Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sweet Potato Cupcakes!

Something had to be done with the sweet potatoes trying to grow out of a paper bag. There were probably 4 or 5 pounds of them, but by the time I cut off the dried-out and growing bits, I had just a bit over a pound, perfect for sweet potato cupcakes! I'd never made this recipe before, but it turned out to be delicious! Imagine a cross between zucchini bread and carrot cake-- not too sweet, but very moist and tender. The pictures I took turned out better than usual, so I'm posting a bunch. The recipe for both the cake and the frosting comes from the Whitegrass Cookbook, from the kitchen/cafe of a fabulous cross-country skiing place in West Virginia. (website here: ) My family doesn't like super sweet frosting, so I always halve the sugar in this recipe. They're good without frosting too! So, here goes:

Whitegrass Sweet Potato Cake
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 c. AP flour
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. allspice
1 lb (4 cups) sweet potatoes, peeled and grated

Blend oil and sugar. Add eggs,
one at a time, beating after each addition.

Combine dry ingredients and
mix with egg mixture.

Add grated sweet potatoes and mix well.

Pour batter into two 9" round or one 13x9x2" pans. (Or 18 muffin tins.) Bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes for cake, 15-20 for cupcakes. Cool for 10 minutes in pan(s), then fully on racks. Sample. Frost. Sample again. Share.

Whitegrass Cream Cheese Frosting, half-sweet version
2 T. butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. confectioners sugar (about 1.5 cups)
1 t. vanilla
1 t. grated orange peel (or a few drops of orange extract)

Beat butter and cream cheese. Add all other ingredients and beat until smooth.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Soups (for Riley), or How to Not Neglect Your Blender

Riley has a lot of tomatoes. To solve such a delicious predicament, I recommend immediate application of gazpacho. And just for kicks (and because it's peach/cantaloupe season), I recommend further application of Peach-Cantaloupe soup for dessert (though perhaps not in the same day; that's a lot of pureed fruit). I've made each of these a few times, but not yet this season-- I'll post pictures when I do. The gazpacho recipe gets its basics from a recipe my Mom has (of unclear origins), but it's been altered over time and generally proceeds in an "Eh, that looks like enough X" fashion. I've tried to be a bit more useful than that here, but it's a really forgiving recipe so don't stress if you don't have exactly enough of any ingredient. The Peach-Cantaloupe soup comes directly from "The Enchanted Broccoli Forest," which is a wonderful cookbook by Mollie Katzen (of Moosewood). She has delicious ways to prepare all sorts of fresh veggies and fruits, as well as a chapter on bread which is both inspiring and easy-to-follow. Onwards and soupwards...

Gazpacho for Riley
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion or a handful of green onions, diced
3 c. tomato juice*
2 large tomatoes, peeled** and chopped
1 bell pepper or 2 poblanos, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (or a dash of hot sauce)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
two splashes vinegar (apple cider is good, or whatever you've got)
two heavy drizzles of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

*If you're feeling particularly inundated with tomatoes, make juice out of them yourself instead of buying canned. Peel (see below), halve or quarter, scoop seeds out, and blend.

**To peel tomatoes (easily): bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add tomatoes and simmer for 60 seconds. Dunk in ice water. The skins should slip right off; if not then boil them for a few more seconds. (This also works for peaches/plums!)

Blend half of cucumber, half of onion, half of bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic, tomato juice, and oil/vinegar (in batches as necessary). Add to remaining ingredients. Chill at least 2 hours. Slurp up. Really good with rosemary sourdough bread and fresh mozzarella or more olive oil. It looks pinkish when you first make it (see photo) because the tomatoes get frothy, but regains a rich red color after chilling.

Peach Cantaloupe Soup (credit: Mollie Katzen, with minimal alterations)
6 medium ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced (see above for peeling tip)
1/4 c. dry white wine
6 T. lemon juice (from one juicy lemon)
1 T. honey
1/4 t. cinnamon (MORE!)
dash of nutmeg (make it two)
1 medium-sized ripe cantaloupe (5" diameter or so), seeded and diced
1 c. OJ

Place all but cantaloupe and OJ in a heavy saucepan. Heat to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Allow to cool. Puree peach mixture with 3/4 of the cantaloupe and OJ until smooth. Pour into serving bowl. Add remaining cantaloupe chunks and chill for 2 hours. Garnish with fresh blueberries and mint. And whipped cream if you're feeling adventurous.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Coconut-Anything Ice Cream

(photo credit: Christina)

This is actually from a few weeks ago, but that's okay. It is the easiest ice cream I've ever EVER made-- three ingredients only! I have the ice cream attachment for my stand mixer, which makes it even more ridiculously easy if the bowl is pre-frozen. For best (and quickest) results, either chill the ingredients separately before mixing or chill the mix itself before churning. Any fruit could be substituted for the peaches; it takes about a cup of mashed/pureed fruit to get decent flavor. The peach-coconut combination is dynamite, but pineapple would be good too, or papaya or maybe even pear. Now, without further ado...

Chill and mix (or vice-versa) 2 cans coconut milk (NOT lite), 2 pitted and mashed peaches, and 1/2 c. sugar. Pour into ice cream machine and follow manufacturer's directions. Garnish with fresh fruit (more blackberries, anyone?) and mint. EAT!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Laura's jambalaya!

My friend Laura is amazing, and lives in Atlanta, and I think she's a bit bored recently. She emailed me her jambalaya recipe and, well, it looks delicious! Here it is...

Laura's Jambalaya (word-for-word from her email)


  • 1 large pepper (any kind, green makes it look prettier)
  • 1 small onion
  • Okra (optional/seasonal)
  • 14 oz. can tomatoes (don’t drain) or equivalent amount of fresh
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Meat (see discussion below)
  • 2 - 3 T oil
  • Garlic (at least 2 cloves)
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Tabasco sauce (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Basil, oregano, rosemary as the spirit moves you
  • Salt and pepper to taste (if using canned broth, no salt is necessary)


In large pot, sauté pepper, onion and garlic until cooked a bit in oil (whatever kind you want).

Add rice, stirring until it is coated in oil (this will prevent sticking – more oil may be necessary but if you use a greasy meat it isn’t).

Add tomatoes, broth, water, PRE-cooked meat and spices.

Raise to a boil then simmer (covered) for about 30 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Be sure not to eat the bay leaf!


I usually use ½ a ring of Polish kielbasa and a chicken breast or two. You can use Italian sausage or shrimp as well. Kielbasa is pre-cooked and therefore easy to add. For shrimp, it would be advisable to add it towards the end though you may want to look up proper instructions. Shrimp is too classy for me. (My note: Add shrimp when the water is all-but absorbed; they need to steam/cook for about 4 minutes. And yes, I had to look it up too.)