Carrot Cake


Carrot Cake

This is a recipe from a friend. It is her grandmother’s recipe. I love grandmom recipes. I have so few from either of my grandmothers that I just love those grandmom recipes from friends. When a recipe goes down through a couple of generations it means something: It works; it is a favorite; it is loved; it is important. That has a certain Siren call to me.

To my way of thinking, that is largely what this site is all about. Leaving behind what is important to me, and hoping that The Boy finds them worth something in the future. That sounds a bit depressing, but I do not mean it in that way.

From my friend Elaine – from her Grandmother. This is a half recipe. It makes a 2 layer cake, but you could double it to make a 4 layer cake which is what the original recipe does.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, plus one large egg yolk
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup grated carrots
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans (local Renfroes) *
1 tsp orange zest

Prepare two 9 inch round pans with baking spray, line with parchment and spray parchment. Preheat ove to 350 degrees.

Sift together over a piece of waxed paper the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer. In a large measuring cup add canola oil and eggs. Whisk with a fork to combine. Slowly add to dry ingredients while on low. Add carrots, pecans, and orange zest and mix until just combined.


Carrot Cake – for The Boy to take home.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes, turning half way through. Do the toothpick test. Remove and cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out, remove parchment, and cool completely.

8 ozs cream cheese, softened
4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp orange juice
8 ozs powdered sugar, sifted**

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and orange juice. Once smooth, sift in powdered sugar (sifting keeps the frosting smooth).

Once cakes are cooled, frost those layers, and the sides if you want. But we did not do it.

Notes: This is the first time I’ve made the recipe and I’ve made just a half recipe because I only have two 9 inch round pans – that’s how it goes. I have been using a recipe from Mrs. Fields (you know, the cookie lady) since about the time The Boy was born and it has been a huge birthday cake for him for donkey’s years. But this was so much better. I think the canola oil (my choice of vegetable oil because it so neutral) made it so unreally moist.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be ugly about the originally recipe that I made, but this was one of those – wow! – moments. I am just going to say that some times, really old recipes are the best. Next time, I will add raisins because they really add something to carrot cake.

This is the L year. Ugh. This will be a theme. Unfortunately.

Wednesday Night Cooking (Baking) School


Oatmeal Pecan Toffee Cookies


Oatmeal Toffee Pecan Cookies – only slightly amazing.

I am a huge fan of pretty much any kind of oatmeal cookie. You can call them breakfast cookies and I do. It makes me feel better about eating cookies for breakfast which I do on a regular basis. I guess that’s some form of justification for pretty much doing what the hell I want. This was a new recipe for me, but did modify it a bit – read: more nuts, more vanilla, and straight up toffee bits. What’s a girl to do – always have to make some adjustments. These cookies are slightly sticky, but that’s um, toffee. Yum. I think walnuts would work in place of pecans, but I really liked the pecans. Then again, I have a thing for walnuts with my oatmeal cookies.

You know, one thing I can’t deal with is an oatmeal raisin cookie with chocolate chips – that’s just too damn weird – ugh. Maybe because I always get fooled into thinking the chips are raisins and that’s just not a good thing. Kind of like eating a skittle that you think is an M&M. Blech

So here we go – I think this is a pretty amazing cookie and I got very positive feedback from my usual group of Guinea Pigs (not polite), test subjects (this isn’t science after all or maybe it is a bit), friends (yep – that works).

8 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups uncooked oats (old fashioned oats)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp heaping baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pecans
8 ozs Heath toffee bits

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter in a stand mixer for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar mix to combine. Add eggs, one at a time and then add vanilla and blend.

Mix in oats. Then add flour mixture in bits until just blended. Stir In pecans and toffee bits.

Bake for 12 minutes or thereabout. Turning the pan once half way through – that’s the OCD in me – because I have to do it.

Source: Southen Living – Modified by Me – for the better  in my opinion.

Egg Usage – by month (January 2016)


Best Sugar Cookies – um, ever

8 January – 3 – Chicken Salad
8 January – 1 – Sun-dried Tomato Palmiers – egg wash
9 January – 1 – Shortbread Chocolate Squares
16 January – 2 – The Browniest Cookies
16 January – 2 – Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
18 January – 2 – Sugar Cookies
26 January – 1 – Sour Cream Pecan Sandies
31 January – 2 – Lemon Crisps

14 eggs.  Meh. Need to try harder.

