Cinnamon Sugar Pound Cake

It is 4pm and I am crashing.  Crashing fast.  I am in a tail spin…Top Gun-esque.  Maverick is in my head screaming about a jetwash and ‘coupling up’ (whatever that is).  I hear Iceman shouting, Mayday Mayday…Mavs in trouble and something about a flat spin and heading out to sea.  And then sadly, Goose dies (but thankfully comes back to become Dr. Mark Green) and Meg Ryan cries.  While a bit dramatic, this is how I feel.  And it is sad.  Other than keeping myself alive, fed, clothed and housed…I have no other real responsibilites…Nothing compared to say, my mother.  Who is like a freaking Tasmanian Devil.  She read me her to-do list yesterday and by the time she was done, I needed a nap.  True story.

Since an afternoon catnap is not always an option or if you are my mom, it isn’t in your vocabulary … a pick-me-up is necessary.  Something to get you up and over that hump and back into full swing.  Carbs and caffeine to the rescue!  I know, I know, I know…every health magazine recommends eating healthy protein and a piece of fruit…but sometimes, sometimes you want cake!  And coffee!  And then more cake!  And as long as it is not every day…I say go for it.  Moderation is key.  And sometimes, cake is necessary.

A slice of cinnamon sugar pound cake, a hot cup of coffee, and ten minutes to sit in silence and regroup.  To sit and think about nothing other than how awesome cinnamon and sugar taste in combination.  No thoughts of bills, meetings, schedules, emails, etc are allowed to creep in to your happy place.  Cinnamon and sugar…they make the world right again, reset button pushed.  Bring on the rest of the day…I can handle it.

Oh and hey, this would be perfect for any Easter brunch.  Can you believe Easter is just 10 days away?!?  Oh my goodness, where is this year going?  We are already in April!?!  I’ll be 29 in two months!?!  Is it really 2012 already?  I wrote 2010 the other day…not joking.  Time is flying.  It is freaking me out.  I am going to eat more cake.

 

Cinnamon Sugar Pound Cake

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients 

Cake

  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 + 1/2 Sticks Butter, softened
  • 8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1+1/2 Cups White Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

Cinnamon Swirl

  • 3 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

 Make cinnamon swirl first.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Whisk in brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon – this may take a few minutes.  Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for about 1 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter and flour a  9 x 5-inch loaf pan.  (cutting a piece of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan and inserting it into the bottom of the pan will ensure the bottom will not stick).  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, cream together 1 + 1/2 sticks of butter and cream cheese.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy ( a few minutes).  Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.  With mixer on medium speed, add eggs one at a time, beating for about one minute after each addition.

With mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.  When done, make sure to take a rubber spatula and fold the batter a few times to ensure that all the ingredients are combined.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth out surface.  Take the cooled cinnamon swirl and drizzle it over the top of the cake batter.  With a butter knife, begin to drag the knife through the batter, swirling and marbeling the mixture.  Place cake in preheated oven and bake for about 60-70 minutes until a toothpick is inserted and comes out clean.  Check the cake about half way through baking and rotate it 180°.  If the top begins to brown beyond your liking, tent with a piece of tinfoil.

Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.  Wait at least 30 minutes before inverting and removing from pan.  Let completely cool on wire rack.

Store cake well wrapped and it will last about 4 days at room temperature.  It can also be stored, wrapped tightly, in the freezer.

Enjoy!

Coconut Strawberry Oat Bars

Spring cleaning.  It is something that I want to do.  No, let me make it clear…it is something that I wish I wanted to do.  It needs done – no doubt.  Winter tends to be the season to collect and gather, making life cozy.  Or cluttered.  As I look around my house, it is clutter that I have accrued over the past few months.  Or I have created the clutter, since I am not an organized person.  Good intentions I have, but my organization skills just lead to more clutter, plus the act of organizing does not keep my attention…so, it’s half-assed organization.  I wish I was more Type A regarding home organization.  Are you organized?  I know some of you out there are…what are your tricks?  From bedroom closets to kitchen pantries…how do you keep things tidy and organized?

