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Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake

It’s back!

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Happy HalloLaborDay! ūüéÉ

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Candy Corn is back in your local grocery store folks! You only have 60 days to enjoy this treat so don’t delay. I don’t know about you but my Labor Day was filled¬†with super sweet waxy triangles of awesomeness. So what if it felt like I was cheating on the holiday. We’re just friends I promise.

I figure if Candy Corn is back in stores then fall is just around the corner. And since it’s still 96 degrees outside and probably will be for the foreseeable future, I’ve thrown out all rules about when you should or shouldn’t make¬†traditionally seasonal foods.

Truth is, I found rhubarb at the store last week and I couldn’t not buy it. Yes, I realize this stuff grows in ditches back in the Midwest but I can’t find it for the life of me down here so I have to take advantage when I get the chance. I was a little skeptical, having paid way too much for a pound of it, sure that it would taste like crap and not live up to my grandmother’s recipe, but man was I wrong.

So in honor of fall, candy corn and everything football, I figured this recipe deserved another share. Do me a favor and find some locally grown rhubarb though. I’d hate for you to make a scene in the grocery store like I did when you finally spot some of the fresh stuff.

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Grandma’s Rhubarb Cake

  • 2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 C flour (plus 1 tsp more for pan)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 C buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 C rhubarb, chopped

Cinnamon Sugar Topping

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, cream sugar and shortening together. Add egg and vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk flour and salt.

Gradually add flour and buttermilk, alternating once each is combined.

With a spatula, fold in chopped rhubarb.

In a prep bowl, whisk cinnamon and sugar. Pour over cake and tap until covered. Remove excess if necessary.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a knife comes out clean in the center. Let cool.

Serve with coffee in the morning, a mid-day snack or dessert in the evening.

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Honey Cornbread Muffins

I learned an important lesson this week while making cornbread muffins.

Don’t over-think things. Simple is best.

Who says the best lessons aren’t learned while baking anyways?

A few weeks ago I made a cornbread crumb cake that was delicious albeit a little time-consuming.

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And yesterday I cooked up¬†a batch of vegetarian chili¬†and was looking for a quick corn muffin recipe to go along with it. Let’s avoid getting into the details as to why I felt the need to make chili when it was 96 degrees outside and focus on¬†the fact I discovered a quick and simple¬†corn muffin recipe in the process, shall we?

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I scanned several recipes, knowing I didn’t want to mess with anything vegan, jalapeno or healthy on this particular day when I settled on this one. Wouldn’t you know it turned out way better than my other more complicated attempts and it took half the time.

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Honey Cornbread Muffins

-adapted from The Neely’s¬†via Food Network. Makes 6 muffins. Double recipe for 12.¬†

  • 1/2 C¬†cornmeal
  • 1/2 C¬†flour
  • 1/2 TBL¬†baking powder
  • 1/4¬†C¬†sugar
  • 1/2 tsp¬†salt
  • 1/2 C¬†milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 stick butter, melted
  • 2 TBL cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In a liquid measure, whisk melted butter, egg, milk and honey.

Add wet ingredients into wet and stir until just combined.

Fill silicone baking cups or paper-lined tins 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with butter or extra honey.

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Enjoy!

 

Panzanella Salad

Considering I’m a true adult now and all, I figured I should start expanding my salad repertoire and get a little fancier.

Just kidding. I just had some rock hard bread that I didn’t want to go to waste.

Truth is I love carbs as much as the next runner gearing up for a big race, but when it comes to my salad, I’d rather have a side of bread to accompany it than to have it mixed in. But this. This crunchy, grainy goodness is worth a try.

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Panzanella Salad

  • 1 C mixed greens (arugula, spinach, etc)
  • 2 C cubed day old¬†bread (I used half of a loaf of Trader Joe’s multigrain ciabatta)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 C cucumber, sliced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 TBL feta cheese
  • 2 TBL thinly sliced red onion

Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp¬†spicy brown mustard
  • 2 TBL champagne or cider vinegar
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced (can sub garlic powder)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a large bowl, combine mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil and feta. Set aside.

In a skillet or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bread cubes and toss until crispy and brown.

Whisk vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Toss all ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes or so to let flavors combine.

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A great lunch for a warm summer day. Enjoy!

Banana Crumb Muffins

If you’ve been reading my recipe posts as of late, you’ll know that I’ve been doing everything in my power to avoid turning on my oven this summer. With the exception of this ombre birthday cake for Matt’s birthday, I have stuck with no-cook or grilling meals to combat the summer heat.

