Carroty for Easter

…or when you buy a giant bag of mini carrots at Costco and realize you need to start getting creative with what to do.

My sibling found a random recipe and wanted me to try it, so this recipe is from Food network. I made some modifications such as cutting down the sugar as usual. This is my first time making carrot cake. I should have tried one of the carrot recipes from the other blogs I’ve read, but since this recipe was shoved in front of me, I worked with it. No, Food network’s recipe does not take 25 hours like it says it does.

 

3 Layer Carrot Cake

 

Cake Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups avocado oil
  • 4 fresh whole eggs
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice (a mix of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg)
  • 3 cups raw shredded or diced carrots
  • 4 ounces chopped walnuts(or just break them by hand and mash them up with a wooden spatula)

Icing Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar (you can prob use less like 3.5 cups)
  • 12 ounces room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces room temperature butter

Steps for Making Cake/Icing

Cake

  • Preheat oven to 300 F.
  • Mix sugar, oil, eggs in one bowl.
  • If you’re lazy like I was, instead of separately mixing the dry ingredients in a different bowl, you can just slowly start mixing the dry ingredients in afterwards. I did the salt, pumpkin spice, salt first. Then, I started slowly stirring in the flour.
  • Mix in carrots and then nuts.
  • Cutting the carrots and shredding them took by far the most time.
  • Now, you need to split the batter between three 9 inch circular pans, or you can use other containers and not do 3 layers too. I used 2 metal circular pans and 1 silicone one. I used all of them, and at the end the silicone one was the easiest to get the baked cake out.
  • Bake 50 to 60 minutes.
  • Cool pans and cake layers.
  • During this time, you might as well do the icing!

Icing

  • Mix powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, and butter. Beat until thoroughly blended. Hold refrigerated and use as needed.
  • Note: When you are beating, be careful! I used a hand mixer, and it started to smell like my motor was burning out! This mixture can be dense. You need the mixer in order to get all that sugar blended into the rest of the ingredients. Take it slow and let the mixer rest so you don’t kill it.

 

Combining Cake and Icing!

  • Ok, now you can invert one cake layer from its pan in order to get it out. If you can’t get it out, start eding along the side of the pan with a thin flexible spatula. I cracked the two layers I made in the metal tins…sooo my cake looks a little crumbly in the picture above.
  • So, once you put down the one layer, ice the top of it.
  • Then put down another layer, and ice the top of that. Repeat with third layer.
  • You will still have icing left over. You can use the rest to ice the sides of the cake. I was lazy, so I didn’t do that.
  • Since the icing has cream cheese and butter, store the cake in the fridge when you’re not going to eat it. I put mine in a Wilton cake carrier because it has the snap ons to “Seal” the cake inside.

 

Enjoy! Happy early Easter!

 

 

The Turkey Struggle

About a week before Thanksgiving, I found out that my parents, despite not really wanting a turkey, had bought a turkey…the smallest one they could find. It was still a 10 pound Butterball though… We haven’t made turkey in the family for years and may have only done it once. So, my brother decided to take it upon himself to find a recipe, him being the one in the family who doesn’t know how to cook and literally just tosses meat in the oven, drizzles it with sauce, and waits while hoping the oven doesn’t blow up. That’s about the extent of his cooking.

So, here’s what he found: Link to Recipe Base

And well, we followed that recipe as closely as we could, and this is what we did based on the ingredients we could find and our limited pot sizes(Did not know that turkeys are this big and wasn’t prepared to make turkey…so our biggest pots were…not big enough to pull off the original recipe). We couldn’t find peppercorns and berries at the grocery store nearby, so we just improvised and use Pumpkin pie spice. .and how come we met a bunch of coworkers all shopping in that same grocery store for supplies at like 8-9pm at night? Guess some grocery stores can be hang outs/places to go “Oops…we need food for Thanksgiving”.

Ingredients:

  • 1o pound thawed turkey (instead of original recipe’s 14-16 pound)
  • Avocado oil (but any oil that can survive 500 F is good. The original recipe said canola is fine.)

