Not Your Grandma’s Fruitcake

Because it is MY grandma’s fruitcake. 

I know, I know.  Fruitcake is gross.  Fruitcake is something you give to the neighbor you can’t stand.  Not this fruitcake.  I am aware that atleast 99.99999999% of you are not even going to think twice about attempting this recipe but I wanted to post it a) so I have a documented copy of the recipe and b) incase any adventurers out there want to give this different fruitcake recipe a try.

Ingredients:

1 lb. dark brown sugar
1 lb. butter, softened
1 lb. pecans, quartered
1/2 lb. candied cherries
1/2 lb. candied pineapple
6 eggs, room temperature
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 oz. lemon extract

Directions:

-In one bowl, dice the candied cherries and pineapples.
-Add quartered pecans to the diced fruit.
-Pour 2 cups of flour over the diced fruit and nuts
-Mix to ensure that the fruit and nuts are completely covered in flour.

-In a separate, larger bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar.
-Add BEATEN eggs into the creamed sugar and butter.  Mix well.  (If you do not mix this well the next step will “cook” the eggs and you don’t want that.
-Add 2 oz. lemon extract.  Mix well. 
-Add 2 cups of flour to this mixture.  Mix well. 
-Add the floured fruit and nuts to this mixture.  Mix well.

-Prepare four loaf pans by lining them completely with wax paper.  (The instructions say to grease the pans first but I skipped this step and they turned out fine.)
-Divide the batter evenly into the four loaf pans.
-Place all four loaf pans onto the middle rack of the oven.
-Bake for 2 hours at 250 degrees.

*These do not raise much so don’t worry if they don’t look done after 2 hours, they are.

To store, leave the wax paper on them, wrap in plastic, then in foil.
REFRIDGERATE!

I understand that this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, so to say, but these are my most favorite holiday treat.  With that said, note that I cannot STAND any other fruitcake out there.  So obviously this one is different.  The other night my niece, Madeline, and I made a batch.

If you are brave enough and trusting enough to try this please let me know.  If not, then there is more for me out in this world.  🙂

 

-Jennifer

Cherries and Pineapple

Cherries and Pineapple

Brown Sugar and Butter before being creamed

Brown Sugar and Butter before being creamed

Creamed Butter and Brown Sugar...add eggs

Creamed Butter and Brown Sugar…add eggs

Before the Oven (looks just the same when it's done, just a little darker)

Before the Oven (looks just the same when it’s done, just a little darker)

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Product Review – Rachael Ray Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal

We am spending the holidays back in my hometown of Savannah, Georgia.  It has been great!  One of the good things about being “back home” is all of the food that we cannot get where we live now.  There are certain restaurants that I miss terribly and crave but cannot get in DC.  The problem with that is…..it is SO unhealthy.  In an effort to try and get some semblance of healthy food into my system I went and picked up some oatmeal.  I usually get the no sugar added oatmeal from Wal-Mart but they did not have that option at the Wal-Mart I was closest to. 

While searching for the perfect oatmeal I noticed that there was a new brand.  The Rachael Ray Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal.  I am only a brand name snob with certain products (ie: toothpaste, shampoo) so I wasn’t necessarily looking for the brand name.  When I noticed that the Rachael Ray brand was on sale and only 20 cents more expensive than they generic, I decided to give it a try.

Rachael Ray Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal

Rachael Ray Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal

This morning I had the my first bowl and I loved it.  The apples tasted fresh.  The flavors were perfect.  It wasn’t artifically flavored and too sugary.  

Ingredients:  whole grain rolled oats, whole grain rolld wheat, rolled barley, whole grain rolled rye, evaporated cane syrup, dried apples, oat flour, flaxseed, sea salt and natural flavors.  No artificial flavors or preservatives.

If you like oatmeal I would highly recommend giving Rachael Ray’s Oat-Tastically Good Instant Oatmeal a try!

-Jennifer

Book Review – The Happiness Project

First and foremost, I hope that everyone had a wonderful and safe Christmas.  I had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family, love and great food, none of which will be posted here because oddly enough I didn’t cook a single thing!  My mom and sister handled that. 

