February 27, 2011

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

My life should always have a sea of cupcakes in the background.

I know this may be difficult for some of you to hear, but here goes: it's officially springtime in New Orleans. I know, I know, it's February. I think it's weird, too. I'm still half afraid to say it out loud, for fear of scaring it off. But celebrations of spring and all the wonderful things that come with it- sunshine, shirtless boys, nighttime runs, and playing outside- are in order. So, in lieu of the hearty soups you may still need up north, this week I'm cooking picnic fare.

When deciding what to bring to our potluck picnic, I took stock of what was already in the kitchen. Earlier this week, I had been on my way out the door when I realized that Erik's bananas were about to go bad and desperately needed to be cut up and frozen rightthisveryminute to avert banana disaster (side note: no, we do not share bananas. He has a very strict banana-eating schedule for the week, and I get cranky when I run out of fruit unexpectedly.). With a tupperware full of frozen bananas, I remembered Heidi Swanson's carrot cake recipe.

Sweetened with nothing but ripe bananas and dates, and topped with a thick smear of maple-syrup spiked cream cheese, it's a dense, almost rustic loaf cake that's almost as fitting for breakfast as for dessert. It's delicious and substantial as written, I've made it several times. For cupcakes, though, just a few tweaks were in order.

February 15, 2011

N'awlins Red Beans and Rice

The brussel sprouts were a bust. They were lovely and fragrant and beautifully browned, but also generally not delicious. Could have been the preparation, or maybe I just don't like brussel sprouts. It's hard to say at this point, but you will not be getting that recipe, and Erik won't have to try yet another weird vegetable just because it's Valentine's Day and he loves me.

Not the way to say "I love you"

A much better Valentine's offering: red beans and rice. Now, I know what you're thinking. Um, beans? On the most-hyped date night of the year? But after six (six!) years with the boy, I have yet to acquire any evidence that he has any kind of bodily functions at all, so your problem is not my problem. Plus, I conferred with my mom, and she decided that red beans are, well, red, and thus V-Day appropriate. Suck it, haters. 

Since we don't do a big V-Day production (as my beautiful cousin Tricia says, "I don't believe in Valentine's Day, just love, every day."), my gift to E-Dawg was mostly-vegetarian me skipping the vegetarian makeover of his favorite southern dish (one of the major issues in our relationship is vegetarian chili, which he is staunchly against). My version included meat from not one but two animals. The first: pig, duh. The second? Gator.

In the South, you can only cook a gator that you personally killed.
What? You don't know.

Well, kind of. I cooked the gator sausage and tossed it in the mix. A few minutes later, I tasted it and picked it all out one piece at a time. Turns out, gator sausage is not delicious. I left the sausage in the final recipe. Mine turned out fantastic without it, though, so consider it optional.

You have to plan ahead a little for this recipe (soaking the beans overnight and cooking for about three hours), but it's almost completely hands-off. And totally worth it.

February 7, 2011

Spiced Carrot and Walnut Loaf

Not brussel sprouts.

This is not the recipe you were going to get this week. You were supposed to get brussel sprouts. Which you may get next week, depending on how they turn out tomorrow (I've never had them before, so it's kind of a crapshoot). But this week, instead, you get this dense, spiced carrot and walnut loaf. It's rich and slightly sweet, really just a couple steps away from cake, but you can totally feel justified eating it for breakfast. You are welcome.

Also, please no one warn my boyfriend that I'm making brussel sprouts. I would like for him to come home from work tomorrow.

Anyway. I was settling in to do homework when I stumbled across this recipe that would use the carrots and buttermilk that have been  threatening to go bad in my fridge, as well as the walnuts I've been ignoring ever since I used 1/8 of the container for pesto two weeks ago. For the sake of not wasting food, homework obviously had to wait.

Roughing up the nuts.