Lemon Lavender Cake

This moist lemon lavender cake has culinary lavender baked right in! Perfect for a bridal or baby shower, tea, or light afternoon sweet.


I’ve been a little obsessed with lavender lately. Like, lavender anything. Lavender tea, lavender essential oil, lavender pillow spray, and most definitely this lemon lavender cake.

Lavender foreverrrr!

It all started with a unique cocktail recipe I wanted to serve at my birthday party earlier this month: a blueberry lavender vodka spritzer. Hence, I headed to Amazon to purchase some culinary lavender…which of course arrived in a package large enough to last the rest of my natural life. (The cocktail, by the way, was delicious–not too sweet with an earthy undertone!)

In a strange twist of fate, I’ve also been having trouble sleeping lately AND, for work, was assigned to write an article about pillow sprays for better rest. So *obviously* I was going to have to investigate lavender as a remedy for insomnia. (Results pending…I’ve been trying out ThisWorks pillow spray. I so want it to work, but not bowled over just yet.)

Long story short, it’s a lavender-palooza up in here lately. And what with that giant bag of culinary lavender staring me down from the pantry shelf, I knew a baked good recipe had to been the pipeline. Something with lemon, perhaps? The bright tang of citrus sounded like the perfect foil for lavender’s more subtle, floral flavor.

I found this lemon lavender cake recipe over on Food52. What drew me to it was its simple list of Mediterranean diet-friendly ingredients. (I mean, okay, it has way more sugar than you’d find on a true Med diet, but at least you’ve got Greek yogurt and olive oil going for you here.) Besides calling for culinary lavender, this comes together with familiar baking basics you’re likely to have on hand. And after a quick whizz of the lavender and sugar in the food processor, this recipe is ultra-simple.

Since I’m a frosting-a-holic, I was convinced the cake was going to need frosting, or at least a scoop of vanilla ice cream to add richness, but was floored by how it stands alone as a moist, flavorful dessert. A dusting of powdered sugar is all it needs for finishing off.

With its pretty look and easy slice-ability, I’d say this one would be just right for a bridal or baby shower, afternoon tea, or any time that calls for something light, sweet, and absolutely unique.

Lemon Lavender Cake

This moist lemon lavender cake has culinary lavender baked right in! Perfect for a bridal or baby shower, tea, or light afternoon sweet.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 3/4 tbsp. dried culinary lavender
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 c. light olive oil
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray the sides with non-stick spray.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the sugar and dried lavender until well mixed and the lavender has broken down.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl or large measuring cup, mix the eggs, yogurt, and olive oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet, stirring to combine. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and springs back when pressed. Cool about 5 minutes, then remove from the springform pan and plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Notes

Adapted from Food52.

 

German Potato Salad

A tangy potato salad with DIY pickled red onions–perfect with brats or as part of a plant-based feast!

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile (all three of you), you may recall that your family spent the summer of 2017 in Germany, mostly in Cologne. That summer was one of the most memorable times in my entire life. To this day, my husband and I talk and think about it all. the. time. and in many ways it feels like it was just yesterday.

One of our favorite parts of the whole experience–especially for my husband–was the frequency with which we visited Biergartens. (Who wouldn’t like eating brats and drinking great beer in an open-air green space? There’s truly nothing like it in the U.S.)

We both remember one particular meal with special fondness. My husband’s friend and his wife, who live in Munich, treated us to a *s p e c t a c u l a r* home-cooked, authentically German meal, which they brought in a series of large picnic baskets to the English Garden. We ate that meal over the course of probably 90 minutes, there was SO much food. Jessie, our hostess, created a flight of salads, veggies, meats, and breads I’ll never forget. Among them was, of course, a German potato salad.

Fast-forward to summer 2021. My husband’s and my 17th wedding anniversary was in July, and I’ll confess, I always struggle to land on the right gift for him. I mean, technically, the official gift for a 17th anniversary is furniture, but our house is pretty well-equipped and I wasn’t about to surprise him with a new end table or cabinet (unless maybe it’s this cow-shaped cabinet, because, come on, that’s just badass).

Somehow, though, I landed on the idea of recreating the Munich meal Jessie had made for us four years ago. I hauled out the photo album to look back at the pictures we took of that meal and, to the best of my ability, made the same brats, German beer (thanks, Total Wine!), and salads, including a zesty tomato-onion mixture and…this German potato salad!

I’m so glad this inspiration struck! This potato salad turned out tangy, savory, and the perfect accompaniment to bratwurst. (On the other hand, it’s totally vegan, so you could also make it as a part of a plant-based feast.) My husband was thrilled to have an edible reminder of the good times we enjoyed in the English Garden years ago–so I’d call it an anniversary win.

