Monday, July 27, 2015

Apricot Lavender Cake

At the blueberry farm we bought some apricots in addition to the blueberries. I had seen this recipe on a fellow food blogger's Instagram and wanted to make it right away. Lavender forever. I didn't have a springform pan, so I split the cake into 2 pans. The recipe is from Plenty More via The Baking Bird. I've been cooking my way through Plenty (the original book) now that it's summer and all the vegetables are in season. Our tomatoes are just ripening now. 

  • ¾ cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup plus 1½ Tablespoons white sugar
  • 1¼ cups almond flour
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt 
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1½ teaspoons dried lavender buds
  • 11 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
  • Turbinado sugar 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 2 8 inch pans.
  • Process the pecans and lavender in a food processor until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. In a large mixing bowls, combine The butter, oil, sugar, and almond flour until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition to incorporate fully. continuing to beat until well incorporated. Fold in pecans, lavender, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, and teaspoon salt.
  • Fill pans with cake batter and arrange apricot halves cut side up. Push down slightly so they are securely in place in the cake. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  • Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. 
  • I served each slice with a dollop of mascarpone and a drizzle of honey.

Lavender Peaches with Mascarpone and Amaretti

Peaches with Lavender Sugar and Amaretti Cookies

It's peach season! I've been making these for years but originally I saw the recipe while watching Giada on the Food Network. This recipe includes gram measurements for the cookies. Love and Olive Oil has a recipe that uses cup measurements. I was just really excited to use my scale.
I also made powdered sugar for this recipe in my Vitamix. It was pretty exciting! (I inhaled a lot of sugar granules in the process)

Amaretti Cookies 

  • 3 large egg whites 
  • 280g/9.9oz almond meal
  • 280g/9.9oz white sugar
  • 3/4 tsp natural almond extract (the artificial kind is too strong)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

  • For rolling:
  • 2 heaped tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 heaped tbsp. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Fill 2 separate bowls with the different sugars.
In a large mixing bowl and using a mixer, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks. If you lift your beaters out of the egg mixture, the peaks that form should not fall over.
Fold in the rest of the ingredients with a spatula. The dough will be sticky.
Scoop tablespoonfuls of dough and roll them in the white sugar first followed by the powdered sugar. The method helps all the powdered sugar not dissolve in the dough. It actually worked! 
Place cookies 1 inch apart on cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheets.
The site said they're good for 3-4 days, so I froze about half of mine for later.

I usually serve 1 peach/person, so I'll just do a general guideline.


Firm, ripe peaches
White wine
Mascarpone cheese, at room temperature 
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp dried lavender buds 

Blend the lavender with the sugar or grind in a mortar and pestle. Halve the peaches neatly and take out the pit using a little knife. Sprinkle peach halves with the lavender sugar. 
Heat a cast iron pan on medium heat until pretty hot. Spray with coconut oil. Lay peaches cut side down for about 5 minutes without moving them. You want them to be a nice brown color on the edges. Alternatively grilling them would be amazing. Flip over the peaches with a spatula and cook for another 2 minutes. Add a splash of white wine and let cook down for another minute. Now you have a delicious syrup to serve with the peaches.
Serve the peaches with their natural syrup, a sprinkle of extra lavender sugar, a tablespoonful of mascarpone for each peach half, and one crumbled cookie for each peach half. Done. Easiest summer dessert.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Currant Tart

The first time I had currants was working at Garden Dreams. We had a couple bushes at the farm. I had no idea the berries were edible or better yet, delicious. They're really tart but paired with creamy coconut and sweet almonds they are perfect. The recipe for the almond tart came from this shortbread recipe
I made this on a weekend when my sister and I stayed at home alone. We ate lots of ice cream and watched the Lizzie McGuire movie. Ya!

