Delicious Apple Carrot Zucchini Muffins

 

Pour a second cup of coffee with these yummy muffins!

 

Every year I bake zucchini muffins for my family. They are easy to put together and my family loves them. Just yesterday I was browsing zucchini recipes on Pinterest and found a new muffin recipe that sounded good, so I had to try it.

This Apple carrot and zucchini muffin recipe is borrowed from the blog at wineandglue.com. Lisa is a mom “ with a glue gun in one hand and a glass of wine in the other”. That’s my kind of mom, honest with a sense of humor! Check out her blog.

Apple Carrot Zucchini Muffins
Yield: About 18 muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp.baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup shredded zucchini (about half a medium zucchini)
1 cup shredded carrot (about two carrots)
1 cup shredded apple (about one apple)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or spray with Pam.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, and oil.

3. In another large bowl whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture. The batter will be very thick.

5. Mix in the zucchini, apple, and carrot.

6. Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full.

7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Enjoy! My family ate these for a snack or breakfast. Either way they are moist and delicious!

 

I want to share with you all how I store muffins, cupcakes, cookies and other baked goods. About six years ago I saw these snap it plastic storage containers on QVC. They were selling a set of two and I don’t remember what I paid for them but they are handy and convenient to own. I have a handy deep one with a traveling handle and a shallow one without the handle. I’ve also seen similar containers at T.J. Maxx.

They keep baked goods fresh for me. I also store veggies like lettuce and beet greens in the refrigerator in them. Look them up if you need great storage containers for your kitchen.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

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This Year’s Garden Plans

 

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I can’t wait to see these rich and green beauties grow in the sunshine!

 

 

 

In New England we are immersed in the dawning of spring…forgotten melted snow, sporadic warm sun and plenty of rain showers are here. The  plant buds are waking up and grass is turning a rich green in our neighborhood. With this season we read about  gardening plans highlighted in ads and in newspapers, making it extremely easy to become excited and enchanted with gardening!

 

 

 

The first of May is pretty early to plant here unless you’re doing it inside with a greenhouse room or under a bright heat lamp. But the first few weeks of this month is a good time to reflect on last year’s garden and what went well and not so well. 

 

 

In late March or early April, I start to contemplate my garden. It all starts with jotting down vegetables and planning what different ones I’ll try. Every year I change up my squash variety so that our family harvests something different. Last year I grew butternut squash and summer. This summer I may grow summer, zucchini, and buttercup, shaped like a queen’s crown.  I decided to daringly skip the zucchini deluge last year( see another post about this). 

 

 

 

I must mention that if you are an amateur gardener you must read up on plant companions and crop rotation. Certain crops grow well together like tomatoes and basil cucumbers and spinach and lettuce. If you search on Pinterest or Google for vegetable gardening companions you can learn more information about it. I also rotate my crop every year, because some vegetables drain all the nutrients out of the soil and so switching their locations is a bright idea. I never plant tomatoes or the squash in the same place.

 

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A section of last year’s plot

 

A drastic change in this year’s garden will be the long lost corn. My husband and I decided about twelve years ago not to plant it anymore and I bet you can guess why not. When we grew corn, we had raccoons and deer eating from the cobs and that would leave us with the just the corn stalks for October decorating. The mere stalk doesn’t seem worth all the trouble and it’s a huge disappointment when you’re expecting scrumptious corn smothered with butter and salt.

 

 

 

This year we’re trying to grow corn once again, with some tips taken from my dad, who’s an avid gardener and was influenced from my grandfather. My dad uses a screen attached at the top of the fence that keeps critters out. He did the enclosure last year and had success with it.  

 

 

 

As our region experiences a rebirth in spring and the air becomes warmer, I’m grateful for it all. My garden is so short lived here, making it special. Immersed in soil and surrounded by green lush leaves, I thank God for being able to garden every summer.

 

 

 

During the year I work/ teach at school and have the summers off. I’ve always asked my husband if I should get a little part time job but he says that I don’t have to. I am grateful for this time and for my husband, who works all year round for us. I make it up to him by caring for him in the house, growing veggies, cooking and taking care of the house. He’s happy and I’m happy to be home for the summer and it allows me to tend to our vegetable plot and flower boxes. That’s how a mutual respectful relationship works.

