Tomato and Ricotta Salad

I’m currently having a love affair with full fat ricotta cheese.

It has to be a full fat thing, because I’ve had ricotta before, but none as delicious as this.  It’s just the regular whole milk ricotta from Trader Joe’s. Nothing fancy.  Usually, I buy part-skim, but this time all I could find was full fat.

That was the best thing that could have happened.

Now I’m obsessed with ricotta.  I want to put it on everything.  In fact, I have been putting it on everything lately, but this is my favorite combination:

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  It makes for the perfect appetizer or light meal.  It goes great with wine and doesn’t weigh you down.  You can probably go dancing after eating this and feel great. TomatoRicottaSalad1

Tomato and Ricotta Salad

2 tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp (or more) ricotta cheese
2 tsp Chipotle Olive Oil*
1 wedge lemon
salt/pepper to taste

Slice tomatoes, top with ricotta, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with chipotle olive oil and finish with a squirt of lemon juice.

Serve and enjoy!

*I got my olive oil from Antica Olive Oil.  If you don’t have Chipotle Olive oil on hand, I would recommend extra virgin olive oil with some crushed red pepper flakes or chipotle powder.  If you’re not a fan of heat, your favorite olive oil will work.

I loved everything about this.  I had it for dinner this past Friday (before a fun flamenco show), then again on Saturday night and then for lunch on Sunday.  What can I say? I know what I like!

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I’m definitely making this for my next gathering.  It’s easy, fresh, delicious and super easy to scale up or down depending on how many guests you have. It also goes great on bread if you’re looking for finger foods!

 

What’s your favorite way to eat ricotta?  After this Lemon Ricotta Cake, this tomato/ricotta combo might my favorite!

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Lemon Ricotta Cake

I feel like Allison and I have been talking about lemon far too much lately. We’re obsessed ladies.

So I finally broke down and made a lemon cake.  I’m continually on the search for a lemon cake, and this is finally THE ONE.

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It’s amazing. Simple. Moist. Light. Delicious. I really couldn’t ask for more.  This is my new go-to lemon cake recipe.  Because let’s be honest, we all need a few go-to cake recipes.  My go to Chocolate Cake recipe is the Hershey’s chocolate cake.  My go to Banana Cake recipe is my Little Banana Cake. This recipe will make 1 (9-inch) round cake.  So if you were looking to do a lemon layer cake, I would suggest doubling (or even tripling if you’re doing a 3 layer cake) then spreading each layer with lemon curd and frosting with a simple whipped cream icing or a cream cheese frosting. Those would be delightful.  Don’t be surprised if you see the cake I just described on Foodologie soon. LemonRicottaCake4

Lemon Ricotta Cake

For Cake:

1/2 cup Canola Oil
3/4 cup Sugar
2 Lemons, zested
2 eggs
1/2 cup Ricotta
1 cup Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

For Glaze:

2 tbsp Butter
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1 Lemon

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour a 9 inch round baking pan and line with parchment paper.

In a mixer, combine oil, sugar and lemon zest.  Beat until well combined.  Beat in one egg at a time.  Beating each a few minutes until fluffy.  Beat in ricotta and juice of one lemon (reserve the other lemon for the glaze).  Add flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat until combined.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Allow to cool.

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Make glaze by heating butter, sugar and lemon juice in a sauce pan.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Allow to cool a bit.  Then turn cake over onto serving dish.  Pour glaze over cake.  Garnish with lemon slices, slice and serve. LemonRicottaCake2

I’m biased because I love lemon, but this was seriously good.  Perfect for a simple afternoon treat with tea, but also good for a simple dessert for your summer dinner party.

Do you love lemon desserts? What’s your favorite?

I love lemon tarts, like this one.  But this lemon cake is giving lemon tarts a run for their money.

Beef Empanadas

I’m starting to worry that I’m going to be on an empanada kick.  I had never made empanadas but I’ve eaten my fair share of empanadas in my day.  In Guatemala, there aren’t too many empanadas.  They exist, but I’m not sure I’ve eaten them.  We’re more tortilla folks, but Argentina… that’s the land of empanadas.  After my freshman year of college, I went to Argentina for 2 months and volunteered at a school and wandered around Buenos Aires.

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Oh hey, I drink mate from a gourd sometimes…

It was an experience I’d never trade.  I learned how to be on my own. I learned to love red wine.  I learned to love cities.  And I ate a ton of empanadas.

My favorite are the spinach and cheese kind, but the traditional kind are beef ones.  Because on top of being the land of empanadas, Argentina is also the land of beef.  So I decided to give it a try.

