Well, Hello there!
Katie from Katie at the Kitchen Door and I are joining forces today. If you have never been to her blog – you must, you just have to head over there. Katie is oh so talented…her talents in the kitchen and behind the camera are out of this world. When she asked me to write a guest post for her blog, while she is on vacation, I couldn’t but jump at the chance.
And if you are visiting my little space on the Internet because you are wandering over here from Katie’s blog….then you totally know what I am talking about. She is awesome, right?!? And welcome! I am so very glad to have you here today.
Let’s get going!
The sun is shining. The trees are budding. Daffodils are waving ever so slightly in the breeze. Tulips are testing the waters…soon to be in full bloom. The grass is growing fast and furious, aided by the April showers. Spring is starting to slowly and finally roll into Ohio. It has been a long winter and we want nothing more than warm afternoons and long lazy evenings. Spring in Ohio requires us to practice patience.
In the spring, we have this internal urge to clean out the old and bring in new. Start fresh – Spring, to me, has always represented a new year more so than January 1st ever has. Something takes hold and before we know it windows are being cleaned, floor boards scrubbed, closets sorted and organized, and if you are me – fridges and freezers are overhauled. It has been a long winter – heaven only knows what I have stocked and stored away over the cold months. I am like a squirrel hoarding nuts. So it was no surprise to me when I found 2 extra bags of fresh frozen cranberries in my freezer last week. Left over from Thanksgiving/Christmas. Stored away just in case. Just in case I needed to whip up a cranberry sauce. Or jam. Or needed a another loaf of orange cranberry bread.
Honestly, I had forgotten about them. Big Surprise. So, when Katie asked me to guest blog and I was scratching my head and standing in front of my refrigerator wondering what recipe I would offer her readers…I spotted the cranberries. And instantly thought…I bet there are more people out there like me. Spring cleaning and finding extra bags of cranberries (among many other things… why do I buy so many packages of frozen spinach?!?).
I know, I know…cranberries are generally eaten around winter holidays, but I think they are perfect this time of year ( and I am not just saying this because I have an abundance). They have a bright tart flavor, matching the feeling of an early spring afternoon. A coffee cake with a thin layer of sweetened cranberries and a coconut streusel top is just what a Sunday afternoon calls for. A lazy Sunday afternoon spent on your porch, soaking up the sunshine, getting lost in a good book, with baseball on the radio in the back ground. All while you nibble away on an extra large piece of coffee cake that is studded with little flecks of vanilla bean. And coffee. Lots of coffee. Always coffee.
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 1¾ cups sugar, divided
- 2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup whole milk
- ⅓ Cup Flaked Coconut, unsweetened
- 1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Grease a 9 inch round cake pan with butter and line bottom with parchment paper. Grease parchment.
- Make vanilla sugar: With the tip of a paring knife, scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean and place in a food processor with 1+3/4 Cup of sugar. Pulse to combine. Transfer to another bowl – you will need the food processor again.
- Place cranberries and ½ Cup of vanilla sugar in food processor and pulse until chopped but NOT pureed.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt – set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of vanilla sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down side and bottom of bowl.
- With mixer on low, add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined.
- Pour ½ of batter into bottom of prepare pan – the batter will be very thick, so spread it out with a butter knife.
- Spoon cranberries over the batter, leaving a ½ inch border around edge. Spread the remaining batter over cranberries. (With the batter being so thick, the best way to do this is by dolloping spoonfuls of batter all over cranberry filling and very carefully with a buttered knife, gradually spreading the batter over the filling)
- Prepare crumble topping : In a small bowl, combine remaining ¼ cup of vanilla sugar, flaked coconut, tablespoon of butter, and tablespoon of flour. Crumble with fingers or fork until pebble like.
- Spread evenly over top of cake.
- Place in preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean (don’t test into cranberry filling).
- Let cool in pan for about 30 minutes before removing from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
- Serve with coffee and good conversation.
Adapted from Gourmet December 2008Read More
The holidays are long gone, resolutions have been made and broken, snowmen have been built and hills have been sledded, the Super Bowl has been won and lost, and the groundhog has seen his shadow…Dear Winter, all that is exciting during your months (and I am including a large mean fat rodent checking out his shadow like Peter Pan in this list) have come and now are gone. You are free to leave this shin dig whenever you see fit. No one would be upset. Promise.
