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Blueberry Zucchini Bread

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Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

While I am sure there are a ton of amazing things to do with zucchini, my favorite is baking bread.  Last year, I made a lemon-zucchini loaf with a lemon glaze that I really liked, but I wanted to try something new this year for a summer zucchini loaf.  I found a similar recipe on All Recipes when I was trying to come up with some sort of  “summery” bread to bake for our friends who had been kind enough to take Jada out one day in June while Craig was at work and Hadley and I were visiting family in Ohio.  Nothing says “thank you” like blueberries and zucchini!  Anyway, I made some adjustments based on reviews and my personal preferences, and the final result was awesome!  I hope our friends liked this as much as Craig and I did.  I even made it for my parents and brothers when Hadley and I were visiting them in July, and they ate a whole loaf in one night.

Especially because I posted my carrot cake that I made for Easter after the 4th of July this year (you can blame it on being a mom who also tries to work from home), I thought I would try posting this one while it was still at least somewhat relevant.  Since Labor Day Weekend (aka the unofficial end of summer) is this coming weekend, I felt like I should offer this recipe now, as a “last hurrah” of summer baking.  Let’s be honest, everyone is ready for this miserably hot and humid summer (it was 99 degrees with a heat index of 110 this past Friday) to end and the fall weather, decorations, and baking to begin, but this is still. so. good.

So, happy End of Summer Baking to you!

Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 2 loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugars.  Fold in the zucchini.  In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Mix the dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture.  Gently fold in the blueberries.  Transfer to prepared loaf pans.
  3. Bake 75-90 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean.  Cool for 20 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Enjoy the summery deliciousness that is blueberry zucchini bread!

Blueberry Zucchini Bread Blueberry Zucchini Bread

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

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Carrot Cake SliceObviously, I have not kept up with my blog since Hadley has come along.  I really enjoy it, but with Craig doing his med school rotations and trying to get everything together for his residency applications, he is staying quite busy.  Of course Craig is amazing and spends just about every moment he can with us, but med school is still med school.  I am still trying to work from home while I take care of Hadley, so that obviously does not leave a lot of spare time for blogging, hence my hiatus.

However, with the deliciousness of this cake, I have decided to force the time it takes to post this recipe.  It was that good.  Who knows, maybe I will get inspired from this post and start keeping up with this again. :-)

Craig and I love having family and friends visit, and we have been truly blessed by many visits between living in Charleston and having the sweetest baby in the world.  Still, we decided we wanted Easter this year to be just us.  I was so excited for the family fun we would be having, until Hadley came down with a terrible cold that Friday, and the poor girl felt pretty cruddy all weekend.  Our weekend ended up being a Castle dvd marathon while we cleaned the condo and traded off holding our sweet, sick girl.  A bit of a bummer.

Despite this all, that Sunday was going to be Resurrection Sunday and Hadley’s first Easter; we were going to celebrate.  So, with my lowered revamped expectations of how our weekend would be, I was still determined of two things: 1. We would get a family picture. 2. I would make an Easter dinner and dessert.

With Hadley having a cold Plus the annoyance of such a windy day, there was no way were going to get a picture without a paci in Hadley's mouth.  That girl was such a trooper!

With Hadley having a cold plus the annoyance of such a windy day, there was no way were going to get a picture without a paci in Hadley’s mouth. That girl was such a trooper!

I really don’t remember what all was included in dinner (besides the ham that I made for the very first time), because the whole weekend was such a chaotic blur.  BUT, I do remember the dessert very well. Yum, yum!  I have always loved carrot cake, especially the cream cheese frosting, but I had put off making one since Craig and I got married, because I wasn’t sure how a dairy free cake would compare to the real thing, plus Craig didn’t remember what he thought of carrot cake when he is a kid.  There are few thing more frustrating in the realm of dairy free cooking/baking that taking the time to make something dairy free from scratch only to find out at the end that Craig would have really preferred a from-the-box pan of brownies.  But this was our first Easter Sunday with Hadley, and even though she obviously wouldn’t be having the carrot cake, something about it being her first Easter made me feel extra domestic and Southern Living-esque (same reason I made a ham that weekend for the very first time).

