Thursday, June 21, 2018

Spiced Plum Preserves

There is so much amazing fruit in the summer here on the central California coast.
I am lucky enough to have a sister who is a master gardener and very generous with her bounty.
Recently she was showing me her plum trees and how big her harvest will be.
I still had two bags of frozen plums from last year, time to get busy.
As each new summer crop ripens, I try to use what I have in the freezer from the previous year.

Here's the recipe I've developed for a unique plum preserve.



Spiced Plum Preserves
yield: 7-8 half pints

8 cups plums, seeded and quartered
1 cup fruit juice or water
1/2 vanilla bean
spice bag with 3 cardamon pods or 1/4 teaspoon seeds, 1 inch cinnamon stick
6 cups sugar

1) Seed and chop enough plums for 8 cups. For easy processing of those pitted fruit, check out this link.

2) In a large pot add the fruit, liquid, vanilla bean and spice bag. Simmer for 30 minutes. The smell is heavenly !
3) Add 6 cups of sugar, stir well and bring back to a simmer.

4) Cook for 30 minutes or until the mixture begins to jell. It will stiffen up as it cools so don't over cook it. Remove the vanilla bean and spice bag.

5) If you are going to can it, do the whole canning magic thing with sterilized jars, lids and canning kettle.



6) For those canning the preserves, use the 5 minute hot water bath. Otherwise it will keep in the fridge for several months and makes a great gift.

The depth of flavor is amazing with the tart plums, vanilla and spices !!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Dairy Free Baking: Scones & Brownies

My last post about High Tea and The Royal Wedding, inspired Gina and I to want to have High Tea at our family gathering this past weekend.
There are a couple of family members who do better without dairy, eggs are OK, just not the moo juice. As you may know I am always up for a challenge. It's not High Tea without scones, so I decided to use my favorite scone recipe  with Earth Balance and coconut creamer in place of the butter and cream. I had thought of trying shortbread without butter but that seemed sacrilege, instead my simple brownie recipe came to mind.

I am happy to say that both attempts were very successful. I did neglect to take pretty photos of each item during the process and even afterward, sorry. You can look at both original recipes for more photos.
Here is the lovely table spread from our High Tea. You can see the brownies in the foreground on a platter with my chai shortbread, the scones were heating up in the oven.



Dairy Free Cranberry Coconut Scones



Ingredients

2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons shredded coconut
1/2 cup Earth Balance
1/2 cup dried cranberries
zest of one orange
1/2 cup coconut creamer
1 egg



1) Preheat oven to 400, line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat or nothing.

2) Sift together in a large bowl: 2 cups flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 3 Tbsp. sugar and 3 Tbsp. shredded coconut.




3) Cut in with a pastry cutter or two knives until fine:  1/2 cup of Earth Balance.

4)  Add the cranberries and orange zest.


5)  In a separate small bowl beat the egg and coconut creamer together.


6) Mix carefully with a wooden spoon, then knead the dough a little until it sticks together, try not to over mix.

7) Form the dough into a flat disk about one half inch thick on waxed paper. Sprinkle the top with sugar or shredded coconut.

8) Cut into 8-12 triangles and place on the baking sheet.

9) Bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden brown. Serve warm with jam !

Dairy Free Brownies   
Ingredients
    •     ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    •    1/2 cup Earth Balance
    •    2 eggs
    •    1 cup sugar
    •    ¼ cup flour
    •    1 cup broken-up walnuts or pecans
    •    1 teaspoon vanilla
    •    pinch of salt
1.    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8x8 inch pan.
 
2.    Melt Earth Balance carefully in saucepan with cocoa and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minute.

3) Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla.

4) In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, nuts, and salt.

5) Add to the cocoa-Earth Balance mixture. Stir until just combined.
6) Pour into a greased 8x8 square pan. 
 
7) Bake 35-40 minutes. Do not overbake; they should be gooey. 
8) Here comes the hard part...let cool, and cut into bars. In fact I have found they are easier to cut once they have been refrigerated. 


 







               

Monday, May 14, 2018

High Tea in Santa Cruz, finally !!

For Mother's Day and a belated birthday treat, a friend took me to the Buttercup Bakery in downtown Santa Cruz for high tea.


