Monday, September 28, 2015

Sticky Apple Date Cake

"I wanted to explore a broader spectrum of complementary tastes and flavors, and to imaginative beloved classics as a more balanced blend of sugar and spice.  In these recipes I've tried to take down the sugar to bring up the flavor.  I think that less sweet leaves more room for delicious." - Samantha Seneviratne

Thank you to The New Sugar & Spice for sponsoring today's post!

You've got me, Samantha.  The cover was promising.  The gorgeous muted photos on matte paper had me intrigued.  And your prologue is absolutely spot on. I'm loving this new dessert cookbook: The New Sugar & Spice !

The New Sugar & Spice is my new baking muse.  I love so many things about this book.  First, it is the visual equivalent of aromatherapy.  Second, I love how the recipes are sorted into spice profiles - its a unique way of split them up, and one that works perfectly when you're flipping through looking for the day's inspiration.  And third, as a former test-kitchen pro from Martha (yes, that Martha), the author thinks through details - like writing the ingredients in the order they'll be used so you're not hopelessly scanning the recipe to confirm if it was a Tsp or Tbsp that was needed.

To evaluate the recipes inside, I've tested the Sticky Apple Date Cake from the Ginger chapter.  While it is a bit longer to prepare than some of my favorites (save time by using pre-pitted dates - that step is very long otherwise!), and a bit richer than what we're used to, it was a huge success with our Fall chili night guests!  

Here is the recipe as a preview to the book, quoted from page 195:

Sticky Apple Date Cake

I'm a sucker for anything date-related.  Here I've paired dates with crisp, tart apples and plenty of spicy ginger.  Slathered in just the right amount of butter caramel sauce, this moist cake hits all the right notes.  Add a nip of brandy to the sauce for a little something extra.  As it cools, the sauce may stiffen up.  A little gentle heat will bring it right back, although it makes a tasty frosting as well.

Serves 10

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
10 ounces (about 20) dates, pitted and chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) peeled, minced, fresh ginger
2 small sweet-tart apples such as Pink Lady or Braeburn, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch dice (1 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted better
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan.  TO prepare the cake, bring the dates and the water to a simmer over medium heat in a small saucepan.  Cook until the dates start to soften, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat an immediately stir in the baking soda.  Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, with an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then add the ginger.  Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined.  Stir in the date mixture and fold in the apples.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes.  

Meanwhile, to prepare the sauce, combine the brown sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes.  Add the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a simmer, then decrease the heat to low.  Cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened, 5 to 7 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Let the cake cool for about 15 minutes, then remove the pan sides and set the cake on a serving plate.  Using a toothpick, poke holes all over the cake.  Pour half of the warm sauce over the warm cake and let it absorb.  Serve the cake warm with the remaining sauce for drizzling. Store leftovers well wrapped at room temperature for up to 3 days.


L&L again...

I'm excited to jump farther into this book, and have already thought of a few people on my holiday shopping list who will be getting a copy of their own!  

The only critique I could find of this book is that I wish it showed finished pictures of each and every recipe - I love eating with my eyes.  That said, there are already a lot of beautiful photos that make me want to dive into the pantry and start baking.

Get your copy of Sugar & Spice HERE! 

I received a complementary copy of The New Sugar & Spice in exchange for my honest opinions.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Reusable Pregnancy Fashion

Fantastic pregnancy clothes are not easy to find, can be pricy, and only get worn for a few months.  I love that there is a program that lets us get just the fashions we need, when we need them, and can then trade them in as the belly grows.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Meatless Monday: Gardein 'Chicken' & Bleu Sweet Potato Mash

I couldn't be happier that the concept of Meatless Monday is taking hold across the country!  When we take a moment to think about it, each animal we consume eats thousands of plants and drinks thousands of gallons of water over its lifespan.  If we take a step up in the food chain and go  meatless, even if its only occasionally, it has a huge impact on the planet!  Every little bit counts.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Eggplant Parmesan Gratin

I love eggplant season!  The plump purple veggies are so versatile and with a tiny bit of effort the results can be amazing.  Sure, they're now available year-round, but there is something special about enjoying them during the late summer / early fall when its their time to shine.

