Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins

I’m pretty sure hell just froze over.

Pigs are flying.

I, eternal hater of the dreadful, ever-so-sneaky carrot, willingly bought, and cooked with…carrots.

They say that when you’re hosting a party, you should stick to your tried and true recipes and, as a rule, I tend to adhere to that. Except, every now and then, I get the occasional hare-brained, you’re-out-of-your-mind ideas. And then I dwell, and dwell, and dwell on them until I actually have to make them or I’ll go crazy.

You too?

No, just me? Oh well.

That happened last week with the party and those carrot cakes. I had seen a recipe for a whisky carrot cake on TheKitchn ages ago and couldn’t stop thinking about it. So what if I’d never bought a carrot in my life? So what if I had zero, zilch, nada experience making carrot cake? It was going to happen for this party.

So it did, and thank God, it was a smash hit.

Success.

I want to like carrots. I really do. They are so good for you! I try them every so often just to see if maybe my gag reflex when the after-taste hits has chilled out, but it never seems to work. This carrot cake though…it worked. Unfortunately pretty much all of the good nutritional aspects of the carrot were being wiped out by the fact that it was indeed still cake.

Hence the muffin was created. Less sugar, whole wheat, more nuts, more carrot, and a whole lot of yumminess! I wouldn’t go so far as to say healthy, but definitely healthier. I know what we will be having on Thanksgiving morning.

Are you trying anything brand new for Thanksgiving?

Here’s to willingness to take a risk and being open to new things.

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins from Kiwi and Peach

Carrot and Pecan Spiced Rum Muffins

{make 12 muffins}

Adapted from Sara Kate’s recipe for TheKitchn. Besides reducing the recipe, I substituted whole wheat for the all purpose flour and reduced the sugar to make it more of a muffin and less of a cake. I also upped the carrot and pecan amounts. I’m dying to try an all natural sugar version of this. I think it would be great with demerara sugar.

The Egg
3 eggs

The Dry
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 heaping tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
dash of allspice

The Fold
1 large carrot, peeled then shredded {around 2 cups, maybe slightly less}
2/3 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup shredded coconut
3 Tbsp spiced rum

The Wet
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup olive oil

Crack your eggs into a small bowl, beat them, and set them to the side. {Wow, that sounds like a lot of egg violence.} Do this first so they have some time to get to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.

Grab three mixing bowls.

In the first, add your grated carrot, chopped pecans, coconut and rum. Give it all a stir and set it to the side for later.

In the second, sift together your dry ingredients.

In the third, the biggest of the three, combine the brown sugar with the olive oil well. As Sara Kate says in the original recipe, it should look like wet sand. Alternatively, add the flour and the egg and mix until they are just incorporated each time. Then fold in the carrot mix.

Set the batter to the side for a minute so the batter can rest while you line the muffin pan with cupcake liners. Spoon the batter in to the pan filling each cup 3/4 of the way full.

Pop it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Test the middles with a toothpick; if it comes out clean, you’re ready to go!

Enjoy.

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Bacon, Gorgonzola, and Caramelized Onion Pizza

The Kiwi and I have been doing our fair share of traveling recently. After our two weeks in Marrakech and Paris we had about a week at home before we headed to Hong Kong where we are now for the Kiwi’s work conference {and a little sightseeing}.  When we get back, there are some big, big things a happening around the Kiwi and Peach house. But if I’m being honest y’all, I’ve been thinking more about the things to come rather than the stuff that is happening right now.I’m a planner, an organizer. When life gets hectic, taking a few minutes to make lists, think through things that are coming up and their possible outcomes is how I make sense of it so that I can focus on what is going on now. Most of the time, I consider this is a strength. Most of the time {okay, some of the time} it works, but when it doesn’t work, when it stops being a strength, is when it leads to worrying. Needless, needless worry of which I’ve been doing my fair share.

A couple of weeks ago, Sheena talked about her place. The place that made things make sense. The place that made your heart smile.

“Where is my place?” she asked. “That’s easy,” I answered—the mountains.

