Morning Glory Carrot Muffins

Morning Glory Carrot Muffins

When I was a kid and someone brought out a carrot cake at a birthday party or celebration, I would seriously mope. No offense if carrot cake is your favorite…but who wants vegetable-flavored cake? Not even cream cheese frosting can redeem that.

Cake should be rich and sweet with a light but even crumb. There should be no carrots.

But I read recently that carrots are the only vegetable in season where I live during the month of October. So I made you some morning glory muffins—which, of course, is what we call carrot cake when we eat it for breakfast, which we should all agree is a much better time to eat “cake” made of carrots!

I love the idea of a healthy muffin, and these muffins really are pretty glorious: they have no refined sugar, they use whole grain flour, and they are full of shredded fresh carrots and apples, as well as coconut and pecans!

My son begs for these muffins, and I love to indulge him! Hiding a vegetable in plain sight while my son scarfs it down? Yes please.

Continue Reading

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Taco Seasoning Mix

Have you ever made your own taco seasoning?

It’s kind of glorious.

Yes, it’s true: I have a penchant for making things from scratch that I could easily have bought in the store…but in this case, I really do think it’s worth it. Not only will you avoid totally unnecessary ingredients, like gums and gluten, but you if you make your own taco seasoning, you can customize the flavors and spice level!

Plus, your friends will be impressed. And isn’t it a beautiful thing when someone compliments your cooking (and you can brag that you even made the taco seasoning yourself)?

Continue Reading

Cauliflower-Crust Pizza

Cauliflower-Crust Pizza

I am so late in jumping on the cauliflower-pizza bandwagon, but boy am I glad I tried it!

Seriously…what could be better than a 2-year-old squealing with delight when you announce there is cauliflower for dinner? This crust is the quickest and easiest from-scratch pizza crust you will ever make. It will please your gluten-free and carb-conscious friends, plus cauliflower has a ton of benefits you can’t get from bread! Cauliflower is low in calories, high in fiber, high in vitamin C and B-complex vitamins, and it could even help fight some cancers. Crazy good.

While this crust does not really mimic the mouthfeel of bread, the flavor is mild and tasty, and the crust is chewy and structured enough for you to pick up the pizza and eat it just the way you would eat a wheat crust!

Continue Reading

Slow-Cooker Black Bean Burritos

Black Bean Ragout

Do you know what mothers of newborns need?

(Aside from more sleep, looser clothing, and a cadre of friends who volunteer to bring them food for several weeks—thank you friends!!)

Mothers of newborns need meals that require almost no effort to put on the table. Things that basically cook themselves while we attempt to entertain rambunctious 2-year-olds and nurse our handsy infants for (seemingly) hours, simultaneously.

New moms, meet black bean ragout!

I have been making this simple black bean ragout for years…pretty much ever since the Smitten Kitchen cookbook arrived on my doorstep. It may not be the most beautiful dish (hello, soupy black water), but it is a quick and easy (and inexpensive…) life-saver. (Assuming I have my wits about me around noon or so to dump all the ingredients into the crockpot.)

I absolutely adore this black bean dish. It’s so simple and versatile! Dave and I have decided that our favorite way to eat these black beans is inside of burritos, but we also enjoy them crostini-style on garlicky bread and tossed into scrambled eggs with salsa for some extra protein in the morning! You could even potentially eat this as a soup. The possibilities are nearly endless.

Continue Reading

Honey Chipotle Shrimp and Grits

Honey Chipotle Shrimp and Grits

I was well into my 20s before I ever heard of shrimp and grits. In fact, I was a senior in college before I ever even tasted grits (why eat something gritty on purpose when creamy is so much better?).

Clearly I had been missing out in a huge way.

Shrimp and grits is a Southern classic! Enjoy it for breakfast, or (if you aren’t quite sure about shrimp first thing in the morning) enjoy it for lunch! Either way, you should make this quick and easy dish immediately. It is so full of flavor—thanks to an amazing marinade—that it will just knock your socks off.

Continue Reading

How to Make a Wedding Cake: Pumpkin Spice Cake

Triple the Flavor

So…it’s been a while since I started sharing the process of making a wedding cake with you. A lot has been going on around our house, and I will tell you all about it soon, hopefully amid oodles of Christmas recipes.

But for now, let’s get back to a very important job: making a wedding cake. It’s cake baking day!

Just to refresh your memory, we are smack dab in the middle of making a wedding cake: three tiers consisting of pumpkin cake filled with cheesecake and frosted with Baileys cream cheese frosting.

Baking the actual cake is obviously a big deal. But I found this to be the easiest and least stressful step!

The cake recipe I used was originally meant for cupcakes. Often, cupcake recipes don’t translate well into larger layer cakes, because they aren’t always leavened properly to rise well in different size pans. But this recipe, kept moist by the pumpkin even under long baking times, always came out perfectly!

