Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lemon Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake

Do you ever get those cravings you just can't shake? As if your body is desperately crying out for a hot fudge sundae from Dairy Freeze...or you just can't continue on without brie on a baguette. Anyone? Bueller? Ok, maybe it's just me.

I've been craving pound cake. Real, honest pound cake, filled with eggs and butter. The tender crumb melting in my mouth, the glistening glaze cracking as you cut yet another slice. I realize I have issues, but who doesn't like pound cake? The husband said he didn't like pound cake, but somehow managed to eat 2 slices at home and at least 1 at work. He has issues, too.

Check out those luscious swirls encased in lemon-scented cake...yum.

You may have noticed that my photography has improved. Confession- these pictures are lovingly brought to you by the husband. He actually knows how to use his fancy camera and had quite the photo-shoot with this cake. At one point, this cake was balanced upon two stockpots and at another it was on top of a table on top of the living room chair. Oh, the places cakes will go!

Now that my craving is satiated, it's time for a new one.

What are you craving?

Lemon Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake
This recipe is thoroughly adapted from the queen of pound cake, Ms. Paula Deen

For the pound cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (leave out ~30 minutes)
2 tsp lemon zest (~1/2 a lemon)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla

For the raspberry filling:
1 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup raspberry jam
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For the glaze:

1/3 cup powdered sugar
~1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a bundt pan generously.

For the raspberry filling:
Do this before making the cake so it has a chance to cool. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Break up any large raspberry chunks. Once the mixture has come to a bubble, remove from heat and let cool.

For the cake:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl.

In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well-incorporated. Then add the buttermilk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Blend until well-mixed.

Add the dry ingredients, one third at a time, until just mixed. Don't overmix- if you do, your batter will be tough.


Into the bottom of your bundt pan, add 1/4 of the batter. Smooth it out so that it evenly covers the bottom. Spoon in 1/2 of the cooled raspberry filling. Attempt to keep in it the middle, but it's hardly a capital offense if it spills toward the sides.

Top the filling with 1/2 the remaining cake batter. Smooth so that the raspberry filling is completely covered.

Spoon the rest of the filling over the batter. Top with remaining batter. Smooth out batter as best as you can so that the raspberry filling is completely covered. You should have two separate raspberry layers running through your gorgeous cake!

Bake in oven for 1 hour. Check and bake for an additional 15 minutes if batter is still wet. Check is multiple places to be sure.

Cool cake in pan for 10-15 minutes and then invert on a cooling rack. Cool cake completely before glazing.

For glaze:

Whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Trashy fondue

The husband and I were invited to a Canadian Tuxedo party, as I mentioned in a previous entry. The whole idea is to wear denim and eat trashy food. My kind of party.

We were unable to attend due to the husband's germs, which are suspiciously flu-like.

This is unfortunate as I had procured some FUBU overalls for him and a black denim mini-skirt for me from our local Goodwill. Guess I'll be donating those right back.

Rather than miss all the fun, I brought the food party to us.

May I humbly present...Trashy Fondue for Two.

Really this is my mom's queso recipe. I grew up eating it at all our family parties...good times. The recipe came to me in a pdf file- I love technology!

Mom says she got this recipe from her aunt, a Oklahoma native now residing in New Mexico. I'll believe her, even though the recipe is scribbled on Park Cities Baptist Church letterhead- From the Desk of Mrs. Gena Hestand, Minister to Senior Adults. If only Mrs. Gena had known about this queso...she could have had a fiesta for those geriatrics!

Cast of characters: diced tomatoes (Mom would use Ro-Tel), a medium onion, 4 oz. green chile, sour cream (only used light because that's what was in the fridge), and 1 pound Velveeta

Dice up your onion. In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil and saute onions until soft. You don't want to brown them, so keep the heat moderate and stir frequently.

Behold the Velveeta. Sacred foodstuff of the South and all-around nutritional marvel.

Dice up the Velveeta into cubes. This is a picture of my knife STUCK in the Velveeta. Seriously. It was caught in a web of non-cheese particles. Good thing I've been working out- showed that cheez who's boss.

Throw the cheez cubes into the pan with the softened onions.

Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, chile, and sour cream. My mom's original recipe calls for 1 cup sour cream. I only had 1/4 cup. Tasted fine to me with less, but you should probably listen to my mom. She's smart.