Brine:

  • 1/2 cup salt (instead of original recipe’s 1 cup)
  • About 1/4 cup brown sugar(instead of original recipe’s 1/2 cup)
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (instead of original recipe’s 1 gallon)
  • About 5 or so shakings from a McCormick Pumpkin Pie Spice(mix of cinnamon, ginger nutmeg, allspice)(instead of original recipe’s 1 TBSP black peppercorn, 1.5 TSP Allspice berries, 1.5TSP chopped candied ginger, and 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 2-3 quarts iced water (guestimating since we did it based on how much our container could hold)(instead of original recipe’s 1 gallon)

Stuff to put inside Turkey/Aromatics 

  • 1 sliced apple (we used Fuji, original says red)
  • 1/2 sliced onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 sprigs rosemary (instead of original recipe’s 4)
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Stuffing(optional)

Steps

Making Da Brine:

  • The night before roasting the turkey…. find a pot. Then add the veggie stock, brown sugar, salt, spice in the pot over medium heat. Stir and boil.  (We didn’t have a 5 gallon bucket. Our biggest container was a mixing bowl that would hold 2 gallons, but that couldn’t go on the stove…which is required…sooo we used a smaller pot and halved the ingredients from the original recipe.)
  • Let it cool and then refrigerate it.

Prepping the Turkey

  • Your turkey should be thawed already.  Remove all the inside stuff. Usually, if store bought, there is a white pouch which contain the innards and there may also be a neck in there. We tossed those out. The white pouch looked weird under the skin, but it was stuck by the hole where the neck would have been if the turkey neck wasn’t chopped.
  • Prep some iced water. We just ran some filtered water into our 2 gal mixing bowl and added ice. It was the biggest container we had.
  • Next, combine the brine and iced water(water with ice) in that mixing bowl/container. Rather, put the turkey into that container first and then add the brine, so you don’t overflow the container. We probably used less iced water because I dumped the ice out to get the turkey to the bottom.  Make sure to pour some of that brine inside the turkey cavity if you can’t submerge the whole turkey…we couldn’t get it to fit.

Turkey Brine

  • Push it down as far as you can and then put the whole thing in the fridge. The idea is for the salty brine to trick the turkey into absorbing more water, so the turkey won’t dry out while roasting in the oven. We put some plastic wrap so the turkey wouldn’t be exposed to air, and so the brine wouldn’t affect anything else. Be careful, this mixture is heavy…turkey plus liquid! Could be a good weights workout if it wasn’t so dangerous to drop! We put the turkey in the fridge at 11:30pm Wednesday night.

Turkey Brine in Fridge

  •  So, here’s where having a night owl comes in handy. After a couple hours, you’ll want to flip the turkey so you can soak the other side of the turkey if it’s not submerged or just try to make the brine even. My brother stayed up and flipped the turkey at around 3:30am in the morning and then tossed a big ketchup bottle on the turkey to weight it down, and then he passed out.
  • No one woke up early on Thanksgiving day. I just remember the turkey was ready to eat at 2pm.  Anyhow, next you want to dump all the brine out and rinse the turkey with cold water.
  • Put the rinsed turkey on your roasting rack in your pan! We used a V shaped rack, which helps to hold the bird in place. Dry the turkey with a paper towel.

Stuffing/aromatics

  • Parents didn’t know what they were doing and grabbed Kraft stove top stuffing because everyone else was grabbing it in the grocery store a couple days before. So…you could put stuffing into the turkey and stuff it from the butt side, not the neck cavity. I forgot and ended up wasting time trying to stuff the stuffing into the neck and yelling at my brother when it kept falling out. The stuffing mix that ended up on the bottom of the pan would burn in the oven later (and I would keep randomly tossing water ingo the pan while the turkey roasted because Kraft stuffing said it needed butter and water…and I failed to read the directions beforehand). Alternatively, just cook the stuffing separately and don’t stuff the turkey with it.
  • Next, slice your apple, onion. Then put the 1 cup water, apple, onion inside a microwave safe dish and microwave for 4 minutes. Then pour that into the turkey cavity.
  • Take the sage and rosemary and stuff it into the turkey cavity too.
  • Tuck the bird’s wings (or give up because this one bird wing wanted to defy all tucking and just stick up for itself…) and then coat everything with oil.

