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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Chocolate Chip Zucchini BreadTHE VERDICT:

This is probably one of my most successful recipes. I have baked it for gifts, brought it along to potluck brunches and served it at tea parties, and I always get compliments on it. I have shared this recipe with others in a one-on-one manner for years, so when I baked it for breakfast this week, I thought it was about time I shared it on Tonight’s Dinner.

I love this bread because it is as easy to make as banana bread, but doesn’t have the same run-of-the-mill feeling to it. It is a perfect blend of healthy food (zucchini) and tasty indulgence (chocolate chips) all accented with a yummy hint of cinnamon.

A couple of things to try: Use parchment paper to line the pan instead of butter and it will lift right out after you let it cool in the pan a bit. Substitute 1 cup of flour for a cup of whole wheat flour to up the fibre.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread (source: some magazine I read a long time ago)

3 zucchini, shredded (about 5 cups)
1 ½ tsp. salt, divided
3 cups & 2 Tbsp. flour, divided
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

  • In a large colander: toss zucchini with 1 tsp. salt. Place a smaller plate over the zucchini. Weigh down with a heavy can. Set aside 30 minutes to release liquid.
  • Position oven rack to lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350⁰F.
  • Butter and flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl: combine 3 cups flour, cinnamon, soda, powder and remaining salt.
  • In another bowl: combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.
  • Toss chocolate chips in remaining flour.
  • Pat zucchini dry between paper towels.
  • Stir sugar mixture and zucchini into flour mixture until combined. Add chocolate chips.
  • Transfer to pan. Bake 1.5 hours or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Cool on rack 30 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool completely on rack.

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Mulled Apple Cider

ciderTHE VERDICT:

I found this recipe years ago in some magazine long forgotten and instantly fell in love with its spicy warmth. But it wasn’t until Justin and I shared our first Christmas together that it became an integral recipe in our collection. On that first Christmas, as we blended the traditions of our two families together, we did so over a steaming mug of cider. Mulled apple cider on Christmas morning became the first Christmas tradition we started together, and it is something we look forward to sharing with Zayden this year.

This recipe is very quick to throw together, but tastes best if you get quality apple juice (we recommend Santa Cruz) instead of a juice made from concentrate. You don’t have to wait until Christmas to enjoy it either; it makes a wonderful warm-up on any chilly winter evening. It is a great non-alcoholic beverage option for your holiday party and has always gone over very well at our holiday get-togethers. It’s also a great alternative to hot chocolate after a caroling party or ski trip.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Mulled Apple Cider (source: a magazine of yore)

8 cups apple juice

1 red-skinned apple, sliced

3 sticks cinnamon

6 whole cloves

1 strip orange rind

  • Combine ingredients in a large stock pot.
  • Cook over medium-low heat and simmer gently until spices have infused, about 30 minutes
  • Strain into mugs.

Serves 8

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Curried Bison Biryani with Broccoli Spears

Curried Bison Biryani with Broccoli SpearsTHE VERDICT:

I think in the future we should remember that curries do not make good 20-minute meals. Good curries need time to simmer and stew for the flavours to develop. This quick curry was foul to say the least. The cooking liquid mentioned in the recipe never materialized (looking at the ingredients, I’m not sure where it was supposed to come from), so instead of a nice saucy curry, we ended up with more of a pasty spice rub. It was a huge disappointment because all the ingredients (bison, mango, delicious curry spices) sounded so promising.

As I managed to boil the pot dry when cooking the barley and the curry in general was a massively disappointing bust, I can only conclude that this recipe is cursed. At the very least, they must have left out a liquid on the list of ingredients. Once we have put this sad affair behind us for a bit, Justin may try to improv a better version of this curry using similar ingredients. If that’s a success, we’ll post it.

If, for some reason, you want to try it yourself. . .

THE RECIPE:

Curried Bison Biryani (source: Clean Eating magazine)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 cup dry quick-cooking barley

1 medium onion, sliced into rounds

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

5 cloves garlic, sliced into thin rounds

1 cup fresh mango, cubed or 1 cup frozen mango (about 1-inch cubes)

1/2 cup frozen peas

16 oz. bison sirloin tip, trimmed of any visible fat and cut into 1/4 inch strips

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

BIRYANI SPICE BLEND: 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. ground turmeric, 2 tsp. ground ginger (or substitute 5 tsp. of curry powder)

  • In a medium pot, bring 1 cup water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, add Biryani spice blend and salt to a small bowl, mix and set aside. When water comes to a boil, add barley, stir, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10-12 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.
  • While barley is cooking, in a large nonstick sauce pan over medium heat, saute onion in oil for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent garlic from burning.
  • Stir in spice-salt mixture, mango, peas and bison. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir again to make sure all ingredients are nestled in cooking liquid. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Combine barley with bison mixture before plating, then top each portion with tomatoes and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Hands on time: 20 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes.

Nutrients per serving: 354 calories, 11 g fat, 37 g carbs, 29 g protein, 305 mg sodium, 80 mg cholesterol

Nutritional Bonus: 1 Tbsp. of paprika has 71% of your vitamin A requirement.

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Apple Crock Pot Oatmeal

Apple OatmealTHE VERDICT:

We love our slow cooker oatmeal as followers of this blog know, so we were eager to try this recipe. It was easy to put together as only the apples needed to be prepped; everything else could just be thrown into the pot. The results were pretty tasty though I think the Four Grain Hot Cereal is still my favourite. The only thing I would change would be the cooking time. I think 7 hours would probably be sufficient. The bottom got a little burnt after 8 hours of cooking time.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Apple Crock Pot Oatmeal (source: www.wittyliving.com; original recipe)


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Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Sauce served with Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Braising Greens

Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potato and Kale
THE VERDICT:

Want to impress dinner guests without having to work too hard? This meal will get you there.

It only takes a few minutes to jazz up a boring cut of pork with a few spices and a tangy sauce. While the pomegranate sauce gets top billing in the recipe’s name, it’s the spice rub that really makes this dish stand out. I loved the hint of cinnamon in every bite, especially as it is not a flavour that I typically associate with pork. We actually made the sauce with a pomegranate juice blend, but have since discovered that IGA carries POM Wonderful, which is made with pure pomegranate juice.

The side dish was a delightful combination of flavours and would make a great accompaniment for most meat dishes. In fact, I could see this dish as a real crowd-pleaser with a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey. The only change I would make next time is to add more apples as their tart sweetness was the highlight of this dish and I would want to play up those flavours.

When it comes to leftovers, the vegetables reheated very well. The pork also tasted good the next day though the sauce lost some of its appeal with reheating.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Pork Tenderloin with Pomegranate Sauce (source: www.epicurious.com; original recipe)

Sweet Potatoes, Apples and Braising Greens (source: www.epicurious.com; original recipe)

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