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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

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

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

A Taste of Fall and Early Thanksgiving

I absolutely love living in Charleston.  It doesn’t get too crazy cold in the winter, we live right near the beach, we love our church, and there are always a ton of fun and exciting things to do here.  Aside from missing my family like crazy, Charleston is really an almost perfect place to live.

Almost.

The one thing Charleston is really missing…well, I guess the two things it is missing, but they go together…are fall weather and mountains.  Craig and I are outdoorsy people.  We love hiking together, we love the beauty of the mountains, and we especially love the fall.  During the fall, cooler temperatures are accompanied by autumn rainbows of leaves.  Red, orange, yellow, and every possible combination of those colors make a fall such an incredibly wonderful time of the year.  The cool weather means snuggling by the fire, and it also reminds you of the fast approaching holidays.  The colorful leaves offer a gentle reminder that time is passing and things are changing, but change can be a wonderful, exciting, and incredibly beautiful thing.

We don’t get that in Charleston.  Down here, leaves stay green well into the (relatively) “cooler” weather, and then they just turn brown, die, and fall of the trees in January.  No raking leaves to jump in a fun pile.  No beautiful leaves to add the perfect touch to a November hike.  Fall is Craig’s and my favorite season, and we really miss it!

Thankfully, we got a taste of fall this past weekend, and it was just what we needed!  Because Craig and I will be spending Thanksgiving with his family this year, we spent a long weekend in the North Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains with my family, celebrating an early Thanksgiving.  I hadn’t seen any of my family since they came to visit over Labor Day, so the fall weather, plus being up at a mountain cabin, plus having my family together was just fabulous!  We were right by a trout creek, too, so there was also a lot of fly fishing going on.  We had our traditional Thanksgiving meal together, filled with turkey, stuffing, cherry pie, cinnamon cake, jello salad, the best homemade cranberry sauce EVER, and more!

Don’t worry, some recipes from this weekend will soon follow!  For now, you can enjoy these snap shots of our early Thanksgiving celebration and the wonderful fall weather!

I hope you all enjoy your real Thanksgiving as much as my family enjoyed our pretend Thanksgiving!  Happy almost holiday season, everyone! 🙂

Happy National Eating Healthy Day!

As a Bachelor of Science Health Sciences major from Furman University, I am a HUGE believer and supporter of not just eating healthy, but also helping and encouraging other people to eat healthy.  You might not know it based on the recipes I post, but Craig and I are both incredibly health-conscious people.  Yeah, some of my recipes aren’t great for you, but that’s okay if you are eating them in moderation.  Moderation is a key word here that is often ignored or abused, so let me explain what I mean.

  • Moderation does not just mean “Well, I would really like to have four or five apple pie muffins, so I’ll just have three right now.  Wow, I’m making such a health-conscious choice!  Plus, there are pieces of apple in the recipe, so it’s actually a healthy food.”  Eating in moderation starts with being honest with myself about what I am eating and refusing to justify all bad eating decisions.  I am not going to pretend that I don’t make bad eating decisions, because I definitely do, but certainly will not justify them so that I can feel better about myself.
  • Eating in moderation also means that all metabolisms are not created equal.  Craig has a faster metabolism than I have.  That’s just the way it is.  I’m not going to sit around, complaining about his faster metabolism and decide that I should get to eat just as much as him because it’s not really fair that he gets to eat more than me.  I’m also not going to expect him to consume fewer calories because I have to consume less.  No!  To me, that just sounds like I am wishing for metabolism welfare, and this concept is absolutely ridiculous.  I am going to do the best I can with what I have been given, and I refuse to be bitter toward people who can and have to eat more calories than me in order to maintain a healthy body weight.  I always serve Craig more food than I serve myself because he needs more calories.  It is what it is.
  • I’m not saying that people can’t enjoy something that doesn’t have a ton of nutritional value every now and then.  I am certainly not saying we all need to eliminate desserts.  I support desserts.  I love desserts.  But I cannot sit down and eat half a bundt cake of any sort.  I need to teach myself that a taste or two is really all I need.  (And when – not if, definitely when – I do make the mistake of over-eating some dessert, I will revert to my first point by not justifying it.  I will accept my decision for what it is, and try to work out and consume my remaining available calories accordingly.)
  • Also, I NEED to be physically active.  There is no way around it.  Eating healthy AND exercising regularly are both part of having a healthy lifestyle.  You should not just have one or the other.  Eating well without pushing your body is unfair to your cardiovascular system (among other things).  Exercising while fueling your body with few nutrients is going to lead to deficiencies, like iron deficiency (among other things).

It is no coincidence that National Healthy Eating Day falls just before the holiday season.  We all know that the holiday season is not the easiest time to eat lower-calorie foods abundant in vital nutrients, and it’s not the easiest time to squeeze that exercise in every day.  The holiday season is a period of time where people tend to over-consume calories, under-consume nutrients, and put legitimate workouts on hold.  But we can fight back!

In honor of National Eating Healthy Day, here is a link to the American Heart Association’s Holiday Health Eating Guide.  It has some great ideas and may be very helpful to you this holiday season!

Also, here are some tips about healthy holiday eating from the Medical University of South Carolina’s MUSChealth Community Blog:

Guide to Healthy Holiday Eating

  • Look for healthy substitutes for ingredients in your holiday dishes. Use low-fat or skim milk products instead of whole milk products, or try swapping applesauce for oil in your baked goods.
  • Avoid grazing while cooking. The small bites we sometimes take while working in the kitchen can add up and stack on extra calories.
  • Do not skip meals. Missing meals, especially breakfast, can lead to overeating for the remainder of the day.
  • Snack before you arrive at a party. You are more likely to overeat if you are hungry when you arrive at a holiday gathering.
  • Prepare a healthy dish. Bringing a tossed salad, vegetable plate or fruit dish to a holiday party will ensure that there is a healthy option for you and your friends.
  • Use a smaller plate. This allows you to put less food on the plate and to keep portion sizes within healthy limits.
  • Eat slowly. Savor each bite as you eat and wait several minutes before considering a second helping.
  • Alternate drinking alcoholic beverages with water. Not only will you reduce the number of calories that you consume, you’ll also have a safer night.
  • Mingle. Don’t stand near the food table all night where you may be tempted to go back for seconds.
  • Get physical. After eating, consider taking a walk with friends or family members or join young people in a game or other activity.
  • Practice saying “no” gracefully.  Be prepared with practiced answers if you have “food pushers” in your circle of family and friends.  Be honest and say “No thanks, I’m trying to cut back.”  Or sometimes a little white lie will do the trick when you say “I’m so full, I couldn’t eat another bite.”

Please don’t view this post as a big Debbie-Downer on delicious foods or the holiday season, because that is not how it is meant.  I understand the constant battle with the scale. I struggle with eating healthy foods and moderating the deliciously unhealthy foods.  I have a slow metabolism, and I actually have had to watch what I ate since I was twelve.  I have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight.  However, through all that, I have learned that eating healthy is not a bad thing at all.  It’s a wonderful thing!

By practicing wise food decisions throughout the day, making a point to stay or become physically active, and eating in moderation, you can enjoy those scrumptious holiday foods as much as anyone else! Plus, how much more could you enjoy your holiday season if you were feeling great and full of energy throughout it, plus you didn’t have the post-season-bathroom-scale regret that so many people have to face afterward?!

So kick your holiday season off right with making a plan to be [as] healthy [as possible] throughout!

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