Lobster Bisque

A holiday favorite and traditional classic. Lobster bisque needs no introduction.

Lobster Bisque

Savory, sweet, buttery and delicious classic Lobster Bisque
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6 cups

Equipment

  • Stock pot with steamer insert
  • Dutch oven or stock pot, 6 -7 quart size
  • Immersion blender or regular blender

Ingredients
  

  • 30 oz Lobster tails Frozen are fine if fresh is not available
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 tbsp Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Dry Sherry
  • 2 cups Dry White Wine A buttery chardonnay works well here.
  • 4 cups Chicken Stock
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 cup Fennel Bulb, Roughly Chopped Use the white part only
  • 3 stalks Celery, chopped
  • 1 cup Shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup Diced Tomatoes, Canned Can use fresh, but peel and seed
  • 1/4 cup Brandy
  • 3 tbsp Raw White Rice
  • 2 tbsp Tomatoe Paste
  • 1 tsp Hungarian Paprika Do not use smoked paprika
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne
  • 2 each Bay Leaf
  • 2 tsp Thyme leaves, fresh Remove from stalks
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice, fresh squeezed
  • 1 oz Maderia

Instructions
 

  • Thaw lobster tails completely if frozen.
  • Using a sharp knife or poultry shears, cut through the top side of the lobster tail, splitting from end that is closest to the body all the way to the tail.
  • Pry the shell apart to allow access to devein the tail. Look for the vein along the edge of the shell, it will be a dark gray vein between the shell and the meat. Remove the vein.
  • Bring 4 cups of water with 1 Tablespoon of salt to a brisk boil in a large stock pot.
  • Add the deveined lobster tails to a steamer basket, shell side down (shell protects the meat from intense heat of the steam) and place over the boiling water in the stock pot. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and steam the lobster for 5-7 minutes. Reserve the steaming water for the stock.
  • Immediately remove the tails when the lobster turns bright red and the tails are opaque. Do not over cook at this stage.
  • When cool enough to handle, remove the tail meat from the shells with a fork. Try to get it all in one piece if possible. Chill the lobster meat until ready to use.
  • In a large stock pot or dutch oven (6 – 7 quart size) saute lobster shell in olive oil over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes to release flavors.
  • Deglaze the pan with the sherry. Scraping up any bits off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add 2 cups white wine, chicken stock, and reserved salted water from steaming the lobster tails. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer until reduced to about 6 cups of stock. This takes approximately 45 minutes.
  • While the stock is cooking, chop the vegetables and measure out the remaining ingredients.
  • When stock is reduced, strain shells from the stock. If the stock is less than 6 cups add a bit of water to bring to 6 cups of lobster stock. Reserve stock an proceed to next steps.
  • In a large stock pot or dutch oven,saute the fenne, celeryl and shallot in 1/4 cup unsalted butter, until soft and starting to brown.
  • Add in the reserved stock, diced tomatoe, brandy, raw white rice, tomato paste, paprika, cayenne, bay leaf and thyme; simmer for 45 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
  • Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the final liquid. If using a regular blender, use care in handling hot liquid and do it in small batches as steam from the hot liquid can cause pressure to build inside the blender. Return all liquid to the pot.
  • Stir in the heavy cream, fresh lemon juice and Maderia to finish off the bisque.
  • When you are ready to serve the bisque, slice the lobster meat into serving size pieces and saute in a tablespoon of unsalted butter over medium-high heat, just until warmed through to prevent overcooking meat.
  • Spoon bisque into bowls and top with the warmed, buttery lobster meat. Enjoy!

Notes

Cook with a wine you would drink.  Don’t skimp on the wine, it should not be too acid, or too sweet in this dish. 
Recipe can be made up to step 12 a day in advance to save time on the day you wish to serve. 
 
 
Keyword bisque, Lobster, soup

Salted Rosemary Citrus Shortbread

I usually make this recipe at Christmas time. Something about shortbread, rosemary and the lovely citrus fruits that are in season this time of year call to mind the holidays. Changing the citrus used actually can make this more seasonal. I typically use grapefruit during the holiday; something about it really goes with the salt, rosemary and buttery shortbread. But orange will work in a pinch, and lemon is great in the summer. Recently, I used a tangerine and it was delightful. Avoid lime – lime does not pair well with rosemary in this cookie.

