Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake | Tulips & Rain

Carrot cake is the essential Easter dessert. I originally planned on making a small Easter lunch for my parents this Sunday, but I’m back in eastern Iowa for an interview today, so we’re celebrating Easter tonight with a yummy spring dinner. We dug into this dessert last night (and I might have had a slice for breakfast) and it did not disappoint.

Carrot Cake | Tulips & Rain

It’s a total pain to sit down and shred almost a pound of carrots–but its so worth it! I considered using my Kitchen Aid grinder attachment to shred them, but wasn’t sure if it would work. Let me know if you have any carrot shredding secrets! Oh and when making homemade cakes I always use cake flour.

Carrot Cake | Tulips & Rain

I found a tip a while back to make your cakes bake flat, and I was so delighted to find out that it works great! Just wrap very wet dish towels around the cake pans while baking and they’ll come out even on top.

Carrot Cake | Tulips & Rain

I made the cake layers last weekend and froze them. Whenever I make a layer cake–even if I don’t make it that far in advance I always freeze the cake before frosting it. It’s much easier to frost frozen layers, they’re firmer and less likely to crumb.

DSCN9342

After seeing Inspired by Charm‘s adorable cake banners a few weeks ago, I just had to try my own!
Carrot Cake | Tulips & RainHappy Easter!

 

Currently Craving: Pretty Scents

Pretty Scents

I’ve been on the hunt for a new scent for so long! I picked up a random scent at the last VS semi-annual sale that was just ok, and  it ran a few weeks ago so I’ve been 100% sans-scent for a while now. Last weekend I did some serious scent perusing and found several that I love! And even picked up a sample of a few of them to test out. Now I just have to pick my favorite.

Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Fresh is in fact oh-so-fresh. It’s a lovely, light floral scent–which is always a win in my book, but at $89 it’s going to take a serious chunk out of my monthly shopping budget.

French Lavender Honey, from Bath & Body Works is a better fit for my budget at $40. It’s one of the samples I’ve been using this week and its a nice sweet-but-not-too-sweet scent. I am a serious lavender-lover so I was a little disappointed that the lavender is a pretty subtle aspect of the scent, but still a serious contender.

Mad About You had me at first sight. I love everything–the name, the colors, the bow! The base of the scent is peonies–my very favorite flower. I’ve been sampling this one all week to and its a very sweet scent, but I actually really like it. It’s also from Bath & Body Works and comes in at just $35.

Tocca Simone is pretty and elegant, just like its bottle. The bright tropical hints in the scent are something I’m usually not attracted to but mixed with a bit blonde wood its just perfect! But at $68 its quickly inching to the top of my very modest budget.

Bombshells in Bloom is just what it sounds like–a fun, sultry scent with sweet floral overtones. Add “in Bloom” on to the back of pretty much any scent and I’m going to love it! The $52 price tag makes it a very manageable splurge.

Enchilada Pie

Enchilada Pie | Tulips & Ra

I love this enchilada recipe from Skinnytaste! But the last time I made them, I felt like they were just a little sloppy. I didn’t roll them tight enough, and storing the leftover gets a little messy–long skinny enchilada in a square container just doesn’t work that well. So my solution? Enchilada pie! It’s a little less messy to put together and so much easier to dish out and store leftovers! Traditional enchilada will always have a place on my menu–but this is a fun, simple twist on a favorite dish!Enchilada Pie | Tulips & RainFollow the Skinnytaste recipe with a few tweaks. Swap out the sour cream for plain greek yogurt and use pepper jack in stead of Mexican blend cheese. Then when it comes to putting the enchiladas together, forgo the rolling and grab a 9 inch pie pan. Start with the white sauce on the bottom, then layer tortilla, sauce, chicken mixutre–I used 5 tortillas. Then top with the final tortilla, remaining sauce and pepper jack. Bake according to recipe.

