Almond Nectarine Muffins


Good morning– Made these sweet muffins on a Saturday morning, when Paige dropped in for coffee and talk. She’s a darling young woman–we talked about work and plans and life’s ups and downs.  Amazing girl.

And the muffins were yummy warm from the oven– love baking with peaches/nectarines.  Seems like they are in season such a short time– they taste like summer!

ALMOND NECTARINE MUFFINS

Streusel:
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 tab. butter
1/4 cup almonds

Muffins:
1 medium nectarine
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tab. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. amaretto (or almond extract)*
1/2 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
1  1/2 cup flour
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Make the streusel first.  Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut in the butter with a pastry blender of two forks until it looks crumbly.  Stir in the almonds.  Set aside for now.

Cut the nectarine into small bits (no need to peel).  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the oil, white sugar, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, amaretto and sour cream.  Then mix in the four, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Finally stir in the cut up nectarine bits.

Spoon the batter into a muffin pan lined with muffin papers.  Makes 12.  Sprinkle the streusel over the muffins and pop them in to 375 degree oven for 20 to 22 minutes– until the are slightly browned and firm to the touch.  Wonderful hot from the oven with a little smear of butter!

Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Couscous


Hello everyone– This recipe started with a cookbook from the library shelves and a big bundle of cilantro.  I picked up Half Baked Harvest from the new book shelves at the library.  It’s beautiful.  I started to bookmark things I’d like to make and it’s pretty much every recipe!

And then my dear buddy Janet showed up at my door with a huge bouquet of cilantro from her garden and this recipe from the book came to mind.

It’s spicy and so flavorful.  Easy–since Larry is the one who cooks it on the grill!  And the couscous is moist and crunchy and a little sweet from the apricots.  I think you’d really like it…

MOROCCAN SPICED CHICKEN WITH COUSCOUS

Chicken:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. powdered ginger
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tab. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Couscous:
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 cup couscous
2 tab. olive oil
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped to bits
1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish:
cilantro sprigs
lemon slices

In a zip loc bag, combine the garlic, ginger, 2 tab. chopped cilantro, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon zest and juice.  Squish the bag until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Cut the chicken to skewer size pieces and add to the bag.  Zip it and squish the bag until the chicken is all coated.  Let the chicken marinate in the spices at least an hour up to 10 hours.

Thread the chicken onto 2 or 3 skewers.

Just before you grill the chicken, make the couscous.  Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a sauce pan.  Remove from the heat and add the couscous.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the oil, apricots, almonds and 1/4 cup cilantro.  Cover to keep warm while you grill the chicken.

Grill the chicken 10 to 12 minutes until the outside is charred and the chicken is cooked through.

On a pretty platter spread the couscous and top with the chicken skewers.  Garnish with cilantro pirgs and lemon slices.

Almond Mocha Brownies


Hey all- Do you have an absolute favorite flavor of ice cream??  Mine is Jamocha Almond Fudge.  I usually  intend to try a different flavor, but when it comes down to it, I pretty much always end up with JAF.

So here is the best ice cream translated into brownies–  Mocha flavored brownies topped with rich creamy almond studded cream cheese frosting.  I’m embarrassed to say how many of these I ate!

ALMOND MOCHA BROWNIES

Brownies:
1 family size brownie mix (for a 9″x 13″ pan size)
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tab. instant coffee (about one small instant coffee packet)

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter, melted (1/2 stick)
2 tab. unsweetened cocoa*
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 box)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tab. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whole roasted almonds, cut in half

Mix up the brownies according to the instructions on the box (mine used 1/2 cup oil, 1/3 cup water and 2 eggs).  Stir in the instant coffee until it’s all blended in.

Spoon the brownie batter into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let the brownies cool before you add the frosting.

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to combine the melted butter and the unsweetened cocoa.  Then use the mixer to beat in the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.  (Start the mixer on low so you don’t send all the powdered sugar flying!)

Then stir in the almonds and spoon the frosting over the cooled brownies.  Enjoy!

