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We have 3 July birthdays in karate, and they’re all within 10 days. That means 3 different birthday treats. Yikes!!Karate Flowers

The middle birthday is mine, and this year I got ice cream treats and flowers. Ice cream after karate? Fantastic!! And I’m still enjoying the flowers!

I made desserts for the other two birthdays: strawberry cheesecake for Alex, and these Oreo Fluff Brownies for John. John loves brownies, and last week he was saying how much he loves Oreos. So after a little poking around on the internet and looking at various ideas, I settled on the idea of Oreo Brownies.

Oreo Fluff BrowniesI found a recipe for Oreo Truffle Brownies, which is the delicious combination of Oreos and cream cheese atop a brownie base, and thought those sounded good. But I was really sugared-out from Birthday Week and all the treats I was given for my birthday, and it just sounded too rich and too chocolatey – if you can believe that!

I was thinking about how to lighten them up a bit and decided to use one of my favorite frosting additions – marshmallow fluff. It’s something I use to “customize” a can of pre-made frosting, or to combine with a block of cream cheese to make a lighter cream cheese frosting. It adds a little “something” that can really make a difference!

I used a boxed brownie mix because I was having a challenging week at work and made the “cake” version. If you want to make brownies from scratch, try the Craggy-Topped Fudge Brownies on the Mix it Up! page. After they cooled, I mixed up the topping, smeared it over the brownies, drizzled on some quick-setting chocolate ice cream topping, and popped them in the frig to set up.Oreo Fluff Brownies

I think the marshmallow addition was just right! It kept the topping from setting too hard, and provided a lightness that was really nice. The birthday boy was happy, too!

Oreo Fluff Brownies

Stuff you need:

1 9×13” pan of brownies, baked according to directions and cooled.

2 8-oz. blocks of cream cheese, softened

1 jar marshmallow fluff (7 oz, I think)

Magic Shell chocolate ice cream topping

1 14-ounce package of Oreos, crushed in a large zip-lock bag with a rolling pin. [I left some chunks of Oreos for a little texture but you can crush yours more finely if that's your preference. This isn’t an exact science, so if you eat a few, it won’t ruin the brownies. ;)]

Now what?

Beat the softened cream cheese in a mixer until smooth.

Set aside ½ cup crushed Oreos and add the rest to the cream cheese and mix well.

Now stir in marshmallow fluff and mix until there are no streaks.

Spread the Oreo mixture on the brownies.

Drizzle with the Magic Shell chocolate topping and quickly sprinkle the remaining Oreo crumbs on top.

Place in frig to let the topping set up.

Store in frig. The topping will still be somewhat soft, but it will set up some.

When I was younger, Mom used to take us into downtown Chicago to shop. We’d take the commuter train down and walk over to State Street, where all the big department stores had their flagship stores. We’d spend the day in the beautiful, multi-storied buildings window shopping and enjoying the experience. At Christmastime we’d go downtown and look at all the store windows, which were fixed up with elaborate Christmas season displays. The sidewalks were filled with people crowding in to see the windows. It was a wonderful tradition that I’ll never forget!

Deerfield Bakery's Pecan Pie

Happy Birthday, Jackie!

Mom and I still go downtown when we get a chance. Most of the big stores are no longer on State Street, which is a shame, but we still enjoy it.  Lunch was always a part of our trips downtown, and that’s still the case. I remember eating many, many times in the Walnut Room at Marshall Field & Co. Even though it’s now called Macy’s, The Walnut Room is still there, and the current menu includes some of the traditional favorites we enjoyed years ago!

I have two vivid memories of food downtown. One was the Field’s Special from The Walnut Room — iceberg lettuce, sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, smoked bacon, tomato and egg served open-faced on rye with thousand island dressing. Nothing special, but it was my favorite and I still order it!

The other is the Pecan Pie from Flo’s. I don’t remember much of the place except that it was more of a diner, noisy and crowded at lunchtime. I don’t even remember what we’d order for lunch, except that knowing me, it was probably a grilled cheese. That was my go-to meal when I was young.

But what I remember the most about Flo’s was the pecan pie. Oh, was it good!! It was served heated up, and the filling was warm and gooey and just to die for! I’ve never been much of a pie person because I don’t like regular pie crust, but Flo’s pecan pie was a wedge of heaven!!!

