Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Apricot and Almond Olive Oil Cake: ABC


It has been an age since I have baked along with my ABC group.  The Avid Bakers have been baking some wonderful and beautiful goodies without me....like Brown Butter Banana Bread, Tender Loving Crackle Cookies and Hazelnut Rocher Cake
 They all looked so good!


When I saw this cake, I thought that possible I could make a healthier version...so today, I gave it a try.
First I halved the recipe.  It is only my husband and I here and I am on a quest to drop weight and my husband is a diabetic, so as hard as it is...we 
really don't eat many sweets.  So half sounded like a good place to start.
I used almond milk instead of regular milk and stevia instead of sugar.  


 I think I got a fairly good result.  The cake was very moist and had only a hint of sweetness which played very well with the tartness of the apricots.  The almond milk added to the almond flavors in the cake.  I liked 
the crunch of the slivered almonds on top.  
I will give it a thumbs up!

Enjoy!


Apricot & Almond Olive Oil Cake
adapted from Scientifically Sweet
Makes one 9-inch cake

¾ cup plus 2 tbsp (175g) sugar (used Stevia)
1 cup (230 ml) milk  ( I used almond milk)
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (100 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (25g) ground almonds
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda 
¼ tsp salt 
5-6 apricots, cut into quarters
flaked almonds, for sprinkling

Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly butter and flour a 9x9 inch round springform cake pan and line the base with parchment paper.

Place the sugar, milk, lemon zest and scraped vanilla bean seeds with the pod in a medium saucepan over low heat and bring just barely to a simmer while stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat, cover and set aside for 15 minutes to infuse and cool down.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk through ground almonds. Add the olive oil, beaten eggs and cooled milk mixture and whisk gently to form a smooth batter. 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange the apricot quarters on top any way you like. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 30–35 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the sides and leaving to cool completely. 

If you are using very small apricots, they may plummet to the bottom of the tin during baking. To avoid this, make a double layer of apricot quarters.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake: Baked Sunday Mornings



It goes to show how much I love to bake...I am 3 days into a 28 day juice cleanse and here it is, my hubby's birthday.  I always make him a carrot cake (his favorite).  But, the baked group is making this cake.  How could I not make it?   I made it through the whole thing...not even a lick from my finger.  I try to look at it as a piece of art or a craft and try to disassociate the fact that it is edible. Well, it seemed to work....this time, anyway.  I have to admit it was hard not to lick the fingers...if I wear gloves it helps alot!  
Such a sad thing to be so addicted to sugar.


 The cake is a sour cream cake and it smelled heavenly when it
was baking...it looked like it was moist...  
My hubby said it was.  
The frosting is a chocolate cream cheese frosting...
what is not to like about that!
I halved the recipe, as I usually do.  It made a cute little six inch cake.


 My husband like the cake.  He said the frosting was very rich.  
I think he missed his carrot cake.  
I did a frosting technique that I have been wanting to try for some time now....
I need more practice...LOL!
It certainly looked delicious.  I am putting a piece in the freezer so I can
give it a try at a later date!

Happy Birthday Don!

Enjoy!
Recipe here.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Gonzo Cake: Baked Sunday Mornings


It has been an age since I have baked 
along with my Baked Sunday Mornings friends...but I just 
couldn't resist giving this purple velvet cake a go.  
Purple?? 
Well maybe a dull greyish kinda purple...lol!  
I guess I needed 
a little more food coloring. 


I halved the recipe and made a cute little cake and the lavender is so lovely out in my garden that I decided to put a few sprigs on top...I know it is a little deceiving because there is no lavender flavor in the cake, but pretty, right?


This cake has purple yam powder in it....yes, you read it right...purple yam powder.  I got mine from Amazon, although I probably could have found it at Jungle Jim's...but that is on the other side of God's country...so I opted to order it...and it came just in time!


I think my cake turned out a bit dense, but it still had a nice flavor...not sickeningly sweet and the cream cheese frosting complimented it nicely.



It was nice to once again bake along with the BSM group!  Missed you guys!


Next up is Everyone's Favorite Birthday Cake...that falls right on my husbands birthday, so I will probably be baking along with that one!!!
Til then
Enjoy!

Recipe posted here

Friday, July 17, 2015

Yes I CANnoli Cake!



This Italian girl loves a good cannoli!  
This Italian girl can make a pretty mean cannoli. 
 And now this Italian girl made a nice Cannoli Cake!




Another birthday is upon us...it is my step son's Alex's birthday and his girl is having a suprise party for him.  She asked me to make the cake.  Well, I knew that Alex loved it when I made my yearly cannolis for our end of summer bash.  One year I wasn't going to make them and he asked me to make them if he went and got the cannoli shells...he had to go drive an hour away to get them.  What can I say, I think he likes them.  He also loves chocolate soooo a Chocolate Cannoli Cake it was!


