Zucchini and Carrot Muffins

I used to love to bake, but then my oven started acting weird and unpredictable, and nothing would ever bake right.  I pretty much stopped.  Now that I have an oven that works, though, I’m getting back to baking.  And with my zucchini from Bountiful Baskets (and then zucchini from a neighbor) I wanted to find something yummy and somewhat healthy that wouldn’t involve heating up the kitchen too much.
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Rainbow Bread (or in other words- natural food colorings!)

Once upon a time there was a crazy home baker who liked to experiment with breads. And then, while out on a walk with friends discussing potluck dishes, the idea struck to try to make rainbow bread using vegetables as the food dyes. And since this crazy baker is unable to let a crazy idea like that sit and fester, she decided to make some rainbow bread. As soon as she got home. On a very hot day (90 degrees) in a house with no AC. With the oven on at 500 degrees for several hours. Like I said, CrAzY!  Thankfully, this crazy baker had a friend who wanted to participate in the craziness, and who even had a spare KitchenAid to help speed up the process. After a full day of mixing, shaping, laughing, and baking, and giggling some more, four GINORMOUS free-form loaves of craziness emerged, just as marvelous and crazy as the crazy baker had imagined!
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Homemade Strawberry Bread by The Amish Cook

Photo and Bread by Steve Jones of SJLaRue Photography @ http://www.sjlarue.com/

Steve Jones is a fellow Photographer and PhotoTips Member and Mentor. If you check out his images you will see that he is a renowned Star Trails (Night Sky) and Avian (Bird) Photographer. He is also an amazing chef! http://www.sjlarue.com/

Steve posted this image on the PhotoTips page and obviously my eyes went straight to it! I shared it with a few fellow foodies and found out Steve was right when he said it’s BEYOND AWESOME-SAUCE!
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Whole Wheat Orange and Blueberry Cake with Orange Glaze

Whole Wheat Orange and Blueberry Cake with Orange Glaze














Whole Wheat Orange and Blueberry Cake with Orange Glaze


  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/4 C Coconut Oil
  • 1 T Orange zest
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 t Vanilla
  • 3 C whole wheat flour (1/4 cup to toss with berries)
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt (unless using salted butter)
  • 3 c fresh blue berries
  • 1 c butter milk
  • Glaze:
  • 1/2 c Fresh orange juice
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 2 c confectioners (powdered) sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter and coconut oil with Orange zest and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. Toss the blueberries with 1/4 cup of the flour
  4. Whisk the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add flour mixture to the liquid and add the buttermilk.
  6. Fold in the blueberries.
  7. Line a 9x13 baking pan with parchment and a little cooking spray or use butter and flour to coat.
  8. Spread batter into pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Use a toothpick to check for doneness. Let cool at least 15 minutes before glazing.
  9. Making the Glaze:
  10. Add 1/4 c orange juice to the confectioners sugar.
  11. Add orange zest.
  12. Mix well. Add additional orange juice if the glaze is too thick. Glaze should be pourable.
  13. Poke holes in the top with a chopstick and pour glaze over top. Don't get crazy with the glaze since it does not harden. You could add less liquid and make it more like a frosting I suppose but this thing is pretty sweet as is.

Usin’ up the Giant Yams

Only BB could get an 8 year old to HUG a yam!

When I printed up the Bountiful Basket Volunteer Site Coordinator (VSC) paperwork on Friday night I looked through and was surprised to see that we would only be receiving one yam per basket.  When I told my husband, he was equally surprised and we proceeded to have a merry (albeit disrespectful) discussion about what a family of 6 could do with ONE YAM.  However, when the boxes of yams were opened at the site the next day, all jokes of individual dollops of mashed yam were cast aside.  Oh we of little faith…we should have known Sally and Tanya would not let us down.  Instead of the long, thin, small yams we were expecting we discovered HUGE yams quickly deemed by volunteers “giant baby yams”.  Not baby because they were small mind you.  Baby because these yams are in fact the size of a newborn baby.  The whopper in the picture above weighed in at 5 lbs 6 oz (the yam, not the child).

While these ginormous yams were fun, and kept the participants and volunteers smiling all through the cold morning distribution, I will admit I felt a level of culinary intimidation when I hoisted the baby yam out of its basket and placed it on my counter.  It then sat, intimidating me for a few days before I finally decided to buckle down and do something with it.  And am I ever glad I did.  That baby yam turned into a breakfast that the whole family enjoyed.  It’s a good thing too because it made a LOT!  My Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes are both delicious and nutritious.  In fact, These are so yummy hubby not only ate them,  he volunteered to clean up (a chore which included scrubbing the orange-tinted shredder attachment).