This recipe for Eggplant Parmesan Gratin is a huge favorite in our house and presents beautifully.  Its a hybrid between an Italian Eggplant Parmesan and a French Gratin, and is a knock-out served with spaghetti.  Its a great way to make a simple spaghetti dinner into a dish to entertain with.

Monday, August 31, 2015

B&B for the Bees!

Mason bees are the lesser-known relative of honey bees, and are fascinating!  A mason bee can visit as many as 1000 blooms each day, which is 20 times more than a honeybee.  And major bonus for the wary...they don't sting!

If mason bees pollinate 20 times more than honey bees, sign me up!  I've recently received a Bee & Bee (cute, right?) to help attract mason bees to my garden and am excited to invite them in.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Organic Toddler Pillow GIVEAWAY from Dreamtown Kids

Before we had Little One, I started reading about organic fabrics and how they can be a better choice for babies and toddlers.  Since their skin and tiny bodies are so sensitive, even small amounts of pesticides from cotton can make their way into their systems - making organic cottons a smart choice when its feasible.  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Simple tips for a bee-friendly garden

Simple steps for a bee-friendly garden!

Bees bees bees, I love them!  When I was a little girl, on my way home from school I'd stop every day in front of our giant almond tree.  The branches were filled with hundreds of honey bees hard at work - buzzing from blossom to blossom.  The neighbor kids were all afraid to get close, but I loved the excitement!  Each little bee had its job to do, and as long as I moved slowly and quietly, they were perfectly happy to have me by their side.

Arepa Sandwich Sliders

Over the past few weeks I've been experimenting with P.A.N. Cornmeal, a popular ingredient in South American kitchens, and having fun making new recipes along the way! 

This week I've used the cornmeal in its traditional role - to make traditional flatbread known as Arepas.  Here's how I did it!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

Make your own Hummingbird Nectar!  Simple DIY recipe

We're lucky to have a lot of hummingbirds buzzing about our yard, pollinating the garden as they frolic from blossom to blossom.  This year I received a hummingbird feeder, together with Mom's "secret" recipe for homemade hummingbird nectar, to help keep the hummingbirds thriving year-round.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Why I'm SOMETIMES Buying Plants at Home Depot...and How

Earlier this spring I visited Home Depot and was shocked by their new plant tags.  How in the world could they be promoting their plants treated with bee-harming Neonic pesticides as a friendly convenience?  

I was ashamed to have been purchasing there.  Shocked by it all, I researched the topic and wrote Why I'm NOT Buying Plants at Home Depot or LOWES and quickly vowed to go on strike against them and any other nurseries using Neonics.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Country Quiche

Brunch is hands-down my absolute favorite meal.  Its the best of breakfast and a full meal, rolled into one relaxed gathering.  I love that it starts late in the morning, or sometimes into the afternoon, and I love that it is an opportunity for friends and family to start their days together and spend relaxed time enjoying each others company.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cooking with Bee Pollen

Wait...you can eat bee pollen??

Those were my thoughts as I first thumbed through a cookbook I'd received (more on that here).  How could that be a good thing?  And it sounds like way more work than it could possibly be worth...

So when I saw the beekeeper selling honey at the farmers market the next morning, I was filled with questions.  How is the pollen collected?  Does it hurt the bees?  How long does it stay fresh?  How much is it?

Monday, July 6, 2015

DIY Garden Stepping Stones

I recently had some mortar mix leftover after a brick project and was brainstorming ways to put it to use.  In need of stepping stones for my newly expanded vegetable garden, I decided to make these cute DIY garden stepping stones.  It was such a simple project, that results in cute, custom garden steppers for just pennies!  Here's how I did it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Rooted in Design - Decorating with Plants

With the excitement around my Vertically Gardened board on Pinterest, the cover of Rooted in Design had me intrigued.  What a gorgeous vertical garden installed over a rustic brick wall!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Braised Fennel with Mint

I'm absolutely obsessed with fennel right now!  The flavor is so fresh, and it is brimming with anti-oxidants that make it an extremely healthy addition to the menu.  

I love this recipe because it showcases a softer side to fennel.  The braising tones down the hints of licorice that fresh fennel has, and instead brings a soft rustic flavor.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chili Cornbread Cups

Gameday Cornbread Chili Cups!