Raw BackRaw

Roasting

  • Preheat the oven to 500 F.
  • Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at a lower rack in the oven. We used the 3rd lowest rack because the oven thermometer was hanging under it. (Don’t accidentally change the temperature to 470 to save energy because making the aromatics took too long while arguing with brother and nearly dropping heavy turkey in brine.)
  • Then roast at 350 F for about 2 hours. Toss water into the pan randomly a few times if you put the stuffing in and realized it requires water.
  • Take the turkey out and cover lightly with aluminum foil for 15 minutes. My brother just cut a rectangle and shoved it only on the top of the turkey. I have a feeling you’re supposed to cover the pan sides too… but apparently it didn’t matter!
  • Voila! Then you are ready to serve!

Cooked

We had the turkey with Heinz Homestyle Beef Gravy and jellied cranberry sauce. We didn’t make gravy out of  the turkey grease because the stuffing already burned the bottom of the pan. The turkey skin was crispy, and if you want it crispier, then more oil and longer roasting probably works. The inside could get dry, but it wasn’t as dry as it could be (that’s good!). It was great with the gravy and sauce though!

 

 

 

Pumpkin Swiss Roll

Swiss rolls are pretty good, and while trying to figure out how to not waste a pumpkin, I stumbled upon SquishyMonster’s recipe of a pumpkin roll cake. If you want to see my “carve pumpkin attempt” from last year and how to get a pumpkin ready for carving, click here.

But first, in order to use pumpkin for pie or cake stuff, you need to get it into puree form.

Pumpkin Puree

  1. After you get all the stringy stuff and seeds out of your pumpkin, you’ll need to cut the pumpkin into pieces.

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2. Then if you want, you can to coat the outside of the pumpkin with some oil. I used avocado oil because that was what I had on hand. Alternatively, you can skip the oil. Honestly, I tried with and without the oil, and I didn’t see any difference in my case. I know some people say there is a difference.

3. Anyhow, then you bake the pumpkin! 350 F for at least 40 min. It also depends on the size of your pumpkin. You know it’s done baking when it’s soft and you can stab it with a fork and scoop it out.

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4. Scoop the soft stuff out and start mashing! Toss the rind. Be careful! You may get splashed while masking ! It gets watery! I didn’t have a very powerful food processor, so I mashed before blending it in my mixer.  You’re done and ready to use the pumpkin puree now! 🙂

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Pumpkin Swiss Roll

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This is from SquishyMonster’s blog. But since I never seem to have all the ingredients, I made some modifications. Anyhow, most of the wording is the same.

Ingredients
  • ¾ flour
  • 3/4 ish  ts baking soda
  • 1½ ts McCormick pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ish ts salt
  • 3  eggs
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ts pure vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
Filling:
  • 8 oz room temperature cream cheese
  • 4 oz room temperature butter
  • 1 tb heavy cream
  • 1 ts vanilla extract
  • 1 ts McCormick pumpkin pie spice(honestly, I just dumped some..not sure if I really used 1 ts per Squishy’s recipe)
  • ¼ ts salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar(I always put less sugar because my friends don’t like stuff to be too sweet, but if you want it sweeter, you can put in more)
Instructions
1. In the first bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice, and salt.
2. In the second bowl, crack in the eggs and blend them together with both sugars. Splash in the vanilla and blend in the pumpkin.
3. Combine the first and second bowl slowly. Stir until just combined and don’t over mix.

IMG_05054. Line a baking sheet with parchment and evenly spread the batter.

IMG_05065. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes.

