Tag Archives: dessert

Allergy Elimination Diet Baked Apples

Happy Friday, my friends!  Before we all slide gratefully into the weekend, I want to share one last recipe for the week. These luscious baked apples are designed with allergy elimination diet participants in mind, but they are really a gorgeous treat for anyone.  So haul out those left-over cranberries (and if you are feeling a little naughty, grab the caramel or homemade whipped cream as well. . .not you a. e. d.’ers) and add these to your weekend breakfast/brunch list.  These apples can be prepped and stuffed the night, or several days, before baking.  Peeled or not, it doesn’t matter, just be sure to rub the naked bits with lemon juice or brush them with maple or agave to keep them from discoloring.  To make your cavity, you may use a corer, melon baller, spoon, or, my favorite, a sharp edged 1/2 tsp. measuring spoon.  You are not going all the way through the apple; leave at least a 1/4 to 1/2 in of flesh at the base.

If you are not on an allergy elimination diet, or if you are, and you are not avoiding oats, by all means throw a handful of gluten-free rolled oats into the mix.

Allergy Elimination Diet Baked Apples

make 2 med/lg apples

2 apples (I always prefer pink, but use your favorite, so long as it is firm and good for baking)

(2 Tbs. g.f. oats optional)

2 Tbs. chopped cranberries

2Tbs. pumpkin seeds

2 tsp. flax seeds

1 tsp. chia seeds

1/4 tsp. ground cardamom

1/4 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon

pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 tsp. coconut oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 tsp. + maple syrup (extra to brush over outside as desired)

lemon juice

Hollow out cavities in apples, being careful to remove very hard core areas.  Rub exposed apple flesh with lemon juice. Mix all remaining ingredients and divide evenly between apples.  The size of your apples could change the amount of filling needed.  If using apples immediately, preheat oven to 375.  Place apples in baking pan lined with tin foil.  Bake until knife blades slips through apple flesh with a bit of pressure, but still solid (you don’t want stuffed applesauce).  Remove from oven and serve immediately.  If making ahead wrap apples individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 3 or 4 days.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Marbled Banana Nut Bread

Howdy.  I just realized that it is very nearly my one year birthday!  Well, my blog birthday.  In honor of that, I’ve made myself a cake. . .bread.  Okay, actually I’m having tea with a friend tomorrow and I wanted something moist and crumbly to take along, and that is why I baked.  But I think this is good enough to count for both occasions!  A rich, fragrant, nut-filled banana bread marbled with chocolate and spiced with cinnamon.  Yum!  If you’ve been with me for a while now you may be saying, “wait a minute, don’t you already have a banana nut bread recipe?”.  Why yes, yes I do, right here. But this one, if not a completely different animal, has enough differences to be a welcome addition, for me if no one else!  This one is not only gluten-free, but dairy free as well (and with the migraines I’ve been having lately, I’m trying to be extra careful!). My next foray will be to add chunks of ginger, perhaps briefly poached in vanilla, to this recipe.

For this version I did sorghum flour, tapioca starch, brown sugar, maple syrup, and walnuts; you will understand when you see the ingredient options below.  A quick note on that:  I hope the varied ingredient options I often offer aren’t confusing.  I am attempting to a) make it possible for people, despite their geographic location, to find some version that uses ingredients available to them, and  b) show you that cooking/baking isn’t a program set in stone.  There are ratios of ingredients that absolutely matter, but if there is one thing my daddy taught me (besides the basics of making a killer steak) it was to be fearless about making recipes my own.  Do my substitution experiments always work. . .no.  But sometimes I stumble upon something my mouth finds truly outstanding, something I would never have found if I had stayed inside the recipe box.  So, happy experimenting (or direction following); if you make changes or just make the original, send a note and share the goodness!

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Chocolate Marbled Banana Nut Bread

makes 1 loaf

1 c. or about three ripe bananas, mashed

2 large eggs, beaten to light foam

1/4 c. olive or coconut oil

1/4 c. brown, cane, or coconut sugar

6 Tbs. maple syrup (agave, brown rice, honey, or golden syrup will work)

1 c. sorghum or brown rice flour

1/2 c. tapioca or potato starch

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup toasted pecan or walnut pieces

2 0z. chocolate, 62-80% cacao

Preheat oven to 350.  Line a loaf pan with parchment.  In bain-marie or metal bowl over pot of barely simmering water, melt chocolate until only small pieces remain solid.  Remove bowl from heat, and stir chocolate until smooth.  Set aside.

