2015 March

Overnight Carrot Cake French Toast

There was half of a loaf of Italian bread sitting on the counter calling my name. It spoke to me and told me I needed to make french toast. I listened eagerly and began calculating the perfect spring-time french toast.

By now, most of you know that I love carrot cake. I’m an April baby and so I fully embrace the carrot-raisin-spice-cream-cheese-frosting goodness.

I grew up as a PK (Pastor’s Kid). Being a PK didn’t require much. I participated in the Youth Choir, Youth Group Trips, and occasionally babysat instead of listening to the sermon. The downside of having this title was that all holidays were slightly pushed back. Christmas presents weren’t allowed to be opened until after services and coffee hour, and Easter baskets weren’t to be devoured of all their chocolately goodness until the hymns were sung and peace was passed around the parish.

On these holidays, church felt like an eternity. The suspense of discovering what was inside of the Easter basket was torture for an anxious eleven-year-old with a huge sweet tooth. PK training over the years definitely made me into the patient lady that I am today.

Although I don’t nearly go to church as much as I used to, I do appreciate overnight meals that provide a little bit less stress on busy holiday mornings. For Christmas, I made these Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls. If you haven’t had these, they are a must-make recipe. Dorothy rocks in the world of desserts and breakfast!

Speaking of must-make recipes, Carrot Cake French Toast. The only thing you have to worry about on Easter morning is turning on the oven and popping this casserole in to bake. I actually served this for dinner Sunday night. More like my mom and I sat around the island in my kitchen and kept scooping more of this spicy goodness into our bowls.

I regret nothing.

 

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Overnight Carrot Cake French Toast

Ingredients

    Carrot Cake French Toast
  • 1/2 loaf day old Italian bread (cubed)
  • 1-1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cups carrots (grated)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon maple extract

Instructions

  1. In a large-sized mixing bowl, beat eggs with almond milk until well-scrambled. Add carrots, raisins, and pecans to egg mixture and beat several times to combine. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla to mixture and stir well.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, place cubed bread. Slowly pour egg mixture over bread and toss well. Make sure that bread is thoroughly coated in egg mixture.
  3. Grease a 9x13 inch casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the french toast mixture into casserole dish and cover with tin foil. Place in refrigerator over night or for at least 6 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. In a small pot, heat coconut oil until melted. Add brown sugar and corn syrup to the mixture and stir for several minutes. Remove casserole from refrigerator and pour coconut oil mixture over the top of the french toast mixture.
  6. Place french toast in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes. Cover with tin foil to avoid burning.
  7. While french toast is baking, make the cream cheese frosting. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar, milk, and maple extract and mix until smooth. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
  8. Remove french toast from oven and let it sit for five minutes until serving. Drizzle cream cheese frosting over french toast before enjoying!
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Honey Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

As you may have seen on the news, New England was hit by A LOT of snow this year. I’m not even sure if Boston is snowed out yet! They got more snow than we did in Connecticut; however, for a straight two months, Mondays in Connecticut meant the anticipated snow day or delay and shoveling.

 

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Cilantro Vodka Limeade

 

 

Two summers ago, my friend, Jessica, had a bonfire at her house. In the summer, it’s tradition to have at least a few bonfires at Jess’s house. Her backyard is huge and the fire pit is perfect for a crowd. Usually, the Starbucks crew will show up with snacks (there are always snacks) and beverages. We catch up on each others lives and laugh A LOT! There is usually a heart-to-heart by the end of the night as well. Jess really should be a mixologist. She is just as creative as me and makes some delicious cocktails. One drink in particular that shouts summer is her Cilantro Vodka Limeade. On this summer night, two years ago, I tasted this beverage for the first time and was absolutely in love.

 

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Double Trouble Peanut Butter Cookies

When life hands you a lot of disappointment and frustration, bake cookies. Bake lots of cookies and then consume most of them. No fighting words are needed when you have a mouth full of cookie goodness. Am I right? That’s my life lesson for the day and maybe for the week.

