Friday, August 23, 2013

Carrot Cake by ATK

We love America's Test Kitchen around here.  When Doug was in Dental School in San Francisco, he'd walk home for lunch and we'd watch ATK on PBS while we ate.  (We didn't have cable.  And once again, we don't have cable.)

Anyway, we have a mondo ATK cookbook (The New Best Recipe) and Doug loves it.  So that is where I went for a Carrot Cake recipe for his birthday.  And it's good.  


Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

If you like nuts in your cake, stir 1 1/2 cups toasted chopped pecans or walnuts into the batter along with the carrots. Raisins are also a good addition; 1 cup can be added along with the carrots. If you add both nuts and raisins, the cake will need an additional 10 to 12 minutes in the oven. Philadelphia Cream Cheese is recommended by the “Test Kitchen”.

Carrot Cake

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound carrots (6 to 7 medium), peeled
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups safflower, canola, or vegetable oil. (This seemed like a lot of oil to me and I really wanted to substitute part of the oil with applesauce...but Doug wouldn’t let me.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position; heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and spray the parchment.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
In a food processor fitted with the large shredding disk, shred the carrots (you should have about 3 cups); add the carrots to the bowl with the dry ingredients and set aside. Wipe out the food processor and fit with the metal blade. Process both sugars with the eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. With the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process until the mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl Stir in the carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time. Cool the cake to room temperature in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours.
For the frosting: When the cake is cool, process the cream cheese, putter, sour cream and vanilla in a clean food processor until combined, about 5 seconds, scraping down the workbowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.
Run a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, peel off the parchment, and invert the cake onto a serving platter. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the surface of the cake. Cut into squares and serve.

Freakishly Healthy

I know I mention it all the time, but that is because it's still weird to me:  Since moving here, (to Japan) we've gotten a lot healthier.  I'm not gonna to lie: I had nothing to do with it.  In fact, I had every intention of starting a "Dessert Club" when I moved in.  In fact, I may be the sole reason we're still as un-healthy as we are.

(Okay, so I AM the sole reason.  But how was I to know we'd be planted (pun intended) in the middle of a hot-bed of Vegetarians and Nutritarians*?  A girl needs time to adjust to major life changes such as seven pounds of vegetables on a single pizza...with only about a half ounce of cheese!!!)

I mean, REALLY Janeen!

No healthy person should be so happy!

Even the KIDS around here eat healthy.  Voluntarily!  Don't believe me?

Meet my neighbor Eva:

Exhibit A:
She wandered into my back yard one day eating a bell pepper.  Eating a bell pepper like an apple.  No one is even making her!!!  (Sick!  See what I mean about freakishly healthy?)

Now look at this startling photographic evidence:
Exhibit B:
This is my child - Gabe - eating a WHOLE cucumber AND a carrot!  (???)  Sure, most kids will eat a baby carrot if coerced, but a WHOLE CUCUMBER?  It's totally bizarre to me that he's doing this AND smiling.

And this final picture?  I just find this one PAINFUL...

Exhibit C:

Gabe is seen here happily eating RAW (nasty/horrible/disgusting/my-arch-nemisis) tomatoes!!!

You can rest assured I had nothing to do with this.

So anyway, it's gotten so bad here that now Doug just goes into the kitchen and whips up healthy meals straight out of our Square Foot Garden.  (Our Square Foot Garden is totally ROCKING this year, btw!)

This is what he made us for dinner tonight:

And guess what?
It was surprisingly delicious!!!  (After I picked out the tomatoes...)
(My standard reaction to most vegetarian dishes equals "Surprisingly good!" or "Surprisingly delicious!" or "Surprisingly not as disgusting as I thought, and I REALLY thought this one was going to be disgusting!!!")

So if you want to get in on the healthy eating action, try this out.  You might be as surprised as I am!

Doug's Healthy Pita Pockets
1 giant oversized fresh-to-death cucumber out of the garden (sliced and chopped
1/2 chopped onion
a man sized handfull of sliced grapes
2 japanese sized cloves of garlic (these are about 1 1/2 the size of american ones)
1 can of garbanzo beans mashed up

Serve in whole grain pita pocket.

Enjoy in good health!

*Nutritarian:  A person whose food choices are influenced by nutritional quality.  See "Dr. Furman" for more details.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

This recipe is very easy but you need to be quick. Have all the ingredients pre-measured before you start for better results.

Combine in a medium sauce pan:
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 cube butter or marg.

Bring to boil and boil for just two minutes--stirring constantly. Too long, they'll be dry. Too short, they wont set up. (Start timing the two minutes right when it starts boiling even if the cube of butter isn't completely melted.)

Immediately take off the heat and mix in:
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups quick oats
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt

Quickly spoon onto wax paper with a cookie scoop.  They set up as they cool and do not need to be refrigerated.  This makes a few over two dozen when using a 2inch cookie scoop.


(I never claimed they were healthy. At all. Even a little.)
These ones are perfect

This batch got cooked a tiny bit too long, so they came out dry and a little crumbly.  But still delicious.

Friday, April 30, 2010

No-Bake Peanut Butter Balls - A Blast from Some Person's Past

I don't know why, but these remind me of childhood.  Not even my childhood necessarily.  But somebodies...  (is "somebodies" even a word?)
(Thank you for the recipe, Laura C!!!  Good luck with your PCS!!!)

Peanut Butter Balls

1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup raisins or craisens
(I'm not gonna lie--I add 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips.)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup applesauce
2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup

Mix all ingredients together and form into one inch balls on wax paper.  (I use my trusty cookie scoop.) Refrigerate until firm.

