Wow. Who would have thought the first few months of pregnancy would be so exhausting? Just a hint of what's to come I guess, considering I'm carrying twins (!). I haven't been slacking off entirely though. I've been cooking a little, earlier this month my little brother celebrated his 19th birthday and as is customary, I made the cake of his choice. This year he asked for carrot cake. I devised my own recipe with fresh grated carrot, chopped pineapple, walnuts and flaked coconut all topped off with my favorite cream cheese frosting. It was a real treat, and absolutely the best carrot cake I've ever had. So good that we didn't wait to take a photo (sorry!) but here's the recipe:
2 c sugar
1 1/3 c canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c coconut
1/2 c chopped pineapple
1 lb. grated carrots
Combine the sugar, oil, and eggs. Beat well and add vanilla. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry mixture to the wet. Combine the walnuts, coconut, pineapple, and carrots and fold into the cake batter.
Evenly divide the batter between 2 9"round cake pans lined with parchment. Bake at 350 degrees, 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes back clean.
Cool completely before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c powdered sugar
Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt and mix well. Gradually add the powdered sugar until thoroughly combined.
*for a little variety add a dash of cinnamon or a bit of maple syrup for a slightly different flavor
My mom's 50th birthday was just a week later. We planned a big party complete with live music (thanks Saddle Tramp!), awesome food, and too much beer. I made a little spread with appetizers and sweets.
This really is one of my favorite ways to spend time in the kitchen- cook ALL DAY, umpteen different things and celebrate with a party that night. Feet aching, compliments, and all. Its wonderful.
I made goat cheese-pesto pastry swirls, roasted red pepper tapenade, herb-olive oil dip, marinated tomatoes, and spinach-artichoke dip served with lots of crusty bread. We also had two huge sandwich trays from Jimmy's, stuffed jalapenos, chicken wings and a cheese log! For the sweet treats we indulged in 2 kinds of popcorn- fudge drizzled kettle corn, and mom's favorite- homemade cracker jack. I also made lemon cake pops, pistachio truffles, meringues, and yellow cupcakes with fudge frosting.
All the food went over really well, the band was awesome (a 6-piece in the living room? Now THAT's a party!), and a great time was had by all. I was so glad to have the occasion to cook for after the last few months of avoiding the kitchen- sometimes I just need some sort of motivation and once I get started I usually go overboard. My goal for the blog moving forward is just to post as often as I can manage, it may be weekly or every 2 weeks, but I plan to keep on cookin'! Look for a new recipe next week!