Aunt Lil Bakes with Weight Watchers

I love to bake and I love to eat. And I hate to exercise. The result – some unwanted pounds that keep adding up. So Aunt Lil joined Weight Watchers. This isn’t my first time, so I know the ropes. Portion control is key, as well as tracking what you eat! But, no matter what, I didn’t want to give up baking and cooking good meals. But thankfully, there are many great recipes out there for people watching their weight.

So with that in mind you’ll be reading about experiments with food that’s good for you, but still very tasty.

Right off the bat I scored big! I needed a dessert to take to a cook-out yesterday along with a heck of a lot of will power and strategies to not go crazy. I won’t bore you with what else I ate (or didn’t), but I do want to write about this super moist and tasty Carrot Cake found on the Weight Watchers website.

Carrot Cake with a Lemon Glaze (7 points for a small slice)

  • 1 c. flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 c. shredded carrots, finely grated (about 1/2 lb carrots)
  • 2 tsp. ginger root, fresh, grated (I substituted 1 tsp. dried ginger)
  • 4 fl. oz carrot juice


  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 2/3 tbs. low fat cream cheese at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Generously coat a bundt pan with cooking spray

Grate the carrots

The most tedious part of this cake

In a medium bowl, whisk together both types flour along with baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, set aside

Using an electric mixer in a large bowl, beat both sugars with eggs and melted butter until light and fluffy

Add applesauce and beat again just a bit

Fold in carrots and ginger

Working in small batches, add flour mixture, alternating with carrot juice until batter is blended

Beat on high for 30 seconds more

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top

Bake until a tester inserted in cake comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes

Cool cake in pan for 15 minutes

Turn cake out onto a wire rack and cool completely

While cake is cooling, combine icing ingredients in a medium bowl (I waited a bit here to make sure cake was really cool)

Blend powdered sugar with vanilla extract, lemon juice, and cream cheese until smooth with no lumps

Once cake is cool, drizzle this glaze on top of cake so it runs down edges

The resulting cake was very moist and had a wonderful rich flavor. I find many carrot cakes to be way too sweet, especially with the gloppy cream cheese icing people heap on it. The carrot cake recipe I just linked to – a very traditional recipe – is 785 calories and used 2 boxes of cream cheese! I found that the cake I made has the perfect amount of sweetness with a strong carrot flavor enhanced by the cinnamon and ginger. And was far better for me.

Everyone loved it at the party. If you are dieting, Weight Watchers says this should be served in 16 small slices. If you’re not worrying about this, have as big as you’d like and enjoy!

Farmers Market Finds

Since Farmer’s Markets are finally in full swing here in upper New Hampshire, I decided to try some recipes from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables, 2006.

This is a great cookbook divided by the seasons. There are many creative recipes that help you use your bounty if you have a garden. Or if you’re not a gardener, how to make best use of what is available in season at the Farmer’s Markets.

There are a number of Farmer’s Markets in the area. My favorite are the ones in Tamworth and in Wolfeboro. The Wolfeboro market is a bit challenging for me to make since its Thursday afternoons. Wolfeboro is made up of retired folk who have the leisure to go on Thursdays. Lately, if its quiet at work, I use my lunch hour to go shopping there. Tamworth’s is on Saturday morning and is a bit of a drive for me. If I’m not working, I like to laze around on Saturday, so I don’t go there as frequently.

Wolfeboro Farmer's Market

Either way, I hope you go to Farmer’s Markets. Not only are you getting the freshest produce, but you are supporting the local economy. I win, win all around.

This week I snagged green beans, lettuce, beets, and zucchini. Here’s two good recipes I made from Farmer John’s cookbook using two of these vegetables.

Green Bean Salad

  • 1/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1 lb. green beans
  • 1 tsp. salt plus more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
  • 3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved (about 1/2 c.)

