Creamy Mushroom Pasta with Sweet Peas

When I was fifteen I was given the opportunity to travel to Rome for an exchange program. Oddly enough, this was not an exchange for an Italian language class, but rather a Latin class. I was really nervous to go, especially since I didn’t speak Italian in any meaningful way and had never left the country without my parents before. This anxiety was definitely strongly tinged with excitement, (I mean who wouldn’t be excited about taking a trip to Rome?) but it was still pretty stomach churning and nail biting nonetheless.

Once I got to Rome, it was more familiar than scary. I was feeling so connected to my roots and my heritage. Rather than being overwhelming, the language reminded me of my nonna, and I understood so much more than I anticipated.

I’ve been feeling a lot of that same brand of anxiety recently. I’m graduating in a few short months, about to embark on “real life” and as much as I’m excited to be done with homework, I’m also so incredibly nervous.

However, like that leap I made when I was 15, I’m hoping that after this massive transition, I find myself feeling connected to my roots, and understanding more than I anticipate.

To celebrate and prepare for this time in my life, I wanted to share with you the first dinner my Italian host mother made for me. This creamy mushroom pasta is life-giving and soul-hugging. When I had it in Italy, it was made with farfalle, because oddly enough, my exchange student only liked short pasta shapes. However, I make it with fettuccine because I love the way the sauce sticks to the longer pasta.

I hope this dish brings you both comfort and excitement, as it did for me six years ago, and as it does for me now.



Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp black pepper

1 big pinch salt

1/4 cup sweet peas

2 tbsp dry white wine

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan, plus more for garnish

1 ladle full of pasta water

parsley, for garnish

1 box fettuccine


Instructions:

  1. Boil the pasta according to the package instructions in heavily salted water until al dente. Reserve a ladle full of pasta water. Drain the pasta and do not rinse. Set aside.
  2. Wash and slice white mushrooms.
  3. Sauté mushrooms with olive oil on medium- high heat until fragrant and brown.
  4. Season with salt and add the garlic.
  5. Sauté the garlic and mushrooms together on medium heat until the garlic is fragrant.
  6. Deglaze the pan with about two tablespoons of dry white wine.
  7. Add in half a cup heavy cream and turn the heat up to high.
  8. Continuously stir until the cream is brought to a boil and thickens significantly. The cream should darken in color and should coat the back of a spoon.
  9. Lower the heat to a simmer and add in the sweet peas.
  10. Add the cheese and stir to melt.
  11. Add in the pasta and the pasta water and toss to cover each noodle with sauce.
  12. Plate the pasta and top with more cheese and chopped parsley and enjoy!

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Waste Not Vegetable Stock

I would like to say that this recipe came out of a love of conservation and environmentalism, that I was born with an inherent respect for all parts of an ingredient and that I’ve never wasted a drop in my life. That is obviously untrue. While I do value conservation and environmentalism, and have grown to so deeply respect food and avoid waste at all costs, this recipe grew out of financial desperation.

I am a college student with limited grocery money but the palate of a wannabe chef. I want to live large, cook amazing meals and spend very little money. One way to do this is to make as much from scratch as possible, including broth. I’m a vegetarian and don’t eat chicken broth (although if it sneaks into my food at restaurants, I don’t lose much sleep) so I’ve developed a super rich and flavorful vegetable stock that uses exclusively veggie scraps.

When you throw away the (clean) peels and ends of vegetables like carrots and onions, you’re throwing away flavor and nutrients. Unsightly bumps or weird texture doesn’t matter in a stock pot, so why not repurpose those scraps into a fantastic, nutrient rich stock where you can control the flavor and ingredients. This means no added sugar, no gums, thickeners, or bizarre additives plus a sodium level you can control.

The vegetables I use in my stock are typically garlic, onion, carrots, and mushrooms. Then I often add in a seasonal vegetable I have on hand, like pumpkin skins in the fall. There are vegetables that do not work in stock. Anything really dark green (think spinach, collards, any bitter greens or broccoli) will not impart a good flavor to a broth. In general, stick to vegetables that have a level of sweetness, like garlic, butternut squash or pumpkin peels (not the flesh), shallots, green onions or leeks (or really anything in the onion family). I hate celery but I know that it is a staple in most soups and broths, so feel free to add celery to your stock as well.

