Sunday, September 9

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

Well it’s official, my husband and I do not have green thumbs.  We planted a wonderful garden this summer consisting of tomatoes and zucchini.  We bought cages for the tomato plants to ensure they would have the proper support to grow nice and tall.  We even took extra precaution, making sure there wouldn’t be any nutrient stealing, spacing the plants just right.   In short we gave our garden the plush comforts it would need to produce bountiful produce.

We had hoped to have plentiful tomatoes and zucchini.  In our daydreams we had so much that we had to give them away to friends and family.  But reality was far from that.  Unfortunately a mysterious animal, we think a deer, had a feast each night while we slept.  Due to our garden massacre I instead found myself at the farmers market stocking up on local produce.

I always find myself making traditional zucchini bread, but EVERYONE has tried zucchini bread.  That’s when I discovered zucchini brownies on Pinterest!  WOW, who knew you could make chocolately goodness out of zucchini?!  There were quite a few recipes, but one in particular by Yummy Life stood out.  Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies!  Not to mention they’re egg free which intrigued me.  AND they include greek yogurt which I love.

I love chocolate.  And I love dark chocolate even more.  If you don’t care for dark chocolate, don’t worry as you can still make these.  Simply substitute regular cocoa powder for dark cocoa.    And before you begin, you’ll want to make sure you have your food processor handy.  Unlike many recipes that call for shredded zucchini, this one calls for pureed zucchini.   For that reason alone I was excited to try it, as my parents bought me an amazing Cuisinart food processor for my birthday that I wanted experiment with.

The brownies came out great.  They were extremely moist and very chocolately.  I couldn’t taste the zucchini, but I think it’s the key ingredient to ensure these brownies are exactly the opposite of dry.  Plus, if you have kids that aren’t fond of veggies, it’s a great way to sneak in some nutrients without them knowing.  These do have a different taste compared to traditional brownies.  I don’t quite know how to describe it, except to say that I liked it.  Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Brownies
Serves: 20 – 24
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Total Time:  1 hour 5 mins. (includes 25 minutes of cooling)

  • 2 cups raw zucchini, chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (such as Fage)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 


  •     1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  •     1/4 cup canned evaporated milk
  •     2 tablespoons butter
  •     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1 cup powdered sugar
  •     1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a food processor puree: zucchini, coconut oil, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, & salt. Use a whisk to mix.  Add wet ingredients and stir until well combined and evenly mixed.
  4. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan.  Pour brownie batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.  When brownies are done, an inserted toothpick will come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.   Cool for 25 minutes before frosting.
  5. While brownies cool, make the frosting by combining chocolate chips, evaporated milk, butter, and vanilla in a small saucepan.  Heat on the stovetop over low-medium heat.  Stir constantly as chocolate begins to melt (approximately 5 to 8 minutes).
  6. After chips have melted and mixture is smooth add the powdered sugar.  Whisk until smooth.
  7. Spread frosting evenly over brownies and top with chopped nuts.

Friday, August 24

Molasses Spice Cookies

This past weekend my husband and I were invited to stay with friends at their cabin on Higgins Lake.  We jumped at the chance and shipped our baby girl (black lab – Bella) off to Grandma’s house for her own mini vacation while we escaped to a relaxing getaway. 

Of course my mind immediately started to wander, daydreaming about what type of goodies we could bring.  With the temperature expected to be a bit cooler, and a hint of Fall in the air, I thought cookies would be the perfect weekend companion.  But what type of cookie?

Whenever I bake cookies, I’m always looking for new recipes.  I typically search my favorite food sites and sort through those that have the best reviews.  The below recipe happens to be one of those.  I must admit I’ve never sought out a molasses cookie recipe, since I’m more of a chocolate and peanut butter girl, but when I saw all of the spices I knew I had to try these! 

If you’re not familiar with molasses, it’s very sweet (made from processing sugar cane) and is extremely dark.  Imagine an almost black pancake syrup.  I know, not the prettiest picture, but don’t let this stop you from making these.  While in the oven, the molasses works its magic, transforming these into soft, chewy cookies with an irresistible amount of spice.   If you like gingerbread cookies, you will LOVE these.   I’m already planning to serve these over the holidays as they’d be perfect for a Christmas party or cookie exchange.  Enjoy!

