Weekends are for (food)lovers- That’s My Kind of Vegetable

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”  ~Jim Davis

Don't check out yet, promise we'll make these little buggers delicious. Image by Fran Henig

It’s Springtime in Nashville, my windows have been open all weekend, the fan has been running and the sun has been out everyday. Well, besides that pesky thunderstorm that threatened to ruin Saturday but the sun chased it away before I had my first cup of coffee. After this weekend, I’m in a good mood.

I’ve been a little down recently after my not so peachy half marathon in Atlanta, followed by a week and a half long flu. It’s been miserable and no training was being done. I kept thinking I was getting better only to go out for a run and have to cut it short after feeling like someone was throwing bricks on top of my chest. It was an extremely frustrating week and with a celebrity booksigning at work, I was busier than ever. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to relax, recoup, get my life in order and hopefully squeeze in a 10 mile run and a 14 mile long run to get me back on track.

Instead of going on a 10 mile run on Saturday morning I sidelined those plans because turns out, when I don’t run, I eat. Well, I cook.  Makes sense right? You’re not running so obviously filling your home with delicious treats is the next logical step. But hey, at least it was healthy…it had carrots in it.  When The Pioneer Woman posted her favorite Easter treat, Sigrid’s Carrot Cake, I knew I had to try it. I have always been unjustly prejudice against carrot cake. I think the carrot threw me off.  Like most things I judge too quickly, I was wrong.

They taunt me with their cream cheese icing.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes- Originally from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

For the Cake:
-2 cups sugar
-1 cup vegetable oil
-4 eggs
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 cups grated carrots

For Icing:
-1 stick of butter, softened
-1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
-1 lb. powdered sugar
-2 tsp vanilla
-1 cup pecans, chopped finely (I decided to leave these out)

Directions

Cake
-Mix together the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl
-In another bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon then add it to the first mixture and combine
-Add carrots and mix well
-Pour into greased a floured cupcake tin and bake until done (25-27 minutes)
-Cool Completely

Icing
-In large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese
-Add sugar and vanilla and blend
-Mix in the nuts
-Spread on cooled carrot cake. (NOTE: This is one of the best icing ever, so a word or two of warning. 1- don’t eat the whole bowl with a spoon and 2- wait till the cupcakes are completely cooled before you put the icing on or it will all run off. Trust me, you don’t want it to all run off)

One of my favorite warm weather vegetables

Oh but that wasn’t all my friends. It’s not enough to have carrot cake cupcakes, I needed to add ricotta cheese to the mix. Again though…it included sweet peas, asparagus and zucchini…so it’s healthy right?

I got out of my 10 miler but I knew that bright and early Sunday morning I’d have to wake up and do 14 so I wanted to get my pasta in and why not throw in some cheese and greens. This dish was delicious and perfect for a Spring night.

Springy Shells- Recipe originally from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients
-16oz.  medium pasta shells
-1 lb. asparagus (cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces)  discard tough pieces
-1/2 lb broccoli, cut into small florets (I left these out since the Boy doesn’t like cooked broccoli, still had two three greens though so I was ok with that decision)
-1 medium zucchini diced
-1/2 cup frozen peas
-3 whole green onions sliced (white and light green parts)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbls butter
-2 Tbls olive oil
-20 oz. ricotta cheese
-1/2 teasp salt
-2 eggs
-1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
-black pepper
-extra olive oil for drizzling

Springy Shells Photo by Ree Drummond

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Cook pasta until extremely al dente
-Melt butter with olive oil over medium heat, then add garlic
-Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for five minutes
-Add the broccoli and cook for one minute
-Add zucchini and cook for one or two more minutes
-Add the frozen peas, stir together then turn off the heat and set aside
-In separate bowl mix ricotta, eggs, salt and pepper until well combined

-Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish
-Add half the pasts, then spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over the surface
-Sprinkle 1/3 of the parmesan over the ricotta, then 1/2 of the vegetables
-Repeat with the rest of the pasta, then the rest of the ricotta and another 1/3 of the parmesan.
-End with the rest of the veggies and the rest of the parmesan
-Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes on 350 or until nice and hot

This was so yummy! I think the Boy liked it too but not as much as the cupcakes. It was sans meat but have no fear because I have a three ingredient brisket marinating in the fridge for tomorrow to remedy the meatless weekend. Mmm.

The springy shells must have put an extra spring in my step because I went out Sunday morning and got my whole 14 miler in! It was the first time in two weeks I finished the run I set out to do and it did a world of good for me mentally. I can’t believe that after next weeks 20 miler, It’ll be taper time. Now I’m off to sit outside, soak up some sun, relax, have a cupcake and watch some more Office, which me and the Boy have been going through at an alarming speed.

Happy Monday!  How was your weekend?