I love high tea and I love the cupcakes I have had from this bakery. I was so excited when I saw they were offering high tea on the weekends.

First off the table was set with a beautiful fresh flower bouquet which nicely matched my hair. There were beautiful depression glass looking goblets, sweet china tea cups, silver and, of course, a crisp white table cloth.

 High tea is served on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 to 3:30, there are two options: the cream tea, which includes scones, lemon curd, jam, whipped cream and a pot of tea or the savory tea, which has a lot to choose from, including tea sandwiches, quiche, a daily soup and dessert !
Note: They offered several vegan and gluten free options.

We chose the savory tea which started with this delicate and tasty fruit salad of berries and whipped cream.
We each chose three sandwiches not quite understanding that the quiche and soup were also options ( next time.)
This photo does not do the sandwiches justice. I had the cucumber, cream cheese and mint, the BLT with candied bacon and one called Pretty in Pink: smoked salmon, herb cream cheese, pickled watermelon radish and lemon zest on sweet french bread. They were all exquisite, just the right texture of bread, the right amount of filling and the right size to make room for the rest of our meal.

These lavender lemon scones were to die for. I am a scone snob, no doughy, heavy scones for me. These were crisp and flaky, and the lavender which can taste soapy was only a pleasant hint on top.
The lemon curd and jam were great compliments to the scones.

If that wasn't enough along came dessert: a lavender vanilla cupcake, a petite four, a tiny fruit tart and a chocolate hibiscus cupcake. Luckily they were all mini size, wow !!

We left very sated and excited to come back for another tea time treat.

I was so inspired this evening I made two different kinds scones for a high tea luncheon this coming weekend with family. I'll post those recipes soon.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Chocolate chip bars !!

I had completely forgotten about this little gems. They are soooo easy to make unlike the chocolate chip cookies I prefer...which are fabulous but a lot more work.

I wanted some sweet treat to share with my brother on his recent visit. In our family, desserts are very important and not just after dinner. We would eat dessert after breakfast if our breakfasts did not already include sweet things like cinnamon rolls, scones with jam, waffles with syrup & whipped cream etc...
So I looked up these bars from a post seven years ago. Not only are they easy to make, they make a lot, freeze or ship beautifully and taste great !!

Chocolate Chip Bars

Ingredients:

1/2 cup melted butter
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla.
3) Add the dry ingredients until mixed.
4) Fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.
5) Spread the batter which will be stiff, into a greased 9 by 13 inch pan.
6) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not over bake.
7) Cool, cut and serve.

YUM !!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma and my excuses

Quick post before too many weeks go by without an entry! How did three weeks slip by ??
I can tell you how...two weeks ago I went to Baton Rouge to visit Genevieve. I had great intentions of catching up with my blogging while "on vacation". Instead, and a better plan anyway, we ate great food. Whenever Genevieve and I get together, food is an important part of the visit.
The crawfish boil pictured below is one of my favorite meals in an area with many great options. I love that you go down to the nearby convenience store and order it by the pound. They scoop into a newspaper lined plastic bag and voila, an amazing feast without need for plates or utensils, just have plenty of paper towels handy.


We also had charbroiled oysters in honor of Frank, who loves them. This platter actually had two other preparations as well, Oysters Rockefeller and Bienville. They were all excellent and worth the hour we had to wait at the restaurant to get a table.

This has nothing to do with the recipes I am going to share but it is my excuse to myself for not posting sooner.

When I got home I had only a couple of days before I was off to another adventure which did not revolve around food. In order to have good food to eat during this weekend event, I made this chicken dish along with my favorite coconut curried rice.

Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma


  • 2 pounds, boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped fresh parsley ( optional)

For the marinade
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced or grated*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste  
1) Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a large bowl, or I mix my marinade right into the glass pan I am going to marinate my chicken in, then whisk to combine.

2) Add the chicken and toss well to coat.

3) Cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

4) When ready to cook, heat oven to 425 degrees.

5) Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine.

6) Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and place in an oiled baking pan. If you like it crispy be sure to make plenty of room in the pan. I had it in a smaller baking dish where it overlapped a lot which made it moister, which I like.

7) Roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.

8) Serve with the fresh parsley sprinkled if you like, on top over a bed of rice.






This is the kind of dish that ages well. I ate it for the next week and found the flavors only deepen.

 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Carrot Coconut Soup

I guess March is a soupy month, I noticed my last post was a soup recipe. I do love soup, I make is weekly, pretty much all year around. It's an easy lunch or dinner, for one person or a larger group.

This latest soup was a happy accident. I wanted to make my usual carrot ginger soup as part of a dinner for a friend. I was going for the very simple version, where the carrots, onions and ginger all go into the pot at once with some water or broth to simmer. On impulse I added a cinnamon stick.
Once everything had cooked and cooled enough to pureé, I removed the cinnamon stick and some of the ginger. I tasted it and realized the cinnamon was quite strong but I didn't want to add a lot more liquid. As I pondered a way to fix this, I saw a can of coconut milk sitting on a shelf. I added the whole can which included some rather thick solid chunks. The texture was perfect and the taste was amazing !! The only thing it needed was a bit of acid ( apple cider vinegar ) and a touch of salt. I am so pleased with how this turned out, so was my dinner guest !!



Laurie's Carrot Coconut Soup

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped into chunks
6-8 large carrots, chopped into 1 inch pieces
fresh sliced ginger ( about an inch long piece)
one inch of cinnamon stick ( this is less than I used originally)
soup stock or water to cover ( I add 1 tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 can coconut milk
salt & pepper to taste

1) In a large pot place carrots, onions, ginger slices, cinnamon stick, add enough water or stock to cover easily.
2) Bring to a boil and allow to simmer 30-45 minutes until the carrots are tender.
3) When it has cooled enough to puree safely, remove the cinnamon and ginger.
4) Puree in a blender in batches with some cooking liquid, the coconut milk and some of the ginger ( I like to peel it). How much liquid you use depends on the consistency you want, go easy at first.  How much ginger you use depends on your tastes.
5) Add the vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and blend one last time.
6) Serve with a salad and some crusty bread.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Red Lentil Cauliflower Soup

I have a wonderful trade worked out with a friend. She comes to help me do several hours of serious yard work, we have lunch and then I give her a massage. Recently I threw together some red lentil soup doing a riff on this recipe. My friend was so impressed she asked me for the recipe...of course I had made it on the fly and had to recreate it after the fact. It is an easy and very satisfying soup for lunch after some hard physical labor or perfect for dinner on a cold night.


Red lentil cauliflower soup

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
1 small cauliflower, 1 cup chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp curry powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Better Bouillon*
1 tsp. salt

3-4 cups water *( or stock in which case you could leave out the Better Bouillon)

1) Heat olive oil in a large pot, add onion and sauté until soft and brown at the edges.
2) Add cumin seeds and curry powder, cook for 1-2 minutes stirring well.
3) Add cauliflower and peppers, stir and cook for a few more minutes.
4) Add lentils, water, salt and bouillon, start with 3 cups water, adjust later for how thick you want it.
5) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the lentils are very tender.

It tastes a whole lot better than it looks in this photo...

Monday, February 26, 2018

Granola

Hey all you hippies out there, here's a granola recipe I tried recently.
My friend gave me some she had made with this recipe for Christmas, it had been a while since I had enjoyed a bowl of granola for breakfast. I liked her version, it's like a cross between muesli and granola due to the short baking time and small amount of oil. This recipe also has a higher nut to oat ratio which I like. Of course, I have put my own spin on it, changing it a bit here and there. Granola is very forgiving, use what you like in terms of nuts and seeds, add dried fruit after it bakes or leave it out. Allergic to coconut, no big deal,  replace it with something else, like those real hippy foods: flax and chia seeds.


Simple Granola

Ingredients

2 cups rolled oats ( not the instant variety)
3/4 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cardamon (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup dried cranberries added after baking.

1) Preheat the oven to 300 F, prepare a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, silicon baking mat or a light coating of oil.

2) Mix all the dry ingredients including the powdered spices together in a bowl.

3) Add the maple syrup and oil, combine together well.

