Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm back! Thanks so much everyone for the good wishes for our vacation. We had a really good time relaxing, watching the nightly shows, exploring the Alaskan cities, and I have a new addiction to slot machines (since I now understand the way the buttons work haha).

The Hubbard Glacier, which looks small but we're just a distance from it in this photo.

And we ate way too much. There was a buffet and one restaurant, where we ate dinner almost every night. But buffets are seriously dangerous. You don't wait to eat until you're hungry, you wait to eat until there's room in your stomach. So while I can't wait to see what you guys have all been up to and what you've been cooking, I've been a little wary of looking at lots of food photos right now. I'm sure I'll get over it soon though! It was nice not having to cook, but I'm happy to be back to my regular food.

Our cruise ship with the tender boat. I had no idea what tendering meant before!

Anyway, sorry to be so mean and withhold the cake recipe from you! So here it is. The cake has diced apples, walnuts apple liqueur and cinnamon. The icing has homemade caramel (so addictive), cream cheese and butter. Uh can an icing get any better than that? I halved the recipe and unfortunately forgot to half the amount of caramel in the frosting so my frosting was way more liquidy than it was supposed to be, but delicious nonetheless! My family and I really enjoyed this cake and I'll definitely make it again.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Tres Leches Cake
Maple Walnut Cake
Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake
Applesauce Spice Bars

Apple Walnut Cake with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

Makes 1 two layer 9 inch cake

Note: The caramel needs time to cool completely so it would be best to make it the day before.

Makes 1 3/4 cup (you will have about 1/2 cup leftover)

1/2 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups (3 large) golden delicious apples, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tbsp apple liqueur or apple brandy

1 pound (2 eight ounce packages) cream cheese, softened slightly, cut into pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened slightly, cut into pieces
1 cup cold caramel


To make caramel:
In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Set over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves (about 3 minutes), making sure no sugar is sticking to sides of pan. Increase heat to high and boil without stirring, until the syrup becomes a deep amber colour, about 15 minutes. To prevent the syrup from becoming grainy, use a pastry brush dipped into cold water to brush down any sugar crystals sticking to the sides of the pan. Swirl the pan occasionally for even browning.

Once the syrup turns deep amber in colour, immediately remove from heat. Slowly and carefully add the cream to the syrup (mixture will bubble vigorously), whisking constantly, until cream is incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-low heat, stirring until sauce is smooth, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature before refrigerating. Can be stored for up to one month in refrigerator.

To make cake:
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease two 9x2 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with waxed paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the oil with the sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until light, about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, beating after each addition until smooth. The batter will be extremely thick and dough like. Fold in the apples, walnuts, and apple liqueur until just blended. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

To make icing:
In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese and the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the caramel and beat until well incorporated.

To put the cake together:
When cake has cooled, ice between the layers, then ice top and sides of cake. Drizzle remaining caramel over top of cake. Garnish with walnuts.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vacation Time!

We're leaving today on a one week Alaskan cruise today and I can't wait!! I've always wanted to go on a cruise and specifically an Alaskan one (I've never been a beach person). My plan was to post about this apple walnut cake with caramel cream cheese icing before we left but I ran out of time. So I will leave you guys with a photo and promise to post the recipe when I come back. Hope you all have a good week!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mango Salsa

My attempt at making the plate look nice! Look how the salsa is draped over the dry burger. ;)

I've tried out a few vegetarian burger recipes, but never seem to have much luck, except for these mushroom pecan burgers which are so flavourful, moist and tasty. My burgers always seem to be too dry or too crumbly or not flavourful enough. I guess the other problem is that I either bake them (which dries them out too much it seems) or pan fry them with a minimal amount of oil (which is never enough oil to do a good job). So it could very well be me that is the problem and not the recipes! I've saved tons of burger recipes but only rarely feel inspired to try them.

Anyway, so I tried out the Anaheim black bean burgers from the Rebar cookbook, with high hopes as Rebar is one of my absolute favourite cookbooks. The burgers didn't turn out so well, but the mango salsa that they suggested pairing it with was amazing. And that most delicious mango salsa is what I'm sharing with you today. Fresh salsa is one of my very favourite things to eat (so it's actually surprising that I never make it - I guess I'm scared of messing it up even though I know it's so simple).