While you're waiting for the cheez to fully melt and become one with the other ingredients, you can prepare the dippers for your trashy fondue. I sauteed up some cheese & garlic sausage (please note that it is 35% less fat- I'm all about healthy eating) and roasted some mushrooms & Brussels sprouts in the oven. The veggies took about 20-30 minutes at 450. Cook the sausage til it's done & no longer pink.

Once the queso is ready, it'll look like this. Warm, melty, cheezy goodness. If you were having a party, you could do this in the crockpot and keep on low.

Assemble your fondue platter. I artfully arranged Trader Joe's Salsa Tortilla chips on one side, and layered the sausage chunks- cut on a diagonal to make 'em classy- over the Brussels sprouts & mushrooms.

Queso a'la Mom a'la Aunt Shay

1 medium onion, diced
1 4 oz. can green chile
1 can 14.5 oz. stewed tomatoes
1 lb. Velveeta
1 cup sour cream

As with most of mom's recipes, there are no instructions. So...you can follow my detailed process above OR just dump them all together and heat until cheez melts. Serve with chips or just a spoon. This make about 4-5 cups of queso which is more than anyone should eat alone. Be sure to share.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Zucchini Bread

I wish I could tell you that I perfected the tastiest, healthiest zucchini bread. That it was moist and slightly sweet with flecks of green giving away it's wholesome goodness.

But I can't.

It was bad. After 1 hour and 20 minutes in the oven at 350- it was still raw in the middle and getting a bit burned on the top.

I ate a piece, showed it to the husband, and through the rest away. Didn't even take a picture. I *hate* wasting food, so it's always a bad moment when I have to toss a bust.

This is the problem you encounter when you develop a recipe- some just don't work out. I wrote it down, though, and will continue to refine it. I still have a zucchini in the fridge waiting for my second try.

Tonight, however, I will be making a tried, tested, and true recipe- my mom's queso recipe that she got from her aunt many moons ago.

We were supposed to go to a Canadian Tuxedo party, but the husband has the creeping crud (i.e. the flu) so we're staying in and going to enjoy some trashy fondue. I'll document the experience and share it with you in lieu of showcasing the demin glory of our friends.

On the menu:
Queso- made with Velveeta...so wrong, but so right
Trader Joe's salsa corn chips- a Dorito fake out
Cheese & garlic sausage for dipping
Roasted mushrooms & brussel sprouts for dipping- gotta get some veg going on

Monday, March 22, 2010

Gingerbread with brown sugar buttercream frosting

Let's pretend this is an artsy shot and not one that I took because I still don't understand the finer techniques of a point-&-shoot digital camera.

My name is Sarah and I bake square cakes. I don't bake them to be cool or different. I bake them, simply, because I have no round cake pans. I know, I should get some and conform. Boo.

I do have a cake stand, but it's nestled safely in my basement. I once had a lovely three tiered cookie stand that was unsafely perched atop the refrigerator. Strangely enough, it came crashing down (on me) one fateful, glass-filled day. So, you see, I could use the cake stand, but really, it must be saved from my treacherous grasp and wayward storage.

Since we've already discussed a few of my faults, let's move on to another.

I don't know when to quit.

Too much of a good thing actually exists.

I know! I was shocked, too.

I met this too-good thing today in the form of delicious gingerbread doused with brown sugar buttercream. Sounds awesome in theory, right? Spicy cake topped with a lovely condiment. But no, it's actually just too much. Separately, they are excellent, which is why I am sharing these recipes. Don't blame them for my excessive behavior.

But I ask you, implore you, beg you- DO NOT BE LIKE ME. Don't combine them. Leave the tender spiced cake alone. Pair the boldly sugared buttercream with another cake.

Now, I am left with a conundrum. As you see, I only ate a small square of this cake. I should not eat anymore, for reasons already discussed. Do I send this cake with the husband to work? It's not much to look at. Decisions, decisions.

Adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book Guinness Gingerbread

2 cups of Killians Irish Red beer, reduced to 1 cup
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 8 inch square Pyrex baking dishes.

Combine the flour, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the reduced beer, eggs, white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, and canola oil.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir gently to combine. Batter will be very wet.

