Carrot-Zucchini Bread, Two Ways

I purchased the CUTEST cake platter at Goodwill{!} for eight bucks last week. So, naturally, I’ve had to have something in it at all times. When the kids and I made the cake, it perfectly displayed it, but then the cake was gone.

I didn’t want to make another sugar-laden treat, so I decided on the best thing I know how to bake: bread.

During the fall and winter months, we have home made pumpkin bread aplenty, but since it’s summer {and I don’t have gobs of pumpkin puree}, carrot zucchini bread sounded light and refreshing.

Now, I wouldn’t consider this recipe necessarily healthy, rather healthier than it’s original. For breads, I usually swap all purpose flour for whole wheat, reduce the sugar by 1/4 and replace one egg for flax seed. That’s a little better, but the cup of oil and cup + of sugar make this a decadent treat to be had sparingly.

| Zucchini Carrot Bread

makes 2 loaves

3 C whole wheat flour

1 TSP cinnamon

1/2 TSP allspice

3 TSP baking powder

3/4 TSP salt

1 C peeled and grated carrots {about 4 large, whole carrots}

1 C zucchini {about 3/4 one large zucchini, not peeled}

1 C canola oil

3 eggs {or sub 1 egg for 1 TBS flax seed + 3 TBS water}

3/4 C white sugar

1/2 C brown sugar

2 TSP vanilla

Grease two 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch loaf pans and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix well the first 5 ingredients. In another large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Continue beating while you slowly drizzle in the oil. When the eggs and oil are well mixed, continue beating still, and slowly add the sugars, then vanilla. Fold in the veggies.

Mix in the dry ingredients to the wet until well incorporated. When thoroughly mixed, add half of the contents of the bowl to each loaf pan. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes, then check if they’re done by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it’s finished. If it doesn’t, let it cook another five minutes, then check again.

Carrot Zucchini Bread6

Two Ways

Now, I don’t normally {ever} write recipes on using a food two ways, but I often do it in real life as leftovers are a wonderful thing.

When we ran out of eggs, and I asked Husband to get some, he remarked by saying that the reason we are always out of eggs is because “that’s all you make for breakfast.”  {Let me point out that I have made homemade pancakes, peanut butter toast, and even allowed them to have cereal in the last five days}. Hmph. Well, I’ll show him!

I still required eggs for this, but it was different than the norm fried egg with toast that they supposedly “always” have.

| Carrot Zucchini Bread French Toast

serves 4

4 slices of carrot zucchini bread

2 eggs

1/4 C milk

1 TBS sugar

Butter, as you need

In a shallow dish {or pie pan}, beat the eggs with the milk and sugar. Heat a skillet on medium heat and toss in a tablespoon of butter. As the butter is melting, dip the bread in the egg mixture, letting it soak for a couple minutes, then turn it over and repeat. Place the soggy break in the buttered pan and let cook about 1 minute, or until the side is fully golden brown. Flip and repeat with each slice.

Serve with a pat of butter and, if desired, syrup {this is delicious with pumpkin, raisin, or really, any other bread you like}.

Carrot Zucchini Bread3

Enjoy!

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Marriage Mondays: 50’s Housewife

Okay, so first off – if any of you do read – I wanted to apologize for my absence for the last month or so. The boys have been here and I have been too busy to snap photos of any delectable foods I have been making {if I even have – we’ve been eating out… a lot}.

Ever since I was little, I have been enamored by times of the past. It started out as an obsession with ancient Egypt when I was probably 9. As I got a little older, I watched the movie {albeit not historically correct} The Mummy and The Mummy 2 over… and over… and over again.

Then in high school, The Notebook came out. I declare this the downfall for me enjoying the present time. Then, well… let’s not even start on Mad Men…

50s Housewife 2

I have said here about my quest to simplify my life. I have often requested to my husband that we do away with my iPhone – and cell phone altogether. He and I have other means of communicating throughout the day, and we only have text conversations about two times during the work day. On the weekends, I rarely touch my phone {save to scroll down Instagram, which I could live without. But since it’s there, might as well, right?}.