Salted Rosemary Citrus Shortbread

Savory Sweet Shortbread with a herbacous, citrus twist
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12

Equipment

  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Tempered glass baking 8 X 8 inch baking pan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Cake Flour You can substitute Rice Flour but it changes the texture.
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Rosemary, fine chopped
  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tbp Citrus Zest Grapefruit, Orange or Lemon, omit Lime
  • 2 tsp Turbinado Sugar
  • Flakey Sea Salt Recommend Maldon brand

Instructions
 

  • Zest citrus of choice, finely chop fresh rosemary. Measure out ingredients.
  • Line a 8 X 8 inch baking dish (preferrably glass) with parchment paper, leaving a bit of overhang for easy handling.
  • Whisk together flour, cake flour, rosemary, and salt, set aside.
  • In a stand mixer, or a bowl with a hand mixer, combine the butter, granulated sugar and citrus zest and beat on medium high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl as needed.
  • Add flours, rosemary and salt mixture. Beat on low speed until crumbly, then increase speed and mix until well combined.
  • Transfer dough to the prepared pan. I do this in scoops, using an ice cream scoop and placing them strategically in the pan to evenly distribute. Use a spatula, or your hands 🙂 to press dough evenly into the pan. Smooth the top with a spatula, and transfer to the refrigerator. Chill 1 hour until firm.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Remove shortbread from the refridgerator and prick with a fork all over. Sprinkle evenly with the turbinado sugar adn then sprinkle on the flakey sea salt to taste. Go easy on the sea salt to prevent over salting, but let it shine.
  • Bake @ 375 degreees for 30 -35 mjutes until golden brown around the edges and the surface is lightly golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and cut into 1 X 2 inch pieces while the short bread is still in the pan. Let rest for approximately 10 minutes, and then lift the shortbread out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang as handles, and place on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  • Separate cookies when completely cooled. Use a sharp knife to retrace cut marks if necessary.

Notes

Cookies can be baked and cut, and stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months.  You can also freeze cookies for up to 3 months if desired.  

Holiday Wassail

A Wassail is mulled punch, made from a variety of fruits and juices. There is much tradition and history around wassailing, as a ritual to chase evil spirits from cider trees, ensuring a fruitful harvest the following season.

It has become a tradition in our home to have a Wassail simmering on the stove during holiday gatherings or visits from family during the late fall and winter months. We also make it anytime someone has a cold – it packs a Vitamin C punch and chases away the chill. All the best scents of the holiday season simmering on the stove…

Holiday Wassail

Warm and spicy cider based wassail with citrus, cranberry and pineapple.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 3 Quarts

Equipment

  • Stock Pot
  • Large Tea Ball or Cheese cloth, recommended but optional

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 gallon Apple Cider Organic, Fresh Pressed is best
  • 1 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 cup Cranberry-Pineapple Juice or 1/2 cup of each
  • 1 cup Cranberries Fresh or Frozen Whole
  • 1 each Orange, sliced in rings seeds removed
  • 1 each Red Apple, sliced in rings seeds removed
  • 1 each Lemon, sliced in rings seeds removed
  • 3 tbsp Mulling spices use your favorite blend, or see recipe notes

Instructions
 

  • Wash all fruits thoroughly, slice and seed.
  • Combine all juices and fruits in a 6 quart stock pot.
  • Place mulling spices in a large tea ball or wrap in cheese cloth tied with a string.
  • Add mulling spices to stock pot with fruits and juices.
  • Over medium heat, bring to a low boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
  • Allow wassail to simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  • Serve piping hot in mugs or Irish Coffee glasses. Garnish with cinnamon stick and additional fruit if desired.

