Saturday, June 25, 2022

ChezCindy: Zucchini Banana Bread



This mash-up of zucchini and banana came by way of using what I had available.  I had one sad looking banana and 1 zucchini, each in the condition of use it or throw it out.  I decided to make zucchini banana bread.  Something I have never thought to do.  If I did an internet search, most likely I would find that such a recipe exists.  However, I simply decided to use my tried-and-true zucchini bread recipe I have used since I was very young.  I'm not sure when I hand-wrote out the recipe card, but it is still my go-to for zucchini bread.  

I had more zucchini than banana, so the bread is more of a standard zucchini bread, with just a bit of banana as a background flavor.  From the recipe card, you can see the original measure of zucchini is 2 cups.  I swapped out 1/2 cup for banana in this new recipe.  Both resulting breads are wonderful.  I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed the addition of banana.  Use what you have to equal a 2-cup measure.   

Zucchini Banana Bread
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup mashed banana 
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Makes 2 loaves 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare 2 loaf pans, 8"x4" in size, by lightly spraying each with baking oil spray.  Set aside.

To make this recipe, use an electric stand mixer or a hand mixer.  I used a fork and a spatula.   

Working with a large size mixing bowl, add the eggs and the oil to the bowl, mixing to combine thoroughly.  Add in the sugar, grated zucchini, mashed banana and vanilla, mixing to combine.  In a separate medium size bowl, add the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon, whisking to combine.  Transfer the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.  Folding together until just combined.  

Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pans.  Place the pans into the preheated oven, baking for 55-60 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.  Remove from the oven, cooling in the pans for 10 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pans to cool on a rack. 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

ChezCindy: Carrot-top Parsley Pesto with Parmesan


It was not new to my awareness that carrot-top leaves are edible.  I don't think I had even eaten them in a restaurant or certainly had not used the leaves in my own cooking.  Their gorgeous green color and feathery fern-like leaves are attractive to the eye but sadly discarded.  I was at the farmer's market and kept seeing carrots greens peeking out of the tops of other customer's market bags.  This brought inspiration that I should make something with carrot leaves.  Carrot-top pesto came to mind and what an awakening that was.   

Pesto most commonly is thought of as being made with basil leaves.  Actually, the word pesto means to pound as traditionally made with a mortar and pestle.  Of course, we now have the convenience of using a food processor.   Pesto can be made from many types of herbs and leaves such as kale and spinach pesto, garlic scape pesto, and even sundried tomato basil pesto.  

In this recipe I use carrot leaves and parsley leaves which pair together very well.  I encourage you to taste the carrot leaves on their own in comparison to the parsley leaves.  Both are bitter, with the parsley leaves having a stronger punch than the carrot leaves.  Using them together in a standard recipe in place of basil results in a delicious flavorful pesto.  Also not surprising is the nutritional value of carrot-top leaves.  They are off-the-chart in vitamin A just like the carrots themselves, and high in potassium. 

Other uses for carrot-top leaves are to sauté carrots slices in olive oil adding chopped carrot leaves at the end of the cooking time finishing with a sprinkling of kosher salt or adding chopped carrot leaves to homemade soup as you would parsley leaves.  


Carrot-top Parsley Pesto with Parmesan
1 cup carrot-top leaves from 1 bunch of carrots, well cleaned and dried
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup roasted cashews, unsalted or lightly salted
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Working with a food processor, add the carrot leaves and the parsley leaves, along with the clove of garlic to the processor bowl.  Pulse the contents until coarsely ground.  Add in the cashews, pulsing until mostly combined.  Add in half of the olive oil, pulsing to begin to make a sauce.  Add in the remaining oil and the salt, processing until blended.  Add in the Parmesan cheese, pulsing until just combined, not over-processing. 

Serve with pasta or drizzled over crostini toasts.  Also, delicious folded into scramble eggs or an omelet.  

Summer Vegetable Tart with Carrot-top Pesto  

Make this tart using the recipe link above, substituting the carrot-top parsley pesto for the basil pesto.  