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Roasted Red Pepper and Almond Hummus
Beet Raita
Olive Tapenade
Grape Tomato Salsa

Mango Salsa
Adapted from Rebar

2 mangoes, finely diced
1/4 red pepper, finely diced
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, mix together and season with salt. Serve immediately or refrigerate to serve later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Morning Glory Muffins + Sweet Harvest Muffins

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, I get quite tired of "sweet" muffins and scones. What I mean by "sweet" are things like fruit muffins or scones, or things with chocolate. They're okay sometimes but I usually lean towards the savoury side. However, these morning glory muffins are SO good, moist and flavourful that I would be happy to eat them all the time. I love that they're so packed full of stuff, and you can use up whatever you have (which was the reason I went searching for a recipe like this actually - to help use my wheat germ and Costco sized bag of apricots). I did make efforts to make this muffin recipe healthier than the original, though in this case I don't think you can tell.

Speaking of muffins that are more sweet than savoury (oops I had it the other way around before), I also love these sweet harvest muffins from Ricki's cookbook Sweet Freedom. I can't share the recipe with you but can tell you that they're really delicious and soft, and each muffin gives you a serving of vegetables! I'll definitely be making them again.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Spiced Carrot Muffins
Banana Crunch Muffins
Grandma Jennie's Date and Nut Bread
Garden Harvest Cake

Morning Glory Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Note: The original recipe calls for 2/3 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup orange juice. What I did was kind of complicated/weird but it worked for me. I reduced the vegetable oil to 1/3 cup, and added in some extra juice to result in using 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp juice. Leave it as it was in the original recipe if you don't mind the amount of oil.

3/4 cup dried apricot, chopped (or any other dried fruit)
2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (7 ounces) carrots, peeled and grated
1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup wheat germ
3 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp mango juice (all we had was mango juice, but the original recipe uses orange)

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line it with papers.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and wheat germ. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and juice. Add to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened. Stir in the dried apricots. Divide the batter among the prepared pans.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until nicely domed and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes in their pan on a rack, then turn out of pans to finish cooling.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blueberry White Chocolate Swirls with Lemon Glaze

I made these for a blogger recipe contest that BC Blueberries is hosting. And I made them just in time, as the deadline is tonight at 11:59ET! One of my favourite baked goods (and well, food in general) is cinnamon rolls, so I thought I'd try to make some variation on cinnamon rolls using blueberries.

I didn't use any spices, and instead have some vanilla in the dough, blueberries and white chocolate rolled up, and then it's all topped with a lemon glaze. These are definitely addictive and I'll have to give them away so I don't eat them all! We have some really amazing blueberries in BC and I need to get out to a local farm to buy a big box of them.

Edit: I forgot to mention how easy these are to make! No yeast, so no waiting for the dough to rise and no kneading. They're really quick to come together.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Blackberry Whole Wheat Scones
Blackberry Orange Tea Scones
Braided Lemon Bread
Plum Sour Cream Kuchen

Blueberry White Chocolate Swirls with Lemon Glaze

Makes 9 rolls

2 cups flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries, washed and patted dry (or 1 cup frozen blueberries)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8"x8" square pan.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine milk, oil and vanilla. Add the wet mixture to the dry, and stir just until the flour disappears and you have a nice dough.

Lightly flour a work surface. Roll out the dough to a 9"x14" rectangle. Sprinkle the white chocolate chips and blueberries, and gently press them into the dough. Starting from the long side, roll up the dough into a log. Cut it into 9 biscuits and place them in the prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the lemon glaze by mixing together the lemon juice and icing sugar.

Once the rolls are done, invert them onto a plate, and drizzle the glaze over top. Serve while warm, but also good at room temperature.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Strata with Spinach, Basil & Roasted Garlic Custard

Not too long ago I made this southwest brunch bake for mother's day brunch, but I had initially wanted to make this summer strata. The strata is more work though with caramelizing onions, roasting garlic, washing and cooking spinach, etc whereas the southwest brunch bake is pretty much dump and mix. I don't mind doing the bit of extra work for this strata, but when I had to prepare a few other dishes, I went with the simpler southwest brunch bake! However, this summer strata is super yummy and flavourful, and I'm really happy I tried it out for a weeknight meal. The only thing I'd change is to use less milk, as the bread was a bit soggy for my liking.

