banana bundt cake

banana bundt cake slice

how appropriate that i'm here on a tuesday with a dorie recipe. it's bittersweet because i no longer bake along with the lovely tuesdays with dorie group, although i do follow many of them along the way. i don't believe this one has been made by the group yet, but i know they will love it once they do!

this was my first time making a bundt cake in order to justify buying the pan a couple months ago!

so simple, and probably my favorite recipe so far. it came out so moist and the banana-sour cream flavor was perfect. when googling around to find an online print of the recipe, i found that dorie made these into banana cake muffins with half the recipe - what a terrific idea for an easy portable breakfast treat!

banana bundt cake

for dorie's banana bundt cake recipe, click here. i did not use chocolate (the book recipe does not include it either), but i did add a lemon glaze once it cooled.

for some strange reason, this is my fourth post on banana baking! i either really love bananas, or i routinely let them brown-rot far too often. but for other banana bread/cake ideas, click here or here or here.


orange cream cheese muffins with pepita crunch

pepita crunch close-up

citrus is pretty much my favorite fruit and one of the very few reasons i can tolerate winter at all! however, when i was a wee girl of about 6 impressionable years i was at a family dinner function of sorts. towards the end, fresh fruit was served, including orange wedges. after eating mine and leaving the rinds on my plate, one of my ornery uncles cleverly said "hey, why aren't you eating those? you're supposed to eat all the orange parts!" i had never heard such a thing but i was the quintessential curious kid, so i bit off a big piece of the rind ..... and a thousand glasses of water couldn't get rid of that bitter, awful taste!!

orange pulp

ever since then i've had an unnatural, neurotic obsession with peeling off every dangling piece of rind and white pith whenever i peel an orange. yes, even though i know the white pith has all that good nutrition! but what can i say, my taste buds were traumatized and now i can only have my oranges naked.

so i was a bit wary, to say the very least, with this recipe that asks for the orange - flesh, pith, and rind! - to be incorporated. as a pre-caution, i zipped it to a pulp.

muffin cups

but my fears were unwarranted, because these muffins turned out so good. i'd even prefer them a bit more orangey (maybe a round 1/4 cup?) and the pepita crunch was a lovely topping.
here's to a yummy breakfast treat!

orange cream cheese muffins with pepita crunch: makes 12*
from great coffee cakes, sticky buns, muffins & more (2007, p. 106)

for pepita crunch
1 large egg white (reserve yolk)
2 tb plus 1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup pepitas

1. preheat oven to 350F. spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment. in small bowl, whisk together egg white and 1 tb of sugar. add pepitas and toss well. pour onto cookie sheet and spread evenly in single layer. sprinkle 1 more tb of sugar over pepitas. bake for 7-8 minutes.

2. stir pepitas with fork and bake for another 7 minutes. stir pepitas again, sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp of sugar and bake for another 3 minutes. remove and allow to cool; set aside.

for muffins
1/2 small navel orange, cut into 6-8 pieces (rind, pith, and flesh)
4 oz cream cheese, room temp, broken into 3-4 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, slightly firm
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk (from pepita crunch)
1 tsp vanilla

1. increase oven to 375F. whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and bakng soda; set aside.

2. turn on food processor and drop orange pieces through the tube. process until finely chopped. measure out 1/4 cup pulp and return to food processor bowl (discard any excess orange). add cream cheese and process in three 10-second intervals, scraping the sides after each.

3. but butter into 1-inch pieces and with electric mixer and paddle attachment, mix on medium speed until smooth and light, about 1 minute. stop and add cream cheese/orange mixture, mix on medium 1 more minute. add sugar in steady stream, then blend in eggs, yolk, and vanilla.

4. reduce mixer to slow and add flour mixure in three additions, mixing until just blended after each addition.

5. portion level scoops into muffin pan. sprinkle top of each with 1 tb of pepita crunch. be sure to use any sugar that remains in the pan.

6. bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden brown and tops are spingy. cool on rack.

