Some Favorite Recipes

We were down all last week with a terrible, horrible, no good very bad stomach bug. It was awful. Matt and I are rarely sick at the same time, but this round took us both out for the whole week. We could barely eat, drink or even move…let alone work on the mountain of projects that we have in the works.

But that sickness is starting to become a memory, and we are regaining our stregth. Last night we celebrated a dear friend’s birthday with a homemade cake. I have been on the search for a really excellent basic, from scratch yellow cake. They are always too dense and almost cornbread like. This one make have proved me wrong. For good measure, I also threw in our favorite cookie recipe below.

Fluffy, Moist Homemade Yellow Cake

source: Divas Can Cook
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened, room temperature (do not microwave)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. F. (do not use convection like I did…cooked too fast to start)
  2. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  4. Add in egg yolks and vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated. Set aside.
  5. In a seperate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  6. Gradually add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk.
  7. Mix until batter is fluffy but be careful not to over mix.
  8. Beat egg whites until stiff and thick. (holds a nice peak)
  9. Very gently fold egg whites into batter and mix JUST until incorporated.
  10. Pour batter into prepared pans and spread into even layers.
  11. Bake for 30-35 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and let cake cool in pans until pans are warm to the touch.
  13. Carefully remove cakes from pan and place on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
  14. When cakes are completely cooled frost with chocolate buttercream frosting.

 

Lauren’s Amazing Cookies (coconut, chocolate, oatmeal)

  • 1 cup butter (or 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup coconut oil)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 ½ cup oatmeal
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 bag chocolate chips

 

Cream together butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix in coconut and chocolate chips. Make into 1-2 inch balls and flatten slightly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until edges start to turn slightly golden. Remove from oven and cool. They will continue to darken out of the oven. Enjoy!

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Coconut Chocolate “Ice Cream” (Dairy Free!)

I love making ice cream at home. We have tried many combinations over the years, pretty much settling on a standard base that we mix up with different flavors. In the summer, peach is a favorite, as well as fresh garden mint with cookies. Fall leans towards brown butter or whiskey or something else rich and delicious.

This weekend I wanted to try a dairy free “ice cream” and modified our standard base to accomodate. Coconut chocolate seemed to fit the bill.

Last time I attempted a coconut milk base it turned out a little more grainy than I prefer, so this time I added arrowroot powder. Also note, this is not a vegan base since it does feature rich homegrown egg yolks.

Verdict: this was pretty much perfect! I am looking forward to mixing it up again with different add-ins all summer long!

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Coconut Chocolate “Ice Cream”

  • 4 cups full fat coconut milk (we use cartons from our local Asian market)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbs good quality cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
  • vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks

METHOD

In saucepan, heat HALF the coconut milk with sugars, cocoa, oil, and arrowroot powder, and salt until heated through, stirring or whisking constantly (not boiling). Temper egg yolks with some of the hot chocolate mixture, and add to pot. Continue cooking until the consistency is of thin pudding. Add in vanilla extract and remaining 2 cups of coconut milk.

At this point I choose to pour the ice cream mix through a mesh strainer to remove any lumps, but this is optional .

Cool ice cream base in the fridge until cold, overnight is ideal. Churn in ice cream maker for ~20 minutes or until done. Freeze in containers for at least 30 minutes before serving.

YUM!

Summer: Season of Zuchinni

Last year our zucchini growing efforts were unsuccessful. I am still not sure how that was possible but it was.

This year is the total opposite. We have plants that are literally almost thigh high, with leaves like platters. HUGE flowers are producing lots of zucchini and we are thrilled. Ask me again in a month if I still feel this way!

Sunday morning I took our largest friend on the kitchen counter and turned him into two beautiful loaves of scrumptious chocolate chip zucchini bread. I have never had a standard recipe so here is what I made this time.

This made two loaves.

  • 1.5  cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted if solid)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup plain whole greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups zucchini, shredded and squeezed in a towel to dry a bit
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method: in a bowl, mix dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients and sugar. Stir together gently. Add zucchini and chocolate chips. Do not overmix!

Bake in two loaf pans lined with parchment at 350 for ~40 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Comfort Food Favorites

Now these are staples of our family’s holiday table. They are not the tried and true “been there since great-grandma-whoever” but they are SO GOOD that we can’t have a holiday feast without them. In fact, they are so popular that every guest also requests the recipes. And they are vegetable dishes…totally healthy! 🙂

First up: Carrot Puff. My grandma introduced this to our family 10 or so years back and it is a stronghold year round. We have made it with carrots, or squash, or sweet potatoes…or a combination. We have made it in a Dutch oven over a fire. In deep round dishes and big flat 11x17s for picnics. It is best hot but we have been known to eat it cold. It tastes like vanilla pudding so even the pickiest of vegetable eaters will gobble it up.

Carrot Puff

  • 2 lb carrots or sweet potato or squash or mix of all – peeled, cut into cubes, cooked till tender ~ 20 min boiling
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 6 Tb flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in blender, adding cooked carrots a little at a time. Blend till smooth. You may need to do in 2 batches and mix together. Pour into greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 about 50 – 60 min until firm in the middle and golden.

Next up? Super awesome corn bake. Again, this one is pretty versatile in the veggie department. Sometimes we add cubed summer squash. Sometimes not. It is great either way!

Baked Corn (and squash if you choose)

this makes an 8×8 pan or so…….

