I can't imagine Thanksgiving without apple pie and I can't imagine Easter without a delicious carrot cake. Carrot cake is the perfect dessert for people who don't like overly sweet desserts. The cream cheese frosting is rich and smooth, but not too sugary. This carrot cake is a great recipe to make with the kids. The recipe calls for a whole lot of shredded carrots, so put the kids to work grating the carrots on a box grater. My girls had fun making all the decorations for our carrot cake out of fondant - of course there had to be a bunny on top. In the end you will have a delicious cake that everyone helped make and that everyone will enjoy.
3 cups grated carrots (about 1 lb, 6-8 medium carrots)
1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple
2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil (we use safflower oil)
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 cream cheese
1 cup room temperature butter
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Add half of the carrots and pineapples. Add the second half of the dry ingredients, followed by the carrots and pineapples. Mix until combined.
Divide cake batter equally between the two prepared pans. Bake in 350°F oven for 50-60 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from pans and place on rack to cool completely before icing.
Now it's time to assemble the cake. Use a serrated knife to remove the rounded top off one of the cakes. Place a dot of icing in the middle of the cake plate and place the cake with the sliced off top on the cake plate. The dot of icing will hold the cake in place.
Use an offset spatula to spread frosting on the top of the lower layer of cake. Place the second cake on top of the first. Use the spatula to spread frosting over the entire cake. It is best to spread on a thin first layer of frosting. You can place the cake in the fridge to firm up the frosting before spreading the final layer of frosting on the cake.
My daughters used white fondant to make a bunny rabbit, carrots and small dots. They then used food colouring and paint brushes to paint details on the fondant decorations. Set aside to dry before placing on the cake.
I distinctly remember looking down at the menu and wanting to order a dish that I simply did not know how to pronounce. How the heck do you pronounce "gnocchi"? Yep, I tried "g-nock-ee" - that's not right. Through embarrassing trial and error I learned the proper pronunciation is "nyo-ch-ee". Once the pronunciation was sorted, the question became what is gnocchi?
Gnocchi is a surprisingly easy to make, little potato dumpling pasta. Yep, gnocchi is made from potatoes. A great batch of gnocchi will taste like little fluffy pillows that melt in your mouth. A few years ago we started making homemade gnocchi and we discovered the best part about making gnocchi is how much fun it is to make with kids.
4 medium russet potatoes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
Remove softened potatoes from the water, place on a clean tea towel to cool slightly. When the potatoes are cool enough to pick up (about 5 minutes) use the tea towel to rub off and peel off the potato skin.
Press the potatoes through a ricer. If you do not have a ricer, grate the potatoes with a box grater. Set the grated potatoes aside to cool before working further with them. Let them cool for about 20 minutes.
Use your hands to work the egg, potatoes and flour into a dough. Knead the dough until the dough is smooth - about 2-3 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add in more flour. Once a ball is formed, use a sharp knife to divide the dough into 6 portions.
Top the gnocchi with your favourite pasta sauce and grated parmesan cheese. Gnocchi works best with a meatless sauce. We made a super quick tomato sauce; simmering one can of whole tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 tsp of dried basil. Gnocchi is equally lovely with fresh pesto.
It always amazes me when simple ingredients can create such a delicious dish. This recipe makes a lot of gnocchi - possibly more than you will need to feed a family of 4. Leave the leftover gnocchi on the flour dusted baking sheet and pop it in the freezer. Let the gnocchi freeze completely and then transfer to a resealable freezer bag. When it's time to cook the gnocchi, remove from the freezer and spread the gnocchi into a single layer on a plate.
Prepare them the same as in the recipe above.
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So, the kids don't want to eat their vegetables? Maybe it's time to make eating a whole lot more fun. What kid wouldn't love to eat off of a super silly Sharpie funny face plate? Transform a regular old plate into a silly face plate. The kids can even create their own plate.
First thing's first, you need a plate. We picked ours up at IKEA, they cost $2.50 each. I'm sure a plate from the dollar store would work too. The only caveat is that the plate should be a single colour, that way your design will show up nicely and the food will provide all the colour you need. Make certain that your marker is a permanent marker - washable markers will rub off on the food.
Once the face is drawn, place the plate inside a 400F oven, directly on the rack. Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the oven off and let the plate cool completely before removing it from the oven.
How cute are these plates!? Who could possibly resist eating the fruit and vegetables that decorate these plates? Let your child take ownership of his own design and creation and watch him eat happily.
Who said that we shouldn't play with our food?