Happiness Project#72: Carrot Cake Pops!

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Valentines Day. Most of you know how I feel about Valentines Day. I’m not a believer. For many reasons, though mostly because of how disturbingly commercialized it is (in the US, at least). No matter my many disagreements with this specific day though, I do, however believe in love. Real love. That’s shown and celebrated, in no matter how small or grand a way, every day. And is no more or less significant because of any “holiday.”

So while standing firm in my own beliefs on love & relationships, I finally had the time to re-create one of my favorite cakes into what I call a “messy” cake pop treat. Because, well, I LIKE being a messy baker. It’s kinda freeing in this way. And fun. WAY more fun! My Chloe Girl agrees, wholeheartedly. Ha.

Hence these super yummy, and delightfully pink Carrot Cake Pops! With a whole lot of sprinkles and whole lot of LOVE! So from my heart to yours, here you go…

For the Carrot Cake, you’ll need:

2 cups cake flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

pinch of kosher salt

4 eggs

1-1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Firstly, preheat your oven to 350d. Lightly butter a square glass baking dish.

On a stand mixer, or by hand held, mix all of the dry ingredients together, until well combined.

Add in each egg, one at a time, until fully mixed with the dry ingredients. Followed with stirring in the vegetable oil until the full mixture becomes thick and creamy.

Now, slowly add in first the carrots, and then the pecans. Stir with a wooden spoon until also fully combined.

Pour the entire cake mixture into the prepared baking dish, smoothing out the top with a rubber spatula.

Pop that cake into the oven and let bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Once the cake is nicely baked through, let the entire dish cool on a wire rack for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

While the cake is cooling, prepare your cream cheese frosting. Need a new homemade cream cheese frosting that you’ll use for just about everything? Here’s my favorite go to:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

2 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature

3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Firstly, combine the butter and cream cheese into the bowl on your stand mixture. Whip up until fully combined.

Add in the 3 cups of powdered sugar, one cup at a time, scraping down the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl, at the finish of adding in all 3 cups.

Add in the vanilla extract, and then the heavy whipping cream. Whip together, at high speed, for 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside the bowl of frosting.

Now the messy part, which I kinda love! Taking the dish with the fully cooled carrot cake, dig your hands into that perfect cake and crumble all of it up. ALL of it. Anyone else breaking into a happy dance? Ha.

Once that cake is fully crumbled, drop in a cup of the cream cheese frosting onto that crumbled cake. With your hands (again), kneed the frosting into the crumble. The goal is for that cake crumble to become moist enough to roll up into 2 inch cake balls. So you’ll need to continue to add in another cupful or two of frosting to the crumble, until you’re able to roll up 18 to 20 carrot cake balls. Messy, yes, but SO darn FUN!!!

Place each cake ball onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

5 minutes before that hour is up, take a 12oz bag of white or vanilla candy melts and warm up, in 20 seconds intervals, in the microwave, until fully melted and creamy.

Take the fully chilled carrot cake balls out of the fridge and set next to the bowl with the melted candy melts. Prepare to get MESSY (again)! To the point where donning that favorite kitchen apron of yours is recommended. Very recommended.

With a large slotted spoon, dip each cake ball into the melted candy, ensuring that each ball is fully coated before gently depositing each coated cake ball onto the same parchment lined baking sheet that they were chilled on. After each ball is coated, take a lollipop stick and insert into each pop. Followed by sprinkling each cake pop with your favorite colored sugar crystals. In this case, pink. LOTS of pink.

Let your fully decorated cake pops sit at room temperature, until fully hardened. And eat. Or gift to those you love. Since these are LOVE pops!

May your every day, be a day for love. And a day for giving. Especially when giving involves your favorite cake pop.

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Happiness Project#71: Cheesy Meatballs!

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Another year. Another birthday. And today, my 38th birthday, was surprisingly very special. Most of those who know me well, understand how apathetic I’ve always been about my past birthdays. Yes, turning another year older IS a very momentous occasion, since too many in this war torn, disease fraught world never make it to their next birthday. But considering how creature-of-comfort I am, I’ve rarely felt the desire to do anything out of the ordinary for it. Until today. Because my husband took the day off work to be with my daughter and I. Which made today truly special. Not only did we go to my favorite local cupcakery (where I purchased lovely new wooden cooking utensils), and browsed through this FANTASTIC new hat store (where I found a BEAUTIFUL wide brim sun hat, with a lovely black bow), but we also ventured to one of our favorite playgrounds. To well…play. With an awesome wooden play train and a giant, full-size aircraft and many twirly slides. And even though my lungs and head were screaming at me because of the horrid surrounding trees and flowers that I’m near deathly allergic to, watching my Toddler “command” my husband to ride the train with her and play hide & seek among the many lovely trees, was quite honestly, magical to me. Since the 3 of us being out and about together doesn’t happen very often because of my health. So this birthday, because of it’s abnormal normality, was VERY special. One of which I will always cherish and hold dear. Yes, thanks be for birthdays.

