Keto Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Let them eat cake or more precisely let them eat Keto Triple Chocolate Zucchini Cake! I am embarking on a chocolate for breakfast quest. CHOCOLATE should be a food group unto itself! Sometimes I try to see how many meals and snacks where I can incorporate chocolate. But today is all about cravings that make you stray from a healthy lifestyle. I’m trying to eat healthy in 2020, but the cravings are working against me.

Keto chocolate zucchini bread

Why Zucchini?

Zucchini isn’t a very exciting vegetable. It looks a lot like a cucumber but has less flavor. (I bet you can’t even describe the taste without using the word wet or bland). But this is zucchini’s true charm. That this vegetable is a completely blank canvas for adding other flavors. Need a filler in your omelet? Need texture added to soup? Zucchini is a good, healthy choice. If I’m craving carbonara I can use zoodles (zucchini noodles) as the understudy for spaghetti and save a ton of calories. Zucchini even does a pretty good french fry impersonation when coated in heavily seasoned breadcrumbs (or pork rind crumbs for the keto dieters). So it was fate that made me build a keto chocolate zucchini bread.

Zucchini’s Healthy Profile.

The lowly zucchini checks many boxes on the “good nutrition” page. One large zucchini is only about 55 calories. If you leave it unpeeled (which we will for this recipe) it has over 3 grams of fiber and feeds your body calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

zucchini combines with sweet ingredients for a healthier chocolate cake treat

Zucchini is cheap nutrition. It’s available virtually year-round and often for less than a dollar per pound. It stores in the fridge for several days uncut. It freezes well so you could cut up your bounty right away and seal it in plastic bags for future use.

Mixing Methods for Keto Bread

Unlike typical quick bread, when you are cooking without traditional flour and gluten, you have to pay more attention to the cooking methods — you know that traditional wet into dry or dry into the wet process. The answer when baking whether keto or conventional is to mix all the dry ingredients together and add them to the wet ingredients in thirds.

Dry into Wet?

Dry ingredients are traditionally lighter and less dense than the wet mixtures in baking. That simply means that dry ingredients will have a tendency to float on top of the wet. If you mix wet into dry ingredients the first third of the mixture will form a skin on top and make it difficult to get the remaining moisture ingredients evenly mixed without over mixing. With traditional flour blends, you risk creating too much gluten in overmixing and creating a tough biscuit or cookie. With keto flours — almond, rice, coconut — overmixing will release too much of the leavening carbon dioxide and result in a flat, denser final product.

A finer product.

My big recommendation with these low carb recipes is to add one additional step. Beat the eggs and all the wet ingredients with an electric mixer or hand mixer for 5 minutes so they get thick and well-combined before you start adding the dry ingredients. This will help the eggs mix well first, and allow the dry ingredients to incorporate with minimal mixing. You’ll get a lighter, finer bread texture.

The right pan.

I bought a silicone loaf pan for my keto baking, and I love it. Everything pops out of the pan and even an egg-white angel food cake base for a strawberry shortcake came out flawlessly. This recipe makes one average loaf size bread or 12 standard muffins. If you are using a traditional metal or glass pan, butter or spray the pan well and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper, then butter the parchment. This will assure a simple release and a beautiful end product.

Ingredients

KetoChocolate Zucchini Bread

Dry Ingredients

Melt Together

Wet Ingredients

1/4 cup of Lily’s Sugar-Free Chocolate Chips (this is what makes this bread triple chocolate and it adds just one more layer of chocolate — so don’t omit it! Mix the chips in with the batter during the last step and hand stirring.)

Executing the Quick Bread Recipe

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Pro Tip: Preheating your oven for a keto bread is important because once the baking powder, baking soda, or eggs are mixed according to directions the leavening chemical reactions and carbon dioxide bubbles that make this recipe rise begin escaping the batter.
  2. Prepare the pan. If you are using a traditional glass or metal baking loaf pan (for muffin tins I recommend using cupcake liners) butter and spray liberally and add a parchment paper at the bottom.
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in a sifter or sieve and gently mix together into a medium bowl.
  4. Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat on medium for approximately 5 minutes until they turn a light yellow color and thicken slightly. Next, add the remaining wet ingredients and mix to combine well.
  5. Reduce the mixing speed to low if you are using a mixer or hand mixer and add 1/3 of the dry ingredients. When the flour is mostly mixed (it doesn’t have to be perfect) add the next 1/3 and repeat until the flour is mixed in.
  6. Turn off the mixer and gently stir with a spatula to make sure all the flour is incorporated.
  7. Fill the prepared baking pan and immediately place it into the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes. At 20 minutes rotate the pan 180 degrees and set the time this time for 20 minutes. Total baking time should be 45-60 minutes depending on your oven and humidity in your area. I start checking at 45 minutes just to be sure I don’t overbake it. The bread is finished when a toothpick inserted at the very center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the finished bread 10 minutes before you remove it and set it on a rack to cool completely.

