Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Carrot Cake

Another fantastic cake in the recipe book, Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood, is the Carrot Cake. I recently made this for a birthday for a work mate. It was quite a hit, so much so that my work mates have already requested a repeat!

I've made Carrot Cake before but this recipe "takes the cake", no pun intended. It is moist and has a dark tint to the six layers (yes, six). This can definitely be attributed to the fact that the carrots are pureed and not shredded.

Of course, the entire cake does take some time to bake and assemble but let me tell you, it is well worth every minute!

CARROT CAKE (Serves 12)

3 cups granulated sugar
1½ cups corn oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups walnuts, finely chopped
1½ cups frozen grated coconut, thawed
1½ cups pureed carrots (about 6 medium, boiled)
¾ cup crushed pineapple, drained

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of three 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, line with circles of parch¬ment paper, and grease the paper with cooking spray.

With an electric mixer, cream the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture. Add the walnuts, coconut, carrot puree, and pineapple, and beat until smooth. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool the layers in the pans for about 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of each pan and turn the layers out onto wire racks that have been sprayed with cooking spray. Cool the layers completely before frosting (see Note).

NOTE: After the layers have cooled, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. They are easier to handle and cut in half the next day. Also, to handle as little as possible, put the first layer of cake on the plate you intend to store it on, slice it in half, ease a piece of parchment between the layers, and lift the top portion off. Frost the bottom slice, and then add the next layer. Continue until the entire cake is frosted.


2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter, room temperature
6 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in an electric mixer and beat until smooth. Slowly add the confection¬ers' sugar and continue beating until fully combined. Add the vanilla.

Slice each layer horizontally in half using an electric knife. Frost each layer, the sides, and the top of the cake. Press the chopped walnuts into the sides of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy! Pin It

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Bite or a Kick?

My next creation from Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood were these delightful little Jalapeno Bites. I made these for our appetizer feast we had planned at the office to celebrate Cinco de Mayo (we will apparently celebrate anything if it provides us an opportunity to cook)! And, once again, the recipe did not disappoint. They are wonderful, to say the least! Addicting, too, and not at all "diet friendly"!

Through the years I have found the best and hottest jalapeno peppers are those found at Subway. Yes, it's true! Try them on your next Subway sandwich and you'll see what I'm talking about. With that being said, before I made these, I had to go to Subway to get my jalapenos!! They were perfect, providing the necessary "bite" or "kick" that made this appetizer outstanding and a definite crowd pleaser! Try them for your next office celebration or just to munch on at home! You'll love them, too!

Jalapeno Bites

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
8 ounces grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped jalapeno peppers
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 cups dry breadcrumbs


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine the cream cheese, Parmesan, jalapeƱo peppers and egg in a bowl and mix to form a paste.
3. Shape a 1/2 tablespoonful at a time into 1/4-inch rounds and roll in the bread crumbs.
4. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Serve warm.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Another New Recipe Book . . .

As most cooks would agree, you can never have too many recipe books. The latest of my purchases is Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood. I have to say I have been quite pleased with the dishes I have made thus far. Most of the recipes are typical Southern fare with a twist here and there. Accompanying many of the recipes are handwritten notes from Trisha herself whether they be about the recipe, or a favorite holiday or memory associated with the recipe, or a family member or friend associated with the recipe. Hence, the recipe book is both entertaining and useful!

One of her favorites in the Appetizer section is this Charleston Cheese Dip which I made recently for a co-worker's birthday celebration. It was quick and easy and delicious!! Everyone devoured it in record time. It definitely was a hit and is something I plan to make as a starter for dinner guests next Friday evening.

