This is a sponsored post on behalf of OXO Tots. As always all opinions are my own.
Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food #FirstBites @OXOTot

I realize my son is only 3.5 months old, but since before he was even conceived I knew I would be “one of those mom’s” who would make her child’s baby food. I know I have a little less than 3 month’s until I get the “all clear” to make and feed baby Ryder food, but I want to take advantage of the fruits and veggies that are in season now. Over the weekend we took a road trip up to Georgia. On our way home, we stopped by Lane Orchard to pick up a case of sweet juicy Georgia peaches. We do this every year during peach season when we drive through Georgia. We pass along a dozen peaches to our parents and coworkers and then I take the rest and make all things peach. Like skillet peach cobbler, Grilled Peaches with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream and even peach mojitos. As soon as we picked up our box I knew I needed to make a batch of homemade peach puree baby food for Ryder. Although he won’t get to try out my tasty (and oh-so easy) recipe for another few months. He will get the sweetest juiciest peaches around during the off season.

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food #FirstBites @OXOTot

Making homemade baby food is actually very easy and so much more affordable than buying pre-made baby food. Plus, you know exactly what is in the food you are feeding your child.

To make homemade baby food. I first removed the skins from the peaches. You can choose from one of two methods.

  1. Simply boil water, blanch peaches in the hot bubbling water for 2 minutes. Removed the peaches, and placed them in an ice bath. The skins come off oh-so easy doing this method.
  2. Grab a peeler and peal the old fashion way!

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food #FirstBites @OXOTot

Once my peaches were pealed,  I chopped them up (4 peaches = about 4 cups) and cooked them in a little bit of 100% baby apple juice for 10 minutes until they were soft. If you are a breastfeeding mama and have a little breast milk on hand you can use that instead of apple juice. Because I chose to cook the peaches on high I found myself stirring constantly. Not a big deal, just maximizes the cooking time. My peaches were not mushy. They still were a bit firm yet soft when I taste tested one of them.

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food #FirstBites @OXOTot

Then I ran it through my OXO Food Mill. I started with the fine disc and gradually changed to the medium and coarse disc. this was my first time using a Food Mill. You turn the knob clockwise to run the food contents through the mill and counter-clockwise to pull up the fruit. You keep repeating this process until you have peach puree.

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food #FirstBites @OXOTot

Make sure you place your Food Mill on a sturdy surface. I used my OXO Mixing Bowl that has a grip on the bottom to ensure that the bowl wouldn’t slip away.

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food #FirstBites @OXOTot

Using an angled measuring cup, I carefully poured the puree into the Baby Blocks™ Freezer Storage Containers – 2-Ounce Set.

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food #FirstBites @OXOTots

OXO Tot Baby Blocks give homemade baby food the same care you put into preparing it. Easily portion, store, freeze, heat, and serve the meals you’ve cooked especially for your baby using Containers in convenient two-ounce sizes. Each container fits into the freezing tray, and has measurement markings to make portioning a snap. On the go? The containers are airtight, watertight and leakproof. Peek at the clear Containers to identify the contents, then pop one into your bag for simple defrosting and feeding when you’re out and about with your tot. An easy-open, easy-shut lid makes the Containers a carefree choice.

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food #FirstBites @OXOTot

Easy as that, Ryder has his first batch of homemade baby food made! Peaches will probably be his third or fourth food that he tries since you want to start out with vegetables that aren’t sweet first. Or at least that is what I’ve read. I still have a few more months to read up on homemade baby food and all the “do’s and don’ts”. Do you have any tips for me?

*Make sure you scroll down past the recipe to enter to win an OXO Tot’s prize pack!

Katie Original Recipe

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food + OXO Tots Giveaway

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 8 ounces of Peach Puree

Homemade Peach Puree Baby Food + OXO Tots Giveaway

Ingredients

  • 4 Organic Peaches
  • 3 tablespoons of 100% Baby Apple Juice

Directions

  1. Peel the peaches and cube. Place peaches in a stock pot with 100% Baby Apple Juice. Cook on high, stirring frequently for 10 minutes until peaches are soft.
  2. Place peaches in OXO Food Mill using the fine disc followed by the medium and coarse disc. Scrape the bottom of the food mill using a silicone spatula in to the bowl. Pour the peach puree into an angled measuring cup. Divide homemade peach puree baby food among the 6 Baby Blocks Freezer Storage Containers.
  3. Store in refrigerate and consume within 3-5 days or freeze up to 6 months.
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Enter for a chance to win one of three OXO Tot #FirstBites set and a Seedling High Chairs!

