Sunday, November 30, 2008

Carrot Cake Recipe

I love to look in the sweets case at the grocery store. Little truffles, tarts and cakes all lined up, so cute. I peeked in it today while BF and I were shopping and saw some carrot cake cupcakes and absently muttered to myself "I should make a carrot cake..."

BF stopped in his tracks, looked at me and said "You can't joke about that, because I'll won't be able to help but run over and grab a bag of carrots and hope for cake."

Of course I told him to go get the carrots.

Here are some slices all ready and lined up for him to take to work tomorrow. We can't eat a 9 x 13 cake all by ourselves!

The recipe is adapted from one I found online. It is incredibly dense, moist and flavourful. One of my favorite things about making carrot cake is watching all of the ingredients going into the bowl because you put about twice as much stuff in there as you do for normal cakes, but it goes into the same size of pan.

I originally planned to make cupcakes, but after some soul searching, I realized that for me to enjoy carrot cake to its fullest potential, it should be served in cubes. So instead of piped swirls of frosting, I just made a really thick layer on the top of the cake.

Recipe: Carrot Cake


4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugars and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for three minutes.

Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Recipe: Cream Cheese Frosting


1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
1 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups icing sugar

Cream butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about three minutes. Add vanilla and mix. Add icing sugar and blend until consistency is uniform.

The little carrots were made by colouring 1/4 cup of the frosting orange and 1/4 cup green. The carrots were piped with Wilton tip #5 and the green parts were piped with Wilton tip #3. The rest of the frosting was exactly enough to frost the cake.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Creamy Potato and Leek (and Bacon!) Soup Recipe

Twice in the past week I've been walking down a street and seen a sign outside a restaurant advertising potato and leek soup. I love potato and leek soup, but I didn't go in either time.

This morning, BF and I headed to our regular brunch haunt (Halifax Residents: Check out brunch at Luxx in Park Lane. It's Halifax's best kept secret brunch in my opinion) and sure enough, the soup of the day was potato and leek. I had my heart set on eggs benny though, and I knew that although I believed at that moment I had room for both, my eyes are generally bigger than my stomach so I should just stick with the eggs.

Lucky for me though, the restaurant was directly across the street from the grocery store, so you can guess what my next stop was.

It turned out to die for. Soooooooo good!

Here's the recipe:

Recipe: Creamy Potato and Leek Soup


4 good sized new potatoes
3 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb bacon
1 bunch of leeks
1/2 cup heavy cream

Peel potatoes and cut into bite sized cubes. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a large pot and add potatoes. Boil until potatoes are cooked through.

Cut bacon into 1 inch pieces and fry over medium heat until crispy. While the bacon is cooking, remove bottoms from the leeks and cut the tops into small slices. Remove bacon from pan and drain about half of the bacon fat from the pan. Saute the leeks in the remaining bacon fat for about 8 minutes.

Once the potatoes are cooked, reserve 1/4 of the potatoes. Allow the rest of the stock and potatoes cool a little bit and then transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot and return the reserved potatoes to the pot. Reheat the soup over medium heat and add the bacon, leeks and cream. Mix until combined. Enjoy!

As an aside, a bowl of soup at brunch today cost $6.

To make this soup, I spent $2 on potatoes, $1 on leeks, $1.75 on bacon, about 40 cents on cream and about 25 cents on chicken bouillion for a total of about $5.40. It made 4 bowls, so that works out to $1.35 a bowl.

I love to eat at restaurants, but luckily I also love to cook because it's definitely more economical!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Squash and Raisin Muffin Recipe

I enjoy when I get a request to make something. It's fun to have an opportunity to try something new that you would never have thought of on your own.

For example, I had no idea that squash and raisin muffins existed.

I sent BF with a batch of cranberry lemon muffins (sweet, familiar flavours) to share with his coworkers earlier in the week. One of his friends mentioned that he liked homemade squash and raisin muffins which BF then passed on to me. The concept sounded so foreign and counterintuitive to me (eww, squash as a breakfast) that I had to try it. The logical parts of my brain reassured me that pumpkin and sweet potato both make delicious desserts (pie, anyone?) but the instinctive parts of my brain were grossed out.

The verdict? While these are not my favorite muffins, I managed to make them fluffy, moist and nicely textured, using a recipe adapted from I actually worked to bring out the flavour of the squash by roasting it rather than boiling, and by easing up on the spices, so the end result is a fairly complex taste that I'm sure would be enjoyed by fans of squash.

As for me however, I will wait until I have leftover squash already before making these again (although that has yet to happen in my 27 years, I'm sure it has to happen eventually!) To me, these muffins weren't worth the extra time to roast the squash. I can make many other kinds of delicious muffins much quicker!
Recipe: Squash and Raisin Muffins
Makes 12 to 15 muffins

1 cup cooked and mashed butternut squash
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup uncooked oatmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 cup raisins
Brown sugar

To prepare squash:

First peel, seed and cube the squash. Toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil and ¼ tsp salt and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, turning once, half way through.

To make muffins:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line or grease muffin cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, white sugar, salt and spices.

In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together milk, egg and butter. Stir in squash. Fold the squash mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Fold in raisins.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling cups about 2/3 full. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from muffin pan and cool on a wire rack.

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