Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Raisin Streusel Cake

I was kind of put off on this recipe from the beginning, for the following two reasons.

1. It calls for margarine, instead of butter and I come from a butter family. We never use margarine for baking. Ever. Why use margarine, when you can use butter?

2. It calls for non dairy creamer. Why use that, when you can use real cream?

Any way, don't let my hang ups keep you from making this recipe. It is fairly easy to pull together and if you made the vanilla chiffon cake I posted, then you already have potato starch and matzo meal on hand. Woo!

The redeeming quality of this cake, is that it tastes really, extremely good!

Raisin Streusel Cake
12 servings

1/4       cup (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine, room temperature

2/3       cup sugar

4-1/4    teaspoons ground cardamom

2-1/4    teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2       cup matzo cake meal

1/2       cup matzo cake meal

1/2       cup potato starch

1/2       teaspoon salt

1/2       teaspoon ground ginger

5          large egg whites, room temperature

1-1/3    cups sugar, divided

5          large egg yolks

1/3       cup liquid nondairy creamer

1/4       cup (1/2 stick) unsalted margarine, melted, cooled

2          Tablespoons finely grated lemon peel

1-1/2    Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2/3        cup raisins

STREUSEL: Position rack in center of over and preheat to 350ºF. Coat 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan generously with margarine. Mix margarine, sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Gradually add matzo cake meal and mix until crumbly. Spread half of streusel on baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Cool and break into bits.

CAKE: Combine matzo cake meal, potato starch, salt, and ginger in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.

Using same beaters, beat egg yolks and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in another large bowl until mixture is thick and slowly dissolving ribbons form when beaters are lifted. Beat in nondairy creamer, then margarine, lemon peel, and lemon juice at low speed. Add dry ingredients and stir until well blended. Fold in egg white mixture in 2 additions.

Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle baked streusel over. Sprinkle with half of raisins. Spread remaining batter over. Sprinkle with unbaked streusel and remaining raisins. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out dry, about 40 minutes.

Cool cake in pan on rack. Cover with foil and let stand fro 1 hour to soften topping.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep covered and store at room temperature.

Cut into squares and serve.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Laundry Pod and the Best Drying Rack!

How many of you have to do laundry at the laundry mat? I do and I really do not like it. At all. My entire life, I have been able to laundry at home (except when at university). I find it tiresome to lug all of my clothes to the mat, wait for machines to open up and having to sit there waiting for everything to wash and dry. I also find it quite annoying, that I spend $2.25 or more on one load of laundry.

The laundry mat is expensive, time consuming, water eating, and electricity abusing! Ha ha. Not that I have any true feelings about this type of establishment. About two weeks ago, I was on Pinterest and I was reading a pin for people who live in small spaces. It was a list of items that would be beneficial in a small setting. An item called the 'Laundry Pod' was among them and I checked it out. I looked up reviews on amazon and decided that I needed to get it. By owning this device, I could do small loads of  undergarments, and a little of this and that when needed, instead of waiting to gather more items for a full load at the laundry mat. Also, if I needed it right away, I wouldn't waste $2.25 for an extremely small load of laundry.

I ordered the pod last week and I picked it up from the post office, today. I also ordered a drying rack, from Best Drying Rack. I found them a while back, when researching things that were made in the USA. This took just under a week to be shipped to me. I am over the moon happy with shipping time for both items.

I used the pod and the drying rack today. So easy! I was able to wash two loads in less than 30 minutes!  Amazing! I purchased the green pod, because it was cheaper at the time. At the moment, as I write this, the white laundry pod is cheaper.

The Laundry Pod

Laundry Pod- Amazon

Best Drying Rack

The Laundry Pod is small in size, so, like the best drying rack, is easy to store! Which is perfect for my itty bitty teeny tiny apartment.

Small and compact. It fits on my kitchen sink! (Which is really small, btw.)

This small basket can hold 9-10 items depending on size. (I fit a ton more.)

This handle pops up for spinning and the hose is stored underneath the pod and is easily removed for draining.

I got all of this washed in just two loads!

The drying rack folds up to about 8"x27" and opens to 52"x38" tall. It's amazing and I love it. I hope that if you live in a small space and dislike going to the laundry mat, every singe time you need to wash something, that you will check these items out. I hope that they are a huge help to you, as they are for me!