On The Fourth, we went to my grandma’s house, and I asked what she has been up to.

That lady. I do love her.

She said she has been so busy. “I wake up at 5:30 every morning, and set my hair, then do my exercises {I don’t know what these exercises consist of, but she has a mini trampoline in her basement}. Then, I do the housework and ironing. I don’t iron everything, probably 3-5 items {which is funny considering my mom told me yesterday that when she was a kid, my grandmother ironed the sheets. THE SHEETS, people!}. By noon I’m done because I’m exhausted.” I bet!

This conversation made me curious.

I googled things like, “The Perfect 50s Housewife”, or “How to Live Like the 50s” and the things I found were very interesting.

I came upon several blogs that included this genuine guide to a 50’s Housewives day.

Wow, I thought my house cleaning was hard. After being inspired by this blogger and her 50s Housewife Experiment, I decided I’d give it a try. She didn’t do the old fashioned clothes and hair, but because of my affinity with the old ways, you can imagine how many vintage or vintage inspired dresses I have {one of the main reasons for me disliking winter is that the ability to wear dresses significantly decreases}.

Okay, maybe I wouldn't have a matching umbrella...

Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have a matching umbrella…

Unless I am working {which I only do two days a week, which is kind of sort of like being home – so even sometimes if I am working} I wear sweatpants throughout the day to clean or do whatever household tasks may beckon me, and Husband often comes home to a make-up free, sweats-laden wife. How lovely.

A couple days ago, I followed The Guide. Oh. My. Gosh. Being a 50s Housewife really is a job in and of itself. I actually enjoyed the hard work. And making my husband so happy and comfortable after a long day of work. But, my feet KILLED and I set aside the Husband pleasing for a few minutes to ask him to rub my feet after the kids went to bed. I kid you not, I sat down for thirty minutes that day. In total. It was worse than my bank teller days.

Plus, the kids and I made a delicious pink cherry-flavored cake that my grandma would have been proud of. But, making more mess after making my home immaculate was  sort of sadistic.

At the end of the day, when my husband came home and I was clothed in a fit-and-flare dress, with a full face of make up {including pink lipstick} and the whole family enjoying a great dinner {pork chops, roasted root vegetables, a baked potato and split-pea soup}, I saw the pay off of all my hard work. Then, we enjoyed that delicious cake.

I worked so hard – on the house, with the children, to make them all happy {which included picking my battles – I highly suggest that. It saves a lot of stupid arguments}.

I wonder if that’s why marriages lasted much longer back then.

50s Housewife 1

In 1950, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 34 per cent of women ages 25-30 were working, and according to the New York Times, 78% of Americans were married. During the 60s, women protested housewifery, and the numbers of working women increased  by almost 4 per cent.

Women protesting the 1969 Miss America Pageant

Women protesting the 1969 Miss America Pageant

Then the whole hippie movement in the 70s increased the percentage of working women again by almost 10 percent compared to the 50s and the number of divorces increased from 1950 to 1975 by over 650 thousand.

Then, between the 1990’s and now, women have made careers their biggest goals.

That’s wonderful for some. I got married at the ripe old age of {barely} 22 and I knew at a young age, I wanted to be a wife and mother {or singer 😉 }. While women {or anyone, for that matter} striving for their dreams is a wonderful thing, I think often times they are only trying to prove something to themselves. We aren’t oppressed anymore, but women are still putting family on hold and starting it out very late in life. I think people who choose not work {even stay at home Dads} should not be so judged by corporate power couples, but rather, everyone should be able to see the positive things about what a person chooses to do with their life.

For me, I’d rather give my rambunctious, high-energy self to the things that really matter to me – the ones I love. Not the money I make. If that means excelling at being a wonderful, vivacious wife and mother and seeing ear-to-ear grins on  my entire families faces, so be it {and having a freakishly clean house is a huge bonus}.