When Rizzi from the New York Baking Company asked me to review their silicone baking cups, my first thought was, oh crap I actually have to turn on my oven for this. Just kidding. A paper muffin liner user for life, I was excited to see how these colorful creations handled the heat. See what I did there?

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My first inclination was cupcakes. After all, these cups are pretty colorful and would look great for a kid’s birthday party or some other colorful event. After a decently long internal dialogue about delivery and recovery issues if I were to bring these potential cupcakes somewhere to share, I decided muffins might make the best first attempt since I could remove the cups before serving.

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I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical at first. These silicone baking cups didn’t¬†have the bake-eat-and-toss feature that my paper or foil liners did. What if they didn’t look good with the type of muffin I wanted to make? Or they clashed with the cupcake icing I was hoping to create? Yes, I do realize these thoughts are completely first-world in nature, but I’m just being honest.

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So I went with my trusted banana crumb muffin that started as a bread recipe, knowing I could best judge the texture having eating one or twenty in the past.

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Banana Crumb Muffins

  • 3-4 overripe bananas
  • 1/3 C melted unsalted butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 C Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 C Flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Crumb topping

  • 2 TBL flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 C oats
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/3 C brown sugar

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer, cream melted butter and sugar together. Add egg until combined. Add bananas and vanilla and mix until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk flours, baking soda and salt together.

Add dry ingredients into wet one cup at a time, being careful not to overmix.

Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. I have a hot oven (hotter than most) and noticed mine were done closer to 16 minutes in.

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It wasn’t until I pulled these out of the oven that I started to see the opportunities. Yes you would need to keep track of them, but if you bought another¬†set, these cups could be perfect for Illini tailgates¬†(or Gator ones I suppose) and the other colors could be coordinated based on holidays or events. They do make a basic muffin really pop don’t they?

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My only issue was I had a little too much batter leftover after 12 muffins and only one set of silicone cups. Typically I would just grab an extra paper liner or two, but in this case I dumped the rest. Don’t feel bad, it was barely enough for one more muffin.

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Compact, BPA free, dishwasher-safe and a great gift idea, you can get your own silicone baking cups on Amazon.

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Have a great weekend. I’m counting down the hours until my mom and sister come to visit. Eeek!

 

Currently I’m…

In the middle of a full-on middle school crush with¬†The Mindy Project.¬†It’s been about 4 years since I had sophisticated TV equipment so I’m on technology overload as of late. How did I go so long without this show in my life and why can’t all OB/GYNs be that funny?

Finding it hard to concentrate on much else besides my trip to Chicago this weekend. Don’t get me wrong Florida is sunshine and blazing hot temps and all but I can’t wait to get back to the city and catch up with my friends and celebrate their offspring. After this past¬†winter, I feel like I’m entitled to¬†enjoying above freezing temps with the people I suffered alongside.

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Wondering how my dog is more proficient in yoga poses than I am. Here I am¬†practicing three times a week in a studio and all I have to do is pull out the vacuum for him to do a perfect downward dog.¬†I’m¬†going to see if my teacher will let us try out the “twisted swissy” next class.

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Really starting to feel my age. According to this Health survey, my true¬†age is only 25.6, but if you ask my joints, I’m feeling a wee bit older than that. It seems fitting though, to start a glucosamine supplement just a week before your 30th birthday, doesn’t it?

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Really wishing I wouldn’t have thrown away the rest of Matt’s birthday cake last week.

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Willing to grill just about anything if it means avoiding using my stove these days. Last night we did an entire meal on the grill and I’m not upset about it. Not one bit. We even swapped out a salad for grilled romaine just to keep it simple. Just kidding, we did it because I was too lazy to chop up the other ingredients.

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Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri

  • 1¬†C¬†parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 C cilantro, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 tsp¬†oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 C¬†olive oil (I kept mine more acidic than oily)
  • 4¬†TBL¬†fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 TBL water (if needed)

Place all ingredients except oil and water into a food processor. Add oil slowly until it reaches pesto consistency. Since we were originally planning on using this as a steak marinade, I made it lighter on the oil. Good news, it’s great on shrimp too.

Peel and devein uncooked shrimp and place on a metal skewer. Heat grill to medium. Baste chimichurri on shrimp towards the end of the cooking process.

