Want to know an easy way for the family to get in all of their daily servings of veggies? Just bake this delicious Carrot Cake from Gimme Some Oven!

My boyfriend’s birthday was this past week and I asked him what kind of cake he wanted me to bake and he decided on Carrot Cake.  I have a good, simple recipe for carrot cake but there isn’t much spice to it so I was browsing around for a good carrot cake recipe…you know; really moist with a lot of carrots and a little spice.  I came across a great recipe from Gimme Some Oven.  It was just perfect!  First of all there’s a whole pound of carrots in this recipe, so depending on how much you eat you could probably get in your daily requirement of veggies!  Hey, I can totally justify eating this delicious cake and not feel guilty at all!  And the cream cheese icing…a dairy serving! Bonus!! 🙂  

Oh my goodness!  This cake was so good!  The whole family loved it.  Wes said it was the best Birthday Cake he’s had all year.  I told him that was not a compliment, but he insists it was.  Whatever, it was pretty darn good and when the 11 year old and 14 year tell you how good it is and nearly lick the plate clean then you know it’s good!  Too bad I didn’t take a photo before they (ok, we) tore into!

Ingredients:

Carrot Cake Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
    • 3 1/4 cups flour
    • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
    • pinch of ground cloves
    • 1 lb. finely-grated fresh carrots
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
  • 3 (8 oz.) bricks cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar (more if needed to thicken)

How To:

Make The Carrot Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Or two 9-inch round baking pans.

In the bowl of a large stand mixer, mix together oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until combined and smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and mix until smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves) until combined. Add the dry ingredient mixture to the mixing bowl, and beat on medium-speed until just combined, scraping down the pan at least once to be sure that everything is well mixed. Then fold in the grated carrots by hand, and stir until combined.

Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Then bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Remove pans and let them cool on a wire rack until the cakes reach room temperature.

Then remove them and use a large knife to level off the tops of the cakes so they are level and even.

Layer the cakes with the cream cheese frosting, and then frost the outside of the cake as you desire. Serve that day or store, covered, for up to 4 days.

Make The Cream Cheese Frosting:

Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter on medium speed for 1 minute or until smooth with no lumps remaining. Add in vanilla extract and salt, and continue mixing until combined. Lower speed to medium-low and gradually add in powdered sugar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until combined.

If frosting is too thick, you can add in a teaspoon or two of water. If it is too thin, you can add in more powdered sugar.

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Vanilla Extract

I have a confession…I’ve always bought vanilla extract (once, when I wasn’t paying attention, I even bought imitation vanilla)! Shhh…don’t tell anyone.  But not anymore!  Have you ever looked at ingredients in vanilla extract?  The main ingredient is alcohol!  So I decided I’d make my own!  It is so easy to make, the hardest part is waiting the four weeks or so before it’s actually ready to use.

I used a sealable bottle (you can use a small jar).

Split 2 Vanilla Beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  If you are using a quart or large mason jar you might need 4 or 5 vanilla beans.

Put the seeds and vanilla beans in the glass container.

Pour Vodka in (you might want to use a funnel if you’re filling a bottle) enough to cover the beans.

Seal the container and shake.

Place in a cool dark place and shake every week.

The vodka will begin to darken in color over time and after about 4 weeks you will have homemade vanilla extract!

I bought 2 vanilla beans at Trader Joe’s for about $3.  I know I could get more for my money by ordering off the internet but I was impatient (remember, I told you all that in my “about me” section!) and I wanted them now.

My extract is going on week 2.  I did pop it open to smell it and it smells really good.  I cannot wait to try this in something!

You can also make lemon extract and other extracts this way!  It’s way cheaper than buying ready made from the store and some of that store bought stuff has additives and preservatives in it.

And a bonus….Once you use up the extract you can throw the vanilla beans in a bag of white sugar and make vanilla sugar out of it!

I ‘d love to hear some of your tips for homemade extracts and what you use them in!

One Minute Self Saucing Nutella Mug Pudding for One

cakemug

Warm, Chocolatey & Yummy

Oh my gosh!! This is heavenly and so simple!  I came across this recipe on Lick The Spoon (I love that title!).  Her pictures of the treat looked so good I couldn’t wait to make it and I had all of the ingredients on hand so it was like warm gooey destiny! And it only took about 5 minutes from start to finish.  You just can’t go wrong with this treat!

All you need are a few simple ingredients!

1 egg
4 tbsp self rising flour
4 tbsp sugar (I used Splenda and it was still great!)
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp Nutella
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp oil

Place all the ingredients in a large mug. Mix well with a fork. Microwave on high, for approximately 1-1.5 minutes. Stick around and watch it rise up over the mug like magic. It can be served with cream or ice cream or enjoy it by itself like I did.

The finished product will look like chocolate cake with a gooey chocolate sauce in it.  It makes a really large serving and I couldn’t eat the entire thing by myself (this time).  So easy even the kids can make it and if your watching what you eat it’s a quick one serving fix for that chocolate craving!

Banana Bread with Bourbon Sauce

Over ripe bananas are only good for one thing…Banana Bread! I had a few bananas that were past the point of being edible on their own so off I went baking, but I wanted a little more than just banana bread.  I wanted something to top my banana bread…BOURBON!!! Hey, bourbon is good on just about anything and in Kentucky we can think of some pretty creative ways to use it!

IMG_5045

Ingredients for Banana Bread:

1 stick butter, room temperature (use the wrapper to butter the loaf pan)

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 very ripe bananas

1 c. white sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 c. sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas with a wooden spoon (leave some small chunks).

In another large bowl, use a mixer to cream the butter & sugar together until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Stir in the bananas, sour cream, vanilla and beat until combined (you can add in nuts or chocolate chips at this point if you want).

Stir in the dry ingredients and pour batter in loaf pan.

Place pan on a baking sheet on middle rack of oven.

Bake for 1 hr & 10 min.  Cool 5 min in the pan then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Bourbon Sauce

IMG_5035

Ingredients:

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. white sugar

1/2 c. bourbon ( I probably use more than this)

1/2c. water

Bring brown sugar, white sugar, bourbon & water to a boil over high heat. Turn heat to medium-low and continue to reduce until it is syrupy (about 6 min or so).  Stir it occasionally to prevent it from burning.  Cool for 5 minutes and serve over banana bread.

The bourbon sauce can be stored in the refrigerator.  Just warm it up and stir before serving. I have no idea how long it will keep because it really doesn’t last that long around here. 

Crock Pot Apple Butter

My son and I love apple butter. I was raised eating it on toast and biscuits and I love it so much I can eat it by the spoonful. I was really surprised to find out that not everyone knows what apple butter is.

Boyfriend: “It’s apples and butter, right?”

Me: “Nooooo…There’s no butter in apple butter!”

Boyfriend: “Then why is it called apple BUTTER?”

Heck if I know,why is a driveway called a driveway when you just park on it? If anyone has the answers, please enlighten me.

It must be a Kentucky thing, says my boyfriend!

Since fall is getting ready to start and it’s apple season (not to mention my grandmother gave me 21 pounds of apples when she found out I was thinking about making apple butter) I decided to try my hand at homemade apple butter. I scoured the internet looking for interesting, but easy, recipes and found one on A Year of Slow Cooking. I cut out some of the sugar after reading about how sweet the apple butter turned out and since I’m somewhat health conscious, I figured we didn’t need all that sugar anyway. It turned out just yummy and my boyfriend has now been educated on all things apple butter!

This is cooked completely in the crock pot and takes a day and a half to two days to cook. apple butter canned

Ingredients:

Apples (I used about 8 lbs of small to medium Washington apples)

1 Tablespoon Vanilla

2 teaspoons Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

Directions:

I peeled all the apples first because I didn’t want to pick out the peels after the apples cooked. Believe me, this extra step is worth it.

Core and quarter the apples and place in crock pot.

cut apples

Add vanilla. Cover and cook on low for 8 hrs.

After 8 hrs, mash the apples. I used a potato masher. At this point they are almost mush anyway so this was pretty easy. If you didn’t peel the apples now is the time to pick out all the peels.

mashed apples

Add cinnamon, cloves and sugar and stir.

Cover and cook on low for additional 6 hrs.

Once the apple butter is done, blend with a stick blender (or Immersion blender, if you want to use the fancy name for it). Be careful, it is hot and it will splatter on you, speaking from experience!

That’s it…delish!

finsished apple butter

Now over the hills and through the woods to grandma’s house I go to get her to help me can all of this apple butter!