Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Frosting

I am not ashamed of the fact that I am the most typical American girl when it comes to fall. I obsess over pumpkin spiced things, I’m over eager to pull out my sweaters and boots even if the weather isn’t quite cold enough to warrant such attire, and come September I’m immediately diving into autumn themed recipes.

Even as a child, before social media caught on to the fact that fall is the best season of the year, Autumn was my happy place. I have fond memories of Friday night football games and sitting around the campfire with friends in jean jackets. I remember the feeling I got when I woke up Thanksgiving morning to find my grandmother already working her way around the kitchen as she prepared our meal.

Baby’s first Autumn

It’s something I will never out grow, and I will continue obsessing over fall probably for the rest of my life. Even my son is well aware of how much I love fall. The other day while running errands with my husband, he picked up a pumpkin spiced candle at the drug store and asked to buy it for me.

I do feel a great need to point out, however, that there is more flavor to fall than pumpkin spice. I love pumpkin, and I am creating quite a collection of pumpkin flavored food for myself, but there is a tendency for pumpkins to spend a little too much time in the spotlight while the cider, apple, maple, and zucchini flavors are neglected.

When Thanksgiving comes around, and you’re trying to decide what unique culinary creation you want to contribute, try something a little different. For example: A sweet potato cake.

This recipe is truly delicious, and captures that spicy fall goodness we all love. Ever since I posted a photo on my facebook, people have been asking for the recipe, and those who’ve eaten it so far seemed to enjoy it quite nicely!

The cake itself is sweet potato, however, the frosting is actually homemade marshmallow fluff. Basically this is a creative alternative to the typical sweet potato casserole. The store bought fluff isn’t going to work as well for this frosting, and it does require a decent amount of patience to get right. I also loved the crispiness of torching the surface once the cake was put together, but if you don’t have a kitchen torch than it isn’t too much of a loss.

The end result looked like a giant marshmallow, and it certainly captured a great deal of attention. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Cake With Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients
For The Cake
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
6 tbs butter, melted
6 tbs vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 sweet potatoes
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

For The Frosting
8 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp creme of tartar
2 tsp vanilla
(have powdered sugar on hand)

Directions
For The Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  and prepare 2- 8 inch cake pans. Begin by preparing a sweet potato puree. Boil sweet potatoes in a pot. Every now and then poke them with a fork. When the potatoes are softened, drop them in a food processor to puree them.

2. In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl whisk butter, oil, sugars, eggs, and sweet potato.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and mix until well combined.

5. Divide the batter into the two pans. Place them in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

6. Cool on a rack for at least ten minutes, or until cakes are completely cool.

For The Frosting
1. While the cake bakes in the oven, prepare the frosting. Begin by placing egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a heat proof bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water. Whisk the until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is warm (about 5 minutes).
2. Remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer. Begin on low and slowly increase speed. White peaks will begin to form.  Add vanilla and continue to beat the mixture for about 7-10 minutes. If the mix is too runny, add powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup at a time) until you’ve reached the desired consistency. The frosting will be slightly softer than store bought fluff.
3. Place frosting in the fridge until ready for use. To assemble, spread frosting in between the two cake layers. Spread frosting over the top of the cake as well as the sides. For the roasted look at taste, run a kitchen torch over the surface of the cake, being careful not to burn the frosting.

Homemade Blueberry Pie Ice Cream

Living in an agricultural state, we have this trend of finding entertainment in paying other people to let us preform the work of picking produce. I know some of my Yankee friends like to poke fun of the concept, but there’s an odd satisfaction in enjoying fresh fruits I’ve picked myself. It’s also a wonderful educational experience for kids, and helps build an appreciation for where our food comes from. I enjoy the tranquility, and kids somehow find it fun and exciting. It’s totally worth it to me.

Since reading Blueberries for Sal as part of our Before Five In A Row curriculum last year, blueberry picking has been a tradition we’ve recently started to pursue every summer. We go to a small family owned farm in our area and fill a bucket with as many blueberries as we can possibly gather. Once we bring our fresh fruit home we immediately can them and add to our ever-growing-never-ending collection of homemade jam.

This year I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a lot of blueberries left over after the canning process. Considering that I’ve been in love with making homemade ice cream lately, the next idea I had for the blueberries was, of course, blueberry ice cream!

When I got around to actually making the ice cream, I decided to play around with texture and taste a little more than I intended. The result was incredibly delicious, and now a new favorite of mine. It’s rich in flavor, has a great texture, and I cannot stop eating it!