But back to spring cleaning…Beyond the organization bit, I do need to purge a bit…that bookshelf I hate, dating back to my college days – it needs to be upgraded to a grownup bookshelf.  And those t-shirts I got free, while also in college, they need to go…and those knit shirts that I hate to wear – why are they still taking up room in my closet?!?  And can we discuss my kitchen?  Yikes.  Is there a reason why I have 10 slotted spoons? But only 1.489 decent spatulas.  ( 1 spatula has half a handle…not joking.)  And my pantry and cupboards…there is no rhyme or reason to any of it…who knows how many cans of cannellini beans or boxes of instant oatmeal are hidden among cans of tuna and dried pasta…Can someone spare me their Type A personality, just for the afternoon?

I suppose, at some point in time, I will tackle the closets and cupboards and purge what I no longer have use for and organize that which I do.  But until then, I will try to navigate what system I have in action now – however faulty.

That is how I came about making these fruity bars.  I ran across (let’s pretend like I knew it was there) a jar of strawberry jam that I had made last summer.  Oy! My freezer, it too is experiencing the same amount of disarray as my cupboards…everything is just frozen.  Anyway, it was the final jar of jam (i think).  With the weather hitting the mid 80’s, the trees in bloom, and my daffodils out in abundance….the sudden urge to make a dish that was reminiscent of the weather outside hit me like a Mack truck.

These bars can be made with any fruit/jam combination.  I think peach jam with blackberries would be out of this world.  Coconut oil was used in combination with butter to make the crust, but if all you have is butter, use butter (not margarine my friends…never margarine).  And if you don’t have whole wheat flour…use all purpose.  These are a simple dessert that will earn you wows from the crowd…Just make sure your crowd enjoys coconut.

p.s.  by no means am I a hoarder…just unorganized.

Let’s get baking!

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Quinoa Breakfast

Can we make this quick?  I would truly like to stay longer, but I have some place to ‘be’.  And shortly.  Thankfully, I don’t have to leave the comfort of my pajamas or my couch, but I do need to be logged in elsewhere and not blabbering on and on about my day to day here, in my little corner of the Internet.

You see, it is draft day for my fantasy baseball league.  So you see, while I would love to sit around and chit chat about the wonders of quinoa as a breakfast staple and how delicious it tastes made with almond milk, brown sugar, cinnamon,and berries….and how it kept me full until lunch time – unheard of…I simply can’t do so tonight.

I have a baseball team roster to fill.

I hope no one picks Omar.

Quinoa…go!

P.S.  Yo…lacking time in the morning?  Totally get that.  Guess what?  This tastes great warmed up the following morning.  Fantastic right!?!  Yeah, that is what I thought!

Breakfast Quinoa

Servings 2-3

Ingredients 

  • 2 Cups Almond Milk
  • 1 Cup Quinoa, uncooked
  • 2 Tablespoon Brown Sugar, plus extra for finishing
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Mixed Berries

In a medium pot, combine quinoa, almond milk, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon.  Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low to maintain a simmer and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid.  Continue to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Let sit for about 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.

Top with fresh berries, a sprinkle of brown sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon.

Happy Healthy Breakfast!

 

Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake

I have never made a coffee cake for this here blog and yet it is one of my favorite things to eat.  I like lots of cinnamony sugary streusel topping.  And a cake that is tender and slightly dense and not overly sweet.  And did I mention cinnamon?  It just makes life so cozy.

I found this recipe in my mom’s recipe box.  I have rummaged through it numerous times, always looking for something to spark my interest or to catch my eye/stomach.  The perfect penmanship on each index card kills me…whether done in haste or with care, it is even and practiced.  It is one of those small things in life that just gets me…  The handwriting belongs to my mom, my aunts, and grandmothers….all of who have lovingly written out their favorite recipes on 4 x 6 index cards.  Who knows where the recipes have come from or who created them, but there are some real gems in there.  And there are some oddballs…generally involving Jell-O.  Among the index cards there are many scrapes of paper….snip-its from newspapers and magazines.  All yellowed from age and bit more fragile.  All cut out, possibly on a lazy Saturday afternoon, a few or maybe many decades ago, with the intent to create a dish to be shared with family and friends.

Times have not changed much…Except I am not quite as organized.  But I too have a large stack of magazines with pages dog-eared to recipes I want to try and a favorites folder on this computer filled with links that lead to recipes ranging from crock pot meals to decadent desserts.   I wonder who, down the road – many, many years from,  will rummage through my stacks and computer files searching for recipes.  What recipes will they take and try for themselves and which will they think weird?  And I wonder how they will keep and store their recipes and where will they gather them from…

This coffee cake recipe is from my mom’s recipe box.  While I am not sure if the  person that cut it out – be it my mom or my grandma, ever made it…I am glad that they took care to save the recipe and while it may have taken longer than expected, the cake was finely baked and enjoyed.