*I like Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Cocoa

Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies

Hello Cookie Eating Friends–  You know there are some foods that just belong together– peanut butter & jelly,  peaches & cream,  bacon & eggs…  What’s your favorite pair??  Mine is chocolate & almonds!  When the occasional box of See’s candy comes in our door, I search the box for the little mound of perfectly chocolate coated almonds.  Heavenly!

So here’s a great little chocolatey almond cookie.  I made a big batch for an evening with friends and am sorry to say I ate almost I ate almost all the leftover cookies!!  Not too sweet, rich and buttery.  I think you’d like them as much as I do!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP ALMOND COOKIES
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature*
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tab. amaretto** (or vanilla)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup mini chocolate chips

With an electric mixer (start on low so ingredients don’t fly out of the bowl!), beat together the softened butter, powdered sugar, amaretto, flour and salt– until it is a bowl of coarse crumbs.  Be patient.  It takes 3 or 4 minutes to combine the butter and flour.

Then add in the almonds and mini chocolate chips and beat it with the electric mixer until the dough all sticks together.

Spread a thin layer of flour on the counter and roll out the dough until it is about 1/4″ thick.  If it sticks to the rolling pin, flour a tiny bit on top as well.

Use your favorite cookie cutter shape to cut them out and lay them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 350 degrees for 12 to 13 minutes until they are golden around the edges. Enjoy!!

*If you’re pulling it out of the fridge (like I did), just give the butter 15 seconds in the microwave.
**I use amaretto because it gives the almond flavor, but at a fraction of the cost of almond extract.  The recipe I worked from used vanilla instead, so that would be great too!

Muesli (with yogurt & cherries)

Hi friends– The first time I met muesli was on a road trip with our kids years ago when we lived in Spain.  Some friends in Austria offered to let us stay in their apartment while they were away– as long as we would feed their rabbit and feel free to help ourselves to anything.  That’s where we found the muesli– in their kitchen cupboard!  And loved it from the start.

So here’s my current version, sweetened with maple syrup and full of lovely crunch.  With yogurt and summer cherries, it’s perfect!

MUESLI (WITH YOGURT & CHERRIES)
3 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup sliced almonds
2/3 cup coconut
2 tab. sesame seeds
3 tab. olive oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp. sea salt*
also– serve with yogurt & fruit (like cherries!)

Stir together all the ingredients in a mixing bowl until the oats are thoroughly coasted.  Spread the muesli evenly onto two baking sheets that have been lined with foil.

Bake the muesli at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, taking it out mid-way to stir it up and spread it back out over the pans.  Let it cool and then heap it onto a bowl of yogurt & fruit!

Mandarin Pomegranate Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

 

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Hi all–  A couple weeks ago we had friends in for a wintery night dinner.  There was honey crusted pork loin, wild rice and Brussel spouts– and this bright sweet salad to start us off.

The real hit of the evening was after dinner, when our friend Mark pulled out his little bag of tricks and did an amazing magic show!  How did the nine of hearts jump from that stack of cards to the other?? Or the coin go right through the table??  You had us totally mystified Mark.

MANDARIN POMEGRANATE SALAD WITH POPPY SEED DRESSING

Salad:
4 cups of your favorite greens*
3 mandarin oranges
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1 avocado, cut to neat chunks
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. orange vinegar**
2 tab. honey
1 tab. poppy seeds
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Peel and break the mandarin oranges into neat segments.  Then layer the greens, mandarin segements, pomegranate seeds, avocado and almonds onto a pretty platter.

In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds. salt & pepper until they are thoroughly blended.  Pour over the salad when you are ready to serve it up.

*I used baby arugula– spinach, green leaf lettuce, bib lettuce are all great.
** Love love Trader Joe’s Orange Champagne Vinegar, but red wine vinegar or tarragon vinegar would be terrific too.

 

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Pork & Butternut Squash in Maple Glaze

 

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Hi all-  My sis Lulu and I were snooping around the mall and wandered into the William Sonoma store (one of our favorite window shopping stops).  The clerk there was giving out sample of stewed chicken and veggies cooked in their bottled maple bourbon sauce.  It was delish– and set me to thinking about dinner at home.