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We got two uses out of this batch. The first night for shrimp and whitefish tostadas and the second for skirt steak and shrimp the next night.

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And in celebrating for Matt’s trip to Mexico we washed them down with a two-ingredient margarita I hacked up just before we sat down. Still on that lazy cooking kick if you can’t tell.

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Two-ingredient Margarita

  • La Croix Lime
  • Tequila
  • Fresh Lime juice
  • Honey or agave
  • Salt

OK so I lied about the two ingredient part but in reality you can just make this with tequila and La Croix. The fresh lime juice and sweetener just helps it taste a little more traditional. The key here is using a good tequila. The stuff so good it doesn’t even taste like tequila, tequila.

I get bored talking to myself all the time. What are you currently into?

Have a great day!

Tabbouleh Salad and Sangria

Before I share with you a super easy salad recipe that goes great with blazing hot weather, I want to give you a quick rundown of some observations from the weekend.

Bridge runs are for the birds

On Saturday mornings, we like to take Finn down to a park along Sarasota Bay where he can play with other pups, swim and run around for the 15 minutes it takes him to be completely exhausted and ready for a nap.

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ūüé∂down by the bayūüé∂

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If I’m not rolling solo, Matt and I like to take turns going up to the Ringling Bridge and running it for a quick and ridiculously exhausting workout. I thought the humidity and heat would be the toughest part about running in Florida but bridge running¬†in hot and humid temps might just be my worst nightmare. So if you’re looking for a quick workout, go find a long bridge and run across it.

Not all movie theaters have two entrances.

Matt and I went to see Tammy this weekend and after arriving at the show during the previews we were faced with the dilemma of choosing which side of the theater to¬†enter and find a seat. We hesitated briefly and both decided left would be the way to go. As Matt so eloquently pointed out,¬†“All of America goes right.” So we opened the door to the left and walked into a utility closet.¬†We laughed. Harder than we did for most of the movie so go ahead and save your $10 and wait until it comes out on DVD.

Ice Deli should exist in every city that I live. 

Need I say more?

Summer is meant for cold salads.

After making and eating Matt’s birthday cake all week, I’ve been sort of lazy on the cooking front. Loads of butter will do that to a girl. And whenever I’m feeling lazy as a cook I make a big batch of quinoa or other grain salad and eat it for every meal until it’s gone. You should, too.

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Tabbouleh (bulgur) salad

  • ¬†3 Cups cooked bulgur (I use the 10-minute bulgur from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 C tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 C cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 C red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C celery, chopped
  • 2-3 TBL crumbled feta
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Parsley, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice
  • salt/pepper

Cook bulgur according to package directions. Let cool.

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Chop vegetables. Add to bulgur once it is cool. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

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Eat it straight from the bowl, put it on a bed of spinach with a little balsamic vinegar or serve it with a piece of fish for a complete meal.

And while we’re on the lazy front, I was messing around this evening and tested out a two ingredient sangria recipe for you. It was pretty tough. It took me about 30 seconds to pull a bottle of merlot out of the fridge and consider what would happen if I poured some San Pellegrino Limonata into it. By golly it worked. Chop up some apples and you have an individual serving of a decent sangria on your hands.

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Two recipes so easy you’ll have no excuse to cook this week.

Lessons in layer cake

Some of you may remember when I made my first attempt at an ombré cake back in March for my
Mom’s birthday.

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It wasn’t a complete flop but I rushed through it, failing to execute the preschool-mastered skill of color order. Yes, it still tasted good and fit in¬†with the whole St. Patrick’s day theme that weekend, but I knew I’d need to try it again when I could devote the time and patience it took to not screw it up.

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So in celebration of Matt’s birthday this week I decided to give it another shot.

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My first tip with making this cake is to do it on a Sunday afternoon when you have no commitments other than careful measuring and wait time. If you’re anything like me, you often try to multitask when you cook and bake.

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This is not the cake to do that with. This layer cake is a special occasion type of cake because it is equal parts time-consuming and indulgent. From the cake to the buttercream icing, there’s no shortage of butter and that’s a good thing. Throw out your paleo/whole/vegan/healthy eating plan for enough time to eat a slice. You can thank me later.