Also, if the blueberries are replaced with bananas this would make an excellent “banana pudding” ice cream!

Blueberry Pie Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
2 tbs vanilla
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 11oz box of Nilla Waffers

Directions

Combine milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk for about two minutes, until the sugar is well dissolved.

Mix in blueberries.

Fill a zip lock bag with Nilla Waffers (I used about 3/4 of the box). Using a meat cleaver or hammer (or whatever tool you have on hand), smash the cookies to a powdery consistency.

Mix the cookie powder in with the ice cream mix.

Prepare ice cream according to the manufacturing instructions of your ice cream maker. I have a niffty Cuisinart ice cream maker that has a freezable bowl I prepared a head of time. Your ice cream maker might require ice to be added. Read up on the instructions and become familiar with your maker.

Once the ice cream is finished, pour the rest of the Nilla Waffers into the zip lock bag. Once again crush the cookies, however, this time keep them a little more chunky and textured.

Pour the rest of the Nilla Waffers into the ice cream and mix well. Put the ice cream in a storage container and pop in the freezer to continue forming.

 

Passover Recipe Ideas: Chocolate Coconut Mousse and Brisket

Food plays such an intensely important role in our lives, and it isn’t just the fuel required to sustain us. Taste is an enjoyable phenomenon that can bring happiness into any moment. Unique ways of preparing food is a cultural foundation for all people. When friends and family come together they usually gather around food in some way, whether it’s a dinner party or chicken wings during a football game.

When we celebrate an event there is food. When a person mourns they are immediately provided with food from their loved ones. It is the most instinctive way we care for those we cherish, and preparing a meal for a guest is a simple way to honor them. Taking the time to choose dishes you know to be someone’s favorite, or putting in the effort to creatively and deliciously meet the dietary needs and/or restrictions of others can be an incredibly touching gesture.

I love everything about hosting. I love having friends that know our door is always open to their company. I love providing a feeling that my home is their home. I love feeding people. I love the sound of children giggling together in the playroom while the parents enjoy some adult time. I love providing a space to worship G-d through conversation and fellowship. After all, doesn’t the Bible say in Matthew 18:20 “For where there are two or three gathered in my name, there am I among them“? My closest friends know that in my mind someone’s home can be their own personal ministry, and most people who spend significant amounts of time in my house know that I enjoy welcoming company, and I especially love feeding people. I don’t let you walk out of my door hungry if I can help it.

This is perhaps one of the reasons why Passover and Sukkot are my two favorite holidays. Both are home based festivals that encourage an open door (or tent flap in the case of Sukkot) for guests. They are an exercise in extreme hospitality, and I feel completely in my element when I prepare for these awesome celebrations.

Naturally, the details I tend to focus most on when it comes to inviting people into my house is food. What would they like? Are there any allergies or other dietary restrictions? What foods pair well with one another? Is this enough or should I throw in another dish? (Side note: I always have enough food). With Passover specifically it can be even trickier. Some guests may have varying levels of observance regarding their regular religious food restrictions. On top of that we have holiday specific dietary needs (no leavened foods), and even within those restrictions there are various levels of observances to consider. So every year I stick with relatively the same menu that I’ve perfected over time.

Matzo ball soup. Salad. Roasted vegetables. Curried fruit. A potato dish. Matzo kugel. Salmon. And a delicious brisket.

This year I finally figured out that a chocolate coconut mousse was the perfect dessert to go along with our Seder meal. It requires only a couple of ingredients, is very easy to whip up, and most importantly it is light, fluffy, and delicious. It will definitely appear on future Seder menus.

So, if you’re looking for a dessert that will feed people with any number of dietary restrictions, this mousse is perfect. If you’re planning a special dinner and want to share something nice and tasty with your guests, this brisket is great choice!

Chocolate Coconut Mousse

Ingredients

2 13.5 oz cans coconut milk
2 tbsp powdered sugar
5 tbsp coco powder

Directions

  1. Scoop the cream at the top of the coconut milk into a bowl, and discard the rest of the liquid. Add sugar and beat together using a hand mixer until creamy and thick.
  2. Fold in the coco and continue beating. The mixture will begin to have a more fluffy texture.
  3. Place in the refrigerator to chill in order to give it a little more form, otherwise it can be served immediately

 

Brisket

*NOTE: I have three necessary rules about cooking a brisket. First: You cook the meat with the fat on it. This is crucial for maintaining flavor. Second: Baste every 30 minutes. It will give you that nice fall apart texture. Third: You should cook the brisket a day ahead, and serve reheated. This gives it time to soak in the juices and takes in as much flavor as possible.