 

 

 

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Last year’s window boxes!

 

Are you planning your garden or have you planted already? If so, I hope you are enjoying your planning as much as I am! Happy planting!

 

All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul ❤

 

 

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These summer squash plants grew so well that spacing was an issue.

Family Dinners

 Most of my married life, my family has sat at the table for dinner. That’s what our families did when we were young and we don’t know any other way. We believe that a meal together is strengthening and family building.

 

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The family devouring a meal together is just one element of the sit down. It’s a time for conversation, laughing and catching up on everyone’s day. 
It’s a family connection and relationship builder. If there’s a problem, it’s spoken and another member may solve it. If you learned a new joke, share it with the family for a hearty laugh! 

 

 

 

 

Would you believe many young families don’t eat meals together? When do they talk, laugh, share or problem solve? I firmly believe that you need to use this precious time to build your family to be as strong as you want it to be. I think all our meals together helped raise our sons into thoughtful people and hopefully they will eat their meals at the table, together with their families someday.

 

 

 

 

 Years ago Dylan brought his phone to the table and I felt that it violated our personal time. After saying no, it never was an issue. He respected my wishes and I’m really grateful for that. If I had given in to it, dinner time would never be the same again. I know that many families won’t see cell phones or iPods at the tables as an issue. If your family freely uses them at the sit down meal, I have one question to ask, do you all still talk to each other? Chances are the answer is no and that blame lies on the device…it’s invading your family connection time.

 

 

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My husband and sons at Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

As most of my readers know, our sons are out of the house living their own lives and having dinner on their own. Now Tom and I feel like we paid our dues and this means our dinner time can change the way we like. This winter has been drafty and cold and we long for eating our food in warmth. Many nights we eat dinner with tv stands in our livingroom, just a few feet from our cranking stove. We’re happy to relax and talk over a movie or show on Hulu.

 

 

 


I don’t feel guilty for abandoning our tradition because it continues when the boys and Lexie are home. We eat dinners at our dining room table and celebrate birthdays and eat cake and ice cream with Branden’s funny stories. They are special times and I wish that for your family. It’s these moments that make my husband and I truly happy, catching up with our kids and enjoying their company. Whenever we are all together or have family or friend guests, there we will eat, at the table. A place to connect, share and laugh.

 

 

 

 Do you think mealtime together forms a strong unified family? Do you have a no cell phone policy at the dinner table?

 

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

Cats in Charge?

 

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Taken from Lingvistov.com

 

 

 

Sometimes I feel like my cats are taking over….a feline revolt of sorts. Imagine furry friends marching all over the counter tops, jumping on the high point of the fridge and racing to and fro between rooms. They’re in our face looking for food, snuggling up just to acquire a treat. Proudly prancing around the kitchen, these sneaky kitties paw open cupboard doors and peek inside.

 
They secretly wait until we fall asleep and when snoring starts, Smokey springs into action! While our older cat Katie stands guard in the kitchen doorway (really doing nothing but she feels like a team player), the sleek black cat operates risky business. He jumps on the counter as soft as he can, for this has to be done in a clandestine way. This determined cat peers over the trash can , one paw strategically pokes at the trash cover and another jab will do it. Score, it lands on the floor!

 


Crash! It’s not too secretive or hush- hush now! I roll over in bed in confusion. What now? Smokey! Trudging down the stairs I hope that it’s not a false alarm for its 12:00 am, an hour I should be sleeping in a steadfast snooze.

 

 

After cleaning up trash on the floor and tying the bag to go outside, I giggle when washing my hands. They are truly taking over, affecting our everyday occurrences.  Our life is an unfolding story with our rowdy cats starring as the main characters. They call the shots and make the story happen, they are in charge. Even so, we couldn’t be happier here with our quirky kitties.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤

Scrapbook Cookbook

 

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About ten years ago I revamped my recipe collection in a big way. First I threw out my dilapidated recipe box and hauled out recipes that I never used. Second, I found a cute whimsical Susan Branch cookbook kit with scrap booking pages and stickers. The book was cheap enough but cheaply made too, as I found out this year.

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Like many housewives who cook everyday, my recipe book started to show wear and tear. Then one day after making a delicious meal for my family, the books’ binding fell apart.  I busily shoved it on my little shelf in the kitchen and soon forget it’s desecration. Every time I reached for my recipe collection, the broken book with pages falling out reminded me that I had been doing this awhile and my book couldn’t keep up.

