Cranberry Buttermilk Cake

This cake was gorgeous.  It just might be the perfect treat for Christmas morning.  The cranberries are bright bursts of tart juice, the batter is full of sweet orange flavor, and the cake is light and fluffy.  With the cranberries, this isn’t a very sweet cake, so it’s great for brunch or tea.  This is a great winter spin on the Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake I made for Mother’s day in the spring.  If this seems like too much cake for you, you can halve the recipe and bake it in an 8×8″ square pan.

Cranberry Buttermilk CakeCranberry Buttermilk Cake (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-16

Adapted from Alexandra Cooks

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large orange, zested
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.

Cream butter with orange zest and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla, beating well after each addition.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.  Leave a couple of Tbsp of flour to toss the cranberries in (this keeps the berries from sinking to the bottom), then fold the cranberries into the batter.

Scoop batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini Cake

So this is one of the desserts I made for Friday night’s Carroll Cafe.  I had made a Cinnamon Sugar Zucchini Cake, and as I was slicing it to serve I sampled a piece and was HORRIFIED by how it turned out!  It was gummy and weird and totally not cake-like.  I’m not sure what went wrong, but I had about 2 hours to come up with a different zucchini cake.  So of course, it was trusty Grandma Helland’s recipe that saved the day.  I adapted Grandma’s Apple Cake recipe and it was a crowd pleaser, as always.

This is a tender, moist flavorful cake that’s prefect for fall.  It’s a nice treat but isn’t too sweet, so it’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.  It’s great for a fall treat and is definitely a last minute crowd pleaser.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini CakeCinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini Cake (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-16

  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 small zucchini, grated (can sub two more apples)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9×13″ pan with nonstick foil or grease with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix ingredients in order given.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  At about 30 minutes you may need to cover with foil to keep top from browning too quickly.    When cake is done sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar (a mix of about 1/4 cup sugar with 3/4 tsp cinnamon works well, sprinkle to taste).  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apple Crisp Muffins

These were delicious.  The perfect taste of fall flavors.  Dad said they were the best muffins he’s ever had.  My only complaint is that the recipe only made 10!  Next time I’ll definitely be (at least) doubling the recipe!

These are super moist due to the combination of butter, oil and applesauce.  The fresh apple pieces get tender (but not mushy) and the oatmeal crisp topping adds a little extra sweetness and the perfect amount of chewy crunchiness.  You’ll definitely want to make these this fall.  They’re great fresh from the oven or at room temperature.  But if you think they’re going to last more than a couple of days, make sure you refrigerate them in a ziploc bag, since they’re so moist they won’t last long on the counter.

Apple Crisp MuffinsApple Crisp Muffins (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 20 muffins

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (2 snack pack applesauces)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped apple (about 4)

Crisp topping:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

In a large bowl, mix together butter, oil, applesauce, and sugars until well mixed (the mixture might look curdled).  Add egg and vanilla and beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add half the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.  Add half of the remaining flour and mix again until just combined.  Toss the apple pieces with the remaining flour, then carefully fold the apples into the batter.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 muffin trays with muffin cup papers or grease muffin tin generously with cooking spray.

Reusing the dry ingredient bowl, mix crisp topping ingredients together until well mixed and crumbly (I find using my hands is easiest).

Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, should be about 3/4 full (a 4oz cookie scoop is the perfect size).  Top with about 1 Tbsp of crisp topping, then bake for about 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in tin for about 10 minutes before removing and letting cool completely on a wire rack.

Stovetop Popcorn

Ok, so our kitchen is being redone.  Which is hugely exciting!  But also means that my cooking options are rather limited for the next couple weeks.  I’ll still try to keep up with posting, but they won’t all be recipes.

While we’re trying to clear out the entire kitchen, the last thing I’ve wanted to do is make a big mess by cooking something, so we’ve been eating a lot of crudités and hummus and popcorn.  Popcorn is actually a whole grain, so it’s a great snack option and one serving is 3 cups!  Sister is totally into popcorn, and her popcorn always tastes the best.  So abandon the gross butter-flavored store bought bags of popcorn and spend just a little bit longer making your own on the stovetop.  It’s totally worth it.

Stovetop PopcornStovetop Popcorn

Serves 4-6

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • about 1/4 cup popcorn kernels (enough to coat the bottom of your pan in one layer)
  • salt to taste
  • varieties:  paprika, cumin, cinnamon-sugar, dill, flavored salts, salt & vinegar

In a large pot (preferably one with a wide bottom, my pot is about 10″ in diameter), heat oil over medium-high heat.  To test the oil, add a couple kernels to the bottom of the pan.  When they sizzle, add a thin layer of kernels over the entire bottom of the pot.  Cover with a lid and wait until it begins to pop.  Once it starts popping, carefully give the pot a shake.  Crack the lid a little to let some steam out, but be carefully not to get splattered with any oil, or heat by the steam.  Continue to shake the pot every so often until the popping begins to slow down.  When there begins to be breaks in the popping turn the heat off.  Continue to shake the pot until the popping stops.  Quickly transfer the popcorn to a large bowl and season with salt (and spices of your choices).  Enjoy!

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon poppy seed is my favorite muffin flavor.  It’s been ages since I’ve had one, so I decided it was time to make a batch.  These were very yummy.  The glaze adds quite a bit of sweetness with a balance of tart lemon zest.  The poppy seeds give a nice little crunch to the delicate crumb.  This are great for breakfast or a snack since they aren’t too sweet.  The lemon adds a bright burst of flavor and most of the sweetness comes from the glaze on top.

Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsLemon Poppy Seed Muffins (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 15 muffins (I doubled the recipe and got about 32)

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 lemons, zested
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plain yogurt


  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla extract.  Slowly beat in the dry ingredients, alternating with the yogurt, in three batches.  Mix until just combined.

