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Cinnamon Swirl Bread

I’ve been sitting on this one for a while.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Why, you ask?  It’s cinnamon swirl bread, which is a total no-brainer.  Gooey, cinnamony goodness spiraling through a tender, crumby loaf.  And it is.  But for some reason when I made it a few months ago, I wasn’t totally in love with it.  The filling was awesome, but the bread was just…fine.  The texture was good, but the outside was crustier than I wanted and the bread’s flavor (it tasted like…bread) was a disconnect from the sweet filling.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread done

But I’ve come to see the error of my ways, because you deserve cinnamon swirl bread in YOUR life too.  I’ve made a few adjustments to the recipe to make the bread and filling feel like they’re part of the same recipe, including adding a teaspoon of cinnamon and a little extra sugar to the dough.  The filling was perfect just as it was.   [Read more…]

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Moist Strawberry Shortcake (for a Large Group)

Does this picture not just epitomize summer?

I was back home in Kansas a couple weekends ago with my family for a memorial service, which involved a LOT of people and a LOT of cooking. Friday night we had a smaller get-together (maybe 15 people?), and we needed to figure out a dessert to feed the masses.

playing croquet

Strawberry shortcake is my go-to summer dessert when I have people over. It’s basically perfect—juicy strawberries, just a hint of sugar, fluffy cake, pillowy whipped cream. Healthy. And the easiest thing to throw together for an impromptu get-together.

Super Moist Strawberry Shortcake for a Large Group

moist strawberry shortcake strawberries

While angel food cake will do in a pinch, usually I try to go the extra mile and make traditional homemade shortcakes, kind of scone- or biscuit-like (or like this oat & brown sugar version). They’re not hard to make, but they’re not good for big groups and are not as great when you make them ahead of time—like biscuits, they’re great fresh but get tougher and stale once cool.

Moist Strawberry Shortcake baked

When I started thinking about dessert for a bunch of people (plus getting dinner on the table), I knew that individual shortcakes would be too much trouble. I knew I wanted something that made a lot, and something that would stay moist so we could make it several hours ahead. After quite a bit of digging, I discovered this recipe, and was quite pleased with the results.

Moist Strawberry Shortcake

It literally took less than five minutes to mix  the ingredients together and throw it in the oven, and it was super moist, not too sweet, and basically perfect for soaking up strawberry juices. My brother-in-law gave it his stamp of approval, and finished off the leftovers the next day. While it’s not quite as pretty as the traditional shortcakes, it’s got great texture and is delicious! [Read more…]

Peanut Butter & Honey Ice Cream with Sea Salt

Summer in Georgia. Crazy humidity. The smell of rain on concrete. Fireflies. And bare legs sticking to your leather couch.

In other words, folks, it’s been hot & humid up until the cool spell we had this week.

Peanut Butter & Honey Ice Cream with Sea Salt

The last thing I’ve wanted to do lately is turn on my oven, so to get my sweet fix I’ve had to turn to cool treats. I’ve never made anything but frozen yogurt in my frozen yogurt maker, but didn’t see any reason this wouldn’t work. And the peanut butter + honey + sea salt flavor combo is one I seriously can’t resist.

Peanut Butter & Honey Ice Cream w Sea Salt

This ice cream is amazing! The texture is super creamy, with the mild sweet honey and peanut butter blending perfectly, with just the hint of sea salt to cut it. I sat on my hot couch on a Saturday night in my pajamas and ate a giant bowl, then contemplated eating the rest…then reminded myself that then I would have eaten an entire can of coconut milk in one sitting. So I resisted, but it was touch-and-go there for a while! [Read more…]

Honey Roasted Peaches with Cream

I didn’t plan to buy peaches last weekend, but when I walked into the produce section I was almost knocked over by the amazing smell of ripe peaches. They were so soft you had to hold them super gently so they didn’t bruise. Fuzzy. Juicy. Amazing.

Honey Roasted Peaches with Cream

Since I was trying to eat really well this week, and already had like five things I was planning to make, I wanted something simple and super healthy.

honey roasted peaches peach whole

This dessert feels fancy in a completely undeserved way. You seriously just cut fruit in half, drizzle a little honey and butter over it, and bake for a while. And the result is a dessert that embodies summer, adds a little class to any dinner, and takes five minutes, tops, to prepare. Sign me up!

Honey Roasted Peaches

Also, peaches. They’re the best! [Read more…]

Plum Pound Cake with Almond Crumble

I’ve been on a weird plum kick. It’s not a fruit I grew up eating, and if you asked me to name my top five or ten fruits, not sure plums would make the list. But recently they’ve been calling to me, with their weird thick, bitter skin and their totally unpredictable insides. Sometimes it’s mealy and bland, but sometimes you get rewarded with sweet, juicy, awesomeness.

Fluffy Plum Cake with Almond Crumble

This bears a striking resemblance to both the plum torte and the pear torte adaptation I’ve made over the past few months, but this is more of a pound cake—denser, not quite as sweet, and with a crumbly almond topping instead of the cinnamon sugar of the other.

Fluffy Plum Cake with Almond Crumbles

The original recipe is in metric amounts and in Polish. Since I don’t speak Polish (and Google Translator apparently doesn’t very well either), I took some liberties with amounts and ingredients. And pretty much everything else. So, there’s that. Despite my completely winging it, the end result was pretty doggone good.

fluffy plum cake with almond crumble plums

And, of course, there were plums.
[Read more…]

November Cakes a.k.a. Gooey Delicious Orange Buns

Have you ever read a piece of fiction that describes some kind of food in such rich, real detail that the food becomes real to you?