*All winners will be selected randomly and will be notified via email. They will have 48 hours to respond. Open to US residents over the age of 18. *The OXO Tot #FirstBites campaign and giveaway is sponsored by OXO Disclaimer: I was not compensated to participate in this campaign; however, I did receive OXO Tot’s product to participate. As always all opinions are my own. 


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Strawberry Simple Syrup

3 Ingredient EASY -- Strawberry Simple Syrup

The official start of summer is this Saturday. Summer to me means fresh berries. Lots of fresh berries! Two years ago I shared with you my recipe for mint-infused simple syrup and today I’m sharing with you my easy recipe for strawberry simple syrup. We’ve been making mojito’s like crazy since our mint is growing like a weed and well, we don’t want to be wasteful, so instead we make mojitos!

Strawberry Simple SyrupI was tired of the traditional mojito, so I decided I would mix it up and make a strawberry mojito (recipe coming). Instead of using the traditional simple syrup I decided to let a few strawberries cook in with the simple syrup. I love that the strawberry simple syrup isn’t too over powering. It has just a subtle hint of strawberry. I did do some experimenting and if you want a more robust strawberry flavor, puree the simple syrup once its cooled in a blender or food processor. If you don’t like the seeds just run the simple syrup through a strainer to remove all the seeds. Easy as that–and if you serve this at your next party I’m sure all of your friends will be super impressed with this easy three-ingredient simple syrup recipe!

Strawberry Simple Syrup

Katie Original Recipe

Strawberry Simple Syrup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 17 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

Strawberry Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup White Granulated Sugar
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Strawberries, Sliced

Directions

  1. In a medium pot, combine sugar, water, and strawberries and bring to a boil. Once the mixture reaches a boil, lower the flame to medium-low. Stir occasionally and let cook for 10 minutes until sugar has dissolved and strawberries are no longer firm. Let the strawberry simple syrup cool to room temperature, then pour into a mason jar. Refrigerate and use up to one week.
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Paid Endorsement from Driscoll’s – Visit www.driscolls.com for more berry recipes and to enter their summer sweepstakes.

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundaes

One thing I love about summer is the abundance of fresh strawberries. I could eat carton and cartons of them. When I go to my local produce market I typically buy four 16 oz cartons a week. Yes, you read that correctly, four pounds of strawberries for two people each week during strawberry season. Most of the times they are cut up and placed into fruit salads but then I also add them into recipes throughout the week. Of course, you’ll find fresh strawberries and whipped cream on our dessert menu most nights during strawberry season. And of course if I have homemade shortcakes made then we are most definitely having strawberry shortcakes for dessert! Did you know that June 14th is National Strawberry Shortcake day? In honor of the national holiday I’ve created a recipe with a twist on the tradtional summertime treat. I introduce to you Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundaes.

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundaes

Driscoll’s has been the strawberry in everyone’s shortcake for more than 100 years! And my recipe for Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundaes is sure to make your summer complete. I started off by making homemade strawberry shortcake ice cream. Heavy cream and whole milk combined with a cup of freshly diced strawberries and a few spoonfuls of homemade strawberry compote sauce are slowly churned in a home ice cream maker. Once the liquid has turned to soft serve ice cream its time to add in a cup of diced up homemade shortcake to the ice cream batter. Carefully mix it all together and place it in the freezer to freeze.

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundaes

This recipe takes a little time, but trust me–well worth the wait. I opted to make fresh shortcakes for this recipe. Of course you can always opt to buy the store bought variety, but in my book for this recipe, homemade is the way to go. Fresh shortcakes layered on the bottom of a large glass bowl followed by homemade strawberry compote sauce, a few scoops of homemade strawberry shortcake ice cream, followed by more strawberry compote sauce, freshly whipped cream, and a fresh strawberry on top. Nothing screams summer more than this recipe.

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundaes I could see this twist on Strawberry Shortcake being at the next BBQ. Instead you can make a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar. A stack of short cakes, a bowl full of strawberry compote sauce, strawberry shortcake ice cream, whipped cream. Heck you could even add some chopped nuts and mini chocolate chips to the Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundae bar!

Make sure you head over to Driscoll’s to enter to win the Joy of Strawberry Shortcake Sweepstakes going on until August 29th! And enter my berry giveaway below the recipe!