So I chunked up a pork loin and roasted squash to stir up in my own simple version of a maple glaze.  It turned out just fine– enjoyed it with my sister and her husband sitting at the table with us.  That makes every meal good!

PORK & BUTTERNUT SQUASH IN MAPLE GLAZE
1 1/2 pound (or a little more) pork loin
3 tab. olive oil
1 small butternut squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds)
1/2 cup red or yellow bell pepper, chopped to small bits
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 green onions, cut to bits-green part only

sauce:
3/4 cup water
3 tab. soy sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tab. cornstarch

Cut the butternut squash in two halves the long way, and scoop out the seeds the stringy part of the squash.  Put it cut side down on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until the the squash is tender and slices easily with a paring knife. When it cools a bit, peel off the skin with a knife and cut it into small chunks.

To get the sauce ready, put the water, soy sauce, maple syrup and cornstarch in a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake it heartily until it’s all well blended and set aside.

Cut the pork into smallish chunks.  Heat a large skillet with the 3 tab. of olive oil on medium high.  Drop in the pork and cook 8 to 10 minutes until the pork is browned and cooked through, but still tender. Remove the pork from the pan, but leave on the heat.

Put the butternut squash and bell pepper in the hot pan for two or three minutes to absorb the juices in the pan.  Add the pork back in.  Then give the sauce a few more shakes to make sure it’s all blended and then stir it in to the pan until the sauce thickens, 2 or 3 minutes.

When you’re ready to serve it up, stir the almonds into the pork mixture.  Serve it with rice or farro or noodles on a large platter and garnish the top with the green onions.  Rich and delicious!

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Crunchy Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing

 

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Hi all–  I like this bright friendly salad– All that sturdy kale, hearty farro and those crunchy almonds.  But the real star is the dressing!  So much flavor from the cilantro, tahini, cumin, garlic…

Actually I had the tahini in the fridge, because I got it for a humus recipe that was grand failure (lumpy, bumpy and bland).  Add that to the list of not so great cooking attempts that never made it to be blog posts!!   But happily, the tahini was just what I needed when I came across a version of this salad (thanks Pinterest!). I think you might like it as much as we did…

CRUNCHY KALE SALAD WITH TAHINI DRESSING

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. red wine vinegar
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
2 tab. tahini
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
several grinds of freshly ground pepper

Salad:
1/2 cup farro, uncooked
5 cups, kale, chopped to bits
1 carrot, shredded to strips
5 radishes, sliced thin
1 avocado, cut to small pieces
1/4 cup toasted almonds

Whisk together the salad dressing ingredients until they are thoroughly blended, set aside.

Cook the farro according to the package directions– mine said boil with 1  1/2 cups slightly salted water for 10 minutes.  Drain in a sieve and rinse with cold water to be cool enough for the salad.

Then layer up the kale, farro, carrots, avocado, radishes and almonds.  Pour on the dressing when you are ready to serve it up.  Crunchy good!

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Almond Carrot Cake

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Hello there– Here’s my problem.  I made 2 of these carrot cakes for the group of fun young adults who show up at our house on Thursday nights.  But they left too much behind.  So this morning I had a carrot cake breakfast and have been nibbling on leftovers all day. Aren’t carrots healthy???

But I do love this version of carrot cake topped with super crunchy almonds and amaretto laced cream cheese frosting.  I think you’d love it too, but not for breakfast!

ALMOND CARROT CAKE

Cake:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup canola oil
4 eggs
2 tsp. amaretto*
3 cups grated carrot (about 6 carrots)

Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 pound box powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cup)
2 tsp. amaretto
1 to 2 tab. milk or cream

Almonds on top:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

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Peel the carrots removing the top & bottom tips.  Grate them to get about 3 cups.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Then mix in the oil, eggs and amaretto.  Finally fold in the grated carrot.  The batter will be heavy!

Spoon the batter into two 9″ inch cake pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  And pop them into a 350 degree over for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden and beautiful.  Let the cake cool completely before you put on the frosting.

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To make the frosting, mix the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until they are all blended.  then beat in the powdered sugar and amaretto.  If the batter seems too stiff, add a tablespoon of milk or two.  Be careful, too much milk will make soupy frosting!!