Notes

If you do not have a favorite mulling spice, you can replace the mulling spices 3-4 cinnamon sticks, a teaspoon of whole cloves, a 1/2 teaspoon of allspice and a slice of fresh ginger.   
Use of a tea ball or cheese cloth is optional.  Spices can be added directly to the juices if these are not on hand. 
Recipe can easily be doubled for larger gatherings, use an 8 quart stock pot if doubling the recipe. 
Leftover Wassail can be strained of fruits and spices and stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator for several days.  Reheat individual servings as desired.  
Keyword Allspice, Apple, Cider, Cinnamon, Clove, Cranberry, lemon, orange, Pineapple

Lemon Lavender Zucchini Bread

Yield: 2 Loaves

I grow lots of zucchini and culinary lavender in the garden. A little tired of traditional zucchini recipes and not really in the mood for chocolate, I decided to try one of my favorite flavor combinations and craft it into a “not too sweet” zucchini bread. The results are good enough to share. This is not as sweet as you would think. Not just a breakfast bread, or snack with tea, this little loaf serves well with a dollop of whip cream or scoop of vanilla bean ice cream as a late summer dessert.

Lavender Lemon Zucchini Bread

Lavender and lemon zucchini quick bread with a lemony glaze
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 Loaves

Equipment

  • 2 – 9 X 5 inch loaf pans
  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Cake tester or toothpick
  • Zesting tool or microplane grater

Ingredients
  

Wet Loaf Ingredients

  • 4 large Eggs
  • 1 cup Olive Oil, extra virgin good quality
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 cup Milk, 2% or Whole
  • 2 tsp Lemon zest, fresh
  • 1/4 cup Lemon juice, fresh-squeezed

Dry Loaf Ingredients

  • 4 cups Cake Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 4 tsp Lavender Buds Culinary

Glaze

  • 1 cup Confectioners Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice, fresh-squeezed
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Zest, fresh
  • t tbsp Milk, 2% or Whole
  • 2-4 stems Culinary lavendar, fresh cut optional for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease and flour two 9 X 5 inch loaf pans, or coat with baking spray.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs, then add the oil and sugar until well blended and oil is fully incorporated. Add the sourcream, milk, zucchini, lemon zest and juice and mix well.
  • Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the batter and mix well to combine.
  • Stir in lavender buds.
  • Divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • During last 15 minutes of cooking, prepare the glaze by mixing all ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
  • While still warm, remove bread from loaf pans to a cooling rack placed over a piece of parchment paper or a cookie sheet and drizzle with the glaze. The paper or cookie sheet will catch the drips and make clean up easier.
  • If desired, garnish the loaves with fresh cut culinary lavender flowers.
  • Allow the bread to cool and the glaze to set before cutting.

Notes

NOTE:  If batter seems to wet after initial mixing, or if you live in a higher elevation, mix in 1/4 cup all purpose flour to the batter before pouring into loaf pans.  
Keyword cake, lavender, lemon, quick bread, zucchini

Corn Fritters Two Ways

Parmesan Basil or Jalapeno Cheddar

I love corn fritters. This recipe will share how to make them two different ways from the same basic batter. In the fall, when corn is plentiful and sweet, and I need to use up the abundance of herbs in the garden, I turn to griddle cakes and fritters to make fast side dishes to accompany a simple soup or salad for a healthy evening meal after a day of hiking, working in the garden or playing with the animals. This recipe is easily multiplied or reduced by half depending on your needs.

Corn Fritters

Corn Fritters made two ways – Parmesan and Basil or Cheddar and Jalapeno
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Fritters

Equipment

  • Food processor or Blender
  • Large skillet or frying pan

Ingredients
  

Base Fritter Batter

  • 4 ears Corn on the cob, shucked and silk removed Alternately, use 4 cups frozen corn that has been completely thawed.
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced Substitute a teaspoon of granulated garlic if you don't have fresh.
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp Olive Oil or Avocado Oil To Coat Skillet, does not get mixed into batter

Parmesan Basil Version

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 cup Basil, chopped loosely pack in measuring cup after chopping
  • 2 tbsp Flat leaf Italian Parsely, finely chopped

Jalapeno Cheddar Version

  • 1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Jalapeno Pepper, finely chopped remove seeds and ribs to reduce heat, or used them to make fritters hotter.
  • 2 tbsp Cilantor, finely chopped

Instructions
 

  • Cut the kernels off the corn using a sharp knife, or thaw frozen corn.
  • Pulse 2 cups of corn with the eggs in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth and eggs and corn are completely incorporated. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
  • Mix in the remaining corn, flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper.
  • After batter is mixed, fold in the cheese and greens from the chosen version.
  • Coat a large skillet or fry pan with oil and heat over medium heat.
  • Using a heaping tablespoon, drop by spoonfuls into the skillet, slightly spreading each fritter with the back of the spoon.
  • Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden and beginning to brown. Adjust heat to prevent scortching.