Molasses Spice Cookies
Adapted from
Recipe #63981,
Yields: 25-35 cookies (depending upon size)
Prep Time:  1 hour 10 mins (includes 1 hour of chilling dough)
Total Time: 1 hour 40 mins.

  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Sugar in the Raw (for coating)

  1. In a large bowl cream the shortening and brown sugar.
  2. Add the egg and molasses.  Mix well.
  3. In a medium bowl combine all dry ingredients (except Sugar in the Raw); stir to combine well.   Slowly add dry mixture into the large bowl with egg and sugar mixture.  Mix well.
  4. Cover and chill dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 350F
  6. Remove dough and roll into medium sized balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball). Sprinkle a plate with Sugar in the Raw, and roll dough balls through the sugar, evenly coating the outside of each ball.
  7. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cookies remain on cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing with a spatula.

Wednesday, August 15

Nectarine & Goat Cheese Salad

I used to never eat salad.  Probably because I didn’t like vegetables.  But over the last few years I’ve come to love vegetables and at times even crave them.  It’s funny how tastes change.  When I began eating salad, I slowly eased my way in by selecting only those that were made of iceberg lettuce.  Now I’m a little bit of a salad snob and prefer those that have dark, luscious greens like romaine or spinach.  Not only do they taste good, but they’re more nutritious for you as well.

And toppings?!  Oh how I love salads with unique toppings.  One of my favorite salads that we eat regularly throughout the week is Spinach Salad with Salmon & Dried Cherries.  Besides dried cherries some of my favorite toppings are avocadoes, roasted sweet potatoes, toasted pine nuts, and the list goes on.  Hence the recipe for this unique dish! 

It all began at work when my manager offered my co-workers and I some of her salad.  It looked very intriguing with nectarines scattered on top, whole walnut pieces, and goat cheese (chevre).  When I took my first bite, WOW, what a combination!  The sweetness of the nectarines, followed by the crunch of the walnuts, and creamy goat cheese was out of this world.  I was hooked and knew I had to re-create this at home.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Nectarine & Goat Cheese Salad
Original recipe by Alissa Hebert
Serves: 2
Prep Time:  10 mins.
Total Time:  20 mins.


  • 4 cups spring mix or your favorite greens such as arugula, spinach, etc.
  • 1 nectarine (or peach if preferred)
  • 2 oz. chevre (goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 
  2. Assemble dressing in a small bowl by combining: vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper.  While whisking, slowly add in the olive oil.  Cover and refrigerate.
  3. Toast walnuts by placing on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove when  walnuts have a hint of brown and become fragrant.
  4. Place spring mix in a large bowl or on a large plate. 
  5. Cut the nectarine into 6 to 8 slices.  Place on top of the spring mix.
  6. Evenly distribute the toasted walnuts over the salad.
  7. Break apart the goat cheese into mini bite size pieces.  This can be done by using a spoon to scoop small dollops, or use a knife to cut mini pieces.  Distribute evenly on top of the salad.
  8. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and serve.

Monday, August 6

Tomato Chickpea Salad

In the summer there always seems to be an abundance of tomatoes at our house.  We have a small garden with a few kinds, but we also try different varieties from our farmers market.  I love having fresh tomatoes readily on hand to garnish sandwiches and burgers or to simply eat cherry tomatoes as a quick snack.  

Since we have a stock supply of tomatoes, I have a basil plant that I keep on my back porch for easy picking.  Fresh basil has a wonderful flavor and pairs extremely well with tomatoes.  Taking all this into account, you can say I’ve gotten pretty creative with tomato recipes.  My favorite snack or appetizer has to be Tomato, Basil & MozzarellaPoppers.  But this week I discovered a new dish from a recipe I found on Pinterest.  This is a cold, refreshing side dish that you can serve with just about any meal.  And the best part is it’s extremely easy to put together.  

Garbanzo Beans/Chickpeas

The key ingredients are grape tomatoes, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), and basil.  Keep in mind that you can always cut whole tomatoes into bite size pieces if you don’t have grape tomatoes accessible.  If you’re not familiar with chickpeas, they have a mild nutty flavor and are rich in minerals.  They’re quite popular in vegetarian dishes as they’re an excellent source of protein.  Just one cup of chickpeas contains 29% of your recommended protein intake.  If that doesn’t entice you, just know that this salad is healthy and will leave you feeling invigorated.  Give it a try during these hot summer months.  After all, it’ll only take you 10 minutes to assemble.

