Monday, August 27, 2012

Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

spiced applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting

This is not the recipe you are supposed to be seeing right now. You are supposed to be seeing a delicious sesame-ginger salmon recipe, however while I was cooking it under the broiler, it burst into flames, and 5 firemen had to remove it from the oven while I hyperventilated. Yup, that happened. I shouldn't be allowed to have a cooking blog. I should also invest in a fire extinguisher.

It smelled really good until it caught on fire, so I will definitely be tackling the recipe again sometime soon. I will not be cooking it under the broiler though...when you guys see the recipe, it will have instructions for baking it.

I planned to save this recipe until the official first day of fall, however due to The Great Salmon Fire of 2012, you're getting it now!

I'm so excited about this recipe. It is incredibly simple to throw together, full of fall spices, and super moist. I've had it on my to-make list for almost 3 years, and someone should give me a good slap for taking this long to try it.

Please don't make the same mistake that I did, and wait years to make this. Put it on your fall baking list! Fall is almost here you guys! 26 more days! Woohooooo! So many exclamation points!!!

spiced applesauce cake with cream cheese frosting

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

For the frosting:

5 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Finely chopped walnuts, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and set oven rack in the middle.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the applesauce. Lastly, beat in the dry ingredients on low speed until just combined. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Grease an 8 or 9 inch square metal cake pan with butter. Evenly pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until golden brown, and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen, and invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Sift the confectioners sugar and cinnamon over the cream cheese mixture, and beat to thoroughly combine. Frost cooled cake, sprinkle with walnuts, and enjoy!

This cake is best the same day you make it. If you don't want to eat a whole cake yourself in one day, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let it sit on the counter for an hour before serving to take the chill off. 

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Adapted from Gourmet

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Baked Goat Cheese and Cherry Salad with Lemon-Tarragon Dressing

Baked Goat Cheese and Cherry Salad

This salad was supposed to be healthy. On Monday night, I went out to dinner at Guapo's, where I consumed nearly an entire basket of chips, 3 steak tacos, and one beer that did not have "light" in its name. Then, when I got home, I drank an inexcusable amount of wine while simultaneously stuffing my face with ice cream. My sister is no longer allowed to visit. Whenever she's in town, I eat (and drink) like I'm on vacation.

Anyway, I wanted to have a big salad as a penance for my taco binge. I guess I forgot while buying ingredients that goat cheese is not exactly a healthy food. Especially goat cheese that has been coated in bread crumbs and baked until it is hot and melty. I fear that I'll never be able to have a salad without these goat cheese rounds again. I'm already envisioning a fall version of this salad with baked goat cheese, candied pecans, and pears. Drool. Fall needs to get here, pronto.

One last thing! The lovely people at OXO sent me their awesome Good Grips Cherry Pitterthat I used for this recipe! It has a splatter shield so that you can pit cherries without making your kitchen look like a murder scene. It's quite handy, and if you're in the market for a cherry pitter I highly recommend it! I've been wanting to make a cherry pie all summer and haven't gotten around to it, but this tool will be immensely useful when I finally make one...pitting 90 million cherries for a pie using a knife sounds like straight-up torture. Thanks a bunch OXO!

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely minced red onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel

For the baked goat cheese:

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Breadcrumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 11-ounce log goat cheese, frozen for 20-25 minutes

For the salad:

1 cup cherries, pitted and halved
Mixed baby greens (the dressing makes enough to dress 2-3 starter-sized salads, so eyeball the appropriate amount of lettuce)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Pour breadcrumbs onto a shallow plate. Slice the log of goat cheese crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Dip each piece of goat cheese into the egg mixture, and then into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the crumbs into the goat cheese to form a crust. Place goat cheese rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet, and spray tops of goat cheese lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes.

While the goat cheese is baking, dress the salad, and top with halved cherries. Serve immediately with the warm goat cheese.

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Adapted from Bon Appetit 

Disclosure: I received a cherry pitter from OXO free of charge, but was not monetarily compensated for mentioning it. All opinions, as always, are my own! This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Garlic Pasta

Roasted Cherry Tomato and Garlic Pasta

I have been wanting to join a CSA forever-ever, but have been extremely hesitant to commit to one. They're a lot of money, a lot of food, and there's only one of me. However, every time I go to the grocery store I get peeved when I attempt to purchase an in-season piece of fruit and see that it's been flown in from halfway across the country, or even worse, from another country all together. I live in Virginia, and there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that can be grown a reasonable distance from here.

