Chocolate Cake Pan Cake + 5 Lovely Cake Links for Mother’s Day

DSC_5053

DSC_5043DSC_5136

 

I think of her most often when the lilac bushes bloom in May.  I inhale their sweet floral scent deeply and see her as she was: short, dark curly hair framing her square face, beautiful brown eyes shining below thick eyebrows; strong hips sitting wide, above long skinny legs.  Her easy smile.

I kneel on the damp ground, searching for a four-leaf clover while blades of grass, small stones and drying mud stamp petrified impressions on my bony knees.  Looking haphazardly for luck, searching, minute after minute, for a clover windfall.  She walks by, the white rubber soles of her navy Keds grass-stained, her khaki chino shorts a bit stained with the morning’s bacon grease spatters and long tan arms brushing past her hips as she moves towards the grape vines and lilac bushes.  She pops a grape into her mouth, smiles. She pulls a pair of shears out of her back pocket and cuts a few clusters of lilacs, gathering them in her tanned, slightly wrinkled hands.  I love her absolutely, as only a child is able to love.  She is the great love of my life.

“What are you looking for, Kel?”

“A lucky clover.”

“You won’t find any luck around here.”  She says with a quick laugh and a half hearted smile.  [Decades later I will understand the multiple meanings of that one powerful sentence.]

Thirty years later, hip to hip, we inch across the driveway to my father’s car.  I carefully hold her twiggy arms.  Veins, tendons, bones now evident underneath her bruised paper-thin skin.  The weight of her body leaning against mine is barely felt.

[Time passes.  Time is an unsparing critic.]  

I want a chocolate cake for my birthday,” she says out of the blue.  I kiss her on the cheek and breathe in her powdery scent, hoping some of her smell will latch onto my shirt.  

“Ok, I’ll make you a chocolate cake.” I say as I ease her into the passenger seat pulling the seat belt across her concave chest, buckling her in like I do with own my children.  She smiles, turns away from me and stares straight ahead through the bug splattered windshield.  I know she is moving away from me, letting go.  She knows I understand this.  And yet, come August, with some luck, I’ll make her a chocolate cake.

DSC_5096

Chocolate Cake Pan Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting

cake recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Original Cake Pan Cake

whipped ganache recipe barely adapted from allrecipes.com

serves 8-10

Cake Ingredients:

1 + 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cup vanilla sugar

1/4 unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk ( I used 2%)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease an 8 inch square pan and set aside.  (You may also use a 9 inch round pan.)

Place dry ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract, vinegar, oil and milk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Pour the  batter into your prepared pan.

Bake the cake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs.  Begin checking the cake around 22 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan sitting on a wire rack.

While the cake cools make the whipped chocolate ganache frosting.

Fluffy Whipped Ganache Ingredients:

9 ounces of semisweet  chocolate, chopped or use chips

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.  Heat the heavy cream in a sauce over medium heat until it just begins to boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the rum and whisk until completely smooth and shiny.  Cool the ganache until thick.  (I let it sit on our counter at room temperature for a couple of hours.)  Once cool whip the ganache using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment until very light and fluffy.  Spread evenly over cake.  Slice the cake and serve with a cold glass of milk.  Enjoy!  (Cake will last up to two days stored in air-tight container at room temperature.)

5 Lovely Cake Links for Mother’s Day

Treat your crazy mom to a crazy cake: strawberry pazzo cake with herbed creme fraiche. Pazzo means crazy in Italian which describes this cake well; balsamic vinegar drizzled over a sweet strawberry cake.  I’m intrigued!

Speaking of strawberries, check out my recipe for a cold oven strawberry pound cake mom is sure to love.  Or head to My Name Is Yeh for Molly’s cardamom vanilla cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting.  I’m drooling.

Looking for a simple yet delicious cake recipe?  Head to Food 52 for their olive oil cake recipe.

Don’t feel like baking? Check out Baker’s Royale lemon ice box cake.  Yum!

Baked Strawberry French Toast with Oat Crumble Topping + 5 Can’t Miss French Toast links!

bakedfrenchtoast-5001

“I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…” Mary Oliver

I sat on the cold hardwood floor in my office furiously sifting through a box of photos as if my life depended on finding this one particular image taken so many years ago.