If you don't like what I have to say about the laundry pod, here is what the box has to say:

A portable environmentally friendly washer

Go where laundry has never gone before

Saves you money
Convenient for small loads
Less water and zero energy
Hand washables and delicates
College living
Outdoor living
Urban living
Nautical living

I just wish that it was made in the USA. This is it's only downfall, for me.

That is all. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Poppy Seed Coffee Cake with Cardamom Streusel

I don't think that I have veer made so many types of coffee cake and there are still more recipes to come! I never realized how simple a coffee cake was. They are made with basic ingredients and you are able to whip them up in no time at all. I believe, that if your friend said that she/he was stopping by in 2 hours, you could be taking this out of the oven as they pull up.

This recipe calls for 1/3 cup poppy seeds. Purchasing a 2.12 oz jar from the baking isle will be perfect for you. In fact, you will have a little left over to put on those homemade bagels you just made, am I right?! Ha ha, I've been telling myself to make some bagels for a while now and have not got around to it.

Get the cake in the oven, tell your friend that she/he is more than welcome to stop by, and put a pot of coffee on (or tea!).

Poppy Seed Coffee Cake with Cardamom Streusel
10 to 12 servings

6             Tablespoons sugar

6             Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4          cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3/4          teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2          teaspoon ground cinnamon

2-1/3       cups cake flour
1-1/2       teaspoons baking powder
1             teaspoon baking soda
3/4          teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4          teaspoon salt
11           Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1             cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
2             large eggs
1             cup sour cream
1/4          cup fresh orange juice
2             teaspoons finely grated orange peel
1/3          cup poppy seeds

STREUSEL: Mix sugar, flour, melted butter, cardamom, and cinnamon in small bowl until moist clumps form.

CAKE: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour 10-inch-diameter  angel food cake pan with removable bottom. Sift cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt twice into medium bowl. sing electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in sour cream, orange juice, orange peel, and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients to blend. Mix in poppy seeds. Transfer batter to prepared pan (batter will fill less than half of pan).

Bake cake 25 minutes. Sprinkle streusel over top of cake. Continue to bake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 25 minutes longer. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.

Using sharp knife, cut around sides of pan and center tube to loosen cake. Holding center tube, lift cake from pan sides. Cut cake free from pan bottom. Placing hand gently atop cake for support, tilt cake just far enough over to release from center tube. Place cake streusel side up on platter.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Book in Review: A Tale of Two Cities

Wow! I have had 'A Tale of Two Cities' on my bookshelf for years and I finally decided to read it. My goodness, the first 23 pages (roughly) were very hard for me. At one point, I thought about giving up. I have read several Charles Dickens novels before and the beginning of this seemed so different. I had a very hard time getting into it. However, I had read a few reviews from people, who thought the same thing and they encouraged all readers to press on. I am extremely glad that I continued to read this novel, because it was great!

A few things  I have to say, before I let you get to it...

I think we read books when they want us to read them... or in other words, when it is the right time for us to read them.

Madame Defarge, dang!

Mad Props to Ms. Pross!

Sydney! Carton!

Sydney is rough on the edges, but he has a heart of gold! Pure gold! 24 carat gold!

The last page... ugh. It got me!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Sour Cream-Orange Coffee Cake with Chocolate-Pecan Streusel

I had the chance to make this recipe last week, because I did not have work on Friday. It was nice to bake again, because I am currently working a second job... beyond teaching, on the weekends. I have found it hard to make time for my Bon Appetit Desserts Adventure. I was happy to be back where I find joy!

I was pleased with this '1 whisk' coffee cake. It won't take long before it's in your belly! Family, friends, and neighbors all received their fair share.

Sour Cream-Orange Coffee Cake with Chocolate-Pecan Streusel
12 servings

1-1/2          cups (packed) golden brown sugar

1                Tablespoon ground cinnamon

6                Tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled salted butter, diced

1-1/2          cups coarsely chopped pecans

1                cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (Fair Trade, if you can!)

3                cups unbleached all purpose flour

1-1/2          teaspoons baking soda

1-1/2          teaspoons baking powder

1-1/3          cups sugar

3/4             cup (1-1/2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature

3                large eggs

1-1/2          teaspoons finely grated orange peel

1-1/2          teaspoons vanilla extract

1-1/2          cups sour cream

1/4             cup fresh orange juice

Powdered Sugar

STREUSEL: Whisk sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl to blend. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture hold together in small moist clumps. Mix in pecans and chocolate chips.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

CAKE: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until blended and smooth. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then orange peel and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with sour cream in 3 additions. Mix in orange juice. Spread half of batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of streusel. Drop remaining batter over by heaping tablespoonfuls; carefully spread batter to make even layer. Sprinkle with remaining streusel.