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Ombre layer cake 

  • 1 1/2¬†C¬†unsalted butter, softened (can substitute 1/2 C vegetable shortening if you want)
  • 3 C¬†sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 C¬†flour (sifted)
  • 2 tsp¬†baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 C¬†whole milk
  • 1/2 C buttermilk
  • 2 tsp¬†vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Ideally this is the time to grease and flour all four of your cake¬†pans. Oh you don’t have four cake pans? Me neither. Grease and flour two of them and set aside.

In a stand mixer, whip butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar 1 cup at a time. Add eggs one at a time until each is combined.

In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.

In a liquid measure, combine milk, buttermilk and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients into wet one cup at a time, alternating between milk mixture and flour. Try not to overmix.

Place four medium bowls out on your counter. Divide batter into each bowl evenly. For me it was just under 2 cups of batter per bowl. Add no food coloring to the first bowl. I like to use gel food coloring as I find it’s a little more accurate. ¬†Add one toothpick of color into the¬†second bowl and mix until combined. Two for the next and closer to four for the final one. The key here is to only mix the batter until the color is combined as the colored layers already tend to be a little tougher than those that aren’t.

Need another photo to take a break from the instructions? Me too.

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Once your layers are colored, pour the first two into your two baking pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. These layers are thin so they will cook relatively quick.

Remove from oven and let cool on rack for 5-10 minutes. Add a layer of parchment or wax paper to your rack before you flip them out of the pan to make turning easier for you when they are cool. Trust me it helps. Wash and dry your pans to bring them back to room temperature before you bake your other two layers.

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Once your second batch is out of the oven and cooling you can start on your buttercream icing. This stuff is indulgent so I usually keep it pretty thin. That being said both times I’ve made this cake I’ve had to make extra buttercream icing to get it covered so go ahead and make a bunch.

Buttercream Icing

  • 3-4 C powdered sugar (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 C unsalted butter
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 3-4 TBL whipping cream

Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl. Cream butter in a stand mixer and add powdered sugar slowly so as not to go all King James on your kitchen. Add vanilla and cream and whip it until peaks form. Refrigerate it until you are ready to ice the cake.

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Once your layers are cool, wrap each of them in plastic wrap and freeze them for a few minutes. this will make the icing process much easier.

When you are ready to ice your cake, check your layer order several times before you place them on your cake stand. Trust me. The two middle layers look a lot a like and can be very deceiving. Do a rough ice and then finish it off with, you guess it, more buttercream.

I like to keep this cake in the fridge between servings because let’s face it, it’s going to take you at least a week to eat it all. Offer it up to friends or strangers that you just met. Everybody loves a good layer cake.

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Summer meal planning

Oh hey there. Me again.

I’ve been meaning to share our meal plan this week¬†with you but apparently I can only get my stuff together to make one of them happen at a time.¬†Now don’t assume I’m a super planner who writes down her weekday meals every Sunday or anything. I want to be that girl I really do, but in reality I’m more of an I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and we should try it tonight type of girl. To make things a little more complicated, I’ve also been known to avoid running¬†to the store last-minute for things¬†that a recipe calls for. If I can substitute or wing it and avoid the trip, I will. Even if the grocery store is 2 minutes away.

But enough about my grocery issues. Here’s what our meal plan looked like this week:

Monday-Black Bean Burgers with a Kale and Kiwi salad
Tuesday-Sun-dried tomato chicken tenders and heirloom tomato salad
Wednesday-Crock-pot Pulled Pork and peach relish
Thursday-Sweet & Sour Chicken and Broccoli
Friday-BLT pizza and spinach salad (actual- fresh oysters and lobster bake at our local seafood spot)

So let’s talk about Monday’s Black Bean Burgers today. These are rich enough in flavor that even a beef lover can enjoy them. And I say that because I like beef but I really like these burgers too.

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Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 15 oz¬†can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 C¬†onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C spinach (I was out of cilantro)
  • 1 TBL garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 C panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg

In a large mixing bowl, mash black beans with a fork. Add onion, spinach, garlic, soy sauce, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs. Make a small hole in mixture for egg. Whip egg and blend it into bean mixture.

Divide into 4-5 patties and grill for 4-6 minutes on each side on medium heat or until crispy. Note: these can fall apart easily so be careful if you are using a grill or cook on a pan in the oven at 425 degrees for 8-11 minutes.

Sriracha Aioli

  • 1/4 C light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice

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Serve on whole wheat hamburger buns and garnish with a dollop of sriracha aioli and a kale salad with kiwi, blueberries and a white balsamic vinaigrette.

