Sunday, March 30, 2008

Easter Carrot Cake

I made this cake for Easter dessert. It turned out fabulous!!! I hosted Easter dinner for 7 people and everyone loved it. All the men went back for a 2nd piece. The original recipe came from Cooks Illustrated found on Good Things Catered. I am also entering this cake in the Easter Cake Bake, hosted by A Slice of Cherry Pie.

Carrot Cake

2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I used a little more for the lack of ground cloves)
1/8 tsp ground cloves (I omitted)
1/2 tsp table salt
1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil , safflower oil, or canola oil

8 oz cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 Tbsp unsalted butter softened, but still cool
1 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar (4 1/2 ounces)

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick baking spray with flour.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.
Wipe out food processor work bowl and fit with metal blade.
Process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds.
With machine running, add oil through feed tube in steady stream.
Process until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer.
Scrape mixture into medium bowl.
Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time.
Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
When cake is cool, process cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in clean food processor work bowl until combined, about 10 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed.
Add confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.
Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan.
Invert cake onto wire rack, then invert again onto serving platter.
Using icing spatula, spread frosting evenly over surface of cake. Cut into squares and serve. (Cover leftovers and refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

If you don't have a food processor, here are the stand mixer directions:
Shred carrots using large holes of box grater (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.
In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds.
Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil).
Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer.
Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
Pour into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time.
Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
When cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment (or in large bowl using hand held mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed.
Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Its Exciting to Look Forward to Life!!!

My friend Laura recently posted about some fabulous events coming up in her life that she is looking forward to. It started me thinking about the upcoming events in my life (and Jake's too!).

5 days from now I will be in Chicago meeting the fabulous JKnottie Hotties! We are going to have an awesome weekend and I can't wait!

6 weeks from now I get to go back to Syracuse for a BIG weekend of events:
my mother-in-law's 50th birthday
my sister-in-law's bridal shower
my mother's graduation from college-she went back to school to get her bachelor's and has been working on it for a long time! (so proud of her!)
mother's day
A trip to Syracuse will always include getting to see my brother, sister, niece and some friends!

7 weeks from now my best friend, Bobbi and her husband are coming down to visit us in NYC for the weekend

8 weeks from now we will return to Syracuse for a wedding and Memorial Day

June will bring us to Jake's next production, Jesus Christ, Superstar

July will bring our 1 year anniversary! (and maybe a new apartment)

August will bring my sister-in-law's wedding (aka. another trip back to Syracuse!)

And in the not so near future but still great things to come:
January 2009 will bring us a trip to Arizona/San Diego, CA!!
Spring of 2009 will bring my best friend Char's wedding!!

What are you looking forward to in the near (or not-so-near) future??? (re-post in your blog and leave me a comment about it!)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

White Chip Chocolate Cookies

If you haven't figured it out already: I love cookies!! My mother tells me at the age of 2 I used to help her bake cookies. I would stand on a chair at the counter next to her. She would measure and I would get to "dump" it in the bowl. My favorite part was pouring in the chocolate chips! I still take pleasure in pouring a bag of chocolate chips into a bowl of dough.

My love of baking has expanded into a love of cooking since starting this blog. I am now finding my kitchen to be very therapeutic. Even doing the dishes is therapy for me. I love to be in my kitchen. The only problem is the products that come of my kitchen are NOT therapeutic!

I decided that if I wanted to bake so bad than I had to start finding places to send my baking so that I don't eat it myself! My mom would be disappointed with this recipe as she would say "White Chocolate is not REAL chocolate." Real chocolate or not, it still tastes fabulous!

I do not have a picture as it was late by the time I finished and I sent the cookies with my husband to his rehearsal the very next evening. The few cookies that stayed behind didn't last long enough to photograph.

White Chip Chocolate Cookies
(source: Nestle Toll House)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 salt
2 cups (12 ounces) white chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt small bowl. Set aside. Beat butter, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in white chocolate chips.

Drop by well-rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes of until centers are set. Cooking on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Easter Dinner: The Official Menu

If you read my last post, you know I was recruiting help for my Easter dinner menu. Thank you to Clara for posting it as her question of the day. Thank you to Amanda, April and Dawn who left me some wonderful suggestions here on my blog.

Easter Dinner 2008
Brown Sugar & Spice Crusted Ham
(source: Cooking Light)

Deviled Eggs

Roasted Asparagus

Mashed Potatoes w/gravy

Grandma's Sticky Rolls
(source: my grandma)

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(source: Good Things Catered)

Come back next week for recipes, pictures and reviews from my guests!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Easter Dinner????

