I call my mother whenever I have a recipe emergency or need to know what to cook for a special event. Here was the scenario this week: I’m going to visit the boy’s grandmother next Sunday on our way home from an out of town wedding. My Southern upbringing dictates that I need to take this awesome woman some sort of edible gift. Last time we visited, she made us an amazing, healthy meal, so it’s time for us to do something nice for her.
I called mom last night, because I needed a recipe that could travel 24 hours before being served. (We’re going to the wedding the night before we hit up Grandmother.) “Make my carrot cake,” she says. She always knows the perfect thing to make. She doesn’t have to think about it. The second I ask the question, she comes back with the perfect answer. She’s like a recipe computer- I love it.
I wasn’t totally sold on the carrot cake, but she insists that it’s the best thing to make. She swears it’s better than her Peach Cobbler, which received rave reviews several weeks ago. Mom’s been making this recipe since 1982, so it’s definitely a time-tested recipe at this point. So carrot cake it is! The recipe is below with her notes, and I’ll let you know how it goes early next week.
Mom’s Spicy Carrot Cake
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups oil ( I use canola oil)
3 cups grated carrots
Cream cheese filling:
1 stick butter
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 box confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (optional) definitely add these – they make it!
Combine dry ingredients and mix well. Add eggs and oil and mix well. Now add carrots and beat on medium speed with electric mixer about 2 minutes.
Grease and flour three 9 inch cake pans or 9″ x 13″ cake pan. Preheat oven for 350. Pour batter into cake pans and bake 25-30 minutes.
Cool for 10 minutes. Then turn out onto cake racks.
For the filling: Cream butter and cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar gradually. Add vanilla and pecans. When cool, put layers together and frost top with filling.
Mom’s Note: “It’s no wonder southern girls are sugary!”
This is one of my favorite recipes to serve with Dave’s Flank Steak Marinade. Add some grilled onions and peppers, and you’ve got a delicious summer meal.
Kate’s Stuffed Red Peppers on the Grill
3 red peppers (medium-sized)
loaf of French or Italian bread
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes (get the round mozzarella chunks in water, or the mozzarella that’s marinated in oil and Italian seasonings)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil (less if you get the marinated mozzarella)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
Salt & pepper to taste
pine nuts (optional)
Prep the peppers: Cut the tops of your red peppers off toward the top (about 1/2 inch away from top.) Remove seeds and membranes.
Make croutons: Slice your bread thinly and tear (or cut) into 1/2 inch croutons. You need about 1- 1 1/2 cups. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet. Add the croutons. Brown each side, adding more olive oil if needed. Lay croutons on paper towel to drain.
Stuff the peppers: Combine croutons, mozzarella, garlic, basil, pine nuts (optional), oil, salt & pepper. Stuff peppers, replacing tops with toothpicks. Place on grill for 10-15 minutes.
The inside will be melted and delicious. Serve 1/2 pepper per person. These are surprisingly good reheated the next day!
This is my all time favorite summer dessert. It comes from my mother, an amazing Southern cook, who delights us with candlelit meals on the patio when I return home from Seattle in the summers. Make this dessert for your guests, and they’ll beg you for the recipe. It’s classy, healthy (moderately), and brings out the best of the season.
Prepare a bunch of fruit to serve with the dressing. Mix tropical fruits like pineapple, mangoes, and papaya with berries- strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Add kiwi or oranges too, if you like. Add all the fruit to a large bowl and toss. Dress with this amazing dressing.
Fruit Salad Dressing
1/4 c pineapple juice
1/4 c orange juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons cold water
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
Combine juices, water, and cornstarch in top of double boiler. Cook over boiling water 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Combine egg and sugar and add to cooked mixture. Cool. Fold in cream.
Note: Prepare and use the same day.
I’m so jealous of people who are natural cooks. You know, people who don’t need recipes or measuring cups. My friend, Meg, is one of these people. She is a pescitarian who cooks wonderfully easy, organic, and healthy meals. Last week I was introduced to this simple, delicious salad that Meg created on the fly.
After vacationing in South Carolina last week and eating lots of fried fish and hush puppies, I’m trying to step back and go healthy this week. This is the perfect lunch recipe for a week like this. It’s easy to make to take to work. It’s also inexpensive and makes you feel good.
Meg’s Tuna Cranberry Salad
All to taste–
Albacore tuna (in water)
Add romaine lettuce to your salad bowl. Add small bites of tuna and dried cranberries. Cover with cottage cheese. Toss.