I save the peels and ends of carrots, onions and garlic cloves, as well as the stems of mushrooms, and freeze them in quart or gallon sized ziplock bags. Once I’ve gathered a sufficient amount, about 4 quarts of veggie scraps, I put them in a large stock pot, cover them in water, bring to a boil and then reduce for a simmer for about three hours. I know it’s done when the stock is a dark orange or pale brown color (depending on how many carrots and onion skins are in your vegetable scrap mix) and is very fragrant.

Sometimes, if I’m feeling fancy I’ll throw in a couple of fresh, smashed garlic cloves or half a fresh onion that I have lying around. It can be helpful for developing flavor to sauté the fresh vegetables before adding them in. Another fun addition is a small handful of herbs. I like to use chives, dill or parsley, depending on my intended use for the stock. (I would avoid very strong herbs like cilantro and basil but who am I to tell you what to do!)

I really love this method, it has become a really important tradition for me. Even when I’m able to afford to use whole vegetables, I still prefer to use this scrap method because I love to breathe new life into something that we usually take for granted. I hope this can become a tradition for you as well!



Ingredients:

4-ish quarts of vegetable scraps

enough water to cover vegetables

salt to taste

a very small handful of tender herbs (optional)

1/2 a fresh onion (optional)

a few smashed cloves of fresh garlic (optional)

1 tbsp olive oil (optional, only necessary if sautéing fresh vegetables)


Instructions:

  1. After peeling, chopping or cutting vegetables, transfer the scraps into a plastic zip top bag and freeze.
  2. Once you’ve collected enough scraps, transfer them into a stock pot and cover completely with water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately turn down to a simmer and cover.
  4. After a few hours, when the mixture is darker in color and very fragrant, remove from heat and strain the vegetable scraps out and throw away.
  5. Season the stock to taste.
  6. Transfer to zip top bags or tupperware containers to keep in the fridge or freezer and enjoy!

Almond Tea Cakes


Almond might be my favorite flavor of all time. I have such strong memories of my childhood, so many flavored with almond. Eating almond Italian ice after a sweltering summer day, a selection of marzipan cookies at any and all gathering of family and friends or torrone from old Italian bakeries. Even eating toasted almond bars from the ice cream truck (although that is not the most authentic almond flavor…) It’s almost like my palate is stamped with memories of almond flavored fare the way a passport is stamped with memories of beautiful, worldly adventures.

Maybe that’s why when someone in passing nicknamed my boyfriend almond five years ago, it stuck for me and he’s currently in my phone as almond, rather than his real, and very similar sounding, name.

That might also be why when I was recently gifted a large amount of slivered almonds, my heart skipped a beat as I dreamed of making something deliciously almond-y. (Yes, you read that correctly. Someone gave me almonds as a gift, and I was delighted.)

It is fascinating how taste leaves these memories, even stronger than sight sometimes. One bite of these almond tea cakes and I am brought back to so many summer days, toasted almond bars dripping down my arm. Or to a family Christmas party, trying to find the coveted marsipan cookies in the tower of Italian cookies. At the same time, these cakes are delicate and delicious enough to make a statement of their own. These cakes are a love letter to almond experiences past, present and future, and a stunning reminder of how powerful food memories are.

This leads me to the nitty gritty of beautiful almond tea cakes. They are moist, light, fluffy and impossibly almond-y. Plus they are topped with a sweet, sticky glaze that dries to secure the flower-like slivered almonds on top.

I used this Williams Sonoma mini tart pan to make four cakes, so this recipe is relatively small batch. You could easily make smaller cakes in a muffin pan or pour the whole batch in a small cake or loaf pan, but I love the fluted edges and shape of these little tea cakes.

I also do not have a measurement for the amount of slivered almonds you’ll need for the top of each tea cake since it would vary based on the pan you use. I used about a half cup of slivered almonds for my four cakes, but it depends on how closely you place the almonds and what size you make your cakes.

This recipe is easily doubles so you can make as many tea cakes as your heart desires. (I even made a quadrupled version of this cake and turned it into raspberry lemon layer cake for a friend!) If your heart is anything like mine, it’s going to desire a bunch of these cakes.