To make the candied almonds, put the 1/2 cup sugar and the almonds into a nonstick skillet.  Turn the heat to medium and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and turns to a a lovely caramel color.  Keep stirring until all the almonds are coated.  Then turn them out onto a piece of foil to cool.

You can layer the two cakes with the frosting for a tall two-layer cake, but I just made 2 one layer cakes because sometimes people just want a little piece of cake.  Top with the sugared almonds.  Beautiful.

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Apricot Almond Upside Down Cake

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Hello there– Last week at Ani’s house, we slumped onto the couch after dinner and turned on “The Great British Bake Off.”  All those British accents made their cakes seem so much more fancy!  And the first challenge was to bake an upside down cake.  One of my favorites!

— It made me want to head to kitchen and whip one up.  So when I did get back home to our own kitchen a week later, that’s just what I did–  Made it for the the Monday friends who come in every week.  It’s such a simple cake.  Just put it together, bake it and you’re done.  No frosting or fuss involved.  And here it is…

APRICOT ALMOND UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Topping:
2  14 oz. cans of apricots*
1/2 cup whole toasted almonds, cut in half
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar

Cake:
1  1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)

 

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You start with the topping.  First spray a 9 or 10″ round baking dish** with cooking spray.  Then coat it with the melted butter, tipping the pan to cover all the bottom surface with the butter.  Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter.  Distribute the almonds over all of that.    Strain  the canned apricots to get rid of all the juice from the can.  Then arrange the apricots cut side down over the almonds and set the baking dish aside for a bit.

To make the cake, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Then mix in the milk, oil, egg and amaretto (or vanilla).  Stir just until it’s all blended and then pour it evenly over the apricots etc. in the baking dish.

Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until it is cooked through so that a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Then there is one little tricky part.  Take the serving plate you are using to serve the cake and set it upside down over the hot cake.  Tip the whole thing over– upside down!  The cake may fall down onto the plate, but usually I have to take a knife and lift up the baking dish just slightly and the cake detaches from the pan and falls to the serving plate.

It’s delicious eaten warm.  Or save it for desert with a big scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.  Bon appetit!

* You can use fresh apricots (about 10), halved and seeded, but this time of year all I have is canned and they work just fine.
** I used a glass tart pan.

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Carrot Salad with Orange, Pomegranate & Mint

IMG_3349Hello friends–  This colorful salad is a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers– Laura who posts her brilliant photos and her warm engaging stories from her home in Australia, out to all of us.  It’s called Laura’s Mess, but it’s not a mess at all– so worthwhile.  I think you’d like it…

We had this salad  Sunday with lunch and Larry like the crunch.  I loved the bright colors and we both thought it super tasty.

CARROT SALAD WITH ORANGE, POMEGRANATE AND MINT
2 large carrots
2 green onion, green stems chopped
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds*
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 navel orange, peeled & cut to chunks
handful of mint, chopped
garnish– more pomegranate seeds, mint, almonds…

Dressing:
6 tab. olive oil
2 tab. white wine or tarragon vinegar
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
squeeze of honey to taste

Peel long shreds off of the carrots rotating as you go.  Discard the stems and hard center.  In a bowl mix together the carrots, green onion, pomegranate seeds, orange and mint.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt & pepper and honey until well blended.  Stir in into the carrot bowl to cover all the veggies.

Refrigerate the salad for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.  The mix in the almonds and spread it on a pretty plate.  You can garnish with a few more almonds, pomegranate seeds, a mint sprig…

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Chocolate Tart

IMG_1838Hi all– Well, we had two Thanksgiving celebrations this past week.  One at our house with the  family from all around and then again up at Aaron and Jessica’s house with all our kids in SF.  And that meant two chances to make this new chocolate tart.

It’s basically chocolate and cream–rich enough to really feel like dessert!  A slim slice is just enough for even an enthusiastic chocolate lover like me.

I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with pies and tarts and warm wonderful times with friends and family.  I’m thankful to you for stopping in to read here.

