Healthy Apple Spice Cake

Wow. I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden it’s fall. The leaves seemed to have changed overnight and the weather is suddenly chilly (most of the time). I have pulled out my winter boots as well as all my chunky knit sweaters to keep warm. I even have started drinking an extra cup of tea in the morning.

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Even though it snuck up on me, I am more than ready for fall flavors. Curling up with a warm mug of spiced goodness, crunching on toasted pumpkin seeds. And of course, all the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, oh my. And today’s recipe has all of those things with a healthy twist.

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As you all know from this recipe and this recipe I love to sneak vegetables into my baked goods. Not only does it add flavor and moisture, but you get the benefits of another serving of vegetables. While eating cake, I might add. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.

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Today’s cake is perfectly fall and very addicting. Luckily, it’s the perfect petite size, so if you end up eating it all I won’t blame you. Plus it’s got zucchini as well as whole apples so it’s basically good for you.

Healthy Apple Spice Cake

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

    • For the Cake:
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 2/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
    • 1 1/2 cup chopped apples
    • 1/4 cup raisins
    • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
    • For the Frosting:
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 1/2 cups confectionary sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line two 6″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy – about two minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing for another minute or two.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture with the butter, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Fold in the shredded zucchini, chopped apples, raisins and pecans being careful not to over mix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, whip the butter and cream cheese with a stand mixer or handheld mixer until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Once the cake is completely cooled, frost it and top with extra pecans and raisins. Enjoy!

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Spicy Chickpea and Grilled Peach Salad

As I mentioned in this post, I’ve been trying to cook more.  This has led to many nights of failed meals as I was too ambitious with my flavor combinations.  See, when I decide that I want to be good at something, I no longer just want that skill, I need that skill.  So, as many of you can probably guess, when I set out to get better at cooking I dove head first into the complex recipes.  I believed that because I could make pasta, I knew the basics.

Boy was I wrong.

One of my favorite examples of my untimely ambition happened to fall a few years ago on my mother’s birthday.  With only an hour until the meal, I decided that I was going to cook a lovely Italian dinner complete with homemade ravioli and arancini.  Now I had made homemade pasta plenty of times, it was something that I knew well.  I also knew that they took hours to prepare, and yet I still decided to try to make them in only one.  Arancini, was a bit of a different story.  I had never tried to cook something that complex.  In my mind, however, it didn’t seem that complicated and any little hiccups I would figure out along the way.

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I bet you can tell where this is going.  Ravioli on the floor, flour coating every surface possible and rice balls badly burnt on the outside and freezing cold in the middle.  Not exactly the lovely Italian meal I had imagined.

So after this failure, I reevaluated my situation and skill set and decided to take a step back.  I wasn’t giving up, per say, just deciding to work my way up to that Michelin star worthy level of cooking instead of starting there.

And with that, let’s move on to today’s dish.  A fairly simple meal, that’s healthy with semi-complex notes.  The contrast of the caramel-y notes in the grilled peaches mixed with the spice of the chickpeas sounds a little bizarre, but works like a charm.  This dish will wow guests at your next dinner party or liven up a dull week, in just 30 minutes too!

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Spicy Chickpea and Grilled Peach Salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 6 cups fresh green (I used a yummy mix complete with some fresh herbs)
  • 1 16 ounce can chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 2 peaches (cut into slices)
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 avocados (sliced and cubed)
  • 1 lime (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl coat the chickpeas with the olive oil, cumin, paprika, chipotle powder and a pinch of both salt and pepper.
  3. Pour chickpeas onto a rimmed sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until crispy.
  4. While the chickpeas are baking, heat a grill pan over medium heat.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray and then place the peach halves and the corn on the pan.  Cook each side of the peaches and corn for about 3-5 minutes until some nice char marks have formed.
  5. After allowing to cool for a couple minutes, cut the kernels off of the cob.
  6. Assemble the salad by placing all ingredients in a large bowl and then squeezing 1/2 a lime on top or topping with your favorite dressing.  Enjoy!

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Cake

I’m just going to come out and say it– I’m not a huge pretzel fan. Shocking, I know. My family doesn’t understand me, they all love the crunchy snack with a passion. So much so that on any given day our pantry is stashed with a big old jar full of them. When my brother is home, he plows through this jar at a regular pace, so restocking it is not just guesswork, but a science.

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Now that he’s gone, however, this jar remains mostly untouched causing the pretzels inside to go stale before they are consumed.

Tragic, I know.

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So today when I was baking this week’s blog post and a sudden pretzel craving hit, I was met with a mouthful of stale pretzels and some unhappy tastebuds.

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Instead of tossing the pretzels in the trash I crushed them up and threw them in the nearby cake batter, hoping that that might save them.