Ingredients:

For cake:

1/8 cup plus 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp almond extract

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp white vinegar

For the glaze:

1/2 tsp almond extract

1-2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk

1 cup powdered sugar

Other:

1 cup slivered almonds for topping

For the pans:

nonstick spray

flour


Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare the tart or muffin pans with non-stick spray and flour.
  2. Stir together the oil and sugar until smooth and well combined.
  3. In another bowl, sift together salt, flour and baking powder.
  4. Combine almond milk, almond extract and vinegar and set aside for ten minutes.
  5. Combine the milk mixture with the oil mixture and whisk to combine.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two or three additions and stir until smooth and combined.
  7. Pour batter into prepared tart or muffin pans.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, until the cakes have risen and are springy to the touch.
  9. While the cakes bake, combine all the ingredients for the glaze and whisk until very smooth.
  10. Once the cakes have cooled, spread the glaze over each cake and arrange the almonds in a flower pattern, starting from the outer edge and moving inwards.
  11. Serve with coffee or tea and enjoy!

Focaccia Barese with Tomatoes and Rosemary

Too long ago, I spent my first day in Bari, Italy. I was there to visit my family, some relatives I’d never met before and some I was just barely acquainted with. This was the family of my Nonna, the late matriarch of my family and the woman who, in large part, shaped me into the food and travel loving lady that I am. Friends, I was nervous. This wasn’t the first stop on the trip, in fact it was the last. It wasn’t even my first time in Italy. However, I was truly nervous to meet these people who meant so much to my Nonna. (It didn’t help that I was a vegetarian in the land of prosciutto or that there was a massive language barrier and only one bilingual person among us.)

Would they like us? Would their homemade wine turn us blind? Would they think I was rude for not eating the meat they served us? Would the conversation flow freely, or would it be uncomfortable and quiet as we struggled to connect and understand?

It was a pivotal moment for me in my exploration of who I am. I felt the weight of this meeting, how important it would have been to my Nonna, how important it was for me if I ever wanted to know her as an adult.

We walked around the old part of the city, talking and preparing for the next day, the big reunion. We stopped for thick, pillowy squares of Focaccia Barese dotted with tomatoes and sprinkled with sea salt.

As we ate, I grew more excited, and less nervous. The meeting was going to be exciting, I would get to see where my Nonna was born, where she grew up. Of course we would connect, and if the wine turned us blind? Well, at least we got to see Italy beforehand. Everything was going to be fine.

I was right. We left the village the next day, full to the brim and planning our next visit. In fact, I’ve just applied to spend the whole summer in Matera, just twenty minutes away from my Nonna’s little town.

To this day, a piece of Focaccia Barese brings back that feeling of excitement, of being on the brink of discovering more about myself.



Ingredients:

8 tbsp olive oil

3 large garlic cloves, chopped coarsley

1 packet active dry yeast

3/4 cup lukewarm water

1/4 tsp light brown sugar

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp kosher salt

10-12 grape tomatoes, cut in half

dried rosemary to taste

sea salt, to sprinkle


Instructions:

  1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine garlic and olive oil.
  2. Cook for at least an hour over low heat, until the mixture is fragrant.
  3. In a large bowl, combine two tablespoons of the infused olive oil, yeast, and brown sugar. Give the mixture a gentle stir
  4. Let stand for ten minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together the kosher salt and the flour.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture in quarter cup additions, mixing in between every addition.
  7. Mix until the dough is smooth and thoroughly combined.
  8. Brush a bowl with the infused olive oil and transfer the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap.
  9. Transfer the bowl into the refrigerator for twenty four hours.
  10. After twenty four hours, remove the dough from the refrigerator.
  11. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and add four tablespoons of the infused olive oil to a cake pan or cast iron skillet. Make sure to coat the bottom and sides of the pan.
  12. Spread the dough inside the pan evenly.
  13. Press the halved grape tomatoes into the dough.
  14. Drizzle the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil on top of the dough and sprinkle with sea salt.
  15. Allow the dough to rise for another half hour at room temperature.
  16. Bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-45 minutes, until firm but tender and golden brown.
  17. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with dried rosemary. Enjoy!