Life Lately in Photos

One of the many things I took away from Go Blog Social was the importance of photography. I’ve never considered myself a photographer and I take all of my photos for the blog with a very basic point and shoot camera. I’m not sure I would even know what to do with a DSLR. But after hearing Amanda speak at GBS about photography and the amazing things you can do with even just an iphone, I was inspired to take more photos of my everyday life and work on my photography skills and creativity.  So please bear with me as I learn and experiment.
Life Lately | Tulips & Rain{Fajita making}

DSCN9169{Afternoon reads}
DSCN9220{Mmmm…Chipotle!}
DSCN9208{Post-thunderstorm puddles}

Life Lately | Tulips & Rain{Loads of natural light–a rarity in my garden level apt}

Fitness Challenge: 1000 Minutes in 30 Days

Healthy Habits 3

 Since the fitness portion of my 3 Week Cleanse was a total flop (I worked out 5 times–my goal was 15-20 workouts) I decided it was only fitting for the second installment of ReCreating Healthy Habits to be a fitness challenge! The challenge is simple, complete 1000 minutes of fitness in 30 days. That averages to about 33 minutes a day, which is totally doable! I’ll be tracking my progress every day on my Fitness Challenge page and posting updates periodically here too.

And I’m going to try to complete all 1000 minutes without going to the gym.

Angela!? that’s a terrible idea!! 

Now hear me out–Back in the day when I used to religiously frequent the gym, I had access to a huge, state-of-the-art gym with loads of natural light, all the equipment you could ever want and plenty of eye candy to enjoy. yeah I do that… 

The gym I have access to now is decent–but its small and in the basement. And its at work. I enjoy my job and its a wonderful environment to work in, but when I’m done with work I want to leave work, not go hang out in the basement for another hour.

So my plan is yoga and running–I’m going to do Couch to 5K again. Read about my first Couch to 5K experience here.

As always, feel free to join in!

 

Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

My favorite thing to do when I bake is make a recipe that I’ve made a million times before and tweak it just slightly. I pulled out my trusty ol’ red plaid cookbook and flipped to the well-loved banana bread page. I swapped out half of the flour for whole wheat flour (that makes this healthy right?) and added cocoa to half the batter to make these lovely little loaves.

Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs
4-5 medium bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup cocoa powder

Directions:
Combine all dry ingredients except sugar in a mixing bowl and make well in center. Mash bananas in a decent sized mixing bowl. Beat eggs and add to bananas. Add oil and sugar too, mix well. Add wet ingredients all at once to dry ingredient. Stir just until combined, don’t over stir. Split batter in half and add cocoa to one half of the batter. (I put one half back into the wet ingredient bowl and added the cocoa–that way there was a tish extra moisture to make up for the dry cocoa.) Layer chocolate and plain batter into two mini loaf pans. Use a butter knife to swirl slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Be sure to check every few minutes during the last 10 minutes or so to prevent over baking. Let loaves cool for 10-15 minutes in pans, then run a knife along the edges to loosen, remove from pans and allow to cool completely. You can easily make one large loaf too, just adjust baking time.
Chocolate Swirl Banana Breadadapted from this recipe 

 

 

3 Week Cleanse {Recap}

Healthy Habits 3

My 3 week cleanse officially ended on Monday, but since  I was at Go Blog Social all weekend I extended it for a few days. While I certainly indulged a bit more than usual while I was in Kansas City,the only thing I had that was on my off-limits list was cookies. Colors Macaroons was one of the sponsors of the event and they were giving out samples, so I just had to try them! And they were so worth it!

But I passed on the cupcakes at the after party and went for a sandwich instead of decadent mac n’ cheese at the local eatery we stopped for lunch at on Friday. I must say, I’m really proud of myself!

Overall this 3 Week Cleanse was a success. I’m craving less “bad” foods and enjoying fresh, whole foods so much more! And I lost almost 10 pounds. Where I failed was the fitness portion of the cleanse–totally dropped the ball there. I actually haven’t worked out at all in the last week or so. But I’m very excited about my next challenge–an all fitness challenge–that I have in the works. More on that next week.

It was so fun to have Diana from Yellow Mondays join in on my cleanse with me. She did a great job! And even modified and extended her cleanse after the three weeks.