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Scenes from a Bachelorette Cake: Joy the Baker’s Basic 3-Layer Yellow Cake with Classic Buttercream Frosting

10 Jul

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My friend Michelle is getting married this fall. A few weeks ago, we celebrated with a weekend full of bachelorette and wedding shower festivities.

I took on the challenge of making a cake for the bachelorette party. Naturally, I turned to my trusted source for cakes, Joy the Baker and her latest cookbook, Homemade Decadence. Below is a series of pictures of the cake making process.

But first,  a snapshot of myself and the bride-to-be.

IMG_5243 Continue reading

Not-for-the-Faint-of-Heart Molasses Bundt ~*Recipe Redux*~

22 Dec

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I recently became a member of a community of health and dietitian bloggers called The Recipe Redux. The Recipe Redux was founded by registered dietitians Regan Jones (of ReganMillerJones, Inc.), Serena Ball and Deanna Segrave-Daly (both of Teaspoon Communications). The Latin “redux” means to revisit or reinvent, and the aim of The Recipe Redux is to reinvent the idea of healthy eating with a taste-first approach.

On the 21st and 22nd of each month, members of this community receive a unique recipe challenge. This month’s challenge: Grab a Book & Cook. ReDux has been around for 42 months! To celebrate, the “reduxers” are playing a little party game this month: Grab a cookbook and ReDux the recipe on page 42 or 142. Continue reading

Healthy Carrot Breakfast Bread…Muffinized

8 Dec

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The “Healthy Carrot Breakfast Bread” is one of the more popular recipes on my blog. I still make it regularly whenever I have carrots around, tweaking the recipe slightly depending on my on-hand ingredients.

This weekend I turned the bread into muffins for easy snacks to take to my dietetic internship rotation.

I changed the recipe just enough from the original to feel like I should re-post. Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2014

29 Nov

I hope your holiday was delicious and special. My friend Natasha and I co-hosted and cooked most of the food together. Our friends brought extra sides (sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole), desserts (mascarpone tart with berries), and drinks (wine, beers, cider), all of which were amazing!

The menu:

Castelvetrano olives

Kale salad with apples and walnuts

Extra-buttery mashed potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes

Kale stuffing with dates

Brussels sprouts with bacon

Green bean casserole

Spatchcocked turkey with gravy

Roasted garlic

Cranberry sauce (homemade and jellied)

Dessert:

Upside-down cranberry cake

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Topping

Peanut Butter Pie

Mascarpone tart with berry sauce

Hand-whipped cream

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Clockwise from left: stuffing a la Samin (and Charlie!), with dates instead of prunes and no sausage; spatchcocked and carved turkey from the Serious Eats recipe and video; cranberry sauce (can be made one week before TG) Continue reading

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

12 Jun

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I moved from Northern California to New York City three years ago. Determined to find a full-time job in a restaurant kitchen, I spent my first few weeks “trailing” (a fancy term for trying out) at a handful of restaurants, mostly in pastry.

Typically at a trail, I got a quick tour of the restaurant, I was assigned some kitchen prep tasks, and eventually if all went well, I was allowed on the line during service to observe and help out with some small finishing touches on the dishes.

At one of the restaurants, my task was to peel rhubarb stalks. The peels were eventually going to get candied.

Rhubarb tends to have this “skin” that can be delicately peeled off into hot pink (and sometimes light green) strands. This is not an easy task when you have an entire box of rhubarb to peel and you haven’t eaten or peed for six hours and your hands are trembling with nerves (trembling because earlier that day I incorrectly measured out the dry ingredients for a giant batch of cookies). Nonetheless, I put on a smile, bit my lip, and persevered. Trying out for a new job, after all, is not an easy task.

*Side note, I met my friend Elizabeth at that trail. She was working the line and I was allowed to observe her. I was fresh in New York, and she was the coolest, funniest, nicest person I had met since moving (and still is!), and I knew I had to keep her close. Plus, she had experience in the kitchen and could offer me advice. I never ended up working at that restaurant and she left shortly thereafter, but Elizabeth and I became fast friends.  

My back-of-the-house restaurant life has been on hiatus for the last two years as I finish up graduate school and try to become a registered dietitian.

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While I feel somewhat nostalgic for candied rhubarb tendrils, in the comfort of my own home (if you call comfort a shared apartment with three dudes), I tend to crave a more rustic dessert.

Rhubarb pudding cake fits the bill. It’s a rhubarb compote plopped on top of cake batter and baked. The rhubarb gets chopped and simmered into a compote until just soft. Fast, easy, and absolutely delicious. I did pull out my KitchenAid mixer for the cake batter, but at least I didn’t have to deal with cleaning a giant hobart mixer.

The “pudding” in the cake is created by pouring a hot, vanilla-infused rhubarb compote over a thick sour-cream (or yogurt) batter.

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To memorable restaurant experiences, to good friends, and to pink vegetables that taste like fruit. Bon Appétit!

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

adapted from Vintage Cakes

makes 8-10 servings

1 pound rhubarb, trimmed of leaves and ends, diced (~4 cups)

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise)

1/2 cup water

1 2/3 cup (8 1/3 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine Kosher salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (9 ounces) sour cream or plain yogurt, room temperature [I used a 6-oz container of low-fat Greek yogurt mixed with some milk to equal a cup]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch round or square cake pan or a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with butter. (I lined mine with parchment paper, too).