These also remind me, a tiny bit, of what we called "Numeral Dough" when I was little.  I remember we made it in first grade and my mom also made it for us a few times.  It was a mixture of equal parts Peanut Butter, Karo Syrup, and Powdered Sugar (I THINK that's it...).  You mixed those three things and it made a soft dough you could roll into snakes, form letters, and then eat.  I LOVED Numeral Dough.  Yum!

Mix one of these recipes up and tell me if it makes you feel nostalgic!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our close friends here are some of the healthiest people we've ever met. They are definitely good influences on us in the nutrition department. (We actually eat veggies now!) This recipe comes from Janeen--the healthiest of them all--who also has a website with tons of health information and lots of recipes. This is one of the recipes from her site. (

Just one warning: If you are making these for your family for the first time, do not say "Hey everyone! I made Chocolate Chip Cookies!" They'll be looking for the Crisco/Egg/White flour version and be sorely disappointed. (I may or may not know this from being the disappointed one.)

Try this instead; "Hey guys! I have a super healthy treat for you!" They'll be all bummed. Until they see the chocolate. Then they'll eat 'em and eventually become addicted.

You've been warned.

Janeen’s Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups whole (old fashioned) oats

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups walnuts or pecans, chopped fine or ground (toasting is an option)

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix in separate bowl;

1 cup apple sauce

1 cup maple syrup or honey

4 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. vanilla

Combine wet and dry ingredients and let sit for 5 minutes. Drop spoonfuls on baking sheet. These cookies do not “spread” so I like to flatten them a little.

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. It's hard to tell if they're done, but they do start to brown on the bottom. Let cool for 2 minutes before removing from sheet.

You can also experiment by adding cashews, cocoa or carob powder, raisins instead of c.c.’s, and/or peanut butter.

The only unhealthy ingredient in this recipe (besides the salt...and possibly sweetener...) is the chocolate chips, and we all know, chocolate could NEVER be bad. So enjoy these with a clear conscience!!! (I know I do.)

This recipe has been doubled so it makes a LOT!


Friday, February 5, 2010

Cousin Kimmy's Caramel Syrup and Food Truck Coconut Syrup

This recipe makes my in-laws like me better and my whole family loves it a double billion times better than the cheapy imitation maple from the grocery store.

Cousin Kimmy's Caramel Syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar (I've used all brown before. Same diff.)
1/2 cup water
1 cube butter

Stirring frequently, bring all ingredients to boil and remove from heat. It will boil up and over fast so keep an eye on it.
Then add:

1 tsp vanilla

Incredibly unhealthy and delicious on German Pancakes and French Toast!!!!

Recipe from my cousin Kimmy. Maker of all things sweet and delicious.

And now for a BONUS SYRUP RECIPE!!!

So there was this lady I met while standing in line at the Waffle Love Food Truck in Utah many summers ago who told me about an amazing recipe for homemade Coconut Syrup that she had somehow stolen from the neighboring French Toast Food Truck. I told her I had to have it.

This is that recipe:

Food Truck Lady's Coconut Syrup
1/2 Cup (1 cube) butter
3/4 C. Buttermilk (or milk with a little lemon squeezed in.)
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda (I use a little less because I don't want to taste it.)
1 tsp. coconut extract

Place butter, buttermilk and sugar in medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil one minute. Remove from heat and add baking soda and extract, stirring constantly. It will bubble up, so if your pot is small, hold it over the sink to avoid spillage. Continue to stir syrup and let is rest for a few minutes before serving. Serve over almost any breakfast food.

Post Script: After typing that recipe,  I think next time I will make it with Coconut milk instead of Buttermilk and leave out the baking soda. I don't need the excitement of a science fair volcano early in the morning--I just need to eat. Once I try it, I'll let you know how it turns out.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Chunky Sweet Potato Stew a.k.a. Dragon Stew

I got this recipe from Joel Fuhrman's "Eat for Health: Book Two". It was quick and easy to make but I knew the boys were going to take one look and throw a fit. They did.

But with much bribery ("No Crystal Light until your food is gone!") and coercion, they tried it, and actually sorta liked it, both finishing their whole bowl!!! VICTORY!

(Although Sam would only take a bite along with a bite of toast and Max said "It was good but I don't want it again." Hmmpf. I'm totally making it again..)

Here it is:

Chunky Sweet Potato/Dragon Stew
Serves: 2 - Prep Time: 25 minutes (It served 5 the way I made it. And it was super good served with toasted Rudi's Organic, 7 Grain with Flax bread!)


1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, thickly sliced (I will dice it smaller next time. The boys didn't like the stringy onions)
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 14-ounce can stewed tomatoes with juice (low or no salt) (I used no-salt petite diced tomatoes)
1 large sweet potato, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (Mine was super large!)
1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans or white kidney beans (low or no salt), drained. (I used the whole can.)
3/4 tsp dried rosemary (Didn't have any. Left it out.)
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds, or cut into bite-sized pieces
black pepper, to taste
Mrs. Dash seasoning, to taste

Since I used a HUGE sweet potato and the whole can of beans, I needed a little more liquid. So I added half a can of low sodium chicken broth.


Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes, until slightly softened, separating slices into rings. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

Mix in stewed tomatoes with juice, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans and rosemary. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Add zucchini. Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Season to taste with pepper and/or Mrs. Dash.

One Serving Contains (if you follow the original recipe exactly...)
Calories: 286.5; Protein 9g: Carbohydrate 48g; Fat 8.5g; Sodium 73.1mg

Enjoy eating a healthy, flavorful meal with no guilt!!!