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Olive Oil Citrus Cake

Since I am a new iphone user, I decided to use iphone photography for my blog post today for fun!  My sweet friend Katie gave me a beautiful bottle of extra virgin olive oil and a package of 00 flour for my birthday so I have been dying to make an olive oil cake! This recipe incorporates citrus, which is great because my lemon tree is full of lovely lemons, and my friend Amy gave me some stunning blood oranges from her tree!  This recipe makes a beautiful, rustic cake with a lovely glaze.  The olive oil flavor is nicely balanced with the citrus notes, and the sweet, tangy glaze. My icing is pink because I used a blood orange instead of a grapefruit for the glaze, feel free to use any citrus you like!

I found this recipe on Pinterest, via the Urban Baker

http://www.theurbanbaker.com/olive-oil-citrus-cake/

Olive Oil Citrus Cake
adapted from rustic fruit desserts
1 8″ cake
ingredients:cake
1 1/4 cups unsifted cake flour (I used 00 flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbls plus 3/4 cup sugar
zest of 1 grapefruit
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon (I omitted the grapefruit and used the zest of two lemons)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

glaze
3/4 – 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbls. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (I used blood orange juice, that is what gave it the pink color) (Any citrus will work great!)

instructions:
• preheat oven to 350*.  using a paper towel, coat a 8″ round baking pan with olive oil, then sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar. set pan aside.

for the cake
• sift the flour, baking powder, and salt, twice.
• using your mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and the zests on high speed for 5 minutes, until the eggs thickened.
• add the vanilla, turn the mixer down to low speed and add the olive oil into the batter, pouring slowly along the edge of the bowl.
• add the flour and mix on low speed until incorporated.  pour into prepared pan.


• bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake is golden and has domed in the center.  cool to room temperature.
for the glaze
• sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl.  whisk in the grapefruit juice to combine.  pour over the cooled cake.

Wrapped in plastic wrap this cake will keep 2-3 days. :)

Packaged up to to deliver to Katie and Amy!

Poached Pears

Pears are my sons favorite fruit, and when they were on sale, I had bought a big bag of them, only for my husband to also bring home a big bag of them, so I decided to make something fun with all the pears I had!  I chose poached pears, since I had never made them before but they always look so delectable in photos.  The kids and I scarfed these down with vanilla ice cream (we had coconut milk ice cream) and they were delish!

Note: the recipe I used called for Bosc pears but I used Bartlett pears.  I think any pear variety would be great.

Poached Pears

Recipe courtesy Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • Zest of 1 lemon, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 8 Bosc pears (with stems), peeled and cored from bottom
  • Lemon sorbet, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine lemon zest, cinnamon stick, allspice, ground pepper, apple cider, and 1 cup water.
  2. Add pears. Cover with waxed paper to prevent discoloring. Bring to a simmer. Cook, turning pears occasionally, until easily pierced with the tip of a paring knife, but not falling apart, about 20 minutes. Remove pears from liquid; transfer to large bowl.
  3. Raise heat to high; boil cider mixture until reduced to a syrup, about 15 minutes. Discard cinnamon. Pour syrup over pears; refrigerate. To serve, slice off a sliver from the bottom of each pear (so it stands upright). Serve pears with lemon sorbet, if desired.

White Chocolate Popcorn (Halloween Themed)

Here is a quick throw together treat when your kids have friends coming over for a play date, or a just to make you smile treat.

Combine a bag of popped corn, 12 ounces of candy corn(about half a bag)(for Halloween version), and 6 ounces of melted white chocolate.  Mix until evenly coated.  Spread out on a baking sheet covered with wax paper.  Sprinkle with any sprinkles you might have.  I used Fall colored sprinkles today.   If you want it to look drizzled, reserve a spoonful of the melted white chocolate and drizzle over the top.

If you are making this popcorn another time of the year, you could use m&ms in place of the candy corn. :)

Cool for an hour, or until the chocolate has hardened. (I popped mine in the fridge for 10 minutes).  Break apart and serve.

Pumpkin Scones

We have had some cooler weather, which is so welcome after our 100 degree days.  I have been craving pumpkin scones, and decided to make them last minute, to have as an evening snack with some hot tea, windows open, cool air streaming in…..heaven.  Of course by the time I finished them, the sun was setting so I had to quickly photograph these pretties, before I lost my light!  After setting up dishes, my tea, napkins, etc, I found it far too distracting,  and decided in the end to go with a very simple approach: scones, parchment paper….and I liked it. :)

This recipe is the starbucks copy recipe, and they taste very similar indeed.  I modified it to make them dairy free, but will list the original recipe, with my modifications in orange.

