Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Succulent Summer

Wow, where does the time go?  I find it hard to believe that July is nearing its end, but luckily the month has been filled with activity and of course, LOTS of eating.

Let's start with dessert.  Possibly my favorite part of being an adult is that you can eat courses in any way you choose, and sometimes you want dessert first!

You may remember a previous post where I made a chocolate bundt cake, but didn't really get to eat it because we were in the midst of a cleanse.  This one I can assure you I've eaten plenty of!  It's moist, rich, chocolatey, and has a secret ingredient...
Beet Chocolate Bundt Cake with Truffle Ganache Glaze
  Have you guessed yet?  Believe it or not, there are two cups of roasted and pureed beets in this chocolate confection!  Even people who hate beets would probably enjoy this cake.  However, a love of chocolate is a prerequisite and since my sweetheart isn't a big fan, I've brought half to work!  Always Order Dessert is a great blog when it comes to making sweet things, plus she talks about other interesting subjects beyond just filling your belly.  If you're in NYC, Alejandra Ramos, (the blog's owner) offers cooking classes- and that's where this recipe comes from.  Click beneath the photo to view the recipe.

T. Rex hitching a ride.

The past couple of weekends have been especially fun.  First, we rode to the top of Pikes Peak on the motorcycle.  This was rather monumental for me, as it was the first time I had been to the top since moving to Colorado Springs.  People told me there was a donut shop at the top but I thought they were playing a joke on me...

It wasn't a joke!

  This past weekend, we joined our dear friends in celebrating the 15th Annual Festival in the Clouds in Alma, Colorado.  We attended last year, and the cooler climate and breathtaking surroundings made it a must this year as well.  The dogs went along and were perfect angels!  Of course.
  Then Sunday we braved the miserably oppressive heat in Colorado Springs and went downtown to show our support in the Gay Pride Parade and Festival.  Hard to believe it was my FIRST Gay Pride Parade!  It was fun.  Although, things are always more fun when you're with the one you love!

  Enjoy these wonderful summer breakfast recipes!  They are great for making use of the velvety sweet fruits that are best enjoyed in the warmer seasons.

  Better than oatmeal, because it's the marriage of oatmeal and coconut refrigerated and soaked in water overnight.  Then heated up and thickened with almond milk, you add something special to this breakfast cereal by caramelizing nectarines in maple syrup.

Coconut Breakfast Pudding with Sauteed Nectarines
Quinoa Crunch with Berries, Greek Yogurt, and Honey
 To make Quinoa Crunch:
 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
 Toss 1 cup of uncooked, rinsed, drained quinoa with:
 1 TB agave syrup
 1 TB neutral oil (I used coconut, but you can use canola,safflower, etc.)
 Spread the quinoa mixture on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
 Use as a topping for yogurt, ice cream, anything!
Southern Indiana Daisies
  My next post is dedicated to recreating some recipes from a favorite Middle Eastern restaurant in Indianapolis.  I discovered new spices, the fine line between caramelized and burnt, and that I will eat lamb in the most delicious of circumstances.  Stay tuned!     


Monday, July 2, 2012

In Defense of Decadence

  Decadence is a dish best served in moderation, but certainly not a dish to be ignored. Life is short. Tomorrow is not promised. If you want to eat this or that, don't wait. Don't work yourself into diabetes over it, but don't dismiss your cravings.
  Speaking of gluttony, here's a cake I recently made for someone special, per their request. Lemon poppyseed cakes brushed in lemon syrup are layered with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting, where they all work together in taunting you until you must have your cake! And eat it too.
  The recipe comes from a website I happened upon one day. If you make this, don't worry about finding/making caster sugar. I used regular granulated sugar and it turned out just fine!
Lemon Poppyseed Layer Cakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting
   This next descent into decadence is more of the simplistic indulgence.  Some good old butter, sugar, flour, and a few other easy ingredients combine to make an absolute hit for dessert in any season.  The original recipe calls for apples, but any stone fruit or other fruit will do.  I like using whatever seems juiciest and ripest.  Behold, Nectarine Crumble (and vanilla ice cream).

Fruit filling
  • 6 cups roughly chopped fruit (Stone fruits work well, or cored, peeled apples)
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Crumb topping
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (King Arthur's or regular unbleached all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  With a rack in the middle of your oven, preheat to 350 degrees.  Use any kind of cooking vessel for this recipe.  I like a square, 8-inch baking dish the best, but a pie pan with high sides would work well too.  Blend sugar and cinnamon together.  Place fruit in a bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice and cinnamon sugar mixture.  Gently mix together, and then put fruit mixture into baking dish.
  Now make the topping: Place flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix together dry ingredients.  Add butter and incorporate into flour mixture by rubbing butter between your thumb and index finger.  Or you can use a pastry blender.  You know you're finished when there's no loose flour mixture, the color is yellowish-golden, and the crumbs are large.
  Sprinkle crumb topping over fruit mixture.  Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown on top in most places.  Let cool a bit before eating.  Tastes great warmed up with vanilla ice cream!

  I can't resist including this other gem of a summer dessert recipe.  This is a newly discovered way to enjoy strawberries and rhubarb, which is probably my favorite combination of flavors.  Roasting strawberries and rhubarb together in a syrupy sauce imparts an amazingly tart-sweet melding that is absolutely genius!  Don't just take my word for it, try it.  Today.
  Maple syrup, sweet vermouth, and balsamic vinegar create an experience you won't soon forget!
And of course it goes great with ice cream!  Find the recipe here.

Well, that's all I have on the topic of decadence!  What do you eat when you're feeling indulgent?