Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Single Layer Carrot Cake with Browned Butter Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

 If you read this blog with any regularity, you will be only too aware of the carrot shredding frenzy that I got myself involved in a week or so ago. I’m happy to report that it has finally come to a delicious conclusion, the last having been used in this adorable and tasty mini carrot cake. I discovered this little morsel on the Beyond the Butter blog. It’s a wonderfully easy recipe because it mixes together by hand; there’s nothing to putting it together.

  I have recently become enamored with small cakes, having purchased this set of four of 6-inch cake pans. It’s the perfect size for singles, couples, or even a family of four. As for the frosting on this cake, it is nothing short of fabulous! Browning the butter makes all the difference, and I don’t think I will make a buttercream frosting from here on out without doing the same. It’s a wonderful Easter dessert, or, if cut into tiny slices, perfect tidbits for afternoon tea.  This is a keeper.

Single Layer Carrot Cake with

Browned Butter Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

 Edited for clarity

 ½ c. flour

½ t. baking soda

½ t. cinnamon

1/8 t. salt

1/3 c. vegetable oil

½ c. sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

½ c. grated carrots

¼ c. chopped pecans


¼ c. unsalted butter (browned and cooled to solid state)

4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1 t. vanilla

½ t. cinnamon

2 c. confectioners’ sugar

 Preheat oven to 350ºF. Generously spray a 6-inch cake pan with Baker’s Joy; set aside.

 In a small mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

 In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, granulated sugar, and egg.

 Add the whisked dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk together until just combined. Fold in carrots and pecans.

 Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool the cake in the cake pan for 10 minutes before inverting it onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.


In a small saucepan melt the unsalted butter over medium heat. As the butter begins to bubble and foam, stir until foaming subsides. Continue to cook until the butter turns a light brown and has a nutty aroma.

Immediately remove the browned butter from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl. Cover lightly and place in the refrigerator to cool and solidify. This takes 40-55 minutes.

Using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the browned butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Add cream cheese, vanilla, and cinnamon, and continue to beat until well blended.

Reduce speed to low, and gradually the confectioners’ sugar; beat until blended. Scrape down sides and mix on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes more.

 Frost cooled cake.

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Monday, March 20, 2023

Slow Cooker Beef Ramen

 I don’t know that I entirely get the ramen craze, although my daughter-in-law is a big fan. She enjoys all sorts of varieties, has different bowls, chopsticks, even a ramen Christmas tree ornament. She is a true “ramenite.” Me? I just think those noodles look small and wormy. I also don’t quite understand why (at least in my area) they sell them as a kind of soup that comes with a seasoning packet. Where I live, or at least where I shop, you can’t buy just a package of plain ramen noodles, you have to buy individual packets with the seasoning. I find that odd. At any rate, anything that can be made in the crockpot I am willing to try. This is a recipe that I adapted from one I found online, and I’m quite taken with it. It has a lot of flavor, a lot of vegetables, and has proved to be yet another way for me to make the use of my vast supply of shredded carrots.

Slow Cooker Beef Ramen

1 lb. ground chuck

1 c. shredded carrots

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2-3 scallions, rough chopped

1 T. Melissa’s minced garlic

½ c. low sodium soy sauce

1 t. cider vinegar

½ c. brown sugar

1 14.5-oz. can chicken stock

1 c. frozen peas

2 ramen noodle packets

Sesame seeds for garnish optional

Scallions for garnish optional

 Brown and drain ground beef, to the slow cooker. Top with carrots, red bell pepper, and scallions.

In a small bowl mix together the garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and chicken stock. Pour the sauce into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Thirty minutes before serving add peas and dry ramen noodles (discard the seasoning packets). Stir to coat noodles. When the noodles are tender, serve topped with more scallions and some sesame seeds.

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Thursday, March 16, 2023

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

I don’t know how it is in your part of the world, but in mine it’s not usual to take a cold turn in the middle of March. I well remember having had months of April where we have gotten snow. Personally, I would prefer that it get warm earlier than it does (and  cold earlier than it does), unfortunately I don’t have any say. I will say that this cold weather sent me into the kitchen to make a big pot of chili. It had been a long time since I had made white chicken chili, and this time I decided to give it a whirl in the crockpot.  What a heavenly way to warm myself up inside and out.

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

 2 whole chicken breasts

1 t. salt

½ t. freshly ground black pepper

1 t. Melissa's minced garlic

1½ t. cumin

1 t. dried oregano

1 t. chili powder

¼ t. cayenne pepper

1 yellow onion diced

3 garlic cloves minced

2 15-oz. cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed

2 4-oz. cans diced green chiles, drained

3 c. chicken broth

6 oz. cream cheese, cubed

½ c. heavy cream

¼ c. chopped cilantro

 Spray the slow cooker insert with PAM.

