Mom’s Marvelous Carrot Cake 

I love my mom’s carrot cake.  It literally is the best carrot cake I have ever tasted.

I am very picky when it comes to carrot cake.  I remember the first time I ever tried carrot cake: I was probably six or seven and my aunt brought out a cake after supper.  I was so excited that we were going to eat cake- then I took a bite and was immediately disappointed.  It was dry and had stringy carrots and my mom made me be polite and eat it all anyway.  I tried carrot cake other times as I got older, but never liked any until finally, Mom convinced me to try hers.  I still haven’t found one that compares.

I made sure to copy my mom’s recipe so I could share it with you.

Ingredients 

Cake:

  • 2 c flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c oil
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp.baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c grated carrots (I prefer finely chopped in the food processor, rather than grated)
  • 1 c or 1 medium can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • Optional: 1/2 c finely chopped walnuts 

Icing:

  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 2 8 oz blocks of softened cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • 3 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix the sugar, eggs, and oil.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients into the large bowl containing the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  • Add the carrots, pineapple, and raisins. Mix well.
  • Divide the batter into the pans.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of each pan comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool and gently remove them from the pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  • With a mixer mix together all the ingredients except the cream and powdered sugar.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar (This is where I usually make a huge mess)
  • Add the cream, a little at a time until the icing is as soft or firm as you prefer.
  • Place the first cake on a cake plate or in a cake keeper.
  • Frost the cake on all sides and place the other cake on top, then frost it. 
  • Gently press the walnut pieces into the sides of the iced cake.

Store in the refrigerator.  The cake is even better the next day.


The first slice of cake with a side of ice cream. Yum!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

An Early Birthday Dinner: Swiss Steak

Photo: Annie Spray/Unsplash

I don’t know if I have ever mentioned it before, but I have the best parents ever. They always do so much for me and I appreciate them very much. 
Saturday we drove almost an hour to my parents’ house to celebrate my birthday a few days early.   

My photographer husband helped my dad photograph items belonging to my grandparents’ estate in order to begin to sell some of it.  They were busy most of the day.

My mom and I played with Abby and cooked while the men were occupied.

My mom made a special birthday supper of swiss steak with mashed potatoes and cream cheese corn.  I requested this, as this meal has long been a favorite of mine; my grandmother used to make it often when we would come over for a Sunday lunch.  I have many wonderful memories of eating swiss steak off of her octagon shaped pewter plates with my family gathered around the table.  My mom’s swiss steak was just as delicious as I remembered it to be.  In fact, it almost made my father cry because it tasted so much like his mother’s.

For dessert, my mom made her incredible carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.  I was very full from supper, but somehow managed to stuff myself further with cake.  

Abby excitedly helped me unwrap my birthday gifts.  I received some wonderfully soft pajama sets and a pretty kitchen utensil cannister designed by Pioneer Woman.

My mother made me take home the leftover cake, so I will be enjoying it for days to come.  I will post my mom’s cake recipe and photos of the cake tomorrow. 

I apologize that I didn’t get any photos of the Swiss steak before it was devoured,  but I thought I would include the recipe for you.  My grandmother would always serve this dish with mashed potatoes and corn.

Grandma Julia’s Swiss Steak

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs round steak or minute steaks 
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 2 cups celery, chopped 
  • 2 cups catsup
  • 1 can Campbell’s tomato soup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Flour steaks and fry brown on both sides.
  • Put steak into a sauce pan or deep pan that has a lid. Place vegetables on top of steak.
  • Add catsup, soup, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
  • Put in oven and simmer for about 2 hours.
  • Optional: instead of cooking in the oven you can cook using a slow cooker. If cooking on low setting let simmer for 6 hours. If cooking on high setting let simmer for 4 hours.
  • Enjoy!

Cravings

I haven’t had too many cravings thus far in my pregnancy, but today I went to a clinic to train a couple associates and the manager made me try this delicious spicy dip she made.  It was so good, but after I left it left me craving the Spiderman Roll from my favorite sushi place.  

