Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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After a long time away from this blog, I’m very excited to be back!

David and I now live in the woods of Western Massachusetts and I’ve been feeling really inspired in the kitchen this summer.

We signed up for a farm share at Natural Roots, a horse-powered vegetable farm that’s just down the road from us. (To read more about community-supported agriculture and farm shares, head here.) My inspiration in the kitchen is largely thanks to the bag of fresh, local produce we get each week. It’s exciting figuring out new recipes… we don’t want anything to go to waste!

Carrots are in season and while we’ve been eating them in salads and with hummus, sometimes you need to disguise your vegetables by putting them in a cake. And carrot cake has always been one of my favorites.

Ingredients

Cake

  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Frosting

  • 8oz cream cheese, softened 
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, to garnish
  • Extra flaked coconut, to garnish

Directions

>>Preheat oven to 350°F

>>Butter and flour two 8″ cake pans

1. Grate your carrots, chop your pecans! Combine in a bowl with the coconut.
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2. Stir in the flour, brown and white sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.

3. Add the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce. Mix well.

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4. Divide the mixture into two 8″ cake pans and bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes.

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5. While the cake is baking, it’s time to make your frosting! Combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until well combined. Then slowly stir in the confectioners sugar until you reach your frosting becomes your desired consistency.

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6. Spread a layer of frosting between the two cakes, then stack ’em!

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7. Spread the frosting on the top and sides of the cake. And then sprinkle coconut and chopped pecans on top!

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Spaghetti Squash Primavera

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Don’t get me wrong, I am not ditching pasta. That will never, ever happen. But oh my goodness, this is good. There’s a little kick to it, thanks to the red chili pepper flakes. Aside from the time it takes to bake the spaghetti squash in the oven (which can be done ahead of time!), this is fast and easy to make.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 2 cups spaghetti squash (half of a large spaghetti squash)
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 small head of broccoli
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • grated parmesan, to serve (leave off for a vegan meal)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375°F

  1. Place the squash, uncut, on a baking sheet. Bake for 50 minutes. Take out of the oven, let cool for half an hour.
  2. Cut the squash in half. For this recipe, you’ll only need half (or you can double the recipe). Remove the seeds with a spoon or your fingers. Using a fork, scrape the sides of the squash, scooping out the “spaghetti.”
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  3. In a large pot, toss the garlic, onion, carrot, and celery in the oil. Cook over medium heat 3-5 minutes, until slightly softened.
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  4. Add the peas, broccoli, zucchini, yellow squash, and spaghetti squash. Stir until well combined.
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  5. Add the marinara sauce and spices. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with grated parmesan.
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White Bean Soup

Adapted from Vegetarian: Over 300 Healthy and Wholesome Recipes Chosen From Around the World.

Ingredients

  • Three 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 celery rib, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

1) Puree 1/2 of the beans in a food processor, adding water (1 tablespoon at a time) if necessary, until the beans are a smooth puree.

2) In a large pot, combine the oil, onion, carrot, and celery. Stir until the veggies are coated in the oil. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, but not mushy.

4) Add the tomatoes, garlic, and thyme. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

5) Pour in the vegetable broth, followed by the beans and the bean puree. When you add the beans, the soup will turn bright white–which was a bit startling to me!–but it goes away. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.