Scoop batter into prepared muffin tin (I used a 4oz cookie scoop).  Bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the muffins are cooking, whisk together all the ingredients for the glaze.

Once you’ve transfered the muffins to the wire rack, add about 3/4 tsp glaze to each muffin while they’re still warm.

Hearty Spiced Oatcakes

These oatcakes are dense and hearty and filled with oat-y goodness.  I wasn’t sure what I thought of these at first, but they definitely grew on me.  They aren’t muffins, they’re way too dense and substantial to be muffins.  But that makes them a great breakfast or snack, they have serious staying power.  These are excellent with a cup of coffee or some Earl Grey.

Hearty Spiced OatcakesHearty Spiced Oatcakes

Makes 1 dozen

Adapted from In Jennie’s Kitchen

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup  ground flaxseeds (or wheat germ might work too)
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder, salt, spices, flaxseeds, and walnuts.

Add coconut oil, butter, syrup and sugar to a small pot and heat over medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted.  Pour over the dry ingredients and use a fork to mix together.  Add eggs and continue to mix until fully incorporated.

Divide the dough into the prepared muffin tin.  Bake for 22-25 minutes until golden and set.  Let cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Avocado and Chickpea Dip

After all the feast of the past several weeks (months?), having something simple, light and green is exactly what I need.  This is a really simple recipe, but all the ingredients really shine.  This is a great dip to take to a party, but it also makes for a great sandwich.  This combines healthy omega-3s of avocados with the protein of chickpeas.  Add it to some whole grain bread and you have a wonderful filling meal.  I served this on thin slices of a baguette which makes nice appetizers or snacks.

Avocado and Chickpea DipAvocado and Chickpea Dip

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 large (28oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp salt (more to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic salt
  • pepper to taste

In a large bowl, use a fork to smash the avocado flesh and chickpeas together.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve with chips, pretzels, bread and/or crudités.

Rosemary and Garlic White Bean Dip

I find that taking dip to work is a convenient and tasty lunch.  There are lots of options for things to eat dip with, so your lunch can vary a lot too.  This dip also makes a great sandwich spread, so if you’re a vegetarian it adds a nice protein kick to a sandwich.

Rosemary and Garlic White Bean Dip

Makes about 1 cup

Adapted from Laura’s Recipe Collection

  • 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 (15oz) cans white beans, drained and rinsed (I used cannelini and garbanzo)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 small sprigs rosemary, rinsed

Saute the garlic in 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small pan until fragrant, be careful not to brown it.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine beans, lemon juice, and salt and pulse a few times.  Pour in the garlic and oil, puree until smooth.

Heat the remaing 2 Tbsp olive oil in a small pan, add the rosemary sprigs.  Saute until fragrant, about 2-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and take the rosemary out of the pan.  Pour the oil into the food processor.  Mince about 1 tsp of rosemary and sprinkle on top.

Rhubarb Snacking Cake

Sister has been making this cake like weekly since rhubarb came in season.  She was telling me how much Chris likes it even though he’s not normally that interested in baked goods.  So I knew I needed to try it.  We’re a big fan of rhubarb pie in this household, but our usual pie is pretty sweet, so I was hoping for a different way of displaying the wonderful flavors of rhubarb.

This cake does an excellent job of highlighting rhubarb.  The cake is fluffy and moist, the rhubarb is tart and flavorful turning into a creamy center layer, and then it’s topped with just the right amount of crumble, giving it just a hint of brown sugar and cinnamon that doesn’t overwhelm the light tart rhubarb.  This will definitely be another go-to recipe when rhubarb is in season.  You can also halve the recipe and bake it in an 8″x8″ pan if you don’t want to have quite so much.

Rhubarb Snacking Cake

Serves 18 at least

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen


  • 4 cups rhubarb, sliced
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (I only had Greek yogurt on hand, so that’s what I used)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spray your 9″x13″ pan with cooking spray and then line with parchment paper leaving enough paper hanging over the edges so you can use that to pull the cake out of the pan when it’s done.

Stir together rhubarb, 2/3 cup sugar, and lemon juice; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter, the remaining 2/3 sugar, and the lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger in a small bowl.  Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stir until just combined.  Add half the sour cream, stirring until just combined.  Alternate with the remaining flour and yogurt, ending with the flour and making sure to stir until just combined.

Spread the batter into your prepared baking dish in an even layer.  Pour the rhubarb mixture over the top of the cake, spreading into an even layer.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Use a fork to stir in the melted butter until a crumb forms.  Spread the crumb evenly over the top of the rhubarb.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Savory Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread

I’ve wanted to try this recipe for ages.  As soon as I saw it, I thought it would be an awesome combination.  I was not disappointed.  These shortbreads have an amazing buttery taste even though there’s no butter.  The rosemary and parmesan are a great match.

These are perfect as a snack, a fun appetizer, a great accompaniment to a salad, and/or a great pairing with drinks.

Savory Rosemary Parmesan Shortbread 

Makes 30

Adapted from The Kitchn

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups freshly grated parmesan
  • sea salt for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the oats in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the water over it.  In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, brown sugar and egg.  Pour the mixture over the oats, stir to combine and set aside.

In another mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, rosemary, and black pepper.  Whisk to combine, then stir in the parmesan.

Gradually stir the flour mixture into the oat mixture.

Scoop the batter onto greased or parchment paper covered cookie sheets (they don’t spread out a lot so you should be able to fit them all on two pans).  Flatten the dough to about 1/4 inch thick.  Sprinkle a little flakey sea salt over each shortbread.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, until set and starting to turn golden.