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Snow Day! Carrot Cake Coconut Snowballs

SAM 5770 Edited Snow Day! Carrot Cake Coconut Snowballs

I have made this pronouncement this before, but I’ll say it again. I am not a foodie. Then why in heaven’s name write a food blog? I started a blog to combat white collar boredom. I chose food to blog about since I eat every day, and I truly enjoy to bake. More importantly, food offers  a universal table for us to gather around.

If you refuse to believe me when I say I’m not a foodie, I’ll allow you a peek into my lunch box. Today my lunch consists of rice scrambled with an egg and peas, and an orange. Pretty simple. If I were a foodie, I would eat something delicious and beautiful. I’m so unfoodie, I can’t even think of an example of delicious and beautiful!

Why all this about a lack of foodiness? Because these carrot cake coconut snowballs converted me into as near as a foodie as I can get. These cupcakes are quite possibly the best cupcakes I ever ate, though I will fully admit carrot cake has been one of my favorite cake flavors since I was a kid. I must also admit the carrot cake, though it tastes really good alone, tastes best topped with the vanilla cream cheese frosting and sweetened, shredded coconut.

SAM 5730 Edited Snow Day! Carrot Cake Coconut Snowballs

If you are not a coconut lover, and coconut seems to be one of those things where people fall firmly into the love or hate camp, you can still enjoy these cupcakes. The coconut is not baked into the cake or mixed into the frosting. The cupcakes are simply rolled into the coconut once frosted, so this last step can be easily omitted for those at Coconut Hate Campground.

The snowball portion of the name comes from the original recipe that was written to frost the entire cupcake and then roll it in coconut to look like a snowball. These lovelies are messy enough to eat as pictured, much less rolled in frosting, hence I opted for modified snowballs.

I experience a great deal of frustration when I bake something delicious, but then that deliciousness doesn’t  translate through photographs. Sort of like Emma Stone’s dress at the Golden Globes. The fashion police who witnessed the dress in real life said it looked gorgeous, but on television the dress made Emma look a bit like a vamp.  What I am saying is these cupcakes don’t look so great in the post, but I promise they will look great in your kitchen. Bake them and enjoy. They are delightful!

SAM 5745 Edited Snow Day! Carrot Cake Coconut Snowballs

Carrot Cake Coconut Snowballs
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • For the carrot cake cupcakes
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups grated carrots
  • For the cream cheese frosting
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ – 1¾ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Add the vegetable oil and use a hand mixer on low speed to mix until just incorporated. The mixture will look like large crumbs.
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla. The batter will be thick.
  4. Fold in the grated carrots until evenly distributed. The batter will thin when the carrots are added.
  5. Pour the batter nearly to the top of paper -lined muffin tins.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean, approximately 20 minutes.
  7. While the cupcakes bake, make the cream cheese frosting. Beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla on high speed until thoroughly combined and smooth, about one minute.
  8. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. The amount of confectioners’ sugar will vary depending on the desired consistency.
  9. Return speed to high and beat until fairly light and fluffy.
  10. When the cupcakes are cool, frost the top of one cupcake, and then dip the top into a bowl of sweetened shredded coconut. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.

 

Souper Bowl Sunday: Cheddar Beer Soup

SAM 5697 Edited Souper Bowl Sunday: Cheddar Beer Soup

I thought writing about the unseasonably warm weather last weekend might jinx continued warm temperatures, and sure enough, winter has arrived. The nice thing about living in the south is though it may be 27 degrees at 8 a.m., rarely does it stay 27 degrees all day like it does where I grew up. Though I suppose that statement is not entirely true. Where I grew up, it may be 27 degrees at 8 a.m. and drop to 7 degrees by noon. When that happens, this cheddar beer soup is sure to warm you up.

Cheddar beer soup is a recipe I typically make once per winter. Though I may make it only once a season, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth making more often. I’m just the type of person who likes to experience something once, then tuck it away until next time. Rarely is a  recipe put into my regular recipe rotation like last week’s easy chicken and dumplings.