Red Currant Tart

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 bunch red currants
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight in fridge
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/3 cup powdered sugar

To make crust:

Place dried ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add wet ingredients and blend again. Mixture will be soft. Also you can do this all by hand.
In a 10 inch pie pan, spread out the cookie mixture on the bottoms and sides just like a pie crust. It's very sticky so you can use a greased spatula or just your hands to help you along. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and prick dough with a fork all over. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is a nice golden brown color. 
Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the crust and let melt for 5 more minutes. Carefully spread chocolate with a spatula over the bottom of the crust. Let crust cool completely, then chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make coconut whipped cream:

Chill ceramic bowl and beaters in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove can of coconut milk from fridge. Scoop out the cream on top and place into chilled bowl. Beat on low increasing speed until medium. Add in vanilla bean caviar and powdered sugar gradually. Increase speed up to high until the mixture looks like whipped cream! 
Pour into chilled tart.
Top with currants. I kept the fruit on the vine- people can pick them off as they eat. It's prettier that way.
Tart keeps in the fridge for 1-2 days.

Oatmeal Pancakes

These oatmeal pancakes are the basis of almost every brunch I make. Back in pharmacy school, my friends would make a batch after our exams (which were at 7 am!). It would be a way of celebrating having our lives back if only until the next exam. These were ladies who joined me in many adventures, bikes tours, and cooked meals. Also lots of studying that didn't get done. And sleeping in class. The recipe is from an old school cookbook, but I couldn't find it online. Does this count as citing my source? Am I the worst? Probably. 

I had the recipe written on the back of my pharmacology notes with doodles and stickers from my friends. I'll keep it forever but just in case of zombie apocalypse, etc I'll have it on the internets just in case. Just kidding, I have it memorized. 

This is my adaption. The recipe does great with substitutions. Just don't use gluten free flour. They will turn into rubber. Trust me. You can double, triple, etc the recipe.

Other substitutions/additions:

For the flour:
1/2 cup buckwheat + 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour 

For the sugar:

1/3 white sugar for brown sugar

Same amount of instant oats


1 1/3 cup milk + 1 tsp vinegar
Same amount of thinned plain yogurt


Flax egg instead
Chia egg instead 

1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp flax seed

Makes 9 medium pancakes

1 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon 
1/3 cup brown sugar 
1 egg
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted

Mix dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl with a whisk. Make a well and pour in wet ingredients. Whisk until just mixed and few lumps remain. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Cook over medium heat until golden brown. Keep in oven at 200 degrees until ready to serve.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Sunflower Seed Brittle

Rarely do I try a restaurant without a recommendation or a quick glance at Yelp or TripAdvisor. I just hate paying for food that I can easily make myself. I am literally turning into my mom, ha. We can't take her anywhere because she makes the best food. 
Nick and I were in Easton for our anniversary and all of the restaurants had a long, long wait. So we walked and came across an Italian restaurant and took a chance. It was incredible. We had whole artichokes stuffed with breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and butter. For the meal, rhubarb and strawberry white pizza. I love when chefs totally try something I would never think to make. For dessert we had panna cotta with fresh strawberries and amaretti cookie crumbs with espresso. I was up until 3 after that but it was worth it. So I've been wanting to make panna cotta for awhile. Now I want to make it all the time. You don't even have to turn on the oven for this dessert. It's so light and fresh. Need I say more?
The sesame seed brittle is from the My New Roots cookbook which I cannot rave about enough. It is amazing. I'm cooking through almost every recipe in the book since it starts with spring and follows the seasons. The recipe for this brittle was featured over at Sprouted Kitchen. You can also use any store bought or homemade brittle. I've even used homemade granola. Anything with crunch. 
The rhubarb butter is from this recipe.
The panna cotta is from Martha Stewart who seems to have every recipe ever on her site. 

Instead of dessert, maybe try this in a large tart pan for super fancy brunch?? 
Makes 6 servings 

2 cups buttermilk (whatever fat content you choose- I always go for full fat)
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup heavy cream
Scant 1/2 cup sugar 
1 vanilla bean, split

Set 6 ramekins out on the counter.
In a heavy pot, pour in 1 cup buttermilk. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over this buttermilk. Then give it a quick stir and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the cream, vanilla bean, and sugar just to  a boil. Then pour into the buttermilk/gelatin mixture. Turn the burner to low heat and whisk until gelatin dissolves and no lumps remain. Just a couple minutes.
Stir in the rest of the buttermilk. Take out vanilla bean. 
Pour gelatin mixture into the ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap. Leave in the refrigerator for 4 hours until set. Does this remind you of making jello? Because it really is that easy

To make:
Top with a dollop of rhubarb butter. Crush some brittle and sprinkle on top.
I didn't bother to unmold the panna cotta for even more ease.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans

It's way too hot out to have the oven on at 400, but I went ahead and did it anyway to make these tasty parmesan-coated green beans with garlic mayo sauce. I actually made one smallish batch, finished them off, and then wanted more and still had leftover dip - so I turned the oven back on and make another round.

