The Treat of the Month Club & Carrot Cupcakes

Last month, I gave my friend Danae a subscription to her very own “Treat of the Month Club” for her 18th birthday. I promised that every month, I would bake one of her favorite homemade treats and deliver them for her enjoyment (I know right? You really want to be my friend now ;)). Because no one in her family bakes, she. loved. this. gift. I just delivered installment 2 out of 18: the first month was oatmeal raisin cookies, and this month was carrot cupcakes with cream cheese.

danae mayThese cupcakes were delicious! And Danae loved them- when her family members asked for a cupcake, they were granted one with a grudging heart.

Being the slacker I am, I didn’t take any demo pictures, but here’s the recipe anyway (the recipe says that it will make 24 cupcakes, however it actually made closer to 30 for me):

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cupcake Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. salt

1 lb. (6-7 medium) carrots, peeled

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups canola oil

Frosting Ingredients:

12 oz. cream cheese (not softened)

6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 350*. Line cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; whisk together and set aside.

In a food processor fitted with a shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups). Add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside. Rinse out the bowl of the food processor and fit with the metal blade. Process the sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With the machine running, add the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. Continue to process until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 more seconds. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Scoop evenly into the prepared cupcake liners, so that each is about 2/3 full. Bake for about 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan at least 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Jordan

Recipe from: gimmesomeoven.com

tags: cupcakes, cake, carrot cake, carrots, frosting, cream cheese, desserts, sweets, treat of the month

Garden Update

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I spent some quality time in the garden today and it is looking pretty good. I was able to harvest beans, carrots and several different types of squash. It makes me feel so self sufficient to head out to the garden and chicken coop and come back to the house with the ingredients for dinner! Remember that show in the 80’s about the mountain man who lived off the land and had a big, scruffy beard? I don’t remember his name, but I can totally see him, can’t you? Anyway, I’m like that guy – except I don’t have such a scruffy beard!

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Parmesan Pasta

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Parmesan pasta, catchy name huh? It’s practically a staple in our family – what am I saying? It IS a staple in our family! I started making this, or some form of this 25, um 30 years ago. I was living on my own and wanting to make some sort of yummy meal for myself. I pulled out my clean and never used copy of The New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. I found a delectable recipe for pasta carbonara.

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(Yes, that really is the same exact cookbook that started it all…)

Mmmmmm! I made it. But between the whipping cream, bacon and 4 eggs, this didn’t quite fulfill my goal of finding a yummy, cheap meal- plus it was super fattening, which at that age I wasn’t as concerned about, but still! So after my first attempt at pasta carbonara, I started making my own form of that – no eggs, no heavy whipping cream and usually no bacon- so really, not pasta carbonara! Over the years it has pretty much stayed the same. However, I never measure anything, so usually there is some variation. My oldest son ate it so much, his grandma used to say he was going to turn into a curly noodle. He has continued the tradition of making this meal for himself each week while away at college. It is simple and delicious – you must try this for yourself. It might become a staple for your family too.

Cook pasta following package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce. Now, as simple as this sauce is, the key is how you mix/heat this. I’m serious. I’ve tried to just dump everything into the pot and for some reason it just doesn’t turn out the same. So my answer to that is to put all of the sauce ingredients into a large measuring cup…

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and heat it in the microwave. It normally takes about 2 minutes, but you want to watch it – you don’t want any of that yummy goodness to boil over and end up in the microwave instead of on your pasta!

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So I normally microwave it for one minute and check it and then just let it sit until the pasta is finished and then heat it for the next minute once the cooked pasta is drained…

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and back in the pot. Pour the completely melted and sort of bubbly sauce mixture over the top…

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of the cooked pasta and mix well. Don’t worry if it seems a bit thin, we will fix that next. Add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. I just use the ol’ Kraft variety because I like the way it melts and that is just how we have always done it. Mix well.