Bake 30 minutes. Place sheet of foil loosely over pan to keep topping from browning too quickly. Continue baking until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes longer. Remove foil. Cool cake in pan on rack 20 minutes. Sift powdered sugar over cake; serve warm or at room temperature.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Book in Review: Big Little Lies

Over the summer, I met a few gals at a going away party and I suggested that we start a book club. I have created a book club before and it was quite successful. When that club came to an end, I was pretty bummed, so this new opportunity was awesome! This was our second selection. It is pretty long at 460 pages, but they pass quickly!

I love a good mystery! I enjoyed this book, because you didn't know who had been killed, or who did the killing until about 30- 40 pages from the end. I will say that I did guess who the deceased was going to be about half way through the book. I enjoyed the commentary from the parents at the school. Some of that stuff was pretty funny! I wanted to shake Celeste and tell her to wake up! Madeline has a very strong personality, but she will stick by you through thick and thin, once she declares you as her friend. I'm glad Jane sets her path in a good direction by the end. I enjoyed this!

I highly recommend this book!

We are supposed to be reading 'All The Light We Cannot See' by Anthony Doerr, right now, but I am trying to finish up 'A Tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens. Hopefully, I will be able to read our February selection before our meeting.

Here's to reading! What are you reading right now? Any suggestions for me? I'd love to hear about books that you love and think I just have to read!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Breakfast Jars

I have been wanting to make my own oatmeal packets for a long time. For one, I know what is in them and two, I can choose to put in what I like and mix it up, whenever I like! I recently came upon two posts about this very thing. I decided to take a little from each post and apply it to my breakfast jars.

Instant Oatmeal Jars
Instant Oatmeal Packets

I am trying my stash out this week. We'll see how it goes. I imagine that there is not much room for error, as it is just oatmeal. I have hope!

Here are my jars:

These jars include: Old fashioned oats, oat bran, salt, powdered milk, brown sugar, cranberries, and almonds. I would like to try the chia seeds, like one of the bloggers did, but I could not find them. 

I am not a morning person. I am a giant human slug monster in the morning and I find it hard to get breakfast and pack a lunch before I need to leave, so I am hoping that this will be very beneficial for me. I like that I just have to add the water and heat it up!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bon Appetit Desserts: Spiced Crumble Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Another Bon Appetit recipe has been tried, just for you! Mmm... spices, nuts, chocolate... cake! You cannot go wrong here.

Completely normal ingredients are used for this recipe. So normal, that I bet you have all of them on hand already. This is a two whisk recipe, so it is a bit more challenging. However, it is only because you have to mix this and that in its own bowl and then some of this and some of that in another bowl. Not hard. I hope that you give it the old college try.

Have you tried any of these recipes out? I post this blog for fun. It is exciting to see if there are any views for the recipes, books, and thoughts that I post. So, if you stop by this blog from time to time, let me know! I'd love to hear from you!

Spiced Crumble Cake with Chocolate Frosting
12 servings

1            cup pecans

1/3         cup (packed) golden brown sugar

2            Tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced

1            Tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder (fair trade when possible)

2-1/3      cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1            Tablespoon cornstarch

1            teaspoon baking soda

1            teaspoon cinnamon

3/4         teaspoon salt

1/4         teaspoon ground cloves

1/4         teaspoon ground allspice

3/4         cup sour cream

1/4         cup whole milk

1            teaspoon vanilla extract

1            cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1            cup sugar

3/4         cup (packed) golden brow sugar

5            large eggs

6            ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped

1            8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/4         cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1            teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/2      cups powdered sugar

2            Tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

CRUMBLE: Blend pecans, sugar, butter, and cocoa in processor until nuts are finely chopped.

CAKE: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, cloves, and allspice in medium bowl to blend. Whisk sour cream, milk, and vanilla in small bowl to blend.

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in both sugars. Beat in 3 eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in 1/2 cup dry ingredients. Beat in remaining 2 eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in remaining dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with sour cream mixture in 2 additions.

Spread 3 cups batter in prepared pan. Sprinkle with crumble; press lightly into batter. Spread remaining batter over crumble to cover. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack.

