Chocolate-Chip Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake (1)

 

A guest post from Michelle:

Ah, the end of summer and all the delicious vegetables from Brewers Organics are extra wonderful! Here is a great recipe that we tried that is so moist and yummy. It uses zucchini, a member of the squash family, which provides lots of vitamin A. My family loves this cake. The zucchini helps keep the cake moist and my children don’t mind that they are eating cooked zucchini inside the cake!

Ingredients:

½ cup butter, softened

½ cup vegetable oil (or equivalent substitute)

1 2/3 cups organic sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

2 ½ cups flour

¼ cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup buttermilk

2 cups zucchini, peeled and shredded/grated

¾ cup + ½ cup organic chocolate chips, divided

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (I know, baking in the summer is hot, but choose a day that is not over 90 degrees.) Hint: reduce oven by 25 degrees if you are using a glass pan.

Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

1. Beat butter, oil and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Add vanilla.

2. Combine dry ingredients, then add to wet ingredients alternately with buttermilk.

3. Stir in zucchini and ¾ cup of chocolate chips.

4. Pour into pan, then sprinkle top with ½ cup chocolate chips.

Bake 55 minutes.

Cool and eat. YUM!

How To Exercise with a Kettlebell

 

A post from guest fitness blogger Ashley:

I would like to introduce to you a gym toy called the kettlebell (KB).  It is basically a bell shaped weight connected to a handle for easy gripping and also allows you to be able pass it from hand to hand with ease depending on the exercise.  It is a great tool for full body exercises, getting your heart rate up and can also be used for many power and Olympic lifts that would typically be performed with a barbell.  I really like the kettlebell and like that there’s countless exercises you can do with it. 

 I picked out some of my favorites that I’d like to share with you as well as a sample workout for you to try.  I will also give you a break down of what muscles you will primarily be using for each exercise.  I just had a client think that a bent over row was primarily working her triceps when in fact it has been focusing on her mid back.  So from now on I will always enlighten you on which muscles are getting stronger while you work.  Sometimes being aware of this will help you focus in on them a little more.  Before you know it, you will be a finely tuned machine.

KB Swings- glutes, low back, quads, hamstrings, core, shoulders. Start with your feet shoulder width apart and hold the kettlebell between your legs with both hands.  Make sure throughout the whole exercise that you are keeping your chest up and your shoulders back to promote good posture.  The most important part of the exercise is two fold. 

The first part is a lower body drive.  As you begin to swing the kettlebell forward you want to think about bringing your hips forward until your legs are straight and squeeze your glutes together as you come to a standing position.  The quicker and more powerful you are with this lower body movement, the easier time you’ll have controlling the kettlebell.  The goal is to get the weight parallel with the ground with each repetition you perform.  As you lower the kettlebell, you want to go back to your squat position with your chest up and shoulders back. 

One of the mistakes that people make is they try to control the kettlebell with their upper body too much.  This will only burn out your shoulders and the chances of you being able to do a higher rep count won’t be very high.  As long as you keep good posture and keep your chest up as the weight comes down you should be in good shape to perform another repetition.  The first time you try this exercise, don’t worry so much about how high the weight goes but rather how much power you are getting from your glutes and hamstrings.  Remember hips comes forward and as your legs straighten to a standing position squeeze those glutes.

 

KB Sumo Squat to High Pull –  quads, hamstrings, shoulders, traps.  This exercise you will be starting in a little bit of a different stance than the swing.  Start with your feet farther apart and your toes should be on an angle.  When you squat in this position, you want to think about doing a plie like the ballerinas do.  Your knees should be going out towards your toes and you should feel a good stretch in those inner thighs.  The same rules apply though as far as keeping your chest up and shoulders back to promote good posture.  So to start the exercise you are going to squat down driving your knees towards your toes and as you come to a standing position you want to lead with your elbows and pull the kettlebell up towards your chin keeping it nice and close to your body.  At the top of you exercise, your elbows should be higher than the weight itself.  As you come back down you are going to fall right back into that plie position and repeat for the specified number of reps. 

 

 

Kettlebell Crunches – abdominals.  This is just a spin on a regular crunch.  You are going to start by laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.  Whenever performing any type of crunch you want to make sure you aren’t putting any extra stress on your neck so really concentrate on lifting up at your shoulders instead of coming forward with your head and neck first.  A good rule of thumb is to always pretend you have a tennis ball between your chin and your chest throughout the whole exercise.  You are going to hold the kettlebell by the handle with your hands on either side of the weight.  Your arms are going to start straight above your chest and as you lift your shoulders off the ground you want your arms to continue to stay straight and you want the kettlebell to raise straight up to about face level.  If you are looking for an extra challenge, use a lighter kettlebell to start and sit all the way up and back down with your arms straight.  At the top of this exercise, the weight should be above your head.