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When serving, we grate a bit of fresh Parmesan cheese over the top and if we are feeling particularly fancy, we add some fresh herbs such as basil or Italian parsley.

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Mmmmm!

Parmesan Pasta
1 lb. dried pasta
1 stick of butter (I know, it’s a lot but totally worth it)
1/2 cup milk (I use 1%, cuz I’m healthy that way)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, along with fresh herbs if desired.

Cook pasta following package directions. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce: put all of the sauce ingredients into a large measuring cup and heat it in the microwave. It normally takes about 2 minutes, but you want to watch it – you don’t want any of that yummy goodness to boil over and end up in the microwave instead of on your pasta! So I normally microwave it for one minute and check it and then just let it sit until the pasta is finished and then heat it for the next minute once the cooked pasta is drained and back in the pot. Pour the completely melted and sort of bubbly sauce mixture over the top of the cooked pasta and mix well.

Add the 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese and mix well. When serving, we grate a bit of fresh Parmesan cheese over the top and if we are feeling particularly fancy, we add some fresh herbs such as basil or Italian parsley.

The Reason We Started the Obsession Header is…Coffee

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ob-ses-sion (n.) 

1. The state of being obsessed with someone or something.

2. An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.

 

The reason we started the obsession header is because of my obsession with coffee! I love coffee. I dream of coffee. I think about when I can have more coffee. When I walk into a coffee shop I practically groan because I love the smell of coffee so much. I set my coffee maker up right after dinner for the next morning. As I am walking away, I’m always a little sad because I wish I could have coffee RIGHT NOW! Even though I drink a lot of coffee, I never drink coffee after 4:00 p.m., so I have to start early! My coffee maker goes off during the week at 5:05 am, so that gives me many hours to get my coffee in. While I truly love the smell, taste and affects of coffee – I think that part of the love is the routine and how comforting that warm cup of coffee feels in your hand. Mmmmm – I think I need more coffee now!

_DSC0043Another of my favorite mugs…which is also an important part of my coffee obsession.

Best Mother’s Day EVER

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Yesterday was such a wonderful and special day- the only thing that could have made it better was if Alex could have been home :(.

The day started out just the way I like it: a quiet house because everyone else is sleeping and me drinking hot, yummy coffee. Donald mowed the lawn while Jordan made my favorite breakfast and Travis traipsed across the property to come back with a beautiful bouquet of wild calla lilies.

mother's day 1The Mother’s Day breakfast was my all-time favorite breakfast, EVER. A plain (or sesame seed) bagel, lightly toasted, primered with butter, slathered with cream cheese, and topped with crispy bacon. Oh, and just to throw in something remotely healthy, fruit. mother's day 2After our luscious breakfast, we went to church, and then drove to Solana Beach for a wonderful meal at California Pizza Kitchen (in case you’ve been deprived of this amazingness- FYI, it’s amazing). From there, we headed north up the coast for some fun shopping and a stop at the St. Tropez Bistro for coffee and insanely decadent chocolate desserts (unfortunately, we were too busy enjoying our heavenly cocoa pastries to take a picture for our currently salivating readers).

We came home planning to go on a hike, however we stalled for a while because it was about a billion degrees (seriously, it was like 95. I know, we are total wimps when it comes to anything above or below 75*- we live in Southern California for a reason people!).

So since we couldn’t go for a hike yet, the darling daughter washed my car. I appreciated this to an almost ridiculous degree- guess it just proves that one of my love languages is acts of service. After this, a delicious and delectable dinner was consumed: Thai pasta salad, grilled chicken and vegetables  and avocado to top off the whole shebang. As Jordan put it, “today was a good eating day”.

It finally cooled off enough for us to go for a walk…

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The dogs had a blast, despite the fact that we had to turn around a little sooner than normal because of the sun setting.

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All in all, it was a wonderful ending to a great day.

P.S. I just had to throw in a picture of my three little cuties (circa 1999).

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