CHOCOLATE TART

Crust:
1 cup flour
3 tab. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, melted & cooled a few minutes
1 egg yolk

Filling:
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate
(at least 70% cacao)*
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1  1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tab. honey
1/8 tsp. salt

Candied Almonds:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds

IMG_1824To make the crust, mix together the flour, sugar and salt.  Beat the egg yolk and stir it into the flour along with the melted butter– until it is blended into a ball.

Lightly spray a 9″ or 10″ tart or pie pan with cooking spray  and press the dough into the pan with your fingers to make a thin crust.  Bake it in a 350 degree over for 20 to 25 minutes until the crust is nicely browned.

Set the crust aside to cool.

To make the filling, cut the butter to 4 or 5 chunks and drop it into a heat proof bowl with the chocolate.

Then in a sauce pan put the whipping cream, honey and salt,  stirring it all the while just until it starts to boil.

Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and let it sit for 2 minutes.  Then beat it with a whisk until the chocolate is melted and thoroughly combines with the cream mixture. It will be smooth and glossy.

Pour it into the cooled crust and pop it into the fridge for at least 4 hours until the chocolate is set.

Meanwhile, put the almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a small skillet.  Cook over medium heat stirring all the while– until the sugar all melts and turns and pretty caramel color and coats the almonds.  Scrape them out of the pan onto a piece of foil to cool.

When you’re ready to serve the tart sprinkle the almonds on top (if the clumps of almonds are too big, break them into bits).

*I used Ghirardelli 70% chocolate chips–10 oz. bag.

Cut into neat little slices and enjoy!

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Quinoa Avocado Garbanzo Salad

IMG_1700Hi all– in the middle of all this holiday eating, sometimes you just have to stop and say a salad is all we need for dinner.  It happened to us last Sunday– no big Sunday lunch.  A salad was quite enough.  And this one is satisfying enough to feel like a real meal.

QUINOA AVAOCADO GARBANZO SALAD
4 cups greens
1 cup quinoa
1 14 oz. can garbanzos, rinsed
1 avocado, cut in chunks
1 navel orange, cut in segments
1/2 cup almonds, cut in half

dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tab. orange chanpagne vinegar* (or cider vinegar)
1 tsp. seedy mustard
1 tab. honey
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer all the salad ingredients on a ample plate.  Shake together the dressing ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid until they are completely blended.  Add the dressing to the salad just before you are ready to serve it up.

makes 2 full lunch servings

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Brussel Sprout & Kale Salad with Maple Dressing

IMG_2878Hi all– We’re slowly sliding into fall here– not exactly sweater weather just yet.  But the days of fruity summer salads are giving way to crunchy fall versions.  This one  has sturdy kale, crispy Brussel sprouts and a bit of sweetness from the currants and the maple syrup in the dressing.  And almonds– always up for the crunch of almonds in any salad.  I hope you might like simple, tasty bowl full salad this too…

BRUSSEL SPROUT & KALE SALAD
1 pound Brussel sprouts
4 cups kale, chopped
1/2 cup currants
2/3 cup shaved parmesan
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons seedy dijon mustard*
2 tab. apple cider (or orange champagne vinegar) vinegar**
2 tab. maple syrup
salt & freshly ground pepper

Cut off the tough stems of the Brussel sprouts and cut the them to slivers.  Cut the stems and center vein out of the kale and finely cut it to bits.  Mix together the shaved Brussel sprouts, kale and currants.  Set aside

Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, mustard, sugar and vinegar until it’s all emulsified.  Season to taste with salt & the freshly ground pepper.

Mix the Brussel sprout mixture with the dressing and put it into the fridge if you’re not quite ready to serve it. (It’s a hearty salad– so dressing ahead won’t wilt it!)

Just before setting it on the table, mix in the almonds and parmesan.

*I know I’ve said it before, but I love, love the whole grain dijon from Trader Joe’s, but any mustard you love will be just grand.
**Orange Champagne vinegar also sold at Trader Joe’s and simply delish.

Whole Wheat Raspberry Muffins

IMG_2435Hey there– I can’t walk through the market nowadays without picking up a carton of some kind of berries– knowing that summer will soon be over and I’ll be moving on to apple and pumpkin kind of baking.