And save them it did. I dare say this is the best cake that I have ever baked. Something about the salty of the pretzel matched with the sweet of the cake creates the perfect balance of delicious flavor. Slathered with chocolate buttercream and filled with caramel one, this is definitely a cake I’m going to file away into my baking repertoire. Trust me, you’re not going to want to miss out on this one.

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Cake

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

    • For the Cake:
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 2/3 cup crushed pretzels (I crushed mine in a food processor)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup unsalted butter softened
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • For the Caramel Filling:
    • 2 tablespoons salted butter
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • For the Frosting:
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 cup confectionery sugar
    • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate melted
    • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line two 6″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, crushed pretzels, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about two minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing for another minute or two.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture with the butter, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cakes are baking, make the caramel filling.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together all the ingredients.  Allow to come to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until you can no longer feel the grains of sugar when rubbed between your fingers.  Set aside to allow to cool completely before using (otherwise it will melt the buttercream).
  7. To make the frosting, whip the butter and powdered sugar with a stand mixer or handheld mixer until combined.  Take a 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside in a separate bowl for the caramel filling.
  8. To the remaining butter mix, add the unsweetened chocolate and the heavy cream and whip until combined.  If desired, adjust the sugar, chocolate ratio to taste.
  9. Taking the set aside 1/4 cup of frosting, mix two tablespoons of the cooled caramel into the frosting until the mixture is homogeneous.
  10. Once the cake is cooled, spread the caramel buttercream on the first layer and then place the second layer on top.  Frost the rest of the cake with chocolate buttercream however you desire.  I garnished mine with some more pretzel crumbs as well as a little bit of melted chocolate, but overall I found that it didn’t alter the taste at all.  Enjoy!

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Cilantro Lime Steak Tacos

Even though it’s considered the harder of the two, I’ve always found baking to be more my thing than cooking.  Don’t get me wrong, I now love the two pretty much equally, but baking has always been my go to.  The rigidity of baking and the different variations of the same exact ingredients every time always appealed more to me than the undefined rules of cooking.

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Cooking was always something I kept on the back burner, sure I could make a simple pasta dish and call it a night, but I never really had enough practice to take two wildly different flavors, mash them together and create a masterpiece.  And this bothered me.

The fact that I called myself a food blogger but could barely cook?  Appalling.  So at the beginning of this year I decided to do something about it.  I decided that I was going to step out of my comfort zone and learn how to cook more complex meals.  I was going to learn how to meld those unlikely matches of flavor into one cohesive dish.

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Which brings me to today’s recipe.  Cilantro lime steak tacos.  They are absolutely mouth watering.  The avocado crema paired with the acidity of the lime steak mixed with the contrast between the corn and the red onion creates a dish with complex notes that actually taste good.  Everything goes perfectly together and honestly I would be lying if I said I didn’t eat some of the avocado crema with a spoon because MAN that stuff is good.

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This is one of those fake it until you make it type of dishes.  It looks super complicated and impressive, but it’s actually fairly simple and can be made in about an hour if you buy your tortillas.  If you need a impressive dish to bring to a party or just want a gourmet taco than this is the recipe for you.

Cilantro Lime Steak Tacos

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

  • TACO:
  • 1 3/4 – 2 pounds flank steak
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 2 1/2 limes (roughly 1/4 cup lime juice)
  • zest of 3 limes (roughly 1 tablespoon zest)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 ears corn, shucked and cornels cut from the cob
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 8 flour tortillas (I used this recipe to make mine)
  • Jack cheese
  • AVOCADO CREMA:
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • juice of 1/2 lime (roughly 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Whisk the cilantro, lime, zest, olive oil, jalapeño, garlic, peppers, and salt in a small bowl and than pour into a quart zip lock bag.  Place the flank steak in the bag and lie flat on a plate.  Quickly massage the marinade into the meat and than place in the fridge for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, flip the meat and place back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.
  2. While waiting for the meat, place all the ingredients for the avocado crema in a food processor and pulse until combine, set aside.
  3. Heat your grill to medium heat and remove the steak from the zip lock bag, allowing the marinade to drip in the bag for a few seconds before placing on the hot grill.  Grill for roughly 3-5 minutes before flipping to the other side a grilling for another 3-5 minutes.
  4. Remove the steak from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes, this allows the juices to flow.
  5. Once the 10 minutes are up, cut the steak into thin slices against the grain.
  6. To assemble the tacos, begin by sprinkling the cheese on a tortilla, topping with corn and red onions and then layering the steak slices on top.  Drizzle with some avocado crema and enjoy!

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Healthy Coffee Cake

Can you guys believe that it’s already June?  How crazy is that!?  I feel like just yesterday I was talking about my goals for this year, and now it’s already halfway done!