Notes

Note:  I like to use a large cookie scoop to scoop the batter into the skillet, it makes the fritters more uniform in size.
You can use just about any combo of cheese and herbs that you prefer.  I think a roasted garlic, rosemary and Romano cheese sounds great, and will have to give that a try one of these days.  
Keyword basil, Cheddar, corn, Corn Fritter, jalapeno, parmesan

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake Roll

One of my favorite fall recipes! This is actually classified as a “sponge cake” as it gets its “lift” from the eggs and baking soda. It sounds more complicated than it is, and only takes 15 minutes of oven time.

Pictures will follow and I will update this post when I make this cake over the holidays, but a a very dear young lady, who made this cake with me once requested the recipe, and I have not yet taken pictures.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cake Roll

Rolled pumpkin sponge cake with cream cheese filling
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Cake Roll

Equipment

  • Jelly Roll Pan 15" X 10" – if using a slightly larger pan, cake will be thinner and you must reduce cooking time.
  • Waxed Paper
  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
  • Large Mixing Bowl or bowl of stand mixer
  • Medium Mixing Bowl, or bowl of stand mixer
  • Clean dish towel for rolling cake

Ingredients
  

Pumpkin Cake

  • 1 tbsp Shortening For greasing pan, may substitue baking spray
  • 1 tbsp All Purpose Flour For dusting pan, may substitute baking spray
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2/3 cup Cooked Pumpkin
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tso Salt
  • 3/4 cup Pecans, finely chopped Optional
  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar For dusting dish towel after baking

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp Butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Milk optional, use only if needed
  • 2 tbsp Powdered Sugar For dusting before serving

Instructions
 

Pumpkin Cake Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Line jelly roll pan with waxed paper. Grease the wax paper and pan edges with shortening or spray with baking spray.
  • Dry ingredients: Sift together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the 3 eggs on high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Add sugar and beat on medium speed until fully incorporated.
  • Add cooked pumpkin and lemon juice and mix in on low speed until completely blended into the eggs and sugar.
  • Add dry ingredients into wet and mix in on low speed.
  • Spread cake mixture into prepared jelly roll pan. Make sure batter is evenly distributed in the pan.
  • Top with chopped pecans if using.
  • Place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Invert pan onto a clean dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. This step is crucial. Do it right when you take the cake from the oven and immediately proceed to the next step for best results.
  • Leave wax paper in place and gently roll the cake up in the towel carefully starting with the short side of the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely in the rolled towel so when it is time to add the filling it is already comfortable with the rolled up shape.

Cream Cheese Filling

  • While cake is cooling, place powdered sugar, softened cream cheese, softened butter and vanilla in the bowl of the stand mixer or medium bowl if using hand mixer. Blend on medium speed until all ingredients are incorporated and a smooth and spreadable consistency. If too thick add a teaspoon or two of milke (one at a time )to achieve desired spreading consistency.

Assembly

  • Unroll cake and remove wax paper.
  • Spread cream cheese filling across the cake carefully in an even layer, going to the edges of the roll.
  • Using clean hands, re-roll the cake on top of the towel (do not roll up in the towel again). Transfer finished roll to a cutting board and trim off edges of roll.
  • Wrap roll tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until serving.
  • To serve, remove plastic wrap, and dust with additional powdered sugar. Slice into 2-3 inch slices for individual servings.
Keyword cake, Cream cheese, Pumpkin, roll

Roasted Chicken

Yeild: 1 Roast Chicken

This is one of the most basic things I cook, and I do it often for several reasons:

  • Whole chickens often go on sale for less than a dollar a pound. Offers are so attractive, many stores place limits on the number you can purchase at one visit.
  • Left over roasted chicken can be used in all those great rotisserie chicken recipes for fast weeknight meals. Roast a chicken on Sunday night, and use leftovers for another meal during the week when you are in a rush.
  • Bones can be used to make a lovely bone broth or chicken stock. Homemade stocks and broths freeze easily and are great to have on hand for soup bases.

Roast chicken can be served with potato, rice and/or vegetable sides. Soups and salads are also great accompaniments to round out a fabulous meal. This recipe is very simple, easy to prepare and no fuss.

