Pineapple Carrot Upside-Down Cake

The recipe I’m about to share with you is not fat-free.  It isn’t gluten-free, dairy-free or egg-free.  It will not fit into a paleo diet, nor one based on avoiding canned food.  It is not vegan or sugarless.  However, it is delicious, and as long as you’re not restricted by any of the above, I highly recommend you indulge in it at least once.

This cake is dense and sweet, so a little goes a long way.  The carrots and pineapple are tasty together.  When you taste it hot out of the oven and think it can’t get any better, let it sit for a few hours and think again.  I think this will be repeated as our Easter dessert.  I just need to find a can with 11 pineapple rings in it.

Pineapple Carrot Upside Down Cake - Crafty Staci 1

Pineapple Carrot Upside-Down Cake

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 20-ounce can pineapple slices
  • 10 – 12 maraschino cherries
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups finely shredded carrots

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the 1/3 cup of butter in a 12” oven-safe skillet.  Sprinkle the 3/4 cup of brown sugar over the butter.  Drain the pineapple, reserving the juice.  Arrange the pineapple slices on top of the brown sugar, adding a cherry to the center of each.

Pineapple Carrot Upside Down Cake - Crafty Staci 2

Combine the remaining butter and sugars in a mixing bowl.  Add milk, pineapple juice and egg.  Mix well.  Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix on low for 30 seconds to combine, then on high for one minute.  Fold in the shredded carrots.  Pour into the skillet over the pineapple.

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Bake 45 – 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Immediately flip the skillet over onto a heat-proof plate.  Strong muscles help for this step.

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Leave the skillet in place for a few minutes.

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Remove the skillet, slice and serve.

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I think some coconut would make this even better, but not everyone in my house agrees.  It wasn’t exactly difficult to get anyone to eat it just the way it is.

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Friday Favorites–Carrots

You know how most people have a certain food or two that they just can’t tolerate?  That one that you can’t even eat to be nice?  My big one: cooked carrots.  I can manage if they’re minced up small and mixed with other stuff, but plain – there’s just no way.  Taste, texture, it’s the whole package.  Oddly, I like them raw and even more weird, I love carrot cake.  Fortunately, there are many ways to enjoy the beauty of a carrot without having to choke one down all by itself.

Friday Favorites - Carrot Crafts and Recipes - Crafty Staci

I’ve seen many versions of carrot-in-dirt cupcakes lately, but these Carrot Top Cupcakes from Hungry Happenings seems the easiest to actually pull off.  For those of us who are not naturally talented cake decorators at least.

Carrot Top Cupcakes by Hungry Happenings

When I switched to K-cups a while back, I was left with part of a Costco-sized package of coffee filters.  These Coffee Filter Carrots from Urban Comfort would be a great way to use a few up.

Coffee Filter Carrots by Urban Comfort

This Carrot Cake Fudge from Inside Bru Crew Life looks fabulous.  Anyone know where to find the Carrot Cake M & M’s?

Carrot Cake Fudge by Inside Bru Crew Life

These little Thread Spool Carrots from Crafts by Courtney are made using washi tape, but lots of other crafts supplies would work if you can’t find it in orange.

Thread Spool Carrots from Crafts by Courtney

I love how each piece of this Pineapple Carrot Cake from Just a Taste looks like a carrot.

Pineapple Carrot Cake from Just a Taste

These Springtime Baby Carrots from Carolyn’s Homework are a great Easter decoration when you’re going for a more grown-up look.

Springtime Baby Carrots from Carolyns Homework

Just try and keep all the little bunnies out of your kitchen after you make these Carrot Cake Truffles from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.

Carrot Cake Truffles from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Better yet, let them in and put them to work making Fingerprint Carrot Cards from Sassy Dealz.

Fingerprint Carrot Card from Sassy Dealz

This cute Carrot Bunting from Fiskars would be an easy way to add a little color to your Easter decor.