Also, I hope you guys didn't miss out on seeing this seriously amazing chile-cheese bread I just posted about. It would be sad if you did because it was one of the best things I've eaten this year!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Southwest Brunch Bake
Savoury Vegetable Cheesecake
Butternut Squash Casserole
Tomato and Corn Pie

Summer Strata with Spinach, Basil & Roasted Garlic Custard
Adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook

Serves 8-12

Caramelized Onions
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4 yellow onions, sliced or diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
1 tsp minced fresh thyme, sage or rosemary

1 lb sourdough loaf, cut into 3/4" cubes (I think you can use whatever bread you want here)
2 bunches of spinach, wilted, squeezed and chopped
1 recipe caramelized onions
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (not oil packed)
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese

6 eggs
3 cups milk (I used 1%, and will use less milk next time)
2 bulbs roasted garlic, mashed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper

Caramelized Onions
1. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter begins to foam. Add the onions and stir to coat. Add salt and cook for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

2. Sprinkle in the sugar and wine and reduce until the liquid has evaporated. Add stock, vinegar, pepper and herbs. Cook gently until the stock is reduced and the onions reach a creamy texture.

Filling and Custard
1. Prepare all of the ingredients for the filling. Soak the sundried tomatoes until soft, strain and chop coarsely.

2. To make the custard, whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Whisk in the milk, cream, mashed roasted garlic, salt and pepper. Stir in the bread cubes, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Stir occasionally to ensure that all of the bread is evenly soaked. Stir in the remaining ingredients, reserving half of the grated cheese.

3. Heat the oven to 350F. Butter or oil a 9"x13" baking dish and scoop the bread pudding mixture into it. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese and bake until crusty, golden brown and just set in the middle (about 45 minutes). Let stand for several minutes, cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chile-Cheese Bread

I always have this plan to update my blog every 2-3 days. Sometimes I do it but sometimes life just gets distracting. I'm amazed at the healthy living bloggers who are able to update their blog several times a day and still seem to lead very busy lives! Anyway, now let's talk about this chile-cheese bread. Because it is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten. Ever. It is so incredibly flavourful I can't even describe it. Cheddar cheese, black pepper, canned green chiles, fresh jalapeno pepper, red bell pepper. SO good oh my. Just make it. And have you heard of the Savory Baking cookbook? I want to make pretty much everything in it.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Cheddar & Dill Beer Bread Rolls
A Dilly of a Cheese Scone
Cheddar and Black Pepper Scones
Sun Dried Tomato, Feta and Oregano Muffins

Chile-Cheese Bread
Adapted from Savory Baking (found on montcarte from Pink Parsley)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt (I'd use 1/2 tsp next time)
4 ounces (1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained (Though I couldn't figure out how to effectively drain it so just dumped it in)
3 Tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno chile, veined and seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

Preheat the oven to 375F, and grease or spray an 8x3 inch loaf pan.

Sift together the flour, salt, pepper, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Add the cheese and gently toss and stir until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Whisk the milk, oil, egg, green chiles, jalapeno, and red bell pepper in another bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and cheese mixture, and pour the milk mixture in the center. Briefly blend with a spatula, only until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and place in the oven. Bake until the top is golden-brown, and springs back when touched in the center, about 45-50 minutes (mine needed more time). Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

I know I know, I said I would never share another peanut butter cookie with you and that all my peanut butter cookie needs were fulfilled, but how could I resist trying out these peanut butter cookies that Dana posted about? She said that she doesn't think she's ever had a good peanut butter cookie and that these were so much better than any she's ever had. I had to try them!!

The results? Delicious of course - chewy and thin. And you know what? E isn't really big on peanut butter cookies either but he loved these. BUT you know what else? My brother who is the extreme peanut butter cookie lover wasn't particularly enamored with them. So I'm not sure what to make of that, but I do know I'll make these again. Also, I used to make peanut butter cookies often when I was younger and I don't remember ever rolling them in or topping them with sugar (nor do I think they should be) so why do so many recipes seem to want to do that now? And why don't I own the Baked cookbook yet??

If peanut butter cookies don't interest you, how about this photo of Abby trying to steal my apple?

If these sound good, you might also like:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows
Peanut Butter Waffles
Peanut Butter Truffles
Peanut Butter Squares with Milk Chocolate and Oats

Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Baked (found on Dana Treat)

Makes about 24 cookies

Note: The dough has to be refrigerated for 3 hours before baking. I didn't realize that so was in a rush to bake them. Don't be silly like me.

1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and peanut butter and beat until just incorporated.

Add half the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat baking mats.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared sheets, at least 2 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, very gently press each cookie down so it forms a very tall disk shape. Do not press too hard and do not press it flat.

Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with granulated sugar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the tops of the cookies just begin to brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the individual cookies to the rack to cool completely (although they are delicious warm).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blackberry Whole Wheat Scones

This recipe is a real gem. It's whole wheat with a small amount of sugar, not too much butter, and produces really nice scones with soft insides and crispy edges. I think this will become my go to scone recipe. I can't wait to try other add ins, both sweet and savoury.

Though I've made many scones before, I didn't realize until I'd made this scone that it's important to knead the dough before shaping it and cutting it. I'm always so paranoid about overworking scone/biscuit dough that I think I've been under mixing/kneading. All it requires is a few extra kneads and the dough stays together so well, versus the many crumbly messes I've had! So don't fear that bit of extra kneading with your scone dough.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Blackberry Orange Tea Scones
Cinnamon Apple Scones
Spiced Carrot Muffins
Whole Wheat Orange Spice Muffins

Blackberry Whole Wheat Scones
Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

I just recently made these again but didn't have any yogurt so I used milk and it worked out just fine, so use whatever you have! Also, I just want to note that while I adore these scones, they are of the healthier and heartier variety so if you're looking for a light fluffy scone to smear devonshire cream on, these are not it. (Though I have smeared devonshire cream on these scones and oh it is delicious.)

1/2 cup yogurt (I used 2% plain yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 1/2 tbsp sugar (I'll try 1 tbsp next time)
1/2 cup dried blackberries, chopped (or other chopped dried fruit)

Preheat oven to 425F. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, vanilla and egg.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Work in the butter with your hands until the mixture resembles small peas. Add in the sugar and blackberries, and stir in the yogurt/milk mixture. Mix gently with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with a bit of flour and turn out the dough, kneading no more than 12 times. Pat dough into a round shape, flattening it with your palms to 1/2 inch thick and cut into 8 wedges. Place on a baking sheet covered with a Silpat or parchment. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Broccoli Cashew Teriyaki Tofu Stir-Fry

I know I have a lot of tofu recipes on here, a couple for seitan and none for tempeh. The reason for that is because tofu is the most accessible and I like it. I really like seitan but it does require that extra step of making it before using it in something. And tempeh, oh tempeh. For years I wanted to try it but was scared of it because I didn't know how to cook it or what to do with it. I would buy a package and it would sit in my freezer for a year then I would throw it away and buy another package and that package would sit in my freezer for another year. Well finally I took charge and found a sweet and sour tempeh recipe in The Vegan Table. I was wary but excited. I took my first bite, and it was not good. I tried eating a few more pieces but I really really didn't like it. I ended up picking all the tempeh out and replacing it with tofu. Maybe I just need to get used to the flavour like with tofu (though I never hated tofu). I'd be willing to try tempeh again in a different form, maybe tempeh bacon, but for now I'm sticking to tofu and seitan.

All this to say I've found yet another amazing tofu recipe, not surprisingly from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan. I'm not sure that I'd say it's an authentic teriyaki sauce, but it's delicious and so flavourful and that's what's important! I wouldn't change a thing about this recipe and have already made it several times.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Salt & Pepper Tofu
Pad Thai
Tofu and Broccolini in Peanut Sauce
Szechuan Tofu Triangles in Triple Pepper Sauce

Broccoli Cashew Teriyaki Tofu Stir-Fry
Adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

12 oz (350 g) firm or extra firm tofu, cubed 1/2-3/4 inch thick
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

Teriyaki Sauce
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 1/2 tbsp honey or agave nectar
1 1/2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
6 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp oil
4 1/2-5 cups broccoli (florets and stalks), chopped (about 1/2 lb/225 g)
2 tsp water
1 medium large red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup green onions, sliced

In a shallow dish, add tofu. Pour soy sauce and vinegar over tofu and marinate for 10 minutes or longer (flip tofu at least once while marinating). Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk all ingredients for teriyaki sauce until cornstarch is dissolved (or put it in a blender to puree).

In a large frying pan or wok on high, heat 1/2 tbsp oil. Add tofu and saute for 4-5 minutes, then turn over to saute for another 3-4 minutes, utnil lightly brown on each side. Remove from pan and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, add another 1/2 tbsp oil to wok, and add broccoli and water. Toss, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, until broccoli turns bright green, then add bell peppers and saute uncovered for another 1-2 minutes. Add teriyaki sauce and increase heat to high. Toss to coat, and let sauce come to a slow boil. As soon as sauce has reached a slow boil and has thickened, add tofu, cashews and green onions, and toss to combine. Remove pan from heat and serve immediately.