6. While the cake is baking, create the filling by blending the cream cheese, butter, cream, pumpkin spice, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy. I hit a snag because my cream cheese and butter just didn’t want to melt and get soft enough. I also did not use a blender. If you have one, that might be a good thing…or let your cream cheese and butter sit outside for a while until they are really soft.

IMG_05087. When the cake is baked, lift out of the pan and roll to “train” the cake to stay in the rolled shape. Allow to cool.

8. When the cake is completely cooled, peel off the parchment and spread the filling all over, leaving about an inch of a border all around. Re-roll (as tightly as you can without tearing) and slice to serve. The ends of the roll might look ugly (mine did) because not enough filling. So, just cut a piece off each end, and it should look perfect 🙂IMG_0509IMG_0507

Enjoy!

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

 

What to do when you have a bunch of vegetables that need to go? As long as you won’t get too watery of a mess, there’s always casserole. I had broccoli, carrots, frozen cheddar cheese, and cream of mushroom soup I needed to use. So…. I ended up going with a modified version of Campbell’s Broccoli Cheese Casserole.

Ingredients

  •  1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 whole clove of broccoli, chopped into small pieces (I don’t know what the right term is.. when you go to the grocery store, you can buy broccoli in giant pieces with the giant stalks. I cut those giant pieces up)
  • Cut carrots (I used half a zipbloc sandwich bag which I had stored carrots in and cut the carrots in half before mixing them in)
  • A bunch of shredded Cheddar cheese to your liking (I just went with whenever it looked like there was enough yellow in the mixture)
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter, melted

Steps

  • Heat the oven to 350°F.
  • Stir the soup, water, eggs, broccoli, carrot, cheese, and water else you want to mix in. My dish was about 10 inch by 7 inch by 2 inch(height), buuut I’m not sure if I measured right because it was definitely looked at least one quart.
  • Stir the bread crumbs and butter in a small bowl.  Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the broccoli mixture. Don’t accidentally try to mix it like I did… and end up with the crumbs on one side.
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until the broccoli is tender or when the casserole doesn’t look completely like liquid. I did leave my casserole in the oven after turning off the oven because it still seemed a little runny. So, you may need to adjust the timing by checking visually.
  • Enjoy!

Asian Egg Custard Tarts

 

FinishedPie

Snowed in? Why not make some egg custards? These are great as breakfast (although one too many may be a bad idea… haha) or as dessert! This recipe is based off of Yvonne Ruperti’s version of Singaporean egg tarts. The recipe is supposed to yield 16 egg tarts, however, count on me to mess up. My crust was too thick, so I had plenty of filling left over. I dumped that into a premade pie crust.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • A little less than 1/2 cup sugar  – Use less if you don’t want it as sweet. I thought this was more definitely sweet enough.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jumbo egg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups  all purpose flour

For the Custard Filling:

  • A little less than 1/2 cup   sugar – Use less if you don’t want it as sweet. I thought this was more definitely sweet enough.
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 jumbo yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Steps:

MixingDough1. Crust

A. Grease or dump cupcake paper or aluminum foil into 16 cupcake tins. If you have these tins, which are the ones you see if you buy these egg tarts at an Asian bakery, they are probably better to help you estimate size to form the dough later and also you don’t have to clean them.

B. Mix melted butter, sugar, salt in a large bowl until combined. Then add the egg and stir in the flour until completely combined.

C. Divide dough into 16 portions and roll into balls.

E. Press a dough ball into each cup, pressing dough up sides to about 1/4 inch from top of cup, and maintaining a thickness about 1/8-inch thick.Yvonne’s recipe states to do this, but I believe I did not press the crust thin enough.

D.Chill for 30 minutes. I put plastic wrap over the baking pan tins so the dough doesn’t get too dry. If you intend to leave the dough in the fridge for a while, that may be safer.

InOven

2. Custard Filling and Finishing up!

A. To make your filling, simply mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Then add water, cream, yolks, and vanilla until combined.

