Amazing Zucchini Brownies

Well, it's that time of year again where I start figuring out new and exciting ways to use the abundance of zucchini have.  I love zucchini, so this is always a fun process for me.  I've never made zucchini brownies before, but always thought they seemed like a good idea.  So I gave them a whirl.  It took some experimenting, but I came up with a recipe that is so amazing.  These brownies are so rich and chewy that you'll forget they're packed with zucchini.  My family scarfed these up even though they knew there were veggies in there.  Here's the skinny...
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely shredded zucchini (the finer the better)
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 inch baking dish.
Mix together oil, sugar, vanilla and egg.
In separate bowl mix flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  A little at a time add the flour mixture to the oil and sugar mixture until incorporated.  (The dough will seem dry, no worries, the zucchini will moisten things up while they bake.)
Using a spoon stir in the zucchini & chocolate chips.
Pour and press evenly into prepared baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes (cook a little longer if you like them more cake like).  Remove from oven and let cool.  Spread chocolate frosting on top if desired.  Enjoy!

Chicken and Roasted Broccoli Pasta Bake

This dish is a winner in our house.  Everyone loves it and they don't realize that it's good for them.  I love recipes like that!  It's always nice to remember that healthy food can taste good too.  This dish is easy to pull together and you could even make it ahead of time and bake it later if you needed to.  Use whole wheat pasta to bump up the health factor  Here's the skinny...
4 Tablespoons olive oil
4 Tablespoons flour
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
6 ounces Greek yogurt
2 1/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
pinch of nutmeg
salt to taste
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
2 cups roasted broccoli
16 ounces Rotini pasta
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Boil Rotini pasta according to package directions until al dente.  To roast broccoli: heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spread broccoli out on baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until broccoli is tender and ends begin to brown.
In sauce pan over medium heat mix olive oil and garlic cloves.  Cook until garlic begins to sizzle.  Whisk in flour and cook for one minute, whisking constantly.  Stir in Chicken stock and milk, heat up stirring occasionally until mixture has thickened a little and is warm throughout.  Whisk in Greek yogurt.  Slowly whisk in 2 cups of the Parmesan cheese until it is melted.  Add nutmeg and salt to taste (be sure not to under salt).
Pour cheese sauce over noodles and toss to coat.  Gently stir in chicken and broccoli. Place into baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese on top.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted.  Enjoy!  {serves 6-8}

You might also like...
Cheesy Chicken, Artichoke, & Spinach Bake
Fettuccine Alfredo

Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread

You simply just have to make this.  It is so good and so easy.  A perfect little treat to have with coffee or to give as a gift.  Here's the skinny...
1 Tablespoon espresso shot or extra dark coffee, room temperature
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon espresso grounds (or dark coffee grounds)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
Cream butter and confectioners sugar for a few minutes until smooth.  Beat in vanilla, espresso shot, and espresso grounds.  On low speed beat in flour just until it is incorporated.  Using a spoon, fold in the chocolate chips.  Transfer dough to a gallon size Zip-loc bag.  Roll dough out inside of bag until dough is flat (about 1/4 inch) and fills up the entire bag.  Make sure to fix the plastic as you roll so there are no crease marks in your dough.  Zip the bag up and place on cookie sheet.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Remove dough from fridge & using scissors cut off the plastic bag (be careful not to make marks in your dough).  Using a pizza cutter or knife cut dough into 1 1/2 inch squares.  Place squared onto ungreased cooking sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!  (makes about 36 short breads)

Pasta Chicken Salad

This is a great way to make chicken salad go a long way for a little change.  I love chicken salad, but it does go fast and chicken isn't always cheap.  But with a few minor adjustments and adding pasta you can make a little chicken salad feed your whole family.  Here's the DL...
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/8 cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
3 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon mustard
16 ounces pasta (I used Ziti)
2 cups diced cooked chicken
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cook pasta according to box directions.  Rinse cooked pasta with cold water.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl whisk together milk, mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, vinegar, parsley, salt, celery salt, pepper, and mustard.  Pour dressing over pasta and stir to coat pasta.
Add chicken, cranberries, celery and walnuts.  Gently mix together.  Serve and enjoy!
*cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.