Cake · Recipes · Sweets

Hoppy’s Favorite Carrot Cake

In High School, I had a teacher who would occasionally go off topic. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Don’t all high school teachers do that? Yes. But this teacher was especially talented at it. To make a long story short, they bounced out of their seat one day and wrote a carrot cake recipe on the board. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t remember. All I know is that this teacher wrote down a recipe for one of my favorite desserts ever, and I studiously wrote it down.

That said, I’ve never actually made this recipe before, because this is no ordinary carrot cake. The teacher absolutely vouches for it, but it’s “healthy”. You know what I mean. Unconventional ingredients. Nothing too outlandish, just a couple different types of flour. This teacher loved exercise as much as you probably love food, so I think they came up with this recipe as a way to indulge without ruining their fitness efforts. Trust me, though, when I say I wouldn’t share a recipe without thinking that it’s worthy of being shared. Let me know if you try it out!

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Hoppy’s Favorite Carrot Cake

Ingredients:*

1 ½ cups spelt flour
½ cup almond flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice? (their handwriting was hard to read here… all I know is there were two L’s next to each other)
1 cup sugar (or stevia)
1/3 jar applesauce
3 eggs
1 bag raisins
2 grated carrots
1/4 cup walnuts (smashed – optional)

*Note: You can’t have a carrot cake without cream cheese frosting, but I don’t have one to recommend to you yet. Stay tuned, and comment the link to the frosting recipe you used!

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, cloves, and cinnamon.
  • In a larger bowl, combine the applesauce, eggs, sugar, raisins, walnuts, and carrots.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just mixed.
  • Bake in a greased pan. Hoppy didn’t say for how long, so you’ll have to go by when it smells done until I test this out myself. At least 15 minutes, likely more.
  • Once it has cooled, frost generously with the cream cheese frosting of your choice.

 

Family Favorites · Soup

Crockpot Chicken Chili

After a long day at church, you don’t want to get out a chopping board. You want to eat something right away. That’s the thinking behind this simple, cooks-in-the-crockpot-all-day soup.

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We’ve eaten this meal so many times, I actually got tired of eating it.

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Of course, it didn’t take long before I wasn’t tired of it anymore. And if you try this recipe, you’ll find out why.

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Crockpot Chicken Chili

Makes: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts
3 cups chicken broth
2 cans white beans (don’t drain)
1 cup frozen corn
1 tbsp olive oil
minced garlic (optional)
banana peppers (or any diced spicy peppers – optional)
squeeze of fresh lemon
1 tbsp salt
(Shredded cheese and tortilla chips to garnish, optional)

Instructions:

    •    Put all ingredients into a crockpot and stir.
    •    Cook on low heat for 6-7 hours.
    •    Remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat.
    •    Put the chicken back in the crockpot.
    •    Stir and serve. Garnish with cheese and tortilla chips.

Breakfast · Recipes

Mom’s Oatmeal Cinnamon Pancakes

Your mom probably surprised you with pancakes on some mornings too, right?

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SURPRISE!!!

My mom is the pancake queen. It’s not that we have pancakes often, it’s just that when we do, she tries out a new recipe each time. In the same way that you can’t strike gold without digging through a bunch of piles of dirt, you can’t find the perfect pancake recipe without trying out gazillions of boring recipes.

Thanks to my mom, the work’s been done for you. These pancakes will blow your mind taste buds. You don’t have to chop any fruit. You don’t have to use truckloads of sugar. You don’t even have to use white flour. You can use milk, buttermilk, or yogurt depending on what you’ve got in your fridge. Basically, I should stop describing it and just hand over the recipe. That’s what you came here for, right?

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Mom’s Oatmeal Cinnamon Pancakes

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats
2 cups buttermilk (or yogurt or milk)
1 tbsp canola oil
2 eggs
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1–1 ½ cups flour (whole wheat optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk and let stand for 2 minutes.
  • Beat in the oil, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  • Heat a large, slightly oiled pan at medium heat. Pour ¼ cup of batter for each pancake and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.

 

 

Recipes · Soup

Mexican Butternut Squash Soup

First of all, I apologize for using “Mexican” as a descriptor. The only thing remotely “Mexican” about this is the jalapeño. Why didn’t I just say “spicy”? Because it doesn’t actually make the soup spicy. It just gives it a fabulously interesting flavor. Just ask my mom. She couldn’t tell there was an entire jalapeño in it until I told her, and she has low tolerance for spiciness.

The basic recipe is nothing more than something I pulled out of a cook book on the kitchen shelf, on a day I didn’t feel like roaming Pinterest for 20 minutes just to find the Perfect Recipe. Because sometimes when you have a butternut squash, you just want to eat it as soon as physically possible, with whatever recipe you can find first.

The jalapeño went in on a whim. We bought a couple of them recently, inspired by living in a Spanish-speaking country, and I’ve been trying to find ways to use them up before they go bad. Could you make this soup without the hot pepper? Yes. But will it be half as good? No. Just trust me on this. Use the jalapeño.

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Mexican Butternut Squash Soup

Makes: 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

3 tbsp butter or oil
1 small onion (or 1/2 of a large onion), diced
3 tsp powdered ginger
1 butternut squash, baked in the oven at 350°F for an hour (or until soft), with the seeds scooped out and the skin peeled off
1 fresh jalapeño, de-seeded (the seeds are the spiciest part — if you touch them without gloves on, do not rub your eye unless you want lowkey pepperspray sensations on your face)
4 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
A pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Heat butter or oil in a pot, then sauté the onions in it until soft.
  • Add the ginger and stir, cooking a little more.
  • Add the butternut squash, jalapeño, and 3 of the cups of broth. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Blend the mixture, either by pouring it into a blender or by using one of those handheld blender things. Make sure to pulverize it really well.
  • Pour the mixture back into the pot and add the other 1 cup of broth, as well as a pinch of salt.
  • Stir it all up and heat for a couple more minutes, until you’re ready to eat.

