HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Say it with Carrot Cake!

FoodIsTherapy is a year old today!  ONE YEAR!  I can’t believe it!  The last year has been an interesting one and I thank you so much for following me along on my journey as a foodie.

So how about we celebrate?  Birthdays call for cake and boy oh boy do I have a cake recipe for you!  My father in law LOVES carrot cake, so I’ve been on the hunt for a really good recipe…and now my search is over.  Seriously.  This is the BEST carrot cake I’ve ever had!  YUM!!!

Enjoy!  And thank you again for your support over the last year – I hope you stick around for the next year (and maybe invite your friends, too)!

The BEST Carrot Cake (believe it or not, this is a Southern Living recipe – that I ever so slightly tweaked!)

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c. buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. grated carrot
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 (3 1/2-ounce) flaked coconut
  • 1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

Line 3 (9-inch) round cakepans with wax paper; lightly grease and flour wax paper. Set pans aside.

Stir together first 4 ingredients.

Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

Fold in carrot and next 3 ingredients. Pour batter into prepared cakepans.

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Drizzle Buttermilk Glaze evenly over layers; cool in pans on wire racks 15 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake.

Buttermilk Glaze

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 1 TBS light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring often, 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3 c. sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until smooth.

Categories: American, Desserts, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Artichokes with Roasted Garlic & White Wine Sauce

Artichokes were on sale the other day at the grocery store (four for five dollars!) and I wanted to experiment.  I hadn’t had whole artichokes in such a long time and honestly had never cooked them myself.  To be completely honest with you, these things really aren’t that scary at all.  Don’t be intimidated my friends, there’s just just one good whack with a knife to trim the top off and then some boiling action in a large pot.  Tada: Artichokes for dinner!  I served mine with some whole wheat spaghetti tossed in fresh pesto.

How do you eat them?  Simple!  Rip off the leaves and drag your teeth along the inside edge, scraping away the soft flesh.  As you get closer to the center, you can actually eat the leaves entirely.  Whatever you do, do NOT discard the center of the artichoke!  Seriously, the center is the grand prize – its the heart and is fabulously delicious!

I got this recipe from Cooking Light…shocking, I know.  I’ve got some new stuff coming for you soon!  I’m finally finding some time to spend in the kitchen again and have been up to some yummy stuff (spoiler alert: I’ve got THE BEST carrot cake coming your way).

Enjoy!

  • 2 whole garlic heads
  • 4 medium artichokes (about 3 1/2 pounds)
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1 c. organic chicken broth
  • 1 TBS butter
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°

Remove white papery skin from garlic heads (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap each head separately in foil. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins.

Cut off stems of artichokes, and remove bottom leaves. Trim about 1/2 inch from tops of artichokes. Place artichokes, stem ends down, in a large Dutch oven filled two-thirds with water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes or until a leaf near the center of each artichoke pulls out easily. Remove artichokes from pan.

Combine half of garlic pulp and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes. Add broth; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in butter and salt. Pour mixture into a blender; add remaining half of garlic pulp. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Sprinkle dip with parsley, if desired. Serve dip with warm artichokes.

Categories: American, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

BAKED Donuts

Before the recipe, I have to apologize for my haitus – we had a rough week last week with a little family emergency that left the blog on the bottom of my priority list.  I’m slowly getting back to it but really haven’t had much time to devote to my kitchen lately (and am quickly running out of stuff in my queue!).  Have no fear, I have some new recipes that I want to try soon!!

I like cake donuts a lot, but never buy them because they’re not exactly the healthiest breakfast choice.  I never make them because that requires deep frying and that’s messy (and again, unhealthy).  Recently, I’ve been seeing recipes for baked donuts as well as nifty little donut pans.  I was intrigued for sure!

I’m happy to admit that baked donuts are YUMMY!  They’re not quite the same as the fried version, but they’re comparable  (especially with the reduction in calories considered).  I have some ideas for different flavors and such now that I’ve tried these and seen how easy they are!  Stay tuned!!!

King Arthur Flour’s Baked Donuts

  • 1 c. Pastry flour or 7/8 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 TBS dried buttermilk powder (If you don’t have buttermilk powder on hand, substitute 2 tablespoons buttermilk or yogurt for the water)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 TBS vegetable oil
  • 2 TBS water

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, oil and water (or buttermilk or yogurt) until foamy.

Pour the liquid ingredients all at once into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Butter or grease the doughnut pan; non-stick pan spray works well here. Note: even though the pan is non-stick, since the doughnuts are low-fat they may stick unless you grease the pan first. Fill each doughnut form half full.

