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Archive for the ‘Nuts’ Category

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Have you ever been “that person” at the grocery store before? Because a few days ago I was “her.” The one that holds up the line, leaves the line, and then budges back to the front of the line all within a matter of a minute. Add me to the most hated person at the grocery store list.

Trust me though, my actions were justified and you would have done the exact same thing. It was a colleagues birthday at work the other day so naturally I took on the role of baking treats, carrot cake cupcakes to be exact, as per her request. After school I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few of the ingredients that I was missing, one of which included pecans. I stopped in the baking aisle, surveyed the packaged pecans and figured that $3.00 for a 100 gram bag was a bit excessive. Buying bulk was the smart and sensible thing to do, why spend more than I needed, and really, who wants to pay $3.00 for nuts. Yes. I am that cheap.

After spending way too much time gawking at all of the delicious bulk items, I came to my senses and poured the pecans into my bag. Let’s just say that I was a little bit too generous with the pouring but figured that I couldn’t put the pecans back. And really, nothing says “it’s time to bake again” like a few too many nuts.

Off to the check out I bounded, eager as ever to get baking. My four items were quickly rung up and came to a total of $24.50. I’m sorry, that’s not possible…except it was possible. Thank you nuts for adding up to a total of $11.35. Seriously ridiculous but whatever, I figured. Just pay and check out. I gave the lady my card, started the transaction and then half way through panicked, hit the cancel button and admitted that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t spend that much money on the nuts.

Long story short, the cashier sighed heavily, the eyes of the customers behind me rolled, I profusely apologized for being “that girl” then booked it for aisle 4, snatched the last $3 bag of pecans out of the hands of some grandma (okay not true, maybe I’m a bit dramatic), raced, aka budged, back to the front of the line, paid for my now $14 purchase and left the grocery with a smile on my face and a heavier change purse. Mission accomplished.

The lesson I learned: always buy the bagged nuts. It doesn’t make sense, sometimes things in life don’t, but just go with it.

Also go with these carrot cake cupcakes. And don’t forget the cream cheese icing. Because what is carrot cake without cream cheese? Oh right, it’s what I call breakfast, or muffins.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 cups flour           2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt               2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg     1/2 tsp all spice
2 cups sugar          1 1/4 cups oil
4 large eggs           3 cups grated peeled carrots
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)  1/2 cup drained crushed pineapple (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 24 cupcake molds with papers, or butter and flour them.

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice in a medium bowl.

Whisk sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.

Whisk in eggs 1 at a time.

Add flour mixture and stir until blended.

Stir in carrots, pecans, pineapple and raisins, if using them.

Divide batter among cupcake molds, filling 3/4 of each.

Bake cupcakes 14 to 18 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Let cool in pans for five minutes or so, then transfer cakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before icing them.

Cream Cheese Frosting

One (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter       1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Beat all of the ingredients on medium until fluffy.

Ice the cupcakes.

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Hello Dolly Bars

And just like that, it’s officially not summer any more. Where did the sun decide to disappear to and why am I not there? I don’t like all of this gray sky, but regardless I’m still in my glory because it’s September.

Do you have a favourite month? Hands down September is mine. Call me a nerd but I love the start of a new school year; think new clothes, new binders, new classes to teach, new students to get to know, a new volleyball season to coach, a new soccer season to play in, and this year…a new run club!

Football season has started, the leaves are starting to change colour even though the weather is still warm, I can wear shorts in the day and then snuggle up in sweats at night, and it’s almost time to start baking with pumpkin. Seriously, this time of the year is perfect.

Want to know what else is perfect? These hello dolly bars. What’s not to like? They’ve basically got everything in them minus the kitchen sink. Coconut, pecans, graham crackers, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, what more could a girl want?

A word of warning though. Even though I think that these are perfect, if you aren’t a big sweets person you might think that these are, for lack of a better word, too sweet. Should that be the case, you know where to find me, I can take them off of your hands for you, no need to thank me…

Hello Dolly Bars

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup butter, cut into large pieces
1 1/2 cups graham crackers crumbs
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips      1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup shredded coconut          1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in microwave until just melted. Add graham cracker crumbs. Mix and then press evenly into the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan.

Layer coconut, pecans, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips on top of the graham cracker base.

Pour sweetened condensed milk over the whole mixture.

Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is light brown.

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I’m pretty bad about eating candy. I guess that’s probably a good thing, but around Easter, Halloween and Christmas it’s not the best.

Exhibit A: my stash of Halloween candy still in the cupboard. Caramilk or Kit Kat anyone?

Exhibit B: mini Cadbury Easter eggs that I discovered. No not from this year, from last year!

Exhibit C: Boxes of chocolates piled up from Christmas. Now are these boxes from this year? Last year? Two years ago? Because that’s definitely a possibility and I honestly have no idea how old they are. But really, thank you to all the students who so kindly donated to our growing mountain of See’s and Purdy’s chocolates.

And finally, I present to you, Exhibit D: This tasty number that I found the other day, white chocolate bark wrapped in tin foil all by its lonesome at the back of the fridge. Still good though. Don’t believe what they say, chocolate never goes bad! Just kidding. Believe them. They know what they are talking about this time.

I made this bark back in December when I distributed a few boxes of holiday treats to some friends. Along with this recipe the boxes included: Nanaimo Bars, Almond Biscotti, Gingersnap Cookies and Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies. The bark was good, white chocolate with almonds and dried cranberries. Three ingredients, extremely quick and easy to make. I have to admit though, it’s not my #1 favorite recipe but it’s still enjoyable, especially if you like white chocolate.

Added bonus, if stored in the fridge, it’ll last for months!

White Chocolate Bark

Adapted from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

2 cups white chocolate chips                  1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup whole almonds

Melt chocolate in a pot over a saucepan of hot, but not boiling, water. Stir occasionally.

Stir in cranberries and almonds.

Pour onto an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

Using a rubber spatula, spread into a rectangle based on desired thickness.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until hardened. Break into pieces.

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I’m not a huge fan of fast food. I’ve never stepped into an Arby’s or a Harvey’s. When at Wendy’s I get the salad, and I can’t even remember the last time that I had actual McDonald’s food. I say “actual food” because I am 100% guilty of purchasing McDonald’s sundaes, McFlurries and ice cream cones. Don’t even get me started on Dairy Queen, when summer hits we become best friends all over again.

Subway may be my main exception for the lack of fast food. If I’m ever out-of-town, Subway is often on the safe list of places to grab food from. Classic ham and cheese sandwich with a few of the toppings and don’t you dare forget the cookie. No not the chocolate chip cookie, the best cookie that I’ve ever eaten, the white chocolate chip macadamia nut one.

After receiving a can of macadamia nuts from Hawaii I decided that I was tired of waiting for the rare trip to Subway to get my hands on their cookies and instead opted to make my own. For some reason I always thought that these cookies would be hard to make. Turns out the only hard step is finding macadamia nuts. These cookies were just as basic to make as any batch of cookies and had the house smelling sweet and delicious in no time.

Chewy cookies just like the bought ones…looks like Subway may have just lost a customer.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

2 cups flour              ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt                 ¾ cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar   ½ cup white sugar
1 egg                       1 egg yolk
3/4 tbsp vanilla        3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease baking sheets.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the egg, then the egg yolk and vanilla.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just moistened. Mix in the macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets.

 Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges look golden brown and the middles don’t look quite set. (12 was enough for me)

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