FROSTING: Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water, stirring until just melted and smooth. Let stand just until cool but not set. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Beat in sugar in 3 additions, then cooled chocolate and cocoa.

Spread frosting over top of cake.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill until frosting is set; cover and keep chilled. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature before serving.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

English Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is English pudding, which is not pudding, pudding, but cake! Now you know!

I had some sticky toffee pudding on my flight home from London and it was so amazing! I immediately looked up a recipe, when I got home! I have finally stopped being lazy (which is good, because I go back to teaching tomorrow), and I made the cake bit the other day and this morning, I made the toffee sauce and the whipped cream.

I am just going to throw this out there... when you cook the toffee sauce at too high of a heat, you get something that is neither sauce or actual toffee. It becomes some sort of soft caramel. So, beware, when you are stirring the sauce! Also, when you are folding in the date mixture, you will get a runny mess! It all works out, though, so don't be discouraged. (I know that I was and I thought that I did something wrong. Just look below, it all turned out fine.)

English Sticky Toffee Pudding Food Network

Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

1          cup plus one Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1          teaspoon baking powder

3/4       cup pitted dates

1-1/4   cups boiling water

1          teaspoon baking soda

1/4       cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4       cup granulated sugar

1          large egg, lightly beaten

1          teaspoon vanilla


1/2       cup unsalted butter

1/2       cup heavy cream

1          cup packed light brown sugar


2          Tablespoons granulated sugar

1          cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 10-inch round or square baking dish. Sift the flour and baking powder onto a sheet of waxed paper. Chop the dates fine. Place in a small bowl  add boiling water and soda; set aside. In a bowl of electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla; until blended. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Add the date mixture to the batter and fold until blended with rubber spatula. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake until pudding is set and firm on top, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack.

Toffee Sauce:
Combine the butter, cream, an brown sugar in a small medium saucepan; heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Boil gently over medium low heat until mixture is thickened, about 8 minutes. Preheat broiler. Spoon about 1/3 of the sauce over the pudding. Spread evenly on top. Place pudding under the broiler until the topping is bubbly, about 1 minute.

Whipped Cream:
Put metal mixing bowl in freezer for 10- 15 minutes. Put sugar in bowl and pour in cream. Mix medium-high speed until stiff peaks form.

Serve Immediately spooned into dessert bowls. Drizzle with toffee sauce and top with a spoonful of whipped cream.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Book in Review: The Pirate's Desire...This Book Is On Fire!

Ok, ok... no books are actually on fire and if they were, I would be extremely sad about it. I love to read! I have been quite impressed with my book reading abilities over the last few years. In fact, I have met my Goodreads challenges, or exceeded them, in the last two years!

I had a goal of 30 books for 2014 and I read 35-1/2 books! Yes, this is me tooting my own horn. Toot, toot! Ha ha. This year, I have decided to have a goal of 35 books. I hope that I can meet this challenge. One never does know what the year will hold. It is so early in the game.  If you love to read, I suggest that:

1. You go to Goodreads right now... this very second!

2. Check the site out. Look up books that you love. Look up books that you want to read. Get a feel for the site.

3. Get a Goodreads account!

4. Set your own 2015 reading challenge!  You won't be sorry!

Something that I love about Goodreads, other than the community of readers, the ability to track what I have read and what I want to read, and personal recommendations based on what I have read and what I want to read, are the free giveaways! Some people, I have learned, do not know about the giveaways, so I say, "Check them out!"

Alright, this was not meant to be an entry about Goodreads.

I recently read another Jennette Green book. I cannot get enough of her. My friend Rachelle introduced me to her books with, 'The Commander's Desire'. Oh my goodness. This book! So good!

I will say that I have never been disappointed with a Jennette Green book and so, I recommend one of her newest, 'The Pirate's Desire'.

The Pirate's Desire was a really good and quick read for me. I enjoyed the story line. I just wish that Lucy wasn't such a brat. While reading this book, I could not get the most amazing mental picture of Riel out of my head. Of course he is a rugged yet drop dead gorgeous man (Way more good looking than the guy on the cover!). Now if only I could find one in real life. Until then, I'll stick with books. Ha ha. By reading this book, I am once again reminded how important communication is. In all relationships, not just romantic ones. Riel and Lucy are meant for each other, but they spend most of their time fighting the truth. Riel feels that he is not good enough, but if he just came clean about his past and if Lucy embraced what she felt, sooner, then there would not be a book to read.

I recommend this book. So get on it! Start reading it, now!