Carrot Cinnamon Cupcakes

My friend that I mentioned earlier, the super healthy one, just sent us a low fat, low sugar, and apparently enjoyable carrot cake recipe.

While chasing the kids outside this afternoon I was debating if we should give a try to this nutritious cake.  To my Evil-Me the idea seemed really disturbing.  Healthy cake? It must be AWFUL!  My Not-So-Evil-Me thought it may be beneficial for the family to eat something good. 

Then it hit me!  Why not make a “partial healthy” cake!? 

My Evil-Me and Not-So-Evil-Me reached a consensus and produced this awesomeness!  The cake part is pretty healthy while the topping is decidedly evil.  I converted the cake into guilt-free sized cupcakes! Now, if I could only manage eating them in guilt-free quantities!!!

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CARROT CINNAMON CUPCAKES

INGREDIENTS:

Cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 3 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cups finely grated carrots (about 3 large carrots)
  • 1 cup raisins

FROSTING

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz /225 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs cinnamon

Yields 48 mini cupcakes

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375º F /190º C.  Mix the first 11 ingredients (till carrots), making sure everything is incorporated; leaving a few lumps will make the cupcakes fluffier.

Mix in the carrots and raisins.

Line the mini-cupcake pan with paper liners.  (I like using this unbleached baking cups)

Spray them with cooking spray.  Fill each cup 3/4 full with the batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the wooden stick comes out clean.

Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack.

Once the cupcakes are at room temperature, with the hand mixer whip together butter and cream cheese.  Once combined and fluffy, add sugar 1 cup at a time.  I really liked the frosting with just 1 cup of sugar; however if you like a stiffer frosting, add more sugar. Add cinnamon.

Fill the pastry bag with your favorite attachment with the frosting, and decorate the cupcakes.

Now, try to restrain yourself from eating them all in one sitting!

Make ahead: these cakes will store well for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

 

Hustle-Free Whole Grain Breakfast

My baby is turning three this weekend. Sniff-sniff…

A couple presents from our friends arrived while he was napping today. One of them is this adorable Responsibility Chart. It includes cute little magnetic goals (such as “Load Dishwasher”, “Set Table”, “Make Bed”, or “Take Out Trash”) and little magnetic scores ( “You did it!”, “Looking Good!”, etc.) .  Ohm, I was so tempted to re-gift it to my husband, and then I turned the board around, and found even more goals: “Take a bath”, “Stop Whining”, “Say Please and Thank You”… It’s settled – the board is going to the husband, not the child! Sorry, guys!

Anyways, this friend who sent us the gifts should be the one writing a cooking blog. She can make gasoline taste good; and since they had a baby, she took the whole “healthy eating” concept up a level!.. or two… or three… nah, more like twenty levels…
So, today’s recipe is inspired by her. All my kids (including the husband) love it!

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MAKE-AHEAD WHOLE GRAIN OATMEAL

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup of whole grain steel cut oatmeal (such as Bob’s Red Mill Organic)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 tsp of butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup milk (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Place all ingredients (minus milk) in a crock-pot or an oven-proof cast-iron pot.  I like to add cold milk right before serving (to quickly chill the oatmeal).

Set the crock-pot to cook on low or place the cast-iron pot into the oven, preheated to 175° F/80° C for 8 hours.

If desired, replace sugar with honey, sprinkle with cinnamon, add nuts, and/or your favorite dried or fresh fruit.

Russian Pryaniki

Toys galore… trips to the park… permanent residence at the local zoo…  Those are all great parenting tricks to earn love of the little ones.  Want to speed up the process?  Add some sweets and TV to the list, and their love and admiration are guaranteed!  I did just that today by introducing the kiddos to some of my favorite childhood sweets.

These are ancient Russian honey cookies that  were there before refined sugar…  I suspect honey didn’t cost the equivalent of a small country’s economy back then.  It does now, so some honey is substituted with sugar in my recipe.  These spicy guys are crunchy outside and soft inside, spread marvelous aroma all over the house, and they are at their best the next day after baking, so it’s an excellent make-ahead cookie!

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RUSSIAN PRYANIKI

INGREDIENTS:

  • 113 g butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 cup rye flour
  • 1.5 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground anise
  • 1/4 tsp ground all-spice
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Glaze:

  • 5 tbs sugar
  • 1 tbs milk

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan on low heat.  Once the butter is melted, add sugar, honey, and baking soda, steering with a wooden spoon, so the sugar and the honey dissolve.  Make sure the mixture doesn’t start boiling.

Combine all spices, and rye and all-purpose flour, and whisk together.

Take the liquid mixture from the heat and beat in the eggs.  Add flour in 3 batches constantly steering. After 3rd batch was added, I had to employ my KitchenAid mixer to completely incorporate the flour.

The dough will be sticky.  Make a ball out of it, and place on parchment paper.  Cover with a plastic wrap and roll into a 1/2 -inch thick pancake.  Cut out the cookies.

Bake for 20 min until golden brown.

Make the glaze by combining sugar and milk in a small sauce pan and letting the mixture boil.  As soon as the mixture starts bubbling, apply it to the hot pryaniki with a brush.

For another delicious, but much more delicate honey dessert, check out my personal favorite, Honey Torte “Medovik”.

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