Easter 2015 and a Ricotta-Berry Cake

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Now that we have Casper, holidays have taken on a renewed sense of whimsy and excitement. It’s so fun to be able to share old traditions and create new ones with him. I know that he’s not really old enough to know what’s going on, but we had a ton of fun making him a basket and making Easter a special day for all of us. I made marshmallow-cereal treats for some of our neighbors–Casper didn’t get any, but he thought they looked pretty cool because, SPRINKLES! We did get him some non-sweets-treats and packed his basket with some cute board books and Sean’s favorite Dr. Seuss book, plus a few plushies, and a fresh pair of moccasins. Sean and I dyed a bunch of eggs after Casper went to sleep on Saturday night. I LOVE dyeing Easter eggs and making the colors super vibrant and mixing colors. We “hid” Casper’s Easter basket underneath his favorite side table–it has cross bars under it that he likes to climb over all-day-every-day like some sort of baby obstacle course. We also dressed him up–which made my mother extremely happy.

For dinner we invited Sean’s brother, Geoff, and his girlfriend, Kelly, over for dinner. On the menu were deviled eggs (DUH!), a smoked pork shoulder with quince and sherry vinegar sauce (an idea we borrowed from a recent date at Toro Bravo), garlic-butter and vermouth shrimp (for Kelly, who doesn’t eat meat), potato gratin, spice roasted carrots with mint and feta, and a brussels sprout and kale salad that Kelly and Geoff made. The guys tried Sean and his friends home-brew (a super hoppy IPA), and I made kir royale to drink, as well. I also made this super moist Ricotta-Berry Cake. It’s so good, tender, and a perfect sweet slice to end a springtime meal. It’s so easy to put together, just 2 bowls, and is the type of effortless cake I think we all need in our arsenals. It’s perfect with a little dusting of powdered sugar or if you want to go crazy, which I did, a some barely sweetened whipped cream is the perfect accompaniment. I could also totally see making this cake with little chunks of rhubarb or even cherries in the summer.

In all, it was a pretty good day. Casper had fun, he was confused by all the happenings but got the hang of the festivities, was delighted by the basket full of goodies–especially the cookie monster Sean got him–and enjoyed showing off his pterydactyl-squawking skills for his Uncle and Kelly.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Ricotta-Berry Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 Servings

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup sugar

zest of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups ricotta

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup (1 stick) melted, unsalted butter

1 cup frozen mixed berries

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a 9-inch cake pan  (I used a spring form pan) with parchment and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl rub the lemon zest into the sugar. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together the ricotta, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract. Fold in the butter. Fold the ricotta mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Gently fold in 2/3 of the berries. Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan and scatter the top with the remaining berries. Bake the cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes before un-molding. [/recipe]

 

 

Slow Cooker Winter Rosé Sangria

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Slow Cooker Winter Rosé Sangria

Heeey! It’s officially winter here in the Northern Hemisphere and officially holiday times in my home. My parents are here with one of my nieces. My brother, his girlfriend, and my other niece will be on their way soon. We are scrambling around getting last minute things done and (literally) wrapped up, AND we’re finalizing grocery lists. Food, dranks, and food galore!

If you haven’t finalized your beverage plans, maybe I could suggest this wintry spiced Rosé sangria? It’s boozy and warm. There’s bourbon and warm spices like cinnamon, clove, vanilla. There’s also sweet apple cider, tangy cranberry, and zesty orange. It’s a perfect adult sipper, a little less rich than traditional mulled wine, but just as warming and cozy on these wintry holiday evenings.

Slow Cooker Winter Rosé SangriaHappy Holidays and Merry Everything to everyone, everywhere!!

For the recipe click on over to Betty Crocker. CHEERS!!!

 

Butter Pecan Granola

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I cannot even believe there’s only about 1 week left until Christmas. My house has been decorated for a while and I have been wrapping way too many gifts (note to self, next year needs less gifts). The thing is…I have baked exactly zero cookies. I don’t know what’s going on, but I need to make some cookies happen asap. BUT, I have baked 2 batches of this granola for gifting and it is pretty much the equivalent of a cookie in granola form.

A buttery, oat-y, pecan studded, and maple soaked cookie in a granola outfit.

I usually go the coconut or olive oil route with granola, but since tis’ the season and all that jingle-jangley-Christmas-jazz, I went with butter. OH, MAN. Granola game changer. The butter gets that browned flavor from the long, low bake in the oven and mingles with the maple syrup that sweetens the granola in the most perfect, amazing, way. It’ll make your kitchen smell like butter and maple drenched heaven. It’s definitely not you’re health-conscious-crunchy-granola. More like your butter-drenched-sweet-and-decadent type of granola. I couldn’t help but eat a handful (okay, maybe 2) right off the sheet pan, still warm. I mean, the oats make it healthy-ish and the buttery, maple-y, pecan and coconut studded bits make it special and oh-so holiday appropriate. I packed it into jars and added a little tag for a super-easy, super-delicious gift.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Butter Pecan Granola

Adapted from my Coconut Oil Granola recipe.

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup pecans

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 325ºF and lightly grease a baking sheet (I love to use coconut oil spray for this).

In a large mixing bow, combine the oats, pecans, coconut, salt, and cinnamon.

In a small saucepan combine the maple syrup and butter. Heat over medium-high until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the maple-butter mixture to the oats mixture and stir to coat completely. Spread the mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet and bake in 15 minute intervals, stirring between each, for about 1 hour or until the granola is golden and starting to crisp. It will become more crisp as it cools.

[/recipe]