Thursday, November 30, 2017

Apple Loaf Cake w/ Cinnamon Walnut Icing

There is always room for another apple cake in your recipe box, right?

I never get tired of them.

This one is a's so simple.

It's an old recipe from my friend Amy who has a cute homey cookbook from years ago called "Secrets of a Home Cook" (you can follow her on instagram)'s a recipe collection and stories of her family, and every recipe is a winner.
Not sure if you can find it anymore, but you can certainly contact her and she will send you one.

She calls this an apple bread....but that's only because it's baked in a loaf pan. It's a cake.
And I took the lead and iced it with a cinnamon walnut glaze, but you don't have to.....(but I suggest you do).

If you've noticed lately, instead of using the full amount of all purpose flour in recipes, I have been taking out 1/2 cup of flour and adding 1/2 cup of almond flour instead. But feel free to use just the flour if that's all you have.

It was also the debut of my sparkle sugar! I could not resist buying this pretty sugar.
It makes every cake special!

I guess I have become a baking geek.

Here's the recipe:

Apple Loaf Cake w/ Cinnamon Walnut Icing:

1 cup sugar
2 apples, peeled and cut into small dice (I used Empire apples)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flour
1/2 cup of almond flour
1 tsp baking soda

Mix the diced apples with the sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and set aside. The juices from the apples will combine with the sugar and make it nice and juicy.

Mix in the rest of the ingredients......adding in the flours last.

Scrape batter into a well greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour in a 325F oven.
Let rest in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Cinnamon Walnut Glaze:

1 cup of confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup of chopped walnuts

Mix all ingredients with a fork until you reach the desired consistency. If the icing is too thick, then add in a drop more of milk.

Once the cake is cool, drizzle the icing all over the loaf. The walnuts will stick to the cake once the icing has cooled and hardened.

I kept this cake in the fridge, and it was fantastic COLD.
We loved it.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Winter Sides: Cauliflower, Lentil & Date Salad

Healthy and beautiful....we should all be that way. :)

I know I could be a vegetarian.....however, my husband would miss the animal protein. I make meat less and less for dinners.

More cakes, I say!

Anyway, this is a delicious side dish or main meal, so easy when you use canned lentils (the Brits call it a "tin" of lentils).

Lots of fiber and protein from the lentils, and the rest you know about.

I love this website where I found this recipe (Rocket & Squash).

adapted from Rocket & Squash

6 or 7 plump Medjool dates, pits removed
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted
1 can of cooked green lentils, (Goya makes good canned lentils)
handful cilantro leaves
juice of 1/2 a lemon
olive oil
sea salt and black pepper

Cut the dates into pieces and add to a large bowl.

Roast the cauliflower tossed w/ kosher salt & olive oil at 400F for 25 minutes. Add the cooked cauliflower to the bowl with the cooked lentils, almonds and cilantro.

Dress with just some lemon juice and olive oil. Season to your taste with sea salt & pepper.

That's that.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Crispy Chicken Thighs w/ Charred Carrots, Dukkah & Honeyed Yogurt

I think we are done with turkey until next year.....I had my fill all weekend.
On to chicken.

Though the title sounds fancy, it's just a regular Tuesday night dinner.

It's just chicken thighs and carrots.

The reason this dinner is SO GOOD is the little extras you make, like the dukkah (an Egyptian spice blend) and the yogurt sauce.

I found gorgeous heirloom rainbow carrots at my local farmer's market, and that also helped transform it from an ordinary meal, to a restaurant quality dinner.

It's pretty simple to put together.

Here's how:

Make the dukkah, which you can do a week in advance! I always keep it on hand, it's so good.


cumin seeds
coriander seeds
sesame seeds
lemon zest
1/4 cup almonds, toasted
1/4 cup cashews or hazelnuts, toasted

Toast the seeds and nuts only until fragrant in a dry frying pan.
In a coffee grinder, or small chopper, pulse until chunky, adding the lemon zest last.

Keep in a covered container about a week or so.

Roast the chicken thighs (WITH SKIN AND not use skinless!!) on a baking sheet lined with foil with some kosher salt and pepper (don't use oil on them, because the thighs are greasy enough). Roast in a hot 450F oven for 40 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs. They will get nice and crispy.

While the chicken is roasting on the top rack, line another baking sheet w/ parchment paper (saves cleanup), and drizzle the carrots with some olive oil and kosher salt.

Roast the carrots on the bottom rack of the oven for 20-25 minutes or until they are caramelized.

Mix some plain Greek yogurt w/ a little honey (I use FAGE 2%). This will be your sauce.

