The Best Carrot Cake Ever, Mini Pumpkin Pies, & Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

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Excuse me! I’m trying to catch up on all the goodness that was our Thanksgiving weekend.

I feel that the desserts deserve a post of their own.

On Kevin’s side of the family, his brother was making pie. I was thrilled to be relieved of that duty. I don’t enjoy working with pie crusts. Just not my thang. I came up with the idea to make my husband’s favorite dessert, carrot cake (or is it apple crisp?). I wanted to do it with a twist. This Orange-Pineapple Carrot Cake from Bon Appetit looks incredible! But Kevin through a hissy fit so I went with the original.

When Kevin’s dad told us he had tons of carrots on hand, I don’t think we realized how FILTHY they would be. Kevin tackled the job of scrubbing them which he barely finished by the time I had the rest of ingredients mixed together.

I am an extremely nervous cake flipper. So much so that Kevin looked at me and said,”Shouldn’t we pray first?” So I made him since he was being all cute & sarcastic with me. The pans took a little bite of each cake, but nothing that was noticeable underneath gobs of delicious cream cheese frosting!

Our masterpiece. My sister-in-law did the honors of frosting it. I’m a nervous froster as well. Basically all I’m good for is mixing together the cake! :) And I have a keen sense of timing when things are done in the oven. I haven’t burnt a pan of Cookie Friday cookies yet! *knock on wood*

This really IS the Best Carrot Cake Ever so I’m going to add this recipe:

Birthday Carrot Cake (via The Noshery)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans  —> I always skip this!
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup pecans chopped (optional, for garnish)  —> We happened to have walnuts!

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 9 inch round pans.

Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Make a well in the center and add sugar, oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla. Mix with wooden spoon until smooth. (DO NOT USE ELECTRIC MIXER) Stir in carrots, pecans, rasins and pineapple.

Split evenly between both 9 inch pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Don’t panic, the center will sink a little. Allow to cool.

To make the frosting: Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners sugar and beat until creamy.

I heard a rumor that certain nephew would be disappointed without some pumpkin so I did make these. Pies in cupcake tins made with packaged pie crusts? That I can handle! These were so adorable that I had to show them off to everyone! I followed the directions from Make & Takes.

My father-in-law requested “chocolate” and my mother-in-law had cheesecake on the brain so this is what I came up with. I wanted to do some smaller desserts since super rich desserts would be a tad bit overwhelming for non-McMillin appetites. I found a really simple recipe for Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes on Betty Crocker. I realized that I called them Chocolate Cheesecake BITES in the title, but I just didn’t want to use the word mini twice! ;) These were really easy and turned out famously. Mine are a little on the large side because I only had one cupcake tin handy and was too tired on Thanksgiving Eve to stay up any later just to bake another pan!

Reminder: Maintain no gain!

By the way, check out my workouts (on Daily Mile) for Thanksgiving week.

I’m really happy we didn’t miss a day even with all the baking and traveling! It was a challenge, but you can do it if you set your mind to it! You really can! Do you think I really wanted to get up at 5AM so I could workout on Tuesday before work since we had to leave for the airport? Or on Wednesday after I faceplanted in Mile 1? :) I mean, it wasn’t my best mileage of all time. And I probably ate it all back, but I thought it was a good balance for the dessert post! Haha. :)  For more on this scintillating topic, check out an article in the NY Times about Curbing Holiday Weight Gain With Exercise.

Do you prefer to bake pies or cakes? Cakes!!!!! And preferably desserts that don’t have to be taken out of the pan. I like to minimize my meltdowns. Ramekins are the answer!

How are you staying committed to your health/fitness throughout the holidays? Staying totally committed to exercise really helps. I just consider it a non-negotiable in my schedule. :)

P.S. If you missed it, I think the Running For Turkey post was one of my favorite ever!!!!!

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