Cooking Light Carrot-Cake Bars

The idea of baking lighter treats appeals to me, and there was a time many years ago, when I was in the habit of using egg whites and applesauce every time that I would bake a cake, quick breads, etc.

My how times have changed… 

While shopping my most favorite thrift store recently, I stumbled across a Cooking Light cookbook for a quarter.  I know, what a bargain! This cookbook has every recipe from the year 1999 that was featured in the Cooking Light magazine so I snatched it up and figured maybe it’s time I get back on the light wagon. 

The recipe for Carrot-Cake Bars is one of many that caught my eye in my new used cookbook.

These bars turned out moist, tender, definitely not oil laden, and delicious.  Yea!  I did make a few slight changes to the original recipe.  First, I used all-purpose flour in place of the whole-wheat flour the recipe called for.  I also used 3/4 cup of sour milk (made with skim milk) instead of the buttermilk, and I skipped adding the raisins.  I think not adding the raisins was a mistake.  While I am not a raisin lover, I do think they add a nice subtle flavor to your treats.  And lastly, I used only 1 cup of old-fashioned oatmeal which I think this was a good move.  Below I’m sharing the original recipe with you.  So feel free to go with it, or make your own modifications.

Carrot-Cake Bars from Cooking Light (Original Recipe)

2/3 c. packed brown sugar

2 tbsp. margarine or butter, softened

3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 large egg whites

3/4 c. whole wheat flour

1 1/2 c. regular oats

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. shredded carrots

1/2 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 11×7 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat sugar and margarine until blended.  Add buttermilk, vanilla, and egg whites; beat well.  Add flour and next 5 ingredients; mixing until combined.  Stir in carrots and raisins.  Pour batter into a prepared baking dish.  Bake for approximately 30-33 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.  Cool in pan and serve.

According to the Cooking Light Cookbook, these bars (original recipe) have 121 calories, 2.3 grams of fat, 3.1 grams of protein, 23.3 carbs, 2 grams of fiber, and 138 mg of sodium.   I added a few calories to my bars because I drizzled a thin buttercream icing on top.  Shame on me I know.  But look at the calories I saved elsewhere.

Do you like baking and cooking light?  Or do you say –  Ah, what’s the sense?

Test Kitchen–Yellow Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting

I recently had to make a birthday cake to take to a celebration so I went looking for a yummy recipe.  And as I’ve said before, it’s photo’s that help convince me if I will or won’t make a recipe.  And that my friends is why I love Pinterest.  So many pictures, so many recipes, so many creative people! 

Once I found a convincing picture with a recipe that I was happy with, I pinned it on my Party! board went to work. 

I did make a couple modifications to this recipe.  I used margarine in the cake since I was nearly out of butter – I saved the butter for the frosting.   I also used skim milk instead of whole milk, and added an extra teaspoon of vanilla to the batter for good measure. 

I made a 6” double layer cake and 6 cupcakes from this recipe.  I baked the cupcakes for about 11 minutes, and the cake for about 26 minutes.

And how did this cake recipe fare in my book?  The cake was delicious and received a lot of compliments, but it was a bit heavier than I had expected.  I would have preferred a lighter version.  The frosting was perfect because the cream cheese helped cut the sweetness that you’d find in a typical buttercream frosting.

 

So, are you like me?  Do you need a picture of a recipe to convince you to try it?

Tuxedo Brownies – You Just Might Have Seen These Before

 

Years ago when I started blogging I made one of our favorite treats and shared it here on my blog.  But since The Joy of Caking was literally unheard of back then, this recipe didn’t get near enough the attention it deserved.   Yes, these mini brownie cups filled with a delectable white chocolate and cream cheese filling are delicious and absolutely deserve a re-visit.  For my original post, I modified the  recipe slightly by making a chocolate, not white chocolate filling.  But as you can see, I filled this batch with the white chocolate filling.  Oh, so good!

I can’t take the credit for this recipe.  As I indicated in my original post, the recipe came from the Pampered Chef Celebrate Family, Friends & Great Food Cookbook. You can get the recipe by visiting my original post by following the link highlighted above.

I am sharing these brownies at a 4th of July celebration that we have been invited to and I’m sure they won’t last long!

And just in case someone doesn’t want one of these chocolaty little morsels, I also made white cupcakes using heavy cream and frosted them with white chocolate pudding frosting.

Which of these two desserts would you choose?

One Bowl Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I know my blog posts are getting farther apart these days but please hang in there.  I haven’t forgot you!

This weekend I was looking at coffee cakes lined up on a shelf at my local grocery store and I was so tempted to buy one to satisfy my never-ending sweet tooth.  But I knew better.  I knew a store-bought coffee cake wasn’t going to stand up to a moist, tender crumb, cinnamon coffee cake that I could produce in my very own kitchen.  I was certain that buying one would be a waste of my money and only yield disappointment.   Instead, I dug out my mixing bowl and did the right thing, I made my own from scratch.  And let me tell you, no disappointments here!

This cake is so simple to make.  And you all know how simple I like to keep my baking.  One bowl recipes suite me just fine.  The order of the ingredients is exactly how I added them to the one bowl I used to make this cake.  Also, I mixed by hand; not electric mixer.  So go ahead, give this recipe a try.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg

1 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. sour cream

1/4 c. heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling/Topping

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 7×11 glass baking pan using non-stick cooking spray.

