Dutch-Chocolate Zucchini Brownies

This recipe is just too, toooooo good not to share. One of the workers at Amanda’s Lady Bug Acres (the Veggie Barn) here in Fargo made these dark, chocolatey yummies for her customers. I was blown away by how rich and decadent they were.

She used, as the original recipe calls for, coconut sugar and unsweetened applesauce in place of the granulated sugar and coconut oil (you know I love me my coconut oil!) I chose to use. I also kept the skin on the zucchini (original recipe called for it to be peeled) and I increased the salt. I made sure I used a high quality pure vanilla extract.

If you buy a normal sized zucchini, you’ll use all of it for this recipe. If you use a jumbo one, you’ll use about half of it.  I buy a couple at a time (at The Veggie Barn, of course!), chop ’em up in my mini-food processor (it has two settings; chop and puree) and freeze them.  I did grate the zucchini the first time but in an effort to save time and my sanity, I went with the ‘chop’ selection on my mini-processor.

DON’T over bake these lil’ guys. They’ll still be good but more on the drier side.  Make sure the center jiggles a bit and to stop the cooking, cut them immediately once you remove from the oven.

I’m still working on the baking time.  It’s about 22 to 23 minutes depending on if I use a tish more zucchini than the recipe calls for.

Another thing, which I didn’t know, is there is a difference between Dutch-processed cocoa and natural cocoa powder (this is usually what we all use). Dutch-processed is stripped of acids making it darker in color which implies it is richer and deeper in flavor. You use baking soda in recipes that use this type of powder. Natural cocoa powder (think Hershey’s) is lighter in color, has all of its acidity and is used in recipes that call for baking powder.   Cool huh?

These are great by themselves or with vanilla bean ice cream.  The flavor is dark, rich and intense and really hits the chocolate craving mark in my book.

Zucchini Dutch-Chocolate Brownies

Adapted from: texanerin.com – August, 2014


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 T quality vanilla extract
  • ¾ c unrefined or granulated sugar
  • ¼ c coconut oil – melted
  • 1 c whole wheat flour or whole spelt flour
  • ½ c Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 c grated (or finely chopped) zucchini (about 1 large or ½ of jumbo)
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ c mini semi-sweet (or milk chocolate) chocolate chips
  • ½ c chopped walnuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper or spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, sugar and melted coconut oil and let sit for about 5 minutes until the sugar dissolves.

In a separate medium bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder (sifted if lumpy), baking soda and salt.  Make sure there are no lumps before continuing. Add the dry mix into the wet and stir gently until combined.  Be sure not to over mix. Fold in the grated zucchini and 1 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Pour the batter into the pan and even the surface with a spatula.  Sprinkle the ½ cup of mini-chocolate chips on top.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until the middle doesn’t move when you jiggle the pan.  To stop the cooking process, once out of the oven, cut the brownies immediately.

You could store these in an airtight container on the counter for two days, but they won’t last that long.  These suckahs are that GOOD!

Bow Tie Pasta with Basil and Tomatoes – A Vegetarian Meal

Bow Tie Pasta with Basil and Tomatoes

(Adapted from: The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook; Farfalle with Fresh Tomato Sauce)

This recipe has become an easy favorite in our family as there is minimal prep and lots of flavor. You can add mozzarella pearls to increase the protein/fat content if you want, but really, it’s a perfect dish without it.

  • 4 tomatoes (about 2 lbs total weight), diced and seeded  (Note: you can also use halved cherry/grape tomatoes, unseeded, of course)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 3 T chopped red onion
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly round pepper
  • 1/2 lb bow tie (farfalle) pasta

To make the sauce, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, julienned basil, onion, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss gently to mix.   (Melissa’s Note: Make this ahead of time and let it marinate, mixing occasionally, on your counter for at least an hour. It really enhances the flavor.)

Boil the pasta in a large pot according to al dente directions or 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta thoroughly and return to the pot.  Add the sauce mixture and stir.  Serve as is (luke warm) or continue to heat until warmed through.

Red Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Barley and Spinach

Here’s one of my newest favorite vegetarian recipes.  This dish has 19 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. Best of all there is minimal prep work. This recipe is  EASY, quick to prepare and it’s really tasty.