B. Fill each cup with custard to about 1/8-inch from top of crust (don’t overfill or else you’ll have stuff stuck to the pan like I did). Bake at 375 degrees F until crust is golden and custard is just set, about 20 minutes.If your crust was too thick and you ended up having a whole pie of filling left, you can put them them into a premade pie crust or some other crust size depending on how much you have left. This larger pie will take longer and will take more like 30 minutes or so.

C. Let tarts cool in pan for 15 minutes then carefully transfer to wire rack to cool. Serve room temperature or chilled.

D. For storage, I put them in plastic ziploc bags in the fridge. Do not freeze, or if you do, keep in mind that the flavor will not taste the same afterwards. In the fridge, they can probably last for a couple of days, but not too long.

Failstuck

Oops. Custard filling leaked into pan outside of aluminum so I had some issues getting the aluminum cups out. It wasn’t too bad though. Washing will be a pain though.

 

Whoa… Colorful Much? Pinata Cookies

Pinatas and parties! The World Cup is going on right now. Why not try making these very colorful cookies with MM’s hidden inside them. Warning: Tons of food coloring involved for the pinata cookie. No food dye needed for the M&M’s…. obviously. On that logic, can probably taste the rainbow….with or without Skittles! I’m not sure how Skittles would work in combination with these cookies.

See here for the steps!

Frying Onion Rings for Warmth

Umm, yes. That’s counter intuitive. You’d think I’d be drinking hot soup in the middle of a snowstorm, but apparently, I was in the mood for onion rings. Remember last time? I didn’t have a fryer, so I went ahead and made baked onion rings.  Between that time and now, I got ahold of an ancient deep fryer that had been sitting in someone’s cabinet for….a very very long time. This deep fryer is simple and there is no temperature control, so to keep the temperature from getting to high, I amounted to pulling the plug and then inserting the plug back into the electrical socket. Honestly, if there was temperature control, it was hard to tell because the fryer would just keep getting hotter with no limit.

So, here’s what I ended up with on two separate occasions. I saved a bowl compared to the time I baked the onion rings by mixing the egg and flour together in one bowl.

Onion Rings With Flour

Onion Rings With Flour

Ingredients:

–  All purpose Flour – Egg –

-Salt/Pepper, or random seasoning – Onions

Steps!

1. Cut onions into slices and then separate the inner rings from the slices to make more onion rings!

2. Start heating up your deep fryer and the oil in it. Don’t ever add water to the oil or let water contact the oil while it’s heating. You’ll get flying droplets of pain in your face.

3. Mix flour and egg together. Add water as needed if you added too much flour. Be careful though. You don’t want the mix to be super watery.

4. Add salt/pepper/seasoning to the mix.

5. Dip onion rings in the flour/egg/seasoning mix.

6. Stick in deep fryer once the deep fryer is hot enough. Flip the onion rings as they fry until they are crispy and have a golden color.

Remarks:

I didn’t add enough seasoning to the mix the first time. I tried to just add a little salt the first time around, but there was no taste. Since your mix is flour and egg, you really need to add a bunch of salt/seasoning otherwise you won’t be about to taste it. I didn’t add enough to a couple of the rings, so ketchup was my alternate way of fixing the “no taste” problem.

—–

Onion Rings with Fried Chicken Powder

Onion Rings with Fried Chicken Powder

Onion Rings with Fried Chicken Powder

So, a friend of mine gave me a random packet of fried chicken powder when she went traveling abroad. I must admit I’ve had this sitting in my pantry for a while now because I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t have a deep fryer! But…upon discovering the ancient deep fryer, I decided to make use of this powder finally. I didn’t want to try frying chicken yet, so I decided to try it on the onion rings! The ingredients are pretty much the same except I did not need to add flour and seasoning. The fried chicken powder already had seasoning and flour accounted for. Now, I’m not really sure what exactly is in the mix. The onion rings came out much darker and they seemed to also fry faster. But..they also turned out greasier. They still tasted good though!

Chinese Fried Chicken Powder?

Chinese Fried Chicken Powder?

Do you like onion rings? How do you make yours? Do you recommend any seasoning mixes? :p