Carrot Banner from Fiskars

These Carrot Easter Eggs from A Night Owl are just adorable!

Carrot Easter Eggs by A Night Owl

So tell me, carrot fan or not?

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait

I find it a little difficult to find healthy snacks when I’m away from home.  It’s even worse that I often end up in the coffee shop, full of cookies and other fat-laden baked goods.  I’ve given up a lot of things for this diet, but I still budget in the occasional Starbucks drink now and then.  Recently, I discovered their yogurt parfaits in the refrigerated section.  The berry version is only 220 calories and it’s delicious.  It didn’t take long before I was wondering if it was something I could replicate at home.  Oh, yes I can.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 1

This actually doesn’t take a ton of different ingredients, and one batch can make 4 – 8 servings, so you’re set for breakfast for at least a few days. 

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 2

Start the granola first, so it can bake while you whip up the fruit compote.

Granola

  • 3/4 cup oats (gluten-free, if that’s how you roll)
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • dash of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Spread on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then stir.  Bake for 15 minutes longer, stirring every 5 minutes, or until golden brown.  Pour onto wax paper to cool.  Once it has cooled, break up some of the larger pieces.  Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 3

Once the granola is in the oven, you can start the fruit compote. 

Strawberry Blueberry Compote

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (5 – 6 large)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (frozen is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water

Combine the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and water in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until bubbly.  Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to thicken, around 5 minutes.  Add the blueberries and cook just until they’re heated.  Remove from heat and cool.  Makes about 1 cup.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 4

You can also cook both berries together from the beginning, just be aware that while the flavor is there, your blueberries will not be recognizable in the final product.

To assemble the parfait, start with 2 tablespoons of the berry compote on the bottom for 8 servings, or 1/4 cup for 4 servings.

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Add 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt for either number of servings.  I like Zoi.

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Top with 1/4 cup granola for 4 servings or 2 tablespoons for 8.  You should have a little granola left over.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 7

After you’re done looking at how pretty it is, mix it all together and enjoy.  Oh, and it’s still pretty.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Crafty Staci 8

One thing I really love about the Starbucks parfait is that the granola is in its own container so it doesn’t mix with the yogurt and get soggy.  You can just dump it in when you’re ready.  After a little brainstorming I solved that problem with my homemade version too.

Save and wash an empty applesauce container.

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Fill it with the granola and top it with a piece of foil.  Put it upside down on top of the wide-mouth jar lid and twist on the ring.  The foil keeps it in place!  I shook this and it didn’t budge.

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci

Here’s the REALLY good news.  If you make this recipe into four servings (as shown in the first photo above), each one will have 206 calories, which is 14 fewer than Starbucks’.  If you make it into eight servings, as shown in my awesome travel container here, it’s only 125 calories!

Greek Yogurt and Berries Parfait - Reuse applesauce container to hold the granola - Crafty Staci 2

Healthy on-the-go snack problem?  Solved.

Buffalo Chex Mix

I love you guys.  I asked for help yesterday to make a decision, and you jumped in to give your opinions.  I can’t begin to tell you what that means to me.  Thank you!  By the way, the winner of the one-way trip to Japan can be found on yesterday’s post.  It was very close for a while there!

Now, on to today’s recipe.  I discovered Frank’s Red Hot Sauce about a year ago.  Why had I never tried this stuff before?  I am seriously hooked. (I also just had my first taste of Sriracha a few days ago – don’t even get me started.)  Frank’s is good on everything, so I decided to give it a go as the star of this Chex mix.  Of course, then I learned Chex already had a version, but mine differs in a few areas.

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 1

Do you like my non-committal colors?  A little Seahawks, a little Broncos?  That’s me – Go Team!

Buffalo Chex Mix

9 cups Rice Chex cereal (one 12.8 ounce box)

2 cups Bugles

2 cups pretzels

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup butter

3 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1 packet ranch dressing mix

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Buffalo Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 2

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine the cereal, Bugles, pretzels and cashews.  Of course, you can use combine different flavors of Chex if you’d prefer, I just like using up one whole box. 

