Carrot Walnut Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

    It's been a wonderful, whirlwind birthday week, filled with nice surprises. I'll be summarizing my experience at the beautiful Langdon Hall later in the week so check back later on!

    In the meantime, here is a lovely recipe for Carrot Walnut Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting. Doesn't buttercream just make everything better? The kind people from California Walnuts re-jigged the old carrot cake classic by creating mini cupcakes with the addition of walnuts and optional frosting. GREAT idea! I challenge you to eat just one of these little darlings :)

    The world needs more mini-cupcakes!

    Carrot Walnut Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

    2-1/2 cups grated carrot (about 2 whole carrots)(625 mL)
    1-1/2 cups California walnut pieces (375 mL)
    1 cup diced pineapple, fresh or canned (250 mL)
    2 cups flour, divided (500 mL)
    2 tsp cinnamon (10 mL)
    1/2 tsp nutmeg (2 mL)
    2 tsp baking soda (10 mL)
    1/2 tsp salt (2 mL)
    4 eggs
    1-1/2 cups sugar (375 mL)
    1-1/2 cups vegetable oil (375 mL)

    Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
    1 cup soft unsalted butter 250 mL
    6 cups icing sugar 1.5 L
    2 lemons, zest and juice 2
    1 tsp vanilla extract 5 mL

    Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

    Cupcakes: In a large bowl, combine carrot, walnuts, pineapple and 1/2 cup (125 mL) flour. Mix and set aside.

    In a medium bowl, sift the remaining flour and combine with cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.

    In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar and whip with a hand mixer until just combined, then slowly add the vegetable oil, while whipping, until emulsified.

    Fold the flour mixture into the egg batter until well combined, then stir in the carrot, walnut and pineapple mix.

    Line cupcake tins with liners and fill with batter, filling about three-quarters full. Bake for 20 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Transfer to rack; let cool.
    Lemon Buttercream Frosting: Combine the butter, sugar, lemon juice and zest and vanilla in a stand mixer and whip until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

    Makes 24 cupcakes.

    Tip: This recipe works well as a cake. Simply pour batter into a round 10-inch (2.6 L) cake pan and place in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 1 hour or until cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean. Transfer to rack; let cool and cover with frosting (same amount as used for the cupcakes).

    Optional Easter-style Garnish:
    Shredded Wheat Nests with California Walnut Marzipan Eggs
    2 large pieces shredded wheat 
    3 tbsp golden corn syrup (45 mL)
    1 tbsp butter (15 mL)
    4 oz marzipan or almond paste (125 g)
    2 tbsp ground California walnuts (30 mL)
    Food colouring

    Break the shredded wheat into small pieces in a bowl and set aside.

    In a small pan over low heat, add syrup and butter. Cook until butter is melted. Pour onto the shredded wheat and mix to coat. Let cool until warm enough to form into 1-inch (2.5 cm) nests.
    Knead marzipan with ground walnuts until well mixed. Divide the marzipan into three parts and add desired food colouring. Form into small eggs. Rest eggs in nests and place gently atop cupcakes.

    PER SERVING (1 cupcake, without garnish): about 462 cal, 3 g pro, 27 g fat (8 g sat. fat), 54 g carb, 1 g fibre, 51 mg chol, 137 mg sodium. %RDI: 2% calcium, 6% iron, 14% vit A, 5% vit C.



    Happy Friday (and Happy Birthday to me!)

    I already received the best gift I could ever receive, thanks to the lovely Amanda Laird.

    Click below to view a Maury Pauvich clip about a woman who is afraid of chicken (not unlike myself.)

    I've been too busy to blog lately...

    ...but you should read this article about how celery makes men more attractive to women because of chemicals it contributes to their pheromones. 

    I wonder what makes women more attractive to men? 
    (Not that I need it!)

    Lustful Item

    Too bad it's (A) backordered and (B) $500.


    If you think you have what it takes to be Top Chef (in Canada), you can apply here!! Good luck!

    My Paper Crane

    My Paper Crane

    Click on the link above to download a handy guide to shopping for organic foods! It tells you which are low pesticide and which are better bought organic.

    Steel-Cut Surprise

    This has been a week of steel-cut revelations for me. Here are two new things you might not have thought of doing with steel-cut oats:

    (1) Toasting steel-cut oats before cooking as per package instructions

    The Kitchn blog writes about Kim Boyce, cookbook author, who toasts her steel-cut oats in butter so they get all dark and delicious before you cook them.

    Toasting just keeps on surprising me. A couple of weeks ago, food-blogger Amanda Laird told me she always toasts cumin before using it in recipes.
    'Oh yeah, cumin seeds? It brings out the flavour,' I responded cooly.
    'No, ground cumin. I toast that too.'
    Cue me falling off chair
    Toasting makes basically everything better. I now toast nuts, seeds and quinoa habitually (and a bunch of spices now that Amanda told me the good news.) It makes sense that those healthy little oats would benefit from a toasty little prep.

    (2) Blending cooked oats in a smoothie

    Thanks to Meghan Telpner, I've been opened up to a whole new world of what a smoothie can be. 

    A lot of the time now, I blend smoothie ingredients in water as opposed to sugary juice or lactosey milk. I've also started using a lot more vegetables: keeping things green so it's not a sugar-fest of berries and sweetness.

    Nuts? No problem. Soak them overnight in water to soften them. Oils, avocados? Open your mind! Celery? Spinach? Broccoli? You can basically blend anything.

    This morning, I tossed in a few tablespoons of steel-cut oats and couldn't believe how edible (err, drinkable) they were in smoothie form.

    Sometimes if I get up at 5 or 6 AM, the idea of a robust bowl of steel-cut oats is a little daunting for my stomach, but I can handle anything in liquid form at that time.

    Revelations all around! Steel-cut revelations.

    A word I never use

    I saw someone use the word 'yummy' today and I shuddered involintarily.

    'Yummy' is a word I never use. 

    To me it sounds childish and immature, like baby words that are designed for children who don't yet have strong command of language. Even worse, it actual elicits a bodily reaction out of me- it sickens me.

    Why would I ever say yummy?

    I favour delicious, luscious, toothsome, scrumptious, enticing, delectable, succulent or even nectarous or ambrosial (although, admittedly, those would be used on rare occasions.)

    Are there any food words that make your skin crawl? What words do you dislike using/hearing?

    Choose your own adventure

    My friend Parker recently got his girlfriend, Heather, one of the loveliest gifts a girl could imagine: a gift certificate for Shoes of Prey, a website that lets you customize  your own shoes.

    (Since Heather got her shoes, I've been eyeing some snakeskin pumps of my own!)

    Yesterday, Mashable posted an article about customizable gifts you can create on different websites, including Shoes of Prey. (You can see the great list here: I was also intrigued by the jewellery at Gemvara.)

    The one that really caught my (hungry) eye was Chocri: a website that lets you build your own chocolate bar! Think of beloved Aunt Mildred who loves a white & milk chocolate combo with pistachios and lemon drops. Now you can always get her whatever she wants.

    What a sweet treat for the chocolate-lover in your life!