Friday, February 18, 2011

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

Peep Blood Orange Segment (Upper Left of Photo)

It has been a long week of no coffee, bed-ridden sickness, and lots of rain. By last night, extreme exhaustion took over. I fell asleep around 10:30 pm in the depths of a rainy night storm.

So deep in sleep was I that apparently I blurred the lines between reality and dreamworld.

I get a phone call from good friend, Natasha at 11:30 pm. I answer the phone by saying "good morning" in flirtatious voice over and over and over. After Natasha retorts, "Stephanie, it's 11:30 at night! Go back to sleep!" I reply "ok, see you in 4 hours." Natasha and I had no plans to meet up at 3 am. I was indeed sleep talking. I was hypnotic. Woken from the depths of my extreme slumber.

And there you have it. Apparently I sleep talk sometimes.

This morning I decided that I needed to get some good strong caffeine in my body. I did just that, and then I baked a cake. Ah, I'm back in business, back to being me. I made a beautiful cake. This beautiful cake has beautiful blood oranges and olive oil in it.

I got to supreme and segment some lovely bloods (see recipe below for definitions/instructions).

I juiced one of the oranges and mixed it with some plain yogurt to get a pretty pink mixture.

I mixed up the batter and folded in the blood orange segments.

Beautiful. Moist. The taste is all in the name, blood orange with hints of olive oil. Perfect.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

makes one loaf pan

From SmittenKitchen

Butter for greasing pan
3 blood oranges
1 cup (200 grams or 7 ounces) sugar
Scant 1/2 cup (118 ml) buttermilk or plain yogurt I used non-fat yogurt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup (156 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups (219 grams or 7 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Honey-blood orange compote, for serving (optional, below)
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Grate zest from 2 oranges and place in a bowl with sugar. Using your fingers, rub ingredients together until orange zest is evenly distributed in sugar.

Supreme an orange: Cut off bottom and top so fruit is exposed and orange can stand upright on a cutting board. Cut away peel and pith, following curve of fruit with your knife. Cut orange segments out of their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Repeat with another orange. Break up segments with your fingers to about 1/4-inch pieces.

Halve remaining orange and squeeze juice into a measuring cup; you’ll will have about 1/4 cup. Add buttermilk or yogurt to juice until you have 2/3 cup liquid altogether. Pour mixture into bowl with sugar and whisk well. Whisk in eggs and olive oil.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently stir dry ingredients into wet ones. Fold in pieces of orange segments. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until it is golden and a knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up. Serve with whipped cream and honey-blood orange compote (below), if desired.

Honey-Blood Orange Compote: Supreme 3 more blood oranges according to directions above. Drizzle in 1 to 2 teaspoons honey. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir gently.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Dessert to Die For

Brownie Pudding. Amazing. Make it. Eat it. Love it. With your lover, with your loved ones, or just with your lovely self!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

I am a snacker, a big time snacker. My snack of choice is almost always something carb-y, and I am always looking for new snacks to add to my repertoire.

Lately I've been into Annie's Honey Bunny Grahams. I can eat a lot of them, they are slightly sweet, and they hit the spot during my afternoon slump.

A homemade snack always feels good goin' down, and these homemade granola bars are full of golden raisins, walnuts, pecans, sour cherries, dates, peanut butter, wheat germ, and a few chocolate chips. They are indeed thick and chewy and they sort of fall apart in this wonderful way.

Next time, however, I would definitely chop up my fruit/nut mix a bit and I would use quick-cooking oats or process my old-fashioned oats in a blender for a few pulses. This would probably make the bars hold together more cohesively.

I highly recommend scavenging through the bulk section at your grocery store. I can find all sorts of grains and nuts and goodies in the bulk section, and I can take as much as I need. I had never made anything with wheat germ before and voila, these bars have wheat germ! Expect some more wheat germ recipes in the near future (oh, and store your wheat germ in the refrigerator please and thank you).

A homemade granola bar is a great post-workout snack, a great on-the-go breakfast item, and a great afternoon pick-me-up. Eat up!

Homemade Granola Bars

Thank you, again SmittenKitchen

1 2/3 cups quick rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats, if using old-fashioned oats, give them a quick pulse in the blender/processor to break them up a bit)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup oats, processed till finely ground in a food processor or blender
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups dried fruits and nuts (total of 10 to 15 ounces)*
1/3 cup peanut butter or another nut butter (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
1 tablespoon water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan in one direction with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan, or coat with a non-stick spray.

Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners, water, and peanut butter. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing them in firmly to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.

Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges — don’t be afraid to get a little color on the tops too. They’ll still seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan but do not worry, they’ll set completely once completely cool.

Cool the bars in their pan completely on a cooling rack. (Alternately, after about 20 minutes you can use your parchment “sling” to lift and remove the bars, and place them in their paper on the rack to cool the rest of the way. This can speed the process up.)

Once cool, a serrated knife (or bench knife) to cut the bars into squares. ***If bars seem crumbly, chill the pan of them further in the fridge for 30 minutes which will fully set the “glue”, then cut them cold. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. They also freeze well.

*Suggestions: Dried cranberries, apricots, pecans, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried apples or even chocolate chips. My mix: 1/2 cup wheat germ, 1/2 cup dried cherries, 1/2 cup golden raisins, 1 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pecans, 4 dates chopped, and 1/4 cup chocolate chips. I recommend pulsing your mixture in the food processor a few times to break it up a little, though this isn’t necessary if you don’t mind yours chunkier.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Greens Grains n' Gold: Quinoa with Greens (and Grapefruit!) and a Runny Egg

So yesterday I was bashing Kombucha.

Today my dinner consisted of quinoa with a few more sips of Kombucha. Well, it tasted better today. It was extremely fizzy. That may be why it "tasted" better, because the fizz hid the taste?

Kombucha aside, my dinner felt good goin' in the bod. The new Dietary Guidelines for 2010 recommends eating lots of dark greens, so all the more reason to make this yummy dinner (and then proceed to cinnamon "toast" biscotti dunked in "chocolate sorbet" milk for dessert????).

Lately I've been into those bright pink ruby red grapefruits. They are sweet and juicy and debunk the bitter grapefruit stereotype. And segmented, they look divine.

So here I give you quinoa with dark leafy greens, broccoli, grapefruit, Parmesan, yogurt, and a runny egg. And don't forget some rustic (olive) bread to sop everything up.

Quinoa with Greens (and Grapefruit!) and a Runny Egg

serves 4

1 cup dry quinoa, prepared according to package directions
1 bunch of dark kale, chopped
1 head of broccoli, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves
1 grapefruit, "segmented" into pieces
1/4 cup yogurt
Olive oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Toasted Almonds

4 eggs-over-easy (or poached)

1. Prepare your quinoa.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a separate pan. Add the chopped kale and broccoli. Cover and cook on medium heat until starting to soften. Add a few splashes of water and cover again until softer and the water has evaporated. Uncover and add the garlic. Add some salt.

3. Add the greens to the cooked quinoa. Add the segmented grapefruit and squeeze the juice from the remains. Add the yogurt and a drizzle of olive oil. Stir everything together.

4. Garnish with Parmesan, parsley, and balsamic. Add the add-ons if you wish.

5. Scoop onto a plate (or in a bowl) and serve with runny eggs and rustic bread.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cinnamon "Toast" Biscotti

Before I get to biscotti, I have two important drinks to discuss:

1. Kombucha. After about 5 or so bouts of trying this mushroom-bacteria-fermented drink, I still cannot get myself to enjoy it. I liked the snazzy beer-looking bottle and I was intrigued by the idea of the pineapple ginger combo; however the taste was just a no-can-do. One sip was all it took to make me cringe. I apologize, but I just don't think I can become a Kombucha drinker, something about floating cultures in my beverage irks me.

2. Milk. I can definitely dig milk. Lately I can drink a LOT of milk. I especially like to put a tablespoon of chocolate sorbet in my milk and stir until dissolved. The result? A glass of refreshing chocolate milk. These days I'm also into dunking cinnamon "toast" biscotti in my milk. Moo.

These biscotti taste like cinnamon toast but in cookie-form. Crunchy cookie form that turns into sweet, milk-absorbing (also tea/coffee/hot chocolate-absorbing) cookie form. Cinnamon sugar heaven.

Oh, and if you are on a biscotti kick, these lemon cornmeal biscotti with cranberries and walnuts really hit the spot, too.

Cinnamon "Toast" Biscotti

from Joy the Baker, my hero
recipe found on
makes about 24 cookies

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

For Topping:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 beaten egg (for brushing biscotti before baking)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and arrange two baking racks in the upper portion of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Also whisk together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the down and beat in the egg followed by the egg yolk. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. With the mixer or just with a spatula, bring all of the ingredients together until a somewhat stiff dough is formed.

Divide the dough in two on the two making sheets. Shape each half of dough into a 9-inch long and 1 1/2-inch wide log. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle very generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake the two sheets on two different racks in the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheets for even baking and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven but keep the oven on. Let biscotti cool until able to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices. Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Bake again until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.