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Melt the butter in the microwave.  Add the hot sauce, ranch and celery seed.  Mix well with a whisk.  This is very mild on the hotness, so feel free to add more sauce if you’d like.

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Pour over the cereal mixture and stir until the pieces are evenly coated.  Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and gently stir.

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Spread on two large cookie sheets. 

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Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool.

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If I wasn’t on what I’m affectionately calling The Mother of the Bride Diet, I’d spend Sunday with a big bowl of this waiting to find out what the Budweiser Clydesdales and that E-Trade baby have been up to.  Oh, I mean who wins the game.  Yeah, that.

Friday Favorites–Radiant Orchid

Say goodbye to Emerald and hello to Radiant Orchid.  Pantone, the standard for all things color, has selected the light shade of purple as their color of the year for 2014.  I’m pretty happy about this one, because I love a little purple once in a while.  And in the case of Radiant Orchid, a little goes a long way.

I will admit, I did take a little creative license in choosing my favorites today.  They’re definitely all purple, but I interpreted the orchid part a little loosely.  Don’t hold it against them.

Friday Favorites - Radiant Orchid Crafts - Crafty Staci

There’s something so adorable about a macaroon.  I’m going to have to try making some one of these days.  I’m keeping this recipe for Lavender Macaroons with Honey Earl Grey Buttercream from The Cottage Diaries for when that day arrives.

Lavender Macaroons from The Cottage Diaries

This Purple Three-Strand Necklace from My Girlish Whims would be a great way to add just a little bit of orchid into your wardrobe.

Purple Three Strand Necklace from My Girlish Whims

This gathered skirt from Cook Clean Craft makes great use of the color by mixing it with a little white to keep it bright and fun.

Tiered Gathered Skirt from Cook Clean Craft

Get the kids in on the fun with this Lavender Cloud Dough from Growing a Jeweled Rose.

Lavender Cloud Dough from Growing a Jeweled Rose

What Else Michelle brings a little orchid into a room with her Yarn Wrapped Lamp Shade.

Yarn Wrapped Shade from What Else Michelle

Granted, I might have a little wedding on the brain right now, but I could totally see these DIY Lavender Bubbles from Smart School House making great wedding favors.

DIY Lavender Bubbles from Smart School House

These Purple Ombre Mini Cakes from Glorious Treats make good use of orchid’s ability to coordinate well with other colors.

Purple Ombre Mini Cakes from Glorious Treats

There’s no shortage of orchid yard out there, so this All the Glamour Shawl from Red Heart would be easy to add to your closet.  If you’re a crochetist, that is.

All Glamour Shawl from Red Heart

If you said yes to the last one, you’d probably also like this Easy Tote Bag from Hopeful Honey.  I know I do.

Easy Crochet Tote from Hopeful Honey

Would you just look at these Purple Candy Apples from Rose Bakes?!?

Purple Candied Apples from Rose Bakes

For even more inspiration, check out Pantone’s own Radiant Orchid Pinterest board!

Peppermint Vanilla Chex Mix

Just in case you’re looking for one last sweet treat to add to your holiday, I thought I’d share with you a recipe I made last week, which was inspired by recipes at A Pumpkin and a Princess and Daily Dish Recipes.  Even my son, who isn’t a big peppermint fan, loved it.  The big batch I made did NOT last long at all. 

Peppermint Vanilla Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 1

Peppermint Vanilla Chex Mix

7 cups rice and corn Chex cereal

1 1/2 cups vanilla chips or melts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

6 large candy canes

1 cup white peppermint M & M’s

Peppermint Vanilla Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 2

Using a food processor, crush the candy canes to a powder.  Who thinks this is going to sound like a bag of hammers in a garbage disposal?  That doesn’t even cover it.  I should have worn ear protection.