4) Spread the mixture onto the baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes. Stir and bake for 10 more minutes.

5) Allow to cool, add dried cranberries and store in an airtight container. Enjoy.

In this batch I used some tiny raisins as well as the cranberries.

Here are a couple of other recipes from past posts.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The chocolate holiday

Let's admit it, for some of us, Valentine's Day is just an excuse to indulge in as much chocolate as we can. With that in mind I want to share two of my favorite chocolate desserts.
They will win the heart of any valentine on your list.

First, these very simple and very tasty brownies. I have made them several times this year already.
They were a touchdown at the Super Bowl party I went to !

Katharine Hepburn's Brownies   
Ingredients
    •     ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    •    1/2 cup butter
    •    2 eggs
    •    1 cup sugar
    •    ¼ cup flour
    •    1 cup broken-up walnuts or pecans
    •    1 teaspoon vanilla
    •    pinch of salt
 
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8x8 inch pan.
2. Melt butter in saucepan with cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
3) Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
4) In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, nuts, and salt. 
5) Add to the cocoa-butter mixture. Stir until just combined.
6) Pour into a greased 8x8 square pan.  
7) Bake 35-40 minutes. Do not overbake; they should be gooey. 
8) Here comes the hard part...let cool, and cut into bars. It's important to let them cool, as the texture changes.
 
For something a bit fancier, for that special Valentine's day dinner, here's my flourless chocolate cake.
I made this one as the dessert for my Hearts card game party.
 
 
 
Flourless Chocolate Cake
 
Ingredients
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla and/or almond extract or any liqueur of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt.
 
1) Preheat oven to 375°F
2) Butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter paper.

 
3) Chop chocolate into small pieces. 
4) In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.
5) Remove top of double boiler heat, you can transfer it into a bowl at this point, whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. 
6) Add eggs and whisk well.
7)  Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder into chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.
8) Pour batter into pan.
9) Bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. 
10) Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate, if you plan to serve it immediately. Be careful it is delicate and crumbles easily. I made mine ahead of time, so after it cooled, I put it in the fridge in the pan. I recommend this.
 
This cake begs for a topping, I decided on vanilla ice cream and boysenberry sauce. It was delightful, tangy and the perfect foil for the chocolate. The heart sugar cookie was my friend's addition ;-) 
 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Orange Food Part 3: Cake !!

It's certainly citrus season around here. I have lots of my Satsuma mandarins and limes, friends and family are sharing their navel orange bounty.  

It's the perfect time to make this very orange cake. I was surprised when I found it several years ago while searching for a vegan orange cake to serve dinner guests, it was from Joy of Cooking !!

I have made it twice already this year.



The cake is delightful, moist, easy and very adaptable.
Very Orange Cake

1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
 orange zest from one orange

Glaze

1/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest or tiny curls of peel


1) Preheat the oven 350 F. Grease and flour  a 9 inch round cake pan.

The original recipe called for an 8 inch pan, the first time I made it this year that's what I used, it overflowed the pan while baking...never a good thing, so be sure to go with a 9 inch round cake pan.

The original recipe also stressed the flouring part. I used spray oil and then floured it. I had no trouble removing it from the pan.

2) Grate the orange, and make juice to one cup. I was lucky and already had  a large jar made up.


3) In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients including the zest.

4) in a smaller bowl combine the liquid ingredients.

5) Add the liquid ingredients into the dry, mix just to blend.

6) Pour into the greased and floured pan, bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Do the toothpick trick to test for doneness. It will be a golden brown.

7) Cool for 10 minutes then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before adding the glaze.
8)  In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup powered sugar, 1 teaspoon zest or tiny curls of peel. Start with 1 teaspoon of juice and add more to get a thick paste.


9) Apply the glaze to cover the top of the cake.

It is the perfect cake for tea time, brunch or dessert after dinner.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Orange Food Post Part 2

I was given a huge supply of Fuyu persimmons a few weeks ago. I have been eating them daily but couldn't quite keep up. I do love them when they are still firm, eventually they will soften like the Hachiya variety. It was time to make cookies !!

These cookies are soft, moist and a fabulous way to use those gooey persimmons.
Click on the link to get the detailed recipe.