I am so glad I took the risk on this.  Craig loved the cake and the variety it added to his dairy free dessert options.  I was surprised at how easy it was to make dairy free.  And most of all, I was totally surprised at how non-dairy free it tasted, which is always the true sign of success in my world of dairy free cooking and baking.

This recipe is somewhat based off a recipe I found on allrecipes.com, but I made a good number of changes based on reviews and personal preference.

Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable/canola oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 8oz can crushed pineapple (juice mostly drained from it)
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
    • I chopped these up itty bitty, because I wanted the flavor and just a tab of texture, but Craig isn’t a big fan of the intense texture that large nut pieces add to my baking.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • I used Earth Balance Vegan Butter Sticks, but Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine is another great dairy free option for baking.
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
    • I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese Imitation Cream Cheese.
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’/powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
    • Again, I chopped these up tiny.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9in round pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, pineapple, brown and white sugar, and vanilla extract. Separately, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Add dry ingredient mixture to wet ingredient mixture.  Stir in carrots.  Fold in chopped pecans.
  3. Pour into prepared pans.  Bake in preheated oven 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for ten minutes, and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract.  Stir in chopped pecans.  Stack the two cake layers with a coat of frosting in between, and then finish frosting the cake completely.

Carrot Cake

A Baby, A Cellphone, And Sleep Deprived Parents

A Baby, A Cellphone, And Sleep Deprived Parents

By the end of my pregnancy, I was tired of a lot of things.  I mean, honestly, I had a relatively easy pregnancy, but I am sure women with easier and more difficult pregnancies than mine can all agree that they were just over everything by the end.  I was ready to not be lugging an extra 30lbs around.  I was sick of being nauseated (though my nausea was only occasional at the end of my pregnancy).  I was tired of misjudging how enormous my belly actually was and therefore bumping into things when I would try to squeeze through a space I was apparently too big for.  I was over the fact that I needed to pee about every fifteen minutes.  The list could go on.

But most of all, I was tired of people telling me to “get sleep now, because I would never get to sleep again.”  That was the advice I got over and over and over.  I mean, really?  It’s not like I was some 3-year-old who thought that I didn’t need naps.  I love my sleep, and Craig LOVES his sleep, and we were already sleeping when we could.  Did people honestly think I was going to get more sleep because they told us that, or were they just trying to be funny?  But time and time again, I would hear this advice from men and women who already had kids…they would tell us with something in between a smile and a smirk on their face, like they knew something we didn’t.  They were in the “parent club,” and Craig and I had yet to be initiated, and it drove me crazy.

Well here we are now, with a three-month-old, and I am pretty certain Craig and I have been initiated.  I don’t know exactly when our initiation took place.  Was it the first time we got spit up on?  Was it when we hit the hundred diaper threshold?  Was it when I had to take Hadley to get her first set of vaccines?  Or was it this morning, midway through January, when I dressed Hadley in “My First Christmas” clothes, because that’s what was clean in her drawer?  I don’t know.  But I will tell you this, the night of October 7 is the night when I finally understood what all those parents had been talking about before.  Craig and I had been very sleep deprived up to that point, but until October 5, my parents had been in town to help us.  Now, we were all on our own, and the sleep deprivation really kicked into high gear…

A Baby, A Cellphone, and Sleep Deprived Parents

So newborn babies have to eat all the time.  I mean ALL. THE. TIME.  At first, we were having to feed Hadley every two hours, and that is from the beginning of a feed to the beginning of the next feed, not two hours in between.  While Hadley had a good latch, we were still getting the hang of breastfeeding, and she was constantly trying to stick her hand in her mouth instead of eating, so it was a bit of a struggle.  From beginning to end, with burping and everything, feeding Hadley could take over an hour.  We would finally finish, and then we’d have to start again 45 or 50 minutes later.  This was around the clock, so you can imagine we were quite tired.  Craig was trooper.  Since I had to feed Hadley, he would set his alarm, get up to get Hadley, and bring her to me.  Then he would lay down while I fed her on one side.  When I was done with the first side, I would lay down while Craig burped Hadley in between, then he would give her back to me for the other side before he burped her once more and laid her back down.  We had what we thought was a flawless system.

No system is actually flawless.