Marriage Mondays: Identity in Marriage

I was talking to one of my best friends about our marriages and how previous issues had molded us so greatly and how those issues have caused negative things. I was married before I met my lovely wife, Savannah, and the events leading up to the end of that marriage completely destroyed my sense of self and who I thought I was. I did not see it at the time, but God was reshaping my identity in Him so that I could better fulfill my role as Savannah’s husband.

It’s important to realize that although you have a very important identity as a couple, you still have your own individual identities as well. I had completely lost mine before and became buried alive under the weight of all my “titles”.

It is by the grace of God everyday that I am any good to my wife and children. By going to God for your identity, He will lead you to your destiny and in turn use you as a man to lead your wife into her destiny and the callings He has for your marriage.

Seek out that truth, and you will be blessed.

Fingerprint

Happy Monday!

-Jason

Step Mothering: Babies & Brewskies

My older sister, Kassi, asked me to do a guest post on her little blog called Babies & Brewskies about mothering, and step mothering in particular. So I know it’s a bit late, but she posted it last Thursday, and you should all go and check it out!

Being a step mom is difficult, as I’m sure being a biological mother is, as I will someday also know. Growing up, I always knew my sister Kassi as my sister, not my half-sister. She has a different dad than my younger sister and I do, but having the example of how my dad treated my sister was such a blessing as I now look and see myself stepping into the same role. She called him dad. It was normal…
Read more at my sisters blog, babiesandbrewskies.blogspot.com

Christmas 09 9

PS. Tomorrow will be back to normal blogging.

Enjoy!

Ratatouille, Ratatouille!

The other night, I had this great idea that we could make Ratatouille and then watch Ratatouille! I love getting the kids excited about things in that way, you see. I would love if they get excited about a dinner every night, especially one consisting of so many vegetables!

Remember when I said I would eventually be using that squash? This is what I was hoping to make with it. And truly, it is simple. The dish originated in Nice, France as one that poor farmers would make from their summer crops.

Turns out, kids like it, too!

What you’ll need:

1 Eggplant

2 Zucchini

3 Yellow Squash

1 Red Bell Pepper

1 Cup of Tomato Puree

1/2 Cup of Chopped Onions

1 TBSP of Italian Seasoning

2 TBSP of Minced Garlic

2 TSP of Garlic Salt

3 TBSP of White Wine

Pepper to Taste

Mix the tomato puree with a TSP of the garlic salt and a TBSP of the Italian seasoning. In a 9X13 {or similar}, spread about two TBSP of the tomato mixture all around the bottom, then drizzle in the white wine over. Slice up the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red bell pepper {I need a mandolin slicer – it would make life so much easier}, and layer them, standing the slices upright. When all of the veggies have been added, sprinkle the chopped onions and minced garlic over the top. Evenly dust the pepper and the rest of the salt over, and use the rest of the tomato puree to top the whole thing off.

Pop it in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Enjoy!

*Statistics are approximate and can be calculated on www.recipes.sparkpeople.com

8 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 52.4
  Total Fat 0.4 g
  Saturated Fat 0.1 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 746.4 mg
  Potassium 452.6 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 11.1 g
  Dietary Fiber 3.4 g
  Sugars 2.3 g
  Protein 2.2 g
  Vitamin A 28.4 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 14.0 %
  Vitamin C 87.5 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 3.3 %
  Calcium 2.6 %
  Copper 6.5 %
  Folate 9.0 %
  Iron 5.2 %
  Magnesium 7.0 %
  Manganese 16.1 %
  Niacin 5.5 %
  Pantothenic Acid     3.9 %
  Phosphorus     5.5 %
  Riboflavin 7.0 %
  Selenium 1.2 %
  Thiamin 5.9 %
  Zinc 2.6 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Saucy Noodle!

