Vanilla Bean Orange Blossom Angel Food Cake Is Heaven

Easter is almost here. Spring officially began last week, even though it was snowing at the beach 3 days ago. It doesn’t feel like Spring. Or Easter. Unless you count the barrage of chocolate bunnies, marshmallow chicks, and amazingly cheap prices on eggs. Oh, ok, now it’s starting to feel like Easter.

My family tends to be planners. Especially about holidays. Normally we’re a month ahead of schedule, but for some reason this year Easter crept up on us. I mean we still have a plan, but it was only a two week plan. I’m making the desserts (carrot cake and coconut macaroons) and a veggie side dish. Nothing too complicated, I hope 🤞

But I also wanted to make an angel food cake since that seems like an Easter type food. Actually, I just wanted an excuse to try out my new bottle of orange blossom water in a recipe and this was a perfect opportunity. The recipe uses a lot of egg whites but with sales galore on eggs right now I decided to go with it. Timing is everything!

I don’t have a two piece angel food pan, but this recipe works great for one large 9×5″ loaf pan, which I do have. If you have an angel food cake pan, double this recipe. The flavor combination of vanilla bean and orange blossom is amazing. Not overpowering, just delicious. You will have egg yolks leftover, so I recommend using them to make a citrusy curd topping like this http://www.notquitenigella.com/2014/01/30/lemon-curd-recipe/amp.html

I hope you find a way to work this into your spring baking. Literally 45 minutes start to finish for a sweet and fluffy light cake that even angels would say is heavenly ♥️

Vanilla Bean Orange Blossom Angel Food Cake

1/2 cup cake flour

1/4 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup egg whites (5-6 large eggs separated)

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp orange blossom water

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9×5” loaf pan with aluminum foil (do not grease pan or foil). Whisk flour and salt and set aside. In a stand mixer on medium speed, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and lemon juice. Beat on high until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar while still beating egg whites. It will thicken and become glossy. Then beat in vanilla bean paste and orange blossom water. Turn mixer to lowest setting and slowly add flour. As soon as flour is added turn mixer off and stir gently to ensure all flour is incorporated but not over mixed which will deflate the egg whites. Place batter into prepared pan and gently tap pan to settle. Bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool upside down in pan. When cake is fully cooled, remove from pan, peel off foil and serve.

SOLVe And Seashell Madeleines

I love cake. And I love cookies. And that’s why the Madeleine is perfect. It’s the best of both worlds. A lightly sweet and tiny sponge cake/cookie. And they’re adorable too!

To make a true madeleine you need a special pan with scalloped wells for the batter. But if you don’t have one, no worries. Even though you won’t have the adorable shell shape they are known for, you can make this in a muffin tin as well.

You can change up the extract flavor. I used maple, but experiment with your own favorites. The batter comes together very easily. If you’re in a real hurry you can skip chilling the batter, but it does make a slight difference in the final baked texture.

Tomorrow is SOLVe (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) beach cleanup day here in Oregon, a statewide annual event to keep our beaches beautiful that began in 1969. I’ll be participating with my daughters this year. Fingers crossed for good weather! Who am I kidding? This is March in Oregon. But it’s a great effort for the state I love! These seashell shaped treats seemed like the perfect snack to take along and share. Boy, that’s a real tongue twister!

Enjoy your weekend whatever you’re doing. And if you have time, whip up a batch of these madeleines as a special treat ♥️

Maple Madeleines

3 eggs, room temperature

1/2 tsp sea salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar

10 Tbsp butter, melted

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp maple extract

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat standard size madeleine pans with nonstick spray. Set aside. In a medium bowl whip eggs, salt, and sugar until pale in color and almost doubled in volume. Gently fold in flour, butter, and extract until just combined. Place batter in refrigerator for 30 minutes. After batter has chilled, place a large tablespoon of batter in each madeleine well. Bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan 1-2 minutes before gently removing cookies from pan. You can dust with powdered sugar or coat in icing if you like. Store fully cooled madeleines in an airtight container at room temperature.

Semolina Queen of Puddings or Something Like That

I love to experiment with new ideas. Over the weekend while I was researching Irish foods for St Patrick’s Day, I found a couple of classic Irish dishes that intrigued me. Irish Semolina Pudding and another dish called Queen of Puddings. They are both similar, although one uses semolina flour with jam topping, and the other has fine bread crumbs with a layer of jam and meringue. It got me to thinking about combining the two.

This is the culmination of that idea. The Queen of Puddings is a bit more complicated due to the meringue, but I liked the idea of using semolina rather than bread crumbs. Layers of jam and pudding topped with fluffy sweet meringue. Yum! The pudding itself isn’t overly sweet and actually has a consistency much like a bread pudding.

