this was actually done cooking it was almost 9:30 and I was starving. No veggies tonight. I’ll make up for it tomorrow – promise!!

The other thing I made today was apple crisp. I had a bag of apples that were getting a little soft, so I decided to put them to good use. After all, other than pumpkin, the best fall flavor is apple! I am all about that cinnamony-apply goodness…especially when it’s warm. Plus, there’s no crust to worry about! Although I hate to admit it, I have never been able to get pie crust right. This is my way of getting around it! I still use a recipe from one of my mom’s old cookbooks. Super simple – sliced apples, butter, brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. That’s it. Nothing fancy. There was only one problem…I had no butter in the house! What to do…what to do???

I started thinking about how coconut oil might make a good substitute. I’ve been trying it in many different things lately, and I keep reading such good things about it (like here). Of course, I take all of these things with a grain of salt… How many times have we been told on Monday that something is a miracle food, and by Friday it’s the devil!!

Anyway, I used coconut oil to substitute for the butter, and it worked out great! I used a 1:1 substitution, and my hubby couldn’t tell the difference! Here is what it looked like before it went in the oven…

It didn’t look too much different afterward – except now there is quite a bit of it missing… 🙂

Hope everyone had a great Wednesday! Now for today’s questions…

Have you ever had an experience with a product where the package directions were really far off?

Are you an apple person or a pumpkin person?

Have you found the secret to a good pie crust?

What’s your favorite substitute to use for butter?

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Marvelous in my Monday #3

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Welcome to Marvelous in my Monday! Many thanks, as always, go to Katie at Healthy Diva Eats for hosting!

This Monday is marvelous for many reasons, but the biggest one is that I HAVE THE DAY OFF!!! 🙂 I’ve been working practically non-stop for the past several weeks, so to have a three day weekend is a real gift! Granted, most of what I’m doing is catching up on laundry and cleaning up around the house, but at least I have some time to do that! My laundry pile has not been completely tackled for weeks. My poor hubby even ran out of socks yesterday!

The weather is pretty marvelous today, too! It’s beautiful and sunny here in Southern CT today after a couple of days of overcast skies and a combination of drizzles and downpours. The leaves are starting to turn – but I think we’re a good couple of weeks from peak foliage. I really love this time of year – the mornings are chilly, the days are still warmish, and it’s cool enough in the house to start baking!!

Speaking of baking…I made some marvelous muffins yesterday, and I wanted to share that recipe with you today! I got the recipe from Jenn over at Peas and Crayons. She calls this recipe Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Zucchini Brownie Bread – definitely a mouthful! I followed it to the letter, but without the glaze. This was the first time I had ever used flax seeds to sub for eggs. Here goes…

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Zucchini Brownie Bread
1 cup of zucchini [1 used 1 1/2 small zucchini]
15oz pureed pumpkin [one can – not the pumpkin pie mix]
1 box of devil’s food cake mix
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
6 Tablespoons water
3/4 cup of chopped walnuts [optional] plus extra for topping
1 cup of dark chocolate chips [I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips]

The ingredients…

Preheat the oven to 350F and get started on your flax “eggs”.  You’ll need two of them for this recipe, so simply scoop 2 tablespoons of ground flax into a small bowl and add 6 tablespoons of water, whisking to combine.  Place in the fridge for a minimum of 15-20 minutes.  When you remove the “eggs” from the fridge, stir gently with a fork. Once it reaches an eggy consistency you’re good to go! They should look like this:

When you “whip” these, they should have the texture of beaten eggs.

Coarsely grate your zucchini with box grater (I used the small side), gather into a pile, and chop into teeny pieces.  Pat dry with paper towels to remove any moisture. (This is important…there’s a LOT of water in there! I let it sit for a bit, then squeezed it in the towel.) Next pour your cake mix in a large bowl [make sure you use chocolate cake mix, not brownie mix!] and add your can of pumpkin, flax eggs [see above] and zucchini.  Stir until just moistened, then fold in your chocolate chips and walnuts.

I don’t see pumpkin or zucchini…do you?? Just chocolatey goodness!

Pour batter into paper lined muffin tins or foil loaf pans spritzed with a little oil.  [Fill each a little over half-way] Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes for muffins, 35-45 minutes for mini loaves [my favorite!] and approx 45-55 minute for a giant loaf.

Ready to go in…

As always, insert a toothpick in the center to test for a fluffy center and keep your oven’s variation in mind.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. (Note: I used the paper lined muffin tins and got 18 good sized muffins out of this recipe. They took 30 minutes in my oven).

The finished product…YUM!!

I have to say, these are YUMMY!! They are moist and very brownie-like. Even the husband – who despises both pumpkin AND zucchini said he really liked these. He was really surprised to find out that there was no oil, and especially no eggs! According to MyFitnessPal‘s recipe calculator, these have 176 calories, 25 g carbs, 9 g fat, and 3 g protein each. Not bad considering the fact that they could easily take the place of a much more calorie dense, fat laden dessert!

Hope you all have a marvelous Monday! Now for today’s questions…

What are you up to on this marvelous Monday?

Have you found a healthier substitute for a favorite dessert?

Have you ever hidden fruits and/or veggies in a recipe?