In the middle of that night, early in October, I laid in bed as I listened to Craig’s cellphone alarm going off, knowing that it meant I had to get up in a moment to feed Hadley yet again.  So I waited.  And I listened to his alarm.  And waited.  And listened to is alarm.  And waited.  What was going on?  The alarm had been going off for a couple minutes, and Craig hadn’t even hit the Snooze button.  Now I was starting to get annoyed because I was the one awake during his “shift,” and Craig was clearly sleeping through the alarm.  I opened my eyes and rolled over to wake Craig up, and my jaw dropped.  I could not believe what I was seeing.

There my sweet husband was, doing the jiggle walk that new parents quickly learn and old parents never forget, sweetly Shhhhhh-ing in the ear….of his cellphone.  In case you don’t have the picture in your head…imagine a man holding a baby and gently bouncing the baby as they walk, with his mouth right next to the baby’s ear to give the baby a soothing “Shhhhh, it’s ok, Daddy’s here.”  That was Craig, except with his ringing cellphone.  He thought his cellphone was a crying baby.

I couldn’t believe my eyes at first.  “Craig!” I said in that stern whisper-yell thing that people do sometimes.  He looked over at me.  “I need to nurse the baby,” I told him.  With that, Craig handed his phone to me, the alarm still ringing loudly, so that I could nurse it.  My jaw dropped lower.  I turned off the cellphone alarm.

“Craig!  Where is the baby?!”  Craig jumped.  I could see the panic in his eyes as he looked around on the floor.  His mind was easy to read at that point.  Did I lose the baby?  Where did I put her?  “Craig!”  I was still trying to get him awake enough to enter the real world.  “Check the cradle at the end of the bed.”  And there Hadley was, still sweetly sleeping through all of the chaos.  Craig picked up Hadley, happy to know that he had not actually lost her, and handed her to me.  “Go to sleep, Babe,” I told him, “I will handle the burping and everything this time.”

I took Hadley and watched my adorably exhausted husband crawl back into bed.  Then I thought back to all the “sleep now” advice I had been so tempted to roll my eyes at before.  Wow, I thought, They were right, after all.  I finally get it.

On Becoming a Parent

So here we are, almost two months since my last post.  Motherhood is clearly getting all of my time and energy right now.  I don’t know how all those professional blogging moms do it.  But in any case, I know that I need to get back at it because I tend to use this blog as a journal (slash recipe book), and I know that I need to get my thoughts and stories of parenthood out before I forget them.  And I have some funny stories.  But I will try to spread them out over a few posts…I don’t want to spoil the surprise too soon or make this post drag on.  For now, this is what I have:

We celebrated the birth of our sweet Hadley on September 27, 2013, four days after my due date.  I thankfully had an easy labor, probably around eight hours total from when it began at home to when we had Hadley at the hospital.

On the left is my very last belly picture with Hadley, taken on her due date (September 23).  On the right is our very first family picture, taken just four days later.

On the left is my very last belly picture with Hadley, taken on her due date (September 23). On the right is our very first family picture, taken just four days later.

I wish I could find the words to describe what Craig and I felt when Hadley was born.  Unfortunately, there are no words that I know that could possibly describe something so miraculous.  If I ever come up with the words, I will let you know.  But I know that I am not alone when I say that when, after all the anticipation, you finally get to see this baby that you have been waiting for, the love that comes over you is unbelievable.  And you look at this little baby and think There is just no way something so perfect could be an accident or a coincidence or anything else.  Only God could create something – someone – so amazing.  I also remember thinking that it was so crazy how this sweet little 7lb 2oz baby was the size of a sesame seed when Craig and I found out about her.  I mean, think about how incredible that is for a moment.  It emphasizes in my mind that life definitely begins at conception, because that tiny little “sesame seed” was actually beautiful baby.

Hadley is nine days old in this picture.

Hadley is nine days old in this picture.  We had our newborn pictures done by Tickled Blue Photography.  Please visit the website and check out the other awesome photos Jodi has taken of babies and families.  She is seriously so talented and wonderful to work with.  You definitely need to consider Tickled Blue if you live in the Charleston area!