Ingredients

1 4lb beef brisket
6 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (needles taken off of the stem and chopped)
1/4 cup olive oil
Black pepper
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
3 celery stalked, cut into chunks
4 red onions, chopped
1 bottle of dry red wine (or about 2 cups)
1 16oz can of whole tomatoes (hand crushed)
a handful of fresh parsley
3 bay leaves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir together garlic, salt, and rosemary. Combine with olive oil and set aside.
  2. Season both sides of the brisket with a decent amount of salt and pepper. Place the brisket into a dutch oven or pan over medium-high heat and sear both sides until browned.
  3. Transfer to a roasting pan (or keep it in a dutch oven if there is room). Arrange vegetables around the pan, and pour the garlic rosemary mixture over the entire brisket. Pour in the wine and tomatoes, and add the parsley and bay leaves.
  4. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, or the cover of the roasting pan. Bake for 4 hours, basting every 30 minutes.
  5. Store the brisket in the refrigerator over night (keeping it in the pan with the juices). Reheat in a warm oven before serving (I started on 350 until it heated through, and then left it at 170 for a couple of hours before we were ready to serve).

Lavender Cookies With Rosewater Icing

Someday I’m going to have a Jane Austen themed ladies night where my friends and I will dress elegantly, giggle over tea and crumpets, and watch Pride and Prejudice. It is going to be splendid.

I’m also going to make this brand new recipe I’ve tried out today. It is so deliciously appropriate for a tea party like gathering, and it reminds me of something I would eat while chilling with the Bennet sisters.  Until then, however, our friends who join us for a monthly Bible study will be enjoying these uniquely flavored cookies over our discussions.

I’ve been experimenting a lot with lavender lately since I have such a huge bag of it sitting in my cabinet (no matter how much I use, that bag seems to remain constantly full!) . A couple months ago I made lavender cupcakes with honey frosting, and this past week I created lavender hamentashen with rosewater jelly for Purim. It’s a very unique flavor that isn’t widely used, but once I started working with it regularly I realized that it really brings a wonderful touch to baked goods. Not only that, but it smells so incredibly fresh and scrumptious it becomes rather comforting to work with.

What You Need:
(For The cookies)
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbs lavender (chopped finely)
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

(For The Icing)
3cups powdered sugar (possibly more)
6 tsp water
6 tsp rose water

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine melted butter, sugar, and eggs into a bowl. Gently stir in lavender. Add flour, baking powder and salt.

Spoon cookie dough onto well oiled cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.

While cookies are baking, prepare the icing by combining powder sugar, water, and rosewater. If the consistency is too runny, add more powder sugar.

Once cookies are out of the oven and cooled, spread icing over cookies. A little goes a long way since the icing is going to be rather strong (you can adjust the strength of the flavor by adding more or less rosewater to the icing recipe).

Blogging For Books: The New Sugar and Spice, by Samantha Seneviratne

Ever since receiving a copy of The New Sugar and Spice by Samantha Seneviratne, my mouth has been watering! This cookbook is filled with unique dessert ideas that blend both a sweet and spicy flavor into one dish. There are so many recipes I want to try from this book, and I’m sure that with a number of pot-lucks coming up I will have a chance to jump into them very soon. I’m almost certain they will be a hit!

Many cookbooks these days have a number of personal stories to go along with the recipes. Seneviratne beautifully depicts the significance of food throughout her life (in particular dessert), and it somehow helps to enhance the quality of the recipes she provides. Although I’m not a huge fan of storytelling cookbooks, I appreciate the fact that she took the time to expose the passion behind her food.

I do, however, wish there were more photos to go along with recipes. This book in particular seems to lack photos, which makes it a little less enticing than it would had someone taken a moment to snap a picture. The pictures that do exist, however, are beautiful, and make me want to get started in the kitchen.

For those who love to bake, and especially those who like to experiment with flavor, I would recommend this book in a heartbeat.

For those who want something simple, straightforward, and quick, this is maybe not your cookbook.

For those (like me) who need pictures to go along with their recipes, I would still recommend this one, but with the suggestion that you read over the recipe carefully so as not to miss out on really great recipes simply because there wasn’t a picture to catch your eye.