Photographs.

My husband’s  worry-free face 14 years ago [oh how I miss you!], my girl, maybe three? curled up so small sifting through wet sand, weddings, sunsets, Fenway, misty beach mornings, graduations, forced smiles and genuine ones, baby boy 1, big chocolate-brown eyes [ you haven’t changed yet…] baby boy 2 smooth cheeks, a big under-bite, almond blue eyes [ a compilation of many generations all present in your sweet, chubby face], drunken fun with best friends, worry, innocence, love, in love and love past, Christmas, Mama [happy?] surrounded by her 3 ducklings circa 1989, Dad in the old orange rocking chair, beer in hand, absent yet physically present, school pictures of my littles…I sink momentarily into these memories, my heart full, blessed, nostalgic and then I let them go and take a giant, slow breath.  I had stopped breathing.

I didn’t find the picture I was looking for, nor is it relevant I tell you about the photograph, or the people captured in it.  It is gone just like the moments captured thousands of hours ago, the photos now scattered on the creaky wooden floor in our tiny home office.  I sat and stared at the mess of memories, grateful for almost all of them. And yet.  I carelessly tossed them back into a nondescript, beige box because that is where they belong.

Hours later I wash the kitchen floor, scrubbing away at the faint paw prints, yogurt droplets and strawberry stains left marking the events of another day.  One pound of fresh strawberries gone, consumed by my hungry little monsters before dinner.  Another pound still in the refrigerator.  I’ll need to hide them.

I empty the bucket of dirty water into the sink.  A small spider, no bigger than my pinkie nail scurries to the lip of the sink and willingly crawls in, brave yet unaware of the possibilities.  The spider explores for a bit, his movements becoming more cautious each second.  I turn on the faucet, pull out the hose and aim it right at him.  The current sweeps him off his minuscule legs, pushing him towards the drain.  I turn off the faucet. He fights, finds his sea legs, tries to avoid the impossible.  With a half jealous smile, I turn on the water.  One final flush and he is gone.

bakedfrenchtoast-4951

Baked Strawberry French Toast with Oat Crumble

Recipe adapted from NYT Cooking

Serves 12

Ingredients:

9 cups good quality French bread cut into 1 inch cubes (challah or brioche will also work)

Cooking spray or butter for baking dish

8 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound strawberries, cored and halved

Ingredients for topping:

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup old fashion rolled oats

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup or 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into cubes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and spread out on a baking sheet.  Toast the bread for about 12 minutes.  Cool and set aside.

Spray or generously butter a 9×13 baking dish.  Add bread cubes to baking dish.

Next make the custard.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, honey, vanilla, ginger, cloves and salt until smooth and well combined.  Pour custard over bread.  Toss with your hands until all the bread is wet.  Press down gently on the bread so it forms an even layer.  Spread strawberries over the top.  Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to 48 hours.  Overnight is best!

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Prepare oat crumble.  Grab a large bowl.  Add the flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger, cloves and salt and stir together.  Add the butter.  Work the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand and is crumbly.  (Topping can be made 48 hours in advance.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.)

Sprinkle topping over the strawberries/bread.  Bake until golden brown about 40-45 minutes.  Turn on the broiler for the last two minutes for crunchier crust.  Serve warm with real maple syrup.  Enjoy!

5 Can’t Miss French Toast Links!

Traditional French toast dipped a subtly sweet Panko breadcrumb mixture, fried to perfection and topped with lots of butter and syrup sounds like a bit of heaven to me. Head to Pioneer Woman for her crunchy French Toast recipe.

French toast in sandwich form? Yes it exists.  Head to Handmade Charlotte for Sarah Kieffer’s French toast sandwiches with peaches and mozzarella.

Lemon French toast topped with in season strawberries screams spring.  Head to Simply Delicious for the recipe.  Yum!

Want to wow your brunch guests?  Make Smitten Kitchen’s morning bread pudding with salted caramel.  This is on my must make immediately list.

If you a more of a savory than sweet person, head to Food 52 and check out their recipe for crispy salt and pepper French toast.

