Back to the blog – Part II, {Plus Zucchini Pound Cake!}

zucchini pound cake

We’ve got cake!

Far overdue, in my humble opinion, because this baby arrived in my kitchen back in May, it just never made it to the posting stage, because, well, you know – life.

As I type, I’m actually a little concerned I won’t be able to find my little notepaper where I scribbled my itsy bitsy changes. The bottom line is, it’s a Joy The Baker recipe, and there’s really never a need to change any of her cakes. Or doughnuts. Or pumpkin scones. They’re pretty much perfect. The girl knows her sugar/butter/egg combos. The only reason I changed anything at all had much, much more to do with what I had on hand than it had to do with necessity to alter anything. (If you love to bake and haven’t bought either Joy the Baker Cookbook yet, you probably should. At least one. Right now.)

But before we get to the recipe (just scroll to the bottom if you’re too antsy to wait!), I’ll finish the catch-up game:

Food? I spent nearly all of my internet trips back here revisiting old recipes – like shredded beef sandwiches, burritos, and roasted chicken. I also repeatedly searched for my Chimichurri recipe – which I now realize I need to post – because it’s not here. Posts I’m sure need to happen at some point? Buttermilk Biscuits, Chimichurri (I like redundency. I like redundency. (That’s a joke. Clearly.)), Asian chicken lettuce wraps, Sauteed corn with lime and cilantro and a delightful Mexican cheese whose name eludes me at this particular moment, and a dreamy fried french toast we had this morning. . . .

Art?  Why do I feel like such a poser when I write about this? I feel like an imposter trying to be an artist. It’s been so long since I’ve been fully immersed in it – 16 years, actually.  I feel genuine satisfaction in creating again, yet, at the same time I feel such anxiety over what people might think of me and the  crappy (< that’s the mean voice in my head) art I’m making. I’ve partially trained, yes, but not totally. I’m learning as I go all over again. There is a huge shame factor I’m going to need to overcome if I’m going to progress at all. I enjoy making art; it brings me peace. I feel at the same time like I know it, but I still have so incredibly much to learn. I love the way I feel when I make it, and I want to work on projects for hours and hours and hours. Until I make something I hate and then I crash and burn and loathe it all and want to crumple it up and thwack it into the trash can. No, not really, (kind-of really) but there is a true and real depression to sludge through when I can’t make something work. In fact, I currently hate this painting:

unfinished abstract

And I was dissappointed by this outcome.

rock sketchbook


They were just practice. The painting is unfinished, and well, there’s no reason I can’t still work on the sketch. #worksinprogress.  I’m trying to find what’s mine by trying out what I see elsewhere, by taking classes, by experimenting to see what feels good to me. What comes naturally? What is satisfying? What makes me feel happy when I’m finished with it? What do I want to know how to do that I don’t know how to do? What is it that feeds me and brings me the most joy and in turn will feed others and bring them joy too? I’m still searching. . . . I imagine it’s a long, long journey that never really ends.

Speaking of never ending . . . ramble!

Enough about all this. Let’s make cake and we’ll finish catching up when our mouths are full of confection.

Part III coming next. . . .

Zucchini Pound Cake with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese (& Sour Cream) Frosting

This cake is delicious, homey, and like Joy describes, almost grandmotherly. You really don't even need the frosting if you feel like skipping that step. The original recipe is divine. I only changed this because 1) I always feel the need to substitute whole wheat flour when I can, and 2) poor planning meant I ran out of cream cheese and had to substitute sour cream in the frosting - however - it still turned out to be an incredible crowd pleaser. So, enjoy it either way. You can find the original recipe in Joy's book, the Joy the Baker Cookbook, 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes.


    For the Cake:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • For the Frosting:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream (plus 1 more, if necessary for texture)
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (plus more, if needed for texture)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


For the Cake:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside. (Grease well! Make sure there is no spot left un-buttered, or it will spell doom for your cake!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition, then add vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, pour in the melted butter and increase speed to medium-high to beat until velvety smooth, about 3 minutes.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture, all at once, to the mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a spatula to fold in the zucchini, and incorporate the rest of the flour. The batter will be thick, not pourable.

