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    Entries in raisins are the devil (9)

    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?

     

    Friday
    Jun142013

    Couscous Salad

    I had a couscous salad once at a chic, hippie friendly restaurant in Utah.  (They had the most amazing pizza!)  When you hear couscous salad, you probably think of something savory like tabouli, but the one I had was sweet and fruity.  I’ve been meaning to make my own version ever since then, but somehow just never got around to it.  Until now. 

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup couscous
    • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
    • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
    • 2 Tablespoons honey
    • 1 teaspoon lime zest
    • 1 Tablespoon fresh mint
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ cup almonds
    • ¼ cup dried blueberries 

    Wash your mint and remove the leaves from the stems.

    Chop.

    You’ll only need the zest from about half of a lime. 

    Make sure you only remove the green part. 

    Juice your lime (it might take more than one to get 2 Tablespoons).  Put the juice into a small bowl and add the honey, canola oil, and salt.  Feel free to use a different type of oil if you prefer.

    Whisk those together and add the zest and mint.  Stir them in and set that aside. 

    Bring 1 cup of water to a boil.  Remove it from the heat and pour in the couscous.  Stir, then put the lid on and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.  Yes, I said 5 minutes.  How awesome is anything that cooks in 5 minutes and requires on supervision?

    Use a fork to fluff the couscous. 

    Give the dressing another quick whisk and pour it over the top of the hot couscous. 

    Stir until all the little couscouses are coated. 

    Chop your almonds.  I actually just cut mine in half.  Put them into a dry pan over medium low heat.  Toss them around frequently and allow them to cook just until the barely start to brown. 

    I used dried blueberries, but I’m not sure how readily available they are if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, and most people certainly don’t have them on hand.  Feel free to substitute dried cranberries or, dare I say it, raisins.  Not only are raisins evil, but they’re extremely toxic for dogs, so they aren’t allowed in my house. 

    Add the toasted almonds and dried blueberries to the couscous. 

    Then just stir it all together and you have a fabulous couscous salad. 

    It can be served as is or chilled.  It’s the perfect side to take along to a barbecue because it can safely be out in the heat and will still be delicious. 

    What food qualifies as evil in your house?