Bake the doughnuts in a preheated 375°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. When done, they’ll spring back when touched lightly, and will be quite brown on the top.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven, remove them from the pan, and allow them to cool on rack. Glaze with icing, or coat with cinnamon-sugar or any non-melting sugar.

Categories: Breads, Breakfast, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Jerk Chicken Paninis

We had a wave of summer up here in Ohio over the last few weeks…seriously, 80 degrees and SUN!  Its been so crazy; we broke temperature records from the 1930s and we had to mow grass!!  This is a big deal – I’ve seen blizzards in April some years and now I’m thinking about planting my garden in a few weeks (I normally wait until the end of May).  This weather is border-line creepy… but I like it.

Warm weather calls cooking and eating outdoors, didn’t you know that?  I decided to christen the grill with Jerk Chicken Paninis (a Epiphany I had during work.  Don’t judge me – I work for a food company and therefore always have food on the brain).  These have an awesome combo of sweet and spicy that I think you’ll LOVE.  Enjoy!

  • Fresh sour dough bread, cut into 8 1 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fileted
  • Jerk rub (I used this)
  • 4 1/2 inch rings of fresh pineapple
  • 1 Haas avocado, mashed
  • 16 slices pepper jack cheese
  • Butter

Rub the chicken with the seasoning and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Grill the chicken until cooked.  Also grill the pineapple rings until grill marks are visible on both sides.

To assemble the panini, butter the outsides of the bread.  Layer on the toppings in this order (trust me, this is an art – you don’t want soggy bread from the pineapple!): slice of cheese, chicken, pineapple, and another slice of cheese.  Spread avocado on the other slice of bread and before placing on the sandwich.  Using a panini press (or the grill since you’ve already got it hot), grill the paninis until toasted and cheese is melted.

Categories: Entrees, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Veggie Stuffed Poblanos

Man, I’m really slacking on the Monday posts lately, huh?  Maybe it just reflects my “meh” attitude towards Mondays.  Or maybe its because I try not to think about Monday until it actually arrives and I’m forced to acknowledge it.  Either way, sorry about that, friends – I promise to try harder next week!!

So I was on a Mexican kick the other weekend when I decided to take a second stab at tamales AND stuffed poblanos.  I don’t know, it sounded good for some reason.  Actually, I know the reason…we have this really awesome cafeteria at work with real chefs and one of them specializes in Latin food.  Anyways, he made the most awesome vegetarian stuffed poblanos with mole and crema on top that I went nuts over. While these weren’t quite the same (I knew they wouldn’t be), I still wanted to see what recipes I could find to stuff those emerald gems with.

So quick sad story before we get to the recipe.  Notice how my peppers look a little sickly?  Yea, that color just isn’t right you know?  I know.  Its because they aren’t actually poblanos (but they should be).  I kid you not, I had been to the grocery earlier in the week and they had millions of poblanos so I figured I was safe to get them a couple days later.  Wrong-o.  They had ZERO.  So sad.  So good thing for smart phones because as I stood sighing in a very loud and highly annoyed manor, I was able to determine that cubanelle peppers were a somewhat acceptable substitution (that is compared to the other two varieties of peppers I had to chose from – Bell and jalepeno).  And I kid you not, I went back two days later to the store and guess what?  Millions of poblanos again.  What.  The.  Heck?  OH well, maybe next time…

Enjoy!

  • 8 poblano chiles
  • 1 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 c. chopped green onions
  • 2 TBS pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 c. (3 ounces) crumbled queso fresco, divided
  • 2 TBS chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp/ ground red pepper, divided
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and divided
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 TBS all-purpose flour
  • 2 c. 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1 TBS fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

Preheat broiler.

Place chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet; broil 3 inches from heat 8 minutes or until blackened, turning after 4 minutes. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and discard skins. Cut a lengthwise slit in each chile; discard seeds, leaving stems intact.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add bell pepper; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add corn, onions, nuts, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup cheese, cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper.

Place half of beans in a bowl; mash with a fork. Add mashed beans and whole beans to corn mixture. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture into each chile; fold sides of chile over filling. Arrange stuffed chiles in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray; set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; add 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper, cumin, and nutmeg, and stir with a whisk. Cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add flour, and stir with a whisk; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk. Stir with a whisk until blended.

Increase heat to medium. Cook milk mixture 8 minutes or until thick. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and lime juice. Pour milk mixture over stuffed chiles.
Combine remaining 1/4 cup cheese and breadcrumbs; sprinkle over milk mixture. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until sauce is bubbly.