Pecan Pie from Deerfield's BakeryYears later, my favorite pie is still pecan pie – partly from nostalgia, and partly because it’s just that good. I recently had the opportunity to make a pie for a birthday celebration at work. I’ll admit I cheated and used a refrigerated pie crust. I’d like to perfect a scratch-made pie crust, but that will have to happen when a) I have more time; and b) I don’t need it for a special event.

When the pie was baked, I thought it looked a bit darker than the pecan pies I’ve made in the past. It took me a minute to realize the recipe I used was a little different from any I’ve used before because it includes brown sugar and honey instead of white sugar. It was wonderful! I may try it again and use maple syrup instead of honey. Maple and pecans are great complements, so that should be good in the pie.

I did use more pecans than the original recipe. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of pecan halves but I didn’t think that was enough! I used somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 cups. If you don’t want a ton of pecans, start with the 1/2 cup and see if that looks like enough for you. If you’re like me and LOVE pecans, load ‘em up!

If the crust starts to brown too much while you’re baking, use foil and loosely cover the pie. Either foil or those crust protectors you can purchase will do the trick.

All the comments I received on the pie were positive, so I know I’ll make this one again!

Pecan Pie

Adapted from the Deerfield’s Bakery recipe published in Killer Pies

Stuff you need:

3 Tablespoons honey

1/3 cup corn syrup

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

10 tablespoons packed brown sugar [I used light brown sugar.]

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

1 to 1 1/2 cups pecan halves

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a saucepan, mix honey, corn syrup, butter and brown sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.

Once the butter and sugar dissolve, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm. [If you add the eggs to the hot mixture, the eggs will scramble and ruin the pie.]

While the mixture is cooling, line the uncooked pie shell with the pecan halves. They’ll rise to the top while the pie is baking.

Beat the eggs and vanilla together and stir into the cooled sugar mixture.

Gently pour the mixture over the pecans. [They won't all stay in place, so don't worry if some float and move around.]

Bake for 1 hour, then allow the pie to cool before serving.

Kyoshi's Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Congratulations, Kyoshi Colahan! Banzai!!

A couple of months ago our karate instructor was promoted to 6th Degree Black Belt and awarded the title of Kyoshi.

This is a big deal in our system! It takes 3 1/2 or more years to earn your first degree black belt, and even longer to earn higher ranks. Kyoshi’s been studying karate for over 20 years.

Our club was at the belt test to celebrate with Kyoshi, and when we returned to class the following week decided an additional celebration was in order. Celebrations for us include food, of course! We love our Banzai Treats!

One of Kyoshi’s favorite cakes is a Chocolate Pistachio Cake. This is also a favorite of several friends at work. I’ve made this several times and in many forms – as a bundt cake, layer cake, regular and jumbo muffins, and as a sheet cake. This time, in celebration of Kyoshi’s promotion, I wanted to make a cake that represented his new rank / belt, so I went with a sheet cake.

This is a super moist cake, thanks to the pistachio pudding and it’ll hold for several days, assuming it lasts that long. If you want the cake a little bit greener, add a couple of drops of food coloring. I did to this batch and you can see the color in the picture below, but normally I don’t add any extra green.

Chocolate Pistachio Kyoshi CakeThe cake is just sweet enough that it doesn’t need a rich frosting. I frosted this with the butter cream frosting typically used to decorate cakes. If I wasn’t decorating it, I probably would have either dusted it with powdered sugar or just used a light chocolate glaze.

The Kyoshi belt in our system is red and white, so I used fondant to create the belt for the cake. I haven’t used fondant much, and could probably have done a better job, but it turned out OK. The more I use it, the more skilled I’ll become. At least that’s the hope!

Don’t wait for a big karate promotion to try this cake. ;-) It’ll quickly become one of your favorites!

Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Adapted from Ann Byrn’s The Cake Doctor

Stuff you need:

1 (18.25 ounce) package white or yellow cake mix
1 (3.4 ounce) package INSTANT pistachio pudding mix
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
4 eggs
1/3 cup chocolate syrup* [I reduced this from 1/2 c. It was sticky with too much syrup.]
A few drops of green food coloring (optional)
Powdered sugar or light chocolate glaze, if desired

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pudding mix and sugar.
Add water, oil and eggs and mix well.
Reserve 1 cup batter and pour the rest of it into the prepared pan.
Stir the chocolate syrup into the 1 cup reserved batter.
Pour the chocolate batter over the pistachio batter and use a butter knife to swirl them. Don’t overmix or you will lose the swirly effect.
Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.

NOTE: If you choose a different pan size / shape, follow the baking directions on the cake mix box. This will make a 9 X 13″, about 2 dozen normal sized muffins, 2 9″ cake layers…basically, whatever the cake mix would make.

I kept seeing this recipe pop up on Pinterest. I like spaghetti squash and I love cheese, so I thought I should try it!

Spaghetti Squash au GratinIf you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, you should. I normally don’t care for squash, but I think it’s mostly a texture thing. I kept hearing spaghetti squash was different. That it was “just like spaghetti” and could be used in recipes in place of spaghetti.

Not wanting to make a whole squash in case I didn’t like it, I saw it on the menu at a restaurant one day. I ordered it, and my friend and I both gave it a try. We were both happy to find we liked it, and it’s now something we both cook in our homes.

Usually I rub the inside with garlic, salt and pepper before baking it and then eat it with just a bit of butter. I didn’t season the squash for this dish because it looked like there were enough seasonings once it was all put together, and I was right.

You can add more or less seasoning to match your tastes and desire for heat. You can also change out the cheeses to use what you like best. I used a sharp white cheddar for flavor and a mild colby jack cheese for melting. If you click on the “dandy dishes” link and read the comments, you’ll see some other ideas from people who’ve tried it.

I wouldn’t say spaghetti squash is the same as eating a noodle. And I wouldn’t say this recipe was just like hash brown casserole that some people said it was. But it’s good in its own way, and I’d make it again. The Pretty One didn’t care for it, but at least he tried it. I shared it with the resident veggie lover on our team at work. She declared it YUMMMYYYYY and said she especially liked the pepperiness of it.

If you’re interested in trying something new, try this. If you’re already a fan of spaghetti squash, try this! I think you’ll enjoy the dish.

Spaghetti Squash au Gratin

Adapted from dandy dishes

Stuff you need:
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or ground cayenne pepper, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey jack cheese [Use whatever combination of cheeses you like.]
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Now what?
Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place cut-side down in a glass dish with 1/4 inch water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes. In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, garlic, red pepper or cayenne and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color. Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and add to the skillet. Add the sour cream and 3/4 cup shredded cheese, and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining shredded cheese and sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake at 375F 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top and hot inside.

Honey Bun Cake

Honey Bun Cake“What did you bring me?” That’s my son-in-law’s usual greeting for me. The last couple of times I saw him I didn’t have anything for him. My daughter’s no slouch in the kitchen but I like baking for him, so this time I sacrificed my beauty sleep and dragged myself out of bed early Saturday morning to bake for him. Seriously – this is a sacrifice. I love my sleep.

If you like glazed donuts or those commercially baked honey buns, you’ll like this. I made these for my friend’s birthday one year. Actually, I made 2 pans to take to work for her birthday – one with nuts and one without. She immediately took a pan to her car so she didn’t have to share!

Chunky Monkey

Chunky Monkey. Cute, isn’t he?

You’ll be pleased with how simple this cake is to put together. The hardest part is putting on the topping – and doing it right. :D  As many times as I’ve made this, for some reason this time I mixed all the topping ingredients together. It made a cinnamon mud and that just didn’t look right, so I went back and read the instructions. Good idea, huh? I had forgotten it was just a matter of drizzling and sprinkling the topping ingredients and then swirling them with a knife.

My only excuse for making it harder than it had to be was that the oven was fired up long before my brain was!

I’m not a donut fan but I really like this cake. It’s good warm, and it’s good after it cools. It holds well due to the sour cream and oil that are added. This also travels well, and would be great for a picnic or BBQ. Enjoy!

Honey Bun Cake

from The Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn

Stuff you need:

Cake:
1 (18 ounce) package plain yellow cake mix
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

Filling:
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 – 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon [I use 2 Tablespoons. We like cinnamon!!]
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted [Or be lazy like me and just stir well.]
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
Place cake mix, sour cream, oil and eggs in large mixing bowl.
Blend with electric mixture on low speed for 1 minute. Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping sides as needed. The batter should look thick and well blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.

