Friday, July 29, 2016

Zucchini Bread

Hello, dear readers. Welcome back!

My garden is growing at an amazing pace.  We started late, thanks to worries about frost. We finally planted things in early June.  I figured the garden might be a little bit small from having plants die in the heat, but we've actually had very little die-off.

We have a single zucchini plant and it is producing at a good rate.  I already have enough that I used a few in the lasagna for dinner, a batch of this zucchini bread, and I still have a few that I haven't touched. Plus, there are more on the plant!

Quite a while ago, I picked up this recipe off of a message board for scrapbookers. There are so many lovely people out there making beautiful creations, not just scrapbook things, but food, crafts, and things for the home. I've been too busy to keep up on the message board, but I did friend a many of those crafty people on Facebook so I can keep up with them.

Now, on the recipe details. I've made a change to how I prepare the batter compared to the original posting. We have a Blendtec blender that can liquify almost anything. For some crazy reason, I sold my food processor at a garage sale thinking "I should get rid of this thing. I never use it!" So, to make up for no food processor, I use the blender instead. See the recipe below.

I hope you like this. It's been one of my go-to zucchini recipes for a few years now.

P.S. I didn't adjust the amount of baking soda or baking powder, and it turned out fine for my altitude. Also, I was reading that yellow summer squash could be substituted for green zucchini. They are very similar overall and can be used interchangeably in many cases.

Zucchini Bread (adapted from Erica Hite)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups shredded zucchini
3 cups flour (I used 1 c. AP, 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts (optional, I use pecans or pumpkin seeds)

1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon). Stir to combine and set aside.

2. In the high-speed blender, pour in the oil.  Add chunks of zucchini to fill up to the 3 cup mark on the blender container. Add vanilla. Blend on lowest setting until no large pieces of zucchini remain, but it should look like there are flecks of zucchini. (Do not over-process this into puree.) This should take maybe 15-20 seconds of blending. Add the eggs and blend again just until combined, so about 5-7 seconds.

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, add nuts if you want them, and mix well.

4. Pour batter into two greased loaf pans or one greased 9x13 pan. 

5. Bake loaf pans at 350F degrees for 50 minutes to an hour. Bake the 9x13 pan about 45-50 minutes.  It should pass a toothpick test when done.

6. Let the bread cool about 10 minutes and remove from the loaf pan to finish cooling.

7. This is fantastic as is, but if you want to dial up the sweetness, try a glaze or icing. Recipes below.

Ingredients for thin icing:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Mix up the powdered sugar, milk, and extract to make the icing. Drizzle over the loaf. 

Ingredients for thick cream cheese icing:
1 8-oz. block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method for cream cheese icing:
1. Using an electric hand mixer, beat the cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar in intervals, beating after each addition, about 1/2 cup at a time.
2. Add the vanilla extract and beat until smooth

3.  Decorate the cake using a spatula to spread the icing. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Your Bijoux Box July 2016

Hello, dear readers!

This month's box of jewels contained some really nice pieces. The blue stones are so pretty! Take a peek!

Hold on, we can't miss the card with names and descriptions.

First, let's check out the Margaux Opal Earrings. My 7-year old daughter immediately snatched up these earrings. I had to do some serious negotiating to get them back so I could just take pictures. You can see why. They are cute! The opal stones are faceted so you get a bit of sparkle. They're not too big and heavy, either.

 The second piece is the Giselle Blue Collar Necklace. The blue of the stones is really gorgeous and bright. This happens to look fantastic with the Margaux Earrings.

 Third, we have the Lili Starburst Bracelet. At first, I didn't notice the center stone was deep blue. I'm really liking the starburst shape.  Plus, this bracelet is actually big enough for an adult. I don't have to worry about my daughter stealing this one!

Finally, they included a bonus JCat Lip Glaze. What a treat! I also had to pry this away from the 7-year old. This color is so vibrant and fun!

There you have it, another box of amazing products.  I can't wait for next month. Thanks for stopping by. See you next time!

PS. For the sake of transparency, I paid for this subscription myself. It was in no way "free" or provided to me for some exchange of services. I just really liked the products and wanted to share my opinion. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Spring 2016 Influenster Sprout Vox Box

Hello friends! Who else loves freebies? I love free samples! I received a box of goodies from Influenster.  This is the Sprout Vox Box.

(Please note, I received these items for free for testing purposes from Influenster. All opinions are my own.)

So, let see what they put in here.

I really like the Spicy Black Bean Tortilla Chips by Eat Smart Snacks (which is a Snyder's of Hanover  product).  They taste like regular tortilla chips with a little spice. I would never know that there are any beans in these chips. They are really good plain, but tortilla chips are meant for dipping. Try hummus, salsa, or guacamole with these. I will definitely look for these at the store.

Curate provided an energy bar. I received the mission fig and orange with balsamic vinegar, hazelnut, and sunflower seed flavor. It's gluten-free, soy free and non-GMO. It's not marked Vegan, but I don't see anything in the ingredient list that is obviously an animal product.  This bar was an interesting combination of crunchy and chewy texture, plus the flavor was almost savory.  The balsamic vinegar and orange reminded me a bit of rye bread. It was not what I expected, but it was good in an unusual way. (Plus, the do make chocolate almond hazelnut bar which I will be looking for now!)

There was a sample of Ecos laundry detergent in Magnolia and Lily fragrance. I've said this before on other detergent reviews, we usually don't buy scented detergent. I have sensitive skin, as do the kids. I've only found a few scented laundry products that don't drive us crazy from getting itchy. I like that this Ecos detergent is designed for sensitive skin, plus is smells good! It's good to find something new that works well, doesn't give us a rash, and smells nice.

I received the Clairol Hair Food Moisture Shampoo and Moisture Conditioner, both are infused with honey and apricot fragrance.  I've happily used Clairol products in the past and I was excited to try this out. Smells great! Feels good massaging it in and rinsing it out. So far, so good! However, the real test is how my hair looks the next day. We're off to a good start though.

The last product to test was Orgain Organic Protein powder.  The hubby started using protein powder a few years when he was working out a lot.  He doesn't go to the gym like that anymore, but we still keep protein powder at home to supplement our diets, especially in the summer when we work outside a lot. I've had plenty of protein powder in the last 8 years, so I'm a pretty good judge of what is good and bad at this point.

I received the Vanilla powder. I had to check the ingredients, and was happy to say this doesn't contain any of our allergens. I mixed the protein powder with about 6 ounces of water. It did mix up easily. Some brands are lumpy even after a lot of stirring and shaking, I didn't have that problem with Orgain.  It smelled good, like vanilla.  The taste is pretty much what you should expect with protein powder. It has a tiny bit of an herbal aftertaste, really subtle though. I expect that it's from the chia and hemp content. If I mixed this into a smoothie, it would be great. Also, the texture drinking it was smooth. This is a good discovery!

Some lucky testers received Vichy skin care products to sample. I was not one of them. Maybe I'll get selected for the special test item next time. After reading some reviews about Vichy, I was really hoping to get to sample it.

Well, that is all for now.  Thanks for stopping by!