With eggs going at about $4 a dozen, that’s $4.66. Manageable but I do wish the egg prices would come down but I don’t see that happening this year.

Margarita Day – February 22

D&D_0741I just don’t get why Margarita Day is in February. Who thought that was a good idea anyway?  It’s cold outside (even here in Florida), at least in our hemisphere, so who wants an iced, and/or frozen drink of any kind? Ugh.

To my mind, Margarita Day should be in August – When it is hot outside and a cold lime flavored drink is just excellent. I realize citrus is at it’s peak now, but you can get Persian limes any time of year. Now here’s the thing though, if I want a margarita, I want a good one. Fresh lime juice, no overly sweet sour-mix – ugh the chemicals there are too horrid to think of. Decent tequila, but not ridiculous expensive tequila. After all, it is a drink with fruit juice and salt. Not a fan of triple sec, but do like a splash of Grand Marnier. I have to go with salt. It is the thing to balance the drink. Otherwise it is just too friggin’ sweet.

Or the other drink you could have in the summer is a Coronarita. A mix of a Corona (a very small one) with a Margarita – again, must be really hot outside for this to work. Otherwise – ugh.

This year Margarita Day is on a Monday. Guess I won’t get to enjoy it. At least not out anywhere. Nope, won’t even enjoy it at home. We really never have any liquor in the house. It will just be beer.

But stay tuned for some lime dessert in honor of the day.

A Year Ago – Margarita Day

Butter Usage – by month (January 2016)

6 January – 12 Tbs – Butter Cookies

7 January – 1 Tbs – Grilled Cheese Sandwich

9 January – 16 Tbs – Shortbread Squares

13 January – 4 Tbs  – Pear Cheddar Crisp

16 January – 8 Tbs – Browniest Cookies

16 January – 12 Tbs – Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

18 January – 16 Tbs – Sugar Cookies

26 January – 8 Tbs – Sour Cream Pecan Sandies

27 January – 3 Tbs – Mac n Cheese – Wednesday Night Cooking School

31 January – 8 Tbs – Lemon Crisps

88 Tbs = 11 sticks = 2.25 pounds

Not great, but not horrible. I’m sure I can do better.

Mardi Gras Sugar Cookies

D&D_1180These really are the simplest and best sugar cookies. The Boy and I made them for Christmas Eve (my favorite Christmas Holiday, perhaps my favorite holiday, period) but a few years ago I had so much to make at Christmas that I put these off until January and then it fell into Carnival season.* It worked on so many different levels.

So this year I finally decided to order Mardi Gras cookie cutters, because, well, it is a thing for me now. So I did it – I ordered special cookie cutters for this “holiday.” King Arthur Flour had the cutest set. There are two crowns, a mask, a music note, and the most important one, in my opinion is, a fleur de lis. Carnival season is a big thing here in the Gulf Coast.

* The season is Carnival, the last day is Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday. Please do not confuse the two. After Mardi Gras comes Lent. I really think next year I need to do crepes for pancake Tuesday (Mardi Gras by a less interesting name) but I will probably make potato pancakes (latkes) because I just love to mix up religions and traditions. It’s me.

But for now it’s just really pretty sugar cookies. Purple, Gold, and Green.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Sift in flour, a cup at a time. Blend until just mixed. Pour onto a surface and mix til it just comes together. Press into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 – 4 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to about an 1/8 inch and cut with cookie cutters. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with colored sugar. Bake for 10 minutes, turning the pan half way through. Let rest on baking sheet for a minute and then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Spiced Pecans

I have many (many!) recipes for spiced nuts (more than I have ever used but I guess I need to D&D_1183remedy that situation). One of my favorite’s is my adapted version of Union Square Cafe’s Best Bar Nuts, but if a nut recipe has fresh minced rosemary I’m pretty much all in.  But, that said, I’m not a fan of nuts that use egg whites to coat. It’s not so much the taste, though that is a bit odd, but largely a texture issue.  I’m kind of a butter, sugar, and bake girl.

4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 cups pecan halves
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs Worcestershire
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp Tabasco
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
One wedge of fresh lime or more if it makes you happy

Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium low heat. Add pecans and cook, swirling pan constantly until pecans are toasted, 5 minutes or so. Add the chopped rosemary and swirl because it smells so good.

