Seared Scallops over Cauliflower Puree with Wilted Spinach and Roasted Asparagus

I’m a pretty competitive person, I freely admit it. This causes me to make bets with people quite often. I had some pictures that I wanted the guy I’ve been dating to help me hang up in my living room. He told me we’d need picture wire. I live pretty close to a CVS and he suggested we just run to CVS and pick up some. Not so fast my friend, CVS isn’t going to have picture wire I told him. He persisted that he thought they would. To which I replied, “wanna make a bet?” Hands were shook and off to CVS we went. Along the way we determined that the payoff would be whoever lost had to cook dinner for the other person. I was fully prepared to bask in winner’s glory. When we got to CVS he walked straight to the home section and plucked a box containing picture wire off the rack. I was flummoxed. Who knew drugstores carried picture wire? He later told me smugly that he would have bet me $5 million dollars he was so sure. Punk. Alas, my pictures were hung and I made him a very tasty dinner to settle our bet.

 

Seared Scallops over Cauliflower Puree with Wilted Spinach and Roasted Asparagus

Cauliflower Puree

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower (about 3 lbs.), cut into florets

2 Yukon gold potatoes (about 8 ounces), peeled and diced

kosher salt and fresh pepper

1/2 cup of butter

1/2-1 cup of half and half or fresh cream

Directions

Set up a collapsible steamer over a pot of water. Toss the cauliflower and potato and put in the steamer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and steam the potatoes and cauliflower until completely tender, about 15 minutes stove top. Cool slightly. Puree the vegetables using a blender or food processor, in batches if needed,  with butter and a couple tablespoons of cream, until smooth and creamy. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

Meanwhile, cook 4 strips of bacon in the mircrowave, for about 4 minutes until the bacon is crispy. Chop up into small pieces and reserve.  Save your bacon drippings for your spinach.

Roasted Asparagus

1 lb. of asparagus

salt and pepper

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp of olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the bottom ends of the asparagus and give them a good wash.

2. Lay the asparagus spears out in a single layer in a baking dish or a foil-covered roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil over the spears, roll the asparagus back and forth until they are all covered with a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle with minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Roll the asparagus around so that the ingredients are evenly distributed.

3. Place pan in oven and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned and tender when pierced with a fork. Drizzle with a little fresh lemon juice before serving.

Seared Scallops

1. Since I live in the midwest, fresh scallops are hard to come by. Most of the ones found in the grocery stores have been frozen before and are soaked in a liquid that keeps them looking white.  They need to be rinsed thoroughly  and patted dry.   Season both sides with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet on high heat. Add 1 tbsp of oil and 1 tbsp of butter to the pan.

3. Add your scallops, making sure not to crowd the pan, which lowers the pan’s temperature.

4. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side until they have a golden caramelized color. Be careful not to overcook them because once you take them off the heat they will continue to cook.

Wilted Spinach

Add your leftover bacon grease,from cooking the bacon earlier, to a pan over medium heat. Add in a bunch of spinach and season with salt and pepper. Once the spinach wilts, take off the heat.

 

To assemble: 

Add a generous portion of cauliflower puree on the plate. Top with wilted spinach and asparagus. Then add your seared scallops. Garnish by sprinkling your chopped bacon over the top. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nanimo Bars

A few years ago my friend Liza was moving to Vancouver and we decided to have a Canadian themed going away party. I love a good theme party, so I took the opportunity to go all out. I dressed up as a Mountie and  tried to find some Canadian themed recipes. I stumbled upon Nanimo bars in the search for a Canadian dessert. They are a delicious combo of a lot of tasty items. The bottom layer is a chocolatey, coconut, nutty, graham cracker combo. The middle layer is vanilla custard and the top layer is more chocolate. What’s not to like? July 1st was Canada Day and I happen to be dating a Canadian so I decided to make the Nanimo bars again. He happens to be allergic to walnuts which has kept him from ever being able to try Nanimo bars in the past, so I substituted in almonds. The result was just as tasty! So go ahead, give ’em a try, eh?

Bottom Layer:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated white sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup sweetened or unsweetened coconut (shredded or flaked)

1/2 cup walnuts, almonds or pecans, coarsely chopped

Middle Layer:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 – 3 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons  vanilla pudding powder

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

Top Layer:

4 ounces  semisweet chocolate

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Directions

Butter or spray a 9×9 pan.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about an hour).