Pina Colada Cake + 5 Boozy Cake Links!

 

pinacolada2812

pinacolada2848

Not bad, she thought, regarding her reflection in the full length mirror of a small hotel room she shared with her husband and three children.   The navy blue, white polka dot, full piece bathing suit fresh off the rack from Macy’s hugged her hips and small breasts, her smooth, pale Nordic skin almost pearlescent in the bright, Bahamian light.  As she turned to grab her ten dollar, drugstore sunglasses and scratchy hotel towel, she noticed her profile, pronounced in the warm light. She tenderly rubbed the soft space between her hip bones, a slight bulge, her body forever three months pregnant, abdominal muscles long gone; this space was once the home of her three children.

[Babies too large for her small frame and yet she willed herself to carry them.  And when they tore her apart, departing her body and entering the world, she felt nothing but relief.  Love would come…later.]

The family trip to the Grand Bahama was her idea.  He, her half present husband, the worst kind, acquiesced.  Anything to stop her nagging.  Anything to keep her questions at bay.  His soul’s sin would be revealed many years later.  An affair: yes.  But his real sin: insecurity.

[ A soul with a hole so cavernous no drink or woman could fill.]

So, when she found herself at the poolside bar, admiring the bartender’s dark brown eyes, golden skin, silvery hair and stainless white teeth, was she appalled by her desire for him?  No.  Like driving a car with a low tire, the air slowly, but surely escaping, something was amiss in her marriage.  This she she felt in her milky skin, her blue veins, her raging claret blood…her bones. 

She ordered a pina colada.  The bartender smiled, got to work.  She watched him: tan, capable hands adding ice, fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum to a blender; a bit of sweat twinkled on his brow and above his hairless lip in the mid-day sun.  

[Briefly, she thought of his lips on hers. This fantasy quickly dissipated when she noticed a gorgeous, buxom, blonde saddling up to the bar. She is who he wants.  Or, so she thought.]  

When he handed her the pina colda, complete now with a fresh pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry, he also gave her his number on a white cocktail napkin.  Ha!  Cheeks flush and gitty with surprise, she paid him.  After taking a long drink, she smiled, stood, turned and walked away. The cocktail napkin remained on the bar where he placed it, her sweating pina colada sitting directly on top of the scribbled numbers.  Nothing said, no door left ajar.  Condensation from glass would make the numbers bleed into each other.  And this memory of being seen again, fresh, would bleed into other memories of unexplored men handing her a drink.

She found her family sitting by the pool, her handsome husband with a beer in has hand chatting with their strawberry-haired, freckled faced boy.  His favorite, his only.  The girls, both husky, pretty tomboys, were huddled together on a chaise lounge, dripping pool water.  The older girl had found forty dollars in the hot-tub.  Such luck, she thought!  As the girl held the wet twenties overhead, victorious, her sister decided since they were a family who shared, they should share everything, including this serendipitous loot.  They laughed, not yet knowing, too much and not enough would be shared in the decades to come.

Pina Colada Cake

A moist cake studded with fresh pineapple and covered in a sweet rum glaze

recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

serves 8

Ingredients for cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces of coconut oil, at room temperature

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup cream of coconut (This is not coconut milk.  I found it in the Mexican food section of our local grocery store.) Shake well before measuring.

1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple, strained, juice reserved (from a can in juice not syrup)

Ingredients to brush over cake:

2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice

Ingredients for glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line with a circle of parchment paper.  Lightly butter and flour parchment paper.  Tap  out excess flour.  Set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and coconut oil at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.  Add rum.  Next, add cream of coconut.  The batter will look curdled.  Don’t worry! It will come back together once you add the flour.

Add half of dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl with a spatula, before adding the other half.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in chopped pineapple.

The batter will be thick.  Spread it evenly into your prepared pan.  Bake until golden brown or when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.  Cool in pan, on wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto the wire rack.  Remove parchment paper.

While the cake is still hot, brush it with reserved pineapple juice.

While cake is cooling, make glaze.  Grab a small bowl and add powdered sugar and salt.  Stir in milk and rum.  Stir until completely smooth.  Pour glaze into middle of cake and spread to the edges with an offset spatula or butter knife.  Serve immediately or refrigerate for 20 minutes until glaze is set.  Cake is best the day it is made.  Leftovers, stored in an air-tight container, at room temperature, will last for 2 days.  Enjoy!

