I’m finally cooking more in my kitchen now that I have brand new cabinets installed. When we purchased our house only half of the kitchen had cabinets, while the other side was made for an “eat in kitchen”. I put two kitchen carts and an old cabinet in the space where they had the table. Food would get lost in the back of the “cabinet/pantry” while dog hair and dust hid in the depths of the kitchen carts. Thankfully, this setup is no longer there, and we have brand new shiny cabinets. We ordered cabinets to match the others we already had, and I am so happy I have my kitchen back. I’m also extremely fortunate to have a handy husband and father who installed these cabinets. I’ll post pictures soon of my new kitchen inspiration.
Back to cooking.
I made this cake for my parents anniversary when I cooked the Daube a la Provençale. Somehow, this extremely easy and tasty dessert was temporarily lost in my photos. As I went to post another recipe tonight I came across these photos. I couldn’t pass up not posting it. I don’t bake too often, but this was incredibly simple. Anyone can bake this, no matter their skill level. Thanks to Melissa d’Arabian from the Food Network for this easy, wallet friendly, recipe.
Orange Olive Oil Cake
- Butter, for greasing the pan
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Juice and zest of 1 orange (about 3 tablespoons juice, 1 tablespoon zest)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
Mix together the sugar and eggs in a medium bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until blended and light. Drizzle in the olive oil and vanilla and mix until light and smooth. Add the orange juice and zest and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another medium bowl. Add the flour mixture half at a time to the wet ingredients and mix on low just to incorporate. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake, 25 to 30 minutes. Let the cake cool 15 minutes, dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
Observations/Analysis: Cheap, Easy, Delicious. You might be concerned with the olive oil in a cake, but it only adds to the sweetness and moisture. I’ve had cake made with olive oil at restaurants and this comes very close. Plus, I love the subtle flavor of orange throughout the cake.
There are other recipes that could be posted, but I have been preoccupied with graduate school. I rarely post a recipe right after I make it unless I have an abundance of time. Tonight is different! Yesterday, I made grilled artichokes that were absolutely amazing. I had grilled artichokes for the first time at The Cheesecake Factory. Last night I tried replicating this recipe. Having never cooked artichokes before (or even attempted to cut one open) I was fairly nervous. However, this blog has pushed me to try new things. I looked up several grilled artichoke recipes online to get an idea of how I wanted to make mine. I was extremely happy with the results of my creation and no dipping sauces were needed! They were delicious on their own.
- 2 artichokes
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 5 garlic cloves, 2 smashed,3 minced
- 1/4 C olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to boil with 1/4 of the lemon squeezed into it (and rind) plus two cloves of smashed garlic. Right before you add the artichokes to the boiling water trim the tops from the artichokes, then cut them in half lengthwise. Add artichokes to boiling water right away, to prevent them turning brown, and cook for 15 minutes. (You can put them in cold water that has lemon juice in it to help this. Make sure to keep them submerged under the boiling water. Meanwhile, preheat the grill.
- Drain artichokes and squeeze the rest of the lemon wedges into a medium bowl. Stir in the olive oil and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. You can adjust the taste by adding a little more olive oil or lemon juice.
- Brush the artichokes with a coating of the garlic dip, and place them on the preheated grill. Grill the artichokes for 5-10 minutes, basting with the dip and turning frequently until the tips are a little charred. Serve immediately with the remaining dip.
Observations: I actually cut my artichokes well before my water was ready boiling. You live and learn, and I learned artichokes brown faster than apples. I quickly squeezed lemon on them and put them in cold water. It prevented them from browning any more. I also did not boil mine long enough and they were not completely submerged. I’ve read putting parchment paper on the surface of the water helps keep them under so I plan on trying that next time (I still have 2 more in my fridge!)
Analysis: The grilled flavor is so wonderful that I will never miss the stuffed version dipped in butter. This is a very healthy way to eat artichokes and I see myself enjoying this all summer! I hope to try varying the flavor profiles, but still include that grilled flavor. Balsamic vinegar would be delicious without adding unnecessary calories.
I occasionally find myself watching episodes of Melissa d’Arabian’s Ten Dollar Dinners. She made a French dish called Daube a la Provençale (served with a swiss cheese macaronade). *Note: You need to plan ahead and marinate the beef for at least 6 hours. My mom and dad had an anniversary coming up, and I couldn’t resist making this dish. They traveled to France last year and fell in love with the country. I was hoping that this would remind them of their travels. All the ingredients go in a dutch oven and are cooked slowly for a long period of time. There weren’t any leftovers, so that should be a testament to how it turned out.
Daube a la Provençale
- 2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2 cups red wine
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 strips bacon, chopped
- 4 stems fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Serve over Macaronade, see recipe below
Marinate the beef in the red wine, vinegar, carrots and 1/2 of the onions for 6 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Remove the beef from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and dry gently with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat and cook the bacon lardons until crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside, reserving the fat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the bacon fat in the Dutch oven and brown the beef on all sides.
Once the beef is browned, add in the reserved marinade, bacon lardons, the remaining onions, rosemary, thyme, garlic and bay leaves. Add 2 cups water and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, then cover tightly and cook in the oven for 3 to 4 hours. Check the daube every hour and add a little more water if needed. Remove the herbs and serve the daube (reserve 1/2 C of sauce if making the macaronade) with the Macaronade.
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes, plus more for greasing
- 8 ounces macaroni
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup shredded Swiss or gruyere cheese (I used swiss)
- 1/2 cup sauce from Daube a la Provencale
- 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a gratin dish.
Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package’s instructions for al dente. Drain and toss with the cheese and daube sauce. Place the pasta in the gratin dish, and top with the breadcrumbs, sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with the butter. Bake 15 minutes and serve with the daube.
Observations/Analysis: I think the recipe and pictures speak for themselves. I never was able to capture a picture of the Daube on top of the Macaronade. It smelled so amazing in my house that I couldn’t resist eating right away. There weren’t any leftovers and I plan on making this again soon! It was inexpensive and extremely easy. The cooking time is lengthy, but there isn’t much hands on prep/cook time. I highly recommend to anyone having a dinner party, or a quiet meal at home. It was a big hit!
Over my winter break, about a month ago, I made a lot of food to get me through the remaining winter months. Also, I wanted to use my Christmas gift from Brandon, which you’ll see later in this post. One of the soups I crave during the winter months is cream of tomato. I have tested several recipes over the years with the tomatoes I grow every summer. The most flavorful recipe I found was Ina Garten’s Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup from her Back to Basics cookbook. An added bonus: It is good for you too!
Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil (I only used 2)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
- 2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves) (I added 4-5)
- 4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
- 3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (…bought mine)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup heavy cream(I used fat free half & half)
- Croutons, for garnish(Try making your own! Day old bread cut into cubes tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown)
Here is another recipe you don’t have to feel guilty about! I included the nutritional information below. I try to cook meals at least 2-3 times a week. Then, I post my recipes when I have time. This recipe was SO delicious, I had to post as soon as possible. I made this dish last night, and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch today. My husband said it was one of the best pasta dishes I’ve made, and I didn’t even prompt him to say this (surprising). Coming from him, this was a huge compliment.
Skillet Chicken with Artichokes and Roasted Red Peppers
Serves: 6 (1.5 cups per serving)
Nutritional Info: 385 calories, 7g total fat, 567 mg sodium, 53g carbs, 5g sugar, 6g fiber, 23g protein
- 12 oz. whole wheat penne
- 3/4 pound skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry, and quartered
- 1 (12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained and sliced (not oil packed)
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese (freshly grated!)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water – added to thicken
- 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste – added to thicken/flavor