Middle Layer: In your mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture appears to thick to spread, add a little more milk. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).

Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Then, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or just until the chocolate has set. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares.

Yield: Makes about 25 squares. Preparation time 45 minutes.


Strawberry Proscecco Tiramisu

Ah summer, there are so many things I love about you. Long days, sunny walks around the lake, corn on the cob, peach cobbler, cookouts, 1/2 day Fridays at work…this list could go on and on. One of my friends had an international themed cookout recently and I knew that I wanted to try to make this strawberry prosecco tiramisu recipe that I came across recently. My old roommate Kalin was a nanny in Italy for a summer and she introduced me to raspberry tiramisu, my first non-coffee version of tiramisu. I think as long as there are lady fingers and mascarpone cheese you can call it tiramisu. This was a nice summary alternative to a trifle. Plus, it only uses 1 1/2 cups of prosecco so it leaves plenty leftover for you to drink while you cook 🙂

Strawberry Prosecco Tiramisu

Recipe courtesy of Kosher Eye

Ingredients:

2 cups (about 1 lb) mascarpone
1/2 pint whipping cream (makes about 1 1/2 cups whipped)
4 eggs
26 Italian ladyfingers
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)
1 1/2 lb strawberries
1 1/2 cups Prosecco or champagne

Directions:

In your blender or food processor, puree 1/3 of the strawberries with the wine or juice until smooth. Set aside in a small and shallow bowl.

Using an electric whisk, or in your food processor, beat the egg yolks with the sugar. When they become frothy, add the mascarpone; process until combined and set aside.

In a perfectly clean bowl (you can wipe it quickly with a few drops of lemon or vinegar to make sure it’s degreased) beat the egg whites (which should be clear, with no traces of yolk) with an electric whisk until they start forming soft peaks.

Gently fold the whites into the mascarpone cream with a spatula, using an upward motion. Whip the whipped cream until soft peaks form. Fold in the whipped cream to the mascarpone as well. Divide the mixture in half. Chop 1/2 of the remaining strawberries and add them to half of the mixture. Also add enough strawberry/wine juice to make it pink.

Dip each ladyfinger into the remaining strawberry/wine mix for 5 to 8 seconds, flipping them a couple of times (letting the cookies soak too long will cause them to fall apart). Arrange the soaked ladyfingers on the bottom of a glass or pyrex 9 x 13-inch baking dish (or two smaller square or round pans). Spread the pink half of the mascarpone mixture on top. Make a second layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with the white mascarpone mixture.

Slice the remaining strawberries and use them to decorate. If you want to get fancy you  can also add some fresh mint leaves and meringues. Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

My No Processed Foods challenge led me to try to make things that I usually just reach for a jar or can of in my pantry. My Dad has always made his own pasta sauce, so I figured I should try making some too! It was actually really easy and it made enough that I had leftovers for the week. The beauty of a good red sauce is that you should make it your own. Do you like it a little spicy? Add a little more red pepper flakes. Really like garlic? Throw another clove in.

Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flake, or to taste
  • 1 28 oz. cans crushed tomato
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Warm olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once you see the oil shimmering, add the chopped onion and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic and pinch of red pepper flake then continue to sauté until onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add crushed tomato, tomato paste, oregano, basil, sugar, a few pinches of kosher salt and several turns of freshly ground black pepper, stirring to combine. I also like to fill the empty can of tomato paste with water then add that to the sauce (6 oz.). Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to low then simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour (1.5 to 2 hours is best if you have the time).
  3. To finish the sauce, stir in a handful of chopped parsley. Season to taste with additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Serve this sauce with your favorite pasta.

I chose to serve the sauce of pappardelle pasta and added some chicken sausage and a nice handful of Parmesan cheese.

