Low-fat carrot cake cupcakes

I´m aware I haven´t posted for quite awhile and all will be explained soon but as I am waiting for some photos for my previous post and I´m pretty impatient, I thought I´d post this first so I´m sorry about the delay in posting. I´m trying to use up my baking ingredients without buying more stuff as soon I´ll be off back to Spain and when I saw this recipe I thought it was ideal as I conveniently had most of the ingredients in my cupboard. Plus, I liked the fact that it was "low fat" especially after the indulgence on the California road trip(all will be explained in the next post!)So, this is another cupcake recipe,slightly adapted from my Cupcake calendar that hopefully you can enjoy without feeling guilty!

Low-fat carrot cake cupcakes(Makes 12)

Ingredients:(measurements using American measures)

2 cups self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup soft light brown sugar
1/2 cup grated carrots(about 2-3)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I´m not a big nut fan so halved the amount of the original recipe so it was just the right amount of nuttiness for me but you can double the amount if you prefer!)
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 lightly beaten eggs
2/3 cup of sunflower oil (I ran out of sunflower oil so ended up being a mix of sunflower oil and mild olive oil!)
Cream cheese icing:
1 cup fat-free or light cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 walnut halves, to decorate
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF(175ºC).
2. Mix all the cupcake ingredients in a large bowl and beat until combined(by hand or by an electric mixer)If using an electric mixer, set it to a low speed.
3. Place 12 paper cake cases in a muffin/fairy cake pan and spoon mixture into the cases.
4. Bake for 20 mins and then remove from oven and leave to cool for 5 mins.
5. Mix the icing sugar, vanilla extract and cream cheese together until combined and it is smooth and creamy.
6. Decorate cupcakes with the cream cheese icing and place a walnut half on the top.
Note: Next time, I´m thinking of adding some orange juice or plain yoghurt to the cake batter to make them moister as due to lack of kitchen equipment here, I didn´t have a cake tin to store them in and they dried out pretty quickly. Here´s the finished product, hope you like them!


Road Trippin´ California style- I am back!

I´m finally back and firstly, I have to apologise for my infrequent posting recently. One of the reasons being that I haven´t made anything worth posting recently and the other main reason being that, I was on a road trip in California for two weeks!
I had wanted to do a (gourmet) food trail suggesting various foodie places and restaurants, however as there was a big group of us,we were all on pretty tight budgets and often had to eat on the go, we sometimes ended up in cheap chain restaurants or roadside eateries. So foodwise the trip was a little disappointing, however we did find some great and affordable places. The scenery and places we visited more than made up for it though.

Our California road trip was more than a little ambitious. We started off in San Francisco for 3 days, where we visited the different neighbourhoods, toured Alcatraz by night and biked over the Golden Gate bridge. We did lots of walking and as San Francisco is very hilly, I think we must´ve ended up pretty fit after this holiday! We found a great seafood restaurant on a pier in Fisherman wharf, Pier Market with reasonable prices. My boyfriend had the clam chowder, an apparently typical dish in San Francisco, which came in a sourdough bread bowl, which according to him was very tasty. As I´m not too keen on fish and seafood, I had a pulled BBQ pork sandwich with fries, which was delicious. The pork was so tender,it melted in your mouth and had just the right amount of BBQ sauce. I tried a little clam chowder and found it to be quite nice,not too fishy, to my surprise! We shared an Apple Crisp for dessert which was also exquisite.

Our next stop was Yosemite National Park and more walking but worth it for the breathtaking and stunning scenery. I couldn´t believe the squirrels were so tame that they would take food right out of your hands(despite the signs saying Don´t feed wild animals, lots of tourists do!)Didn´t see any bears though, fortunately! We stayed in Santa Cruz and then travelled along Highway 1, which is a lovely drive following the coastline and making stops at Monterrey, Piedras Blancas to see the elephant seals and Santa Barbara.

We had lunch in Monterrey, again on the pier in a restaurant which had lovely views of the sea.Unfortunately, I can´t remember the name of the restaurant to reccommend it but the lunch menu was again very affordable. As it was another seafood restaurant and didn´t really cater for those who don´t really like fish or seafood, I had no choice but to eat fish. I went for the coconut encrusted Tilapia with veggies and rice. It was really nice and presented beautifully with a decorative flower on the top as you can see in the photo. My only complaint would be that the rice needed a sauce.

Dinner was in Santa Barbara and as it was late, it was difficult to find anything still serving food. We stumbled across this great bar/restaurant The Sandbar serving Mexican food, which had an outdoor terrace complete with a fire and with modern, trendy but at the same time comfortable decoration. Again, I didn´t take any photos of the food unfortunately. I shared a beef burrito and a meat taco which came with refried beans, guacamole and rice with my boyfriend and was really tasty.
We visited LA and the typical things, then spent the day at Newport Beach & Huntingdon Beach, visted Malibu, Santa Monica and Laguna Beach and San Diego for a day. We went to Las Vegas, we wanted to visit the Mojave dessert en route but got a puncture so ended up going straight to Vegas. With all the car trouble and by the time we had eaten, it was 11pm so we hit the casinos and went from casino to casino visiting them (not gambling!) Most of us didn´t know how to play blackjack,roulette etc! It was 3pm before we knew it so we tried to get into a club but no luck, they were all about to close. So much for Las Vegas all-night partying! So unfortunately we didn´t really"experience" Vegas to the max! We were all so exhausted from travelling by this point though and the following day we slept till qbout 1pm!We had lunch in the Stratasphere Tower which has a rotating restaurant with excellent views of Vegas. Perfect for a romantic meal for 2! The food is pretty good too, it´s slightly more expensive due to the views but good value. I had chicken with pasta and peppers and courgettes in a garlicy-oil sauce and my boyfriend had veal escalope stuffed with proscuitto ham, veg and roast potatoes.

We then made our way to Flagstaff, pausing to see the Hoover Dam on the way. The following day we went to the Grand Canyon, which was very impressive and stayed in the Grand Canyon Village. We had our evening meal in Yippee-ei-oh (pictured above)which takes you back to the Wild West as the decor is all cowboy-orientated, with saddles and all the waiters are wearing stetsons. I shared a Outlaw´s dinner (if I remember correctly!) with my boyfriend, which was a good job as it was huge. It consisted of 1/2 portion of BBQ ribs and BBQ chicken, corn on the cob, baked beans and a jacket potato. It was also supposed to be served with prickly pear jelly but I realised after that you were supposed to ask for that if you wanted it. Everything was delicious and for me it was one of the best meals of the trip although my curiousity wasn´t sated as I would´ve liked to try the prickly pear jelly. Oh well, maybe next time! For dessert, I had warm cherry pie with vanilla ice-cream which was the perfect ending to a wonderful meal and I think is one of the best cherry pies I´ve ever eaten!

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