Time for the filling!
Drizzle the honey on top of the batter.
Next sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
Using a butter knife, swril through the batter to slightly blend the topping with the batter.
Bake for 38-40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Remove from oven and place on wire rack while you prepare the glaze.

For the glaze, place the confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla in small mixing bowl and whisk or stir until smooth.
Pour the glaze over the top of the hot cake in the pan, spreading it to the sides with a spoon.
Allow the cake to cool for 20 minutes more, and then serve warm.

I love cream cheese brownies! That’s because I love cream cheese and I love chocolate. Mix them together, and the taste is divine!Blackberry Cream Cheese Brownies

I honestly didn’t think that combination could get any better…until I tried these Blackberry Cream Cheese Brownies TL posted on our Chocolate Madness! board.

Oh my. Oh my, my, my!!!

I’ve never put berries in my brownies, but these I had to try. I love blackberries, and almost always have some in the house.

I was poking around in my frig and realized I had 4 packages of cream cheese, a full container of blackberries, and some stir fry veggie mix. Passing over the veggies, I was wondering what to bake this weekend, and was browsing our board. These jumped out at me – they looked like something I might like, and I had the time to make the multiple steps.

Blackberry Cream Cheese BrowniesTurns out they weren’t as difficult as I thought they might be! There are only 2 steps, not the 3+ I expected. The hardest part about these is stirring in the blackberries – and not eating them all. :)

They can be made with a boxed brownie mix (follow the cake-style notes on the package) and can be made gluten-free if needed. I made them with my Craggy Topped Fudge Brownies. The recipe calls for frozen blackberries. I had fresh, so I popped them in the freezer (in a single layer) for about an hour. Poof – perfectly frozen and ready to stir in!

These were delish just a few minutes out of the oven – with the berries still warm. Mmmm!! I keep trying them as they cool, just to make sure they still taste OK, and they do. But I’ll try them again in the morning just to make sure. Quality control, you know??

If you’re looking for an interesting brownie give these a try. They’re fantastic, I promise!

Blackberry Cream Cheese Brownies

Adapted from Bless Her Heart
350F, 9×13″ greased pan

Stuff you need:

For brownie layer:
1 brownie mix for a 9×13″ pan plus ingredients for the cake-style method or your favorite brownie recipe that makes a 9×13″ pan
[I used my Craggy Topped Fudge Brownies:  http://munchiesmind.com/2012/07/11/chocolate-madness-craggy-topped-fudge-brownies/  Check the Mix It Up! page for the recipe.]
1 1/4 cups frozen blackberries
1/3 cup chocolate chips

For cream cheese swirl:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Now what?
Beat all cream cheese swirl ingredients and set aside while you mix up the brownie batter.

Make the brownies according to the cake-style method on the package directions or make your preferred recipe.
Gently fold in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips and 1 1/4 cups of frozen blackberries.

Pour the brownie batter into the pre-greased baking dish.

Using a large spoon, drop the cream cheese mixture into the brownie batter. Drag a butter knife through the cream cheese and brownie mix to create the cream cheese swirls.

Bake at 350F until a toothpick poked into the center of the brownie pan comes out clean, 25-35 minutes. This is kind of hard to tell, since you might be poking a juicy blackberry! [Mine took about 35 minutes.] 

Apricot Pecan BarsWow – these are good!

Make a buttery shortbread crust, top it with your favorite jam, crumble some topping and nuts over the jam, and bake until set.

Doesn’t that sound easy? It IS! And the result is AMAZING!!

These have been on my To-Bake list for quite a while, so when I needed a quick Banzai Un-Birthday treat for our Karate Club, I was ready to try them!

The recipe is adapted from the C&H Sugar website. I changed out the jam and the nuts to work with what I had in my pantry. We all really enjoyed the apricot/pecan combination! I’m sure several other combos would be good, too: strawberry/almonds and raspberry/walnut come to mind.