On our only free weekend in the whole of October, the Kiwi and I headed down to the Alps. This was the only chance we would have to see leaves in all their fall glory. This was the only chance we would have to breathe in the crisp mountain air and just wonder at the gorgeous mountains we were surrounded by. I was truly present for the first time in what felt like months, appreciating the beauty of this country, and so grateful for the chance to live here.

We came home, made our favorite pizza, alpine style, with lots of stinky cheese and thick slices of bacon, and talked about all of our travels this year. What a year it has been?!

What about you? Do you struggle with this as well? What are your tips?

Bacon, Gorgonzola, and Caramelized Onion Pizza from Kiwi and Peach

Bacon, Gorgonzola, and Caramelized Onion Pizza

{Makes one 12 inch pizza. It’s usually enough for both of us for dinner and my lunch the next day.}

1 batch of pizza dough {My go-to recipe uses honey, yeast, flour–spelt and all purpose, and butter or olive oil and takes less than an hour.}
2 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced
1/2 of a large red onion {sweet onions, pictured, work great too}
1 tbsp butter
about 4 ounces {2 cups} of gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
extra melted butter for brushing on the crust

Preheat the oven on low {120°F/60°C for me} and start heating a pan on medium heat.

First thing I do is to proof the yeast for the pizza dough.

While it’s proofing, slice your bacon and onion. Once the pan is hot, pop your bacon in there and cook for a couple minutes, just long enough to render the fat. Transfer to a bowl and sit it to the side. Return the pan to the heat.

Drop a bit of butter in there and then toss in the onions. Stir well, then cover, and reduce the heat to medium low. Give them a stir every 10 minutes or so until you’re ready to put the toppings on the pizza. This usually ends up being about 30 minutes for me.

Once the onions are on, I make my pizza dough and pop it in the warmed oven to rise for 20 minutes. Turn the oven off after you put it in to rise.

{Really, this pizza dough is so simple, y’all. Promise me you’ll give it a try? You’ll never go back to the store bought, pre-baked stuff I swear! I’ve even been known to get it out after just 10 minutes because I was in a hurry, and you know what, it was still delicious.}

Once the dough is finished rising, flour your hands and push it out to the size you want your pizza to be. Now let’s, layer this baby up with the goods!

I do a layer of gorgonzola, the bacon, the onions {which can come off the stove now, by the way}, then another layer of gorgonzola. The cheese is the key here folks. Lots and lots of cheese.  Brush the exposed crust with a little melted butter then pop it back in the oven on as high as your oven will go {for me that’s 475°F/240°C} and bake for 20 minutes.

Enjoy it y’all.

Bacon, Gorgonzola, and Caramelized Onion Pizza from Kiwi and Peach

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

You made it to Friday, my friend! Go you!

Remember a couple months ago when I did Nicole’s Monogram Swap? Well, in addition to getting some super cute gear for my kitchen, I also met and cultivated relationships with a group of lovely and talented ladies. One of those ladies is Susan over at the lifestyle blog, Charming Lucy. As a self-professed non-cook {Susan} and a fashion struggler {that’d be me}, we’ve been great resources for each other.

Today I’m blogging over there sharing the recipe for my Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Pancakes made with our fresh pumpkin puree and sprinkled with those Spiced Pumpkin Seeds. Head on over for the recipe!

If you’ve ventured over here from Charming Lucy, welcome! I’m so glad you could stop by! I sure hope you’ll stick around for a bit, drop me a line and say hi. I’d love to get to know you! And, of course, let me know if you try the pancakes!

Here are some of the things I used to make these magical pancakes a smidge more delicious:

Our How-To for making your own pumpkin puree.

The recipe for our simple granola staple.

The easy, peasy topping: spiced pumpkin seeds.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Pancakes from Kiwi and Peach

Sage, Lamb, and Ricotta Ravioli with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

The Kiwi and I are currently somewhere in the Sahara desert riding camels. {Clearly, I scheduled this to post.} If you want to keep up with our adventures be sure you’re following us on Instagram and Twitter.

Remember last week when I talked about making my own pasta? I mentioned that it all started because I was dreaming about ravioli. This, my friends, was the ravioli I was dreaming of.