Heartbeet Red Velvet Cake


Happy early Valentine’s Day everyone! I know people have all kinds of feelings about this holiday, but I’ve always felt pretty neutral about it. I’m certainly not a hater, but also not in need of anything over the top.

I think part of the reason I’ve always been able to take this day in stride is because of how I celebrated it with my family growing up. Every year my parents would cook a nice dinner, complete with a fancy dessert, and set the dining room table with candles. On each plate there was a card and at each place setting there would be a tiny present. Some years it would be a pair fuzzy socks, some years it would be a little box of chocolates. Then, we would go around the table, talking about what we loved most about each other.

This tradition really made me view Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate all the types of love in my life. The love of my family and friends, the romantic love in my life, heck, even the love of my pets! Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate anything that brings love into your life, be that a romantic partner, your best friend or even your gardening club.

And on that note, I bring you this heartbeet red velvet cake (it has beets in it!)

Instead of being colored with red food coloring, roasted beet puree brings this cake it’s bright red color and it’s supreme moisture. Dark chocolate cocoa powder brings this cake a beautiful chocolate flavor without having to add too much cocoa as to make the cake dry. Topped with a beautiful cream cheese buttercream, this cake is show stopping, delicious and perfect for Valentine’s Day.



Ingredients:

For the cake:

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp plus 1 tsp dark chocolate cocoa powder

2 cups flour plus more for sprinkling

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup dairy or plant milk with 1 tbs vinegar

1 beet, roasted and pureed

1 tbsp olive oil

5 tbsp water

nonstick spray

For the frosting:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 sticks butter

5 oz cream cheese


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a cake pan with nonstick spray and flour.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  3. Peel and chop the beet.
  4. Toss with one tablespoon olive oil and roast on the prepared baking sheet for about 30 minutes, until the oil is bubbling and the beets have reduced in size.
  5. Add the roasted beets to a blender or food processor, along with five tablespoons of water, and blend until smooth.
  6. Set the puree aside to cool.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil and sugar and whisk until combined.
  8. Add the buttermilk and vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  9. Fold the beet puree into the wet ingredients.
  10. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa, whisking until incorporated.
  11. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined.
  12. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.
  14. Once the cake is removed from the oven, invert the cake onto a plate to remove it from the pan.
  15. Allow the cake to cool while you prepare the frosting.
  16. In a large bowl, beat the butter and the cream cheese together until very smooth and soft.
  17. Add the powdered sugar a quarter cup at a time until all the sugar is added.
  18. Beat for thirty seconds until the frosting is smooth and incorporated.
  19. Frost the cake in any way you’d like and enjoy!

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


I’ve never shared a chocolate chip cookie recipe here, but that’s not because I don’t like cookies. I LOVE cookies. I’ve shared apple and cranberry spice biscotti, espresso dark chocolate chunk biscotti, cranberry stuffed olive oil cookies, cinnamon pinwheel cookies, Bon Appetit’s chocolate tahini linzer cookies and last but CERTAINLY not least, my sea salt olive oil brownie cookies, which will change your life if you let them. So clearly, I love me a good cookie. But the truth is, and I know this is scandalous, I generally don’t love chocolate chip cookies! I know! It’s crazy. I can’t believe me either! My favorite cookies are oatmeal raisin cookies, which I understand are not a fan favorite, but they are an Emy favorite and I love them.

However! I finally found/made a chocolate a chocolate chip cookie that I not only like, but LOVE.

The inclusion of browned butter is amazing, trust me. But the thing that puts these cookies over the edge is the tapping technique that I learned from The Vanilla Bean Blog. This technique gives these cookies their chewy center and crispy, wrinkly edges.

I guess my issue with chocolate chip cookies, up until now, has been that I’ve had either crispy or chewy cookies, never both! Thankfully, these cookies I’ve developed are both chewy AND crispy. The molasses in this recipe contributes to the chewy center of these cookies, while the tapping method and the size of the cookie bring those crispy edges.

I must warn you, these cookies are truly huge. Please be aware. But the size is really important to the texture of the cookies. I’m not really sure how crispy/chewy they’ll get at a smaller size but the taste is so good that its worth a try.