Mix beaten eggs, banana mash, and oil.  Add sugar and syrup, and combine.  Mix in flour, starch, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Scoop 1/3 cup of batter  and add to melted chocolate.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  In batter bowl add toasted nuts and fold to incorporate.  Scrape chocolate mix into batter bowl and fold til evenly streaked but NOT combined.  Pour into lined pan and place in oven.  Check at 45 minutes with toothpick or cake tester (or, if you are a confident bread maker, do the thump test).  If not done, tent with foil to prevent over-browning.

Remove from oven and cool, on rack in pan, for 15 minutes.  Lift from pan and finish cooling on rack.  Savor.

Semper Fi: Marine Corps Birthday Cake or My Yearly Nervous Breakdown, Part 2

The day has arrived.  That day, every year, when my sanity slips and I seriously contemplate hurling heavy things over the edge of my balcony with wild abandon.  That’s right,  this is the day I frost the Marine Corps birthday cake.  I explained exactly why this is so daunting in yesterday’s post.    As is the case every year, something went a tiny bet askew, namely one batch of the cakes.  I didn’t get the oven rack back in just right, so my last batch of cakes baked up a little bit crooked.  Sigh.  Oh well, I view frosting as a architectural element in this process; it fills in structure where needed.  This cream cheese frosting could not be easier to make.  My one word of advise is that, when the instructions say beat until smooth, listen to them.  Lastly, once you have beaten that buttery, cream cheesy goodness into submission, use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to break it up and deflate the air bubbles that have developed in the mixing.  For the rest of the process, I’m going to let the photos speak for themselves.

Okay, did I say that year one was the homeliest, most well meant cake ever?  I think this one is definitely in the running for that title.  Can we all just agree that cake decorating is not my forte, and that it is good  to be real and share failures as well as triumphs?  Thanks, glad you all agree!

Cream Cheese Frosting



Makes about 10 cups.

40 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

40 tablespoons (5 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature

5+ cups confectioners’ sugar (adjust for sweetness)

5 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Place cream cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, soften cream cheese. Gradually add butter, and continue beating until smooth and well blended. Sift in confectioners’ sugar, and continue beating until smooth. Add vanilla, and stir to combine.


Semper Fi: Marine Corps Birthday Cake or My Yearly Nervous Breakdown, Part 1

For the past five or six years Jason and I  have been making the birthday cake for the annual Marine Corps birthday celebrations at his work.   I don’t in any way mean to imply that Jason is in the kitchen helping bake, clean, or frost.  No, he is typically hiding  to the greatest extent allowed by our three room apartment, venturing out timidly if I bellow for help.  He is hiding because the M.C. birthday cake makes me nearly homicidal!  Don’t get me wrong; I love to make this cake as my small way of honoring the men and women  of the Marine Corps, and all other branches of service for the incredible sacrifices they make.  In fact, that desire to honor them is what causes the crazy.  I want this cake to be perfect:  tasty, plentiful, and gorgeous.  Well, I hear it is yummy, I know there is enough, but it is always butt.ugly.  The first year we did the cake, I had no knowledge of the Marine Corps birthday traditions or norms.  We selected devil’s food cake with cream cheese frosting as the tastiest thing in my cake baking arsenal, and Jason has insisted on having the same cake every year since.  We got a sugar printed M.C. emblem from the grocery store bakery across the street and there you go: the homeliest, most well intentioned cake in the world!  I thought, surely I can do better next year; I have a whole year to think and plan.  But every year something has gone awry.  Once the oven was off balance and so all of the cakes were slanted (and not the kind of slant you can hide with frosting) requiring an 11th hour oven alteration and bake-athon.  Another year the kitchen was  so hot, despite it being November, that the frosting kept melting off.  Then the sugar emblem ripped.  Twice (that was the last time we used those!).

Well, through all of that I have learned a few things.

1.  This is a big cake, too big to be accomplished in one day with our facilities.  For the last two years I’ve baked on one day, and frosted on the next.  That way the kitchen is nice and cool and I have at least a fighting start at not melting the frosting.  Have I mentioned that I have the hottest hands on the planet.  I’m pretty sure I should never work in a sushi restaurant, and to my great despair I cannot work with moulding chocolate without two layers of gloves!  I digress.

2.  I am not good at “manly” cake decoration.  I can make a super cute baby shower cake with little flag bunting, or swirly, twirly cupcakes, but my ideas/skills sort of peter out when it comes to scheming a realistic, manly, tradition honoring edifice of sugary goodness.

3.  My obsession with perfection is dooming me to disappointment.  In reality, I know that these guys (all guys in our bunch so far) appreciate these cakes and the thought behind them.  I know that they will eat every bite, even if I draw hearts and unicorns all over it.  But the idea of giving something I view as inferior to those who give so much for us just eats me up!

4. Butter-fingers is, I am now quite certain,  an historically founded word going back to the first person who buttered a pan for cake only to find that they immediately needed to grab a bowl, which they then dropped and shattered, because they had buttered fingers! (It can’t just be me, right?)