And of course a fat slice of my Homemade Italian bread. 🙂

Quinoa Salad with Pears, Almonds, Cranberries and Spinach

Have you tried Quinoa yet? No? What are you waiting for!? This ancient grain packs some serious protein, is easy to make, and is very tasty. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s also gluten-free, and cholestorl free, and is almost always organic.  I’ve been making it on Sundays and then packing it in a couple of Tupperware  containers and then presto, easy lunches for the week. You can get really creative with quinoa and throw in whatever you have in your pantry or refrigerator. It’s really your blank canvas to make into whatever you’d like.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic quinoa
Sea salt
2 good handfuls of organic baby spinach leaves, washed, drained
1 large ripe pear, washed, stemmed and cored, cut into pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Sea salt, to taste
1/2 cup sliced almonds

For the Maple Vinaigrette Dressing:

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Instructions:

Place the quinoa in a saucepan or a rice cooker. Add 2 cups fresh water, and a pinch of sea salt. Cover and cook on a low simmer until all the water is evaporated and the quinoa is tender- roughly 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork and dump it into a large salad bowl.

Add the baby spinach, pear, cranberries, and almonds  to the quinoa and fluff.

Whisk together the vinaigrette, pour it over the quinoa salad and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with a little bit of salt.

Homemade Italian Bread

I was intrigued by how many people were shocked that I made my own bread during No Processed Foods month. People just couldn’t get over that you can actually make bread. I think people are just scared to try making bread and I don’t know why. Sure, I’ve had to learn how to get yeast to work for you by trial and error,but it’s really not that hard. The key is using really warm water and giving it time to rise. If you’ve never tried to make bread before, this Italian bread recipe is a good starter recipe.

I love my food processor. It makes doing so many things in the kitchen easier: chopping veggies, shredding cheese, etc. The dough attachment it comes with is also great for kneading bread. Why do all that hard work when your food processor can do it for you? This is a recipe my Mom made growing up and my family loves it. No Italian dinner is complete without my Mom’s Italian bread. In our family we also love to eat it as a “dessert” with her homemade jam or applesauce on it too.

 

Homemade Italian Bread

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon butter

1 package yeast

1 cup very warm water

vegetable oil and corn meal

1 egg white

1 tablespoon cold water

Directions:

1. Place 2 cups of flour, salt, sugar, butter and yeast in food processor bowl. Using the dough attachment, turn the machine on and off until the butter is thoroughly cut in.

2. Add half of the water and turn the processor on and off 4 times.

3. Add your remaining cup of flour and water. Repeat on/off 4 times, then let the processor run until a ball of dough forms. Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.

4. When you get the right consistency, let the processor run for 40 to 60 seconds to knead the dough.

5. Place the dough on the counter, cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.

6. Flour your surface and using a rolling pin, roll dough out in a rectangle 10×15 inches. Then roll the dough into a long loaf, pinching the seams to close them.

7. Place on a greased cookie sheet sprinkled with corn meal. Brush your loaf with vegetable oil. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours. Be sure to cover well or your bread will dry out.

8. When read to bake, uncover the dough and let it sit on counter for 10 minutes. Cut diagonal slashes in the top.

9. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

10. Remove from over and brush with egg white mixed with 1 tablespoon of water. This will given it a beautiful golden crust.

11. Return to over for 5 to 10 minutes.

Prior to serving let it sit for at least 10 minutes and it will slice better.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Buckwheat Crumble

My apologies, readers, for slacking on posts other than food as of late.  Now that “school’s out for summer,” I hope to pick up the slack.  The last few weeks of school are really hard.  The kids, after taking their SOL tests, think that they are done.  However, our administration feels otherwise and expects us to teach every minute of those last three weeks.  Thus, the last two weeks of school results in an emotional standoff between teachers and students. It’s a psyche-draining, hair-graying, tooth-pulling, emotional suck.  One of the things that gets me through this period, is sweet treats.  What can I say, I’m a bit of an emotional eater.  Pair my need for a sugary pacifier with fresh strawberries and rhubarb from my garden and you have a psyche, hair, and teeth saving recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Buckwheat Crumble.

Unfortunately, I have been waging a war this year against the slugs/snails for my big, juicy strawberries.  (Beer traps?  Check.)  So, I only had enough strawberries for 1/2 my usual recipe.  Stupid, slimy mollusks….you will die!  You’ll probably be drunk when you do (you’re welcome), but you will die.  Anyhow, some strawberries is better than no strawberries.  Let’s get started.  Here’s what you’ll need:

For the filling:

  • 2 medium stalks of rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 cups of strawberries, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of  salt

For the Crumble Topping:

  • 1/4 cup of buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup of packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
  • Turbinado sugar to sprinkle on top

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Then, cut up the rhubarb and strawberries into a medium sized bowl.