Here is the recipe:

Charleston Cheese Dip

1/2 cup mayo
1 8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup grated sharp cheddar (4 oz)
1/2 cup grated monterey jack
2 green onions, chopped
dash of cayenne pepper
8 ritz crackers, crushed
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I used Hormel bacon bits)

Preheat to 350 degrees. Mix all but the crackers and bacon, spread into shallow 1-quart baking dish. Top with cracker crumbs, bake for 15 minutes. Remove and top with bacon bits. Serve with corn chips, crackers or bagels chips.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I plan to make lots of cupcakes in the upcoming months - all out of Martha Stewart's Cupcakes recipe book.

These delicious, moist, yummy Chocolate Chip Cupcakes were on the very first page of the very first chapter. They looked so good and sounded so good that I decided to try them first.

And, of course, they did not disappoint. They were the most delicious cupcakes! My workmates enjoyed every one of them!

Here's the recipe!

3 1/4 C. plus 1 T. sifted cake flour
4 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 T. vanilla extract
1 C. plus 2 T. milk
1/2 C. plus 6 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 C. sugar
5 large egg whites, room temperature
2 C. semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper lines. Whisk together 3 1/4 C. cake flour, the baking powder, and salt. Stir the vanilla into the milk to combine.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth. Adding the sugar in a steady stream, beat until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk mixture, and beating until just combined after each.

3. In another bowl, with an electric mixture on medium speed, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (do not overmix). Fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten. Gently fold in the remaining whites until just combined. Toss chocolate chips with remaining tablespoon cake flour, and gently fold into batter.

4. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean and the tops are springy to the touch, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

5. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and, if desired, decorate with white sprinkles before serving.

Dark Chocolate Frosting:

1/2 C. plus 1 T. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 C. plus 1 T. boiling water
2 1/4 C. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 C. confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture, if not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen up to one month, in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again.

Next on the list, Margarita Cupcakes!! Que la celebraciĆ³n comenzar!
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Monday, May 03, 2010

Trials and Tribulations of Public Transportation

As luck would have it, it is raining cats and dogs this morning and, of course, it's Monday. I contemplated driving into work, however, I decided it best to ride public transportation as I normally do because I figure it would be safer than driving.

It's truly messy getting on the bus with an umbrella in the pouring rain, but not much more than getting into the SUV, I guess, so I headed to the bus stop at o'dark thirty this morning determined to make the best of it. The rain had let up a bit so getting on the bus was no problem. Once onboard, I settled into my seat, grabbed my Zune, and commenced to listening to some tunes. As usual, I was dozing in no time!

I awoke, as I normally do, when we turned off the Interstate weaving our way toward Forsyth Street which would take us to the Five Points MARTA station where I would get on the train heading North. Once we arrived in front of the station, I disembarked from the bus only to notice there were crowds and crowds of people out front as well as inside of the station. This seemed a bit unusual to me but I chaulked it up to the rain and it being a Monday. Silly me (if I had only known)! And well, I wasn't fully awake from my nap yet, however, that was about to change!

Much to my dismay, when I walked further down into the station on the way to the Northbound track, I was confronted with folks telling me something - one after the other. Of course, I was still listening to my music so didn't hear a word they were saying. I took my ear plugs out just in time to hear a few folks tell me that the Northbound train wasn't running. Once I arrived at that platform, a MARTA attendant told us that the Northbound train would be running from the Southbound track, that the electricity was out on the Northbound track. So, a group of us turned around and headed for the Southbound track. Once we arrived there, the MARTA attendant told us that the train had arrived on the wrong side of the track (the Northbound side where we just were standing) but that it couldn't go Northbound but would be heading to the airport. What to do?

Now I'm reading the AJC and they say there was a fire in the tunnel near the Midtown station which prompted the outage. This has happened before in that same tunnel. I ask you, how does a fire start in the tunnel of a train where there is no access to humans (well, unless you're on a train)? Are the rats catching on fire from standing on the electric track? If so, wouldn't they just burn quickly? What is in the tunnel that is catching fire? Perhaps they should install a sprinkler system within the tunnels or at the very least rid the area of debris on a weekly basis. But I digress . . .