Optional ingredients.

As if triple chocolate wasn’t enough! Sometimes I want some additional texture in this bread. Add one of these ingredients during the final stirring of the batter with the chocolate chips. The total addition should not exceed 1/4 cup so if you decide to add two or three items, measure the entire addition into 1/4 cup.

  • pistachios chopped
  • coconut (unsweetened flaked)
  • peanuts chopped

Cooking Sous Vide – immersion water bath cooking

Sous vide, French for under vacuum, is cooking in a water bath or steam environment.

Until recently water bath cooking appliances were only available for commercial use. But new appliances have made sous vide affordable for the serious home chef.

My first introduction to sous vide cooking was while watching the Food Network’s Chopped.  The chef infused watermelon with lavender and pomegranate flavors.  The color of the watermelon became vibrant and served with cucumber and feta salad it seemed to light up the plate.  The judges raved about the concentrated flavors.

One of my favorite weekend snacks in summer now is a watermelon with tarragon and vodka from the sous vide.

Adding sous vide to your kitchen arsenal will definitely impress your friends.  But don’t expect every meal to become boil-in-a-bag fantastic.  I find I am adding the sous vide to a dinner dish to add more flavors or to free my time to make a complicated dessert or side dish.  It doesn’t replace other cooking tools or skills.

My preferred sous vide appliance is the Slaiya Sous Vide Accurate Digital Pro Edition.  This unit has a higher wattage and built-in timer.  It is top customer-rated and offers a 2-year warranty.  It comes with vacuum bags and the pump for sealing foods.  The higher wattage helps keep higher temperatures consistent and it heats up the water bath in about 5 minutes.

Sous vide cooking is now all the buzz in 2018, but don’t think this appliance will give you endless hours out of the kitchen because not everything is done in the sous vide and nothing happens in 15-minutes — fast cooking this isn’t.

  • Cooking in the vacuum-sealed plastic pouch sous vide assures even cooking without overcooking.
  • Sous vide immersion circulators hold the temperature at a constant level and foods cook slowly, sometimes up to 2 days, to perfection.
  • Sous vide also creates a positive environment for infusing more flavor into foods.

You can sous vide eggs, fish, meat, vegetables and even fruits.

Sous Vide can be a budget blessing for many cooks.

Tenderize the toughest cuts of meat.

You will gain time-flexibility with cheaper and often tougher cuts of meat which automatically require longer cooking times and are more forgiving to long, slow processing. The sous vide appliance keeps the water bath circulating at a precise temperature all day slowly tenderizing that tough cut and gently allowing spices to penetrate the fibers. A steak can be held almost indefinitely at medium-rare until you are ready to finish and serve.

A sous vide immersion heater used to cost thousands of dollars.  The Sous Vide Supreme “kit” can be picked up for under $400.   A good sous vide heater can be purchased online now for under $100 making it an affordable purchase for home cooks in line with the cost of a good pan.

Perfect edge-to-edge results

Food doesn’t dry out at the edges and cuts are perfectly cooked all the way through.

The water bath sous vide exposes the entire piece of meat to the same exact temperature.  Unlike oven and stovetops, that cook with direct heat to the bottom or direct heat from top and bottom, sous vide envelopes the food at a lower temperature and brings the outside and inside temperature to the same point.  Juices aren’t seared away at the edge of the meat and flavor doesn’t escape.

 

Essential Tools:

  • An Immersion Circulator with the vacuum sealing bags.  If you already have a vacuum sealing system, it will work fine with sous vide.  Even just zip-top bags can be used here although the results are better if more air is removed.
  • A plastic water bath container. (This is also a great brine container later.)
  • A Cast Iron Skillet.  It’s all about the sauce the finishing.

