Monday, August 20, 2012

Zucchini Bread


  • Summer is my favorite.  Everything is fresh, flavorful and stung with the smoky tang of barbecue.  But my most favorite summer food is actually a sweet bread - and one made with vegetables to boot.  That's right - nutritious, delicious zucchini bread.   

This summer in particular, I have been very fortunate to have been given LOTS and LOTS of garden-ripe zucchini from my green-thumbed connections.  And after making lots of fried zucchini, zucchini pizzas, zucchini parmesan & grilled zucchini it was time to add some sweet into the mix with some lovely, moist, delicious zucchini bread.

Not only have my boyfriend and I been enjoying lots of this delectable treat, but I have been giving it away by the loaf-load to family, friends and anyone standing remotely near me that looks famished in the least.

I told you, LOTS of zucchini fell into my hands this summer!


Enjoy this bread long into the fall & winter, too! It freezes & thaws very well and will keep in the freezer for up to three months.  Just take it out to thaw a few hours ahead of time.  


Recipe after the break...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tips for Flea Market-ing

Every bargainista knows that flea markets can be a great place to find exactly what you're looking for at a great price. You must keep in mind that you're probably getting it for a great price because it is A) used, B) stolen or C) from a country you've never heard of.  If you are okay with all of the above, then you should also know that you need to be willing to invest a lot of time to find what you want.  AND you must also come to terms that you may not find exactly what you're looking for on your first trip.  I will say this: Don't get discouraged! And never end up settling for full-price.  Give yourself some time, keep your eyes open and you will be rewarded with something fantastic at an even more fantastic price.

Also note that you should go into your flea market excursion with a SET budget.  It's very easy to convince yourself that you NEED Fern Gully on VHS, twelve Elvis 45's and a "I heart my cat" letter opener in the heat of the retail moment, but when you get home and realize how much you shelled out for a pile of useless plastic junk, you're going to be kicking yourself in the butt.  It's only fair since that is what you just did to your wallet.

My earliest memories of flea market-ing go all the way back to visiting my grandparents in Florida when I was a kid.  Every time we would visit, we would go to the flea market.  We would leave there with bags of oranges and "I [heart] Ft. Myers!" souvenirs.  Going to the flea market was always one of the highlights of our trips. You never knew what you would find! In fact, when I was in high school, I bought a simple silver band ring there and I have worn it every single day since.  It was a steal at $7. And if you factor in the CPW (cost per wear), that thing paid for itself yeaaaaarrrrssss ago.

This week, I stopped by the Raynham Flea Market with my parents.  This flea market has been in operation for over thirty-five years and is housed both inside - and out - of a huge warehouse space.  Vendors offer a wide range of goods from apparel, watches and cell phone cases to home goods, gadgets, collectibles (records, model cars) and fresh produce.  The Raynham Flea Market is open almost every Sunday of the year and admission for adults is only $1.  Some stands are run by businesses who offer specific goods (sun catchers, baby bibs, knockoff Pandora charms) and other tables are much more reminiscent of your run o' the mill yard sale.  BUT do not be so quick to dismiss these tables, as these are the places that usually hold the most valuable of treasures!

Take today for example.  I had recently potted some plants and was on the hunt for a small table for my porch to display one of said plants.  I thought I would have to hunt for weeks and most likely spend more than I wanted to (which was preferably $0.00) to find something I liked.  Then...BAM.  Serendipity jumped right in front of me at the flea market in the form of this plant stand:


I paid $5 for this wonder!  It's hard to tell from the photo, but the stand is off-white with just a few nicks in it.  I saw something similar somewhere else last week for $30!!!  Just a quick cover with some spray paint and this thing will be good as new & just perfect in our foyer! 

Click below to read more...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Brownies

In my constant search for things quick, easy and full of chocolate, I came up with the brain child that would ultimately become these chocolate chip cheesecake brownies.  This recipe is a hybrid of two of my favorite brownie recipes: fudge brownies and cheesecake brownies. "But Diana," you say, "I have thirty-five brownie box mixes in my cabinet that I got for free during one of my extreme couponing tirades!"

Excuse me...box mix? You don't need no stinkin' box mix when you have this recipe in your arsenal.



I suggest you save this recipe for special occasions when you really need to impress someone.  There you will be, showing up with a plate full of these decadent brownies.  As soon as someones tastes them and you receive your "Oh, these are delicious!," compliment, you will exude major confidence when you can truthfully reply, "Thanks, I made them from scratch."