I'm on the road quite often, visiting new cities and corners of the world.  One of my favorite activities on a trip to a new country, or even an unfamiliar part of the US, is to explore a local grocer.  As simple and uneventful as it sounds, the food people buy and the way they shop gives such great insight into a local culture!  Culinary exploration.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper Tartine

Tastes like trip to Italy...in just 5 minutes! Roasted Red Pepper Tartine

Sometimes, amid all the hustle and bustle, its nice to just stay at home and relax.  Sure, a summer trip to Italy is wonderful, but there is something to be said about enjoying the simplicity of a relaxing afternoon or weekend in the backyard.

This Roasted Red Pepper Tartine is for just that:  A culinary trip to Italy, that takes just seconds to make at home.  The flavors carry me back to Tuscany, and the preparation is so simple that I get to unwind on the back porch a bit and rediscover how relaxing a summer staycation can be.  So bring on the heat, we're ready!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Results: Using Epsom Salts to Stop Stumps from Growing

Organically stop stumps from growing back with this simple tip!

When I'd originally posted the tutorial on How to stop stumps from growing back, organically!, I'd made a promise - to come back to talk about how the process went and show the results.  Well, here it is!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Feta & Mint Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Feta and Mint Grilled Sweet Potatoes
It's grilling season!  The best thing about grilling is that impressive meals are so very simple to make.  These Feta & Mint Grilled Sweet Potatoes are the perfect example!

We typically think of sweet potatoes in the Fall, but they're a fantastically healthy addition to a summer barbecue.  This recipe, with its fresh summer flavors, brings sweet potatoes front and center during grilling season and are a fun break from the typical steak-and-potatoes routine.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rustic Spanish Pear Tarte

Rustic Spanish Pear Tarte - The perfect summer dessert!

I love learning new recipes when I travel, and this is one that I picked up on a trip to Spain.  We enjoyed it at a bustling street cafe somewhere in Barcelona and I had to bring the recipe home with me. The texture is light and creamy, and the pears give it just the right amount of sweetness.  Its a perfect dessert after a heavy meal, or on a warm summer night!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Healthy Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins - perfect bite-sized picnic desserts!

We are absolute yoghurt addicts at our house.  We eat it for breakfast, for dessert, and substitute it into recipes all the time with deliciously creamy results!

While living in Europe, I found myself preferring tubs of plain, unsweetened yoghurt.  This way I could decide just how much I want, and how I want to use.  As a savory substitute for sour cream, as the base for an improvised veggie dip, or sweetened with fresh fruit or homemade jam for dessert. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

Organics on the Go!

I've got a little one at home, and having her eat plenty of healthy fruits and vegetables like the rest of the family is a huge priority.  And since her little body is so small and absorbing so much, we're extra careful about the quality of ingredients we use.  Little One eats organic as often as possible - homemade and without preservatives, dyes, or additives. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Strawberry Coconut Milkshake

Strawberry Coconut Milkshake - AMAZING!  Gluten free

Something about warm mornings makes me crave a creamy smoothie filled with fresh fruits and veggies.  Its the perfect tasty start to a day, and with all the nutrients packed into one yummy glass - a day that starts with a smoothie is bound to be a good one!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Water Patio Plants Less Often with this Surprising Tip!

Water Patio Plants Less Often with this Surprising Tip!

This spring while planting the garden, I wanted to try out new ways to help keep my container flowers blooming throughout the heat of the summer.  That is, without me standing over them and watering them every day!

A high school chemistry teacher waaay back in the day had beakers of gel around the classroom with flowers growing out of them.  She explained to us that it was the same water-retaining material found in diapers...and period pads.  That little bit of trivia stayed with me and this spring it's found its way into my coir-lined hanging planters.  Here's more on this unexpected repurposing...feminine pads in the garden!

Monday, May 4, 2015

My New Roots

Seasonal, healthy eating and recipes

Every once and awhile, you're cruising along in life and then the wind blows...a new view enters.  

That is what just happened to me with My New Roots - it shook up my world, in a good way.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Weeknight Chicken with Spinach

Healthy Weeknight Chicken with Spinach

A perfect weeknight meal for two!

This recipe is so, so simple, is inexpensive, and has the flavor of a much more elaborate dish.  Its a perfect healthy weeknight meal, and goes great served with rice.

Monday, April 20, 2015

5 Ideas for Gardening with Kids!

It is such a treat to grow up learning about and playing nature. 