But for now there are peaches and berries and watermelon in the fridge.  Sweet summer.

WHOLE WHEAT RASPBERRY MUFFINS
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cup white unbleached flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cup raspberries (about 8 oz.)

topping:
4 tab. butter, melted
6 tab. brown sugar
2 tab. white sugar
6 tab. flour
6 tab. slivered almonds

I like to make the topping first– in a small bowl stir together the melted butter, 6 tab. brown sugar, 2 tab. white sugar and 6 tab. flour.  Then carefully fold in the almonds.  Set it all aside for a couple minutes.

Then mix together the 1 cup wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the oil, milk and egg.  And finally, gently fold in those raspberries.

Spoon the raspberry batter into 12 muffin cups lined with muffin papers.  With your fingers break up and sprinkle the topping on over the muffins– and pop them into a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they are nicely browned and springy to the touch.

Cup of tea, hot muffin with a bit of butter.  Just about perfect.

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Peach & Faro Spinach Salad

IMG_2318PEACH & FARO SPINACH SALAD
4 oz. baby spinach leaves (about 1/2 bag)
2 ripe yellow peaches
1/2 cup uncooked faro
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup salted almonds, cut in half
1/4 cup feta, crumbled*
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or red wine vinegar)**
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tab. maple syrup

Put the faro in a pot with a little more than 3/4 cup of water and the 1/8 tsp. salt.  Bring it to a boil and cook about 8 minutes.  Pour it into a large sieve and rinse to cool it down.

On a pretty platter, layer the spinach, faro, peaches, almonds and feta.

Whisk together the oil vinegar, slat & pepper and maple syrup until they are thoroughly emulsified.  And pour over the salad when you are ready to set it on the table.

P.S.– We had this all on  it’s own for supper, but if you wanted to make it a little more hearty, add in a cup of cooked, chopped chicken or salmon.

*I like the feta with garlic & herbs, but plain feta is fine.
**Tarragon vinegar has a gaslight sweetness that is nice with the peaches, and I’ve used red wine vinegar as well.  Both are nice.

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Sweet Asian Coleslaw

IMG_1843Hello all–  I know it’s long past now, but did you have a festive 4th?  We met up with a group of old friends for our annual potluck at the Keys (thanks Jeff & Betty!).  Everyone comes in the door with an armful of food to contribute and there is just a whole lot of lazing around the backyard and long conversations with friends.

The yard is situated on a hill above the high school where the city fireworks are lunched so at 9:00, Jeff cranks up the blaring patriotic music and we watch the show in the sky.  It’s all good old fashioned fun.

And our contribution to the meal– this colorful coleslaw.  I hope you like it.

SWEET ASIAN COLESLAW

Dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 to 2 tsp. soy sauce

Slaw:
1 small green cabbage, cut to shreds (about 8 cups)
1 cup red cabbage, cut to shreds
1/3 cup red bell pepper, cut to small bits
1/3 cup yellow bell pepper, cut to small pieces
1 carrot, peeled and grated
4 green onions, cut in small slices
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup toasted almonds
2 tab. sesame seeds

Whisk together the oil, rice wine vinegar, sugar and soy sauce, beating until it’s emulsified, all blended.

Mix together the 2 cabbages, red & yellow pepper, carrot, green onion and cilantro.  Pour in the dressing and toss it to coat all the ingredients.

Just before you’re ready to set it on the table, mix in the almonds and sesame seeds.  Happy eating!!

Peachy Almond Muffins

IMG_1725Oh hi!  We have our 3 grand-girls (along with their parents) with us for a couple weeks.  Yesterday morning Charlotte tumbled into the kitchen early while everyone else was still asleep– so she and I mixed up a batch of peach muffins for breakfast.  She’s a great chopper, measurer and mixer. I really love cooking with those girls.

PEACHY ALMOND MUFFINS
1  1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla or amaretto*
1 large peach, cut to small bits
1/3 cup sliced almonds

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Then mix in the egg, milk, oil and vanilla (or amaretto) just until it’s all blended.  Fold in the cut up peaches.