Make a compote by tossing together the rhubarb and 1 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan with a lid. Add the vanilla and water, cover, and simmer over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft but has not completely broken down, stirring occasionally. Take the compote off the heat but keep it covered so it says warm while you make the cake.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the second egg as soon as the first one has disappeared into the batter, followed by the vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the sour cream in two parts, so that you begin and end with the flour mixture.

Spread the batter into the prepared dish or pan and distribute the compote over the top. The compote will be quite runny, but don’t fear: all will be well once the cake has baked. Place the cake in the center of the oven and bake until the edges are firm and the center no longer jiggles, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 30 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate and cut into slices, or spoon it right out of the pan.

This cake is best the day it is made, but well-wrapped it can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. 

Vegan Chocolate Loaf with yogurt, warmed cherries, and chocolate balsamic

6 May

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Because it’s Tuesday.

Because I’m in the thick of finals (last semester of grad school!).

Because I like to eat “healthified cake” for breakfast. 

Because sometimes, I like to plate my food up fancy. 

I ate a slice of this chocolate loaf for breakfast today. No shame. Vegan chocolate loaf cake with some plain, low fat yogurt, frozen cherries that were warmed in the microwave and poured on top, the juices seeping into the cake, and a final glug of chocolate balsamic vinegar that I re-discovered I had in the cabinet. This could easily be dessert.

Healthy decadence is my jam.

Nicole from CucinaNicolina and I are on the same page in terms of our mindset that life is too short not to have a slice of something sweet, especially when that sweet something is homemade, with a little bit of health mixed in. Throwing in some whole wheat flour and a sprinkling of ground flaxseeds helps make cake an acceptable breakfast in my opinion. Oh, and there’s a cup of coffee in hiding in the loaf, too. I always have a little extra from my morning French press, so this was a great excuse to use it up.

This weekend, I tasted the Brooklyn based White Moustache yogurt in sour cherry flavor. The yogurt company is a father-daughter business, and the yogurt is made from Hudson Valley Fresh whole milk and live probiotic cultures. While the price is steep, this yogurt was a real treat, and was worth every penny. Plus, you get to keep the container to re-use.

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This sour cherry combo got me craving cherries. Since cherry season is not quite here, I found some frozen cherries and just heated them up and poured them over this vegan chocolate loaf. Cherries, chocolate, and creamy yogurt were meant to be together!

Since I gobbled down my jar of White Moustache yogurt, I served the cake with my other favorite brand, Wallaby Organic Plain Low-fat Greek Yogurt. If you want to keep everything vegan, just omit the yogurt or make some sort of coconut based cream.

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Vegan Chocolate Loaf

adapted from Cucina Nicolina

makes 1 loaf or ~8 servings

Nicole says, “As always, replace the whole wheat pastry flour and/or spelt flour with all purpose if that’s all you have. A non-dairy milk or plain water can be swapped for the coffee, but I love the coffee note in there and would be loathe to miss it.” I used whole wheat and all purpose flour to keep things simple, and yes, I LOVED the coffee note.

1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder

2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds

3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used slightly less)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup room temperature coffee

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease a standard sized loaf pan with oil or butter (omit butter if keeping this vegan) and lightly dust with flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, flaxseeds, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together coffee, olive oil, and vanilla.

Dump the wet ingredients all at once into the dry and whisk until just combined. The batter will be more firm than wet.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Serve with a dollop of yogurt, some warmed cherries, and a glug of chocolate balsamic vinegar (regular balsamic vinegar would work, too). 

Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread

26 Mar

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Do I really need another banana bread recipe? No.

But, when I had some extra lemons on hand from last week’s Earl Grey Spiced Fruit Compote workshop, and when an “accidental” two bunches of bananas were sprawled on the counter that needed to be immediately eaten, frozen, or baked with, my wheels started turning.

Currently, my top three go-to banana bread recipes include Smitten Kitchen’s Jacked-Up Banana Bread, Cookie and Kate’s Honey Whole Wheat Banana Bread, and my Peanut Butter Banana Bread.

My rule of thumb? Always better with chocolate chips/chunks. And, just saying, a little whole wheat flour makes chocolate-studded banana bread okay to eat for breakfast, too. Finally, don’t mash to oblivion; just lightly mush the bananas with a fork so you have some puree and some small pieces.

IMG_2245Classic Figs In My Belly Loaf Shot

I bookmarked Heidi Swanson’s version of Melissa Clark’s Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread a while ago, and this was the perfect opportunity to try a new spin on my obsession with banana bread, and quick breads in general.

The taste is classic banana bread, with a subtle hint of lemon zest and a little zing of olive oil at the end. I love it.

There is an optional glaze that you can whisk up (Swanson uses a mix of confectioners’ and brown sugar [I found the granules of the brown sugar too “crunchy” for my taste] and Clark just uses confectioners’ sugar), but I tried it and found that when it comes to banana bread, I prefer mine naked and de-glazed.

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This Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread is definitely going on my list of favorite go-to banana-breads.

Oh boy, do I love a good loaf.

Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread

recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks, Originally adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

1 cup / 125g all-purpose flour
1 cup / 140g whole wheat flour
3/4 cup /125 g  dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup / 4 oz / 115 g coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (leave some bigger chunks!)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups / 340 g mashed, VERY ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used 2% low-fat yogurt)
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Grease a 9- by 5- inch loaf pan, or equivalent.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, zest, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. Swanson says, “You want to get that beautiful color on the cake, but at the same time you don’t want to bake all the moisture out of it. So the minute you’re in that zone, pull it. Erring on the side of under-baking versus over.”

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to cool completely.