Friday, May 30, 2008

Warm Summer Cake and Peach Blackberry Pie

I promised that I'd post recipes for a yummy cake and here they are :). The first recipe is for a Lowfat Warm Summer Cake. I was in the mood for a fresh and summery cake last weekend, so I opened up the refrigerator to see if anything in there would cry out to me, in fear of going to waste and getting thrown in the trash. I noticed that we still had quite a bit of orange juice left over, and it was already a week old, so I thought I should definitely include it in the cake. I've learned that a great way to make a cake moist and rich without using butter is by adding some kind of flavorful juice. We also had a huge lemon that was lonely sitting next to a bunch of bananas and a handful of kiwis, so I had to add him to the recipe as well. The only fatty ingredient in this light cake is the one egg I used. There isn't even a teaspoon of oil in this cake! Now, if only I could have that kind of success with every baked good! It seems it's easier to make some desserts healthier than others. (You'll notice, after eating one piece of the cake, my husband and I decided it wasn't enough, so we just picked up a fork and helped ourselves to a little more :)

I'd like to note that the pecans on the cake are Texan grown, we picked them ourselves!

Warm Lowfat Summer Cake

A fresh and zesty dairy-free cake that's moist and ...

See Warm Lowfat Summer Cake on Key Ingredient.

The pie recipe I've posted is also packed with fruit, it contains blackberries and peaches. This is a recipe I found on Key Ingredient. The recipe calls for fresh ginger, but I didn't have any, so I added ginger powder instead :). Thankfully, it still tasted yummy, but I think the juicy peaches and ripe blackberries had something to do with that :). I was really pleased with this pie recipe. This is another dessert that's perfect for summer; the ginger really adds flavor, making this a pie that's far from plain. Plus, peaches are on sale right now! It's hard to say no to a dessert that's tasty, affordable to bake, and easy to make. (Just throw the peaches in there with the blackberries. They're such pretty fruits, they don't need to be organized in a fancy way!)

TGIF! Now that I've posted this recipe, it's time to relax, at least for the night. Since we only have a few more months left here in Austin, Jose and I plan on visiting a few cool foodie spots around town before we leave. Of course I'll take pictures and feature them on the blog :). This weekend we're going to a very Austiny spot that resembles an old candy store/soda shop, I can't wait! Hopefully the next time I post, I won't come back with cavity #2; I can barely handle the one sweet tooth I already have :)!

P.S. I'd like to say thanks to all of your for leaving so many kind comments on my first Daring Bakers cake :). There were tons of beautiful entries this month! Can't wait to see what they have in store for us next!

Peach Blackberry Pie

The fruits give this pie a natural sweet flavor. This ...

See Peach Blackberry Pie on Key Ingredient.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Traveling the World One Plate at a Time: Karahi Chicken with Mint and Dessert!

I didn't get the chance to cook this meal last weekend, so I made it a point to make it today. Thankfully, it only took a little less than an hour to prepare and cook, which is great for a lazy Sunday evening. I feel like I need a weekend for my weekend!

Friday night, Jose and I saw the second Narnia movie at Alamo Drafthouse; it's definitely a place you should check out if you're not from around here. They serve pretty good food and even feature a special menu for some movies; Turkish Delight was on the menu for Prince Caspian :)! Of course, we ordered some. On Saturday we checked out IKEA. Jose and I think it might be best to purchase boxed, unassembled furniture instead of driving to Cambridge with a bunch of bulky furniture that can't be taken apart. (We're trying to figure out the best and cheapest way to move to Cambridge from Austin...any ideas? We did the numbers. Paying a moving company would be too expensive; if we flew there, we'd still need to figure out a way to move our stuff. So it seems driving to Cambridge in a large van with our stuff is the best idea, at least this weekend it is :)...we only have 2 more months to figure it out, though! Oh, but I can't wait :)!) As for today, we cleaned the apartment, sold a few of our many books to the folks at Half-Price, and went shopping for pants and shoes. So, as you can see, or read, it was a very busy weekend and I didn't have much time to cook dinner. Now I'm starting to feel myself catching Jose's cold; it seems my body always gets sick when I take the time to relax and slow down!

At least I got to squeeze in a bunch of baking last week. I was craving a healthy dessert earlier, so I made an apple and carrot cake that's moist, cinnamony, and milk-free. I made a blueberry peach pie too, but I'll post that recipe little later :).

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hearty Breakfast Pumpkin Muffins

I've been pretty busy lately, which is why I didn't post this weekend! Between traveling for Mother's Day, mailing off gifts, and baking various treats, I haven't had much time to blog. So before I begin this next entry, I'd like to thank Camilla from Enlightened Baking and Lina from My Life is Yummy for the blogger awards they gave Flour Arrangements -- thank you both for your kindness :) (I've posted the awards on the "About" page :). I look forward to passing these along to other bloggers some time in the near future!

Speaking of showing thanks, just yesterday we took the time to show our mothers and mother-figures how much we appreciate them. I don't know about you, but I tend to run out of ideas when it comes to thinking of the perfect homemade and one-of-a-kind Mother's Day gift (I prefer to make gifts for special days like these). It usually takes me awhile to come up with an original and thoughtful gift that somewhat captures my love and respect for the receiver of that gift. Most of the time, I make cards, but this year I thought I'd do something a little different...why not make up a recipe? Well, sadly, I wasn't able to do this for everyone, I still need quite a bit more baking experience, but I was able to do it for my mom. I created a Hearty Breakfast Pumpkin Muffin recipe in her name, making sure to use ingredients that she'd like. For instance, my mom is not a fan of bleached flour, so I used multigrain flour :). Thankfully, she really liked the muffins!