5 Boozy Cake Links!

Still feel the winter chill in your neck of the woods? Warm yourself up with Food & Wine’s Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake.  I’m guessing it will hit the spot.

I love a good mojito.  Olive’s mojito cake is on my must make immediately list.  Yum!

Don’t wait until next St. Patty’s day to make Spoon Fork Bacon’s spicy chocolate stout cake with simple peanut butter frosting.  This combo sounds delicious!

Bubba loves a good margarita and never turns down a piece of cake.  I think it’s time to make him Pastry Affair’s boozy margarita cake.

My mom loves all things coconut so this Mother’s Day I may just make her Beth Cake’s triple coconut rum cake.  Coconut + rum equals a tropical vacation in a bite!

 

Angel Food Cake Delight + 5 Retro Cakes for Spring!

afcd401

afcd410

I turned to Betty Crocker for inspiration this week.  Every so often I find myself leafing through my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, the cookbook my grandmother gave me after Bubba and I married.  “You’ll need this, it has everything.” she promised.  At first glance, I judged the cookbook for its lack of “healthy” recipes, horrible food photography and sexist illustrations of family life.  I tucked it away in our bookcase with the plan of donating it.  Years passed, but Betty remained on our book shelf.  I couldn’t part with her.  This dated, meant for “home-makers” cookbook gave me a glimpse of a time before social media, mommy wars, barre and kale smoothies, quinoa and hemp seeds.  As much as the Mad Men era illustrations of mom in heels baking a cake with 2 kids underfoot and Dad in a suit sampling her hard work with a smug look on his face enraged me, I couldn’t help but notice the common ground across generations.  Women ministering to their loved ones by making delicious food.  Homemaker or not, food is love, it was then and it still is today.

afcd313afcd316afcd339

Angel Food Cake Delight     

Light and airy angel food cake filled with honey whipped cream and fresh berries        

Serves 10-12

Recipe barely adapted from Baking Illustrated and inspired by Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook

Ingredients for Angel Food Cake:

1 cup sifted cake flour

1 1/2 cups sifted sugar

12 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions for Cake:

Move an oven rack to the lower-middle position and pre-heat your oven to 325F.  Set aside an ungreased large tube pan with a removable bottom.  ( If you can’t remove the bottom, line it with parchment paper.)

Whisk together the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a small bowl.  Place the other 3/4 cup of sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-speed until they break up and begin to froth.  Add the cream of tartar and salt.  Turn the speed up to medium and beat until the whites form soft mounds.   Beat in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, just 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites form soft peaks and are shiny.  Next add vanilla and lemon juice and beat until just combined.

Turn off the mixer and sift third of the flour/sugar mixture over the whites.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold them in.  Sift the remaining flour/sugar mixture of the whites and gently fold.  Scrape the batter into your pan.  Smooth the top with a spatula.  Gently bang the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when you touch it with your finger, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and invert it onto the prongs of the pan or use the neck of a glass bottle.  Allow the cake to cool for 2 to 3 hours before removing it from the pan.

Once cool, run a knife around the edges of the pan.  Slice the cake out the pan and carefully slice off the removable bottom.   Set the cake golden brown side up on a cake platter or stand.

Using a serrated knife cut 1 inch the top of the cake off.  Set aside.  Carefully cut down into the cake, leaving a 1 inch border from the middle hole and cake “wall” and 1 inch base.  Scope out the inside of the cake and set aside. (Keep the scraps for nibbling!)

Fill the hollowed area of the cake with your honey whipped cream/berry mixture.   Place cake top on and press gently.  Cover the rest of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to over-night.  The cake, refrigerated, will last up to 2 days, but I doubt you will have leftovers.  Enjoy!

