Saturday, September 26, 2009

Carrot Cake

Husband loves carrot cake and I have made it for him a handful of times. He has several specifications for good carrot cake; raisins, pineapple, minimal or no nuts and lots of cream cheese frosting. I concur, except for the raisins. So we decided I would make a 9X13 pan with raisins in half. I would love to make a layer cake; so pretty and layers of frosting! But that would make the half raisins idea quite a challenge.

So I made the following.


1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) I left them out
1/2 cup (8 ounces) canned crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1 cup raisins, soaked in water for 15 minutes, and drained
1 cup (about 2 large) finely grated carrots (see Note)

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract


reheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick foil or grease with butter liberally.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, beat brown sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs until well-combined.

Add egg mixture to flour mixture and mix well. Stir in walnuts, crushed pineapple, raisins, and carrots. Mix until evenly distributed.

Pour into prepared pan and bake about 30 minutes or until center tests done. Cool to room temperature.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat cream cheese,confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Spread on cooled cake. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup walnuts and press gently into frosting.

Note: It's important that the carrots be finely grated. Most graters and/or food processors won't do the trick. This is the perfect job for a microplane grater/zester. If you want to add an extra kick, soak the raisins in rum. You can also use this batter to make miniature 3 x 6-inch loaves, miniature bundt cakes, or large muffins. The baking time should be about 25 to 30 minutes.

My personal notes:
I put an extra 5 minutes on the baking time to make sure the middle was done. This is a dense cake.

I also doubled the cream cheese frosting. I made it as directed the last time and the frosting was sadly lacking. Doubling it now I question how I managed to cover the cake the last time.

I am not crazy about walnuts but I love pecans. I chose to sprinkle pecans on my half of the cake. Seems to be a fine substitute.

Friday, September 25, 2009

breakfast goodness

Raspberries, vanilla yogurt and some cereal for crunch. Great way to start the day!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Football = Pizza

The Minnesota Vikings season is in full force and that means pizza on game day. This can mean homemade, delivery, or take & bake. I hadn't made homemade in quite a while and had new recipes I was looking forward to trying.

This pizza has a garlic cream sauce; found by my mother-in-law in
The Cooking Photographer

This beautiful blog has been on my reading list ever since.

Garlic Cream Sauce
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8th teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/8th teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4th cup Parmesan Reggiano

In a saucepan melt the butter and olive oil together over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn the heat to medium low and add the rest of the ingredients, but add the cheese last so it doesn’t hit the hot pan and seize up. Stir constantly until thickened.

The taste was terrific, but I think I probably needed to let the sauce cook a bit longer.

Ton O' cheese on this baby; as you can maybe tell by the photo. Lots of shredded cheese and some fresh mozzarella sliced on top. The dough was thick and soft. Pretty good; I have to say.

Also of note: the Vikings won!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chicken and Dumplings-slow cooker style

I am not even sure how I came across this recipe. I was searching/browsing through different sites and found myself reading this with interest.

First things first-I cut the recipe in half for the two of us. I also added frozen peas and corn, parsley, garlic powder, seasoned salt and pepper. I also substituted chicken broth for most of the water. Reading the comments is so helpful on All Recipes.

It was delicious. Reminded me of my mom's chicken and dumplings growing up; and that is saying something.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Potluck food

For me, there are three qualifications for a good potluck dish for those work get-together or family events.
1. It must be able to sit at room temp for a few hours without starting to look funny, taste funny or flat-out start to go bad. This goes double for work potlucks where refrigerator space is at a premium.
2. Relatively easy and turn out predictably.
3. Mass appeal.

My brother turned 40 recently; and his party was last night. It doesn't get much easier or more appealing that this Italian Pasta Salad. Colored, pretty pasta, bottled Italian dressing, cut-up pepperoni, cubed cheese, and veggies.

I just made sloppy joes for a work potluck tomorrow. Very easy and it goes over very well. Dragging the crock pot in will be the hardest thing of whole process. A coworker is bring buns, so one less thing I have to carry.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fresh tomatoes

For the first, oh, 35+ years of my life I did not eat raw tomatoes. Loved tomato sauce, ketchup, even tomato soup, but I couldn't do a raw one. Maybe it was the texture, maybe it was the seeds, maybe it was hanging on to old ideas; but I took countless raw tomatoes out of salads and off sandwiches.

Then one day I was at a work lunch, packed into a room like sardines. I had a salad with grape tomatoes in it. Rather then try to put them aside I just ate the darn things. You know what? Not bad. So I decided I was okay with grape and cherry tomatoes-the little ones. Not so scary.

This soon led to eating the big ones, and loving them. As every tomato eater knows the best are garden grown and ripe on the vine. One of these beauties was sliced on top of grilled hamburgers last night. The day before another was in a salad.

I have several bags in the freezer waiting to be cooked down for sauce.
By the way: the easiest way to skin tomatoes-freeze them and them run them under hot water. The skin literally falls off.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp was on sale at the grocery store this morning and I decided to try a recipe I have had my eye on. I tend to think of scampi as swimming in butter. This recipe contains no butter; but with the olive oil and fresh minced garlic I didn't miss it.

Broiled Shrimp Scampi

Credit to Martha Stewart

1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on, patted dry
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat broiler with rack set 4 inches from heat. Place shrimp on a large broilerproof rimmed baking sheet.

2. Sprinkle with oil and garlic, and season generously with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Arrange shrimp in a single layer.

3. Broil until opaque throughout, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice and parsley; toss to combine. Serve immediately.

I served with a mushroom rice and I was very pleased with the results.