Spread some honey yogurt on each plate and place some crispy chicken thighs and carrots on top. Sprinkle with dukkah and serve with lemon wedges.


recipe adapted from FLX Wienery (not Winery) by way of Food & Wine Magazine.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Cranberry Relish Streusel Cake w/ Citrus Glaze

2 for 1 today.

I am posting a fabulous holiday cake, made with raw cranberry relish. Serve it for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah.

I usually cook my cranberry relish on the stove to make it jammy, however, I will only make this RAW cran relish from now on!

This is SO good spooned over plain yogurt. I love it!!!!

I made a batch for Thanksgiving, and made sure I saved some for this amazing cake.

You can certainly use just raw cranberries for the cake, but I felt like swirling in the leftover relish.

This cake is wonderful....moist, fragrant, tangy, sweet, festive, what else can I say about it?

Raw Cranberry Relish:

1 bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
zest of an orange
2 small oranges or clementines, peeled
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Just whiz the cranberries with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor just a few times (you want it to be chunky), and voila! this beautiful relish is done.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours so it firms up. Stays for 5 days in the fridge.

Now you are ready to bake the cake.

Cranberry Streusel Cake: (recipe adapted from How Sweet it is and Bake From Scratch Magazine)


1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/8 tsp cloves
1 tsp five spice powder


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
zest of an orange
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plain greek yogurt (full fat), or sour cream
3/4 cup leftover fresh raw cranberry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch bundt cake pan and set aside (don’t use cooking spray).

For the streusel:

Whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter pieces and using your hands, mix together the flour and butter until the flour is incorporated and in tiny pieces. The mixture will look like wet sand.

For the cake:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, then add the sugar and beat for a few minutes on medium speed until fluffy, scraping down the sides if needed.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well for a minute or so after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat well. Beat in the yogurt or sour cream, again scraping down the sides if needed.

Beat in the dry ingredients until they are incorporated.

Spoon half of the batter into the greased bundt pan. Swirl in half of the cranberry sauce, then sprinkle with two thirds of the streusel. (I added in a first layer of just cranberry relish to get a dramatic upside down cranberry effect, but you can stick to the recipe).

Add the remaining batter on top then, swirl in the remaining cranberry and finish off with the remaining streusel and swirl it into the batter with a knife.

Bake at 350F until a wooden pick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan. Invert the pan on a wire rack and allow the cake to cool completely.

You can dust the cake with powdered sugar once it cools completely, or add this wonderful citrus glaze.

Citrus Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp of orange juice

Mix with a fork until desired thickness.

Drizzle over the cooled cake and let glaze harden.

Makes a large cake and freezes well.

Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 20, 2017

Fusilli with Roasted Cauliflower & Caper Sauce

Another easy weeknight dinner from Melissa Clark's Dinner Changing the Game.

Since I am no longer a tomato sauce fan (heartburn city for me these days), I tend to make pastas with vegetable based sauces.

This recipe had my number. I made it even better by adding in golden raisins, which I highly recommend.

Roast a bunch of cauliflower florets (cut small) with 2 tablespoons of capers, together with olive oil and kosher salt. 425F for 30 minutes, turning once until golden.

While the cauliflower is roasting, boil 8 oz. (half a box) of fusilli pasta.

In a large bowl, add 2 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp of chopped capers, 2 minced garlic cloves and some toasted pine nuts and golden raisins. This will be your sauce.

Add the roasted cauliflower and cooked pasta to the bowl w/ the butter and capers and mix together.
The butter will melt with the hot ingredients.

Squeeze a little lemon on top and some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

This is delicious!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Best Apple Squash Cake w/ Candied Ginger Pecan Streusel!!!!!

Here it is. I know many of you have been patiently waiting for this recipe after seeing it on my instagram.

I love cooked squash in baked goods.
Think pumpkin pie.....after all, pumpkin is a variety of squash, isn't it?

Don't be afraid, I have converted you to olive oil in cakes, and roasting grapes with vegetables, so why not make a squash cake?
I have a few on my site already, but this one takes the cake, no pun intended.

It is everything fall, and paired with apples, this could be my favorite cake to date (I know, I say that all the time).

The candied ginger streusel topping sets this cake apart from the rest.....there is a little bite from the ginger and it is fantastic.
This is my Thanksgiving cake.

Truth be told, the first time I baked this cake I forgot the eggs. Yes I did.

I was yapping on the phone while baking (same thing as drinking wine while baking, I always forget something), and I didn't realize until I was writing out the recipe, that no eggs were cracked during this process.

So, how did a cake come out baked without eggs?
Totally delicious, a little denser than with the eggs, but still DELICIOUS and it became a vegan cake! No eggs, no butter!

