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Silver Palate Carrot Cake

4/23/14


Now that the first two live shows of The Voice have passed, let's backtrack a bit to Easter Sunday and the best carrot cake everrrrrr.  After our recent move, our realtor came over with a welcoming gift that included Carrot Cake Cupcakes.  I ate one in front of her and one as soon as she left - let's blame the GIANT BABY in my belly.  But they were that good.  While shoving the second cupcake in my mouth, I emailed her for the recipe and she sent me this link.  It apparently comes from a 25 year-old cookbook, and it has since become infamous.  

I decided to make it in its original cake form, omitting the walnuts for an allergy.  Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly... crushed pineapple, coconut and all.  For the cooked/pureed carrots, I used a bag that was pre-shredded, brought a small pot of water to a boil and threw them in, turning off the water and letting them sit for 5 minutes.  I then drained them and blended them a bit in my Vitamix.  I also doubled the frosting, because, cream cheese frosting should always be quadrupled.  I mean doubled.  My mother-in-law has been dreaming of this cake each night.  Make it!     




#VoiceTailgate: Mini Pancake Muffins + Bloody

4/22/14


How are you guys enjoying the #VoiceTailgate so far?!  The first live show was incredible, and the range of talent this season seems immense.  My five-year-old declared every performance his favorite, and I'm with him.  I can't pick a front runner!  But I can pick a favorite Season 6 coach... OF THE FEMALE SEX.  Bam!  I'm clever.  So, since tonight's #VoiceTailgate is centering around her, let's talk about Shakira...

What's not to love?  She's insanely talented, beautiful (girl crush!), extremely smart (Adam is correct when he says she speaks better English than Blake), and very, very sweet.  But I think my favorite thing about her is that she's a down-to-earth mom.  When we first met, she was pregnant, and my daughter Etta was teeny, tiny.  She was so curious about what first-time motherhood would be like, and from what I've seen around the set, she's mastering being a parent along with everything else in her life.  Milan is THE cutest, and we may or may not be arranging his marriage to Etta already.

Chubby ring finger...


So these easy-to-make pancake muffins are dedicated to Milan and his mom.  Bite-size and versatile (I added chocolate chips to mine but you could throw in blueberries, mashed bananas, nuts, etc).  Dipped in maple syrup, it makes a great appetizer for any time of day.  Especially if you're pairing it with Carson's famous Bloody Mary (see below).  In this case, the perfect after-dinner snack that your entire family will love.  They will be served at Etta and Milan's wedding in 30 years...      
     


Milan's Mini Pancake Muffins
(Makes 36 muffins)
Printable Recipe

2 cups pancake mix (I used Bisquick)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Maple syrup, for dipping

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a large bowl, whisk together the pancake mix, eggs, milk and vanilla.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.



Lightly grease a mini muffin tin.  Spoon batter into each tin, filling about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges have just started to brown.  Let cool slightly, and then serve with maple syrup for dipping.


Since we're sort of on the breakfast thing... let's talk about Carson's Bloody Mary's.  They are just as much a part of the Voice backstage as Milan's toys or Blake and Miranda's pets or Adam's tiny shirts.  Carson's trailer is like a Costco for Bloody Mary ingredients, and people need only pop their head in and nod and he knows what to do.  Luckily, he loves doing it, and it's not unusual for him to make 20 or so before each show.  The best part is, they are good whether you add vodka or not (although he might disagree).  And I should know, because I'm very, very pregnant and I demand virgin ones often.

    

Carson's Bloody Mary
Printable Recipe

Ice
Vodka (optional)
Bloody Mary mix (we like Mr. & Mrs. T's original mix)
Worcestershire sauce
Prepared horseradish
Tabasco
Bread & butter pickle juice
Fresh lemon juice
Celery salt
Black pepper
Garnishes: green olives, pepperoncinis, pickles, celery stalk, beef jerky, sharp cheddar cheese

Fill a tall glass with LOTS of ice.  Add vodka if desired (Carson pours a generous amount, at least halfway full).  Fill the rest of the cup with the Bloody Mary mix.  Add 4-5 shakes of Worcestershire sauce, about 1/2 tablespoon of horseradish, a few shakes of tabasco, a splash of pickle juice and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Mix well, either with a cocktail shaker or by transferring back and forth in between two glasses.  Top with celery salt, black pepper and garnish with desired toppings.