Kettlebell Single Arm Shoulder Press – Start by holding the kettlebell in one hand by the handle.  Your arm is going to start at a 90 degree angle with the weight resting on the back of your wrist to start.  The motion is going to be just like a press with a dumbbell as far as pressing it straight overhead and back down to that 90 degree position.  If the weight starts to get heavier and you can’t press it without using your legs, add a little squat in to get some power from your lower body to help it up.

 

Quick KB Workout

15x KB Swings

15x/arm Single Arm KB Press

15x Sumo Squat High Pulls

25x KB Crunch

Repeat 5x

 

**Try to get through each set exercises as quickly as possible while maintaining proper form.  You can take a minute or two between each sets though to let your heart rate come down a bit. Push yourself and remember to exhale on the hard part of the exercise and inhale during the easy part.  For example, the hard part of the KB Swing is going to be when the weight is on the way up so exhale as you come up, inhale as you lower it back down. Have fun with it and always remember to keep good form.  If you are unable to, lower your weight and work your way up.

Always consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program.

How To Make Carrot Cake in Your Bread Machine

 

A guest post from Holly:

Bread machine carrot cake! This easy,sweet and tasty bread maker recipe is delicious…and we left the house for a few hours and returned to a moist and perfectly baked cake, with organic carrots from Brewers Organics.

Image (1)

Carrot Cake
3 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup soft butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups or 4-5 grated carrots

Bake follow the typical bread machine directions for your specific bread maker.

Chickens In Hog Heaven!

 

chicken in hog heaven 2

 

My mother is in town! Our hearts are happy and so are our tummies! Look what she cooked up this morning!

To make 12 chickens in hog heaven:

  • 12 slices of ham
  • One dozen eggs.
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • a sprig or two of cilantro
  • a handful of shredded cheddar.
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a muffin pan put a slice of ham to make a cup.
  2. Crack an egg inside the ham cup and add a dash of cream (about half a teaspoon).
  3. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until eggs are set.
  4. Remove and add cherry tomatoes, a bit of cilantro and a smidgen of cheese. Put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes.
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.

chickens in hog heaven

Originally posted on lucindaclark.com

Vegetable Pesto Lasagna Recipe

 

A guest post from Holly:

 

Lasagna is a dish that can take some time to prepare, but it is a fulfilling meal that is always appreciated.   It also stores extremely well in the refrigerator or the freezer, reheats well, and is inexpensive.  Something I have discovered is that lasagna also offers some opportunities to think creatively and add some complexity, particularly with the sauce and with the addition of vegetables.  We used homemade canned tomato sauce and homemade pesto sauce. My kids love this meal. You can easily modify this recipe by adding in veggies from your Brewers Organics produce box.

lasagne

Ingredients:

Lasagna noodles – 12 oz. package (at least 12 noodles)

2 cups ricotta cheese – part-skim

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese – low moisture part-skim

4 cups tomato sauce

4 tbsp. pesto sauce

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp.  sugar

2 tbsp. olive oil

I large bunch of fresh spinach – chopped

1 ½ cups carrots – shredded or chopped medium-fine

1 ½ cups broccoli florets – chopped medium-fine

1 large tomato – halved and sliced

 

tomato and pesto (1)

Cook the pasta noodles to the point they are cooked, but they remain firm (al dente).  Drain the pasta and lightly coat the noodles with 1 tbsp. olive oil before lining them up on a platter to allow them to cool slightly.  Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Reduce the heat to low-medium and place the shredded carrots, chopped spinach, and chopped broccoli in the pan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Set aside vegetable mixture and allow it to cool slightly.  Heat the tomato sauce (we prefer to use canned tomatoes or peeled fresh tomatoes that have been cooked down) to a simmer, adding pesto sauce, sugar, and salt and simmering for another 5 minutes.  Pour the sauce over the vegetable mixture, stir until evenly distributed and allow it to cool.

Put 1 cup of sauce/vegetables in the bottom of a lasagna pan (we use a 14” ceramic stoneware pan).  Set aside 2 cups of sauce/vegetables and ½ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Assemble the ingredients in the lasagna pan in the following order in equal amounts per layer:  noodles, ricotta (spread thinly across the noodles – I usually use the back of a spoon), sauce/vegetables, mozzarella, noodles, ricotta, sauce/vegetables, mozzarella, noodles, ricotta, sauce/vegetables, mozzarella, noodles.

On top of the final layer of noodles spread the sauce/vegetables and mozzarella cheese that were set aside and top with sliced tomatoes.

Bake for 25-30 minutes at 325 degrees.

