Triple Lemon Streusel Cake

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Lemon is a total winter-time gem and its brightness is much appreciated during these dreary months. While I love the spices and rich flavors that speak to us during these cooler months, I really appreciate the bright zing of citrus. And when I make something with lemon I really want the citrus flavor to be punchy with lots of tart to balance the sweet.

This cake from Izy’s book is a lemon dream. I bought this book as a total treat-yo-self stle gift and I am so glad I did…I’ve got so many recipes bookmarked but this one snagged my attention immediately. I mean, I love all things streusel topped–texture for life!–but it also packs a ton of lemon flavor into a humble little cake. It punches up the lemon 3-fold with lemon juice + zest in the batter, a cream cheese and curd layer, and a tart lemon drizzle. It’s pretty much the perfect lemon-y treat–the topping is crunchy, while the middle hides a creamy, lemon layer reminiscent of cheesecake, and the batter has that zest plus little bits of oats that give this tender cake a pleasant texture. It’s the kind of snack cake that disappears piece-by-piece before you know it and leaves you pinching the final crumbs out of the pan. Which makes it a little dangerous, but totally perfect for sharing.

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Triple Lemon Streusel Cake

From Top with Cinnamon 

Serves 12

for the topping:

2 tablespoons demerara (raw) sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons rolled oats

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

pinch of salt

for the cake:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2/3 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup rolled oats

5 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

4 tablespoons lemon curd

for the glaze:

2/3 cup confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine the topping ingredients in a bowl, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture is achieved. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease an 8×8 inch square baking pan and line with parchment leaving an overhang on two sides (I like to secure the sides with metal binder clips).

In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese and lemon curd.

Begin making the cake batter by melting the butter. In a mixing bowl combine the melted butter with the sugar, lemon zest and juice, and buttermilk until well mixed. Beat in the eggs, then fold in the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats (the batter will be a bit lumpy from the oats). Spread 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Spread the cream cheese and lemon curd mixture over the batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining cake batter over the cream cheese layer and spread it out evenly. Spread the topping mixture over the cake batter and bake the cake in the center of the oven for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Mix together the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the cake once it has cooled.

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Pizza Grilled Cheese

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Pizza + Grilled Cheese = Pizza Grilled CHEESE!!!!!!

I mean, what can I say?

It’s basically a cheesy, melty, amazing, marriage of two of the best food items in all the lands. It’s really a thing of beauty and I can barely believe it never occurred to me to smash these two things together before. But, forgive me. Please.

This gooey sandwich baby has all the things we love about pizza–carbs, cheese, toppings–plus a buttery, crunchy, parmesan cheese crust that gets golden and crispy in a hot skillet.You could do a million and one pizza inspired fillings for this grilled cheese. I went with easy roasted mushrooms, spicy Italian sausage, lots of melty mozzarella, fresh basil, and some of my quick marinara–which I keep in frozen little ice cubes in my freezer. Which means as long as I have bread and cheese and cubes of frozen marinara in my freezer, I can have this. Danger. I made this for lunch and then dinner the same day and made googly-heart-emoji-eyes at it the whole time.

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Pizza Grilled Cheese with Roasted Mushrooms and Italian Sausage

Serves 2

I’ve included my go-to recipe for quick marinara below, but you can totally use a prepared, jarred sauce. No probs.

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned

2 teaspoons olive oil

pinch of salt and pepper

4 slices rustic bread

2 tablespoons softened butter

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

6 slices fresh mozzarella cheese

1 cooked spicy Italian sausage link, sliced

1/4 cup marinara sauce, plus more for dipping

torn or shredded basil leaves

Start by roasting the mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 425ºF and lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Slice the mushrooms and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the mushrooms onto the baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms release all of their liquid and begin to brown. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.

Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spread the butter onto one side of each of the 4 slices of bread. Divide the parmesan into 4 equal-ish amounts and sprinkle over each buttered piece of bread, pressing the parm into the butter so it adheres nicely. Place 2 slices of bread, butter and parmesan side down (naked side up), in the warm skillet. Layer 2 slices of mozzarella onto each slice of bread, followed by a layer of sausage, mushrooms, a few spoonfuls of sauce, and a sprinkle of the basil. Tear the remaining slices of mozzarella into pieces and sprinkle over the top of the layers, then top with the remaining slice of bread, butter and parmesan side up. Cook the grilled cheeses over medium heat on one side until golden, crisp and the cheese is starting to melt.* Carefully flip over the sandwiches and cook on the other side until golden, crisp, and the cheese is very melty. Serve the sandwiches hot with additional marinara for dipping.

*to encourage melting, add a few teaspoons of water to the hot skillet and cover with a lid (if you don’t have a lid a sheet pan (the one you used to roast the mushrooms) works excellently in a pinch).

Quick Marinara

To freeze, I just spoon the cooled marinara into an ice cube tray or two, freeze until solid, and pop the frozen cubes into a freezer bag for using as needed.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced fine

1-2 minced cloves garlic

2 teaspoons oregano

1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1, 28-ounce, can crushed tomatoes

salt to taste

In a saucepan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, cook for a few minutes until the onions become transluscent. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes, cook an additional minute before stirring in the tomato paste. Continue to cook until the tomato paste becomes deep red. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and season with a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if you like. Remove from the heat and use however you want–for pasta sauces, pizza, meatballs, whatever! Store any leftover sauce in an lidded container in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze as noted above.

 

 

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Recently at Betty’s: Cheesy Southwest Grains & Chorizo Zucchini Boats

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For 2015 I really want to share more of the work I’ve been doing for Betty Crocker (and whoever else, for that matter). A lot of the stuff I do is similar in style to what you already see here–from scratch and homemade–some of it is super quick and easy, using different branded products, as well. I plan to share these new recipes on Fridays, when available. Sometimes I don’t have anything new on the Betty site, so I just won’t share those weeks.

Cheesy Southwest Grains and Chorizo Zucchini Boats

I think everyone cooks differently depending on their comfort level in the kitchen, their schedules, and lifestyles. Sometimes I get super caught up in wanting things to be homemade and from scratch that I get a leeetle bit stressed out about it and end up totally hangry and frazzled. I mean for the sake of my sanity, I’m not above boxed mac and cheese, y’all. I think it’s important to embrace a shortcut from time to time for the sake of happy bellies and happy brains.

This recipe definitely embraces the shortcut, using Suddenly Grain Salad as a large component in the recipe. It makes for a super easy, fast, and delicious dinner, though! I’m a huge fan of the zucchini boat thing (like these Three Cheese and Roasted Tomato ones). The filling for this version comes together with the Suddenly Grain Salad–a mix of brown rice, quinoa, corn, black beans–plus chorizo and cheese…which never hurts. Click over to see the recipe for these Cheesy Southwest Grains & Chorizo Zucchini Boats. And, I’m thinking if you are more ambitious or have some extra time you could totally make a from-scratch version of this with delicious results.