Red Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Barley and Spinach; a Vegetarian Recipe

Adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook – 15th edition

1 - 14 oz can of vegetable broth
1/4 c quick-cooking barley
1/4 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 c chopped yellow onion
2 T coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
5 oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 c Monterey Jack cheese or Jack blend
4 large red sweet peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400. In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add barley and quinoa. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, covered, about 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid; set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook and stir for about 7 minutes.  Add in 1/4 teaspoon of salt and black pepper, undrained tomatoes and spinach.  Mix well. Stir in quinoa mixture and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cheese. Remove from heat.

3. Cut washed peppers in half, lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes. Sprinkle insides lightly with salt. Fill pepper halves with quinoa mixture. Place peppers, filled sides up on a greased 9×13 baking dish. Pour reserved cooking liquid into the greased dish around the peppers.

4. Bake, covered for 35 minutes. Uncover and top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered for approximately 10 more minutes.


Avocado Soup – A Vegetarian Recipe




/* Style Definitions */
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;

Avocado Soup

Adapted from: Unknown

Makes 4 to 6 servings

This recipe is like taking guacamole and adding hot veggie stock. It’s easy, filling and really, really good!


4 medium ripe avocados
2 limes, juiced
¾ c sour cream
3 or 4 T onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped (I like romas)
1 small garlic, minced
¼ t cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 c hot (not boiling) vegetable stock


Corn tortilla chips (we like Garden of Eatin’ – Spouted Blues)
1 c grated cheddar cheese


Scoop out the avocado flesh and mash it with lime juice (a potato masher is good for the job). Stir in the sour cream, onion, tomato, garlic and cayenne, season with salt and pepper. Mix well.  Add the hot stock and blend. Place into individual serving bowl and add chips and cheese. Serve immediately.


Note: You can go through all the trouble of turning on the broiler and warming up the bowl(s), but that’s too much effort for me.  The recipe does state to put the soup under the broiler to melt the cheese but again, too much effort.  Just don’t boil this soup – the sour cream will not like it.

Vegetarian Taco Salad

(adapted from: EatingWell.com)

This is a hands down winner. It has a little kick (it’s pretty gentle), so add more chili powder if you like a big kick. I make guacamole to accompany this, otherwise it stands on its own.


  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil, an oil of your choice OR use about 1/4 c of vegetable broth
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen, thawed
  • 4 large tomatoes (we like romas)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice (to save time, buy this in the frozen food section)
  • 1 15-ounce can black, kidney or pinto beans, rinsed (we use black)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup prepared salsa
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled tortilla chips (we LOVE Sprouted Blues by Garden of Eaten’)
  • Lime wedges for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat oil or broth in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and corn; cook, stirring, until the garlic and onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop 1 tomato. Add it to the pan along with rice, beans, chili powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato cooks down, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Coarsely chop the remaining 3 tomatoes. Combine with cilantro, salsa and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss lettuce in a large bowl with the bean mixture, half the fresh salsa and 2/3 cup cheese. Serve sprinkled with tortilla chips, salsa and the remaining cheese.

Vegetarian Roll Ups

Trinity found this recipe on some website (he has since forgotten the name). We have adapted, of course.  The only thing labor intensive is draining the chopped veggies but be sure to do this as the mixture gets watery/runny if you don’t.

For those of you who have a food processor, life is but a dream. For those of you who don’t? Get one. Even a ‘baby’ one like we have is better than chopping all the ingredients.

Vegetarian Roll Ups

  • 2 – 8oz pkgs of cream cheese
  • 1 pkt of Ranch salad and seasoning mix
  • 1 large can of black olives – chopped and drained
  • 1 red pepper – chopped and drained
  • 1 green pepper – chopped and drained
  • 6 green onions/scallions with some of the green tops
  • 1 cucumber – peeled (if non-organic), seeded, chopped and drained
  • Tortillas of your choice (burrito or soft taco size)
  • Organic kale

Here’s some additional veggies ideas, if you really want to get jiggy with it:

  • carrots
  • celery
  • chestnuts
  • etc.

Place all of the required chopped, drained ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add cream cheese and ranch packet.  Blend with mixer.

If you’re like me, you’ll have to put the mixture into a clean bowl or you won’t sleep that night.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  When you’re ready, put some of the mixture on a tortilla (size of your choice) with a spatula. Add some kale and roll it up.

Makes a great appetizer (omit kale) or picnic/camping lunch. YUMMY!!!



Vegetarian Broccoli Cheese Soup

I have a teensy tiny confession to make. I, um, miscalculated the amount of cheese needed for this recipe and ended up doubling what the recipe calls for. It was really oooey-gooey cheesy good though. Maybe I should ‘miscalculate’ more often. 😉

I’ve adapted this recipe to substitute a modicum of coconut oil for the 1/2 cup of butter the original recipe calls for.  I ONLY use organic milk for reasons I think are best to skip while I’m writing a recipe that is suppose to be appetizing and delish.