I have been wearing a heavy coat for what feels like months. Boots have replaced flats and cute shoes. I couldn’t imagine wearing a short sleeved shirt anywhere. And honestly, I haven’t been warm since August. I also haven’t felt fully rested in months…or at least since the sun brought warmth and not just light….and lets be honest, that light is waning.
I think I am part bear. Winter hits and I need 2-3x more sleep than spring, summer, and fall. And not only do I need more sleep, but my desire to do anything productive is absent. My level of productivity is about 30% – as I look around, my house is proof of this. Laundry is piled as high as the dishes (college roommates reading this…it is worse than normal, yikes!). Coats are strewn over backs of chairs and banisters and boots, flats, and wedges are scattered throughout. I have forgotten how to dust and does mail need to be sorted during the winter?
I become a big ole sleepy lazy bear. Or a human of a bear. Or a bear of a human. I don’t know…but I hibernate.
And about this time of year…yep, February is about right. I get a wee-bit annoyed with myself , but there is no getting me out of this funk. It just lingers until the days get longer and the sun begins to provide warmth again. I can push myself to do the things and chores and daily tasks that need to happen, but it takes an enormous amount of effort. The bed is too warm and my eyelids to heavy to wake-up and be productive. Dishes or exercise be damned. The couch too appealing and the book too good to start any laundry. Trips to Target even seem like work…how wrong, right? Suppose I have a touch of seasonal associated depressive disorder? Nah, I wouldn’t take it that far…I am by no means depressed. I am just saying sweat pants and a warm blanket and long novels and naps are more attractive than grown up duties. Also, if you stop by…don’t mind the mess…it’ll be cleaned by March. Or mid-March. Perhaps April…March is still rather frigid in my parts.
With all of this being said…I still make it into the kitchen and whip things up … just the kitchen doesn’t get cleaned up as quickly as it should or would in other seasons. And I still have to eat and I still need a snacks and my sweet tooth never hibernates. Never ever. And what is better than a good book, a hot cup of whatever gets your goat this time of year, and a piece of snacking cake? Nothing. That is the answer. And I have the perfect snacking cake for you today. It is great as a light dessert, a mid afternoon sweet treat with your mid-day caffeine boost, and quite excellent as a Saturday morning breakfast. Oh, and it tastes like oranges. Not overly so…just perfectly so.
- 1 + ½ Cups Pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
- 4 Large Eggs, room temperature
- 1 + ½ Cup Granulated White Sugar
- ½ Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
- 1 Tablespoon Grated Orange Zest
- ½ Cup Olive Oil ( good quality)
- Powder sugar for dusting/serving
- Preheat oven to 350F. Spray springform pan with a non-stick spray or olive oil (bottom and sides).
- Grind pecans in food processor until finely ground (not powdery). Whisk ground pecans with flour and baking powder. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until they have lightened in color and they are frothy – about 2 minutes.
- Slowly add sugar and beat until mixture is pale yellow and thickened – about 4 minutes.
- Gradually add pecan/flour mixture and then mix in orange juice, olive oil, and orange zest, mixing just until combined.
- Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Place springform pan onto a rimmed baking sheet and place in preheated oven and bake for about 50 – 60 minutes, until toothpick when inserted comes out clean.
- Cool cake completely in pan on a wire rack.
Recipe slightly adapted from Bon Appétit, October 2007Read More
Any pistachio lovers out there? What a qui-dinky-dink. Me too.
Not long ago, I was able to pick you/we pistachio eaters out of a crowd. Those red fingers were a dead give away. Anyone know why they dyed them red? I am fully aware that a quick Google search ‘why were pistachios dyed red?’ would return multiple pages providing me with an adequate answer (and probably a correct one), but sometimes and quite often, I still like to ask questions. Similar to how I still like buying real books and compact discs. Old school livin’.
I will text and or ask questions when I can readily answer the same questions using my magic phone or the handy dandy computer I always find myself in front of. Personal Googles is what I like to call them. Each question directed to the person in my life that would be able to answer it best and most quickly. Why is the sky blue? How do I get a grease stain out of my favorite sweatshirt? Where does the wax go when candles are burned? Is there a trick to keeping your cat out of a Christmas tree? I ask game scores when I have an ESPN app made specifically for scores when you are on the go, or at work, or at a wedding. Same for the weather. I am always asking about the weather…but this may be because I stink something awful at small talk.
