The Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

Best Carrot Cake, Ever!
Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

Gonna brag, because my carrot cake recipe is truly world famous! Everyone who tastes it, loves it. It’s the most requested cake by my family and friends. It’s always the birthday cake of choice for my youngest daughter. And, when my neighbor found out he had to follow a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, the first thing he thought about was missing my carrot cake!

You know what they say about needing 10,000 hours to perfect something? Well, I’ve put in the hours because I’ve been making this cake since I was 15. My roommate in high school’s mom made this for us when we first visited and I had to have the recipe.

What makes this carrot cake delicious is the simplicity of the ingredients (the only add-ins are carrots; there are no pineapples, walnuts, raisins, or coconut) as well as the generous 2 cups of grated carrots. It’s also made with 2 cups of sugar, so it’s sweet and moist. I’ve tweaked the original recipe by using 1/2 a cup of yogurt and 1 cup of canola oil, instead of the 1 1/2 cups of oil the original recipe calls for. I think this makes the difference in how moist the cake is. You can, of course, use 1 1/2 cups of oil if you don’t have yogurt on hand (and, if you want to keep the cake portion dairy-free.)

Best Carrot Cake, Ever!
Best Carrot Cake, Ever!

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Easy Chocolate Bark!

Chocolate Bark
Chocolate Bark

There is nothing easier to make than chocolate bark, period. Chocolate bark is one of those desserts that you can make for any occasion: birthdays, holidays, graduations, confirmations, teacher gifts, office treats, hostess gifts, etc. All you need is baking chocolate and your choice of toppings. If you want to be extra fancy, you can use food coloring, different grades of chocolate, and unusual toppings.

With Passover and Easter this week, I thought I would post some fun recipes to make with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. This Easter white chocolate bark is made with Baker’s White Chocolate, Cadbury Mini Eggs, Sweetapolita Sprinkles, and fresh pistachios. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish. The hard part is waiting for it to firm up!

Chocolate Bark
Chocolate Bark

Here’s how I made this Easter-themed White Chocolate Bark.

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Sheet Pan Gnocchi – A 30 Minute Meal

Sheet Pan Gnocchi
Sheet Pan Gnocchi

During this time of social distancing and self-isolation, some areas of our lives are getting more attention, like home cooked meals. My husband and daughter have been home for the past ten days and we are enjoying each other’s company as well as looking forward to evening meals together. One of the meals that is getting the thumbs up around here is my sheet pan gnocchi!

Sheet pan gnocchi is one of the easiest and tastiest meals to make, for several reasons. First, it’s a ‘one sheet pan’ meal, which means you’re cleaning up one pan. I line mine with foil and parchment paper and nothing could be simpler to clean up. Second, this recipe is flexible: you can add whatever vegetables you have in the fridge. This means it’s a different meal each time and it means you waste less food. Third, you can serve this recipe straight from the pan just the way it is, or you can add a red tomato sauce to it and add more protein in the form of chicken, fish, or red meat. And, lastly, gnocchi has a relatively long shelf life. Keep a few packs on hand and you can make this meal anytime you want.

Sheet Pan Gnocchi
Sheet Pan Gnocchi

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Vegan Chocolate Fudge – Made With Dates!!

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Made With Dates
Vegan Chocolate Fudge Made With Dates

My first taste of fudge was when I moved to North Carolina to attend boarding school, in my sophomore year of high school. It was then that I fell in love with this North American dessert, at first bite!

I have a major sweet tooth, and it’s satisfied by super sweet North American and Middle Eastern desserts like: Texas Pecan Fudge Pie a la mode (specifically from House of Pies in Houston), pralines, fudge, cookie dough, Hello Dollies, knafeh, baklava, nammoura, and super sweet meghli. The last four are Middle Eastern and I make most of them at home when I can. Look for the meghli recipe in the next few weeks.

But…I digress. These days, fudge comes in many forms and is used to describe many cooked as well as no-bake desserts. There are variations that include melting chocolate and adding a can of condensed milk. There are variations that include tahini and coconut oil, like this recipe that I have shared in the past. And, there are recipes that are made with dates as a base, like the one I’m sharing today. Continue reading

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Panzanella Salad – So Fresh and Filling!

Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad

Have you ever made panzanella, a tomato salad with croutons? Panzanella (a classic Tuscan salad from Italy) is one of my favorite salads because it’s made with fresh ingredients and includes bread built into it in the form of homemade croutons. Classic panzanella includes tomatoes, stale bread, olive oil, and vinegar.

Panzanella is definitely a salad that tastes best with the freshest ingredients, which means that this salad is a go-to in the late summer when tomatoes are in season. Having said that, I still like to make it all year and I like to make it when I have leftover baguette bread that has started to harden. Nothing tastes better than homemade croutons made with the best olive oil you can find.

Panzanella Salad
Panzanella Salad

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Delicious And Easy Vegan Chili

Vegan Chili
Vegan Chili

If you’re a fan of chili, then you will love this vegan version! It’s easy, delicious, and a new favorite of ours. This chili takes about 30 minutes to make, from start to finish. And, you probably have the ingredients on hand, especially if your kitchen is a vegan/plant-based kitchen.

The star of this vegan chili is the ground beef/meat substitute, like Yves Veggie Cuisine’s Ground Round. Because this plant-based meat substitute is already cooked, as are the canned beans, the cooking time for the chili is only 15 minutes after the vegetables are sauteed.

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Pomegranate Salsa Salad- So Fresh!

Pomegranate salsa
Pomegranate salsa

Do you love pomegranates? Are you ready for summer flavors in your meals? If you answered yes to both of these questions, then you will love this pomegranate salsa!

I remember eating pomegranates as a kid and being fascinated by their yummy flavor and the way the fruit had to be seeded. As an adult, I love using them in food dishes, drinks, and as healthy snacks – they add the perfect amount of tanginess and texture.

Pomegranates are one of the oldest known fruits and are an excellent source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. They’re in season from the end of September through November. You can get them in the early winter months in North America because they are imported from warm climates.

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Perfect Fluffy Pancakes

Perfect Fluffy Pancakes
Perfect Fluffy Pancakes

I’ve been making pancakes for my oldest daughter for years now, and I’ve finally perfected the recipe for fluffy pancakes!

Given that it’s Mardi Gras tomorrow, I thought I would share my recipe with you.

The key to fluffy pancakes is not to over-mix the batter. It’s okay to have some lumps. They will eventually settle and won’t show up in the cooked pancakes. Over-mixing the flour activates the gluten, which is good for some applications, like bread, but not for pancakes because we don’t want dense pancakes! All you have to do is mix the ingredients until combined, about 15-20 stirs around the mixing bowl.

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7 Of My Favorite Christmas Cookies – With Links To Recipes!

Christmas Cookies
Christmas Cookies

I love to bake for Christmas! It’s that time of year when I spend a few days in a row baking my holiday goodies. There are some recipes that are always on the list, but each year I add a couple of new ones. With Christmas one week away, I thought I’d share the cookies I made this year, with tips and links to the recipes. Recipes are listed, clockwise, starting with the gingerbread men. Continue reading

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3 Easy Christmas Treats To Make With The Kids

 

3 Easy Christmas Desserts
3 Easy Christmas Desserts

(This post is sponsored by Kitchen Stuff Plus. As always, all opinions are my own.)

It’s the holiday season, which means lots of festive decorations, tableware, and food! Adults and kids love the special desserts that come with Christmas, and it’s even more fun when they’re simple to make and decorate. The important part is being together, so here are three easy-to-make suggestions for home or school: gifts made with brownie squares, puffed rice cereal wreaths, and a tree made out of cupcakes. You can make the base of the treats in advance and save the decorating for the kids. The best part is that it’s all edible!

Brownie Gifts

Brownie Gifts
Brownie Gifts

For these palm-sized brownie gifts, you will need: a brownie pan, packaged brownie mix and icing, mini candy canes, and holiday sprinkles of your choice.

To make these brownie gifts into perfect squares, use a tray like this one, from Kitchen Stuff Plus. This brownie pan is perfect because many people like the edge pieces and, with this pan, everyone gets one! I like the stability and the clean edges of these perfect squares. Continue reading

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