Friday, May 24, 2013

Chocolate Snack Cake

Quite awhile ago now, my dear friend Betty sent me a recipe for a chocolate snack cake that sounded super easy to make.  It's no secret that I'm not a fan of baking, which is both bad and good.  Bad because I really love baked good and good because I really love baked goods.  Not wanting to ever take the time to make them or dirty all the dishes involved (seriously, is it just me or does baking dirty way more dishes than cooking?!) makes it pretty easy to stay away from cookies or cakes or pies that I'm just going to sit and gorge on if I make them.  But, I have two little kids, so some times I have to bake things to appease them.  For one thing they like to help me, and for another, they really love to eat stuff that I bake.  Recently we were having a family fun night, and I decided to make this cake.  I wanted a fun dessert for my family, and this sounded super easy.  And the best part?!  You mix it up in the baking dish, so there aren't a ton of dishes to deal with once you're done!  Jackpot!

Chocolate Snack Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an 8-inch square baking pan, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, and coarse salt.

Make a well in center of flour mixture and add vegetable oil, pure vanilla extract, white vinegar, and cold water. Whisk until well combined. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.


Let me tell family devoured this cake.  The consistency was similar to a cake-like brownie.  It was a little denser than a chocolate cake you'd make from a box mix but not chewy like a brownie, if that makes sense.  It did not last maybe until the end of the movie we were watching.  I also really liked that it was vegan because my brother and his girlfriend are vegan, so it's nice to have options I can make for them when they come visit.  Normally they come for each of my kid's birthdays, and I want them to be able to have cake to celebrate with us.  Anyway, this is super easy, hardly dirties any dishes, and it's stuff I always have on hand.  I kind of wish I'd had this recipe when I was pregnant either time because I bought a lot of chocolate cake mixes and randomly baked cakes both times.

Actually writing this out and seeing the pictures kind of makes me want to whip one up to share with my boys tonight!

Note to self: put away dishes before taking pictures for blog.  A cheese grater in the chocolate cake picture?!  Come on, Claire!  Class things up a bit around here!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Calico Relish

I think I've shared my childhood aversion to zucchini before.  I really didn't like it, and somehow my mom always had an abundance of it in the summers when I was little.  I don't remember her growing it, so I have no idea how it would end up in our kitchen, but she would use it in everything.  My mom was never big on baking, so my brother and I learned to get very skeptical if all of a sudden there were cookies since it usually meant there was zucchini in them.

There was a delicious relish we'd have a lot in the summer with grilled hot dogs or sausages or brats.  It was my dad's aunt's recipe, and I loved it.  Then I found out the main ingredient was zucchini.  I stopped eating it.  I didn't want anything to do with it because of the zucchini.  I kind of forgot about said relish until recently.  I've since learned to appreciate zucchini and actually eat it pretty often.  I don't begrudge my kids a whole lot for not eating it since I didn't when I was little.  Plus there are enough vegetables they eat willingly that I don't see the point in fighting with them about one that they don't like.

Anyway, remember how I recently mentioned Market on the Move?  One of last month's offerings was a ton of zucchini.  Not an actual ton, but it may have come close.  I was trying to figure out what to do with it since there's only so much sauteed zucchini or zucchini bread one can eat.  Well, maybe not on zucchini bread, especially chocolate zucchini bread.  But I digress.  I remembered I had gotten this recipe from my mom (once I learned to embrace the zucchini) maybe last summer when for some reason I had a bunch of zucchini to use up.  I was so excited to make up some of this, especially with it getting to be the time of year that I do a lot of grilling, so I know we'll be having it alongside a lot of meals coming up.

Calico Relish
Source: my great aunt Irene

4-6 unpared zucchini, coarsely ground (3.5 cups)
6 medium carrots, ground (1.5 cups)
2 medium onions, ground (1 cup)
2 Tbsp uniodized salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vinegar
1 1/2 tsp celery seed
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard

Combine ground vegetables, stir in salt.  Let stand 3 hours.  Drain well, squeeze if necessary.  Combine remaining ingredients and bring to boil.  Add vegetables, simmer 20 minutes uncovered.  Seal in jars.  Makes 2-1/2 pints.


I found the easiest way to do this was bust out my food processor.  Oh how I love my food processor.  I put in one of the grating/shredding blades (I'm sure there's an official name for it, but I can't think of it and don't feel like looking it up...I only have 15 minutes until I need to leave to pick up kids from school) and put it on the finer of the two options so my shreds of everything would be smaller.  Actually for the onions I put in the regular blade and just pulsed until the pieces of onion were tiny.

I could barely wait to have some of this.  Shortly after making it the husband and I had grilled sausages for dinner one night after the kids had gone to bed, so I got out one of my jars and served some up with our sausage.  Oh it was so tasty!  Just as good as I remembered.  And the husband liked it, too!  It's super easy to make up, and it will be a great way to use up some of that summer bounty of vegetables!

My shredded veggies, awaiting their salt.

Boy #2 was helping with the process. This kid loves the food processor!  He wanted in on one of the pictures.  Don't mind his shaggy-way-overdue-for-a-haircut face or the yogurt stains on the table behind him.  Hmmm...maybe I shouldn't have pointed those out?

Relish cooking away.

 How freakin' adorable are these jars?!  They're wide mouth half pint jars.  I love them.