Pumpkin Scones Ingredients :

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter (I used earths balance vegan margarine)
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half (I used soy creamer, you could also use almond milk or soy milk)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1 cup, plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch ginger
  • pinch ground cloves
  • How to make Pumpkin Scones :
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.
  • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Using a pastry knife, fork, or food processor, cut butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball.
  • Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle (about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide). Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

To make the plain glaze:

(NOTE: I made only one batch of icing, to make it easier on clean up :) .  After dipping my scones, I added the spices, then drizzled the (darker, spicier) icing on top.  I used a ziploc, with the corner snipped off) Below is the original recipe if you choose to make them separate:

  1. Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth. ( I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  2. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone. ( I made my icing slightly thicker and dipped the top of my scone in)

To make the spiced icing

Combine the ingredient for the spiced icing together. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.

Enjoy :)


Easy Homemade Ranch Dip (with dairy free and Vegan variations included)

I love Ranch dip for veggies, potato chips, and buffalo wings!  Here is a great homemade ranch that takes minutes to mix together, tastes so much better than the packaged kind, and is much healthier (without all the chemicals used in that very famous package).

I made my ranch dairy free, but I will start with the regular recipe, followed by the dairy free variation, and the Vegan variation. (I’ve got you all covered :) )

Easy Homemade Ranch Dip

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 tsp. dried chives (or 1 tsp fresh. minced)

1/2 tsp. dried parsley (or 1 tsp fresh, minced)

1/2 tsp. dried dill weed (or 1 tsp fresh, minced)

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/8 tsp celery salt (optional)

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (I like extra pepper!)

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl, and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, but the longer it sits, the better it tastes :) Will stay good in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.

If you want to thin it out to make a dressing for salad, you can do so with milk, until you reach the desired consistency, taste to see if you need to add additional salt. :)

Dairy free alternative:

Replace the sour cream with Tofutti brand imitation sour cream.  If you want to thin it out to make dressing, unsweetened almond milk or soy milk works well, taste to see if you need to add additional salt. :)

Vegan alternative: 

Replace the sour cream with Tofutti brand imitation sour cream.  Replace the mayonnaise with vegan mayonnaise.  If you want to thin it out to make dressing, unsweetened almond milk or soy milk works well, taste to see if you need to add additional salt. :)

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

Well, its September, and I start to crave pumpkin everything, and cooler weather!  I have been at it with the pumpkin already, which makes my son Caden ecstatic because he loves pumpkin anything. :) I found this recipe for Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins and decided that they would be perfect for today’s craving.

These muffins will wake up your fall senses, the smell of the cinnamon sugar, the beautiful color from the pumpkin, and the feeling you get when eating them with a hot cup of tea or coffee…

I altered the recipe to make these dairy free for myself, but will list the original recipe (which comes from Martha Stewart), and just include my substitutions in blue.

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

Adapted from “Everyday Food” (November 2010)

Makes 12 muffins

  • 3 CUPS ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR (SPOONED AND LEVELED), PLUS MORE FOR PAN
  • 2 1/2 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER
  • 1/4 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
  • 1 TEASPOON COARSE SALT
  • 1/2 TEASPOON GROUND NUTMEG
  • 1/4 TEASPOON GROUND ALLSPICE
  • 1/3 CUP BUTTERMILK (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1 1/4 CUPS PURE PUMPKIN PURÉE (FROM A 15-OUNCE CAN, NOT THE WHOLE THING!)
  • 1 3/4 STICKS UNSALTED BUTTER, ROOM TEMPERATURE (I used Whipped Earths Balance vegan margarine)
  • 3/4 CUP LIGHT BROWN SUGAR
  • 2 LARGE EGGS

Glaze:

  • 4 TABLESPOONS UNSALTED BUTTER, MELTED (USE 1 TO 2 TABLESPOONS IF JUST COATING THE TOPS)
  • 3/4 CUP GRANULATED SUGAR
  • 2 1/2 TEASPOONS CINNAMON
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups. ( I used paper liners, but if you want to coat the entire muffin with the cinnamon sugar, do not use liners.)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and buttermilk. Set aside.
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl as needed.
  6. With the mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.
  7. Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
  9. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with melted unsalted butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container, up to 1 day.



Banana Crumb Muffins

It’s summer time and our days are care free.  We didn’t have too much on the agenda today, and we had ripe bananas, so I asked my son if he wanted to bake banana muffins and he jumped at the chance.  I let him make them all by himself, while I watched over.  I have a great recipe that I have been using for years that I love.  It is simple, leaves the muffin tasting simply banana-y :) and has a crumb topping that makes the muffin special.