Persimmon Oatmeal Cookies Revised
Yield: 2- 3 dozen cookies
Ingredients:
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup persimmon pulp



1 tsp vanilla extract
1  cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves

 1/4 tsp. cardamon
2 cup rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts 



Happy New Year: Recipes for Orange Food, Part 1 !

Happy 2018 !
One of my New Year's resolutions was to get back to doing a bit more food blogging.
It's been six months and you don't need to hear my excuses, I don't need to have them anyway.
Sometimes it's good to take a break.

Orange food has been on my mind... winter squash, persimmons, mandarins.

I made this warming winter squash soup last week and shared it with a friend. She was so impressed she asked for the recipe. It's very simple, it can be made with any winter squash, butternut, pumpkins, Hubbard, whatever you have on hand. You can even used canned pumpkin if that's what you have.
It's perfect for the cold weather !!


Here's the ingredient list, click on the link to get the full recipe.

Laurie's Warming Winter Squash Soup

Ingredients
1 diced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 cups cooked winter squash*
1 cup tomatoes*
1 1/2 cup coconut milk**
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons  fresh grated ginger ( freezing fresh ginger makes it easy to grate and keeps longer)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon ( optional)
salt to taste

In my next post I'll share my persimmon oatmeal cookie recipe !
It's nice to be back !



Monday, July 3, 2017

A dessert for independence: Clafouti !

Just barely in time for your freedom celebrations.
Fun to say, fun to eat, this dessert is so simple to make it will free you up to have more fun tomorrow.
In my original recipe I used peaches, in this newer version I used blueberries and boysenberries.
It definitely looks more patriotic and would be great with any kind of berry.
Make in early in the day and sit back and relax !


Berry Clafouti

 Ingredients:

 1/3 cup white sugar
 3 cups berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries...
 3 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. almond meal ( don't have it, just skip it)
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Whipped cream for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 10 inch pie plate.
2. Arrange berries so that they cover the entire bottom of the pie plate.
3. In a blender, combine the sugar, eggs, milk, flour, almond meal, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.            Process until smooth, about 2 minutes.
 4. Pour over the fruit in the pie plate.
5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and lightly browned.
6. Let stand 30 minutes to an hour before slicing. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with whipped cream.

It's great leftover for breakfast !!

Friday, April 14, 2017

It's asparagus season !!


I love fresh asparagus, it has been in my farmer's market for a few weeks now.
It's fun to plan meals around what is in season in the farmer's market.

There are several ways to cook this fine vegetable, whether you steam it, roast it or grill it, please do it lightly !!
Don't shy away from the fatter stalks, we fine them to be sweeter than their skinny brethren, a grower gave us that tip.

My favorite way to eat them is roasted. 

Roasted Asparagus
    •    1 bunches asparagus
    •    1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or olive oil spray
    •    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    •    Freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Cover an edged cookie sheet with foil or a silicon baking sheet.
3) Wash then, snap the woody ends from the asparagus.
4) Spread the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle or spray with olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and roll to coat thoroughly.
5) Roast the asparagus until lightly browned and tender, about 10 to 16 minutes depending on their thickness. Give the pan a good shake about halfway through to turn the asparagus.
6) Serve as is or with a light dipping sauce like a vinaigrette, lemon juice or plain yogurt.

I love them cold as well, they are great added to a salad or as a side dish.
 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sweet Potato Muffins

I love seeing what's in my fridge and being creative.
The other day I had a friend coming over for brunch, I made a quiche with roasted red pepper I had on hand and sauteed some chard as a side dish. I wanted one more item to complete the menu.
I looked in the fridge and saw one leftover cooked sweet potato... "hmmm I wonder if I can make muffins out of that ? "
As they grow very well in the south, my daughter gets a LOT of them in her CSA( Community Supported Agriculture) boxes, I figured if this recipe worked she would have one more way to use all those sweet potatoes.
I did what I usually do and googled it, up came a variety of recipes and as I usually do I melded a few together with my own twist. I am so impressed with these tasty little muffins.