I start off by partially baking the yam. I don’t like yam mush so I bake it to where it is “al dente”.  This allows me to run it through my Kitchen Aid shredder attachment without making puree.  Once it’s all shred it should look like this:

Shredded sweet potato (Don't let YOUR toddler mistake it for cheese)

I gently stir in diced onion, coconut flour, spices, and beaten egg.  Then I use a measuring cup to form it and gently press it into the hot coconut oil.  LOVE that sizzle!

Once they’re crispy and brown on both sides pat the pancakes down with a paper towel, serve up, and enjoy!

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes

If you have been a little intimidated by the big yam I recommend popping it in the oven and starting on these delicious Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes (you may want to have a chore in mind just in case you get appreciative helpers).   If crispy, fried, pancakes aren’t your thing (though I don’t know how they could not be) I’ve included links to other recipes that will help you get over the intimidation.  Grab that yam and get cooking!

Paleo Sweet Potato Pancakes


  • 1 Giant Baby Yam (or several normal yams…whatever)
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-2 Tbls of Coconut Flour (This is just a binder- you can use whatever flour is on hand)
  • Dash of Nutmeg (for a different flavor try smoky paprika or chili powder)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil


  1. Bake the yam at 350 for about 45 mins (varies depending on size). You do not want it to get soft all the way through. You want it cooked soft enough to pierce but staying firm enough that a knife will not go all the way through easily (think al-dente pasta)
  2. Place the yam in the fridge until it is cool enough to work with.
  3. Peel the yam. Use a box grater or the grating attachment to a mixer to grate the yam into "hashbrown" style strings. (Be careful- it mushes easily but this recipe tastes better with some texture.)
  4. Season the grated yam with the coconut flour, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. GENTLY mix in the diced onion
  6. Beat the eggs and pour into the yam mixture. Use a fork to gently toss the egg into the yam.
  7. Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  8. Spoon 1/4 cup of yam mix into the coconut oil gently pressing to spread and flatten into a pancake shape. Repeat for as many pancakes as your skillet will comfortably hold.
  9. Flip when the first side is crispy and browning.
  10. When both sides are done remove onto paper towels and sprinkle with sea salt.

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust 

Sweet Potato Praline 

Sweet Potato Biscuits  


Holiday Breakfast

I expected the first Christmas I was married to be peaceful, romantic, and special.  I had visions of my honey and I quietly sipping cocoa and exchanging gifts in our cozy little apartment, enjoying just being together, and then taking a leisurely evening trip across town to visit our loved ones and revel in the Christmas of various nieces and nephews (we were in a blissful state of kid-less-ness that I can no longer recall- no matter how hard I try).  Much to my chagrin, these newly-wed, Norman Rockwell images were far from our reality.  With two sets of divorced parents we found ourselves traveling to no less than 4 different Christmas celebrations.  All of which were hosted by well-meaning family members whose sole goal was to out-host our next stop.  I will spare you the details of the evening- rest assured it is the stuff movies are made of.  Let’s just say by the end of the night we were tired, grumpy, and FULL (seriously- how many servings of glazed ham and au-gratin potatoes can one couple be expected to eat?) We vowed that the next year would be different.

So when November rolled around and hubby gently reminded me that we needed a plan, I set to work.  After much negotiation among the families (that included a few offenses, followed by forgiveness and make-up hugs) we worked out a schedule for the big day.  Our plan worked and we had a full but joyous day of celebrations.  In fact, one of our most loved traditions came out of the plan- the family Christmas Eve breakfast.

What started as a desperate attempt to space out familial obligations, has become a festive holiday tradition that the whole clan enjoys.  We eat breakfast, exchange gifts, play a board game, and those who can spare the time head out to the movies.  Of course the key to a successful holiday party is the food and I am sure most of you will agree it’s pretty hard to go wrong with breakfast foods.  We mix things up a bit each year but have some key dishes that have probably crossed the line from tradition to requirement…it just wouldn’t be Christmas Eve without them.  I will warn you- most of these favorites are not healthy or figure-friendly.  They are fun, delicious, and comforting.  Just the thing a holiday celebration should be.