If you’re like me, and you have yet to find a chocolate chip cookie that you absolutely adore, without further delay, I present to you Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.



Ingredients:

For the dough:

1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 cup brown butter

6 tbsp white sugar

6 tbsp light brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp molasses

1 cup chopped dark chocolate

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

sea salt for sprinkling

For drizzle:

2 tbsp chopped dark chocolate

1 tsp olive oil

nonstick spray

flour for dusting


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking sheets with tin foil. Spray with nonstick spray and dust with flour
  2. Combine flour, kosher salt, and baking soda and whisk to combine.
  3. Whisk vigorously together butter, sugars, cinnamon and vanilla until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the egg and whisk until combined.
  5. Add the flour in three additions and whisk until combined.
  6. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
  7. Scoop 1/3 cup cookies onto the lined baking sheets, baking about five cookies per sheet.
  8. Freeze the cookies on the sheet for about ten minutes.
  9. Bake the cookies at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about five minutes,
  10. Open the oven and hit the baking pan gently on the rack three times.
  11. Return the cookies to the rack and continue to bake for five minutes.
  12. Repeat step ten and return the cookies to the oven for another three to five minutes.
  13. Remove from oven and lift the tin foil sheet off of the baking sheet onto the counter or cooling rack and let cool.
  14. While the cookies cool, melt two tablespoons of dark chocolate and one teaspoon of olive oil in the microwave in thirty second bursts until smooth.
  15. Drizzle the chocolate mixture over the cooled cookies and enjoy!

Salted Almond Brownies


I know, I know, just a couple days ago I said I wasn’t feeling chocolate for Valentine’s Day this year and here I am with a dang brownie post! But then I realized that Valentine’s Day is far away and I might be feeling chocolate then, and you might too!

Girl! I was right! I’m in a chocolate mood again. Those sunshine sandwich cookies helped my winter blues and I’m ready for ALL the chocolate.

Thankfully, these Salted Almond Brownies came into my life!

They are insanely chocolatey, nutty and toasty. They taste like if marzipan and brownies had a baby covered in dark chocolate olive oil ganache. Yeah, you need these.

Another thing that sets these brownies apart is the texture. There are chewy bits, there are crispy bits, there are fudgey bits, there’s that crackly top that brownies have to have. How, you might ask, did I get such a variety of textures all throughout the brownies? Well, I’d like to tell you I’m a mastermind and that this was my plan all along. But no, I figured it out by accident. You need to remove the brownies at around 15 minutes and stir them. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but it makes an insanely good brownie. You’re going to have to trust me.

I hope you enjoy these salted almond brownies with your gals, guys, friends or just by your dang self this Valentine’s day, or really any other day of these year. You deserve some chocolate.



Ingredients:

For the batter:

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup dark cocoa powder

1/2 tsp espresso powder

3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/2 cup flour plus more for sprinkling

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp almond extract

3 eggs

nonstick spray

For dark chocolate olive oil ganache:

1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped

1/8 cup half and half

2 tsp olive oil

Sea salt for sprinkling


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
  3. Once the oven has been preheated, place the slivered almonds on the lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until they are golden brown and aromatic.
  4. Combine the espresso powder, cocoa powder, almond extract, olive oil and canola oil in a bowl. Whisk to combine and allow to sit for a couple minutes.
  5. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and set aside.
  6. Beat together the sugars and eggs until lump-free.
  7. Add in half of the cocoa mixture to the egg and sugar mixture and mix until combined.
  8. Add in the flour and stir until combined.
  9. Add the remaining cocoa mixture and whisk to combine.
  10. Fold in two thirds of the toasted almonds.
  11. Spray a brownie pan with nonstick spray and coat with flour.
  12. Pour in the batter and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
  13. After 15 minutes, remove the brownies from the oven and stir vigorously.
  14. Return the brownies to the oven and bake for 15 more minutes.
  15. Remove the brownies from the oven and allow to cool before cutting.
  16. To make the ganache add chopped dark chocolate, half and half and olive oil to a microwave safe bowl
  17. Microwave the mixture in 30 second intervals until the mixture is fully melted and smooth.
  18. Once the brownies are cut, drizzle with the ganache and sprinkle with the remaining toasted almonds and sea salt. Enjoy!