 

Cookies · Family Favorites · Recipes · Sweets

Dad’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

While he was on his mission, my dad didn’t stop eating cookies. I’m sure the thought never even crossed his mind. Instead, at the very front of his little grey mission notebook, he wrote down what he could remember from his mom’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. The page is yellowed like an ancient document, spotted with the brown stains of being used constantly over the years. There are more recipes underneath it and on the other side of the page, but none of them quite compare to the omnipotence of this cookie. Wait, why am I describing it when you can see for yourself?

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There it is. The ultimate recipe. Simplicity combined with chocolate and light, fluffy chewiness.

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Photographic evidence. Now you *have* to make it.

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(My brother made a batch for school and put them in a plastic bag, hence the shiny bit.)

Funny story time. Once when my brother was very small, we had fish for dinner. Afterwards, we made dad’s chocolate chip cookies together. My toddler brother picked up a container full of leftover fish parts and dumped it right into the cookie bowl. It wasn’t very funny at the time. We didn’t eat it. We didn’t give up, either. We simply started over, keeping all fish entrails out of reach this time. No one and nothing can stop my family from eating homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Not even fish entrails.

And with that, let’s take a look at the real recipe. The one in the photo is almost perfect, but it has too much salt and is a little vaguer than I’d like.

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Dad’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes: 3 dozen

Ingredients:

1 & 1/3 cups butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 & 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 bag chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together.
  • Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
  • Add the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • Stir the dry stuff together, then stir it together with the wet stuff until everything is well combined.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips. Taste the batter.
  • Put cookie-sized balls of the dough onto a well-greased (or parchment paper covered) baking pan, spaced evenly apart
  • Bake for 5-10 minutes.
Family Favorites · Recipes · Soup

Mom’s Beef Stew

Quick, think of a meal you ate all the time when you were a kid! Was it beef stew?

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No? Well, it was for me. And now that I’m old enough to actually operate a kitchen, I got to see how it’s made. It’s surprisingly easy. Just imagine bite-sized pieces of steak soaked in broth with carrots, potatoes, and celery.

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(Oh wait, you don’t have to imagine it)

I can’t think of anything in the world more ordinary and satisfying.

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Mom’s Beef Stew

Makes: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

1 pound beef flank, round or sirloin steak – cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 cups celery
1 tbsp garlic powder
6 cups water
3 tbsp instant beef bouillon
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano leaves
1 tbsp dried chives
2 tbsp ground marjoram
1 tsp salt
½ cup flour
½ cup water

Instructions:

  • In a large soup pot, bring 1/4 cup of water to boil.
  • Add the onions, celery, and garlic powder. Sauté until soft.
  • Add the steak and cook until browned.
  • Pour in the rest of the water, bouillon, vegetables, and spices, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are soft.
  • Combine the flour and ½ cup water in a small bowl or cup, making sure to get out any lumps. Stir a little of the stew broth into the flour mixture, then pour the flour mixture into the stew.
  • Let simmer until the stew thickens.
Breakfast · Recipes · Snacks

Rewe’s Yogurt Muesli Cup

When you start a blog, you have to ask yourself what you’re going to post first. For me, this moment is the deciding factor in whether the blog actually happens or not. More often than not, I freeze at the idea of writing a post worthy of my plans for the blog. Will it be good enough? Will it be interesting enough?

Well, enough of that. Instead of some intro-post or something, I’ll dive straight into the creative stuff that inspired starting this blog in the first place.

Namely, the Yogurt Muesli Cup.

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For years I lived within walking distance of a grocery store called “Rewe”. Kinda overpriced, but convenient. And every time I walked through the fresh foods section, I’d have one eye on this cup of goodness right here. Not only does it have no-gross-sugar-added German muesli and yogurt, but it’s brimming with nuts and sliced fruit. Once or twice I’d volunteer to walk the dog just so I could buy one of these and eat it on the way home…

Here’s the ingredients list, copied studiously from the back of the cup:

  • White and red raisins
  • Cashews,
  • Brazil nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • 3.5% fat yogurt
  • 3.5% fat milk
  • Muesli*
  • Banana slices
  • Unpeeled apple chunks
  • Pear chunks
  • Grape halves

For some reason the ingredients list also mentioned percentages, so here those are too:

    • 18% nuts and milk and yogurt
    • 45% muesli
    • 37% fruit

There you have it! My favorite breakfast food ever. Or snack. Or dessert. Don’t forget to post pictures if you make it yourself!

*Note: Muesli over there is not what it is in America. American muesli is like eating tiny, hopelessly crunchy cookies made out of grains held together by sugar. If you want to get this right, either use German / Swiss muesli (I saw it at Walmart once… or you can order it online at German sites), or mix together some of these yourself:

  • Rolled oats
  • Random dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apricot, etc)
  • Chopped dates and/or coconut flakes
  • Other grains and seeds, such as sunflower seeds, barley, sesame seeds, puffed rice, cornflakes
  • Chopped nuts, such as almond slices, walnut pieces, hazelnuts, etc
  • This doesn’t work in a yogurt cup per se, but I’ve seen muesli with chocolate chunks