Thursday, June 2, 2022

ChezCindy: French Potato Salad with Broccoli


French potato salads are made with a mustard vinaigrette and lots of fresh herbs to dress waxy new potatoes.  Most American potato salads are made with a mayonnaise base as the dressing.  Both are delicious.  The French potato salad is best served at room temperature, making it perfect for an outdoor picnic gathering with no worries of the mayonnaise getting too warm for safe serving temperature.  In this recipe, I have taken a twist on tradition by adding steamed broccoli.  If broccoli is not for you but like the idea of adding a vegetable, steamed green beans would be more traditional.  

For a quick and easy method to steam the added vegetables, click here to learn that process. 

I used my standard Chez Cindy vinaigrette recipe using white wine vinegar and olive oil, with Dijon mustard and honey.   


French Potato Salad with Broccoli
1 pound bite-size red-skin and new potatoes
3 cups broccoli florets, steamed
1 small shallot, minced
3 tablespoons fresh herbs (tarragon, parsley, chives)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons Chez Cindy vinaigrette

Scrub the potatoes well, leaving the skins on.  Place the whole potatoes into a saucepan, filling the pan with cold water to cover the potatoes by 1/2-inch.  Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat cooking the potatoes until they are just tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.  Drain and allow to cool.  

Steam the broccoli, cool to room temperature.  Tear the florets into small bite-size pieces.  Mince the shallot.  Tear or rough chop the fresh herbs.  Make the vinaigrette.  

Putting it all together:  Place the cooked potatoes and the broccoli into a medium size bowl.  Add in the minced shallot, fresh herbs, and salt, gently tossing all together.  Pour the vinaigrette over the mixture, tossing gently to coat the potatoes, broccoli and herbs.  The potato salad can be served immediately or kept at room temperature for use within 1-2 hours. 

Recipe can be doubled if desired.  

Sunday, May 22, 2022

ChezCindy: Double Nut Harvest Grains Granola


Each time I create a new granola recipe I end up saying this is my new favorite.  But I really do love this Double Nut Harvest Grains granola.  It has a good balance of sweet and savory with a hint of salt.  I used walnuts and pecans, and an extra dose of mixed grains with the whole oats.  The Harvest Grains is actually a product from King Arthur Baking Company, as shown in the photograph below.    

The Harvest Grains product is a large bag with a combination of four grains and four seeds.  I initially bought it to make yeasted whole grain bread.  I found that I was not baking enough whole grain bread to work through the bag quick enough.  To be sure I did not waste it, I decided to store the bag in my freezer and come up with other ways to use it.  I have added the grains to oatmeal cookies, muffins, and now this granola.  It is a good value, not expensive for the quality and the amount of product.  But even for as often as I bake it is lot of grains, still highly recommended for purchase.

My new favorite granola is a great mid-day snack with a cup of tea, or more traditional as breakfast with yogurt and fruit.  Below are links for other favorite granola recipes.  

Double Nut Harvest Grains Granola
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw walnuts pieces
1 cup raw pecan pieces
1/4 cup Harvest Grains 
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line 1 rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, pecans, Harvest Grains, coconut, flax seed and salt.  Stir to combine.  In a separate small bowl or mixing cup, add in the olive oil and maple syrup, using a whisk, stir to combine.   Pour the combined olive oil and syrup over the oat mixture.  Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir to completely coat the oat mixture.  Transfer the raw granola to the prepared baking sheet, spreading into an even layer.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes without stirring until the granola is golden brown and toasted.  Remove the tray from the oven and allow the granola to cool completely without stirring.  This is where the magic takes place resulting in a crisp, solid layer of granola.  Once cool, break into large pieces.  Store in glass containers.  The granola will keep at room temperature for up to a month. 

Note - If you would like to add dried fruit, add in after fully baking the granola.

ChezCindy: Pan-Roasted Sesame Salmon


I have many recipes for Asian Salmon using traditional ingredients for Asian cooking, such as hoisin, soy sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, and more.  Somehow, no two recipes are alike, and all are wonderful yet different.  I found this recipe in Eating Well magazine in 2020, sadly no longer in paper publication, but available online.  This recipe demonstrates that sesame seeds are not simply a garnish but add great flavor and texture to the glaze for the salmon.  