* note: despite ms. walter's annoying insistence on making 14 muffins in her recipes, i just whip up the whole batter and make 12 and it's never been a problem. however, i have to wonder, why write recipes for 14 muffins??!

orange cream cheese muffins with pepita crunch


roasted chicken stuffed with dried fruits

roasted chicken stuffed with dried fruits

how fitting that my election night post was about roasted chicken, and here we come back to roasted chicken for today.

besides my political dreams, as an adolescent i also thought i was going to be a famous artist. i'd skip classes for days on end to be in the art class studio all afternoon. i was passionate about van gogh, cezanne, and kandinsky. i loved hopper. i was sure i was going to be the next contemporary brice marden or julian schnabel.

then my tortured adolescence of drawing and painting came to an end, but i still loved visuals - typography, design, illustration. and so when i ended up working at a bookstore, i was always a sucker for the cover of a book. i bought man without qualities because when both volumes are put together, the spines are a image of his face. and no, i have never gotten past page 100, but i still love that cover.

another thing i learned working at the bookstore is that the holidays are prime cookbook buying time. who knew? but several years ago we joined that tradition and bought claudia roden's middle eastern book for someone. back then i was pretty ignorant and all i knew about middle eastern food was your standard kebabs, hummus, and tabouli. and i was definitely ignorant about what a great writer claudia roden is. she doesn't just give recipes, she's a storyteller - of food, history, and culture. honestly i really didn't know anything except that this book had a gorgeous cover! so gorgeous in fact that i had to buy a copy for ourselves the next year.

and after all that babbling, all i have to say is: make this chicken. you will love it.

dried fruit stuffing

roasted chicken stuffed with dried fruits: serves 4-6
adapted from claudia roden's new book of middle eastern food (excellent book, highly recommended, 2000, p. 225)

1 chicken, about 3 1/2 - 4 lbs (preferably organic, humane)
1 onion, finely chopped
olive oil
1/2 lb dried prunes, soaked, pitted, and chopped
1/2 lb dried apricots, soaked pitted, and chopped
1/3 cup raisins, soaked
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (a specific type is not mentioned; we used granny smith)
salt + pepper
1 tsp cinnamon

1. preheat oven to 325F. fry the chopped onion in 2 tb butter until soft and golden. add chopped fruits and raisins and sauté for a few minutes. season to taste with salt, pepper, and cinnamon.

2. stuff the chicken with some of this mixture, securing the opening with a toothpick. rub chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. put the remaining mixture in a roasting pan. place the chicken - breast side down - on top of the mixture. salt and pepper. (this roasting method of breast side down is unsual, but mr. mimi is convinced what gave the chicken such great flavor and moistness and wants to try it with other dishes.)

3. roast the chicken for about 1 1/2 hours total, turning the chicken over after 40 minutes. serve the chicken with the extra stuffing mixture, accompanied by rice.

roasted chicken stuffed with dried fruits


honey shortbread cookies

shortbread crust

i admit, i only wanted to make this because (a) it has five ingredients, easy-parcheesi! and (b) i've never made shortbread before. can you believe i've never made shortbread - even though trefoils are my third favorite (behind thin mints and samoas, of course!)??

well i'm glad that oversight was rectified because these are some the yummiest cookies i've ever made! everyone knows that the combo of sweet and salty is near goodliness, and for any skeptics, the case was confirmed with that famous new york times article last year that caused legions of bloggers to take note and bake away with a little sprinkling of sea salt!

i used a scant 1/2 tsp of fleur de sel instead of kosher. all i had in the pantry was wildflower honey, which i normally find too floral but once it caramelized it was fine. and of course, the sprinkling of salt made it perfect!

a sweet and salty slice

sprinkling or pour? as you can see, i was a wee bit generous with the salt. but i am someone who will pick popcorn and chips over chocolate and ice cream any day, so - uh - i guess that means no problem for me! but even my sweets obsessed mr. mimi thought it was just fine. so i guess it just looks too salty in photos even though technically it didn't taste over-salted. also, it was a teeny tiny bit crumbly when i cut the slices. but only really at the narrow apex and it totally had no impact whatsoever on the "oh. my. goodness, these are so insanely yummy!" that we mumbled between each bite.

the recipe suggestion was to serve once cooled completely, although i preferred the cookie just on the edge of slightly warm. mr. mimi preferred them room temp to better appreciate the sandiness of cookie. in the end, i would have preferred if i didn't eat almost all of them!

for the
fine cooking recipe, click here.

honey shortbread cookies

i am also sending this on over for the weekend cookbook challenge of five ingredients or less!

honey shortbread cookies


chunky peanut, chocolate, and cinnamon cookies

chunky peanut, chocolate, cinnamon cookies

i have finally settled back into new york city after a really great holiday vacation in san diego, san francisco, and sonoma. and now i have just a little more than two and a half weeks before i leave for nigeria.