Spoon the mixture into a muffin tin lined with paper muffin cups.  Then sprinkle the almonds over the tops of the muffins.

Put them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 23 minutes, just until they are golden and firm to the touch.  Best eaten warm with a slather of butter and a mug of tea.  Add a scrambled egg or two–Breakfast!

*My original muffin recipe called for vanilla– But the amaretto sets off the almonds.  I usually have a bottle on hand– substitute it for almond extract.  Mostly because I’m a bit of a cheapskate– Love that amaretto. It costs so much less per ounce than extract.

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Blueberry Crumb Cake

IMG_0905Hi all–  So many reasons for cake these days–We had Mother’s Day, in our family lots of May birthdays, graduations, showers, retirements and end of school celebrations.  It’s going to be a cake-filled few weeks for us here!

So here’s a pretty little cake that is just sweet enough. It’s filled with ripe juicy berries and topped with the crunch of those toasted almonds.  I hope you like it…

BLUEBERRY CRUMB CAKE

Crumb Topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup toasted almonds**
powdered sugar for dusting

Cake:
1/4 cup canola oil
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
1 cup blueberries*
2 more tab. flour

IMG_0914To make the topping, stir together the 1/3 cup flour and the 1/3 cup sugar.  With a pastry blender (or 2 forks) cut in the butter until it’s resembles coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

For the cake, stir together the oil, 2/3 cup sugar, and egg.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Next mix in the milk and yogurt.  In a separate bowl toss the blueberries in the 2 tablespoons of flour just to coat them.  Then fold them into the cake– do not mix them too much–they are tender, you know.

Spoon the batter into an 8″ square or round pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Sprinkle the crumb topping over the cake.  And then the drop the toasted almonds all over the top.

Pop it into a 350 degree over for 40 to 50 minutes. Dust it with powdered sugar through a sieve once it’s cooled a bit.  Luscious served warm with coffee or cooled for dessert later with a plop of whipped cream.

*I used frozen blueberries.  Leave them frozen until the last minute and then toss them in flour to keep them from sinking and also to keep them from coloring the batter purple as you mix them in!

I like the organic tiny frozen berries from Trader Joe’s for baking.  A cupful is so many berries to flavor the cake through.

**Toasted almonds found already toasted and ready to use at Trader Joe’s  (raw almonds would work well too)

Chocolate Carrot Cake

DSC01213Hey there– Last week we had a baby shower for new little Sebastian.  His dear mom is the nurse at school and we’re all so glad he’s here.  Another teacher and I were charged with gathering money and buying the gifts– Now that was fun!  –All those sweet little baby things (it’s fun spending someone else’s money!).  And Sebastian couldn’t be cuter.

And cakes. My job was to make cakes.  Here’s one that landed on the party table– carrot cake with a dose of chocolate, all that cream cheese frosting and candied almonds.  It was pretty delish, really.

CHOCOLATE CARROT CAKE

Cake:
3 carrots (grated about 1 1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon

Frosting:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 cube)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound box powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)

Almonds:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sliced almonds
DSC01148In a large mixing bowl, stir together the grated carrots, sugar, cocoa powder, oil and eggs.  Then mix in the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

Spoon the thick batter into a 9″ cake pan (or springform pan*) and bake it up at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until a sharp knife stuck in comes out clean.

When the cake is cooled make the frosting.  With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, cream cheese and vanilla.  Then beat in the powdered sugar until it’s smooth and creamy.  If it seems a bit dry, add just a tsp of water– careful it’s so easy to make it gooey with too much water!

To make the candied almonds, put the sugar and almonds in a skillet.  Stir on medium heat until the sugar melts and caramelizes to a golden color.  Don’t stop. Keep stirring. It will take a few minutes.  When the almonds are coated with the melted sugar, scrape them onto a piece of foil on the counter (be careful that sugar is hot!) to cool and harden– just takes a minute.

Then spread the frosting over the cake and top it with the sweet almonds.

*I like to use a springform pan so that’s it’s easy to remove the cake from the pan–prettier to serve.

P.S.  This is a one layer cake.  Just double everything (except the sprinkle of almonds to make a standard 2 layer cake.

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