On my lunch break I didn’t have enough time to run all the way across town and then wait for a roll to be made so I went to our local Kroger store where they will make fresh sushi to order. It’s nowhere as good as from my favorite sushi restaurant, but it will do in a pinch.  I ordered a spicy crab roll (don’t worry, it’s cooked!)

Oh my gosh, it hits the spot. Yum!  

Why Do Mealtimes Have to be so Difficult?

Photo by Providence Doucet. From: http://www.unsplash.com

Lately mealtimes have become a struggle at our house.  Abby used to be a fantastic eater but now I don’t know what happened.  She seems determined to see how much food she can get away with not eating.  Unless the meal is scrambled eggs and sausage or pancakes with syrup she is not guaranteed to eat a thing.  Now I love pancakes, eggs, and sausage,  but I can’t eat it every day to make sure that my kid eats as much as she should.

At breakfast she will willingly eat one or two bites of yogurt or Honey Nut Cheerios (thanks, Grandma, for getting her hooked on Honey Nut Cheerios instead of regular) and then not have any interest in finishing her meal.  

Abby will take a bite of a food that she previously loved and then promptly spit them out.  Foods get pushed around her high chair tray or thrown on the floor.  No matter what she is given to eat she will repeat, “Cheesth!  Need cheesth!” asking for cheese. Last night I gave her some ketchup thinking that if she were to dip her meat in the ketchup she would eat more.  Wrong. She just wanted to eat ketchup using her fingers after that.

All hours of the day and night she will ask for a banana, “Nana!”  This happens she sees a banana on the kitchen counter or sees a banana in a book or on TV.  I usually give her one, figuring that since she barely ate anything else at least she’s eating a banana.  At first she would eat almost the whole banana but now she will just take a couple bites and be done, which is frustrating.  I end up finishing a bunch of bananas these days.

At first she would eat more if I allowed her to use the spoon or fork to feed herself.  I think it worked mainly because she was the one controlling the silverware, I wasn’t the one spooning it to her.  Now that it is no longer a challenge and she has figured out how to use the silverware skillfully, this is no longer anything she cares about.  

I’ve tried to expose her to all kinds of foods.  I don’t expect her to like or want to eat everything, but the list of foods she will willingly eat seems to be dwindling.  

Have your kids gone through a picky phase?  Was it just a phase?  How did you get through it?  I would love to hear from you!

Five Days of Shakeology: An Honest Review

I have been curious about trying Shakeology for a while.  The reviews I have read make it sound great, but I’ve wondered if it will live up to its hype.  I probably would have tried Shakeology by now, but the price is really what has held me back.  Last week I saw someone at work mixing up a shake, so that gave me the kick I needed to finally try it.  My friend and 21 Day Fix coach, Rebekah, sent me five single serving sample packages to try. I am hoping that it will help alleviate my chocolate cravings and help me feel better in general.

For those of you have never heard of Shakeology, Shakeology is different flavored shakes made up of a mix of nutrients, vitamins, proteins, and minerals.  According to their website www.shakeology.com, there is “70+ super-nutritious ingredients in shakeology,” which consists of proteins and fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, adaptogen herbs, as well as prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes.  Together this super mix is supposed to help you:

  • Lose weight
  • Reduce junk food cravings
  • Provide healthy energy
  • Support your digestive system and regularity

Sounds pretty great, right?  

Day 1

I mixed 8 ounces of unsweetened vanilla almond milk with 2 tablespoons of PB2 and a packet of chocolate Shakeology powder in a shaker bottle with a metal wisk ball. It mixed up well and had no lumps. The texture was smooth and not powdery or chalky.  This made a creamy chocolatey drink, almost like drinking chocolate pudding- yum!  I would definitely drink this again.

I drank my shake around 6:00 am and as I was dropping Abby off at the babysitter’s house right before 8:00 am my stomach was growling. By the time I got in to work and to a meeting I felt shaky, so I ate some scrambled eggs in a whole wheat tortilla and felt better.  I noticed that one of the Shakeology ingredients was green tea extract,  so I am wondering if that on top of my normal two cups of coffee was just too much caffeine. 

