Me and coconut oil became fast friends once we finally got around to meeting each other. I’ve only used it in baked goods so far, but have plans to deepen my relationship with coconut oil by using it in my morning smoothie and as a substitute for vegetable or canola oil in stir fry. And as you probably know by now, there are like a million other uses for this trendy cooking oil.
This zucchini bread was a hit, which was a total relief. When I poured (scooped) the batter into the pans I was worried about it. Coconut oil just has a different consistency and doesn’t create the same textured batter as vegetable oil does. It’s thicker and doesn’t fill the pans on its own, it needs some help into the corners. This being my first time using coconut oil in a quick bread, I wasn’t confident that it would come out well. If you have the same concern, no need to worry! The loaf does end up being on the short side, but the texture is nice and while it is dense it isn’t heavy. The zucchini isn’t overwhelmed by the coconut, which is rather mild. If you really like and want a more distinct coconut flavor, then add some flaked sweetened or unsweetened coconut to the batter. Some crushed pineapple might not be a bad idea either…
I have an undying love for pecans, so that is what I used, but you can use walnuts or leave the nuts out altogether. If you really want to go tropical, use macadamia nuts. Yum.
White whole wheat flour isn’t always a great substitute for all purpose, but it worked well here. White whole wheat flour does have more texture than all purpose, so when I tried it in a pound cake a while back it wasn’t great. I’d imagine it would work in banana bread, though. White whole wheat flour apparently has the same health benefits of whole wheat flour, but without the stuff that gives whole wheat flour its strong flavor and darker color. I don’t know the proper terms for all of that or the reason behind it all, but I do know that when I can sneak good stuff into my baked goods without it changing the texture or flavor too much, I am on board. It’s all about lessening the guilt, am I right? I have the same mentality with the coconut oil. How can a slice of bread made with coconut oil, white whole wheat flour, and zucchini be BAD for me? It can’t. What sugar? It all cancels out… So I’ll go ahead and eat another slice smothered in butter. Eat up and enjoy!
3 cups shredded zucchini, drained on paper towels for 10-15 minutes
1 cup toasted pecans, cooled to room temp
Preheat oven to 325°F.
Grease and sugar two loaf pans.
Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium sized bowl.
Combine coconut oil and sugar and whisk well. Add in eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla.
Fold flour into the coconut oil mixture until just combined, then fold in zucchini and pecans.
Divide batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Check bread at 45 by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, then your bread is done. If it’s gooey, bake for another 10, then check again. Mine baked for close to an hour.
How can something so simple be so good? You probably have every almost every ingredient for this in your kitchen right this very moment. Add to that the minimal amount of time it takes to get this on the table, pair with a green salad and some crusty bread and you have the perfect meal. Make it for a casual family weeknight or for weekend company. It’s easy to make 2 servings or 10. This is one of those recipes to go to when your mind isn’t working well enough to think too hard about dinner (this happens to me a lot) or when you’re having last minute guests and don’t have much time to shop for or prepare dinner. The drizzle of glaze isn’t just great for flavor but it’s also beautiful and adds a touch of fancy to an otherwise very simple dish. I’m real excited that this chicken found its way into my life.
Since there are only a few ingredients, make sure they’re all fresh and of good quality. Get the best looking tomatoes you can find. Romas are a good choice and usually a good size. They are what I used. If the heirlooms at the store look good, splurge on them. You only need 1 or 2 (to serve 2-4 people) so go for it! Get fresh mozzarella, the kind packed in water, and make sure to slice it generously. Now the basil. If you have some in your garden then just grab your shears and head out the back door. If not, get the fresh kind at the store. Don’t use dried basil. It will just not be the same.
This really could not be simpler. Grill the chicken (or cook it in a pan on the stove), and in the last couple minutes place the cheese on top so it has time to melt. If you do this in the oven you might turn the broiler on for a minute or so to melt the cheese. Top with a slice of tomato, sprinkle with the chopped basil and drizzle with balsamic glaze.
The glaze is probably the most time consuming and complicated part about this. It’s not hard, it just requires time and some patience. But it’s worth it. The recipe below makes more than you will probably need, but you can save it, keep it in the fridge, and use it for other dishes. Drizzle on top of a caprese salad (just what you’re using in this dish minus the chicken) or as a finishing sauce for grilled pork tenderloin or other meats.
Below are the ingredients that will serve at least 4 using 4 chicken breasts sliced in half horizontally to make 8 total pieces, 2 per person. But some of your lighter eaters may just eat one piece. If you end up with leftovers I HIGHLY recommend reheating and serving some of the chicken on warm crusty bread with some arugula or other green to make a chicken caprese sandwich. Enjoy!
Grilled Caprese Chicken with Balsamic Glaze
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into 2 pieces
1-2 medium to large tomatoes, or 3 to 4 small (you want to try to almost cover the chicken with the tomato slices
8 slices of fresh mozzarella (again, you want the mozzarella slice to almost cover the chicken breast)
kosher salt and pepper
fresh basil leaves, 8-10 (leave them whole or chiffonade)
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pour balsamic vinegar into a small, heavy saucepan. Bring the vinegar to a low boil over medium high heat. Adjust heat as needed to keep it at a low boil. Stir occasionally until vinegar begins to thicken and coat the back of a spoon, 15-20 minutes.
Stir in brown sugar and mustard and cook an additional 5 minutes, remove from the heat and let cool slightly before serving. This will thicken a bit as it cools.
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
Grill the chicken, 4 minutes on the first side, then flip the breasts over and let cook for another minute or 2. Place one piece of mozzarella on each chicken breast and let cook for another 3-4 minutes until chicken is done and mozzarella is melted.
Transfer chicken breasts to a serving platter and immediately place basil leaves on top of the cheese followed by the tomatoes. Drizzle lightly with balsamic glaze and serve additional glaze on the side.
When berries of any kind are in abundance and being sold for cheap I grab them up. Last week I bought 2 pounds of blueberries for something like $2. I’ll eat them by the handful, put them in my yogurt, and in salads. Betsy likes them, too. When half the container was gone I decided to do something a little more exciting with them and made this cake that I’d had bookmarked in my Fine Cooking magazine for the past 2 weeks. Thanks to Sarah who helped me get it done after overestimating my ability to tackle 5 things at once.
This was super simple and beautiful. You could easily serve this at a brunch for guests as a lovely alternative to blueberry muffins. It’s delicious for breakfast, but also a nice evening dessert served with a little ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. To keep the berries from sinking to the bottom, toss them in a little flour after rinsing and patting them dry. Enjoy!