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A Healthier Take on Strawberry Shortcake for a Big Group

I want to eat this all day, every day.

It’s no secret that there are a few select foods that I could literally could eat every single day and not get tired of them.  Nachos (and I do), a good burger, and my homemade strawberry shortcake.  My homemade strawberry shortcake is sublime.

I stumbled upon this recipe years ago when I needed to come up with a dessert for like 15 people.  Individual shortcakes would have been way too time-consuming (and quite frankly they’re kind of dry), but I had it stuck in my head that I wanted to use the pounds of strawberries that my mom had.  And then I found the original recipe I’ve adapted here…as my original post mentioned, I’m obsessed.  It’s literally the best.

healthier-strawberry-shortcake-for-a-big-group-nessa

But, as with many recipes, I wanted to see if there was a way to make it just a tad more healthy—cut down on the calories just a bit, but also bringing in some healthier elements.  And the fact is, I might like this version even just a bit more.

I cut the sugar a bit, and it definitely doesn’t lose anything.  And then I’ve substituted half of the flour for whole wheat (or white whole wheat, which is a bit softer), which gives it a great heartiness and also a slightly nutty, warm flavor that I really love.  You can make this ahead of time when feeding a big group and it’s the most moist, fragrant, yummy summer dessert I can think of.  Pair it with fresh strawberries and a bit of homemade cinnamon whipped cream, and you’ve got yourself a winner! [Read more…]

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Chocolate, Cinnamon, & Almond Loaf Cake (gluten-free)

My dessert tastes don’t always quite jive with other people’s.  I don’t like things super sweet, I tend more toward fruity desserts rather than super chocolate, I will always choose dark chocolate over milk (and don’t even talk to me about white chocolate and its lies…).

Chocolate, Cinnamon, & Almond Loaf Cake | Finding Time for Cooking

I was blown away by the complexity of the flavors in this cake, yet how subtle they were.  I cut back on the sugar quite a bit from what the recipe called for, and for me that made it perfect—letting the chocolate have more of a bittersweet quality and the cinnamon shine through.  Also, whoever thought to put cinnamon in whipped cream is a genius and I can’t believe I haven’t done that before.  But I assure you I will forever moving forward…
[Read more…]

Chicken Tikka Masala

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It’s funny how quickly a new dish can become a go-to.

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala | Finding Time for Cooking

Indian food has been a challenge for a long time…in restaurants, even when it’s mild it’s usually too spicy for me.  But I’ve also had several recipes I was dying to try.  The intense combination of spices, held together with creamy sauces, is just too much to resist.

chicken-tikka-masala-bowl-2

I finally pulled myself together over winter break and gave this a try.  Part of that was just making sure I had all the spices I needed.  And I was shocked at how easy this dish was to make, how satisfying, and how great the leftovers were.  So I made it a few days later.  And the week after that.

It’s now in my regular rotation, because the lunch leftovers are unbeatable.  Pair it with some of my delish and easy homemade naan, and you’ve got an exotic and yet comforting winner.  Don’t be scared by the ingredient list, because you make the paste once and it will last you through several batches. [Read more…]

Almond Magic Cake

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so obsessed with a recipe.  I pinned it years ago, and somehow forgot about it, though the idea was fascinating.  Then over winter break this year I stumbled back across it and knew I had to give it a try.

Almond Magic Cake | Finding Time for Cooking

I did make one major change to the recipe.  The original is for a vanilla cake, but my M.O. in life is, why make something vanilla when it can be almond instead??  I mean, seriously.  This cake is really easy to throw together, and yields the most amazing, creamy, custardy, flan-y cake.  I ended up making it again a few days later, in a gluten-free version (to be posted here later once I’ve perfected it).  Give this a try, you won’t be disappointed! [Read more…]

Snickerdoodle Zucchini Bread

This bread is the BOMB!

Snickerdoodle zucchini bread...cinnamon-sugar is my kryptonite

Cinnamon-sugar is my kryptonite in general, so it’s no surprise that I was drawn to this recipe.  It’s all the best things about my snickerdoodle bread (which is amazing, but also will make a major dent in your calories for the day), combined with a bit of whole wheat flour and fiber from zucchini.  Make no mistake, this is definitely a breakfast dessert, but it’s now only a bit of splurge rather than a complete diet derail.

Snickerdoodle zucchini bread...plenty of sweet, with a bit of healthy mixed in

The hardest thing is finding the cinnamon chips—if you see them, buy like 6 bags!  (Though this may be part of the scarcity problem…).  I think Hershey’s discontinued theirs, so I’ve been buying them on the Amazon black market, and will need to look elsewhere soon.  Cinnamon chips are seriously the best, and appropriate in all manner of delicious breakfast and dessert recipes.

Snickerdoodle zucchini bread

This was a hit at work.  And I had trouble keeping my hands off it.  I had a piece with my morning espresso, but went back several times throughout the day for another bite.  I probably had three pieces total, one bite at a time! [Read more…]

Maple and Oat Scones

This is my new breakfast obsession.

oat-maple-scones-done

I don’t know the last time I found a scone recipe I was so into.  Don’t get me wrong, I love scones, but they’re generally more of just a vehicle for condiments, an excuse to slather on jam or honey.  The scone itself is not so much the point.  But these scones are completely the point.

oat-maple-scones-baked

These are absolutely divine with a tiny bit of honey, but they’re honestly even amazing without anything at all.  There’s butter and maple syrup baked right in, so they really don’t need anything.  And they only took a few minutes to whip up and get in the oven.  Perfect for company, or just for you to devour by yourself with coffee and a blanket on a cold winter morning… [Read more…]

Birthday Vanilla Spice Coke Cake with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Every year (minus last year), I make myself a special birthday cake.  I try to pick something that’s really captured my imagination, that seems a bit fancy and more complex than I’d usually convince myself to tackle.  Something special.