It all started simple enough, flavors started building, and soon here was this idea. And it wouldn’t leave my mind, obsessive. I had to make it. So I did…

It’s earthy, it’s flavorful, and most importantly incredibly satisfying.

Sage, Lamb, and Ricotta Ravioli with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto from Kiwi+Peach

The Pasta
whole wheat pasta dough {I substituted 2 tbsp of the water for fresh pumpkin puree.}

The Stuffing
1/4 of a medium onion
4 ounces {125 grams} ground lamb
1 Tbsp sage
pinch of salt and pepper
1/3 cup walnuts, shelled
1/2 cup ricotta cheese

The Pesto
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/3 cup walnuts, shelled
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Before you get started on the stuffing and the pesto, roll out your pasta dough and go ahead and punch out your ravioli bases and tops. This will make your life a lot easier later. You can just set them to the side for later.

Start heating a pan on medium heat. Go ahead and dice up your onion {the smaller the pieces the better} and when the pan is hot toss them in there. Let them cook for about 5 minutes or until they’re soft and translucent. Add the lamb, using a spoon to break it up into small bits, and then sprinkle it with sage, salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 more minutes or until the lamb looks completely cooked. When it’s finished, transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl.

While the onions and lamb are cooking, shell the walnuts. All in all I used about 12 walnuts. Break out the food processor and grind half of the shelled nuts {1/3 cup} into a meal and add them to the small mixing bowl. Add the ricotta cheese to the mixing bowl as well and then give the whole thing a good stir.

Boil your jug and start heating a large pot on medium high heat. Add the water to the pot and salt the water well.

Grab your ravioli dough and spoon a generous tablespoon of the stuffing onto each of the bases. Cover each base with a top and press the sides together with either your fingers or a fork. Once the water has returned to a boil, drop your raviolis in and let them cook for a quick minute. You’l know they’re finished when they start to float to the top. Drain the water and set the finished ravioli to the side because we need to make the pesto.

Combine all of the ingredients for the pesto in the food processor and grind it until you like the consistency {about 45 seconds on high for me}.

You’re finished. Plate it up and enjoy!

DIY Whole Wheat Pasta

Pasta is never something I thought I would make from scratch. The stuff from the groc was a-okay by me.

That was until I started hankering to make my own ravioli. It all started when I saw a recipe for a beet ravioli and from there it escalated into full blown ravioli mania.

I must make all the raviolis.

My first couple attempts at the homemade pasta weren’t exactly successfully. I couldn’t get the pasta rolled thin enough and it was far too gluteny {totally a word} and unpleasantly chewy.

So I stopped and simplified.

No egg. Just flour, water, and olive oil. Very little mess, and completely versatile.

So in other words, perfection.

The How-To Series {DIY Pasta Dough} | kiwi+peach

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/3 cup hot water {or 3 Tbsp hot water + 3 Tbsp warmed veggie puree}
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted

Step One
Whisk together the water and olive oil. If you want to make a specific kind of pasta {beet, pumpkin, etc.} you can substitute up to half of the water for the veggie puree, but be sure to warm the puree before you add it to the mixing bowl.

Either way, whisk it all together.

Step Two
Very slowly {a couple tablespoons at a time} whisk in the flour. This will prevent clumps and will keep it smooth and silky the whole time. When it starts getting too thick to whisk, just put sprinkle the flour on top of the dough and knead it in.

When the dough is no longer super sticky and all the flour is incorporated, cover the bowl and let it sit for at least an hour.

Now you can use it right away or you can wrap it up in some plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge to use later in the week. I tend to do the latter.

Step Three
So, it’s pasta time! Grab your dough from the fridge. I take about half the dough at a time {because my workspace isn’t very big} and roll it out really thin on a well floured surface.

For ravioli, cut out your pieces, load them up, and pinch the sides together. {I use a 2 inch biscuit cutter for the base and the 2.5 inch one for the tops.}

The How-To Series {DIY Pasta Dough} | kiwi+peach

So your pasta is made. Your pasta is stuffed. Let’s cook it.