To share in such a happy day for my little family, I decided to whip up this super-easy, super-versatile Cheesey Meatball recipe! Easy because it’s done in a slow cooker! Yes, I DID just say a slow cooker! Rejoice, my friends! Versatile because you can pair this wonderfully mild (but juicy) meatball with just about any dip or sauce of your liking! Truth! Trust me. So who’s ready for some meatball lovin??

1-1/2 pounds hamburger meat, thawed correctly

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

2 tablespoons mustard

2 tablespoons ketchup

1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion flakes

pinch black pepper

pinch kosher salt

6 full size string cheese logs, cut up in 1 inch square pieces per string cheese log

Firstly, cut up each length of string cheese, into 4 to 5 one inch squares per string cheese. Set aside in a small bowl.

Now the messy (& kinda fun) part. Combine all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl and mix together, with your hands, until every ingredient is fully combined. See? Messy. But kinda fun too!

Now roll about 2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture into nice sized balls. Once you’ve lined up all of the meatballs, gently press a piece of cheese into the center of each meatball, rolling them up (again) into a slightly larger sized meatball. Make sure that each piece of cheese is fully rolled up into each meatball (so that there is no cheese visible).

Lightly butter or spray the bottom of your slow cooker, before placing each cheesy meatball within it. Depending on the size of your slow cooker, you’ll be able to line up roughly 18-24 meatballs. Slow cook on low heat for 1 hour, turning each meatball over at the half hour mark. Now slow cook on high heat for another hour, until each meatball is a lovely darkened brown, with the cheese center starting to bubble up from within.

And serve warm! On a yummy bed of sticky rice, which is my family’s favorite way to eat. Or dip each meatball in your favorite pasta sauce or cheese dip! Because dinner options are ALWAYS welcome. Especially in a family with toddlers involved. We all know how toddlers can be with dinner, after all. Ha.

To all of my many fellow bloggers and readers, thank you for making this blogging experience of mine a truly happy one. From one birthday to the next! Onwards to another year of babies, baking and books!

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project#70: Blueberry Cream Cheese Frosting!

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Being a Mom, with physical and mental limitations, is rough sometimes. So many of my friends see me as such an easy going, cheerful person, but within myself, I’m much more serious than most know. Particularly when I’m sick. Which seems to be ALL the time. Which isn’t any real surprise. I’ve battled illness since the day I was born, 3 months premature, so I’m not sure why I thought that once I became a Mother, I wouldn’t struggle with constant illness. I must have been a tad delusional.

The hardship with being consistently ill, is that I am NOT a good patient. And can be super hard on myself because of it. More often than not, I rely on my Mom to help me be with my toddler, and it’s still a near daily struggle to be…accepting of this. Accepting that I’m not like the “normal” self sufficient Mother of this generation. That canceling playdates and outings to the playground or bookstore or local zoo, is “my” norm. And that I’m not a failure as a Mom because of it. See? Self-deprecation at it’s worse.

Unfortunately, this past week has been another of my “bad” weeks. And today I wanted to scream out to the Universe how frustrating it is. But I didn’t. And opted instead to pour out these feelings through black words on a keyboard. Because blogging isn’t just about entertainment for me, it’s also about therapy. Therapy through sweet, yummy, drool worthy things. Thanks be for this therapeutic little world of mine. Something that I’ve found that I can always turn to. No matter my good or bad days.

Today’s little bright spot of mine? This lovely, fragrant blueberry cream-cheese frosting! That anyone can whip up and LOVE. Anyone. Trust me.

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

8oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature

pinch of kosher salt

4 cups sifted powdered sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Firstly, the blueberries. Rinse and pat dry. Using either a blender or food processor, pulverize the blueberries until smooth and creamy (no lumps). Pour out into a small bowl and set aside.

On a stand (or hand held) mixer, drop the softened butter and cream cheese into the mixing bowl and beat on medium speed, until fully mixed. Drop the mixer down to a slower speed and add in the 4 cups of powdered sugar, one cup at a time. Once fully incorporated, add in the pinch of salt. Bump up the speed to medium and add in the cup of blueberries. Mix until fully incorporated. Lastly, add in up to 3 tablespoons of heavy whipping cream, to create volume.

AND frost! Cookies. Or cupcakes. Or bagels. Or use this fruity frosting as a fruit dip! Because not only does this smell DIVINE but the frosting in and of itself, is kinda (just kinda) pretty too! Right?

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