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Cornbread Cake Crumble

Man I love subject lines chock full of alliteration. Can you blame me? It perfectly sums up what this recipe is; a mix of cornbread, cake and an awesome crumble on top.

And as much as I love alliteration, I love cornbread even more. Just don’t tell my good friend almond butter. I’m not sure love even covers my feelings on a good batch¬†of cornbread. Adoration perhaps. Addiction probably. There may or may not have been an occasion where I single-handily devoured an entire basket of jalapeno cornbread in a suite at a NASCAR race a few years ago.

It’s probably because we’ve lived in the south for so long that I developed this fondness for cornbread. Just kidding. It’s a direct result of the countless visits my grandmother took my cousins and I on¬†to good Old Country Buffet when we were little. And if they didn’t have cornbread, I opted for a cinnamon roll to go with my mac n’ cheese and orange drink right before I let my cousins tell me¬†how to spend my $20 at the Toys “R” Us next door, likely in an altered state from the spike in glucose.

Those. Were. The. Days.

I saw this recipe from the How Sweet It Is¬†blog a few weeks ago on Instagram and I just couldn’t get it out of my head. Oh come on, you know you get hangry¬†when you see all those food pictures on Instagram, too. If you ask me, there is no reason why likes¬†or comments shouldn’t¬†come with free samples. Just sayin’.

So as with most things I can’t get out of my head, I finally decided to try it. Don’t hate me ’cause I made it. Hate me because I haven’t figured out how to ship the free samples yet.

cornbread_cake_crumble

Cornbread Cake Crumble

  • 1 1/2 C¬†flour
  • 1 C¬†cornmeal
  • 3/4 C¬†sugar
  • 3 tsp¬†baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher¬†salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 1 TBL¬†+ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C¬†unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a spring-form pan with parchment paper. I typically trace the bottom of my pan with a knife over the parchment (and on a cutting board) so I have a circle for the bottom. Spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Add melted butter and stir until just combined.

In a liquid measure blend eggs, milk and vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to dry and stir to blend. Pour batter into pan.

crumb topping

  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/3 C¬†brown sugar
  • 1/3 C¬†sugar
  • 1/4 tsp¬†cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp¬†salt
  • 1/2 C¬†unsalted butter, melted

In a separate bowl, whisk¬†flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Add melted butter and mix until crumbly. I realize this seems like an abundance of crumb topping. I hesitated too, but it’s worth it. Trust me.

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Top batter with crumb topping. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife comes out of the center clean.

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I ran out of tomatoes so I couldn’t try the candied tomatoes that came with the recipe, but I will tell you that a healthy dose of honey is like heaven on a piece of this, too.

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Not too sweet. Not too savory. A combination confusing enough that you will be able to justify this cornbread cake crumble at nearly every meal.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Turkey Flatbread

I don’t like to toot my own horn but over the years I’ve learned to make a pretty mean turkey burger.

Toot. Toot.

And so on my weekly (ok maybe more than weekly) Target trip I bought a pound of ground turkey with plans of making burgers.

But then I saw this recipe from Little Leopard Book using Turkey in a way I had never tried before and thought.

I have turkey. 

I like hot sauce. 

And so our turkey burgers turned in to turkey flatbreads and the rest is history. I think I may just start mixing buffalo sauce with all of my dishes because well, I like hot sauce. You should too. All too often everything buffalo is with chicken. Using turkey gives you a richer flavor and is a nice change of pace.

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Buffalo Turkey Flatbread

  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 1/2 C chopped celery
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/4¬†tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 C Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce
  • 2-3 TBL light blue cheese dressing
  • 2 pieces Naan or other flatbread
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • parsley or cilantro

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil.

Add celery and onion and cook for until onions are no longer opaque. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

Add ground turkey. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add buffalo sauce.

Reduce heat and simmer.

While sauce is simmering, heat grill to medium.

Cook one side of naan pieces until browned.

Depending on the size of your flatbread, lightly dress the grilled side of naan with blue cheese dressing. Add turkey mixture on top of dressing. Add a few blue cheese crumbles then return the flatbread to the grill. Cook until cheese is bubbly and bottom crispy.

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Garnish with parsley or cilantro, slice and serve it up with your favorite summer beer!

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Thanks to Little Leopard Book for the inspiration. Otherwise we would have been stuck with turkey burgers again. Not that there’s anything wrong with my turkey burgers.

Enjoy!