Becoming parents has been the most rewarding challenge Craig and I have ever faced.  The highs and lows of emotions are changing constantly with the adjustment.  Sleep deprivation can get pretty insane, and I doubt our condo will ever be really clean again (not that a spotless condo was a common occurrence before).  There have definitely already been moments where I think I can’t handle this.  But then, you look down at your precious baby, your gift from God, and the frustration and doubt and anxiety all go away, because, “Look at this perfect little baby.  I couldn’t be happier.”  And the first real smile…wow…it’s like God timed it for when he knows that parents are hitting their limit of the most overwhelmed they have ever felt, and all of a sudden your baby says, ” I love you so much, and I think you are the best parents in the world.”

So, yeah, parenthood is crazy.  It can be crazy exciting and crazy overwhelming.  It can be crazy frustrating and crazy amazing.  And Craig and I have only been at it for less than two months!  I know there is so much more to learn and experience as a parent, and I truly can’t wait!

Thoughts as We Wait on Hadley

This is it…we have made it to the end.  I will be officially 40 weeks pregnant as of tomorrow.  I can’t believe it!  I am SO beyond eager to meet sweet Hadley, I just wish she could be born NOW.  I keep reminding myself that she will come when she is ready, but I don’t know that it’s really keeping me from driving myself insane.  What a waiting game this is!

My mind keeps flashing back to the quiet Saturday morning, when I took a pregnancy test while Craig was taking Jada outside because I figured I was just going to be disappointed by the negative result and didn’t see the point in getting Craig’s hopes up for no reason.  I was obviously wrong, and in an instant, everything changed.  It is funny how a little blue line can have so much power over your future.  We have spent nine months since that January morning preparing for our baby’s arrival, although I highly doubt anyone can every truly be prepared for parenthood.

I remember some people telling Craig and I that we shouldn’t get married right when I graduated college…that we should wait a few years.  We were told that we were too young, and that it was a bad idea to try to balance a marriage while Craig was in medical school.  And now, here we are, getting ready to not just “balance a marriage,” but to start a family when Craig still has almost two years left in medical school.  But the truth is, there will never be a perfect time to get married or to start a family.  If we had decided to wait for the perfect time, we would be waiting forever.  Yeah, medical school takes up a ton of time, and it’s not always easy on us.  But you know what?  Residency takes up more time than medical school.  And fellowships take up more time than residency.

So Craig and I made the decision to not wait for a more convenient time, but to jump into this adventure together.  God has gotten us where we are now, and through Him, we will be the best parents we can be.

So, as we enjoy our last few days as just Craig, Ashley, and Jada, here is a look through my pregnancy, complete with a growing belly, a baby shower, and a finally complete nursery.

So excited to find out we are expecting a baby!  Yes, I peed on that stick...get over it.

So excited to find out we are expecting a baby! Yes, I peed on that stick…get over it.

Growing Belly

Growing Belly!

Some wonderful friends back in Georgia hosted a baby shower for me when Craig and I were visiting.  I was 27 weeks pregnant.  I seriously couldn't have imagined a more beautiful, perfect shower.

Some wonderful friends back in Georgia hosted a baby shower for me when Craig and I were visiting. I was 27 weeks pregnant. I seriously couldn’t have imagined a more beautiful, perfect shower.

We also had some maternity photos taken by an awesome photographer down here in Charleston (HannahLane Photography)!  Hannah was such a pleasure to work with, and she did an awesome job.  These are just a few of my favorites.

We also had some maternity photos taken by an awesome photographer down here in Charleston (HannahLane Photography)! Hannah was such a pleasure to work with, and she did an awesome job. These are just a few of my favorites.

Hadley's Nursery

I LOVE Hadley’s Nursery! My parents did such an incredible job. I love the soothing colors mixed with different patterns and textures. This is fit for a princess!

Hadley's Nursery Collage

Love the chandelier above the rocker, the monogram above the bed, and the awesome shelves above the dresser. Have I mentioned how incredibly talented my parents are?! Now if only some of that talent could get passed down to me…

Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with a Lemon Glaze

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Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with a Lemon Glaze

As August comes to a close, I can’t help but be over-the-top excited that my favorite season is just around the corner!  Cooler weather, beautiful leaves, anticipation for the upcoming holidays, football season, and autumn baking!  Plus, this autumn will be extra special because it will include the long-awaited birth of our sweet baby girl!