Roasted Chicken

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings

Equipment

  • Roasting Pan with Rack

Ingredients
  

Chicken and Seasonings

  • 5-6 pound Roasting Chicken, giblets removed
  • 1 tsp Salt, divided
  • 1/2 tso Pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp Avocado Oil

Aromatics

  • 1 small Apple, cored and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 sprig Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 small Onion, quartered
  • 1 leaf Bay Laurel
  • 1 stalk Celery, cut into 1 inch pieces

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Prepare a roasting pan with a roasting rack to elevate the chicken while it cooks.
  • Rinse the chicken, making sure the cavity is free of giblets, necks, etc. and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is very dry, this will help the skin crisp as it cooks.
  • Combine aromatics in a microwave safe bowl and add 1/4 cup water. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and allow to cool while proceeding with next steps.
  • Season the cavity of the chicken generously with 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Drain any excess water from the aromatics and place inside the cavity.
  • Using cooking twine, bind the legs of the chicken together. Fold the wings back and tuck under the bird to prevent the tips from burning while cooking.
  • Place the chicken on the rack in the roasting pan. Brush with the avocado oil, and season with the remaining salt, pepper and garlic powder – or a seasoning blend of your choosing.
  • Roast chicken at 325 for 2.5 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Thigh will wiggle easily and juices will run clear.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Keyword Chicken, Roast Chicken

Elote (Grilled Street Corn) Salad

Yield: 6 Cups

Elote is dish comprised of cooked sweet corn slathered in a spicy mixture of mayonnaise, crema, and chili powder and then sprinkled with cheese. It is often referred to as “Mexican Street Corn” because it’s a popular snack sold by vendors both on the streets and at festivals in Mexico. In Reno, I find it on food trucks.

This salad takes all the ingredients of Grilled Street Corn and makes it easy to transport and serve a crowd for BBQs, potlucks and other group celebrations. It really pairs well with grilled meats.

Ingredients

6 Ears of Corn, husked and silks removed
2 Tablespoons Avocado Oil
1/3 Cup of Crema (see Notes for substitution)
1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice (approx. 2 limes)
Lime Zest, from 1-2 Limes 
1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder (see Notes for chili powder recommendations)
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Red Onion, Minced
1/2 Bunch of Cilantro, Finely Chopped
1/2 Cup Cotija Cheese, crumbled (see Notes for substitution)

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 450 degrees or medium high heat.
  2. Brush corn ears with avocado oil, and place on the grill. Grill with lid closed, turning occasionally until corn is browned on each side. A bit of charring is OK, and imparts a smokey flavor. Too much will create a bitterness throughout the dish.
  3. Remove corn from the grill, and allow to cool for easier handling.
  4. While corn is cooling, prepare dressing by combining all the remaining ingredients except the cheese.
  5. Cut kernels from the cooled corn cobs and place in a large bowl.
  6. Pour dressing over the corn and gently toss with a spatula to coat.
  7. Add Cotija cheese and toss to incorporate.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  9. Garnish with additional Cilantro if desired.

Notes:

  • I make my own Chili Powder, which has cumin in it, so I don’t add any cumin in this recipe. However, if you are using a purchased chili powder that does not contain cumin, you will need to add about 1/2 teaspoon of cumin (or more to your taste). I tend to use a lighter hand with this spice, as this suites my personal tastes and cooking style. However, you can be as light or as generous as you wish.
  • Crema and Cotija Cheese are found in my local grocery. They are also found in Mexican groceries around our valley. However, if they are not available to you locally, you can substitute a mix of equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise for the crema. Grated Parmesan cheese can be substituted for the Cotija, or even a mild crumbled Feta.

Chili Powder

One of my favorite things about cooking is concocting. Making my own herbs and spice blends, flavored oils and vinegars is some of the fun. There is great joy in taking classic dishes and making them uniquely your own. Chili powder is one of the seasoning blends I think is much better crafted to your own preferences and result in a “secret ingredient.”

When I was taking culinary classes associated with my holistic nutrition degree, I was introduced to the Culinary Institute of America’s book, Techniques of Healthy Cooking. I still turn to it a lot for reference. The recipe below is based on one from this book.

