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Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Archive for ‘June, 2013’

These cupcakes are delicious and because of their all-white coloring and coconut topping (which looks like confetti), they are perfect for a special celebration (birthday party, baby shower, engagement party, Easter, etc.)  They are always a hit.  I did learn a lesson while making these once though.  While making my batter, I was cracking the eggs directly into the bowl, and I got a little shell in there.  For the life of me, I could not fish it out.  I just continued on, forgetting all about it… My husband ended up bringing in some cupcakes to work (so we didn’t end up eating all of them ourselves) and later that day, his future boss appeared at his door.  He said he really enjoyed the taste of the cupcakes, but next time would prefer them with no egg shell.  I was pretty mortified when this got relayed to me!  Ever since then, I’ve taken the time to crack my eggs into their own little bowl before adding them to my mixture!

Note: if you don’t like the taste of almond extract (I don’t), you can substitute with more vanilla extract.

Coconut Cupcake

Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten.

Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:

1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

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This is a very flavorful lentil salad if you are looking for something different…

Spicy Red Lentils

Recipe from Mayo Clinic.

Spicy Red Lentils

This Moroccan-style dish is quick to assemble. Serve it as a side dish with roasted meats or fish. In larger portions, it also makes a satisfying main course.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Serves 6.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried red lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Directions

In a saucepan over high heat, combine the lentils, water, bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially and simmer until the lentils are tender but still firm, 12 to 14 minutes. Drain and discard the bay leaf. Set aside.

In a small frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chili and garlic and saute until softened, about 1 minute. Add the cumin, coriander and cinnamon and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the lentils and the spice mixture. Toss gently to mix. Stir in the parsley, cilantro and mint and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Stir in the vinegar and serve immediately.

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I am obsessed with this salad dressing.  My whole family is.  Once you get all of the ingredients, it’s not hard to make and it keeps in the fridge for a week.  We love it on top of mixed greens and my boys love it as a dipping sauce for raw veggies (peppers, carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocados).  I’ve even tossed it into some leftover quinoa.  It’s good on everything!  This was the first recipe I tried from Gwyneth’s cookbook “It’s All Good” and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Dressing

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good“.

Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Makes 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons sweet white miso paste

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons light raw honey or xylitol (I just used regular honey)

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Purée everything together in a powerful blender until absolutely smooth.

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I love this simple arugula salad – the peppery arugula, the nuttiness from the toasted pine nuts, and the zing from the sherry vinegar make a nice combination.  This is great served with a grilled cheese or pizza!

Arugula Salad

Arugula Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

Arugula, washed and patted dry

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (good quality)

Sea salt flakes (Maldon)

Directions:

Toast the pine nuts in toaster oven for 2 minutes or until lightly browned (be careful not to burn!)  Set aside to cool.  In a small bowl prepare sherry vinaigrette: combine 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and a pinch of sea salt flakes; whisk in 2 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Grab three handfuls of arugula and toss into a medium mixing bowl.  Add pine nuts and as much sherry vinaigrette as you desire.  Toss and season to taste with more salt, if needed.

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I’m always looking for yummy cauliflower recipes since it’s so good for you (filled with nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, and cancer-preventing potential).  I hated cauliflower growing up (I think it was just steamed with little to no seasoning – blech!)  Now I do love it, roasted or puréed.  This is a tasty recipe, but next time I might lower the cooking temp from 425 to 400 degrees (as you can see, my florets got pretty charred!)

Parm Roasted Cauliflower

Recipe from Bon Appetit.

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

1 medium onion, sliced

4 thyme sprigs

4 unpeeled garlic cloves

3 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425°. Cut 1 head cauliflower into florets; toss on a large rimmed baking sheet with 1 sliced medium onion, 4 thyme sprigs, 4 unpeeled garlic cloves, and 3 tablespoons olive oil; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, 35-40 minutes. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, toss to combine, and roast until cauliflower is tender, 10-12 minutes longer.

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This is a different take on carrots as your vegetable!  Very colorful and delicious with Asian flavors and can be made ahead!

Carrots with Black Sesame & Ginger

Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook “It’s All Good

Carrots with Black Sesame + Ginger

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger

4 large carrots cut into matchsticks (about 4 cups)

Coarse sea salt

A couple of drops of hot toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce or Tamari

1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet set over high heat.  Add the ginger and cook, stirring it into the oil, until it becomes fragrant, just 30 seconds or so.  Add the carrots and stir to combine them with the gingery oil.  Add a big pinch of salt and 1/4 cup of water and turn the heat down to medium-high.  Cook until the carrots just begin to soften and the water evaporates, 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds and serve.

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