I suggest using real butter for the crust and crumble, because it’ll make a much better shortbread than margarine or shortening. The recipe has a glaze, but it’s really not necessary. I wasn’t going to add it, since my taste-tester and I both thought they were delish without it, but changed my mind and added it before I took the rest of the bars to Karate. Add the glaze or don’t, according to your preference. You’ll like them either way!

Apricot Pecan Bars

Adapted from C&H Sugar’s Glazed Peach Bars

Stuff you’ll need:

Crust and Filling Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened [I highly recommend real butter!]
2/3 cup granulated (white) sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup apricot preserves [or peach, raspberry, strawberry-rhubarb...]

Topping Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted if you’re not lazy like me (see Quick Tip)

Glaze Ingredients (Optional):
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk (or to desired consistency)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Now what?
Crust and Filling Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F; arrange rack to center position.
Beat butter with sugar and flour; press evenly on bottom of lightly greased 13x9x2-inch pan. Don’t bother to clean the bowl; just use it for the topping.
Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden around edges. Remove from oven. Stir up preserves and pour into center of the crust. Allow to stand 2-3 minutes, then spread preserves evenly over crust with back of large spoon.

Topping Instructions

Combine flour with sugar, butter and almond extract; beat slowly several minutes to blend.
Crumble evenly over top of preserves.
Sprinkle pecans over topping and return pan to oven.
Continue baking 20-25 minutes or until bubbly with golden edges. [I baked mine about 30 minutes until the filling wasn't sloshy.]
Cool thoroughly.

Glaze Instructions (Optional)

Whisk powdered sugar with milk and almond extract until smooth. Drizzle randomly over top of cooled, baked crust/filling/topping mixture. Cut into squares.

Quick Tip(s)
To toast nuts, arrange in an even layer on a baking sheet and “toast” under your oven’s broiler until golden, stirring frequently for even browning.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!Hot Chocolate Krispie Treats

After making steak and a healthy vegetable slaw for dinner, I told The Pretty One I was going to make an unhealthy dessert. But these really aren’t all that bad, I don’t think. At least they’re not as bad as what I would have made if I had a ton of time and energy this weekend!

They sound like something you should eat in the winter (who wants hot chocolate when it’s 70 degrees outside?) but trust me – they make a great treat for spring days too!

These mix up in just a few minutes, and if you’re in a hurry to eat them (like me, believe it or not!) you can put them in the frig and they’ll set up even faster.

The chocolate flavor is “there” but not overwhelming. The mini chocolate chips on top add a little more chocolate goodness. The Pretty One declared these “delicious” and I have to agree. I’m having a hard time not eating the whole pan!

Quick, easy, and addicting. What more could you want??

Hot Chocolate Krispie Treats

from Crazy for Crust

Stuff you need:

3 Tablespoons butter
10 ounces marshmallows
2 packets powdered hot chocolate mix
6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1/2 cup Mallow Bits (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Now what?

Spray a 9×13” pan with cooking spray. Keep the cooking spray close by. Measure out cereal into a large bowl and set aside.
Place butter and marshmallows in a large, microwave safe bowl. Melt for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on HIGH power, stirring every 30 seconds until they are melted.
Stir in the hot chocolate packets, then immediately stir in the cereal and pour into prepared pan.
Working quickly, spray your hands with cooking spray so they won’t stick to the mixture, and carefully press the treats into the pan. (Be careful – the mixture will be hot.) Sprinkle immediately with Mallow Bits and mini chocolate chips and press lightly to secure them to the top of the krispie treats.
Let cool completely before cutting into squares. If you are impatient and want to speed cooking so you can eat them sooner, put pan in frig for a few minutes.  :)

Snickerdoodles!

SnickerdoodlesI love cinnamon and the warm smell when it bakes. It’s so comforting and homey!

Snickerdoodles are easy to make and even easier to eat! The cookies are vanilla-based with just a touch of salt to balance out the sugar. Rolled in cinnamon sugar and baked, the surface has a somewhat cracked appearance.

Because they’re not overly sweet, it’s easy to eat one after another. After another, after another. I can vouch for that. The last time I made Snickerdoodles for a birthday party, I had to send the leftovers back to school with The Pretty One so I didn’t eat them all. Well, I sent the leftovers that were left over AFTER I ate quite a few of them. They’re really “that” good.