Strawberries & Rhubarb

Add in the sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt.

The delicious mix!

Nest, mix up the ingredients, and then distribute the filling between four ramekins.  Don’t worry if it looks soupy — the cornstarch will thicken it right up!

Distribute the filling amongst ramekins.

Next, in a separate bowl, mix the crumble ingredients — buckwheat, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter.

Crumble topping

Then, distribute this yummy topping onto the ramekins.  Make sure you breathe in that yummy, sugary smell as you spoon!

Ready for the oven!

Place the ramekins in the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes on 375.  Resist the urge to pull it out of the oven when you start to smell the cooking strawberries and rhubarb — it will be hard.  When, your timer goes off, pull them out of the oven, let them cool briefly or you’ll melt your tongue off, and then enjoy!  Even better with vanilla bean ice cream!

Let them cool for a bit before digging in.

Dig in and enjoy!

 

 

Coconut Chicken Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Can a salad ever really be craveable? I have my doubts. Cupcakes are craveable. Salads are something you eat so that you can eat a cupcake and not feel as guilty. I whipped up a salad this week that really is craveable.  First, start with coconut chicken which immediately makes me feel like I should be on a tropical island. Then I added some mandarin oranges and blueberries because I’m a fan of fruit in my salad.  Then I whipped up a tangy, sweet honey Dijon vinaigrette. Craveable I’m telling ya.

Coconut Chicken Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette

Yield: 2 portions

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

1 egg

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/4 tsp of salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 bag of mixed greens

1 can of Madarin Oranges

1/4 cup of blueberries

2 Tbsp of slivered almonds

handful of baby carrots, chopped

Vinaigrette

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey dijon mustard

STEP 1: Cut off any extra fat  from your chicken breasts. Cut each breast into strips to allow for faster cooking.

STEP 2: Prepare your breading station by gathering three bowls. In the first bowl combine the flour and salt. In the second bowl, add the egg and whisk.  In the third bowl, stir together the panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut.

STEP 3: Place the vegetable oil in a large heavy duty skillet and heat over medium/high heat until it is just below smoking. You can test the heat by throwing in a little bit of flour. When it is hot enough, the flour will sizzle and create a lot of bubbles.

STEP 4: While the oil is heating, dredge the chicken strips. First, coat each strip in the flour and salt mixture. Then dip each into the egg and finally coat each in panko and shredded coconut. It’s easiest to do all pieces in one bowl before moving onto the next or else your fingers will get pretty messy.

STEP 5: After breading the strips, the oil should be hot enough. Place about 4 strips in the pan at once. There should only be one layer in the pan and there should be about an inch between each strip. If you over crowd the pan it will get too cold and the strips will soak up a lot of oil instead of frying. Fry the strips for 2-3 minutes on each side (longer if needed) or until they are golden brown and crispy. Place them on a plate with paper towel to drain and move on to the next batch.  You may need to add a little extra oil to the pan.

STEP 6: Whisk together your honey, balsamic vinegar, honey dijon mustard and olive oil to make the vinaigrette.

STEP 7: Wash your greens and then add the carrots, blueberries, oranges and almonds. Plate up two portions and then top with your coconut chicken strips and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Italian Flank Steak with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

My month of no processed foods has really made me realize just what a hard job it is to be a homemaker. Growing up, my mom stayed at home with me and my two older sisters. Every night she put a nutritious, often delicious (yep that’s right I said often) meal on the table that she mostly made from scratch. Sure, there were nights were we got a treat and had pizza or something fast, but more often than not she served us vegetables from her garden, homemade bread, etc.  It may sound silly, but this month has really made me realize just how much she did for us.  I remember being quite a brat many a nights complaining, “ugh, leftovers.” Meal planning is a lot of work, especially if you don’t want to waste a lot of food. I’ve found it tough to not buy a ton of stuff that I can’t use up in my next week’s worth of recipes. And leftovers, yea I’ve been eating a lot of those 🙂

Flank steak is good if you want red meat, but you don’t want a huge heavy steak. By slicing it up you can have just a little bit and still be satisfied.