I should have bought a cow!

To prep pans, butter, add parchment, butter parchment, then dust with cocoa powder

butter and sugar

fold in cocoa mixture

got a little crazy with the batter

five cakes a’cooling

If for some crazy reason you undertake to make this cake, here are some things you should consider.  Unless you have a professional size stand mixer and a double oven, you will need to prepare the cakes in two to three batches.  I have a regular old Kitchen Aid and I can barely do the first batch all the way through.  On the second batch I use the stand mixer through the butter|sugar|egg|vanilla stages, and then switch to hand mixing in my “church picnic” bowl.

Stay tuned for for frosting and finale!

Marine Corps Birthday Cake

makes 4 9×13 in rectangles, 1 8 in or 9 in round

Devil’s Food Cake

Total ingredients:

13 ½ sticks (108 Tbs.) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans

3 9/10 heaping cups dutch cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for pans

3 9/10 cups hot water

3 9/10 cups sour cream

2 lbs .95 oz cake flour, sifted

5 ½ tsp baking soda

2 ¾ tsp salt

4 lbs .45 oz granulated sugar

18 large eggs

4 ½ Tbs vanilla

Batch 1 ingredients: makes 2 9×13

6 sticks butter

1 ½ c. cocoa powder

1 ½ c. hot water

1 ½ c. sour cream

21 oz cake flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 lbs .1 oz sugar

8 eggs

2 Tbs vanilla

Batch 2 ingredients: makes 2 9×13, 1 round

7 ½ sticks unsalted butter

2 ¼ c. cocoa powder

2 ¼ c. hot water

2 ¼ c. sour cream

26.25 oz cake flour

2 ½ tsp baking soda

1 ¼ tsp salt

2 lbs .35 oz sugar

10 eggs

2 ½ Tbs vanilla

1. Butter, line with parchment paper, butter again and dust with sifted cocoa powder all baking pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk cocoa with hot water until smooth. Whisk in sour cream; let cool. Into a second large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each; scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two parts, alternating with cocoa mixture and beginning and ending with flour; beat until combined.

3. Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; peel off parchment. Turn cakes over; let cool completely, topside up.


French potato salad from http://www.oneishungry.com

Salad days

Last Friday night we went to a friend’s house for a bbq with our small group from church and about eight Chinese students attending George Washington University.  It was great!  Despite the rain, despite the headache-cum-migraine I’ve been carrying around for weeks, despite everyone’s individual worries and concerns, those few hours were lovely.  I got to play with one of the cutest babies ever, catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and meet new people.  The students were divided up between accountants and hospitality services studies and the topics under discussion were diverse to say the least.  At one time I heard meningitis, George Washington, electric bikes, home-stay, and DSLR camera specs floating up from the different knots of people around the house.

Of course, being a bbq there was also food!  Our small group pitched in for pot luck; Jason and I took enormous bowls of potato salad, fragrant with herbs, and fruit salad with a twist.


French potato salad

French potato salad

(adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)

ingredients (serves 4-6). . .we tripled it!

2 pounds small red potatoes

4 Tbs. chicken stock

3 Tbs. champagne vinegar

3/4 tsp. dijon mustard

2 tsp. kosher salt

3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

8-10 Tbs. good extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup chopped scallions (white and green parts)

2 Tbs. minced fresh dill

2 Tbs. minced flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbs. chiffonade of fresh basil leaves

Boil potatoes in salted water until they are just cooked through.  Remove potatoes to bowl and cover with a towel to steam for 10 more minutes.  Halve or quarter potatoes and toss gently with chicken stock.  Allow liquid to be absorbed into potatoes before proceeding.

Combine vinegar, mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and oil in mason jar and shake it! (or slowly whisk oil into other ingredients to emulsify.)  Add vinaigrette to potatoes and gently toss with herbs and remaining salt and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Fruit Salad a la Oyamel

Fruit Salad a la Oyamel

ingredients (serves 4-6)

2 grapefruits

2 pink or green apples (or pears)

1 mango

1 banana

1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped

2 tsp cayenne powder

1-2 limes quartered

Segment grapefruit and break segments into medium chunks.  Cut apples (peel off or on) in large dice.  Peel mango and cut likewise.  Peel and cut banana in rounds.  Squeeze 1 lime quarter and gently toss together.

Decision time:  if everyone to whom you are feeding this salad likes a little spice, then toast your pecans in a dry pan over medium heat with the cayenne pepper.  If you are uncertain of you fellow diner’s pepper tolerance, just toast nuts plain, and provide limes dipped in cayenne for squeezing over individual portions.