Carrot Cake

The Thanksgiving pies and pumpkin roll are gone, but we won't be without dessert too long at our house. My husband's birthday is a great reason for the next round of baking. Those bygone holiday desserts are being replaced by a Carrot Cake for the occasion.

Carrot Cake is one of his favorite cakes (and possibly one of mine). The cream cheese frosting is luscious, and the recipe makes a big 3-layer cake, enough for a birthday party with lots of friends. The complete directions and recipe can be found here.



Pumpkin Roll

I know this is pumpkin season, but I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of the traditional pumpkin pie. I do, however, love a good pumpkin roll. If you're planning to make a pumpkin roll for the holidays, THIS is it. This recipe was inspired from Trisha Yearwood's pumpkin roll, but it has been adapted a bit. The recipe was already great, but my sister thought of adding freshly ground nutmeg and walnuts, and now it is super. But don't take my word for it, I'll let the pumpkin roll speak for itself.

Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2 jellyroll pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper. Spray the top of the parchment paper with cooking spray.
With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, and lemon juice until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the batter with the chopped walnuts. Bake in preheated oven for 14 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert cake onto a wire rack. Spread a large tea towel out flat and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Carefully transfer the cake to the towel, folding in the sides of the towel over cake. Beginning on one of the short sides of the cake, roll the cake up in the towel and cool in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.

Using an electric mixer, beat powdered sugar together with cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Carefully unroll the cake and spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the cake. Gently re-roll the cake and refrigerate. Dust with powdered sugar just before slicing and serving.



Decorating Cookies Party

My weekend was so much fun. I visited my sister in Texas, shopped, and met a much admired cookbook author. On Saturday my sister and I attended Bridget Edwards' Decorating Cookies Party and book signing for her new cookie book of the same name.

I have long been in awe of Bridget because of her talent and skill at decorating beautiful cookies. She has hundreds of cookie designs posted on her blog Bake at 350.

Decorating Cookies Party is not her first cookie book. She previously published another great cookie design cookbook called Decorating Cookies, and if you're interested in cookie decorating, I think you'll want them both.

At the cookie party, each participant had a chance to try decorating a cookie from Bridget's new book.

This is my attempt from the party at decorating the Happy Birthday Cake Slice cookie. I have a lot to learn, but Bridget's book has tips on every aspect of cookie decorating. Decorating Cookies Party has 50 cookie designs under 10 different party themes.

It was a long trip to The Woodlands, Texas, for the cookie party, but it was well worth the time. I'm inspired to bake and decorate holiday cookies for my family now. I so admire Bridget's ability, and I discovered at the cookie party that she is just as sweet and kind as I had always imagined her to be. I think it takes a really nice person to bake as many beautiful cookies as Bridget Edwards has baked for other people. Keep decorating those awesome cookies, Bridget, and I'll be there for your next book signing.



Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is not only delicious, it is versatile and convenient. With only a few minutes prep, roast chicken can be popped into the oven and forgotten until the timer beeps. A roast chicken goes a long way for feeding a family. You can serve it sliced with vegetables or make some comforting chicken soup. Make a chicken pot pie or a chicken salad sandwich. Add it to a salad or shred it for chicken enchiladas, and the list goes on and on.

Print Recipe

Roast Chicken

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (4 - 5 pound) whole chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a roasting pan by lightly greasing the wire rack. In a small dish, stir together salt and pepper. Remove giblets from chicken; pat chicken dry with paper towels. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt mixture inside cavity of chicken. Rub olive oil into skin of chicken. Sprinkle with remaining salt mixture, rubbing into skin. Place chicken, with the breast side up, on the prepared rack in the roasting pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until done. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.



10 Thanksgiving Desserts

With Thanksgiving only weeks away, it's time to get my lists made. I don't know how others feel about dessert, but it goes at the top of my list. I usually make my desserts first so I have that step of cooking out of the way when the major avalanche of turkey and dressing and casseroles and bread making begins.

I try to take into consideration that not everyone likes the same dessert, and I need to have choices for them, however, I'm not quite as accommodating as my mother was when she was alive and did the cooking for a crowd. She always tried to make a pie to suit everyone's taste, even if it meant multiple, and I do mean multiple, kinds. I hope I can please everyone, but I'm afraid I'll never try as hard as she did to accomplish it. I haven't decided what desserts to make yet, but it's time to make my choices and get my grocery shopping done. Here are some of the top dessert contenders for Thanksgiving this year. If you're coming to my house for your turkey day meal and don't see anything you like on this list, you'd better get your request in ASAP.


English Tea Muffins

These muffins are not the kind that jump up and shout, 'notice me.' Perhaps because they are made from an English tea, they have a more reserved presence. The flavors are subtle and mild, a quiet blend, but still making themselves known. Don't misunderstand, these English tea muffins may be understated and simple, but they are far from Plain Jane.

English Tea Muffins

1 1/4 cups milk
4 tea bags (English Breakfast tea)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a muffin pan with cooking spray or use paper liners. In a saucepan, combine milk and tea bags. Heat and stir over medium - low heat until milk is hot, but not boiling. Set aside and allow to cool (about 15 minutes). In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ginger; whisk together. Add butter and use a pastry cutter to combine butter and flour mixture; mix until crumbly. Remove tea bags from milk, squeezing the tea bags to remove all liquid. Add milk mixture and orange extract to flour mixture, mixing just until the flour is moistened. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove muffins from pan to cool on wire rack. Makes 12 muffins. Serve with butter or jam, if desired.