But since I am not a vegan, I used eggs the second time and the cake was lighter and rose higher.

I used a 9" Nordicware commercial grade cake pan and the cake came out of the pan like a dream.

Here's how I made it:

I roasted a butternut squash by cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds and rubbing it with coconut oil and kosher salt.
Lay the halves skin side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook at 400F for 35-40 minutes. Let cool, then scoop out the flesh. You will need 1 cup of the puree for this recipe, so freeze the rest for another cake!

Ginger Pecan Streusel:

1/4 cup pecans
3 tbsp raw turbinado sugar
1/3 cup of candied or crystalized ginger

Whiz the ingredients in a food processor until course, but not fine. Set streusel aside.

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
3/4 cup light brown or turbinado (raw) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup sunflower or mild flavored olive oil
2 extra large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
finely grated zest of an orange (use a microplane grater)
1 cup butternut squash purée
1 large apple (I used an Empire), peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F (180C)

Grease a 9" cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir well and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk the oil, eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest and butternut-squash purée until well blended.

Stir the apple pieces and raisins into the flour mixture until well blended. Add the squash mixture to the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon, mix until just moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared cake pan. Sprinkle with the streusel topping, patting the crumbs into the cake.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before unmolding.

Serve at room temperature and enjoy!

If you make this cake, do let me know.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Black Bean Chili

Here is a healthy, hearty weeknight meal when you don't really feel like cooking.

Sweet potatoes are a super food, loaded with vitamins A & C and high in fiber.
I love them.

I always bake an extra one, so the next day I can spread it on my avocado toast.

Yes, you can microwave your potato, but the skin won't get nice and crispy, and the sugars won't ooze out of the fork holes.
So let's just bake them in the oven for 1 hour at 425F.

Once your potatoes are baked, the possibilities are endless.

Chickpeas and harissa yogurt are nice on top, as well as broccoli and cheese.....

Here, I made a vegetarian chili with black beans and everything in a can. Just open your kitchen cupboard, I am sure you have plenty of stuff to use as toppings.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes w/ Black Bean Chili:

4 sweet potatoes, baked for 1 hour at 425F

1 small onion, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes (I use Rotel, nice and spicy)
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup of frozen corn or Trader Joe's corn salsa (my favorite)
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream, avocado, chives or cilantro for garnish

In a saucepan, cook the onion in some olive or avocado oil with the peppers for a few minutes on medium heat, just until softened.
Add in the beans, tomatoes, corn, and cumin and simmer for just a few minutes.

Now here's the good part......dump in about 1/2 cup of the cheese right into the hot chili. The cheese will melt and the chili will become thick and gooey.

Cut each potato in half and press down to create a pocket.

Fill with the chili and top with some more cheese, sour cream and chives.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Schiacciata con L'uva (Focaccia w/ Grapes & Rosemary

What is she talking about now? Schiacciata con L'uva.

Don't be scared, it is just focaccia made with grapes and rosemary.

It's a traditional sweet focaccia flatbread made during the fall for the grape harvest in Tuscany.

I'm not in Tuscany this harvest, however, I can still make this at home.

I looked at a ton of recipes, most of them from Italy, which were too confusing, because good Italian cooks eyeball everything. It was getting confusing.

Though I am a confident baker and don't need a recipe, I think bread baking is more of a science, and measuring would be a good idea. Even here, the author of the recipe says "4-5 cups of flour"

Well, which is it? 4 cups or 5?.
I went with 4 cups and it was perfect.

I chose this recipe because it wasn't in metric (I'm a dope), and because it was so simple.

With focaccia dough, the rise time is only about 2 hours, like pizza dough, however, I had best results with making the dough while I slept, then waking up in the morning to a huge bowl of dough that tripled in size! :)

Since focaccia only stays fresh about a day, I suggest you cut it up into squares and wrap well and freeze.
It reheats beautifully in foil at 375F in a toaster oven for a snack anytime.

and regarding the grapes to use for this would usually use a small wine grape, like a Concord or Champagne grape, but I used regular black seedless California grapes and it was delicious.

Schiacciata con L'uva (adapted from Marisa's Italian Kitchen):

Focaccia dough:

2 cups water
4 tbsp olive oil
4 to 5 cups of all purpose flour (I stuck with 4)
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 packet “quick rise” instant yeast (Fleischmann’s) 8 grams

Topping (for 2 layers of dough):

2 cups grapes (picked off the stem), Concord or Champagne preferably small grapes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons granulated or turbinado sugar
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Mix 3 cups of flour with the yeast, sugar, kosher salt and olive oil in a large bowl.