I have no idea what to call this, other than delicious. I think any type of jam or marmalade works well in this. I used blackberry because it’s my favorite. And the almond extract is the perfect compliment. I hope you give this try!

Semolina Queen Of Puddings

Pudding:

2 cups + 2 Tbsp whole milk

3/4 cup semolina

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp almond extract

2 cups jam

Meringue:

3 egg whites

3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat 4 – 10 oz ramekins with nonstick spray. In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat. Slowly whisk in semolina and constantly whisk over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Stir in sugar and extract. Put 2 tablespoons of jam in the bottom of each ramekin. Pour cooked pudding over jam in each ramekin. Then top with remaining jam. Place ramekins in a large baking dish and add water until it comes halfway up the sides of ramekins (water bath). Then bake 20 minutes at 400 degrees. While puddings bake, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and continue beating at high speed until stiff peaks form. Remove ramekins from oven. Quickly top each ramekin with meringue covering entire top. Place ramekins back in oven without water bath and bake 10 more minutes to brown meringue. Remove from oven. Store puddings in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Happy St Patrick’s Day 🍀

Today is the day to celebrate the wearin’ of the green. It also coincides with National Corned Beef and Cabbage day. Hmmmm. I wonder why!

Ironically, corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. It’s an American dish thanks to the heavy exportation of corned beef from Ireland to the United States. And don’t think I don’t appreciate it. So good!

Another food deeply associated with Ireland and St Patrick’s Day are potatoes. And I love potatoes. I know deep in my heart I am Irish based on this fact alone. The potato is a beautiful vegetable. So many wonderful foods from just one vegetable.

I came across a fun St Patrick’s Day recipe called Irish Potato Candy. Spoiler Alert – they do not contain potatoes. While they may look like tiny russet potatoes, they taste absolutely divine. Cream cheese, butter, Bailey’s Irish cream, powdered sugar, nuts and coconut. Rolled in cinnamon. Doesn’t that sound like heaven?

These are a fun and delicious treat to serve after filling up on corned beef and cabbage. Give them a try! Eirinn go Bragh (Ireland until eternity) 🍀♥️🇨🇮

Irish Potato Candy

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature

2 tsp Baileys Irish Cream liquor

4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup toasted coconut

1/4 cup cinnamon for rolling

In a medium bowl beat cream cheese and butter until thoroughly mixed. Add powdered sugar and continue to mix until fully blended. Stir in pecans and coconut. Make tablespoon size balls and roll in cinnamon to coat. Reshape like potatoes if desired. Lay on parchment paper lined baking sheet and chill to firm up. Store candies in refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes approximately 24 candies.

The Sweet Life Of Pi and Pie

Today is National Pi Day. March 14, also 3.14. I’m not much of a mathematician, but I’m down for any reason to have pie. And believe it or not, I have a lot in common with pie and Pi. We’re both round. Sometimes sweet, sometimes savory. We’re both irrational and we never settle into a permanent repeating pattern. Ha ha ha!

I was so torn between what kind of pie to make. I really couldn’t decide so I made two different pies. That turned out to be a great decision. A dark chocolate espresso cream pie and a coconut cream pie. My girls and I had a pie party this evening! Nothing better than food and family. Spoiler alert – the dark chocolate espresso cream pie was my favorite.

Everything from the crust to the fillings to the real whipped cream. This is the real deal. And I think it was worth the effort and calories. What’s your favorite kind of pie? Sweet and fluffy or savory and hearty? I hope however you celebrate Pi Day, it’s endless fun!

Coconut Cream Pie:

1 pie crust, blind baked

2 2/3 cups whole milk

1 egg

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

A pinch of salt

1 tsp coconut extract

1 cup sweetened coconut

Whipped Cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla or coconut extract

1 cup toasted coconut for garnish

In a medium saucepan combine milk, egg, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk over medium heat until it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in extract and coconut. Pour into baked pie shell. Smooth top and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Lay plastic wrap or foil over top and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To make whipped cream, chill metal bowl and beaters for 30 minutes prior to making. Pour cream and sugar into bowl and begin beating or whisking at high speed until stiff peaks form. Add in extract and finish whisking or beating for 30 seconds. Remove pie from refrigerator and cover pie with whipped cream and toasted coconut garnish. Serve immediately or chill until ready to eat.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cream Pie

1 pie shell, blind baked

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp flour

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup dark cocoa

1 Tbsp espresso powder

A pinch of salt

2 cups whole milk

3 egg yolks

2 Tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan whisk cornstarch, flour, sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and salt together. Slowly whisk in milk and egg yolks and fully combine. Continuously whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract. Pour into baked pie shell. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Then refrigerate pie for at least 2 hours to completely cool and set. Top with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate curls if desired. Enjoy!