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheese Soup

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1/3 c chopped celery
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 c flour (I use whole wheat)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper – to taste
  • 6 c organic milk
  • 2 1/2 c (organic) veggie stock
  • 1 lb (organic) chopped broccoli
  • 8 oz (1/2 pound) of diced American cheese (If you’re like me, you can put in 16 oz and act like it was suppose to be that way.)

Saute celery and onion in coconut oil; add salt/pepper.  Whisk flour into stock and whisk into sauteed ingredients.  Add broccoli and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and add milk stirring constantly until creamy and broccoli is desired tenderness. Add cheese. Cook/stir until cheese melts. Serve.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Zucchini – A Vegetarian Receipe

This recipe is adapted from Shine.yahoo.com and it’s a healthy, good alternative to the ‘old’ butter and cream original.  I like this better. It’s rich, flavorful and downright YUMMY!

This recipe feeds 4. Well, unless you’re my husband and I and then it feeds two. 😉


  • 1 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 oz whole-wheat fettuccine
  • 2 small zucchinis, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 T cornstarch OR flour mixed with 2 T water (or veggie broth) – to taste
  • 4 T sour cream (I use the full-fat version)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 t nutmeg (this adds so much flavor!)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese – divided

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Once water is rolling, add fettuccine, stirring often, for about 8 minutes.  Drop in the zucchini matchsticks and cook until tender, about two minutes.

Combine the broth and the peeled garlic cloves in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Cover.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the garlic is soft and tender – about 15 minutes. Transfer the garlic broth to a blender. Process until smoothe, about 1 minute. (NOTE: I recommend making this broth ahead of time and allowing it to cool. If that’s not an option, USE CAUTION when blending hot liquids!)

Return the garlic broth mixture to the pot and bring to a simmer over med-high heat.  Add cornstarch/flour mixture; whisk until slightly thickened, about 15 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in sour cream, nutmeg and pepper.  Return the pot to a very low heat to keep warm. DO NOT BOIL.

Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. (Note: If you put this back in a hot pan, the cheese will stick to the sides and bottom. There will be less for you to enjoy and more clean up work.)  Add the sauce and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese; coat well.  Serve immediately with the additional cheese.


3’s Meat(less) Balls – A Vegetarian Recipe

As promised in my ‘Vegetarian’ blog, here’s one of our FAVORITE vegetarian recipes. You’d be hard pressed to tell there isn’t meat in these filling little beauties. Not even kidding. 

These cooked balls freeze well and make a quick, easy meal. So go ahead and make a double batch while you’re at it.  There may not be many leftovers, but if there is, try a meat(less) ball sandwich on a sour dough hoagie. YUM!!

If you’d like to try some protein rich pasta, we like Ronzoni – Garden Delight or Barilla Plus. Each has about 7 to 10 grams of protein, per serving.   

3's Meat(less) Balls

Adapted from: www.ohsheglows.com

400 degree oven // 20 minutes total – Approximately 16 balls 


  • 4 eggs; slightly beaten
  • 1 c mozzarella shredded cheese
  • 1 c sharp cheddar shredded cheese
  • ¾ c walnuts; ground to a fine texture
  • 1 c rolled oats (Quaker Oatmeal) – do NOT use the ‘quick’ oats
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • Approx 2 T TOTAL of Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Marjoram Leaves (or Italian Seasoning)  (to taste)
  • Approx 1 T of Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste) 

Mix all of the above ingredients together using a power mixer. Mix well.  Place in fridge for a MINIMUM of 30 minutes. Do not refridgerate less than 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 9 x 13 metal baking dish with cooking spray (Pam).  Remove the mixture from the fridge and roll into small balls (1 ¼ inch or so).   Place them in the sprayed baking dish and bake, uncovered, for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. 

Remove from oven, roll the balls over and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes. The meatless balls should brown nicely. NOTE: Flattening of the meatless balls is normal. 


  • 1 jar of Classico Marinara sauce (or your preference)
  • 1 small can of petite Italian diced tomatoes

Mix together in a saucepan; warm through.  You can either place the cooked meatless balls in the sauce and simmer until ready to eat (this helps keep them moist) OR serve them on top of spaghetti/spaghetti sauce.

Uncooked meatless balls