it's a strange feeling not having a place to report to. since i can remember, i have always had to - in theory, folks - be at work or in class. but now, in between a few school papers due and and a couple of travel-related errands, i really have nothing to do.

i guess i should cherish this downtime, but i have heard i will have lots of it in abuja!! so i decided to take the next two weeks and bake every day. all those things i have wanted to try again and get right, all those bookmarked blogs, and tagged book pages. of course, i can't get to it all, but there is really no excuse to start having fun again in the kitchen.

lotsa chocolate

so sit back and enjoy the treats. my first bake is by request of mr. mimi: chunky peanut, chocolate, and cinnamon cookies. honestly, i hardly tasted any cinnamon, but they were still very good. i did add the vanilla in with the wet ingredients instead of at the end (as instructed) because it just seemed very weird to me to do otherwise.

i used the recipe from her book, in which she suggests that you can make ahead and bake-off when needed. simply form the dough into 1-inch balls, flatten them slightly, freeze them on cookie sheets until firm. keep in resealable plastic bags for up to one month. i froze about 3/4 of the dough and baked some off last night. i love that i have cookies waiting for me in the freezer!

for the online version, click here.


happy new year!

i wanted to try to blog while on vacation ... but alas, vacation took over ;-)

now vacation is coming to an end and in just a few more days i'll be back home freezing my tuchus off in cold, wintery new york city. i don't have any food-related items to chat about now (plenty of eating, just not any cooking involved, it is vaca after all!) but i'm a list-lover.

so when i came across these two from mary schmich of the chicago tribune via nonsociety (yes, i admit it, my daily guilty pleasure) i had to be a virgoan over-achiever and fill out both of them. enjoy and i'd love to see what's on your list!

(click here and here to see both original lists)

looking back on 2008
- I gained two very good friends
- I lost the patience to sit through classes that bore me to tears
- I stopped thinking about my ex-friend who was never my friend to begin with
- I started eating meat again
- I was hugely satisfied by our visit to kruger park
- And frustrated by the inability to connect
- I am so embarrassed that I was socially awkward in front of my new friend
- Once again, I googled RL and couldn’t find her
- Once again, I did not run a 5k
- The biggest physical difference between me last December and this December is I lost 10 lbs … but I think I gained it all back on this vaca ☹
- The biggest psychological difference between me last December and this
December is more confusion
- I loved spending time playing tennis
- Why did I spend even two minutes trying to chase that which was not going to be mine?
- I should have spent more time riding my bike
- I regret buying so much clothing
- I will never regret buying our trip to south africa even though with that money I could have bought a lower credit card bill
- I procrastinated way too much
- I didn’t become healthy enough
- H drove me crazy
- Was our annual holiday party crazier than ever last year? Or was it me?
- The most relaxing place I went was south africa
- I feel so happy when I write that down
- Why did I go to social work school?
- The best thing I did for someone else was forgive
- The best thing I did for myself was buy a mac
- The best thing someone did for me was give me the chance
- The one thing I’d like to do again, but do it better, is make people laugh

and looking forward to 2009
- One thing I will learn: french
- One place I will go: nigeria
- One physical habit I will break: sleeping in late
- One physical habit I will cultivate: running
- One mental habit I will break: regret
- One mental habit I will cultivate: patience
- One relationship I’ll repair: sex life
- One home repair I’ll finally get around to: moving
- One work habit I will change: arriving late
- One thing I’ll throw out: clothing that doesn’t fit
- A second thing I’ll throw out: old files
- One thing I’ll eat more often: fruit
- One thing I’ll eat less: meat
- One thing I’ll drink more: good wine
- One thing I’ll drink less: cocktails
- One overdue e-mail I’ll send, or overdue phone call I’ll make: honestly couldn’t think of anyone
- One resentment I’ll get over: losing RL through nobody's fault but my own (albeit more like regret, not resent)
- One person I’ll treat more respectfully: my husband
- One thing I’ll spend less money on: clothing
- One other change I’ll make in my finances: I’ll get a job
- One thing I’ll spend less time doing: second-guessing myself
- And a thing I’ll spend more time doing: being happy with feeling happy
- One resolution I’ve made before but will honor this time because I really do believe that with a little effort life can be better: just do it