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The pastry part of these tastes different that the traditional Argentinean kind, but it was still pretty darn tasty.  I think they traditionally use lard, which is why mine taste different.  Also I added bouillion to try to mask some of the butteriness.  Next time, I’ll definitely try lard.  But I’m definitely happy with these creations. beefempanadas3

Beef Empanadas

For Dough:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp), cold
1/2 tsp chicken bouillion
1 egg
4-5 tbsp water

 

For Filling:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/4 cup sliced green olives
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 egg (for brushing)

 

In a bowl, combine flour and butter.  Using your fingers, break up the butter until it turns to coarse crumbs.  Add egg and incorporate.  Add water and form into a ball.  Knead a few times til it all comes together.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate while you make the filling or until ready to use.

Heat a skillet with olive oil.  Add onion and cook for a few minutes until onions are tender.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add beef and cook until browned.  Add paprika, cumin, olives and hard boiled eggs.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.

Now it’s time to assemble the empanadas. Pre-heat oven to 400F.

Roll out dough as thin as you can (1/4 cm if you can).  Using a circle cutter or a bowl, cut out circles.  The size of the circles will determine the size of your empanadas.  I used a bowl about 3 inches in diameter.

Place some of the meat filling in the center of each circle.  Fold in half and pinch edges together.  Flute edges (folded over) and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Repeat until all dough is used up.

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Mix one egg with a tbsp of water. Brush empanadas with egg mixture and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.  The bake time will vary depending on the size of your empanadas.  Start checking them after 15 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy with a glass of wine. beefempanadas5

I have so many ideas for empanadas.  Like I said, I fear this might be the start of a new trend for me.  I already bought some ricotta to make some ricotta, kale and leek empanadas.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?

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In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these leftovers (because they stay good for a few days in the fridge) and brainstorm future empanada-making.

 

Are you a fan of empanadas?  What kind do you like? 

The Best Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

I pretty much always wish I had a reason to make a cake.  The more I think about it, it’s one of the reasons I love weddings, because I think wedding cakes are amazing.  Tonight I had a conversation with some ladies about wedding media.  Wedding sites, blogs, shows magazines are all geared at woman.  The wedding is portrayed as entirely about the woman, which to me seems a little unfair, given that the woman is only one half of the equation.

But in the conversation, one of the things I pointed out is that part of my fascination with wedding media is the aesthetic.  I think weddings are beautiful.  I think cakes are beautiful.  That’s probably why I love food blogs too, because I think the photography is pretty.

Most of the time when I see a beautiful cake my first thought is I want to make that, then second, I want to eat that.  For me, making cakes is fun.  I love making them look beautiful, but I also love making them taste good.

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Because really, isn’t a layer cake just one of the prettiest things out there?

While I always want to make cakes, there isn’t always an occasion to make a cake.  I originally made this cake for a birthday/going away party for friends.  But it was so popular and pretty that I wanted to make it again and photograph it.  

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  I think it just means I appreciate aesthetics. So if you want to make a cake for a special ocassion or no reason at all other than to please yourself… please do! ChocolatePBCake3

And as a bonus, it’s amazingly delicious and the perfect 6-inch cake.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

For Cake (adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate Cake):

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

For Filling:

2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
7 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup whipping cream

For Frosting:

2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 big pinch of cream of tartar*
1 pinch of salt

For Chocolate Ganache:

3 oz bitter sweet chocolate chips
1/4 heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Make Cake.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and line with parchment paper 2 (6-inch) cake pans, set aside.  In a stand mixer bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Add eggs, oil, milk and vanilla.  Beat together.   Add boiling water and beat until combined.  Pour batter evenly between both 6-inch cake pans.  Bake 25-30 minutes (this might vary based on your oven so start checking for readiness after 20 minutes, especially if using a convection oven) or until cooked through (i.e. do the toothpick test: insert toothpick, once it comes out clean, it’s ready).

Allow to cool completely.

In the meantime, make the filling.  Beat together cream cheese, condensed milk and peanut butter.  In a separate bowl, whip heavy cream into firm peaks.  Fold whipped cream into peanut butter mixture, refrigerate until ready to use.

Next make your frosting.

Place a glass bowl over a sauce pan that has about 1 inch of water in it, make sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl (aka build a double boiler).  Add egg whites, sugar, vanilla extract, cream of tartar and salt.  Mix together.  Heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites are warm when you touch them.

Transfer egg white mixture to a stand mixer and attach whisk attachment.  Stir on low and turn up the speed every 15 seconds or so until it’s on high speed.  Beat 5-7 minutes or until glossy, stiff peaks form.

Now assemble the cake.  Level your layers and slice in half, so you have 4 layers (you’ll notice in my photo I only had 3 layers, you can accidentally drop one on the floor and have 3 layers as well… that’s allowed, but not advised).  Place your first layer on your cake circle or cake dish of choice. Lay some filling on top of the first layer and spread evenly, press on second layer, it’s ok if it overflows a bit.  Repeat until all layers are complete.

