Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Lovely Lemon Cake

This lemon cake is a rich, moist yellow cake infused with the invigorating flavor of lemon, frosted with a luscious, lemony butter frosting.  If you like the flavor of lemon, then this cake is for you!

lemon cakeI love baking with lemons at this time of the year because the smell is so cheerful and uplifting.  If I am feeling worn out from all the holiday running around, a whiff of the scent of lemon wakes me up and pulls me into the present moment.  Grating the lemon peel and squeezing the juice is pleasant work because it smells so good!

lemon cakeThis is the cake my daughter requests every year for her birthday.  The recipe is adapted from one I found in my reliable Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, tenth ring-bound edition. I have been making it for years, and though it tastes just as good as a single layer cake in a 9 x 13 inch pan, it looks so pretty as a double layer cake like in the photos here.

lemon cakeI am always amazed that such basic ingredients can create such a delicious and beautiful treat.  Flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and in this case lemons–that’s all it takes to make something special.  Baking is an act of creation, generosity, and creativity, and with it you can give something special and memorable to someone.  Cake does not last long, and it is definitely not a necessity, but the making of it and the sharing of it will live on for a long time in memories.  Sometimes we need to let the people we see every day know they are special. Everybody needs an extra hug or some encouraging words from time to time–or a lemon cake!

I hope you all have a great weekend, and take the time to breathe and enjoy this special time of year.  We have fresh snow today, making it look like the trees are all decorated with this lemon frosting! Drive safely and stay warm! I look forward to sharing this cake with Angie and the other bloggers at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Sandhya @ Indfused.bowl of lemonslemons squeezedlemon cakeLemon cake

Lovely Lemon Cake

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: about 30 minutes of hands-on time, about 30 minutes of baking time, and a couple hours of cooling time
  • Print

Ingredients:

for the cake:

  • 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of finely shredded or grated lemon peel
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs

for the frosting:

  • 1/3 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 and 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cups of fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract (or you can use vanilla extract if you prefer)

Directions:

for the cake:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour two 9 x 1 and 1/2 inch round baking pans.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and lemon zest.  Add the milk, butter, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed (carefully, so you don’t spread flour all over your kitchen!) until combined into a batter.  Then beat on high speed for two minutes.  Add the eggs and beat on high for two more minutes.  Pour the batter into your two prepared baking pans, distributing the batter evenly.  Bake in your 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pans.  Let the cakes cool completely before frosting.

for the frosting:

While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.  In a medium or large bowl, beat the butter until soft and fluffy.  Gradually add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, beating carefully to combine.  Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup of lemon juice and the almond extract (or vanilla extract if you prefer).  Gradually and slowly beat in the remaining powdered sugar.  Beat in more lemon juice, a little by little, if needed, until you reach the consistency you want for your frosting.  Once you reach your desired moisture balance, beat the frosting till it is smooth and fluffy.

Place the first layer of cake on a large plate and spread the top evenly with frosting.  Place the second layer on top of the first and then frost the top and sides with frosting, spreading and distributing it as evenly as possible.  Be as fancy or as basic as you want to be with the frosting spreading and design.  Carefully transfer the cake to a cake stand or leave it on the plate.  Slice and serve.  Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, tenth ring-bound edition.

 

Kabocha Squash Galette

This savory galette is full of tender, roasted kabocha squash slices, sautéed spinach, and red onions.  Sage, garlic, and Parmesan cheese add to the flavor.  A tender simple pastry crust serves as the base for all this warm, comforting, and nutrition-packed deliciousness.

kabocha squash slicesKabocha squash (also known as Japanese pumpkin) has become my favorite squash.  Like its inner color, its flavor is very vibrant and deep–kind of a cross between a sweet potato and a pumpkin, and its texture is my favorite part–fluffy but at the same time rich and smooth.  Also, the skin is edible, so if you don’t want to peel it, you don’t need to.