I am hosting Easter dinner and for months I have been trying to think of something new and fun to make. I am cooking for 8 in my tiny little apartment. It should be interesting to say the least!

My MIL has hosted Easter dinner for the past couple of years and I've loved it. However, since this is my first time hosting a holiday in my home, I want to make it mine.

The thoughts I do have are (and these are just thoughts):

green bean casserole
potatoes w/gravy

It just doesn't seem unique. Its also very heavy and I'd like to make it much more figure friendly. Thoughts??
What are your family traditions? (and please share recipes!)

Pecan Crusted Chicken

I know she isn't the most loved cook on TV but sometimes she has great recipes. Rachael Ray didn't actually write this particular recipe but I found it in her magazine EveryDay with Rachael Ray. It was super easy-only 5 ingredients; it was so fast to put together and cook; and it tasted fabulous!

Pecan Crusted Chicken
Source: Christine Allison; EveryDay with Rachael Ray; February 2008
Photo: my kitchen


1 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
1/4 cup honey mustard


Preheat oven to 400.

Using food processor, grind pecans into fine crumbs. Transfer to wide, shallow bowl and stir in bread crumbs and basil. Season with salt and pepper. Rub each chicken breasts with honey mustard, then coat with pecan mixture.

Place on nonstick baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. (I omitted the olive oil part.) Bake until juices run clear, about 15-20 minutes.

Oatmeal Chocolate Filled Cookies

So, I'm catching up on some blogging. I made these for my friend Hannah for our JKnottie January Baking Exchange. My MIL bought me a individual sized brownie pan for Christmas that I had been wanting to put to good use when Hannah told me she liked brownies and bar cookies! Perfect.

I had also been wanting to make my favorite bar cookie. My mom would only ever make these to take some where. And rarely would she leave a couple at home for me and my siblings. I have even been known to go buy them when she took them to bake sales!

I loved the new pan and as stated these cookies are one of my favorites. However, the cookie is done in layers so it was a tedious process to put it together. Next time I experiment with the new pan, I think I'll find a pour-able type recipe!

Oatmeal Chocolate Filled Cookies
Source: Iris Cote-Brier Hill Fireman's Auxiliary Country Cookbook
Photos: my kitchen


1 cup butter
2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cup quick cooking oats

1-12 oz package chocolate chips
15 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (any variety-optional)
2 teaspoon vanilla


Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in oatmeal. Ass dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Set aside to make filling.

Mix chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, butter and salt together in top of double boiler and melt. When smooth, add nuts and vanilla.

Spread 2/3 oatmeal mixture in bottom of 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 inch pan (jelly roll pan). Cover with chocolate mixture. Scatter pieces of remaining dough over the chocolate.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

Banana Crumb Muffins

I realize this post is late but I'm posting it anyway. I had some leftover bananas and a new king size muffin pan and needed to find a recipe for the Master Baker challenge, hosted by my friend Nikki. I found a recipe for Banana Crumb muffins at Katie's Kitchen that sounded perfect.

I was so excited to use my new pan that I miss read the ingredients and directions. They turned out fabulous (or fierce, as some might say!). I did not end up with a crumb topping, much to my dismay. I have a few more frozen bananas so I plan to try making them again the right way. The original recipe can be found here.

Basically, when I read " add sugar" in the instructions, I took that to mean both kind of "sugars" listed. So, I add the brown sugar to the batter instead of waiting to use it in the crumb topping. Of course, I realized my mistake a moment too late (ie. after it was mixed in!). For fear that they would to sweet enough with the extra sugar, I didn't bother to add the crumb topping.

In the end the muffins were amazing and not too sweet at all. I sent 2 muffins to the host of Master Baker (I was already sending her a package but yes, I was also trying to score bonus points!). My husband and split one when they came out of the oven and then he proceeded to eat the other 3! I guess I really do have to make more.

Banana Crumb Muffins
(adapted from:
Photos: my kitchen!


1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted


Preheat, oven to 375. Lightly grease12 muffin cups (or 6 king sized muffin cups), or line with muffin papers.

In large bowl, mix together first 4 ingredients.

In another bowl, beat together remaining ingredients.

Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened. Over mixing will produce tougher muffins.

Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 or until toothpick comes out clean. My king size muffins took about 32 minutes.

Serve warm with butter!