About Suzanne

Hi! My name is Suzanne. Welcome to my blog. These are a few of my favorite things. This is my gratitude journal. I will look at this blog and remember all the things that have made me happy. I hope you enjoy my blog as much as I enjoy writing it. Adventures of Sweet Monday Forever...

An Adapted Carrot Cake Recipe by Paula Deen- Quarantine Style

20200413_103248

This was my first try at making carrot cake and it was a hit. We had an abundance of  carrots since I’ve been making a lot of lentil soup during our self-quarantine. After about the 4th pot of lentil soup, I decided that I wanted to make something different (and sweet!). I decided carrot cake would fit the bill.

I wanted to make use of the carrots we already had in our refrigerator before they got  too old. If there is anything learned during this time, it is “waste not, want not”. It’s a good idea to be as resourceful as possible during these times because even though we can still go out to do our essential shopping, it’s better to avoid it as much as possible and use whatever you have on hand. Also, it’s a good idea to find different ways to use the same ingredients, such as carrots.

My favorite baker is Paula Deen. I use her recipes alot (The most delicious pumpkin bars EVER!, 2nd time baking contest winner with these Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes!  and I usually adapt them. I used to love watching her shows on Food Network and now she has a YouTube channel. Lately, she’s been doing a lot of quarantine cooking herself.

So of course, while Google searching “carrot cake” and “carrot cake with oil”, I found her recipe. Why not butter you ask? I feel that oil makes and keeps the cake moist. The flavor of butter is better by far, but I noticed that the winning feature of any cake or cupcake is how moist it is.

Here is the list of ingredients needed for this carrot cake:

Butter, for pans

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

3 cups grated carrots

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, optional

And here is the list of  my “quarantine style” adaptations.

  • Because I didn’t want to use up all my eggs and flour (I’m a little traumatized because the last 2 times I went to the grocery store, they were all out) and because I felt that we don’t need a “whole” cake, I split the recipe in half.
  • I also don’t have a whole bag of pecans, so I picked all the pecans out of our Costco container of mixed nuts. How’s that for being resourceful. I didn’t have the full amount that I needed, but it was enough to give it a little pecan flavor.
  • I wanted the cake to have a little taste of nutmeg. The only spice in the recipe is cinnamon. However, since I don’t have any nutmeg in my pantry right now and a little trip to the store to get some nutmeg was out of the question, I used the next best thing- “Pumpkin Pie Spice”. I added one teaspoon of it.
20200414_171511

It has cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. 

  • I didn’t have cream cheese for the frosting, but I had some leftover store bought frosting from when I made my son’s birthday cake last month (I bought it ahead of time anticipating the quarantine). The flavor wasn’t cream cheese but it was vanilla and that’s close enough.
  • I also didn’t use butter to butter the pans, but instead used the oil that was leftover in the measuring cups.

To be honest, I probably would have made all of these adaptations on a regular day  because I don’t really like going to the grocery store just to buy one or two things. I’m usually too lazy for that. Either way, adaptations and all, this carrot cake came out terrific!

Here is a link to the full recipe (without the adaptations): Grandma Hiers’ Carrot Cake recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

If you make this carrot cake, I am sure you will love it too. Enjoy. Be safe, stay healthy  and take care!

Today I am grateful for homeschooling, working from home, video chatting with family, zooming with co-workers, texting with friends and staying safe and healthy at home. 

 

 

Butterick 6457- A blouse with peek-a-boo sleeves

I finally got around to sewing this pattern. I initially bought this pattern for the cold shoulder sleeves, which I was never really interested in but interested enough to buy the pattern. Luckily, there are 2 other views which don’t involve the cold shoulder sleeve, but rather, peek-a-boo sleeves. The sleeves have slits on the side to show a little bit of arm.

I chose view C. It was very easy to sew and the sleeves were actually a little fun to sew.

20191025_122813

I like the end result. I like it so much that I have worn this top many times already. It’s very comfortable because it’s a loose fitting top. I like the peek-a-boo sleeves. They don’t show too much arm, but it gives the blouse a little bit of an edgy look.

20191026_125456

I made a sash with the leftover fabric and I tie it around my waist. I like the way it looks because it emphasizes the waist.

I’m planning to make another blouse but without the peek-a-boo sleeves.

Happy Sewing!

 

 

 

 

Alien finger cookies

 

20191019_170721

I made these cookies for a Halloween party. I suppose it would have been more appropriate to share in October but hey, you can enjoy alien finger cookies anytime of the year. Why not. I’ve used this recipe many times before in many different ways. Sounds poetic, but it’s true. For example, I’ve made them as bloody finger cookies- Creepy Halloween Finger Cookies. Use your imagination to fit the occasion because these cookies are delicious and very easy to make. Here’s the recipe:

2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 and 2/3 cups all purpose flour
peanuts
green food dye

Heat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Separate 1 egg. Set aside the white. In a small bowl, whisk together the yolk of the first egg with the second egg and vanilla. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine butter, confectioners’ sugar, granulated sugar, and salt. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the egg mixture. Beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and about 6 drops of green food dye. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

When dough is chilled and ready, roll each piece back and forth to form finger shapes about 3 to 4 inches long.

When all fingers are formed, brush lightly with egg white.

Place and push peanuts into the dough to attach the “nails”.

Bake until lightly browned, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Happy baking!

 

McCalls 7052 peplum blouse

I love this blouse. At first I was worried that I would not like the finished product. I like peplums but that doesn’t mean that they like me. However, this blouse turned out pretty good and also turned out to be one of my favorite makes. I mostly like this blouse because of the fabric.  It’s a light blue cotton fabric with little cherries on them. I bought it in 2016.  I was saving it to make a summer sundress. It’s a Gretchen Hirsch fabric so it has that vintage vibe. I’m glad that I opted to make this blouse rather than a sundress because I think the mixture of the peplum pattern and the vintage vibe fabric work well together.

I made view D. There is an option to make view D with lace and lining. There are also 3 other views with double or asymmetrical  peplum options and sleeveless or short sleeve options. I’m not too interested in the double or asymmetrical peplum options but I am interested in making this as a short sleeve or sleeveless option. I might also try the lace and lining option, especially since I have not yet sewn a top with a lining yet. It would be  good learning experience.

I have worn this blouse twice already. Warning: do not wear this blouse in windy weather unless you enjoy showing off your midsection in Marilyn Monroe fashion. Walking around with your arms straight down while holding onto the bottom of your blouse looks awkward. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Happy Sewing!

2nd time baking contest winner with these Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes!

IMG_20191113_133719_592

winner, winner… pumpkin dinner

This recipe is seriously worth sharing again. I can’t believe that these pumpkin coconut cupcakes won a baking contest… again! I won a baking contest using this exact same recipe 4 years ago. Award Winning Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes

Ok, ok… it wasn’t a serious baking contest but it was serious enough because they were baking contests at my work. And those get serious. Especially when there are prizes (and egos) involved.

I found this recipe a few years ago. It’s a Paula Deen recipe. There is no butter involved in the pumpkin batter. However, there is a lot of oil, which I think is the magic moistness factor.

I made these as pumpkin bars many times without the frosting on top and they are still a hit! They are seriously The most delicious pumpkin bars EVER! (Click that link for the link to the Paula Deen recipe).

So back to me winning the baking contest… I made these as cupcakes and I think that the winning combination is the combo of pumpkin, cream cheese and toasted coconut. Yes, I said toasted coconut. You might not think that this mixture goes well together, but it does! I received many compliments on this recipe and the judges said that the addition of the toasted coconut on top was a “nice little surprise at the end”. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it must mean something good.

So even though these cupcakes are based on Paula Deen’s recipe for pumpkin bars,  which on it’s own is delicious,  I did add a few tweaks of my own. I believe these little tweaks made all the difference. I added a teaspoon of vanilla to the pumpkin batter and I added toasted coconut on top. Those were my two little tweaks.

Here’s the link to the recipe again Pumpkin Bars by Paula Deen. Don’t forget to tweak the recipe by adding a teaspoon of vanilla to the batter, making the cream cheese frosting as directed and adding toasted coconut on top. Or follow this recipe: Award Winning Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes

If you win a baking contest too, then… You’re welcome.

Happy Baking!

 

 

 

 

The most delicious pumpkin bars EVER!

These are the most delicious pumpkin bars that I have ever made and tasted. This recipe belongs to Paula Deen. I’ve made it many times. They are always a hit. I’ve made them as pumpkin bars, which is the original Paula Deen recipe and I’ve also made them as cupcakes. Click here to view the original recipe by Paula Deen.

I used this recipe to enter a Halloween cupcake contest last year and I won!

Pumpkin coconut cupcakes halloween

For Paula Deen’s pumpkin bars, you will need the following ingredients:
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

2. Stir together the flour (don’t forget to sift the flour, very important!), baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.

4. Fill the batter in a  9.5 x 13.5 x 2 inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let it completely cool before frosting.

Today, I am grateful for Octobers, pumpkins, and love.

pumpkin love instagram 2012

Goodbye October, Hello November!

Award Winning Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes

wp044d29b2_05_06

This recipe belongs to Paula Deen. I’ve made it many times as pumpkin bars. I adapted it just a bit for pumpkin cupcakes. You can find the original recipe here.

For the pumpkin cupcakes, you will need the following ingredients:

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line up your cupcake pan with cupcake liners. This batch made 30 cupcakes.

1. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin until light and fluffy.

2. Stir together the flour (don’t forget to sift the flour, very important!), baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

3. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.

4. Fill cupcake liners about halfway. Bake for 20 minutes. Let completely cool before frosting.

wp3d929512_05_06

Ingredients for the icing:
8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin cupcakes.

wp448fcd27_05_06

Ingredients for the topping:

7 oz. of sweetened shredded coconut.

To make the topping, lightly toast the coconut: Spread coconut in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 7 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently in between.

wp8419d1b0_05_06

Top the cupcakes with toasted coconut and enjoy!

wpf2c75121_05_06

I entered these cupcakes in a Halloween cupcake contest and it won first prize! That’s why I call them Award Winning Pumpkin Coconut Cupcakes.

wp7f493ce1_05_06

Feeling coco-nutty…