kabocha squash galetteThe nutritional benefits are substantial too.  Kabocha squash is full of beta carotene, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium.  When paired with spinach, this squash galette delivers some good, positive energy!  The only challenge is that the kabocha squash is a bit tough to slice, so a good knife and careful attention are helpful.  This recipe only uses half of a small to medium sized kabocha squash, so save the other half in the refrigerator,  and then use it for something like squash soup or roast it and fill it with your favorite filling, as I did with an acorn squash a couple weeks ago.

kabocha squash on tray 2My fascination with galettes has not yet diminished.  I love the endless variations and versatility.  They can be sweet or savory, decadent or nutritious (sometimes both at the same time!), simple or more complicated, all depending on what you need or desire.  The pastry crust is like the blank canvas, and the filling can be whatever you want–your favorite flavor combinations or the ingredients you need to use up before they spoil, all spun together with herbs and spices.

For me, any kind of squash paired with red onions is a great combination, both flavor-wise and visually.  Adding bright green spinach makes it even more colorful and healthy. This kabocha squash galette is on the savory, nutritious side, and it makes a lovely fall or winter lunch, or with a salad or a bowl of soup, can be part of a hearty dinner.  It tastes best warm, fresh from the oven, but can be eaten at room temperature as well.

It is already December(!) and we are in the season when it is dark as we wake up and dark before dinner time.  Lights, coziness, and warm food are more important than ever now.  I took our dog out the other night, and noticed that our neighbors put Christmas lights on a tree way in the back of their property.  (They must have a really long extension cord!)  It looks so pretty to see a tree all lit up out in the middle of the darkness.  And then I looked up at all the stars.  I don’t know why, but stars look brighter to me on cold nights.  It is a truly beautiful time of year.  I hope you all have a great weekend! I am sharing this recipe over at Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Linda @ La Petite Paniere and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.kabocha squashkabocha squash sliced

Kabocha Squash Galette

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 25 minutes of preparation time and about 30 minutes of baking time
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the pastry crust:

  • 2 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 2/3 cup of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 to 7 tablespoons of cold water

For the filling:

  • 1/2 of a small to medium sized kabocha squash, unpeeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of red onion, sliced
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of fresh spinach
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg (to spread around the edges of the dough, if desired)

Directions:

For the pastry crust:

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and the salt.  With a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the butter and continue until the mixture resembles pieces about the size of small peas. Gradually add the water, a tablespoon at a time, gently mixing with a fork after each tablespoon.  Add water until the dough is moistened and holds together but is not slimy.  Form the dough into a ball.  If desired, cover the dough with plastic and let it chill in the refrigerator while you are preparing the filling. (This makes it a bit easier to roll out.)

For the filling: 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Scrub the kabocha squash well, since you will be keeping the skin on. Then cut the squash in half.  Store one half in the refrigerator for future use.  With the other half, scoop out the seeds.  Then very carefully cut it into fourths, and then into thin slices.  It can be a kind of tough squash to cut, so use caution!  Toss the squash slices in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.  Place them in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake in your 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender.  Pull it out of the oven and set it aside.

While the squash is roasting, slice your red onion, wash your spinach and pat it dry, wash and chop your sage, and mince your garlic.  In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion slices and sauté for about 7 minutes, or until tender.  Add the spinach, sage, and garlic, and continue to cook over medium heat until the spinach is just wilted, just about 3 more minutes or so.  Remove from the heat.