So my question today…red pistachios. Why red? and then also, why are they no longer dyed red? (besides the fact that we no longer prefer to ingest copious amounts of red dye #40) So many questions…also, why are they so darn addictive? Abby Sciuto was right, have you ever just eaten one pistachio? I think not. Which means, and I apologize in advance, you will probably not be able to eat just one slice of this cake. I have already eaten two slices and wondering how long I must wait before I eat a third.
This cake may become my ultimate nemesis. Self proclaimed pistachio addict and a life long lover of pound cake. Yep, I am doomed. Doomed I tell you! I beg of you to bake this…risk the doomed-ness. Totally worth it. Promise.
Shell your pistachios. Ha! Please buy them shelled, it’ll take you all day otherwise. It is worth the extra cost. Your thumbs will thank you. You will leave some whole, some roughly chopped, and others will be ground into a paste….
Ground pistachios, pistachio paste. Guess what? Pistachio paste does not look like I had imagined. What happened to the green? Where did all the brownish-yellow come from?
Cream cheese and butter need to be creamed. Martha was onto something here. I don’t think I will ever make a pound cake with just butter ever again.
Add the pistachio paste into the mix. We are gonna hide its ugliness among cream cheese and butter.
Where it will discolor your cream cheese and butter mixture and you will realize that your cake will not be green, but a light brown. I now understand why Jell-O adds green food coloring to their pistachio pudding. Light brown pudding that is not chocolate = not appetizing. At all. Or ever.
Eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour, salt, mini chocolate chips, and more pistachios are heading to this shindig.
Mini chocolate chips and the chopped pistachios get folded in last.
I should have left more in the bowl. This batter is delicious. Head in bowl, licking out the last bit delicious I however by no means suggest you should eat raw eggs.
A drizzle of a sweet glaze and a handful of chopped pistachios finishes this cake off.
I am thinking this cake would knock off the socks of relatives and co-workers for the upcoming holidays. Plus, it can be made ahead and frozen. Conquering the holidays is all about prep work. It’ll make you look like a rock-star.
- 1+1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Cup Pistachios, shelled and divided
- 10 Tablespoons Butter, room temperature
- 3 Ounces Cream Cheese, room temperature
- 1+1/2 Cups White Granulated Sugar
- 3 Large Eggs, room temperature
- 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup Mini Chocolate Chips
- 2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
- 1 Cup Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons Milk
- pinch of salt
- ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- ¼ Cup Pistachios, roughly Chopped
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line a loaf pan (8½ by 4½inch) with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place ½ Cup shelled pistachios into a food processor and process until a paste forms (about 3 minutes). Roughly chop the remaining ½ Cup shelled pistachios. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese. Add pistachio paste and cream until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).
- Beat in sugar and remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add room temperature eggs, one at a time, mixing each egg into the mixture before adding the next. Add vanilla.
- With mixture on low, add flour and salt, mix until just combined.
- Fold in roughly chopped pistachios and mini chocolate chips.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven. Bake for 80-90 minutes until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean (with a few crumbs attached) when inserted into the middle of the cake.
- Place on wired rack and let cool. Remove from pan after 15 to 20 minutes and let cool completely on wire rack.
- Once cool, drizzle cake with icing and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
- To make icing: Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Use enough milk until desired consistency is reached ( I used 2 tablespoons of milk this go around).
Adapted from Martha Stewart.
Windows open. Cool crisp air seeps into the house. My feet are oddly chilled and I search for a pair of thick socks. I enjoy a few deep breaths, the evening fall air filling my lungs and giving me a bit of a rush. A warm cup of coffee warms my hands as I gaze at the evening sky, streaked with pinks and oranges, and many many many jet streams (where are all the people coming from and going to?). Stan stands at the screen door, completely entertained by the moths just out of reach. September baseball plays quietly on the TV … all while the first of many fall desserts bakes away in the oven.
A hint of cinnamon mingles with the fall air ….warm and inviting. Like a hug from an old friend you haven’t seen, in like, 9 months…
That is what fall is. An old friend. An old friend that brings apple desserts and cardigans. Football games and hooded sweatshirts. Cool evenings and warm blankets. Oh fall, I have missed you. Welcome back.