Boil your jug and heat a large pot on medium high heat. Add the water to the pot and salt your water {very important step}. Once the water is a boiling, drop the pasta in. It should only take a minute or two. For stuffed pasta like ravioli, you’ll know it’s done when they start floating. Then drain the water, serve it up with your favorite sauce, and enjoy your fresh, homemade pasta!

Be sure to check in next week when I share my recipe that made me bite the bullet and start making my own pasta. It’s the ravioli I thought about on a daily basis for a month. It’s the ravioli that dreams are made of.

{Okay, now I’ve built it up way too much. It’s a’ight.}

Seed and Berry Honey Whole Wheat Bread

When I mentioned on Monday that I’d love to share my dad’s bread recipe with y’all, I had no idea that Daddy would want to write a whole post. What a sweet daddy I have?! So without further ado, I’ll turn it over to the daddy-o to talk y’all through making some of his tasty bread.


First let me say what an honor it is to be asked to contribute to Lauren’s blog. While Lauren is young and the blog may appeal to her generation, I think a lot of people of my age are in the same situation. We empty nesters are now cooking and preparing meals for two, so paring down recipes {and making them work} is essential.

After a visit with Lauren in the Spring 2012, I came back determined to bake a decent loaf a bread. Everywhere we went in Germany there were bakeries with an array of fresh baked breads and pastries. I think I could have lived just on the bread but then there was the pork knuckle, the steckerl fish, and the different beers I had to try {but I digress}. After several attempts and a few failures, I have settled on the recipe below.  I have found that by using whole wheat flour you just aren’t going to get the light fluffy bread we are all used to. It will be denser but packed with goodness and flavor.

This is not a low calorie deal by any means but a combination of healthy nutritional foods that will sustain you throughout the day. I  have this almost everyday for lunch {crunchy peanut butter sandwich} and it holds me through the rest of the workday and my afternoon exercises.  Making your own bread can seem a bit of hassle but the routine can be very therapeutic. Plus, you can customize your loaf to your tastes switching out seeds or berries to your liking. Give a try.

Seed and Berry Honey Whole Wheat Bread

Seed and Berry Honey Whole Wheat Bread

The Proof
¼ cup water
1 tsp sugar
1 pack active dry yeast {I use Fleischmann’s or Hodgson Mill}

The Wet
½ cup honey
1 cup unsweetened applesauce

The Dry
3 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 ¼ tsp salt

The Crust
1 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Start with proofing your yeast. Directions vary by brand, so its best to follow the directions on the back of package. Usually a 1/4 cup of warm water {120° F} and teaspoon of sugar will get it done. Mix water and sugar first, then add the yeast last and give it a quick stir. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. It should have foamed and almost tripled in size. {It’s alive!}

While its proofing go ahead and prep the wet and dry.

Mix honey and applesauce together in measuring cup. Stir together and put in microwave for about 20 seconds. Give it another stir and 20 seconds more in the microwave or until it’s warm to the touch.

Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowel and stir until evenly distributed.

Prepare bread pan by spraying or oiling all sides.

Once the proof is finished, add it and the wet to the dry. Plunge your hands in and starting mixing. Once the mixture becomes doughy and can be lifted out of the mixing bowl without making mess, place it on your kneading surface. {I use a pastry mat but any clean hard surface should do if floured first.}

Knead dough for about 8-10 minutes. If everything is going right, you should get a dough with a nice elastic texture. You will be able to tell while kneading if it is too dry or too wet. Add more warm water or flour depending on your ‘knead’. {Ya get it?}

Form dough into loaf the size of your bread pan and place in pan. Cover with a towel and put in warm dark place for 1-2hrs. When dough doubles in size you should be good to go.

Place the pan in oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. After the 25 minutes, tent with aluminum foil and put back in oven for 20-25 minutes. The time may differ for your oven but somewhere in the range of 44-50 total time should do it.

Take your loaf out of oven and place on cooling rack. Melt the butter and brush it over the top of your loaf. This will keep the crust from getting too hard. Slice and enjoy!

Seed and Berry Honey Whole Wheat Bread from Kiwi and Peach