Monday, March 28, 2011

Favorite Carrot Cake

Get geared up for Easter with this moist, dense carrot cake. It is a crowd pleaser for sure. Make sure to make a day or two ahead, as the more time it sits, the more moist it gets!

4 eggs
1 1/4 c oil
2 c white sugar
2 t vanilla extract
2 c flour
2 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 t ground cinnamon
3 c grated carrots (coarse side, not fine)
1 c chopped pecans (optional, I do not add these)

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 c butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/8-1/4 t ground cinnamon
dash of salt

~Grease and flour 9x13 pan or two 9" round cake pans.
~For cake: In large bowl beat together eggs, oil, white sugar, and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan(s).
~Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, depending on pans used (I think I did about 45 mins for 2 round cake pans), or until toothpick comes out clean.
~Let cool in pan(s) for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
~For frosting: Combine everything and beat well until smooth and creamy. Frost cake. For a simple yet pretty 2-layer cake, I simply divide frosting in half-put half in middle of cakes (be sure when putting them on cake stand or plate to flip each cake upside down so you have a nice flat surface to apply frosting to) and then apply other half of frosting to top. Don't even bother with the sides! With butter knife make a choppy design, and voila, simple as that. Keep chilled.
~If you want to dress this up a little bit, try making a few small carrots out of marzipan! Knead a little orange food coloring into marzipan, shape into carrot, make some very slight slits across carrot with a butter knife to make it look like the peels. You can even brush with a little brown food coloring wash here and there to make it look more real. Then for the stems, simply use a sprig or two of parsley and stick in top of carrot. This is really fun for kids to do-Gwen loved it!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Breakfast Tacos

We have been obsessed for a while now with mexican tacos.  We eat them several times a week, whether it's for breakfast or dinner.  Here is the breakfast version.  (we eat it at any meal time, too)  They are cheap and so filling and satisfying.

Start with some Chorizo in your pan. It comes in a tube, maybe 1/4 of the tube.
Saute til almost done.  If desired, add real bacon bits.  We buy the giant bags of the Kirkland Signature brand at Costco.  Cook a minute more.  Add desired amount of eggs.  For my family of 6 I usually use about 10 eggs.  (from our own chickens! yay!)  Add salt and cook til done.

In the meantime, start cooking your tortillas.  White corn are what we prefer.  My favorite brand is Juan Valdez, Pepe's variety.  They are a local company,  so I don't know if they are sold everywhere.  If you have this brand, BUY THEM!!  You can cook them in a little oil or just spray each side with Pam and cook them slightly on both sides just to soften them up.  You can cook them til they are chewy, if you like.  I usually just lightly spray with Pam and stack them in a paper towel and microwave for maybe 30 seconds.  This makes them REALLY good and it's so fast to do a big stack.  My friend told me this little time saving trick!

Take your tortilla and add the egg mixture and salsa and devour!  We love avocados on these, too.  We also add a handful or so of hashbrowns to the egg/chorizo mix sometimes, too.

I have been perfecting salsa.  When I'm done, I'll share it with you.

O'Henry Bars

These are the easiest, yummiest bars in the world.  My Grandma used to make these when I was growing up.  I made them recently, and I had forgotten how I love them. Kids can whip these up in no time!

1 c brown sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1 1/3 c peanut butter
1 10 oz pkg Special K cereal (6 cups)
1 c butterscotch chips
1 c chocolate chips

Place sugar and corn syrup in sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Take off heat, add peanut butter and stir til smooth.  Pour over cereal which has been placed in a large mixing bowl.  (this sets up quickly, so stir fast) Pat into a 10x15 cookie sheet.  Melt butterscotch and chocolate chips over low heat and spread over top. (I microwaved mine)

Cheese Chowder

I am not sure if I put this in the Dale Girl Cookbook.  If I didn't, I should have. Add it immediately!  This is so delicious!

4 c potatoes, peeled and cubed, (4 medium)
2 c diced carrots
2 c chopped celery
1 1/2 c minced onion
4 c water
2 t salt
1 10 oz frozen broccoli
3 T chicken base (or bouillon cubes use like 6)
3 1/2 c milk
1/2 c butter
1/2 c flour
1 T dry mustard

Prepare potatoes, carrots, celery and onion.  Add to large pot with salt and water.  (make sure water just covers veggies)  Cook til not quite done, then add broccoli and chicken base.  Don't drain water.  Meanwhile, in saucepan melt butter.  Add flour and mustard.  Cook til paste forms, 1-2 minutes.  Add milk and cheese.  Do not boil.  Stir constantly til cheese it melted.  Add to pot of veggies.  Stir together.  Do not boil.