Katie Original Recipe

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundaes

Prep Time: 12 hours, 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 13 hours

Yield: 4

Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Sundaes

Ingredients

    For the strawberry compote sauce:
  • 1 16oz package of Driscoll's Strawberries, quartered
  • 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 3 tbsp Water, divided
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • For the shortcakes:
  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups Heavy Cream
  • For the Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream:
  • 5 Driscoll's Strawberries, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tbsp Whipped Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 cup Whole Milk
  • 1 cup diced shortcake

Directions

  1. For the strawberry compote sauce: Place one 16oz package of Driscoll's Strawberries in a sauce pan with 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and one tablespoon water. Cook on high for 5 minutes then reduce to medium heat for an additional 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. In a separate bowl, mix together the one tablespoon of cornstarch with two tablespoons water. Gradually add in the cornstarch slurry into the strawberry sauce. Remove from heat and stir. Set to the side and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  2. For the shortcakes: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, granulated sugar, and salt in a stand mixer. Mix for 15 seconds until incorporated, then pour in the vanilla extract and heavy cream. Mix for 30 seconds on medium-low speed until well incorporated. Spray a glass 8x8 pan with cooking spray, and then pour batter into the pan. Spread evenly and bake for 18 minutes until golden brown. Let rest in pan for one hour, remove from pan and rest in refrigerator for at least 12 hours or over night.
  3. For the Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream: Dice 5 strawberries (about 1 cup), and set to the side. In a stand mixer, cream whipped cream cheese and granulated white sugar for 30 seconds until blended. Then add the heavy cream and whole milk. Mix for 30-60 seconds, scraping the bowl, until no clumps are visible. Set to the side. Place ice cream attachment on stand mixer and pour in the milk mixture, diced strawberries, and 3 tablespoons of strawberry compote sauce. Churn for 15 minutes or until ice cream resembles soft serve consistency (always follow manufacturers directions for ice cream machines). Remove ice cream and place in a freezer safe container. Stir in one cup of dice shortcake, and freeze until solid.
  4. To assemble sundaes, layer a slice of shortcake in a bowl, followed by 1-2 tablespoons of strawberry compote sauce, a few scoops of strawberry shortcake ice cream, 1-2 tablespoons of strawberry compote sauce, whipped cream, and a fresh strawberries.

Notes

If you have leftover shortcakes you can always freeze them in a freezer safe bag.

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Now, on to the giveaway. One lucky reader will win $100 worth of Driscoll’s Strawberries. Just wait for the rafflecopter code to load (or click on the link) and fill out the form for a chance to win. Open to USA residents only. Must do mandatory entry to be eligible to win. Winner will be drawn at random.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Today, I’m excited to have my friend Brandy from Nutmeg Nanny sharing her recipe for Strawberry Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast. Brandy and I co-hosted Frozen Treat Week together last summer and although we haven’t met in real life (yet) we chat via email and Facebook messages like we’ve known each other forever.

Strawberry Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast Recipe from Nutmeg Nanny on KatiesCucina.com

 

Hi everyone! I’m Brandy from the blog Nutmeg Nanny and I’m super excited to be guest posting here on Katie’s Cucina! I wasn’t sure what to bring to the table but I finally opted on breakfast.

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals but the one I probably skip the most. I hate getting up in the morning and cooking for myself. I’m one of those “lounge for an hour before doing anything” people. If I won the mega lottery I would totally hire a personal chef. I know that might sound like a weird thing for a food blogger to say but sometimes it’s nice to have a break…am I right?

Strawberry Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast Recipe from Nutmeg Nanny on KatiesCucina.com

But, since I haven’t yet won the lottery. I’m still in the kitchen trying to muster the energy to figure out breakfast each morning. This totally over the top stuffed French toast is the perfect weekend meal. I used thick sliced challah bread and stuffed it with sweetened mascarpone cheese and fresh-diced strawberries. Let me tell you, strawberries in the middle of the winter make me so happy.

Strawberry Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2

Strawberry Mascarpone Stuffed French Toast

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar (depending on desired sweetness level)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 1/3 cup diced strawberries
  • 4 thick slices challah bread
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Whipped cream
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl stir together mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste and diced strawberries.
  2. Lay out challah bread and spread 1 tablespoon butter on one side of each slice of bread.
  3. Flip two slices over and spread half of the mascarpone mixture on each slice of bread. Top with other half of bread, butter side up.
  4. Add to a large skillet or griddle set over medium heat. Heat until the underside is golden brown, flip and cook the other side till golden brown.
  5. Add to a large plate and top with whipped cream and powdered sugar.