Spoon batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When completely cool, frost the entire cake with frosting, recipe below.

For the Frosting:

Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the cream cheese for about 1 minute, ensuring that it is soft and pliable. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the softened butter to the bowl. Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 1 minute, until thoroughly combined. Add in 2 tablespoons of the sour cream and mix again until well combined and smooth.. Add dark brown sugar to the cream cheese mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer on low and add the salt and 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar, followed by the vanilla.Beat until almost incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. Beat on medium speed until all the powdered sugar has disappeared and mixture is velvety soft. If the frosting is too firm, add a couple teaspoons of sour cream to soften it up. If it appears too wet, add more powdered sugar by the tablespoon until you reach your desired consistency. Remember, it will firm up some once it is refrigerated. Use immediately by spreading over cake.

Store frosted cake in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.


Adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook, by Sara|Home is Where the Cookies Are


Almond Poppy Seed Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins with Brown Butter Glaze

Let me tell you a few things:

1. I’m sitting here in my black (velour? maybe fake velvet. . . ) sweat pants circa 2001 aka, pregnancy numero tres. What can I say? I have a hard time letting go of faves.

2. Oreos now makes MEGA STUF cookies. What?! Continue reading

Snickerdoodle Cupcake Cookies


Snickerdoodle cupcake cookies, bite size cookies in cupcake form, filled with delicious spiced buttercream frosting.Urgh.

I keep writing, deleting. Writing, deleting.



I just can’t seem to pull something together.

Mostly, I think, it’s because there is an ongoing skirmish simmering low inside me.

It’s all about Christmas, and no matter how much I want to ignore it, I can’t deny that there are two sides to this story – and they both are hunting down prime real estate in my heart. Continue reading

Almost Vegan Chocolate Cake (with black beans and avocado. . . oh, and tofu.)

Okay, wha?

I can hear you all.

And I can see your noses all scrunched up like you all want NOTHING to do with this cake.

But don’t be fooled!

Well, don’t be fooled in either direction. I can’t claim it’s “healthy” because there’s no lying about the sugar content, BUT it’s got some healthy stuff in it – and not a lot of fat.

But also, don’t be fooled that it’s a pile of yucky grossness either, because it’s certainly not.

And, well, it’s not a knock-your-socks off-dang!-this-is-the-best-freakin-cake-i’ve-ever-eaten chocolate cake either.

But I will tell you what it IS:

  • It is a cake that requires a tall glass of milk, or a steaming cup of coffee as a dining partner, because it might stick to the roof of your mouth, or your teeth – which is perfectly fine by me.
  • It is an unusual textural combination between a cake, a bread, and a brownie.
  • It is chewy, thick, and dense – therefore a small slice is rightly satisfying.
  • The frosting is rich and flavorful.
  • It is a cake that calls your name from the other room when you’re vegged out on the couch at 10pm watching TV and your stomach starts to growl.
  • It’s “earthy”, as my middle guy put it. . . . Am I rubbing off on them?
  • “It’s good for having all that weird stuff in it” – as all the boys put it.

Continue reading

Orange Cream (and White Bean) Bundt Cake

Six weeks ago, I spied these cookies on Cookies and Cups.

Two weeks ago, I let my little guy down.

I wasn’t where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be.

My heart broke; he didn’t seem to mind.

Sometimes those things happen. I will probably remember it forever, he might never remember it.

But it was what it was, and it called for fixing.

So I surprised him, picked him up early from school, and told him he could pick what we did for the next few hours while the Babes napped – including a pre-nap lunch at the restaurant of his choice.

And be still my heart, you know what he picked? No burgers and fries, no eating out. Just home.

And you know what he chose to do?