Trim and cut your green beans

Toast the walnuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably iron) over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant (watch carefully so you don’t burn them). Set aside to cool

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the green beans and salt; cook until tender but still firm, 3-5 minutes (I cooked them 5 minutes)

Transfer beans to a colander in the sink and run cold water over them

Toss the beans and walnuts in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil until well combined. Put this over the beans and toss until well coated

Place on plates and then gently scatter the Parmesan shavings on top

So simple and so good. I think the Parmesan cheese really makes this dish. Dan and I devoured the green beans!

We had the green beans with paninnis made with heirloom tomatoes.

Belleau Lake, scene of our boat ride

Last night Dan and I were invited to take a lake tour on our friends’ pontoon boat. Everyone was to bring an appetizer to share. I decided to use the zucchini and make Creamy Zucchini-Cumin Dip.

  • 4 small or 2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. sour cream (I used low fat)
  • 2 tbs. finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Paprika

Place the grated zucchini in a medium bowl; add the salt and mix well

Transfer to a colander and set in the sink to drain for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 (Obviously over a bowl)

Meanwhile, put the sour cream, chopped onion, lime juice and cumin in a large serving bowl

Stir until well combined and season with pepper and paprika to taste

Squeeze as much moisture as you can from the zucchini with your hands (this is messy!)

Add the zucchini to the sour cream mixture

Stir until well combined

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours

Serve cold or at room temperature with chips or crackers

I was in a rush, so I didn’t take photos. This was good and healthy tasting. But not so good that I’d make it again – unless I had a lot of zucchini!



Greetings from Rangoon

No, I’m not on some exotic vacation. I’m instead cooking from my latest vintage cook book find, Rangoon International Cook Book, 1956. I at first hesitated about buying the book, as its title implied that the book would be filled with 1950s recipes from Southeast Asia. In fact it’s an amazing mix of recipes from [...] Read more »

Shepherd’s Pie – Scottish Style

Several years ago, Dan and I took the trip of our dreams. We visited Scotland for two weeks. Both of us have Scottish ancestors. Dan’s are much easier to trace. His MacKenzie and MacLeod relatives came over in the 1830s from the Isle of Raasay during the Highland Clearances to Prince Edward Island, Canada. Further [...] Read more »

Meat Loaf – An American Institution?

Along with hamburgers and hotdogs, meat loaf ranks up there as a food that’s “as American as apple pie.” But it turns out its origins go quite far back to Roman times. In the oldest written cookbook found to date, Apicius de re Coquinaria, is a recipe for ground meat patties mixed with bread and [...] Read more »

A Tale of Two Rubes – Pies That Is

Rhubarb season has been in full swing here in New Hampshire these past few weeks. I love rhubarb, but have no recollection of my Mom serving it. Since the only desserts we ever had were compliments of Mrs. Smith’s frozen pies we never tasted rhubarb. I guess rhubarb pie wasn’t in Mrs. Smith’s repertoire either. [...] Read more »

Convict Cookies from the Pillsbury Bake-Off

Hopefully this title caught some people’s attention. And yes, it says convict as in convicted criminal. Read on to learn how an innocent 13-year-old won a prize in the 1952 Bake-Off and then went on to a life of crime. I needed to make cookies for an event where I work. I decided to try [...] Read more »

Kale Soup For a Wet Spring Day

The cookbook shelf brought me to Heart of the Home: Notes From a Vineyard Kitchen by Susan Branch from 1986. I’ve used this cookbook fairly frequently as the messy pages attest. The Kale Soup recipe called to me. I’m a total sucker for kale and sausage soup. Susan Branch is a prolific writer including of [...] Read more »

Broonie – A Gingerbread with a Past

First of all I encourage you to resist. Yes, resist eating this gingerbread when it comes out of the oven. All Broonie recipes say to wrap the cooled gingerbread and store it in an airtight container for three days to let the flavor and texture mellow. Yes, they are right. More on this later. So [...] Read more »

Brown Derby Hamburgers De Luxe

For those of us of a certain age the Brown Derby Restaurant conjures up images of Hollywood’s golden age stars eating out in fancy clothing have their photos taken. I found a recipe for their Hamburgers De Luxe in one of my favorite vintage cookbooks, The Ford’s Treasury of Favorite Recipes From Famous Eating Place. [...] Read more »

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