Notes

If your challah loaf is not very wide you can make 4 sandwiches instead of 2.

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Today, we have Liz from Books n’ Cooks sharing a recipe for Salad with Pear Vinaigrette. Liz and I met in real life 2 years ago at Mixed.

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette from Books n' Cooks on KatiesCucina.com

Hello Katie’s Cucina readers!

I’m Liz from Books n’ Cooks. I first met Katie and discovered her blog a couple of years ago, at a foodie conference we attended together. I am usually a bit quiet when I meet new people, but it was easy to open up and chat with Katie, and not just because we have a love of food in common. Katie has an infectious bubbly personality and I immediately liked her. I’ve enjoyed reading Katie’s blog over the past few years, so I was flattered when Katie asked me to guest post while she’s enjoying her maternity leave.

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette from Books n' Cooks on KatiesCucina.com

Earlier this year, I was asked to bring salad to our semi-monthly book club dinner. I was looking forward to having a low maintenance contribution considering how busy my weekends have been lately, but I didn’t want low maintenance to mean boring. Enter: this salad. It felt appropriate to me – with wintery pears and summery blueberries fitting the 60 degree weather in February and March (well, 60 degrees on those weeks where we didn’t have snowstorms). The fresh and dried fruit make the salad super flavorful and visually stunning. It was anything except boring.

Adapted from Prevention RD

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette

Ingredients

    Ingredients for the Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 a pear, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbs. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
  • Ingredients for the Salad:
  • 5 oz. your favorite lettuce or salad green
  • 3/4 a pear, finely sliced or chopped
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. walnut pieces, toasted

Directions

  1. In a food processor, pulse pear, garlic, cranberries, salt and pepper briefly. With the mixer running, add vinegar and olive oil until smooth. Add equal portions of additional olive oil and vinegar until desired consistency. Vinaigrette will keep for about a week in the fridge.
  2. Toss all salad ingredients, except the walnuts. Add walnuts just before serving.
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Today, Sam from Sweet Remedy is here to share her recipe for Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa. Sam and I have met a few times in real life and room together at BlogHer Food last summer. Can I just tell you she is the sweet person on the planet. The girl sacrificed her time to help me get ready for a big dinner at BlogHer Food –ironing my wrinkly dress while I raced around the room to get ready. That is a true friend for you! 

Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa | Sweet-Remedy.com

Hi Everyone! While Katie is busy getting into the grove of Motherhood, she has enlisted some of her friends to entertain you. I do hope you stick around! I’m Sam from Sweet Remedy and today I’m ready for a picnic where I can eat a huge amount of salsa with fruit. How about you?

It’s April and I know that this salsa is more of a summer recipe but I’m hoping to propel full force into warmer weather. Katie doesn’t really have this issue, being from the sunshine state and all. Since I call New York home, I’m always cold and dreaming of warmth.

I’m ready for bright produce and frosty treats! Bring on the popsicles, ice cream and this Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa!

The addition of fruit to this salsa gives it such a sweet taste, one that is perfect to help celebrate the rising temperatures in the North East.

I used Gourmet Garden Cilantro Paste in this recipe, but you can always use fresh cilantro instead!

So I do hope you’ll join me while I stuff fruit into my salsa and congratulate Katie and Jon on their baby bundle! I’m so incredibly thrilled that they are starting their family. The next time I find myself in Florida, which is usually about once a year, I hope to meet the little guy we’ve all been waiting for!

Original Recipe for Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa from Sweet Remedy

Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4

Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cherries
  • 2 mangoes
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 2 chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro

Directions

  1. Pit and cut the cherries in half or quarters, depending on how large you want your cherry pieces.
  2. Pit the mangoes and score each half with a knife by making light overlapping slices from one side to the other, being careful not to cut through the skin. Push up on the skin side and cut off the chunks that fan out.
  3. Dice the red onion and red pepper. Cut the chipotle peppers into small pieces. Mix all ingredients together and add the cilantro.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips.
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Slow Cooker Berry Cobbler

Happy Sunday! I’ve got a slow cooker dessert treat for you this fine Sunday. Last year, I did a little experimenting with the help of a few recipes floating out on the internet. Thus it yielded the easiest slow cooker berry cobbler I’ve ever made. Yes–you can make dessert in the slow cooker!

