May 28, 2013

Apple Cake

I hope all of you had a great Memorial Day weekend. Mr. G and I went to the lantern floating ceremony at Ala Moana Beach Park last night and it was so beautiful. There were probably close to 10,000 people there, I'm sure one of you was there with me. I haven't been to the ceremony for many years, but after seeing it last night, I wonder why I don't go. I know originally Memorial Day was to honor the men and women who died serving our country, but I guess it has become a day to remember those who have left us. And that was exactly what I did.  It was so peaceful to be at the beach, looking out into the sunset with the beautiful lanterns floating in the water and just taking a moment to remember those who left us. 

photo from Civil Beat

Since I had a long weekend, I decided to bake bake bake!! There will be more posts from this weekend coming up. I baked up a storm this weekend..heehee =P First is this Apple Cake. The other day Foodland had a crazy sale on Fuji Apples. I went crazy and bought 10 lbs!!! There was no way the two of us would be able to finish 10 lbs of apples. So I searched for a yummy apple recipe. I decided on this Apple Cake from Smitten Kitchen. This cake is really easy to make, it does take a bit of time in the oven, but it's worth it. The cake is moist and the apple gets all soft and yummy. If I can't decide on what to do with the other 6 lbs of apples, I might make it again!! Here's the recipe.

Apple Cake
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

5 apples (see note)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

2. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

3. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.


  • The original recipe calls for 6 McIntosh apples.  My apples were really large, so I used 5.  I think it was about 4 lbs of apples.  
  • The original recipe has an option to add 1 cup of chopped walnuts.  I didn't have walnuts, so I decided not to add it.  

May 23, 2013

Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas

Ina Garten is my favorite Food Network cook. In my perfect world, Ina and I would be best friends. We would cook and bake together and then we would talk and laugh about food. That would be my perfect world, but since we're not best friends, I'll just stalk her through her cookbooks. Ina just wrote another wonderful cookbook, this one is called Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes you can trust. That's just it! I always trust her recipes. It's like you got the recipe from your best friend...see!!

I chose to make this Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas first. A friend came over for dinner and I wanted to have an appetizer ready while I finished up cooking. This came together in no time and it was good. Don't think of it as a hummus because it's not. It's not as creamy and smooth. It's a hearty dip and I love the little bits of tomato. I also love that it was a warm dip. It tastes great with some pita chips! What more can you ask for...

Tuscan Mashed Chickpeas
From Ina Garten

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, preferably Goya
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 ripe medium-size tomatoes, seeded and small-diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grilled country bread or pita chips for serving

1. Pour the chickpeas into a colander and rinse them under cold running water. Drain well. Place the chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the chicken stock and pulse until the chickpeas are coarsely pureed.

2. In a medium (10-inch) saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomato and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until the tomato is softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chickpeas, stirring to combine with the tomatoes and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, parsley, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and taste for seasonings. Pile in a serving bowl, drizzle with extra olive oil, and serve with shards of grilled country bread.

May 13, 2013

Carrot Cake

At a recent first birthday party, I had an amazing Carrot Cake. It was an unusual Carrot Cake because it was a Banana Carrot Cake. The mom told me that it was from Whole Foods. The moist carrot cake with a bit of banana bread flavor and the sweet cream cheese frosting kept creeping in my head. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I even went to Whole Foods to see if they sell just a single piece of the cake. I couldn't find it. They had the plain carrot cake, but not the banana flavored one. I guess I had to take matters in my own hand.

I had every intention of making this Carrot-Banana Cake. I went to the store looking for ripe bananas, but I couldn't find any!! I went to three groceries stores around our house, and every banana was green!!! How is that possible? I HAD TO HAVE MY CARROT CAKE NOW!!! So I decided to make this Carrot Cake from Mel's Kitchen. I love Mel's blog, and if she chooses the word UNBELIEVABLE to describe her carrot cake. I know I would love it too.

The cake was soo good!! It's so easy!! I took it to the office and everyone just loved it! It's incredibly easy to make and it tastes amazing. I chose to use another cream cheese frosting because I've been dying to make this frosting again since I made it almost three years ago!!! It's much lighter and less sweet than the traditional cream cheese frosting. If you prefer the sweet, thick frosting with your carrot cake, then you should definitely go with Mel's recipe. Otherwise, give this a go!

Carrot Cake
from Mel's Kitchen

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 lb. medium carrots (6 to 7 large carrots), peeled
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Grease and flour a 9X13-inch baking pan or 2 9-inch round pans.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside. In a food processor fitted with large or fine shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside. You can also shred by hand on a box grater if you don't have a food processor.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer. Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

4. Pour into prepared pan(s) and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 32 minutes for 9-inch round pans and 40 minutes for a 9X13-inch pan. Let cakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then invert them onto a cooling rack to cool completely (the 9X13-inch cake can be cooled completely in the pan if you don't plan to invert and ice all the sides). At this point, once the cakes are cooled, they can be wrapped in plastic wrap and put in a ziploc bag and placed in the freezer for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature prior to frosting.

Yummy cream cheese frosting
source unknown

1 1/4 cup whipping cream
8 oz cream cheese, softened (see note)
3/4 cup white sugar (see note)
2 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

1. Beat whipping cream until soft peaks are formed, set aside.

2. Combine cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Fold in whipped cream in three additions. Refrigerate until use.

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