Day 2

I mixed a tropical strawberry Shakeology packet with 10 ounces of almond milk and had a piece of multi-grain bread with peanut butter for breakfast.  I did not enjoy the flavor of the tropical strawberry shake as much as I had enjoyed the chocolate yesterday,  although it wasn’t too bad.  I had expected this; I normally don’t buy fruit flavored stuff and prefer just to eat fruit. The texture did not seem as creamy as the chocolate shake and I probably should have shook my cup a lot more, as I had a few small powdery lumps in the bottom.  I think blending a banana with the shake and almond milk would have been much tastier,  but we were all out of bananas.

I didn’t feel the shakey feeling that I had felt the day before, perhaps because I had eaten the toast with the shake.  I drank thr shake around 6:00 am and still felt satisfied at 9:00am when I was making Abby’s oatmeal.  In fact, when I finished getting my hair cut at 11:00 I was just beginning to feel hungry.  I felt less hungry all day long and really didn’t feel the urge to snack. 

Day 3

I mixed a vanilla Shakeology packet with 12 ounces of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and ice in the blender.  I liked the frothy texture created by the blender, but I really didn’t like the taste of the vanilla shake.  The taste is very reminiscent of shakes I drank while following a low-carb, low-calorie meal replacement diet a few years ago.  I had to make myself finish this shake; I didn’t want more like I had with the chocolate flavor.  Perhaps fruit or peanut butter mixed in would make it taste better, but I don’t know that I could get past the base flavor.  This surprises me because I thought that the tropical strawberry would be my least favorite flavor.  I kind of wish I had another stawberry packet so that I could try blending in some of the bananas I bought yesterday. 

I felt full almost until lunchtime and snacked on an apple while I fed Abby her lunch.  I did crave sweets, but I think it was more because I was bored with doing laundry and playing on the floor all day.  I caved and bought some chocolate covered peanuts at the grocery store.

Day 4

This morning I used a shaker bottle to mix up a vegan chocolate shake packet with unsweetened almond milk and a tablespoon of chia seed and a tablespoon of flax seed.  Although already listed as an ingredient, I added the flax and chia thinking that it would add a little extra hardiness and help keep me full a little longer during the morning since I knew it was going to be a hectic day with a lot of meetings.  This ended up being a bad idea because I had a lump of chia seeds in the middle of my cup and I had to add more almond milk at the end to try to shake it apart enough to drink it.

I did feel full and satisfied for most of the morning, not wanting anything to eat on my trip through the cafeteria to get coffee before a meeting at work.  Only around 10:15 a.m. did I begin to feel hungry.  I ate a snack before working out, but didn’t feel cravings or feel like I needed to have chocolate all day long.  When I got home from work I realized that I never had my normal afternoon caffeine pick me up.

Day 5

Going for a purist approach, I mixed only unsweetened vanilla almond milk with my final packet, Cafe Latte flavor.  I mixed it in the blender with ice for a very creamy, frothy drink. I enjoyed this flavor a lot. I drank it at 6:30 a.m. and ate a piece of multi-grain bread with peanut butter and a some mixed berries, which kept me feeling full until lunch.  I did not feel like snacking all day and overall felt like I had a lot of energy all day long.  I didn’t feel my normal slump in energy after lunch or early in the afternoon,  a time when I am used to heading to the coffee pot.

My thoughts

I liked the chocolate Shakeology powder and could see myself making drinking a shake a part of my daily routine.   Perhaps the lessened urge to snack was just the placebo affect at work, I am not certain.  I liked the feeling of increased energy throughout the day.  

What I don’t like is the price.  At $129.95 for a 30 serving resealable bag, this is more than I could currently afford, or more specifically justify spending on myself at this time… I mean, that would equal a lot of groceries for my family .  The bottom line is that for now, although I would like to, I will not be buying any Shakeology. 

Check out Shakeology for yourself at http://www.shakeology.com!


**I was in no way compensated for my review of Shakeology products.  The opinions voiced above are all my own.**