Coffee cake is great for weekends.  Weekends busy or slow.  Lazy or bustling.  With or without visitors.  And leftovers (if there are any) are great for getting through those dreaded Monday mornings!

 

Cherry Streusel Coffee Cake

Makes 8 x 8 cake

Ingredients

  • 1, 16 ounce bag of frozen Cherries, thawed and drained.  ( I used sweet bing cherries)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1/2 Stick Butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1  Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Egg
  • Zest of 1 Lemon (grated)
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (2%)

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 Stick Butter, cold
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoon White Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 6 Tablespoon Flour
  • 2 Tablespoon Slivered Almonds, plus extra for finishing.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 8 x 8 inch pan.

Combine thawed and drained cherries with almond extract.  Let sit while the rest of the cake is prepared.

Meanwhile, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light.  Mix in vanilla, egg, and lemon zest until well combined.  Slowly add in the flour mixture, alternating with the greek yogurt – starting and ending with the flour.  Spread batter into prepared baking dish, it will be thick.  Use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly into the pan.  Set aside and prepare the streusel topping.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the cinnamon, sugars, flour, and almond slivers.  Cut in the butter using two knives, pastry cutter, or your fingers.  Cut in the butter until it looks like coarse meal/butter pieces are about pea size.  This is the topping.

Evenly spread the cherries over the cake batter and top with streusel.  Sprinkle extra almond slivers over the cake.  Place cake in preheated oven and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing and enjoying.

The cake is best if eaten within 2 days of making…any longer and the streusel topping gets soggy (absorbs moisture from the cake and surroundings), but the cake is still tasty…

Basil is Green

Crud BUCKETS!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.  ‘

I just searched my closet…I haven’t a green piece of clothing in my closet, in my dresser, in my hamper, on my floor…

Please don’t pinch me…I bruise like a tomato.  And why the pinching?  I would never pinch you…unless you were just sitting there, minding your own business…then I might pinch the back of your arm (tricep region) for no good reason at all…just to make you jump.  I have an evil streak…it is true.

Truth be told…One of my best St. Patrick’s Days was spent in a blue sweatshirt.  While I felt like an oddball (at first) it just gave me more reason to keep a green beer in my hand at all times :)  And green beer…I wish it was more than just green food coloring.

And on matters of food…

I forgot to bake a cake with Guinness.  I didn’t make any cornbeef something or other…There is no cabbage to be had here.  I didn’t even use a shot of whiskey in one dish.  And Baileys…still sitting on my counter.  Yikes!

But in my defense…I don’t need a holiday to put Irish something or other into my dishes.  Brownies made with Baileys…out of this world.  Pot roast made with Guinness….bonkers good.  And Irish coffee….spend a weekend morning with my dad, and you will have your fill.

So if you want a recipe for something festive and Irishy – check out….

Brown Eyed Baker

Recipe Girl

Pass the Sushi

Joy the Baker

Oh and me…  I did make these once.

But if you want some pasta…tossed in a creamy mustardy sauce with sausage and basil…keep reading.  Basil is green…totally counts for a St. Patrick’s Day meal.  Do Italians celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or is it just us and Ireland…or is it just us?

Any who…

Happy St. Patrick’s Day…stay safe, enjoy a green beer or two, and please…please, keep the festive green clothing classy…

Creamy Mustard, Sausage, and Basil Pasta

Servings 4

Adapted from Food and Wine

Ingredients

  • 2 Cloves Garlic Minced
  • 1 lb Penne Pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 lb Mild Italian Sausage
  • 3/4 to 1 Cup Dry White Wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • 3/4 Cup Half  and Half
  • 3 Tablespoons Grainy Mustard
  • Pinch Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Cup Basil, thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes).  Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large dutch oven/deep skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes.  Do not brown.  If it begins to brown, reduce heat.  Add sausage and brown for about 5-7 minutes.  Break up the sausage as it cooks.

Once sausage is cooked through and browned on all sides, add wine and bring to a simmer.  Scrape up the browned tidbits on the bottom of the pan (where the flavor is).  Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half (about 5 minutes).

Stir in half and half, mustard, and crushed red pepper.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 minutes…it will thicken slightly.  Remove from heat and toss in pasta and sliced basil.  Toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

Best served with crusty toasted bread and a nice glass of wine.

Enjoy!