As you can see... they are "famous."  Make your own tonight and post your photos on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram using hashtag #VoiceTailgate!

#VoiceTailgate: Popcorn + Soda

4/20/14


As you probably know by now, I love The Voice on NBC (I mean, there was even this cake).  So you can imagine how thrilled I was when they asked me to participate in their new #VoiceTailgate: a place for fans to connect with the coaches, contestants and others across social media before every live show (check it out on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest).  What's my part, you ask?  I will be creating a special appetizer and beverage (with Carson's help in that department) to contribute to the social party, Voice-themed of course, and then YOU can recreate it at home for your own viewing pleasure!  First up, popcorn!

         Who doesn't love popcorn?  No, seriously, who?  Come out, come out, whoever you are, so I can study your brain.  It's a classic snack that brings people together (unless you're me at the movies because I will NOT share my popcorn oh, no).  Place a large bowl of it on a coffee table with The Voice on the TV and you'll have an instant snack fest.  The best part is you don't have to rely on those microwavable bags full of lordknowswhat because it's extremely simple to make from scratch.  All you need is a pot, some kernels, oil and salt, and after that... the possibilities are endless.  You can create your own unique flavor, as I did here for each of the four coaches:
  
Classic Pop for Adam (get it? pop music? get it?), RED hot buffalo-flavored popcorn for Usher (okay I know his shoes are gold this year, but just go with it), kettle corn for sweet Shakira with a touch of salty sass and bacon plus whiskey for Blake.  That one needs no explanation.  

How do you pop?  (I should write commercials...)


VOICE TAILGATE POPCORN: 4 Ways
Printable Recipe

For the popcorn (makes 3 1/2-4 quarts):

3 tablespoons vegetable (or canola/peanut) oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels

Place oil and kernels in a large pot, and turn heat to medium.  Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar to let steam out.  It may take a few minutes to begin popping.  Once popping slows down considerably, remove from heat.  Be careful when removing lid, as kernels will continue to pop.  

Blake's Maple Bourbon Bacon:

Popcorn
6 slices of bacon
1/3 cup good maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon
Salt



Preheat oven to 400.  Place the bacon on a foil lined baking sheet (you can also use a baking rack if you have one).  Bake for 15 minutes.  While baking, whisk together the maple syrup and bourbon in a small bowl.  Carefully remove bacon, and brush with syrup on both sides (reserving some of the syrup for later).  Place back in oven and cook for another 5 minutes.  Let cool on a rack or parchment paper (do not use paper towel, as syrup will stick to it).  Cook popcorn as directed above.  While kernels are popping, break apart bacon into small pieces.  Once popcorn has popped, place in bowl and toss with bacon, salt to taste and desired amount of reserved syrup (optional).

 






Shakira's Sweet & Salty Kettle:

Popcorn
1/4 sugar
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste


Begin to cook popcorn as directed above.  Once kernels start to pop, sprinkle in sugar and salt and stir  quickly.  Cover, leaving lid slightly ajar to let steam out.  Once popping slows down considerably, remove from heat.  Place popcorn in bowl, and add more salt to taste.  




Usher's Red Hot Buffalo:

Popcorn
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup buffalo sauce
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt


Cook popcorn as directed above.  While kernels are popping, heat butter and buffalo sauce over medium-low heat in a small saucepan.  Let cool slightly.  Once popcorn has popped, place in bowl and toss with buffalo sauce.  Sprinkle in blue cheese and salt to taste.





Adam's Classic Parmesan Pop:

Popcorn
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt


Cook popcorn as directed above.  Once popcorn has popped, place in bowl and toss in Parmesan and salt to taste.