Once in a while I will blog about something other than food.  Today I am blogging about a book I just finished reading.

Photo Courtesy of The Happiness Project

I don’t know about you but as the year ends I tend to reflect on what the past year was like.  What I did well, what I slacked on, what wonderful things happened, and what lessons I learned.  The beginning of a new year is filled with such hope and feeling of new beginnings that reading this book at the end of the year was perfect! 

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin is a realistic attempt to test different happiness hypotheses.  They were manageable and realistic.  I won’t get into the nitty gritty here, because I want you to actually read the book, but it also makes you realize that you too can do the happiness project.

Rubin even provides a resolutions tracking chart, and a guide to beginning your own happiness project so that you too can participate.  For Christmas, Garrett gave me the accompanying One Sentence Journal by Rubin.  It is a 5 year journal where you write one sentence that sums up your day.  It is not to be confused with the gratefulness journal that Oprah talks about, once you read the book you’ll see why it isn’t a gratefulness journal.  I am excited to see what the next 5 years hold and look forward to January 2018, when I can sit down and reread the past 5 years.  What will happen?  What will change?

I bounce back and forth between setting goals and resolutions for the new year.  I have a few ideas and will be posting them on New Years Day.  What about you?  Do you set resolutions?  Do you usually keep them?  What is the wildest one you have ever set?

Until we meet again, I HIGHLY recommend The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin for anyone…no literally ANYONE.

Guest Post – Maria from Chronicles of Chaos

Today I have the pleasure of introducing y’all to my friend Maria.  She goes by “Mia” but I met her as Maria and now my brain won’t switch over to calling her something else.  We met when we worked together in HR.  She is a great cook and an awesome friend.  Though I must warn you, I have already read this post and she mentions the C-word.  That’s right…CARROTS!  This makes me weary of any food she wants to give me.  Though I did make her a lemon cookie once that put her into labor with her first son. 
 
Welcome Maria…..

Well, hello there lovely 86 Carrots readers!  I’m Mia from The Chronicles of Chaos, where I blog about all the crazy ramblings that come to my brain.  I’m so happy to be here today because I have something awesome to share with you!

Now that the weather is quickly turning colder, it’s the perfect time for my favorite Texican Chili crock pot recipe that I adapted from Taste of Home.

Ingredients:

•8 bacon strips, diced [I omit this ingredient]

•2-1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

•2 cans (one 28 ounces, one 14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes, undrained

•2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce

•1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained [We didn’t have any, so I substituted black beans. You can’t even tell the difference!]

•2 cups sliced carrots [Optional – I know what you’re thinking… this is 86 Carrots blog, Mia, why are there carrots in this recipe?! Well, that’s why it’s optional. I don’t think the chili loses anything if you omit the carrots. So HA! :)]

•1 tablespoon chili powder

•1 teaspoon salt, optional

•1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

•1/4 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1) In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp [if you choose to use bacon]. Remove to paper towels to drain. Brown beef in the drippings [or just use a bit of oil, like we do]; drain.

2) Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker; add bacon and remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Yield: 16-18 servings. [Or, cook it on high for 5 hours, if you’re impatient like me and want to EAT! 🙂 And if you like it a tad bit spicy, add a 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Boo-ya!]

 

Without the beef. I added it last. Cuz I’m a rebel!
BEEF! It’s what’s for dinner.

Easy peezy, right? And it tastes amazing. Throw together some corn bread muffins and you have the perfect cold weather meal! Plus, there will be TONS of leftovers, promise.  And thanks Jennifer for having me today! Hope you guys stop by and say hi sometime, I’d love to hear from you! Enjoy!
//

Paid It Forward

So today was the day that I planned to Pay It Forward.  I do this from time to time because it is just so much fun and you put some good karma out there, which is never bad.  I’ve always had great experiences doing this and plan to do this as long as I can.

