Back to school baking!

Okay back to routine week has arrived! Yes back to school and in my house its also routine comes back into play. Everything seems to have it’s place and there is a time for everything that just goes along smoothly when September rolls around. Summer is a time where sleeping in happens, movie watching and TV enjoyment happens more frequently and no homework is done. Well, school homework that is! But now the kids will get settled in their new classes with new teachers and some new friends so it’s a great time to bring in some routine and organization into the the kitchen too. 
I am lucky enough to have a daughter that loves to bake, so the weekend prior to starting school we baked a few things that would be perfect to tuck in kid and adult lunches for the week. It was also a fun way to spend some time with her one on one. With the start up of school her friends and school work will take up a bit more time and she may not want to bake as much. Although I know I will do my best not to let that happen! 
We decided to make a couple of sweet treats for their lunches but knew that fruit and vegetables would be happily sitting alongside them in their lunches. I’m happy to say my kids like both so there is always some tucked into a container for a snack or addition to lunch for added crunch and colour.
The zucchini muffins are perfect to use up that continuing zucchini influx that seems to be happening, but carrots will certainly do as a substitute. Although I put almonds on top of the loaf you don’t have to do that to send the loaf with the kids. A little sprinkle of sugar makes it a crunch top that the should surely like. 
Have some fun baking with the kids and enjoy some tasty morsels in your lunch. That might also be the little nudge to help them get in the kitchen and help you with dinner too. 

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Zucchini is a great vegetable to add to baking it adds some fibre and makes these muffins delicate and moist. 

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all purpose flour with added bran (nutri blend)
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
½ cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) grated zucchini (about 1 medium)
1/3 cup (75 mL) mini chocolate chips

In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, soda and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time; add milk and vanilla. Pour over flour mixture. Add zucchini and chocolate chips; stir until dry ingredients are moistened.

Spoon into greased or paper lined muffin pan. Bake in 400 F (200 C) oven for about 20 minutes or until tops are firm to the touch.

Makes 12 large muffins.

Freezer Options: Wrap each muffin individually with plastic wrap and place in airtight container for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature or in the microwave.

Storage: Keep in container at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Orange Almond Cardamom Loaf
I love the flavours of orange and cardamom with a slight crunch of almonds this loaf has great texture. The batter is stiff but bakes up to a light delicate loaf that will slice up perfectly for your lunch or to enjoy with afternoon tea.

1 3/4 cups (325 mL) all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) each baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground cardamom
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp (10 mL) grated orange rind
1/4 tsp (1 mL) pure almond or vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125 mL) plain Greek yogurt

2 tbsp (30 mL) sliced almonds
1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated sugar

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, cardamom and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in orange rind and almond extract until combined.

Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of yogurt, repeat once and then stir in remaining flour until well combined. 

Scrape and spread batter into 8 x 4 inch (1.5 L) greased and parchment paper lined loaf pan. Smooth top.

Topping: Mix together almonds and sugar. Sprinkle evenly over top of loaf. Bake in 350 F oven for about 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean.

Makes 10 to 12 slices.

Tip: You can leave off the almonds in the topping if desired. 

Slice the loaf as you need it to keep it moist. Wrap and store at room temperature for up to 4 days.


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