For those who love to read about people’s personal experience and passion with food alongside the recipes they provide, than this is definitely for you.

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies

Coconut oil seems to be all the rage right now. It’s on everyone’s health radar, and is currently expected to save the world if I had to guess based on the massive coconut oil advocacy out there. Like most health food fads I reacted rather critically at first, and eventually found myself somewhere down the middle of the spectrum.

As it turns out coconut oil really does provide a lot of benefits, some of which could help my family’s specific health concerns. On the other hand I also find it super important not to get carried away.  It isn’t a cure for a chronic illness, and although virgin coconut oil isn’t the same type of coconut oil that was once said to raise cholesterol levels back in the 80’s, there is a concern over what it could do as far as it’s contribution to heart disease. As with most foods in life, moderation is the key factor.

With that said, let’s be honest about my true feelings regarding coconut oil: It simply tastes good.

I cringe at the idea of going gluten free. I have no desire to even imagine going paleo. And I’m not going to start slashing certain ingredients like dairy and sugar out of my diet (again, moderation is key). So I tend to be the odd one out among my crunchy friends.

With coconut oil I can at least look like I’m somewhat crunchy, and little do they know my true intentions have nothing to do with health, but everything to do with taste.

These cookies are an example of that….

 

Ingredients
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 pkg vanilla pudding (unprepared)
1 tsp baking soda
1 bag of chocolate chips

Directions
1) In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil, sugars, egg, and vanilla.

2) Slowly add flour, pudding mix, and baking soda. Beat together. Dough will be dry and shaggy, which is fine.

3) Fold in chocolate chips.

4) Scoop dough out of the bowl (about 1/4 cup at a time) and compress into mounds with your hands. If dough is too crumby and you cannot form it drizzle in some melted coconut oil, but be careful not to make the dough too sticky and oily. Place cookies on a plate, cover with foil or plastic, and place in fridge for 3 hours (or up to 5 days).

5) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cookies for 11 minutes, and them let them cool on cookie sheet for another 10 minutes (it’s a good practice to slightly under cook cookies in the oven, and let them finish cooking on the baking sheet outside of the oven).

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had been wanting to try these cookies for weeks. August came to an end, September was in full swing, and I couldn’t find the time to make them. Being a few days past my due date, I was getting rather restless and eventually decided that it was now or never for these cookies.

Well, the day I had planned to make them started with a doctor’s visit to my OB for a non-stress test. Apparently I was having contractions without even realizing it. After speaking to the practice’s midwife, I was under the impression that baby would be coming soon, but not soon enough (in my opinion of what “soon enough” meant). I was sure we would end up going in for our scheduled induction the next day. I sent my husband to work, assuring him that I would keep count of the contractions and let him know when he needed to come home. If he needed to.

My day was spent sitting around the house playing Minecraft, and timing my contractions. I was still determined to make these cookies later that night. About 4PM I started to time contractions at 10 minutes apart, and while they still weren’t strong enough to make me consider the fact that I was in labor, I did feel them a little more than I had before.

After my husband came home, there was a lot of waiting around. Eventually I wanted to go to the grocery store, much to my husbands amusement, to buy a sugar pumpkin. Didn’t I say I wanted to make cookies?  So we went to the grocery store while I continued to count contractions, and we bought a sugar pumpkin.

I baked the pumpkin, scooped the pulp out, pureed it, and then worked on the cookies…all while counting contractions every 6-7 minutes.

My husband was betting on a 3AM hospital run. I rolled my eyes because I was convinced it was false labor.

The cookies were made, and they were delicious. At midnight I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, and we started getting ready to go. Our baby boy was coming.

So obviously these cookies are very near and dear to my heart. They are the infamous cookies I baked while in labor. And I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Ingredients: 
1 sugar pumpkin
3 tbs mayonnaise
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp all spice
1 tsp milk
1 tbs vanilla
1 bag of chocolate chips

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make pumpkin puree by opening up the pumpkin and scooping out the insides (discard seeds and stringy stuff). Cut the pumpkin into pieces, and place on cookie sheet inside part facing down. Bake for about 45 minutes. Scoop pulp away from skin and toss in a blender to puree.

2) In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of pumpkin puree, mayonnaise, vegetable oil, and sugar.

3) In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, all spice, and milk. Pour into pumpkin mix. Stir until well blended. Add vanilla and chocolate chips.

4) Bake at 350 degrees F. for 11 minutes