Last night, I really wanted to use the squash that has been sitting on the counter all weekend, but couldn’t figure out what to make with it – I didn’t want to do the vapid, old sauteed number – and when I finally figured out the perfect dish to create, {which will be a surprise for later :)} I came to the conclusion that we simply didn’t have all the right components. Boo.

So, I was at a loss as to what I should do for dinner, and then my husband called me. He always saves the day that way, you see. He told me, “Don’t stress over it, we’ll go out.” Sometimes those words are music to my ears. Also, dining out helps me to come up with new concepts for meals.

We couldn’t really figure out what we wanted, but I knew I had been craving tomatoes, as you can tell from my preceding entry {whenever I have a craving, I always have to look up what my body is telling me I need. In this case, it happens to be iron – we already knew I was anemic, I just thought it peculiar how this craving came out of the blue}.

And then red sauce all of the sudden sounded delish, so Italian it was – no one could ever say no to Italian, am I right?

We are new to the neighborhood, so I asked my friend where the best Italian joint might be around here {let’s face it, Olive Garden just wasn’t going to do}. She offered the Saucy Noodle, located in South Denver, so off we went {did I mention it got 4 1/2 stars from OpenTable.com?}!

When we arrived, AJ asked for Mac n’ Cheese, but whenever we go out, I try to have them eat something new, so they both decided on buttered rigatoni – not that it differs too far from the American version of the dish that he had wanted, but at least I had them come out of their box with food. Even if just a little.

Then, Jason ordered Rigatoni All’Arrabbiata {translate: Angry Rigatoni, which this explains is “due to the heat of the chili peppers”}, and I got Chicken Cacciatore, an Italian chicken dish that sits in a tomato, garlic, and root vegetable stew – all day. You can just imagine how good it is. On the side were cannellini beans in this amazing tomato and garlic sauce. I love my garlic. And, of course, a glass of a California Red blend – we were, after all, at an Italian restaurant ;). I’m not going to post the nutrition facts, because that would simply be too perplexing to try to estimate, and I don’t  want to steer you wrong. I do know, however, that my choice was by far probably one of the healthiest on the menu, due to it’s lack in pasta and cheese. If you haven’t been to the Saucy Noodle, I would highly recommend it – and I would also highly recommend the Chicken Cacciatore.

My Delicious Chicken Cacciatore Dinner

Enjoy!

Green Num Nums and Bike Rides for Kids

Wow, the weather is just amazingly beautiful right now, but you knew that already – not too hot, not too cold… perfect! With that being said, I think it’s about time we spent more of our hours outside. Now, if you know me, I HATE cardio, and I will find any excuse to avoid it at all costs {I’m more of a yogi, if you will}. One of my most famous excuses is that it’s difficult to do with children. Well, I no longer can use that to my convenience, because we have this thing for kids called “bikes.” Yes, bikes.

My husband started running a couple weeks ago, and that’s always motivation for me to work on my body and spend time together – double whammy. Well, we had the boys, so I had the glorious idea to break out the bikes and take them with us…

Not so glorious. As it turns out, Jacob can ride his bike… every 20 feet, then comes the inevitable fall. Jason was in charge of him, so I thought I was in the clear with AJ and his magnificent training wheels – that worked for about three minutes before the training wheels starting bending up and making him fall down.

Image

So, we failed. But I was determined, and the next morning Jacob was at school and I said, “AJ, we’re doing this.” So I pulled out the pliers and the gorilla glue, and – you guessed it – I glued those suckers on. For good.

It’s so important {especially this time of year} to be in the “wilderness”. We have to enjoy it while we can. They say Colorado has 300 days of sunshine, and I would acquiesce, but that doesn’t mean that we have 300 days of warm. And for someone who literally SHIVERS at the thought of 65 degree weather, that doesn’t really seduce me. So get out there while the sweat can still drip and the trees are still green.

