Food | Kids

Carrot Cake Muffins

By on March 16, 2018

It’s one of my favorite seasons – carrot cake season! That’s a thing, right? My favorite carrot cake recipe is from the Silver Palate Cookbook, the use of pureed carrots and crushed pineapple really takes it to the next level. I used this recipe as inspiration since I’ve been on a muffin kick lately as a great way to use up a few ingredients and make a homemade snack even my toddler enjoys. Muffins are really just less-sugary versions of cake, and after a few trials I ended up with this delicious carrot cake muffin recipe that is both adult and kid approved – no frosting necessary!

Carrot Cake Muffin

Carrot cake is supposed to be dense and bursting with flavor. I’ve never really cared for carrot cakes that have shredded carrot, I find that you don’t get the full carrot flavor, instead you end up with dried out carrot pieces throughout your cake.

Cooking and pureeing the carrots might seem like an unnecessary step but believe me, it’s key. To take some of the day-of work out, feel free to cook, puree, and the freeze your carrots beforehand. I keep ice cube sized chunks of pureed carrot in the freezer to add to the kiddo’s smoothies, so I just pull a few of those out and left them defrost in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight before making these muffins (or carrot cake). Then it’s just a matter of throwing the ingredients together, which is easy as pie… errr, cake… or in this case, muffins!

Carrot Cake Muffins

You don’t even need a mixer to throw these little guys together just a plain old bowl and spoon, although you do have to dirty your blender to make sure the carrots and pineapple are nice and smooth. Repeat after me: it’s worth it. When you pull these bad boys out of the oven you are going to thank me.

Carrot Cake Muffins

Carrot Cake Muffins

Carrot Cake Muffin Photoshoot

Carrot Cake MuffinsCarrot Cake Muffin

3/4 c carrots, cooked
1/2 c crushed pineapple, drained
2 tbsp juice from pineapple can
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c butter, melted
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp shredded coconut (optional)

Steam carrots until fork tender, drain and cool. Add carrots, pineapple, pineapple juice, and applesauce to food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with liners.

In small bowl combine all purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl (or stand mixer) mix together brown sugar and butter. Add in egg and mix on low to medium speed until fully incorporated, stir in vanilla. Pour in carrot, pineapple, & applesauce mixture and continue to mix on low to medium (if using, add in coconut). Mix in dry ingredients on low just until combined.

Fill each muffin liner 2/3 to 3/4 full. Bake in preheated oven for 17-20 minutes for standard sized muffins and 20-25 minutes for larger muffins, or until tester comes out clean. Cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes then remove to rack. Once completely cool, store in airtight container.


Thinking about Easter and how to celebrate with the little ones? Here are some Easter basket and egg ideas, and if you’re in need of something to put those goodies in, this is a great roundup of adorable Easter baskets.

*this post contains affiliate links, see my disclosure policy for more information*

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Food | Home

Create the Perfect Date Plate

By on February 9, 2018

Create the Perfect Date Plate for your at-home date night (or party!) -

After years of dating my -now- husband and I have realized that when we go out to eat our favorite way to order is to just get a bunch of small plates to share, and we always start with a meat and cheese plate. Eventually we just started to do at home (because, hello, cheaper!) and now we call it a date plate.

Date plates are perfect because they encourage grazing and chatting (and sipping wine!), there is something for everyone, and -the best part- there is little to no cooking involved. Bonus: my toddler also loves date plate nights, apparently eating off a shared plate is second only to eating right off of mom or dad’s plate.

Creating the perfect date plate is all about mixing tastes and textures. You’ll want a few of each: cheese, meat, fruit, bread, nuts, spreads/dips, and any other vegetable or extra. It’s also fun to go shopping for ingredients together – and no need for this to be an expensive endeavor: buy in small quantities. Check the specialty cheese section of your local grocery store for smaller portions (there’s usually a basket of leftovers that have much smaller pieces), and see if your deli counter has cured meats then you can grab slices rather than buying the whole package. The salad bar and olive bar will have an assortment of little goodies so swing by those too. Below is a typical run down of our date plate “ingredients”.

Anatomy of a Date Plate -


Date Plate for 2:
Soft Cheese – like brie or camembert
Hard Cheese – I love to try a new sheep’s milk cheese but manchego is always a safe bet
Sharp/Bold Cheese – an aged cheddar or a blue cheese if you’re into that sort of thing
Prosciutto – plain and simple
Spicy or Flavored Salami – so many good infusions out there, get creative!
Something “Easy” i.e. soft and mild – like coppa or maybe a cured beef!
Nuts – 1-2 kinds, start plain and then add in candied or spiced nuts
Grapes – and berries too
Spreads/Dips – aim for at least one savory (like mustard) and one sweet (like honey)
Breads – you need a vehicle for all that yumminess, try any kind of baguette, crackers, or toasts
Extras: dried fruit, olives, marinated vegetables, pickles, bruschetta etc. (our absolute favorite is a side of artichokes)

…and don’t forget a little oil & balsamic vinegar for dipping.

Create the Perfect Date Plate for a party or at-home date night!

You guys, it’s so easy and can really be a full meal -feels fancy with very little work, which is pretty much the best thing ever.


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Hearty Stovetop Chili

By on February 6, 2018

I don’t know about you, but it’s still winter here and despite there being little to no snow on the ground the temps are still freezing and I need a winter pick-me-up! There was really only one option that would perfectly fit the bill: chili.

Hearty Stovetop Chili -


I think we can all agree that chili ranks right up there towards the top of the list of comfort foods. It’s warm, filling, and consumes your kitchen with deliciousness while it simmers on the stove.

For me, it goes beyond that; chili reminds me of my Grandfather. It was one of the foods he loved to make, and he always made a pot when we came to visit. For years I made his recipe, but eventually started to play with it. Below is the result, and I think it’s *superb* if I do say so myself.

The secret I found that lifted my Grandfather’s chili into superb territory is the addition of salsa. It adds a kick of flavor without having to add a bunch of different extra ingredients. Pair it with some sweet cornbread and you’ve got the perfect meal to warm up with on a cold winter day.

Hearty Stovetop Chili from


Hearty Stovetop ChiliHearty Stovetop Chili

1lb ground beef
1 medium white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15oz) can dark red kidney beans
1 (15oz) can light red kidney beans
2/3 cup salsa*

3-4 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In large pan over medium-high heat, brown ground beef. While the beef is browning, open both cans of beans and rinse them in a colander, pour diced tomatoes in the same colander to drain.

Then, drain off excess fat and set meat aside in a bowl. In same pan, sauté onion until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in garlic and sauté just until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Stir the ground beef back into the pan and sprinkle the salt over the mixture.

Add in the remaining ingredients (tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, beans, salsa and spices). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil. then cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer 1.5-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

For best results: around the 1 hour mark, taste test and add in additional chili powder, cayenne pepper, and/or salt & pepper as needed. Note: as the chili sits it will get spicier, so watch your cayenne pepper if you plan on having leftovers!

Serve warm with a little cheddar cheese on top (plus sour cream if you’re feeling it), and a side of corn bread.

*Use basic, jarred, store-bought salsa. Steer clear of fresh/pico de gallo varieties, that isn’t the flavor we’re going for here.  I usually use mild to medium Pace or La Victoria – whatever is on sale. 


Hearty Stovetop Chili -

I know the new year is all about healthy eating and changing habits, blah blah blah, and this chili doesn’t masquerade as a calorie-free salad but it’s exactly what I needed today! After this chili is gone ::ahem, probably in less than 24 hours:: I’m going to be looking for some more comfort food – what’s your favorite dish to make when the temperature dips down?

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