Split the batter between the two pans. Place on the middle rack and bake 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Brown sugar buttercream

Soften 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter. Measure out 2 cups of powdered sugar and 1 cup packed brown sugar. Blitz in mixer with 2-3 tablespoons cream until fully combined.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lazy Loaf

Nigella Lawson is a domestic goddess. I've long been a fan of the sassy Brit. She has an ease and a joy in the kitchen that I both envy and attempt to emulate. I have three of her cookbooks and I've read them each in their entirety. Too much love for Nigella or not enough? You decide.

Lazy loaf from Nigella Express is just that- real bread for lazy people. Kneeding and rising need not apply.

Nigella specified 2% milk, but I didn't have any. Unsweetened almond milk worked just fine for me. SAF yeast is well-respected for its dependable results and very easy to find at any grocery store.

Unsugared muesli is also required. I've tried many of Bob's Red Mill products and enjoyed them all. Dependable and again, easy to find. I'm no stranger to going to 4 different stores in a day for random ingredients, but I recognize that not everyone loves grocery shopping like I do.

Combine all the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the almond milk and mix. Nigella says the mixture will look like a thick porridge. She's right.

Grease a loaf pan and plop the dough inside. Smooth the dough out so it's even. One interesting note about this recipe is that you start it in a cold oven and then turn it on. This allows the dough to proof and rise a bit inside the oven.

Don't be fooled though- this is a not a light, airy bread. Some have complained that there's didn't rise at all...so? It's delicious. Eat it. If you want a cream puff, make some profiteroles.

Nigella said this would take 45 minutes at 225 and then 1 hour at 350. Mine really took about an hour and a half at 350.

The husband has some issues with patience. We're working on them...slowly. Perhaps less delicious food would help?

Serving suggestion: a slice of Lazy Loaf, broiled as I threw the toaster out in a fit of rage one day, topped with butter and served alongside some gently scrambled eggs.

Find the recipe here:
Lazy Loaf from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Express

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Granola Cookies

After a day of indulgence, I like to reconnect with my inner-hippie. She's very zen, only wears flip flops, and talks long walks in the sunshine.

She loves these cookies.

Full of rolled oats, sunflower seed butter, and sweetened only with agave, these are cookies you can feel good about. Eat one...or four.

For some added adventure, you could add a half cup of dried fruit, dark chocolate chips, or use almond or peanut butter instead of the sunflower seed butter. I have a feeling this is a forgiving batter.

If you're feeling really frisky, dunk them in a glass of almond milk. I won't tell.

Granola Cookies

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
1/4 cup agave
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined.

Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Use a fork to gently flatten them to about 1/2 inch thick.

Bake 12 minutes- rotating cookie sheets midway through baking.

Makes ~27 cookies

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Coffee Cupcakes

I'm not sure if we've covered this yet, but I'm not Irish. In fact, I'm not sure what I am at all. Does Texan count? The only thing my grandmother told me was the I am 1/64 Cherokee Indian. While this doesn't guarantee me a spot on the reservation, it is a nifty fact!

On this, the greenest & drunkest of all days, I think it's fair to say that everyone has a bit of the Blarney in them.

And after you eat one of these naughty little cuppies, you'll have a bit of booze in you, too.

Melt two sticks of butter over low heat. Look at the burner underneath- neat, huh?

Measure out 3/4 cup of coffee leftover from your morning brew. Add 1 oz. Kahlua and 1 oz. whiskey.

You can pretend the whiskey is authentic and Bushmills, but I'm not much for the hard stuff. This is leftover from Thanksgiving- Uncle Jim's drink of choice. I posed them next to the Leg Lamp (name that movie!) nightlight- it added to the ambiance.

Combine your flour, white sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Stir well to combine.

In a glass measuring cup, measure out buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Whisk to combine.

After the butter is melted, add the coffee & liquor mixture and stir to combine.

Add the butter/coffee mixture to the flour and stir gently. You just want to cool the butter so you don't scramble the eggs when you add them.

Add the egg/buttermilk mixture to the bowl and stir gently until fully combined.

Line a cupcake tin with paper liners. Using 1/3 cup measure, fill the cups until they are almost full. Or, if you're like me, fill them all the way to the top. Whoops. I ended up with 16 cupcakes.

Bake 20-25 minutes. You want a toothpick to come out clean and the tops to spring back when you touch them. Combine 1 tablespoon Kahlua and 1 tablespoon whiskey in a bowl and brush onto the tops of each baked cupcake while they're still warm. You want them to be nice and liquored up.