Heat 2 cups of water with 4 tablespoons of olive oil in the microwave for 60 seconds or till lukewarm.

Stir the warm water in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon, mixing well.

Stir in another cup of flour till combined. The dough will be shaggy and sticky.

Invert the dough onto a well floured counter and knead for a few minutes.

Grease a large bowl with some olive oil (I use a big glass Pyrex bowl for dough). Place your pizza dough in the greased bowl turning the dough to grease all over. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Let it rise till it doubles in size for about 2 hours, in a draft free place. (I left mine overnight while I slept, about 12 hours of rising time) and it tripled in size by the morning.

When your dough has doubled in size, transfer it onto a floured work space.

Grease a large rimmed baking sheet with some olive oil and then lightly sprinkle evenly with cornmeal to prevent sticking and give a nice crunch to the bread.

Cut the dough in half and working with one piece at a time spread out to the size of your pan (use your hands for this). It is ok if it does not entirely reach the edges of the sheet pan.

Place the first layer of rolled out dough onto your prepared pan.

Layer 1 cup of the grapes, evenly spread, onto the dough while pressing them slightly into the dough.
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary, evenly onto the first layer of dough. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.

Roll out the second piece of dough and layer it onto the prepared first layer. Press down slightly and pinch the edges together.
Spread the remaining grapes over the top layer of dough, again pressing down into the dough.

Sprinkle with an additional 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary.
Drizzle more extra virgin olive oil evenly over the top layer.

Bake the flatbread in a preheated oven, at 350F, for about 30-35 minutes or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the grapes are oozing.

There is just something so satisfying about baking bread at home. I love getting my hands in the dough and watching it transform from a plump ball into a big mass of living matter!

This is delicious, I hope you try it.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Maple Bacon Donuts OH MY!

Years ago if you would've told me I was going to make my own donuts, I would've said you were nuts.

And Maple Bacon Donuts? You are crazy.

If you've never tried this strange sounding combination, you are missing out. I buy them anytime I see them at a donut shop (which isn't often, I don't normally stop at donut shops....and Dunkin' Donuts is not my type of donut).

These are baked not fried, so not so bad in the calorie department......and if you are counting calories, then you shouldn't be eating donuts anyway. Just saying.

This recipe makes 12 donuts and they freeze beautifully, so you can take one out at night before bed and have it waiting for you in the a.m.

I am always thinking ahead.

Maple Bacon Donuts (adapted from this recipe)

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz. cooked crisp crumbled bacon

For the glaze:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)

Here we go.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, like baking a cake.

Here is the tricky part, but I am good at it now.

You will need to pipe the batter into the donut tins, by turning down the collar of a ziploc plastic freezer bag and filling the bag with the batter. Then squeeze it all to one corner of the bag, like a pastry piping bag.
Cut a tiny hole in the corner of the bag, and start squeezing the batter into the donut rings!

Make sure the pan is greased with cooking spray. Very important.

Bake in a 350F preheated oven for 9 minutes then flip out onto a cooling rack.

In a saucepan, heat the glaze ingredients until bubbling.

Dip each donut in the glaze and place on a rack on a baking paper lined baking sheet. Let the glaze harden then dip a second time with the maple glaze.

While the 2nd glaze is still warm, sprinkle the bacon pieces on the donuts and let the glaze harden.

Watch them disappear!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Chicken Legs Sheet Pan Dinner with Bread & Bacon

Chicken. Bacon. Bread. Vegetables.

Do it.

Put it all on a sheet pan and roast it for 45 minutes. The bread gets nice and crispy (with the help of melted butter!).

You can add any vegetables you like.

Here, I used a sweet potato (original recipe calls for a regular potato).....I also added in Brussels sprouts.
You can really add whatever you like, it's just the basic idea of cooking everything together on one pan that makes it so appealing.


Here's how:

Sheet-Pan Chicken with Sourdough and Bacon: (recipe adapted from Food & Wine)

1/2 pound sourdough boule, or baguette sliced or torn into 2-inch pieces

1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into 1-by- 1/2-inch lardons

1 large baking or sweet potato, 3/4-inch wedges

bunch of Brussels sprouts, halved
1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, melted
4 oregano or rosemary sprigs
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

 a few tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil

 Kosher salt
black pepper

 6 whole chicken legs

Preheat the oven to 400°.

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the bread with the melted butter.

Next, layer on the bacon, potato, onion, oregano and crushed red pepper and drizzle with the olive oil and season generously with kosher salt and black pepper. Spread in an even layer.

Season the chicken with kosher salt and black pepper and arrange on top of the bread mixture.

Roast the chicken and bread mixture for about 45 minutes, until the bread is crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the chicken registers 160°.