Dutch Oven Breakfast Casserole is one of those “must-haves”.  We like making it in our cast iron Dutch oven (this makes yummy, crispy edges) but really any oven-safe, deep casserole dish will work fine.  The great thing about this recipe is it can be made the night before and so all you have to do is pop it in the oven an hour or so before you are ready to serve it up.  While using fresh diced potatoes is usually my first choice I have been known to sub frozen, shredded potatoes and even Tator Tots. This Casserole tastes great on its own but is really wonderful topped with homemade salsa.

Dutch Oven Breakfast Casserole


  • 1 lb spicy chicken sausage (or any sausage you choose)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 2-4 lbs of potatoes diced or shredded
  • 12 beaten eggs
  • 1 16 oz package of cheese (we like sharp cheddar but any variety will work)
  • Sliced Green onions (optional)
  • Salt, Pepper, and chili powder (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Cook the sausage in the dutch oven on the stove top.
  3. When the sausage is brown add in the onion, garlic, and peppers and stir until tender
  4. Stir in the potatoes and cook until browned. Season as desired.
  5. Pour the beaten eggs over the potatoes and let them sink down into the potatoes
  6. Bake until the eggs are firm (about 40 mins)
  7. At this point you could cover the casserole and put it in the fridge overnight and just finish it off on the morning of your event.
  8. Sprinkle with cheese and green onions and cook until heated through and cheese is melted. (About 5 mins if still hot. Longer, and with the lid on to keep the cheese from burning, if it has been cooled in the refrigerator.)

Orange Glazed Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting are a decadent but completely necessary indulgence for Christmas Eve.  The recipe I am sharing here takes a bit of work but is TOTALLY worth it.  If you are not an experienced bread maker (and are a little intimidated to try for a big holiday) I would recommend using Rhodes frozen bread dough loaves.  (Shhh it will be our little secret.  Believe me the filling, glaze, and frosting I am sharing are so good no one will complain.)

Orange Glazed Cinnamon Rolls


  • 3 1/2 cups. warm water
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cups oil
  • 6 T. yeast (I don't use rapid rise)
  • 1 T. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 1/2 cups. flour
  • 1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Tbls Orange Zest (more if you really like this flavor)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Gently mix the warm water, sugar, oil, and yeast and let that sit for 15 minutes until nice and foamy.
  2. Use a dough hook attachment to add the yeast mixture to the salt, eggs, and flour. Mix this well for about 10 minutes, then let it sit covered with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.
  3. While you are waiting mix the brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a separate bowl.
  4. Dump out dough onto a well-floured board. Divide in half. Shape one half out into a rectangle. Spread with ¼ c. melted butter and then sprinkle on the sugar mixture- be sure to go close to all the edges.
  5. Roll up tight, but not too tight. Divide into 12 rolls using a pastry cutter or kitchen floss and place on greased cookie sheet. Repeat with other half of dough.
  6. Let rise (about one hour).
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 400.

While the rolls are cooling top them with the orange glaze of your choice.  I always seem to have my favorite Orange Vanilla Jam  on hand thanks to my great BB citrus add-ons.  I thin some of that out with a little water and then brush it on.  If you do not want to go to the work of making the jam just mix some orange juice with a little bit of powdered sugar and some vanilla until you get a glazey consistency and brush that on.  Then, while the rolls are still warm add dollops of the cream cheese frosting.  If you are like me you will need a little extra container of the frosting- like that famous food court favorite but WAY, WAY better!

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 5 Tbls butter, softened
  • 1 Tbls Orange Juice
  • 1 Tbls grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar


  1. Combine the sugar and the zest and set aside.
  2. Beat the cream cheese, butter, and orange juice until smooth.
  3. Add the confectioners' sugar a bit at a time beating after each addition.
  4. Scrape the bowl as needed and keep beating until the frosting is desired consistency.