Assemble:

Raise your oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Lay a large piece of parchment paper on your counter.  Roll your ball of dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.  Keep the dough on the parchment paper.  Carefully transfer the paper with dough on it to a baking sheet. Place the squash slices on the circle of dough, leaving a border of dough an inch or 1 and 1/2 inch around the edges. Spoon the spinach mixture onto the squash pieces, and then sprinkle grated Parmesan over the filling.  Gently fold and pleat the dough over the filling.  It doesn’t have to look perfect–that is the beauty of the galette.  It is elegant in a rustic way.  Crack an egg into a bowl and brush the edges of the dough with the egg with a pastry brush if you want it to look kind of glossy and golden.  Bake in your 400 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the crust is golden.  Let the galette cool for about 10 minutes, and then slice and serve. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Cherry-Cranberry Crisp

A radiant cherry and cranberry filling, mixed with a classic crisp topping of oats, graham cracker crumbs, and brown sugar, makes this cherry-cranberry crisp burst with flavor and color.  If you are looking for a festive and delicious holiday dessert that is easy and doesn’t involve making a pie crust, then this is a great option!  Don’t get me wrong, I love to make pies–in fact I will be making one this evening–but…sometimes it’s nice to throw a dessert together quickly and without much fuss.  And the gorgeous colors and many health benefits of tart cherries and cranberries are an added bonus!

cherry-cranberry crispI used frozen Montmorency red tart cherries and frozen cranberries for this recipe.  I have written in a previous post about my love for this particular type of cherry (Michigan is known for them), but any tart cherry would work fine.  I made the filling for this crisp before assembling it and baking it, so I could make sure I had the level of sweetness that I wanted.  Everybody has a different threshold for tartness, and this way you can adjust the sweetness before you bake the crisp.

Also, it helps to make sure you mix the cherries and cranberries well while they are cooking in the filling, because the cherries are sweeter than the cranberries, and if someone ends up with a spoonful of mainly cranberries, they may be in for a very tart surprise! However, when mixed up, the cherries and cranberries make a delightful burst of sweet-tartness, and I am so pleased with this very bright flavor and color, and the antioxidants inside it all.

cherr-cranberry-crispThe crisp topping is very simple.  My aim with this crisp is to make it as flavorful and at the same time as easy as possible, so it can be a recipe you can turn to when you are a bit pinched for time, but still want a beautiful dessert.  It is a crisp topping I use all fall for apple crisp, and it is simply four ingredients–old fashioned rolled oats, graham crackers, brown sugar, and a bit of butter.

I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is tomorrow already, in addition to it being my husband’s birthday! And my daughter’s birthday is a few days after that.  Busy times, and yet I am trying to focus on what is most important, and one of those things continues to be gratitude.  In these times when there are pressures about holiday shopping, I try to remember also that time is a gift.  Spending time with loved ones is a gift, especially if you can be fully present for them.

cherry-cranberry crispFood brings people together, bridges gaps, and expresses love.  If you are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you have a great day, and if not, I hope you have a great day, and weekend as well!  I am sharing a quote that my yoga instructor shared with our class:  “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie

May you have all those things this weekend, and thank you for reading this blog!cherry-cranberry crisp

Cherry-Cranberry Crisp

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: about 15 minutes prep time and 15-20 minutes baking time
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 4 cups of frozen tart cherries
  • 2 cups of frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup of sugar (or a bit more, if you desire more sweetness and less tartness)
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1/4 tablespoon of almond extract

For the topping:

  • 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of graham crackers, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Get out a 9 x 9 inch baking dish (8 x 8 inch works too).

Place the frozen cherries and cranberries in a medium saucepan.  Add the sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract.  Gradually bring to a boil, stirring as the mixture warms up, to combine the ingredients. When the mixture starts to boil, stir it continually for about a minute, as it starts to thicken and the fruit bursts.  Turn the heat down and simmer for a couple of minutes, tasting the filling and adding more sugar if desired.  (My family likes it with the 1 cup of sugar, so it’s sweet but with a hint of tartness.  If you are used to more sweetness, you might want to add a bit more sugar.) Let the filling cool a bit while you make the topping.

In a small bowl, combine the oats, graham cracker crumbs, and brown sugar.  Spoon the filling into the baking dish.  Make sure the cherries and cranberries are mixed up, so they can complement each other, and not be in their own corners of the baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling.  Dot the butter pieces on top of the filling, distributing them evenly.  Bake in your 350-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden.  Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired. Enjoy!

