Apple Cake

In the midst of apple season, our cabin orchard continues to crank out apples by the crateful.


With apple recipes on my mind, I’ve been itching to create a healthy-fied version of Aunt Ivy’s amazing Apple Cake.

a apple cake 1What better occasion to bake a cake than a birthday party? Mom’s 60th surprise party to be exact!

mom's 60th birthday dinnerApple Cake

1 1 /2 cups white sugar
2/3 cup or 8 ounces unsweetened apple sauce
3 tablespoons heart healthy oil (we like avocado, grape seed, coconut or olive)
4 flax, chia or chicken eggs
1/4 cup orange juice (fresh is best!)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3 – 4 heaping cups apples, cored and chopped
1.) Beat wet ingredients (sugar, apple sauce, oil, eggs, OJ, vanilla) together cake
2.) Add dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, spices) to the batter, thoroughly combining.
apple cake
3.) Fold in walnuts and apples.
apple cake
4.) Pour cake batter into a prepared pan.
apple cake
5.) Bake cake 55 – 60 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
a apple cake 1My lovely Apple Cake inspirations, Mom and Aunt Ivy:
mom's 60th birthday dinner

Mom thought she had escaped a formal celebration by traveling abroad over the months surrounding her 60th birthday. Ha!mom's 60th birthday dinnerThe day after my parents came home, family arrived in town from Kansas creating a fabulous diversion. While Dad and Mom handled the airport pickup, I scurried to set up the surprise celebration.

mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner  mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner

Framed pictures of Mom at all ages were scattered about. Semi-hidden on the deck out back, a long dinning table was set for 22.

mom's 60th birthday dinner

Light strings, citronella candles, fall foliage garlands and Mom’s beloved sunflowers transformed the usually sparse space into a glamorous garden party.

mom's 60th birthday dinner

Mom was continuously surprised as family and friends arrived into the evening.

mom's 60th birthday dinner

(click to enlarge photos)

mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner mom's 60th birthday dinner IMG_8756 - Copy   mom's 60th birthday dinnerMargaritas are Mom’s favorite so keeping with the fiesta theme, a Mexican inspired menu seemed almost too easy. I whipped up 7 Layer Dip, Spinach Artichoke Dip, Mama’s Enchiladastacos with all the fixings, Southwest Salad and Roasted Sweet Peppers.

mom's 60th birthday dinner Apple Cake and ice cream completed the night.

a apple cakeApple Cake received all around rave reviews deeming the healthier generation a true success!

mom's 60th birthday dinner

Cheers to my first Apple Cake, to my first kitchen inspiration (love you, Mom!) and to prolonging life with healthy family traditions like this recipe!

Veggie Macaroni and Cheese

First recorded in a 14th century medieval cookbook, macaroni and cheese is the definition of a classic. Understandably so, the delish quick fix is most definitely a crowd pleaser!

a veggie mac and cheese 1Traditionally made with loads of belly busting butter, nutritionally empty white pasta and zero veggies, the original recipe doesn’t leave much room for a healthy portion size. Fret not, this Veggie Mac & Cheese recipe is super rich and creamy but MUCH healthier!

veggie mac and cheese

Veggie Macaroni and Cheese
(6 -8 servings)

1 tablespoons heart healthy oil (avocado, grape seed, coconut, olive)
1 onion, pureed
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 clove garlic, grated
2 – 3 cups low fat milk (we like unsweetened almond)
2 tablespoons prepared mustard of choice (yellow, brown, etc.)
2 cups whole wheat elbow pasta, uncooked
1 – 2 pounds or 4 -6 heaping cups bite-sized veggies, fresh or frozen (peas, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, spinach, kale, etc.)
3 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, gouda, etc.)

veggie mac and cheese

1.) Boil pasta until andante, about 10 minutes.


2.) Sautee onion in hot oil over medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic within the last couple minute of sautéing.veggie mac and cheese

3.) Stir flour into sautéed onion and garlic creating a roux. Cook for a couple minutes to eliminate pasty taste.

veggie mac and cheese 4.) Whisk 1 cup milk with roux until smooth. Whisk in a second cup of milk and cook until sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes.

veggie mac and cheese

5.) Stir in cheese until melted, adding more milk if sauce gets too thick. Add pasta and veggies, stirring until evenly coated.

veggie mac and cheese

Sha-bam! Delicious and nutritious macaroni and cheese!

a veggie mac and cheese 1


Stuffed Squash Boats

A favorite go-to dinner recipe, Stuffed Squash Boats are simple, flavorful, healthy and can be a great make ahead meal.

a stuffed squash

4-6 zucchini or yellow squash, washed & ends trimmed
1 tablespoon heart healthy oil (avocado, grape seed, coconut)
1 onion, fine chopped
3-4 stalks celery, fine chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 cup cooked quinoa, brown rice, crab, shrimp, chili, etc.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 – 1 cup shredded parmesan or favorite cheese (optional)

stuffed squash boats

1.) Slice squash in half lengthwise. Hallow out the halves with a small spoon to create a “boat”. Fine chop the scooped-out squash guts.

stuffed squash boats

2.) Heat oil over medium heat. Sauté squash guts, onion and celery in oil until translucent, or about 8 – 10 minutes. Add garlic within the last couple minutes of sautéing.

stuffed squash boats

3.) Combine sautéed veggies with desired protein (quinoa, brown rice, crab, shrimp, chili, etc.) and spices (salt, pepper, etc.).

stuffed squash boats

4.) Stuff each squash half with veggie protein filling.

stuffed squash boats

5.) Bake stuffed squash in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes, adding cheese within the 5 minutes of baking if desired.

a stuffed squash boats

Stuffing squash of all kinds with any and everything is an awesome idea.

stuffed squash boats

From chili to seafood to quinoa or brown rice, this recipe is flavorfully diverse, yet remains quick and easy to prepare.

stuffed squash boatsStuffed Squash has been a regular in our home for quite a while, but a recipe request from possibly the spunkiest of our cousins inspired me to share it.

stuffed squash boatsMost recently Stuffed Squash Boats followed our favorite appetizer 7 Layer Dip on a night of Hokie verses Buckeye football. Go Hokies!