I discovered that making your own ricotta cheese is very easy and economical as well!  Not to mention it tastes a whole lot better...the store bought stuff does not even compare!  I used lemon juice instead of vinegar for this filling.
Here is a great tutorial!

  

I made a chocolate layer cake 2 layers in a 9 inch pans and cut those in half.
I used this recipe for the cake. It is easy and delicious!  You will have extra batter left over...always good to make some cupcakes!


While the cannoli cream was chilling I made the buttercream frosting.
It didn't make a whole lot but it was the perfect amount for what I needed.  I crumb coated the cake before frosting it and let it sit in the fridge for an hour. The frosting was gorgeous!!  I frosted the top and very sparingly frosted the sides and pressed chocolate chips into it.  I put the rest of the frosting in a piping bag and piped a nice decoration on the top and bottom edge.


Rich chocolate cake layers filled will creamy cannoli cream then frosted with a luscious cream cheese buttercream.
A beautiful and hopefully tasty cake for someone special in my life!
Happy Birthday Alex!


Until next time...
Enjoy!
The Best Cannoli Cake
Adapted from: A Beautiful Bite
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
I did not make the cannoli for this cake, because of time restraints...but I do think that they would be an awesome addition.  Although if I would have done it I would not have done so many of them piled on top....maybe 10-12 of them...one for each serving.
Ingredients
  • 2 9" Chocolate cake layers split in half 
  • 36 Mini cannoli shells ( did not use these)
  • 1 cup Chocolate morsels if you'd like to dip your cannoli ends
For the Cannoli Filling:
  • 32 oz Ricotta cheese, drained overnight (see notes) (Made my own...I used a gallon of milk and drained it overnight)
  • 1 cup Confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup Granulated sugar
  • 1 cup Heavy cream
  • 6 oz Mini chocolate morsels
  • (I put a little 1/2 t vanilla and 1/2 t almond extract in mine)
For the Buttercream Frosting
  • 3 cups Confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter ( I used 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup cream cheese)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 cups Mini chocolate morsels for coating exterior of cake
Instructions
  1. Prepare ricotta the night prior to assembling the cake. Place ricotta in a cheesecloth lined strainer and pull cheesecloth over ricotta to make a sack. Secure the ends and place a small plate overtop the sack and top with a heavy can. (I used a 28oz can of tomatoes) Place in fridge and allow the excess water to drain off overnight. This is a CRUCIAL step.
  2. If dunking cannoli shells in chocolate, heat morsels over medium heat in a double boiler until melted and smooth. Dunk cannoli ends in chocolate, shake excess off and place on parchment paper to harden. You can speed this up by placing the cannolis in the fridge.
  3. For the filling, mix together the drained ricotta and both sugars. Using a stand or hand mixer, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream into the cheese/sugar mixture. Gently mix in the chocolate morsels. Place in fridge while you make the buttercream frosting.
  4. For the buttercream, using a hand or stand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until smooth. Add vanilla extract and cream. Beat until fluffy. If too stiff, add a little more cream.
  5. For assembly:
  6. Place one halved cake layer on a cake plate. Smooth about one cup of filling overtop. Place another cake layer on top of filling and repeat until all layers are in place. Set aside remaining filling to use for mini cannolis.
  7. Scrape any filling that has oozed off the sides of the cake. Place in fridge for at least two hours.
  8. After it sets for two hours, frost the tops and sides of the cake. Press chocolate morsels around the exterior of the cake to coat.
  9. Using a piping bag, fill cannolis with leftover filling. Place filled cannolis on top of the cake in a large pile.
  10. Enjoy!
Notes
Please be sure to read my instructions on draining the ricotta. It will make or break this cake. You must drain it overnight. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing



Loving all these beautiful salads!  Here is another winner!  Packed with goodness and flavor!  Assembles in less than 30 minutes.  I forgot to add the orange segments but I did add some grape tomatoes.  I think the oranges would have been very tasty...mad I forgot!!  Next time!
The dressing is the bomb! 
Be healthy!
Enjoy!