Preheat broiler.

Broil 1 minute or until top is golden brown.

Cooking Light

Categories: Entrees, Mexican, Recipes | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Saffron Chicken & Sausage Tamales with Cilantro Cream

After my tamale experience a few months ago, I was pretty eager to try out some more recipes for tamales.  I had learned a couple lessons from the last time (like kitchen twine instead of corn husk ties and spreading the masa thin) and was rip-rearing to go!  Don’t get me wrong, the last recipe was really good – I just wanted to try MORE!

These were really yummy and used a different cooking technique from my first batch…jury is still out on which method I thought was most effective.  Both methods were easy for sure, I’m just not sure which one yielded the best results.  I do know that I definitely scorched a dish towel with this cooking method.  Whoops!

I really like this recipe for the masa better than the first one (MUCH more flavor) and think that I’m going to make this one my standard and just experiment with fillings and toppings going forward (Branden really thinks I need to come up with a sauce to pour over them – the way they’re served in many Mexican restaurants).

Enjoy!

Masa

  • 2 c. fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 ancho chiles
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
  • 3 3/4 c. masa harina
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. chilled lard

Combine chicken broth and ancho chiles in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 2 minutes or until chiles are tender; cool slightly, Combine broth mixture and corn in a blender; process until smooth.

Lightly spoon masa harina into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine masa harina, salt, and baking powder, stirring well with a whisk. Cut in lard with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add broth mixture to masa mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and chill until ready to use.

Tamale Filling

  • 1/2 lb. ground chorizo
  • 2 c. chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 c. fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads
  • 2 1/4 c. shredded roasted chicken breast

Additional Ingredients

  • 2 c. hot water
  • 24 dried corn husks

Cream

  • 3/4 c. fat-free sour cream
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp. hot sauce

Place corn husks in a large bowl; cover with water. Weight husks down with a can; soak 30 minutes. Drain husks.

To prepare filling, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add sausage to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until browned. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and saffron; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in chicken; remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 450°.

Working with one husk at a time, place about 3 tablespoons Basic Masa Dough in the center of husk about 1/2 inch from top of husk; press dough into a 4-inch-long by 3-inch-wide rectangle. Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoona chicken mixture down one side of dough. Using the corn husk as your guide, fold husk over tamale, being sure to cover filling with dough; fold over 1 more time. Fold bottom end of husk under. Place tamale, seam side down, on the rack of a broiler pan lined with a damp towel. Repeat procedure with remaining husks, Basic Masa Dough, and filling. Cover filled tamales with another damp towel. Pour 2 cups hot water in the bottom of a broiler pan; top with prepared rack.

Steam tamales at 450° for 55 minutes, adding water as necessary to maintain a depth of about 1/2 inch. Let tamales stand 10 minutes.

To prepare cream, combine sour cream and remaining ingredients, stirring well. Serve with tamales.

Adapted slightly from Cooking Light

 

Categories: Appetizers, Mexican, Recipes, Snacks | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Super Fast Dinner: Gnocchi with Red Pesto and Asparagus

For some weird reason, I had a hankering for Gnocchi the other night and decided to get a tiny bit creative with it.  Normally, I just boil it and serve a yummy meat sauce over it.  Delish!  Not tonight, folks!!  Here’s somewhat fancy looking dish that came together quicker than the amount of time it takes to bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.  Seriously.  We’re talking minutes here, friends.  Minutes.

Enjoy!

  • 1 lb. package Gnocchi (found in the frozen foods section)
  • 1/4 c. sundried tomato pesto (can sub pre-made basil pesto too its you’d like)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
  • Asiago cheese for garnish
  • Fresh lemon zest for garnish, optional

Boil 2 quarts water and cook frozen gnocchi according to package directions (usually 3 minutes – do NOT thaw the gnocchi).  During the last minute of cooking, add asparagus pieces to pot to par boil.  Cook for additional minute and strain.  Return gnocchi and asparagus to pot and stir in pesto.  Serve immediately topped with freshly grated Asiago and lemon zest.

Categories: American, Entrees, Pasta, Recipes | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Product Review: All-Clad Slow Cooker

I got an awesome present for my birthday a few months ago and it has just totally rocked my world!  My parents bought me a slow cooker – I didn’t have one and didn’t really think that I needed one.  Wrong-o.  And they didn’t just buy me any slow cooker, they got me the Mac-Daddy All-Clad slow cooker!!  Oh the joy!

My Mom doesn’t buy things without doing the research so assured me that this was one of the best ones – better than the Lightening Deal one that I was considering buying on Black Friday from Amazon.  I would have to agree – I love this thing and am so glad I didn’t get the other cheap one I was looking at.

