Monday, July 30, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini & Carrot Cake

It's that time of year again when everything in your garden explodes. I don't know about you but I have zucchinis coming out of my ears these days and I have been trying to use them up before it's too late. I found this old recipe for chocolate zucchini & carrot cake that my mom tore out of a newspaper back in the mid 80's. We had a garden back them too and we had lots of zucchinis.

I must confess that I never made this recipe until I found it tucked away in an old cookbook last year. I make the usual zucchini bread with cinnamon but this cake is really different. I made a few changes to the recipe like swapping out the margarine for butter, using pecans instead of walnuts and being very generous with the amount of shredded carrots and zucchini. It comes out super moist and keeps well even in warm weather in a cake dome. Hope you can get a chance to make it.


Chocolate Zucchini & Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1/2 brown sugar
3 eggs, separated and divided
9 tablespoons hot water
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 cup chopped nuts such as pecans or walnuts

In a mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and all spice.
In a large bowl blend together butter, oil, sugar, brown sugar and 3 egg yolks, one at a time.
In a cup, blend together water and cocoa and add to the mixture of sugars. butter. oil and eggs. Mix well and then add the flour mixture. When mix is well blended, add carrots, zucchini and nuts.
Beat egg whites to soft peaks and fold in.
Spoon batter into greased and floured bundt pan. Bundt pan should not be filled more than 2/3. (Since I was very generous with my amounts of carrots and zucchini, I found that I had extra batter which I used to make some muffins in a separate muffin tin. If you use the exact amount it should fit perfectly into one bundt pan.)
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes in a pre-heated 350 F degree oven. Test for doneness. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack. If you have extra batter and make the muffins, they should take no more than 20 minutes to bake.
Good luck and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quilt Alongs

I am contemplating on joining a quilt along. Have you ever done one? I see many bloggers talking about them. Either they are doing them or sponsoring them. I found two that I thought I would like to do. I know, here I go wanting to do two not just one and I have never even joined one before!

Over at Sew Sweetness they are doing a paper piecing quilt called New York Beauty.

I have always wanted to do this pattern. I love paper piecing. It is so easy. My favorite part when paper piecing are the perfect points you get every time. Now all I need to do is decide on the fabric. This is the hardest part for me.

Then over at Clover & Violet the ladies are doing Garden Steps. I like this one too. They haven't given much information yet except on size and a really cute visual. I'm going to keep my eye on this one as well.

So check out these quilt alongs and maybe you will want to join them too. I hope you do and I hope I do too.

Have a great day!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Crayon Valentines

 One of my favorite craft projects that I have done with children is this melted crayon heart. Last year I was in charge of the craft for my son's second grade class Valentine's Day party. I searched for a fun craft that both the boys and girls would enjoy and when I came upon this one I just loved it.

Stand up card 
There are two sources for this craft on the web  - Disney's Family Fun and Martha Stewart. The Family Fun site gives you the directions to make the heart into a stand-up card, which is what we did. Martha's site makes them into pretty stained glass hearts to hang in a window. Which ever one you choose you will love the final result.

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Orange Pecan Muffins

I have been taking the a quilting class now for the past 14 years with the same teacher and almost the same group of women. Some of us might miss a semester here or there because life is complicated but we all seem to come together at one point or another. To say we just quilt would not be accurate at all. We share our lives. When I have to miss a class or take a semester off because of "life" I am very sad. These ladies make me smile and make feel like I am part of something special.

One week our instructor Joan brought in this recipe and all of us were surprised to hear the technique used to make these delicious muffins. "You put a whole orange in the blender- minus the seeds" she says. We were all very curious to try our hand at making them. 

My friend Janet made some and was generous enough to bring them in for the whole class. I made them too but my husband and I gobbled them very quickly. 

The muffins are so good that I knew I wanted to share them with you. Now Joan says this was her best friend Norma's recipe originally so I must give credit where it is due. Thanks Norma for a really tasty treat. I hope you all can get a chance to try them. It's a really easy recipe.

Orange Pecan Muffins

1 1/2 cups of flour
3/4 cup of sugar plus 1 TBLS.
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 orange, scrubbed, seeded and cut into 8 parts
1/2 cup orange juice
1/ 2 cup chopped dates or raisins or craisins
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature 
1/4 cup chopped pecans
18 whole pecan halves
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Line 18 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
  • In a large bowl mix flour, 3/4 cup sugar,baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Place cut up orange in a blender along with the dates if you are adding them and orange juice- pulse.
  • Add butter and egg to blender and blend. (I used a food processor instead because I like the quicker and smoother result)
  • Add orange mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine. Add raisins and/or craisins at this point if you are using them.
  • Pour into muffin tins.
  • Mix chopped pecans with the 1 tablespoon of sugar and sprinkle on top of batter.
  • Place one pecan half in center of each muffin.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Brownie Banner

It's been a while since I have posted something. I have been busy doing lots of stuff ! I finally have the time to share one of them with you. My daughter is a Brownie and this year her troop needed to make a banner. Since I am one of the few moms who knows how to sew more than a button I was chosen to execute this project.

The first thing I did was search the web for ideas. I didn't find many but I did find one that I thought the girls would enjoy. I chose to have the girls trace their hands onto a piece of cotton fabric backed with Heat and Bond ( to then fuse onto the felt banner). They then attached a felt heart to the hand with their name on it. A simple running stitch around the heart was perfect for these girls who are mostly 7 and 8 years old.

I fused all the hands on to a piece of pink felt along with the troop number. And then the "bedazzling" began. 

 Ribbons, gems and flowers. The girls had a great time. We used self stick gems as well as ones that required glueing. 

I hot glued the ribbons and the decorative flowers on the letters and numbers. I then took the pink felt and sewed it to another piece of brown felt. To hide my stitching, I glued ribbon all around the pink felt.


Now the girls can march in style at our next parade!

Hope this gives you some ideas on your banner.

Have a great day!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My Favorite Almond Cake

I love this almond bundt cake from Solo.

Solo makes all sorts of fillings and one of them is almond and it makes the most delicious cakes. You can find it in the baking aisle with the other canned fillings like apple and cherry. Once you make it you are hooked. It's my son's favorite and I bet if you try it it will be yours as well. I brought it to my PTA meeting this week and not a single piece was left! Nicest complement a baker can get.

The best part is that it's super easy and it always comes out perfect. I have friends who like to make it as 2 loaves and then they freeze one for a later occasion. Your friends will asking you for the recipe. I guarantee it. We can keep this secret between you and me but I prefer to share. So click here for the recipe. Now it's up to you.

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Princess Wristlets

Well, we finally got to take vacation and right when we got home the kids finally went back to school! Before we left on vacation I made a few of these wristlets that I'm calling "Princess Wristlets" for our friends in Virginia.

I simply took this handbag pattern I had and skipped making the regular shoulder strap, added a zipper and a wrist strap. I played with the design a bit by making the opening straight across. One of these wristlets (far left) has it with a scoop top. I decided I liked the straight across version better. Easier to sew the zipper in that way.

These were lots of fun to make. Really quick. Almost instant gratification. It's a lot quicker than making a quilt. Maybe you have a pattern somewhere that can be converted into something new. Give it a try.You never know what you'll come up with.

Have a great day!