Chili powder is simple to make, taking under 10 minutes. Most ingredients are easily located at the grocery store, and the flavor can be adjusted based on the type of chili you use. The result is far more complex and versatile than the store bought blends. I use this in tortilla soup, posole, meat rubs, various marinades, salad dressings, and of course, in a good hearty chili.

Feel free to play with this recipe and adjust it to suit your personal tastes. That’s half the fun of making your own seasoning blends from the basic spices and herbs on hand.

Ingredients

6 Tablespoons Chili, dried and ground (see notes)
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Mexican Oregano Leaves, dried
3/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/8 Teaspoon Chile de Arbol, ground (optional - can substitute Cayenne)

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together and store in a tightly covered container.

Notes

Chili: I prefer Ancho chili over all other chili for this blend, but also use Pasilla. When mixing, I do a ratio of 2/3 Ancho to 1/3 Pasilla. Ancho gives it a bright red coloring and Pasilla offers a toasted brown. Ancho is sweet and smokey. Pasilla is hotter. The combo of the two makes for a great base for the rest of the flavors.

Cumin: I reduced the original recipe by 1/2 as I am not a huge fan of Cumin. It is necessary and if you don’t use it at all, you will find something missing, but since I don’t love it, I reduced the amounts. Go easy with this ingredient because it has a very distinct flavor and can overpower all of the rest of the ingredients. You can always adjust and add more to your liking.

Garlic: I love garlic. Also a heavy flavor. I increased the original recipe slightly. Modify to your tastes.

Oregano: Mexican Oregano is traditional here, and readily found in the international food isle of the grocery store. I grow and dry my own more traditional Italian Oregano, and use it in my blend quite successfully.

Coriander: Ground coriander refers to the seed, not the leaf of the plant also commonly known as Cilantro. I love the toasty, earthy flavor the addition of coriander brings to the blend and use it liberally.

Chili de Arbol: I also add Chili de Arbol to this recipe for an extra little kick. It can be reduced or omitted if you are sensitive to the heat of this chili. Cayenne can be used as a substitute.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

Yield: Two loaves

Who knew that vegetables could be so subtly sweet, very moist, and pair well with coffee, tea and ice cream? This quick bread is a double hit of chocolate with a hint of orange and a sweetened cream cheese filling. It’s a great way to use up that extra zucchini that seems to be sprouting out of my garden right now.

Serve at room temperature, reheated or even chilled. This bread is more like cake and suitable for breakfast, coffee breaks, and a quick dessert. Imagine it ala mode…sigh.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread with Cream Cheese Filling

Chocolate Zucchini quick bread with a subtle orange vanilla cream cheese filling
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 2 Loaves

Equipment

  • 2 each 9 X 5 loaf pans (1.5 quart)
  • Mixing bowls
  • Citrus Zester or Microplane Grater
  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer
  • Mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • Cake tester or toothpick

Ingredients
  

Cream Cheese Filling

  • 8 oz. Cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Orange zest
  • 3 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 large Eggs

Chocolate Batter Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 6 tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, packed

Chocolate Batter Wet Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Oil
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 3 cups Zucchini, shredded
  • 1 zest Zest of 1 whole Orange

Add In

  • 3/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Instructions
 

  • Grease and flour two loaf pans
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Make Cream Cheese Filling: Beat cream cheese in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Beat in sugar, orange zest and flour until smooth. Add egg and beat until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
  • Make chocolate batter: Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla until creamy. Stir in sour cream, zucchini and orange zest. Add dry ingredients and mini chocolate chips. Stir just til moistened, being careful not to over beat.
  • Spread 1/4 of the batter in the bottom of each prepared pan.
  • Add 1/2 of the cream cheese mixture on top of chocolate batter in each pan.
  • Divide remaining chocolate batter pour over the cream cheese mixture in each pan. The cream cheese mixture should be mostly covered with the top layer of chocolate batter.
  • Bake the loaves at 325 degrees for 60-80 minutes. Check after 60 minutes because oven temperatures and loaf pan sizes and materials can vary.
  • When the bread is done, a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf, in the chocolate will come out clean. Cool in the pans for about 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks to finish cooling.
Keyword cake, chocolate, Cream cheese, orange, quick bread, vanilla, zucchini