Laurie's Sweet Potato Muffins

Yield: one dozen

Ingredients

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
1 egg
1/2 canola oil
the zest of one orange

1) Preheat oven to 375 F, grease or paper a muffin tin. I used my silicon muffin cups which I love.
2) In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
3) In another bowl whisk together the wet ingredients: mashed sweet potato, egg, oil and orange zest.
4) Mix the wet ingredients in with the dry, just until moistened.
5) Fill the muffin cups, about half full ( just use all the batter, don't get too carried away measuring how much.)
6) Bake for 15-18 minutes, using the toothpick trick. Mine took 18 minutes.

Serve warm !!

All the recipes called for glazes but I like them just the way they are.

I am very pleased with how they taste even several days later.
I am going to try freezing them too.
Wish I had a surplus of sweet potatoes ;-)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tortilla Soup

Several weeks ago I wanted a hearty crowd pleasing soup to serve for a casual dinner. I remembered this tortilla soup but always thought of it as a summer soup, I think because I do love using fresh seasonal ingredients.  With a few changes to the original recipe I came up with a very satisfying dish, I liked it so much I made it twice !! It's a delicious taco in a bowl.



Tortilla Soup ( for any season)

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped

1-2 bell peppers, chopped

1 bag frozen fire roasted corn*, rinsed and drained ( Trader Joe's has it.)

1 cup finely chopped red or green cabbage

2 cups cooked beans ( black beans, kidney or pinto beans)

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 pint canned tomatoes ( stewed, fire roasted, whatever you like.)

1 quart veggie or chicken or beef broth




1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp. ancho chili or other powdered chili
1/4 red chili flakes, more if you like it hotter
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika ( optional)
2 tbsp cumin powder
1 tsp. of dried oregano ( sprig of fresh oregano if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings
strips of corn tortilla
sour cream
grated cheddar or jack cheese
chunks of avocado
fresh minced cilantro
sliced black olives
salsa
hot sauce
lime wedges

* (If you start with regular frozen corn, it's best to brown it first.)

1) Saute the onion in the olive oil until it starts to brown slightly.

2) Add the garlic, cabbage, corn and bell pepper, cook until soft.

3) Add in the spices and saute another minute or so, to release the full flavor of the spices.

4) Add the tomatoes, beans and broth, simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

5) Serve with corn tortilla strips ( I found that heating them up first is great) and any or all of the topping listed above.

As with a lot of my soup there is room to modify and adjust to your tastes and what's in your pantry.

Enjoy !!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Chocolate Holiday is almost here !!

Forget sentimental cards, diamond earrings and bouquets of roses... Valentine's Day is all about chocolate !!

This year I decided to experiment with the chocolate bark I blogged about two years ago.
Instead of one big round, I made it into individual disks studded with nuts and bits of dried fruit.
It's so very simple,  quick to make and they look beautiful.





I also tried to make some in my silicone baking cups with shredded coconut on the bottom and almonds on top.



It was marginally successful...I wished I had been a little more aggressive about mixing the melted chocolate with the coconut.

I tried the same trick with the disks on the parchment.
With similar results...


I am sure they will all taste delicious !!
I used a mix of two dark chocolates, I find the quality of these bars great for this kind of confection.

Since our microwave oven is broken, I melted my chocolate the old fashioned way, in a double boiler. It is slower, requiring more patient ;-) but does the job, it's best not to let the water boil.

Use your imagination, customize each one, have fun !!

Here are a few other wonderful chocolate desserts to try.

Flour-less chocolate cake

Very Very Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache ( vegan)

The Most Amazing Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Easy Brownies

Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Divine Brownies

Chocolate Sorbet

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Citrus Season

I do love the citrus season. There are so many great varieties and such a long span of productivity.
First come my sister's Satsuma mandarin in late fall, she is always generous, giving me huge baskets of these sweet little gems. Her navel oranges are next in the new year and are one of my favorite evening snacks. Our little Satsuma mandarin produces lots of fruit but due to our warmer climate they don't get very sweet, so I juice them.

A bushel of mandarins make about two gallons of juice. I have a glass every morning, liquid sunshine!