Well, Hello Dolly (bars)!

I don’t think I had my first Hello Dolly bar until I was almost 40. Gasp! A coworker brought them to an office potluck and she was amazed that I didn’t know what they were. I was amazed too because they are DELICIOUS and the thought of missing out on them for so long was just sad. Oh so sad.

Luckily my coworker was kind enough to share the recipe and every once in a while I happen to have all the necessary ingredients and snack magic happens. The ingredients aren’t complicated but for whatever reason I rarely seem to have them all on hand at exactly the same time in my pantry.

These are also known as 7 layer bars or magic cookie bars depending on where you’re from. The name Hello Dolly Bars apparently relates to this recipe being popular during the ’60s when Hello Dolly, the musical, was popular as well. And let’s face it, Hello Dolly bars are just more fun to say.

I think any type of chopped nuts work in this recipe. I prefer pecans or walnuts, but that’s just me. Also, the chocolate chips could easily be dark, milk, white, peanut butter, butterscotch or even cinnamon chips. Other add ins like dried fruit or toffee bits would be yummy too. I’m giving you the basic recipe today, but I hope you give it a try and get creative with your own special twists! Enjoy ♥️

Hello Dolly Bars

2 cups crushed graham crackers

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup shredded coconut

1 – 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9×13” pan with nonstick spray. Mix graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter, and press in bottom of pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over graham cracker mixture. Then sprinkle nuts over chocolate chips. Sprinkle coconut on top of nuts. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the coconut covering the top as much as possible. Bake 30 minutes or until top and edges are lightly browned. Cool at room temperature and cut into bars.

Imitation Is The Highest Form Of Flattery

I’m a sucker for a great “copycat recipe”. I think we all have our favorite restaurant foods or condiments and being able to recreate it at home is awesome. I don’t think it takes anything away from the restaurant experience. Honestly, I’m pretty sure most people will still frequent their favorite restaurant regardless of knowing how to make a favorite dish at home. But it’s just exciting to know that you can make it if you really want to.

KFC coleslaw is one of those things for me. In general I don’t like coleslaw. But the exception to the rule is when I’m eating at a KFC. I really don’t know if Col. Harlan Sanders actually came up with the original recipe but it’s the best, IMO. I love it! And knowing how to make it at home is extra awesome.

Today we had a burst of sunny warm weather. And after a long winter, the first sight of sunshine and temperatures over 60 degrees always sucks me into a summery mindset for a day or two. I found myself craving picnic food. BBQ and picnic salads. So as luck would have it, I had all the ingredients for the best copycat coleslaw that I’m going to share with you today.

Here’s the secret or key ingredient combo – a mix of acidic ingredients (lemon juice, vinegar, and buttermilk) and granulated sugar. The buttermilk is super important. Don’t skip this part. I realize buttermilk isn’t a common staple for most people. But if you don’t want to bother with finding and buying real buttermilk, it’s also available in a powder form that can be quickly and easily mixed to the amount you need for any recipe. I like the Bob’s Red Mill brand, but that’s just a personal preference.

I hope you’ll give this a try next time you get a craving for really yummy coleslaw or need a quick side dish for BBQ. ♥️

Copycat KFC Coleslaw

2 – 14 oz bags coleslaw mix (no dressing, just cabbage and carrot shreds about 8 cups total)

Dressing ingredients:

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp white vinegar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients until smooth. Combine coleslaw mix and dressing mix in a large bowl and combine well. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow flavors to fully develop. The cabbage will release extra moisture as it marinates in the dressing. This is normal. Give the coleslaw a final stir just before serving. Enjoy!

I ♥️ Oregon

Major blunder on my part yesterday. It was National Oregon Day and I missed it. I’ve been battling a cold (flu?) and my energy level has been almost nonexistent. But I hope today’s post can make up for it!

I’m a native Oregonian, born and raised. And with the exception of a couple of years in New England, I’ve lived here my whole life. While I’ve visited a majority of the US, there is no place like home, no place like Oregon. We are so blessed to have such a beautiful state. Mountains, beaches, high desert, lakes, rivers, I think we really have it all.

I was surprised to learn that our state fruit is actually the pear. I would have thought apples or berries (and I would have been wrong). And we also have a state nut – we call them filberts, but the rest of the world calls them hazelnuts. So with that in mind I made the most Oregon dessert I could think of. A pear hazelnut strudel, with a little Havarti cheese and Nutella just because everything’s better with cheese and Nutella.

