Tag Archives: health

Chocolate Chip Carrot Muffins

I need to learn to wear an apron. I have one. It’s colorfully striped and my mom gave it to me several years ago. Do I ever think to put it on when I’m about to make a huge mess in the kitchen? No. It sits in a drawer right in front of me while oil spatters on my shirt an little flecks of tomato sauce make their way onto anything white that I might be wearing. I should really wear the apron while I’m eating, for that matter, since balsamic vinegar and pasta sauce rarely make it to my mouth without leaving a drop here and there.


When I started grating the carrots for this recipe I remembered my apron, got it out of the drawer, and put it on. No carrot juice left it’s mark on me!

Now for the muffins. It’s been a while since I’ve baked my favorite treat. The time was right for muffins this morning. I was craving chocolate after breakfast (who doesn’t?) so I shuffled through some cookbooks and my recipe box for a chocolate chip vehicle. A recipe for Carrot Cake Bars came up as the winner. I’ve made these bars many times before and they always satisfy my craving for carrot cake without making me feel too guilty if I eat several a day.

How did bars become muffins, you ask? I don’t have the right pan to make bars and muffins come pre-portioned. I swapped out raisins with chocolate chips and made the recipe vegan, since Lee ate the last eggs this morning. Necessity is the mother of invention!

Hot from the oven with melting chocolate chips in every bite, these satisfied my chocolate craving. I love how oats give muffins crunchy tops and chewy centers!


C is for carrot. C is for chocolate: Muffins on a cute little plate from my grandmother.

Chocolate Chip Carrot Muffins

Adapted from Cooking Light

2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter or vegetable oil*
3/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk*
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons ground flax seed + 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice, because it’s yummy)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated carrot
Handful semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine ground flax seed with water. Set aside.
In a medium bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar and butter (or oil).
Add the milk, flax mixture, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, oats, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring gently until just combined.
Fold in grated carrot and chocolate chips.
Spoon into muffin pan lined with paper or silicone liners or into silicone liners on a baking sheet. (I filled 10 silicone cups about 3/4 full and the batter rose just to the tops of the cups when baked.)

Bake at 350 F. for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are crispy and brown.

Next up: The sourdough loaf I’ve been baking but still haven’t captured on film? ICE CREAM in my new ice cream maker? I know, maybe some sourdough waffles in my untested waffle iron. I’m sure all these things will make it to the blog eventually!


Filed under muffins

Back to Baking

…not that I ever stopped.


It’s summer in California and I am enjoying every foggy morning turned sunny afternoon! Running up and down the Napa hills is giving me great morning workouts. I have a bike and a car to get around and there is so, so much to see and do here!

The first priority is finding an apartment. Lee and I are looking at our favorite candidate this evening so I have my fingers crossed that we get this place and don’t have to keep playing the San Francisco housing game. All I want is a good-sized (as in not tiny) kitchen, preferably with a gas stove, and a place to sleep.

Once we have a place to live, I’ll pick up the job search again. Does anyone know of a bay area museum that’s hiring for entry-level anything? Until I find employment, I’ll find a place to volunteer in the area and do as much blogging as I can! That doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend a few months!

I dove right back into cooking as soon as I got back to the mainland. After a short stint in a hotel on St. Kitts while Lee and I put the boat away I was ready for some home cooking in a real kitchen. My first stop was my mom’s house in Seattle, where I wanted to pick up my car and spend a little quality time with my mother. We had a great week cooking together, visiting her favorite Seattle restaurants, and taking in some culture.

My aunt was visiting as well and the three of us drove to nearby home of some long-time family friends for one night. The baker in that family was generous enough to share his sourdough starter with my mom and me! We brought home a generous portion, which we grew and then divided in half when I left for California. This 10+ year old starter is a treasure that I hope to craft into delicious bread in my own kitchen.

Not only did our friend share his starter with us, he also made us his famous Swedish Pancakes for breakfast! My parents used to make this recipe when I was growing up but I haven’t cut into a gooey, sweet Swedish pancake for years. They were better than I remembered them and I watched closely to pick up the proper cooking technique. These delicious breakfast treats will definitely be appearing on this blog soon!

At my mom’s house, our baking endeavors included a hearty polenta bake (for which I will have to find the recipe), rosemary walnut bread with fresh rosemary from the garden, and a yogurt cake that starred as dessert with strawberries and vanilla sugar.


Unfortunately I didn’t use a recipe when I made the rosemary walnut bread. I loosely followed this one and added some chopped fresh rosemary and chopped walnuts before the final rise. The result was quite good considering I’ve never experimented with adding ingredients like that to bread before. The rosemary flavor was wonderful with the chewy wheat bread and it was a great accompaniment to dinner at our friends’ house.

For dessert, this yogurt cake was too tempting for even our full bellies to resist. I couldn’t resist a cake recipe that called for plain yogurt, one of my favorite staples that I always have in the fridge. I added lemon zest to the original recipe because I thought a summery flavor would be nice. My mom, my aunt, and I picked up a few boxes of fresh strawberries at a local stand to serve with the cake. Nothing says summer like cake and berries!

I didn’t have my camera with me on this adventure so I wasn’t able to photograph the cake and berries. I did snap a few pictures of both the cake and the bread when they came out of the oven!


Simple Yogurt Cake
From Whole Foods Market

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup cane sugar 3 large eggs
1/3 cup expeller-pressed canola oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups fresh berries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Oil a 9-inch cake pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Oil the paper, too; set the pan aside. (I used a square cake pan, as you can see)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together yogurt, sugar, eggs, oil, almond extract and vanilla extract.
Gently whisk flour mixture into yogurt mixture just until blended and smooth.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and top has formed a thin crust.
The cake should be just firm in the center when done. (I think I slightly overcooked my cake so check it after 35-40 minutes)
Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cake from pan and peel off parchment paper. Continue cooling on a rack.
Slice and serve with berries.


Filed under desserts, inspiration and musings