In fact, I love autumn so much that I sometimes make the mistake of wishing away the rest of the year.  I realized I was doing  that again last week when I spent a shameful amount of time looking up autumn recipes, holiday decorations, and pictures of pretty leaves.  Probably not the best life choice considering we have a baby due in less than a month, and her cradle is currently acting as a laundry basket for the clean clothes I “haven’t had time” to fold.  So, instead of deciding to make better use of my time by cleaning, I decided to “make better use of my time” by baking something that adequately celebrated summer before the season’s end.

I found this lemon-zucchini loaf recipe a few months ago, and I meant to make it on three different occasions.  Something always came up, though.  Well, I decided that I would not be ok with myself going into fall and baking apple this and pumpkin that without having given this a try first.  So this recipe gets to be my end-of-summer-baking-hurrah loaf.  The lemon glaze on top especially gives this a “fresh” spring and/or summer feel.  I still have some zucchini left, so I am already planning to make it again this weekend when my family comes in town for Labor Day and to celebrate my dad’s 50th birthday…along with the peach pie and chocolate cake my dad is requesting for the celebration. ;-)

IMG_3940

Lemon-Zucchini Loaf with a Lemon Glaze

Adapted from: NancyCreative

Ingredients:

Loaf

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Juice of one lemon (or 2 Tbsp lemon juice)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
    • You don’t need to peel the zucchini before grating it.  I just washed it, cut of the ends, and grated it.

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of one lemon (or 2 Tbsp lemon juice)

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat two eggs well, then add canola oil and sugar, and blend well.  Then blend in the buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Add in the grated zucchini and stir until it is evenly distributed.  Add in the dry ingredients and blend everything just until everything is mixed well, but do not over-blend.

Poor batter into a 9×5 loaf pan that has been greased and floured.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Removed from oven, and allow loaf to cool in the pan for a few minutes before moving it to a wire rack to finish cooling.  While bread is cooling, mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 Tbsp lemon juice.  Spoon the glaze over the loaf, and you are done!  :-)

IMG_3933

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

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Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Bananas are one of those things that I feel like you can never have too many recipes for.  Not because the average person is banana-obsessed and is constantly baking and creating with bananas, but because I believe the average person is probably slack like us and makes the mistake of accidentally letting bananas get overripe and go to waste way more often than he or she should. I love banana pudding and banana cream pie.  I am also a fan of mixing mashed bananas, peanut butter, and cocoa powder together to freeze and have as a treat later.  Recently, however, I have been exploring the world of banana breads.  There are so many different options that when my exploration began, I really had no clue where to start.  Ultimately, the decision for my first loaf of banana bread was made for me, as many baking decisions are, based on what we had in our pantry.  Plus, banana bread is always delicious, but why not add some cinnamon swirl and a tasty glaze?  :-)  I adapted this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction, with some changes based on my personal baking preferences.  Enjoy!

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread with Glaze

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

Ingredients

Bread

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
  • 4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, soften to room temp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about three bananas)
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla yogurt, or 1/3 cup buttermilk
    • I used homemade buttermilk by putting 1 tsp vinegar in a cup measurer and filling it the rest of the way up to the 1/3 cup line with soy milk…you can of course do this with regular milk.  Let it sit for about five minutes, and it will get kind of clumpy.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cinnamon Swirl

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbs heavy cream or half-and-half or milk
    • I used milk the first time I made this, which worked well, but the second time I mixed some milk with a little bit of melted butter/margarine to make homemade half-and-half.  It will turn out great no matter which option you use.

Directions

  1. Mix together flour, baking soda, salt, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a separate large bowl, use a stand or hand mixer to beat the brown sugar and butter.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Using a spoon or spatula, stir in the mashed bananas, yogurt/buttermilk, and vanilla extract.  Then slowly mix in the dry ingredients with the mix, but be sure to not over mix.
  2. Pour half the batter into a greased 9x5in loaf pan (will need to adjust cooking time if using a different size).  Mix the cinnamon swirl ingredients together and then pour over the batter in the loaf pan.  Top with the remaining batter.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let it cool for about ten minutes in the pan on a wire cooling rack, then remove the bread from the pan to let it finish cooling just on the rack.
  4. While the bread is cooling, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.  Add more powdered sugar to reach your desired thickness.  Finally, drizzle the glaze over the bread before enjoying.

 

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread with Glaze

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