Bake. Continue reading

Cupcake Cones and Magical Buttercream Frosting

OK, I know this isn’t a new invention, so just consider it a memory jogger – “Hey! Remember these??”

I know they’ve been around for decades, because my mom made them for us at some point during our childhood.

No, they definitely aren’t new to the Birthday scene, but people always seem to be taken with them and comment on how cute they are. It also  never really fails that a stranger will ask how I made them.

They aren’t difficult at all, which is one of the reasons I keep going back to them, and at a party they’re wonderful, because they are so easy to hand out and easy for the kids to manipulate.

I’m not afraid to use cake mix from a box when there is so much going on that just the thought of concocting a cake from scratch makes me feel like I’m teetering on the edge of loosing my sanity. So these were made from our favorite yellow cake box mix.

It’s super moist. Hint, hint.

Just follow the directions on the box as though you are making cupcakes, but instead of using cupcake papers, use ice cream cones. Stop filling each cone about an inch from the very top of the cone or when they bake you’ll end up with overflow – like I did. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just looks like melting ice cream.

Stick with the theme, right?

Then bake them according to the cupcake directions. (I just lined mine up on a baking sheet and VERY carefully place them in the oven). I’m sure there is a better way, but I was too lazy to figure it out.

I’m sort of wondering if you can create a shallow layer of dry beans to nestle the bottom of each cone into so they won’t tip or shift around, but I haven’t tested it, so I don’t know if you have to adjust cooking time for something like that.

Once they are baked, slowly and carefully pull them out of the oven and let them cool completely, then frost them.

Now this. THIS is the part I’ve been waiting to tell you.

The frosting.

This is my fall-back, use-all-the-time frosting. It never disappoints me. It’s pretty much perfect.

When I made Valentines cupcakes for my middle guy to take to school last week, he came home and told me this:

Mom, {Sally} said that {Bobby} said, “MMMMMM!!! These cupcakes are SO MAGICAL that I feel like I got run over by a UNICORN!!”.

Compliments just don’t get much better than that. I can tell their teacher’s writing prompts are working too, if her students can come up with quality analogies on the fly like that.

Thank you, Bobby.

This recipe is, from here on out, known as Magical Unicorn Buttercream Frosting. It was passed on to me almost a decade ago by my dearest Southern Belle friend in Georgia. . . it was the very first frosting I ever learned how to make from scratch, and there really is a secret to its perfection.

I bet you’ll never guess.


Magical Unicorn Buttercream Frosting


1/2 Cup Shortening
!/2 Cup Parkay, at room temperature (YES, Parkay. This is the secret, and yes, it makes a huge difference.)
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
4 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 Tablespoons water

Add shortening and Parkay to medium bowl and beat on medium speed with and electric mixer for about 30 seconds. Add in Vanilla, beat until blended in. Gradually add in powdered sugar. As frosting begins to thicken, gradually add in water. Continue to beat for several minutes until frosting is smooth and creamy.

This frosting will turn out beautifully light, fluffy, smooth, and creamy – all at the same time. Of course you can substitute real butter for the Parkay, but I urge you to try it this way first. I really didn’t think it would make much of a difference, but my friend warned me that nothing else quite compares, and it’s true. In fact, my five-year old pointed it out to me once when I made it with butter. It wasn’t the same, and it wasn’t as good. . . why mess with a good thing?

Source: Sara, via my beautiful Southern Belle friend, T.W. 😉

Oh! and a quick tip – if you are transporting these, you can use a gift box or other cardboard box turned upside down and pierced with x’s. Then poke the inner corners of the x’s in, and you have a little hole for the cone.

And one more quick tip, if you have these frosted and ready to go, but on the tray and not in the carrier yet, and you keep thinking to yourself, “Don’t move them around too much. Don’t move them around too much. Don’t move. . . ”

You get it, right? If you’re thinking that, then DON’T MOVE THEM AROUND TOO MUCH! Or you might just bump the tray, and they might just topple over and your beautiful frosting tops might just get squished.

Just guessing.