Here are 5 fun ideas to get kids excited about the garden - and tricks to win yourself, busy Mom, a few minutes in the dirt!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Garden Tour: Studio City, California

What a gorgeous spring day, perfect for a walk around Studio City, California!

Charming white picket fence lined with climbing roses

This LA suburb is home to a cute cafe street, charming neighborhoods, CBS Studios, and if rumors are correct...the Big Brother House the exterior of the Brady Bunch house, Miley Cirus, Zac Effron, Bruno Mars, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Trebec, Sophia Vergara, William Shatner, Seth McFarlane and Ryan Gosling all call it home.

Monday, April 6, 2015

10 FRESH Springtime Garden Tips

There is nothing better this time of year than digging your fingers into the soil and watching as life sprouts out of it!

Here a collection of fresh gardening tips to help ring in the season:

    Thursday, April 2, 2015

    Asian Zucchini Slaw

    Refreshing, Simple BBQ Side!  Asian Zucchini Slaw
    The garden is filled with baby zucchini plants and I'm anxiously getting ready for summer zucchini season!  

    Monday, March 30, 2015

    The Healthy Mind Cookbook

    The Healthy Mind Cookbook - review by Lavende&Lemonade

    Did you know that eating broccoli can help boost verbal recall?  Or that avocado may keep depression at bay? 

    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    Why I'm NOT buying plants from Home Depot or Lowes

    This weekend I stopped at Home Depot to pick up a few supplies for our latest DIY adventure.  I wandered to the garden center with hopes of picking up a new lemon tree and maybe a few new flowers for the garden. 

    I was puzzled by a plastic label popping out of each of the plants.  "This plant is protected from problematic Aphids, White flies, Beetles, Mealy Bugs and other unwanted pests by Neonicotinoids."

    That name sounded familiar...and why did their choice of wording sound like such a hard-sell?  Like the waiter who comes asking 8 times if I'm really sure I don't want dessert.

    Monday, March 23, 2015

    Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Soup

    Healthy, simple, delicious all-year round! Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Soup

    Soups are great all year round, and this Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Soup is the perfect example of a soup that is crave-worthy in all the seasons.

    Monday, March 16, 2015

    Where Does Argan Oil Come From?

    Do you know where does Argan Oil come from? So interesting!
    Photo Source: (C) Direction du patrimoine culturel via UNESCO

    Shopping with a friend a few months ago (I rarely venture into the cosmetics department...) I was surprised to see Argan Oil in nearly everything. At that time I'd not heard of this so-called "liquid gold" and my interest was peaked.

    Monday, March 9, 2015

    Whole Grain Apple Oatmeal Muffins

    You would never guess these muffins are so healthy!  
    The freshly shredded apple makes them incredibly moist and gives a gentle, sweet flavor that is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or a mid-day snack.  Plus, serving them in cupcake liners makes them feel like dessert!

    Monday, March 2, 2015

    French Almond Yogurt Cake with Pears

    French Almond Yogurt Cake with Pears - Recipe and Tutorial from Lavende & Lemonade

    It seems like every French home I've visited has some version of this quick, tasty recipe taped to the inside of a cupboard door.  This is a simple dessert that is perfect for making together with the kids because the measuring is so wonderfully simple.

    This version is topped with fresh pears, which adds a luxurious flavor and appearance to the cake.

    Monday, February 23, 2015

    Roasted Eggplant "Hummus" Dip

    Roasted Eggplant "Hummus" Dip

    Eggplant is such a versatile vegetable that often gets overlooked.  When it is baked, it gets a wonderfully creamy flavor.  

    This recipe for Roasted Eggplant "Hummus" is a variation on Baba Ganoush - a Middle Eastern eggplant dip.  It is delicious served with slices of crusty bread, Pita Chips, as a sandwich spread, or even mixed together with rice and vegetables.  

    Monday, February 16, 2015

    How to Dry Herbs - the simple way!

    The bright flavor of basil, the woody undertone of rosemary, the sophisticated zing of thyme - these are all part of the joys and benefits of growing an herb garden!

    Monday, February 9, 2015

    Its A Good Food Day!

    Its always a great day for good food, and that is exactly the concept behind Marco Canora's A Good Food Day!

    Its A Good Food Day!

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