While the cupcakes are cooling, start the frosting. Dump the softened butter, powdered sugar, whiskey, and Kahlua into the Kitchen-Aid. Start the mixer on low and then ramp it up and really get it going on high.


Frost the cupcakes generously. I tried to decorate mine with chocolate covered espresso beans, but neither the local Starbucks or specialty foods store had them- what's up with that?? I settled for chocolate covered cacao nibs. Also delicious.

One last confession: these are hands down the best baked treats I've EVER made.

Irish Coffee Cupcakes
adapted from The Pioneer Woman's Coffee Cake recipe

2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 lb butter (2 sticks)
3/4 cup coffee
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. whiskey
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line a cupcake tin.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, sugars, and salt. Set aside.

Melt butter over low heat. Once it's melted, add the coffee, Kahlua, & whiskey. Stir to combine.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla.

Add the coffee/butter mixture to the flour and gently stir to cool the butter. Then, add the buttermilk mixture to the bowl and stir gently until it's completely combined.

Using a 1/3 cup measure, fill each cupcake liner with batter until it's almost full.

Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and top springs back when pressed.

While still warm, brush the tops with 1 tablespoon whiskey and 1 tablespoon Kahlua.

Boozy Buttercream Frosting
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 lb powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp whiskey
2 tbsp Kahlua

In a Kitchen Aid mixer, dump all ingredients. Start the mixer on low until the butter is incorporated and then ramp it up to medium high. Mix until fluffy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Raspberry Pecan Streusel Bars

At our 24 watching party last night, guests noshed on eggplant dip, Trader Joe's style "Doritos", salsa, and raspberry pecan streusel bars. This hodge podge was a combination of leftovers from our Mid East feast dinner (falafel, "baba ghanoush", pita, & salad) and my recent adventures into low-glycemic baking.

Even though this final season of Jack Bauer-antics has been a thorough disappointment, these tasty South Beach friendly treats delivered big flavor. The combination of lemon and raspberry balances the hearty, slightly sweet dough bursting with toasted pecans.

The use of whole wheat flour and agave nectar make this South Beach friendly. There is a bit of butter, so it would best be enjoyed as an occasional phase 2 or 3 treat. Choose a raspberry jam that is low-sugar or sweetened only with fruit juice.

I knew these were a hit when the husband refused to take the remaining bars to work so that he could have them all to himself. Greed is a good sign.

Raspberry Pecan Streusel Bars

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup pecans
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 cup butter, diced
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup oil
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup raspberry jam
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, pecans, lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Using your fingers work the butter into the flour/pecan mixture. The butter/flour clumps should be pea-sized, so that the flour, butter, and pecans are well-combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the oil, agave, egg yolk, and vanilla until well-combined.

Add the liquid mixture to the dry mixture and stir together. The dough will be crumbly, which is what you are looking for.

Stir the lemon juice and raspberry jam together to thoroughly combine.

In an ungreased 9x13 pan pat 2/3 of the dough into an even layer. Spread the jam over the bottom layer leaving a 1/4 inch border. Sprinkle the rest of the dough on top- don't worry if the pieces don't touch.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Check near the end as whole wheat flour browns (burns) much quicker than white flour.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

With St. Patrick's day rapidly approaching, it's time to get into the spirit. Now, I'm about as Irish as green beer, but I have been introduced to the joys of corned beef & cabbage and other Emerald Isle delicacies by my part Irish in-laws. My father-in-law gave me his Irish Soda bread recipe which is originally from a King Arthur flour advertisement circa 1978. They still had the original newspaper!

Cast of characters: Unbleached all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder, raisins, buttermilk, canola oil, eggs

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the raisins and stir to combine.

Measure out 1 1/2 cups buttermilk.

Drop an egg on the floor. Cry a little bit while you clean it up because this is the third time you've done that this week.

Whisk the egg and canola oil into the buttermilk.

Create a well in the dry ingredients.

Add the buttermilk mixture and stir to combine.

Shape into one loaf.

Then divide into two small loaves and place on an oiled baking sheet.

Bake until perfectly golden. The outside crust is crispy and the inside dough is soft and dotted with plump raisins. Enjoy warm with some butter and a cup of Irish tea.

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup raisins
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the raisins and stir. In a measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, canola oil, and egg together. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk mixture. Stir to combine. Mixture will be a bit shaggy. Form two small loaves and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown and completely done.