American Flag Cake

This is a cake that I made last year, but I thought I’d bring it up to remind you of the wonderful holiday coming up in America in a few days, Independence Day.  Not only is this cake patriotic, it tastes amazing!!  This cake celebrates the colors of America’s flag and the tasty sweet berries that summer has to offer.

This 4th of July, enjoy your family, the fireworks and this cake!

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Avocado Mascarpone Cream Frosting

So, you’re probably wondering why in the world someone would use avocados in a cupcake.  Well, let me tell you, it wasn’t my first choice either.  I recently had a potluck dinner at my house with some students from the college ministry I work with.  They decided it would be fun to have everyone bring a potluck dish that included avocado in it.  And of course, they assigned me the dessert course.  Lucky me!!

I searched for a while before I decided to go with cupcakes.  I’d never used avocados in dessert before, so I wanted something  a little safe, that I knew I could do.

So here it goes.

I didn’t get any photos of the chocolate cupcake, but it’s pretty basic.  I posted the recipe below.  The great thing is that it is a vegan recipe.  The avocado takes the place of the butter and egg and you really can’t taste the avocado in the cake.

The frosting was the fun part for me.  I started with mixing the mashed up avocados with powdered sugar and then silky mascarpone cheese.

After incorporating the cheese, I realized the frosting was too liquidy to actually stay on the cupcake.

That’s where the heavy whipping cream comes in………

Whip up the heaving cream to stiff peaks.

Add it to the avocado mixture and voila…….

The creamiest sweet frosting with a hint of avocado green color and flavor…….perfect.

When I first heard about using avocados in cupcakes, I was really skeptical, but I am definitely a believer now.  The cake was chocolatey and moist and I really did not miss the butter and eggs at all!

The fact that I can use avocado in the place of butter and eggs means I can feel better about eating more cupcakes and that’s always good, right?  Yay for avocados!

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Avocado Mascarpone Cream Frosting

From Joy the Baker

makes 4 dozen cupcakes

6 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 teaspoons baking soda

4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups soft avocado, well mashed, about 2 medium avocados

4 cups water

4 Tablespoons white vinegar

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake tins with paper liners.  Set aside.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients except the sugar.  Set that aside too.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the super mashed avocado.

Add sugar into the wet mix and stir.

Mix the wet with the dry all at once, and beat with a whisk (by hand) until smooth.

Pour batter into cupcake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting with avocado buttercream.

Avocado Mascarponse Cream Frosting

16 ounces of avocado meat, about 4 medium, very ripe avocados

8 tablespoons lemon juice

6 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 small tub (8 oz) mascarpone cheese

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Peel and pit the soft avocados.  It’s important to use the ripest avocados you can get your hands on.  If the avocados have brown spots in the meat, avoid those spots when you scoop the meat into the bowl.

Place the avocado meat into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.  Add lemon juice and whisk the avocado on medium speed, until slightly lightened in color and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat.  Add vanilla extract until combined.  Pour mixture into separate bowl.  Whip heavy cream until you get stiff peaks, then incorporate avocado mixture slowly.  Put frosting into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe your cupcakes.

If not using right away, store in the refrigerator.  Don’t worry.  It won’t turn brown!

Chocolate Banana Bread

Everyone’s had the typical banana bread, right?  Well, take that and kick it up about 10 notches.  Oh and of course, add some chocolate to that.  It pretty much takes the typical and moves it into the extraordinary!

If you happen to have some browning bananas, I would highly suggest transforming them into this spectacular creation of a banana bread.  I would even go as far as to hide bananas from my kids, in the hopes that they get brown fast enough to make this again.

Cream the butter and sugar.

Use two brown bananas and mash them in a bowl.

Add the mashed bananas and sour cream.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients, then add it to the wet.

Add the mini chocolate chips and walnuts, for extra sweetness and crunch.

Pour the batter into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan.

Look at this warm chocolate beauty!  I like how those mini chocolate chips are peeking out, enticing you to come and pluck them out one by one.

I guarantee that after this banana bread comes out of the oven, the 10 minutes you need to wait for this to cool will be the longest 10 minutes of your life!!  Even though banana bread is thought of as more of a breakfast food, my family ended up eating it for dessert.  Yup, it’s that good!

Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe

From Savory Sweet Life

 

1 stick of salted butter, softened to room temp.

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

2 large ripened bananas mashed ( or 2.5 small bananas)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 Tbl. cocoa powder

1/2 cup of sour cream

1 cup of mini chocolate chips (regular chocolate chips work too)

optional 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

 

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan, or 2 mini pans with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.

Add baking soda, cocoa, and flour.

Mix everything until well incorporated (about 3 minutes in a stand mixer).

Add chocolate chips and nuts (if applicable).

Pour batter into loaf pan(s) and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hr.

Insert a tooth pick into the center of the loaf and check to see if it comes out clean when you pull it out.

Remove from heat and allow bread to rest in the loaf pan for 10 minutes.

Invert the loaf pans onto a cooling rack. Enjoy warm or cold.

Cauliflower Chowder

Cauliflower chowder is not one of the more popular chowders out there, but after making this recipe I hope it will be as popular in your home as it is in mine.  It is really easy to make and is mild flavored but full-bodied at the same time.  I love the creamy texture and it’s just so comforting to eat.

I know it’s almost  summer time, but fast forward 7 or 8 months and imagine a bowl of this hot chowder in your chilly hands as you sit on the couch, watching the rain fall on the windows.  Yeah, sounds good huh?!

Please don’t wait 8 months to make this though.  Make it today, it’s good anytime of year.

Start by sauteing diced onion, carrots and celery until soft.

Chop up one head of cauliflower.  You don’t need to be super precise, since it all breaks down and crumbles in the soup anyway.

Once tender, add in the chicken broth or vegetable broth if you want to stay vegetarian.


In a smaller pot, melt butter and add flour to make a roux.  Add in half and half once the flour is cooked a bit.

Pour the milky roux into the vegetables and it will thicken as it cooks.

Lower the heat to low and cover, stirring every 10 minutes.  The chowder is ready to eat now, but will only taste better as it sits longer.

To make this into a one pot meal, I like to add chunks of cooked chicken breast.  Better yet, buy one of those rotisserie chickens from the grocery store and just add the meat to this chowder.  Can’t get much easier than that!

The best thing about this soup is that I can actually get my daughter to have vegetables for dinner!!  She loves the flavor and texture and doesn’t even realize she’s eating 4 kinds of vegetables with each spoonful.  Gotta love it!

Cauliflower Chowder

1 stick Butter, Divided

1/2 Onion, Finely Diced

1 whole Carrot Finely Diced

1 stalk Celery, Finely Diced

1 large Cauliflower Head (roughly Chopped)

2 Tablespoons Dried Parsley

2 quarts Low-sodium Chicken Broth

6 Tablespoons Flour

1 cup Half-and-half

2 teaspoons To 4 Teaspoons Salt, To Taste

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, or until it starts to turn brown.

Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional couple of minutes. Add cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine.

Cover and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour in chicken stock or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.

In a medium saucepan, melt the other 4 tablespoons butter. Add the flour  and whisk to combine and cook the flour for one minute.  Add the half-and-half  to flour mixture and whisk until thickened. Add mixture to the simmering soup. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt or pepper if necessary.