And speaking of green trees, I have truly been inspired and mildly obsessed with brussel sprouts. I have even made them yummy enough for husband to SAVOR – not just eat – actually enjoy! That says a lot for someone who complained about it when he noticed what was for dinner. Here’s the recipe I used – it’s fairly simple, and the little green veggies are extremely forgiving. You can also mix and match veggies – it’s absolutely delish with asparagus, too:

2 Cups of Fresh Sprouts – or however many you want {I could eat a lot}, halved

2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped coarsely {I found the most GINORMOUS garlic ever, and only used about half a clove}

Olive Oil

Paprika

Salt

Pepper

Italian Seasoning

With a large stove top pan,  put it on a little higher than medium heat {the 6 notch on my stove}. When all of the sprouts have been halved, place them in a bowl and toss them in about a table spoon of olive oil {not a lot – depending on how many. Just use it to lightly coat for taste}. Add spices to taste, and toss them in the hot pan, and place a lid on top, stirring about every 3-5 minutes. Chop the garlic, and when the sprouts are about halfway cooked, throw the garlic in, too {because it cooks/burns faster}. Keep the 3-5 minute stirring going on until they have been on the stove for about 15-20 minutes, or until the middle is tender and the outside is a light brown and has a teeny bit of crunch – not too much.

Image

Image

And how easy and HEALTHY is that? I suggest next time you go on a run with your kids and their bikes, serve this up after. Everyone will feel better.

Approximate Stats {serving size: 1 Cup of Sprouts}:

Nutrition Facts
User Entered Recipe
  2 Servings
Amount Per Serving
  Calories 107.7
  Total Fat 7.2 g
  Saturated Fat 1.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 5.0 g
  Cholesterol 0.0 mg
  Sodium 2,930.2 mg
  Potassium 392.8 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 10.1 g
  Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
  Sugars 2.1 g
  Protein 3.4 g
  Vitamin A 24.4 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
  Vitamin B-6 13.8 %
  Vitamin C 127.8 %
  Vitamin D 0.0 %
  Vitamin E 8.1 %
  Calcium 5.1 %
  Copper 4.6 %
  Folate 13.7 %
  Iron 10.5 %
  Magnesium 6.3 %
  Manganese 21.1 %
  Niacin 4.2 %
  Pantothenic Acid     3.1 %
  Phosphorus     7.1 %
  Riboflavin 6.1 %
  Selenium 2.7 %
  Thiamin 9.1 %
  Zinc 3.2 %

*These statistics were found using Sparks Recipes Recipe Calculator: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

Rustic Poptarts

My children love poptarts – and I hate that. They have nearly NO vitamins {which children NEED, especially with all those germs in schools}, 9 grams of fat and 13 grams of sugar {which they definitely don’t need}. All this for just ONE cardboard-like and flavorless pastry {if you can even call it that – aren’t pastries supposed to be soft and flaky?} – you don’t even get the whole package. So, I started brainstorming and researching until I could make something healthy and delicious for my kids, because their health is so important for their growing 4 & 6 year old little bodies.

I hope that I can instill a sense of healthy eating for them at a young age, and by making these poptarts, I’m proving that home-made not only makes you stronger, but also tastes better {which is all the convincing a child needs}. They should be aware of what they are putting into their bodies and why – why it is either good or bad for them, and then when the time comes for them to make their own lifestyle choices, they have all the knowledge they need to produce healthy habits.

What you’ll need:

2 Cups of Whole Wheat or Brown Rice Flour

1 TBS of Truvia {or the equivalent of your choice of natural sugar substitute}

1 TSP of Salt

1 Cup of Fat Free I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter {or other healthy butter alternative}, cut into little squares

2 Large Eggs

2 TBS of Milk

3/4 Cup of Sugar-Free Preserves of your choice (I used Strawberry)

1 TBS of Cornstarch

1 TBS of Water

Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl, then add the butter, working it in with your hands {I don’t have a food processor… maybe someday. Hint, hint}. Work until the mixture has small lumps of butter and sticks together when pressed. Add milk and one egg until everything is viscid, then do a quick knead, divide in two parts, and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes, with a towel over the bowl.