Anyhoo, after the last misguided information about the train, the attendant then told us that there were MARTA shuttles outside on Forsyth Street that would take us to the Art Center station where we could take a Northbound train from there, circumventing the problem at the Midtown station. My own bus, the GA Xpress 477, goes to the Art Center station as well so I decided to go back out to wait on the next 477 to come along. I would catch that one and head North to Arts Center and catch the train from there. I headed back up to the top of the station. As I'm on the escalator almost to the top, I drop my Breeze card, flat on the escalator step that is rolling and rolling. The Breeze card is a plastic card the side of a credit card that holds fare for the bus and the train which at this time has about $70 worth of fare on it. I knelt down to grab it just in time before the top of the escalator sucked it, and my fingers and hand, underneath!! Whew, that was a close call - scared me to death!

After gathering my wits about me after that incident, I headed back outside. Unfortunately, I went to the Peachtree exit instead which meant I had to tap in and out twice to get to the Forsyth Street side where the buses were. It's $2 to come in or out without transferring to a bus. Oh well, I finally made to to the buses where I boarded a GA Xpress bus that was headed to the Arts Center. Not the 477 but another one who said he would go that way to help out. Once onboard, the MARTA attendent on the sidewalk announced that the trains were now running so I quickly disembarked from the bus and headed back into the train station to catch the train. Thank God, a MARTA attendant was there at the turnstiles letting folks back in without paying yet AGAIN.

I headed to the Northbound track where probably 5,000 people were headed as well. I was able to catch the next Doraville train heading North, arriving at the Doraville station at 7:13 a.m. Just in time to catch the 7:15 a.m. shuttle to the office off Clairmont Road. Our shuttle driver had the most aromatic cup of coffee that made me wanting that first cup ever so badly. After arriving at my building, I immediately headed to the snack bar to get that coffee which is just what the doctor ordered.

Safe and sound and dry again! All is well! Pin It

Saturday, May 01, 2010

It's Derby Day!!

Whoo hoo!! I cannot wait until 4 p.m. when coverage of the 136th Kentucky Derby starts on NBC.

The simple syrup for the Mint Juleps is chilling in the frig and the lobster is thawed and ready for the oven. I'm ready! The recipe I used this year for the Mint Juleps is very simple and very delicious. Here it is:

For mint syrup:

2 Cups water
1 Cup granulated sugar
4 sprigs fresh mint

Bring water to a boil in a sauce pot. Once boiling, remove from heat, then whisk in sugar. When the sugar is dissolved add the leaves of four sprigs of mint, then steep for 10 minutes. Strain syrup to remove the mint leaves. Chill in refrigerator.

To mix the drink:

Chill a low-ball glass in the freezer. Fill the frosted low-ball half full with crushed ice. Add a touch of Bourbon and a couple torn up mint leaves. Then stir. Add more crushed ice and pour 2-3 oz. of Bourbon and a healthy splash of the mint syrup, to taste. Serve with a sprig of mint.


And that I did. This has to be the best Mint Julep I've had to date. I think this recipe is a keeper, for sure.

As for the Derby, it was awesome. The winner was Super Saver, ridden by jockey Calvin Borel, who also rode Mine That Bird to victory in last year's Derby, as well as Street Sense in 2007. What a ride it was! Muddy, muddy, and more mud, but Calvin and Super Saver prevailed. The trainer, Todd Pletcher, had entered 24 horses in past Kentucky Derbys, including four in this race, however, his horses always fell short. But not this time!

And to top off the wonderful win for Calvin and Todd Pletcher, the gentleman, Glen Fullerton from Houston, Texas, who won the chance to place the "Dream Bet" with $100,000 given to him by Churchhill Downs, Inc. and CNBC bet on Super Saver and won $900,000!

All in all, it was a delightful "two minutes of the fastest sport" I've seen in some time. Life is good - especially for Calvin Borel, Todd Pletcher, Winstar Farm, and, of course, Glen Fullerton. Congratulations to all the winners!

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