 

Last week, on an energetic whim, I set my mind to repairing and giving new life to my book. I searched our file cabinet and found a 1 ½ inch binder that one of the boys had used for school. I recycled it at the end of that year and put it in my stash of “ maybe I’ll use that someday.” I’m grateful for that because sometimes I throw things out in an organization fit.

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Next I found plastic page protectors to slip all the handwritten and computer copied recipes in. I highly recommend this step because we all know cooking can be messy and can stain and alter our nice cards.

 

What I especially love about the Susan Branch cookbook kit was that it supplied folders with heading for extra recipes. What I’ve always done is displayed my favorites, family favorites,my mom’s recipes,  Tom’s mom and dad’s and meme’s staunch winners on the pages and others can rest in the folders.

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I bought the cookbook scrapbooking kit on Amazon but you could do it yourself, if you have the supplies needed. You would need a 1 ½ inch binder, scrapbook pages, stickers, recipe cards, pouches for the miscellaneous recipes and page protectors. If you do buy the scrapbook kit, try to find one with a sturdy binder or buy the binder separately.

 

Now I can’t wait to cook and use my cookbook, that I gave new life to. It’s the little things that make me happy in the kitchen.

 

Good luck scrapbooking and happy cooking!

 

All My Best,

 

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking Tips

 

 

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I have never been formerly taught the art of cooking and baking. As a young woman, it never interested me and I only associated it with tireless house wives who considered it a chore. In seventh and eighth grade I had Home Economics classes and that was my first true introduction to it all. We made simple dishes, no bake cookies and rice krispies bars and I have a fleeting memory of cooking pudding on the stove.

 

 

 

 

My present baking knowledge is from observation of others and from trial and error by myself. I guess it’s true what some people say, that no matter how old you are, life is full of learning opportunities. Recently I wrote a post highlighting my friend Michelle’s exciting career as a baking instructor at King Arthur Flour. I asked her to share some useful baking tips for others and I ended up thoroughly surprised that I didn’t know some of the tricks.

 

 

 

Michelle informed me that most people’s mistakes with baking is using too much flour. People are always asking her why their bread comes out like bricks and pizzas like hard frisbees.  The key is using less flour. While many experts will tell you to measure in cups, King Arthur Flour encourages bakers to weigh the flour. A cup of King Arthur Flour weighs 4- 4 ¼  ounces.  By weighing flour and not using volume, you’ll be accurate with the amounts.

 

 

 

Another tip Michelle shares is when measuring flour, don’t pack it in the cup. ( if you are still using cups and not weighing) Instead, sprinkle the flour in loosely and level with a knife at the top. When I think of this, I think of the act of packing brown sugar in a cup. You want to do just the opposite because if you pack it, you have too much flour.

 

 

 

I have the King Arthur Baking cookbook and I noticed when browsing recipes, a commonality is the note of avoiding over mixing. I already knew this tip from blueberry muffin recipes. Michelle says to be careful not to overmix cookies, cakes, and muffins. If you mix the batter too much, there will be too much gluten. If you want tender baked goods, DO NOT OVERMIX!

 

 

 

 

A hint for amateur pie crust bakers, keep your butter cold when adding to your flour mixture. Also Michelle reminds us that using melted butter instead of softened makes a negative difference. For example,  when baking cookies make sure you leave out the butter overnight so it softens. Melting the butter will change the consistency. When you cream the butter and sugar you are supposed to put air bubbles in. If you use melted butter instead, it’s very hard to get the air in it. I didn’t know this, amazing fact!

 

 

 

 


Now that we learned some valuable baking tips…let’s get out there and bake! Use these techniques and see how much better your cakes, cookies and breads are! Share these tips with your family and friends and always have fun in your kitchen!

 

 

This weekend I’m baking a chocolate cheesecake for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday and old fashioned whoopie pies shaped like footballs for the Super Bowl. Go New England Patriots!

 

 

 

This is a heartfelt thank you to Michelle for her gift of time for the interview and her kindness.

 

All My Best,

Heart and Soul

 

 

 

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My Vanilla Twinkie cake with marshmallow fluff inside