Put all of the ingredients (except the filling/topping ingredients) in a large bowl and mix by hand until everything is combined.  This batter will be stiff.  Mix the filling/topping ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.

Pour 3/4 the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture on top.  Add remaining batter on top, and swirl a butter knife through the mixture several times.  Top with remaining cinnamon and sugar filling/topping and bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center.

I bet this cake would be delicious with a raspberry filling too.  What do you think?

Homemade Peanut Butter Topping–My Liquid Gold

If you haven’t noticed, my blog posts are not as frequent at they use to be.  It’s not because I don’t enjoy blogging anymore, it’s just that other activities have temporarily captured my attention.  To make up for my unusual absence, I’ve decided to share my recipe for my liquid gold with you.  Calling all peanut butter lovers to the table here!

If you’re not a peanut butter lover then I apologize – but have no fear, you can always make one of these toppings instead.

Country Apple Caramel Sauce

Blueberry Sauce

Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream Topping

Peach Glace’ Topping

Apple Rum Ice Cream Topping

Kahlua Hot Fudge Sauce

Black Cherry Ice Cream Sauce

And now for my liquid gold recipe!

Homemade Peanut Butter Topping

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

1/2 c. heavy cream

2 tbsp. corn syrup

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Put all of the ingredients except the vanilla into a medium sized saucepan.  On low heat, melt all ingredients together; stirring frequently.  Bring to a slow boil until sauce starts to thicken.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Cool slightly before serving on ice cream.  Store in refrigerator. Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

*When you want to use topping that has been refrigerated, warm it for about 10 seconds in the microwave before putting it on your ice cream.

If you’re looking for an easy no cook, no egg, ice cream recipe then I highly recommend you give my Simply Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe a try.  It is my all-time favorite vanilla ice cream recipe.

What is your favorite ice cream topping?

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

This spring I’ve been thinking about all the projects that will keep me busy throughout the (hopefully) warm summer months.  Of course my list is forever growing, but one thing I’m particularly excited about is planting our garden.  Last year we enjoyed fresh vegetables in and out of season.  I froze lot’s of veggies and made a gazillion jars of homemade dill pickles.

I figure somewhere around mid March we ran out of our frozen French cut green beans.  Can I tell you how much I miss them?  My favorite way to cook them is in a little garlic and olive oil with a touch of parmesan cheese  – oh yum!

One thing I haven’t run out of yet is the grated zucchini I froze.  I usually freeze enough to make zucchini bread all winter long.  Since I already have posted my recipe for Quick Zucchini Oatmeal Bread  here before, and today I was in the mood for chocolate, I decided to get a little crafty in the kitchen and come up with a for Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins.  And as luck would have it, I succeeded and these turned out great!

What I like about these muffins is… the zucchini is barely visible.  If you’re trying to pass off some veggies to your picky eaters I can assure you that this is one way to do it.  Also, these muffins are moist, not greasy, and have just the right amount of chocolate to satisfy my taste.  As with most baked goods that I make, I also share, and the recipients of these muffins have given them great reviews.

And now for the recipe…

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

2/3 c. canola oil

2 c.  grated zucchini

3/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 c. dark mini chocolate chips, plus some for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 325.  Line muffin tins with cupcake papers (makes 1.5 dozen muffins).

In a large bowl, add eggs, sugars, oil, and grated zucchini; beat with an electric mixer until completely blended.  Add in baking soda, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.  Beat in flour, and lastly, fold in mini chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared muffin tins – filling each cup about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 18 – 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Immediately sprinkle some mini chips on the muffins once they are removed from the oven, and cool completely before removing the muffins from the tins.

Do you plant a garden?  If so, what is your favorite veggie to grow? And do you have a favorite?

Willard Tour Date 2014 and Buttery Iced Shortbread Melts

I am often asked by my blog readers when the next tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane will be.  Well, mark your calendar folks!  The next public tour of Willard Asylum for the Insane is scheduled for May 17, 2014, 9AM, at Grandview.  Rain or Shine!  If you want a sneak peak of some of the things you might see on this tour than check out my post, A Day at Willard Asylum for the Insane.  The tour is $10.00 per person.

And since it’s been ages since I’ve baked and shared a sweet treat on my blog, I decided to share what my daughter now claims is her favorite cookie recipe – Iced Shortbread Melts.  These cookies earned their name because they are so sweet and tender that they really will melt in your mouth!

Buttery Iced Shortbread Melts

2 sticks of butter, softened

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/8 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Cream ingredients together; add flour. Continue to mix ingredients until everything is blended. Form dough into a ball.

Place  dough on a piece of parchment paper that is coated with a light coating of flour. Roll dough out until it is about 1/4” thick. Use more flour if needed. Cut out cookies using a cookie cutter. Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet about 1 1/2” apart. Bake for about 8 minutes. Do not over bake. They will firm up after removing them from the oven. Allow cookies to cool completely on cookie sheet before moving them.

I made a thin batch of buttercream icing and dipped the top of each cookie in the icing.  I used some homemade colored sugar sprinkles to fancy them up.

These cookies would be perfect to serve at a ladies luncheon, bridal shower, or a tea party.

What is the last kind of cookie you made?