I prefer lasagna that has three layers of noodles four-across, but four-layer lasagna is possible with this recipe.  You just need to allocate the ingredients evenly throughout the layers.  It cooks in the same fashion.  The only difference in the final product is the presence of more pasta.   The only other thing to note is that there is a ton of flexibility with the vegetables you can use in this recipe.  This is also so much fun to involve children in the process of choosing ingredients and assembling the dish itself.

Plum and Peach Crumb Cake

 

A guest post from Gloria:

Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of different plums and peaches in my Brewer’s Organics box.  I have a great recipe for a crumb cake! The first time I made it, I used plums and mango, and the second time I used more plums and about 5 peaches. I’ve had wonderful reviews so far!

I liked it better the second time because I had so much more fruit on hand, which made for a thicker fruit layer. I’d like to continue to play with this recipe in the Fall and experiment with apples, pears and pumpkin.

If you are an avid baker like me, when you find a great recipe that works, you stick with it. I’m looking forward to more creations!

Plum and Peach Crumb Cake

For the Dough:
3 cups flour
1 cup organic granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling:
5 cups diced plums (about 15 plums, peeled)
4-5 peaches, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup organic granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and then grease a 9″x13″ pan

To prepare the dough, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Use a pastry cutter (or 2 butter knives) to cut in the butter.  Add the beaten egg.  The dough is supposed to be crumbly.  Press down one half of the dough into the pan and place both the pan and the remaining dough in the fridge while making the filling.

To prepare the filling, place the plums and peaches in a large bowl and add the lemon juice.  Mix until covered.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently until it is covered evenly.

Take the pan and dough out of the fridge and evenly spread the fruit mixture on the crust.  Crumble the remaining dough on top.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top starts to brown.  Cool completely before serving.  (If you are using a slightly smaller pan, you will have extra dough (and can just discard this), and reduce the baking time to 40 minutes).

Chicken and Wild Rice Salad

chicken salad

 

A guest post from the McDonald Family:

 

Recently we hosted a wedding shower at our house and tried a recipe that we love.  Chicken Wild Rice salad is very similar to your typical chicken salad however this has a more complex taste to it and is a nice change from the boring old salad you are used to.  You can serve the salad plain, on a croissant, or even in a lettuce wrap.  It’s a perfect light summertime lunch that everybody enjoys!

 

Ingredients:
4 whole chicken breasts, cooked, cubed (approx 8 cups)
1 8oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1 6 oz package long grain wild rice, cooked according to package directions
1T red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1 tbs salt
3/4 tbs curry powder
1 C diced celery
1/4 C chopped green pepper
1 1/2 C organic mayo
1 to 2 T. dry sherry

 

Directions:
Combine chicken, pineapple, and rice in a large bowl.  Whisk together vinegar, oil, salt and curry powder in a small bowl.  Combine with chicken mixture.  Chill 3 hours. Add remaining ingredients to chicken mixture.  Toss gently.

 

Easy Caprese Skewer Appetizer

 

caprese

 

A guest post from Ashley:

I wanted to share an easy appetizer recipe that I have made a few times.  It was a fresh, light and delicious hit! Everyone likes a good old caprese salad and this is just a spin off of that. So here are the directions to make cute and simple caprese skewers. This would also be a great snack too if you didn’t have a summer party to go to anytime soon.

Caprese Skewers

1 pint cherry tomatoes
8 oz container of fresh mozzarella balls
Large bunch of basil leaves
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
Toothpicks

1. Put one basil leave, one cherry tomato and one basil leaf onto the toothpick.
2. This should make around 20 skewers. Once you are done with all the skewers, sprinkle Salt, Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar on them and they are ready to be served.

They are so delicious and the single servings are nice because no plates or utensils are necessary. Enjoy this fresh appetizer before some great barbeque food and they won’t fill you up, just satisfy you!

Kale and Broccoli Quinoa

 

tabouli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A guest post from Holly:

I love eating this fresh, delicious and incredibly healthy food! We added kale, broccoli and red bell pepper, fresh from a recent Brewers Organics delivery. We made quinoa which is fast and easy, and a perfect summertime treat that can serve as a side dish with chicken, or on its own, with a great loaf of fresh bread.

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

1 ½ cups water

2 cups broccoli florets

1 small bunch kale, cut into 2” narrow strips

1 red bell pepper, cut into 2” narrow strips

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste

1 teaspoons sea salt

Place the water and the quinoa in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and bring to a low simmer and cook until all the water has evaporated and the quinoa is cooked. Fluff with a fork and let cool completely. Once the quinoa is cooled add in the rest of the ingredients. Combine the oil, lemon juice, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to quinoa salad mixture and mix well. Chill.