Add remaining ingredients except lime and stir to coat pecans. Continue cooking and keep stirring for 1 – 2 minutes. Add lime juice and stir for a bit. Transfer pecans to parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure they are in a single layer and let cool. Break up any large pieces.

Note: This is not in the original recipe, but I let the pecans sit in a low oven for about ten minutes. They are still sticky, but the humidity here is a bit of a hot mess (not much if a surprise really).

All that said, the flavor is fantastic or amazing. Might just be a new favorite – yep it is.

Super Bowl 50

A Year Ago – Salted Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

D&D_11611 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
14 caramels *
2 Tbs heavy cream or half and half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan, line with a parchment sling and spray or butter the parchment. Over a sheet of parchment, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, one at a time, mix in completely after adding each egg. Mix in vanilla.

Gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

Place caramels and cream into microwave safe bowl. Heat at half power in short bursts. Stir until melted, heating as needed. Pour caramel over batter and swirl caramel into batter.

Bake 30 – 35 minutes on until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan completely. Remove with sling and cut into bites.

* You can use about a 1/2 cup of caramel bits instead of caramels. I had caramels in the pantry, so that’s what I used.

Notes: I’ll be doing this again soon to share with the office. The Boy got most of these and gave his seal of approval.

Bacon-wrapped Dried Fruit

D&D_1189I have made this play on the dried fruit wrapped in bacon thing once before, but I have no notes on it. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing. I usually make comments if something is good or something bites. So I’m trying this again in a bit if faith that I can make it work. The flavored sounded great to me especially if I add my spin to stuff the dried fruit with some Bleu cheese which is always a good thing, in my opinion.

Cooking spray
12 Turkish-style Apricots, or Pitted Prunes
6 sliced bacon
Some kind of cheese to stuff in the fruit

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and then add a baking rack on top. Spray baking rack with cooking spray.

Cut each slice of bacon in half cross-wise, about 4 inches long. Use a sharp knife, slit fruit down the middle, but not all the way through. Stuff with whatever cheese (and or nuts) you would like. Make sure you close it up. Then wrap with bacon. Secure with a toothpick and place on the rack seam side down and bake for 10 minutes. Turn with tongs and bake 10 minutes more. Rest for few minutes – really hot dried fruit can burn you – it’s the sugar.

Serve with lime wedges. Oh, yep, I’m so doing that. Citrus makes everything better.

Super Bowl 50

Source: Mollie Katzen – Get Cooking 2009 – great cookbook to get you started in the kitchen. My first experience with Mollie Katzen is probably the same as everyone else. Moosewood Cookbook, I’ve had this book for years – my edition is the 15th anniversary version from 1992 which if I do the math correctly means the book is 39 years old.

Notes: the Bleu cheese leaked out a bit which was unfortunate.  I did get them ready and refrigerate because I worried about that, but it was still a problem. 20 minutes did the bacon perfectly. The ones where the cheese stayed in were awesome, the others were good too, but in general I was a bit bummed about it. Need to figure out how fix it.

I will do this again to be sure. Just need to sort out the minor issue.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Blondies

This is one of those recipes I’ve had in my cookie binder for donkey’s years. I was being lazy tonight. I wanted to bake but didn’t want to make a cake (too much thinking), or cookies (too much getting up and down – I said I was being lazy, right?), so the perfect compromise – bar cookies or blondies. D&D_1186

16 Tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
20 ozs semi-sweet chocolate chips, Ghiradelli is my favorite

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 inch baking pan with baking spray.

Over a sheet of wax paper, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla, making sure to scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at the time and make sure to combine well. Add flour mixture in two batches. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan and cut into bars.

Notes: This was a super thick batter. I wet my hands and squished it into the pan. The original recipe called for a bit smaller pan, so I worried about the time but it worked out just fine. The original recipe called for an 8 x 12 pan, who has one of those anyway? I mean 9 x 13″ is a standard.

All that said, these were amazing. I loved them and will probably doing them again soon. I don’t really make bar cookies, but cookie bites – like one bite-sized piece and when you make cookie bites in a 9 x 13″ pan, that makes a lot. I gave an entire gallon bag of them to the Boy. He’s a fan. That’s a good thing.