This year, for reasons I can’t even quite explain to myself, I made a vanilla spice Coca-Cola cake with salted peanut frosting.

Vanilla Spice Coke Cake with Salted Peanut Frosting

Yes, you read that right.

It’s kind of conceptual…while I’m not a fan myself, boiled peanuts in Coke is considered a Southern delicacy.  Consider this the deconstructed cake version.  But without the weird texture issues.

vanilla-spice-coke-cake-with-salted-peanut-frosting-sliced

It was really a gameday decision.  I’d pored over my whole Pinterest dessert board and nothing was really jumping out at me.  But then I finally got it into my head that this vanilla spice Coke cake was going to be my base.  I’ve never had a traditional Coca-Cola cake, but my understanding is that it’s almost always chocolate.  When I ran across this recipe from Local Milk, I was intrigued…the way the flavor profile was described so beautifully, and as an interesting transition into fall,I decided it had to happen.

vanilla-spice-coke-cake-with-salted-peanut-frosting

But the frosting that went along with it was just way too finicky for my exhausted and busy self to deal with.  I looked at tons of different recipes but nothing really felt right, until I saw this salted peanut frosting.  Since I love all things peanut butter, I was on board right away, and I thought that it would be a fun complement to the cake.  While this was a bit overly sweet for my tastes (or maybe that was because I also ate a gallon of queso, so I felt a bit ill), the flavor was bomb and the cake was insanely moist.

I’ll definitely be revisiting this recipe down the road, and not just for a special occasion—the cake base itself (minus frosting the layers) was super easy and fast.  As you can tell, frosting cakes is not my particular skill set.

So happy birthday to me, and cut yourself a huge slice of cake and pour a Coke! [Read more…]

Apricot Linzer Torte

I don’t mind admitting when I’m wrong. And BOY, was I wrong about this.

Apricot Linzer Torte

See, for the past two or three years, basically every time I’ve gotten with my friend Shalya for dinner, the conversation has eventually turned to food (okay, fine, it’s on food 92.5% of the time), and every single time she’s begged me to make a linzer torte.

Apricot Linzer Torte slice

Every single time.  And I always told her she was a weirdo, because who is obsessed with linzer torte, but fine, yes, I’ll make a linzer torte if she comes to my house.  But that day finally came.  And it was glorious.

Apricot Linzer Torte closeup

See, in my (limited) experience, linzer torte is basically just a simple buttery pastry crust with some jam in it, and a lattice topping.  Something that’s fine adorning a bakery case somewhere, but not something that anyone ever really chooses.  Fine, and sturdy, but not setting the world on fire.  Which just goes to show, I have been eating the WRONG LINZER TORTE all my life.

Apricot Linzer Torte slice closeup

This linzer torte recipe is anything but “fine”.  The dough basically punches you in the face with a combination of spices so aromatic my house smelled like heaven.  Pair that moist, tender spiced crust up with slightly chunky apricot jam, and you have a simple and perfect match made in heaven. [Read more…]

Creamy Sweet Corn & Chicken Sausage Pasta

It’s sweet corn season!!!

Creamy Sweet Corn & Sausage Pasta

I was so stoked when my CSA box this week included four ears of sweet corn.  Fresh corn is the best.  It can be a side dish, elevate even the most mundane pasta, and even become a dessert (and yes, you better believe this is happening in the near future).

creamy sweet corn & sausage pasta corn sliced

In fact, I was so excited about the first corn of the season that I actually cooked on a Saturday night.  That may not sound earth-shattering, but anyone who knows me knows that Saturday night is reserved for Chinese food.  Specifically, one of three dishes from House of Chan five minutes from my house.  I call at around 5:02, pick it up 15 minutes later, and am comfortably ensconced on my couch shortly thereafter.  So for me to choose cooking on a Saturday night is pretty major.

Creamy Sweet Corn & Sausage Pasta finished

And this pasta is totally worth it.  The sweet corn, summer squash, and onions meld with the mascarpone, Parmesan, and starchy water to make a comforting yet not heavy-feeling chunky sauce that covers the noodles and sausage for the perfect pasta marriage.  Add a little fresh basil and I’m in heaven.  The fact that it all came together in less than half an hour?  Even better. [Read more…]

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

I think I’ve found my new favorite cupcake recipe.  These are as close to a perfect texture and taste as any cake or cupcake I’ve ever made.

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting done

Someone described them as “bomb-ass”, and I’m not going to argue with them.  I mean, it would be rude.

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

We wanted to do a special girls’ night for Casey’s birthday a few weeks ago, and I heard through the grapevine that she was obsessed with some Publix lemon raspberry cake, so the flavor palette for her cake was easy enough.  I was super excited, because usually people want chocolate or something super sweet, so the chance to make a fruity dessert was one I wouldn’t pass up.

lemon cupcakes with raspberry frosting lemons

And it’s a good thing these were basically perfect, because they were pretty much the only thing that went right that evening.  The restaurant ended up being a nightmare (45 minutes to order, hour and a half for food to come, took two hours to get a second drink order in), so by the time we left our numbers had dwindled by half and it was already quite late.  Thankfully, three of us persevered and went to our friend’s Midtown high rise for wine and cupcakes and a great rooftop view.

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting finished

Right call.  The cupcakes are the most insanely moist, dense crumb you can imagine, packed with super tart lemony flavor that never tips over the line into that weird cloying fake lemon flavor that I hate.  Even without the icing they’re perfection.  But the icing is a work of art itself.  Fluffy buttercream taken to the next level with raspberry jam adding some fruity goodness and tanginess to the frosting’s sugar overload.

In other words, you should make these TODAY. [Read more…]

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