Peppermint Vanilla Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 3

Combine the candy canes and powdered sugar in a large ziplock bag and set aside.

Melt the vanilla chips in the microwave or a double boiler.  Stir in the peppermint extract.  Pour over the cereal in a large bowl and gently stir until coated.  Add to the ziplock bag and shake until coated.  Stir in the M & M’s.

Peppermint Vanilla Chex Mix - Crafty Staci 4

Are you done with your Christmas baking?  Yeah, not me!

Salted Caramel Drink Mix

I spent the day out shopping with my husband yesterday.  We visited a mall, Costco and, my favorite, Crafty Wonderland.  Between the three, we were able to wrap up the last of our Christmas shopping, which I’m pretty happy about.  Once that’s done, I usually move on to the next holiday task – making delicious treats.  This year I decided to try a new take on a favorite from last year and make Salted Caramel Drink Mix.  Notice the word “cocoa” does not appear there.  Nothing here but milky, caramel goodness.

Salted Caramel Drink Mix - Crafty Staci 1

Salted Caramel Drink Mix

2 cups dry milk powder

1/2 cup dry plain creamer

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/4 cup caramel-flavored dry creamer

1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Salted Caramel Drink Mix - Crafty Staci 2

Combine all ingredients in a food processor.  Process until the salt is a fine texture.  To serve, add 1/4 cup mix to a mug full of hot water or milk.

Salted Caramel Drink Mix - Crafty Staci 3

If you want a chocolate version (or spiced chai) you can find those here.  Put any of these in a decorated jar and it would make a tasty gift for someone you really like a lot.  I mean, a lot.

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup

I live about 7 miles from the nearest store.  Not that far, I know, but when I only need one thing it’s impossible to motivate myself to make the half-hour round trip drive.  I’d rather spend that thirty minutes in the kitchen trying to make an acceptable substitute for whatever it was I thought I needed.  This time, it was coffee syrup.

I try to confine myself to two cups of coffee in the morning.  Most days I stick to it, but sometimes I cheat my own system.  Rather than having a third cup of hot coffee, I switch to iced instant espresso.  I know, it’s really no different, but I feel a little less like I’ve fallen off the wagon because it’s in a different cup. 

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup - Crafty Staci 1

Last week, on a particularly tiring day, I was headed for that third cup of denial when I realized we were out of both caramel and vanilla coffee syrup.  How does that happen and I don’t notice?  Anyway, I did a quick search for a caramel syrup recipe, but every one I found listed caramel sauce as an ingredient.  Huh?

I decided to aim for a caramel flavor on my own, so I whipped up this syrup.  And I wouldn’t really say it tastes like caramel, but it is oh-so delicious.

To make this, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup - Crafty Staci 2

Combine the water, brown sugar and salt in a saucepan.

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Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently but gently, until the mixture just starts to come to a boil and all of the sugar has dissolved.

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup - Crafty Staci 4

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Cool, then pour into a bottle.  Add a tag or label and this would make a great gift.

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup - Crafty Staci 5

This would also be tasty with some other spices, like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.  I think I would try brewing them in the water  (the way the Chai Tea Concentrate is made), then using that water to make the syrup.

In case you’re wondering, the way I make my iced espresso is I fill the 20 ounce glass half full of water, add about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered espresso, fill to about 3/4 with coconut almond milk, sweeten to taste with the syrup, then finish filling the glass with ice.  Zero drive time.

Vanilla Brown Sugar Coffee Syrup - Crafty Staci 6

Speaking of my glass, these are in my Zibbet shop now, along with that stainless steel straw, which I completely love and is available straight or with that little bend at the top.  Also, that coaster?  It’s made from leather and a mason jar ring and you’ll find those in my shop as well.  I haven’t listed the wraps yet, but if you’re interested just let me know.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here!