When dough is slightly cold, but still pliable, roll it out {you can try making it into rectangles, but I found ovals or circles were much easier} until it is about 1-8 to 1/4 inch thick. Use either a circular/oval cookie cutter, knife, or pizza cutter {whichever tool you find useful} to cut into poptart-size rounds – about 3X5. It is important to make sure you have an even number – this is why we divided the dough in half {8 for each half}.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Quickly mix water with cornstarch in a separate bowl, and in a small saucepan, heat the jam and cornstarch mixture until it starts to boil. Simmer while stirring for about 3 minutes, or until your concoction thickens. Remove the saucepan from heat, and let it cool.

Beat the left over egg, and brush {about 1/4 inch thick} around the diameter of the first set of pastry rounds {this is our glue to hold the other side on}. Place a tablespoon of jam in the middle of the round. Take the other half {or the second set of pastry} and place on top. Cinch around the outside edges with a fork, pressing firmly so no jam escapes while baking. Brush egg over the entire pastry top. Repeat with the rest of the pastry rounds.

On a parchment lined baking sheet, lay the confections, separated by at least an inch between each. With a fork, make several tiny holes on the top of the pastries to let air escape.

Refrigerate again until your tarts are cold.

Bake for about 18-22 minutes {until lightly golden}. Makes about 8 treats.

And now, you have yourself an easy and enchanting “Mock”-Tart!

Here’s the stats:

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 158.9
  Total Fat 1.8 g
  Saturated Fat 0.5 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 0.6 g
  Cholesterol 46.4 mg
  Sodium 492.5 mg
  Potassium 30.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 34.3 g
  Dietary Fiber 3.7 g
  Sugars 0.4 g
  Protein 5.8 g
  Vitamin A 21.8 %
  Vitamin B-12 2.5 %
  Vitamin B-6 1.2 %
  Vitamin C 0.1 %
  Vitamin D 3.3 %
  Vitamin E 0.0 %
  Calcium 1.5 %

I get my valuable nutrition info from http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp

Zombies…

The title of this post says it all… I have a love — no, an obsession with zombies, and this weekend my husband and I went to the Zombie Crawl Downtown Denver and it was everything I expected and then some.

With the spirit of Halloween upon us {including the greenish gray skin of everyone around us}, it brought me back to a recipe that I used last year {a variation of several similar ones I found on the web} – Witches Fingers. They’re not as disgusting as one would think… Actually, quite delicious!

Simply use a basic Sugar Cookie recipe:

1 cup of softened butter

1 cup of powdered sugar

1 egg

2 teaspoons of almond extract

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

3 drops of green food coloring

3/4 cup of whole almonds

1 small tube of red cookie decorating gel

Lightly grease baking sheets {Pam works best for me} and pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the butter, sugar, egg, almond & vanilla extracts and food coloring into a large mixing bowl. Beat mixture and gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt, continually beating; refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

Scoop 1 tablespoon at a time, and with greased hands,  roll out dough until it is about 3/4 inch thick and 2 to 3 inches long. Lightly squeeze each cookie near the tip and again near the center of each to give the impression of knuckles, then press a fork or make cuts with a sharp knife to create wrinkles on the “knuckles”. Press one almond into one end of each cookie to give the appearance of a grody fingernail. Arrange the cookies on baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are slightly golden in color, 20 to 25 minutes.
After the cookies have cooled a little, remove the almond from the end of each cookie and squeeze a small amount of red decorating gel into the cavity {to make it stick and also make it look as though it’s oozing}; replace the almond to make the gel squeeze out of the sides and you have yourself a creepy confection!

{You may have noticed that there are no nutrition facts on this post. There is a reason for this – these aren’t necessarily good for you, however, they are good for your spirit. Indulging occasionally is completely acceptable… especially when you have children to please. Plus, it’s Halloween!!}