If you’re looking for a German potato salad that’s simple to make and doesn’t come with a dairy-based sauce, this is it. Despite being free of animal products, I thought this side had a smoky, almost meaty flavor. It lasted in our fridge for days on end, and we enjoyed it not only alongside bratwurst, but several other meals, both plant- and animal-based.

What will you make it with?

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

German Potato Salad

A tangy dressing and pickled red onions give this potato salad bite!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. baby gold potatoes
  • 4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 2/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 6 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by about 1 inch. Add 2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sugar, paprika, black pepper, and remaining 2 tsp. salt. Stir in the sliced red onions and parsley and let sit at least 10 minutes.
  • Slice the potatoes in half or into quarters, depending on their size. (You want bite-sized pieces.) Add the sliced potatoes to the bowl with your dressing and onions and stir gently to coat.
  • Refrigerate for several hours or overnight for best flavor.

Notes

Adapted from Once Upon a Chef.

Healthy Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Dip

This healthy strawberry yogurt fruit dip only takes three ingredients to make!

So…what do YOU do when your husband comes home from Costco with enough Chobani yogurt to feed a small army?

Approximately 8% of the epic yogurt haul of 2021.

I love yogurt–in fact, it’s one of those foods that’s almost always on my grocery list because I use so much of it–but even I have my limits as far as how much I can just sit and eat. So when my husband recently came home with yogurt galore (not realizing that I already had a ton of it in the fridge), I was motivated to find a way to use it up.

Fortunately, a potluck get-together with friends was on the horizon, so it only made sense to make a tasty fruit dip to share, especially since it’s berry season. I mean, luscious strawberries and big, bold blueberries are yummy all on their own, but it’s a law of nature that:

EVERYTHING’S BETTER WITH DIP.

In fact, I need that on a t-shirt. Or a wall hanging in my kitchen. My husband calls me the Condiment Queen–a title I happily own.

Anyway, the problem with most fruit dips–even those with yogurt–is, well, their ingredients. There may be a time and place for marshmallow fluff (like in Christmas fudge), but it’s an an ingredient I’d generally rather keep out of my diet. And yet, somehow, it’s virtually inescapable in fruit dip recipes. I even tried googling for fruit dip with the minus sign in front of the words “marshmallow fluff” and STILL all I got was a wall of fluff, fluff, fluff! With the occasional Cool Whip thrown in as salt in the wound.

Convinced that one does not need processed corn syrup products to make an appealing dip, I decided it was time to concoct a healthier version. And guess what? It really wasn’t difficult. (So why the heck does every recipe cling to marshmallow fluff like a sugary security blanket? Who knows?)

This healthy strawberry yogurt fruit dip uses just three ingredients: Greek yogurt-style cream cheese, Chobani lower-sugar strawberry yogurt, and maple syrup. What, you may ask, is the idea behind adding sweetener to a lower-sugar yogurt? As awesome as Chobani’s line of lower-sugar yogurts are for snacking, a more dessert-like treat requires a bit more sweetness. And, as sweeteners go, you can’t do much better than maple syrup. (Trust me on this! I recently wrote a whole article about how maple syrup compares to honey, and I’m Team Maple for its lower calorie and carb counts.)

The most important question, though, is how this healthy strawberry yogurt fruit dip actually tastes. I may be biased, but I think its cool-and-creamy, pillowy fluff is the real deal. Serve with fresh berries and graham crackers for a summery snack everyone can feel good about.

Healthy Strawberry Yogurt Fruit Dip

Just three ingredients whip up into creamy deliciousness for dipping!

Ingredients

  • 10 oz. Greek yogurt-style cream cheese, softened
  • 2 5.3 oz. containers Chobani less-sugar strawberry yogurt
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, blend all ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth. Chill for a couple of hours before eating, if possible, to let flavors blend.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

Lime Cheesecake Bars

A cool, creamy lime filling rests atop a thick layer of graham cracker crust in these delicious Lime Cheesecake Bars!


Having lived in Arizona for most of my life–93.5% of my life, to be exact, because I’m a nerd and was just calculated the percentage–I’m no stranger to Mexican food. Like, good Mexican food. None of this Swiss-cheese-on-a-burrito business I sometimes encountered while at college in the Chicago area. Good Mexican food to me means crispy tortilla shells, marinated meats with a zesty mix of the right spices, fresh veggies for the perfect salsa, and a hint of something cool and creamy to balance it all out. Like most Arizonans, I’m basically *always* in the mood for Mexican.