MEXICAN QUINOA SALAD WITH ORANGE LIME DRESSING
adapted from Minimalist Baker

Prep time
15 mins
Cook time
15 mins
Total time
30 mins

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients

SALAD
5-6 cups Mixed Greens
1 cup cooked quinoa (red or white)*
1/2 cup fresh or canned corn
1 cup cooked black beans (seasoned with equal pinches sea salt, cumin, chili + garlic powder)
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 orange, segmented (I forgot the orange segments! geesh!)
1/2 ripe avocado, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped or torn

DRESSING
1/2 ripe avocado
1 large lime, juiced (~4 Tbsp)
3 Tbsp orange juice
1-2 tsp sweetener of choice (maple syrup, agave, cane sugar, etc.)
1-2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/8 tsp chili powder (or sub extra hot sauce or chipotle powder)
Healthy pinch each sea salt and black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro (optional)
3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil ( I only used 1 tbsp oil)

Instructions
Begin preparing quinoa first by thoroughly rinsing 1/2 cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, then bringing to a boil with 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare salad ingredients by chopping vegetables, segmenting orange, and warming black beans and seasoning with salt, cumin, chili and garlic powder.
Prepare dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blending until creamy and smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added more hot sauce, orange juice and salt.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Gluten Free Sweet and Sour Thai Cucumber Salad


Just finished a 30 day juice cleanse and this is the first thing I ate when I broke the fast.  I was looking for a salad with a light dressing and lots of flavor.  This fit the bill!  It has spiralized cucumber and carrots instead of noodles.  (Love my spiralizer!) I used less olive oil than the dressing called for and you could use agave nectar instead of honey if you wanted this dish to be vegan.  It is delicious and even better the next day!


GLUTEN-FREE SWEET AND SOUR THAI CUCUMBER PASTA SALAD
adapted from Peas & Crayons


PREP TIME
15 mins
TOTAL TIME
15 mins

Serves: 2

INGREDIENTS
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (I used 1tbsp)
2 TBSP white vinegar
¼ tsp salt [plus extra, to taste]
⅛ tsp dill [fresh or dried]
⅛ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp fresh minced garlic
2 cups chickpeas [canned or cooked from dry]
¼-1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro, plus extra to garnish
1.5 large english cucumbers
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
¼ cup finely minced onion
2-3 extra large carrots
2 TBSP honey
2 TBSP rice vinegar
½-1 TBSP sesame seeds
½-1 TBSP chia seeds

INSTRUCTIONS
Combine lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic powder, dill, salt, and minced garlic and whisk to emulsify.
In a medium bowl add chickpeas, minced onion, chopped bell pepper, ½ an English cucumber [chopped] and cilantro.
Pour in dressing and mix thoroughly. The longer you allow them to marinate the more intense the flavor will be!
Next, using a spiralizer or tool of choice [see above for options] curl one english cucumber and 2-3 large carrots [the biggest, thickest carrots you can find] into raw spiral noodles.
Whisk together 2 tablespoons of honey with 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and pour over salad.

Top with extra chopped cilantro and a hearty sprinkle of sesame and chia seeds. (also topped mine with some raw cashews...just a handful)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?

 CHERRY CRUMB PIE


This has been on my list of pies to bake for eons!  
I have always wanted to bake a cherry pie from scratch and finally did.





Hubby gave it a double thumbs up!


Cherry Crumb Pie

adapted from Alan's Kitchen

Makes 1 pie
Prep Time: 15 min
Baking Time: 40 min

Ingredients:

  •    1/2  recipe Sweet Pastry
  • Filling
    • 2-1/2  cups sour cherries
    •    1/2  cup granulated sugar
    •    1/2  cup light brown sugar
    •       2  Tablespoons flour
    •       2  Tablespoons butter
    •    1/2  cup water or cherry juice
  • Crumbs
    •     3/4  cup flour
    •     3/4  cup sugar
    •     1/4  teaspoon salt
    •     1/4  cup butter
    •     1/2  teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F.
  1. USE half of recipe for Sweet Pastry, roll out bottom crust, and line 9-inch pie dish.  Dredge with a little flour and sugar and dot with butter.  In a saucepan, add and mix flour, sugar, and water or cherry juice to a smooth paste. 
  2. COOK over low heat until mixture thickens.   Add balance of butter and cook a minute longer.  Remove from heat, mix with cherries, cool, then pour into pie shell.
  3. FOR crumbs, mix flour, sugar, and salt, blend with butter, add nutmeg or cinnamon (or substitute vanilla or lemon juice) and when mixture breaks into crumbs sprinkle thickly over cherries.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Sweet Dough

Ingredients:

  •    1  cup sifted flour
  • 1/2  cup sugar
  • 1/4  cup butter and lard, mixed (1/8 cup butter & 1/8 cup lard)
  •    1  egg

Directions:

1Mix ingredients into dough, form into ball, and chill.  Roll out lightly on floured board.  Line pie dish with pastry and chill again. 
2For pies with strips on top, reserve 1/3 of the dough and add to it:
1  teaspoon baking powder
2  Tablespoons milk
3Mix again and roll out.  Cut in strips and place on top of pie, all in one direction.  These strips may not be crossed because they puff up. Use for fruit and berry pies.