Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Nut Free Carrot Spice Muffins

My coworker recently had a birthday and chose carrot cake -- that's his favorite. I ordered it from some fancy-shmancy cake shop... the boss picked it up, and it arrived in all its gorgeous, spicy glory!  The cake was mouthwatering-looking, dark and moist, with thick cream cheese icing and sprinkled with chopped nuts. Heaven, right? Problem is, I'm allergic to most nuts, so I was forced to be healthy, and a party pooper, and pass up the slice of cake. After that, I decided to make a carrot spice cupcake or muffin that would satisfy that carrot cake craving while being slightly healthier, and also  portable, so that I can take one or two to work in my purse. 

I started with a basic carrot bread recipe that called for cinnamon as its only spice, but I really wanted to spice it up, so I added a generous amount of nutmeg and clove. I also added lemon zest. Clove is a very strong spice, so add it little by little, with caution, and taste your batter before adding more.  I added more egg and more baking powder to make my muffins a little more puffy and light. I decided that I morphed the recipe enough to put my own name on it and call it my own. 

Dani's Nut-Free Carrot Spice Muffins

1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (add more to suit your taste)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (add more to suit your taste)
1/4 teaspoon clove (add more to suit your taste)

2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners
1. Grate and measure the carrots and set aside.

okay, these are not carrots... you can also do zucchini chocolate chip with the same spicy "base"!

2. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove in the bowl

3. Beat the eggs together in a medium bowl. Add the oil, vanilla extract, and milk.
4. Make a depression in the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture along with the carrots. Mix with a spatula until combined.

5. Divide the batter between 12 muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. 

fill them about this full

Bake on the top shelf of the oven for 17-22  minutes or until the muffins test done when a toothpick is inserted in the middle. Remove the tray and cool on wire racks.

The possibilities are endless using the spice muffin as a base: you could use zucchini instead of carrot. They came out sweet, so you could definitely cut the sugar; next time I will cut the sugar in mine and add raisins and some type of seeds, since I am allergic to nuts but would still like to create a nutty flavor and texture in the muffins. Since my carrot cake recipe also has pineapple, I think I will experiment with pineapple next time, too. I used white sugar and would like to make these substituting a gourmet dark muscovado or turbinado sugar for some of the white. You could mix cream cheese and honey or agave to make a spread like icing for the carrot spice muffins. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

To Write Love On Her Arms

This week is/was National Suicide Prevention Week.  I myself have never truly contemplated suicide.  I've seen firsthand what that specific act does to loved ones.  Like most others, I may have thought about what others lives may be like were I not around, but they weren't suicidal thoughts.  

I'm just going to be honest here.  Suicide scares the shit out of me.  It scares me that someone I may love or hold dear could have such deep and terrible thoughts and be in so much pain that their only escape is to end their life.  I simply cannot imagine it.

To Write Love on her Arms has this amazing project going on right now, I Cannot Be Replaced.  I've included my version as well as a blank one for anyone who wishes to post theirs.  YOU CANNOT BE REPLACED.  How simple and yet so powerful.  Because you can't.  You cannot be replaced.  *I* cannot be replaced.  It's not egotistical, it's not pretentious.  It's fact.  You cannot be replaced.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Suicide Prevention Resource Center
Befrienders - Volunteer Action To Prevent Suicide

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Dog days of summer...

Here we are- it's the end of an eventful summer to say the least... 
Reconnected with HS pals...hung with family we just recently met...and said our goodbyes to Rob's Dad, my FIL and the kids Papa. 
That's the yin and yang of life. 
Some light, some dark. 
Some friendships bloom and blossom; while others dim and dull...just like the trees.
But one thing that is always constant is change- and change means growth. 
So here's to you summer- we'll see you sooner than we think; and in the meantime- bring on Fall, my favorite season of them all. 
Mary Wendy