Now, you can't eat popcorn without drinking soda.  I mean you can, you can stick with water and be all healthy and boring, but a bubbly beverage with the salty snack is preferable in my opinion.  Carson came up with some classic fountain sodas, for the kiddos/pregnant ladies and the grown-ups... 

And by grown-ups I mean Blake.

(And by Blake I mean, really tall kid who sort of resembles a grown-up.)   



Carson's Shirley Temple

Ice
Diet Lemon Lime Soda
Cherry Grenadine 
Cherries for garnish
Vodka (optional)
Lemons

Place ice in glass.  Add soda and drizzle in desired amount of grenadine (about a spoonful).  Stir, and garnish with cherries.  For adult version, add desired amount of vodka and lemons.



Carson's Roy Rogers

Ice
Diet Cola 
Cherry Grenadine
Cherries for garnish
Whiskey (optional)
Limes

Place ice in glass.  Add soda and drizzle in desired amount of grenadine (about a spoonful).  Stir, and garnish with cherries.  For adult version, add desired amount of whiskey and limes.



Enjoy the first live show of Season 6 tomorrow night at 8/7 Central on NBC!

Cheesy Vegetable Soup

4/16/14


I have to share a recipe from one of my favorite blogs, because perhaps like me as soon as you see it you will decide to make it this very day.  Especially today, when most of the country is COLD?  Covered in SNOW?  Poor Easter Bunny, whom, by the way, I've had to answer many questions about lately.  Is the bunny a boy or a girl?  Big or little?  An actual rabbit, or some sort of magical creature? My answer has been, "I don't know!  No human has ever seen it!"  Good, yes?

Back to the recipe, Cheesy Vegetable Soup.  A soup you can make with any vegetable you have in your fridge.  I was prepared to freeze the leftovers but both Carson and I had seconds it was so good, leaving nothing to freeze.  Here is the recipe.  Now go make it, and mourn your Spring flowers.

      

More Easter ideas...

4/14/14

Last week, I gave you some Easter/Spring ideas from my blog, but today I thought I would share some new recipes that I'm thinking of trying this year.  We're having an Easter Brunch in place of a dinner, and all of these recipes are making me crazy.  Especially the bread pudding - I bought croissants a month ago and froze them, that's how excited (and pregnant) I am.  


Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chunk Cookies

4/10/14


I joined a book club!  I'm making friends in my new town!  Moving to a place where you know NO ONE and trying to meet people as an adult feels a lot like dating all over again.  You have to take chances, and actually put yourself out there, which can be terrifying.  But when a lovely reader contacted me, saying she too moved to this town a few years ago knowing not a soul, and suggested I join a mothers group/book club I thought, why not?  Put yourself out there, Siri, do things your mom would tell you to do.  And so I did, and I met some wonderful people and I read a wonderful book.  I deserve a cookie, don't you think?  I'm glad you think so, because I have some leftover from book club last night...

Yes, I know, another chocolate chip cookie.  But this one has cream cheese in it!!!  How do you see a recipe for a cookie with cream cheese in it and NOT give it a go?  Well I gave them a go, and they are rich, and moist, and I have a feeling they will stay that way for days.  I'm going to eat one for breakfast, because, cream cheese.  Right?  Totally breakfast food.  Find the recipe here.


Chicken Piccata

4/9/14


As I came across the Rice Pilaf the other day, I also stumbled upon this recipe for Chicken Piccata.  I'm a little weird with chicken when I'm pregnant, usually only craving it if it's fried or if it's the dark meat from a roasted bird.  However, I really enjoyed this meal!  I tend to overcook thin chicken, but if you follow the recipe carefully and stick to 2 minutes per side, your chicken will come out perfectly tender.  It takes ZERO time to actually cook, so it does help to have everything prepped and ready.  Just pretend you're hosting a cooking show like I do sometimes JUST KIDDING, I do NOT do that.

A great light, spring meal for this warm weather we're all experiencing YAHOO!
Ugh, I'm such a mom when I say things like that.   


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