Needless to say, I was super excited when I discovered Washington's Green Grocer. They're a local produce delivery service that allows you to sign-up for on-demand boxes of local fruits and veggies - meaning, I don't need to pay for a whole season ahead of time. Helloooo, perfect solution for this CSA commitment-phobe!

I got my first box on Friday. This photo that I snapped doesn't even begin to show the quantity of goodies they sent me. There are zucchinis, more potatoes, and a bunch of nectarines and plums hiding under that bunch of lettuce! The only thing in the box from far away were the bananas. Now, I'm no botanist, but I'm pretty sure that bananas don't grown in Virginia. South American bananas are totally fine with me!

washingtons green grocer box

I decided to make a pasta dish with the cherry tomatoes they sent me, and whipped up this easy and healthy dish.

I think that Washington Green Grocer delivers to DC, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. I know that the majority of you guys don't live in those states, but hopefully you can find something similar. This was my first box from them so it might be premature to give them a glowing review, but so far I'm quite impressed! Now to come up with a recipe for the giant bag of green beans...

Here's what you'll need for a meal for one:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4-5 large garlic cloves, halved
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cup cooked pasta
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small baking dish, combine tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and salt. Roast uncovered in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring once halfway through. When the tomatoes are done, remove the halved garlic cloves and roughly chop them. Add back into the tomato mixture, and serve over pasta with Parmesan cheese.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Garlicky-Lemon Chickpea Salad

Chickpea Salad

Do you guys ever visit the site WorldsHealthiestFoods.com? I'm not a health nut by any stretch of the imagination (in case you didn't realize that from the eleventy billion cupcake recipes on here...) but I'm kind of obsessed with looking up foods on there and learning precisely why they're good for you.

They have this list of the 127 healthiest foods, and I was excited to realize that every ingredient in this recipe is on the list! Better yet, this healthy recipe actually tasted good, and made for a quick, filling, and easy mid-week lunch.

I plan to promptly undo this healthy choice this weekend when my sister and her gentleman-friend are in town. Wings, cream cheese-stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon, and beer are in my near future!

By the way - if you guys are into this recipe, you may also like this bacon parmesan chickpea salad that I posted almost a year ago. In case you couldn't tell from the title, that recipe would not be a contender for the world's healthiest foods list!

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large pinch crushed red chili pepper flakes
1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Stir in chickpeas until evenly coated. Cover, and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature, and enjoy!

Source: Eat Yourself Skinny
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Crispy Chipotle Shrimp Tacos


Once upon a time, I was repulsed at the idea of seafood in a taco. I had the ridiculous notion that tacos should be filled with one of two things: beef or chicken. Fortunately, I came to my senses several years ago, partially thanks to one of my favorite restaurants in DC, Ceiba.

Ceiba has this amazing happy hour menu with stuff like shrimp and crab nachos, ceviche, queso fundido, and pig-shaped molcajetes full of guacamole. Oh, and sangria. I can't forget the sangria. They also have the seafood tacos that officially sealed my conversion from a person who was wary of the concept, to a person who was in love with it. I haven't been there in quite some time since they are located across from the 10th Circle of Hell my old office, and I like to stay safely in my beautiful current building a full mile away.

P.S. Ceiba, if you're reading this, there's a crappy Au Bon Pain kitty-corner from my office. Please commandeer it, throw their nasty food away, and open another Ceiba location. You make DC a tastier place.

By the way, if Ceiba knows me, it's only as "often tipsy girl who frequently forgets to close her bar tab" so no, they did not make me write about my adoration for their food.

Anyway, back to seafood tacos. These don't really resemble Ceiba's tacos in any way, except for the fact that they both contain seafood, and they're both delicious. These have a good kick to them, and even this spice fiend had to take a swig of milk to cool my mouth. I try not to say this too often, because when I say it I want you guys to know I mean it: this is one of my favorite recipes on the blog. Out of 200+ recipes, this is top 10 material. Serve this with some tortilla chips and tomatillo salsa (which I'm aware looks like pickle relish in the photo), and you have a stupendously scrumptious meal for two.