Apple Crunch Bars

Are you bored with your breakfast and snack choices? These apple crunch bars are the perfect way to change things up a bit while still delivering great nutrition and deliciousness.  A base and topping of oats, pistachios, brown sugar, and whole wheat flour surround a cozy apple-cinnamon filling for a healthy treat that tastes like a cross between an apple granola bar and a bite of apple crisp.

apple crunch barsI posted a recipe for cranberry almond bars about a year ago, and these apple crunch bars are similar to those, except for the obvious change in filling, and this time I used pistachios in the topping instead of almonds. The filling is a version of my basic homemade applesauce recipe, and the base and topping are loosely adapted from a recipe I found in Real Simple magazine in September of 2015.

apple crunch barsI love these apple crunch bars! The apple-cinnamon combination is always so cozy and comforting, especially when the apples are bubbling away in a pot on the stove.  And the crunch mixture is so tasty, so full of salty-sweet flavor from the pistachios and brown sugar, with such a crunchy, crumbly texture that mixes so well with a fruit filling.  They really are a great breakfast choice, snack, or even a guilt-free dessert, if that’s what you are looking for.

apple crunch barsIn a few days (I can’t believe it is coming up so quickly!) my family will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  It is the time of year when we consciously think about what we are thankful for, about gratitude.  I recently checked out a book from the library about the spirituality of gratitude, because it is something I want to cultivate more deeply in my life.  It is easy to be grateful when things are going well, and more challenging to feel gratitude when things don’t go our way, or when we are struggling.  I am enjoying (though it is sometimes really hard!) going further into this practice.

I was raking leaves yesterday afternoon, and our dog kept sitting right in the middle of the tarp I was using to drag the leaves to the back of our property.  Then when I finally got him off of the tarp, he would run alongside me as I was dragging it and either step on it or grab it with his mouth and start tugging.  He didn’t want me to get anything accomplished!  He wanted those leaves to fly and scatter with the wind.  I love that about our dog.  I hope you all have a great weekend! Antonia @ Zoale and Petra @ Food Eat Love are co-hosting Angie’s Fiesta Friday this week, and I look forward to sharing this recipe over there.apple crunch barsapples and peelsthree apples

Apple Crunch Bars

  • Servings: 12 bars
  • Time: about 30 minutes preparation and about 40 minutes baking time
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 3 medium sized apples, diced
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of water

For the base and topping:

  • 1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of pistachios, shelled (raw almonds or walnuts may be substituted, if desired)
  • 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt (optional)
  • 8 tablespoons (or 1/2 cup or 1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup of brown sugar, packed

Directions:

For the filling:

Wash, peel, and dice the apples.  Place them in a small or medium pot, along with the vanilla, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of water.  Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer on low for about 20 minutes, or until the apples are tender.  Let the filling cool slightly, then mash it with a potato masher so it becomes somewhat smooth.  Let it cool while a bit more and the filling will thicken a bit as it cools.

For the base and topping:

While the apples are simmering, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line an 8 inch square baking dish with two crisscrossed pieces of parchment paper, leaving an overhang of paper on all sides, pressing the paper down inside the dish.

In a blender or food processor, pulse or puree the oats, whole wheat flour, pistachios, baking powder, and salt until finely ground. Transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl.  Stir in the brown sugar.  Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter and continue to work it in until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs about the size of a pea, and everything is well combined.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the crunch mixture for the topping.  Press the remaining crunch mixture into the baking dish, using a straight-sided glass or measuring cup to pack it down evenly.

Spread the apple filling over the bottom crust, distributing it evenly.  Scatter the reserved 1/2 cup crunch mixture evenly over the top.  Bake until golden, and set in the middle about 35 to 45 minutes.

When it is done, let it cool completely (the cooler it is, the better the bars will hold their shape–I can’t always wait till it’s totally cooled!).  Then, holding the overhanging parchment paper, lift the crunch out and transfer it to a cutting board and cut with a sharp knife into twelve bars. Enjoy!

