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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

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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

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

Homemade Meatballs

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I think sometimes people don’t realize just how many foods Craig had to give up when he could not longer consume dairy.  There are definitely the obvious foods like pizza, cheesecake, and lasagna (though I did make a very tasty goat cheese lasagna last year that Craig can eat).  But Craig also misses out on a lot of other stuff that you might not necessary think of.  One of those examples is meatballs.  Basically any meatball you buy from a store or order at a restaurant has milk and/or cheese in it.  I had never really thought about it before, but I realize now that I had definitely been taking my ability to eat meatballs for granted, as my poor husband has been deprived of this for years.

So, I obviously had to rectify this problem by making homemade meatballs.  I searched through a few different recipes until I found the perfect one.  The ingredients just made the final product sound delightful, and oh, it was!  I used soy milk instead of regular milk, and I omitted the tiny bit of parmesan cheese that was in the recipe (but of course I will include it in the recipe below for all you dairy-loving folks out there).  We have had these on meatball subs as well as spaghetti, and I am sure that we will go on to use these by themselves as appetizers or finger foods in the future, because they are just that fabulous.  To quote Craig, “Now I see why the old grandmother on The Wedding Singer paid him in meatballs!  These meatballs are fantastic!” 😉

Homemade Meatballs

Recipe from: allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
    • The original recipe used extra lean ground beef, but I didn’t.  A lot of the fat ends up staying in the pan at the end anyway, kind of like when you make meatloaf.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
    • The original recipe used sea salt, but I used kosher salt, and I’m sure regular salt would work just fine.
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 dash (or to taste) hot pepper sauce
    • something like Tabasco (which is what I used) or Frank’s RedHot
    • I used “a few dashes”…It’s really just about personal preference, but I didn’t feel like one dash would do much in an entire pound of meat plus other ingredients.
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup milk
    • The original recipe used skim milk, but I used soy milk.  I really think the recipe would be great regardless of your type of milk choice.  🙂
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • I obviously omitted this.
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Directions

  1. Put meat in a mixing bowl and add salt, onion, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix well.
  2. Add the milk, parmesan cheese (if using), and seasoned bread crumbs.  Mix until blended evenly.
  3. Form 1 1/2-ish inch balls and place on baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees until no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes.
Meatball Sub

Meatball Sub!

This is obvious my spaghetti and not Craig's since it has parmesan on top...  ;-)

This is obviously my plate of spaghetti and not Craig’s since it has parmesan on top…His was already almost completely eaten when I was ready to take the picture. 😉

Zuppa Toscana Soup

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A Delicious (Better Than?) Olive Garden Copycat

Zuppa Toscana Soup

My first trimester of pregnancy was rough, but it wasn’t just tough on me.  It was definitely tough on Craig, too, and I know we were both counting down the days until it ended.  For starters, the nausea was almost unending, and if there was even a brief moment I didn’t feel totally sick, I was worried something was wrong with the baby (I will make sure to relish those brief moments the next time I am pregnant).  And O-M-G I cannot believe how exhausting it is to grow a baby!  I pulled more all-nighters than anyone I know in college, and that exhaustion seriously cannot compare to the first trimester of pregnancy.  I am now a believer that the only people who will ever know the true meaning of the word “exhaustion” are woman who have dealt with this first trimester symptom.

Craig was definitely a trooper through my first trimester.  He found time to pick up around our place and do dishes and laundry, plus he never complained about my insane napping schedule on top of needing nine hours of sleep each night.  He also never complained about the fact that we were eating pasta for probably between seven and ten meals a week because it was the easiest thing on my stomach.  And when boiling pasta became to daunting of a task for me (it takes a lot of energy to watch the water get hot and occasionally stir!), Craig took over that task, as well.  And somehow he also managed to dominate that block’s exam in med school!

Cooking and baking were just not happening during the first trimester, so when it finally came to a close at the end of March and I was starting to feel a little bit more like myself again, I decided we needed to celebrate with something new and delicious!  But what?  We had a cold front coming in, so I knew that this would probably be my last chance to cook a yummy wintry meal.  Then I remembered my trip to Ohio a month an a half earlier to visit family.  (Thankfully, my morning sickness did not start until the day after I got back to Charleston from that trip.)

It was FREEZING up in Ohio, and it snowed for most of our visit.  One afternoon my mom, aunt, cousin, and I couldn’t decide what to do for lunch.  We ended up at Olive Garden, and I had not clue what to order (it’s not somewhere I get to go often since it is mostly Craig-unfriendly).  My cousin and aunt suggested the unending soup and salad, but I couldn’t decide on the soup.  Everyone offered to me what their favorites were, when the waiter mentioned that I could always start with one type of soup and then choose another type of soup after that.  What a perfect solution for indecisive Ashley!  I started with the Zuppa Toscana soup and would move onto another type of soup after that…at least that was what I thought before I tried the soup.  It was so amazing!  I don’t remember if I had two or three bowls of it.  Yum, yum, yum!

Here are just a few snapshots from the Ohio weather we had during our visit. Our Charleston “cold fronts” have nothing on this!

Fast forward to the end of my first trimester, and I knew this soup would be the perfect celebratory I-can-cook-and-eat-normal-food-again-plus-we-have-a-cold-front meal.  I just had to figure out how to make it Craig-friendly.  So, after some researching, I based this recipe on one that I found from food.com, but I made quite a few changes based on reviews.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb hot Italian sausage
  • 2 or 3 medium to large potatoes, washed but unpeeled
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 or 5 strips of cooked bacon
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 cups of kale (veins removed and sliced thin, like ribbons)
  • 32 oz of chicken broth (one standard sized carton)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
    • To make Craig-friendly (dairy-free) half and half, buy a can of coconut milk and let it chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hours.  It will separate into a cream on top and watery stuff on bottom.  Then, open the can and use a spoon to skim the coconut cream off the top.  Mix together equal parts coconut cream and plain soy milk (3/4 cup of each for this recipe).

Directions

  1. Remove the sausage from its casing.  Cut into 1/2 to 1-ish inch pieces, and then brown the meat.  Set the browned sausage aside the whatever stockpot you will be using for the soup.
  2. Chop up your bacon, and put that in the stockpot, as well.
  3. Sauté the onions, and add to the stockpot.
  4. Slice up your potatoes into skinny little pieces, leaving the skin on, and toss into the stockpot.
  5. Add your chicken broth, water, and minced garlic to the pot.  Boil the ingredients in the pot for about thirty minutes, or  until the potato pieces are tender.
  6. Add the kale and half and half, mix everything together, and let the soup simmer for about another fifteen minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

Zuppa Toscana Soup - Delicious!

Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler

Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler

Craig and I both love chocolate, but every now and then, I really like a dessert with fruit in it.  Craig isn’t exactly opposed to this.  He will eat and enjoy fruit desserts, but that is only if there isn’t chocolate something to be had elsewhere in our kitchen.  His sweet tooth just prefers chocolate, and if I make a peach pie when we have chocolate cake out on the counter, Craig will eat the cake and leave the pie to me.  It wouldn’t be as big of a problem if I had Craig’s metabolism, but I don’t, so it is.  I try to either time my fruit dessert recipes for when we have company in town to help me eat it or for when we are fresh out of anything chocolate.

Thankfully, this wasn’t as big of a problem with this fruit dessert, because it’s that good.  I mean, what could possible be better than just a regular apple crisp (which I LOVE)?  Adding a cookie-type component to it!  And then you have Apple Snickerdoodle Cobbler!  Yum!

It took some time for Craig and me to come off of our holiday sugar high this year, but when we finally did, I knew I was ready to try something new.  I thought a fruit dessert would be good since it *feels* healthier than other desserts, and I was trying to block out any memory of the chocolate fest that was our Christmas vacation.  I came across this recipe, and I had to try it.  It looked so good, and the end result certainly did not disappoint.  The original recipe is from baked by rachel, and the cobbler ends up being kind of like apple crisp, but with the crisp topping replaced by snickerdoodle cookies.

Ingredients

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (despite the name, this does not have dairy in it)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon

Apple Ingredients

  • 8 cups apples (roughly 6-8 apples, depending on size), peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine cream of tartar, salt, baking powder, and flour. In a separate bowl or stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the egg to the butter mixture, and then add the dry ingredient mixture.  Mix until the dry ingredients are blended into the dough well.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine 3/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Add the apple slices to this mixture and toss to coat.  Transfer the apples to an 8×8 baking dish.

Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Place the coated balls on top on the apples, pressing down lightly to slightly flatten.

Bake for 45-55 minutes or until apples are tender and cookie topping is lightly golden.

Serve with whipped topping, ice cream, or plain.  Enjoy!

Baking Apple Snickerdoodle CobblerApple Snickerdoodle Cobbler

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