Here's what you'll need:

For the Shrimp:

2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
Salt and pepper
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

For the Chipotle-Lime Drizzle:

1 cup fat-free greek yogurt
2 chipotle peppers from a can of chipotles in adobo
3 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
1 teaspoon lime juice

For the Fixin's:

1 ripe avocado, chopped
Purple cabbage, shredded (Tip: get it from the grocery store salad bar! Super easy.)
1 Jalapeno, sliced (remove the seeds if you like your food less spicy)
4 Small Flour tortillas, warmed

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and chipotle powder with a fork. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Rinse and dry shrimp. Place in a large bowl, and toss with the flour mixture until all of the shrimp is thoroughly coated. You might have a bit of flour mixture left over, which is a-okay.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Cook the shrimp for 3-4 minutes, until cooked through and opaque.

While your shrimp are cooking, place the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and lime juice in the bowl of a mini-food processor. Puree until smooth, and fold mixture into the greek yogurt. Season to taste with salt.

As soon as your shrimp are done, remove from the heat and assemble your tacos. Serve immediately with chips and salsa!

Source: A Bitchin' Kitchen original
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Monday, August 6, 2012

Broiled Tilapia with Mustard-Chive Sauce

broiled tilapia with mustard-chive sauce

If you need a healthy dinner that is lick-your-plate amazing, put this on your menu NOW.

I made this a few weeks ago on an obscenely hot day when I was craving something light and summery for dinner. While you do need to heat up your kitchen to broil the fish and roast the asparagus, the end result is so healthy and fresh that I think this is the perfect summer meal. Although...I will say that I am completely ready for summer to be over. I was at the grocery store a few hours ago, and they already had pumpkin beers on the shelf! I am counting down the days to sweaters, cold weather, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin beers, and pumpkin pies.

In the meantime, make this...but be sure to crank the AC down to about 65 degrees first.

For the fish:

Cooking spray
2 (5-6 ounce) tilapia fillets 
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Kosher salt and black pepper

For the sauce: 

3 tablespoons low-fat greek yogurt
1 teaspoon honey 
1 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard 
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons finely minced chives 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Allow the fish to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before cooking. Preheat the broiler, and spray a small glass baking dish with cooking spray. Drizzle the tilapia fillets with olive oil on both sides, and rub it in so the fish is evenly coated. Place in the baking dish in a single layer, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Cook under the preheated broiler for 6-8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. 

While the fish is cooking, make the sauce. Mix the yogurt, honey, and dijon in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the lemon juice and chives, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

After fish is done, transfer to a serving plate and drizzle with the sauce. Delicious served with roasted asparagus

Recipe adapted from: Giada De Laurentiis via Food Network

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

red velvet cheesecake brownies

Hi friends. Sorry I disappeared on you. Truth be told, I've had a really crappy two and half weeks, and when I'm "in my dark place" (see the 4:25 mark in the video) as Annie and I like to say, it just feels really phony to post here about brownies and cookies while acting like all is right in the world.

However, I made these amazingly delicious red velvet cheesecake brownies 3 weeks ago tomorrow, and holding out on you for much longer due to my less than stellar mood just didn't feel right. These take all of 15 minutes to mix up, and allow you to get your cheesecake fix and your brownie fix in one dessert. I made these to bring to a get together at a friend's house, and actually had to make a second batch because I scarfed down a few too many from batch number one. I'm completely powerless around cheesecake. Make these this weekend for your friends, and be sure to act humble when the compliments pour in.

Update (12/27/12): I've been told by a couple people who have made these that they've needed to bake them for up to 50 minutes. I've baked these twice in my oven using the time range posted below, but be advised that they may require additional baking time! My oven might be too hot. 

For the red velvet batter:

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons red food coloring
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the cheesecake swirl: 

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch, metal baking pan with aluminum foil, overlapping to create an overhand on all four sides. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a microwave-safe container, combine chocolate and butter. Melt for 1 minute in the microwave, stirring halfway through, until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, red food coloring, and salt. Add in the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Gently stir in the flour until no streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the baking pan, and prepare the cheesecake swirl.

Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla until creamy and combined. Drop dollops of the mixture over the red velvet batter, and gently swirl with a butter knife.

Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until golden around the edges, and just barely jiggly in the middle.

You're supposed to let these cool before cutting them, but I tried one warm because I'm rebellious like that. You should probably refrigerate these if you plan on keeping them around for awhile, due to the cheesecake swirl.

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Source: Adapted from Baking Bites
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