Today I was stuck in traffic for a lot longer than normal.  The McD’s that I usually go to was completely blocked by traffic so I took another route and went to the McD’s closest to work.  At first no one got in the drive-thru lane after me and then one appeared.  They were my Pay It Forward people for the day.  Regardless of their total I would be paying for their breakfast. 

I have to admit that when I first saw the car pull up behind me my first thought was “Oh uh-uh not them.”  Why?  Because it was a huge white Mercedes SUV.  My train of thought was, they obviously have money.  They don’t need the Pay It Forward, they obviously have enough money.

And then I had the following thought process….”How do I know how much money they have?  Just because they have a Mercedes doesn’t mean anything.  What if that was the only thing she got in the divorce?  What if she has no home and actually lives in it?  Her children might be ill and need medical bills paid.  Who am I to say just because someone “has money” they don’t need or even deserve a Pay It Forward.  EVERYONE deserves a Pay It Forward.  What if this is actually a snooty rich person who is mean to people and stingy with their money?  Then wouldn’t they, of all people, deserve a random act of kindness.  Maybe this will turn their heart if they are a jerk.”

So I did it, I paid for their meal and drove off.  I am disappointed that I had the knee jerk reaction to not want to pay for it.  I think maybe this Pay It Forward actually benefited me more than the other person.  Don’t judge by the outside and remember you never know someone’s situation.

Did anyone else Pay It Forward?  If so, comment here and tell us how it went.

-Jennifer

Pay It Forward

As I posted on my personal Facebook page, this was one long week and I am excited for it to be over tomorrow.  So let’s do something fun.  Let’s have tomorrow be PAY-IT-FORWARD FRIDAY.  This means you do something out of the way nice for someone tomorrow and make it so they cannot thank you.  Anonymous Angels if you will.  I usually go through the drive-thru and pay for the person behind me because while they are finding out I am already driving off.  Do something nice for a stranger tomorrow!

Who’s in?  Post in the comments here if you are going to participate and come back tomorrow to let me know how and what you did!

Cannot wait to see how everyone feels!

-Jennifer

 

Well Smack Me Silly!

Well smack me silly; that’s some good stroganoff!

This past weekend I went to my local library and checked out the American Heart Association’s new cookbook.  I copied a few recipes and have thus far tried two.  The first was Chicken Scallop al Limone but that was just ok, so I didn’t want to waste your time with it.  But tonight, ooooooo-eeeeee, Ground Beef Stroganoff.  It is fantastic and uses ground beef which I prefer highly over hunks o’beef.

All done!

All done!

It is quick, easy and oh so delicious!  Great for a quick meal on a work night.

Ground Beef Stroganoff (Courtesy of The New American Heart Association Cookbook)

Serves:  4

Ingredients:
5 oz Dried No-Yolk Noodles (no seriously, they mean only 5 oz)
Cooking Spray (I nixed this)
1 lb. Extra Lean Ground Beef
1/2 cup Chopped Onion (I had to puree’ this for Garrett)
2 medium Garlic Cloves, minced
4 to 6 oz of Button Mushrooms, sliced (I used 8 oz. of regular mushrooms sliced)
1/2 cup Fat-Free, No-Salt added Beef Broth
1 cup Evaporated Milk
2 teaspoons All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons Light Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce, lowest sodium available
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1 – Prepare egg noodles using the package directions, omitting salt.  Drain well in a colander.  Set aside.

2 – Meanwhile, lightly spray a Dutch Oven or large skillet with cooking spray.  Cook the beef over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes, or until no longer pink, stirring frequently to turn and break up the beef.  Drain if necessary.

3 – Stir in the onion and garlic.  Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft, stirring occassionally.

4 – Stir in the mushrooms and broth.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.

5 – In a small bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk and flour until smooth.  Stir into the beef mixture.  Increase the heat to medium.  Bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.

6 – Stir in the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, and salt until well blended. 

7 – Serve over the noodles.

Oooooooh yeah!  NOM NOM NOM.  If you make it, let me know what you think!

-Jennifer