Today is actually my last official post before I start my 1-month long “blog maternity leave”. Did you know that such a thing exist? Well it does. When you blog frequently you don’t want to go cold turkey and deprive your readers of delicious recipes. So I’ve asked 16 of my blog friends to share recipes and round-ups to keep your palettes tantalized. For those who are wondering, no the baby has not arrived yet. I’m t-minus 3 days from the due date. I walked for 3 hours yesterday and was hoping that would do the trick. Still no baby. I’m beginning to think he may never decided to make his appearance although I know that’s not true. This month has flown by yet I feel like each day crawls. A total catch 22 if you ask me. So enough about me and the bump and let’s talk a little about this slow cook berry cobbler.

Slow Cooker Berry Cobbler

This is the best and easiest slow cooker dessert to make if your entertaining. Or well if you just want a comforting berry dessert. I will be the first to admit that I never think of making dessert in the slow cooker. When I think of my slow cooker I think of a main dish and what’s for dinner. Not what’s for dessert? I have a feeling this is the first of many slow cooker desserts I’ll be whipping up in the future.

I shared this recipe for slow cooker cobbler with ALL the berries over at Food Fanatic.

Disclaimer: I’m a paid contributor over at Food Fanatic. I’m not required to share these recipes on Katie’s Cucina, but choose too because I want my readers to not miss a single thing I’m cooking up in the kitchen!


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Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake
After bringing homes bags and bags of produce from the Southeast Produce Conference last weekend I knew I wanted to make a pound cake with the bag of Meyer Lemons I received from Duda Farm Fresh Foods.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake 3

I was never one to love lemon cakes, but over the past few years I’ve learned to love them. My inlaws have a lemon tree and always load us up with lemons. Granted they are not Meyer Lemons but they are pretty darn close. So what do you do when you have a plethora of lemons? You make a lemon pound cake. That is what my mother in-law does year after year as well as homemade lemonade that is to die-for. I’ve made  pound cakes in the past, and I recently realized that I’ve just never blogged about them. I’ve used Ina’s recipe for the past few years and love it. I don’t do the lemon juice soaking method that she suggest. I skip that step and just add it all in the batter. But the glaze is an absolute MUST! I also grate all my lemons I have on hand. I love using my KitchenIQ Better Zester. It captures all the lemon zest with out it going all over the place. If you have extra zest feel free to freeze it for another day. It freezes beautifully!

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

I made this recipe for meyer lemon buttermilk pound cakes last Sunday.  I use my KitchenAid Stand Mixer on an almost daily basis, and on the weekends you’ll find me using it multiple times throughout the day. Constantly washing and re-washing my paddle attachment and bowl. I love that I can throw in my butter and sugar, set it and let it do the work while I work on prepping the rest of the recipe (or cleaning dishes). I brought one pound cake into my office on Monday (which by the way the pound cake was devoured in .5 seconds), and kept one at the house for us. I didn’t think my husband would like it. Once again, he has surprised me, he likes it and has been taking a slice every day this week with his lunch. And well… I may or may not have a few slices each day. Shhh don’t tell anyone.

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake And in case you’ve never used/bought Meyer Lemons. I have a great storing tip for you. Store lemons away from foods with strong odors. If you refrigerate them they will last for up to 20 days! This works for all lemons but you definitely want to keep your Meyer Lemons away from the stinky foods. They are super fragrant and you don’t want to alter their fragrance.

So, if you can get your hands on some Meyer Lemons (or any lemons) and craving pound cake… I definitely challenge you to make this Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake. You won’t be disappointed.

Adapted from Ina Garten

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 2 8-inch Loaves

Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 5 Meyer Lemons, zested
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup Meyer Lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the Glaze:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 1/2 tbsp Meyer Lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray cooking spray on two loaf pans.
  2. Cream the butter and 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and the lemon zest.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. In another bowl, combine 3/4 cup meyer lemon juice, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined. Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans, smooth the tops, and bake for 55 minutes. Test that the cake is done by inserting a skewer or toothpick in the middle--it should come out clean with no crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.
  4. For the glaze:
  5. Combine the confectioners' sugar and the lemon juice in a bowl, mix with a wire whisk until smooth. Pour over the buttermilk pound cakes.

Notes

I used 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pans.