 

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Corn Flake Bird Nests

My sister and I are a little over two years apart in age. She’s also a teacher and lives in Maine. For the most part, my sister and I got along really well growing up. I looked up to her for guidance and we have many inside jokes, which have carried over into our adulthood. It’s weird to think I’m considered an adult these days…gosh.

There were the occasional fights though. I’m bringing it back to 2002. Yes. I was 11 years old and my sister was 13. We were HUGE American Idol fans that year because it was new and Kelly Clarkson was a pop goddess. The night of the finale came and right before it aired, Emily and I got into a huge fight. Screaming ensued followed by the punishment of bed before the finale. EARTH SHATTERING, MY FRIENDS. I probably cried my 6th grade heart out that night. Kelly won (spoiler alert for those of you who were unaware)! I don’t think we ever forgave each other for that fight. Our “Moment Like This” was not like Kelly’s at all.

Emily and I also fight over dessert. Not any dessert in particular, but my Auntie Nancy’s special Christmas Corn Flake Wreaths. Every year at Christmas, Auntie Nancy sends us a small box of cookies with buckeyes, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, and corn flake wreaths. My sister and I used to race to the box in order to snag these wreaths. Nowadays, I consider myself more of a sharer, so I, in my adult maturity, always wait until she gets home to share the cookies with her…even if it means only getting one wreath.

This past Christmas, I decided to learn how to make the wreaths and surprised my sister with a dozen of them. Similar to the rice crispy treat, these corn flake wreaths are made with marshmallows, butter, and cereal. Easy-peasy. They do make a mess with your hands, so you have to make sure to spray your fingers with baking oil before you shape them. I learned this the hard way, folks.

Like most normal people, I get cravings for certain foods at inconvenient times of the year. Just yesterday, my boyfriend and I were laying down watching Jeopardy and I blurted out, “I really want Cotton Candy.” He looked at me and laughed; then he informed me that there are no fairs or baseball games in Connecticut in March. Let’s bring back March Fairs! And Cotton Candy! And Christmas Corn Flake Wreaths!

Most people would probably laugh at me if I brought them a Christmas Corn Flake Wreath in March…So I’m revamping these babies and turning them into birds nests. Why the hang not? Now, I can sing to my corn flake bird’s nest, “Since You’ve Been Gone!”

 

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Corn Flake Bird Nests

Ingredients

  • 5 cups marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups cornflakes
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 30 egg shaped candies (Cadbury Minis or Robin’s Eggs)

Instructions

  1. In a large sauce pot on medium-high heat, melt butter completely.
  2. When butter melts, add marshmallows to pot and turn heat down to medium. Stir continuously until marshmallows become soft and sticky. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and cocoa. Stir until all marshmallows are melted and spices/extract are incorporated completely.
  3. Remove marshmallow mixture from heat. Pour in cornflakes and stir vigorously. The cornflakes will be VERY sticky.
  4. Spray muffin tin with baking spray. Make sure you also coat fingers with spray. With hands, mold cornflake mixture into muffin tins. The cornflake mixture should almost fill each muffin tin. This recipe will make approximately nine cornflake nests.
  5. Roll parchment paper onto cookie sheet. Flip muffin tin upside down and remove cornflake molds. With hands, shape cornflakes into a nest shape. Let sit for several minutes. Add decorations of your choice such as mini eggs or peeps.
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Carrot Cake Granola

I’m an April baby. That’s right! I’m a spring-loving, easter-egg finding, Peep-eating April baby. I love Cadbury Mini Eggs and Chocolate Bunnies. I enjoy pastel colored shoes and skirts. Call me crazy, but the only part of the spring season I dislike is the jelly beans. I’m totally not a jelly bean person; this probably has something to do with the 90s Jelly Belly craze and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavoured Beans that I consumed in my youth. Some of those flavors scarred me for life. Too much of a good thing really can end up ruining your appreciation for it.