It’s a talent, writing about completely made-up food in a way that’s so real to the reader that they have a visceral need to create (re-create?) the food in their world. As an avid reader, I’ve certainly run across these kinds of fictional foods from time to time, but rarely has a recipe captured my imagination like the November Cakes from Maggie Stiefvater’s “The Scorpio Races”.

November Cakes

In the middle of a chill, windy, haunting Irish November, Stiefvater describes these rolls as “oozing honey and butter, rivulets of the creamy frosting joining the honey in the pit of my hand.” Pretty amazing, right?

November Cakes with Gooey Icing

I actually tried a recipe for this a year or two ago, but was disappointed with the dry, somewhat bland results. When I saw this particular recipe and heard people rave about it, I knew I had to give it another try.

November Cakes with Orange Glaze

And these were everything promised. The dough itself isn’t that sweet, just an orange-tinged yeast roll. It’s the combination of the honey-caramel glaze (which I also spiked with orange extract) soaking into the rolls and the sweet white orange-flavored icing on top that elevates this to complete indulgence. [Read more…]

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

I actually made this about a month ago, but haven’t had a chance to bring its greatness to you yet. I love ricotta, and I love lemon, so this is a recipe tailor-made for me. First of all, it’s super easy—just blend everything together, throw it in a pan, and call it a day. But secondly, it can do double duty as both a breakfast and a dessert.

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake

This is the perfect antidote to holiday food excesses. It’s light and sweet and tart, so a great alternative to all of the heavy, rich desserts we’re usually consuming this time of year. It would be great to have on hand for company to just snack on whenever they want.

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake slice

If I had any complaints about this recipe, they would probably be about the texture, which can be a little dry, but since it’s pound cake that’s really more the nature of the beast. It’s good on its own, but even better with some tea or coffee.

Lemon Ricotta Pound Cake Mini

I had some overflow batter, so I greased up a ramekin and baked little individual pound cakes. Next time I think I’d use a few more ramekins and do shallower mini cakes, or else it can get a little bread-y. [Read more…]

Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

This one’s for you banana bread lovers out there…

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

…of which I am not one. It’s one of my shameful foodie secrets. I’ve tried loving banana bread, I really have. And I don’t hate it. I just don’t LOVE it.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread baked

So when I saw this recipe that includes cinnamon and chocolate chips (two of my favorite things!), I thought that this would be the open door into me loving all banana baked goods…muffins, breads, and cake, oh my! (well, actually I love banana cake, so that doesn’t really count)

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread piece2

Overall this bread had awesome texture and flavor, and the whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat) made it dense (read: hearty and filling) without being heavy. The cinnamon almost made it a touch too intense—in some ways, I felt like the recipe would be better with EITHER the chocolate chips or cinnamon—but both worked really well with the banana. So while it didn’t change my mind, it IS probably the best banana bread I’ve had. [Read more…]

Smitten Kitchen’s Purple Plum Torte

Smitten Kitchen, man, she never lets me down. Plums have never been high on my list of fruits—they look cool but are fairly bland tasting. But cut them in half, sprinkle them with cinnamon-sugar, and bake them into a fluffy cake batter, and these babies soften into sweet, juicy gems.

Plum Torte from smitten kitchen

Plum Torte finished

One of the shocking things was how easy this recipe was. No complicated instructions or finicky ingredients, just mix up a very simple batter, place the plums cut-side down, and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. It only took maybe 15 minutes total to assemble, then into the oven it goes!

Plum Torte piece

If you can stand it, wait to eat the cake until the next day, which allows the juices to seep into the surrounding cake and meld everything into the most amazing texture and flavor.

Plum Torte closeup

This recipe was so good that I now want to try making it with ALL THE FRUITS! [Read more…]

Honey Apple Tart

Fall is most definitely here in Georgia. It’s been kind of teasing us for weeks—we’d have gorgeous 70-80 degree days, but then it would randomly get down to 40 at night, only to be back at 75 a few days later. Then we got a little rain and I was afraid that the leaves would all fall off the trees before turning the beautiful colors we usually get.

fall foliage

That would have made me so sad, because fall down here in the South is one of my favorite things. The trees turn every shade imaginable between red, orange, yellow, and green, there’s the smell of a bite in the air without it being really cold, the days are still beautiful but you can turn your fireplace on at night. And now we finally got it.

fall foliage2

I’m trying to take as many walks as possible before it gets cold, just get outside and appreciate how beautiful things are this time of year. My mom was in town last weekend and we took two long walks on the various national recreation trails, breathing deeply and just taking our time. It’s been dark when I get to work and dark when I leave, so seeing the sun was amazing.

Honey Apple Tart

When my mom came, she brought down a bunch of apples from my grandma’s apple tree in Kansas. They’re really small, soft, sweet apples, perfect for recipes that don’t require long cooking or baking.

Honey Apple Tarte

We were making an epic dinner on Sunday and decided to top it off with an apple tart. Normally we’d make a crisp or something, but that didn’t seem to do these apples justice.

Honey Apple Tart piece

Honey Apple Tart finished

I poked around on Pinterest for a while and found this apple honey tart, which was perfect in its simplicity. Since the rest of our dinner was so time-consuming, we wanted a dessert that was very easy and could be assembled quickly. The texture and flavor was amazing—it was so pretty and delicious that you’d think that it required a bunch of ingredients and time. But we the only thing that took time was slicing the apples, everything else took maybe 5-10 minutes, tops.  [Read more…]

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