Next, frost with a generous layer of frosting.

Place in the fridge while you make your ganache.  Place chocolate chips in a bowl and set aside.  In a small sauce pan, heat heavy cream and vanilla stirring constantly until it comes to a light boil.  Pour cream over chocolate chips.  Let sit for a minute, then stir until smooth.  Pour over cake and smooth the top with an offset spatula.  Allow to cool completely, then slice and serve.

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I had hopes and dreams of making a beautiful vide to go along with this blog post, but I’m still working on perfect my video making skills… but in case you’re curious… here’s my first attempt:

 

Not the prettiest video, but I’ll take it for a first try!  We can’t expect to make gorgeous creations the first time around, and I’m cool with that.

 

So tell me, are you a fan of layer cakes, weddings and pretty things?  Are you overloaded with wedding stuff? Don’t even see it?  Is a cake just a cake for you?  

 

Molasses Ginger Apricot Cookies and The Coast-to-Coast Cookie Swap

One of the best things about having a blog is making new friends.  There are the kind you meet in real life, that also happen to live down the road from you.  But then there are the online ones.  You have crazy obsession with cookies, doughnuts and the best combination of flavors for that new sandwich you want to try.

I mean who else is going to understand that it’s REALLY important that you try adding herbs to your lemon cookies?  Or how you absolutely NEED to recreate that recipe you tried at some restaurant you went to last weekend?

These things are important. And other food blogger friends can truly appreciate that.  Because sometimes I need to send cookies to people, I teamed up with some bloggers for our very first The Coast-to-Coast Cookie Swap.

Since I was sending cookies to bloggers, I knew they had to be good.  Because of that, I tried to recreate my favorite cookie

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We made cookies and sent them to each other.  It was pretty great!

Who Participated:

Allison from Sweet Potato Bites (aka my crossfit/running buddy) with her Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

Natalie from In Natalie’s Shoes with her Amazing Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Coco from Urban Chick’s Foodie Ventures with her Peach Cobbler Cookies <— LOVED

Jazzy with her Lemon Blueberry Cookies (Link to come!)

 

My contribution to the bunch:

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Molasses-Ginger Apricot Cookies

1 stick of butter + 2 tbsp (10 tbsp total)
1 cup sugar (plus extra for rolling)
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup turbinado sugar (for rolling)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream together butter and 1 cup sugar using a stand or hand mixer.  Beat in molasses and egg until fluffy.  In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Just before ingredients are combine, fold in apricot pieces.

Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll in turbinado sugar (note: you can use any sugar, but turbinado sugar is thicker so it looks pretty!).  Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Allow to cool  and serve!  Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Clearly, I’m a big fan of ginger and molasses year round, not just for Fall/Winter.

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All the cookies were delicious!  It was cool to see what the other ladies chose to make, and also to make new friends.  And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love getting packages?

Thanks to Jazzy, Natalie, Coco and Allison for participating in the Coast to Coast Cookie Swap!  I can’t wait to do it again!

 

If you were making cookies for your favorite bloggers, what kind would you make?

Vegan Fusion Tacos

I don’t know about you, but I love fusion food.  My favorite is some sort of Asian cuisine combined with Latin. Food trucks are particularly good at this.   Kogi is the perfect example.  Their short rib taco is nothing short of amazing.  There’s another food truck around Orange County that has a banh mi taco.  Amazing.

I’m also a big fan of Taco Tuesday.  I wish I took advantage of it more often.  I really wanted to hit up my favorite taco spot today, but then I remembered I should probably save money (and calories).  Instead I made tacos at home with ingredients I already had, and thus this italian-mexican fusion vegan creation was born:

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Vegan Fusion Tacos

1 corn or flour tortilla
2 tbsp avocado pesto hummus
2 artichoke hearts, halved
a few sliced thinly sliced zucchini
1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)

Heat tortilla.  Spread tortilla with Avocado Pesto Hummus.  Top with artichoke hearts, zucchini slices, then sprinkle with nutritional yeast.  If you want to go crazy, squeeze some extra lemon on top.  You won’t be sorry.  Then devour.

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Note: If you make a full avocado pesto hummus recipe, you should be able to make about 6-8 tacos.

Do you see the fusion in here?  Italian ingredients: Garbanzo beans, Artichoke Hearts, Zucchini, Basil.  Latin/Mexican: Lemon, Avocado, Tortilla.

I think that’s pretty good.

So there you have it.  Tasty vegan dinner, ready in about 10 minutes.  Get your Taco Tuesday on.