Italian Flank Steak with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Recipe adapted from Family Spice

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBS basil, fresh, chopped
  • 3 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp italian seasoning, dried
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS Italian parsley,  chopped
  • 1  lb beef flank steak
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved & seeded

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together:
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    • 3 garlic cloves , crushed
    • 2 TBS Italian parsley , chopped
    • 1 TBS basil, fresh , chopped
  2. Pour this mixture into a large ziploc bag and add the flank steak:
  3. Place  in the refrigerator and let meat marinate 4-6 hours
  4. Remove meat 30 minutes prior to grilling.
  5. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  6. Preheat grill pan outside grill on high heat.
  7. In a small bowl whisk together:
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
    • 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
    • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning , dried
  8. Half and seed your cheery tomatoes
  9. Pour your mixture over the tomatoes making sure it coats them evenly.
  10. Pour onto a baking sheet and roast in the hot oven for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
  12. Spray the grill with cooking spray before placing meat on it.
  13. Place steaks on hot grill and cook until browned, about 6 to 7 minutes for medium rare on each side.  Flank steak is best served medium-rare, as it can toughen if over-cooked.
  14. Cover steak with foil, and let steaks rest 5 minutes before serving.
  15. Prior to serving, slice the meat on a bias. Top with roasted tomatoes and serve hot.

Crazy Half-Marathon Carrot Cake

A few weeks ago, my friend, Gwen, and I headed to the outer banks to run a 1/2 marathon.  We were so excited to have found the race.  It was at the beach.  It would be warm and beautiful and flat.  What more could two girls ask for?  Let’s just say that none of those things turned out to be true in the Flying Pirate 2012 1/2 marathon.  It was not warm.  It was, in fact, very cold and windy.  It was not beautiful.  It was, in fact, driving rain.  And, it was not flat.  It was, in fact, hilly — and of course, those hills began at mile 9.  Who knew there could be so many dang hills on the Outer Banks?  Just to prove to you how bad it was, let me show you two pictures.  The first is what I imagined I would look like, except female.

How happy is this guy?

On the day of, with wind, rain, and pits of mud (and despair)….this is what I actually looked like.

Look away. I’m hideous.

As you can see, I was not a happy camper.  I still think that it was my rage that actually got me through the race.  I was SO angry.  So angry, in fact, that my time was actually not that far off my best 1/2 marathon time.  Nothing like a little cold rain and rage to motivate you to run your personal best.  So after checking the weather on Friday afternoon, I knew that we were going to need a delicious treat to come home to after the race.  What could fit the bill better than a carrot cake?  I mean it has vegetables in it.

Thankfully, my Grangi’s recipe box had just such a recipe!

The recipe.

Unfortunately, I think this recipe used to have another card with it because this one doesn’t list the steps.  So, I’ll be listing those as I go.  I also decided not to do the whipped cream frosting, in lieu of a traditional cream cream cheese frosting.  Here is my recipe for the cream cheese frosting:

8 oz. of cream cheese

1 c. of confectioner’s sugar

2 T of maple syrup

1 stick of butter

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

Carrot cake ingredients

So first things first, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.  Next, I greased a 9-inch springform pan.  I only used spring form because it was the only thing I could find in the beach house.  (Normally, you would use two 9-inch pans so that you can cook both layers at one time – oh beach house!)  Then, I lined the bottom with wax paper and coated the bottom with flour, making sure to tap out any extra.

Prepped spring form pan, complete with floured wax paper

Next, I combined all the dry ingredients in one bowl and mixed them well with a fork.

Mix dry ingredients together

Then, beat the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl until well blended.

Beat the sugar, oil and eggs together.

I, then, added the flour mixture bit by bit and stirred until evenly blended.  Then, I added the grated carrot.

Add the flour and blend until smooth

I poured half of the batter into the pan and put it in the oven and baked it for roughly 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle came out smooth.  I repeated the process with the second layer.

Then, I was ready to make the icing.  I just combined all of the ingredients for the frosting and used a hand blender to mix them to the correct consistency.  Make sure you test it along the way for the appropriate amount of maple flavoring – delicious!

After my cake layers had sufficiently cooled, I did a crumb layer.

I stuck it in the fridge to let it firm up for about 15 minutes, and then finished icing it.  The last touch, was to sprinkle chopped pecans on the top.

Sprinkled chopped pecans on the top

I have a feeling that in the next five years, someone is going to release a study showing that carrot cake it the perfect post-race recovery food.  One slice of this baby and I was feeling better already!

A little slice of heaven!