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One of my favorite hobbies is to cook, must be part of my Italian background because I love to see people eat. Mangia, Mangia, as my grandmother would say. It was never much of a problem with four men in the house – there was always someone happy to eat. Now, there are two of us in the house and the cooking presents a bit more of challenge, you see I am used to cooking…a lot (again, the Italian coming through). It’s difficult to figure out how to just make dinner for two, day after day.
We have had our share of good meals and our share of popcorn or PBJ for dinner when neither of us could seem to decide what we should do about that meal. I think, however, that I am coming around. Over the weekend, we felt like carrot cake, knowing full well that we couldn’t eat a whole carrot cake even if we spaced it out over days (carrot cake day #1 is great, day #2 is good, day #3 really, carrot cake again?) so I figured out that I would make a small carrot cake. I searched around and I found a recipe for a small carrot cake but it required a 6 inch cake pan. I searched around in the hopes that I could find something that I could use but not 6 inch cake pan or anything close to it. So I figured I would work with what I had, ramekins and make little carrot cakes – two of them.
They came out resembling little muffins, I cut off the raised tops to flatten them to look more like cakes, then cut each cake in half so there were two layers. The recipe called for a maple cream cheese frosting which was spread on top of one “layer” and then iced on the whole cake–it was delicious! Two little individual carrot cakes for dinner earlier this week.
The recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s website. I omitted raisins and walnuts which could certainly be added as you desire.
- 1/4 all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch salt
- Pinch ground ginger
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- 1 egg white
- 2 tbs packed light brown sugar
- 2 tbs canola oil
- 1 1/2 tps milk
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup packed grated carrot ( 1 carrot)
Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1 tbs unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tps maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Spray 2 (6-oz) ramekins with cooking spray.
- In small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg; set aside. In medium bowl, beat egg white, brown sugar, oil, milk and vanilla with wire whisk until blended. Stir in flour mixture until combined; stir in carrots.
- Divide batter evenly between ramekins. Set ramekins on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake 17 minutes or until cakes are set and spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in ramekins 5 minutes; remove from ramekins to cooling rack. Cool completely. Level cake layers with a serrated knife.
- For frosting, in small bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until blended. Beat in powdered sugar and maple syrup until smooth.
- Fill and frost layers with maple-cream cheese frosting.
Today I dug up the potatoes from the garden. The other day I dug up the carrots.
Today I washed up a bunch of both. Cut up the carrots into bite sized chunks
Added honey from our bees and dill, mixed it together and roasted them for one hour at 350 degrees.
As for the potatoes, I cut them into bite size pieces also, added kosher salt, black pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, oregano, onion powder and garlic powder. Tossed them with olive oil and put them in the oven at 375 for one hour.
The finished product —-
I truly think that some of the best dinners I cook are those that are literally pulled from the fridge with whatever ingredients I have on hand. The picture above is a tofu stir fry that was part of last night’s dinner. I am partial to tofu in a stir fry and the rest of the family…well not so much. Complicating this is the fact that youngest son is allergic to sesame, so addition of sesame oil (which I also happen to like) is a big no-no on anything that he is eating. Hence, we are usually a two dinner family.
The “other” dinner I made last night was a chicken stir fry with broccoli and snow peas. Simple and quite tasty. For both recipes I put the protein into cornstarch and coated it before cooking – for the tofu that enabled it to be crunchy on the outside while still soft on the inside – for the chicken it gave it a nice moist taste.
Basically I pulled whatever I had in the way of fresh veggies out and you can do the same, but here’s the recipe for these particular recipes:
TOFU STIR FRY
1 container of extra firm tofu- drained on towel and cut into one inch cubes.
3 scallions chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 large onion, sliced thinly
2 carrots sliced thinly on the diagonal
1/2 large red bell pepper sliced into thin strips
handful of snow peas, chopped in half
handful of broccoli florets
chicken broth 2 cups
low sodium soy sauce 3 tablespoons
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 t. sesame oil
vegetable oil for sauteing (about 2 T.)
1. Dredge cubed tofu in cornstarch (about 1/4 cup total) until all sides are covered. Heat vegetable oil in frying pan or wok and add tofu, let cook on one side for about 5 minutes (or if you’re like me until the smoke detector goes off) and then flip so all sides are browned nicely. Remove from pan.
2. Add all vegetables and stir fry for about 5 minutes until vegetables are cooked enough for your taste.
3. Add sesame oil, chicken broth mixed with remaining cornstarch and soy sauce.
4. Bring to a boil so it thickens and then serve with jasmine or brown rice.
CHICKEN STIR FRY
3 boneless chicken breasts sliced into 1/4 inch slices
2 large broccoli crowns cut into florets (bite size)
1/2 pound of snow peas sliced in thirds
2 c. chicken broth
3 T low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. cornstarch
vegetable oil for sauteing (about 2 T)
1. Dip slices of chicken into cornstarch to coat. Put oil into frying pan and heat, add chicken – cook until browned.
2. Steam broccoli florets in microwave with 1/2 c. water covered for 2 minutes to par-cook.
3. Drain broccoli and add it to pan along with snow peas. Stir fry until vegetables are cooked to your liking, about 5-8 minutes.
4. Mix chicken broth with remaining cornstarch. Add soy sauce and mix well. Add to pan and bring to a boil to thicken.
Serve with white or jasmine rice.
So, I have a question as I catch up on things. Are carrots male, female or both? If carrots have a particular gender how does one figure it out? My friend Kirby pulled this carrot out of our garden this weekend.
While we were busy being hysterical about sexy carrots, our guys were busy being manly and playing with rocks to level our very un-level yard so the goat’s house would not look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
All in all, we had a very nice weekend and the goats have a very level house – (as the Beatles would say) with a little help from our friends.