One spring flavor that I adore is carrot cake. My mom’s friend, Bill, literally makes the most amazing carrot cake that I’ve ever tasted. He’s an awesome baker, carpenter, and sportsman. Although I rarely see Bill, he does remember my birthday every year with a card or text. He taught my mom to make his special cake, and it’s been my birthday cake for at least five years in a row.

Because I probably shouldn’t eat cake every day, I’m vamping up my favorite flavors and creating a healthy carrot cake granola.

This carrot cake granola really is perfect for snacking on it’s own, but it pairs well with yogurt or a little almond milk.

What is your favorite spring or Easter dessert?

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Carrot Cake Granola

Ingredients

  • 4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup yogurt raisins
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine coconut oil, brown sugar, honey, and vanilla. Stir wet mixture well with a hand mixer. Fold carrots into wet mixture.
  3. In a separate large-size mixing bowl, combine oats, pecans, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Pour wet mixture into oat mixture and use hand mixture to moisten the entire granola mix. It should be sticky to the touch.
  5. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread wet granola mixture evenly onto cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Every 5 minutes, turn the granola with a spatula to ensure that the granola doesn’t burn or brown too much.
  6. Remove from oven when granola is golden brown. Let granola cool completely before adding in yogurt raisins, raisins, and coconut flakes.

Notes

Granola should be placed in a airtight container once cooled. Granola will stay fresh for up to two weeks.

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http://www.missscrambledegg.com/carrot-cake-granola/

Grapefruit Mint Spritzer

I have a confession. I love grapefruit. It all started when I was little. I watched my grandmother, Toppy, cut a grapefruit in half and sprinkle some sweetener on top. She’d eat one every morning for breakfast and still does quite frequently.

 

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Maple Nut Smoothie

I eat breakfast every single morning. Even when I sleep later on Sundays, I want eggs or pancakes when I actually get my tush out of bed. Sometimes, the struggle to actually fry an egg is real. Does anyone else feel that way?

In the corner of my eye, the blender calls my name. All is well with the world! I can enjoy breakfast foods without having to clean dishes, pans, forks, and knives. Throw a bunch of stuff in the blender and hit a button. Instant yum.

 

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Lemon Sugar Cookies with Marionberry Frosting

Good morning, beautiful people. We’re halfway through the work week, which is enough to make anyone smile. High fives all around!

As some of you might know, I love me some quality television. My college days were spent studying or doing homework with The Office always playing in the background. Those episodes never get old! While I enjoy programs with drama such as Orphan Black, Homeland, and Game of Thrones, sometimes a girl just needs to laugh. That’s where Portlandia comes into play. If you’ve never seen Portlandia, it’s a half hour sketch show starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. One of the episodes in Season 2 is entitled “Brunch Village”; it follows several of the characters who wait in line on a Sunday for some award-winning Marionberry Pancakes. Until the show, I had never heard of Marionberries. I did my research and discovered that they are a variety of blackberries grown specifically in Oregon. Sadly, I live on the opposite side of the country, so I cannot eat them in their fresh form; however, I found some Marionberry Preserves at Target and figured that I needed to buy a jar! I received the Portlandia Cookbook for Christmas and can’t wait to try these preserves on pancakes. Until then, let’s talk cookies.

 

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Mint Chip Cheesecake Bars

I have a love / hate relationship with ice cream. I love it because it’s creamy, cold, and comes in a million flavors. My favorites are mint chocolate chip, cookie dough, and bubblegum. On the other hand, I rarely eat ice cream at home because I don’t like to scoop it. Yes, I understand that this statement is completely ridiculous and if you let it thaw out for a few minutes it’s very easy to scoop; however, the amount of times that I’ve eaten ice cream at home in the past three months has totaled to one time (and my mom scooped it for me). It’s bizarre and irrational, but it keeps my jeans loosey-goosey.

 

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