They are worth a even-hotter apartment. It looks like it's about to rain, so hopefully it will cool down soon!

Roasted Parmesan Green Beans with Dipping Sauce
From Buns in My Oven 

2 big handfuls green beans, rinsed & trimmed
1/4 cup or more Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. In a bowl, toss the green beans in olive oil and cheese. Spread them out on the baking sheet and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Roast for about 20-25 minutes, turning mid-way if you want. (I didn't.)

To make the dipping sauce, mix up the mayo, mustard and garlic powder in a small bowl or ramekin. I'm going to make it this way next time I make fries or chicken fingers - I've made a lot of mayo & mustard dips and never thought of adding garlic powder. It's very good. :)

Monday, July 6, 2015

Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade

Watermelon is my favorite fruit to make agua fresca - I usually just blend it up, maybe strain it and add lime juice. It's very refreshing and a pretty pink. This recipe was originally a boozy one with gin, but I've been drinking it booze-less for now. The boozy version adds 8 oz of gin.

Watermelon Rosemary Lemonade
Adapted from a recipe on Food 52

1/2 of a medium-sized watermelon, cut into big cubes
5-6 lemons, juiced
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup water

Blend the watermelon in a blender, juicer or food processor until completely blended. You don't have to strain watermelon juice, but I normally do - sometimes I leave in a little pulp but not all of it. I got about 4 cups of strained juice from half a medium watermelon.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt the sugar in the water, with the rosemary sprigs. Once the sugar is melted, put the lid on the saucepan and let the rosemary infuse the simple syrup for at least 15 minutes, an hour or more if possible.

In a pitcher, mix the watermelon juice with the lemon juice and rosemary syrup. Either chill it in the fridge until cold or serve it immediately with ice. If you want, throw in rosemary and lemon slices.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Queso Dip

There are tons of variations on queso dip - here's the one I usually make if I'm not doing the slightly less classy but very delicious Velvetta and salsa version! If you want to mix it up, you can add corn, black beans, chopped jalapeƱos or different types of salsa or hot sauce.

Queso Dip

5 oz cream cheese, chopped into 1" pieces
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (pretty much any mild cheese will be good)
1/4 cup tomatillo salsa
1/4 cup milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp veg oil

In a medium saucepan, fry up the garlic and cumin in the vegetable oil until fragrant. Drop in the cream cheese and let it soften a little before adding in the cheese, salsa and milk. Keep stirring until it's all integrated and smooth. I keep mine pretty thick but you can add more milk or salsa to thin it out.

I don't usually top it with anything, but you can see in the picture that this time I spooned some more salsa and a few roasted cherry tomatoes on top. You can also throw some cilantro on there, 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Potluck-Ready Pasta Salad

Back when I was in AmeriCorps we had potlucks ALL THE TIME. People were pretty serious about them, too. Since then, I've learned that potlucks are not quite so frequent in your average office environment. However, we did have a potluck recently when our group of AmeriCorps members finished their one-year term. I made this almost-store-bought pasta salad after work the day before. 

This is pretty much a combo of a few things I picked up at Trader Joe's, so I'll write it up as I made it. Obviously, this is not sponsored by Trader Joe's. I wish!!

Potluck-Ready Pasta Salad

1 bag vegetable radiatore pasta (the multi-colored spiral-y one)
1 container pre-cut Healthy 8 chopped vegetable mix (or do the chopping yourself: red and green cabbages, carrots, broccoli, jicama, bell peppers, radishes and celery)
1 container crumbled feta
1 small can sliced black olives

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil

Combine the pasta, veggies, feta and olives in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, mix together the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, dill and olive oil. Pour over the pasta and mix well.


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