I've decided that I plan on giving baked goods away as gifts more often. I know I'm obviously not the first to realize that it's a great idea -- just think of how the stereotypically dreaded holiday fruitcake came about ;). But...I do think it's a great way to show someone you care, especially if you use their favorite ingredients :D. Plus, you don't have to worry about it becoming another white elephant gift :P!

I bet you're thinking the muffins are topped with crushed nuts of some sort! Nope! Jose recently introduced me to steel cut oats, they're much healthier than the quick rolled oats we normally eat for breakfast. Why? Rolled oats are more processed than steel cut oats, they undergo a change that makes them easier to cook. If you're allergic to nuts, steel cut oats are a great baking alternative. Topping these breakfast muffins with steel cut oats gave them a crunchy texture that's similar to that of crushed nuts. Try them out, they even have better flavor than rolled oats! You can read more about them here. You'll find the recipe for the oversized muffins below, they're huge but tasty :)!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding Cupcakes with Kahlua Almond Ice Cream and Caramel/Cream Cheese Sauce or "frosting"

Wow...that's a long title for cupcakes that took an even longer time to make ;)! I enjoyed coming up with this fun recipe for ice cream cupcakes. It was kind of exciting trying to figure out how I'd convert a sticky toffee pudding recipe into a sticky toffee pudding cupcake recipe. Initially, I was a little worried that the cupcakes would come out a bit gooey, but with some recipe-improvising, I was able to figure out a way to give the gooey pudding a cupcakey texture. I used one less egg and substituted the butter with canola oil.

The tricky thing about making these cupcakes was the dairy free when it came time to make the 'caramel cream cheese frosting', I ran into a few problems that led to unexpected discoveries! Normally I'd use heavy cream to make caramel sauce, but this time I used soy creamer. I was hoping it'd be a tad bit thicker than soy milk, and possibly serve as a nice alternative to heavy cream, but I was wrong. The soy creamer pretty much dissolved as soon as it hit the caramel colored, burnt sugar; it's almost like it took on the form of water. Strange. Anyone have any tips on how to make dairy free caramel? I could sure use 'em!

On to the unexpected discoveries... Since the caramel sauce was watery, I decided it'd have a richer taste if it was combined with something like tofutti cream cheese frosting (I've made caramel sauce in the past, but for some reason, it really wasn't working out for me this time -- I had to re-do it 3 times!). I also had some issues with the tofutti cream cheese frosting (probably because I've never made any kind of cream cheese frosting before ;) -- it turned out a little on the watery side, but all was not lost! The end result was a lightly flavored, creamy and syrupy caramel sauce that nicely complemented the rich pudding-based cupcakes and crunchy soy ice cream.

Next time I make these cupcakes, I'd like to make the soy ice cream. I don't have an ice cream maker at the moment, so I wasn't able to do it this time around. I do think I experimented enough with the cupcakes and topping, though. But I wonder how the ice cream would've turned out if I tried making that dairy free?!

I'd now like to take the time to applaud each and every talented dairy-free baker/blogger who effortlessly creates delicious do you all do it?!

I had so many of these cupcakes, and I knew my husband and I wouldn't be able to finish even half of the batch, so I thought I'd have him take another version of them to work. I knew it'd be too messy to transport the cupcakes with an entire scoop of ice cream on top, so I packed them up in a container and covered them in the caramel cream cheese sauce, instead. I then used a teaspoon to scoop a tiny serving of ice cream on top of the saucy frosting. To give them a somewhat cute look, I threw an almond on top of the dab of ice cream. They ended up resembling a big sticky mess by the time his coworkers got to them, but I love sharing baked goods with folks. Who doesn't love getting an unexpected treat at work -- doesn't it make the day go by a little faster :)? Below is a picture of the cupcakes Jose took to work, version 2 of the sticky toffee pudding cupcakes.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Saka-Mushi (Japanese style veggie and salmon packets)

So last night I got around to making Saka-Mushi, a delicious and healthy Japanese meal that consists of fresh fish and a hearty serving of colorful vegetables. Jose and I both enjoyed the fact that this dish was simple but flavorful; it was also nice that we didn't have much to clean up after consuming every last bite! The original recipe called for only 5 ounces of salmon, but we used 8...and the original recipe also said that it would yield enough food for 4...but, between just the two of us, we ate it all! That just goes to show how tasty this meal was. I'm not a huge salmon fan, the fishiness is usually too much for me, but the flavor was a bit milder this time around; I think the sake/soy sauce marinade had something to do with it!

Anyhow, if you're tired after a long day at work, but don't feel like paying the closest fast-food joint a visit, then this is the recipe for you. The only thing you really have to do is chop a few ingredients and roll them up in a piece of foil, you don't even have to dirty many dishes! As Guy Fiere from Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives says when he's come across a tasty meal: Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner! (Ooh, how I'd love to own a fun diner similar to the ones he visits; except it'd have to be pink, of course ;). Don't all the meals featured on that show look incredibly mouthwatering?!)

Tomorrow I'm making the ice cream cupcakes! I'm so excited! I'm thinking of using a very fun ingredient for these frozen treats. I'll give you a tiny hint as to what I'll be using: What makes a warm winter drink taste even better? :)

Oooh...I bet you're thinking I forgot to post the recipe! Nope, you'll find the instructions and ingredients posted in the digital recipe card below :)!