Virginia’s Festive Fruit Salad is one of those dishes that you will either love or loathe.  The family is split on this one but those in the “Love” camp will not let a holiday pass by without it.  (I will not sway you in one direction or another by telling you my position on the fruit salad- you’ll just have to try it for yourself)

Holiday Breakfast


  • 2 cans mandarin oranges
  • 1 cans pineapple tidbits
  • 1 jar maraschino cherries
  • 3-4 bananas sliced
  • 2-3 apples diced
  • Grapes
  • Chopped Nuts
  • Sour Cream (8oz)
  • Shredded coconut
  • mini marshmallows


  1. Drain the canned oranges and pineapple.
  2. Save the juice in a big bowl and add in the diced apples and the bananas.
  3. After that has sat for a few minutes, drain it and reserve 2-3 tbls of the juice.
  4. Gently mix all of the fruit together.
  5. Whip the sour cream and the reserved juice and then fold into the fruit mixture.
  6. Gently fold in shredded coconut (we like lots), nuts, and mini marshmallows.
  7. Top with more nuts and coconut

Rudolph’s Red Smoothies are a fun way to get some fruit into the morning menu and the kiddos absolutely love them.  The key to making these really special is to top them with a nice dollop of whipped cream, sprinkle that with cinnamon to get a brown reindeer tint, and then place a halved cherry or red berry in the middle so Rudolph’s nose will shine away.  Top it off with two little chocolate or pretzel stick antlers and mini chocolate chip eyes.  It’s generally warm enough in Las Vegas to enjoy these smoothies throughout the holidays.  If you live in a colder climate this could easily be done with Hot Cocoa.



  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1/2 cup cherries
  • (or 1 1/2 cups of the red fruits of your choice)
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup yogurt of your choice
  • 1 cup milk or milk alternative
  • (you can also use 1 1/2 cups kefir in place of the yogurt and milk)
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes (unless this is made using frozen fruits in which case I don't find much need for the ice)
  • 2 small pretzel sticks


  1. Blend together the fruits, yogurt, milk, and ice.
  2. Top with whipped cream.
  3. Sprinkle with cinnamon and set a "red nose" (cherry, or raspberry) in the middle.
  4. Set two pretzel sticks at the top for Rudolph's antlers

The family Christmas Eve breakfast is a tradition that we happened to stumble upon but I am so glad that we did.  It is one of our most treasured moments each year.  I hope that this holiday season will find you making room for the moments that count.  Scramble up a casserole, snuggle up to a Rudolph smoothie, and gather the family for a breakfast tradition you will never forget.

Conventional Basket Recipe Round-Up for 12-01-12

Vegetarian Recipes are marked with a (v)

(V) James Beard's AMAZING Persimmon Bread from David Lebovits (contains alcohol in the recipe)

(v) Ginger Persimmon Bread from Joy the Baker (non-alcoholic)

(v) Persimmon Chiffon Pie from Food52

(v) Banana Papaya Pie from Food.com

Papaya Chicken from the Cooking Channel

(v) Chilled Caribbean Red Papaya and Watermelon Soup from Tasty Kitchen.com

Garlic and Sausage stuffed Mushrooms from Allrecipes.com

(v) Mushroom Tikka Masala from Rasa Malaysia

(v) Balsamic Glazed Roasted Carrots from Crumb

Cantaloupe Agua Fresca from Chow

(v) Broccoli and Potato Pancakes from The Family Kitchen

(v) Broccoli and Cheddar Gougères from The Family Kitchen

Cuckoo For CoCoNut (Oil that is)

The last two months have brought about great changes in my kitchen. We have recently discovered that many of my 7-year-old’s chronic pain issues are due to numerous, severe allergies- both food and environmental. I was already committed to having a “non-processed” pantry and she was already gluten-free so I thought I had the home-cooking lifestyle down pat. But the discovery of allergies to all grains, many fruits and vegetables, and to other basics including olive oil and raw local honey, really set my mind whirling. So much of what I thought was healthy was in fact hurting her. Though I was truly grateful to finally get some answers for my girl I felt depressed, overwhelmed, and totally ill equipped for the task at hand. But, being a somewhat plucky, hard-to-keep-down kind of gal, I quickly got over my pity party and did the best thing I could do. I started to research and started to get into the kitchen and experiment.
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A Most Versatile Vegetable

Can you name one vegetable that can be used in lasagna, banana bread, oatmeal, rice, potatoes, mac n cheese, icing, cake, pizza crust, “tater” tots (cauli-tots?), in curries, Alfredo sauce and more and never (or hardly) be noticed? Is there such a vegetable?

I’ll give you a hint– it was in last weeks’ and this week’s basket.

And it’s white.

And it can be crunchy, soft, or creamy.

It is also a nutritional powerhouse, being a low-fat, low-carb, high-fiber vegetable with Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese, to just start!

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