SAM 5709 Edited e1326583830604 Souper Bowl Sunday: Cheddar Beer Soup

It’s tough for me to decide if I like the vegetables in this soup, or if it would be better strictly as a smooth soup. It’s hard for me to accept carrots and celery in what I think should be a smooth soup, but the vegetables seem to give the soup a little bit of pizzazz that I’ve come to enjoy.  As for the cheese, a bag of pre-shredded cheese typically contains the 3 cups needed for the soup. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the cheese if you wish to garnish your soup.

Since the recipe calls for one, 12-ounce bottle of beer, I’ve nicknamed this soup the “now or later”. If I purchase a 40,  I have 28 ounces of leftover beer to enjoy now, while making the soup. If I purchase a six-pack, I have five bottles left to enjoy later. Either way, I thoroughly enjoy myself while making this soup.

After reading that, you may get the impression I’m a bit of a lush, but in reality it had been so long since I’d bought a six-pack that I forgot how to open one.  I spent at least 3o seconds rifling through my utensils looking for a bottle opener with which to attack the top before I realized it was a twist off. If you do not particularly care for beer or choose not to drink alcohol, you can use the leftover beer from the soup in one of my favorite bread recipes, beer bagels. Stay warm and enjoy!

SAM 5693 Edited Souper Bowl Sunday: Cheddar Beer Soup

 

Cheddar Beer Soup
 
Author:
Recipe type: soup
Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 12 ounces light beer (do not use dark beer)
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese, reserving ¼ cup if desired for garnish
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Instructions
  1. Finely chop the onion, celery, and carrots.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add the flour and stir continuously for three minutes. The mixture will clump.
  5. Add the broth and continue to stir until the clumps become a thick smooth paste, about another three minutes.
  6. Slowly add the milk and stir until incorporated.
  7. Slowly add the beer and stir until incorporated.
  8. Continue to cook until the foam subsides and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the cheddar cheese, salt, pepper sugar, and hot sauce if desired.
  10. Simmer over medium low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  12. If desired, garnish with cheese and serve with a baguette.

 

Orange Blossom Onions

SAM 5688 Edited Orange Blossom Onions

I had aspirations to post a lot of healthy baking swaps this month in an effort to help keep those with “healthy” new year’s resolutions stay on track. Since I’ve yet to come up with anything overwhelmingly stellar, I decided another simple baked vegetable recipe might be in order.

Unless they are breaded and fried or caramelized to a sweet deliciousness, I don’t particularly care for onions. But when I found a recipe for orange baked onions in my grandmother’s recipe box, I figured it would be worth a try. I baked the dish as written but renamed it orange blossom onions while searching for a way to make its presentation a bit more interesting.

SAM 5666 Edited Orange Blossom Onions

The onions can be served as baked, seen immediately above, or cut into fourths to arrange as petals. Though the orange juice and sugar certainly lend a sweet taste, the overall taste is still very much that of an onion. I suspect this will be great for onion lovers, but not so great for those of us simply trying to find a way to like onions a little bit more.

To make use of the baked onions I’m not going to eat, I might recall a recent recipe, baked brie en croûte, or revisit and oldie but goodie, onion muffins. I’ve also seen recipes across the web that suggest serving citrus baked onions with seafood. For everything you ever wanted to know about onions, including tips on how to slice onions with no more tears and plenty of onion recipes, the National Onion Association is a good resource.

SAM 5674 Edited Orange Blossom Onions

Now about those resolutions. I had a fairly decent week working on mine in the form of  yoga classes. While engaged in some serious deep stretch last weekend, the teacher shared she was once presented with the new year’s resolution to just be herself, and she encouraged us to consider that same.

What is really so wrong with just being ourselves? It really does seem silly to let a date on a calendar rather than our own personal timing dictate the pursuit of change. With those parting thoughts, I hope everyone has a wonderful Saturday. Enjoy!

SAM 5679 Edited Orange Blossom Onions

Orange Blossom Onions
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 medium sweet yellow onions
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 oranges, cut into six thick slices
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • nutmeg for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Pour the orange juice into a casserole dish.
  2. Peel the onions, slice the tops and bottoms to make flat surfaces, and place in the casserole dish.
  3. Stir together the orange zest, brown sugar, and salt, and sprinkle over the onions.
  4. Top each onion with orange slices.
  5. Dot each orange slice with butter and sprinkle with nutmeg.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in at 400 degrees for one hour.