Stop and Savor the Season

Written by Cheryl of Backseat Gourmet

We’ve been going hard here at Simple Bites about preserving summer. It’s all about saving those bits of sunshine to brighten a dismal January day. But what if you need to brighten a dismal August day?

Just because the weather is great, the kids are out of school, or there is green grass to tickle your toes, it doesn’t stop the realities of life. Days can be crazy, sad things can happen, or everything can happen at near the speed of light. And we just need to stop.

We need to stop and look around to see that hey, the grass really is tickling our feet, the cherries are so juicy they explode when you bite into one, or that the sprinkler is the best invention ever. [Read more…]

How to Make the Best Zucchini Bread Ever

One of my favorite narratives on zucchini is from Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ where, when faced with a unrelenting crop of the green squash, she devises many ways of using up the abundance them in her prolific garden.

She baked, steamed, fried, and froze zucchini, as well as gave them away to friends with such abandon that she freely admits: “Our gardening friends knew enough to slam the door if they saw a heavy sack approaching.”

I could completely relate to Barbara’s dilemma (if you can call an abundance of food a dilemma), and I, as a gardener, fully understand a zucchini’s capability to turn into a baseball bat practically overnight if overlooked on the vine.

Fortunately, I have a strategy to help me maintain the upper hand during the Great August Zucchini Invasion: Zucchini Bread. Around here this humble loaf is a favorite snack for the kids, a bake-sale best-seller, and alongside a tall glass of milk, has made it’s way into our ‘Guilt-Free Non-Suppers‘.

Now some of you probably think that you have the best zucchini bread recipe, others perhaps have never found a recipe they liked, –and chances are a few of you are thinking: “Zucchini? Bread?” And to all of you I say, I hope someone has shared their zucchini crop with you, because you’re going to want to make this recipe!

If you remember, I brought you the best muffin ever (which is still making new converts every day), so believe me when I say I have done my homework for this zucchini recipe. [Read more…]

Weekend Reading

8 Back-to-School Breakfast Ideas & Recipes

There’s one week left until school starts around here and we’re clinging to those last carefree, unscheduled summer days. They feel particularly precious to me for when the last one is crossed off, I will be waking my first-born early, making him a stack of pancakes for breakfast, and kissing him goodbye for his first day of school.

Oh. I’m going to miss him so very, very much.

Yes, after a relaxed summer, an early morning routine is headed our way and we’re busy getting prepared for it. I sat down to plan out some fast, wholesome eats for our week-day mornings and didn’t have far to look; in the short six months that we’ve been up and running, Simple Bites has amassed a variety of breakfast suggestions.

Here are my picks for back-to-school breakfast ideas. Follow the links to get the full recipes, then grab a pen and paper and make a shopping list, because, ready or not, it’s back to school time! [Read more…]

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Two major life events are rapidly approaching and there’s nothing I can do to change their course. So, I’ve been baking instead.

This first, and most imminent, event is my 32nd birthday (tomorrow) and I’m trying to drum up some excitement over it. Sure, I’m looking forward to a girl’s night out to see Eat, Pray, Love followed by stuffing ourselves with pizza margherita’s, but the birthday -that number– not so fun!

The second event takes place a week from Monday when Noah will start kindergarten. There’s a whole lot of emotions welling up over that big day that I won’t even get into!

In an attempt to compose my mixed sentiments over these two events, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Baking and cooking is clearly therapeutic for me, and ‘recipe testing’ can sometimes be code for ‘working through some stuff’.


One of the many projects on my plate this week was to perfect my zucchini bread recipe. Several pounds of zucchini and eight various loaves later, I narrowed my favorite down to two, one of them featured here today and the other, or The Best Zucchini Bread Ever‘, will be has been posted Monday on Simple Bites.

Both recipes are actually fantastic; however, I know I have a bevy of chocolate lovers over here, so that may have influenced my decision to feature a chocolate zucchini bread here.


This dark and deadly loaf is “…too good to be healthy” as one of my ‘tasters’ remarked. But with the inclusion of whole-wheat flour and plenty of zucchini, it’s a lot better for you than a slice of cake.

This, in fact, will probably be my birthday cake, it’s that great. Double chocolate? It’s allll good.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Joy of Baking

  • 1/2 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1 cup organic turbinado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded, raw zucchini
  • 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven. Grease, or spray with nonstick vegetable spray, a 9x5x3″ loaf pan. Set aside.

Grate the zucchini using a medium sized grater. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended – about 2 minutes. Fold in the grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55-65 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.

Yields one large loaf.