To celebrate his return (fall is a dude in my brain, and if you were wondering – spring and summer are women, and winter is a sweet old man with grumpy moments). To celebrate, I made a cake. I bake cakes for most anything. If there is reason or room to celebrate…I am ready and willing to bake a cake. And fall, well you and your return are more than deserving of a cake. And apple cake, spiced with cinnamon and ginger, drizzled with a sweet brown sugar glaze that is heavily studded with walnuts…this is the cake I made for you, fall.
You are welcome.
- 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- ¾ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- ¼ Teaspoon Ground Ginger
- ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Cup Vegetable Oil (used canola)
- 1+1/2 Cups White Granulated Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Cup Apple Butter (used Mussleman’s)
- 3 Small or 2 Medium Granny Smith Apples; peeled, cored, and grated
- 1 Cup Walnuts, roughly chopped
- ¾ Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Stick Unsalted Butter, diced
- ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
- 1 Cup Walnuts, roughly Chopped
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter (generously so) and flour a bundt pan. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together vegetable oil and sugar.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl between additions.
- Add apple butter and shredded apple, mix to combine.
- With mixer on low, add dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
- With a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in chopped walnuts.
- Pour batter (it will be thick) into prepared bundt pan and place in preheated oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes until golden brown and toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean with only a few moist crumbs holding on.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes on a wire rack before turning cake out onto a cake stand. Let cool.
- When cake is near room temperature, prepare glaze.
- In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream. Place over medium heat and bring mixture to a boil. Let boil for 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in walnuts.
- Pour warm glaze over cake.
OK, so I spent the weekend kinda sorta camping. But not really at all. Home camping. Is that such a thing? Well, it is now.
And I don’t mean pitching a tent in the backyard…even though that was fun when we were ten.
I am not going to get into the particulars of the weekend because, well…it wasn’t flattering. For anyone involved. To put things simply, my parent’s home was hit by the storms over the weekend. Trees came down, holes in porches happened, and power lines were severed. Leaving the residents of our small town (and pretty much the entire state of Ohio and beyond) without power. And in my small town, no power = no water. The wonders of well water people. Enter this overwhelming sensation of camping, but not. Maybe if we had made s’mores or built a campfire…but we didn’t.
A few tidbits to keep in mind when your power goes out…
1) This is the time when it is totally OK to eat all that ice cream in the freezer. It will be the first to go. So, invite neighbors and have an impromptu ice cream social…what else are you going to do?
2) Know where your UNO cards or Monopoly board is…this may be your only entertainment.
3) Learn how to open and close/lock your garage door without electricity. Do this now, when you have power…you will need this skill. Promise.
4) If you aren’t a fan of roughing it…buy a generator. But that is cheating.
5) Always keep fresh batteries in your flashlights. It will get dark inside fast. Like, real fast.
6) Candles are a great light source….and make the whole situation more romantic than it really is. Oh, and if you had a grandmother like mine, great entertainment for children.
7) Find the funny. Otherwise you will focus on the unpleasantness of it all.
8) Know where your car phone charger is…your phone will be your only distraction, keep it charged.
9) You can totally make coffee using a grill. Add Bailey’s to that coffee and your day without power will start much smoother. Promise.
Thankfully, my parents got power back on Monday evening and besides losing a tree, a bit of damage to the porch, and losing the entire contents of the fridge/freezer…they are OK. It definitely could have been worse. Much worse.
You wanna know what is great during a power outage? Cake. How about black raspberry and peach cake…yeah, sure why not. When making this, I didn’t have a power outage in mind…nopers, I was thinking of eating this poolside all weekend, with maybe a dollop of whipped cream…but instead we ate in the dark with warm diet coke. So much for plans!
Black Raspberry and Peach Summer Cake
Makes a 9 x 13in. cake
- 1+ 1/2 Sticks (3/4 Cup) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 2 + 1/4 Cup White Granulated Sugar, divided
- 3 Eggs
- 1 + 1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt
- 1 + 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 + 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1 + 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- 3/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 + 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- 4 Medium Peaches; peeled, pitted, and evenly sliced
- 1 Pint Fresh Black Raspberries