Pomegranate-Pistachio Quinoa

This nutrient-rich dish is full of flavor and color.  The mild taste of quinoa is dressed up with the beautiful, sweet-tartness of pomegranate seeds, the savory crunch of pistachios, the bright flavor of fresh parsley, and a homemade dressing of olive oil and lemon juice.

pomegranate quinoaAt a time when many of us might reach for comfort in the form of snacking on processed foods, this recipe comes to the rescue and helps balance that out.  Quinoa, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and parsley are whole foods full of vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants, and naturally delicious flavors!  Our bodies need this kind of nutrition to function optimally, and functioning optimally, though not always possible, is definitely a worthy and meaningful goal.

pomegranate quinoaPomegranates are on sale at my regular grocery store these days, and we have been enjoying them very much.  There is something so festive about the beautiful seeds.  They are like little sparkling gemstones, or little glowing holiday lights.  Each little seed bursts with flavor.  Spooning them out can take a bit of time, but it can be fun.  We had a friend of my son’s over a couple of weeks ago, and my son, his friend, and my daughter were completely entertained for a good while, standing at the counter scooping the seeds out of the pomegranate halves….I’m telling you, in this age of electronics, bitter politics, and rushed schedules, it is satisfying to see kids get excited about a fruit, getting their hands and faces all juicy, and laughing together in the kitchen.

pistachios and pomegranateI get a bit emotional about that kind of stuff, and perhaps it is because I’m a bit raw as I write this post.  I purposely stay away from politics on this blog most of the time.  It is primarily a food blog, along with bits and pieces about my own life thrown in, and how the beauty of food, nature and the seasons can influence our lives.  But a couple of days ago, the people in my country elected someone to be our next president, someone who has no political experience, and who has said some very disrespectful things.  The people in my country are deeply, and sometimes bitterly, divided.  I am not a very political person, and I will not say much about this here, but I will say that I hope love, dignity, respect, and peace can prevail in ways we cannot always understand or yet fathom.

The harsh words of this election cycle have left me cherishing the simple moments of joy, like watching kids standing together around a pomegranate, laughing and popping the seeds into their mouths. My yoga instructor said something earlier in the week that has stuck with me.  She said that the earth meets us right where we are.  On one hand, that sounds so obvious that it is almost humorous.  On the other hand, it is exactly what I needed to hear.  Wherever we are in our imperfect journey, the earth is there to meet us and support us.  Eating food that comes from the earth is nourishing us right where we are as well, helping us to go out and live our truths and open our hearts.  We need to come together around a table and nourish and support each other.

This dish is really easy to put together, and makes a delicious, beautiful, and healthy side dish. If you are looking for a simple and festive salad to take to Thanksgiving dinner or any other dinner, give this a try! I am going to share this over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday and see what the others there have brought to the table. pomegranate quinoapomegranate seeds

Pomegranate-Pistachio Quinoa

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Time: about 20 minutes
  • Print

Ingredients:

For the salad

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds (also known as arils)
  • 1/3 cup of pistachios, shelled
  • 1/3 cup of fresh parsley, chopped

For the simple dressing:

  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to package instructions.  (Or, rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed colander under running water.  Add 2 cups of water and the cup of rinsed quinoa to a medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower heat and to a simmer, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.  Remove from the heat and let the quinoa cool.

While the quinoa is cooking, scoop the seeds from the pomegranate and shell the pistachios.  Wash and chop the parsley.  Mix up the dressing and whisk it together in a small bowl.  Taste and adjust the seasonings and ingredients to your liking.

Transfer the quinoa into a serving bowl and fluff it with a fork.  Add the pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and parsley.  Pour the dressing onto the ingredients.  Stir till everything is well combined.  Serve at room temperature or put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready for it and serve it cold. Enjoy!

 

 

« Older posts

© 2016 Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes | Photograpy | Musings — Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: