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    Entries in aww... Otto (7)

    Thursday
    Jul032014

    What's a Jicama?

    That’s the question I get nearly every time I mention jicama (pronounced hick-uh-muh) to someone.  When I was growing up, it was a fairly common occurrence to have jicama in the house.  My mom would cut it up and we’d snack on it like carrot sticks.  It has a mild, lightly sweet flavor, and it’s crisp and refreshing like an apple, but with a slightly starchy feel.  If you’ve never tried jicama before, give it a shot.  It really is a fabulous vegetable.  I bought one the other day, and after cutting it into sticks, I realized it was way more than I would eat by myself.  Hubby’s never tried it, but since he’s allergic to every other raw vegetable, it’s probably safe to assume jicama is no different.  I needed to figure out something creative to do with it, so with the 4th of July coming up, I thought why not put it with berries and a light dressing for a fabulous jicama fruit salad. 

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup diced jicama
    • 1 cup diced strawberries
    • 1 cup blueberries
    • Juice of a lime
    • Honey 

    The first thing you need to do is prepare the jicama.  When you buy one, it’ll just be a big brown root.  You want to find one that’s slightly shiny and relatively unblemished. 

    Using a peeler, remove the skin.  They can be a little bit fibrous on the outside sometimes, so if yours is, just take off an extra layer with your peeler.  Then cut it into sticks and dice it.  You only need about a cup for this recipe, so leave some of it in stick form for snacking. 

    Now for the blueberries.  Give them a good rinse, then spread them on a towel (I used paper).  Pick out any shriveled or soft ones, then lay another towel over the top and gently roll them around to dry them off. 

    And last but not least, the strawberries.  Wash and hull them.  Aren’t they pretty? 

    Have I mentioned how much I love strawberries?  They definitely fall near the top of my favorite things list, and Otto agrees, so he always wanders into the kitchen when I'm doing anything with them.  And speaking of Otto, he's having some pretty itchy days and has been wearing the cone of shame off an on.  Even though I went to the trouble of making him a soft one, he still doesn't look very happy about it.  Poor little guy.     

    Dice up the strawberries and throw everything into a bowl.  I rock at making patriotic food

    So… dressing.  Squeeze the juice of a lime into a small bowl.  Mine was about 1 ½ tablespoons so shoot for something close to that.  Add an equal-ish amount of honey.  I know I’m not being terribly precise here, but it really isn’t rocket science. 

    Stir those together.  A fork works well for this.  At first you’ll have a glob of honey in lime juice, but eventually it will become a nice smooth mixture.  Pour it over the salad. 

    Gently stir/toss until everything is coated and holy crap, it’s gorgeous! 

    Refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve it, and it will be a delicious and refreshing side.  The perfect way to add patriotic flare to the table for your holiday get together.  And if you’re not celebrating the 4th of July, it’s a fabulous fruit salad to enjoy anytime. 

    How do you celebrate Independence Day?  Or if you’re not American, does your country have a similar holiday, and how is it traditionally celebrated?

     

    Saturday
    Apr192014

    Carrot Cake Cupcakes

    I’ve been wanting to make cupcakes, and since Easter is this weekend, I thought carrot cake ones were appropriate. After all, what could be more fitting for a holiday that celebrates a giant rabbit? What’s that? The holiday isn’t about a huge, mutant rabbit you say? I’m pretty sure it is. Although, there are a lot of chocolate eggs on the candy aisle, as well, so perhaps that’s where the confusion comes in. I’m about 97% certain even mutant bunnies don’t lay eggs. Anyway, all that aside, these are fabulous cupcakes that you should make, even if you don’t plan on sharing them with said rabbit.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • ⅔ cup flour
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon each of other spices
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅓ cup buttermilk
    • 3 Tablespoons butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 egg
    • ½ cup finely grated carrot 

    First things first. Grate your carrot on the fine side of your box grater and set it aside. Then, turn the oven to 350° and drop cupcake liners into your pan. You'll need 6. Now onto the spices. Place a teaspoon of cinnamon and your other spices into a small dish. I used about ⅛ teaspoon each of nutmeg, mace, ginger, cloves, allspice, and just a pinch of cardamom. You can use any combination of those you'd like.

    Stir those together and place them in a mixing bowl, along with the rest of the dry ingredients.

    Whisk until everything is evenly distributed. Then add the buttermilk, butter, and vanilla. (make sure they’re all room temperature)

    Mix on lowish speed until it comes together. It’ll look something like this.

    Turn the speed up to medium high and let it go for a good 90 seconds or so. It will become nice and light and smooth.

    Scrape down the sides and mix for another 30 seconds, then add the egg. (also room temperature)

    Beat until it is thoroughly incorporated.

    And last but not least, add the carrot. Feel free to also add nuts or raisins if that’s your thing. Hubby’s allergic to nuts, so if I want them, I just have to put them on top of the icing so we can be sure which ones have them. And well, raisins are just evil.

    Stir those in and spoon the batter into cups.

    Fill them about ⅔ full. (I always like to place things like this on a sheet pan, just in case.)

    Turn the oven to 425° and pop in the cupcakes. Leave them at that temperature for 5 minutes and then turn the temperature back down to 350°. Continue baking them for an additional 12 – 15 minutes.

    If you insert a toothpick into the center of one, it’ll come out with just a few crumbs clinging to it.

    After 2 or 3 minutes, remove the cupcakes to a cooling rack.

    Now, carrot cake wouldn’t be carrot cake without cream cheese frosting, right? So let’s start on that.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
    • 4 Tablespoons butter
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 2 – 2 ½ cups powdered sugar 

    *I should probably mention that these recipes don't match up very well quantity wise.  The cupcakes one will make 6 cupcakes, while the frosting one will make more than enough for a dozen.  Feel free to double one or halve the other.  

    Make sure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature, then beat them together until they’re nice and smooth.

    Add the vanilla and salt and mix until it’s incorporated.

    Sift in the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time.

    Beat well after each addition, and scrape down the sides.

    Continue to add the powdered sugar until you’ve reached the consistency you like. I needed 2 ½ cups, but it was a rather humid day, so you may not need that much if you’re in a dry climate.

    Pipe or spread the frosting onto your cooled cupcakes.

    Et voilá!

    They are certainly beautiful just as they are, but I thought I’d show a few ideas for dressing them up. I have one with chopped pecans, one with a light sprinkling of ground allspice, and one with a pinch of cinnamon. Anyway you do it, they are going to be absolutely fabulous!

    Otto's usual snack when he gets hungry is carrots, so he was sure I must be making these carrot cake cupcakes for him.  

    So Easter, what are your thoughts?