This recipe comes from allrecipes.com and yields about 12 muffins. :)  I included my substitutions in teal. If you are wanting to make these dairy free, use my substitutions.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted (I use 1/3 cup vegetable oil or extra light olive oil)
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon ( I always do 1 teaspoon) :)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (I use Whipped Earths Balance (vegan margarine))

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Quick and Easy Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

Today at Target, my daughter found a box mix for Pink Lemonade Cupcakes(Pilsbury brand) and wanted to make them (naturally!) so knowing I had some leftover Wilton buttercream (known as the decorator icing in the can, you can get it at Michaels, Joanns, and now WalMart) from her bday party, I decided to throw together a quick treat. Make the cupcakes according to the box instructions, let cool, and prepare the lemon frosting. Combine 1 can of buttercream with the zest of one lemon, and 1-2 teaspoons of pure lemon extract (I suggest starting with one, taste, and add the second if needed). Frost and add yellow colored sugar sprinkles if desired.  Voila, and these are really yummy!!

Layer Bars (Vegan)

This is a recipe that comes from chef Chloe Cascarelli, and she calls them beach cookies.  They are just like the layer bars, or some know them as magic bars that we all ate growing up.  I decided to make this vegan version for a dad that I carpool with, who is vegan, as a thank you for putting up with my kids this year, and I assure you, this is no easy task and deserves more than these vegan layer bars. :)

These bars are decadent and satisfy your sweet craving.  Serve with a cold glass of almond milk and you will be in heaven. ;)

I made a few slight variations to this recipe, and I will write those in blue.

Beach Cookies

by Chloe Cascarelli

Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegan margarine, melted
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I buy Health Valley Graham Crackers and pulse them into fine crumbs in the food processor. Feel free to do this with any vegan graham cracker or wafer cookie.)
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring
  • ¼ cup agave or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot
  • 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
  • Procedure

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    Pour margarine into a 9- x13-inch baking pan. (I used a 9 by 9 pan for thicker bars)Swirl the margarine around until the bottom of the pan is completely coated. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly into the pan until the bottom of the pan is completely coated in crumbs. Pat down lightly with your hands. (I mixed the Earths balance(vegan margarine) with the graham cracker crumbs , and then pat it down into the pan)

    In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, agave, vanilla, salt, and cornstarch. Drizzle this mixture evenly over the graham cracker layer. Sprinkle the shredded coconut into the pan, then layer chocolate chips and walnuts. With the palm of your hand, gently pat the top of the cookie pan so that the chocolate chips cement into the rest of the cookie.

    Bake for 20-30 minutes (mine baked for 30 since I had thicker bars), or until center looks thick and slightly bubbly with lightly browned edges. Let cool, and then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Using a sharp knife, cut into bar cookies. The textures and flavors of this cookie really work best after refrigeration.

    Here is a link to Chloe’s website, she has some great vegan recipes if you are interested, as well as a highly rated cookbook. :)

    http://chefchloe.com/

Salsa!

Chips and salsa is a favorite snack in my house.  My husband and I love to eat it at night while watching TV.  I have always made it by dumping a bunch of ingredients in my food processor and pulsing a few times, but I wanted to find a recipe that I could use to share with you all that is similar to the style that we enjoy in my house.  I came across the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, which is very similar to my method and ingredients, and so I will share that with you, with my minor tweaks.

Restaurant Style Salsa

recipe adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice
  • 2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies) (one mild, one regular)
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Onion
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (or more, if you prefer)
  • Juice of half of a lime

Preparation Instructions

Pioneer Woman says “Note: this is a very large batch. Recommend using a 12-cup food processor, or you can process the ingredients in batches and then mix everything together in a large mixing bowl.”

I used my mini chopper, and just did it in batches, emptying it into a large bowl, and stirring after adding each batch.  You can also use a blender.  It will incorporate more air, but that will settle after refrigeration.

This salsa will be medium if you follow the ingredients above.  If you want mild, remove the membrane and seeds in the jalapeno before chopping and you could even use both cans of Rotel mild, instead of 1 regular, and 1 mild.  If you like it HOT, you can use two cans regular, or even two cans HOT Rotel (They make mild, regular, and HOT Rotel).

Combine all ingredients in your food processor or blender.  Pulse several times (I pulsed mine 12 times) until you reach the consistency you like.

Refrigerate, serve with chips!

This will keep in the fridge for a few days!