Other items:

  • Vacuum Sealing System.  I use the FoodSaver, but honestly any vacuum bag system will work here.
  • Binder Clips.  The same large clips you use in your office will secure that bag to the water bath container.
  • Pot top organizer (a nice feature for separating several pouches — prepping steaks for six).  Separating each pouch in a pot organizer keeps each package separate for even cooking.

Four Steps of sous vide

  • Preparation – Cleaning, portioning and drying food before vacuum sealing.  (I would also say season and spice in this step as the vacuum sealing pulls the flavor through your food.)
  • Packaging – Vacuum sealing or bagging foods for immersion.  You can use a vacuum sealer (I use the Food Saver V-4440 2-in-1 sealer) but you can get spectacular results with a hand pump sealer or even zip lock bags when you carefully remove all the air.
  • Cooking – Choosing the right temperature and the proper time for processing.
  • Finishing – Searing, saucing and presentation.  It still needs to be finished.

 

 

Tarragon and Vodka infused Watermelon

This recipe requires gently cooking watermelon sous vide for best flavor.

Tarragon and Vodka infused Watermelon
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 1 watermelon (individual slices about 4 x 1 inches (or 12 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 tsp fresh tarragon
  • dusting of powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the water bath to 140 degrees F
  2. Remove the rind and skin from watermelon and dice into 1-inch cubes or slices 4×1 inches
  3. Dust the watermelon with powdered sugar (lightly)
  4. Place the watermelon in a vacuum bag and seal out the air (You can use a standard resealable bag. Be sure to press out as much air as possible.)
  5. Submerge the pouch into the water bath for 2 hours.
  6. Remove the bag and place in ice water until cool.
  7. Serve immediately in a salad or alone, or you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

New to sous vide cooking?  Check out our in-depth review of the best sous vide appliance for hope chefs in 2018.

Salsa: Canning or Fresh

Mama's SalsaThe farmers market deal on tomatoes this week was my excuse to make salsa and get back to preserving.

This recipe is good fresh (uncooked) or canned. If you preserve your salsa — or any vegetables — they can sit in the pantry for up to a year! That is good taste and good financial sense. Cost per jar of salsa — about 90 cents.

Spring and summer crops are already starting to arrive at the market so it’s time to get your Mason Jars and canning equipment out!  I buy canning jars in packs of 12 for value.

Mama’s Not Too Spicy Salsa
Cuisine: Latin
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-5 pints
Good fresh (just prepped and tossed) or canned (cooked)
Ingredients
  • 6 pounds of tomatoes (about 15 regular sized tomatoes)
  • 4 green bell peppers (chopped)
  • 1 large sweet onion (Vidalia, Persian, Strawberry Field)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (remove the seeds based on your heat tolerance)
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar per pint jar
Instructions
  1. Blanche the tomatoes for 30-40 seconds in hot water. Remove them from the boiling pot and plunge into a sink filled with ice water to stop the cooking. Remove their skins and chop into smaller pieces. (about 1 inch).
  2. Chop onion and peppers into 1/2 inch pieces
  3. Addl all ingredients except the sugar in a large pan and stir gently to combine. (If you want to serve your salsa “fresh” stop processing here and put this version into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro and store in a Mason jar for up to a week.)
  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce until thickened and about 1/2 the quantity in the pan.
  5. Before filling your canning jars make sure the lids and jars are sterilized. Run them through your dishwasher or sterilize them in hot water and allow them to cool to the touch.
  6. Put a teaspoon of sugar into the bottom of every pint-sized jar.
  7. Pour the hot salsa into the jars leaving 1/2″ space at the top (you’ll need this for the canning seal)
  8. Put the lids on the jars and seal to finger tight then turn back 3/4″
  9. Place the jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove and let them cool on the counter. You will hear the seals set as the salsa cools. Test every seal to make sure it has completely sealed by pressing gently on the top lid.
  10. Store in the pantry for up to a year.
  11. When you go to serve these beauties add a tablespoon or fresh cilantro and/or a squeeze of lime or lemon to add a freshly made taste.

 

 

2018 Top 5 Best Panini Sandwich Makers

Read our review of the top 5 panini sandwich maker appliances. My Grandmother, who was a professional cook, knew in the 1940s that you didn’t need expensive kitchen tools to make great food.  The secret to a grilled sandwich is good ingredients and a heavy grill press that can evenly toast the bread and melt the cheese.

