Tag Archives: Doctor Who

A Christmas Tradition: Carrot Cake and Chuck Hughes (Sigh!)

It was two days before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a…

Nope. Can’t keep that shit up.

It really was two days before Christmas and I was attempting to make my first carrot cake.

YES. I realize that Christmas was weeks ago. It’s getting a bit wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey on the blog today.

Why must we all speak like children?

I have no idea where he picks that stuff up.

I love carrot cake. I don’t know what it is. There’s normal cake deliciousity, plus the natural sweetness of the carrots and the raisins. And don’t even get me started on a cream cheese icing.

Have you ever seen someone on TV and REALLY thought you could be friends with that person? Like REALLY? Like if you actually met them, you’d grab a burger and start talking and hanging out or whatever. (This is going somewhere, I swear.) Chef Chuck Hughes is like that for me. He’s really funny and super likable. He’s totally goofy, absolutely adorable, and bonus? He makes a lot of gorgeous dishes on his show on cooking Channel Chuck’s Day Off. Also, that show has an awesome soundtrack.

Last year, Chuck did a Christmas special called “Chuckmas” (no idea where they got the name). And he and his mom made a carrot cake that I believe they make every year. And no wonder. It’s delicious and fairly foolproof.

Fairly foolproof. But don’t worry, I’m always here to play the fool.

One of my springform pans was leaking, so I put it on a cookie sheet. And the only way to get the other pan on the same rack in the oven was to lean the other springform pan on the cookie sheet. So, basically, I wound up with one really nice, even cake and one really slanty cake that looked like a hillside.

Once they cooled, I thought I’d cut the top of the cake off like I’d seen on TV! It looks so easy! Level the cake! Nope. This went very poorly. The cake was misshapen, basically a dome, and it started to lead to some structural damage. Then I had this exchange with my dad.

Me: My cake is falling apart.

Dad: I have something for that!

He brought me a backhoe.

He brought me a backhoe.

I also kind of fucked the frosting up. I overwhipped it in an effort to get the lumps out of the cream cheese.

But my pal Chuck KNEW I was going to struggle a little bit. So he and his mom top the cake with these amazing crystallized walnuts. So, even though I wasn’t completely perfect, he had a way to cover up all my mistakes.

That’s what super talented, hunky friends are for.

Carrot Cake, ever so slightly adapted from Cooking Channel


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups peeled and grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup dried golden raisins


  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 ½ cups confectioners sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange

Maple Walnuts

  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts

For the cake: With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 8-inch springform pans with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, oil and eggs with a whisk. Gently stir in the dry ingredients. With a spatula, gently fold in the carrots, pineapple, walnuts, cherries and raisins.

Divide the batter between the pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in the pans on a rack. Run the blade of a knife around the cakes and unmold.

For the frosting: In a bowl, cream the cream cheese with the butter and icing sugar with an electric mixer. Add the zest and juice and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

Spread the frosting over the top of the cakes and stack them on a platter.

For the maple walnuts: In a skillet, bring the syrup to a boil. Add the walnuts and stir continuously until the syrup has crystallized around the walnuts. Pour onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and let cool. Garnish the cake.



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I wasn’t ignoring you, I swear: My New Food Obsession

I haven’t blogged in over two weeks. Making me the worst real blogger ever, but still a PRETTY SOLID fake food blogger.

Can't Touch This

What have I been doing? Working. Eating. Thinking about food. Not really cooking it too much, though.

What have I not been doing? Blogging. Duh.

I’ve had a couple of amazing food days in the past two weeks. In New York City last week, I ate a phenomenal lobster salad for lunch at a bistro called Artisanal and the very same day had lobster and crab spicy spaghetti for dinner at a neighborhood Italian place called Novita. Lobster two-a-days? Don’t mind if I do. #fatdontstop

And I’ve had some less than amazing food days. Two nights ago, I got a chicken souvlaki from Hero House with a side of fries….and a side of chicken fingers. Good? Yeah. Gross? YEAH.

But the coolest food discovery of the last few weeks has been a reintroduction to an old friend. A nerd god among men. A clotheshorse. A good looking enough guy, sure, but his brain makes him one of the sexiest men on the planet.

I’m talking about Alton Brown, people.

He looks a bit of a Grouch there, really.

He looks a bit of a Grouch there, really.

Alton Brown is excellent. And his podcast, The Alton Browncast, is excellent. Why, you ask?

First off, he’s a food authority. He not only knows how to make food delicious, but he understands the science of the food. Why it tastes the way it does. What happens when you add this ingredient to that. Why you cook it this way. He gets the chemistry of it all. And he presented it to us for years in his phenomenally entertaining show Good Eats. Who knew Food Science + Cooking + Nerdy Glasses Guy could be so fun to watch? (Bonus: Alton was a Theatre major at the University of Georgia. So, of COURSE he made it fun. Also, I was a Theatre major. So, of COURSE I love him.) And the other thing about him, after listening to his podcast, he’s a regular guy with interests beyond cooking. So that makes him a terrific interviewer. He can talk about race horses with Bobby Flay. He can talk about daughters with Hugh Acheson. He can talk about Atlanta with Keith Schroder. And, by the way, he can–and does–talk flavors with all of them. Are you a Doctor Who fan? So is he. He even created a recipe for fish fingers and custard.

Do yourself a favor. Listen to this podcast. It’s a little less than an hour. You’ll learn something new. Every podcast, there is a food of the day and he answers questions from listeners. You’ll laugh. He’s opinionated. He’s cheeky. He loves a game. He said he’s doing his new culinary game show Cutthroat Kitchen because it is primarily fun.

But most of all, this podcast is available to you for the low, low price of absolutely nothing. That’s right, folks. The absolutely low price of 0 dollars. You can’t beat that.

Don’t delay. Download the podcast player on your phone (if you didn’t have it already like me…) and download his old podcasts. You could do it in order. But I started with Alex Guarnaschelli’s and it was charming.

Or hell, listen for free online on The Nerdist.

Say yes to food. Say yes to science. Say yes to glasses. Say yes to fezzes.


Yeah. Fezzes are cool.

I wear a fez now. Fezes are cool.

I wear a fez now. Fezzes are cool.

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