Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread - Tried out a new recipe!

In the past few months since our wedding, we have been having a really fun time trying out all our new kitchen toys!  I have been having a blast baking and cooking and trying out new recipes.  Recently, I ended up with a lot of extra zucchini because I was going to roast them with some other veggies, but then I had a ton of other veggies so then I saved them for zucchini bread!

I tried out a new recipe from America's Test Kitchen and I adapted it a tad to include dark chocolate chips.  I'm not sure I really believe in not including chocolate when the opportunity presents itself.  And so, I made this amazing Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread.

This bread came out super amazing.  It was flavorful and stayed together nicely.  It stayed moist for a long time and was delicious with apple butter or regular butter.  This bread is great if you have a lot of zucchini lying around so make it before it goes out of season!

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 small zucchini shredded
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of cloves
3/4 cups dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 and grease a loaf pan.
2. Beat the brown sugar, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla together in a large bowl.
3. Shred the zucchini using a grater onto a paper towel.  Cover with another paper towel and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add the zucchini to the wet mixture and beat to combine.
4. Add in the flour, whole wheat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.  Beat until just combined.
5. Add in the dark chocolate chips and stir to combine.  Pour into prepared loaf pan.
6. Bake for 65 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Chicago Marathon and Chocolate Chip Cookies

After a long weekend running and recovering from the Chicago Marathon, I decided to make some cookies to bring into school.  Now, I decided to make my "famous" Inception Cookies because you cut each cookie in half and you get double the cookies.  It makes baking for my advisory or other classes so much easier! I wanted to celebrate the marathon a little with them and we have a pizza party at the end of the day today and so I figured it was an excellent time to bake some cookies.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try out a new recipe and it was a huge success.  Now, this recipe doesn't have you putting oreos inside of cookies so it's not as cool looking, but it did turn into a really great chocolate chip cookie.  

I found the recipe over at Cook's Country.  I didn't do much to change it up except add a pinch of cinnamon to the dry ingredients.  However, the cookies came out really great! They were chewy with a bit of a crunch, flavorful, and stayed soft for a long time.  Everyone loved them!  Try it out! 

The Chicago Marathon was also a crazy success and a great reason to bake (and eat) some cookies.  It was my third Chicago Marathon and 4th marathon.  I finished with a PR of 4:18:39.  This is 12 minutes faster than my last best time!  I was so excited.  I finished with my best running buddy, Jana, and we were both so happy!  I celebrated with Brian and my family and it was a great day.  

Now, I need to recover and get ready for the New York City Marathon on November 6th!  I'll keep you posted on my ongoing training! 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Rosh Hashanah Apple Challah

Happy New Year! Well, the Jewish new year that is.  Today is Rosh Hashanah and I took the day off from school so that I could go to services with my family and then have lunch with them.  It is going to be a lovely day and I am excited for some family time.

I kicked off the day with a nice 3 mile run.  This week also happens to be the week before the Chicago Marathon and therefore my final week of taper before the big race!  This will be my fourth marathon!  I can't believe it and I feel so positive and strong.  Running has become so important to me and I love that I have accomplished so much.  It was especially nice to run 3 miles this morning after sleeping in a little longer than usual because of my day off!

Last night, we went to my brother's house for a Rosh Hashanah dinner.  I have been obsessed with my new bread maker and so I decided to make a challah to bring to the dinner.  On Rosh Hashanah, you eat round challah because it represents the end of a year meeting the beginning of a new year.  You also eat apples and honey because you want a "sweet" new year.  So, I made a Round Apple Challah!

Round Apple Challah

3/4 cup water
2 eggs
3 tbsp canola oil
3 cups bread flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp SAF yeast
3 granny smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. I used a bread machine to make the dough and all you have to do is add the dough ingredients, in order, and then press start.  If you don't have a bread machine, you can add all the ingredients to a stand mixer and mix everything together and then knead for 8-10 minutes, let it rest for about 30 minutes, then knead again and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
2.  To make the filling, toss the chopped apples with the lemon juice, honey, and cinnamon in a bowl, and place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
3.  Once your dough is ready, place it on a lightly floured surface.  Using a rolling pin, roll it out until you have a rectangle about 18 inches by 12 inches.
4.  Place the apple filling on the dough rectangle and press it into the dough.  Then, starting with the long side, roll the dough into a long log.  Make sure the seam side is facing down.  Roll the log out so that it becomes a few inches longer.  Then, wind the log around so that you have a circle.  Tuck the end of the dough under the circle.  Place your round challah in a 9 inch cake pan and let rise for another hour.
5. About 15 minutes before your challah is done rising, preheat the oven to 325 and make sure the rack is in the center of the oven.   Sprinkle some sugar over the challah and then, bake the challah for 40-45 minutes.  Let cool for about 20 minutes before removing from pan.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

We got married!

Alright, I am officially the worst.  I have been planning my big comeback to the blogging world for a while.  I have been cooking, baking, doing diy crafts, and creating draft after draft about everything.

And then, I don't publish anything.  I have been so crazy busy that I just haven't felt motivated to put all my creations into a completed post.

However, that is going to change today.  It is a beautiful Sunday, it is Rosh Hashanah, and I have decided to officially come back and share my latest and greatest news.

We got married! After a year and a half of Wedding Planning Wednesdays, our wedding finally arrived and it was spectacular.  Everything was simply perfect and I couldn't have imagined a better day.

We got ready at the McCormick Place Hyatt, took photos at Promontory Point and the Museum of Science and Industry and then had the ceremony and reception at the Bridgeport Art Center.  It was an amazing day in Chicago and a fantastic wedding.  And the best part? Now I'm a married lady to my best friend!!!

Over the next few weeks, I'll let you all know about some of the final details that we worked on in the last few weeks before the big day!  I'll also make sure to update you all on the amazing food I've been making with all my new wedding presents! Happy Sunday!!!

Enjoy :)