Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Here in California we are under a statewide Shelter in Place directive. There’s only so much house cleaning I can do to pass the time. So now it’s on to baking. I decided to bake some treats for my elderly mother and her neighbors and make little treat boxes for them. These carrot  cake cupcakes were one of the items I made for them.

CUPCAKE INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots, or more to taste
  • 1 (8 ounce) can finely crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar

CUPCAKE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper muffin liners. Set aside.
  3. Place flour in a bowl. Add salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Sprinkle in ground ginger and cinnamon. Whisk thoroughly until combined. Set aside.
  4. Add sugar to a separate bowl. Whisk in eggs until mixture is smooth and pale yellow, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Heat butter and coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat until just melted but not too hot. Whisk into the bowl with the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add carrots, crushed pineapple, pecans, and raisins. Stir well.
  6. Stir flour mixture into the carrot mixture until no dry spots remain.
  7. Pour mixture into prepared cupcake pan. Carrot Cake Cupcakes 1
  8. Tap the pan against your counter to let any big air bubbles rise to the surface.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting, at least 40 minutes.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract and lemon juice together using an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar to form a smooth frosting. Spread evenly over the cooled cupcakes.Carrot Cake Cupcakes 3
  2. Garnish with grated carrots. (optional) Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Wild Rice Soup 2

It’s finally getting chilly around here. Soup is my favorite “go to” meal when the weather gets colder. This soup is really decadent since it’s creamy and full of vegetables.  Don’t be deceived by my picture, there is wild rice in this soup. For my strictly vegetarian friends, substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock. And for my friends who want an even heartier soup, feel free to add diced, cooked chicken.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken (OPTIONAL)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice, oil and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, cook the carrots, celery, onion, and potatoes in butter until vegetables are almost tender. Stir in flour until blended; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Slowly stir in broth and undrained rice.
  3. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Reduce heat; stir in the cream, rosemary and poultry seasoning. Simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste. If adding in chicken, do so the last 5 minutes to warm through.

Creamy Wild Rice Soup 1

Healthy Carrot and Raisin Cake Muffins

Carrot Cake Muffins 2

What’s that? Healthy? I know most my baked goodies aren’t considered healthy. But surprise! I am actually sharing a healthy recipe with you. Well, mostly healthy.  I used  all purpose flour since I did not have whole wheat flour in my pantry.  Be sure to fill your muffin tins to the top as these muffins do not rise very much. You can see how squat mine are. Oh well. It’s always good to learn something new.  This recipe yields 12 muffins.  (Or 16, if you didn’t fill your muffin tins all the way like I did. Oops.)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 carrots shredded or grated
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (all purpose flour works too)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  Prepare muffin/cupcake tin by greasing with baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk eggs until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and whisk again until mixture is smooth.
  4. Pour in the maple syrup, milk and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture again until smooth.
  5. Add the shredded/grated carrots, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and raisins over the wet batter. Using a rubber spatula to fold the wet and dry ingredients together just until combined.
  6. Portion the batter evenly into your prepared 12 cup muffin tin.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the muffins have risen and set.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat the cream cheese in a small bowl until smooth.
  2. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract and lemon juice and beat again until the mixture is well combined.
  3. Once the muffins have cooled add a dollop of frosting on top of muffins.
  4. Optional: garnish with grated carrots.

Carrot Cake Muffins 1

Slow Cooker Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Crockpot Lentil and Vegetable Soup

What’s that? I’m posting a vegetarian dish? Yes, believe it or not, I actually like a lot of vegetarian dishes. It’s just hard to find a vegetarian dish that my picky “meat and potatoes” son will enjoy as well. So I have to take baby steps with him and made a vegetarian soup. And slow cooker recipes are the best. Just prep your ingredients, put into your slow cooker and let it do all the work! Hopefully, my friend, Sue T. will approve. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups lentils (green or red)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bag (5 ounces) baby spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all ingredients but the baby spinach, in your slow cooker. And pour in the vegetable stock.
  2. Cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  3. Stir a few times throughout the cooking.
  4. Add the baby spinach during the last 10 minutes of cooking cycle.
  5. If you like a more brothy soup, add in 1-2 cups additional stock.
  6. If you like a more creamy soup, carefully ladle out 1/3 of the soup into your blender and puree. Add back blended soup to slow cooker and mix well.
  7. Salt to taste and garnish with chopped parsley.

Crockpot Lentil and Vegetable Soup 2

Japanese Curry Beef

Japanese Curry Beef (1)

Tired of the same old beef stew recipe? Then change it up by making Japanese curry beef instead. It’s basically a beef stew with a curry kick. I stuck with the medium hot S&B Golden Curry brand. If I had brought home the “hot” level one, my son would have protested. Japanese curry roux is not all that spicy compared to the Indian curry powders I have used in my chicken curry.  For my vegetarian friends like Sue T., skip the beef and just add more potatoes, carrots and onions to make a hearty vegetable curry. Serve with a side of rice and your tummy will be thanking you.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound beef (cut for stew)
  • 2 white or yellow onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 box curry roux (4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

Japanese Curry Beef 3

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut vegetables into bite size pieces. (About the same size as your beef stew meat.)
  2. Heat oil and brown meat in a Dutch Oven or large lidded pot over high heat. Take meat out when the sides of the beef are seared, but not cooked through.
  3. In the same pot, lower heat to medium high and fry the onions for 5 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes, then the beef.
  4. Add water to the pot. After the water boils, skim the fat and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 45-50 minutes until the meat becomes tender.
  5. Now add the curry roux blocks into the pot. Stir well so the pieces of the roux dissolves.
  6. Once the roux has dissolved, stir in apricot jam, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire  sauce and optional curry powder.
  7. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Serve with a side of rice.

This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Japanese Curry Beef 2

 

Mexican Vegetable Soup

Mexican Vegetable Soup 1

If you took a quick glance at my most recent posts, you might think I’m all about sweets and chicken. While I’m not going to confirm or deny that may be true, I do make other recipes as well. You might even say somewhat healthy ones every once in a while too.  So for my vegetarian friends out there, I have not forsaken you. (Yes, I’m looking at you Sue T.!)

This soup recipe can be altered to whichever vegetables you have or that are in season. It is called vegetable soup afterall. I used what I had on hand. The flavor of the soup was reminiscent of a chicken tortilla soup without the chicken or tortillas. And be forewarned, this recipe makes a lot of servings (6-8) for you to share on a cold winter’s day.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 bell peppers, diced (I used 1/2  each of an orange, red and yellow bell peppers)
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons  ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups diced roma tomatoes
  • 2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen or 1 can of corn)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can (4 ounce) diced green chile peppers
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1-2 zucchinis,  sliced

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

  • avocado slices
  • cilantro
  • lime wedges or lime juice
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.
  2. Add bell peppers, carrots and onions to pot. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add in minced garlic, cumin and cayenne. Stir and cook for a minute.
  4. Add in tomatoes, corn, black beans, diced green chiles and vegetable stock.
  5. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.
  6. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Add in zucchini.
  8. Re-cover and simmer for another 10 more minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.
  9. Serve immediately with optional toppings. Mexican Vegetable Soup 2