Nice picture in picture, eh? Hubby and I happened to be at the beach celebrating our anniversary. More on our relaxing getaway to Emerald Isle soon!  Until then, check out last year’s celebration.

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 May this lean mean dish lead you and your favorite team to dominate as Virginia Tech did that night!


Sweet Potato Salad

A sweet alternative to the ordinary, this twist on a cold classic is equally delicious and MUCH more nutritious!

a sweet potato salad (2)Sweet Potatoes alone are rich in flavor, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, blood sugar regulators and as of recent research, are shown to product antifungal and antibacterial properties. Vegan mayo brings lower fat and cholesterol content without sacrificing the salad ‘s  taste. This one’s easier and healthier than you’d think!

sweet potato salad

Sweet Potato Salad
(about 8 servings)

3 – 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, fine diced
1/2 cup fine diced celery
3 – 4 boiled eggs, fine diced (optional)
1 onion, fine diced
1/2 cup vegan mayo
2 tablespoon favorite mustard (yellow or otherwise)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1.) Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add prepared sweet potatoes and cook about 15 minutes or until fork-tender.
2.) Dunk cooked and drained sweet potatoes in an ice bath for about 10 minutes before draining off water.
sweet potato salad
3.) Whisk together onion, mayo, mustard, salt and pepper to create the dressing.
4.) Toss sweet potatoes, green pepper, eggs and dressing until evenly coated.
sweet potato salad
5.) Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to further develop or at the very least, serve chilled.
a sweet potato salad (2)
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so lost to revisit this recipe. It’s pretty amazing.
 sweet potato salad
So amazing hubby‘s raving of this recipe rivaled that of his all-time rav-orite, quiche! (Recipe coming soon!)
sweet potato salad
As of recently Sweet Potato Salad was served at a lovey lunch with our neighbor, who’s request for the recipe actually inspired this post! (Between, I love recipe requests so please, bring ‘em!)
Since, the Sweet Potato Salad leftovers have been enjoyed with bean burgers (above), sloppy joes and fresh shrimp cocktail (below) -a post on our Emerald Isle, NC trip is in the works too!
  sweet potato salad
It was about two years ago though that this jewel first came out to play at a family BBQ. The occasion was about six months after our niece was born. It brings back smiles looking over these flashback moments!
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 Create delicious memories any day with nutritious and simple Sweet Potato Salad!

Citrus Apple Quinoa

  This refreshing and figure friendly little number is packed with skinny essentials like protein, vitamin C and fiber. Need I say more?

a citrus apple quinoa
Citrus Apple Quinoa
(6 – 8 servings)
1 orange, zested
1 cup orange juice (about 2 fresh-squeezed oranges)
1 cup veggie or chicken stock
1 cup quinoa
1 onion, fine diced
1 bell pepper, fine diced
1 – 2 apples, chopped
1 orange, chopped
1 cup shredded chicken (optional)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup orange or lemon juice (about 1/2 fresh squeezed orange or 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons grade A maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
citrus apple quinoa
1.) Boil zest, 1 cup orange juice, broth, quinoa and onion covered for 15 – 20 minutes.
citrus apple quinoa
2.) Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
3.) Toss quinoa, pepper, chopped apple, oranges, chicken and dressing.
citrus apple quinoa
4.) Serve immediately or chill before serving if desired.
a citrus apple quinoa

Cold quinoa is easy to take on the go (to a picnic possibly!) and is an easy make ahead meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. In fact I had it for both lunch and dinner yesterday!

citrus apple quinoa

Citrus Apple Quinoa perfectly accompanied bean burgers last night with hubby, proving it be a lovely leftover from lunch with our neighbor earlier in the day.

I love talking travel among other things with this worldly woman. This time we talked over Citrus Apple Quinoa, Sweet Potato Salad, Kale Quiche and Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies (from left to right below). I hope to share all of these great go-to recipes sometime soon.

citrus apple quinoa sweet potatoe salad kale quiche apple oatmeal cookies

I’ve been busy whipping out one delicious tree-fruit treat after another, whittling away at the gianormous crate of apples we picked a couple weeks ago.


The somewhat of a personal iron chef challenge has been fun and rewarding for our taste buds! The bounty has also created quite a collection of apple recipes that will be fabulous for fall. I’d love to share each and every one of them. All I need is more time! (Don’t we all?)

 apple cobbler apple stuffing n' gravey curry apple chili apple cinnamon pancakes

While I’ve already shared the skinny on my addicting  Apple Strudel Bread, a few of the other apple-licious dishes as of late include Apple Butter, Southerned Fried Apples, Skinny Mini Apple Cobbler, Apple Stuffing N’ Gravy Casserole, Curry Apple Chili, Baked Apple French Toast and the newest (as of this morning) concoction, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes.

What to share next??