Place first 12 ingredients into your slow cooker, stir to combine. Cover and cook on low 5 to 6 hours. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Shred the chicken and return it to the pot.

 Add the cream cheese and heavy cream. Stir, cover, and cook on high for 15-20 minutes until the cream cheese has melted and the chili is warmed through.  Stir in the cilantro, and serve.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Carrot Dip

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love cookbooks; I tend to read them like a novel. A couple of weeks ago my aunt, who is purging things, gave me a stack of cookbooks, and I have been having great fun. Not only did she give me full-sized hardback cookbooks, but also those small, soft cover cookbooks from Pillsbury and other companies that always appear (or used to appear, are they still there?) at the checkout stand at the market.

Because I went a little crazy chopping carrots, I had plenty left over to try this dip recipe that I found in a small cookbook from Midwest Living. Whether you’re a fan of carrots, or not, you will love the freshness of this tasty dip. I enjoyed it with crackers, but I also loved it with crudites (green pepper in particular), and used it as a sandwich spread. It made excellent tea sandwiches!

Carrot Dip

½ c. sour cream
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ c.
Duke’s mayonnaise
2 t. soy sauce
1½ t. prepared horseradish
¼ t. salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1½ c. finely shredded carrots
½ c. chopped scallions

In a medium mixing bowl, beat together, sour cream, cream cheese, mayonnaise, soy sauce, horseradish, salt, and pepper until smooth. Fold in carrots and green onions. Cover and chill for 4 to 24 hours. Stir before serving. Makes about 2 cups.

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Monday, March 13, 2023

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

I tend to get a bit overzealous when it comes to buying produce, lettuce in particular. Well, I call it overzealous, friends and family, they call it eccentric, but what can you do? Everything just always looks so fresh and delicious when I’m shopping, and all sorts of recipes start cycling through my brain, that, before I know it, I have enough lettuce to feed a small army. This week I will be having at least one salad every day. First up is going to be a knock off of the salad that I always enjoy at Olive Garden. I stumbled upon a recipe that is a clone of their dressing, changed it up a bit, and really enjoyed it. There is nothing like homemade salad dressing for freshness.

Olive Garden Salad Dressing

 ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

⅓ cup white vinegar

¼ cup water

1 .7-oz. packet Italian dressing mix

1 t. sugar

1 T. Duke’s mayonnaise

¼ t. dry mustard

¼ t. dried parsley flakes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 Whisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl until emulsified. Pour into a container and refrigerate for up to two weeks. I like to use a high-speed blender to blend mine.

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Friday, March 10, 2023

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Raisins and Walnuts

Let me preface this by saying that this is going to sound a little crazy. Bear with me. For the past 25 years, I have owned various food processors that, for one reason or other, have not contained a shredding disc. I never really considered that to be of great importance until my most recently purchased food processor (read: about 10 years ago) conked out and I had to get a new one. I decided to get one with a little larger bowl due to reasons I will not disclose here. It came with both a slicing and shredding disc, so I decided to give that shredding disk a workout. I couldn’t believe all that I had been missing over the years. Somehow I felt as though life had shortchanged me. Suffice it to say that within the course of about five minutes I had shredded 4 pounds of carrots. Don’t ask me why. I just couldn’t believe the speed at which I was getting this done. It never occurred to me that I was actually going to have to use those carrots. As a consequence, I have been making carrot EVERYTHING. First stop is this delicious, carroty, appropriately seasonal zucchini bread. It is loaded with so many delicious bits and bobs, that it just has to be good for you. As far as the taste, fabulous!

Carrot Zucchini Bread with Raisins and Walnuts

1½ c. flour
½ t. salt
½ t. baking soda
½ t. baking powder
½ T. ground cinnamon

¼ t. allspice
1/8 t. cloves
2 large eggs
½ c. vegetable oil
¾ c. granulated sugar
½ c. brown sugar, packed
½ T. vanilla extract

1 c. grated zucchini

1 c. grated carrots

½ c. golden raisins

½ c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray a
9” x 5” loaf pan with Baker’s Joy.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves; set aside.

In a large bowl beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugars until creamy. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, beating well. Fold in zucchini, carrots, raisins, and nuts. 

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until loaf tests done. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies

I am not a fan of brownies, per se. Despite my past intense love of chocolate cake, brownies never really did it for me. I do like Katharine Hepburn's brownies, and as I recently discovered, I like these. I don’t know what got into me the other day, but I had an intense urge to bake. I had heard nothing but good things about Ina’s brownies, and having laid in a large supply of semisweet and bittersweet chocolate, decided to give them a try. I cut this recipe in half and baked it in a 9“ x 13“ pan to avoid being inundated with them.  These are quite possibly the best brownies that I have ever eaten. They are deeply chocolate, thanks to both semisweet and bittersweet varieties, but also because of the coffee granules. Coffee always makes chocolate taste deeper and richer. I added walnut halves rather than pieces because I love nuts, and I wasn’t sorry. If you have a chocolate craving and urge to bake, these are your answer.

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies

 1 lb. unsalted butter

1 lb. semi sweet chocolate chips, plus 12 oz.

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate

6 extra-large eggs

3 T. instant coffee granules

2 T. pure vanilla extract

2¼ c. sugar

1¼ c. flour

1 T. baking powder

1 t. salt

3 c. chopped walnuts

 Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 12” x 18” x 2” baking sheet; set aside.

 Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

 In another medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the cooled chocolate mixture.

Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter.

 Pour everything into the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Do not over bake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into 20 large squares.

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Monday, March 6, 2023

Breakfast Bruschetta

 Breakfast can be boring. It can be pretty dull having the same thing every morning, particularly when that thing, such as toast or cereal, is not particularly interesting. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, then we should be serving something nutritious and delicious that invites us to indulge and enjoy. I prefer to start my day savory rather than sweet, was in a bit of an Italian mood, and came up with this. Wonderful!

Breakfast Bruschetta

8 (1" thick) slices of French bread

5 T.butter, softened

3 handfuls fresh baby spinach

4 large eggs

1/4 c. whole milk

1/8 t. Montreal steak seasoning

1/8 t. instant minced onions

1 c. diced tomatoes

½ c. shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 400ºF.

Spread 2 tablespoons of the butter on top of each slice of French bread. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, then flip them and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes until toasted. Remove the bread from the oven; set aside. Change oven setting to broil.

While bread is baking, sauté spinach in one tablespoon of butter. When wilted and heated through, remove with tongs, and mound evenly on each slice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, steak seasoning, and dried minced onions. In the same pan in which you cooked the spinach, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour in egg mixture, and cook, stirring as needed, until scrambled to your liking. Mound scrambled eggs on top of the spinach. Sprinkle chopped tomatoes and grated cheese over all. Top each with a sprinkle of salt and grating of ground black pepper. Broil until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.

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Thursday, March 2, 2023

Leprechaun Lunch Table for Two

 Hands up if you refuse to believe that it’s March. I am in absolute shock! I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the faster time seems to hurtle by me at such a breakneck pace that it’s more frightening than I care to admit. It seems as though I was just setting up a Valentine’s Day table when all of a sudden St. Patrick’s Day is on the horizon.

I enjoy St. Patrick’s Day. For me, it is always the harbinger of spring. I love the colors (green in any form is my favorite), and I am a big fan of the food. I don’t think St. Patrick’s Day would be St. Patrick’s Day without my leprechaun pitcher at center. I have had this for a lot of years, and never grow tired of it. The shamrocks that I bought to put in it last year as a part of my centerpiece have long since overgrown it, so this year I decided to go with faux tulips in white and pale green.

 The runner (don’t you love this fabric?!) I got years ago on Etsy. I would love to have this pattern as a tablecloth, so I’m always on the lookout for yardage. Let me know if you find any.
 The salt and pepper shakers, like the pitcher, are by Fitz and Floyd, and in the same pattern. One of these years I’ll get a hold of the matching candlestick  holders and I’ll be all set.
 The tall, ample wine glasses I got years ago at Pier One.


 The green water glasses are from Villeroy and Boch, the Irish coffee cups were a gift.

The plate stack is a Bordallo Pinheiro sandwich of geranium leaf plates surrounding a salad plate in the Blanc Amelie pattern from Maison Versailles.


  The gold flatware (because leprechauns are always looking for that pot of gold.) I inherited from my mother.

 The yellow soup bowl with the handle is always a favorite. I have these in green as well. They are by Tender Heart. The stonewashed cloth dinner napkins in a pale sage complement nicely.

I always feel that St. Patrick’s Day calls for a bit of whimsy, so included a pair of leprechaun glasses and badges on the table. Both of these are from this wonderful assortment.

Enjoy this promising month!


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 This post is linked to: Tablescape Thursday