Honey Whipped Cream  + Fresh Berry Mixture

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook

Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream

5-6 tablespoons of honey  (light flavored)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced in quarters

Directions:

Start with a chilled bowl and beater.  Add cold heavy cream to the bowl and beat until the cream thickens.  Add honey and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream creates stiff peaks.  Be careful not to overbeat!   Remove less than half of the whipped cream and place in a small bowl.  (Set aside remaining whipped cream.)  Using a rubber spatula fold in the berries.  Use the berry mixture to fill the cake and use the remaining whip cream to cover the entire cake.

**You can make the whipped cream (without the berries) ahead of time.  Be sure to store it in an air-tight container in the fridge.  It will stay fresh for up to 10 hours.  Whisk for about 10 minutes before using and then proceed with the recipe.**

5 Retro Cake Links for Spring

Love upside down cakes? Try Sally’s Baking Addictions Pineapple Upside-Down Cake made from scratch!

For the coconut lovers in your life make Coconut Queen Party Cake with Marshmallow Frosting.  Head to Mid-Century Menu for the recipe.

I just discovered the Lady Baltimore Cake today and apparently it is Martha Stewart’s’ favorite.  Check it out here.

If you need a simple, old fashion cake make Betty’s Banana Layer Cake.  I love all things banana so this is going on my must make list.

My grandmother use to make this delightful and tasty chocolate cake roll all the time.  Thanks for reminding me Smitten Kitchen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carrot Tea Cake + 5 Tea Cakes for Spring

ctcCQ

A much-needed new car battery triggered the anti-theft code for the radio in my car.  Silence.  No NPR, no music.  I made a few good guesses for the code, but none of them worked.  We were left with just the sound of the windshield wipers moving robotically back and forth.  The kids were oddly quiet on the way to school.  Maybe the lack of sunshine was getting to them or maybe like a newly discovered old toy, they enjoyed the silence.  I can’t say.

I finished the drop-offs and headed home; the baby now asleep in the back seat.  The resounding silence overwhelmed me.  Thoughts drifted in and receded like the tide.  Thoughts fell like spring snow and melted away just as quickly.   No, they didn’t do any of that.  My thoughts in that long, loud moment of silence were too much to hear.  I wasn’t prepared, so I brushed them aside.

I pulled into our driveway, relieved the silence would end once I transferred the baby from the car-seat to his crib.  But it didn’t.  He slept peacefully in my arms as I unlocked the door and carried him up the stairs into his room.  Once downstairs, I checked my email, my phone, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook; all those place you check when you can’t be alone with your thoughts.  Checking into my online world didn’t make me feel any better.  I set my phone down and turned on the oven.

ctcCKIn silence, I whisked the dry ingredients, beat the butter and sugar, mixed in the eggs.  I grated the carrots and tossed them into the wet ingredients along with a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt.  I folded the dry ingredients into the butter/sugar mixture.  I spread the batter into my prepared loaf pan and popped it into the oven.  All in silence, all the while thoughts, welcomed and, some not, came and went.

Cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger permeated the house and forty minutes later my carrot tea cake was ready.  After some cooling time, I topped the cake with a thick layer of maple cream cheese frosting.  And during the baking, then cooling and frosting, my sweet boy woke from his nap.  The silence, now gone, left me wondering: what’s next?

Carrot Tea Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

A moist and dense tea cake full of grated carrots and topped with a large, delicious dollop of maple cream cheese frosting.  This a perfect sweet treat for your next spring brunch.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

serves 8

Ingredients:

1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature and a bit more for the pan

1 cup white whole wheat flour (This flour will make the cake a bit more dense.  If you prefer a lighter cake, stick with all-purpose flour only.)

1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour and a bit more for the pan

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons Greek yogurt ( I used Fage 2% because that is what I had on hand.)

1 cup packed grated carrots (from about 2 carrots)

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a 5×9 inch loaf pan and set aside.   In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Beat in carrots and Greek yogurt.  Turn your mixer to low and add the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  The batter will be thick, almost like cookie dough and that’s ok!

Spread batter into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Start checking at 35 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and spring back in the center when lightly touched or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.  Then turn the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely.

While your cake is cooling, make the frosting.  Using a clean mixer, beat the cream cheese confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup until very fluffy.  Spread on top of cooled cake.  Serve or store at room temperature in an air tight container for a couple of days.  I think this cake tests best on the second day.  Enjoy!