Sunshine Sandwich Cookies

a stack of sandwich cookies next to a jar of lime curd

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I’ve been wanting to bake some love inspired treats, but I haven’t been feeling the chocolate as much. Its winter, it’s dreary, it’s a little sad. I need some sunshine in my life!

These cookies really fit into both of those categories. The cute linzer cookie cutter brings the cuteness in the form of a heart cutout, while the citrus sugar cookie dough and the zingy lime curd bring the sunshine.

If you and your sweetie are struggling through winter (like I am), this is the treat to bring to Valentine’s day dinner. I know traditionally chocolate is the romantic dessert of choice, but what could be more romantic than presenting someone with a dessert that screams, “You are the sunshine of my life!” I truly can’t think of anything sweeter!

These cookies are easy to make and the lime curd doesn’t even need a double boiler. It also makes a reasonable number of cookies for a few people to enjoy. You won’t be stuck with a million cookies, but you can easily double the recipe if you’d like more (which is likely).

I hope you’ll enjoy this little ray of sunlight for Valentine’s Day or really any other day you want to spread the love!



Ingredients:

For the cookies:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 stick (half a cup) of butter

2 tbsp egg, beaten

9 drops orange essential oil

3 drops lemon essential oil

1 tbsp lemon zest

1 tbsp orange zest

powdered sugar for sprinkling

For the curd:

I used a modified version of this recipe from Crazy for Crust!

3 medium eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup lime juice

4 tbsp unsalted butter


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil sprayed with nonstick spray and coated in flour.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  3. Beat together sugar and butter with a handheld or stand mixer on medium speed until the butter and sugar are creamed.
  4. Add the egg, zest and essential oil and mix on low until combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients about a quarter cup at a time, mixing on low after each addition.
  6. Once all of the flour is added and the dough has come together, turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap.
  7. Knead the dough slightly to form a ball.
  8. Roll the dough out and cut with the linzer cookie cutter, making sure there is a top cookie for ever bottom cookie.
  9. Move the cookies to the lined baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the lime curd.
  11. Combine in a bowl, all of the lime curd ingredients except for the butter.
  12. Mix together until extremely smooth.
  13. Put this mixture over medium low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens.
  14. Remove the mixture from heat when it begins to thicken and add the butter.
  15. Return to heat on very low and stir until everything is combined.
  16. Transfer into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the curd is chilled.
  17. To assemble the cookies, sift powdered sugar over each top cookie.
  18. Then, spoon curd onto each bottom cookie and top with the top cookie to form a sandwich.
  19. Share the cookies with someone who brings sunshine into your life and enjoy!

Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Pineapple Flowers

I’ve gotta come clean, I’m struggling with winter. So cold, so dark, such short days, time outside is so limited. I know I know, I’m preaching to the choir. Nearly everyone in the snowy parts of the world is feeling the same way.

Thankfully, food and drink are powerful. So is this Lemon Olive Oil Cake. When my mom asked me to make a birthday cake for my grandma’s upcoming birthday, I knew it had to be light and bright. We all need a little seasonal pick me up.

This cake is so bright and tart thanks to lemon zest, lemon essential oil and a super zingy lemon glaze. It’s crumb is somewhat similar to that of a pound cake, but not quite as dense. It’s also eggless and can easily be converted to a vegan recipe. Just swap the milk for almond or soy milk!

This cake is also incredibly festive thanks to some amazingly simple dried pineapples, beets and toasted almonds. That’s right folks, those flowers and flower petals are pineapples and beets! Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to make them!

If you have an upcoming celebration, this is an amazing cake. It’s so sunshiney and beautiful with its glaze and its all natural decorations. However, I have inside knowledge that this cake is also amazing baked in a loaf pan and eaten for breakfast (and lunch and dinner).

Whatever way you enjoy this cake, I just hope you enjoy it, and that it wakes us all up a little from these dreary winter days!