I encourage you to build your pantry with common Asian ingredients, ready for use in so many recipes.  I have several recipes on this site for you to try.  From Asian Sloppy Joes to Asian Lettuce Wraps and Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-fry.  The ingredients add great flavor, lending towards quick-cooking recipes, and so very pleasing to the palette.  

Pan-Roasted Sesame Salmon
4 green onions, white and green sections separated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon mirin
4 6-ounce pieces of salmon. skinless
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon canola oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

Cut the green onions into 2 sections separating the white from the green.  Thinly chop the white section, and thinly chop the green section, keeping each separate.  Place the white chopped onions into a small bowl.  Set aside the green chopped onions to use as a garnish for the finished salmon dish.  Add the minced garlic, hoisin, soy, sesame oil, sesame seeds, honey, mirin into the bowl with the chopped white onions, stir to combine. 

Pat the salmon pieces dry using a paper towel, sprinkle with the salt.  Heat a 12-inch oven proof non-stick skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of canola oil.  Place the salmon pieces, skin-side up, (what would have been the skin-side if the skin has been removed) into the heated skillet.  Cook the salmon for 4-5 minutes.  Flip the salmon over skin-side down.  Spoon the sesame sauce mixture over the salmon pieces.  Transfer the skillet into the hot oven, roasting the salmon for 4-5 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the oven.  Remove the salmon pieces from the skillet, sprinkle the chopped green onions over the salmon as a garnish.  Serve with sautéed vegetables or rice, if desired.  

Sunday, May 15, 2022

ChezCindy: Red Pepper Egg Cups


Here is a clever way to add vegetables to your breakfast meal.  Not only are you using a cut bell pepper as the edible baking cup, but I also add tiny cherry tomatoes to the pepper cup.  Add in a fresh egg, topped with a bit of cheese for a delicious breakfast or dinner.  

The egg cups can be baked ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, and reheated in the microwave for a later time.  If this is the plan, bake the eggs on the shorter time, knowing that reheating will bring the eggs to a firmer texture.    

For another egg cup recipe, see an earlier post on the process egg cup recipes.  

Red Pepper Egg Cups
2 medium red bell peppers
12 small cherry tomatoes, 8 if larger in size
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 large eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian herbs, or oregano

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a small baking sheet with cooking spray oil

Cut each pepper in half through the stem end.  Remove the ribs and seeds.  Place the peppers in the pan, cut side up.  Place 2-3 cherry tomatoes inside the well of each pepper.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Place the baking sheet and peppers in the preheated oven, roasting for 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven.

Crack one egg into each pepper cup, sprinkling a bit of salt over each egg.  Divide the cheese evenly topping each egg, about 1 tablespoon per egg cup.  Sprinkle with the dried Italian herbs.  Return the baking sheet to the oven, baking the eggs for 12-15 minutes, depending on desired "doneness" for the egg.  Serve immediately while hot.  

Saturday, April 23, 2022

ChezCindy: Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Chicken and Pasta


This lovely dinner of roasted cherry tomatoes and chicken was created with the intention to have a meal that could be eaten at time of making it or saved and reheated for another time.  Both have great success.  The chicken remains tender and moist due to the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  If serving with the pasta, that too can be made ahead of time and stored separately in a zip-top bag, combining each after reheating.   I have also served this with quinoa or rice, but pasta is the favorite topped with grated Parmesan cheese.  

Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Chicken 
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 8-ounces each
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small red onion, sliced vertically
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Working with a 10-inch square baking dish, or something similar, place the cherry tomatoes and the garlic into the dish.  Pour in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, add in the brown sugar.  Stir a bit just to distribute the sugar.  Nestle in the chicken among the cherry tomatoes.  

Place the sprigs of fresh thyme on top of the chicken.  Scatter the sliced onions around and over the tomatoes and chicken.  Sprinkle on the salt and a bit of black pepper.  

Place the baking dish into the hot oven.  Roast for 35-40 minutes until the tomatoes have slumped and the chicken is tender with an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  Remove the thyme stems, with the fallen leaves remaining on the chicken.  Serve hot with pasta and grated Parmesan cheese as desired.