The garden . . . I don't have a green thumb and I'm not much of a gardener but I love reaping the benefits of the garden that my girls & husband plant. The problem is, great intentions don't go far enough. We pick out plants and seeds, prepare the soil and get them in the ground (by "we" I mean mostly them). The girls check and water and report back. On occasion, they even weed. We have raised boxes to protect the plants from the turtle, a dripper system and sun - great combination. Then, we start harvesting stuff. It's fun and delicious and satisfying.
Then, we go on vacation. We didn't have anyone housesitting (my amazing neighbor got our mail and kept an eye on things) and when I returned home, it was to an arugula and tomato jungle. Yeah, that sun and dripper did their work and it's a big mess. We harvested carrots before we left and I have tons of chili peppers that look awesome but the lettuce, basil, tomatoes . . . not so much. And now the task of ripping it out (which doesn't require a green thumb just some good old muscle) falls to me.
So, here's a recipe based on the best crop we raised this year (Middle actually spilled the packet of seeds so they were all over between the beets and lettuce) - carrot cake cupcakes. I made minis of these with cream cheese frosting for my sister's shower and they were delicious. America's Test Kitchen is pretty reliable and I was very pleased with the results.
Mini Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (makes 30 mini muffins)
from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
dash of cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and grated
3/4 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees and lie a mini muffin pan with paper liners. Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt together in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugars together in a large bowl until frothy and then sugar is mostly dissolved (about a minute). While whisking, slowly add the oil until the mixture is thoroughly combined (about a minute). Whisk in the flour mixture until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in carrots and walnuts.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 13-15 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack until completely cooled before frosting.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, process 4 oz softened cream cheese, 3 T softened unsalted butter, 1/2 T sour cream, 1/4 tsp. vanilla until smooth and combined. Add 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and blade as needed. If it's not stiff enough to frost, add more sugar, about a tablespoon at a time.