Ingredients:

For the cake:

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

6 drops lemon essential oil

2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk or milk mixed with 1 tbsp vinegar

zest of 1-2 lemons

For the lemon icing:

juice of half a lemon

6 drops lemon essential oil

4 heaping tbsp powdered sugar

For the decorations:

1 beet

1 pineapple

1/8 cup slivered almonds, toasted


Instructions:

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly oil the paper to avoid a sticky cake.
  2. Mix together the olive oil and sugar until smooth.
  3. Measure and sift the dry ingredients together and mix.
  4. Add the dry ingredients into the oil and sugar mixture and mix together
  5. To make vegan buttermilk: squeeze a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into a cup of unsweetened non dairy milk and let sit until it curdles. 
  6. Pour your vegan buttermilk into the wet and dry ingredients and mix to combine, be careful not to over mix.
  7. add in lemon zest and gently stir.
  8. pour batter evenly into the lined loaf pan.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes. At 40 minutes, tent the top of the cake with foil and continue baking for 20 minutes.
  10. When finished baking, lift the cake out of the pan and place onto a cooling rack. The cake needs to cool before the icing is added.

For the Icing:

  1. Combine one tablespoon of almond milk, three heaping tablespoons of powdered sugar, the juice of half a lemon and 6 drops of lemon essential oil in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth and creamy. The icing should not be too thin. To avoid this, you can add another tablespoon of powdered sugar if your icing is seeming too thin.
  2. Once the cake is cool, spoon the glaze onto the cake and allow the glaze to set before slicing.

For the decorations:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Peel a pineapple and carefully cut paper thin slices.
  3. Place the slices on the lined baking sheet.
  4. Scrub the beet and carefully slice paper thin slices using a knife or mandolin.
  5. Using kitchen shears, cut out petal shaped pieces and place them on the lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake the fruit at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The pineapple will take about an hour, the beets will take about a half hour, depending on how small the pieces are. Check them often.
  7. Remove the beets from the oven when they have shrunk, completely dried and deepened in color.
  8. Remove the pineapple slices from the oven and place the still hot slices in the cups of a muffin pan. This helps them form into flowers.
  9. Once all of the fruit and vegetable slices have cooled, place them on the cake with the toasted almonds and enjoy!

Best Friend Banana Bread

I always feel conflicted when I’m trying to bake a pick-me-up for someone. What will help them more? Something totally indulgent and comforting? Or something that will nourish their body? No one really wants a salad when they’re feeling down, but sometimes you need some vitamins to perk you up! Truly a conundrum.

Thankfully, I have solved this issue for once and for all. I present to you, Best Friend Banana Bread. In other words, this is what you make your best friend to support both their body and their spirit.

Honey caramelized bananas, sticky-sweet medjool dates and toasty brown sugar comfort the soul, while flax seed, chia seeds and oats to nourish the body.

Sure, caramelizing the bananas with honey and cinnamon in the oven requires more steps than normal banana bread. And, sure, waiting a few minutes for the chia seeds to bloom takes longer than omitting them. But isn’t that what loving people is about? Taking those extra steps, going the extra mile. It’s worth it in the end for the flavor, and for the spirits you’ll raise with this loaf.

Now that winter is in full swing, and everyone is struggling with the winter blues, I know what I’ll be making to perk everyone back up- Best Friend Banana Bread!



Ingredients:

4 over ripe bananas

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tbs honey

2 tbs chia seeds

6 tbs water

2 tbs flax meal

1/2 cup coconut sugar or light brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1/2 cup white sugar

2 medjool dates, diced

2 eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/8 cup oats, plus more for sprinkling

nonstick spray


Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Cut the bananas in half lengthwise and place onto the lined baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle the bananas with honey and sprinkle with half a teaspoon of cinnamon.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes or until they are golden, fragrant and mushy, depending on how ripe the bananas are.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  6. Soak two tablespoons chia seeds in six tablespoons of water until the chia seeds bloom and turn jelly-ish.
  7. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, oats, flax meal, salt and remaining cinnamon in a bowl and whisk until combined.
  8. Combine eggs, chopped dates, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, brown sugar, white sugar, chia seeds, bananas and whisk together until smooth.
  9. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk until smooth and totally combined.
  10. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray and pour in the batter.
  11. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar and oats.
  12. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, until the bread is firm and a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean.
  13. Allow to cool, slice and enjoy!