Friday Favorites–Hot Cocoa Bars

Last year I made hot cocoa bars for my husband’s work party and a family gathering at Christmas time.  They were really fun to put together, and were a hit at both events.  However, I managed to not get a single decent photo to show you.  No worries though, we’ll be doing it again this year.  In the meantime, other cocoa cooks have some great ideas, inspiration…and photos.

Friday Favorites - 10 Hot Cocoa Bars - Crafty Staci

We’ll start our tour with this beautiful blue Winter Warmer Party from Catch my Party.  If this doesn’t make you want a hot cup of cocoa, I don’t know what will.

Catch My Party

The use of wrapping paper as a backdrop makes this hot chocolate bar from Parties for Pennies very affordable, and those peppermint cookie pops are the perfect accent.

Parties for Pennies

I love the milk jars and chicken wire in this version from Clean and Scentsible.

Clean and Scentsible

Hymns and Verses’ cocoa station has a lovely antique feel to it.

Hymns and Verses

This hot cocoa bar on Hostess with the Mostess has lots of fun details, including kid-friendly cups with caps.

Hostess with the Mostess

Also from Hostess with the Mostess, this party is whimsical enough to bring out the kid in anyone.

Hostess with the Mostess 2

With the chaos of the holidays, sometimes it’s a good idea to let someone else take on some of the work.  Check out this Hot Cocoa Party Collection, personalized just for you, from passforparties on Etsy.

passforparties

Sometimes you don’t need an entire bar, just a little cocoa centerpiece will do.  Gluesticks has you covered.

Gluesticks

Hanging strings of mini marshmallows to decorate your hot cocoa bar?  Love!  Thanks to Style Me Pretty.

Style Me Pretty

You just can’t go wrong with red and snowflakes, proven by this party from Amanda’s Parties to Go.

Amandas Parties To Go

Hot cocoa bars are great, not only for ordinary parties, but things like teacher appreciation events or cookie exchanges.  The potential mix-ins and combinations are endless.  When I made mine last year, I used this cinnamon syrup recipe from Food Network, made orange syrup from Foodie Knowledge, made vanilla syrup from Annie Eats and tried this chocolate sauce from AllRecipes.  Now that I’ve started talking about it, I can’t wait to do it again!  Who wants a cup?

Gluten-Free Fried Cheese Curds

In your head, right now, you’re either saying “Eww, what’s a cheese curd?” or “Yum!  Squeaky cheese!”  If you’re with me, living close enough to Tillamook Cheese Factory for an occasional visit, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  We drive there once in a while just to buy a couple of bags of Squeaky Cheese, which is their unofficial name for cheese curds, thanks to the squeaking feel when you bite them.  I know that only makes sense if you’ve ever eaten one, but if you haven’t you’re really missing something.

Tillmook Cheese Curds

Every year when we go camping, we stop at A & W in Estacada for lunch.  They serve Fried Cheese Curds, which is every bit as healthy and it sounds.  But oh, so good.  Now that my daughter has gone gluten-free, she can no longer indulge in those little bits of deep-fried deliciousness.

Codi and her fiancé took a trip to Tillamook for her birthday and brought back two bags of squeaky cheese.  Her dad was determined to find a way for them to enjoy this little treat without the gluten, and he pulled it off in a big way.

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I don’t have measurements, but it’s easy to add more if necessary as you go.  To start, he dipped the cheese curds in a couple of lightly beaten eggs.  Next, he tossed them into a bag with a bit of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour to coat.  After that, he arranged them in a layer on a baking sheet and placed them into the freezer for 30 minutes.  The final step was carefully lowering them into 375 degree oil and cooking until they turned brown, which took about 45 to 60 seconds.  These were almost too good.

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Tillamook only sells cheese curds at their factory in Tillamook, which is reason enough to visit Oregon.  But if you don’t have any vacation plans for the west coast and want to give squeaky cheese a try, keep an eye out next February.  Apparently Tillamook sold them online for one day only this year, so I’m guessing it might happen again in 2014.  I’ll be waiting patiently to find out.