Tomato Chickpea Salad
Adapted from Green Lite Bites blog
Serves: 4 to 5 people
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time:  10 minutes

  • 1 (15.5 oz.) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 25 large basil leaves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • pinch of salt

  1. Drain chickpeas and rinse in a strainer to remove the starch.  Place in a large bowl.
  2. Chop the basil and cut the tomatoes in half.  Add to the bowl and combine with the chickpeas.
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the bowl.  Stir to combine well.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.  Serve cold.

Tuesday, July 31

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

You may be wondering why you haven’t seen any new posts on Red Lab 27.  With the summer being so busy, I decided to take it off and truly enjoy it.   After today, however, I plan to post more frequently, so please continue to visit and check for new recipes! 

To start back up, I thought I’d share an easy recipe with you.  Baked sweet potato chips.  I LOVE chips.  They’re crunchy, salty, and addictive.  Sure they’re not healthy, especially if you eat more than the recommended serving (and I almost always do).  With that said, I typically buy Baked Lay’s potato chips to stock our kitchen cabinet.  At least they’re somewhat healthier.  Baked Lay’s are good, but have you ever tried homemade potato chips?   If you haven’t, then you are missing out!

A mandoline will create thin slices that are consistent in size

Homemade chips taste better than any packaged ones you’ll find at the grocery store.  There are so many options for seasonings.  Experiment with different spices, or if you prefer a more traditional taste, stick to using salt.  The best part about these potato chips is that they’re warm when you eat them!  Think of chocolate chip cookies.  Aren’t they a million times better when served fresh out of the oven?  The same is true for chips.  Trust me, you won’t be able to get enough of these chips!

The slices will shrink in size when cooked

These can be made at home by simply using an old fashioned knife to slice all the potatoes.  However, to cut the potatoes very thin and have a consistent thickness (1/8 inch), I would recommend purchasing a mandoline.  A mandoline is a cooking utensil that quickly allows you to slice fruits or vegetables by running them over a sharp blade.   Not only does it slice extremely thin (much better than I could by hand), but it can also julienne.  They even come with a safety guard to protect your fingers.  I have never owned a mandoline until recently, and I must say that it makes cutting that much easier.  If you’re looking for an affordable mandoline, I suggest the Progressive International HGT-11 Folding Mandoline Slicerthat I recently purchased.

Baked Sweet Potato Chips
Adapted from Simple Comfort Food
Serves: 4 people
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Total Time: 30 mins.

  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)

Supreme Seasoning (optional):
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. 
  2. Wash potatoes and slice to 1/8 inch thick.  The skin can be left on or if preferred, peeled and removed.
  3. Place potato slices in a large bowl.  Add olive oil and toss, making sure to evenly coat all slices. 
  4. If making the supreme seasoning (optional), combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. 
  5. Arrange potato slices in a single layer on metal baking sheets.  Lightly sprinkle one side with sea salt or the supreme seasoning.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and turn the slices over to the other side.  Lightly sprinkle with the remaining sea salt or supreme seasoning. 
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the centers are soft (and slightly golden brown) and the edges are crisp.  Transfer to a bowl and serve while warm.

Tuesday, April 24

Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites

Now that my husband and I are eating healthier I’m always on the lookout for nutrious snack ideas.  Or, in other words, snack alternatives that won’t break the calorie bank.  I admit it, I love snacks.  Unfortunately I used to come home from work ravished, and eat snacks as I cooked dinner. I would eat potato chips and any other crunchy foods I could find in the kitchen.  Some people crave sweet, some crave salt, but when I want a snack I’m looking for foods that pack a CRUNCH.    

I think the majority of my problem stemmed from eating foods that didn’t satisfy my hunger.  I find it crazy that eating something as small as a hardboiled egg can curb hunger.  One hard boiled can contain as much as 6.5 grams of protein.  That’s what satisfies your hunger!  After experiencing this first hand, I now look for protein in my snacks.  I keep healthy snacks on hand (granola bars, nuts, etc) at work so I didn’t fall into the common vending machine trap. 

It just so happens that the below recipe will become one of my new snacks to have on hand.  When I stumbled across the recipe I thought what a great idea!  Greek yogurt is packed with protein (approximately10-15 grams per container) and blueberries have their own great health benefits.