Waht I’m loving about having a slow cooker is the fact that I can have an awesome meal ready to eat when I get home from work as long as I through some stuff together the night before.  I mean, how easy is that?  And let’s be honest, some things just taste better when they’re slow cooked – like meat!  Check out these ribs and barbacoa pork from the slow cooker!

Outside of being excited about having a slow cooker, I really like this one in particular for a few reasons:

1.  Its huge.  This puppy holds 6.5 quarts.  Seriously, you can feed a small militia with this thing!

2.  Its easy to clean.  The insert comes right on out of there which makes clean up a cinch.  Technically you can put the insert in the dishwasher although I don’t do that because I’m weird about what I put in the dishwasher (its pretty limited to dishes, drinking glasses – NEVER wine glasses, and silverware).

3. Its programmable…about to 26 hours.  Okay, so 26 hours is probably overkill, but as someone who is gone for at least 10 hours every day the typical 8-hour timers usually found on slow cookers (if there’s even a timer) doesn’t really cut it for me.  I also like that as soon as the time is up, it flips over to the warm cycle and hangs out there until 26 hours are up or you turn it off.  Your choice.  You’ve also got three heat settings: Low, Medium, and High.  That’s really all you need – none of that fancy exact temperature setting that’s not really necessary on a slow cooker.

4.  This isn’t really that important, but its attractive.  I mean, I think I’ve actually used the term “beautiful” in a verbal conversation.  We’ll just stop there…

I’ve only found one kind of negative thing.  Sometimes you can find slow cookers with a cast iron insert that can go directly on the stovetop for searing off meet to lock in juices.  I mean, that would be nice, but hindsight is that I’m really only dirtying one pan to sear meat.  Not a huge deal.  If it is a huge deal to you, then you’re in luck because there is a much more expensive version of this slow cooker WITH the cast iron insert (not worth the ridiculous price premium if you ask me).  Tada!

Categories: Kitchen Gadgets | 1 Comment

Sauteed Veggies with Gorgonzola Polenta

Happy Leap Day!  I mean seriously, its weird to me that every four years we get an extra day.  So bizarre.  Who figured that out anyways?!?!?

Here’s another fast weeknight dinner that is great for you vegetarians out there.  I’m clearly not one, but I do enjoy a meatless meal from time to time.

Enjoy!

  • 2TBS extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 oz. sliced portabella mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 c. thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 3 c. 1% low-fat milk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2/3 c. quick-cooking polenta
  • 3/4 c. (3 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan, and swirl to coat. Add mushrooms and thyme; sauté for 4 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper; sauté for 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Combine milk, 1/2 cup water, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir in polenta; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese. Serve with vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Categories: American, Entrees, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Coconut Shrimp with Mango Salsa

First, I just realized that I uploaded a photo for Friday’s post but never actually inserted it into the post.  Whoops!  Its there now!!

Ok, now on to something new!  This is another Branden dish (someday I have got to get that boy to write his own posts!!) that he made for me for Valentine’s Day.  I’m not sure that this dish is actually a ton healthier than the fried version (mostly because its hanging out in a coconut milk sauce), but oh my goodness does it ever have so much more flavor!

I realized after we scarfed the shrimp down that there’s no shots with the mango salsa.  Oh well, just picture chopped mango and onions peppering the bowl of shrimp.  YUM!

Enjoy!

 

Mango Salsa:

  • 1 mango, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 5 basil leaves, julienned
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Coconut Shrimp:

  • 2 jalapenos, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 TBS dark brown sugar
  • 2 TBS soy sauce
  • 1/2 lime, zested
  • 1/4 c. coconut milk
  • Small handful basil leaves, torn
  • 2 TBS vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 15 grinds pepper
  • 1 lb. peeled, deveined shrimp

For the salsa:

Combine all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Make up to a day in advance.  Keep covered in the refrigerator.

For the shrimp:

In a mixing bowl, combine jalapenos, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest, coconut milk, basil, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper.  Add the shrimp and marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours, refrigerated.

Heat a non-stick skillet over high heat.  Use tongs or a fork to remove the shrimp from the marinade and place in an even layer in the pan, reserving the marinade.

Cook the shrimp until well browned on each side, turning once, about 3-4 minutes total.  Transfer cooked shrimp to a serving plate.

Add reserved marinade to pan, bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Pour over the cooked shrimp and serve with rice and salsa.

Categories: Appetizers, Recipes, Thai | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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