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easy to make -->> dark chocolate macadamia nut bark from katiescucina.com

I’ve been a little absent lately. I’ve definitely been in a food blogging slump. I expressed it the other week–when I cook I need to cook quick because I’m starving. I don’t have time to wait the extra 5 minutes to take photos of my food. I need food NOW! I recently made a batch of dark chocolate macadamia nut bark to hand out to family and friends during the holidays and I figured this would be the perfect recipe to share with my loyal readers. I promise I will get out of this slump and start sharing more recipes (frequently) again. Until then… hang in there with me. Please!!??!?

dark chocolate macadamia nut bark

This dark chocolate macadamia nut bark is super easy to make, but looks way fancy and will impress just about everyone you know! That’s why I love making this bark. Plus, who doesn’t love macadamia nuts? I toasted them to really let the flavor come out and used some of the best chocolate I know… SCHARFFEN BERGER Chocolate. I always have a little stash on hand especially during the holidays so I can make delectable barks to hand out. I also always have dried fruit on hand. I recently purchased a Costco size bag of dried apricots. I eat a handful nightly to keep the calf cramps away. It seems to be working, and I’ve actually started to love them.

Oh and because I like no-mess I used a SILPAT mat to pour my warm chocolate on to. If you don’t have one, no worries–just line you’re baking sheet with parchment paper. I popped the tray into the refrigerator for 30 minutes and voila… it was ready to be broken up and distributed. Of course, you have to have room in your refrigerator to be able to store the cookie sheet. Luckily, I had the room since any more I can’t keep our refrigerator full enough thanks to my raging teenage-boy like appetite! dark chocolate macadamia nut bark

So if you are looking for a quick and easy holiday gift to give your friends and family this holiday season, give my recipe for dark chocolate macadamia nut bark a try! Don’t worry–if you don’t have dried apricots and pomegranates on hand you can use other dried fruit. The sky is the limit!

Katie Original Recipe

Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bark

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bark

Ingredients

  • 9.7 oz Bittersweet Dark Chocolate, chopped
  • 1 6 oz package of Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 1 cup Macadamia Nuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dried Pomegranates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Dried Apricots, chopped

Directions

  1. In a frying pan, toast macadamia nuts until golden brown 3-5 minutes on medium-high (tossing frequently). Remove from the pan, and rough chop.
  2. While the nuts are roasting, begin to melt the bittersweet dark chocolate. *I use a microwave on the melt setting in 30 second intervals. Mix every 30 seconds then add in the semi-sweet chocolate. Mix until just melted.
  3. Pour on a lined cookie sheet, top with chopped macadamia nuts, dried pomegranates, and dried apricots.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until hard. Break apart and package. Store in sealed container for 3-5 days.
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Homemade Apple Butter

Homemade Apple Butter from KatiesCucina.com

After returning back from Washington state last month, I felt like fall was finally here (except when I walked off the plane the 80 degree weather hit me smack dab in the face). I hoarded brought back tons of apples from Washington State (half of my suitcase was filled with apples), one would have thought that these apples were made of gold. To me they were, some of the apple varieties I can not get in Central Florida–so they were gold to me!  Needless to say, I had quite a few to use up. I knew I wanted to make my favorite homemade apple sauce recipe, but I was also hankering to try making homemade apple butter.

Homemade Apple Butter from KatiesCucina.com

While flying home I read through multiple food magazines on my iPad, and all the magazines I read featured apple recipes. I think I read the apple butter recipe multiple times. So that would explain my craving for apple butter. Even though I read the recipe over and over again for some reason I missed the part that this butter had to slow cook in the oven for 3 hours! 3 hours is like an eternity when your home smells amazing and all you want is the apple butter. That same morning I made biscuits, so as soon as I pulled the apple butter out of the oven I slathered it on a biscuit to try it! And then it cooled and I took my pictures followed by another biscuit full of apple butter. I froze the extra and hope that it will taste just as good in another month or two! So don’t be intimidated… give this homemade apple butter recipe a try!

Homemade Apple Butter from KatiesCucina.com

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Homemade Apple Butter

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: 2 cups

Homemade Apple Butter

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds assorted apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Dash of ground cloves and nutmeg

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine the apples, apple cider, brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large French oven over medium heat. Bring to a simmer (partially covering) and cook until the apples are soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and nutmeg. Puree the mixture using an immersion blender.
  4. Once pureed, bake uncovered, stirring every 30 minutes, until thickened and deep amber (about 3 hours). Remove from the oven and let the apple butter cool completely, then transfer to airtight containers and refrigerate up to 5 days.
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