Carrot Tea Cake + 5 Tea Cakes for Spring

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A much-needed new car battery triggered the anti-theft code for the radio in my car.  Silence.  No NPR, no music.  I made a few good guesses for the code, but none of them worked.  We were left with just the sound of the windshield wipers moving robotically back and forth.  The kids were oddly quiet on the way to school.  Maybe the lack of sunshine was getting to them or maybe like a newly discovered old toy, they enjoyed the silence.  I can’t say.

I finished the drop-offs and headed home; the baby now asleep in the back seat.  The resounding silence overwhelmed me.  Thoughts drifted in and receded like the tide.  Thoughts fell like spring snow and melted away just as quickly.   No, they didn’t do any of that.  My thoughts in that long, loud moment of silence were too much to hear.  I wasn’t prepared, so I brushed them aside.

I pulled into our driveway, relieved the silence would end once I transferred the baby from the car-seat to his crib.  But it didn’t.  He slept peacefully in my arms as I unlocked the door and carried him up the stairs into his room.  Once downstairs, I checked my email, my phone, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook; all those place you check when you can’t be alone with your thoughts.  Checking into my online world didn’t make me feel any better.  I set my phone down and turned on the oven.

ctcCKIn silence, I whisked the dry ingredients, beat the butter and sugar, mixed in the eggs.  I grated the carrots and tossed them into the wet ingredients along with a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt.  I folded the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.  I spread the batter into my prepared loaf pan and popped it into the oven.  All in silence, all the while thoughts, welcomed and, some not, came and went.

Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger permeated the house and forty minutes later my carrot tea cake was ready.  After some cooling time, I topped the cake with a thick layer of maple cream cheese frosting.  And during the baking, then cooling and frosting, my sweet boy woke from his nap.  The silence, now gone, left me wondering: what’s next?

Carrot Tea Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

A moist and dense tea cake full of grated carrots and topped with a large, delicious dollop of maple cream cheese frosting.  This a perfect sweet treat for your next spring brunch.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

serves 8

Ingredients:

1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature and a bit more for the pan

1 cup white whole wheat flour (This flour will make the cake a bit more dense.  If you prefer a lighter cake, stick with all-purpose flour only.)

1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour and a bit more for the pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt ( I used Fage 2% because that is what I had on hand.)

1 cup packed grated carrots (from about 2 carrots)

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a 5×9 inch loaf pan and set aside.   In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Beat in carrots and Greek yogurt.  Turn your mixer to low and add the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  The batter will be thick, almost like cookie dough and that’s ok!

Spread batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Start checking at 35 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and spring back in the center when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then turn the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely.

While your cake is cooling, make the frosting.  Using a clean mixer, beat the cream cheese confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup until very fluffy.  Spread on top of cooled cake.  Serve or store at room temperature in an air tight container for a couple of days.  I think this cake tests best on the second day.  Enjoy!

5 Tea Cakes for Spring!

If you love Nutella, check out Zoe Bake’s recipe for Nutella swirled banana bread.  My kids will go nuts for this, if I share. 😉

Apple pie disguised as a quick bread?  Yes, it exists and I can’t wait to try it this fall with fresh, local apples.  Head to My Baking Addiction for her apple pie bread recipe.

My mom makes an amazing lemon tea bread that is very similar to Paper & Birch’s glazed lemon bread recipe.  Yum!

Summer will come eventually and when it does use up extra zucchini for my zucchini bread recipe. So good especially with a little cream cheese.

Looking for a whole-grain quick bread recipe?  Check out Babble’s whole grain strawberry banana bread!

Spring Chopped Salad + 5 Spring Salads for Mother’s Day

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I love salad, but lately I am in a salad making rut. Practically everyday, I make the same salad with the same salad dressing. The salad usually consists of mixed greens with whatever fruit or vegetables that we have sitting around. I always add goat or feta cheese, and maybe some pepitas. The salad dressing is a balsamic vinaigrette, the same one I’ve made for years. It tastes great, but my taste buds are bored. This week I felt wild. Time to shake things up, so I made a new salad: a spring chopped salad and it is awesome! (Ya, that’s how we shake things up around here. I know. Crazy, right?) My taste buds thanked me and so did Bubba!

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I saw purple asparagus at the market and had to buy it mainly because it is purple and pretty. Bubba noted its milder flavor. I agree. It is a bit milder than your typical asparagus. C loved the color and G said no thanks. (Such a polite boy!) If you see it at your local market give it a shot.

I think you could swap out whatever in season vegetables look good, but do not leave out the salami! You need the salami. The salami works so well in this salad especially when paired with cheddar, chives, mint and parsley. So don’t leave that out either.

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Be careful this salad is addictive! But hey, it’s salad. Enjoy it. The boys need me. Bye for now!

Spring Chopped Salad with Shallot + Cider Vinegar Vinaigrette

Recipe adapted by Not Without Salt

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for salad:

5 or 6 cups cut, rinsed and dried romaine, cut in 1-inch ribbons

1 bunch purple asparagus, blanched

1 cup chopped chives, mint and parsley

3 radishes, chopped

3 scallions, green parts, chopped

1 bunch green beans, blanched

1 cup garbanzo beans (If using canned, be sure to drain and rinse the beans.)

1 cup sharp cheddar, chopped

1 cup salami, chopped

1/4 cup pepitas (I didn’t toast them, but I bet they are great toasted.)

Ingredients for vinaigrette:

6 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp. finely chopped shallot

1 tsp. dried oregano

squeeze of honey

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.

Blanch asparagus and green beans and set aside. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. Season salad with a bit of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Pour vinaigrette around the bowl and toss the salad to combine. Serve immediately and enjoy!

**If you want to make this salad ahead of time do not dress it until ready to serve. Also, you can make this salad and dressing and eat it for a few days in a row; just don’t dress the entire salad. Be sure to store the salad and dressing in air tight containers in the fridge.**

5 Spring Salads for Mother’s Day

If you love arugula you should try this spring panzanella by Happy Yolks. This beautiful salad is a mix of fennel, arugula, spring peas and garbanzo beans. Yum! I bet your Mom will love it too.

Are you craving potato salad today? How about pickled spring onions and new potatoes together in a salad? Yes! Smitten Kitchen has the recipe for you. This salad looks like the perfect addition to any Mother’s Day brunch or picnic. Check it out!

I love sugar snap peas and so do the kids. This sugar pea and fennel salad by Gourmande in the Kitchen is sure to make an appearance on our dinner table this spring.

I can’t wait for Mother’s Day to make this strawberry and spinach salad by Gimme Some Oven. I want to eat this beautiful salad for lunch, today.

One of my new favorite blogs is Edible Perspective. I love Ashley’s photography and healthy recipes. Her spring salad with hemp seed dressing is sure to make your mom feel good next Sunday. Want to learn more about hemp seeds? Head here!