This recipe comes from my friend, Jennifer’s, family cookbook. The Pretty One requested Snickerdoodles for Christmas dessert one year. I don’t think I’d ever made them, so I pulled out Jenn’s cookbook and tried this recipe. I’ve never tried another one since!Snickerdoodles

The size of the cookie is up to you, and you’ll need to adjust the baking temperature based on that. You can roll teaspoons of dough between your hands before rolling in the cinnamon sugar, or you can use a small cookie scoop (my preference) and roll in the cinnamon sugar.

Bake til the cookies are set and just starting to brown around the edges. Let them rest on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a rack.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Snickerdoodles

Stuff you need:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened

1/2 cup shortening

2 eggs

2 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons cinnamon

Now what?

Heat oven to 400F.

Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, margarine, shortening and eggs in large bowl.

Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

Shape dough. Roll rounded teaspoons into balls between your hands or us a small cookie scoop.

Mix 3 Tablespoons sugar with 3 teaspoons cinnamon.

Roll balls in mixture.

Place about 2 inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. If making the cookie scoop size, dip a glass bottom in the cinnamon sugar and lightly press the cookie down. It’ll bake more evenly if you do that.

Bake until set, 8-10 minutes. Let set on cookie sheet for about 3 minutes, then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Yield: About 30 cookies if using the cookie scoop.

Carrots are good for your eyesight. Walnuts are good for your heart. Pineapple has anti-inflammatory properties.

Banzai Carrot Cake

Banzai!

Translation: If you eat this carrot cake, you’re doing good things for your body! It’s health food!

If that doesn’t convince you and you need another reason to try this cake, I’ve got a very convincing one. Cream Cheese Frosting.

Sensei Phil didn’t have anything particular in mind for his Banzai Birthday treats. Knowing he’s not a chocolate person, I suggested one of my favorite cakes – Carrot Cake! I thought our karate group would enjoy it. The consensus was the cake is good and the frosting is Banzai-worthy!

Carrot CakeThis is a delicious AND nutritious cake, and you should try it. There are a couple things you should know:

  • I bought already-shredded carrots in the produce section. I’m too lazy to shred them myself.
  • You can use pecans instead of walnuts, or eliminate the nuts if there is a nut allergy. Personally, I’d add the nuts if you don’t have to leave them out.
  • This is a great way to sneak fruit and vegetables into your family’s bodies. The ingredient list can be your secret!  ;)
  • The frosting amount shown is 1 1/2 times the original recipe. What can I say? I like cream cheese frosting. If I hadn’t used it all on the cake, I would have eaten it right off the spoon. You can make 2/3 of the frosting if you want – it’ll give enough for the cakes. But why would you do that? The frosting is why we eat carrot cake, right?

Make this. Eat it. Feel healthier because you ate stuff that’s good for you. Then have another piece. Carrot cake is health food, and the cream cheese frosting is just plain awesome!

Carrot Cake

Slightly adapted from Food.com

Stuff you need:

CAKE
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

FROSTING (See TIP 2 for a lighter frosting.)
12 ounces cream cheese, softened — the blocks, not the whipped stuff
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups icing [powdered] sugar

Optional for decoration: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

Now what?

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9″ round cake pans or one 9×13 inch pan.
Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon; make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth.
Stir in carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.
Pour into pan and bake for about 25-30 minutes for the rounds or 45 minutes for a 9×13. The cake will bake up fairly dark, and the centers will sink a little.
While the cakes are cooling, make the frosting.
Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth; add the vanilla then the icing sugar and beat until creamy.

To frost: If using the round cakes, no need to frost the sides. Plop half the frosting on one cake and spread. You’ll have a nice, thick layer of icing. It’s OK if a little goes over the edges. Place the second layer on top and frost with the remaining frosting.
Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and add a few chopped walnuts for decoration, if desired.

TIP: If you’re transporting the layered cake, put a dab of frosting on the plate before you put the first cake layer on it. It’ll act like a glue to hold the cake layer in place.
TIP 2: If you are one of the few people who don’t care for the thick cream cheese frosting, there’s a lighter version that’s also delish. Beat 8 ounces softened cream cheese. Beat in 1 jar (7 oz.) of marshmallow fluff. Frost your cake then lick the spoon and bowl clean!

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