We often think big when it comes to celebrating: birthdays, weddings, births, graduation. I love those things. Those things are exciting. Outfits planned, calendar reminders set, gifts purchased, outfits revisited, advance preparation celebration style.
Oh, but there are so many things to celebrate. Yes, I’m about to say “little things.” Here it comes. Ready, set…celebrate the little things! Like an extra bag of fresh carrots in your fridge.
I’m celebrating several things this week. My very close friend from my college days is visiting this weekend and there will be tons of giggling and gushing as we discuss her upcoming nuptials over enough wine to turn your teeth purple for weeks. Girly girl-talk and wine. Celebrate!
Another dear friend finally got the job she’s been hoping for and is so excited to start. She takes pictures of people’s insides. Seems like a good gig…and a good reason for a soiree.
Jared and I booked our tickets to jetset to Alaska this summer. Big celebrating. Watch out wilderness, here we come!
But first, I think it’s necessary that we celebrate the extra bag of carrots. Crunchy, orange-y, delicious carrots made even better when morphed into a veggie-based dessert that tastes nothing like vegetables. This particular recipe was inspired by Joy the Baker. She’s a cool chick with a lively blog and an adorable kitten.
Carrots are an exceptionally rich source of carotenes and Vitamin A. Besides being good for your peepers, they’re full of antioxidants and flavonoids that help protect against skin, lung and oral cancers. Word on the street is that they also promote reproduction (i.e. sperm production). Ehem, ladies.
You can also find a dash of Vitamin C, Vitamin B and several healthy minerals like copper, calcium, manganese, potassium and so on. I like to think this balances out the cream cheese frosting we’re about to top them off with. The two make quite the delicious couple and provide yet another excuse for a celebration.
Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes about 28 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line two muffin tins with paper liners. Grab a medium or large bowl and whisk together carrots, eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla extract, pineapple and nuts. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Stir flour mixture into carrot mixture until well combined.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full, then pop into the oven to bake. Rotate the tins halfway through to avoid uneven cooking. Poke your testers in the center occasionally and bake until they come out clean, 24 to 28 minutes.
Place tins on wire racks to cool about 10 minutes. Turn out cupcakes onto wire racks, and let cool completely. Be patient! Warm cupcakes make for frosting disasters. Unfrosted cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen for up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 8oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 4-6 cups powdered sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons milk, optional
Whip cream cheese with an electric mixer for a minute. Add the butter, beating for 1-2 minutes, or until incorporated. (Be sure that the two are at room temperature. Cold cream cheese or butter can make your frosting lumpy.) Add the pinch of salt and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on a low speed so the sugar doesn’t go flying out of the bowl. Take a little taste to check sweetness. Slowly add more sugar until it’s sweet to your taste. I usually stop at 4 cups, but occasionally kick it up to 5, depending on the day. Add a little milk to reach your desired consistency. Less milk = thicker frosting (holds its shape). More milk = thinner frosting (easier to spread).
Tip: You may be like me and think that you bought powdered sugar, only to rifle through the pantry and find absolutely nada. Before you go all speed racer to the grocery, try making your own. Grab your blender and add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch for every 1 cup of granulated sugar. Be sure to secure the top! Blend on high until clouds of sugar dust begin to float. It’s that easy. Not perfect, but pretty darn close.
Frost cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature to enjoy.