Sorry about not blogging as frequently; I think the fact that I haven’t seen sunshine in over a month is really starting to get to me. It’s depressing and quite frankly I have no idea why my parents decided to raise me in Minnesota? People who live here are super humans; they have the ability to handle bone-chilling weather and things like tator tot hotdish. (I’m being sarcastic, but it’s totally a thing.)
So the good news is that I’m going on vacation in a week and I can’t freaking wait. I’m headed to Arizona and you can bet I’ll be soaking up the sunshine like it’s my job. Don’t worry, I never fail to slather on the sunscreen. Oh and I definitely won’t be forgetting to consume copious amounts of Mexican food. Words cannot describe how much I love the Southwest culture.
Before we get into life updates let me just inform you that I’m writing to you from a Starbucks in the middle of the desert (also known as the state of New Mexico). I’m here visiting my grandparents for a week.
Do you know what one of my favorite things about my grandmother is? She knows how much I appreciate good food. She even had green chile chicken stew waiting for me when I got off the plane. How sweet is that?
In fact she’s been going crazy in the kitchen: homemade whole wheat bread, corn muffins, raisin bran muffins, sopapillas, and much more. Going to the gym twice a day is necessary when she’s cooking. In fact we did Zumba together yesterday… then several Ludacris songs came on. Yeah I can’t even describe what a 77 year old doing Zumba to hip-hop looks like. She was literally bopping around to ‘how low can you go’. WHAT IS HAPPENING!
You don’t want that picture in your head. Let’s move on.
I’ve been writing over at the Food Network’s Healthyeats.com recently. I’m sharing recipes and creative inspiration from my kitchen. Check it out and get my fresh spring veggie pasta with butternut squash sauce recipe (pictured above), along with links to my other favorite pasta dishes.
Can I just say that I love the Food Network? I’m hoping one day I can pay for it as a single channel because it’s all I watch. I’m being completely serious by the way.
Okay are you ready for the big news?
I’ve been waiting to tell you this.
It’s totally exciting!
I’m moving to California!
Year round sunshine and surfing here I come.
Okay I have to run, but make your Mom a nice lemon pie for Mother’s Day. It’s a present she won’t forget.
I made you a snack!
In cake form.
I know you just got super excited, right? Surprise, surprise, snack cakes make me jump up and down too. But shhhh, this snack cake is full of secrets. Healthy secrets that will make yo’ abs pop. (Because after eating brownies and cookies and pies for months, I figure that it’s time to lighten it up). This snack cake actually won’t get you a six-pack nor do I suggest you invent a new ‘bundt cake diet’; this recipe just uses minimal butter because I secretly despise Paula Deen.
I’m joking! I’ve got nothing against that woman. I just enjoy giving you healthier alternatives that make it possible to enjoy something a bit indulgent while still being able to button your skinny jeans.
I bring you a snack that you most certainly can eat if you’re having a-stressed-out-of-my-mind-and-I-NEED-CARBS-OR-SOMETHING-SWEET-NOW kind of day. At only about 200 calories per serving, I’d say this might even be a breakfast cake. Or you could turn it into muffins.
I know you’d high-five me if you could right now.
I hate to admit this, but I really lovelovelovelove making bundt cakes. They’re SO pretty and perfect for sharing. Wait… when did I turn 70? Must have been last year when I started drinking tea and obsessively grocery shopping.
Maybe when I’m actually 70, I’ll act like I’m 23. That would be interesting… yet incredibly scary at the same time.
Anyway I’ll give you my full attention and provide you the deets on this lemon and blackberry cake shenanigan that I dreamt up. It began after I stopped by the grocery store (shocker!) after the gym. I’d been wanting to bake something for over a week. I realized that I haven’t made a simple cake in quite sometime and remembered how beautiful my last bundt cake was. (Bragging rights because it won a contest.) I snatched up blackberries; well because they’re like the best berry ever, and picked out a couple of lemons. Once I got home I realized that I had a ton of greek yogurt that needed to be used; this was perfect because putting yogurt in cakes makes them SUPER moist and delightful. I used a combination of whole wheat and regular flour to make the texture dense and divine.
I’ll be honest. It tastes like a muffin cake that I want to live in.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about this cake! It’s pretty, snackable, and definitely worth baking up for Mother’s Day.
I can’t wait to surprise my Mom with this!
Lemon Blackberry Yogurt Bundt Cake
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup skim milk (or almond milk)
3/4 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt
1 pint of blackberries
zest of 1 lemon
Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Ahhhhhhhh! I’ve been so completely busy lately.
Today I competed in a Chinese take-out cook-off. It was amazing to see the turn out and all of the creative dishes.
We were required to make 250 samples. I know… that’s a lot of freakin’ samples! I spent my Saturday night chopping, dicing, and listening to Bon Iver. I was totally in the zone. There is something about the combination of music and food that leaves me feeling completely content. I mean, I LOVE creating dishes more than anything in the world. Music tunes out everything else. I end up being happiest in my brain thinking about flavor combinations.
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the best.
Simple pretty things that dance around in my head.
Like the summer flavors brought together in this salad. Juicy ripe watermelons, creamy avocado, annnnnddd lime + cilantro? Holy. I took one bite and I knew I had fallen in love.
What do you do when life hands you lemons?
I don’t know about you, but I make pie. Then I eat half of it, decide it’s too good to share, and say I forgot to bring it over for Easter. Oops. Good thing my Mom made a lemon meringue pie for the family or there would have been tears. Seriously, they’ve got mad love for butter and sugar.
Baking lemon pie brings memories of my Grandmother back to me. She made an incredible lemon pie with sky-high meringue. It was sensational, just like her. She was also very snippy and demanding at times. I think she mostly lived off of coffee and buttered toast, and the occasional chili from Wendy’s. I remember once she put a pizza in the oven and asked me why it looked so funny… it was upside down. True story. I miss her humor, attitude, and that lemon pie.
I really like pie. Like reallllllllyyyyy like it. I made this pie out of memory of my grandmother but also because I had this insane craving for lemon, sugar and butter. I’m convinced this pie is a complete breakfast, I mean… there are eggs in it. Counts for something.