Scratch.  That one little word that  proves that you are a master in the kitchen.  Your culinary credibility just sky rocketed. Go ahead, high five yourself. And then eat one of these brownies.  You deserve it.  After all, you made them...from scratch.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Birthday Wishes

My birthday was last Friday. Here is what I wished for:

1. Stop aging. A quarter of a century is old enough.
2. That the universe would let me eat as much dessert as I please this year without any repercussions in the form of increased numbers on a scale or additional junk in the trunk.

Oh damn, said them out loud. There's always next year! Happy Birthday to all my fellow July babies!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mille Feuille Wafer Challenge - Summer 2012


Some people mark the beginning of summer on June 22nd, others mark it's kickoff on July 4th, but I can't consider it summer yet until I've stuffed myself to the gills with a decadent meal at Barker Tavern in Scituate Harbor (Scituate, Ma) and have topped it sweetly off with their signature dessert; raspberry mille feuille. Luckily, I was able to check that off my to-do list last Sunday and man, am I happy it's finally summer.

Barker Tavern hosts a magnitude of amazing dishes from bisque to biscuits and seafood to steaks. However, what intrigues me and confuses me the most is the mystery of how exactly they make the super thin, crispy, buttery, light and airy wafer that acts as the key structural component in their raspberry mille feuille. The rest of the dessert, albeit delicious, is fairly simple: homemade whipped cream, raspberry puree and fresh raspberries...but the wafer...that is a nut that is not so easy to crack! And so, I accept the challenge to try and test, slave over an oven in the middle of summer, to unlock the secret mystery of this cookie wafer!

Honestly, if I find out how to make it, it may be the downfall of my social grace. I will make this all of the time and will no longer accept fall, spring or winter as valid seasons. In fact, I may have to move out west to avoid them all together. No one will rain on my nonstop summer, raspberry mille feuille parade!

Wish me luck. Progress reports to come.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites


Not only did my cousin Gina and I host a very successful cupcake table at a local holiday fair this weekend, but I also found a new, super-easy, treat to make...and ladies, you're all going to love it. I don't know how something this simple and delicious is legal, but somehow this wonder slipped through the legal cracks for lethal deliciousness:

Chocolate. Chip. Cookie. Dough. Bites.

Yes, that's right - it's finally okay to eat raw cookie dough! And even better....eat it covered in chocolate!

I saw a recipe for this on my newest obsession (pinterest) and then adapted it for my own purposes. 

These taste amazing at room temperature, refrigerated or frozen.  I'm nominating this as the Best Holiday Party Dessert of 2012.

Super easy! Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites

1 C. butter, softened
1 1/2 C. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. water
2 C. flour
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 C. chocolate chips
Additional chocolate for melting

Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add in salt.  Add in vanilla. Add in flour a 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well in between each addition.  Add in water and mix well. Fold chocolate chips in until they are evenly dispersed in the dough.

Roll dough into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  Place in the freezer for ten minutes until firm. 

Microwave chocolate in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate is smooth.  Using a spoon, roll cookie dough balls in the chocolate and set on wax paper. When chocolate hardens, store in a plastic zip loc bag and store in the freezer.

Makes about 3 dozen bites.

Want to see the pictures of our cupcake table? Take a look - after the jump.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Back Bay Boston Chocolate Tour: A Perfectly Delicious Use of a Saturday

Can you think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than strolling around Boston sampling gourmet chocolates with other fellow-chocolate lovers? I can't either....and for me, this Saturday was the day my dream turned into a sweet reality.

After picking up heavily discounted tickets to take a Boston Chocolate Tour (thank you, Rue La La), I treated my mom to their Back Bay tour this weekend. The weather was gorgeous and the agenda (nine stops all within a mile boasting the best of the best in espresso, truffles, skin care and cookies) was more than appealing.

The tour was informative, fun and filling - we were stuffed with cocoa by the end of our journey! Our tour guide and other tour members were wonderful, too. What a special day to share with my Mother - the woman who passed down her chocoholic genetics unto me.

What an amazing holiday gift this would make for someone you really care about.  What better gift is there than a chocolate-filled day of memories? Gift certificates to the Boston Chocolate Tours are available on their website: Boston Chocolate Tours

A recap of our travels is featured after the break: