An Adapted Carrot Cake Recipe by Paula Deen- Quarantine Style

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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.
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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. 

 

 

Alien finger cookies

 

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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!

 

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Top the cupcakes with toasted coconut and enjoy!

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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.

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Feeling coco-nutty…

 

My adaptation of the Caramel Apple Poke Cake

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I tried making this Caramel Apple Poke Cake  from Delish.com (a recipe by Lindsay Funston). It was definitely delish!

According to Delish.com, here are the ingredients that this recipe requires:

2 tbsp. butter, plus more for pan
All-purpose flour, for pan
1 box spice cake mix, plus ingredients needed for batter
5 Granny Smith apples, finely chopped (peeled if desired)
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 1/4 c. jarred caramel, plus more for drizzling

FOR THE FROSTING
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 tbsp. butter, softened
2 1/4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

My dilemma? I couldn’t find spice cake. My other dilemma? I didn’t want to make the frosting from scratch. So I bought a yellow cake mix, added some spices to make it a spice cake and I bought ready made cream cheese frosting.

So here is my adapted list of ingredients for the caramel apple poke cake that I made:

CARAMEL APPLE POKE CAKE- Sweet Monday style

1 box of yellow cake mix, plus ingredients needed for batter (which in my case was 3 eggs, water and vegetable oil)
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1/4 tsp. of ground cloves
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of nutmeg
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tbsp. corn starch
Juice of 1/2 lemon
one jar of Smucker’s caramel flavored topping (12.25 oz.)

-Butter a 9-x-13″ baking pan or dish.
-Mix the yellow cake mix, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg together.
-Prepare the cake mix according to the package directions (i.e. add eggs, water and oil) and pour into the prepared pan. Bake according to package directions. Let cool, about 20 minutes.
-Prepare the apple layer: In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the brown sugar and white sugar, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and stir until combined. Add the corn starch and lemon juice and stir until combined. Remove from heat.
-When cake is cooled, poke holes using a thick straw or the end of a wooden spoon, all over the cake.
-Pour the caramel all over the cake, especially over the poked holes.
-Spread the apple mixture on top.
-Spread the cream cheese frosting over apple layer.
-Dust the top of the cake with cinnamon.

I have a great idea on how to adapt this recipe into cupcakes. After the cupcake has cooled,  poke one big hole in each cupcake and fill it with caramel. Instead of spreading a layer of apples and then spreading the cream cheese frosting on top of that, mix the apple mixture and cream cheese frosting together to make it an apple pie cream cheese frosting. Sounds pretty good, right?!

I must admit that I was a little hesitant about this recipe. It sounded like it would be too sweet with all the spices, the caramel, the cream cheese frosting and the sweet apples. But actually, it was the perfect combination together. The spices blended well together with all of the other ingredients and it was the perfect amount of sweetness. It reminded me of an apple pie with caramel on top.

 

Sweet Cheeseburger Cupcakes

 

Yummy cheeseburger cupcake

My son requested to make cheeseburger cupcakes and I was happy to comply. I was able to make these cheeseburger cupcakes using just one box of cake mix and one container of frosting. My son and I followed the directions on the box of cake mix. My son mixed the batter and then we divided it in half. I added 1/4 cup of unsweetened chocolate powder and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to one of the halves. So now we had one bowl of yellow cake batter and one bowl of chocolate cake batter.

We used mini cupcake tins. The amount was perfect. I was able to use one bowl of cupcake batter for each of the mini cupcake tins. I ended up with 12 yellow mini cupcakes and 12 chocolate mini cupcakes.

For the hamburger buns (the yellow cake batter), we put sprinkles on top to represent sesame seeds. I suppose we could have used real sesame seeds but I didn’t have any. We put the sprinkles on top of the yellow cake batter before baking.

We let the cupcakes cool. While they were cooling, I used food coloring to make red, yellow and green bags of frosting. Red for the tomato, yellow for the cheese and green for the lettuce.

Once cool, I cut the tops of the cupcakes off (the muffin tops) to make hamburger buns.

I did the same with the chocolate cupcakes to make the hamburger patties, using just the muffin tops but making them a bit thinner.

On the grill and ready for the fixins’

I had my son put the “cheese”, “lettuce” and “tomato” (in that order) on the “hamburger patty”. He then put the bun on top.

That’s one sweet cheeseburger

Tada! Our cheeseburger cupcakes!

We put them in a hamburger basket to make them look pretty.

 

The happy cheeseburger cupcake maker