Amanda Ciniglio, Director of Food Services at The Bristal at West Babylon, has always loved food and cooking. In fact, the first badge this lifelong Girl Scout received was for cooking. Growing up in an Italian family, a love for food is in Amanda’s blood.
“I learned from my mother, my father, my grandfather, and food was always important in our house,” Amanda says.
Although Amanda makes all types of food at The Bristal at West Babylon, she credits dessert as her favorite to prepare.
“People are happy when they’re eating desserts,” she says. “Dessert kind of brings people back home; brings them back to memories. Whether it’s cookies, cakes, breads, it can bring you back to happier times. If you’re in a funk, dessert is an uplifting thing. It’s nice to share with people. It gives me a good feeling when I show up at somebody’s house with baked goods that warms their heart, and they enjoy them.”
So, it’s no surprise she chose a blueberry carrot cake with cream cheese and raw honey frosting to share! Read on to learn more about Amanda and to get her recipe.
About Amanda, the Chef at The Bristal at West Babylon
Amanda originally went to school for music therapy but changed her major to culinary because she was having so much fun working in restaurants. After culinary school, she worked at a few restaurants and ended up in senior living, eventually coming to work for The Bristal.
What She Enjoys About Being a Chef at The Bristal
When asked what her favorite thing about working at The Bristal was, Amanda says that it is the people, like the residents and her wonderful staff, that she enjoys most.
“I feel like I have a purpose, helping seniors through food, giving them an excellent dining experience to share with their friends, their families,” Amanda says.
She also says she enjoys having a lot of food freedom at The Bristal. Whereas at a restaurant, you have to follow the recipes to a T, she can stray off the menu here.
“Here, we can have a lot of creative moments with our menus,” Amanda says. “We can change things and do fun events and theme days. You can get as creative as you want with the food.”
Amanda noted creative events like the San Gennaro feast, clam and lobster bakes, Hawaiian day, Oktoberfest, and an apple-themed fall festival as some fun food events she’s enjoyed at The Bristal.
Being a Chef Outside of The Bristal
When Amanda’s not cooking for residents at West Babylon, she stays busy. For the past nine years, she has judged the junior culinary competition at the Long Island Fair every year, where kids from Nassau, Queens, and Suffolk counties enter their baked goods in the competition.
Amanda is a lifelong Girl Scout and holds a Gold Award. She also participates in numerous cooking competitions and fundraisers, as well as chef showdowns through area fire departments. In 2014, she won the Taste of Long Island. In 2016 and 2017, she was part of the winning team for the Guiding Lights of North Carolina’s Share to Care event.
About Her Brain Food Cake
Amanda says her blueberry carrot cake with cream cheese and raw honey frosting came about because she wanted to look at a different way to incorporate brain foods. She notes they try to get as many healthy ingredients into their menu at The Bristal at West Babylon, and this cake is no exception.
“It’s a fun way to spin a dessert to get them some healthy foods, and it’s very tasty,” Amanda says of her made-from-scratch recipe.
Amanda’s Blueberry Carrot Cake with Raw Honey Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients You’ll Need:
For the Cake:
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/4 cups canola oil
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups grated peeled carrots
- 1 pint fresh blueberries, washed
- 1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
- 2 tablespoons minced peeled ginger
For the Icing:
- 10 ounces cream cheese (such as Philadelphia), room temperature
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup raw honey
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch-diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour paper; tap out excess flour. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sugar and oil in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Add flour mixture and stir until blended. Stir in carrots, blueberries, and ginger. Divide batter between prepared pans.
- Bake the cakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Turn out onto racks. Peel off parchment paper; cool cakes completely.
For the Icing:
- Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat at low speed until well blended. Beat in raw honey. Chill until just firm enough to spread, 30 minutes.
- Place 1 cake layer on a platter. Spread with 3/4 cup icing. Top with the second layer. Spread remaining icing over entire cake. Arrange walnut halves around top edge. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with a cake dome; chill. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.)