The Best Panini Sandwich Maker of 2018

See the best Panini Sandwich Maker of 2018.

The 2018 list Top 5 Panini Sandwich Makers and Grills.

  • Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press
  • Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
  • Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press
  • Oster CKSTPM21WC-ECO DuraCeramic 2-in-1 Panini Maker
  • Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press Gourmet Sandwich Maker

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#5 – Hamilton Beach 25460A Panini Press and Gourmet Sandwich Maker

Hamilton Beach Panini Press

Hamilton Beach Gourmet Sandwich Maker

The least expensive Panini Maker in our list, the Hamilton Beach Gourmet Sandwich maker still gets high marks among reviewers.  The Hamilton Beach 25460A features a cafe-style floating lid that presses sandwiches of all sizes evenly.  This sandwich maker is easy to use!  Power and preheat lights let you know when it is ready and the large 10×8 cooking surface is plenty of space for cooking two or three sandwiches simultaneously.  The Hamilton Beach 25460A stows away in the upright position making it a friendly choice for small kitchens.

#4 – Oster CKSTPM21WC Panini Sandwich Maker and Grill

Oster CKSTPM21 Panini Sandwich Maker

Oster-CKSTPM21 DuraCeramic Grill

The Oster CKSTPM21WC Panini Makes features a new DuraCeramic non-stick cooking surface that is 4x stronger than traditional non-stick and will not flake or peel after years of use.  The safe and natural coating is PFOA and PTFE free, so you can grill at high temperatures without worry.  The DuraCeramic finish is uniquely white and cooks up to 20% faster than traditional grill plates.  Like some of our other favorites, the Oster Grill opens flat on the counter to function as a standard grill for meats and vegetables but also has an adjustable hinged top to accommodate thicker sandwiches.  The Oster CKSTPM21WC has adjustable feet at the front so the grill can be angled down like a competitor to drain off excess fat.  The grill plates are not removable, but they can be easily wiped clean.

#3 – Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo

Breville Panini Maker

Breville BSG520XL 1500 watt sandwich makerThe Breville BSG520XL has a unique design with a flat bottom plate that helps with clean-up, and a ridged top plate to create perfect grill marks on sandwiches.  Breville is an Australian manufacturer founded in 1932 that is now making in-roads in the US market.   This model doesn’t have fancy temperature settings and it is a basic sandwich maker, but it does this service well.  A floating hinge on the lid will easily accommodate different sandwich thicknesses and the on/ready indicator lights on the lid make operation virtually mistake-proof.  The Breville BSG520XL can easily be used for grilling chicken, hamburgers, pork chops and other meats.  The grill top also makes it a good choice for grilling vegetables.

#2 – Cuisinart GR-4N Griddle

Cuisinart GR4N opens to a flat grill or griddle

 

 

 

 

Cuisinart GR-4N might be the most versatile of all the panini sandwich makers featured on our list.  Designed for the cook who wants an indoor grill and sandwich maker, the Cuisinart GR-4N opens flat so that the top and bottom can be used as a griddle or countertop grill.   The Cuisinart GR-4N has reversible grill plates — a flat side that is best for eggs and pancakes and a ridged side for grilling meats and/or sandwiches.  Unlike some less expensive models, the Cuisinart GR-4N has a temperature dial so cooks can select grill and griddle functions and desired temperatures.  There is an indicator light to alert cooks when the unit has reached the correct temperature.  The GR-4N grill plates are removable for easy cleaning and they are dishwasher safe.

#1 – Cuisinart GR-1 Griddler Panini and Sandwich Press

Cuisinart Expert Grilled Panini Sandwich PressThe best panini press and sandwich grill today.  Although this is an older model, it is the best from a quality, operations and cost perspective.  The Cuisinart GR-1 does a great job making a pressed sandwich and produces restaurant-quality grilled panini sandwiches that will surprise users.  The Cuisinart GR-1 is versatile to be used to grill vegetables, burgers, pork chops.  Available in a shiny stainless steel finish, the Cuisinart GR-1 resembles professional panini makers in appearance.  This counter-top grill accommodates sandwiches and meats of different thicknesses and features a floating hinge that automatically adjusts to sandwich bread or crusty sandwich buns. The Cuisinart GR-1 Panini and Sandwich Press is easy to use.  The grill has an indicator light to alert the cook when the appliance is hot enough for food to be placed on it and an indicator light to show when foods are fully cooked.