This cake is probably the simplest from-scratch cake I’ve ever baked. It’s not fussy at all! There is no creaming, no sifting, and no alternating of wet and dry ingredients. It’s basically a dream cake…and I think we should take this recipe and turn it into a dream wedding cake!

Continue Reading

Mexican Sweet Corn Soup

Mexican Sweet Corn Soup

Leftovers are my kryptonite.

I never really know what to do with them! Sure, I sat down to plenty of “leftover nights” when I was growing up, but we ate a fairly meat-and-potatoes style diet, so even if the leftovers were mismatched, they still made sense together in their original forms.

Leftover nights around our house are a little strange. One person is eating two different kinds of pizza while the other person is eating a salad burrito. The side dishes are really my personal nightmare…I so often eat one-dish meals that when there is a leftover side dish, I hardly know what to do with it. What I need to learn is how to look at the shelves stacked with cooked veggies and baggies of extra ingredients and imagine what they could become…something else entirely.

My husband, on the other hand, knows just what to do with leftovers (when he’s not ignoring them, that is): turn them into soup. Which—after I yanked a bag of leftover boiled corn on the cob out of the fridge and declared, “We are never going to eat this! I am just going to throw it away!”—is exactly how this corn soup was born.

And it’s so good! It is exactly the kind of thing I would have planned specifically to make, gone to the farmer’s market to shop for…and then found myself wondering what to do with those two extra ears of corn I had to buy “just in case.”

Well. Baby steps.

Continue Reading

Dal Makhani (Lentils with Tomatoes and Cream)

Dal Makhani

I’ve been thinking for a while that I should give dal another chance. The first time I made it, I used a crockpot recipe that turned out to be super boring and a little like eating dirt…and Dave said, “Well what do you expect? This is what lentils taste like.”

But since then, I have discovered a love for both Indian food and lentils (perfect storm!). And the more people I share that sad dal story with, the more suggestions I receive for wonderful dal variations to try—as well as a few scoldings for my low opinion of dal in the first place.

So I got pretty darn excited when I found a simple and delicious dal recipe at The Tasty Cheapskate, my Secret Recipe Club blog for July! I really enjoyed perusing Jean’s blog—and I really related to a comment she made in her food journal that her children do not eat particularly well. Yes, it’s true…children of food bloggers do not necessarily eat wheatberry salads or fresh fruits or brussels sprouts or much of anything that isn’t “baya. deh-yeee. zava!” (Oh. You don’t speak toddler? In our house, that translates to “peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”)

And to answer your next question, although this dal was delicious, my toddler spit out his first bite (though he did try two more bites after that!—they met the same fate). Oh well.

Dal is a great dish because it is inexpensive* and filling! In this dish, black beluga lentils swim in an aromatic, spicy, creamy tomato sauce. Serve with basmati rice or your favorite Indian flatbread and you’ve got a completely nutritious meal!

Continue Reading

Cioppino

Cioppino

The first time I ever tried paella, it was a very weird experience.

(Wait, are you blinking and scratching your head and scrolling up to see whether you misread the title of this post? Don’t worry…there is a connecting thread here.)

I had always avoided true, authentic paella because I don’t eat land critters. But shortly after Jake was born, I found myself sitting in a little restaurant in Williamsburg that offered a fish-only “seafood paella.” Boy was I excited!

And as soon as my bowl of soup arrived, boy was I confused.

The meal was delicious, spicy and flavorful, full of shellfish (and yes, a layer of rice at the bottom). But…it definitely was not paella.

I now know, thanks to Suzanne of Thru the Bugs on My Windshield, that I spent that strange evening enjoying a bowl of cioppino. Cioppino is a hearty seafood soup with a rich, winey tomato broth. And yes, you should go make a big bowlful for yourself right away!

Secret Recipe Club

Continue Reading

Baking with Whey: Dutch Baby with Lemon Butter

Dutch Baby with Lemon Butter

It was Mother’s Day a few weeks ago. Not to brag, but I had a pretty stupendous day!

I should probably backtrack and mention that my husband isn’t big into celebrating special occasions and events, or at least that he doesn’t care whether holidays are celebrated on time. He is more of the mind that a birthday is just a day, Christmas is just a day, Mother’s Day is just a day… And in a way, he is totally right—but I do love celebrations. I love the magical feeling and the pageantry. I love thinking about how all the prep is going to turn into something memorable. I love the memorable moments.

So. Guess how Dave decided we would celebrate Mother’s Day? He got up early and made me breakfast! In fact, he made me two breakfasts, because he did a trial run a few days earlier to make sure that Mother’s Day would be perfect.

(I’ll wait. While you say, “Awwwwww!”)

I got to choose the meal, and I racked my brain for something delicious but not too indulgent, simple but not boring. And I came up with a Dutch Baby!

A Dutch Baby is like a cross between a pancake and a popover. Topped off with lemon butter and powdered sugar, it is tart and sweet and a little doughy and, really, just everything a mom could hope for on Mother’s Day. We liked it so much that I made it again a few days later, just so I could share it with you!

Continue Reading