5 Tea Cakes for Spring!

If you love Nutella, check out Zoe Bake’s recipe for Nutella swirled banana bread.  My kids will go nuts for this, if I share. 😉

Apple pie disguised as a quick bread?  Yes, it exists and I can’t wait to try it this fall with fresh, local apples.  Head to My Baking Addiction for her apple pie bread recipe.

My mom makes an amazing lemon tea bread that is very similar to Paper & Birch’s glazed lemon bread recipe.  Yum!

Summer will come eventually and when it does use up extra zucchini for my zucchini bread recipe. So good especially with a little cream cheese.

Looking for a whole-grain quick bread recipe?  Check out Babble’s whole grain strawberry banana bread!

Spring Chopped Salad + 5 Spring Salads for Mother’s Day

scs066

I love salad, but lately I am in a salad making rut. Practically everyday, I make the same salad with the same salad dressing. The salad usually consists of mixed greens with whatever fruit or vegetables that we have sitting around. I always add goat or feta cheese, and maybe some pepitas. The salad dressing is a balsamic vinaigrette, the same one I’ve made for years. It tastes great, but my taste buds are bored. This week I felt wild. Time to shake things up, so I made a new salad: a spring chopped salad and it is awesome! (Ya, that’s how we shake things up around here. I know. Crazy, right?) My taste buds thanked me and so did Bubba!

scs003scs0020scs0024scs0036scs0033scs060

I saw purple asparagus at the market and had to buy it mainly because it is purple and pretty. Bubba noted its milder flavor. I agree. It is a bit milder than your typical asparagus. C loved the color and G said no thanks. (Such a polite boy!) If you see it at your local market give it a shot.

I think you could swap out whatever in season vegetables look good, but do not leave out the salami! You need the salami. The salami works so well in this salad especially when paired with cheddar, chives, mint and parsley. So don’t leave that out either.

scs071scs0079

Be careful this salad is addictive! But hey, it’s salad. Enjoy it. The boys need me. Bye for now!

Spring Chopped Salad with Shallot + Cider Vinegar Vinaigrette

Recipe adapted by Not Without Salt

Serves 4-6

Ingredients for salad:

5 or 6 cups cut, rinsed and dried romaine, cut in 1-inch ribbons

1 bunch purple asparagus, blanched

1 cup chopped chives, mint and parsley

3 radishes, chopped

3 scallions, green parts, chopped

1 bunch green beans, blanched

1 cup garbanzo beans (If using canned, be sure to drain and rinse the beans.)

1 cup sharp cheddar, chopped

1 cup salami, chopped

1/4 cup pepitas (I didn’t toast them, but I bet they are great toasted.)

Ingredients for vinaigrette:

6 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tbsp. finely chopped shallot

1 tsp. dried oregano

squeeze of honey

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.

Blanch asparagus and green beans and set aside. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. Season salad with a bit of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Pour vinaigrette around the bowl and toss the salad to combine. Serve immediately and enjoy!

**If you want to make this salad ahead of time do not dress it until ready to serve. Also, you can make this salad and dressing and eat it for a few days in a row; just don’t dress the entire salad. Be sure to store the salad and dressing in air tight containers in the fridge.**

5 Spring Salads for Mother’s Day

If you love arugula you should try this spring panzanella by Happy Yolks. This beautiful salad is a mix of fennel, arugula, spring peas and garbanzo beans. Yum! I bet your Mom will love it too.

Are you craving potato salad today? How about pickled spring onions and new potatoes together in a salad? Yes! Smitten Kitchen has the recipe for you. This salad looks like the perfect addition to any Mother’s Day brunch or picnic. Check it out!

I love sugar snap peas and so do the kids. This sugar pea and fennel salad by Gourmande in the Kitchen is sure to make an appearance on our dinner table this spring.

I can’t wait for Mother’s Day to make this strawberry and spinach salad by Gimme Some Oven. I want to eat this beautiful salad for lunch, today.

One of my new favorite blogs is Edible Perspective. I love Ashley’s photography and healthy recipes. Her spring salad with hemp seed dressing is sure to make your mom feel good next Sunday. Want to learn more about hemp seeds? Head here!