I hope you give this a try! I think it would also “pair” nicely with a lovely Willamette Valley Reisling, if you wanted to go all out Oregon! Enjoy ♥️

Pear Hazelnut Strudel

1 large pear, peeled and chopped

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp apple pie spice

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

2 Tbsp flour

1 sheet Puff pastry, thawed

2 Tbsp Nutella

2 thin slices Havarti cheese

1 egg, beaten

Granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Mix first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl and let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature. Unfold puff pastry onto parchment paper smoothing any creases. Place cheese slices down center of pastry. With an offset spatula, gently spread Nutella on cheese slices. Spread pear mixture on Nutella. Fold outer edges over each other and tuck top and bottom edges under to seal. Brush with egg wash. Make slashes on top to vent. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake 40-45 minutes.

A Peach Of A Cobbler

I absolutely hate recipes that use the word “dump” in the title. I get the point that they are supposed to be ridiculously easy, but there has to be a better term for it than that. I’m totally open to any suggestions you may have. Something about food characterized as dump anything just completely ruins it for me. I apologize if that’s too gross to mention in a food blog.

Weekends are great for being adventurous or for being lazy. Especially when it comes to cooking. It’s a good time to tackle a recipe that is a little too involved for a weekday. It’s also a good time to whip up something easy with little muss and fuss while you binge watch some tv or read a good book. A big project does require a bit more planning, but the results are almost always worth the effort. And conversely, if you’ve had a busy week and just want a yummy dessert with minimal work, that just sweetens the deal, so to speak.

This weekend fell into the latter category for me. I wanted something a little sweet, but not a huge process or mess. And I wanted to utilize what I already had in my kitchen. After looking through my cupboards, I realized I had everything I needed to make a delicious and easy peach cobbler. Some recipes refer to this a dump cake. I reject that title due to the aforementioned reasons. This recipe doesn’t need eggs, and you could substitute oil for the butter and coconut milk for regular milk if you want to make it vegan. I have seen a variation of this made with a yellow cake mix, but it’s so simple to make without it. And why spend extra money on a box mix? Save your money for quality ice cream!

I hope you give this a try. It’s amazing served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream ♥️

Easy Peach Cobbler

1 can 30 oz sliced peaches

1 stick butter, melted

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9×13” pan with nonstick spray. Pour melted butter into pan. Drain peaches, reserving liquid. Place peaches in prepared pan. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, flour, and baking powder. Add milk and peach liquid to dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Pour batter over top of peaches in pan. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over top of batter in pan. Bake 45-60 minutes or until top is brown and bubbling. Remove from oven. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Amazing Italian Amaretti Cookies

Today I’m going to blow your mind. So take a seat or whatever you need to do before reading on further.

In case you don’t know this about me, I am an avid reader. Everyday I read at least 2-3 hours. It’s mostly informational stuff, news, interesting and fun facts, but I just really enjoy learning something new all the time. And I recently read something food related, of course, that I couldn’t believe. So being me, I had to try it out.

Did you know that the liquid in canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) is called aquafaba? And did you know that this liquid can be used in place of eggs or egg whites in recipes? I did not know this! Maybe I’m just late to the party on this information, but it was news to me. The aquafaba can be whipped exactly like egg whites to the same consistency. Now I’m not sure if this works with other canned legumes or not. And since I’m not a vegan, it’s not super important to me other than it’s just an amazing thing to try. But for those of you who are vegan, this would be a fantastic alternative in recipes calling for eggs or egg whites.

I had planned to make Amaretti cookies today and since it calls for egg whites, this was the perfect recipe to test it out on. I’m happy to say it passed with flying colors! The rule of thumb is 2 Tbsp of aquafaba equals 1 egg or egg white. I hope you’ll give it a try, if for no other reason, just for the curiosity factor. This recipe calls for almond meal so it is naturally gluten free. And if using the aquafaba in place of egg whites, it’s also vegan.

The texture is slightly crispy on the outside and moist chewy inside. And delicious almond flavor throughout! Enjoy ♥️

Italian Amaretti Cookies

3 egg whites or 6 Tbsp aquafaba

3 cups almond meal

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp Amaretti liquor or 2 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites or aquafaba until semi stiff peaks form. Gently fold in almond meal, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, vanilla extract and Amaretti or almond extract. Stir just until combined. Dough will be very sticky, thick and paste-like. Place powdered sugar in a bowl. Scoop out a tablespoon of dough and form into a ball. Then roll in powdered sugar to fully coat. Place each ball on baking sheet about 1” apart. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly before moving to a cooling rack. Enjoy! Store cooled cookies in an airtight container room temperature. Makes approximately 30 cookies.