In large bowl:

beat 2 eggs
add:
1/2 cup milk
salt, pepper
2 Tb flour (~ 4 if you add squash)
1 Tb sugar
1/4 c melted butter
2 -3 Tb onions chopped small
1/2 c grated parmesan
1/2 c grated cheddar (I probably use more)
add: a pound of corn / squash cubes mix and pour into greased 8×8 pan Bake 350 about 45 min. Done.

Enjoy!

Sticky Sweet and Tart: Cranberry Orange Cake

Thanksgiving was full of good things to eat. A few favorites: my mom’s carrot puff and corn casserole, turkey, green beans and of course, dessert. This year I made a revised version of last year’s cranberry upsidedown cake. Sticky and sweet and tart and fresh. The addition of extra butter, orange juice and a sour cream glaze really kicked it up a notch. Rave reviews.

Cranberry Orange Upsidedown Cake with Vanilla Glaze

INGREDIENTS

Topping

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen whole cranberries (fresh float, frozen sink and make a bright red top to the cake…I learned this from last year)

Cake

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp (plus more for buttering the pan)
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • fresh juice of 1 large orange (about 1/3 cup)

METHOD

1 Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter cake pan. Springform works well.

2 In a small saucepan, place the stick of butter and the 3/4 cups of packed brown sugar. On medium high heat, stir the sugar as the butter melts. Once the butter is melted and mixed in well with the sugar, stop stirring and let the mixture simmer for 15 seconds or so.

3 Pour the brown sugar butter mixture into the prepared cake pan. Spread the cranberries on top of the sugar butter mixture.

4 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl vigorously whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.

5 In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until light. Add the sugar and beat together the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and orange zest.

6 Mix a third of the dry ingredients into the mixture. Beat in half of the sour cream and orange juice. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients.  Mix in the remaining sour cream. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients.

7 Pour batter over the cranberries in the cake pan, and smooth the surface. Place in the preheated oven and lower the heat from 350°F to 325°F. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 55 minutes to an hour. Cool cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the inside rim of the cake pan to loosen the cake from the sides of the pan. Then turn the cake out onto a platter. Glaze when cool if desired.

Easy Vanilla Sour Cream Glaze

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbs milk (or orange juice?)
  • Vanilla

Whisk together in a bowl, adjusting ingredients as needed until desired consistency.

Home Grown Mint Cookie Ice Cream

Last weekend we broke in our ice cream maker. It was a wedding gift and really needed to be put to good use. We perused ice cream flavors and settled on homemade mint with crushed cookies. I found a few variations and eventually make my own take. Verdict: awesome! The mint flavor of freshly extracted mint is not like store bought or mint extract…it is much earthier and floral. Perfect for enjoying after a farm fresh meal. Even better out of antique bowls.

Garden Mint Cookie Ice Cream

2 cups cream

2 cups whole milk

3 egg yolks (though next time we plan to use 5)

1 cup sugar

2 cups fresh mint leaves and flowers

1 pinch salt

Crushed oreos or other sandwich cookies (we used Newman’s Own)

1. In saucepan, combine 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk. Add mint leaves and flowers. Heat until steaming and then turn off heat. Let sit 3o mins. Then reheat to steaming and let sit another 15 mins.

2. Pour mint liquid through a strainer to remove leaves. Return liquid to saucepan.

3. Add sugar and salt to the mint mixture and heat until just steaming. Temper egg yolks and add. Stirring constantly, cook over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 10 mins.

4. Remove from heat and add in remaining 1 cup cream and 1 cup milk (both cold). This will stop the cooking. Put mixture in fridge for at least an hour before putting in ice cream maker.

Churn in ice cream maker for 20 mins or until nearly done. Add cookies and churn until desired consistency.

Enjoy! 

Needing a Break

I have good news! Last night we hit a milestone on the deck. After last week’s goal of getting the deck clean, now all the nails are re-set, old boards ripped out, and new boards cut and screwed in! My dad would be proud of his little girl tackling the deck with power tools. I am so glad I watched (and helped) on projects for all those years! It helps when I am faced with the task of doing it myself. It already feels so much better than when we started. The railings are secure (FYI…climbing plants loosen railings!), the risk of falling through rotten spots is gone, and no nails snag your feet as you walk across the surface. SO. MUCH. BETTER!

Bad news: it is raining again. After months of sunshine we are back to rain. Unfortunately, it is raining at the same time that we should be painting our deck. So we wait. We are exhausted anyway and need the break. Vacation cannot come fast enough.

Last night, waiting meant that we got a little bit of down time that we so desperately needed. I made blue buttermilk skillet cornbread with buttermilk from our last batch of fresh butter. The blue cornmeal was a fun change…somewhat sweeter and nuttier than yellow…and pretty funny looking. It matched the blue plates! This recipe was a cornmeal only version (no flour and gluten free) and turned out really well! We enjoyed it with fresh, homemade butter and steak salads for dinner.

 

Buttermilk Blue Skillet Cornbread

2 cups blue cornmeal

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

3 eggs

1 ½ cups buttermilk

1 cob fresh, raw sweet corn, shaved off cob

2 Tbs Steen’s cane syrup (or honey)

3 Tbs melted butter or lard

+

butter or lard for pan

Like all cornbread, this is best made in a cast iron skillet pre-heated with the oven. This give you an insanely golden and perfect crust. Preheat butter/lard in skillet in oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cornbread ingredients. Pour into skillet when hot.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden and knife comes out clean.