But there’s one perpetual problem I have when serving Mexican food to guests: what to make for dessert. There’s the usual flan or dulce de leche-flavored anything, but I find these can tire out pretty quickly. And as much as I love chocolate cookies or carrot cake, they just aren’t quite right after Mexican. So when my husband’s high school friend group was recently scheduled to join us for an evening of a Mexican dinner and movie night, I needed something appropriate for dessert.

With a bit of tinkering from a handful of other recipes, I was able to create these thick and creamy Lime Cheesecake Bars, which totally fit the bill! I think bright, peppy citrus always goes well with Mexican spices like cumin, chili powder, or oregano, and the combo of and more mellow cream cheese provides a satisfying coda to a spicy meal. I ended up serving these with my Veggie-ful Slow Cooker Chicken (which also feeds a crowd), plus chips and guac (a party prerequisite). Their graham cracker crust is extra thick–because thin lil’ slivers of crust are soooo disappointing–while the filling is the stuff of New York-style cheesecake dreams, but with a generous dose of lime flavor. And like many flavor-melding foods, these bars were even better the next day.

Of course, don’t let me stop you from enjoying Lime Cheesecake Bars with other cuisines (or all by themselves)! They’d be equally at home with Caribbean food, Creole food, or underneath a mountain of whipped cream. But in case you like Mexican…

Don’t miss more these south-of-the-border recipes to serve with Lime Cheesecake Bars!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Lime Cheesecake Bars

These bars are cool and creamy on top with a sturdy graham cracker crust. The hint of lime is just right for serving with a spicy dinner.
Servings: 18

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 16 oz. Greek yogurt-cream cheese blend, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 c. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. lime zest
  • whipped cream for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan evenly. Bake 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, beat all cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and beat until smooth, then pour in sweetened condensed milk and lime juice and continue beating on low until no lumps remain. Stir or beat in lime zest until incorporated.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture over the graham cracker crust and smooth. Bake about 25 minutes or until filling is no longer jiggly. Let cool completely before slicing and garnish with whipped cream. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe

Almond Blender Pancakes

Easy blender pancakes with loads of almond flavor!

Do you BFD? I do.

I don’t mean Bidirectional Forwarding Detection (whatever that is). I don’t mean Big Freakin’ Deal. (Though sometimes I’d like to think of myself that way.) I’m talking about…

Breakfast
For
Dinner!

Every once in awhile I remember that pancakes are a totally acceptable dinner option (at least, when rounded out with a fruit salad and some eggs). A few times a year I like to whip up a pancake dinner for the fam. It pleases the kids big time and is super easy to prepare.

And you know what makes pancakes even easier? (Don’t say a boxed mix.) A blender!

When I decided to make pancakes for our most recent BFD, I wanted them to be almond-y–but I’m not one to keep almond flour on hand, so I knew I’d have to make my own from slivered almonds.

No prob! Blender to the rescue!

By mixing all the ingredients for these pancakes right in the blender, you’ll grind slivered almonds up into a flour-like consistency along with everything else. And don’t be deterred by the long-ish ingredient list here. Since everything gets tossed in the blender, it’s a one-bowl meal for the win.

I will say, though, depending on your blender, you might want to pause the blending and stir it up a few times. I love my NutriBullet, but it has a tendency to build dry ingredients up along the sides of the bowl. Pushing them down generally sets things right.

Oh, and one other caveat: with any flour-based food, it’s best not to mix too much. Doing so can overwork the gluten in the flour, resulting in a tough finished product. So don’t leave these ingredients to blend while you, you know, get your nails done or something. You want to get everything to that just-mixed point.

As for flavor, the addition of almond milk and almond extract makes these Almond Blender Pancakes as almond-y as can be. (Let’s just say almond a few more times. Almond. Almond. Almond. Thanks, got that out of my system now.) You can even sprinkle a few extra slivered almonds on top of each one while they cook on the griddle–not necessary, but it makes them prettier to look at. Meanwhile, they’re nice and moist with just enough sweetness, and my nutritionist brain loves that the addition of the nuts provides extra protein, vitamin E, and calcium. (You’ll also soak up protein from Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour.)

For a weeknight BFD (or of course a breakfast or brunch), almond fans will want to dig right in!

Almond Blender Pancakes

Full of almond flavor, these pancakes mix up easily in the blender!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 5 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • generous 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 c. almond milk
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • additional almonds for garnish

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
  • Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle and cook until the surface of the batter bubbles. Sprinkle a few slivered almonds on top, if you like. Flip and cook the other side.
  • Serve plain or with butter and maple syrup.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food original recipe.