I freeze some, share with friends and use it to make this wonderful orange cake. It's so simple, moist and vegan !! I don't bother with the fancy candied orange peel in the photo below, but I do sometimes as some almond extract to the batter and some slivered almonds to the top.




My friend, Susan gave me this wonderful Cthulhu citrus, which is actually called Buddha's hand but reminds me of the H.P. Lovecraft monster. It's all about the peel, Susan uses the zest in all kinds of sweet and savory dishes.




I have been revisiting some of the fun breads from my Bread Machine Magic cookbook lately.
I was looking for one that used citrus and found this lovely marmalade and oats bread.
The recipe is for a bread machine but if you already bake your own bread I am sure you can adapt it.
I use my own marmalade but any commercial version will do.

Marmalade and Oats Bread.

Ingredients
2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats ( not instant)
1 1/8 cup milk or soy milk ( or almond etc...)
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance
1/2 cup citrus marmalade 
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast ( Red Star is the one recommended in the cookbook).

Place all the ingredients in the bread machine in the order above. Use a light crust setting and regular baking cycle ( it's a three hour process in my machine).
Once the baking cycle ends, remove from pan and allow to cool for one hour. It's important that you let it cool. The oats in the dough make it very chewy and moist. It's fabulous toasted with butter and marmalade !!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Laurie's Warming Winter Squash Soup

This fall my brother grew some great winter squash and was kind enough to share two of them with me, a huge Hubbard and a warty French squash.

There are so many ways to use these versatile fall and winter vegetables, I did a whole post on that several years ago. While each winter squash including pumpkin have slightly different flavors and textures they are, for the most part, interchangeable in my recipes.

I wanted to come up with another savory soup using winter squash, I had some ideas so I just started cooking. The result was rich, warming and tasty, it reminds me a bit of a warm savory pumpkin pie.
I made it a second time to take photos and measurements so I could share it with you.

Laurie's Warming Winter Squash Soup

Ingredients
1 diced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 cups cooked winter squash*
1 cup tomatoes*
1 1/2 cup coconut milk**
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons  fresh grated ginger ( freezing fresh ginger makes it easy to grate and keeps longer)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon ( optional)
salt to taste

* I used the Hubbard squash I had roasted, cut into chunks and froze, same with the tomatoes. I think a large can of pumpkin and a can of stewed tomatoes would work as well.

** Use coconut milk not coconut water, I like this Trader Joe's coconut milk.



















1) Saute the onion in the olive oil until soft.

2) Add the spices,  stir and cook for several minutes.



3) Add the cooked winter squash, tomatoes, coconut milk, water and bouillon. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

4) Allow to cool before pureeing in the blender. Salt to taste.

You can serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a garnish of fresh parsley or cilantro. It will certainly warm you up on a cold winter night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Beet Borsch(t)

This fall I was fortunate enough to travel to New England, I had a friend in Vermont and one in Massachusetts, I spent time with both. Strangely enough they both served me beet borsch made two very different ways. I loved them both and so far I have the recipe I like for one version and plan to work on the second one soon.

This soup feels like winter, deep red in color, hearty and good for a cold evening.
I made the omnivore version, it is easily adapted for the plant base diet*.
It begins with these humble ingredients.

Beet Borsch

2 cups peeled and diced beets ( 3-4 medium size beets)
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 pound beef stew meat cut into 1" pieces
1-2 large onions
3 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
6 cloves garlic, chopped.
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon  honey
1 teaspoon salt
ground pepper
8 cups water
sour cream for topping
*If you are making the vegetarian recipe add 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon.

Most of the work for the soup comes in preparing the beets and cabbage.
The beets need to be peeled and cut into chunks while still raw.

The cabbage is shredded or chopped to the size you like for your soup.


1) Peel, chop and saute the onions to soften in a small amount of olive oil.
2) Add the beef to brown it.

3) Add the all veggies, spices, vinegar and water.
Note: as with most soup the exact about of each vegetable is flexible. While the original recipe called for 3 1/2 cups of canned tomatoes, I used maybe 2 cups of my frozen tomatoes.

4) Simmer for 1 hour.
5) Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a nice salad and a slice of rye bread !!



Here is my friend's cat sitting on the original recipe.