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With summer coming up I decided I would make something a little lighter for this post, yet still just as delicious.  I woke up craving some sort of streusel and knew that healthy streusel was a challenge I was willing to tackle.  And tackle it I did!  This healthy coffee cake is refined sugar free, packed with whole grains and won’t leave you feeling guilty as you reach for one more slice.

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Made with zucchini you can totally count this coffee cake as a serving of vegetables for the day.  Everyone knows that Vegetables+Cake means that you’re allowed to eat the whole thing.  It’s just common knowledge!

Jokes aside, this cake is healthy yet tasty and just begging to be served at your next brunch.

Healthy Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 16
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Ingredients

  • CAKE:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, blotted
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • TOPPING:
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 2 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a 8 inch square pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and maple syrup.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat for two minutes.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combine.  Then add the milk.
  5. Fold in the zucchini and the blueberries, being careful not to over mix.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside.
  6. To make the streusel, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
  7. Then sprinkle it on top of the batter.  Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Singular Black Bean Burger {Vegan}

As I’m sitting here and writing this post it is absolutely pouring.  As in I haven’t seen the light of day for the past forty eight hours pouring.  There is so much rain that the streets are flooding and there is a small pond forming in my backyard.  I just returned from walking my dog and now I’m left sitting on the couch in soaking leggings and feeling generally cold.

It’s times like this that are the reason I’m counting down the days until summer.  I can’t wait for it to be hot enough to not wear or coat.  The days that I can eat breakfast on my back porch and watch the sunrise can’t come fast enough.

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In the mean time, I decided to whip up a good old fashioned picnic lunch to make it feel like it’s coming faster.  I started by making some homemade chips (they were so good!!!) and decided that I wanted a black bean burger to pair it with.  Grabbing a can of beans I set to work, resulting in this recipe.  I took one bite and turned right back around into the kitchen to make a second to share with my grandfather, who confirmed that it was just as good as I thought.

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So if you’re like me and could use a taste of summer, grab a can of beans and set to work!

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Singular Black Bean Burger

  • Servings: 1
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Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup black beans
    • 2-4 tablespoons flour
    • 2 tablespoon chopped greens (optional, I put spinach)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
    • Oil for the pan

Directions

  1. In a small bowl mash the black beans until smooth.
  2. Add the salt, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and chopped greens and mix until combine.  Then add the flour until a rough dough comes to form.
  3. Take the black bean mixture and roll it into a ball and then flatten it into a patty shape.
  4. Pour a little oil into a small pan and heat over medium high heat.  Place your patty in the pan and cook each side for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Top your burger with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, or whatever else you desire and enjoy!

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Lemon Zucchini Cake

Happy (early) Easter!

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Say what?  You’re probably a little confused and think that I’ve lost my mind.  You’re probably thinking: “But Kat, Easter was last weekend!”

And you’re right, Easter was last weekend.  But it’s also this weekend.  Confused?  Let me explain.

If you didn’t know, I’m Greek Orthodox.  This means that I follow the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar when it comes to religious holidays.  The majority of the world follows the Gregorian calendar, meaning Easter was last weekend for them.  But for my family, following the Julian calendar means Easter is this weekend instead.  That’s about it for my knowledge on the topic, but if you want to read more here’s is an interesting article on the topic.

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Now that that’s all sorted out, on to the cake!  Is there anything better then cream cheese frosting?  I think not… This cake is simply awesome because you get a serving of veggies while eating dessert.  If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.

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The cake flour used in this recipe creates a finer crumb and combine with the moisture from the zucchini results in the perfect texture.  The lemon/raspberry combination makes for the perfect spring cake.  Whether it’s for Easter or just because you wanted cake, I’m sure that you’ll be just as in love with this recipe as I am.

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Lemon Zucchini Cake

  • Servings: 5
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Ingredients

    • For the Cake:
    • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
    • 2/3 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup zucchini shredded and lightly blotted
    • 4 tablespoons milk
    • 2 tablespoons sour cream
    • For the Frosting:
    • 4 ounces cream cheese
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 1/2 cup confectionery sugar
    • Juice from 1/2 – 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line two 6″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about two minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla extract, mixing for another two minutes.
  4. In a measuring cup, mix together the milk and sour cream.
  5. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream mixture with the butter, starting and ending with the flour.
  6. Fold the zucchini into the batter, making sure not to over mix.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To make the frosting, add all of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until combine.  Adjust the lemon flavor as desired, I like a very strong lemon flavor, so depending on what you’re looking for you might want to go with a little less or a little more then what I have listed.
  9. Once the cake is cooled, frost it and top with more berries and lemon wedges.  Enjoy!

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