This recipe was definitely worth a try.  I almost didn’t make it, however, as the original recipe calls for using a toothpick to hand dip each blueberry in the yogurt.  NO THANK YOU.  I knew that would take forever and my patience would run short.   Instead I figured out the perfect combination of blueberries and yogurt.  That way, all that’s needed is to stir the two ingredients together and spread them onto a baking pan.  No toothpicks needed!

These came out great.   The honey flavored Greek yogurt adds a nice subtle flavor and while the frozen berries provide a slight ‘crunch’ (perfect for me!).  These would make a great snack on a hot summer day!  I’ve found that storing the berries in a re-sealable bag, in the freezer, makes for an easy snack to grab while you’re on the run.  Just a grab a few and enjoy!

Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites
Serves: 1 cup
Prep Time:  5 mins.
Total Time:  65 mins. (includes 1 hour of freezing)

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4  cup honey flavored Greek yogurt (such as Dannon Oikos)

  1. Place yogurt in a medium bowl and add blueberries.
  2. Gently use a spoon to stir and coat the blueberries with yogurt.
  3. Pour yogurt covered blueberries onto a baking sheet.  Separate the blueberries so that they do not touch.
  4. Place baking sheet in the freezer and allow to freeze for 1 hour.
  5. After frozen, remove blueberries from the baking sheet.  Add to a re-sealable bag and place in the freezer.

Saturday, April 7

Healthy Egg Salad Sandwiches

With the holiday right around the corner there’s no doubt that you or someone in your family will be dying Easter eggs.  When I was younger my dad and I would dye a few dozen.  The question is what do you do with that many eggs when Easter is over? 

Hard boiled eggs are great paired with breakfast or they can also serve as a nice protein snack (averaging 6 grams).  If you’re like me and would tire of eating an egg each day, then make egg salad sandwiches!  I used to love when my mom would pack this sandwich for me in my school lunch.  Now, looking back, I think there was probably a good amount of mayo that was added to make them so creamy.   That’s why I thought I’d re-create this nostalgic sandwich but make a healthier version.  Instead of using mayo, I replaced it with Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt is very thick and has a rich, creamy consistency.  Not to mention it’s packed with a good amount of protein.  Keep in mind substituting Greek yogurt for mayo can easily be done with various dishes (ex: chicken salad sandwiches) and provide the same tasty result without the guilt.

Also, I have a huge time saving tip if you do not have left over Easter eggs.  Did you know that you can buy hard boiled eggs in the store?!  You can!  And the best part is they’re already peeled!!!!  They’re by Eggland’s Best and are kept near the fresh eggs.  I know you might be thinking that’s a rip off as hard boiled eggs are so easy to make.  But are they?  Think about how much time is spent boiling and peeling them.  I HATE peeling the shells.  Even if you think you’ve fully de-shelled them, there’s always (ALWAYS!) a tiny bit of shell that remains and manages to make its way into the mix.  AND with these eggs, they’re cooked perfectly.  The yolk is never under or over cooked.  It’s a perfect golden yellow.  I can honestly say I will never make hard boiled eggs again.  Buying them is just too easy.  They also come in a nice re-sealable bag that allows us to store them in refrigerator and quickly grab a snack when we’re on the go.

These egg salad sandwiches came out great.  The spices included were not overpowering and next time I’d like to experiment with adding a little more mustard or perhaps some dill as well.  This salad tastes amazing on toasted bread.  Instead of using regular sandwich bread I decided to try Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats.  They’re a very thin roll that’s perfect for sandwiches.  The best part is they’re only 100 calories!  They taste delicious and provide more support (no more falling apart!) for heavier sandwiches.   We enjoyed topping our sandwiches with fresh spinach, but if you don’t like spinach, try topping yours with lettuce or tomatoes.  Enjoy!

Healthy Egg Salad Sandwiches
Adapted from
Serves: 3
Prep Time:  10 mins.
Total Time:  15 mins.

  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch chives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 large hard boiled eggs
  • fresh baby spinach (optional) or lettuce if preferred
  • Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats or whole grain bread, toasted

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine first 7 ingredients; stir to combine well.
  2. Slice hard boiled eggs into quarters; add to large mixing bowl.
  3. Using a fork combine all ingredients.  Mash eggs to desired consistency.
  4. Assemble sandwich:  place spinach on top of toasted bread, add egg salad on top of spinach, and top with toasted bread.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...