We are pretty lucky right now to have four foods in season that separately or together make scrumptious recipes. Those are carrots, oranges, honey and pecans. Yes, honey.
Immediately, two recipes come to my mind when I think of carrots. The first one is carrot cake, and I think you’ll love this one. Made with winter spices, coconut and pecans and baked in a tube pan it could not be easier. When you hardly have time for anything extra during the holidays, all you have to do with this cake is place it on a beautiful cake stand, and cover the top with a cream cheese glaze and sprinkle with some toasted coconut. So easy, so good, so pretty and no layers to worry about.
The second recipe is a mixture of carrots cooked with a little honey, and finished with an orange juice, butter, honey sauce, then sprinkled with pecans, and fresh thyme.
Carrots & Butter, Orange, Honey Sauce
3 cups carrots, peeled and sliced ½ inch thick
¾ cup water
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon honey
Cook carrots in the water, honey, and salt to taste until tender. Drain.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/3 cup orange juice
½ teaspoon orange zest
½ tablespoon honey
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves,(or substitute lavender flowers if you have them)
Melt butter in a small skillet. Add orange juice, zest, and honey. When the mixture starts to bubble, cook for about 2 minutes to reduce the liquid by one third. Add drained carrots to the pan and toss to coat. Note: If you like a little more acid, add ½ teaspoon lemon juice to the orange juice before cooking the sauce.
To Serve: ½ cup pecans or walnuts toasted (1 minute on a plate in the microwave will do it);
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves. Place the carrots in a small bowl, and sprinkle with the pecans and fresh thyme. Makes 6 one half cup servings.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 ½ cups shredded carrots
1 cup sweetened flake coconut
1 cup chopped, toasted, pecans or walnuts
½ cup golden raisins
Cream cheese Glaze
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sifted confectioners sugar
2 to 2 ½ tablespoons milk
Toasted coconut for top garnish
Place rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease and flour a 10-inch or 12-cup tube pan.
Whisk together the flour, sugars, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. With a mixer on medium speed, beat eggs in a small bowl 1 minute or until frothy. Stir in vegetable oil, orange juice, and vanilla.
Pour the egg mixture into well in flour mixture; stir rapidly with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until blended. Stir in carrots, coconut, pecans or walnuts and raisins. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 375ºF for 45 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is done. Cool cake in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack and cool completely.
Prepare glaze: Beat cream cheese and sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Beat in enough milk to make the icing pouring consistency. Place cake on a cake stand, and pour the glaze over the top, letting it drip down the sides of the cake. Top with toasted coconut. Makes 16 servings.
Every year, I challenge myself as a gardener to grow something I've never grown before and this year was no exception. As a professional garden writer, I was privileged to be given several exciting new varieties to trial. Additionally, in my travels this year, I had the chance to evaluate many more new plants in trial gardens across the country. The following new annuals, which will be new at retail in Spring 2017, received top ratings in my book.
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